Wednesday, July 16, 2014

IPS: Harkening Back to Dark Days in Haiti

Analysis by Nathalie Baptiste - Inter Press Service

WASHINGTON, Mar 12 2014 (IPS) - On Oct. 16, 1993, Alerte Belance was abducted from her home and taken to Titanyen, a small seaside village used by Haiti’s rulers as a mass grave for political opponents. There she received machete chops to her face, neck, and extremities. Despite her grave injuries, Belance was able to save herself by dragging her mutilated body onto the street and asking for help.

Belance’s survival was extraordinary, but not all were so lucky.
On Jan. 18, 1994, Wilner Elie, a member of the Papaye Peasant Movement, was knifed to death by a group of masked men in his own home. His 12 children were handcuffed by the assailants and forced to watch helplessly as their father was brutally murdered.
Elie and Belance’s tragic stories were not anomalies. Not long ago in Port-au-Prince, decapitated bodies littered the streets, warnings to would-be dissidents. Violent men sexually abused young women seemingly for sport.
People were ambushed in their homes and shot to death for attempting to escape. Thousands of Haitians fled in shoddy boats through treacherous waters to the United States, only to be sent back despite outcries from human rights groups.
Though it reads like a horror script or dystopian novel, this is not fiction. This was reality for millions of Haitians living under military rule. And now, as the Haitian government moves to rebuild its once-banished army, some Haitians are wondering whether a sequel is in the works.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Martelly Regime Targets KOD’s Oxygène David

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

According to several radio stations in Haiti, there is a warrant for the arrest of Oxygène David, a prominent leader of the party Dessalines Coordination (KOD) and the popular organization Movement for Liberty and Equality of Haitians for Fraternity (MOLEGHAF).
            While Oxygène’s lawyer, Mario Joseph, is trying to verify at the courthouse if there is indeed a complaint against Oxygène or if an investigating judge may have issued an arrest warrant, KOD put out a statement on Jun. 25 informing human rights groups and the public that “Oxygène David has had to go into hiding because the Martelly-Lamothe government wants to intimidate him” because of his political mobilization “calling for the resignation of Martelly and Lamothe and the departure of MINUSTAH,” the UN’s 6,600-soldier military occupation force.

Revolution vs. Counter-Revolution

by Berthony Dupont (Haiti Liberte)

This week, the United States of America will celebrate the 238th anniversary of its Declaration of Independence. “On July 4th, 1776, a small band of patriots declared that we were a people created equal, free to think and worship and live as we please, that our destiny would not be determined for us, it would be determined by us,” said U.S. President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony last year. “At that time in human history, it was kings and princes and emperors who made decisions. But those patriots knew there was a better way of doing things, that freedom was possible, and that to achieve their freedom, they’d be willing to lay down their lives, their fortune and their honor. And so they fought a revolution.”
            This is the misleading version of United States history that every American school-child learns. But this myth has been exploded by historian Gerald Horne with his new book “The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America,” published two months ago by New York University Press.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Presidents Martelly and Clinton to Be Honored and Protested in NYC


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
On Jun. 19, model Petra Nemacova’s Happy Hearts Fund will honor Haitian President Michel Martelly and former U.S. President Bill Clinton at a star-studded fundraiser at a Cipriani chain restaurant on 42nd Street in Manhattan.
            But Haitian community groups and their supporters in New York are planning to demonstrate outside the event to call attention to Mr. Martelly’s corruption and repression, and Mr. Clinton’s responsibility for the largely bungled international relief effort which he headed after Haiti’s Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake.
            The Happy Hearts Fund, which was created 10 years ago by Ms. Nemacova after she survived the Indian Ocean tsunami, will give Martelly a “Leadership in Education Award” for “his transformational leadership after the devastating earthquake and commitment to uplifting the country’s future through education,” the HHR explains on its website.

Head of OAS Electoral Mission in Haiti: International Community Tried to Remove Préval on Election Day


by the Center for Economic and Policy Research

Speaking in early May at the “Who ‘Owns’ Haiti?” symposium at George Washington’s Elliot School of International Affairs, Colin Granderson, the head of the CARICOM-OAS Electoral Mission in Haiti in 2010-2011 confirmed previous accounts that the international community tried to force then-president Réné Préval from power on election day.
            That the international community had “offered” President Préval a plane out of the country during Haiti’s chaotic first-round election in November 2010 was first revealed by Ricardo Seitenfus, the former OAS Special Representative to Haiti. Seitenfus subsequently lost his position with the OAS, but Préval himself soon confirmed the story, telling author Amy Wilentz: “‘At around noon, they called me,’ he said in an interview at the palace recently. ‘It’s no longer an election,’ they told me. ‘It’s a political problem. Do you want a plane to leave?’ I don’t know how they were going to explain my departure, but I got rid of that problem for them by refusing to go. I want to serve out my mandate and give the presidency over to an elected president.”
            Despite accounts of the story from three different high-level sources who were there, the story has gained little international traction in the media.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Urgent Appeal for the Protection of Haitian Human Rights Lawyer Evel Fanfan

URGENT APPEAL FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE LIFE
Atty. Evel Fanfan, Activist Lawyer, Defender of Human Rights, Director of the Executive Council of  AUMOHD (Action Units Motivated for a Haiti With Rights)
________________________________________________________________________

Haiti, June 12, 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Atty. Evel Fanfan is an Activist,Lawyer, Defender of Human Rights, Executive Director of the Executive Council of AUMOHD (Action Units Motivated for a Haiti With Rights), an Organization for Human Rights which has as its main mission to promote the personal rights and dignity of Haitians.

