Thursday, October 16, 2014

Gas Price Hike Fuels Misery and Anger in Haiti

by Thomas Péralte (Haiti Liberte)

President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe have decided to dramatically raise government-fixed fuel prices in Haiti over the next six months despite the plummeting price of oil on the world market and the Haitian Senate’s refusal to approve their budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The price hikes, announced by Finance Minister Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie, took effect on Oct. 10, 2014 and will rise in three or four increments.
            According to the proposed budget still not approved by the Senate, a gallon of gasoline will rise from its current cost of $4.38 (200 gourdes) to $4.70 (215 gourdes) until December; in January 2015, it would jump to $4.99 (228 gourdes); finally, during February and March 2015, it would be set at $5.32 (243 gourdes) a gallon, a 21.5% increase overall.
            A gallon of diesel over the same time period would increase from $3.54 (162 gourdes) to $3.87 (177 gourdes) to $4.03 (184 gourdes) and finally to $4.20 (192 gourdes) in March 2015, an 18.5% increase.
            Kerosene will rise from $3.52 (161 gourdes) a gallon to $3.74 (171 gourdes) to $3.92 (179 gourdes) to $4.05 (185 gourdes) in March 2015, a price hike of 14.9%.
            Taken all together, the Haitian government will raise the fixed price of fuel on average 18.3% over the next six months, although the price for a barrel of oil has fallen from $104 a barrel in June to about $81 a barrel today.
            Ironically, since 2008, Venezuela meets most of Haiti’s petroleum needs under the PetroCaribe contract, whereby Haiti pays about 60% of its oil bill up front, while the remaining 40% can be paid over 25 years at 1% interest.
            Despite this advantageous deal, the Martelly/Lamothe government, rather than passing on the savings, is in effect taxing the Haitian people to raise revenues to fund their corruption and profligate ways.
            In general, the fuel price hike will further impoverish the Haitian people and degrade Haiti’s environment. Already, 70% of the population lives in extreme poverty; 75% to 80% are in the chronic and endemic unemployment; minimum wage workers earn less than $120 a month working 40 hour weeks; and more than five million Haitians, half the population, are food insecure. All indicators of the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Information (IHSI) show the cost of household food basket is increasing. The rise in petroleum prices will be a heavy burden for the Haitian masses, who already live in abject poverty.
            The soaring cost of petroleum-based fuels will force many people to turn to lower cost charbon, which is charcoal made from trees. This will accelerate deforestation in a country which has already lost more than 98% of its forests, resulting in desertification, erosion, and flooding, particularly of poor urban neighborhoods as happened recently in Cité Soleil as well as Tabarre.
            The cost of transit on Haiti’s colorful tap taps, taxis, and buses, fixed by the government, will also rise. The public transport drivers’ union is already preparing a protest against the government’s fare hikes.
            Ironically, in 2003, as the U.S. government (with the support of the then konpa singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly) was fomenting a coup d’état against the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the cost of gas was about 60 gourdes to 70 gourdes a gallon. There was not yet any cheap PetroCaribe oil flowing into Haiti. But the Haitian government subsidized the price of gas to alleviate the misery of the masses.
            Today, the forces which collaborated in the 2004 coup d’état are in power and the cost of living in Haiti has quintupled. People are living in increasingly desperate poverty and fleeing the country in record numbers to seek work elsewhere.
            Senator François Annick Joseph of the Artibonite, who is with the Organization of People in Struggle (OPL), says that the Martelly/Lamothe government has no concern for the population. He has called on Venezuela to revise the PetroCaribe agreement so that the funds generated by it are not misused by the government, whose officials are merely enriching themselves at the population’s expense.

            “Shake up this government,” he recently advised the Haitian people. “Shake it up until it falls down.”

Friday, September 5, 2014

Les avocats de l’ancien Président Jean Bertrand ARISTIDE dénoncent "une campagne de désinformation visant, ont-ils dit, à tromper l’opinion publique en faisant croire que Monsieur Aristide refuserait de se présenter devant la justice.

Agence Haitienne de Presse (AHP) Nouvelles du 3 septembre 2014

Les avocats de l’ancien Président Jean Bertrand ARISTIDE dénoncent "une campagne de désinformation visant, ont-ils dit, à  tromper l’opinion publique en faisant croire que Monsieur Aristide refuserait de se présenter devant la justice. Les avocats de l'ancien chef d'Etat rappellent entre autres, s'être adressés à la  justice, particulièrement à la Cour de cassation pour obtenir le dessaisissement de son  dossier du juge d’instruction, Maître Lamarre BELIZAIRE, pour cause de suspicion légitime.

