Will Fight From One Generation to the Next:
Remembering Genevieve 'Kòkòt' Laguerre, her living
legacy, Remembering a proud Haitian Continuum,
I didn’t want to write this.
Deep sadness, banking on the shores of desperation, seems our permanent
Haitian way of being these days - a reflex programmed by absorbing
too many deliberate imperial cruelties metered out on Haiti’s
defenseless poor since Bush’s horrific regime change landed
its “shock and awe” misadventure on Feb. 29, 2004 on
a terrorist-free Haiti with a democratically elected and popularly-supported
But the injustices inhumanely metered out on Haiti’s poor
by the Western powers - the Kolon and their Blan-peyi, doesn’t
breed terrorism. It breeds and animates a legacy of Haitian struggle
that endures pain, maintaining a proud dignity one generation to
the next. In the Western Hemisphere, it creates the greatest of
freedom fighters. It created Dessalines. It creates Haitian men
like Kamarad Weber who passed away last year (May 30, 2005) and
Haitian women like Genevieve “Kòkòt” Laguerre.
How did I hear the news?
Over the Labor Day weekend, I was telling a friend, that for the
majority of Haitians, and for me personally and for HLLN, these
last years since the rabid Haitian elite’s 2004 coup d’etat
rage, have been about death, darkness and desperation. That so many
innocent Haitians have been slaughtered by the most powerful and
resourceful of peoples, it’s impossible to handle the trauma.
Then, on Tuesday, on a stop-over at San Juan returning from a Labor
Day weekend vacation, when I was able to listen to the voicemail
messages on my U.S. cell phone, there were four messages from different
Haitian veteran activists in New York, who themselves will probably
never be known, telling HLLN that Kòkòt had died over
the long holiday weekend. Jean-Bertrand of Brooklyn left me two
messages about Kòkòt’s passing.
I didn’t want to write this. For lately, I’ve been trying,
by design, to look away for a minute. Do something else. See and
feed my mind only with beauty and life. I was going to take a break
from Haiti work. Not write for a while. For, to write honestly about
Haiti these days, is to delve, again and again, into the senselessness
of inflicted Haitian pain, slaughter and torment. But Kòkòt
deserves more than to be remembered and written about by Èzili Dantò
and HLLN. Kòkòt is one of our Poto Mitan. She represents
the many Haitian spines holding up a proud Haitian continuum.
No one beyond Haitian activists from New York and Haiti know her
name. But she’s passing the torch to the next generation of
Haitians. We know her by the work she’s done.
The Lavalas Movement didn’t spring up from nowhere.
It sprung up from the bowels of women like Kòkòt,
who have had to endure a lifetime of imposed pain and injustices
simply for being Dessalines’
Who was Kòkòt (1935 to 2006) and
why is this small Haitian woman, who lived in New York for over
thirty-five years, critically important to Haitians in the Diaspora
and in Haiti involved in promoting Haitian rights, dignity and sovereignty?
What does her generation leave to my generation of Haitians? Why
is it extra-extra-difficult to absorb these deaths today, instead
of taking them as a natural part of the life cycle?
Because Kòkòt, this Haitian woman who is unknown outside
her community, fought so that Haiti would not be where it is today
– with a defacto U.N. protectorate propped-up by France, the
U.S. and Canada and making a figurehead out of the duly elected
Kòkò lived so that these foreign governments would
respect Haitian life and dignity and not ever again allow known
assassins and military henchmen such as Guy Philippe, Louis Jodel
Chamblain, Jean Tatoune, Prosper Avril and their paramilitary forces,
Timanchet, to ever roam free in Haiti, ever again, slaughtering
the people with complete impunity while thousands of pro-democracy
activists languish in foreign supported jails in Haiti.
For decades during the Duvalier rule, three years during the first
coup d’etat, oceans of Haitian blood was spilled so the rule
of law, not force, would sprout forth in Haiti. Kòkòt
fought for the bloodletting and elite and imperial oppression of
Haiti to stop.
For years she was amongst the first on the buses in Brooklyn, in
the wee hours of the mornings, heading to Washington for demonstrations
demanding the U.S. stop supporting dictatorship and oppression and
let Haiti’s elected president freely serve out his term. Not
long ago, accompanied by Jean-Bertrand and Gladys, she went to Haiti,
for what turned out to be her last time, to visit and give comfort
to those who were suffering. She visited Sò Ann and Yvon
Neptune in jail, and even went up to Archaye to visit Rene Civil
in jail, even though she had retired, was living on a very small
fixed income, and was incapacitated by great health problems. Kòkot
had to wear a voice box and couldn’t speak without the contraption.
But still, she always managed to show up for demonstrations as late
as those held in New York in July, 2006. Kòkot leaves behind
four children - Michel Franklin, Marie Lenville (Tit Soeur), Therese
Franklin and Mireille LaGuerre. She was a caterer, a specialist
in making Haitian pastries and a skillful couturier, known for making
a her own clothes and clothes for others.
Kòkòt is representative of the Haitians I know whose
name will never be known, who have no notoriety. But who, as the
footsoldiers, struggled in the periphery, making tremendous sacrifices.
Her generation was the generations that mobilized themselves in
a foreign country to fight the Haitian elite’s tyranny. Her
generation was the first in New York to take part in massive public
demonstrations against the U.S. role in supporting dictatorship
and oppression in Haiti. Her generation lifted up and supported
the works of the many Haitian generation that came after her. Those
Haitians who, with more resources and better education, were struggling
for bi-lingual education in New York schools for Haitian children.
Her generation supported the New York Movement for Kreyol to be
spoken, fought for Haitian cultural consciousness and women rights;
fought for political asylum for Haitian asylum seekers in the 1970s,
80s and 90s and demanded freedom for political refugees wasting
in New York prisons.
The corporate media hardly ever covered the work of these ordinary
Haitian women and men. But her legacy is made no less important.
The work of the generations of Haitians, who left Haiti under Duvalier,
from Kòkòt to the present day, molds the current Haitian
resistance movement abroad and filtering back to Haiti.
I am told there was once a time in New York when Haitian women were
told: “fanm pa fè politik” – “
women shouldn’t be involved in politics.” Kòkòt
did politics and was on the front lines. She was part of the rank
and file in the New York-Tri-State area, who made Haitian activism
ordinary so that by the time Ezili Dantò and HLLN came along,
I didn’t even know there had once been a women’s struggle
in New York to change the lyrics of traditional Haitian songs, telling
women their only role was to learn how to cook, iron and wash in
order to land a husband. One such folkloric Haitian song was called
Basically in the song, the woman, “Angelina” was told
that “ if you don’t know how to cook, wash and iron.