Since 2005 because of his involvement in the battle for the establishment of a rule of law in Haiti, his family and his office staff continue to be the constant target of threats and intimidation to the point where in July 2006, following requests for protection by Amnesty International, OAS and Front Line, International the Director General of the National Police of Haiti then saw it was obliged to detach a policeman to his office for protection.

Despite this decision, his life, his family and the staff of his office have become increasingly prey to death threats, intimidation by anonymous phone calls, texts and voice messages from unknown individuals.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Neo-Duvalierist Dictatorship à la Martelly Takes Shape


Justice Minister Sanon plays an important role
by Thomas Péralte (Haiti Liberte)

The regime of President Michel Martelly, which came to power through the electoral meddling of the United States and its "Ministry of Colonial Affairs" the Organization of American States (OAS), is currently planning to replace the current 6,600 UN occupation troops of MINUSTAH with a new Haitian military force trained by the U.S. and Brazil over the next two years.
            In May 2013, Nigel Fisher, then head of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), said that there would be about 3,000 UN troops in Haiti in 2017. Currently, UN officials are talking with Haitian officials about speeding up troop withdrawal and “five options [for the UN] to perform the political and peacekeeping functions that are likely to remain relevant beyond 2016," said Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, MINUSTAH’s spokesperson.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

MUST WATCH Debate: Is Human Rights Watch Too Close to U.S. Gov’t to Criticize Its Foreign Policy?

  
Why did Human Rights Watch (HRW) not call for evoking the OAS charter following the US carried out coup d'etat of Haiti's constitutional government? Why was HRW silent over the thousands of people killed in the wake of the coup?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Resistance & the Lavalas Movement

HAITI ACTION COMMITTEE
STUDY GROUP
Join HAC as we explore Haiti’s history, current political situation, and the connections to parallel struggles throughout the U.S. and around the world. We will be meeting regularly to examine texts and films, analyze the latest resources, and utilize discussion and reflection.

Come to our first meeting!

Resistance & the Lavalas Movement

What is Lavalas? Do people in Haiti support the current government? Who is involved in Haiti’s fight for democracy? Why do the world’s superpowers fear the people’s movement? Who is really in power in Haiti? What does activism look like in Haiti?

Saturday, June 7th
2:00 - 4:00pm
Niebyl Proctor Library
6501 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA

Future Topics include:
The return to dictatorship; mass incarceration and political prisoners; sweatshops and privatization; the ongoing pillaging of Haiti’s resources; labor activism; COINTELPRO tactics in Haiti and the U.S.; racism; parallel struggles in Latin America; and many more!

For more see:

www.haitisolidarity.net and on FACEBOOK

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

While on Trip to Demand MINUSTAH’s Withdrawal: Senator Moïse Jean-Charles Meets with Haitian Refugees in Brazil


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles held several meetings with disgruntled Haitian immigrants in Sao Paolo this week as part of a six-day visit to Brazil. On May 21, he will address both houses of the Parliament, and on May 22, the Sao Paolo City Council will recognize him as an honorary citizen of that city, the Western Hemisphere’s largest.
            Sen. Jean-Charles’ current visit to Brazil, like his two previous ones in 2013, is part of a campaign to push for the withdrawal of the 9,000-soldier UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), which will mark its 10th anniversary on Jun. 1. Some 2,200 Brazilian troops make up MINUSTAH’s largest contingent, and Brazilian generals command the force.

Scholars, Cholera Victims Tell Court UN Immunity Cannot Be Impunity


by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

International law scholars and practitioners from Europe and North America, many with United Nations (UN) connections, filed two amicus curiae briefs on May 15 in support of a federal class action lawsuit against the UN for bringing cholera to Haiti. The briefs demonstrate a consensus among scholars that the UN has an obligation to provide the cholera victims a hearing for their claims, and that its refusal to do so imperils the organization’s immunity.
            The amicus briefs buttress another brief filed May 15 by the cholera victims. It explains why immunity cannot shield the UN from having to respond to the victims’ suit. All three briefs respond to a March 2014 filing by the U.S. Government urging dismissal of the case on the grounds that the UN is immune from suit.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Jacmel Businessman Claims Joseph Lambert, a Presidential Advisor, Tried to Have Him Killed

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Jean Rony Philippe, a 44-year-old businessman and political activist from Haiti’s southeastern city of Jacmel, was driving home from Port-au-Prince on Apr. 3, 2014 when he was ambushed, robbed, shot, and left for dead by a eight heavily armed men. The crime, he believes, was ordered by former Sen. Joseph Lambert, who is today one of President Michel Martelly’s closest advisors.
            “My family and I have become a problem for [Joseph ] Lambert,” Mr. Philippe said in a long interview with Haïti Liberté, in which he detailed the ambush and his long history of “political rivalry” with Mr. Lambert. “We are preventing him from controlling the [Southeast] department in its entirety, and I have been working hard to keep him from reigning as lord and master there. That is his problem with me.”

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Stateless in the Dominican Republic: Residents stripped of citizenship

Tens of thousands born to Haitian parents cope with the fallout from a court decision rescinding their citizenship
LOS JOVILLOS DE YAMASA, Dominican Republic — When Jenny Sarita Emanier Previlma finished high school, she was the pride of this small rural town, one of only a handful of high school graduates. She dreams of continuing her studies and becoming a doctor. But because Emanier, 24, lacks a national identification document, she cannot enroll in a public university. “I feel sad," she says. “My friends who I finished school with, they’re already finishing university.”
Emanier is one of an estimated 210,000 people who have been stripped of their Dominican citizenship because of their parents’ immigration status. She was born in the Dominican Republic, but her mother emigrated from neighboring Haiti in 1982 with a government-issued work permit.
In September, the Dominican Constitutional Court ruled that another resident of Emanier’s town, Juliana Deguis Pierre, 30, did not have the right to Dominican citizenship because her parents were “irregular” migrants. It also ruled that the findings in the case should be applied not only to Deguis but to all descendants of irregular migrants — with or without proper documents — born in the country since 1929.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Martelly Appoints Duvalier Lawyer to Oversee Elections


by the Center for Economic and Policy Research

Two weeks after the Associated Press reported that the “old political party founded under the Duvalier dictatorship says it plans to enter candidates in Haitian elections,” President Martelly issued an executive decree naming one of Duvalier’s lawyers, Frizto Canton, as a member on the body overseeing said elections.
            The holding of local and legislative elections, now more than two years overdue, continues to cause controversy and political gridlock in Haiti and consternation for the international community.
            The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and head of MINUSTAH, Sandra Honore, recently warned in a press release, co-signed by the so-called “Friends of Haiti” group of countries, “that certain important decisions to advance toward the holding of the elections have yet to be made” and that the “inability to hold elections in 2014 could lead to the dissolution of Parliament in January 2015 which would engender yet another political crisis, with unpredictable consequences for the future of Haitian democracy.” This followed visits by members of the U.S. Congress, U.S. State Department representatives and the Club de Madrid, ostensibly to push elections forward.
            The gridlock between the senate and the president stems from the composition of Haiti’s electoral body, tasked with organizing and overseeing the electoral process. The international community and President Martelly have continually referred to the “El Rancho Accord,” which was the result of negotiations brokered by the Catholic Church, as outlining the composition of the electoral council. However, the president of the Senate, Simon Dieuseul Desras recently stated, as reported by Haiti Liberté, that, “the El Rancho Accord has no binding force and cannot override either the Constitution or the Electoral Law.” Desras added that a “trusted electoral council of consensus would not take one week to set up.”
            Martelly, apparently frustrated by the Senate’s position, decided to move unilaterally today. The AP reports: “Haitian President Michel Martelly announced Tuesday [May 6] he has appointed a new council to oversee legislative and local elections that are two years overdue, an important step to organizing a vote whose tardiness has frustrated many. In a posting on his Facebook page and in a separate email, the leader said that the newest member of the council is Frizto Canton, a high-profile attorney who is defending former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier against human rights abuse and embezzlement charges.”
            Although the international community and U.S. State Department have largely blamed the electoral delays on the Haitian parliament rather than on Martelly, the press release from the “Friends of Haiti” also urged “all actors involved to make the concessions required to create a climate of mutual trust and serenity to facilitate the work of an Electoral Council which can provide the necessary guarantees for transparent and inclusive elections.”

            It’s hard to believe the appointment of Canton will help “create a climate of mutual trust” between all parties, especially given the prominent role many officials during the Duvalier era have been given in the current administration. Martelly announced he would address the nation at 8 p.m. on May 6, with elections expected to be the topic.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Question This Earth Day: Will Humanity Survive?

by Berthony Dupont (Haiti Liberte)

The life systems of the planet are in crisis. The climate is warming. Oceans are rising. Deserts are spreading. Wars for dwindling supplies of oil and water are flaring. Some 90% of the ocean’s large fish – tuna, sharks, swordfish and cod -- have disappeared in the past 50 years. According to some expert estimates, about 10,000 species of plants and animals are becoming extinct every year – an average of 27 a day.
            In Haiti alone, biodiversity is under huge assault as we are rapidly losing many species of frogs, bees, fish, flowers, and trees every year.
            For example, of the 50 frog species on our island, two-thirds -- 30 species -- live only in Haiti and do not occur in the neighboring Dominican Republic, according to Dr. Blair Hedges, a biology professor at Penn State University and a leader of “species rescue missions” in Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean.
            “Haiti is on the brink of an era of mass extinctions similar to the time when dinosaurs and many other species suddenly disappeared from the Earth,” wrote Barbara Kennedy on Penn State’s science website in 2010 about Dr. Hedges’ work.
            This week, in the midst of this bleak tableau, comes Earth Day, which has been celebrated worldwide since April 22, 1970.
            “Happy #EarthDay!” tweeted the US Embassy in Haiti, in both English and Kreyòl, on Apr. 22. “ Today we're celebrating greener cities & cleaner energy.”
            The irony of this Tweet, which treats the day as a celebration rather than an alarm, could not be greater. This same embassy, hand in hand with the Martelly regime, is championing investment priorities and policies which devastate Haiti’s natural environment, and promise to devastate it even more, all while wrapping themselves in the words and images of being “green” and “pro-environment.”
            If ever there was an example of how capitalism has savaged the natural environment, it is Haiti. When Christopher Columbus landed on our island in 1492, he saw mountains covered with beautiful forests of pine, oak, and mahogany, that reminded him of verdant Spain, and hence he renamed the island Hispaniola in honor of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the Spanish sponsors of his voyage.
            However, the European colonists immediately began to rape this paradise. After killing through massacres, disease, and slave labor in gold mines the Arawak population of over three million in a mere 15 years, the Europeans, particularly the French, began to clear-cut the forests to fuel the first great capitalist enterprise on the island: sugar mills.
            Two centuries later, capitalism continues to stoke this deforestation by punishing the descendants of the slaves who worked in the sugar mills. Haiti’s peasantry has been pushed off the land by capitalist-imposed neoliberal policies – agricultural dumping and lowering of tariff walls – and forced to flee to the cities. The ruling groups provide no infrastructure for this influx – housing, water systems, sanitation systems, roads  – not even electricity or gas. So the millions of uprooted peasants who have fled to Haiti’s cities over the past 40 years must rely on charbon, which requires twice as much wood per energy unit output as fresh wood used in the countryside.
            The deforestation caused by this IMF-dictated urbanization, which is also killing our frogs, is then blamed on the peasants. About 98% of the forests Columbus saw are now gone.
            And what is the Martelly regime doing? Accelerating this rape of the land. On the southern island of Ile à Vache, for example, the government unilaterally cut down the island’s one forest, which used to provide the population with livelihoods harvesting crabs and honey, to put in an airport. They are now going to uproot peasants from food producing land in order to put in hotels, golf courses, and casinos, all without the population’s input or participation.
            In Haiti’s North, we see a similar crime with the Caracol Industrial Park, for which authorities bulldozed some of Haiti’s most fertile farmland, destroyed a virgin mangrove forest, and destroyed precious coral reefs. A 2009 study for the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN)  put the “value of ecosystem services” of the mangroves and coral reefs in Caracol bay at US$ 109 million per year.
            Now the Caracol Park, which pays its workers pennies an hour, is sure to spawn another Cité Soleil, complete with canals of open sewage, mountains of smoking garbage, and dirty oil and smoke from nearby power plants fouling the slum next door.
            Finally, there is gold-mining, which both President Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe are enthusiastically encouraging (and investing in?), despite the Senate’s attempts to block their moves. The Spanish removed most of the big veins of gold five centuries ago. What remains is mostly gold dust, whose extraction requires an extremely destructive and toxic process. Mountain-tops, already denuded of trees, are removed and millions of tons of rocks are “washed” with the deadly agent cyanide, which then poisons streams and groundwater, rendering agriculture and even life nearby unviable.
            As we have detailed in past issues of Haïti Liberté, multinational companies like Newmont Mining, after causing massive ecological damage in countries like Peru and Ghana, have been practically chased out of those nations and are now alighting in Haiti. With gold prices at about $1,600 an ounce, they estimate that Haiti has some $20 billion in gold dust in its mountains. They pretend, as they did elsewhere, that they will generate revenue and jobs for Haiti. But in reality, after taking out the precious minerals, they will leave the land defiled and polluted, and the population just as poor but now unable even to practice agriculture due to the poisons they have left behind. Only a handful of local cronies, like Martelly and Lamothe, will get a cut of the riches extracted.
            So on this Earth Day, let us remember that we, the Haitian people, are not just fighting against exploitation, oppression, and injustice and for self-determination, equality, and human dignity. We are fighting for the survival of the human species on this planet, starting in Haiti.
            “The economic order imposed on the world after World War II has led humanity to an unsustainable situation,” declared Fidel Castro in a Sep. 21, 2009 speech entitled “Humanity is an Endangered Species.” Humanity is facing “a really imminent danger and its effects are already visible.” Fidel gives us a mere 60 to 80 years to avoid mass extinction.

            So don’t be fooled by the happy face the U.S. Embassy and the Martelly regime are putting on Haiti’s environmental destruction. Let us all join in the struggle against the forces of unbridled and destructive capitalism in Haiti today – principally Martelly and MINUSTAH – to build a new sustainable future, where our children will have unpoisoned land, water, and air in this little corner of the world which our ancestors bequeathed to us.

Friday, April 18, 2014

New Report Details Persecution of Public and Private Sector Union Activists in Haiti

by CEPR's Relief and Reconstruction Blog

The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and its Haiti-based partner Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) have released a report outlining recent cases of persecution of organized workers in Haiti as well as Haitian government complicity in allowing illegal attacks against, and terminations of labor activists to occur without judicial consequences.  The report, titled “Haitian labor movement struggles as workers face increased anti-union persecution and wage suppression,” documents attacks and firings of union organizers by both public and private sector companies. 
In mid-December of 2013, garment workers staged a walkout and demonstrations to protest the low wages and subpar working conditions in Haiti’s garment factories.  As Better Work Haiti revealed in its 2013 Biannual Review of Haitian garment companies’ compliance with labor standards, only 25 percent of workers receive the minimum daily wage of 300 Haitian gourdes (equivalent to $6.81). They also found a 91 percent non-compliance rate with basic worker protection norms.  The BAI/IJDH report explains that on the third day of the December protests, “the Association of Haitian Industries locked out the workers, claiming they had to shut the factories for the security of their employees.”  In late December and January, IJDH/BAI documented “at least 36 terminations in seven factories throughout December and January in retaliation for the two-day protest, mostly of union representatives. The terminations continue.”
The report notes that union leaders at Electricity of Haiti (EDH) - Haiti’s biggest state-run enterprise – have also been illegally terminated and even physically attacked.   As BAI/IJDH describe,
On January 10, 2014, the leaders of SECEdH [Union of Employees of l’EDH] held a press conference at EDH, as they had countless times over the last several years. The purpose of the January 10 press conference was to allege mismanagement and corruption at EDH. At the last minute, EDH management refused to let journalists in the building, although they had given permission for the press conference the day before. SECEdH’s leaders joined journalists on the street outside EDH’s parking lot gate to convene the press conference. EDH security guards pushed down the metal gate onto the crowd, hitting SECEdH’s treasurer in the head and knocking him unconscious. The security guards stood by while the employee lay on the ground bleeding and witnesses urged them to help. Some journalists took the injured employee to the hospital in one of their vehicles. He was released from the hospital but suffers constant pain in his head, shoulders, arms, and back from the heavy gate falling on him.
The following week, SECEdH’s executive committee, including the injured officer, received letters of termination dated January 10, 2014.
The report goes on to describe government complicity with employer infractions of labor laws at the level of the judicial system, where “public and private employers enjoy impunity” and where workers continue to have extremely limited access to the justice system as “court fees and lawyers are too expensive for the poor to afford” and “proceedings are conducted in French, which most Haitians do not speak.”  Moreover, the Ministry of Labor as well as the Tripartite Commission for the Implementation of the HOPE agreement (which mandates garment factory compliance with international labor standards and Haitian labor law) have “backpedalled on the 2009 minimum wage law and issued public statements that support factory owners’ interpretations and non-compliance with the piece rate wage.”  The reports suggests that part of this backpedalling may be caused by President Michel Martelly’s efforts to promote increased international investment in Haitian sweatshops:
Making Haiti “open for business” was a core piece of President Michel Martelly’s election platform that has won him political and economic support from the U.S. government, despite low voter turnout and flawed elections in 2010 and 2011. Part of the Martelly administration’s strategy to attract foreign investment has been to keep wages low so that Haiti can be competitive with the global low-wage market. Haiti has the third lowest monthly wages in the apparel industry, surpassing only Cambodia and Bangladesh. This U.S.-backed “sweat shop” economic model is similar to the model in the 1970s and 1980s under former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Haiti Solidarity - New Issue - Volume One - Number Three

Please go and read the new issue of "Haiti Solidarity" here.  It includes a historical chronology of recent years events in Haiti, as well as a comparison of Haiti and Honduras, Caribbean solidarity information, and background on the continuing persecution of Fanmi Lavalas activists.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ile à Vache Under Siege


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

The government of President Michel Martelly is literally sealing off the Haitian island of Ile à Vache, on which the residents are rising up against government plans to throw them off their land.
            On Mar. 11, Haïti Liberté journalists discovered in the southern city of Aux Cayes that agents of the Martelly government had paid off boat captains, who take people to the island, not to accept Haitian passengers.
            Meanwhile over 120 heavily armed officers of the Haitian National Police’s Departmental Unit for the Maintenance of Order (UDMO) and the Motorized Intervention Brigade (BIM) have been deployed to the island to uproot residents and control protests. Already 20 families have been dispossessed, according to the Organization of Ile-à-Vache Peasants (KOPI or Konbit peyizan Ilavach), which is leading the resistance on the island. Meanwhile, KOPI’s vice president, journalist/policeman Jean Maltunès Lamy, has been arrested and jailed in the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, which is illegal since it is in a different department (West) than Ile à Vache (South).
            Following a May 10, 2013 presidential decree declaring the island was a “zone of public utility,” Martelly’s government has begun to implement its plan to kick peasants off their land and townspeople out of their homes and turn the entire island into a tourist resort.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Interview: Former OAS Diplomat Exposes the Crimes of the “International Community” in Haiti

Former OAS Diplomat Exposes the Crimes of the “International Community” in Haiti
In his new book, Ricardo Seitenful writes about the “electoral coup” which brought President Martelly to power, the UN’s “genocide by negligence” through importing cholera, and Venezuela’s “new paradigm” with PetroCaribe

(First of two parts)*

by Georgianne Nienaber and Dan Beeton (Haiti Liberte)

The title of Brazilian professor Ricardo Seitenfus’ book, HAITI: Dilemas e Fracassos Internacionais (“International Crossroads and Failures in Haiti,” published in Brazil by the Editora Unijui – Universite de Ijui– in the series Globalization and International Relations) appropriately opens with a reference to existentialist philosopher Albert Camus.
            Camus’ third great novel, The Fall, is a work of fiction in which the author makes the case that every living person is responsible for any atrocity that can be quantified or named. In the case of Haiti, the January 2010 earthquake set the final stage for what amounted to what Seitenfus says is an “international embezzlement” of the country.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ten Years After the Coup in Haiti, Democracy is Still Under Siege

by Dan Beeton (CEPR)


It has been 10 years since the February 29, 2004 coup d’etat that ousted the democratically-elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. Paramilitary groups – including many former members of Haiti’s disbanded army and/or CIA-funded death squads – had engaged in a campaign of violence directed against supporters of the government, and the Haitian National Police (HNP), for years before. Supported by the Dominican government and advised by groups based in Washington, they unleashed a wave of terror, killing innocent civilians including children and women, assaulting and brutalizing others, and burning down police stations and other government buildings. In the end, however, these groups seem to have realized they could not mount a successful incursion into Port-au-Prince, and it was a U.S. plane that flew Aristide out of the country.

As CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot wrote after the coup, Washington also directed international financial institutions to withhold funds from the Aristide government (some of which were designated for potable water – their being withheld helping to create the conditions for the cholera epidemic several years later):
[T]he Administration has been working on toppling Aristide for the past three years, plunging the country into chaos in the process.
The major international financial institutions (IFI's) -- including the IMF, World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, supported the administration's destabilization efforts by cutting off hundreds of millions of dollars in credit to one of the most desperately poor countries in the world.
The pretext was a dispute over the election of seven senators of Aristide's party in 2001. Aristide offered every possible solution but it didn't matter. With Washington and the IFI's backing them, the opposition refused any agreement short of Aristide's resignation.
In the end, Aristide did not resign – although the Bush administration claimed he did. Aristide himself claimed instead that he was the victim of a “kidnapping in the service of a coup d’etat.” His account is verified by witnesses, as Randall Robinson has pointed out in his account of events related to the coup. Bundled onto a plane, he and First Lady Mildred Aristide were flown to an unknown destination, what turned out to be the Central African Republic.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Deadly Attack on the Croix-des-Bouquets Prison and Other Insecurity


by Thomas Péralte (Haiti Liberte)

