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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Haiti's Recapturing of Civil Society: Do Haitian Leaders Stand in the Way?


We all have opportunities to question the system, and today, I'll step to the Q&A microphone.

Like millions around the world, I stayed glued to my television, newspaper, computer, radio, and every other media outlet to witness the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti last month. I was appalled, astounded, and unnerved at not seeing a single Haitian government representative, diplomat, or appointed leader take center stage to advise on what was going on from their point of view, what any immediate actions could be to stabailize the city (country), and continue with the essential components of recovery. Haiti is poor. I get that - but there was a government in place, and that even though the walls that housed government offices fell, there were still appointed leaders somewhere not leading.

A month and a half later, I'm seeing reports about how leaders are coming out of the woodworks around the issue of who-signed-what to be sure that Haitian orphans could be relocated to the United States and placed in adoptive homes. Just in a NY Times article today Ambassador Raymond Joseph (Haiti’s envoy to the United States) and an aide to Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive are both responding to a scenario in which 2 Pennsylvania women moved 54 children (all of which were orphaned in Haiti before the earthquake, 12 of which may or may not have had relatives who could care for them) to a "5,000-square-foot cottage at the Holy Family Institute just outside Pittsburgh."

While illegal child-trafficking and kidnap is a very serious issue that should receive adequate attention, penalty, and punishment, I wonder why I'm hearing from Haitian leaders only now, and in response to this. The earthquake happened January 12. The relocation of the children occurred on January 18. Within those 6 days, neither Ambassador Joseph nor Prime Minister Bellerive chatted with Anderson Cooper; I didn't see them making their way through make-shift villages; nor did I see appeals directly from them to the international community on how we can best respond to what happend on their home turf.

I'll repeat - child trafficking and kidnapping are very important issues and should receive full review and consideration. However, when Haiti has explosive death tolls, plaguing safety issues, security concerns, a seemingly absent government, and excruciatingly painful poverty that only reached more epic proportions after this natural disaster, focusing on the unintended adoption of 12 children seems asinine, inappropriate, and very unwise.

5 comments:

  1. thanks for stopping by and ironically, i work on the issue of human trafficking here in canada and used to do the same in east africa. i suppose i have a bias that illegal adoptions and child trafficking are substantive issues because in light of the poverty, security issues, and lack of a proper governance system, trafficking could potentially increase in the current situation and bringing it to light now might prevent additional cases in the future.

    all the best with your work and as you seem to be a recent transplant to canada, welcome!

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  2. hey lady lu!
    thanks for the informed feedback - I'm so THIRSTY for these kinds of convos!

    looking forward to more exchanges!

    on the point...and to take the thought a step further...my concern isn't with how high of a priority illegal adoptions should be in a society that hasn't been ripped apart by a natural incident. my qualm is with the indicated leaders, who now in a position of self-victimization, are are at forefront, using this scenario as their bullhorn for righteous governing, leadership, and criticism of what's right and wrong. I applaud them for their actions, but I feel more strongly about them not speaking on behalf of the more than 200,000 deceased, millions who are homeless, and countless others who will be affected by the earthquake.

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  3. First off excellent post. I dont support the Idea of trafficing children. But I do want to speak on the absense of the Haitian government. Its funny that when a country has a natural disater the appointed government usually are the ones that run far way from the situation at hand. Use Bush administation during Katrina for example. They took days to respond ,and get aid to rescue let alone health care & food. Its sad when any country ,or city sufferes from something that cant be controlled. And its even worse to know your country is suffering , and have the control to do something about it , but dont give 2 cent about doing anything to solve or help the situation. In this case The Haitian Government should be ashamed for what they are doing, just as the U.S. should about Katrina. Less fortunate always suffer the most.

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