by Hip Hop Attorney Marguerite Laurent
February 25, 2004
Who will come to the support of the Haitian people under siege, in this, Haiti's 200th year since defeating European enslavement? Where are our peoples in the U.S.? Every Hip Hop artist must make this their cause. Haiti's very dignity as a Black ruled democratic and independent nation is under attack right now, right here, not far from U.S. shores.
Only the Hip Hop generation, African Americans and Haitian Americans and a solidarity movement with decent, law abiding peoples globally, can flex its dollars, its voice, its networks, its reach in U.S. society to persuade the U.S. and the other Western nuclear powers to let Haiti live by withdrawing all financial and political support from the murderers, assassins and rapists terrorizing Gona‘ve, Cap Haitien, Hinche and other outer Haitian cities, villages and hamlets.
It is generally acknowledged that Haiti has historically had to pay a debt of independence, in various forms, which no other nation in the world has ever had to pay. For Haitians own a nation founded by kidnapped Africans surrounded by nations founded by slave owners.
One form of the "debt" for Haitian independence is that Haiti has suffered consistently from negative images being put forth by the international mass media with seeming impunity. Today, in general, if you pick up a mainstream newspaper, the unfair, unbalanced and negative images of Haiti have gone nuclear.
What I've noticed most is that it's not just mere misinformation and misstatements of facts or just outright lies, but the reporting about Haiti is blatantly and palpably RACIST.
Why? Because many journalists, from major and otherwise credible U.S.-Euro media outlets and newspapers, seem to give more value to the position of the unelected, wealthy and Eurocentric Haitian few they call "opposition" than they do to the desires and social-economic needs of the overwhelming Black Haitian majority in Haiti. Also because these journalists lie about Haiti and its people and Black behavior as if Haitian lives and Haiti's historical struggle for civil rights and democracy amidst U.S.-Euro obstruction, embargo, dollar diplomacy and divide-and-conquer shenanigans is negligible.
As if they may break EVERY recognized journalistic principle and ethic since they are only talking about lives that are not valuable, souls animated by just poor, defenseless Black Haitians. Shall this go unchallenged by decent peoples everywhere? I think not.
Not long ago I read an article where a journalist wrote, "Haiti celebrated its bicentennial amidst tear gas ..."!!!???
I was there at said Jan. 1, 2004, celebration. I can personally witness that I did not need a gas mask and that this is one of the many outright lies of the corporate press.
Other recent fabrications have been the consistent erroneous characterization of the opposition protester against the duly elected President Aristide as "student" protesters. Both Renel Victor and Maxime D»salmour were identified as opposition "students" who died as a result of the recent wave of protest demonstrations in Haiti.
Louvoi Petit was a pro-Lavalas demonstrator who was stoned by the Apaid-led opposition. Yet this was not widely reported, as the death of opposition demonstrators were reported.
Neither Renel Victor nor Maxime D»salmour where students. In fact, Renel Victor was a Lavalas supporter, according to his wife. Why does it seem that Reuters and AP, based on their reports on the Renel Victor, Maxime D»salmour and Louvoi Petit cases alone, seem primarily concerned about the rights and freedom of speech of the anti-Aristide opposition people in Haiti?
In order to counter these media slants and sometimes outright fabrications, I urge the spoken word warriors and Hip Hop generation and every Haitian who went down to Haiti for the Bicentennial to stand up and respond to these lies. Without question, the forces against the advancement of the Haitian people had manufactured a bloody catastrophe to happen.
It appears from all indications, including the boasting by the opposition, that a coup d'»tat (overthrow) was supposed to occur on or before Jan. 1, 2004. The so-called opposition lost much credibility with patriotic Haitians when even the sacred day to commemorate the ancestorsŪ 200-year-old 1804 great achievement was boycotted by the opposition and its radical right wing white cohorts in the U.S. Their divide-and-conquer blueprint and manufactured conflicts obstructed the celebration of Haiti's greatest feat.
Yet, Haitian blood did not pour into the Atlantic Ocean. Bombs did not drop on Gona‘ve on Jan. 1, 2004. In fact, their RACIST maneuverings did not come t o fruition.
It is well documented (see the COHA report referenced below) that the so-called Haitian opposition has no real program, platform or constituency, other than less than 4 percent of the Haitian population in Haiti and the stated desire to overthrow Aristide and bring back the old Haitian army.
This opposition we are hearing so much about today is made up of the remnants of the Convergence and something called Group 184, led by sweatshop owner Andre Apaid Jr. and made up of 14 Haitian organizations and NGOs funded by USAID, the European Union, France and the International Republican Institute.
