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samedi 16 octobre 2010

Pour la croissance du secteur agricole haïtien

Depuis quelques mois, le gouvernement haïtien via le ministère de l'Agriculture des Ressources naturelles et du Développement rural (MARNDR) et ses partenaires techniques et financiers, ont entrepris une série de rencontres qui, finalement, ont permis de produire un document qui s'articule autour d'un programme national d'investissement dans le secteur agricole et d'une politique de développement agricole. Coup de projecteur sur ce document. Haïti: « Haïti: plan national d'investissement ». C'est le titre d'un document présenté par le gouvernement haïtien à travers le ministère de l'Agriculture des Ressources naturelles et du Développement rural (MARNDR). Ce document a été mis en oeuvre conformément à la réalité nouvelle issue de la catastrophe du 12 janvier, qui impose l'élaboration d'un programme à moyen et à long terme, dont les actions s'inscrivent dans une perspective structurante d'augmentation significative et durable de la production agricole nationale en conformité avec la politique de développement agricole nationale.
Financé à hauteur de 768,9 millions de dollars américains, ce programme s'articulera autour de trois axes, notamment le développement des infrastructures rurales par l'aménagement des bassins versants, la foresterie et l'irrigation ; la production et le développement des filières par l'élevage, l'aquaculture et la pêche; l'accès aux intrants et outils agricoles; l'agriculture urbaine et périurbaine; le développement des filières et la commercialisation; le crédit rural et la production locale et les opérations humanitaires (achats locaux). Et enfin, les services agricoles et l'appui institutionnel par la vulgarisation par les « champs écoles », l'accès à la terre et la sécurité de la tenure et l'appui institutionnel aux services publics agricoles (recherche, formation, protection zoo et phytosanitaire, renforcement institutionnel).
Bien que le secteur agricole puisse ne pas être considéré comme l'un des secteurs les plus directement touchés par le tremblement de terre du 12 janvier 2010, ce secteur jouera un rôle clé tant pour contribuer à assurer la sécurité alimentaire que pour permettre le redressement économique et la stabilité sociale d'Haïti. Cela implique l'urgente nécessité d'apporter au secteur agricole tout le soutien nécessaire, tant à court terme, à travers des interventions d'urgence qui permettront de répondre aux besoins alimentaires immédiats, et, à moyen et à plus long terme, afin de relancer, de moderniser et de redynamiser un secteur agricole essentiel à l'économie et à l'équilibre social du pays.
« Le gouvernement a d'ailleurs toujours fait du secteur rural le premier pilier de la croissance et de la réduction de la pauvreté dans le pays, comme en témoignent les documents officiels, notamment le Document de stratégie nationale de croissance pour la réduction de la pauvreté (DSNCRP). Les actions proposées dans ce plan de relance se basent sur le document d'orientation et de plaidoyer rédigé immédiatement après le tremblement de terre et sur le plan d'action préparé dans le cadre du PDNA », lit-on dans ce document de 123 pages.
Toujours selon ce même document, ce programme clé est un moyen de redonner espoir au monde agricole haïtien. Le plan d'investissement national contribuera à relever l'un des défis majeurs, qui est de rendre l'agriculture haïtienne plus compétitive et plus rémunératrice pour les producteurs tout en assurant la sécurité alimentaire.
« L'agriculture haïtienne contribue pour plus de 25% à la formation du PIB. Selon les données rendues disponibles par MARNDR/FAO en février 2010, l'agriculture est pratiquée par un peu plus de 1 000 000 (un million) d'exploitations agricoles disposant en moyenne de moins de 1,5 ha de terre divisé en plusieurs parcelles . La pression démographique et l'augmentation continue de la demande alimentaire poussent les agriculteurs à cultiver des terres marginales inaptes à la production agricole. Il en résulte une réduction de la durée des jachères sur les terres cultivables et une dégradation accélérée des ressources naturelles », poursuit le document.
C'est fort de tout cela que le gouvernement haïtien, à travers le MARNDR conjointement avec l'IICA et la FAO qui interviennent dans le secteur, a décidé d'y apporter une solution durable sur la base de l'application des principes établis dans le cadre d'une mission conduite par le Centre d'investissement de la FAO, qui a séjourné en Haïti du 15 au 25 février 2010. Il s'agissait du résultat d'un travail en commun entre les principales institutions partenaires, les responsables et cadres techniques du ministère de l'Agriculture, des Ressources naturelles et du Développement Rural (MARNDR).
Il sied de rappeler que ce plan d'investissement dans le secteur agricole vise à accroitre la production nationale, à assurer la sécurité alimentaire et à créer des emplois. Plus concrètement, ce présent document est en outre aligné sur la politique agricole nationale du gouvernement d'Haïti et a pour but de traduire les orientations stratégiques du gouvernement en un véritable plan d'investissement pour le secteur agricole. Ledit document, comme discuté et convenu à la réunion de Santo Domingo, fera l'objet des consultations avec la société civile et le secteur privé et sera présenté à la communauté internationale afin de mobiliser les ressources nécessaires à la mise en oeuvre de ce projet.
Amos Cincir
http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=84664&PubDate=2010-10-15
Notre commentaire:
Nous voulons juste faire remarquer que l'élaboration de documents princeps n'est pas une innovation dans l'administration publique haïtienne. Car souvent le fait de l'élaboration du document représente une entrée d'argent pour un groupe ou un sous groupe.
Il serait bien que le gouvernement issu des prochaines élections tiennent compte de ce document qui normalement n'est pas inutile.
Bon, nenous berçons pas d'illusions. Il a circulé un document intitulé document de stratégie nationale pour la réduction de la pauvreté.

Haïti: un hôpital en containers à Léogane

Un hôpital « en dur » vient d'être inauguré à Léogâne, une ville particulièrement touchée par le séisme de janvier dernier. Edifié en cinq mois, il est prévu pour durer plusieurs années. Haïti: La ville de Léogâne, la plus proche de l'épicentre du séisme qui a dévasté Haïti le 12 janvier dernier dispose désormais d'un hôpital flambant neuf. Construit avec des containers préfabriqués, il dispose d'une capacité d'accueil de 120 lits. Les équipes MSF, qui dispensaient jusque là leurs soins sous tentes, y ont transféré l'ensemble de leurs patients au mois de septembre.
«Nous devions terminer le plus vite possible pour éviter la saison des cyclones. Normalement, il faut au moins une année pour faire aboutir un tel projet», explique Guillaume Queyras, responsable de la logistique à MSF. Au final, le chantier aura duré cinq mois.
Les containers offrent une surface de 1700 m2, 120 lits, deux blocs opératoires, un service de radiologie, sept salles de consultation... Le bâtiment est autonome en eau et en énergie. La structure pourra aussi être adaptée selon les besoins.
La construction aura coûté 2 millions de dollars et les frais de fonctionnement sont estimés entre 7 et 8 millions de dollars par an, ce qui comprend les salaires des 400 collaborateurs.

