for hope: Elections in Haiti
Peter Hallward | July/August
Late in the night of 29 February 2004, after weeks of confusion
uncertainty, the enemies of Haiti's president Jean-Bertrand Aristide
forced him into exile for the second time. There was plenty of
for confusion. Although twice elected with landslide majorities,
2004 Aristide was routinely identified as an enemy of democracy.
Although political violence declined dramatically during his years
office, he was just as regularly condemned as an enemy of human
rights. Although he was prepared to make far-reaching compromises
with his opponents, he was attacked as intolerant of dissent.
Although still immensely popular among the poor, he was derided
aloof and corrupt. And although his enemies presented themselves
the friends of democracy, pluralism and civil society, the only
they could get rid of their nemesis was through foreign intervention
and military force.
Four times postponed, the election of Aristide's successor finally
took place a few months ago, in February 2006. These elections
supposed to clear up the confusion of 2004 once and for all. With
Aristide safely out of the picture, they were supposed to show
his violent and illegal expulsion had actually been a victory
democracy. With his Fanmi Lavalas party broken and divided, they
intended to give the true friends of pluralism and civil society
democratic mandate they had so long been denied. Haiti's career
politicians, confined to the margins since Aristide's first election
back in 1990, were finally to be given a chance to inherit their
What actually happened in February seems to have taken these
politicians and their international backers by surprise. This
itself surprising, since both the conduct and the outcome of these
elections were squarely in line with all three of the most salient
features of Haitian politics in recent years.
The first and most obvious feature is that ever since 1990,
presidential elections in Haiti have been won either by Aristide
by the person Aristide chose as his first prime minister, Rene
“ a man who, though far from a mere acolyte, is still widely
fondly known as the marassa or twin brother of Aristide. Aristide
67 per cent of the vote in 1990. Preval won 89 per cent of the
in 1995. After his Fanmi Lavalas party swept the legislative
elections in both houses of parliament in May 2000, Aristide was
elected with 92 per cent of the votes cast in the presidential
election of November 2000. And in February 2006?
After a limited, last-minute campaign in a crowded field, Preval
another outright majority. The official count gave him 51 per
though most credible observers estimate that his actual tally
more like 60 per cent. His closest rivals, the academic Leslie
Manigat (a prominent member of the elite Democratic Convergence
led the campaign against Aristide in 2001-2003) and Charles Baker
maverick white businessman with powerful international connections)
won 12 per cent and 8 per cent respectively. Guy Philippe, the
trained leader of the disbanded soldiers whose up rising eventually
toppled Aristide, also stood as a candidate. Along with Jodel
Chamblain, Jean Tatoune and other convicted killers, in March
was hailed as a hero and a 'freedom fighter' by the man the USA
to run Haiti's post-Aristide government, Gerard Latortue. In February
2006, Philippe won less than 2 per cent of the vote.
It is not hard to figure out why Aristide and Preval are so much
popular than their rivals. In the eyes of most people, they continue
to represent the aspirations of the extraordinary mobilization
first brought democracy to Haiti in the late 1980s, the mobilization
that Aristide dubbed the Lavalas, or flood. As the American activist
and doctor Paul Farmer explained in 2005: 'everybody knows that
Aristide was bad. Everybody, that is, except the Haitian poor
are 85 per cent of the population.' Although support for Lavalas
appears to have subsided somewhat among the peasantry over the
few years, so far as I could tell when I visited the poorer
neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince over several weeks in April 2006,
enthusiasm there for Aristide and for the Lavalas project more
generally remains undiminished. I met with community leaders and
interviewed dozens of people at random. Virtually all of them
they continued to support Aristide or his party, and most told
they supported him less on account of what he managed to achieve
because of what he symbolized and said.
Despite massive cuts in international support, Preval and Aristide
built more secondary schools than in the whole previous history
Haiti. They opened thousands of literacy centres and with Cuban
assistance established or renewed hundreds of health clinics.
invested in transport and infrastructure. In the oppressively
neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince, they created dozens of new public
squares. But more important than any of this, in the eyes of their
supporters, is the simple fact that they spoke to and for the
majority. They know that Aristide made mistakes, that he was too
reluctant to crack down on reactionary dissent and too tolerant
the opportunists who forced their way into his entourage. But
other politician ever had anything remotely like his rapport with
both the urban and the rural poor. Aristide was the first politician
regularly to speak in Kreyol, to mix with people from the quartiers
populaires, to recognize their religion and their values, to affirm
them as genuinely political actors. He was the only significant
politician of his time to address the reality of class struggle,
inequality and injustice in terms that made concrete sense to
who suffer their effects.