Heavily armed bandits in a gray Daihatsu Terios without license plates fired on the civilian prison in Croix des Bouquets on Mon., Feb. 17, 2014 at around 8:00 p.m., killing a policeman, Sadrac Nicolas, an Agent 2 officer in the National Prison Administration (APENA).
            The attack occurred when Off. Nicolas approached the vehicle because it was parked in a dark area near the prison. The assailants opened fire on the policeman, who died at the scene, and also aimed bursts of fire at the prison.
            According to preliminary reports, the policeman’s gun was found at his side. An investigation was conducted by the forensic police, who quickly arrived at the scene. Already, several witnesses have been identified. No prisoner escaped, said the Secretary of State for Public Security, Reginald Delva, who also said that more than 750 prisoners are incarcerated in the prison.
            Businessman Clifford Brandt, the alleged leader of a powerful gang of kidnappers which was dismantled in October 2012, is among the inmates at this high security prison. Among the other prominent prisoners is Emane “Jacques” Jean-Louis, the owner of Sourire Rent a Car, who has been jailed at the prison since September 2013 on charges of money laundering. (Mr. Jean-Louis claims he was a victim of a police kidnapping in April 2012 and had filed a suit against the police.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: ...On Compassion

Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: ...On Compassion: This Valentine's Eve I am purposefully focusing on compassion rather than the February 14 hearts and cupids type of romantic love. ...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What the New DNI Threat Assessment Says about Haiti

by Dan Beeton (for CEPR)

The Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released its “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” [PDF] for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today. The assessment’s section on Haiti is longer this year, due to concerns that the DNI apparently has regarding what it sees as a need for an ongoing foreign military presence there, support for which is waning internationally. The assessment cites chronic factors such as poverty and “weak institutions” as reasons why foreign military intervention is still warranted:
Stability in Haiti will remain fragile due to extreme poverty and weak governing institutions.  Meaningful long-term reconstruction and development in Haiti will need to continue for many years.  Haiti remains vulnerable to setbacks in its reconstruction and development goals due to the possibility of natural disasters.  Food insecurity, although improving, also has the potential to be a destabilizing factor.  Periods of political gridlock have resulted due to distrust between President Michel Martelly, in office since May 2011, and opponents in Parliament.  Martelly is generally still popular, but politically organized protests, possibly violent, might occur before the elections, scheduled for 2014.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Charges in Dominique Case are meant to Draw Attention Away from Martelly's Narco Controversy

HaitiAnalysis

 Like other cases of political violence in Haiti, it is vital that the killers of Haitian journalist Jean Dominique (murdered in 2000) be brought to justice. Over the years though it is clear that the case has been politicized and exploited for political gain on different occasions. 
From what we have gathered the new charges related to the Jean Dominique case became known in December and do not implicate Aristide. The charges also appear to rely solely upon one account from a former security official who was implicated in drug trafficking and previously cut deals with the U.S. justice department to shorten his time in U.S. federal prison.

The story and the inaccurate way in which it has been covered has been pushed by Martelly's press agent Guy Delva. Guy Delva formerly worked for Reuters, but currently is a press agent for the Martelly regime. 


The timing of the court charges and the inaccurate way in which Delva has explained the court charges (picked up by Reuters and repeated uncritically and ad nauseum by groups like reporters sans frontiers and rightwing commentators) are meant to draw attention away from the growing crisis over the Martelly government's connections with the narco trade.  By this, I refer to the arrest in late 2013 of Martelly's close friend Daniel Evinks with two dozen kilos of marijuana. Since then Evinks has gone missing. The Martelly government does not want coverage of the missing narco trafficker/Martelly associate Daniel Evenks (sometimes spelled “Evinx”).

Flashpoints Radio Interviews on the new Charges in the Jean Dominique Case

Listen at 36 minutes & 40 seconds to an interview with Aristide's attorney Ira Kurzban on the new charges in the Jean Dominique case: http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/99376

Also listen to a discussion with documentarian Kevin Pina and IJDH attorney Brian Concannon about the new charges in the Dominique trial:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sentinel: Police find car of missing Martelly Narco-Businessman Associate Daniel Evinx

GONAIVES, Haiti (sentinel.ht) - The whereabouts of businessman Daniel Evinx has been unknown since January 5. The vehicle of the close friend of President Michel Martelly, who was arrested in late 2013 for being in the possession of two dozen kilos of marijuana, was found at a gas station in Gonaïves over the weekend where he was last seen weeks ago.

Police Spokesman, Inspector Garry Desrosiers, in briefing the press said Daniel had left his vehicle at a gas station in Gonaives, Artibonite and had taken a motorcycle taxi to another destination but hadn't been seen since.
Evinx Daniel was a resident of Les Cayes and participated in the organizing of the first National Carnival outside of Port-au-Prince in 2012. This year the Martelly administration announced the Carnival would be in Gonaives.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Jean Dominique Case: Surrounded by Speculation

By Jacques Pierre Kolo

The double murder on Apr. 3, 2000 of journalist Jean Dominique and his radio station’s guardian Jean-Claude Louissaint resurfaced in the news this week after Joseph C. Guyler Delva, an advisor to the National Palace, announced on Fri., Jan. 17, 2014 the some findings of the investigative report of the case’s examining magistrate Yvikel Dabrézil.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wikileaks Reveals Obama Administration's Role in Stifling Haitian Minimum Wage

American corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss prefer to pay Haitians slave wages to sew their clothes.

by Rod Bastanmehr for Alternet


Strike another one for Wikileaks. The ever-controversial leaker of the world’s best-kept secrets has published a wire on The Nation that reveals the Obama Administration fought to keep the Haitian minimum wage to 31 cents an hour.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Haiti: Lack of political will allows ex-dictator Duvalier to escape justice

Amnesty International

A lack of political will and unacceptable court delays are allowing Haiti’s former “president-for-life,” Jean-Claude Duvalier, to escape justice for human rights violations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. 

