Progesses in Haiti
by Aaron Matè
| July 30, 2005
a Stop to the killings in Cite Soleil
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release of Father Gerard Jean Juste
On July 16, the Council
of Sages, the Western-backed body that has overseen Haiti's political
affairs since the February 2004 ouster of President Jean Bertrand Aristide,
made a startling recommendation. Blaming the exiled Aristide and his
Lavalas party for "continu[ing] to promote and tolerate violence,"
the council urged the interim regime that it appointed to "make
the bold political and beneficial decision to disqualify the Lavalas
Family Party from the electoral process."
The council needn't worry. International intervention, in which Canada
has played a major role, has assured that it will be next to impossible
for the country's largest political party to run freely in the scheduled
On July 6, international troops with MINUSTAH, the United Nations peacekeeping
mission in Haiti, conducted a raid into the Port-au-Prince slum of Cité
Soleil, a Lavalas stronghold. The UN cast the operation as an effort
to confront gang violence, but witnesses and observers tell a different
story. CARLI, a respected lawyer-headed human rights group, stated that
it had "credible information that U.N. troops, accompanied by Haitian
police, killed an undetermined number of unarmed residents of Cite Soleil,
including several babies and women." While the UN claimed that
it had killed only five "armed bandits", Reuters reported
that its local television crew "filmed seven other bodies of people
killed during the operation, including those of two one-year-old baby
boys and a woman in her 60s." Ali Besnaci, head of the Médecins
Sans Frontières mission, said that his hospital had treated 27
residents for gunshot wounds. "Three quarters were children and
women," he said, including one pregnant woman who lost her baby.
"We had not received so many wounded in one day for a long time."
Not one North American newspaper printed the Reuters report that these
quotes are taken from.
Canada is an integral member of the MINUSTAH force, contributing over
100 police officers and overseeing its logistical planning. As part
of the mission, Canada is also helping to train the Haitian National
Police (HNP), which has been implicated in serious abuses of its own.
Earlier this year, the Miami Herald reported that "Haitian police
opened fire on peaceful protesters [on February 28], killing two, wounding
others and scattering an estimated 2,000 people marching through the
capital to mark the first anniversary of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's
ouster." A similar incident two months later was noted by the Associated
Press as "the third time in three months that Haitian police have
fatally opened fire on demonstrators in Port-au-Prince."
Through CIDA, Canadian funding has gone into Haiti's justice system,
which this week added a new inmate to its ever growing population of
political prisoners. On July 21st, Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a Cité
Soleil priest, was arrested and accused of charges that include murder
and kidnapping. As of this writing, he remains in solitary confinement.
Calling him a "prisoner of conscience, detained solely because
he has peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression",
Amnesty International noted that Jean-Juste "risks spending a long
time in custody awaiting trial on apparently trumped-up charges."
Perhaps until after the elections, in which he was expected to be Lavalas'
Presidential candidate, were it to take part. Fellow Lavalas prisoners
like deposed Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and folk singer So Anne Auguste
have both spent over a year in prison with no trial in sight.
Why poor Haitians and their popular leaders are being targeted is not
difficult to surmise: in large numbers, they are calling for the return
of the government that they elected. One of Aristide's most popular
decisions was to disband the feared Haitian military, whose remnants
later led the armed rebellion that ousted him. Today, "the police
high command is now dominated by ex-military," Reuters reports,
with "only one of the top 12 police commanders in the Port-au-Prince
area" not from its ranks.
Some are not satisfied with the role of the murderers, torturers and
rapists taking up the positions they held under previous military regimes.
Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, for example, feels as if they
haven't been able to terrorize the population enough. If the international
community "had given us a little more freedom to work with the
ex-military, so that they could have participated in the struggle against
the armed groups, I am more than certain that we wouldn't be in the
impasse we are in today," he explained to the Associated Press.
Aristide-led governments were also marred with some credible allegations
of corruption and human rights abuses. But the fact remains that "[n]o
other political party comes close to the support enjoyed by the Fanmi
Lavalas," as Gallup found in a March 2002 poll (one of the last
to widely survey Haitian public opinion), giving Lavalas 37% support.
Its next closest competitor, the US-supported Democratic Convergence,
attracted 8%. Appropriately, these results, commissioned by the US State
Department, were never released to the public.
