On Jan. 12, the third anniversary of a massive earthquake that devastated much of southern Haiti, municipal and national authorities forcibly removed hundreds of people left homeless by the quake from their encampment in Place Sainte Anne, a park a few blocks from the National Palace in downtown Port-au-Prince. "Several injuries have been recorded in this unexpected eviction," Carnise Delbrun, a representative of the New Place Sainte Anne Management Commission (NCGPS), told reporters. The operation was carried out by officials from the mayor's office and from the national Civil Protection Office, the country's civil defense agency, according to the displaced camp residents.
On Jan. 19 a group of Haitian immigrant workers reached an agreement with international organizations and Dominican authorities to leave an encampment they and family members had maintained in front of the Dominican Labor Ministry in Santo Domingo since Dec. 14. The 112 mostly undocumented workers said they were owed a total of 15 million pesos (about US$368,550) in severance pay and benefits after two coconut processing plants, Coquera Kilómetro 5 and Coquera Real, in nearby San Cristóbal province went out of business.
New information about the inner workings of the Cuba Democracy and Contingency Planning Program (CDCPP)--a multimillion-dollar program administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) ostensibly to promote democracy in Cuba—were made public on Jan. 15 when a major USAID contractor filed program-related documents in federal court in Washington, DC. The documents are being used in an effort by Maryland-based Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) to win the dismissal of a $60 million lawsuit against it and USAID by the family of US citizen Alan Gross, a DAI subcontractor now serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba for his work there for the CDCPP. The DC-based research group National Security Archive posted the documents on its website on Jan. 18.
More than 100 Haitian immigrant workers and their family members remained encamped in front of the Dominican Labor Ministry in Santo Domingo as of Jan. 10 to demand severance pay and other benefits they say they were owed when two coconut processing plants in nearby San Cristóbal province went out of business. According to the workers' lawyers, the owner of Coquera Kilómetro 5 and Coquera Real, Rafael Alonzo Luna, declared bankruptcy in an irregular form and denied benefits to employees who had worked at the plants for up to 14 years. Conditions at the encampment, which the workers have maintained since Dec. 14, were said to be deteriorating, but the group's spokesperson, Elmo Ojilus, said the workers planned to continue their protest.
Port-au-Prince Government Commissioner Lucmane Délile, the chief prosecutor for Haiti's capital, met with former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004) for about 30 minutes on Jan. 9 to discuss criminal complaints accusing Aristide of theft, swindling and abuse of confidence. The meeting took place in Aristide's residence in Tabarre, a well-to-do neighborhood northeast of the capital. It was originally scheduled for the prosecutor's office downtown, but Délile apparently decided to change the location when 1,000 or more Aristide supporters began protesting outside his office.
Spanish national Angel Francisco Carromero Barrios, sentenced to four years in Cuba after being convicted of causing an automobile accident that killed Cuban dissidents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero on July 22, was flown from Havana to Madrid Dec. 29 accompanied by four Spanish Interpol agents. Carromero will serve out his sentence in Spain under a 1998 agreement between Cuba and Spain. Another Spanish citizen, Miguel Vives Cutillas, was with Carromero on the flight; under the same agreement Vives will stay in Spain for the remaining 14 years of an 18-year sentence imposed by a Cuban court for drug trafficking.
The government of Puerto Rico and the US Justice Department signed a 106-page agreement on Dec. 21 for reforming the island's 17,000-member police department. The reforms are intended to address numerous police abuses detailed in a September 2011 Justice Department report; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued its own report on abuses in June 2012. The Justice Department also filed a lawsuit requiring the Puerto Rican government and police department to comply with the Justice Department's earlier directives, but this was considered a legal formality, since the agreement apparently represents the compliance the US was seeking.
The Clinton Bush Fund, which former presidents Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and George W. Bush (2001-2009) established shortly after Haiti's January 2010 earthquake, is closing down on Dec. 31, the group's vice president for marketing and communications said on Dec. 7. The fund will have disbursed all of the $54.4 million it raised, she indicated. The organization says on its website that its goal was "to assist the Haitian people in building their own country back better." The group says it has "[d]irectly created or sustained 7,350 jobs and counting" and "[d]irectly trained 20,050 people and counting." (New York Times, Dec. 7, from AP)