Don’t even try to find a husband. Just stay at home with your
The song went like this: “Anjelina, Anjelina chita kay
manman w. Ti fi ki pa kònn lave, pase, chita kay manman w.
Ti fi ki pa kòn mete men lan gaz, chita kay manman w. Ti
fi ki pa kon fè yon bon bouyon, chita kay manman.”
In preparing to write this piece about Kòkòt, the
Haitians I spoke with say “the Haitian women’s movement
in the Diaspora in the 70s and 80s changed this song. So that it
became “Yon fanm ki kòn lave, pase selman, sa pa
rele fanm” – “A woman who only knows how
to wash and iron is not a real Haitian woman.”
They made it normal, insisted, for “Fanm pou fè politik
“ – for Haitian women who didn’t have to, to become
involved in politics.
One song went: “Yo tojou di fanm pa dwe fè politik,
pou nou pa janm kapab reklame dwa n." – “They
always say that women are not supposed to be involved in politics,
so we can never demand our rights.”
“Fanm vayan di fò tout fanm fè politik.
Manche fizi n pou n sove lanasyon" - “Strong woman
say Haitian women must do politics. Grab your rifle to save the
There was a bunch of such songs. Many of which, I’m told,
came out of New York. Songs that paid tribute to Haitian women,
their courage, and urged them to not be just decorations,,, “..Ou
gen lè w konprann oh, fanm se bèl biblo pou salon..’ Songs that urged Haitian women not to wait, stand up, because your
country is in danger: “…Pa rete tan Fanm Ayisyen
pou nou kampe. Fann Ayisyen, peyi nou an danje. “
These songs were sung, I’m informed, on Haitian radio in New
York and at various community mobilizing events and would filter
back to Haiti through Haitian radio.
Kòkòt, Alina Sixto, Miriam Dorisme, Sò Ann,
Gladys, Minouche, Marlene, Gina, Marie Claude, Monique they make
up part of the women in New York who took part, at various levels,
in this movement to mobilize Haitians to support Haitian democracy
and rights. The artist who sung the songs fed off their street movement
and local activism events. The street movement fed off the electric
mobilization of the artist’s inspiring and redemptive lyrics.
The Lavalas Movement abroad didn’t spring up from nowhere.
Kòkòt’s generation supported these movements
for Haitian rights, culture, sovereignty and justice. She wasn’t
the leadership. She was the foot soldier attending the Haitian plays.
She was a face in the crowd supporting the conscious Haitian artists
who came to Clara
Barton High School in Brooklyn on Sunday afternoons.
Elderly Kòkòt was the Haitian woman who cooked and
sold the food, beverages and pastries that folks enjoyed at these
Unfortunately many, from that “educated” realm, including
some of those artist, didn’t stay the course that Kòkòt
held until the very end. Many became too “educated,”
or too vested in assimilation, or too “intellectual”
or “radical” to respect the “small works”
of women like Kòkòt. But the achievement of Kòkòt’s
generation is more than noteworthy. Her generation held on. Kept
the Haitian radio stations involved. Inspired me, who came later.
Inspired and informed HLLN’s work.
For, it is what’s left of Kòkòt’s generation
in New York and their constant hell raising that has brought us
to where we are today. To where no matter what coup d'etat is made
against Haitians, tyranny is forced to retreat.
Folks like Kòkòt, Alina Sixto, Gina and Kamarad Weber
made mostly all the protests demonstrations. They spread the word.
They help gel a fragmented immigrant community. Helped unify it
against the reign of Duvalier. They supported those who organized
passive protests against Duvalier even if they then had to put masks
on their faces in the streets of New York. Then, when the time came,
they stood up behind the Lavalas Movement. They are the faceless
fighters, the backbone of the Haitian resistance in the New York
We know them by the work they’ve done. The lives they’ve
touched and made better.
The Lavalas Movement didn’t spring up from nowhere.
It sprung up from the bowels of strong, but almost self-effacing,
Haitian women like Kòkot and Haitian men like Kamarad Weber.
From one generation to the next, the fight for liberty, dignity,
sovereignty and against imperialism and tyranny in Haiti continues
through them. Kòkòt is part of the continuum of our
movement. Like thousands of Haitians, her wish was not to die in
exile, but to return to a peaceful and sovereign Haiti.
Komite Beton Devan Loni
I will always remember Kòkòt as part of Komite Beton
Devan Loni. For Kòkòt’s street smarts, her tolerance,
enduring patience and courage has provided me with the courage to
represent Haitians at some very high level meetings throughout the
years. In 1998 and again in 2000, in writing about what inspired
me to step into the Haitian struggle for dignity and human rights,
I wrote this about Kòkòt:
“..there, in Haiti, … during my war with USAID, whenever
i got anxious, i remembered this one old Haitian lady, named Genevieve
"Kòkòt" Laguerre, and fifteen others, living
in New York, who had, for three years during the Aristide exile,
sat continuously outside the UN, protesting the coup against President
Aristide and U.S. complicity in it.
"Kòkòt was frail, small and spoke in a whispery
gravely voice. She once told me that people used to step over her
thinking she was a homeless beggar while she froze out there in
the American rain, sleet and snow in front of the United Nations
building between 42nd and First Avenue. Kòkòt (or,
"Coquote," if written in French) would, in one hand, waive
her "We want Aristide back" placard, and in the other
hand, be waiving her little blue and red Haitian flag. Sometimes
she would simply wrapped herself up in a huge Haitian flag and just
walk around at the picket lines, vigils and demonstrations. Kòkòt
was a true patriot. She lived her talk.
"Old Kòkòt and the other Haitian women with her,
brought their rice and beans and fried plantain lunches and went
everyday into the New York cold. Never missing not one day, whether
it was Christmas, Thanksgiving or whatever holiday. They were there
in front of the U.N. to demonstrate for Haitian sovereignty and
to demand an end to the suffering of over ten million Haitian folks.
They, not the twenty thousand U.S. soldiers had brought Aristide
back to office in 1994.
"Here i am now in Haiti to do my part. My English was not broken.
i had an aunt, a relative, a surrogate mother who reminded me of
"Old fearless Kòkòt, she would always give me
big hugs at the demonstrations. Happy, she said to see a young Haitian-American
person there. No one ever wrote about old Kòkòt's
magnificent courage and sacrifices. She, Alina Sixto, Sò
Ann, Miriam Dorisme and Farah Juste of Veye Yo when she came up
to New York from Miami, where the Haitian women living in the U.S.,
the fanm vayan extroadinaire, i came to know in the struggle for
"The elderly amongst these Haitian women, like Kòkòt
and her other tireless makomeres - womenfriends - would
suffer permanent health problems for their stentorian efforts in
front of the U.N. between 1991 and 1994. Through rain, snow, storms
and sleet, demonstration permit or no permit, for three years, between
1991 to 1994, these anonymous Haitian women in New York, these mothers,
grandmothers and wives, these simple wage laborers - just ordinary
Haitian women with no titles or great educational achievements;
these Haitian women the world will never know, like Kòkòt,
Gina, Claudette, Monique Camilien+, Marie Claude Blass, Marie Yolene,
Virginia (Virjini), Michelle+, Yoland Willy along with Haitian men
like, Yonel (who was shot dead in New York), Marcel, Forel, Ginsley,
Serge Bastien, Jean Bertrand, Esnel, Claude Beaulier+, Claude Moise,
all, were part of a group called "Diplomat de Beton."
A group… petitioning the world's most powerful to respect
the Haitian majority's democratic choice in Haiti.
They give us a glimpse of the Haitian footsoldiers doing the grind
work that had to be done, showing the way. They were not in it for
jobs, recognition or the photo opportunities. They were "Komite
Beton (Devan Loni.)" Many of these women (and the men who stood
with them) have passed away.
They are Haitian women beholden to no one. Diplomat de Beton - the
street diplomats of Haiti - whose Anacaona, Mari Jann, Gran Toya and Cecile
Fatiman-like passionate commitment and pure convictions,
motivated me… to go to Haiti. For, Kòkòt and
her womenfriends, told me they couldn't ever eat one meal in Brooklyn
without feeling guilty about relatives in Haiti who were starving,
dying and without hope. “We are their hope,” she would
tell me. All those Haitian women and children who where raped, killed
and mutilated during Haiti's struggle for democracy since the fall
of Baby Doc from 1986 to President Aristide's return in 1994: “We
are their hope.”
i remember thinking that Kòkòt herself, like the millions
of Haitians in the Diaspora, also needed some relief so that she
could have some peace of mind. So she could eat a meal without feeling
guilty. Accept her blessings without the traumatizing guilt. Kòkòt
wanted a new paradigm. She took a stand against the coup against
President Aristide, backed it up with three solid years of daily
protests, even when all the "educated folks" said the
return was impossible. Haitians like Kòkòt held their
stand until the world caught up to them. They were the faces of
the millions of unknown Haitian footsoldiers who helped turn around
the U.S.-supported 1991 coup against the people of Haiti. “
( Kenbe La!: Crossings of a Vodun-Roots Woman ©1998
and © 2000 by Èzili Dantò. http://www.margueritelaurent.com/writings/kenbe_la_chapter3.html
I remember Kokòt as the elderly Haitian woman who cooked
food for sale to bring to demonstrations, mobilization events and
the Clara Barton High School meetings in Brooklyn, New York.
If I had a presentation to make, Kòkòt would always
save a hot plate of diri ak pwa she had cooked for when
I got off stage.
She made sure to put my plate aside.
At the demonstrations, during the first coup d’etat, Kòkòt
liked me so much, she would always save me some of her mouth-watering,
homemade Haitian candies - the sugary peanut or coconut cookies,
- tablet pistach, tablet kokoye.
But Haitian women, like Kòkòt fed my generation more
than plates of food at activist gatherings. They past to us a 500-year-old
torch, made out of the blood, bones and will of generations upon
generations, millions upon millions of Blacks in Haiti who had died
so that an independent Haiti, ruled by a Haitian people’s
government, could start the process of building democracy and social
and economic justice in Haiti.
With the death of Miriam Dorisme, Kamarad Weber and now Kòkot,
I feel a generation is passing.
A generation of Haiti’s freedom fighters who did much of their
work in New York.
A generation of footsoldiers, who are unknown outside of their Haitian
communities, in Haiti and in the US, who died in exile in New York,
still pushing, now for the second time, for the return of President
Jean Bertrand Aristide, the release of the political prisoners,
the respect for Haitian dignity, liberty and sovereignty.
Kòkot did not wish to see Haiti under foreign tutelage and
the rabid Haitian elites’ enjoying the positions they took,
not by ethical behavior, but by force.
Today, September 9, 2006 is Kòkòt’s funeral
in New York.
Today, HLLN is remembering Kòkòt, her living legacy.
To praise Kòkòt is to remember a proud Haitian continuum.
It is to recall that like Toussaint Louverture and Rosalvo Bobo,
President Jean Bertrand Aristide was also kidnapped by foreign troops
out of Haiti because he represented the aspirations, hopes and dreams
of the majority in Haiti, not the rabid
rage of the Haitian elites and their US-paid macoutes.
No one beyond Haitian activists from New York and Haiti know her
name. But she’s passing the torch to the next generation of
We know her by the work she’s done. Like we know the unknown
Maroons, unknown Cacos, and unknown Pikets; like we know all the
unknown Lavalas men and women who follow the continuum starting
way back from Queen Caonabo, to Makandal, Boukman, Kapwa Lamò,
Cecil Fatiman, Mari Jeanne, Dessalines, down to Goman - the Maroon
who never stopped fighting even after independence and especially
after Dessaline’s assassination - to Jean Jacques Acaau, the
legendary leader of the Pikets.
We know Kòkòt like we know the unknown but greatly hunted legendary militants of Haiti.
The Lavalas Movement didn’t spring up from nowhere.
It sprung up from the bowels of a five centuries old movement that
has been betrayed by its own, many, many times over.
But we remember the life and work of Kòkòt today,
as we lay her down to rest, because she never lost hope. Never stopped
midway. Never was anything but Lavalas –- the flood of pain
that rose up after the Duvalier reign in the form of Haiti’s
soulful cry for liberation, sovereignty and dignity.
Today, is Kòkot’s funeral.
Today, we Haitian activists in New York, who held on through the
darkest of nights after the 2004 coup d’etat are taking time
to bury a relentless fighter for Haitian dignity.
We will fight from one generation to the next.
Thank you Kòkòt.
Well done my mother. You deserve your rest Kòkot. Because
you have done it, so shall we follow your example and stay the course
until the end, never betraying the Haitian people’s movement,
never giving any notice to the dream destroyers.
