Consider the Germans: Co-determination and Works Councils

By admin, March 31, 2010 12:53 pm

Consider the Germans: Co-determination and Works Councils

Posted on March 23, 2010 by coto2admin


By Thomas Geoghegan
Harper’s Magazine

Come on: Is the West really in such decline? Yes, we can sit here on our island continent and gloom about the rise of China, as our elite now like to do. Or we can go out into the world and start competing like the Europeans. For here’s a strange fact: since 2003, it’s not China but Germany, that colossus of European socialism, that has either led the world in export sales or at least been tied for first. Even as we in the United States fall more deeply into the clutches of our foreign creditors—China foremost among them—Germany has somehow managed to create a high-wage, unionized economy without shipping all its jobs abroad or creating a massive trade deficit, or any trade deficit at all. Sure, China just pulled slightly ahead of Germany, but that’s mostly because the euro has soared, making German goods even more expensive, and world trade has slumped. Meanwhile, the dollar is dropping, and we still can’t compete with either nation. And even as the Germans outsell the United States, they manage to take six weeks of vacation every year. They’re beating us with one hand tied behind their back.

Why is Germany beating us? It’s tempting to say it’s because we beat them. After all, we helped put a major component of the German model in place, which is the role that German workers have in running their firms. After World War II, we had a problem: Who would keep watch over all the German businessmen who had supported Hitler? We couldn’t put them all in jail. Back in that New Deal era, we and our allies were quite willing to put workers on the boards to keep an eye on businessmen. Still, the idea of works councils was not invented by Americans. In fact, it had its origins in Weimar Germany. And now Germany is the country, out of all countries, including Communist China, in which workers have the greatest amount of control over (dare I say it) the means of production.

Okay, it’s not that much control. But it’s enough to make the German system a rival form of capitalism. And because German workers are at the table when the big decisions are made, and elect people who still watch and sometimes check the businessmen, they have been able to hang on to their manufacturing sector. They have kept a tool-making, engineering culture, which our own entrepreneurs, dreamily buried in their Ayn Rand novels, have gutted. And now, thanks in large part to these smart structural decisions, Germany is not only competitive, it’s rich. Although it’s unlikely that even the most liberal of American politicians would ever use a phrase like “worker control”—much less describe people who work as “workers”—it might still be worth at least considering what would be involved in emulating the German model.

Social Democracy
Let me here cart out the big three building blocks of German social democracy: the works council, the co-determined board, and Germany’s regional wage-setting institutions. If I were teaching a class, I’d put these up on the blackboard and talk about them at the beginning of every class. “What do I mean by the German model? I’d like to see hands.” No one knows. So I give the answer: “It’s the works council, the co-determined board, and the wage-setting institutions.”
Everyone in class groans. Whatever does that mean?

Well, the works council is simple in theory, though hard for an American to take in. Let’s say you work at the Barnes & Noble at the corner of Clybourn and Webster avenues in Chicago. You may be just a clerk, no degree. (In Germany, you’d have a certificate in bookstore clerking, but in the United States there’s no need.) Still, you could be elected to a works council at this store. That means you help manage the place. You help decide when to open and close the store. You help decide who gets what shift. On layoffs and other issues, the employer must reach an agreement with the works council. So you may ultimately decide whether Ms. X is to be laid off or fired. How did you get into this kind of “management”? Barnes & Noble had no say in it. You were elected by your fellow workers. You went out and campaigned: “Elect me.”

The result is that there are thousands of clerks and engineers in Germany who now are (or a few years ago were) elected officials, with real power over other people. They are responsible for other people. They are responsible for running the firm. They make up a powerful leadership class that represents the kind of people—low-income, low-education—who don’t have much of a voice in the affairs of other industrialized countries.

If that’s a works council, what’s a co-determined board? These apply mostly to the largest companies, those with more than 2,000 employees. We now leave behind the bookstore at Clybourn and Webster and try to imagine all of Barnes & Noble, the whole company. Way at the top, in the boardroom, where you expect to bump into Robert Rubin, the clerks get to elect half the board: not a fifth, not a third, but half—the same number of voting directors that the hedge funds get to elect.

Of course there’s a catch! Under German law, if the directors elected by the clerks and the directors elected by the shareholders are deadlocked, then the chairman can break the tie. And who picks the chairman? Ultimately, just the shareholders. So capitalism wins by one vote, provided the stockholders, the bankers, and the kids from Goldman Sachs all vote in a single bloc. But the clerks still have a lot of clout. If the shareholders are divided on whether “A” or “B” should be the next CEO, the clerks get to pick the king. “A” is CEO but he owes his job to the clerks. By the way, the clerks have all this power without owning any shares! In this stakeholder model, they need only act on their interests as “the workers.”

