Tag Archives: Haiti disaster

Spark of the Day! Why are these Haitian girls smiling?

Daphna, Lysemene, Fabienne and Loudia can’t stop smiling

Look at them. You know what’s happened in Haiti this year and it’s a wonder that anyone can smile, but these girls have good reason to be happy.

Go ahead: take a moment, click on the photo and discover why they are smiling. You know you want to!

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Filed under Haiti, Spark of the Day!

Please visit our friends at… Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center

(Click on the banner to visit Enoch and Licia and all the angels. They do the best they can with what they have.)


Filed under Disaster, Haiti, Human Rights

Barbadian Engineer: United Nations turned away Caribbean professional assistance in Haiti

Updated: December 9, 2010

The recent stories about Haiti’s political troubles and the UN being fingered for causing the recent outbreak of cholera bring us back to this story about the the UN’s refusal to use Caribbean engineers after the January 2010 earthquake.

We haven’t seen much progress in Haiti since the earthquake – with millions still camped in the open. We wonder about all the aid pledges and foreign assistance on the ground. Have things returned to “normal” with the rest of the Caribbean and the world content with the state of affairs? If Haiti wasn’t an island but was instead a part of Florida, would the response be the same?

Here’s our original article. Perhaps Bajan professional engineer Grenville Phillips II can provide an update from his perspective…

“15th January 2010 – I contacted the Secretary General of the Caribbean Council of Engineering Organisations (CCEO), and the Chairman of the Caribbean Division of the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) about surveying their members for a possible deployment…. we soon had a long list of Caribbean based structural engineers who volunteered to be deployed in Haiti, to help their fellow Caribbean brothers and sisters in their time of desperate need.”

… from the Weighed in the Balance article Haiti Deployment

What was the UN’s agenda in ignoring Caribbean Professionals?

The day after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Bajan professional engineer Grenville Phillips II started organising Caribbean structural engineers for deployment to Haiti to assist in evaluating the thousands of damaged schools, hospitals and other public buildings and to train Haitian engineers to perform the same task.

Short story: When Grenville arrived in Haiti, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) told Phillips (and through him the other Caribbean structural engineers) that their services were not needed and were not welcome. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, CARICOM, Disaster, Haiti

Local artist Annalee Davis holds sale in support of Haiti

Renowned local artist, author, filmmaker and feisty letter writer Annalee Davis is offering discounts on her personal art and the Manipura brand with the proceeds from the sale going to help Haiti.

Her Manipura brand works are on show daily at the Flower Forest Botanical Gardens gift shop or… would you like a private showing in your home or at her studio? No problem. Give her a call and she’ll be happy to oblige.

You should also check out Annalee’s blog for updates about Caricom’s role on the ground in Haiti.

Here are some of the links for Annalee…

Manipura Art Website

Special Sale

Personal website: Annalee Davis.com

Blog: On the Map

BFP article by Annalee Davis: Film Maker Annalee Davis Publishes Letter To Barbardos Advocate Editor – And She Does It Here At BFP

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Filed under Art, Barbados, Haiti, Immigration

Was the US charge d’affaires surprised by Barbados’ refusal to look after Haitian injured?

Rickey Singh upset about diplomatic breach – Doesn’t mention that Barbados could take in some Haitians

In his current Nation News article US envoy’s ‘pressure’ on Barbados Rickey Singh is all upset that Brent Hardt, the chargé d’affaires of the United States of America for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, went public with Barbados’ refusal to take in Haitian injured.

Here’s some of what Rickey says:

My understanding is that both Minister of Health Donville Inniss and Foreign Affairs Minister Maxine McClean had communicated to Hardt why his request could not realistically be entertained. Then followed the diplomat’s surprising letter which, to say the least, did not accurately reflect the ministerial positions that had been conveyed to him before his written request, as he made known to the media.

The question is, why? When he claimed, as reported, that the “significant medical capacity in the Caribbean” made these countries “well placed” to treat the injured Haitians, was Hardt speaking out of first-hand knowledge or assumption? And which of the other governments in the region had he communicated his request to before, or after, engaging the attention of the Foreign Affairs and Health Ministers of Barbados?