Le seul hôpital de la région
Malgré les destructions provoquées par le séisme, le quotidien a rapidement regagné ses droits dans la région de Léogâne. Depuis le mois de mars, les hospitalisations ne sont plus directement liées au tremblement de terre. Une fois les routes déblayées, le trafic a repris. Les accidents aussi. «Nous recevons trois ou quatre accidentés par jour. Les gens se déplacent beaucoup à moto. Les blessures sont donc très graves. Quand un bus est impliqué, nous avons des dizaines de blessés», explique Stéphane Reynier de Montlaux, le chef de la mission MSF à Léogâne.
Toutefois, les accouchements et les éventuelles complications constituent le coeur des activités de MSF. Ils représentent 80% des admissions d'urgence. L'hôpital de Léogâne prend aussi en charge les victimes de violences sexuelles et dispose d'un service de planning familial.
«Avant le séisme et notre arrivée ici, cela faisait deux ans qu'il n'y avait plus aucune structure de santé dans la région, indique Stéphane Reynier de Montlaux.. Il existait une clinique privée à Léogâne. Malgré les besoins énormes, elle a fait faillite faute de clients. Ce qui n'est pas étonnant quand on sait que 70% de la population haïtienne vit avec moins de deux dollars par jour et qu'une césarienne coûte environ 125 dollars, rien que pour l'acte médical.»
Construit pour durer
La durée de vie de l'hôpital est estimée à cinq ans minimum. Dix ans si la structure est bien entretenue. MSF espère que les autorités haïtiennes reprendront les containers ou construiront un nouvel hôpital sur le même site. «Nous avons eu des discussions informelles avec le gouvernement. Il y a un intérêt. Mais les négociations ne font que commencer et nous insisterons pour que les soins continuent d'être gratuits», conclut Stéphane Reynier de Montlaux.
MSF
http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=84697&PubDate=2010-10-15
HRV Commente:
Le problème avec Haïti c'est que en 2060, la ville de Leogane ne  comptera que cet hopital en containers qui sera délabré et méconnaissable. Pour les raisons que vous savez. Les choses ont toujours évoluées dans ce sens  en Haïti. Pourquoi cela changerait-il?

Coup d'envoi de la seconde phase de la campagne électorale

La seconde Phase de la campagne électorale débute ce vendredi. Les candidats sont autorisés à utiliser tous les moyens de communications pour séduire les électeurs. Lors de cette seconde manche de la campagne électorale, les candidats pourront intervenir dans les medias et organiser des rassemblements publics tout en respectant, les prescrits de la loi électorale.
De nombreux candidats envisagent de lancer officiellement leur campagne ce vendredi. C'est le cas pour le candidat du parti Asanm nou fò, qui organise un grand forum de jeunes au Djumbala.
L'équipe du candidat VOLTAIRE annonce qu'elle va accueillir des jeunes représentants de tous les secteurs de la vie nationale (écoliers, universitaires, ouvriers, artistes agriculteurs et artisans…) pour discuter avec eux de leur avenir et de leur rôle dans la reconstruction.
Alors que le candidat Michel Martelly donnera débutera sa campagne par une longue marche, qui partira du Champ de Mars pour arriver à Fontamara.
Rappelons que la consigne du Conseil Electoral Provisoire imposant une première phase, dite muette ou visuelle, n'avait pas été respectée par tous les candidats.
EJ/Radio Métropole Haïti
http://www.metropolehaiti.com/metropole/full_une_fr.php?id=18351

La France encourage la mise en branle du processus de décentralisation

Le gouvernement français apporte un appui important au ministère de l'intérieur et des collectivités territoriales (MICT) dans la mise en place des organes devant concrétiser le processus de décentralisation. Le ministre Paul Antoine Bien Aimé se réjouit de l'assistance financière de l'ambassade de France qui poursuit son appui au gouvernement haïtien. Au cours de la prochaine année fiscale l'assistance financière française atteindra 2 millions de dollars.
Les autorités haïtiennes se sont engagés à réaliser des audits des délégations impliquées dans la réalisation des projets afin d'évaluer la gestion des fonds alloués au programme.
Le ministre Bien Aimé se propose de renforcer la direction des collectivités du MICT afin que les collectivités territoriales puissent acquérir les compétences nécessaires pour mener à bien les différentes activités dans le cadre de la décentralisation.
Le renforcement des délégations permettra d'intensifier l'appui aux communes notamment. La constitution haïtienne définit les administrations régionales dirigées par des élus (aux élections directes ou indirectes) comme des collectivités territoriales.
Certains projets élaborés par des maires pourront obtenir un financement de l'ordre de 25 000 dollars dans le cadre de ce programme, révèle M. Bien Aimé.
L'ambassadeur de France à Port-au-Prince, Didier Le Bret, se réjouit de la détermination des autorités haïtiennes à s'engager dans le processus de décentralisation. Il insiste sur la nécessité d'élaborer un plan d'aménagement du territoire afin d'encourager le développement des régions.
La France est en première ligne dans le cadre du processus de décentralisation puisqu'elle a également offert un terrain pouvant accueillir de nouvelles entités du ministère des collectivités territoriales. Le diplomate français assure que la décentralisation permettra aux élus de répondre de manière efficace aux besoins des citoyens.
LLM / radio Métropole Haïti
http://www.metropolehaiti.com/metropole/full_une_fr.php?id=18349
Commentaires:
Ce sont de ces nouvelles qui reviennent régulièrement traitant le même sujet. Un ministre qui reprend une lithanie bien apprise faisant l'éloge de la France et de son ambassadeur. Des chiffres sont balancés. Surtout des millions. Mais en réalité sur le terrain on a du mal à voir les résultats effectifs de ces politiques de coopération autour du thème décentralisation.
Et ce, ça dure depuis des années dans la même logique.

Fighting Haiti's graffiti politics

Even before candidates in Haiti's Nov. 28 elections began battling it out with billboards, they were already fighting one of the dirtiest battles of Haiti politics -- graffiti campaign wars. BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
JCHARLES@MIAMIHERALD.COM
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- On a white wall surrounding a government building, spray-painted scribble is evidence of an underground war of words: During the night, "Aba Préval'' (Down With President René Préval) mysteriously becomes "Viv Préval'' (Long Live).
Weeks before Friday's start of public campaigning for Haiti's upcoming presidential and legislative elections, supporters and opponents have been battling unofficially with graffiti on walls all over the capital.
It's a spray paint smackdown -- a war of words in a country where the illiteracy rate is more than 50 percent.
"It's a very cheap way of doing propaganda for your cause," said Jocelyn McCalla, a political strategist who has been following the writings. "The city looks like a mess."
Last week, the head of Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) implored candidates to stop the graffiti.

