Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wikileaks Shine light on US Role in Haiti: Police Chief Standoff Reflects Fierce Class Struggle

By: Kim Ives - Haiti Liberte

First, President Michel Martelly got rid of Prime Minister Garry
Conille in February. Now, he is trying to fire the Director General of the Haitian National Police (HNP) Mario Andresol. But the police chief is refusing to step down.

The showdown for control of Haiti's only official armed force, and the crux of state power, is part of a larger, complex class struggle
between three sectors: Washington, Martelly's neo-Duvalierists, and the Haitian masses.

Andresol is a key pawn of Washington on Haiti’s political chessboard, as was Conille (see  "Class Analysis of a Crisis: What Lies Behind PM Conille's Resignation?"  in Haiti Liberte, Vol. 5, No. 33, 2/29/2012). Since becoming Haiti’s police chief in 2005, he has been viewed by Washington as "trustworthy," according to numerous secret U.S. State Department cables obtained by the media organization WikiLeaks and provided to Haiti Liberte.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Exhuming Failed Prosecutions: Washington Renews Its Campaign Against Aristide

By: Kim Ives - Haiti Liberte

Haiti’s former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide “is once again in the crosshairs of the U.S. government,” reported the Miami Herald on Mar. 4, “this time for allegedly pocketing millions of dollars in bribes from Miami businesses that brokered long-distance phone deals” with TELECO, the once state-owned phone company. (TELECO was privatized in 2010.)

The Herald’s writers got a little carried away. They were working from a U.S. indictment charging that a certain Haitian “Official B” – whom the Herald and a defense lawyer deduce, but cannot confirm, is Aristide – made off with about $1 million, not “millions.”

But the whole story stinks to high heaven. Aristide’s accuser is one
of those indicted, Patrick Joseph, 50, TELECO’s former director.
Aristide fired him in 2003 for corruption, a key fact never mentioned in any of the Herald’s reports. Is it surprising that Joseph or his lawyer might now accuse Aristide as an accomplice, especially given the incentives U.S. prosecutors are surely offering him?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Help that Hurts in Haiti: Justin Podur interviews Tim Schwartz

Originally posted on Znet

Tim Schwartz is an anthropologist with extensive experience in the foreign aid sector in Haiti. He is the author of the book, Travesty in Haiti, and of an upcoming book studying the nature and problems of the ways nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operate in Haiti. He answered my questions over email in February and March 2012.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

America's subversion of Haiti's democracy continues

By: Mark Weisbrot (UK Guardian)
     When the "international community" blames Haiti for its political troubles, the underlying concept is usually that Haitians are not ready for democracy. But it is Washington that is not ready for democracy in Haiti.
     Haitians have been ready for democracy for many decades. They were ready when they got massacred at polling stations, trying to vote in 1987, after the fall of the murderous Duvalier dictatorship. They were ready again in 1990, when they voted by a two-thirds majority for the leftist Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, only to see him overthrown seven months later in a military coup. The coup was later found to have been organized by people paid by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.
    Haitians were ready again, in 2000, when they elected Aristide a second time with 90% of the vote. But Washington would not accept the results of that election either, so it organized a cut-off of international aid to the government and poured millions into the opposition. As Paul Farmer (Bill Clinton's deputy special envoy of the UN to Haiti) testified to the US Congress in 2010:
"Choking off assistance for development and for the provision of basic services also choked off oxygen to the government, which was the intention all along: to dislodge the Aristide administration."
    In 2004, Aristide was whisked away in one of those planes that the US government has used for "extraordinary rendition", and taken involuntarily to the Central African Republic.
    Eight years later, the US government is still not ready for  democracy in Haiti. On 3 March, the Miami Herald reported that "Former Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is once again in the cross-hairs of the US government, this time for allegedly pocketing millions of dollars in bribes from Miami businesses …"
    Everything about these latest allegations smells foul, like the outhouses that haven't been cleaned for months in some of the camps where hundreds of thousands of Haitians displaced by the earthquake still languish.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Haiti and the Media - The Gangs of the Fourth Estate

By: Dominique Esser - HaitiAnalysis
     No, this is not about defamatory media allegations about child sacrifice in the style of the writer Michael Deibert, or even the blatant underreporting of crowds to diminish events in the fashion of a North American paper of record. Neither is this about the parroting of spoon fed US governmental statements in ways that make it impossible to discern where the "reporting" ends and the propaganda starts. Finally, this also does not concern revisionist attempts to turn progressive movements into horrendous dictatorships. Or does it?
     No, I am simply going to show with the help of one small and perhaps not terribly significant account, that much of the media's reporting on Haiti has to be consumed at ones own peril. 
    A few days ago, The Guardian, a British newspaper with a worldwide readership, posted an online article headlined "Haitian radio journalist shot dead," concerning the founder of Radio Boukman being gunned down execution style in his car alongside a passenger. Of course my initial reaction was one of empathy and reflection over the dangers of being a journalist or traveling in the vicinity of reporters. I even felt appreciation for having such a newspaper at my online disposal, which could keep me informed about media matters in far-flung places such as Cité Soleil, a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. I came quickly to the end of this rather short piece, and there it was: "He [Jean Liphète Nelson] is the first media worker to be killed in Haiti since 2005."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Samba Boukman on his life and the necessity of non-violence in the struggle for political freedom

Haitian activist Samba Boukman, victim of an assassination on March 9, 2012, speaks about his life and the necessity of non-violence in the struggle for political freedom in this 2007 interview. Boukman was a longtime political grassroots organizer and had a long-time affiliation with Haiti’s Lavalas party.  See also other articles about Samba Boukman on this blog: The Character Assassination of Samba Boukman and Opening Space for Popular Movements: A Conversation with Samba Boukman and Samba Mackandal.