The people's investment in Aristide and his legacy remains the
most decisive and divisive element of Haitian politics. Ask someone
in Haiti how they interpret this investment and you are likely
a good sense of where they stand. Aristide's opponents, including
left-leaning members of the intelligentsia who also oppose the
the IMF and the status quo, frame their interpretation in terms
delusion and betrayal: a manipulative and self-serving demagogue,
Aristide wasn't worthy of the people's trust. He did not focus
institutions and procedures. He was more of a priest than an
administrator. He made too many compromises with the USA. If you
confront people in places like Cite Soleil or Bel-Air with this
of objection, they tend to smile or shrug. Aristide helped us
organize ourselves, they say. Of course his own freedom of movement
was limited, but he helped us to constitute ourselves as active
participants in national politics, to gain the measure of our
strength. Aristide loyalists cannot easily be portrayed as the
of a populist manoeuvre. Their investment is independent of its
object, and it remains as resilient as ever. Again and again,
told me that they believed in Aristide less as a leader than as
The same goes for the popular investment in militant local leaders,
veteran advocates like Father Gerard Jean-Juste, or younger activists
like Samba Boukman, Moise Jean-Charles, Amaral Duclona, William
Baptiste, who continue, often at the risk of their lives, forcefully
to articulate Lavalas demands. People like Duclona or Jean-Charles
are the only political activists in Haiti today who can organize
disciplined and massive political demonstrations, if need be at
moment's notice. At one point during the 2006 presidential campaign,
for instance, the leading elite candidate Leslie Manigat advertised
major rally in the historically charged town of Vertières
the last major battle in Haiti's war for independence from France).
According to Jean-Charles, the event was promoted in the press
national radio for over a week, but only a tiny handful of supporters
showed up. In order to demonstrate the real balance of forces,
Charles and other Lavalas activists in the north of the country
a single fifteen-minute pitch on local radio, calling a counter-
demonstration for the following day. It was attended by tens of
thousands of people.
Wherever they stand on the political spectrum, most 'well-educated'
critics of Aristide and Lavalas share similar values and priorities,
and suffer from similar limitations. Their lack of popular appeal,
their reluctance to work in the neighbourhoods where most people
live, their contempt for what they call 'populism,' deprives them
any significant political strength. The left-leaning critics of
Aristide and Lavalas who work for media-friendly groups like PAPDA
Batay Ouvriye are now regularly cited as 'alternative' voices
international press, but when they hold a sit-in or demonstration
Haiti's capital, no more than fifty to a hundred people are likely
For now and for the foreseeable future, no one will win an election
in Haiti if they do not enjoy grassroots Lavalas support.
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Ann Released on Bwa Kayiman Day ,
August 14, 2006**Demand
Release of All the Other (over 3000) Political Prisoners in Haiti
What Future for Haiti? An Interview with Patrick Elie by
Reed Lindsay, NACLA
|Aug. 30, 2006
This article was originally published on NACLA News, a new source
of news and analysis on Latin America and the Caribbean produced
by the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA).
In February 2004, U.S. Marines whisked away then-President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide from Haiti amid an armed rebellion led by disgruntled
former soldiers and paramilitary actors. Despite the presence
of a United Nations peacekeeping force, violence and poverty increased
under the U.S.-backed interim government led by Interim Prime
Minister Gérard Latortue, which courted the elite and its
international backers while alienating Haiti’s overwhelming
poor majority. The crisis hit a low point last December and January,
with daily shootings in the poor neighborhood of Cité Soleil
and an outbreak of kidnappings.
President René Préval’s electoral victory
on February 7 suddenly brought peace and hope to Haiti for the
first time in two years. Haiti’s poor flooded the polls
to vote, and one week later they blockaded nearly every major
road in the country to demand that the electoral council name
Préval the victor in the first round. Préval has
formed a coalition government and has courted all sides of the
political spectrum, including both pro-Aristide militants from
Cité Soleil as well as light-skinned elites. He has taken
a similar approach in his foreign policy, seeking help from the
United States and France but also Cuba and Venezuela. It is uncertain
how long he will be able to juggle these different interests,
and more than six months into his presidency, Préval continues
to remain largely an enigma.
Patrick Elie has been an activist in Haiti since 1986, when the
nation’s popular movements drove former dictator Jean-Claude
Duvalier from the country. In the late 1980s, he participated
in these movements alongside René Préval, Jean-Bertrand
Aristide and Antoine Izmery, among other pro-democracy activists
struggling against the military governments that assumed power
after Duvalier’s ouster. Elie was head of Aristide’s
security detail during his first presidential campaign in 1990.
When the former priest became the country’s first democratically
elected leader, Elie assumed the position of anti-narcotics chief.
He went into exile after the military coup and returned to become
secretary of state for defense when Aristide was restored to power
in 1994. Since 1995, he has not served in government but has remained
politically active, and is a founding member of SOS (Citizens’
Watchdog Center), a group that seeks to promote the creation of
a national network of grassroots organizations.