‘OTHER WAYS'
"For God's sake, stop dirtying up people's walls," Gaillot Dorsinvil said at a candidates gathering. "There are other ways people can campaign."
Then, raising his voice, he issued a stern warning: "Watch it. Even though the CEP doesn't have enforcement powers, don't be surprised if there are sanctions taken against political parties that don't respect the law."
Port-au-Prince, already teeming with tents and tarps from the Jan. 12 earthquake that left an estimated 300,000 dead and at least 1.5 million homeless, is now smeared in red, blue and black scrawls. Nineteen candidates jockey for the presidency, and more than 900 are running for 110 parliamentary seats.
Few candidates, if any, will admit to sanctioning the graffiti campaign.
For $35, a candidate -- or political operative -- can hire someone, arm him with a dozen cans of spray paint, and set him loose around town in the middle of the night.
"Even churches are not respected," said an enraged Haitian konpa music star and presidential candidate, Michel "Sweet Micky'' Martelly.
"My country is dirty enough; we don't need to make it dirtier," he said. "You don't see that in other places. We need to bring order."
Joseph Lambert, the national coordinator for Préval's INITE platform and former president of the Haitian Senate, said the coalition is also opposed to fighting out Haiti's campaigns on the walls. After all, he said, parliament passed a law banning it.
"We've asked our supporters and candidates not to do it," Lambert said. "It's not effective."
Still, when lawyer and contender Jean-Henry Céant showed up on a Saturday in Arcahaie, a small town north of Port-au-Prince, he couldn't escape freshly painted Viv Jude Célestin greetings. Célestin supporters also went on a writing spree after backers of former Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis began showing their support for Alexis on walls throughout the capital.
Célestin's presidential campaign says the scrawls are not endorsed by the campaign or the candidate, the former head of the government's road-building agency who was tapped by Préval to be his successor. The campaign points out that most of the graffiti is created, or "tagged," by one of three groups.
Tagging is a fairly recent phenomenon that was once used mostly by protesters to send a message to the government. It has now become a way to let candidates know which groups support them.
Just days before hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean filed his candidacy, the oversized words Jèn Kore Jèn (Youth Supporting Youth), written in bold red letters, began taking over the walls of private homes and businesses.
Even the protective barricades along a new highway leading into the Central Plateau were not spared.
"If it were up to me, we would never write on people's walls," said Gary Bodeau, 32, the leader of the youth movement that initially backed Jean, whose candidacy was rejected by the electoral council.
But Bodeau said graffiti is used because a billboard campaign costs between $5,000 and $10,000.
"That's the thing of the bourgeoisie," said Bodeau, who announced last week that his group was now backing Célestin. "It's the youth who painted the graffiti so they can get their message out."
The graffiti phenomenon started in Haiti as the Caribbean nation ended 29 years of the Duvalier dictatorship and began to usher in democracy in 1986. It also appears to have coincided with a critical mass of Haitians finally accepting Creole as a written language, and with the wall-building frenzy that occurred after the fall of the dictatorship. Those security walls were emblazoned with political murals and messages of peace and hope.

TRUE BAROMETER?
But whether the current scribbles are a true barometer of Haitians' feelings remains debatable.
Take, for example, the graffiti calling for the ouster of Préval and his government that covered a wall not far from the crumbled National Palace.
"People are suffering in the streets," said Daniel Pierre-Louis, 32, who sells used tires. "When they write this, it's a way of letting everyone know how we feel."
Still, Pierre-Louis concedes that despite his own disgust and desire for change, nothing on the walls will motivate him to change his mind about Nov. 28, election day. "I won't vote," he said. "I don't think this country will ever change."
Robert Maguire, a Haiti expert at Trinity University in Washington, D.C., said the writings carry weight inside political camps.
"Political operatives pay very close attention to the writing," he said. "It has always struck me that the handwriting of any single message often is the same -- as if one guy with an ample supply of spray paint can wield a lot of influence or at least be very visible."
Fritz Lebon, who runs a popular cleaning business, said he, too, has noticed the similarity in the writing when called on to whitewash walls.
He said he has been trying, without much success, to get people whose walls have been defaced to erase the graffiti as soon as it's put up. That way, he said, the scribblers won't return.
But the best solution, he said, is for politicians to speak out against the practice.
Lebon said he doesn't understand why politicians don't deliver a more forceful anti-graffiti message: "No one has said ‘Stop it.' It would be a good message for someone to say, ‘Stop this.' ''
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/14/v-fullstory/1873918/fighting-haitis-graffiti-politics.html#ixzz12Y9JVYVl

North Miami delays decision on Haiti funds

The North Miami City Council is expected to vote on who will get money donated to carry out Haiti reconstruction efforts on Oct. 26.
BY NADEGE CHARLES
NCHARLES@MIAMIHERALD.COM
Despite outcry from donors and concerns from the Red Cross, North Miami officials did not come to a consensus Tuesday on how they will spend more than $116,000 raised for Haiti relief immediately after the January earthquake.
Officials had put the issue on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting to discuss the fate of the funds raised ostensibly to be handed over to the American Red Cross in the days following the disaster.
At the meeting, the council decided to accept proposals from other organizations seeking the donated money to carry out Haiti reconstruction efforts.
The council did vote to remove the Red Cross' name from the city's website, which is still accepting online contributions.
But as of Wednesday afternoon, the city's Haiti relief site still stated: ``Our fundraising efforts will benefit the Red Cross.''
The council is expected to vote on who will get the donated money Oct. 26. At least two local organizations have already expressed interest in applying for the funds, which were donated by more than 200 people across Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
``Things are very bad in Haiti. By holding on to the money, children are dying. People are dying,'' said Marc Jacques, who submitted a proposal from his North Miami-based organization, Nord Ouest Environmental Inc, to install a water system at a hospital in Port-de-Paix, Haiti.

FRUSTRATION
Several donors, as well as the CEO of the American Red Cross of Greater Miami and the Keys, expressed frustration that the funds had not been turned over nine months after the earthquake.
Officials said they have not ruled out turning the money over to the Red Cross -- but if not, the city will consider refunds to donors who request them.
Several donors have complained the city misled them into thinking the money would be provided to the Red Cross immediately after the quake for relief efforts.
``I thought the money had already gone there, I wasn't aware it hadn't,'' said Mark Levitt, who donated money on behalf of his company Limousines of South Florida.
He said he doesn't care what agency receives the money -- as long at it goes to Haiti.
Mayor Andre Pierre said he will not support giving the money for basic needs like food and water, saying the city should fund long-term projects like hospitals and women's shelters.

ESSENTIALS
Julia Essman, owner of a Kendall automotive supply shop who contributed $200, said that the need for basic supplies was precisely why she donated the money in January.
``That's surprising, I thought the money would have been sent for food and shelter days later,'' Essman said.
Councilman Scott Galvin suggested the city contact every donor to determine if they have any objections to their money going to an organization other than the Red Cross. His motion did not receive a second. Pierre said that was not necessary.
``There's no need for us to go to individual donors of 25 dollars, 50 dollars,'' said Pierre, who took credit for $70,000 of the money raised. ``I contacted those people,'' he said.
Councilman Jean Marcellus said he was concerned about the city's image if 200 people received phone calls or letters from the city, asking them where their money should go.
``They will laugh at us,'' said Marcellus, who also said he would support giving the money to other groups besides the Red Cross. ``Where is our minimum leadership?''
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/14/1872566/city-delays-decision-on-haiti.html#ixzz12Y69lCLe

As elections loom, how will Haiti react?

