PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—The Haiti reconstruction panel co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton announced a major new project Wednesday to rebuild part of the capital damaged by last year’s earthquake.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission said it plans to spend $78 million to revitalize 16 neighborhoods and remove roughly 30,000 people from six major settlement camps that formed after the January 2010 disaster.

The commission said the project aims to move the 5,239 families living in six particularly vulnerable camps back into the 16 Port-au-Prince neighborhoods where most of them lived before the quake.

“This kind of collaboration will generate the lasting change, the permanent housing solutions that Haitians are depending on,” Clinton said in a speech after the commission’s announcement.

Click HERE to read the full AP story as it appeared at the Boston Globe.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton launched a new business loan program in Haiti on Tuesday aimed at helping bolster an economy that was devastated by the January 2010 earthquake.

Clinton said the first loan in the $20 million program is being made to Caribbean Craft, which produces colorful goods such as carnival masks, sculptures and paintings for export and lost its workshop in the earthquake.

The company is receiving a loan of $415,000, with interest to be paid back to the program to help make additional loans in the future, Clinton told reporters as he toured Caribbean Craft’s workshop near the airport in Port-au-Prince. He said the money will help the operation hire 200 more workers. He didn’t say how many employees it has now.

Clinton, who has been active in Haiti reconstruction through his foundation and as co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, said he had been “surprised and disturbed” to learn of the difficult loan terms available for even Haitian businesses with solid credit.

“One of the biggest problems in growing the Haitian economy is that there is really no facility that grants small business loans on reasonable terms,” he said.

Click HERE to see the full AP story as it appeared at Yahoo! News.

The revival of Haiti's International Jazz Festival drew foreign acts like N.Y. Pianist Aaron Goldberg, who along with his Haitian-American accompanists, impressed an audience with Haitian favorites set to Jazz instrumentation. -Jacob Kushner for JazzTimes
The Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival strives to mend a devastated nation

Across the street from the shacks made of sticks, tarps and scrap metal that house thousands of earthquake survivors in downtown Port-au-Prince, the delicate sound of a tenor sax serenades a sizeable audience of music enthusiasts. This is Haiti’s international jazz festival, resurrected after an earthquake destroyed its venue city in January 2010, killing some 230,000 people and displacing some 1.4 million.

So where does a jazz festival fit into the reconstruction of a nation where 800,000 people remain homeless and threatened by a deadly cholera epidemic, their national consciousness disheartened by the undemocratic election held last November? “You can’t only take care of housing and water—all that’s really important for sure, but culture is really linked to the Haitian people,” said Milena Sandler Widmaier, who organized the festival along with her husband, drummer Joel Widmaier. “People need to be fed in the mind as well—not only in their body, but in their soul.”

Click HERE to read the full story as it appeared at Jazz Times. This article appeared in the May 2011 print edition of JazzTimes magazine.

The Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival returned February after it was canceled last year following Haiti’s devastating earthquake. Read the story HERE.

 

A group of women performed a dance before an eager crowd during Carnival celebrations in Jacmel on Feb. 28. (Jacob Kushner for Infosurhoy.com)

JACMEL, Haiti – Tens of thousands of dancing and singing Haitians gathered this past weekend in the nation’s Carnival capital to celebrate the festival’s revival following a respite caused by the January 2010 earthquake (Click to view photos).

The sounds of hammers and saws could be heard throughout the final night of preparations as dozens of carpenters hurried to finish building the wooden bleachers where spectators stood along the parade route in the coastal city of Jacmel.

The speed and determination of the construction embodied a feeling of hope among many that Haiti is on track to rebuilding itself both culturally and economically.

Click HERE to read the story as it appeared at Info Sur Hoy.

After its cancellation last year in the wake of Haiti’s, the highly-anticipated Jacmel Carnival celebration returns with vigor

Branly Ogé, the national coordinator for the Initiative on Civil Society, identifies on a map of Haiti the locations where his observers were denied access to polling locations during the country’s Nov. 28 election. (Jacob Kushner for Infosurhoy.com)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – During Haiti’s problematic elections last November, thousands of local observers documented the irregularities that occurred in a process that ultimately judged their success to hold a democratic vote.

More than 5,000 Haitians from different civil society and religious organizations were trained to learn the election observation process before being assigned to many of the 11,000 polling stations nationwide during the preliminary presidential and legislative elections on Nov. 28.

Click HERE to read the full story as it appeared at Info Sur Hoy.

Pullos Pierre, a 26-year-old from Port-au-Prince’s Cité Soleil slum, holds a picture of Aristide during a protest demanding current president René Préval steps down from power. (Jacob Kushner for Infosurhoy.com)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is expected to return to Haiti after nearly seven years in exile.

Aristide, who became Haiti’s first democratically elected president in 1991, announced his intention to return to Haiti shortly after former strongman Jean-Claude Duvalier arrived here unexpectedly in January.

Click HERE to read the full story as it appeared at Info Sur Hoy.

Haiti’s next president will lead the impoverished nation’s post-earthquake reconstruction, which includes rebuilding many government institutions such as the National Palace. (Jacob Kushner for Infosurhoy.com)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – President Réne Préval said he would not step down until the nation’s next president has been elected, even though his constitutionally mandated term ended on Feb 7.

Hundreds of protestors demonstrated in front of Haiti’s collapsed National Palace on Feb. 7, demanding Préval be replaced by a transitional government until Haiti’s election is resolved.

Click HERE to read the full story as it appeared at Info Sur Hoy.

By JACOB KUSHNER and DANICA COTO, Associated Press

JIMANI, Dominican Republic – The Dominican Republic has deported thousands of illegal immigrants in recent weeks, sowing fear among Haitians living in the country and prompting accusations its government is using a cholera outbreak as a pretext for a crackdown.

In the largest campaign in years to target Haitians living illegally in the Dominican Republic, soldiers and immigration agents have been setting up checkpoints and conducting neighborhood sweeps, detaining anyone without papers and booting them from the country.

Click HERE to read the full AP story as it appeared at the San Diego Union-Tribune.