Kòkòt, we are in this for the duration. No coup d’etat
held you down. So, no coup d’etat will hold us down. No slaughter,
no cruelties, no sadness, no desperation imposed on Haiti, will
stop us. For, none stopped you.
We will fight from one generation to the next.
Èzili Dantò, Esq.
Founder and Executive Director,
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
September 8, 2006
on the Lancet Report Controversy Initiated by
Charles Authur: Haitians Must look Outwards
Haitians must look outwards together!
Define the current pressing issues of Haiti
by Èzili Dantò
Posted: Fri Sep 15, 2006 3:38 pm | windowsonhaiti.com
The worst failings of the Lavalas governments was that both the
OPL government that ruled Haiti from 1995 until 2000 and the Fanmi
Lavalas-Aristide/Neptune government of 2000 to 2004 conclusively
failed to provide any alternative strategy to the neo-liberal
agenda. Moreover, the Haitian tragedy was complicated by the influence
of individual actors with foreign-power-backers like Lucas and
Apaid who did not have the country’s natural interests at
heart, with rise in misery and poverty adding to the traditional,
"moun-pa" system and State corruption; with
the demobilization of the population because of the first coup
d’etat and its ravages; and, the irony that the so-called
“Left” in Haiti almost uniformly had become imperial
lackeys by Feb. 2004.
Between 1994 to 2004 the Haitian Left that had returned from exile
after 1986 got themselves played by the Duvalierist/Macoutes-right
wing and the Blan Kolon. This Haitian Left, mostly French speakers,
educated abroad or in Pepe schools in Haiti are known internationally
mostly through organizations like Charles Authur’s and are
mostly those that "returned," many of whom with the
expectation (that since they were so "intellectually"
advanced or so "accomplished") they were OWED reverence
and gratitude from the people of Haiti and positions of power
in Haiti politics. (This is happening again right now with the
Haitians from abroad vying to replace the bloody Latortue technocrats!)
However, what these folks always fail to see is that the "educated"
haven't really done much for Haiti's development these last 200-plus
years. Haiti's real progressives, Haiti's Neg/Neges lakay,
lan lari a, in the tradition of Goman and un-brainwashed-by-the-Eurocentric-education
that makes us the fools, still fight and continue to fight, to
this day in Haiti for the Dessalines dream of a Black independent,
humane, progressive, tolerant and prosperous Kreyol and Vodun
nation ruled by Ayisyen, for Ayisyen and promoting a culture connected
to Ayisyen yo. HLLN mostly stands and gives voice to moun
san kravat sa yo and give voice to ourselves as such Haitians
who will not tolerate being defined by anyone but ourselves. We
are Haitians who claim our inalienable rights to liberty, dignity,
self-reliance, self-defense, self-determination, freedom of religion,
association, speech and for peaceful-coexistence and to live as
human beings with equal access to the protections of the law,
both domestic and international, with the right to work, live
and travel as our natural right and endowed, as all human beings,
with the God-given right to pursue our own individual visions
of perfect self-expression.
Haitians want to see the rule of law institutionalized in Haiti,
not the rule of force. Thus, we categorically deny the 2004 coup
d'etat, and any and all transitions of power in Haiti gained through
brute force and have worked unceasingly, since the coup d'etat,
to reverse the effects of said bicentennial coup d'etat. We do
it for our children. We do it for ourselves. We do it to show
the world what "AYISYEN" really stands for. And most
importantly, we are called to this by the African ancestors who
became Ayisyen in Haiti and who left us the greatest, most powerful
legacy of struggle and freedom ever recorded in the annals of
There is a group of so-called Haitian "progressives,"
a Haitian Left, that's known internationally, that got itself
soooo played, its leaders actually joined the phony, re-imaged
(as “civil society”) Duvalierist-Macoutes of Group
184, and became their lackeys and complicit in the 2004 bi-centennial
coup detat that summarily denied the majority of Haitians human
rights; re-enslaving Haiti’s majority poor in the sacred
bi-centennial year marking our African Ancestors’ greatest
achievement over Euro/US imperialism.
This is not to say this was not due to the Blan Kolon imperialist's
(Category One's) ceaseless pressures, meddling
and manipulation of the efforts of Haiti's well-meaning sons and
daughters for progress. It was.
In Haiti, Category One (Blan Kolon imperialist),
converted many well meaning Haitians into Black opportunists
(Category Zero) who ended up serving only themselves
not the Haitian nation and Haitian Diaspora community's patrimonial
interests. We are clear, Haiti's most lethal enemy is not the
Left that ended up as imperial lackeys. We are clear, that in
Haiti, the Blan Kolon's many embargoes, denial of credit to the
Lavalas governments, denial of approved loans, its ceaseless destabilizing
efforts, ceaseless propaganda against Lavalas, and depraved manipulation
of Haiti's affairs and Haiti’s uses in their financial colonialism/globalization
schemes, were not because they cared one wit about "Haitian
rights" which they felt were abused by Aristide, or a parliamentary
election they contested, it was all about Euro/US thievery, pillage
and exploitation of Haiti's resources and peoples. Again, let's
reiterate Category One is Haiti's most lethal enemy, not Category
Zero. For Category Zero wouldn't have a job but for Category ONE.
However, a great many in Haiti’s so-called progressive camp,
(some more willingly than others), including even President Aristide,
did end up, becoming, in many ways, pawns in the larger Kolon
game of containing-Black-Haiti-in-poverty, chaos, coup d’etat,
underdevelopment and instability to benefit the corporate capitalist’s
greed, to benefit white privilege and trap Haiti’s poor
further into more of their “structural adjustments.”
There must be a different vision.
Haitians must focus on alternative ideas for fund-raising and
for Haitian self-sufficiency and self-reliance while at the same
time, not allowing our critique of our own to be used against
us, forcing Haiti to begin again and again from ground coup d'etat
zero. Preval's government must not go this way. The Feb. 7th vote
must be protected. Preval's government must not be allowed to
block, because of imperial pressures, all progress the people
wish to make for the interests of Haiti's disenfranchised masses.
Haitians know international aid stays in the North; that their
“development”, their “help” only puts
aid, grant and foundation monies in the pockets of their own.
The compromises with the Internationals must stop, for they only
end up wanting more, more, more, more.
Right now, we have a more mobilized Haitian population on the
ground in Haiti and they’ve experienced Preval’s past
OPL government. What I hear grassroots organizations saying today
in Haiti is that the Haitian vote MUST count for change in the
INTEREST OF HAITI’S POOR MAJORITY. What I hear them saying
is that “We must light a fire under Preval’s
current government so he jumps in the pool with us!” The
pool that’s an alternative to the neo-liberal - death, foreign
occupation, and penal colony - agenda of the Internationals for
How can Haitians in the Diaspora help with this?
