Eye-catching? Haiti’s tourism minister just as much as her plans

by Rashmee

Posted on February 7, 2013


Talk to Haiti’s tourism minister, Stephanie B Villedrouin, and it’s hard not to consider one of the first questions that might usefully be asked: Are you willing to see yourself as an advertisement for nou tres bel peyi a (kreyol for your beautiful country)? Impertinent – and sexist – though it may sound (even from … Continue reading “Eye-catching? Haiti’s tourism minister just as much as her plans”

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Who owns the land? The real issue in housing Haiti’s homeless

by Rashmee

Posted on February 6, 2013


Housing Haiti’s homeless goes much beyond the issue of who can build better, faster, cheaper. Three years after the earthquake, the caterwauling seems to focus too little on the woeful absence of a modern, updated cadastral map, which is basically the public record of land parcels used to delineate land ownership and levy property taxes. As … Continue reading “Who owns the land? The real issue in housing Haiti’s homeless”

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From India with love: ‘Nano’ houses for Haiti

by Rashmee

Posted on February 5, 2013


Here’s a sunny, unreported addition to the well-worn but well worth repeating story about Haiti’s housing crisis – 500,000 permanent homes needed over the next decade and no one knows how, or if ever, this will happen. But, if all goes to plan, a private Indian company will soon start to build 300 houses for … Continue reading “From India with love: ‘Nano’ houses for Haiti”

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Jacmel carnival – fools become wise, kings become beggars, opposites mingle

by Rashmee

Posted on February 4, 2013


All is colour, chaos, exuberance, ecstasy. As they say, the carnival overturns social hierarchies and fools become wise, kings become beggars, opposites mingle. In Jacmel, Haiti’s Prime Minister led the parade (in jeans and sneakers), the tourism minister danced and sang seemingly without a care in the world, foreign envoys wore absurd eye masks and … Continue reading “Jacmel carnival – fools become wise, kings become beggars, opposites mingle”

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Carnival time across the Caribbean

by Rashmee

Posted on February 3, 2013


Carnival season is in full swing across the Caribbean Basin and Latin America – Rio’s big day is February 8, Cap-Haitien will party for three straight days, February 10 to 12, Trinidad and Tobago for two (Feb 11 and 12) and today is carnival in Jacmel, Haiti’s legendary, 300-year-old cultural capital. I am headed there … Continue reading “Carnival time across the Caribbean”

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Housekeeping lessons in Haitian Creole – Part I

by Rashmee

Posted on February 2, 2013


I wish it were possible to follow the Erma Bombeck school of housework, namely to do no more than sweep the room with a glance. Alas, dusty Port au Prince makes for much dirt – and work – in the home. So to my rather hilarious attempts at keeping house in Port au Prince alongside the … Continue reading “Housekeeping lessons in Haitian Creole – Part I”

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African pirouette, Asian pivot

by Rashmee

Posted on February 1, 2013


Along with the ‘pivot’, the ‘pirouette’. Taken together with ‘lean back’, it constitutes a remarkably energetic and physically engaged foreign policy strategy for President Obama’s America. The pirouette, a mid-17th century word that literally means ‘spinning top’, needs to claim its place in the language of the strategic shimmy. It entered the discussion a few … Continue reading “African pirouette, Asian pivot”

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Chispa or Latin wit can’t disguise conundrum of anti-US body

by Rashmee

Posted on January 31, 2013


A stiff, if substantial ‘family’ photo of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean (CELAC) states when it came to life in Caracas in December 2011. But why aren’t these people smiling a great deal more? CELAC, which is basically the Organization of American States minus the US and Canada, was meant to symbolise Latin … Continue reading “Chispa or Latin wit can’t disguise conundrum of anti-US body”

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A ‘lean back’ chair for President Obama

by Rashmee

Posted on January 30, 2013


You’ve got to hand it to foreign policy wonks. They’re able to mint new doctrines and phrases despite the decided challenges of having familiar, well-worn world issues to work with. Iraq, Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Mali, Libya. The new is but a re-run of the old. So John Arquilla, professor of defense analysis at the U.S. … Continue reading “A ‘lean back’ chair for President Obama”

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Could a pirate ever become poster boy for US government?

by Rashmee

Posted on January 29, 2013


Foreign Policy’s daily Situation Report offers a droll story that illustrates the growing respect for communications rules among those who routinely break the law.  “Piracy has plummeted off the coast of Somalia,” it reports, extrapolating from the decision of a pirate called “Big Mouth” to quit the business.  “Big Mouth” famously held a press conference … Continue reading “Could a pirate ever become poster boy for US government?”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK