Janine Jackson: “Mt. Juliet Mission Group Stalled in Haiti.” “Missionary From Hubbardston Weathers Protests in Haiti.” “Riots Delay Lowell Missionaries’ Return From Haiti.” “Raleigh Church Group Returning From Haiti After Civil Unrest.”
Judging by headlines, one might assess that the significant thing about public protests in Haiti is that they have interrupted the travel of US missionary groups. Reading further, you may learn that the immediate spark for the unrest was a proposed hike in fuel prices, a 38 percent increase in the price of gas, 47 percent for diesel and 51 percent for the kerosene many people use to heat and cook.
But in general (the Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles was a notable exception), big US media outlets just don’t seem all that interested in what’s happening in Haiti. And so stories focused on Americans who “tried to help, but got caught up in violence,” take center stage, reinforcing a media storyline that has tended to present Haiti as a place of almost inherent chaos and a bottomless pit for international aid.
It’s a sad, static vision that doesn’t encourage much thinking about positive ways forward for Haiti and Haitians. Joining us now to help shed a different light on things is Jocelyn McCalla, the longtime director of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights; he’s now advocacy coordinator for the group Haitian-Americans United for Progress. He joins us now by phone from Brooklyn. Welcome to CounterSpin, Jocelyn McCalla.
Jocelyn McCalla: Thank you for inviting me.