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“What Haitians Want From Americans (And What They Don’t)”

March 31, 2010

by Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, director of the Peasant Movement of Papay:

When we speak of American imperialists, we make a distinction between government and people.  We believe that a lot of people are conscious of what has happened to Haiti and don’t want the imperialist project of the American government.  There are a lot of things that we can do together.  There are people here thinking seriously about alternative development in Haiti. There are many ways that progressive American people can help with that.

We need people in the US to tell the American government that what they are giving is not what we need.  Why do we need 20,000 U.S. soldiers?  We don’t. In Clinton’s plan, there are free trade zones. We don’t want that. We don’t need them sending in American firms to reconstruct Port-au-Prince, either, which will just lead to its returning as the center of everything in the country. Rural areas could start producing construction materials that we need to rebuild. We need fruit plantations, we need irrigation systems, we need local agriculture industry.

American progressives could lead delegations to come see the country, so that when they return, they could help us reject the imperialist plan. Go out to the countryside, see that people have hope that they can change their lives. In the chain of solidarity, instead of sending food, send organic seeds, send tools, help with the management of water. A group in the U.S. can work with a group in Haiti and help it build a cistern, dig a well, reforest, build silos to create seed banks of local seeds. Support groups that are reconstructing rural Haiti, that are creating work in the mountains. Help us establish rural universities. Help people who have left [earthquake-hit areas and gone to the country] be able to sustain themselves.

We need American people to say, “we stand with the popular project for the rebuilding of Haiti.” We need it to be permanent, for Americans to continue to accompany the Haitian people, because the reconstruction of a Haiti is something that will take years.

This is the time to thank many groups for showing how much they are with the Haitian people, for doing all they can, for collecting medical supplies. There’s been an extraordinary demonstration of solidarity.

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