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8490: peace brigades info (fwd)

From: haiti wolf <haitiw@yahoo.com>

last updated December 2000 


In 1993 Peace Brigades International (PBI) joined with
eight U.S. organizations to form the Cry For Justice
Coalition. The coalition placed over 70 international
volunteers in Haiti between September and December of
that year, mostly in highly vulnerable rural areas.
PBI coordinated volunteer training and provided
experienced volunteers.

In October 1993, when the U.S. military ship `SS
Harlan County' retreated in the face of a dockside
demonstration by a few score armed FRAPH members,
civilian U.N. human rights monitors also abruptly left
Haiti. During this extremely tense and dangerous time,
the Cry for Justice Coalition remained the only
significant international human rights presence in the
Haitian countryside, increasing their numbers at that
very moment.


PBI began its own long-term presence in Haiti at the
invitation of the Haitian Commission for Justice and
Peace and the Bishop of Gonaives. Despite the rapidly
changing situation, the early experiences of the PBI
team in Haiti confirmed the need for an international
presence, and brought to light possibilities for
fruitful work, including:  

     Nonviolence Workshops: training in nonviolent
conflict resolution was felt to be a crucial
contribution to the consolidation of democracy in
Haiti. The team facilitated workshops with peasant
communities, local branches of the Justice and Peace
Commission, human rights activists, and Justices of
the Peace and other magistrates.

     Collaboration with Haitian Facilitators:
following a training for trainers which we set up in
June 1996, the team collaborated with Haitians to form
a local network of activists prepared to facilitate
their own workshops in nonviolence and conflict

     Accompaniments: we participated in several
protective accompaniments that reassured Haitians who
were trying to confront judicial injustice and
impunity, but still felt threatened or frightened
despite political openings. These accompaniments also
helped to create a space for them to continue carrying
out their human rights work. 

     Land Disputes: in the tense Artibonite Valley
region, we accompanied a local mediation process
seeking to resolve land disputes between peasants. The
issue of land conflicts is extremely complex in Haiti,
and as in many countries, access to land is one of the
most vital questions for poor rural populations. 

To support this field work and broaden the team's
sources of reliable information in Haiti, the team was
also active in public relations, holding regular
meetings with other non-governmental organizations,
state officials, the diplomatic corps, United Nations
agencies, etc. The team published a bi-monthly
bulletin in French and English.

The project was closed in July 2000 as the project
committee felt that Haitian groups that the PBI team
had worked with were organized and knowledgeable
enough to carry on the team's work.


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