Well, arguing about whether Lavalas used rape and sexual violence
against Haitian women and children in the same way FRAPH and the
coup d’etat government of Latortue did is a non-issue. Lavalas,
both OPL and Fanmi Lavalas, did not use murder, rape and sexual
assault to gain and maintain power in Haiti when they were in
office or during the Latortue years when FL and its supporters
where being hunted down like animals. This is a false argument
that Charles Arthur would like to use to put his coup d’etat
organizations back on the scene as legitimate and morally reputable
“dissenters” to Aristide. Only Haitians may ultimately
conduct a dialogue of reconciliation of various political sectors
and it must be based on TRUTH, not lies.
Moreover, why should Haitians, who’ve suffered the effects
of Charles Arthur’s “benevolent” meddling in
Haiti, now listen to his concerns for Haitian women victims of
rape during a coup d’etat he and his organizations welcomed,
even advocated for – or listen to his, not-so-muted desire
to paint the Fanmi Lavalas political party as having used rape
in the same systematic manner as FRAPH and the Latortue regime?
How can Haitians re-orient a Haitianist agenda that provides the
majority in Haiti with an alternative to the neo-liberal agenda?
That is the pressing question HLLN would like to see Haitians
ponder. And, arguing about whether Aristide returns or not, was
corrupt in the manner of the dictators supported by the Internationals,
including Latortue, doesn’t animate a new vision. It keeps
us in gridlock and "feeds” the false generosity of
white missionaries of all stripes and norms. Aristide was not
a dictator in the context of Haitian dictators before Aristide
or like Latortue.
That’s a fact. The numbers of deaths during his administration,
from 2000 to Feb. 2004, the numbers of reported rapes, the level
of state sponsored oppression, as outlined by Amnesty International
reports for these years, bears this out CLEARLY. For Arthur and
his PAPDA, SOFA, KAYFANM and other OPL organizations (with vested
political interests against Aristide’s FL) to tell the Haitian
people otherwise, is disingenuous. Meanwhile, while we are stuck
in the lies, in this deliberate effort to make the coup d’etat
stick and keep the poor in Haiti away from their vision for the
return of Aristide, it’s Haitians living in the popular
neighborhoods who are the ones dying in droves, getting “pacified”
by the UN in droves, being indefinitely imprisoned without legal
cause in droves. It's our Dessalines Legacy that is being devoured,
Thus, Haitians must look outwards together. Speak for self and
fund a new vision for Haiti that is an alternative to the neo-liberal
(IMF/World Bank/USAID) agenda.
It begins with the promotion of Haitian self-reliance, self-respect,
self-defense, self-definition, self-determination and, above all,
RESPECT for all Haitian life, RESPECT for the Haitian nation’s
It begins by Haitians consciously supporting other Haitians while
dexterously navigating the many traps, pressures and strains to
tear one another apart on behalf of white privilege. It begins
by Haitians committing to not add to the Haitian fratricide that
gives room for white missionaries (both from the right and left
sides of the political isle) and their proxies to come in to “restore
order” and "human rights" and "liberty"
to Black Haiti!
September 15, 2006
A few questions?
On Arthur's concern for Haitian
women victims of rape
(Posted by Ezili Danto on windowsonhaiti, Ann Pale Forum)
notes after the posting are in parentheses)
What is KOFAVIV's
position on the Lancet report?
I for one, would like to hear Haitian women speak for themselves.
And from those I hear from, the Lancet report confirms their experiences
in the post 2004 coup d'etat years.
Why are we discussing Charles Arthur and his reputation, or even
Duff's name - and ignoring, passing over,
the 8,000 Haitian deaths that reportedly occurred in Port au Prince
alone during the Latortue years, more than reported under the
Cedras coup and not focusing on the 35,000 rapes and sexual assaults
of Haitian women, (more than) half of whom were children? Do folks
and organizations, like Charles Arthur’s that supported
the 2004-coup d'etat have any responsibly in these deaths?
Why are we ignoring Haitian victims of the most heinous crimes.
Why are we passing over the responsibility of those, including
of Charles Arthur and his coup d'etat organizations, who advocated
for the forceful ouster of a democratically elected and popularly-supported
President and making these white folks the center of attention?
Empress Verite, Charles Arthur is a white man, who has represented
so-called "progressive" organizations in Haiti, all
of whom were funded by NED or foreigner dollars and participated
in the coup exaggerations that led to the bi-centennial coup d'etat,
where over 8,000 Haitians were murdered in Haiti's capital alone
and 35,000 Haitian women and children were (raped or sexual assaulted),
IN PORT-AU-PRINCE, alone. It seems no one wishes to tell you,
for whatever reason, that Mr. Charles Arthur is one of those white
missionaries you keep alluding to.
The groups Arthur and his organization has promoted, including
OPL, PAPDA and SOFA, all supposedly pro-worker groups, ended up
aligning themselves with the elite anti-worker propaganda to propel
Haiti into the 2004 coup d'etat. This does not mean that HLLN
defends all of Aristide's policies. But we are clear, there is
only ONE WAY to remove a Haitian president, and it's not through
force. Any organization, Haitian or non-Haitian, that crosses
this line by advocating violence against the Haitian nation, is
not progressive. That's a period, no comma.
The Lancet report found that the perpetrators of violence were
criminals, anti-Lavalas gangs and the Haitian police, with UN
bearing complicit responsibilities and making death threats. This,
because the people of Haiti, who were questioned, identified their
attackers either as criminals, members of the Haitian police or
anti-Lavalas gangs. The people who were interviewed confirmed
they were not systematically raped by groups of men, gangs of
men from the political party, called Lavalas. They were systematically
raped, (during the coup d'etat years) by gangs of anti-Lavalas
men, Haitian police and individual criminals. (These criminals
one may extrapolate could be voters (supporters) of Lavalas as
well or not). The point is, Lavalas, according all known human
rights report, does NOT, as FRAPH, Haitian military and paramilitary
have a POLICY, a State apparatus, a state-run method of silencing
its opponents through SYTEMATIC rape of Haitian women and children.
If that is what Arthur is implying with his criticism of the Lancet
report, he should provide proof that more than criminals, who
may have voted Lavalas, systematically raped Haitian women and
under a state sponsored apparatus.
If a (run-of-the-mill) voter, who votes the Republican ticket,
also rapes a woman in America, do we conclude the Republican Party
(uses rape as a tool of oppression, are rapists and) fully made
up of rapists?
