Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Other Worlds

Other Worlds is an economic justice group that supports economic and social alternatives around the world.

September 1st, 2010 5:58 PM

"Even If We're Peasants, We Deserve to Live Too": Tèt Kole on the Needs of Haitian Farmers

Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen (Heads Together Small Producers of Haiti) is the oldest peasant group in Haiti, born covertly in 1970 during the Duvalier dictatorship. Today Tèt Kole is one of Haiti’s two national peasant farmer movements, with more than 55,000 members in all ten departments of the country. Here, members talk about their problems, needs, and priorities for their future.*

Silion Pierre, national coordinating committee of Tèt Kole:

How to improve the lives of peasantry? We are always battling for decentralization, the principal problem to be resolved. Most of those who were killed in the earthquake were peasants who went to Port-au-Prince to search for bread and work and a better life. Because the government doesn’t give anything to the country, we have to go to Port-au-Prince for a better life. Some of those who died were just in Port-au-Prince for an identity card or some document. If the country had been decentralized as Tèt Kole has always said it should, the damage of the earthquake wouldn’t have gotten where it did.

Our biggest challenge is to see how Haitian peasants, workers, street vendors, and everyone from the excluded sectors can put themselves together to create another country where the Ayiti Cheri [dear Haiti] that we used to have can return. That’s the work of Tèt Kole. Our idea is to reinforce our strength and capacity to mobilize by bringing together all progressive forces, Haitian and foreign, to make Haiti into another nation, another state, where people can live in security, with food, with education.

Niclaire Auguste, Piatte chapter of Tèt Kole:

We are peasants. Our strength is agriculture. Since January 12, our economy has been so affected. But for God, that’s nothing.

We are organized peasants. If we didn’t have Tèt Kole with us, giving us strength, I don’t know where we’d be today. When you’re organized, you never live alone.

We haven’t been abandoned; we also have friends with us, both Haitian or foreign. So we can’t let the struggle go. It has to go on. I applaud everyone who’s let us know that we peasants aren’t alone, especially since January 12. I applaud all peasants who stand strong in the struggle, especially today when life is so hard after the catastrophe.

Dieudonné Charlemagne, Piatte chapter of Tèt Kole:

We are children of the earth. The earth gives us the food we need to eat, the income we need to send our children to school, everything we need to take care of our lives.

We love agriculture. We love to plant. We love to live as people who’re recognized as citizens of this nation.

So what’s our problem? We don’t have seeds, or when we have them they aren’t producing well. We irrigate a lot of land, but our plants aren’t producing. The banana trees are sick, the melons and peas are barely producing, but we don’t know why. We don’t have agricultural extension offices or anyone to come tell us why our plants are diseased or why they’re not producing and what we should do about it.

We build our canals with our own hands so we can irrigate when the rain doesn’t fall. When the rain does come, it bursts the canals and the water gets wasted and we don’t have the support to restore the canals, so our crops die. No government comes to help us.

We ask for agricultural system to be improved so we can get some relief. We’re working the lands with picks; we don’t have tractors. We’re working so hard to grow food to send to the cities, but no matter how much we work, we can’t ever get ahead. Nothing we do brings back anything for us peasants. It’s all off our own strength, even though we’re skinny with hunger. No one is supporting us to let us work the way we want so we can make something off it.

Even if we’re peasants, we deserve to live, too. It shouldn’t be that because we’re peasants we’re condemned to death.

As for the catastrophe of January 12, the few who didn’t die have all come back home. We’ve had to welcome lots of relatives to our homes. Those who came with friends, we’ve had to take them in, too.

So much of the aid they’ve been talking about has never gotten beyond Port-au-Prince. In Piatte, we are the aid, we’re the ones who’ve had to supply everything.

Sony Jean-Louis, son of farmers:

We ask the national and international community to help us decentralize our nation. We youth of peasants who are living in the countryside, we go to school but we can’t advance. Why? Every last resource in the country is in Port-au-Prince. All those youth who went to Port-au-Prince to get an education: you see January 12, so many of them died. This is what’s behind the drama of January 12: the government chooses not to realize that there is a rural part of the country. They forget us, they don’t consider us human beings.

Take our hand! Support the youth! Give us schools and training. Put some of those resources in the countryside to help the youth of Haiti, including those in rural areas, live.

Vales Gaspard, Piatte chapter of Tèt Kole:

All the small producers in the countryside, they tighten their belts, they work, they buy a cow, they buy a goat and sell the goat, they say they’re off to buy a couple of rooms in Port-au-Prince to see if they can get education for their children because there’s none here. When they get to Port-au-Prince, they build their houses poorly because they don’t have any economic means to build better. When a catastrophe comes, they’re the ones who suffer.

Countries are sending money to Haiti. There’s money to develop the country. Where is it? If foreign powers want to come help us, if they really care about what’s happening here, the first thing they should do is help us reconstruct the land. No country can survive without agriculture. If farmers are unemployed, what’s the country going to eat? Nothing.

They should send engineers and technicians. They should come give us technical support to show us how to produce food: Congo peas, cassava, bananas, vegetables. We need schools, hospital, credit, the chance to buy our seeds and tools at a good price, community stores where we can market.

President Aristide said that we should live in a way that everyone is recognized as someone. We have the means for that.

We’ve buried all our children who died in the earthquake. Now those who’ve come back to our homes, we’re taking care of them. What we have we’re giving to others. You government officials, you do this, too.


* A note on the gender balance in this article: there is none. In two meetings with Tèt Kole representatives involving 39 people, only three women were present. Others may not have been invited by community leaders, or they may not have been able to leave their household and child care responsibilities, or their male partners and fathers may have dissuaded them from attending. The interviewer repeatedly asked the few women who were present to speak, but only one did at the very end of a meeting; it is not included here because she addressed a different topic. When this writer meets with peasant women alone, they have much to say, but the dynamic changes dramatically in mixed groups.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

If you have a moment today, I hope you can read the obituary for my father Francis (Frank) Moore, who died this past Saturday at the age of 92: Francis...

Apr 22nd
6:33 PM
Read More

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles