On March 19, 2020, shortly after international institutions made known that millions of dollars would be available to impoverished countries with COVID-19 cases, Haitian authorities finally addressed the coronavirus pandemic by declaring that there were two cases in the country.

People in Haiti were outraged by the silence and inaction of the authorities as news spread of preventative measures being implemented in the neighboring Dominican Republic and other countries. Since the initial declaration, the number of cases in Haiti has remained in doubt, with grassroots health workers and activists distrusting any government figures and demanding action to prevent a catastrophic spike in infections and deaths.

The government of the U.S.-imposed Haitian president Jovenel Moise, together with the U.S.-led Core Group consortium of foreign governments ruling UN-occupied Haiti, have been oblivious to the need to prepare the nation for the COVID-19 calamity. In a video message widely circulated on social media and broadcast on Radio Tele Timoun (Youth RadioTV), a Haitian medical student trained in Cuba charged that the necessary mobilization of hundreds of young trained health care professionals is not taking place. Photos and videos showing dirty rooms, filthy beds and rat-infested trash in the two largest public hospitals in Port-au-Prince have added to people’s outrage.

Summing up the sentiments of the general public, a woman trader in an open-air market commented that, “The authorities care only about lining their pockets…”, “They will not do anything for us; the choice I have is to die of the corona virus or starvation; dying by the corona virus will take me out of this misery…”

A raging discontent with the deepening misery is at the core of the nation-wide grassroots movement. On-going peaceful protests against corruption have been met with brutal repression, long detentions in filthy overcrowded prisons and killings by a deadly security apparatus. These forces, consisting of the UN-trained police, the restored Haitian military and paramilitary groups, have also been responsible for massacres in the impoverished neighborhoods of Granravin, Site Vensan and Lasalin among others.

The coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on the deteriorating living conditions in Haiti. The ever-present crisis in the healthcare system is experienced by women laying on the bare floor of non-equipped maternity wards, and by men and children with various ailments unable to get care. According to recent studies, only about 30 percent of the population has direct access to potable water. In this situation, how are people going to wash their hands frequently? The lack of basic sanitation services, including trash and waste removal in densely populated cities, is exacerbating the crisis. The slashed health care budget has resulted in decreased services and closing of a number of health care centers and hospitals. There are now only around 124 intensive care unit beds and less than 100 ventilators for a population of about 11 million.

Medical professionals are bringing these conditions to light, frequently protesting to demand personal protective gear and basic medical equipment and to address the unsanitary conditions in a number of institutions in the country. Sanitation workers, teachers, students, farmers, market vendors and even members of the police who are facing similar working conditions have protested and gone on strike.

While many healthcare workers go unpaid, public funds continue to be lavishly squandered on bogus multi-million dollar projects and the ostentatious lifestyle of government officials and foreign Core Group consultants. Reports of misappropriation and theft include about $4.2 billion stolen from oil sales as part of the Venezuela PetroCaribe program.

Haitians can see through the lies broadcast by those that rule the country. They know that the vast majority of the money raised around the world after the devastating 2010 earthquake, estimated at $11 billion, never reached them. They know that the United Nations denied its responsibility for the cholera epidemic and, after finally admitting culpability, has refused to pay reparations for the over 15,000 Haitians who have died. They have no faith in a government that has stolen elections and then ramped up repression even as the coronavirus has begun its deadly march.

The struggle against the coronavirus is a world-wide fight. It demands that we stand in solidarity with each other, across all borders. Despite the lack of coverage, the people of Haiti are confronting a dual crisis. Their struggle against a corrupt and repressive system and now COVID-19 demands strong advocacy and support. It is essential that we see their struggle as our own.

Written by Pierre Labossiere,  co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee and a Global Exchange board member.


The following blog post is written by Global Exchange summer intern, Sophie Ipsen about her summer project researching corporate criminals for our Top Ten Most Wanted Corporate Criminals of 2014 list. Thank you, Sophie for all your help and hard work all summer!


I’m Sophie Ipsen, a 20-year-old college student studying international relations and global business at the University of Southern California.