(Wouldn't we just call this rapist a criminal?
Isn't Arthur politicizing the Lancet report to fit a coup d'etat
agenda and simultaneously feeding white privilege’s own
mythical we-are-the-heroes psyche by viewing all Blacks in Haiti,
especially Lavalas who represents the non-assimilated masses,
as being INCAPABLE of setting a path different from others in
the political landscape in Haiti. If a criminal act in Haiti must
always have a national, political goal, especially and ONLY if
carried out by a Lavalas sympathizer, whose interest is such a
view serving? Moreover, isn't believing that Black men, who are
Lavalas must, even if the facts state otherwise, be part of the
pact of Haitians using rape as a tool for gaining or maintaining
state power, or otherwise the Lancet report is false, it's author
suspect/bias. Isn't that a racist double standard that wouldn't
be counternanced in the US or London?)
September 14, 2006
Premier Performance, Poetry, West African and Haitian Dance Company
Chèn Sa Pap Janm Kase!
Black & Moonlight: Memoir of a Poet by Èzili Dantò
Laurent (c) 2000 Èzili Dantò, Special 2000 Edition - A
call and burnt
offering to the Ancestors for Bwa Kayiman, 2006
To order your copy of Ezili's 2000 Special Edition of Red, Black
Moonlight: Memoir of a Poet, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
July 7, 2006
New York Times MOVIE REVIEW
Laurent Cantet's 'Heading
South' Shows the Ache of Blinding Lust in a Sexual Paradise Lost
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
"I'm crazy about love — sex and love, I'm not really
sure anymore," declares Ellen (Charlotte Rampling), the haughty,
brutally forthright queen bee in the gaggle of sex tourists frolicking
through Laurent Cantet's devastating film "Heading South."
"I always told myself that when I'm old I'd pay young men
to love me," she continues in her best blasé manner.
"I just didn't think it would happen so fast." A beautiful,
unmarried 55-year-old teacher of French literature at Wellesley,
Ellen has spent the last six summers vacationing at the Petite
Anse, a seaside Haitian hotel frequented by poor black boys eager
to provide sex to middle-age female guests who lavish them with
money and gifts. Ellen, the resident philosopher among a group
who picnic with their boyfriends on the beach, is a bossy know-it-all
who is not quite as hard-boiled as she would like to imagine.
As "Heading South" narrows its focus to concentrate
on Ellen; her favorite young lover, the handsome, sly 18-year-old
Legba (Ménothy Cesar); and two of the women in her circle,
it becomes one of the most truthful examinations ever filmed of
desire, age and youth, and how easy it is to confuse erotic rapture
"If you're over 40 and not as dumb as a fashion model, the
only guys who are interested are natural born losers or husbands
whose wives are cheating on them," Ellen tartly observes
of the mating game as it applies to single women of a certain
But "Heading South" is much more than a dispassionate
examination of middle-age desire. Adapted from three short stories
by Dany Laferrière and set in the late 1970's, when Haiti
was ruled by Jean-Claude Duvalier (nicknamed Baby Doc) and a cadre
of thugs, this politically pointed film contemplates the darker
social undercurrents beneath a seemingly benign example of sexual
In a dirt-poor country where life is cheap, there is a local saying
that those who grow too tall in Haiti are cut down; the exceptions,
of course, are tourists.
Observing the tourism with profound distaste is the hotel's courtly,
discreet headwaiter, Albert (Lys Ambroise). In a film constructed
around four shattering monologues addressed to the camera, Albert's
is the only Haitian voice to speak from the heart and what he
says is chilling. Descended from a family of patriots who fought
the Americans in the 1915 occupation, he harbors an implacable
loathing of the white visitors. His grandfather, he says, believed
"the white man was an animal." Albert adds, "If
he knew I was a waiter for Americans, he would die of shame."
Today, he declares, whites wield an even more dangerous weapon
than cannons — their dollars: "Everything they touch
turns to garbage."
How perilous life is for ordinary Haitians under Mr. Duvalier
is suggested in the movie's opening scene, in which Albert, waiting
to pick up a tourist at the airport, is approached by a Haitian
woman who points to her beautiful 15-year-old daughter and pleads
with him to take her because "being beautiful and poor in
this country, she doesn't stand a chance; they won't think twice
of killing me to grab her."
The other three characters who bare their souls are Ellen and
two fellow sex tourists, Brenda (Karen Young) and Sue (Louise
Portal). Brenda, 48, is a high-strung, Valium-popping woman from
Savannah, Ga.; she is returning to the resort three years after
she visited with her now-ex-husband and had sex with the 15-year-old
Legba, who gave her her first orgasm. She has been obsessed with
him ever since. Sue, a levelheaded, good-hearted French Canadian
who runs a warehouse in Montreal, has a Haitian boyfriend she
adores, but she knows full well that in any other place the relationship
would be laughable.
With a screenplay in French, English and a smattering of Creole
by Mr. Cantet and Robin Campillo, "Heading South" is
a beautifully written, seamlessly directed film with award-worthy
performances by Ms. Rampling and Ms. Young. As Ellen and Brenda
compete for Legba's love, both imagine that they play a larger
role in his life than they actually do. The little we see of Legba
away from the resort suggests a complicated past. When a gunman
goes after him, the women imagine they are the immediate cause
of his troubles. They are, but only to the extent that Legba conspicuously
stands out in the flashy clothes Brenda buys him. As much as Ellen
and Brenda think they understand him and the state of fear that
grips Haiti, they are ultimately clueless.
At first glance, "Heading South" seems to be a departure
for the director of "Human Resources" and "Time
Out," two of the more critically acclaimed French films in
recent years. But it continues Mr. Cantet's incisive examination
of money and class in modern society. In "Human Resources,"
a French blue-collar family is torn apart when the son of an assembly-line
worker joins the same company's white-collar management team,
and father and son find themselves on opposite sides of a picket
The desperate protagonist of "Time Out" loses the high-paying
job on which his self-esteem depends and convinces his family
he has landed even better work, while drifting around in his car
and living on money borrowed from friends that he pretends to
invest. In "Heading South," money also rules. The romantic
spell that Legba exerts over Ellen and Brenda is bought and paid
Mr. Cantet's film is too sophisticated to demonize these women,
whose relationships with their young lovers are more tender and
nourishing than overtly crass. For all its political acuity, this
great film recognizes and respects the complexity of its memorable,
fully realized characters.