The authorities re-opened a criminal case against the former Haitian dictator three years ago, shortly after he returned to the country on 16 January 2011, following a 25-year exile in France. He faced charges of serious human rights violations such as murder and torture of political opponents, and of corruption. But the case has stalled for almost a year. 
  
“It appears that the Haitian authorities have no intention of carrying out thorough investigations into Duvalier-era abuses,” said Javier Zúñiga, Amnesty International’s special adviser to regional programmes. 

Outsourcing Haiti: How Disaster Relief Became a Disaster of its Own

Jake Jonston
Boston Review, January 16, 2014
See article on original website

Across the country from Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, miles of decrepit pot-holed streets give way to a smooth roadway leading up to the gates of the Caracol Industrial Park, but no further. The fishing hamlet of Caracol, from which the park gets its name, lies around the bend down a bumpy dirt road. Four years after the earthquake that destroyed the country on January 12, 2010, the Caracol Industrial Park is the flagship reconstruction project of the international community in Haiti. Signs adorn nearby roads, mostly in English, declaring the region “Open for Business.” In a dusty field, hundreds of empty, brightly colored houses are under construction in neat rows. If all goes as hoped for by the enthusiastic backers of the industrial park, this area could be home to as many as 300,000 additional residents over the next decade.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Haiti Liberte: Drones and Slavery


by Peter Linebaugh (Haiti Liberte)

DroneAdventures.org is a Swiss “non-profit” organization that in April 2013 sent two representatives to Haiti to work with a couple “non-profits” called Open Street Map and International Organization for Migration. For six days with three drones and several lap-top computers these “drone adventurers” mapped 1) shanty towns in Port au Prince to count the number of tents as a first step in making a census and organizing “infrastructure,” 2) river beds to simulate water flow for future flood control, and 3) the University of Limonade “to help promote the school for the next generation of youth in Haiti.”
            These drone promoters also made a cheerful video with a happy sound track, pretty pictures of the blue sky, and scores of children running after these pied pipers launching their falcon-like drones as if the children too could fly as easily out of the man-made disasters of life.

Friday, November 22, 2013

As Huge Demonstrations Call for President’s Resignation: Proposal for a Post-Martelly Transitional Government Comes to the Fore

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Huge demonstrations calling for President Michel Martelly to step down are growing in size, scope, and frequency. On Nov. 7, a march of many thousands, called by the Patriotic Force for Respect of the 1987 Constitution (FOPARC), marched up the Delmas Road from La Saline and burst through the barricades which Haitian police had erected to prevent the crowd from marching through the tony streets of Pétionville.
            “We proved today that we don’t need a visa, we don’t need a passport, to go to Pétionville,” said demonstrator and journalist Wendel Polynice after the symbolically powerful victory.
            The demonstrators then marched back down to Port-au-Prince along the Bourdon Road. When they reached the central Champ de Mars, police dispersed them with teargas and shots in the air.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Illuminating Haiti’s Plight: A review of Claire Limyè Lanmè – Claire of the Sea Light, a novel by Edwidge Danticat


by Greg Dunkel (for Haiti Liberte)

A review of Claire Limyè Lanmè – Claire of the Sea Light, a novel by Edwidge Danticat, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2013

This fine insight-filled novel interlaces characters ranging from the 7-year-old girl whose name is the book's title, to a well-off shop keeper, the town's undertaker and mayor, a radio journalist, the owner of the local school, some gangsters, and the girl's father, a poor fisherman. These characters let Danticat examine a lot of issues that affect Haiti.
            She examines the issues of justice and violence, poverty and education, environmental exhaustion, how the dead are buried, how children play, how people celebrate, and the relations between Haitians in the diaspora (outside Haiti) and those who haven't left. Using her imagination to build the connections, Danticat makes the reader experience Haiti on a personal level.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Uruguay Will Withdraw from MINUSTAH, President Says. Beginning of End of UN Occupation of Haiti?



by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Following a visit earlier this month from Haitian Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, Uruguay’s President José Mujica told a council of ministers on Oct. 28 that he would withdraw Uruguayan troops from the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), the 9,000 soldier force which has militarily occupied Haiti since June 2004.
            “It is a huge victory,” Sen. Jean-Charles told Haïti Liberté. “Uruguay’s bold step to show that it will no longer do Washington’s bidding in Haiti will hopefully be an example that other nations from around the world participating in MINUSTAH will follow.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Questions Swirl Around World Vision’s Targeted Food Program


by Haiti Grassroots Watch

A food distribution program aimed at expectant and new mothers and their babies may have increased the number of girls and women getting pregnant in and around the town of Savanette, located in Haiti’s Centre département (province).
            That's the perception of many residents and even beneficiaries of a USAID-funded World Vision “Multi-Year Assistance Program” (MYAP), running from 2008 through September 2013 here and in a number of communities in Haiti. As part of the MYAP, World Vision distributes food to pregnant women and mothers of children six to 23 months old (so-called “1,000 day programming”), as well as to vulnerable populations such as people living with AIDS, orphans, and malnourished children.