Growing up, I started volunteering in my community: tutoring low-income students, serving food to recovering drug-addicts, and assisting people with disabilities. These experiences first opened my eyes to the injustices and inequalities in my own backyard. Now, as a young adult and an American consumer, I have become cognizant of the global challenges created by the corporate domination all around the world.

Large corporations control almost everything we touch: from the clothing we wear, to the computers we work on, to the medications we take, and even the food we eat. I was aware of sweatshops, human trafficking, and forced labor prior to my time at Global Exchange, but I had not fully considered all the implications of today’s corporation giants. Over the past several weeks, I have been investigating corporations that are guilty of human rights abuses and environmental disasters for Global Exchange’s Top Ten Most Wanted Corporate Criminal List of 2014.

It was through this process that I realized these large corporations are not only forcing cheap or wage-free labor, but also seizing indigenous lands, destroying communities, causing species extinction, and killing people in devastating factory disasters, just to name a few offenses. Of course I had heard stories on the news about horrific disasters like the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse, but I, as do many others, had not truly understood how this connects to my daily life and my decisions. The fact is the companies that are exploiting human rights and the environment everyday are the same companies from which we consume everyday.

But this does not have to be the case, we are the consumers and fortunately we have the ability to decide what we purchase. There is a tremendous opportunity available for us, the consumers, to take a stand, boycott corporations violating human rights, and support institutions like Fair Trade.

This summer, the other interns and I embarked on a project to continue Global Exchange’s campaign pressuring San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Chocolate Company to go Fair Trade. We worked together to plan a virtual, online rally as well as an in-person rally at the San Francisco flagship store in Ghirardelli Square on July 24th. While preparing for our big day, we visited Fair Trade USA’s offices in Oakland and got an in-depth look at Fair Trade and how the certification process works. I learned that Fair Trade certified cocoa farms ensure that no child labor is used, farmers earn a fair, living wage, and a premium goes back to the community.


Global Exchange interns at Ghirardelli rally

After doing our research and preparing our rally materials, we took to the streets and started talking to our fellow consumers. Many people were very interested in learning about Fair Trade and joined in to tell Ghirardelli to make the important switch. This experience, speaking with Ghirardelli’s consumers started to spread the word about the importance of purchasing power, and showed me that the general public really can make a difference. Corporations really do listen to their consumers, and it takes our voices to make our desires known. As consumers we can endorse Fair Trade through our purchases of commodities like chocolate, coffee, bananas, sugar, and even some jewelry and clothing.

As my research continued, we finalized the corporations for this year’s Corporate Criminals list, and I then connected with other non-profit organizations challenging these corporations. I learned that large corporations really care about their public image, and do not like to be publicly shamed. When people start to speak up and spread the word about a corporation’s abuses, the corporation has to start taking action. The more the people know about a corporation’s abuses, it is less able to continue these abuses in the public eye.

So which corporations made the list? There are 10 companies form a wide variety of industries. And the corporations are… Alpha Natural Resources, Bayer, Carnival Corporation, FIFA, Gap Inc., Ghirardelli, Glencore Xstrata, HSBC, Koch Industries, and PepsiCo. This year we also decided to include Monsanto as a “repeat offender,” as it has been featured on our list before. Now that you know the corporations, you may have expected a few, and are probably surprised by a few as well. I strongly encourage you to read the list, and discover the unfortunate truth about these corporations!

I hope that after reading through the list, you will reconsider these corporations and take action through what you purchase. Additionally, we have added a new element to the list this year, an opportunity for you to easily take action from home. Each featured corporation includes a link to take action by either emailing an executive or signing a petition. I encourage you to do so and to also connect with other organizations working on the issues.

Take-ActionThis is an opportunity for you to start conversation about human rights and environmental abuses in your own networks. Share the information with your family, friends, and co-workers. You can start by making small changes in your everyday life that will grow and become large positive changes for our world. It’s time to fight back against corporate power and give the rights back to the people. Use the list as an educational opportunity, and then take a stand to put people over profits!

The following blog post is written by Global Exchange summer intern, Linda Tenerowicz about her summer project researching corporate criminals for our Top Ten Most Wanted Corporate Criminals 2013 list. Thank you, Linda for all your help and hard work all summer!

MostWanted2013I’m Linda Tenerowicz, a 21-year-old college student, and shaped by global issues and social injustice.