With works councils and co-determination, everything in the firm gets discussed, rather than the CEO going to the mountaintop without ever seeing a worker and deciding to pull the plug. “Wait,” people say to me. “You mean co-determination keeps jobs from going abroad?” No, they can’t stop a sale. They can’t stop outsourcing. But they can cut deals. “Conditions—that is my motto,” is how one worker-director put it in an issue of my favorite German magazine, Mitbestimmung. In the United States, people don’t even know the plant is closing until management calls a meeting and ushers everyone out under armed guard. But in a German firm, the workers are Cato-like guardians, able to look at all of the financial records and planning documents as if they owned the place. If a company wants to start a plant abroad, the workers can pressure the board to plow some money back into a German plant or provide a ten-year employment guarantee. Or they can fight to get a better owner. It’s not just the arguing: it’s the fact that they can be in the boardroom watching, or in the back room rifling through the files. Doesn’t your own behavior change when you think Cato is watching you? Well, it’s true for managers too. That’s why there is still a manufacturing sector in Germany.

Given the influence of the works council and a co-determined board, what remains for Germany’s many powerful unions? They do the bargaining over wages and pensions but at a macro level, with a federation of all the big bookstores, not just Barnes & Noble but Borders as well. This is the German model of regional or multi-employer bargaining. We negotiated wages this way in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, but no more. I doubt many Americans under forty even know what I mean by regional wage-setting institutions, and yet they are probably the single most important way in which Germany is “socialist.”

This system is much in decline even in Germany, but it still has a huge egalitarian effect. The goal, never quite reached, is that every Barnes & Noble, every Borders, everywhere in the covered area, pays the same wage for the same type of work. Wages are not set person by person or shop by shop. They’re the same, everywhere, as much as possible. The result, from an American perspective, is a shocking transparency: in Germany the ideal is that everyone knows what everyone else is making. By contrast, who knows what Barnes & Noble pays in Chicago, or Borders in Joliet? In the German system, people can find out what other people are getting, and their unions in turn can demand the same.

The private export sector is the most unionized part of the German economy (even more than the public sector). And it is understood to be the vanguard, the industry on the front lines of the global economy. So if the engineers at ThyssenKrupp get a 3 percent raise, then certainly the clerks should get a 3 percent raise. Soon everyone in Germany is getting 3 percent! In a complicated and limited way, the whole country can have a voice, if not a vote, in what take-home pay they receive. Unification with low-wage East Germany has made this leveling tougher, but people in Germany can still actually talk about “wage policy” and “wage objectives.” There’s a national conversation, unknown here, as to how much everybody should get.

Yes, there’s much to like about the U.S. model. In global competition, the United States has almost every comparative advantage over Germany. We spend vastly more on basic research than the Germans do. We have much more land, more labor, more capital, much higher levels of formal education. But with our flexible labor markets we cannot develop human capital or knowledge to wean ourselves away from turning out crap and leaving the high-skill manufacturing to the Europeans. The one great comparative advantage of Germany is that it is a social democracy. Germany has its problems, and I take them seriously. But I’m also sure that German companies will lead the next industrial revolution, the “green” one, while we in the United States will merely watch.

Co-Determination

If you ask most Democrats and their think-tank minions how to help our powerless middle class, they have no answer except to send even more of them to college, where with luck they get out being only $50,000 or so in debt. As for the high school graduates who make up the base of the party, we effectively tell them: You’re finished. There’s no role for high school graduates in our version of the global economy. In Germany, these same high school graduates could be sitting on a corporate board. Skeptical readers will say: Oh, but that’s Europe, it’s socialism, something like that is not possible here. I think it’s quite possible.

I now have stopped underlining and re-reading Wolfgang Streeck’s great 1996 essay, “German Capitalism: Does It Exist? Can It Survive?” Still, I recall his central, disheartening point that the German model, with its works councils and the rest, was simply too hard to replicate in other countries. In the end, global capitalism would force Germany itself into our simpler, top-down Anglo-American model.

But it turns out, at least in the European Union, that other countries are now keen on experimenting with co-determination and works councils. “Co-determination is our biggest export,” a former official in the German government told me. As it spreads through Europe, we may come to understand the German model as not just a rival but a better form of capitalism. It only takes a change in law. Maybe we’ll decide one day, simply out of patriotism, that we have no other choice.

Is it likely? No. Is it possible? Yes. At any rate, it’s just nonsense that “Europe’s way” and “our way” can never be the same. We may have messed up our part in globalization, but we still have time to fix things. It may be even easier in this wired world to exercise our greatest privilege as Americans—to astonish ourselves by being American and making a European idea of democracy our own.

Thomas Geoghegan, a lawyer in Chicago, is the author of many books, including Which Side Are You On? and Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? which will be published this summer by New Press. His most recent article for Harper’s Magazine, “Infinite Debt,” appeared in the April 2009 issue.

Grassy Narrows – 40 years Later: Solidarity Action Requested

By admin, March 31, 2010 9:58 am

Grassy Narrows – 40 years Later

40 years ago the Grassy Narrows Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek people were poisoned by mercury from a paper mill that contaminated the river upstream.  The community is still dealing with the ongoing health impacts of this avoidable disaster. It’s time to sound the alarm that this poison will affect everyone if we don’t stand together to protect our water.

Join CUPE Ontario, the Aboriginal Council, members of Grassy Narrows Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek and the Council of Canadians to demand justice and protection of water, air and forests that give life.  Show your support, and join us in the fight to protect public water.

TORONTO COMMUNITY EVENTS

PUBLIC FORUM – TUES April 6 @ 6:30pm

Steel Workers Hall, 25 Cecil St.  (S of College, E of Spadina)

RIVER RUN, CREATIVE RALLY – WED April 7 @ Noon

Meet at Grange Park, Beverley St.  south of Dundas and behind the AGO.

Together we will form a wild river that will flow to Queen’s park to deliver our demands on World Health Day.  We invite Indigenous people to wear your regalia, others should dress in blue.  Bring your flags!

Need more info? Want to organise for this event?