Interview with Patrick Elie and introduction by Reed Lindsay.
Reed Lindsay: How accurate is the characterization of Haiti as
a country with a history or a culture of violence?
Patrick Elie: It is an image of Haiti that is grossly distorted.
The so-called level of violence in Haiti pales in comparison with
violence in at least half the countries in the world. Compare
the history of Haiti with that of England, France and the U.S.
and Germany. Don’t go back to the 1200s. Look back to 1804
and you have more violence in those countries than in Haiti. So
the characterization of Haiti as a violent country is a bunch
of hogwash. Why is there tension and instability in Haiti? It
is simply because in Haiti you have 5 percent of the population
controlling 60 percent of the national wealth, while 80 percent
live in poverty. If you had such a situation in any other
country you’d have a massacre or a civil war but that hasn’t
happened in Haiti, which speaks to the self-restraint of the Haitian
population. The instability of the last 20 to 25 years has been
caused essentially by this elite as well as their foreign allies
who cannot truly accept the principal of one citizen-one vote
because it would mean that they would lose their privileges and
influence. They have tried to quench the will of the poor majority
of Haiti and tried to change the rules of the game because they’ve
lost in elections. If it were up to the Haitian people (and when
I say Haitian people I’m talking about the vast majority
of Haitians who are poor) there would be both democracy and stability.
If you look at recent history, the Haitian people have chosen
to vote rather than to riot. They voted four times in a row for
the same political family, the same political leaning, the same
agenda. They consistently have picked both democracy and stability.
RL: How does the United States government’s role in Haiti
compare to its role in other countries in Latin America?
PE: The role of the U.S. in Haiti is no different than what it
is in other countries in Latin America in that the U.S. is interested
in dominating Haiti and dictating its policy. That’s the
reason why they cannot stand the idea of somebody being elected
with a large majority because that means the government will not
be easy to manipulate as one that has very little popular legitimacy
and from the get-go this was the United States’ problem
with Aristide and Lavalas. The role of the U.S. in all of Haitian
history has been egregious. The U.S. occupied the country for
20 years from 1915 to 1934 and left us with a repressive army.
But this pattern was not particular to Haiti. Go to the DR, and
they did the same thing with Trujillo, and the same thing in Nicaragua
with Somoza. When the U.S. said it would support democracies rather
than military dictatorships, the Haitians did not play along because
they did not want the type of democracy that the U.S. wanted to
The Haitians, that is, the 80 percent of Haitians who have been
excluded for two centuries, wanted a true democracy, where they
would define the agenda and get to pick who they wanted rather
than be forced to choose between candidates they don’t like.
Why has the U.S. occupied the country three times? There are many
reasons. There are economic
reasons, but even if you don’t concede to that,
Haiti has been a
powerful symbol for having overthrown slavery and becoming independent
and for what it’s doing now, which is proving that the
poorest people in the hemisphere, mostly illiterate, can know
more about democracy than the people who are pretending to be
beacons of civilization. And they can stand
up to the will of the U.S. The movement that you see
now in Latin America, the new large social movements that are
sweeping away the traditional political parties, that also started
in a way in Haiti. For the U.S., Haiti is an example that must
be crushed, that must be made to fail. That’s the principal
interest of the U.S. in Haiti.
RL: But the U.S. hasn’t been the only first world country
to play a major role in Haiti in recent years. What about France
PE: France’s role in Haiti is a direct result of the demand
for reparation that President Aristide put forward. Also, I think
France could never get over the defeat of 1804. In all of Haitian
history, never has a French president set foot in Haiti. And Santo
Domingue is probably the French colony that played the greatest
role in French history. It was the richest colony by far, and
caused them to lose Louisiana.
With Canada, I can point to a number of reasons why they have
switched directions in Haitian policy. One is that Canada is aligning
its policy with that of the U.S. more and more after Iraq where
they refused to participate because the Chretien government would
have been defeated if Canada had gone into Iraq. Haiti was an
easy way to please the U.S. Haiti’s a country with no army
and no possibility to resist regime change.
RL: How would you characterize the role of Brazil, Argentina and
Chile in the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti?
PE: The Latin American countries had their own reasons and interests.
Brazil wants to be recognized as an emerging power and wanted
a seat in the UN Security Council. For countries like Argentina
and Chile, they wanted to show that they are countries that count.
Despite the fact that I’m against the occupation, if I had
to choose to be occupied by U.S. Marines, the French Legionnaires
or the Latin American countries and the UN, I’d pick the
latter, but the positive thing that could emerge from this crisis
is that Latin America will discover Haiti and remember that Haiti
is at the origin of their own independence. Also, I believe that
Haiti will have the possibility of reorienting its diplomacy
toward the Caribbean and Latin America rather than be prisoner
of its destructive relationship with the United States.