This so-called opposition has, for four years in Haiti, simply refused to go to elections, primarily because they would not win. But, while the Haitian government is under an economic embargo led by the U.S., in 2003 alone, civil society groups such as the Haitian opposition received $3 million from USAID, and the European Union gave an $890,374 GRANT directly to Fondation Nouvelle Haiti, led by Andre Apaid, and to Rosny Desroches. Rosny Desroches heads the Fondation Haitienne de l'Enseignement Prive (FONHEP). Both are members of Group 184.
Besides the financial and political support - some observers have commented that the OAS (Organization of American States) has always been a broker for the opposition! - we have the priceless marketing aid it gets from the corporate media that constantly report as "news" and as "factual" opinions what they cull from opposition-owned news outlets in Haiti, such as the powerful Radio Metropole and others. So, don't believe the hype. Don't believe most of what you hear or see about Haiti. It's not the whole picture.
Many knowledgeable Haitian observers note that the U.S./Euro financed coup d'»tat, scheduled to occur on or before Jan. 1, 2004, did not happen because hundreds of thousands of young Haitian men and women, of all ages, stood around the Haitian palace for days and nights during the bicentennial week, literally as body-armor to prevent the internationally financed imperial agents from pushing Haiti back into FRAPH-like dictatorship.
It was an awesome site to see, and no Haitian or African American or African from Africa or the Diaspora - or anyone, for that matter, regardless of race and creed - blessed enough to have personally witnessed this desperate, but glorious act of courage and conviction by this valiant people can return to their homes abroad and not SPEAK UP.
Haiti's people are hungry, malnourished, skinny as hell, without jobs or passports to suburbia, but they so WANTED to celebrate and be celebrated. So much so, they dared the foreign-sponsored-special-interest-groups-representing-big-business-and-Profit-Over-People-ideas, also known as the opposition, to commit mass Haitian genocide or back off!
But these anti-democratic forces in Haiti did, in fact, come back. Since Port-au-Prince could not be taken by Jan. 1, 2004, the Dominican border was magically opened to former Haitian military to enter and start this bloody campaign we are now witnessing in Haiti.
But Haitians are fighting these foreign supported Black gangsters with everything they've got. Port-au-Prince will not be taken unless the U.S. and the Euros intend on returning Haiti back to the Black-ruled U.S. colony of the days before Aristide and are willing to commit Haitian genocide. The U.S. has backed death squads - like the ones Haitian civilians are facing today - in Guatemala, Chile, Venezuela and all over Africa.
I can't right now, in words of prose, capture the energy, the vibration, the spiritual FORCE, that teeming thousands upon thousands of Haitians in front of the Haitian Palace on Jan. 1, 2004, and in Gona‘ve transmitted to the world. Nor can I capture the vibration of those millions of Haitians who took to the streets on Feb. 7, 2004, to call on the world for help against the nucleic powers of the U.S. and France and internationals who want that Haiti never has a reason to celebrate beating all these Europeans back in 1804 in combat.
But, basically, our young and old came together on Jan. 1, 2004, and on Feb. 7, 2004, faced the international media and the Western nuclear powers, placed their very bodies and naked souls - the only real assets they own - on the line and said to the International Community and anyone else willing to listen: you will push us back into maronage (hiding like we were some runaway slaves) ONLY if you are willing to murder ALL of us HERE and NOW! Black people in Haiti said to these fascists and warmongers and regime changers: "over our dead bodies."
Unfortunately, current events in Haiti illustrate clearly that the U.S./Euros have no problem whatsoever murdering or standing idly by as innocent Blacks are murdered in droves by the hands of perhaps their imperial agents down there in Haiti, their right-wing, paid-off Black overseers - the so-called opposition and its armed FRAPH/FAHD military wing.
It seems those committed to Haiti continuing to be a service area for U.S. multinational corporations and their assembly plants and subsidized farm goods - those committed to the eternal rape of Haiti - won the media war against Haitians and emboldened the so-called opposition to continue their violent protests in Port-au-Prince.
Two hundred years from the date the Black ancestors in Haiti broke their own chains to create the first Black nation in the Western Hemisphere, the Haitians from Haiti's worst ghettos and slums, the urban dwellers and slum dwellers and peasants, got together and prevented a foreign-sponsored coup d'etat catastrophe. The pay-back is now in full view.
Check your local TV station as death squad leaders, led by U.S.-trained Guy Phillip and former death squad leader Louis Jodel Chamblain, previously given safety, asylum and perhaps even guns by U.S. proxy - the Dominican Republic - magically managed to cross said well-protected Dominican border that has at least, since over a year ago, 900 U.S. soldiers helping to man it. These terrorists and fugitives from Haitian justice just happened to cross the Dominican border into Haiti without being detected either by the U.S. soldiers or the Dominican guard?
This, and the fact that the Haitian opposition to Aristide has always been financed by foreign powers (IRI, USAID, European Union, etc.), is why many Haitians believe the turmoil in Haiti was planned at the highest of levels and that it's no coincidence. Many even allege these death squad leaders, rapists and terrorists have, in fact, been unleashed on the unarmed Haitian villages, peasants and urban dwellers in order to force Aristide to step down from office, in order to achieve regime change in Haiti.