 Note de presse  du Bureau des Avocats internationaux

"Les avocats de l’ancien Président Jean Bertrand ARISTIDE présentent leurs compliments à la  population et croient opportun de dénoncer une campagne de désinformation visant à  tromper l’opinion publique en faisant croire que Monsieur Jean Bertrand ARISTIDE a refusé de se présenter devant la justice.  Rien n’est plus faux.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Harry Numa: 1961-2014

By: Kim Ives - Haiti Liberte

Harry Numa, 52, a long-time leader of the National Popular Assembly (APN) and later the National Popular Party (PPN), died in the early morning hours of Aug. 25 in a tragic car accident in the southwestern Haitian city of Jérémie. His funeral was held and he was buried in Port-au-Prince on Aug. 30.
            Born in Port-au-Prince on Aug. 31, 1961, he spent his early years under the dictatorships of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier. “On Rue Sans Fil where he grew up, Harry revealed himself to be a true leader among the youth both through the positions he took and by his serious attitude,” wrote his wife, Lucienne Houanche Irby, in a funeral tribute. “For those who knew him, Harry didn’t joke often. He took everything seriously. Caught up in the socio-political situation of the country, he saw himself as a defender of the weakest and most marginalized.”       In 1980, Harry traveled to New York, where he went to Rockland Community College and worked various jobs. But in 1987, after the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship, he returned to Haiti like many young people to take part in the burgeoning democracy movement and the newly formed National Popular Assembly (APN), a nationwide popular organization which played a key role in contributing to the political rise of Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the turbulent post-Duvalier period. Harry also played an important role in the leading leftist weekly of the day, Haïti Progrès.
            During the coup d’état of 1991 to 1994, Harry largely stayed in Haiti where he set up a clandestine printing press to put out anti-coup flyers and a special version of Haïti Progrès, which for several months in 1994 was unable to enter Haiti from New York, where it was printed, due to an international embargo which stopped airline flights.

U.S. Haitian Puppet Targets Jean-Bertrand Aristide Yet Again

By: Joe Emersbergerfirst published, in a slightly different version, by Telesur.

No evidence of corruption has ever been found to incriminate the former Haitian leader, who was overthrown by a U.S.-led coup.

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is once again being hounded with bogus corruption allegations by the government of Michel Martelly – a government that owes its existence to U.S. bullying.
            I don’t dismiss corruption allegations against any politician lightly – even one the U.S. despises. Reasonable, but uniformed, readers may ask why we can be sure the allegations against Aristide are baseless.
            If the facts were widely known about what the U.S. has done in Haiti in recent years, nobody would ask that question. They’d be too busy working for the prosecution of U.S. officials for crimes perpetrated in Haiti. In fact, Canadian, French and United Nations officials would also be struggling to stay out of jail for aiding and abetting those crimes, as I’ve mentioned before.
            On Feb. 29, 2004, the U.S. perpetrated a coup against Haiti’s democratically elected government which was headed by Aristide. That’s worth repeating. The U.S. directly perpetrated the coup. It did not simply provide decisive support for a coup carried out by local allies as it has done so many times in Latin America. In this case, U.S. troops physically removed Aristide from Haiti in the middle of the night and flew him off to the Central African Republic. Canadian troops assisted the U.S. by securing the airport in Port-Au-Prince. The U.S. government claims that Aristide begged rescue from a small group of “rebels” even though his own security team could have led him to safety, if that was his priority, in various countries within the Caribbean.  The U.S. and its allies, after its alleged “rescue” of Aristide, took over Haiti and promptly set up a dictatorship under Gérard Latortue. The rebels – essentially led by the death squad leader Jodel Chamblain – were immediately made completely subordinate to the U.S. and its allies. Rebels who objected too strongly to their subordinate role were simply told to get lost and, in a few very isolated cases, hunted down. Hundreds of the more obedient “rebels” were incorporated into a revamped Haitian police force under the close direction of U.S. and UN officials. Yes, criminals were made police under the direction of even bigger criminals in Washington. That’s how our upside down world functions.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Interviews with IJDH's Brian Concannon and Haiti Action's Pierre Labossiere on the trumped up charges and character assassination targeting of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio's Senior Producer Kevin Pina interviews IJDH's Brian Concannon & Haiti Action Committee's Pierre  Labossiere. Listen to the interviews here: http://www.haitiinformationproject.net/blog.php