RL: What about the allegations that UN troops tolerated and sometimes
committed abuses in the poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince?
PE: I think there were some people within the UN that were truly
sympathetic to the Haitian people. We cannot forget the excesses
of the UN, especially in the popular neighborhoods like Cite Soleil.
But we also must recognize that the UN troops did not go all out
in military operations in poor neighborhoods as they were being
encouraged to do by the Haitian elite and the governments of the
U.S., France and Canada. As President Préval has said,
I would like to see the UN mission continue. But we don’t
need all those men with guns. We’d rather see doctors and
technicians helping us.
RL: Can you evaluate the last two years of rule by the interim
government of Primer Minister Gérard Latortue?
PE: I prefer to call it a de facto regime or puppet regime because
that’s truly what it was. It was forced upon the Haitian
people by the intervention of February 29, 2004, and it was formed
with hostility. It was a government that was to be hostile to
Lavalas and to help eliminate the movement from the political
scene. It was a government that was a model of the kind of government
that the three countries that intervened in Haiti would like to
see at the helm of the country: a government that answers not
to the population of the country but to foreign interests and
international organizations like the IMF. As for an assessment
of the last two years, I’m 56 years old, and these have
easily been the most difficult and terrible years for the country
I’ve ever seen.
First of all, there’s the level of repression against the
poor people, against Lavalas. This government has allowed ex killers
and killers from the army to integrate into the police into units
that were nothing else but death squads and go into popular neighborhoods
and assassinate people. And the economy has been a disaster. The
thing the government did was fire 4,000 to 5000 people in a country
with 70 percent unemployment. Of course this is not the type of
government the Haitian people would like to see at the helm of
RL: How does Haiti’s popular movement compare to those in
other countries in Latin America?
PE: When Jean-Claude Duvalier was forced to leave the country
in 1986, nobody expected that after 30 years of repression, the
first 15 of which were sheer terror, that there would be this
profound movement within the Haitian population that would turn
into thousands of grassroots organizations. It was this movement
that was the origin of the Haitian saga of the last 20 years.
It was this movement rather than the political parties
that stood up against the return of dictatorship. It
was this movement that confronted the military government when
it tried to control the election in 1987 and this movement that
swept Aristide into power in 1990. And it was not the political
parties, but again this movement that elected René Préval.
Don’t believe for one minute that Lespwa [the coalition
of political parties and organizations on whose ticket Préval
ran for president] has been anything but a label
that has been used for the election and a nice slogan, but it
was that vast social movement that swept Préval into power.
And I think that this movement that literally exploded onto the
scene in 1986 preceded what we’ve seen in Venezuela, in
Bolivia, and what may be appearing in Mexico and maybe it is the
wave of the future for countries like Haiti in Latin
America. Instead of trying to mimic
countries of Europe, maybe we can forge regional tools for regional
democracies. And I think that is what Haitians are trying to do.
RL: Has this popular movement grown stronger or weaker in the
last 20 years?
PE: The popular movement in Haiti is very much alive, but it is
already a bit better organized because it is battle scarred but
battle hardened also. I’ve seen the crowds in 1986 and 1987,
and the ones I’ve seen out lately are different. It’s
already starting to resemble an army. There is more organization,
there is more discipline, and I think there is more ability
to stay the course. Of course, much remains to be done,
for example, there is no substitute for a national coordination
for such a movement. It should exist. For the moment, it is a
very loose coordination. That’s where the new political
leadership will emerge from. If anything, the last election signals
the end of Haiti’s traditional political class. When I say
traditional, I mean both those who come from the traditional right
and the traditional left. You’ve seen the electoral results
of the so-called socialists such as Paul Denis and Serge Gilles.
They have been rejected by the Haitian people.
RL: What is the future of Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party
PE: Aristide has played a key historical role in the struggle
of the Haitian people to define their own democracy, and I’m
sure he will continue to be an influence in the future. Fanmi
Lavalas is a political organization. But I don’t think it
will be able to survive as a political organization simply because
it really has no real autonomy. You could see how it became totally
in disarray after president Aristide was kidnapped. It was what
I would describe as a charismatic organization, one that depends
strictly on its leader and after that you have nothing in terms
of structure and in terms of capacity to formulate a political
A new grassroots movement will have to form that comes from the
street and grassroots mobilizations. Lavalas is this movement,
but Lavalas and Fanmi Lavalas, although related, are different
things. Fanmi Lavalas is a political organization. Lavalas
is a political philosophy, not a party. Lavalas
and the popular movement are one in the same. It was
the name coined for it by President Aristide. But he did not invent
the reality of it, he just put a name on it. He doesn’t
own it. It owns him.
RL: What lessons can be drawn from the overthrow of Aristide in
February 2004 and the ensuing two years?
PE: The lesson to be drawn is that it’s not enough
to vote for somebody who is sympathetic to your cause. If you
do not stay mobilized and define your political agenda and support
that political agenda, what will happen is that either the president
or the senators you elected are going to be extremely vulnerable
to pressure exerted on them from the powers that be or they’ll
start drifting to a more traditional type of power and start having
their own agenda. And of course both things can happen.
It’s obvious when you look at the last years of President
Aristide, all the senators and deputies had their own personal
agenda and were completely removed from what the people themselves
wanted. So politicians, no matter what label they are
under, have to be kept on a leash. And the leash is the
grassroots movements permanently mobilized. That
is one thing that the popular movement has learned.
RL: Would you include René Préval among the new
group of leaders in Latin America who are pushing for regional
integration and challenging U.S. hegemony in the region?
PE: Préval is a branch from the same tree. Préval
started out like all of us, a Marxist, but he’s
been really forged or transformed by the popular movement itself.
He was very close to it. We went to school in the popular movement
at the same time. He has a good feel for what the people of Haiti
want and need. As a leader he does not have the charisma of Aristide,
nor is he inclined or able to communicate with them the same way
that President Aristide could. But I think that he has the
trust of the Haitian people, which is very important.
But if the Haitian people do not
keep up their mobilization and continue to build it as a structured
movement, he will fail. That is a certainty. He
will fail because it is the fate of any leadership that is left
by itself and does not have behind it a strong an organized people.
He might be pushed so far away from the original agenda and what
the people want that it would be the equivalent of him
RL: What will Préval be able to accomplish?
PE: From what Préval has indicated, he will address the
problems of the poor majority of Haiti, including the most urgent
issues such as terminating that exclusion, that quasi-apartheid
that predominates in this country. His biggest obstacle might
come from those within the Haitian elite and the traditional politicians,
who will try to embrace him after failing to block his way.
A president only has so much power, and he’s not the one
actually doing everything. He depends on a team, and he depends
on popular support.
The members of the elite and political parties could have too
much influence. What they couldn’t win in the election,
they could win by buddying up to Préval. I’ve
heard that everywhere he’s gone, he’s gone with members
of the moneyed elite. That’s all fine and dandy, he cannot
actually govern against the elite all out, but he cannot govern
for the elite either. I hope they won’t try to destabilize
in the same way they tried to destabilize Aristide. The last two
years have been such a fiasco, I don’t know if they have
the stomach for something as terrible and disastrous. But Préval
will certainly be facing a lot of pressure. And I think somehow
the Haitian people know that. All
I expect from his presidency is to have the space to organize
rather than facing a truly hostile government. But he will be
under a lot of constraints.
RL: How can Préval push through reforms that benefit the
poor majority without the elite sabotaging his effort?
PE: We start maybe by having the kind of dialogue with the moneyed
elite that the people of the South African majority had with the
white minority when the one person-one vote principal was being
adopted. Obviously the elite want some protection, but they will
only have it by exchanging their privileges for rights. It is
obvious that things cannot continue as they are, so if there are
people who are reasonable within this elite, some compromise might
be reached between them and the vast majority of people who have
been excluded. The priorities should be set right. Education,
health care, production. These should be the priorities. We must
have a country that produces. The elite must be engaged in production
of wealth rather than being truly parasites. Laws must be voted
by the new parliament and be acted upon to close progressively
that horrible gap that exists between the tiny elite and the huge
majority. That’s the only way to go. And if the elite persist
in trying to stand in the way of progress I think they will have
to go the way of the Cuban elites that had a field day until Fidel
came along. Maybe they are more ready to be persuaded after the
last two years. It was the last desperate attempt to stem the
flow of history. The last two years have not been particularly
happy for the Haitian elites either. The Haitian people as a whole
have suffered the consequences of Aristide’s overthrow.
Reed Lindsay is a freelance journalist who has been based in Port-au-Prince
since October 2004.
seeking to breathe new life into the violence in Cite Soleil?
An AHP editorial | AHP News
- October 23, 2006 - English translation (Unofficial)
Soldiers of the United Nations have affirmed on several occasions
this week that they were the targets of gunfire in the shantytown
of Cit? Soleil. This obliged them, they say, to open fire themselves,
causing deaths among the civilian population.
The first question to ask is the following: was this really a
case of gunshots fired at the UN blue helmets or was it instead
a case of stone-throwing?
In any case, based on eyewitness accounts, it was the guns of
the foreigners that caused the casualties.
Strangely, these incidents are taking place at the moment when
an important group of well-known musical artists are organizing
an increasing number of concerts in different parts of the capital
to persuade the perpetrators of violence and those who give them
orders that it is necessary to put an end to the violence and
turn over the illegal weapons that are in their possession.
And these incidents are breaking out at the precise moment when
this campaign is beginning to produce tangible results, particularly
in the populist neighborhoods.
