Sunday, June 21, 2009

Violence in Haiti

Student demonstrators attacked and burned a U.N. police vehicle in the Haitian capital on Wednesday, adding to security concerns ahead of this weekend's scheduled Senate elections.
The student protests, now in their fourth week, are part of a general uptick in violence leading into Sunday's scheduled second-round elections for 11 vacant Senate seats. At least two people have been killed in clashes between political parties elsewhere in Haiti.

Well, rioting ain't too productive but I can see why these folks are pissed.
The student demonstrations began in late May against the elimination of medical school classes but quickly grew into protests against the 9,000-member U.N. force that has been in Haiti since 2004, and in support of increasing Haiti's minimum wage from $2 to $5 a day.
The salary increase has been approved by the legislature but is opposed by business owners, especially owners of factories that produce garments for sale in the United States and elsewhere. An agreement is expected to be announced by President Rene Preval this week.

About the last thing to eliminate in Haiti is modern medical training. As far as a more than doubling of the minimum wage - well, put that way, it's big money, but how about $5 per hour ? While the legislature has passed the minimum wage hike, people believe the president will cave to the business owners and veto the measure.
I think that what really pisses me off about this is that we are so proud to have eliminated slavery in the US but we are apparently fairly dependent on it anyway. Somewhere, somebody is making out. Dunno if it is the Haitian business owners or if the American business owners are squeezing them as well. Regardless, we in the USA are supporting what is tantamount to slavery when buying these products. Big products tend to be textile/garment products frequently sold at big stores like JC Penney, Wal-Mart, Kmart & the like. Apparently, the Disney company likes to use these plants in Haiti.
I cannot find an up to date listing of American companies engaged in these crap practices. This article is over 10 years old (when the minimum wage was less than $2/day) from Third World Traveller:
Third World is kinda funny. Port-au-Prince is a 2 hour flight from Miami.
What's frustrating is that so many Americans are dependent on the cheapest products because they have lost their jobs to the third world countries. Then, equally frustrating is that the people in these countries cannot earn enough to possibly rise out of their current poverty.
And what REALLY burns me up is that we support this shit and I don't even know if I am guilty of being a part of that.
We should have been allies with this country 200 years ago.

"Make good money - 5 dollars a day
Make any more and I'd move away"

Taiwan News story here

Janet Sanderson, Ambassador to Haiti

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