The public campaigning for Haitian elections opened with lots of questions and frustrations. WALTER MICHOT / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
JCHARLES@MIAMIHERALD.COM
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Public campaigning for Haiti's upcoming elections opened Friday with a musical flair but no clear-cut favorite among the 19 presidential candidates vying to rebuild this earthquake-shattered nation.
A recent poll suggests that the contest is between President René Préval's 48-year-old protégé, Jude Célestin, and Mirlande Manigat, a 69-year-old twice-exiled grandmother and former first lady.
But with 1.5 million Haitians still displaced by the Jan. 12 quake, a crowded field of candidates and Haitians who are numbed by the daily grind of getting by, the only true sentiment at this moment seems to be that people are eager for change.
``We have no government. We only have a bunch of racketeers. A government is a group of people thinking for their country,'' said an unemployed Franky Metellus, 33, who has grown even more disappointed with the Préval government since the quake. ``Look at all of these young people in the streets. They are discouraged. They don't see the future.''
But it is too early to tell how such frustrations and disappointments will play out when Haitians vote in the Nov. 28 legislative and presidential elections. More than 900 candidates are vying for 110 parliamentary seats.
On Friday, the campaign season officially kicked off with a handful of rallies and public debates across the country. Thousands of people took to the streets to listen to music and rara bands with drums and shakers just outside the capital at a rally for konpa music star Michel ``Sweet Micky'' Martelly.
He led a band of pink and white-clad supporters on foot through the muddy streets of the capital, from the downtown Champs des Mars tent city to the Fontamara community, just south of Martissant.
Still, what should be a defining moment in a nation struggling to rebuild, may prove to be a time of apathy as Haitians -- traumatized by disaster fatigue, promises undelivered and governance unrealized -- simply stay home.
With little to distinguish candidates as far as programs go, many voters like Leo Pierre, 43, remain unenthusiastic and even cynical.
``I have voted so much and nothing has been realized. I don't know if I will vote,'' he said as he worked at a construction site in the Carrefour Feuilles neighborhood.
``People are tired with the government. They are not excited about the elections,'' said Daly Valet, publisher and editor-in-chief of Le Matin, a local newspaper. ``You get the impression it's a boxing match where the spectators are tired, the boxers are tired and there is nothing new to show.''
A recent, though controversial poll, of 6,000 prospective voters countrywide showed Manigat in the lead with 16.7 percent, dropping six percentage points from a similar survey taken weeks earlier by the same polling firm. Célestin, the former head of the government reconstruction agency, was next with 13 percent -- a 5 percentage point increase from his previous sixth position.
Martelly with 12.5 percent was also among candidates who polled in the top tier.
Yet one of the the most telling statistics was the percentage of voters who either were refusing to vote for any candidate, 14.8 percent, or who said they didn't know any of them, 7.5 percent.
The poll, which was taken Sept. 19-27, was commissioned by the business community and aimed at showing which candidates enjoyed name recognition among voters. It had a margin of error of 1.27 percent.
Observers say that the high percentage of ``undecided'' voters and the low percentages received by leading candidates speak to the lack of excitement.

``This is a low-profile election with low-profile candidates,'' Valet said.
But Steven Benoit, a one-time Préval supporter and former member of the lower chamber now running for one of 11 Senate seats believes ``people will go out to vote because they are frustrated.
``It is really obvious that this government has failed,'' he said. ``I truly believe these elections will be a negative report against INITE [Préval's UNITY political coalition], and I am expecting a large turnout.''
Still, some in the opposition continue to call for an election boycott even as their parliamentary candidates increasingly participate in the electoral process.
With the opposition fragmented and most candidates lacking financing, the candidates Préval supports enjoy a considerable advantage. And that worries people like Valet as Haiti's rubble-strewn streets become dominated by life-size green and yellow INITE billboards featuring a smiling Célestin.
``The democratic process has been kidnapped by money,'' Valet said. ``There are no rules to control the flow of money, no rules to control access to public and state-funded media.''
Concerns over the integrity of the voting process also persist. Last week, 45 members of the U.S. Congress, including South Florida Democrats Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Alcee L. Hastings, signed a letter urging U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ensure Haiti's elections are ``free, fair, and inclusive,'' because ``allowing flawed elections now will come back to haunt the international community later.''
The group raised concerns about access to voting cards -- there is just one machine in the entire country to print cards -- and the possible shortage of polling stations since many were destroyed in the quake.
They also criticized the exclusion of candidates from former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Fanmi Lavalaspolitical party and several others.
Fanmi Lavalas is barred because Aristide, head of the party for life, is the only one who can sign off on allowing the party to participate, election officials said, and he is in exile in South Africa.
Still, there are at least six Lavalas candidates in the presidential race, including former Aristide Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and Minister of Haitians Living Abroad Leslie Voltaire, and Yves Cristallin,Fanmi Lavalas co-founder and former Préval minister of Social Affairs.
A U.S. State Department spokesman said the department will look into the congressional group's concerns.
``What's important is the Haitian people want democracy. There are a few who want disorder, but the Haitian people know where their interests lie,'' Préval told The Miami Herald recently.
Last week, hundreds of candidates attended an information session with electoral officials, who drummed in a message that they are committed to fair and transparent voting and are concerned about possible fraud and violence.
Manigat said she believes Haiti can pull off ``acceptable elections'' despite the challenges. Her husband, former President Leslie Manigat, finished a controversial second to Préval in 2006.
``Whatever intentions they did have to steal the elections, they cannot do it this year,'' she told The Miami Herald. ``It will be more complicated. The international community wants elections and they want them to be correct, honest.''
Some in the international community are already preparing themselves for the possibility the election may be contested.
One area of concern is the impact of the tens of thousands of voters who died in the quake.
While photos and ID cardnumbers on polling station registers will make it difficult forthe dead to vote, they cannot be purged from the voters' list without a death certificate.
Still, the vote on the last Sunday in November will be the first competitive election since 1990 with candidates strong enough to force a presidential runoff.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/15/1876019_p2/as-elections-loom-how-will-haiti.html#ixzz12Y41SWs7
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/15/1876019/as-elections-loom-how-will-haiti.html#ixzz12Y3j6XNX

Haitian presidential candidates campaign in Fla.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Some Haitian presidential candidates plan to present their platforms to Haitian-Americans at a Tampa Bay college.
Haiti's presidential elections are scheduled to be held Nov. 28. There are 19 candidates seeking to become president of the Caribbean country struggling to recover from a January earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless.
At least 11 candidates say they'll participate in a forum Saturday at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg.
Many candidates have extended their campaigning to the U.S. Haitian-Americans cannot vote in their homeland, but they can raise money for candidates and influence their friends and family in Haiti.
According to U.S. Census estimates, more than 375,000 Haitians live in Florida.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/16/1876165/haitian-presidential-candidates.html#ixzz12Y28EKlo

Haitian Catholics to mark spiritual holiday of Jericho

CARL JUSTE / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
BY JAWEED KALEEM
JKALEEM@MIAMIHERALD.COM
Thousands of Haitian Catholics are expected at Notre Dame d'Haiti Mission in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood over the next week for the popular spiritual revival of Jericho.
During Jericho, Catholics ask God to alleviate problems such as illness, joblessness, poverty and estrangement from family members.
Each night through Saturday, parishioners will walk around the church grounds as they pray, evoking the story of how God helped the ancient Israelites conquer the Biblical city of Jericho by telling them to march around the city's walls for seven days.
On the seventh day, the Israelites were told to blow rams horns, after which the city's walls fell. During Jericho, Catholics are encouraged to turn to God to remove the obstacles in their lives that are causing them pain.
Observations at Notre Dame, 112 NE 62nd St., begin at 3 p.m. Sunday. Archbishop Thomas Wenski will celebrate Mass at 7 p.m. The church will host nightly prayers from Monday through Saturday and the revival will end with a health fair on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
``In our lives, there are many walls,'' said the Rev. Reginald Jean-Mary of Notre Dame. ``We see Jericho as a spiritual exercise where we come to a personal level of consciousness as a community and body of faith . . .``We need to take a moment to see how we can relieve ourselves, to see how we can see how we can live in harmony with ourselves and God,'' he added. ``There are many of people suffering, both here and in Haiti.''
In past years, Catholics from Boston, New York and Haiti have been among those who attend the revival.
The event is free. More information is available at 305-751-6289.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/16/1876377/haitian-catholics-to-mark-spiritual.html#ixzz12Y0sKOTd

Haitian earthquake survivor reunites with Fairfax County rescuers

By Gregg MacDonald, Fairfax County Times

Thursday, October 14, 2010
When a massive 7.0 earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 12, James Gulley was buried alive as the hotel he was in instantly became a pile of crumbled concrete.
A vaulted concrete ceiling had fallen, trapping him inside an 8-foot-by-8-foot portion, where he prayed he would be found.
Fifty-five hours later, Gulley was discovered alive by a rescue team that included members of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue squad.
On Oct. 5, Gulley traveled to Fairfax County and was reunited with three of his rescuers.
During a presentation at Fairfax United Methodist Church in Fairfax City, Gulley related his ordeal as the rescue workers sat in the audience, listening intently to the story of the man whose life they helped save.
Gulley, 64, is a Colorado missionary who specializes in sustainable agriculture practices. He has a doctorate in international relations.
Gulley was in Haiti as part of a three-person team from the Board of Global Ministries, part of the United Methodist Church. He and two Methodist reverends, Sam Dixon and Clint Rabb, were on their way to a meeting addressing medical and agricultural services in the Montana Hotel when the earthquake hit.
"There was no time to think," Gulley said. "The floor came up, and then the ceiling came down, all within seconds. The sensation was somewhat like being on a high-speed roller coaster."
Gulley said he fell behind a large wooden reservation desk that took the brunt of the ceiling's force when it fell.
"After a few minutes, I could see that Sam and Clint were in the same chamber with me," Gulley said. "They both told me that their legs were broken. Sam's legs were actually crushed under the weight of fallen concrete pillars. He was in a lot of pain." Gulley said two other people, Sarla Chand and Rick Santos of Interchurch Medical Assistance, also were under the same ceiling section.
"I immediately checked my cellphone but had no signal," Gulley said. "None of us did."
The five had no choice but to await rescue efforts as days went by. For food, they shared one Tootsie-Roll Pop. For water, each person drank his own urine, Gulley said.
"Everyone prayed," he said.

After 55 hours, rescuers arrived and began digging the group out, cutting through the concrete with heavy equipment. Gulley, Chand and Santos were pulled out alive. Dixon and Rabb did not survive.
Among the rescuers were William Thurston and William Moreland of the Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team.
"We were part of Blue Squad One that helped the French team recover survivors from the Montana Hotel," Thurston said.
"It's not something I will ever forget," Moreland said.
At Fairfax United Methodist Church, Gulley was reunited with Thurston and Moreland, along with their chief, Bob Zoldos, who was administratively involved in the rescue.
"I am eternally grateful to these gentlemen," Gulley said. "It was really humbling to see these young men risking their lives to save others. They were risking just as much as anyone else in the aftermath of that horrendous earthquake. Several aftershocks occurred, but these guys just kept going, rescuing the lives of others."
Today, through the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Gulley is again attempting to teach Haitians sustainable agriculture practices. He has been back to Haiti several times since the January earthquake and plans on returning again.
"It is amazing to think how many more people's lives may be saved by the fact that this one man survived the earthquake," Zoldos said.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/13/AR2010101302953_2.html

Peacekeepers break up anti-UN protest in Haiti

The Associated Press
Friday, October 15, 2010; 2:27 PM
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- U.N. peacekeepers clashed Friday with a small group of Haitians protesting the yearly renewal of the 12,000-member military and police force.
About 60 protesters organized by labor, housing and other activist groups blocked the entrance to the main U.N. logistics base near Port-au-Prince's airport.
Most of the protesters came from the post-earthquake camps that still dominate the capital. They spray-painted anti-U.N. slogans on cars and burned the flag of Brazil, which provides the largest contingent to the mission.
U.N. security personnel then emerged from the base. A plainclothes guard struck a protester before a Jordanian soldier with the mission fired a warning shot. AP journalists also saw a Haitian policeman hit protesters with his rifle and a U.N. vehicle push through the crowd, knocking over protesters and journalists.
The protest was in response to a unanimous Security Council vote Thursday to renew the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH, which has been in place since the 2004 ouster of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
A statement from legal-aid group Bureau des Avocats Internationaux said money is wasted on the mission, which it called ineffective. It said protesters want "real assistance, not the renewal of ... an occupying military force."
The U.N. has budgeted $380 million for the mission this year.
Spokesman Vicenzo Pugliese said the mission had no comment on the protest.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/15/AR2010101504139.html