In step with Haiti’s Samba Boukman

Interview by Daniela Bercovitch and contributions by Aline Gatto Boueri, April 7, 2007 

    Named after the first slave to revolt against French colonial rule, Samba Boukman - born Jean Baptiste Jean Philippe at an elite neighborhood of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince - sees his own destiny in his name. Boukman lost his father at age 13, braved hardship to finish his schooling and became an influential political militant. With the signature rasta hat and and the constitution of Haiti as part of his daily apparel, Boukman was elected spokesperson for the base community associations of the largest department of the nation. “They thought I was a good speaker, that my language was not violent,” Boukman says. 
    Samba Boukman’s relationship with Bel Air, a shanty town at Port-au-Prince, began in 1995. A member of the Lavalas movement that lead former president of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power with strong support among the people Samba Boukman confirms the existence of an armed sector in the movement but justifies its emergence as a response to the violent attacks of its opponents.

The Character Assassination of Samba Boukman

Samba Boukman
 by Dominique Esser
     The long time Haitian community organizer Samba Boukman was assassinated on Friday, March 9, 2012 and major media outlets, immediately following his death, reported on Boukman as having been divisive and controversial. It is important to understand that this vilification goes back in part to disreputable "human rights" organizations such as the Haitian organization Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains, also known as RNDDH, as can be seen in the article below.
    This revisionist attempt at trying to portray community and political activists as violent gang leaders and violent criminals was employed in the run-up to Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s ouster in 2004 and gained momentum in the years afterwards. After 2004 the Haitian police in conjunction with UN troops in Haiti (MINUSTAH), made many forays into poor neighborhoods such as Bel-Air, in which Samba Boukman was active. During these raids many community activists were detained and police and soldiers on tanks and from helicopters shot indiscriminately through the walls and roofs of houses, killing and severely wounding numerous innocent Haitians in the process.
     The disinformation campaign was conducted alongside an attempt by media and business sectors in Haiti to portray any resistance to the undemocratic and U.S. installed regime that had followed the 2004 coup, as violent and criminal. Peter Hallward, in his book Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment, describes these actions by the media and interested parties, including the western governments that had interfered in Haitian politics, as an “elaborate campaign to suppress Lavalas”.
     It is imperative that we keep in mind these media distortions when being confronted by the continued demonization of militants and activists from the popular neighborhoods of Haiti. Below is an excerpt of an article by the Haitian news agency AHP, providing more detail on the 
defamation campaign launched against the grassroots activist Samba Boukman:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Opening Space for Popular Movements: A Conversation with Samba Boukman and Samba Mackandal

      In light of today's assassination of grassroots haitian activist Samba Boukman we have published an interview that was conducted with Boukman by a Canadian solidarity delegation in March of 2006. Thus far coverage by outlets such as Radio Kiskeya and DefendHaiti of Boukman's death, has reflected the allegations aimed at him by elites and pro-coup forces inside Haiti. This interview sheds light on a man that was heavily demonized, like many other political activists and militants from Haiti's poorest communities.

Interviewed by Stuart Neatby, John Dimond-Gibson, and Christian Heyne on Thursday, March 2, 2006
      The desperately poor neighbourhoods surrounding Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince have been hardest hit by the political violence and social cleansing directed against Haiti’s poor by the US, Canadian, and French-imposed government of Gerard Latortue. The neighbourhood of Bel Air has been one of the hardest hit of these neighbourhoods, facing daily shootings and arrests from both the Haitian National Police as well as the UN/MINUSTAH forces.
     We had a chance to speak with Samba Boukman and Samba Mackandal, two grassroots organizers in Bel Air, on March 2nd about their reactions to the February 7th elections, the political and social repression they’ve suffered, and their hopes for a process of national reconciliation following the election of Rene Preval as Haiti’s President. The following is a rush transcript of that interview.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Who is Laurent Lamothe, and what are his chances to be Prime Minister?

By: Kim Ives - Haiti Liberte
     Laurent Lamothe is Haitian President Michel Martelly’s brain, just as political strategist Karl Rove was to former U.S. President George W. Bush.
     Lamothe was the guy who figured out how to finance Martelly’s
presidential campaign, and who brought in the professional Spanish
public relations firm Ostos & Sola to run it. Now he is President
Martelly’s nominee to be the next prime minister, Haiti’s most
powerful executive post.
     “The man is a financial genius,” exclaimed musician Richard Morse, who manages Haiti’s famed Oloffson Hotel and is Martelly’s cousin and part of the president’s inner circle. “He knows how to take a little from over here, a little from over there, put it together with this over here, and make it all work out.”
     Lamothe’s prowess for financial wheeling and dealing stands out when one reviews his business history with Martelly over the past decade.

