bcholmes: (haiti)

Lots of interesting stuff coming out about Haiti at the moment.

First, Jeb Sprague's piece in Haiti Liberté, which talks about how the so-called interim government (installed by the U.S.) sought to populate the Haitian National Police with former members of the disbanded Haitian army:

Throughout 2004 and 2005, Haiti’s unelected de facto authorities, working alongside foreign officials, integrated at least 400 ex-army paramilitaries into the country’s police force, secret U.S. Embassy cables reveal.

For a year and a half following the ouster of Haiti’s elected government on Feb. 29, 2004, UN, OAS, and U.S. officials, in conjunction with post-coup Haitian authorities, vetted the country’s police force – officer by officer – integrating former soldiers with the goal of both strengthening the force and providing an alternative “career path” for paramilitaries. Hundreds of police considered loyal to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's deposed government were purged. Some were jailed and a few killed, according to numerous sources interviewed.

At the same time, former soldiers from the disbanded Haitian Armed Forces (FAdH), who were assembled in a paramilitary “rebel” force which worked with the country’s elite opposition to bring down Aristide, were stationed – officially and unofficially – in many towns across the country.

When Aristide disbanded the army, it was the single most popular thing that he'd done. At that time, the army had a long history of suppressing the citizens, overthrowing the government and "disappearing dissidents". One can only conclude that the U.S. felt that there was a vaccuum in the suppressing citizen/overthrowing the government/disappearing dissident role.

Next, there are some Wikileaks documents showing just how obsessed the U.S. was with keeping Aristide out of Haiti and undermining the Lavalas movement:

The Nation magazine and the Haitian weekly Haïti Liberté that draw from almost 2,000 U.S. diplomatic cables on Haiti released by WikiLeaks. The cables show that high-level U.S. and U.N. officials coordinated a politically motivated prosecution of Aristide to prevent him from "gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti." The United States and its allies allegedly poured tens of millions of dollars into unsuccessful efforts to slander Aristide as a drug trafficker, human rights violator, and heretical practitioner of voodoo. Another recent exposé based on the cables details how Haiti’s unelected de facto authorities worked alongside foreign officials to integrate at least 400 ex-army paramilitaries into the country’s police force throughout 2004 and 2005. The WikiLeaks cables reveal just how closely Washington and the United Nations oversaw the formation of Haiti’s new police force and signed off on the integration of paramilitaries who had previously targeted Haiti’s poor majority and democratically elected governments.

Especially noteworthy is that Canada is completely on board:

AMY GOODMAN: ... "Canada had a clear position in opposition to the return of Aristide." Two Canadian diplomatic officials met with U.S. embassy personnel, saying, "We are on the same sheet [with U.S.]" with regards to Aristide.

KIM IVES: Canada played a support role to the U.S., just as France did trying to block Aristide’s return through third countries, blocking commercial lines so he couldn’t get back. So they all played it.

Ives' article in The Nation is probably an important link, too

bcholmes: (aristide)

The new Haitian President, Michel Martelly, will not make hasty decisions in the cases of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Jean-Claude Duvalier, but he says he is thinking of granting them both an amnesty in order to encourage the process of reconciliation in his deeply troubled country.*

What to do with former presidents Jean-Claude Duvalier and Jean-Bertrand Aristide, recently returned to Haiti and awakening painful memories in the population as well as raising crucial legal questions? Should they be arrested and judged for the violence and fraud committed during their presidencies?

"Their cases are not so unique as you might think. The Haitian Constitution does not sanction exile. They belong here and I welcome them. If they've had problems or acted badly in the past, it's a matter for the justice system.

"I say to them welcome and we favor reconciliation and inclusion. We must not promote the use of ideology. My government has a plan for the future. I've always avoided planning based on the past. I would simply say that we could eventually think of that (an amnesty) to the extent that those who were hurt in the past understand the need for reconciliation. Before thinking about this, we must work on awareness and compassion to understand the victims and respect their feelings.

"So, we won't take hasty decisions, but I'm leaning toward the side of amnesty and forgiveness so that we can think about tomorrow and not yesterday. We must however always keep in mind the past so as not to repeat the errors of the past.

La Presse, translated from French

Because, um, Aristide and Duvalier are totally the same! I mean, one of them had a personal death squad, and the other... um... opened schools.

bcholmes: (aristide)

Why am I not surprised that MINUSTAH photographed the people who went to see Aristide return?

bcholmes: (aristide)

I’m Amy Goodman, we just landed in Port au Prince. The former president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide has landed. We made it through a mad crush of over a thousand journalists, videographers, supporters, dignitaries at the airport. I am now standing on the veranda of the airport where Pres. Aristide is addressing the crowd. He is saying we will not forget the victims of the earthquake. He is addressing what it means for him to be here. This is an historic day, a president who was twice ousted by U.S. backed coups in 1991 and 2004. He has returned both times, the first time after three years in exile he returned as president of Haiti. This time, after being ousted in 2004, he has returned as a resident of Haiti rather than the president. He says his aspirations are to be an educator, or to do what the people of Haiti want him to do.

"Amy Goodman Reports: Aristide Lands in Haiti After Seven Years in Exile", Democracy Now

I find myself thinking about these guys who, just over a year ago, passionately described their hopes that 2010 would be the year that Aristide came home.

Ayibobo! Ayibobo! Ayibobo!

bcholmes: (aristide)

Democracy Now reports that Aristide (and Amy Goodman) boarded a South African government plane shortly before 5:30 EDT.

bcholmes: (aristide)

The state department is pretending that Aristide can simply come home after the election, and that he must have some sinister political motive for returning before the vote. This is completely dishonest. It is obvious that the next elected president will likely defer to the US and keep Aristide out. Futhermore, there is electoral pressure right now to allow Aristide back in the country. The Miami Herald reports that both of the contenders in the Sunday election have now said they welcome Aristide's return, after previously opposing it. This about-face is obviously an attempt to court Fanmi Lavalas (Aristide's party) voters. But we Americans know what happens to candidates' political stances after the election is over.

Clearly, Aristide is taking advantage of his first, and possibly only, opportunity to return home. Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reports that phone calls from President Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon failed to convince South African president Jacob Zuma to keep Aristide from leaving South Africa.

"Haiti must decide Haiti's future", The Guardian, emphasis added

A report on one of my mailing lists suggests that Danny Glover traveled to South Africa to escort Aristide home today.

bcholmes: (haiti)

A runoff between two neo-Duvalierist candidates: former First Lady Mirlande Manigat and former konpa musician Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly. The problem? The election is illegal. Only four of the eight-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) have voted to proceed with the second round, one short of the five necessary. Furthermore, the first round results have not been published in the journal of record, Le Moniteur, and President René Préval has not officially convoked Haitians to vote – both constitutional requirements.

"In this election, it is the United Nations and Organisation of American States [OAS], both acting on Washington's behalf, who are convoking the people to vote for the candidates whom they have designated," a grassroots organiser told Haïti Liberté. (Last month, the OAS forced the CEP – constitutionally, the "final arbiter" of Haitian elections – to replace Jude Célestin, the candidate of Préval's party, with Martelly in the runoff.)

"Haiti wants Aristide: let him go", The Guardian

I often feel like I have to try to talk about "least worst" options when it comes to Haiti. I mean, the elections are a classic example.

First: they shouldn't have happened, in the wake of the earthquake. I don't know of any Haitian organizations asking for elections. Secretary Clinton pressured the current government to hold the elections because the international community wants a more pliant government in place before it starts dispersing aid.

Second: I've lost a huge buttload of respect, over the years, for the Préval government. I don't think that they speak for the people. And I think that Préval manoeuvred the CEP to keep Fanmi Lavalas out, and make his party more likely to win. To be clear: I strongly suspect that he was pressured by the international community on that first point, but at the end of the day, he went along with it. (I'm a little bit sympathetic to his position: what do you do when you know that the last guy who had your job was subjected to two coups and countless assassination attempts?) But it's also clear that the last election was rigged, and that can't be overlooked.

Third: To have the international community force Préval to withdraw Jude Célestin really strips away any pretense that Haiti has anything resembling sovereignty. Personally: I think that if the international community wanted free and fair elections in Haiti, they should have made these objections when Fanmi Lavalas was excluded. But, hey, that was an irregularity that they preferred (and, as I said, I suspect that they pushed for it)..

So now, this weekend, we're going to have an election that most of the country doesn't believe in, to choose one of two centre-right politicians. These are the choices being offered to Haitians. And it's not like they haven't made their preferences very clear.

A big theme of Aristide's book, Eyes of the Heart is this central question: how do you choose between death and death? And Aristide doesn't talk about "least worst". He says that there's something peculiarly Haitian that always finds a third way. This is part of why I think Aristide is needed, now.

bcholmes: (aristide)

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide is to end seven years in exile in South Africa and return to Haiti Thursday, three days ahead of a presidential run-off election, a source told AFP.

"Aristide is expected this Thursday in Port-au-Prince," the source, close to the three-time former president, said on condition of anonymity.

The United States has urged Aristide to postpone his return until after Sunday's vital presidential run-off.

November's first-round election was marred by violence and fraud and the shattered country is still struggling to rebuild after a devastating earthquake 14 months ago that killed some 250,000 people.

AFP

A few days ago, the Obama administration asked South Africa to refuse to allow Aristide's departure until after the election. I guess we're going to see how this pans out.

bcholmes: (aristide)

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide will end his exile and return to Haiti within the next week or so, ahead of the country's elections, his lawyer told CNN Saturday.

"He is headed back to Haiti," said Ira Kurzban, Aristide's longtime attorney. "We don't know when yet, but it will be before the elections."

A presidential runoff is scheduled for March 20.

Aristide was Haiti's first democratically-elected president. He was toppled in 2004 after a bloody revolt by street gangs and soldiers and has since been living in exile in South Africa.

"Aristide to end exile and return to Haiti before vote, lawyer says"

Oh. Em. Gee.

bcholmes: (aristide)

Over the next few years, much of Haiti will be rebuilt and much of its economy restructured. In response to last year's earthquake an unprecedented amount of money has been promised for reconstruction. It's more important than ever before that Haiti be governed by an administration that reflects the true will and interests of its people, rather than the concerns of foreign governments and corporations.

In 2004, the US, France and Canada, in alliance with members of Haiti's business community and demobilised soldiers of the Haitian army, overthrew the last Haitian government to enjoy genuine popular support: the party that led this government, Fanmi Lavalas, was elected with around 75% of the vote. This past November, these same powers imposed and funded an illegitimate electoral process in Haiti, one that blocked the participation of Fanmi Lavalas. Only 23% of Haitian voters participated, scarcely a third of the proportion who voted in the last presidential election.

In recent weeks, the US and its proxies have brazenly interfered in the interpretation of this election's first round of results. The flawed November vote was not only inconclusive and unrepresentative, its outcome was also unlawful. If the second round of these elections goes ahead as planned on 20 March, it is now sure to result in the unconstitutional selection of a president with closer ties to the powers that sponsored and manipulated them than to the people meant to participate in them.

At the same time, the powers that dominate Haiti have facilitated the return of the former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier while discouraging the return of the twice-elected president (and Fanmi Lavalas leader) Jean-Bertrand Aristide. These powers, with their allies in the Haitian business community, have made it clear that they seek to delay Aristide's return until after 20 March. They will only allow Aristide to return after a suitably pliant new government has been installed, to preside over the imminent reconstruction process.

We the undersigned call on the Haitian government to make the security arrangements that will enable Aristide's immediate return, and we call on the international community to support rather than undermine these efforts. We call on the Haitian government to cancel the second-round vote scheduled for 20 March and to organise a new round of elections, without exclusions or interference, to take place as soon as possible.

Signed,
Marie-Célie Agnant, writer
Tariq Ali, writer
Andaiye, Red Thread, Guyana
Roger Annis, Canada Haiti Action Network
Reginald Antoine, PEVEP
Alain Badiou, Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris)
Brian Becker, National Co-ordination, Answer Coalition
Emile Wilnes Brumer, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Jean-Claude Cajou, community activist
Sara Callaway, Women of Colour/Global Women's Strike, UK
Yves Camille, Haiti Liberté
Noam Chomsky, MIT
Ramsey Clark, former US attorney general
Brian Concannon, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Dan Coughlin, executive director, Manhattan Neighborhood Network
Ezili Dantò, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
Mike Davis, UC Riverside
Castro Desroches, SUNY
Rea Dol, SODUPEP
Berthony Dupont, Haiti Liberté
Ben Dupuy, Haiti Progrès & Parti Populaire National
Darren Ell, Montreal-Haiti Solidarity Committee
Joe Emersberger, writer
Yves Engler, writer
Anthony Fenton, journalist
Weiner Kerns Fleurimond, Haiti Liberté
Pierre L Florestal, Fanmi Lavalas - NY
Daniel Florival, Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè yo
Sara Flounders, International Action Center
Laura Flynn, Aristide Foundation for Democracy board
Danny Glover, actor & activist, board chair, TransAfrica Forum
Leah Gordon, photographer and curator
Manu Goswami, NYU
Greg Grandin, NYU
Thomas Griffin, lawyer
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Peter Hallward, Kingston University London
Georges Honorat, Haiti Progrès
Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté
Selma James, Global Women's Strike, UK
Dr G Carlo Jean, retired public school teacher
Marlène Jean-Noel, Fanmi Lavalas Baz NY
Tony Jean-Thénor, Veye Yo
Frantz Jerome, Coalition Against Occupation and Sham Elections
Evelt Jeudi, Fanmi Lavalas Miami
Mario Joseph, Office of International Lawyers (BAI)
Farah Juste, representative of Fanmi Lavalas for Florida & the Bahamas
Michelle Karshan, Aristide Foundation for Democracy
Katharine Kean, film-maker
Ira Kurzban, Counsel for the Republic of Haiti from 1991-2004
Pierre Labossière, Haiti Action Committee
Ray Laforest, International Support Haiti Network
Frantz Latour, Haiti Liberté
Andrew Leak, University College London
Didier Leblanc, Haiti Liberté
Jacques Elie Leblanc, Haiti Liberté
Maude Leblanc, Haiti Progrès
Richard Ledes, film director
Nicole Lee, President, TransAfrica Forum
Nina López, Legal Action for Women, UK
Gardy Lumas, PEVEP
Isabel Macdonald, journalist
Albert Maysles, film-maker
Yves Mésidor, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Johnny Michel, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Melinda Miles, Let Haiti Live
Georges Mompremier, Fanmi Lavalas Baz NY
Fednel Monchery, Jeunesse pour la République (JPR)
Joia S. Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer, Partners In Health
Nick Nesbitt, Princeton University
Harry Numa, community activist
Vanel Louis Paul, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Gladys Timmer Phillpotts, Fanmi Lavalas Baz St Francis
Fritzner Pierre, radio host of Dyalog Popilè
Wadner Pierre, Haitianalysis.com
Yves Pierre-Louis, Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè yo
Kevin Pina, Haiti Information Project
Margaret Prescod, Women of Colour/Global Women's Strike, US
Jackson Rateau, Haiti Liberté
Roosevelt René, engineer
Claude Ribbe, author and filmmaker
Corey Robin, Brooklyn College & CUNY
William Robinson, UCSB
Nicolas Rossier, film-maker
Robert Roth, Haiti Action Committee
Jean Saint-Vil, writer
Alina Sixto, Radio Fanmi Lavalas New York
Mark Snyder, International Action Ties
Jeb Sprague, UCSB
Irwin Stotzky, University of Miami Law School
Lucie Tondreau, community activist
Eddy Toussaint "Tontongi", Revi Tanbou
Harold Valentin, Oganizasyon Jen Salomon (OJESA)
Burt Wides, former counsel to Haiti's constitutional government; Special Counsel to President Carter for oversight of all US Intelligence agencies
Cécile Winter, Collectif politique sida en Afrique
Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana

"Haiti needs the world's support", The Guardian (among other places)

































































































bcholmes: (aristide)

Speculation that he might come back soared after ex-dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier made a surprise return in January after nearly 25 years of exile in France. The focus quickly turned to Aristide, who said last month he was ready to return "today, tomorrow, at any time."

A U.S. State Department spokesman recently said Washington believes Aristide's re-emergence would disrupt the peace ahead of the March 20 presidential runoff and urged him not to come back before then.

Maryse Narcisse, a leader in Aristide's Lavalas party, said the former president would ignore the warning. Asked for specifics at the march, she smiled and shook her head.

"I cannot say when exactly, but he will be back before the March 20 elections," Narcisse said.

Last week Aristide's U.S. lawyer, Ira Kurzban, said he was confident Aristide would return before the runoff. Kurzban traveled to Port-au-Prince and picked up a diplomatic passport for Aristide that was suddenly issued by the government of outgoing President Rene Preval.

"Aristide backers march amid talk of Haiti return", The Washington Post

This is really looking like it's going to happen.

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BC Holmes

June 2017

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