Opens today in Manhattan
Directed by Laurent Cantet; written (in English and French, with
English subtitles) by Mr. Cantet and Robin Campillo, based on
short stories by Dany Laferrière; director of photography,
Pierre Milon; edited by Mr. Campillo; art direction, Franckie
Diago; produced by Caroline Benjo, Carole Scotta and Simon Arnal;
released by Shadow Distribution. Running time: 105 minutes. This
film is not rated.
WITH: Charlotte Rampling (Ellen), Karen Young (Brenda), Louise
Portal (Sue), Ménothy Cesar (Legba), Lys Ambroise (Albert)
and Jackenson Pierre Olmo Diaz (Eddy).
of Site Soley:
Site Soley's well-endowed young Black "mandingo bandits"
exploited by a white woman there to, as usual in Haiti, "do
good" but just merely exercised the "white" cultural
heritage from slavery, spreading death and possibly more HIV in
Haiti. Both brothers are now dead, so indeed are "ghost."
The white woman "aid's worker" who stirred domestic
turmoils, bedded two brothers, goes on to Lalaland fame.
by Èzili Dantò
Danger has long been
known as an aphrodisiac. Many white folks who go to Haiti, go
to get their thrills-on, to feel alive one way or the other, but
call it "setting up an orphanage", "Evangelism,"
"doing good," "helping the poor black Haitians"
or "working in the solidarity community with the Haitian
grassroots." Ghost of Cite Soleil is the result of such a
white-savior-to-Haiti-project. It is a film produced by the son
of Jorgen Leth, Asgar Leth.
Jorgen Leth was the former Danish honorary counsel to Haiti, who
was forced to resign his position in Haiti because he wrote a
book that detailed his sexual exploits with a 17-year-old maid
in his house. Asgar Leth, his son, produced Ghosts of Cite Soleil,
in which he chronicles the sexual exploits of a white woman with
two brothers. The white woman this film is based on, was an HIV
aids worker, hired with foreign aid funds, to go into Site Soley
to "educate" the community on safe sex practices. Such
Northern white women, encountering what, in their minds are Site
Soley's well-endowed Mandingo males with guns-in-hand and trivial
ghetto power, use the racist access and influence "whiteness"
endows them with in Haiti to exploit the relatively powerless
Black male. In effect, their sampling of the "exotic"
is not deemed direct exploitation of the powerless but fare trade
between consensual adults. Or, either the foolishness of "youth,"
simple sport or simply getting in their "experience"
before settling down, just as in the times of slavery. (See also
HLLN's links on Sexual
Tourism in Haiti on Film and Heading
South, a film depicting white women predators in Haiti).
Manmzel, pride of Empire, she who is "more schooled
in the patterns of privilege and domination" than the malnourished
men of Site Soley could ever be, enjoys her unlimited "whiteness
rights," ignores her reason for being in Site Soley
knowing there won't be a serious reckoning for her accountability,
greedily revels in having sex with not one, but
two Black Haitian brothers, Tupac and Billy. Of course, that's
not the way HERstory is told on film.
Tupac and Billy are portrayed as young, popular, hip-hop and macho
Haitian operatives supposedly on retainer to do away with Aristide's
oppositions in Haiti. Obviously they weren't that successful since
President Aristide was summarily overthrown by the Bush regime
in alliance with the Apaid/Boulos-Group 184 rabid Haitian elites
and thugs and thieves like Guy Phillipe, Jean Tatoune and Louis
Jodel Chamblain on February 29, 2004.
Both Tupac and Billy where eventually tortured, murdered, or "disappeared"
by the US/UN 2004 coup d’etat forces. The sophisticated
white woman HIV aid's worker, who stirred domestic turmoil and
conflicts, bedded two brothers, goes on to profit with Lalaland
Billy’s wife was put in jail for nine months, without any
legal charges, when she went to visit her tortured husband, Billy,
in jail. She is dying of HIV and has no provider for Billy’s
two children. Wyclef is listed as executive producer of Ghost
of Site Soley. No one knows who gave who the HIV. The question
has been raised about the HIV status of the white Western woman
who was sleeping with both brothers and what role she played in
spreading or not spreading the virus to the Haitian wives of these
men. The foreign governmental agency that financed the HIV aid's
project which furnished the reason for this white women to be
in Site Soley has yet to investigate the matter.
All who are exploiting Billy and Tupac tragedy on film and story
have yet to provide direct assistance or share their profits with
the Haitian wives and children Tupac and Billy left behind in
It is rumored that a bigger Hollywood film, based on this “Ghost
of Site Soley” version of the brothers’ lives is being
shopped around and a marquee name, like Angelina Jolie, may play
the white woman predator in Site Soley. Of course, said Lalaland
story will picture this modern-day repugnant missionary, not as
a racist and perverted sexual predator, but as a "civilizing"
force in “dark” Haiti.
That's neocolonialism for you.
Rape as weapon of war: World cried out for Bosnia, why not Haiti?
by Wilma Eugene as told to Lyn Duff
- San Francisco Bayview
March 29, 2006
My name is Wilma. I am 28 years old. I am a university student,
live in one of the popular zones in Port-au-Prince, the capital
of Haiti. I have message for the people of the United States and
Canada, for the people of Brazil whose troops now occupy our country
and for all of the Haitian people living in the Diaspora.
I want to know: Who is listening to the women who have been sexually
violated by the police and the government attachés? Who
to our voices?
Not too long ago the world was outraged by the rape of white women
Bosnia. The world was horrified by reports that soldiers and
paramilitary attachés were raping women as a form of ethnic
cleansing, as an act of genocide.
The horrors of Bosnia were called out by the United Nations and
others; the leaders were tried for their crimes against humanity
an international criminal tribunal. The world said, “This
But, it is happening. For the past two years, just a few minutes
Miami, thousands of women and girls have been raped by police,
foreign soldiers and members of armed groups. Myself, I was also
victim. I was raped by armed masked men who came to my home,
accompanied by two policemen in uniform. They raped me, my mother,
grandmother and my cousin, who is just 11 years old.
I have spoken about this crime to the police, to the United Nations,
to the human rights organizations and to anyone else who will
I spoke about this crime to the media and went on the radio telling
everyone about how I was violated.
Other victims too are speaking out. They are saying, “Listen,
being used as a weapon of war, as a type of terrorism against
population and especially against the people who live in the popular
zones and those who support Lavalas.”
I want to know, no, I demand to know: When will the world start
listen to us?