In fact, but for the courageous reporting of papers like the San Franscico Bay View, the mainstream corporate media would have rewritten what happened during the bicentennial celebration for their own political purposes. Fact is, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, AP/Reuters and other "majors" led the papers trying their hand at a media coup d'etat. Eventually, the New York Times made a reluctant retraction on their Jan. 2, 2004, coverage.
But today, who will stand up for the voiceless Haitian majority with its back against the wall, facing a well-trained and well-armed U.S./Euro-sponsored military opponent? Who will stand up for the voiceless Black Haitian majority with its back against Port-au-Prince walls braving the wealthy international media, facing the Iron Will of the former slave owners and their current dollar diplomacy policies with an embargo on the Haitian people but bottomless financing of the opposition against Haitian liberation, against Haitian development and obstructing Haiti's institutionalization of the rule of law and democracy?
Who shall counter the current media and international political attempts to force the Haitian people to submit to eternal rape by the wealthiest nations on this earth? Who must stand up for the Haitian poor and for their pioneering efforts, refusing to allow themselves to be exploited in the name of "democracy" as said democracy is defined by those who insist Haiti must continue to pay for its independence?
Who must counter the current not only NEGATIVE but false and RACIST images being disseminated about the current Haitian struggle, which suggest that those fighting for Aristide to finish up his five-year mandate are "thugs." Who will speak against the criminalization of an entire Black nation, if not the Haitian Diaspora and African Americans? Who will stand and say the majority of Haitians cannot be reduced to hooligans and chimňres if not us?
What? Does the State Department and the Bush administration really want to give out the message that only the rights of the opposition to Aristide, of less than 4 percent of the 8 million people in Haiti, are worth protecting and funding? That the rest of the Blacks in Haiti are "thugs" to be left to these terrorist executions simply because they elected a leader Washington doesn't like? That Black life and livelihood in Haiti is unworthy of U.S./Euro protection?
Yet, on the other hand, Haitian American and African American soldiers in the U.S. military may proudly lose their lives to end terrorism and help bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq? Is that it?
Doesn't the fact that Haitians and Haitian Americans of the Diaspora, living in the U.S., send more than $850 million dollars per year to Haiti deserve the same U.S. State Department protection as the interests of big businesses in Haiti, like Disney, which made a profit of $1.1 billion in 1994 in Haiti, or Wal-Mart, which made a profit of $2.681 billion in Haiti in 1994 at the height of the Ž91-Ž94 bloody coup d'etat?
Why aren't our African American investments part of USAID, IRI, NED or the European Union's development and democracy enhancement programs to be protected in Haiti? Are our Black American livelihood and property interests in Haiti less worthy than those of white people and businesses in Haiti ā or U.S. Embassy folks, Disney, Wal-Mart etc.?
Is it because Haitian Americans are not as wealthy as these big businesses that their more than $850 million investment, per year, in Haiti is unworthy of note to the U.S. Bush State Department policymakers sponsoring violent groups who are burning down these U.S. citizen's vested interests and investments in their relatives' and parent's lives, livelihoods, houses and businesses in Haiti?
Such devaluation of Black humanity, such disregard and devaluing of Haiti's efforts at building democracy; such disregard for the lives of the overwhelming Black majority of Haitians, who have actually been the most victimized by this murderous, undemocratic opposition's head-long foreign-sponsored grab for power in Haiti, at all costs, is nothing if not reprehensible and un-American.
A stand must be taken for the principles of the rule of law, for the Haitian Constitution, against a coup d'etat or obstruction of the Haitian struggle for participatory and transparent democracy, and for a domestic Haitian economy.
Who, if not the Hip Hop generation in the U.S., African Americans in general and Haitians in the Diaspora, must tell any legitimate opposition that if it wants to rule in Haiti, it must go to elections, that it cannot legally force a duly elected president to appoint any of its members to power simply because it has imperialist backing.
Who but the Hip Hop generation must stand up, remembering Malcolm X, and say to the anti-democratic bourgeois Black in Haiti, grabbing for power by rule of force and violence, that Hip Hoppers support a legitimate opposition who uses the ballot, not a bullet, to gain power in Haiti.
To that end, I would strongly recommend that anyone concerned about getting more informed read the press release issued by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs laying out the complex current issues facing our Black people in Haiti. It may be found at www.coha.org and at the most updated FORUM on the internet covering Haitian issues, http://haitiforever.com.
Kenbe fem, pa lage.
Marguerite Laurent, Esq., is an entertainment attorney and chair of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership, a network dedicated to protecting the civil and cultural rights of Haitians at home and abroad. Email her at Erzilidanto@aol.com.