Demonstrators Surround Police Station as Prominent Regime Critic Arrested


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Over 1000 people massed in front of a police station in the Martissant section of Port-au-Prince on the evening of Oct. 22 as police encircled the car of outspoken lawyer André Michel, who was stopped while driving nearby shortly after 6 p.m.
            Just before 10 p.m., the police removed Michel from his vehicle, smashing its windows, his lawyer Newton St. Juste said. Mr. Michel was then taken into the police station, as CIMO riot police fired teargas and shots in the air to disperse the angry crowds outside.
            At midnight, Mr. Michel was still being held in the station with clusters of protestors regathering on some street corners, despite the lingering teargas.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Haiti: Turning Back the Clock

By: Ayana Labossiere - Haiti Action Committee

I will never forget my first trip to Haiti. In 1990, at five years old, I went to Haiti with my dad to visit family.  I spent my days chasing goats and chickens on farms, enjoying the beach with my family, playing with kids in the street, and learning my very first Creole curse words. I had an amazing experience and have long since given credit for these experiences to my family, without contextualizing them.  Haiti in 1990 and in 2001 (when I was there for a trip at the age of sixteen) was a place of poverty but also of hope. I never realized how fortunate I was to experience Haiti at the height of Lavalas organizing and during Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s presidency; the country was being run by a movement created by, for, and devoted to the grassroots and the poorest of the poor.
Going to Haiti now is different, harder, and more arduous.  Certainly, being an adult means that my lens has changed, but Haiti is becoming a place that I’d only heard about from my father and others who remember the Duvaliers’ dictatorships: a place of economic exploitation and brutal repression of the poor and a place of opulence and gaiety for the wealthy and foreign  And now, as an adult and high school teacher, it is part of my job to take high school students to Haiti and help them contextualize the poverty they see. In June 2013, I and other teachers in San Francisco took students to Haiti, where they were exposed to all of these harsh realities.  They were exposed to the massive tourism and propaganda campaigns dedicated to covering up these realities, and to the fight that Haitians continue to wage against the forces that would oppress them.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Behind Haiti’s Hunger


by Haiti Grassroots Watch

During the past year or so in Haiti, as humanitarian actors raised an alarm about hunger, Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) journalists kept hearing complaints and rumors about the misuse, abuse, or negative effects of food aid. HGW journalists and the community radio members who worked with them decided to investigate.
            Why – when the country has received at least one billion U.S. dollars worth of food aid between 1995 and the 2010 earthquake – is hunger on the rise? Who are the actors in the “hunger games” in Haiti and internationally?  What can be done that isn’t currently being done?

Long-Awaited Haiti Cholera Lawsuit Against the UN to be Launched This Week


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

The legal noose is tightening around the United Nations to take responsibility for unleashing the world’s worst cholera epidemic in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, where hundreds of thousands have been affected by the deadly disease.
            On Oct. 9, lawyers representing over 5,000 Haitian cholera victims and their families will file a class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York to demand that the UN recognize its responsibility for introducing cholera into Haiti three years ago and pay reparations.
            Lawyers with the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Port-au-Prince-based International Lawyers Office (BAI) first brought a legal petition against the UN in November 2011 within the world body’s legal redress framework. That 37-page complaint charged that the “UN is liable for negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, and deliberate indifference for the health and lives of Haitian people resulting in petitioners’ injuries and deaths from cholera” and sought financial compensation for 5,000 Haitian petitioners, constructive action to prevent cholera’s spread, and a formal acknowledgment of and apology for the UN’s responsibility for bringing cholera into Haiti.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Popular Forum: Roadmap Proposed for a Provisional Government


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

On Sep. 30, the 22nd anniversary of the 1991 coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of Port-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien to demand two things: “Martelly must go! MINUSTAH must go!”
            Knowing this agenda, the day before over 100 delegates representing about two dozen different popular organizations from all of Haiti’s ten departments gathered at the Fany Villa Reception Center in Port-au-Prince to reflect on and debate a proposal on how to form a provisional government which could lead the country to free, fair, and sovereign elections after Martelly’s departure from power, which all of the delegates felt would be coming in the days ahead, one way or another.
            The proposal was made by the Kòwòdinasyon Desalin or Dessalines Coordination (KOD), a new formation headed by several prominent veterans of Haiti’s democratic struggle over the past 25 years.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

10 Steps to Dictatorship

10 steps to dictatorship: Why the grassroots movement in Haiti is
taking to the streets against President Michel Martelly - SF BayView

September 25, 2013

By: Charlie Hinton, Haiti Action Committee

1. Who is Michel Martelly? Martelly grew up during the 27-year
dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, Jean Claude
"Baby Doc." He joined the Duvalierist death squad, the Tonton
Macoutes, at the age of 15 and later attended Haiti´s military
academy. Under Baby Doc, Martelly, a popular musician, ran the Garage,
a nightclub patronized by army officers and members of Haiti´s tiny
ruling class.

After Baby Doc´s fall in February 1986, a mass democratic movement,
long repressed by the Duvaliers, burst forth and became known as
Lavalas ("flood"), from which emerged Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a
popular liberation theology Catholic priest, who was elected president
in 1990 with 67 percent of the vote in the first free and fair
election in Haiti´s history.

Martelly quickly became a bitter opponent of Lavalas, attacking the
popular movement in his songs played widely on Haitian radio.
Martelly "was closely identified with sympathizers of the 1991
military coup that ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,"
the Miami Herald observed in 1996, and ran with members of the vicious
FRAPH death squad from that period, infamous for gang rapes and
killing with impunity.

On the day of Aristide´s return to Haiti in 2011, after eight years of
forced exile in South Africa and two days before the "run-off"
election, Martelly was caught in a video on YouTube insulting Aristide
and Lavalas: "The Lavalas are so ugly. They smell like s**t. F**k you,
Lavalas. F**k you, Jean-Bertrand Aristide."

2. The fraudulent presidential election of 2010-2011: In the
presidential election cycle of 2010-2011, the Electoral Council ruled
that Aristide´s Fanmi Lavalas Party could not participate, which
de-legitimized the whole corrupt process. Voter turnout was less than
25 percent in the primaries and less than 20 percent in the "run-off."

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