Who is not determined to see that the solution to the violence
is found without further bloodshed?
Indeed, at the same time as reports or rumors are spreading about
gunfire directed at UN blue helmets, some sectors are stepping
up their calls accusing MINUSTAH and the government of refusing
to have done with the armed gangs.
This is in turn perceived as an appeal for the use of blind force
to "pacify", demobilize, indeed eliminate the residents
of a neighborhood considered as one of the most politicized and
aware as exists in Haiti.
Many are pointing out that most of the time it is innocent people
who are struck down during these "muscular" operations
or rather? when MINUSTAH returns fire. That was what happened
once again last week with the death of at least four members of
the community in Cit? Soleil, including children.
And these latest losses of human life that have been reported
in circumstances that remain very confused have occurred just
a little more than one month before the local and municipal elections
set for December 3, for which the stakes are extremely high.
Are some people looking for a pretext to ask for large scale operations
against the people of Cite Soleil, just as they did unsuccessfully
when they asked MINUSTAH to take such action on the eve of the
presidential elections of February 7, 2006, and also when they
tried to penalize this population by asking the Provisional Electoral
Council once again not to set up any polling stations in Cit?
Soleil, with all of the consequences that this implies for popular
participation in the elections.
A certain collective calling itself the Notables of Cite Soleil
let the cat out of the bag by calling for the destruction of this
district and relocation of its inhabitants.
One of the members of the aforementioned Collective is accusing
the new authorities of having done nothing to neutralize what
they call "the bandits of Cite Soleil".
Who is seeking to breathe new life into the violence in the popular
districts in order to attain their objectives?
Present history demonstrates that wars and brutal operations have
absolutely no possibility of resolving problems but instead trigger
greater destruction, grief and suffering while at the same time
fueling hatred between one side and the other.
If the sectors in Haiti think that we can escape from this reality,
by advocating the strategy of elimination, while refusing to go
to the root of the problem, they will drive us all to collective
?MINUSTAH, whose members are so often accused, rightly or wrongly,
of behaving like tourists or of being involved in criminal acts
to justify their presence, would do well to avoid falling into
the same basket.
Already many people are seeing as a type of provocation the fact
that the UN's Brazilian blue helmets, on the pretext of building
a road, proceeded to demolish the small homes of local residents
in the Cite without paying them any compensation, without even
having warned them.
Would they behave the same way in the favelas of Rio Janeiro and
Sao Paulo where violence and kidnapping flourish?
The Haitian government would be better off conducting an investigation
to learn what really happened, identify and unmask the sectors,
whichever they may be, that are seeking to resurrect the violence
in the popular districts, whose inhabitants have already suffered
enough over these past years.
Soley united, wants peace. Why is UN attacking Site Soley, not
applying DDR? MINUSTHA Bring More Turmoil to the People
of Site Soley
Interview of Site Soley grassroots activist in Haiti: "We
did not kidnap the
UN soldier as reported. The UN wants war in order to stay in Haiti.
2006, Ezili Danto Witness Project (English translation & Kreyol
in Site Soley and Ezili Danto Witness Project
Update, 10/06 - Police
and Site Soley community shake hands first time in
Who is seeking to breathe new life into the violence in Cite Soleil?
News - October 23, 2006
Jean Jacques Dessalines, said, "I
Want the Assets of the
Country to be Equitably Divided" and for that
he was assassinated. That was
the first coup d'etat, the Haitian holocaust - organized exclusion
masses, misery, poverty and the impunity of the economic elite
(with Feb. 29, 2004 marking the 33rd coup d'etat). Haiti's peoples
to resist the return of despots, tyrants and enslavers who wage
war on the
poor majority and Black, contain-them-in poverty through neocolonialism'
debts, "free trade" and foreign "investments;"
These neocolonial tyrants
refuse to allow an equitable division of wealth, excluding the
Haiti from sharing
in the country's wealth and assets.
html#equity and, Expose the lies,
Petion/Gerin- the Insurgent/Reactionary Mulatto Generals more
French/colonial economic and cultural interests than the Haitian
Following Dessalines' assassination, under the long Mulatto and
presidencies of Petion (12 years) and Boyer (25 years), the
name Dessalines was
execrated, declared loathsome, cursed, not allowed to be spoken.
Neocolonialism had begun in Haiti, would be formalized with Boyer's
Independence Debt and the
legacy of the impunity and undemocratic offenses
of one class and sector of Haitian society, continues to this
with their foreign allies, cannot accept the principal of one
vote because it would mean that they would lose their privileges
influence. Hence, the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d'etat and current UN
which pursues the interests of foreigners and IMF organizations
and that of
their black overseers in Haiti.
