Warped Lens

A Tale of Two Neighbors: Cuba and Haiti
Warped Lens

A Tale of Two Neighbors: Cuba and Haiti

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

Editor’s note: Second of a three-part series

HAVANA, Cuba – Haitians and Cubans have been allies for quite some time, and that bond remains to this day. The two countries share warm relations, and Cuban doctors over the last 20 years have literally saved thousands of Haitian lives working in clinics in far-flung places in the mountainous country.

Why is Cuba Spotless, While Haiti is Dirty?
Warped Lens

Why is Cuba Spotless, While Haiti is Dirty?

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

Editor’s Note, this is the first of three-part series comparing Cuba with Haiti

HAVANA, Cuba – The first thing I noticed when I landed at the airport in Cuba is the ubiquity of the 1950s American-made cars. Then I quickly realized how clean the air and ocean is, and how the streets are void of trash. The place is spotless and even in the countryside, peasants have trash disposals to ensure that towns are not overran with garbage.

This is a far cry from Haiti, where soot, trash and a putrid smell hits you instantly. Cuba and Haiti share many similarities. Both countries have been the subject of punishing embargoes from the United States and Haitians have been moving to Cuba since the turn of last century, largely to work in the sugarcane fields throughout Cuba. The eastern province of Oriente, the heart of Afro Cuba culture is decidedly Haitian influenced.

Haiti Needs a Common Agenda
Warped Lens

Haiti Needs a Common Agenda

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

PORT-AU-PRINCE – Last week I spent a few days in Haiti covering the country’s elections. At stake was the presidency and the entire parliament, which is up for grabs, and those elections have been long overdue.

So naturally I am peppered with questions from friends and colleagues about Haiti’s latest sordid political chapter in the country’s continuous history of mismanagement and poor leadership.

Haitians Souring on Elections As Vote Approaches
Warped Lens

Haitians Souring on Elections As Vote Approaches

PORT-AU-PRINCE – For the most part, people were euphoric during the Haitian presidential elections in December 1990. They were held a few years after Jean Claude Duvalier’s dictatorial regime had fled, and the interim junta in power had declared that the military and the people were involved in a “banboch democratic” or a democratic fete.

Haiti’s Martelly Plays to the Tune of His Own Drummer
Warped Lens

Haiti’s Martelly Plays to the Tune of His Own Drummer

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

Shortly after taking office, Michel Martelly came up with a plan to levy a tax on money transfers and international calls flowing into the cash strapped, politically troubled nation. The tax ostensibly was to create a fund to provide universal elementary education to millions of impoverished children.

While the government has been collecting this money – to the consternation of many Haitian Americans- parliament has never voted on the measure, let alone approved it into law.

Those are the type of details that President Martelly and his administration seem to elude or they never bothered with in most of their actions, however well intended. This is no small matter because despite its dysfunction, Haiti does have a parliament and the administration has been collecting the money illegally.

Strong Leadership is Needed in Haiti, Not Protests
Warped Lens

Strong Leadership is Needed in Haiti, Not Protests

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

The protests that are gripping Haiti seem eerily familiar.

In late 2003, shortly before Haiti was to celebrate its 200 years of independence, the opposition at the time declared war on President Jean Bertrand Aristide. They took to the streets almost daily and vowed to remain vigilant until Aristide left power.

By late February 2004, Aristide was indeed ousted and was whisked out of the country by American officials, first to Central African Republic and then to South Africa, where he remained in exile for almost eight years until his unexpected returned to his homeland two years ago.

Lamothe: No Need to Stretch Reality
Warped Lens

Lamothe: No Need to Stretch Reality

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

As we move toward the next presidential election, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has made his ambitions to succeed Martelly known. The former business associate of President Michel Martelly works hard to be a man of the people, all the while participating in photo ops where he’s seen hugging poor children and dancing with local peasant women – the sort of practices politicians of all stripes try to master.

Haiti Should Not Provide State Funeral to Duvalier
Warped Lens

Haiti Should Not Provide State Funeral to Duvalier

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

On Saturday Haitians in the United States and in the homeland received news of the death of Jean-Claude Duvalier and shrugged collectively. The Duvalier years — from 1971 to 1986 — are ones that most Haitians would rather forget. Many of us moved away from Haiti and sought a better life anywhere, but our troubled homeland.

Tropical Salt
Warped Lens

Tropical Salt

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

In 1994, Edwidge Armand, who was working in the financial sector in New York, began exploring the possibility of starting a business in Haiti. Armand had inherited some land in Grande Saline, a salt rich area in the Artibonite Valley, from his grandparents.

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