Contact: Denise Hammond, 3rd Vice-President, via email – campaign@cupe.on.ca

~~~~

BACKGROUND ON GRASSY NARROWS

On April 6, 1970 the government of Ontario banned fishing on the Wabigoon River due to mercury contamination from a pulp mill in Dryden.  Overnight unemployment in the area rose from 10% to 90%, a primary food staple was lost, and the devastating neurological health impacts of mercury poisoning set in.  At the time the government said it would take months for the mercury to wash out of the river system.  Yet forty years later the effects are still being revealed.

A newly translated Japanese study on the health of Grassy Narrows Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek residents shows that while mercury levels are going down, the health impacts of mercury poisoning are substantially worse now than they were in the 1970’s.  This has huge consequences for Grassy Narrows and the neighbouring communities.  It also has important implications about the long- term cumulative health impacts of low level mercury exposure.

According to the Council of Canadians, private water companies have been aggressively pursuing new markets in Canadian First Nation communities . At the same time, the federal government is actively seeking new solutions for persistent water crises, like those faced in Grassy Narrows, in First Nation communities by seeking out the feasibility and desirability of public private partnerships. Over the years, the Federal funding for water infrastructure provided through the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs (INAC) has been inadequate to address urgent drinking water and wastewater treatment needs of First Nation communities. We already know that governments have a tendency to under-fund public services to allow for privatization to happen.

When privatisation of water occurs it is frequently accompanied by infrastructure neglect, cutbacks in jobs and a decline in a regulatory oversight – often resulting in a threat to water quality rather than offering a solution.  First Nations communities throughout Turtle island have already felt the direct impact of crumbling infrastructure, equipment malfunctions, and a lack of adequately trained and certified water system operators – all of which result in inadequate water quality and ongoing boiling bans in place.

Unpacking the relationship between water privatisation and the quality of health is vital to understand the ongoing health issues confronting Aboriginal communities. As we are threatened with water privatization and commercialisation the health of women and the poor are at an increased risk. Elderly women living alone are among the poorest women in Canada, as are Aboriginal women and women with disabilities. Aboriginal women are amongst the poorest of all individuals in the country, with a poverty rate in 2000 of 36 percent, and are the most likely to raise children on their own (Statistics Canada, 2005) When a vital resource such as water, that gives us all life, is put up for sale or polluted the health and well-being of women and communities is directly impacted.

TAKE ACTION

Help defend public water, fight for water protections. Speak out and send a message to the Provincial government today!

To find your MPP go to the CUPE Ontario home page – www.cupe.on.ca . If you are not sure what your riding is go to http://fyed.elections.on.ca/fyed/en/form_page_en.jsp and put in your postal code.

For more info on Grassy Narrows and the struggle visit: www.freegrassy.org

MORE SOLIDARITY ACTIONS –

Help save the First Nations University TODAY by the April 1 threat of closure!

Dear sisters and brothers,

For the first time in Canadian history the government plans to close a University…?  The Federal government is threatening to close the doors on the only First Nations University as of April 1, 2010.

For information on this issue, please follow the links and watch this UTUBE video made by the students, staff and faculty at First Nations University, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zc1xmmQlOY . Visit the website at www.fnuniv.wordpress.com and send a letter to the Federal government to stop this closure.

Below is a sample letter and email addresses to direct your letter to.

EMAIL:  Strahl.C@parl.gc.ca; pm@pm.gc.ca; Russell.T@parl.gc.ca; Crowder.J@parl.gc.ca

SAMPLE LETTER

The Honourable Chuck Strahl

Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

Fax: (613) 922-9376

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

Prime Minister of Canada

Office of the Prime Minister

80 Wellington Street

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A2

Fax: (613) 941-6900

Dear Mr. Strahl and Mr. Harper,

I am deeply concerned at the seeming indifference the Government of Canada is displaying toward the faculty, staff, and students at First Nations University who will all be the casualties of your decision to close down the only Aboriginal University in Canada.

The closure of First Nations University would be unprecedented in Canada – no other Canadian university has ever been closed.  Such closure would detrimentally impact First Nations people of today and tomorrow, let alone it sends the message that diversity in education and respecting the needs of First Nations people, culture and history has no value or place in our society. Such actions could be viewed as a reflection of systemic racism and deep-seated racial antipathy toward First Nations people.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations has shown good faith in initiating the changes required to bring the governance structures at First Nations University into conformity with those of other universities.  A working group with representation from all stakeholder groups is currently developing a revised funding and governance model for First Nations University. The University of Regina has expressed its willingness to support First Nations University. But now is the time for the Federal government to step in and make a commitment to preserve First Nations University and stop the closure.

Therefore I find it incomprehensible that the government continues to pursue a course of action that in the long run will be detrimental to all Aboriginal people, to the province of Saskatchewan and to Canada’s international reputation.

I urge you, in the strongest terms, to support the continued operation of First Nations University.

Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.

The Growing Human Rights Movement in Haiti: An Interview with Evel Fanfan

By admin, March 30, 2010 4:13 pm

By: Darren Ell – HaitiAnalysis.com Inspired by the message of Christianity and by his mother’s determination to raise a family despite crushing poverty, Evel Fanfan became the first in his family to attend university. After completing a degree in Theology, he studied Law in order to better support the struggle of the poor of Haiti. Confronted with prisoners languishing in prison because of their inability to afford legal help, Attorney Fanfan founded AUMOHD – Association des Unversitaires Movités pour une Haiti des Droits.