I know that sweatshops have been in operation my entire life (but increased under NAFTA); that multi-national companies and governments work together to re-write rules behind closed doors without community input and engage in shady deals to increase profit and the global economy at the expense of human rights and the environment. But I felt powerless and wondered if people could seriously change the rules and put power back in the hands of people.

I wondered how much we could fight back and force corporations to change their policies.

Well, I do now and the news is good. For the past several weeks, I have been investigating corporations that are responsible for human rights abuses and environmental disasters for Global Exchange’s Most Wanted Corporate Criminals list for 2013. The annual ‘Top Ten’ list started to raise awareness about how familiar corporations were acting internationally, connect activists with organizations fighting back and standing in solidarity with impacted communities.

It’s an impressive list; past violator, Nestle has made the list again this year – and 9 new corporations have been added to the list including Shell, Nike, Ahava, Syngenta, Blackwater, Barrick Gold, Herakles Farms, Clear Channel, and SNC Lavalin. Each new corporation comes from a different industry, revealing that no matter where consumers do business it is important to be cautious of where we spend our money.

After researching the violations, I started to look up and get in touch with non-profit organizations that specifically target these corporations and challenge corporate power. What I have realized is that corporations are reliant on public perception and these campaigns matter. Most corporations don’t want to be labeled “unethical,” “immoral,” or “criminal.” However, once a corporation cuts corners via illegal activity, cheating workers, and destroying the environment, the drive for increasing ‘growth’ will continue until profits are hurt by public image.

As a consumer, I have to make my voice matter and that starts with becoming aware. I will be the first to admit that doing background checks on those new sneakers I bought is not the highest on my list of priorities, but lately, I’m thinking twice about my purchases. As global citizens it is important to show corporations that poor practices are not going ignored. This is not a task that can be done single-handedly of course. It takes a village, a town, a city, and entire countries to denounce the abuse.


Shoppers endorsing Fair Trade at
the Global Exchange store

We have so many opportunities to endorse Fair Trade in our daily lives. We can purchase Fair Trade clothing, jewelry and some commodities (like chocolate, hurray!) and endorse local businesses, but our actions do not have to stop at the personal level. We can join greater movements and campaigns against unethical corporations and put more strain on them to change their ways. We can make anti-corporate activism a greater movement by educating others about economic injustice so that we may all stand against it. When we say YES to fair products we also say NO to bad corporate behavior. With numbers comes influence, and we hope that the Top Ten list will be a starting point for collective action.

This is why putting together the Top Ten Corporate Criminals list has been so fulfilling not only for myself, but for the people I am able to share this information with. Read, educate and then take action!

This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting Anu Mandavilli of the Mining Zone People’s Solidarity Group. She told us about corporate power shattering the lives of thousands of villagers in Orissa, India.

Since 2005, villagers have peacefully resisted the construction of a steel plant on their farmlands by POSCO, a Korean based steel manufacturing company. POSCO has had its sights set on areas throughout India to construct steel mines on the resource rich land. In efforts to prevent POSCO’s project, men, women, and children have physically laid on the ground to protect their lands from POSCO excavation. But villagers have been met with violent harassment, incarceration, and restricted access outside of their village to necessary medical attention and education due to POSCO’s coercion with the support of the Indian government that favors the project. Anu said that although steadfast in their struggle, the villagers of Orissa need the international community to stand in solidarity with them to condemn POSCO and defend the community’s rights.

This meeting with Anu compelled me to add POSCO on this year’s Most Wanted list as a “(dis)honorable mention”.

My hope is that you will utilize the entire list as an educational tool that will cause you to think twice before endorsing certain companies. I hope that the struggle of the Ogoni people of Nigeria come to mind when you pass a by Shell gas station, that when you see Ahava cosmetics on shelves you pass them up, taking a stand with Palestinian refugees and that the obsessive advertising by Nike to flog overpriced apparel evokes the plight of sweatshop laborers in your thoughts.

Take-ActionOnly then can we truly be in solidarity with the frontline communities. We need to ask ourselves where our commodities and luxuries come from. We have the ability to be ethical consumers and ensure that our goods don’t come at the price of other’s human rights and neglect of the environment.