Future for Haiti? An Interview with Patrick Elie
Reed Lindsay for NACLA| Aug. 30, 2006
of an Economic Hit Man: How the U.S. Uses Globalization
Poor Countries Out of Trillions "
and Confessions of a Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
'Black People Remain Oppressed', The Herald (Harare)
May 25, 2006,
Ideals of Dessalines
Constant Must Pay Millions – Judge
Hardbeatnews, NEW YORK, N.Y., Thurs. Oct.
26, 2006: Three women who alleged soldiers of former Haiti strongman,
Francois Emmanuel "Toto" Constant, gang raped them,
won a major victory in a New York Court yesterday.
U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein ordered Constant, formerly of
The Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, to pay them
US$19.5 million after declaring he was "liable for torture,
attempted extra-judicial killing and crimes against humanity."
Stein, in his written ruling, also stated, “Constant's conduct
was clearly malicious,” adding that he “founded and
oversaw an organization that was dedicated principally toward
terrorizing and torturing political opponents of the military
The women, who were only listed as “Jane Does,” had
filed the lawsuit in 2004 through the Center for Justice and Accountability
and the Center for Constitutional Rights while Sonnenschein Nath
& Rosenthal LLP acted as pro bono co-counsel. They had given
graphic accounts of being raped infront of their children and
Due to an on-going fear of reprisals, the plaintiffs had to submit
their testimony anonymously. Two of the women testified in open
court behind a screen.
During the hearing, Trinity University professor Robert Maguire
testified that FRAPH worked closely with the Haitian Armed Forces
and did the military’s “dirty work” in committing
widespread human rights abuses and that FRAPH was “the muscle.”
Ivor Samson of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP argued in
his closing that in addition to compensatory damages, the court
should also award punitive damages to punish Constant for his
wanton, oppressive and malicious actions. A punitive damages award
would send a message from the international community that Constant’s
conduct will not be tolerated, and that U.S. courts, through laws
such as the Alien Tort Statue and the Torture Victim Protection
Act, can play an important role in discouraging and deterring
Upon hearing the ruling, one of the plaintiffs stated, “Although
this case is about justice, not money, I am very pleased that
the court has held Toto Constant responsible for what happened
to us. This is a victory for all the Haitian people.”
CJA’s lead attorney on the case, Moira Feeney, commented,
“Yesterday’s ruling is a momentous step for accountability
in Haiti. I hope that this case against Toto Constant will lead
to other prosecutions and will assist the Haitian government in
bringing other human rights abusers to justice.”
Added Jennie Green, Senior Attorney at CCR, "In holding that
rape is a form of torture, this decision is an important addition
to the body of law prohibiting sexual violence. The courageous
women who brought this case have sent a message that torturers
cannot live freely in the United States and will be held accountable.
We also wish to thank all of the members of the Haitian community,
especially in New York, who fought so hard over the years , often
endangering their own security, to hold Constant accountable.”
The Center for Justice and Accountability is a San Francisco based
human rights organization dedicated to ending torture and other
severe human rights abuses through litigation, education and outreach.Constant’s
FRAPH and The Haitian Armed Forces were blamed for a reign of
terror against unarmed civilians following the coup of 1991 that
forced then President Jean Bertrand Aristide to seek shelter in
Washington. Some 3,000 people reportedly died at the hands of
FRAPH and the HAF.
Constant fled to the U.S. after their invasion of Haiti but despite
facing charges of murder, torture and arson in Haiti, the US suspended
a deportation order allowing him to remain here amidst allegations
he worked for the CIA at one point. He is currently in jail facing
charges of grand-larceny, forgery and falsifying business records
in connection with a New York mortgage fraud scheme. – Hardbeatnews.com
US judge orders Haitian
strongman to pay $19.5 million to rape victims
The Associated Press
Published: October 25, 2006
A judge has ordered an elusive former Haitian strongman to pay
(€15.5 million) in damages to three women who claimed they
systematically gang-raped by paramilitary soldiers under his command.
A written decision by U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein found that
"Toto" Constant, once the feared leader of a right-wing
was "liable for torture, attempted extra-judicial killing
and crimes against
The women had sued Constant last year in federal court in Manhattan.
accused him of sanctioning rapes in the early 1990s to silence
still devoted to the ousted former Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand
Constant's militia had helped block the return of the exiled Aristide
1994. After Aristide's U.S.-backed return to power late that year,
fled to New York, where he has fought deportation ever since.
The ruling issued Tuesday said each of the plaintiffs was entitled
million (€1.19 million) in compensatory damages and $5 million
million) in punitive damages.
"Constant's conduct was clearly malicious," the judge
wrote. The defendant,
he added, "founded and oversaw an organization that was dedicated
toward terrorizing and torturing political opponents of the military
An attorney praised for the plaintiffs on Wednesday for going
their accusations against Constant, the 6-foot-4 son (1.93 meters)
military officer who once boasted that voodoo and the CIA shielded
"The courageous women who brought this case have sent a message
torturers cannot live freely in the United States and will be
accountable," said Jennie Green, a senior attorney at the
Constitutional Rights who represented the women along with the
Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability.
