From our Friends at the Itinerant University of Resistance in Haiti (UNITE)
Greetings! We request your help as we work to stop mining and other land-stealing megaprojects in Haiti; help Haitian movements connect with their Latin American counterparts in struggles for land rights and environmental protection; and give Haitian women opportunities to strengthen their voice, participation, and power in movements and in the country at large. YOU MIGHT WONDER HOW WE CAN fundraise for anything other than help for the 15,000 or so Haitian migrants who walked to Texas only to find brutal treatment and horrendous living conditions, or reconstruction from a 7.2 earthquake that shook Haiti in August. In fact, our work addresses the root causes of so much suffering. Lack of land and economic security were major factors driving the desperate human beings to Del Rio, Texas, where they are now living under a bridge. And as with the devastating 2010 earthquake, a large number of those killed in the recent quake had fled to the towns where most damage occurred after being unable to keep, or survive on, their own land. The work for land defense, the rights of Mother Earth, and agroecology is urgent and must continue.
Successfully completing our 2021 work to stop theft of territory and devastation to Mother Earth will require about $30,000. Can you please help? You can make a tax-deductible donation below.
Protection of lands and nature is made harder because Haitians are so isolated from Latin American movements which have successfully stopped mines, dams, logging, and mega-projects. Haitians do not speak Spanish. They do not have entrée to join, or funds to attend gatherings of, networks building political strength across borders. They cannot access knowledge, tools, and relationships which spread capacity and strength. They cannot be part of international campaigns or days of action. Haitian women are doubly challenged as they are excluded from most socio-political spaces and opportunities.
Two years ago, Haitian, Mexican, and US advocates formed the Itinerant University of Resistance in Haiti, whose Creole and Spanish acronyms spell UNITE. Now entering its third year, the school-without-walls has three goals. They are to:
A. Bring forth the power and voices of women in our program, and help extend them to broader land rights and justice movements. This, in turn, will impact women’s role in society;
B. Provide knowledge, plus practical and political tools, to help grassroots groups become more powerful and effective in stopping mines and defending their land; and
C. Create active links, memberships, and solidarity opportunities between the Haitians and counterpart movements and networks throughout Latin America.
A few of the many initiatives of UNITE include:
- Teaching Spanish, the critical variable to learning successful strategies and joining campaigns throughout Latin America. So far, we have taught Spanish to more than 100 activists in 10 classes in 3 towns, giving preference to women. Our course materials are based on victories, histories, and other lessons for stopping extraction and defending lands from throughout Latin America;
- Creating face-to-face exchanges in the Dominican Republic (the only country possible given the pandemic, given that’s it’s on the other side of the island) between Haitian women land defenders and their Latin American sisters, on such topics as climate justice and decolonial feminism. As we write, a dozen Haitian anti-mining activists – most of them women – are in the Dominican Republic, attending a climate justice conference and developing cross-border strategies with their counterparts in an anti-racist political school;
- Setting up international fellowships whereby young women learn Spanish, as well as organizing and advocacy skills;
- Translating Spanish movement and organizing materials into Kreyol and getting them out across the country through the national community radio network; and
- Sharing our own popular education materials with other movements in Haiti and elsewhere, so far including Mexico, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.
Because of the ongoing political crisis in Haiti, most of the construction of gold, silver, copper, and bauxite mines is still on hold, though exploratory projects are underway in many villages. We are still within the window when well-organized opposition could stop mine companies and other looters. Can you please support our work as we fortify the strength and effectiveness of the principal anti-mining and land defense organizations in Haiti?
We have many more plans ready for when health and political conditions allow, mainly focused on capacitating women change-makers; organizing trainings/exchanges with Latin American anti-extraction activists throughout Haiti; and helping Haitians – especially women – break yet another barrier as they join Americas-wide and global networks.
If you could make a donation to support UNITE, we would be very grateful. You can either pay by credit card below, or send a check made payable to the 501(c)(3) non-profit Alliance for Global Justice, our fiscal sponsor. Please write “UNITE” in the memo line, and send the check to: AFGJ, 225 East 26th St., Suite 1, Tucson, AZ, 85713.