January 2010

there are many ways we tell OUR  stories….

we’re (re)living them, they’re encoded in our genes….

all we need to do is re-member……


the many faces (of e-legba)


…..I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I am for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.

Check dis!

that fateful day…it’s not far away


Haitian Feminist Leader

Myriam Merlet, the Chief of Staff of the Ministry for Women in Haiti, perished in the earthquake in Port Au Prince. She was trapped in her home and passed away before she could be rescued. Like many who sought exodus from poverty and repression, she fled Haiti in the 1970’s. After a politically active life in the Haitian Diaspora, Myriam returned to Haiti with her young family in 1986. As both a political activist and professional, Myriam remained committed to the process of social and political change in Haiti. Myriam is also a published author on women’s rights, race and gender issues.
V-Day met Myriam in 2001 when she first requested to bring the V-Day movement to Haiti. Despite riots and coups, she brought The Vagina Monologues to the women and girls of Port Au Prince, raising the issue of violence against women and girls in a region where women suffer some of the worst poverty and gender-based- violence in the world. Myriam was a force of nature and one of Haiti and the Caribbean’s most beloved leaders of the women’s movement. As a true Vagina Warrior she was an integral part of creating the V-Day Haiti Sorority Safe House in Port Au Prince. She has been with V-Day through our small victories and our biggest moments, from building the safe house in Haiti, to joining thousands of women and men from all over the world in New Orleans for V TO THE TENTH.

She was a leader, a warrior, a mother, and a friend. And she will be greatly missed by V-Day, and her fellow activists all over the world.
“She was one of the most humble, devoted, committed, brilliant, loving women. She was a revolutionary and a visionary and had the hugest heart. And she was fun. She inspired many and lifted many and I am grateful beyond words to have known her and been in this struggle with her. And now, all of us must commit ourselves to Haiti, to women, to their future with all our hearts.”
-Eve Ensler

“I look at things through the eyes of women, very conscious of the roles, limitations, and stereotypes imposed on us. Everything I do is informed by that consciousness. So I want to get to a different concept and application of power than the one that keeps women from attaining their full potential… The basis of my work with women is to open them up to other things, give them new tools, give them new capabilities. ..give women the opportunity to grow…”

“The More People Dream,” by Myriam Merlet, excerpt from Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance.


action alert from Association for Women’s Rights in Development.

Feminist International Solidarity camp “Myriam Merlet” to open on Haitian-Dominican Republic Border next week

The solidarity camp is named after Myriam Merlet, a feminist activist who was killed in the earthquake last week. As an outspoken activist, Merlet helped draw international attention to the use of rape as a political weapon.

A Feminist International Solidarity Camp to help mobilize and transfer resources, and to open channels of communications directly with Haitian women will open next week on the frontier Jemaní between the Dominican Republic & Haiti.

As a project organized by women’s groups in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere in Latin America & the Caribbean and beyond, the Camp will be eventually handed over to Haitian women. The international solidarity camp is named after Myriam Merlet, It is organized as a Resource Center for international solidarity efforts to send resources directly to the women of Haiti, and also work with Human Rights defenders from Haiti to monitor, denounce and demand legal action regarding violations of human rights including women’s human rights during the earthquake and the aftermath.

Also to be included is a Health Center to help deal the grief, injuries, illnesses and traumas of the earthquake. Coordinators of these efforts include the Women & Health Collective (COMUS) a women’s human rights and health NGO, and CIPAF, a feminist NGO of the Dominican Republic that works in building social/political movement. The space will also serve as a Communications Center to include radio transmissions via Internet by FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavour), as well as blogs, and electronic networks organized by women’s communication networks throughout the region. FIRE was the first international internet radio created and run by women from Latin America and the Caribbean. Participation is needed, particularly to find resources, share information from the Camp and develop solidarity in your place. .

For more information in English about the Myriam Merlet Feminist International Solidarity Camp and other ways to participate go to: www.radiofeminista.net (webpage of FIRE radio) as of Febrary 1st. Write in English to oficina@radiofeminista.net

Or write in Spanish to: Colectiva Mujer y Salud in the Dominican Republic at http://www.colectivamujerysalud.org colec.mujer@codetel.net.do Centro de Investigación para la Acción FemeninaCIPAF also in the Dominican Republic at: http://www.cipaf.org.do

 a word from the blogger:

I’m usually a wo/man of many words, but I have been utilising them this past week mostly in curriculi & intimate spaces…..the earthquake shook out the raging fiya, now a single flame remains, focused, on the mass passing, and the survivors…..it’s powerful times….

because now more than ever, in this culture of fiya, concrete & metal, is a time of less words, and more action…….my tools of profession are my words, so I come to this space only to share the words of those who know better….who can guide our efforts at building solidarity….bring additional critical perspectives to the political disaster in Haiti that has erupted with the earthquake…..and the rest of the time I hustle for the money I need to give more back…and I write in the hours between.

I have taken to praying every day, again, I am after all an ardent believer in the Creatrix, and I try to do more….because every day now, the imperative to work harder on our unity grows….

this action alert is from the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission….

By now, I’m sure you are aware of the heartbreaking aftermath of the earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday. The disaster has devastated the capital of Port-au-Prince and Haiti’s fragile infrastructure, with hundreds of thousands of people killed and countless others now lacking the most basic access to services, food and shelter. The earthquake has been catastrophic for every sector of society, including Haiti’s LGBT community.

Last year I was privileged to visit Haiti and to spend time with SEROvie, the main organization providing HIV-related services for men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people and other members of our community. This morning, I received a message from Steve La Guerre, the dynamic leader of SEROvie, and he asked that I pass along a message about the tragedy’s impact on the group and its work:

“We were having our usual support group meeting on a quiet Tuesday afternoon when the worst happened. The sound is unforgettable. I can’t even describe the horror as the ceiling and the wall of the conference room started to fall and the chaos started. Fourteen young men were lost forever in the earthquake. Paul Emile, the leader of the group, and Stacy were the only survivors. ”

It is now more than ever that SEROvie and ACCV (Civic Action Against HIV) are needed to provide the quality services we have been providing to our beneficiaries: food, clothes, and any type of help is needed for our members. Any help will do.

Light a candle for these souls and for Haiti. Lord help us.

IGLHRC has sent funds directly to SEROvie to allow their services and supplies to continue to reach their LGBT and HIV-affected clients in Haiti. We are also providing funds to groups such as Colectiva Mujer y Salud, a feminist Dominican organization that has crossed the border into Haiti in order to assist with direct relief to our communities and to the many other victims.

If you are able to contribute directly to these relief efforts, please donate here »

One hundred percent of contributions made through this page will go directly to our friends and colleagues in Haiti.

In this time of crisis and need, please support the courageous and necessary relief work being done to help the people of Haiti, regardless of where you donate your money, supplies, or time.


Cary Alan Johnson
Executive Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission


When it came to Haiti, France was first a brutal colonizer, and then a usurious bully. Tunku Varadarajan on why it’s time for reparations…….

As Haitians lurch destitute in the rubble, and as governments, churches, and NGOs do the best they can to bring succor to Haiti’s hell, a vivid solution to the country’s needs presents itself, one so obvious and irrefutable—so resonantly just—that it must be advocated with the greatest of energy: France must repay its colonialist debt to Haiti by paying for much of the island country’s reconstruction.

Haiti’s chronic impoverishment began at its birth in 1804, when, having overthrown its French rulers in a bloody, 12-year slave revolt, the newborn nation was subjected to crippling blockades and embargoes. This economic strangulation continued until 1825, when France offered to lift embargoes and recognize the Haitian Republic if the latter would pay restitution to France—for loss of property in Haiti, including slaves—of 150 million gold francs. The sum, about five times Haiti’s export revenue for 1825, was brutal, but Haiti had no choice: Pay up or perish over many more years of economic embargo, not to mention face French threats of invasion and reconquest. To pay, Haiti borrowed money at usurious rates from France, and did not finish paying off its debt until 1947, by which time its fate as the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country had been well and truly sealed.

In this era of multibillion-dollar bailouts of private banking institutions, $22 billion should scarcely raise a Gallic eyebrow. But to Haiti, the sum would be a godsend.

France must now return every last cent of this money to Haiti. In 2004, at the time of the 200th anniversary of Haiti’s independence, the Haitian government put together a legal brief in support of a formal demand for “restitution” from France. The sum sought was nearly $22 billion, a number arrived at by calculations that included a notionally equitable annual interest rate. (For a full account of the calculation, read Jose de Cordoba’s excellent news story in The Wall Street Journal, published on Jan. 2, 2004.) The demand was made by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a firebrand ex-preacher who was forced out of office by a violent uprising that February. His successors, Boniface Alexandre and Gerard Latortue, controversially chose to renounce Haiti’s claim for restitution/reparations. (There was, of course, much pressure exerted on them by France, which had found Aristide’s demand politically disconcerting.)

Plus: Mark Leon Goldberg on Haiti’s recent history, and why the country deserves our support. This last act of renunciation weakens Haiti’s legal case against France, notwithstanding the fact that the treaty under which France gouged 150 million gold francs from Haiti was clearly unconscionable and executed under duress. But this story is not one of law and legality alone, nor even one of wealth and poverty. (France’s GDP is $2.85 trillion, while Haiti’s is a mere $6.95 billion.) It is, rather, one of historical justice and political morality: No one can dispute that an extortionate and bullying treaty, concluded at a time when France was an imperial hyper-puissance and Haiti a friendless fledgling, is an ugly stain on France’s national conscience.

The money involved is not a sum that will give sleepless nights to Christine Lagarde (France’s finance minister) or Bernard Kouchner (its foreign minister) or President Nicolas Sarkozy. In this era of multibillion-dollar bailouts of private banking institutions, $22 billion should scarcely raise a Gallic eyebrow. But to Haiti, the sum would be a godsend.

More than that, however, this is money that is Haiti’s own. As Haitians lie prostrate, buried under the rubble of their nation, France must do the moral thing, the just thing, the civilized thing: France must write Haiti a reparations check for $22 billion.

Tunku Varadarajan is a national affairs correspondent and writer at large for The Daily Beast. He is also a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and a professor at NYU’s Stern Business School.

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