It is unclear whether Constant, who never responded to the lawsuit,
means to pay the damages.
He remains in jail on Long Island, New York, after being charged
in July with
mortgage fraud in an unrelated case. His attorney in that case
The decision this week followed a hearing in August where the
emotional testimony from two of the plaintiffs. They were granted
based on fears they could still be targeted for retribution.
One testified that her ordeal began when her husband, a taxi driver
fierce Aristide supporter, vanished in 1992. She described taking
streets and voicing her despair.
Even after being jailed and beaten, she remained vocal until five
at her door in April 1994. They beat up her 8-year-old son and
raping her, she said. Two months later, the nightmare was repeated.
The five small children "were, with their own eyes, looking
that was being done to me," she testified through an interpreter.
Three months later, she saw a doctor who delivered some shocking
was pregnant by one her attackers. A son was born on Feb. 12,
Haitian warlord ordered to pay
$19 mln to victims
By Matthew Verrinder
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Haitian warlord who had been living in
New York City as a real estate agent was ordered by a U.S. court
on Tuesday to pay $19 million to three women who say they were
raped and had their breasts slashed by his men.
U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein found that Emmanuel "Toto"
Constant was "liable for torture, attempted extrajudicial
killing and crimes against humanity," court documents showed.
Constant founded a paramilitary group in Haiti in 1993 to torture
supporters of overthrown president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He
fled Haiti in 1994 when Aristide regained power, becoming a real
estate agent in New York's borough of Queens.
Many Haitian immigrants in Queens recognized Constant at bars
and nightclubs from newspaper clippings and news reports as the
vicious warlord, but were fearful of confronting him.
Constant is in jail on Long Island after being charged in a $1
million mortgage fraud scheme last July. It is not known if the
women will ever see any of money, said Jennie Green, senior attorney
at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
The three women sued Constant last year in a U.S. court in Manhattan,
claiming he authorized the attacks.
"Constant's conduct was clearly malicious," Stein wrote
in the ruling. The organization he founded "was dedicated
principally toward terrorizing and torturing political opponents
of the military regime," the judge wrote.
Constant's leadership of the group "constitutes an inexcusable
violation of international law and merits a stiff punishment."
Each of the women was awarded $5 million in punitive damages.
Two of them were awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages
while the third was awarded $1 million.
Two of the three unnamed women or their spouses were involved
in Haitian pro-democracy groups after Aristide was ousted and
said Constant's death squads regularly appeared at their doors
in the middle of the night to silence them.
One of the women, whose husband was an activist involved in local
repeatedly demanded information about him when he vanished in
1992, according to court documents.
Because of her persistence, she was gang-raped in front of her
three children during one attack and her left breast slashed open
in another, the documents show. She became pregnant as a result
of the rapes and later gave birth.
Another plaintiff whose husband was an activist but did not support
the coup was also raped in front of her three children by masked
men in 1991 and later shot in the leg.
CIA File: Constant Planned
A secret internal U.S. Central Intelligence Agency document obtained
by InterPress Service says Emmanuel Constant, an acknowledged
CIA asset, helped senior officials in the Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras
regime kill Justice Minister Guy Malary in October 1993.
“In early to mid-October, [Brig. Gen. Phillipe] Biamby and
his associates coordinated the murder of Justice Minister Guy
Malary, which took place on October 14, with members of the Revolutionary
Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress (FRAPH),” said
the memo, dated October 28, 1993.
“FRAPH members Jodel Chamblain, Emmanuel Constant and Gabriel
Douzable met with an unidentified military officer on the morning
of October 14 to discuss plans to kill Malary,” the memo
added. Gunmen shot and killed Malary and two aides later that
day just as they were leaving the ministry in downtown Port-au-Prince.
U.S. officials and Constant, FRAPH’s founder, have admitted
that he worked for the CIA between 1992 and 1994 for a reported
$500 a month. Constant, who escaped to the United States on a
visa issued by the American Embassy in Port-au-Prince in October
1994, said he met with U.S. intelligence officials frequently,
“At a minimum, the U.S. was continuing to pay a guy who
they knew was involved in the killing of the justice minister,”
said Michael Ratner, a human-rights attorney with the New York–based
Center for Constitutional Rights, which obtained the memo and
released it to InterPress.
“It’s astounding because it shows that while the U.S.
organized a press conference for Constant, called FRAPH the legitimate
opposition, let him into the U.S., delayed arresting him and then
released him from jail, they knew all along that he plotted the
killing of Haiti’s justice minister,” Ratner said.
Constant is reportedly living with a relative in New York City.
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