I implore women around the world to hear our voices and know that
rapes of women in the popular zones are continuing. You need to
up about what is happening in Haiti. You need to have solidarity
the Haitian women who are suffering from rape in ways that you
I will give you an example. In my zone there was a young girl
walking in the street on her way home from school. Some foreign
soldiers stopped her and said that they needed to search her because
they did not know if she had weapons.
This search was unnecessary because the girl was young, only a
of maybe 12 years. While they were searching her, they touched
ways that were wrong, but only on the outside of her school uniform.
Some police, who were not working but were in their uniforms,
while this was happening and saw how she was being touched. The
police took the child from the Jordanian soldiers and went to
corridor between the houses. They forced her to take them in her
mouth. She was made to do this for all three of the men.
All the people in the houses heard the child crying and could
what was happening if they looked, but no one in the area did
anything to stop the attack on this girl because they were afraid.
The police had weapons and even though they were off duty they
still arrest anyone who tried to stop them.
In the past two years, we have learned that when you intervene,
are also attacked or arrested. So no one wanted to get involved.
This makes me angry. But I am just as angry about the women of
world who also stay silently in their homes while a young girl
sexually violated. Where are all the women who were angry about
rape of the women of Bosnia? Where are they now, and why are they
Lyn Duff, LynDuff@aol.com, is a reporter currently based in
Port-au-Prince. She first traveled to Haiti in 1995 to help establish
a children’s radio station and has since covered Haiti extensively
for the Bay View, Pacifica Radio’s Flashpoints, heard on
KPFA 94.1 FM
weekdays at 5 p.m., and other local and national media.
DECLARATION of the Commission
of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, September 1, 2006
The Commission of Women Victims for Victims is a group of Haitian
survivors of rape from the 1991-94 military coup d’état.
We fought unsuccessfully for justice and reparations for years.
When, in 2004, we saw that the same women were being raped again,
we shifted our work in order to aid these new victims. Because
many women who were victimized when we were died from sexually
transmitted diseases including AIDS, we provide victims medical
care. KOFAVIV works with women victims from poor neighborhoods
like LaSaline, Bel Air, Cité Soleil, Grande Ravine, Ti
Bwa, Martissant, and Village de Dieu.
We, women victims, many of us from the poorest groups of the population,
have decided today to say no to all forms of violence and discrimination
to which we have been subjected during the last 200 years. We
are victims of rape. Armed groups have forced their way into our
homes, stole everything we owned, raped us and our daughters,
burned our houses, and threatened us. Many of us were forced to
leave our homes and have been sleeping on the mountainside. We
have lost our commercial goods, and we do not have the means to
send our children to school. When we open our mouths to speak,
we risk being threatened or killed.
We, women who have been subjected to all forms of violence, are
standing up to defend our rights. Haiti has signed more human
rights conventions than almost any other state. Yet Haiti remains
one of the countries where human rights, particularly women’s
rights, are most violated. We know that rights do not mean anything
when they remain only on paper. For this reason, we ask the government
to implement all of these conventions and to give meaning to the
international community’s condemnation of violence against
It must be the job of all branches of the government to respect
human rights. Parliament must adopt forceful laws to protect women’s
rights. The Executive must take strong measures to stand in solidarity
with women victims from the last 10 years. The police need to
provide security in poor neighborhoods and other areas in order
to stop kidnapping and rape. We ask that the state take action
in the justice system to end impunity. We also ask the state to
take all necessary measures to aid women who are victims of all
types of violations—those whose houses have been burned
and those who have been forced to flee and sleep in churches,
mountainsides, and porches of homes—so that they have homes
and don’t have to rely on the support of other community
Ending violence and discrimination against women is everyone’s
responsibility. We ask civil society to wake up and condemn this
relentless violence. Where are the political parties? What do
you have to say about the women of Martissant, Grande Ravine,
Corridor La Fwa, Ti Bwa who have been abandoned with no support?
During elections, you know that women were there until the end.
All your leaders are silent. Political groups— stop using
what we have suffered as propaganda without recognizing our existence.
When you do this, you re-victimize us.
We ask for justice for all women. But what does justice mean for
us? We say that women’s rights are human rights. But what
do human rights mean for us? When we reflect on our situation,
we are able to say that we are victims of rape because we are
deprived of our social and economic rights. We live in the worst
houses. We have no economic means. So, we are forced to go out
to make a living even that means endangering ourselves. As a result,
we are more vulnerable to violence. We in KOFAVIV received care
when we were raped. But don’t all women have the right to
health care for themselves and their children when they are sick?
Shouldn’t all women have access to care when they deliver
their children? Why can’t all women live in better conditions
so that they aren’t exposed to so many diseases?
We say that protecting women’s rights is not only about
providing safety from those responsible for these abuses, and
that justice is not only about putting them in prison. It is about
respecting all of our rights and the rights of everyone because
we know that poverty is a reason why many women become victims.
We have a right to education. We ask the state to stop the privatization
of schools and to build national schools so that women have access
to education. We ask the state to put an effective education program
in place so that women can obtain sufficient jobs. We have the
right to work. We ask the state to create jobs for women without
discrimination, jobs that will increase women’s economic
power so that they can achieve economic autonomy. We ask that
the state valorize women’s work. Women working in the informal
sector, especially widows whose husbands died during the political
conflict and left them with many children, need to have social
support. We ask the state to define an economic policy that will
increase production and lower the cost of living. This would allow
us to live decently.
When we think about poverty and lack of respect for human rights,
we see that the economic crisis has roots in the foreign policies
of powerful countries towards smaller countries like our own.
Powerful countries need to see that rights that we are demanding
will never be respected if their policies in poor countries do
not change. The national and international community must know
too that health, education, shelter, and access to higher education
are women’s rights. Their programs must help women access
these rights while making it easier for the state respect to them.
They should put in place good programs that will have a real benefit
for women. Women must be able to participate in decision-making
processes that affect us.
When we heard this week about the judgment against Toto Constant,
we felt that a great step forward had been made. We had been waiting
for this for a long time. KOFAVIV celebrates the decision taken
by an American court against Toto Constant. We congratulate everyone
who was fighting to judge this leader of FRAPH. But the fight
has just begun and with hope, women will succeed in getting justice
and reparations. We will continue the struggle until all criminals
have been condemned. This decision gives us a great deal of courage.
All groups that are involved in rape, both those that are perpetrating
it and those that are supporting these individuals, must stop
violating the rights of women. At the same time, we remind the
state that it has the obligation to take all action necessary
to prevent all forms of violence against women.
The fight has just begun. Women’s rights must be respected.