What You Probably Don’t Know About Hillary Clinton’s Record

Missing from the discussion of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s record has been her work in Haiti, where she blatantly manipulated and threatened Haitian government officials to control electoral outcomes. In that country, too, she and her husband have led the way in promoting a sweatshop-led development model.

Other Worlds has compiled a list of articles that take a closer look into Clinton’s work in Haiti and what her Presidency could portend for other nations. 

Call to Action to Support COPINH and the Community of Rio Blanco, Honduras

These are the events that have unfolded as a result of a walk organized by COPINH that began [yesterday] morning. The community was walking to the Gualcarque river where DESA-Agua Zarca are constructing a hydroelectric dam project. For background on the project and COPINH/Rio Blanco’s resistance, see Annie Bird’s report.

Victor Fernandez, COPINH’s lawyer sends this report on 2/21 at 9:05 pm Honduras (or 10:05 Eastern/7:05 pm Pacific) after hearing from Berta Caceres:

  • “Their cars and buses were damaged as the police and military observed the vandalizers [people working with the municipality of San Francisco de Ojuera; and people working with DESA), without protecting or assisting them. Right now, they are walking [the buses and cars were stopped and preventing from continuing thus forcing COPINH, residents of Rio Blanco and International observers to walk at least 5 hours] and are very worried because they still have not passed by San Francisco de Ojuera where there are many armed individuals with an aggressive attitude towards COPINH. The police patrols have abandoned them despite the known risks they face. Given these risks, they [COPINH] asks that security be provided to them given that many patrols are in the area taking care of the property of the company”

The following police were on site and involved in the reported harassment: Commissioner Sanchez from Santa Barbara and an Official named Phillips. 

DENUNCIA FROM YESTERDAY (2/21) WITH NUMBERS: 
Please read below and call these numbers to express your concern with the harassment and illegal detention of residents of the community of Rio Blanco and COPINH happening right now!! There are international observers present at the scene as well! Call numbers below and demand:

  1. Request the immediate stop to all harassment of the community of Rio Blanco and members of COPINH.
  2. Remind the following individuals that Berta Caceres of Copinh has protective measures from the Inter-American commission of human rights.
  3. Demand respect for the rights of indigenous people who were not consulted regarding the construction of a hydroelectric project on the gualcarque River.
Numbers to call: 
 
Please write Karen Spring with the responses that you receive.

From COPINH:

“In a peaceful walk that COpINH was carrying out at this moment, employees of DESA-Agua Zarca and the mayor of San Francisco de Ojuera and the National party are detaining and harassing more than 100 compañeros that are part of the walk in San Francisco de Ojuera. These detentions are being supported by the National military of Honduras, private security guards, and police.

We demand respect for the right to protest and the right to walk to the gualcarque River to defend life and lenca territory.

We denounce the DESA engineer Sergio Rodriguez as well as the mayor Raul Pineda and groups of the national party for threatening the physical and emotional  integrity of our compañeros. We call for urgent solidarity!

At this moment, more people from Rio Blanco are coming to where we are and together, towards the installations of DESA-Agua Zarca and Te mayor of San Francisco de Ojuera.

Rivers cannot be sold, they are taken care of and defended!!! 

In Spanish: 

“En la caminata pacifica que el COPINH está desarrollando en este momento,  empleados de DESA-AGUA ZARCA y la Alcaldía de San Francisco de Ojuera y del Partido Nacional están deteniendo y hostigado a más de cien compañerxs que son parte de esta caminata,  esto en San Francisco de Ojuera. Estas detenciones están siendo apoyadas por Ejército Nacional de Honduras, guardias privados,  sicarios,  policía.
Exigimos respeto al derecho a movilización y a manifestarnos, el derecho a caminar hacia el Río Gualcarque para defender la vida y el territorio Lenca.
Denunciamos al ingeniero Sergio Rodríguez de DESA así como al Alcalde Raul Pineda y las ordas nacionalistas por amenazar  la integridad física y emocional de nuestrxs compañerxs.  –Llamamos a la solidaridad urgente! 

En este momento se desplazan más compañerxs de Río Blanco hacia este punto y juntos,  más de 200 caminaremos hacia el plantel que a impuestos DESA-AGUA ZARCA y la Alcaldía de San Francisco de Ojuera.

¡LOS RÍOS NO SE VENDEN SE CUIDAN Y SE DEFIENDEN!! COPINH!”
 

Update from earlier in the day on February 21, 2016: 

Approximately one hour ago Berta and 200 people members of communities impacted by the Agua Zarca dam were taken off of buses by military and police, and the buses impounded. This group, including women and children, is thus being forced to walk five hours through areas with a heavy paramilitary presence. Though they are accompanied by a group of approximately 25 witness for peace volunteers, there is still significant concern for their safety, including that of the WFP delegation. If anyone could call the Minister of Security, Julian Pachexo, and express concern for their saftey, please do so. +504 9456-3699

Women Farmers and Land Grabs in Haiti: An interview with Iderle Brénus

From an interview by Beverly Bell

In Haiti, the majority of the people working the land are women. Not only are they there during planting, weeding and harvesting, but they also play a role in transforming and marketing food products. They’re involved in the entire agricultural production process. This is why we call women the poto mitan, central pillar, of the country.