What is not clear is why popular sentiment is being suppressed with
Canada's support. While none of Haiti's Caribbean neighbors have recognized
the installed regime, the Liberal government has showered it with diplomatic
ties, $180 million in aid, and lofty public apologia. At a June 17 press
conference, Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew rejected a question about
HNP abuses, declaring his belief that "the Haitian police is doing
its very best in extremely difficult circumstances."
Perhaps out of diplomatic politeness, Mr. Pettigrew's podium partner,
U.N. mission head Juan Gabriel Valdez, refrained from commenting. But
he has not been shy before. Three days after the Miami Herald report
above, Mr. Valdez "said police brutality is undercutting progress
and such action will no longer be tolerated," the paper reported.
'We cannot tolerate executions,' he said. 'We can't tolerate shooting
out of control. We will not permit human rights abuses."
Although Cité Soleil and many other examples demonstrate that
his forces are in fact willing to participate in human rights abuses,
Valdez could at least point to a few redeeming exceptions. Canada shows
no such ambiguity. Pettigrew continued that while he had not even heard
of the police shootings reported in the mainstream press, he could confidently
dismiss a critical human rights report put out by the University of
Miami's Center for Human Rights as "propaganda which is absolutely
not interesting." "What interests me," he concluded,
"is the future of Haiti, it is the future of Haitians, it is the
progress of democracy, and the progress of the rule of law."
Some Haitians will certainly be heartened by Pettigrew's interest in
their democratic future. Prominent bureaucrats and ex-military police
chiefs come to mind. Residents of Cité Soleil, however, and the
many other poor Haitians struggling for their basic democratic rights,
will likely have a far different reaction.
Aaron Maté is a Montreal-based journalist. A shorter version
of this article appeared in the Toronto Star, July 25 2005.
*Miami Herald reports on
Sat. July 30, 2005, Noreiga has resigned!!!
See, Noreiga mus go: HLLN
demands Noreiga resignation on June 24, 2005 at:http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/noreigago.html
SEE: HAITIAN PERSPECTIVES
l. See. HLLN Statement:
Ron Daniels' Coup D'etat Disinformation campaign to continue at July
22-24, 2005 'No Haitian Voters, No Problem, Symposium, Part 2| Haitian
Perspectives by Marguerite Laurent July 13, 2005
2. See also, Ron Daniels
and the Haiti Support Project is at it again...http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/danielsatitagain.html
3. HLLN's Open Letter Demanding
a Stop to UN Slaughter of Haitian Civilians in Site Soleil, Haiti |
Haitian Perspectives by Marguerite Laurent July 21, 2005
4. HLLN Statement: Jack
Roche's Kidnapping and death used by US-backed "Council of the
Wise" and Coup D'etat regime to criminalize Lavalas: Pretext for
cracking down more on the poor masses and to justify upcoming sham elections
| Haitian Perspectives by Marguerite Laurent July 17, 2005
5 . Noreiga's attack on President Aristide and the People of Haiti causes
pro-democracy Haitians to demand his resignation | Haitian Perspectives
by Marguerite Laurent July 24, 2005
6. Deliver this Letter
to Lula: Open Letter to President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva of Brazil
from New York Haitians | Haitian Perspectives by Marguerite Laurent
July 28, 2005. http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/lulaletter.html
7. Have the Latortues Kidnapped
Democracy in Haiti? by Anthony Fenton| ZNet | June 26, 2005 http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/kidnapdemo.html
Solidarity Day Pictures & Articles
May 18, 2005
and Articles Witness Project
photo for larger image
Wilme - on "Wanted poster" of suspects wanted by the
"Dread" Wilme reported killed July 6, 2005
"Dread" Wilme speaks:
Radio Lakou New York, April 4, 2005 interview with Emmanuel "Dread"
Alert- Demand a Stop to Killings
in Cite Soleil:
Sample letters and Contact information provided, April 21, 2005
Crucifiction of Emmanuel
Peralte - The old Bandit King of Haiti
* In 1919 the US murdered him and put the body on public display
Urge the Caribbean Community to stand firm in not recognizing
the illegal Latortue regime:
Show at the
July 27, 2004 Haiti Forum Press Conference during the DNC
in Boston honoring those who stand firm for Haiti and democracy;
those who tell the truth about Haiti; Presenting the Haiti
Resolution, and; remembering Haiti's revolutionary legacy
in 2004 and all those who have lost life or liberty fighting
against the Feb. 29, 2004 Coup d'etat and its consequences