Stop the attacks on former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Lavalas Movement

By: Haiti Action Committee - HaitiSolidarity.Net

      On Aug. 13, the Haitian government summoned former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to court on corruption charges. This summons is part of a chilling pattern of repression aimed at destroying Aristide’s political party, Fanmi Lavalas, as the country approaches new legislative elections. We denounce it in the strongest possible terms.
      On March 18, 2011, tens of thousands of people followed President Aristide’s car as it drove from the airport to his home, following his return from seven years of forced exile. They then climbed over the walls into the courtyard of the Aristides’ residence to continue an emotional and heart-felt greeting for Haiti’s first democratically elected president, overthrown in a U.S.-orchestrated coup in 2004. In his speech at the airport, President Aristide focused on education and the importance of inclusion for all Haitians in the process of restoring democracy.
      Since his return, President Aristide has done exactly what he promised to do – reopen the University of the Aristide Foundation (UNIFA). On Sept. 26, 2011 the Medical School once again opened its doors. Today, there are over 900 students studying medicine, nursing and law at a university whose mission is to provide higher education to all sectors of Haitian society, not just the children of the rich.

Aristide Warrant and Brandt Prison Break Overshadow Election Derailment

By Kim Ives - Haiti Liberte

Last week, Haitian demonstrators erected barricades of burning tires and car frames in front of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's home in Tabarre to prevent the government of President Michel Martelly from arresting him. On Aug. 12, investigating judge Lamarre Bélizaire had issued a court summons for Aristide to come to his offices for
questioning the next day, Aug. 13. Aristide never received the
last-minute summons which was allegedly left at his gate, according to his lawyer Mario Joseph. Having heard about the summons on the radio, Joseph did show up at the 10 a.m. hearing with a letter explaining that the summons had not been correctly served. Ironically, Judge Bélizaire did not show up for his own hearing but nonetheless later that afternoon issued an arrest warrant for Aristide because of his
absence.

Meanwhile, at about 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, two vehicles of armed men shot automatic weapons at the outside of the new prison in Croix-des-Bouquets, just north of the capital, precipitating the escape of 329 prisoners. Among them was Clifford Brandt, 42, the scion of a prominent bourgeois family who was jailed in October 2012 (but to date never tried) for heading a kidnapping ring that held hostage the
son and daughter of Haitian banker Robert Moscoso. On Aug. 12, Dominican authorities recaptured Brandt and three other fugitives across the border in the neighboring Dominican Republic and turned them over to Haitian authorities, who tried to take credit for the capture. (The Dominican Defense Minister had to issue a statement setting the record straight.)

These two unfolding dramas, perhaps by design, have all but eclipsed a much more ominous development last week: the cancellation of parliamentary and municipal elections, already two years overdue, which had been promised for Oct. 26. As a result, it is all but certain that another third of the Haitian Senate and many in the House of Deputies will see their terms expire on Jan. 12, 2015, rendering the Parliament nonfunctional and Martelly ruling by decree.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Death Squads Sow Terror in Port-au-Prince’s Poor Neighborhoods

By: Isabelle L. Papillon - Haiti Liberte

Some popular neighborhoods around the capital were in turmoil over the past week. Heavily armed government thugs, or “legal bandits” as they are commonly called, wearing pink bracelets sowed panic in the areas of Simon Pelé, Cité Soleil, the Croix-des-Bossales market, and the suburbs south of Port-au-Prince.
            This violence comes at a time when the Haitian people are mobilizing against the political persecution which the government of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is waging against partisans of its political opposition. The people are also demanding the release of political prisoners such as Jean Robert Vincent, Louima Louis Juste, Jean Matulnès Lamy, and Joshua and Enold Florestal. Progressive political activists rot in prison without trial for years while gang leaders like the kidnapping kingpin Clifford Brandt, Colombian drug-traffickers, and other notorious criminals are released, as was the case when 327 prisoners “escaped,” with the patent collusion of prison authorities, from the modern new prison in Croix-des-Bouquets. Meanwhile, Haitian diaspora visitors and citizens from the United States continue to be victims when arriving on Haitian soil.