When a family is dispossessed of its land, women are victims. Rural women are the first to feel the pain. Ways that land theft and expulsions are affecting them need to be put on the table so the impacted women can be made a priority. There needs to be social, educational, technical, and economic support, and a lot of community organizing. The world needs to see what women suffer under land grabs and the neoliberal policies behind them.

No Land Rights for Women

Our constitution very clearly says that those who work the land have the rights to the land, but this has never been the reality. Haiti’s poor continue to be victims of land expropriation for the profit of others, which give a tiny minority rights over the riches of this country.  

Today multinational corporations and other interests are taking cultivable land that used to produce food, and giving it to industries to make textile factories or other businesses that have nothing to do with food production – and in a country that is experiencing so much hunger. Those who are running the country profit, too. Elite landowners, who don’t even live in the country, own many thousands of hectares of land. The [Catholic] church, too is one of the institutions that owns a lot of land historically, and [rarely] does anything with it.

The problems around land ownership, occupation, and expropriation of land for the profit of multinational corporations – with the complicity of the government of Haiti – are especially grave for women. This isn’t anything new. These issues have always existed for peasant families, but it is taking on new dimensions. We see women – who already lacked access to and control of land, and who didn’t have control over production in economic terms – suffering even more.

Consequences of Land Grabs on Women

Even though a woman doesn’t hold the title to property – it’s rare to find one who has a title – she will work the land that her husband owns. She lives with, supports, and collaborates with the [husband or father’s] family to make sure that she and her children can eat, that her children can go to school, that she can pay for their health needs, for everything. All this is because in Haiti the population is mainly on its own; the state doesn’t provide any basic social services. The social services that had been there, even though they were minimal, have disappeared for the profit of neoliberal politics that have been applied in the country over the last 20 to 25 years.

Today, these women – who already lacked legal rights as property holders – are losing land access [and the social and economic benefits it brings] altogether. A woman can’t sleep well when she knows her children are hungry and she doesn’t have food to give them, or when they’re sick and she doesn’t have anything she can do for them.  

With the destruction of the peasant class, we see these women who have lost their lands having to go to the towns to work in wealthier people’s homes or do other jobs. They have to leave their children with their mothers.

It’s women who have to make the decision to send their children to go stay with other people in Port-au-Prince. And many times, those children become restavek [literally “stay with,” children whose desperately poor parents give them to a relative or acquaintance to be cared for, but who usually end up instead in indentured servitude]. The majority are young girls, who are [forced to perform tasks like] cooking food for [other] children to go to school, while they don’t have access to school themselves.

The reason people in rural places send their children to stay with people in the city is hunger. If peasants had their land and technical support or credit from the bank so they could work,  they wouldn’t send their children to go get, as they say, a “better life.” If there were agrarian reform, within a framework of food sovereignty, you would find that the peasants wouldn’t have to send their children away. In 10 or 15 years, we could have a generation of well-educated young women who are ready to defend their rights so that women and men can have equal social roles.

Imperatives for Gaining Land Rights

Community organizations need to make themselves aware of the many invisible [political and economic causes] that are ravaging the peasant sector and women. Women and men should sit at the same table to think about how to construct this society together. It’s not just violence against women, but also other problems that attack the independence and economic resources of peasant women. These problems need to be visible to the whole world.

Community and peasant groups need to  make a strategic plan for what will be the priorities and objectives for merging women’s issues and land rights, and then launch a program that all the women’s organizations can participate in.

There should be more training for women, and more support to augment their technical, political, social, and economic capacity.

What’s most important, for starters, is consciousness-raising, training and action. It is necessary for community and peasant groups to raise women’s consciousness of these issues. We need to train them so that when they speak, they’ll really represent the sector and can show they know what they’re talking about. After that, women can mobilize [others] and organize actions – petitions, protests, things like that.

Challenges to Organizing as Peasant Women

Rural Haitian women face challenges in organizing around gender at several levels. First, women suffer from high levels of illiteracy and lack of education, so even when they’re in peasant organizations, there are a lot of decisions in the women’s movement that they can’t make.

Second, women don’t have economic means in Haiti. They don’t have the resources to advocate for their rights or to address problems related to land.

Another aspect, unfortunately, is that many [middle- and upper-class urban] women – who are at the head of the women’s movement – have a mentality of a social pyramid. There are Fanm [women] with a capital “F,” and there are fanm with a lower-case “f.”  

In the movement, in the society, in neoliberal policies… it’s like the ground is being pulled out from under the feet of peasant women. Yes, we need outside assistance, but what we most need is our own organizing.

 

Iderle Brénus is an economist with a master’s from the University of Havana in small business and community development, and another master’s anticipated in development, with a special focus on gender equity, in Costa Rica.  From the peasant class herself, Brénus has long worked with the rural sector on food sovereignty, gender equity, and land rights

Many thanks to Winter R. Schneider for translating the interview and to Salena Tramel for use of her photo, taken for Grassroots International.

This is the fourth piece in a series on land rights and food sovereignty in Haiti, featuring critical research and analysis, as well as interviews with grassroots leaders and people affected by land grabs. The series is made possible through generous funding from the 11th Hour Project, American Jewish World Service, Anderson-Rogers Foundation, Ansara Family Fund, Bridge Fund of Tides Foundation, Mary N. Lloyd Memorial Fund of the Peace Development Fund, Maverick Fund of the Peace Development Fund, Presbyterian Church Hunger Program, Sisters of Mercy, Small Planet Fund of RSF Social Finance, and Tèt Ansanm Fund.