Tell us about the mandate of AUMOHD.

We deal with all human rights: civil, political, social, and economic. We work especially among the voiceless, nameless and unsupported poor majority of Haiti. We investigate abuses, denounce injustice and protect human rights. We dedicate ourselves to making these problems known to a wider public, and to alerting the world to potential dangers for Haitians. A crucial part of our work consists of providing legal aid to the victims of injustice because the majority of Haitians cannot afford legal aid. Without it, they can spend years in prison without charge. We have 8 lawyers offering free legal aid to the poor. Our work has great effect. For example, we freed more than 50 young people in 2006 who were illegally arrested. We also promote non-violence, forgiveness and charity in a society where a small number of people have everything and the masses have nothing. 90% of Haiti’s wealth is in the hands of 10% of the population. Conflict is the always the inevitable result of this situation. We also lobby various groups within the Government to promote the project of taxation for a greater social equality. In the end, all the victims we deal with are really victims of an antiquated model of society: a tiny elite and a poor majority.

What are you working on right now?

We’re working on specific cases with victims of the 2004 coup d’état period, people from Beladere, Cité Soleil and Grand Ravine. In particular we have done most of the work on the case of the Grand Ravine massacres. Unfortunatley, it’s a terrible situation. All those implicated in these massacres were freed by Justice Minister Dorléans at Latortue’s request. Remember, these were major crimes. The police killed about twenty people with guns and machetes at a soccer match in 2005. More than 50 people were injured, others were never found. We organized the cases, we mobilized the victims, but the Latortue Government sabotaged the case. Four people were eventually condemned but the principle actors in this crime were acquitted. There have been no reparations for the victims. There is a Canadian connection as well to this story. As you know, at the time, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had inserted hundreds of former members of the Haitian military into the police, and these people carried out the worst of this massacre.

Why do you think these men were allowed into the Haitian National Police?

So as to crush the popular movement, whose members in 2005 were asking why the Aristide Government had been sabotaged. We were not totally in agreement with everything Aristide did, but his errors in no way gave the green light to foreign powers to throw our country into chaos.

Do you think the RCMP knew these men were capable of such acts?

The ideal soldier doesn’t have a heart. He is trained to kill. Not so for a policeman. Is a bomb maker surprised when his bomb explodes?

Is there a frustration in the human rights community in Haiti right now, both on the victims’ side and on the side of those who struggle for their rights?

Definitely, there is a huge frustration. Look at the end result of the case of Grand Ravine. Why can’t we have just and fair public trials? The whole case was totally sabotaged. Virtually no one saw justice served. This was a devastating blow to people. I had prepared the entire case and put my life in danger many times. Each time I meet the victims, it’s so difficult. I want the current government to get this case going again.

What is the effect of human rights work in Haiti?

The impact is huge. Look at the case of a young girl recently arrested and beaten by the police. We took on the case. AUMOHD went to the police chief and demanded the immediate release of the girl and insisted that the police officer responsible be brought before a judge. Once she was freed, I took her home and she thought it was all over. I reminded her that there was another step: justice and reparations. She wasn’t conscious of that. For her, just being freed was more than enough. It was more that what she thought possible in Haiti. But we want people to know they can go further.

Are we seeing a change in human rights awareness in Haiti?

Before the Aristide period, victims of the state or the police were terrified of fighting back. That has changed. They are now assuming their identity as victims and demanding justice. It’s a big change. They are getting organized. They are protesting. It’s creating a reticence in the minds of the perpetrators. This is new. The victim organizations are a place where they can go and raise their voices. There is a case I’m dealing with now that illustrates this, a man who was arbitrarily arrested by an official in the government. I pleaded habeas corpus and won. He was freed. This is progress! In Haiti, we are now going to court against highly placed people. This would have been inconceivable in the past. Something else is new: the work that AUMOHD and the BAI (Bureau des avocats internationaux) are doing – providing legal aid to the poor and going directly into the courts to demand that the law be respected and correctly applied – that is making a difference.

Are we seeing in Haiti the beginning of what people in my country, Canada, take for granted: an infrastructure of justice that, although imperfect, generally works for victims?

We’re at the beginning. Children are not so afraid of the police now. Let me give you another example, the case of a man who was beaten by a police officer because he stood up for a woman who had herself been beaten by the police. This happens all the time! The officer was called before the judge and was punished. He now warns other police officers against abusing their authority. The authorities are more careful now. Obviously abuse continues, but there is a new consciousness in the citizenry.

You are optimistic, despite the terrible scale of violence of the 2004 coup period?

Absolutely. Our motto is “A better world in Haiti is possible,” a world where people have rights and where the authorities work within the limits of the law. The coup period was terrible but exceptional. Human rights organizations in Haiti have been resisting since, despite death threats. In the Grand Ravine case, we were often threatened. Cars without license plates would show up to intimidate us and we would confront them, saying: “We are not afraid to die.” People in Haiti are doing the same, resisting and talking back to police officers who abuse their authority. Take another example: a man came to me requesting my legal services in a civil case. His cousin was a police chief in his neighbourhood. He went to his cousin with his problem, but was told, “I can’t do that! You have to find a lawyer!” In the past, this police chief would have taken his guns and his men and they would have solved the problem much differently. Now he is more prudent.