Maryland pastor's family stranded in Haiti after deadly earthquake

When a 7.0 earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on January 12, it would leave Haitian immigrant and Silver Spring resident William Saint-Hilaire wondering how he'd be able to continue on without his family. By Theola Labbé-DeBose and Wil Haygood
Thursday, January 21, 2010
At 5:30 on the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 12, William Saint-Hilaire rose from his tiny Silver Spring basement apartment to get ready for work. By 2 o'clock, he had finished at his job installing sprinkler systems for a company in Bethesda and returned home for a bite. A short while later, he left for a 4:45 appointment at Montgomery County Community College to meet with an academic counselor about an English course he hoped to take.
"I was sitting there," he recalls, "talking to the counselor, and my cellphone started going off." He had the phone on vibrate. He did not want to be rude by answering it, so he let it go.
In the hallway after the meeting, Saint-Hilaire finally pulled the cellphone from his pocket. "It was a member from my church. She said, 'There's been an earthquake in Haiti! In Port-au-Prince!' " Saint-Hilaire ran to his car and raced toward his church in Adelphi. He pulled up in the parking lot of Eglise Baptiste du Calvaire where he is an assistant pastor, and rushed inside. On the television in a church office he saw images of destruction, of the dead and barely alive. The people around him seemed to suddenly recede from his line of vision. Within moments, an eerie calm settled inside him.
His wife and six children lived in a small house in Petionville in Port-au-Prince, where the 7.0 earthquake had struck. And so Saint-Hilaire knew what he knew: "My family is dead," he uttered to himself. "They are no more."
Lissa, his wife, and their children, Billy, 16, Bella, 15, Bello, 14, Benedict, 13, and the lovely and rambunctious 8-year-old twins, Belline and Bellinda. Gone. As if clipped from all the picture frames inside his basement apartment. "They could not survive that."
And with this belief overtaking him, Saint-Hilaire shuddered and his eyes went blank as he seemed to rise up and away from his own limp body. Weightless. "I could no longer tell if I was on the ground -- or in the air."
Dinnertime was nearing and Lissa Saint-Hilaire was in the family's house preparing a meal for the children and a couple of neighbors. She had just finished cooking. Bella was upstairs with her and the others were in the basement, playing their musical instruments.
Then, she recalls: "I felt the earth move."
A rumble, and booming sounds. It was as if a giant bulldozer had come to life beneath the ground.
Her screaming seemed to be in the air before it left her throat. She heard her children's footsteps.
"Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"
Six sets of terrified eyes. Books and food tumbled from shelves. Pictures, ceramic figures, candles clattered to the floor. Windows shattered. Sounds unlike any they'd ever heard: horror's soundtrack.

They ran to the roof. They could see buildings collapsing and slabs of brick falling. They rushed back downstairs. As if frozen, they crouched together in the living room. They began to pray, hoping God would hear. But with more booming, God's ears seemed a mighty long way away. "The blood of Jesus! The blood of Jesus!" one of the dinner guests cried out.
Lissa had to protect her children.
"Mommy! Mommy!"
Wind coming through the windows blew things about. Like baby sheep, the children scooted close to their mother. They thought the house might cave in. They threw shoes, a Bible, birth certificates, passports into a green pillowcase. They ran out, turned up an alley, roped together by their own sets of hands. Brick walls were falling. The earth had stopped moving, but things above it had not. They hurried aimlessly down another street.
"Mommy!"
It was Belline; then Bellinda; then Bello. Everyone screaming "Mommy!"
Out of breath, they stopped. And they saw it: Death, dying, howling. Little limbs as still as store dollbabies. Longer legs protruding from buildings and twisting like worms in mud.
The kids shuddered.
The falling ash was blinding them. The blind leading the blind.
Bella looked at Benedict who looked at Billy. Lissa counted her six children. One by one, ending with her inseparable twins. And, with dead bodies lying all around her, she knew what she knew: They were among the undead.
Theirs was a classical Haitian love story tinged with the intrigue and danger that have haunted the island nation for decades.
William Saint-Hilaire first met Lissa Jacquet in 1987 at church in Haiti. He was teaching junior high school math and some English. They were married five years later. Lissa liked that William was "a man of God," who also was doing some church ministry. They purchased a house -- No. 3 on Perdrix -- in Petionville. It had two floors and two bedrooms. They were able to make some additions over the years, supplemented by money Lissa earned as a hotel maid.
In 2001, backed by the United States government, former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was returned to power in Haiti. His reign was fraught with controversy and accusations by human rights activists of skullduggery and thuggishness.
In time, William found himself speaking against the Aristide government in class. He was warned to stop. Authorities summoned him for questioning more than once. Then came the day in early 2002 when a fellow teacher, also outspoken, disappeared. In early 2003 Lissa, who had become increasingly worried about her husband's political stance, told him he should leave Haiti or risk not living to see his children grow up. At the airport, the children howled as Papi disappeared into the skies.
He settled first in Brooklyn, where he met a Haitian exile group, which helped him get to Silver Spring. He began working and sending money home to his family. He never let more than two days go by without calling home, and the voices of his wife and six children filled him with joy. For the past year, he has been working with an immigration lawyer to get visas so his family can come join him.
When Saint-Hilaire, 46, regained his equilibrium at the church on Jan. 12 in the hours after the earthquake, he started phoning his wife's number. It was as if the calls were landing inside of a cemetery. The cellphone towers had fallen inside Haiti. But something had begun to flicker faintly inside of him and he called, anyway. Then he started phoning friends in Miami and Orlando. Maybe they had heard something. Maybe they had talked to somebody who had talked to somebody who had seen Lissa and the children before the buildings began to fall.
He kept moving around the church, as if fearful that the next person he stopped to talk to might deliver some fateful news. He wandered down hallways and walked into offices, not knowing why he was there. He paced outside in the nippy air. He left to buy more phone cards.
He returned home to his basement apartment Tuesday night. He looked at pictures of his children. He thought of their favorite hobbies: He saw Billy playing the piano. He saw Bella on her computer looking at maps. He saw Benedict beating the drums. He saw the twins swaying side by side singing gospel music, which they loved doing every Sunday in church. Then when he lay down -- "finally at 3 a.m." -- he saw awful visions of his family beneath rubble. He saw church funerals. He bolted upright. "I was thinking if they are truly dead, what will I do?"
He had to get work, but he couldn't go because he couldn't concentrate. So with his boss's support, he returned to his church. The death toll kept rising, but for Saint-Hilaire those epic numbers were reduced, in his mind's eye, to seven: He felt selfish for thinking so much about them. Other Haitians arrived at the church for counseling. They had family who were missing, too. "See the secretary," he said over and over.
And then he would walk down a hallway and flick open his cellphone. He'd dial Lissa's number. Maybe one of the children got away and was running someplace to get help. "I had to think of what might be a possibility," he says. But nothing. "Then I figured that if the older children, Billy, Bella and Bello survived, they would take care of the others. I figured yes, if they survived, my family could survive. Then I began to think: 'How am I going to get back into Haiti?' "
At home on Wednesday night, he stared at pictures of his children. His eyes were so very tired. "I wondered how come I couldn't hear God. That made me think my family is dead -- or dying."
That first night Lissa and her children walked and walked, not knowing where they were going, just trying to stay alive. They passed bands of people on their knees praying, as though inside an invisible church. Brick rubble was everywhere. Then night fell and it was as if a dark blanket had been draped over everyone.