Perhaps when, as I understand, he receives an official written response to his request on behalf of the injured Haitians, we may learn why, in the first place, the Barbados Government had to suffer such an unnecessary inconvenience to explain to a United States diplomat its inability, at this stage, to offer the medical care needed by the injured Haitian earthquake victims. Why push Barbados on the defensive when, like other CARICOM states, it is also currently actively involved in various efforts to help the people of Haiti?

US diplomat Brent Hardt

Aside from the diplomatic faux pas by Mr. Hardt (which I don’t mind at all considering he was trying to save some lives and Barbados said “Let ’em die”), I pose this question…

Could it be that Barbados has spread the “first world, little Britain” propaganda so effectively that Mr. Hardt truly is unable to comprehend our refusal?

Alternatively, might it be that Mr. Hardt is disgusted with Barbados because he, like everyone else on this island, knows that Bajans could easily take in a dozen or so amputees and their close families?

Could Mr. Hardt believe that the government’s refusal is based primarily upon current anti-immigration feelings in the population and other political considerations?

Whatever the reasons for refusal given by the Government of Barbados, the message comes through loud and clear: “No stinkin’ Haitians aboard the good ship Barbados. Not a one. Let ’em die.”

If you think that’s unfair, perhaps we can talk about it over cocktails at the Hilton or during a round at Ape’s Hill. Or, we could meet at the oval and chat while we admire the $300 million dollars we spent on our cricket palace.

Just don’t try to say that the sovereign nation of Barbados doesn’t have what it takes to accept 10 or 12 Haitian amputees and their close families for a year. There’s probably going to be that many rooms empty all year at Time Out at the Gap hotel alone.

Rickey Singh had better know that the Barbados government’s refusal to take in even a single Haitian victim and family has nothing to do with our capabilities.

The US chargé d’affaires knows that too.


Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Disaster, Ethics, Immigration, Politics

Barbados refuses request to look after injured Haitians. “Even one is too many for our health care system” says Bajan Foreign Minister.

UPDATED: January 12, 2011

One year after the earthquake that killed 300,000 and made a million or more homeless we take our readers back to this article, first published on February 8, 2010. Also worth reading is a new Barbados Today editorial Haiti I’m sorry! that says this…

It seems like ages since the appeals for aid disappeared from our landscape. The pictures of aircraft and soldiers from the Regional Security System flying into Haiti with aid have also disappeared. Even more telling, we have heard little to nothing from our CARICOM leaders about Haiti of late. Haiti, never known for being high on the agenda of our leaders, has no doubt slipped further down the list, given that regional integration and Caribbean unity have taken a back seat to the “home-drums-beat-first” mentality of our current leaders.

As far as we are aware, there has not even been a regional attempt to commemorate what must arguably be the greatest human tragedy in this part of the world for centuries.

What’s sad about this is that we must all be aware that what visited Haiti one year ago had not been invited by Haitians; and that every island of this region is as vulnerable to such a catastrophe. In the blink of an eye, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, St. Lucia, any of our islands, can be thrown into absolute misery by an act of nature.

Have a read of the Barbados Today editorial and our original article below and you’ll see that we called it correctly back then. For all the words of our leaders and the hours of non-stop coverage on CBC, Barbados as a country did so little. We and our Caribbean neighbours basically said…

“No stinkin’ Haitians aboard the good ship Barbados. Not a one. Let ‘em die.”

And that, my friends, is exactly how it turned out.

Original BFP article published February 8, 2010…

It didn’t take long to cut through the Bajan veneer of sincerity about Haiti, did it?

Barbados will not take in a single injured patient from Haiti. Not twenty. Not ten. Not five. Not two. Not even one.

Our sovereign nation was formally asked by the USA to take some patients from the hospital ship, the USS Comfort, because the ship is full and people are being turned away to die. We were asked to take critical care patients, but if we couldn’t manage that we were also asked to take amputees in stable condition to free up space and medical resources in Haiti.

