Best Photos Around the World

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Root Capital

Luc Ezekiel Colo, vice president of SOCAD, a member of the COOPCAB coffee cooperative.

Many of Root Capital's loans are to agro-businesses.

Root Capital's client, Metal Art.

Women in COOPCAB's coffee cooperative sort coffee beans.

Root Capital loan officer Christina Blot at a coffee farm.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Salésiens Vocational School

Students at Salésiens' National School of Arts and Trades.

The Fund's grant for the vocational school is providing construction training equipment.

Classroom buildings at the vocational school.

Students learn new construction techniques.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gary Edson, CEO of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, writes of helping Haiti not just survive but thrive

CEO of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Gary Edson details the importance of sustainable development in Haiti in his latest op-ed piece.

Edson argues that eventually we must move beyond aid if we're going to promote long term economic growth in Haiti.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Building a New Chapter

I didn’t really set out to be an artist. I left Haiti for college and I studied Hotel Management in Montreal and when I graduated I got a job at a chic but lazy beachside hotel in Port-au-Prince. It was there that my life became a solitary sort of existence. I suddenly had time to read, to think, to paint. I enjoyed what I was doing and then I discovered others did too. I guess you could say becoming an artist was a choice I discovered.

I decided to open a gallery in Port au Prince to show my own work but really to connect with other artists. The gallery for me was as much a place to see art as it was a way to build a community of artists. My gallery was called “Atelier Kreyol,” and there I expanded my savoir faire from painting clothing, to wood, canvas, and papier mache.

I continued my love of arts when I moved to the beautiful seaside village of Jacmel. When I was living in Jacmel, I had a gallery there too, but it was there that that entire chapter of my life came to an end with the earthquake. I was sitting at home on the computer when I felt the first waves of the quake. I recognized what it was and I crossed my fingers and prayed it would stop. I ran out to the street and I looked back at my house. It was now covered in dust with a large crack running down the façade and I knew I would not return to my home.

It wasn’t until the shock wore off six months later that we began helping artisans who were on the street. We began to think together. I’ve always been involved in the community so this came naturally. I didn’t have time to feel helpless and I had the occasion to meet people, people who knew what was happening. After the earthquake I met Willa Shalit from Fairwinds Trading, and through her I was introduced to Heart of Haiti campaign and the work they were doing with the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

I became the Local Director of the Heart of Haiti program working with Fairwinds Trading, the HAND/EYE Fund and Road to Market. Through the help of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund we’ve been able to build the Artisans Business Network and work with all these incredible artists in Jacmel and the region creating papier mache pieces for sale at Macy’s and other stores. We also are constantly creating new products and exploring other ways for artists to find a way to make a living. In a way, the earthquake gave me the opportunity to act for my community. I was given the opportunity to act on behalf of the artisans, to help them move on and to build a new chapter in their lives.

Artistry is instinctual here. It is engrained in every Haitian. Music, poetry, painting…we are gifted like that. It is a rich culture, a rich spirit and I am a part of that. I am living in that. That’s why I am a part of this.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Guilty for Prison Massacre in Rare Trial of Haiti’s Police

Ersilio Noel, in plaid, and seven other Haitians were convicted Thursday in a 2010 massacre.

In a country where officials who abuse their power are almost never held accountable, 8 of 14 police officers tried for a 2010 prison massacre were found guilty on Thursday in the southern city of Les Cayes, Haiti.

Andres Martinez Casares for The New York Times
Ersilio Noel, in plaid, and seven other Haitians were convicted Thursday in a 2010 massacre.

On the second anniversary of the massacre, Judge Ezekiel Vaval handed down sentences ranging from 2 to 13 years of imprisonment and hard labor. The stiffest sentences were given to the highest-ranking officials, the former Les Cayes prison warden, Sylvestre Larack, and the city’s riot police chief, Olritch Beaubrun, who was tried in absentia.

Judge Vaval, who received frequent death threats during the three-month trial and traveled to New York over the holidays to write his decision free from pressure, delivered his verdicts to an initially hushed crowd of hundreds packing the courtroom. He spoke rapidly, looking off into the distance, and then rapidly departed as the audience erupted into cheers and jeers.

“The decision of the judge is his expression of the truth,” Judge Vaval said. “There are other versions that exist but this is mine. And that is the law.”

While it was a rough-hewn legal proceeding by American standards, the trial, having taken place at all, represents a rare victory for the rule of law in Haiti. Haitian government officials who break the law, be they police officers or presidents, typically elude justice, benefiting from a weak, corrupt judicial system.

“Wow, this is a real landmark moment for Haitian justice,” said William O’Neill, an American human rights lawyer with decades of experience in Haiti. “To get some senior law enforcement officials held accountable with fairly serious sentences — it’s really historic.”

Fourteen officers were charged with murder, attempted murder and other crimes for killing and wounding dozens of detainees in the aftermath of a disturbance on Jan. 19, 2010, a week after the earthquake. The officers opened fire on unarmed inmates “deliberately and without justification,” according to an independent commission.

That commission, run jointly by the Haitian government and the United Nations, was appointed after an investigation by The New York Times in May 2010 contradicted the official explanation for the deaths at the prison. Initially, the Haitian government had accepted the local officials’ explanation that a single detainee had killed his fellow inmates before escaping.

Mr. Larack, in fact, was promoted after the massacre to run the largest penitentiary in the country; when the Times reporters tried to speak with him there, he ordered them to destroy videotape of him refusing to answer questions. And Mr. Beaubrun, before leaving the country for what his lawyer said were medical reasons, told the reporters that his riot squad had never fired a shot.

But The Times found that police and prison officers had shot unarmed prisoners, and witnesses at trial said that Mr. Beaubrun himself not only had ordered the shootings but had participated in them.

The Times also reported that the police had moved some bodies before outside investigators showed up and had hurriedly buried some victims in unmarked graves.

The joint commission then conducted an investigation — although hindered by the authorities’ initial failures to collect and preserve evidence — and prodded the government to prosecute the offenders.

The prosecutor, Jean-Marie J. Salomon, charged that officers had killed 20 detainees, but the precise number of deaths and injuries is not known.

Testifying at the trial, one detainee, Patrick Olcine, said he had been shot in the back but had never gone to the hospital. “They were taking dead people and living people, and they were picking them up together,” he said. “I didn’t want them to pick me up and go bury me.”

By American standards, the trial often had a circuslike atmosphere, with protracted quarrels between screaming lawyers playing to the raucous crowds that daily packed a theater in Les Cayes, Haiti’s third-largest city. Small bottles of rum were on sale at the door, the trial was conducted in semidarkness when fuel for the generator ran out and the judge, lacking a gavel, rang a small bell in an often futile effort to gain control of the courtroom.