You don’t like the term “political prisoner”? Why?

AUMOHD doesn’t accept the term “political prisoner” because it discriminates against the majority of Haitian prisoners who are unknown. For example, after 2004, the term “political prisoner” was used to refer to Jocelerme Prévert, Yvon Neptune, Anamnus Maette, people like that. However, those that were arrested in Cité Soleil, the numerous unknown supporters of Jean-Bertand Aristide, they were not considered political prisoners. We prefer the term “illegal prisoners” to designate all people arrested and detained outside the norms established by law. It is a more general but a more inclusive term. In Political Science, we are taught that a “political prisoner” is someone arrested for his ideology or his affiliations. More than 90% of the people arrested in Cité Soleil were arrested because they belonged to Lavalas. Technically then, these were political prisoners. But they aren’t seen this way. No one is talking about them.

In the last year in Haiti, we’ve seen important human rights defenders disappeared or forced into hiding: Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, Wilson Mesilien. Others have been threatened. Is this a trend?

No. This happens often is Haiti. We are however very disappointed in the case of Lovinsky. International mobilization was weak and the Government of Haiti has not taken this case seriously enough.

Talk about the socio-economic element of your human rights work.

This is a social, cultural and historical problem, taking us back into the colonial period. The unequal sharing of wealth had a terrible beginning. Toussaint Louverture himself said that freedom was impossible without property. He saw the cruelty and exclusion of slavery, how freedom was only in the hands of the propertied few. But this is also a political question. A key function of the state is to protect its citizens, to distribute wealth in a fair and just manner, through the mechanism of taxation. Unfortunately in Haiti, the rich manipulate the system to avoid taxation. The end result is a state that has nothing to offer its citizens. At AUMOHD, we promote the notion of the cohabitation of social classes, the idea that taxing the wealthy is in the best interest of the entire population. The current situation has the poor majority viewing the rich as enemies. We’re trying to convince people that by channelling tax money into social projects, peace between the classes would be a dividend. The problem is that the divide is so great that we have social explosions each time change becomes a possibility. The living conditions of places like Cité Soleil are absolutely unacceptable. I don’t want to give the idea that AUMOHD is anti-rich, but we have to create a social conscience among them, so they understand that the fruit of sharing is peace among the classes.

You have spoken about the need for more development initiatives at the citizen level. Talk about this.

I don’t believe in the NGO system. The NGO’s are the only ones benefiting from this system. Most of the money ends up in their pockets. A form of international financial support for local community initiatives should replace it. For example, instead of giving the money to the state or to NGO’s, take a different approach. If a Canadian group wants to help build a health clinic in Cité Soleil, instead of giving the money to the state, they should collaborate with the citizen groups on the ground interested in the initiative. They know the ground intimately and can say what is needed. It creates concrete solidarity and positive visibility for a foreign organization. The NGO presence is eliminated. There should be support from the Haitian State to allow citizen groups to collaborate directly with foreign organizations to realize projects. Haiti is ready to move forward. We have the desire and the ability, but the system has to change. The NGO structure is holding us back. This cooperative system we propose would work much better.

In addressing the issue of international solidarity, you have spoken about the need for concrete gestures and real results. Talk about this.

We need real tangible progress in Haiti. There is danger in waiting too long. Take the case of Beladere. What does a victim do in Beladere, organize a demonstration? It will have no effect on the authorities. On the other hand, a demonstration or a sit-in by the victims of Beladere in Port-au-Prince in front of the National Palace, that can have an impact on public opinion. Haiti is in some ways the Republic of Port-au-Prince, a problem created by centralization in the country. The problem for the people of Beladere is then how to afford a trip to Port-au-Prince? This is a perfect place for the involvement of foreign solidarity, a real gesture that could make things change: help victims with their expenses to do this kind of work: transport, food, publicity expenses, etc.

Do you have other suggestions for people working outside of Haiti?

We would love to have Haitian lawyers living in Canada or the US to work in solidarity with us in all of these very difficult cases we are working on: Grand Ravine, Beladere and others. We would like them to follow and observe the cases as they unravel, to declare their presence to the authorities: “We have come to observe this case.” The justice system is very weak, very fragile, and this could be a real support. I also encourage all Haitians living overseas to get more involved. We have demonstrated so many times in the past our ability to defeat adversity. We have helped other nations in their time of need. Haiti has earned its place in history. We initiated the path to freedom in the Americas! Everyone can be proud of this country. We ask interested international individuals and groups to accompany us. We want foreign human rights organizations to accompany and support us in our work. We ask foreign governments like Canada to rethink their involvement in Haiti. We ask them to support local organizations, Haitian organizations, to invest in them so that these organizations can be a motor of change in Haiti.


In February 2008, Evel Fanfan received assurances from the Prime Minister of Haiti, Jacques Edouard Alexis, that the Government of Haiti would work to help the victims of the violence connected to the 2004 coup d’état. Mr. Fanfan can be reached at fanfanmel@yahoo.fr Darren Ell is a photographer, independent journalist and MFA student at Concordia University in Montreal. He has been working in Haiti since 2006. A public exhibition of his work will be held in Montreal in the last two weeks of September 2008.

‘Toughness’ on Crime Linked to Racial Resentment

By admin, March 30, 2010 9:59 am

‘Toughness’ on Crime Linked to Racial Resentment

A new analysis finds racial resentment is a major reason behind Americans’ support for harsh sentences for criminals.

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