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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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Popular Radio in Haiti, Security Concerns Overstated Print
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 14:17
Beverly Bell, associate fellow at the Institiute for Policy Studies and Program Coordinator for Other Worlds, reports on Truthout about grassroots and popular radio in Haiti. Bell speaks with Sony Esteus, director of the Society for Social Mobilization and Communication:
I ask Sony to tell me about the importance of community radio in Haiti, the first priorities for rebuilding it, and the role it can play in reconstructing a just Haiti. First, he clarifies my terminology. SAKS works with community radio, but views itself as part of the network of popular radio, which he defines as radio in the struggle to transform society.
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Damning the Flood Print
Monday, 22 February 2010 15:40
Peter Hallward, author of "Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment," appeared on Democracy NOW! today to discuss the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti. To read the transcript or watch the video, click here.
 
Private Prison Company Gets Haiti Contract, Cont. Print
Monday, 22 February 2010 15:16
Last week we wrote about the GEO Group, recipient of a $260,589 contract for "guard services." The description of the contract says "Extend period of performance and add fund for Haiti surge." Although the full details of the contract do not seem to be available, it is likely that this refers to the current contract GEO Group has for running the Guantanamo Bay Migrant Operations Center.
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Quake Survivors Say Police Using Coercion to Force Them to Move Print
Monday, 22 February 2010 14:17
Frank Bajak reports for the AP on police brutality in one of the make-shift camps in Haiti. The camp is on the grounds of the Prime Minister’s office and is home to around 2,500 Haitians, according to the AP. Bajak reports:
Witnesses said police beat 22-year-old Dalida Jeanty in the morning after she picked up a broom to sweep around her tent. "They called her and she did not come so they beat her," said her cousin, Alix Jeanty.

Friends and relatives carried the woman down the hill and U.N. peacekeepers arranged for her to be taken to the hospital.
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Haitian Government to Appropriate Land to Provide Shelter Print
Friday, 19 February 2010 18:02
The AP reports on the Haitian government's plans to relocate the 1.2 million displaced by the earthquake. While the government does own some land, it will not be enough, forcing the government to appropriate privately held land. As the AP reports:
The decision, announced in an interview with The Associated Press, is potentially explosive in a country where a small elite owns most of the land in and around the capital.

That elite, a traditionally corrupting force in Haitian politics, has the power to bring down the government.
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Private Prison Company Gets Haiti Contract Print
Friday, 19 February 2010 17:09
The Federal Procurement Data System shows that GEO Group Inc. received a no-bid contract worth $260,589 in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti. The contract length is just over one month; it was awarded by the Department of Homeland Security through the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for “guard services.”

The company, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., is a multinational corporation which runs numerous prison facilities in the US.

GEO Group has been at the center of numerous scandals involving their facilities and their treatment of prisoners. The most recent occurred just last month, less than two weeks before receiving their contract in Haiti. Gregorio de la Rosa Jr. was beaten to death in a GEO Group facility in 2001. In early January of this year, The GEO Group reached a settlement in the wrongful death suit, agreeing to pay in excess of $40 million.
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Rainy Season Fast Approaching Print
Friday, 19 February 2010 13:54
Thursday was the second major rain in the last week, increasing fears that the 1.2 million displaced from the earthquake will not have adequate shelter before the rainy season begins.

The rains, which only lasted for a few hours, caused some camps to turn into mud, and even flooded parts of Cite Soleil, AP reports. Pictures of the flooding can be seen here, or here.

President Rene Preval told Reuters that:
Every time I meet with foreign leaders and delegations, I tell them that [shelter] is the most urgent need.
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Open Source Software Aiding Relief Efforts Print
Friday, 19 February 2010 12:43
Fast Company Magazine reports on the use of Open Source mapping software in the relief efforts. Open Source developers Tom Buckley and Schuyler Erle are working in Haiti.  Fast Company reports:
The pair are advising the World Bank on the use of crowd-sourced mapping, primarily through the open-source program OpenStreetMap, in the relief and recovery effort in Haiti.
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"These Guys Are Like Vultures Coming to Grab the Loot" Print
Friday, 19 February 2010 10:38
Patrick Elie, former Defense Minister under Aristide and current aid to President Preval had the following to say to Inter-Press Service regarding private contractors in Haiti:
"These guys are like vultures coming to grab the loot over this disaster, and probably money that might have been injected into the Haitian economy is going to be just grabbed by these companies and I'm sure that they are not only these mercenary companies but also the other companies like Halliburton or these other ones that always [come] on the heels of the troops."
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"Washcloths arrived before water, and senators before surgeons" Print
Thursday, 18 February 2010 17:46
The Associated Press recieved exclusive access to the flight logs at Port-au-Prince airport, revealing a chaotic period where distribution of vital aid was often delayed or rerouted. AP reports:
The Air Force did initially give priority to military units that were sent to secure the airport, distribute aid and keep the peace. But then it started taking flights according to a reservation system open to anyone.

Because of that, key aid was delayed in some cases while less-critical flights got in.
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