Barbados said “No” Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Disaster, Haiti

Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker comments on the pathetic failure of Royal Caribbean to help Haiti

Royal Caribbean’s Haitian response called “A Sick Joke”

Our article Royal Caribbean passengers frolic in Haiti as the screams from the rubble continue touched a few raw nerves, but BFP isn’t the only blog questioning the cruise industry’s failure to respond with their full might to the mass deaths still happening in Haiti. As a matter of interest, a Google search reveals dozens if not over a hundred critical articles out there so far.

Maritime lawyer Jim Walker runs Cruise Law News blog out of his Miami law office where he specializes in representing crew members and passengers who have been injured, assaulted or otherwise had a bad experience with the cruise line industry.

Mr. Walker is naturally much more knowledgeable about the cruise industry than we are, and even if he is normally on the opposite side of the industry, when you read his articles, you’ll pay attention. Here are some samples from his article Royal Caribbean “Returns” to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® – While Haiti Suffers.

The photos are supplied by Royal Caribbean through Mr. Walker. Royal Caribbean probably intended that the photos would be evidence of their worthy response, but we at Barbados Free Press find them totally pathetic…

“In the last few days, Royal Caribbean has made a big deal talking about offloading pallets of food for Haiti. Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas sailed with only 60 cases of food and water  last Friday according to the Royal Caribbean President’s “Nation of Why Not?” blog. That’s just four pallets. The blog has some photographs of the few pallets from the Independence of the Seas – four pallets of flour, tomato sauce, can goods, and water bottles. Four pallets? 

Considering that on a typical seven-day cruise Labadee – Haiti – Royal Caribbean “Private Destination”the cruise ship’s passengers consume over 100,000 pounds of food and 12,000 gallons of alcohol over the course of over a hundred thousand meals- the photograph of the meager provisions sitting on the dock dwarfed by the huge Independence of the Seas seems like a sick joke.”

“Now a million dollars is a lot of money to me and probably anyone reading this article, but it is peanuts for a cruise line like Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean collects around $6,000,000,000 (billion) a year.  And because it registered its business in Liberia and its cruise ships fly the foreign flags of Liberia or the Bahamas, it pays $0 in federal Income taxes. $0.

Why only a million dollars?  That will accomplish little. Even Royal Caribbean’s competitor Carnival promised to send $5 million to Haiti, and it has no relationship with Haiti.  The $6 a passenger deal which Royal Caribbean struck with the leaders of Haiti rips the Haitian people off.  $6 to go into a 260 acre private paradise?  Well established ports in Alaska collect $50 a passenger in head taxes just to step off of the cruise ship.”

Royal Caribbean tosses a few coins to the native swimmers.

“The executives at Royal Caribbean know how to make a hard bargain with Caribbean islands which have little economic bargaining power. CEO Richard Fain cut a deal where for only $6 a passenger (paid by the passenger), Haiti turned over a 260 acre tropical waterfront paradise of Haitian sovereign land for Royal Caribbean to consider it “private property” bearing the trademarked name “Labadee®.” Yes, that’s right.  This is a name that Royal Caribbean trademarked as a variation of the French slave owner Marquis de La’Badie who settled in Haiti in the 1600’s.

Many years ago an article revealed the hypocrisy of this whole endeavor.  Entitled “Fantasy Island:  Royal Carribean Parcels Off a Piece of Haiti,” the article explained that Royal Caribbean began docking in Haiti in January 1986 after the ruthless dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier leased the land to Royal Caribbean.  He thereafter fled to France and the country turned into chaos for the next decade.”

… read the entire article at Jim Walker’s Cruise Law News: Royal Caribbean “Returns” to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® – While Haiti Suffers.


Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Disaster, Haiti

Haiti destroyed, Airport closed to rescue flights, seaport unusable – How many new Haitian Immigrants is Barbados willing to take?

Anarchy as machete-wielding gangs fight to establish turf, loot.

Obama pledges US$100 million “to start”

US Special Forces Teams seize and secure airport

Two days after the earthquake, current aerial photographs of Haiti show a country a place so utterly destroyed that one wonders if any buildings will be found worth preserving when some assessment is done years from now.