CATASTROPHE IN HAITI: One man's agonizing wait
Lissa hugged her children. Some tough-looking youths were loitering in front of some crumbling houses, and for a little money they would dash in a house and steal something. It was risky and dangerous work, like playing Russian roulette with the brick walls. Lissa asked for a sheet. One sheet for a family of seven. Falling rock sounded like boulders, snapping them from sleep.
The next morning, they were surrounded by the acrid smell of dying. Lissa circled back to their family's collapsed home, lingering long enough inside to grab her bankbook: There was $20 in one account. She wished she had that $20 right now.
On Thursday, Lissa began to grow despondent. They found a little encampment. "Our belongings are few," she explained later. "We have our things in buckets and bags. There is no house in Haiti where we could go. We have no water to drink."
Famished and thirsty, the children wondered aloud whether their Papi was looking for them. Lissa was now worrying about the possibility of rain, of mud and mudslides and bricks falling on her children.
The flies that were buzzing seemed to grow larger by the minute. They were buzzing from dead body to dead body. From pool of blood to pool of blood. Then they began landing on the Saint-Hilaire children. Lissa fanned them away. The twins shrieked. Lissa spotted a woman holding a live rooster. Another woman plunged a knife into the rooster, killing it.
On Thursday morning, William heard from someone in Miami. "They told me that all of the houses in my neighborhood had fallen down." He didn't know what to believe. "There were a lot of rumors," he says.
Then he began thinking that people knew what had happened to his family and just didn't want to deliver the grim news. "You know how someone calls you and then don't really say anything? I thought they were calling because they knew I knew my family was dead but that I didn't want to talk about it."
He didn't know.
What he felt, he hated feeling: They could not survive something that had killed so many people. How would they stay connected to one another? At the same time, he hoped. He just knew that Billy, the oldest, would give his life to save any of the younger ones.

Members of the church began laying their hands on William, in little comforting motions throughout the day. He'd sit down and close his eyes for five minutes and suddenly wake up, imagining he had heard the voice of one of his children.
William was at the church late Friday when he heard a rumor from a relative in Orlando. Someone had seen one of his twins on the side of a road -- alone. He dismissed that because he knew one twin would never leave the other. "It had to be a rumor," he says.
Drained, unwashed and ill-clothed, the Saint-Hilaire family was now languishing under a blue tarp propped up with sticks, about three miles from their house in Port-au-Prince. The children worried that their mother had become delirious from drinking dirty water. She was complaining that she was feeling sick, that she might not make it. The family eventually found a prayer group and joined in. Then they scavenged for food, without much success. Early on Saturday morning, they walked past a house with four people visible in the living room. The roof started to fall in and Lissa tried to shield her children's eyes. The collapse looked lethal. The twins began to cry. They quickened their pace, to where they still did not know. Lissa hated that her children had to walk in cheap sandals.
They reached a small field and the children dozed off, their heads rolling about like plums. Death now had a ghostly glow: ashen bodies lying on the ground. Other bodies like twisted up mannequins. Men and women on foot moving brick, looking at a human face here, a human face there, then scurrying off, the clock of death ticking faster than their feet could move and their tired hands could lift another piece of brick.
The sky was churning as Lissa sat watch over her sleeping children.
William was in his living room on Saturday morning when his niece, Nephtali Saint-Hilaire, called from Orlando. "She told me she talked to someone in Port-au-Prince who saw my family and that they are alive. Still, I said, 'I can't trust this rumor! How can you be sure?' Then we lost phone contact."
Then an hour or so later, Rosemary Mesidor, a friend in Florida, called. She told him that his family was alive.
"How do you know?" he snapped.
She told him she had tracked someone down who recognized Lissa and could arrange a phone call.
William was standing when his cellphone rang.
It was Rosemary.
"Hold on for me, William," she screamed. "Just hold on."
And then the voice of the woman he had married at a small church in Port-au-Prince in 1992 and had given birth to their six children came on the line.
"William," she said, "me and the children are alive."
"Thank God!" he said. "Thank God!" He started pacing rapidly. He kept talking over his wife. Later, he would regret not hearing everything.
Lissa told him they have no food or water. She told him their house is ruined and she has no money.
She told him she loved him.
He told her he loved her.
During the days that followed, William Saint-Hilaire would go from being grateful that his family had miraculously survived the earthquake, to fearful that they will now die of hunger. In a second, brief phone call before the line went dead, Lissa would tell him that the children are growing steadily weaker. His 8-year-old daughter Belline would say "Daddy, the ground won't stop shaking." But on Saturday after saying goodbye to his wife, Saint-Hilaire listened to the voice of his 15-year-old daughter Bella on the phone.
"Papi," she asked, "how are you?"
And when his oldest daughter -- who had thus far endured unimaginable horror, who was now without food and water and had seen bodies heaped like stacks of laundry -- showed concern for her father and his well-being, Saint-Hilaire balled his hand up and put it in his mouth to stifle the sobs of relief.
Labbe-DeBose reported from Port-au-Prince. Haygood reported from Washington.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/20/AR2010012004852_5.html?sid=ST2010012004763

Whatever Happened To ... the family missing, then found, in Haiti

William Saint-Hilaire sheds tears of relief in January.
(Linda Davidson - The Washington Post)
By Wil Haygood
Sunday, October 17, 2010
On Jan. 12, 2010, William Saint-Hilaire slipped into profound darkness. His wife and six children were among the missing in the 7.0 earthquake that had devastated Haiti, killing thousands. He had nightmares. He wondered, while sitting and pacing in his small basement apartment in Silver Spring, what part of Port-au-Prince they might be entombed in. But after several days of silence, the Saint-Hilaires emerged from the rubble, having escaped their home in the Petionville neighborhood and moved to a makeshift camp.
Saint-Hilaire, 46, called his family's survival through the earthquake and its immediate aftermath -- chronicled along with Saint-Hilaire's vigil in a Jan. 21 story on the front page of The Washington Post -- "a miracle."
Since then, donations and other aid have poured into the devastated country. After months of living in tents, the family was able to move to a small home near its old one.
"But my wife is very depressed," Saint-Hilaire says. "I was unable to get them out on humanitarian visas."
Saint-Hilaire says immigration officials denied him the visas because there were too many people with severe injuries who needed assistance first. Some had lost limbs; others needed life-saving surgery. Saint-Hilaire's family -- his wife, Lissa; Billy, 16; Bella, 15; Bello, 14; Benedict, 13; and 8-year-old twins Belline and Bellinda -- suffered scratches and little more, save for the trauma of seeing buildings collapse and encountering dead bodies everywhere.
Lately, Saint-Hilaire has started to worry about Benedict and the twins. "They all have eye infections that keep coming back after they go away for a little while. We think the infections are from all the days they spent sleeping on the ground and the bacteria."
Saint-Hilaire first came to America in 2003. In Haiti, he had been a teacher. He was outspoken against Jean-Bertrand Aristide, joining others who accused the then-president and his cronies of human rights abuses. Saint-Hilaire's wife feared he would not survive, given the political dynamics, so he left for New York, then made his way to Maryland. He worked hard to improve his English and joined the ministerial staff at Eglise Baptiste du Calvaire church in Adelphi, rising to become assistant pastor. He got work installing sprinkler systems for a company in Bethesda. All along, he dreamed of the day he could bring his family to America.
Saint-Hilaire was recently laid off from his job in Bethesda. But he's grateful to still have work at the church. His dream now is more modest, but it keeps him going forward: "My kids really want me to come back. ... I only want to go visit them, even if I can't get them out right now."

