Reconstructing Haiti: Our Comments

Reconstructing Haiti: Our Comments
Haiti Support Group Executive Committee members Andy Leak and Mario Gousse took part in an expert panel in London’s prestigious Frontline Club for international journalists on 17 June, which included award-winning journalist Jonathan Katz author of “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.”

Commenting on the failure by the UN to compensate Haiti(ans) for introducing cholera to the country, Mario said:

“Let’s be clear that Haitians experience the UN as a military occupation. The UN literally defecates on Haiti and kills people (with cholera) and when it’s presented to them, they say ‘we’re not entertaining this case’. . . . The Haitian people are being kept by the UN from doing what they need to do – which is to govern themselves – which Haiti has shown that it can do. So if we look at all the miserable people, it’s artificially installed, it is not the natural state of Haitians.”


Below is a video of an event called Reconstructing Haiti that the Haiti Support Group participated in with Jonathan Katz:

On 12 January 2010 the deadliest earthquake ever recorded in the western hemisphere hit Haiti, claiming between 230,000 and 300,000 lives. As aid organisations flooded the country there was an unprecedented outpouring from the international community, and $15.3 billion was pledged for relief and reconstruction.

We will be joined by a panel of experts from the humanitarian aid community and reporters who covered the earthquake and the subsequent reconstruction efforts, to examine why — after three years and $15.3 billion — the country is still in crisis.

In a recent development, cholera victims in Haiti are threatening to sue the UN, accusing them of negligently allowing peacekeeping soldiers to pollute Haiti’s water with cholera. We will be asking how the situation went so wrong and have the lessons been learned.

Chaired by Inigo Gilmore, an award winning journalist and filmmaker who has worked across the world, with extensive experience in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The panel:

Jonathan Katz is a writer and reporter, he is author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster. He has written for the AP for six years, stationed in Haiti for nearly three and a half years and was the only American reporter in the country when the earthquake hit on 12 January 2010. He is the 2010 recipient of the Medill Medal of Courage in Journalism and the 2012 winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award for this book.

Andy Leak is professor of French and Francophone Studies at University College London. His current research centres on literature and politics in Haiti since 1986. He is also secretary of the Haiti Support Group — a UK-based not-for-profit which seeks to amplify the voices of progressive Haitian CSOs in Europe and N. America. He is one of the editors of the quarterly Haiti Briefing.

Arjan Hehenkamp is a general director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (for the Dutch section) and has twenty years experience of humanitarian work around the world since starting in Somalia in 1993. Since 2006 he has been ultimately responsible for much of MSF’s work in Haiti as well as many other countries. MSF has been working in Haiti since 1991 and currently runs substantial medical programmes in the country.

Mario Gousse is a Haitian-born science teacher based in the UK. He is a member of the Haiti Support Group Executive Committee. He has helped to found the education charity UHUK (United Haitians in the United Kingdom) and currently serves as their Education Officer. He is a student and observer of Haitian history, politics and culture.

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