There is no Haitian government emergency response worth talking about. The government and infrastructure were never worth talking about anyway, and I’d bet that the government no longer exists as a real entity. That is the situation being reported from the rubble. Haiti right now is not a country in the organised sense of the word.

Haiti is a place where eight or nine million people are sitting out in the open as aftershocks make it dangerous to seek shelter in any of the damaged buildings still left standing. Most of those who are still alive and trapped deep in the rubble will never see the sun again because it will be weeks before “rescue” teams with heavy equipment and hydraulic jacks make it to them. That’s not me talking, that’s rapidly becoming the message from those in charge of the relief efforts.

Remember how Barbados struggled when one house collapsed into a cave?

We couldn’t rescue five people with everything we had on the island and a special team in from the United States. Now think about Haiti.

(See BFP’s March 17, 2009 article Expert: Arch Cot Cave-In Victims May Have Been Killed By Wrong Decisions, Actions and Inaction By Barbados Emergency Officials)

Reports state that clean water and food are simply not available. Soon even relatively healthy and uninjured people will begin to succumb. If you think that is not what is going to happen, I hope you’re correct. But when I consider what it would take to give every man, woman and child just one bottle of water and a disaster cookie starting tomorrow and every day thereafter… Well, that isn’t going to happen for a few weeks anyway.

The world couldn’t (or wouldn’t) supply every Haitian man, woman and child with a drink of clean water and one meal a day before the earthquake. What makes you think it will happen within a few days now?

Don’t forget: it’s not as if there are warehouses and stores that have adequate supplies if the people could only get to them and dig out what they need. Haiti is was a country were dirt cookies were sold as food right up to the day of the earthquake. Haiti was a country where tons of food aid sat rotting in the sun every day because the charity organisations didn’t have enough money to bribe the government officials to release the containers so the poor could eat. (See BFP’s March 7, 2008 article Tons of food aid rotting in Haiti)

Haiti’s Airport now Closed to Rescue & Aid Flights

(As of Thursday, January 14, 2010 – 22:00 hours local time)

Airport Closed – Port-au-Prince cargo docks “unusable”

“Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) — Rescuers from around the world poured into Haiti, overwhelming its only international airport as the Haitian Red Cross estimated as many as 50,000 people died in the country’s Jan. 12 earthquake.

With little time left to find those still buried in the rubble, rescue teams were stuck at the Port-au-Prince airport and civilian relief flights couldn’t land after its ramps filled with craft, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a notice. The airport also lacked fuel for planes to fly home.”

“…the U.S. Coast Guard said cargo docks in Port-au-Prince were unusable.”

… from Business Week article: Global aid pours in as Haiti searches for survivors

How many new Haitian immigrants is Barbados willing to take?

Alright folks, it’s time for Barbados to put up or shut up.

After the world (read “Primarily the United States of America”) saves as many Haitians as can be saved in the next few weeks, then what?

Haiti wasn’t a country that worked to begin with. At this point, it doesn’t really matter why it didn’t work, but merely shipping in food and shelter isn’t going to solve much in the long run. It may take decades to physically rebuild something from the rubble, but unless Haiti and Haitians develop new cultural and social values and skills along the way – unless they learn to be a workable society – the country will continue to be as close to hell on earth as we have in the Western Hemisphere. (And that was before the earthquake)

So here’s a suggestion: The Caribbean community should agree to take 10% of Haiti’s population from the island and to sponsor the immigrants for five years. The number of Haitian immigrants arriving in each country would be based upon that country’s abilities and space, but in total the Caribbean community would see about a million Haitians immigrating to the various member countries for five years.

During those five years, the Caribbean countries would try to teach the Haitians skills and the cultural values that work. This would relieve significant pressure upon the rebuilding of Haiti, and in five years the 10% of the population would return and hopefully be in a better position to move Haiti forward.

If someone has a better suggestion for rebuilding Haiti, I’d like to hear it.

Meanwhile, let’s ask the question of our fellow Bajans…

How many new Haitian immigrants are you willing to bring to Barbados if that’s what it takes to save people and rebuild Haiti as a working society?

Further Reading

You must read this New York Times op/ed: The Underlying Tragedy


Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, Disaster