See original story:
Maryland pastor's family stranded in Haiti after deadly earthquake
Curious?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/08/AR2010100805398.html

Rodney Saint-Éloi : l'espoir est un métier

Publié le 15 octobre 2010
Chantal Guy, La Presse
Après avoir publié Tout bouge autour de moi de son ami Dany Laferrière, l'écrivain et éditeur Rodney Saint-Éloi signe maintenant son propre livre sur le séisme qui a ravagé son pays. Mais Haïti Kenbe La! est plus qu'un témoignage. C'est un livre utile, un guide, un mode d'emploi, et, bien sûr, une oeuvre poétique.
De retour au Québec après avoir vu le pire, c'est par les mots
que Rodney Saint-Éloi a voulu aider Haïti.

Photo: Robert Skinner, La Presse
Installé au Québec depuis une dizaine d'années, Rodney Saint-Éloi travaille d'arrache-pied pour faire se rencontrer les littératures haïtienne et québécoise par sa maison d'édition Mémoire d'encrier, qu'il a fondée en 2003. Le 12 janvier, il était en Haïti pour ça, c'est-à-dire pour la littérature, au festival Étonnants Voyageurs. Puis, l'horreur est arrivée. «Et l'horreur est maintenant en moi», dit-il.
Sa passion pour son pays natal n'a d'égale que son amour pour la littérature. Il est un merveilleux professeur pour faire comprendre Haïti et ses écrivains, c'est d'ailleurs ce qui a totalement charmé Yasmina Khadra qui signe la préface de Haïti Kenbe La! - qui veut dire en créole «Haïti, redresse-toi!».
Mais toute passion est douloureuse, en particulier pour l'exilé. De retour au Québec après avoir vu le pire, c'est par les mots qu'il a voulu aider Haïti. Il est de toutes les manifestations littéraires sur le sujet, il a publié chez lui le livre de Dany Laferrière, son «frère», il travaille à un ouvrage collectif sur la reconstruction d'Haïti. Mais pour l'instant, il parle de son livre, publié chez Michel Lafon - car à Mémoire d'encrier, il n'aurait pas pu s'occuper de sa promotion - dans lequel on peut lire: «Le vrai remède à la douleur, c'est d'avoir les mots justes pour la secouer et la circonscrire. Sinon, elle résiste longtemps après et gangrène tout.»
S'il l'a écrit, c'est pour à la fois pour arrêter la progression du «goudou-goudou» - le nom que les Haïtiens ont donné au séisme d'après le bruit qu'il a fait - et pour expliquer aux lecteurs intéressés par la tragédie le fait que depuis 200 ans, l'histoire d'Haïti est en fait une suite de séismes. «Il faut comprendre que les problèmes qu'il y a en Haïti depuis le 12 janvier étaient là avant, dit-il. Le séisme a eu un côté égalitaire dans cette société profondément divisée et injuste. Tout le monde était touché.»
Cette suite de séismes, c'est la colonisation, l'esclavage, l'occupation, les élites «dégoûtantes», les dictatures, qui ont laissé de profondes séquelles dans ce pays que l'on nommait pourtant la Perle des Antilles. «Je voulais écrire un livre utile, qui pourrait accompagner un certain nombre de questions sur Haïti, explique-t-il. Trop souvent, les gens ont des clichés sur ce pays. Montrer ce grand goût de vivre, ne pas sombrer dans le misérabilisme. Ce peuple-là s'accroche à la vie. C'est un défi à l'humanité.»

Les dangers du concept de résilience
En effet, on a vu la grande force de ce peuple dans l'inimaginable. Mais Rodney Saint-Éloi s'indigne contre le concept de résilience qu'on a rapidement appliqué aux Haïtiens. «Il ne faut pas voir les Haïtiens comme des extraterrestres qui seraient immunisés contre la douleur, dit-il. C'est un être humain. Un être riche qui a été appauvri. Je pense qu'il faut appréhender Haïti dans son intimité, et il n'y a pas meilleure manière que par sa littérature. La proximité, ça aide à la tendresse et à l'amour. J'ai écrit que c'est la tendresse et la beauté qui vont sauver Haïti. Envoyer de l'argent n'est pas tout ce qui compte.»
S'il voit une chose positive à ce 12 janvier funeste, c'est par la réponse très sensible de la communauté internationale. Il dit sentir que cette même communauté qui a souvent nui à Haïti, avec de bonnes ou de mauvaises intentions, a maintenant elle-même un profond désir de changement. «On sent presque un empressement, voire un désir de changer le paradigme de l'humanitaire. Les médias rappellent tous les mois le séisme, les gens s'attendent à quelque chose. L'humanitaire, c'est qu'on ne laisse pas mourir les gens, on fait dans la charité sociale. Pour la première fois, on essaie d'introduire de l'humain dans l'humanitaire. Une grande tendresse enveloppe Haïti et ça, c'est nouveau.»
Alors oui, il fonde beaucoup d'espoir dans ce tabula rasa forcé et tragique, qui a fait tomber autant de murs que de préjugés, croit-il. «Il ne faut pas que ça repousse comme avant.»
D'un point de vue plus personnel, Rodney Saint-Éloi doit de son côté apprendre à vivre avec «l'horreur qui est en lui», se réconcilier avec ses morts. Sur place, après ces 35 secondes terribles, il n'avait que le parfum des lilas de son enfance et un poème de Davertige pour tenir le coup. Ainsi que la solidarité spontanée qui s'est créée chez les sinistrés. C'est seulement de retour à Montréal, seul dans son appartement, qu'il a compris l'ampleur de la catastrophe, et de sa peine. Aussi de l'expérience fondamentale qu'il venait de vivre. «Montréal était en fait un atterrissage. J'étais encore là-bas. On a vu tellement de gens être dépossédés de leurs corps. Tant de morts. Nous étions au plus simple de notre humanité: l'humilité. Un simple élément parmi les éléments. J'ai dû réapprendre à me réapproprier mon corps, à redevenir moi-même.»
Redevenir soi-même pour continuer à avancer. «Pour moi, l'espoir, c'est un métier. Sinon, on doit plier bagage. Il faut inventer une utopie pour Haïti. Peut-être que la communauté internationale se trompe en voulant reconstruire très vite. Trop vite. Ça prend du temps, après deux siècles de chaos. Quand bien même il y aurait neuf millions d'ONG en Haïti, ça ne suffirait pas pour construire un pays. Ce sont les Haïtiens qui vont reconstruire le pays. La communauté internationale est en train d'expérimenter un pays qui n'existe nulle part. Il faut que les gens mettent dans leur tête le mot espoir. C'est pourquoi la littérature est importante: elle met en tête l'imaginaire du pays.»
http://www.cyberpresse.ca/arts/livres/201010/15/01-4332671-rodney-saint-eloi-lespoir-est-un-metier.php
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Haïti Kenbe La! 35 secondes et mon pays à reconstruire. Rodney Saint-Éloi. Michel Lafon, 267 pages.