Friday, August 1, 2014

When Will the UN Pay For Its Crimes in Haiti? When Will Anyone?

By: Joe Emersberger - first published by Telesur

A cholera outbreak has killed 8,500 Haitians since 2010 and UN forces are responsible, the author argues. Not only that, but the UN helped consolidate Gérard Latortue’s post-coup regime.

Since 2010 the UN has been dodging responsibility for a cholera outbreak that has killed 8,500 Haitians and sickened more than 700,000. Nepalese soldiers with the UN “peacekeeping” forces caused the outbreak by allowing their sewage to leak into Haiti’s largest river. According to the UN itself, cholera could kill 2,000 more people in 2014.
            The UN now faces a lawsuit in U.S. courts that was brought by some of the victims. The Obama administration is trying to have the suit dismissed but, this May, Amicus Briefs filed by prominent international law experts refuted the U.S. government’s arguments for dismissal. Scientific evidence of the UN’s guilt is so conclusive that Bill Clinton, a UN special envoy to Haiti, acknowledged in 2012 that UN soldiers brought cholera to Haiti, but he made the UN’s demented excuse that “what really caused it is that you don’t have a sanitation system, you don’t have a comprehensive water system.”
            By this logic, if I kill a gravely ill person by knocking them off their hospital bed, my defense should be that a healthy person would have survived the fall. In a civilized legal setting, where the victim cannot be dismissed as irrelevant, making such a repulsive argument might provoke a judge to hand down the harshest sentence allowable. Unfortunately, international law has always been the plaything of the most powerful, and Haitians have long endured the consequences of that fact. Criminal negligence is one of many crimes in Haiti for which UN officials should answer.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Does a Better Haiti Start with Justice or Tourism?

[This is a great story that sheds light on the incredible work (and life story) of BAI Managing Attorney Mario Joseph and makes clear why there is no way around justice for cholera victims. It not only portrays Mario’s struggle to bring justice Haitians but also contrasts it with the current Tourism Minister’s opposing view that attracting tourists will create a better future for Haiti.]

Samiha Shafy - Der Spiegel

July 18, 2014


Human rights attorney Mario Joseph and Tourism Minister Stéphanie Villedrouin are both trying to improve Haiti, but they are following radically different paths. The one wants justice, the other wants tourism.
       The attorney stares at a hut next to the grave. It’s made of wood and mud, and is covered with a plastic tarp. “I used to live like that,” Mario Joseph says quietly, more to himself than to the three women crouching behind him in the shade of a tree.
        The women are keeping watch over a rectangle of freshly dug up earth, surrounded by loose stones. One of them, Itavia Souffrant, says it is the grave of her mother. Two weeks ago, the mother had diarrhea and was vomiting, but because of heavy rains the family was unable to take her to the doctor. The mother died of cholera, the same fate suffered previously by Souffrant’s three-year-old daughter and by so many others in the vicinity of Mirebalais, north of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.

Opposition Parties Denounce Martelly’s Electoral Council


This article explains why elections in Haiti have been delayed so long: After the executive branch stalled for years, President Martelly has appointed an unconstitutional Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which is biased in his favor.  Opposition parties refuse to accept this CEP. If elections, scheduled for October 26, 2014, don’t occur this year, Martelly will rule by decree.

Opposition sides claim Haiti elections jeopardized

Associated Press, The Washington Post
July 10, 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Leading opposition factions are alleging that Haiti’s presidentially appointed electoral council is stacking the deck in favor of President Michel Martelly, who has scheduled long-delayed legislative and municipal elections for October.
Parties complaining of exclusion and unfair advantages include the Unity party of former President Rene Preval and the Lavalas Family founded by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. They are among the major opposition groups that boycotted election talks earlier in the year and have refused to register with the Provisional Electoral Council, which they contend is rigged.
An accord setting Oct. 26 as election day has not been authorized by the Senate, where a group of staunch Martelly opponents argue it is unconstitutional.
The electoral council picked by Martelly has only seven of its mandated nine members and its president, Fritzo Canton, is a lawyer who is defending former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier against charges of embezzlement and human rights abuses.

Follow the new blog Haiti: Then and Now

We suggest to all of our readers to follow the excellent new blog "Haiti: Then and Now".
You can view it here: http://haitithenandnow.blogspot.com

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.

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