Photo Exhibit: St. Catherine's Hospital, Cite Soleil--March 8, 2012

By: John A. Carroll, MD

Outside Main Entrance to St. Catherine's

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Clean up Corruption at home

By: Wadner Pierre - HaitiAnalysis
     When will the U.S. Department go after U.S. officials for the $6.6 billion they “lost” during the "reconstruction" of Iraq? The U.S. Justice Department has failed to investigate. This money is still missing and no one can account for it. American taxpayers deserve to be told about where the $6.6 billion went.
     The U.S. government needs to focus more on what is happening in its backyard. It should not only give up “investigating” former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide for corruption, but all foreign political leaders they don't like. Former President Aristide was forced [kidnapped] to get on an air plane on Feb. 29, 2004 by U.S. troops. Why didn't they go forward with the charges yeas ago? Why didn't they put him in U.S. prison for all he is being accused of?  Now, what are they doing - building a case or making one up against Aristide? And it’s worth noting that the US government has blocked any investigation – international or domestic - into how exactly Aristide came to “depart” Haiti in 2004. The renewed investigation against Aristide also occurs at a time when one of Haiti's most brutal dictators, Jean-Claude Duvalier, is being let off the hook.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ministry of Health Disaster in Haiti

By: John A. Carroll, MD - HaitiAnalysis
Early yesterday morning at the pediatric clinic in Cite Soleil I had a young mother bring in her 10 month old baby boy. She told me that he started having diarrhea yesterday. He had ten white watery stools yesterday and five similar stools this morning. He is drinking some and nursing some but clinically appeared lethargic and moderately dehydrated.
It was an easy diagnosis. I thought this baby boy had cholera.
Most of my pediatric patients in the clinic actually do have diarrhea. But this baby's diarrhea was different and his clinical presentation was consistent with cholera.
So what should I do?
The population of Soleil is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. But no one knows for sure. And before cholera struck Haiti in 2010, Soleil had the usual horrible diseases of poverty. Now it has had cholera added to its "differential diagnosis" . And the experts from around the world say that cholera will return here in a few weeks when the rainy season starts.
Is this baby the harbinger of the next wave of cholera?
Working in Cite Soleil as a physician is challenging. We all know that the people from the slum are suffering and dying from stupid deaths everyday. This is no secret. And intervening to help them is not always straight forward.
Soleil should not have a monopoly on medical helplessness and hopelessness, but it sure seems to.

A Response to Amy Wilentz, 'Duvalier and Haiti's Triple Threat', The Nation, 29 February 2012,

By: Peter Hallward - HaitiAnalysis

Amy Wilentz's book *The Rainy Season* (1989) is widely applauded as the most compelling account of Aristide's political youth, and so her judgement of his political legacy carries exceptional weight. The way history remembers his controversial second presidency (2001-2004) will cast a shadow over Haiti's political future for a long time to come, and the ongoing demonisation of Aristide – in particular by those who like Wilentz once supported him – contributes directly to the ongoing disempowerment of the millions of ordinary people who rallied around the Lavalas mobilisation he led.
            In this new article, Wilentz writes: "As everyone in Haiti knows, Aristide’s enemies have, sometimes plausibly, attributed a series of assassinations and human rights violations to Aristide supporters or to his party or to his administration or even to the former president himself. It’s assumed that during the seven years of his South African exile, one thing that kept Aristide from returning to Haiti was fear of prosecution on such charges. He understands that his foes would love to see him arrested, jailed and brought before an unfriendly judiciary."
            Aristide's understanding of his many foes, it's now assumed, thus serves to get the most prominent among them off the legal hook. According to prosecutor Wilentz, the return of both Aristide and Duvalier confirms one and the same legal-democratic deficit. Impunity for one implies impunity for all, and in this sense the legacy of Haiti's first democratic leader would amount, perversely, to the exoneration of dictatorship.
            It's a neat argument, and a familiar one -- but it's starkly at odds with the facts of the case, and it contributes to a widespread and disastrous misrepresentation of history.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Rainy Season: Rich in Detail, Poor in Analysis

For readers of news and literature concerning Haiti, the writings of author Amy Wilentz are well known. Most famous of her work is the 1989 book The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier (Simon & Schuster, 1989), a book that would also foreshadow her future writings on Haiti. HaitiAnalysis publishes below a critical review of The Rainy Season. The review, originally appearing in French in the newspaper  Haiti Progrès in August of 1989, is published here for the first time in English.

By Kim Ives -  Haiti Progrès
       The Rainy Season is, in the author's own words, the product of her "love affair with Haiti," and thus the book reads something like a love story.  It offers a constant stream of emotions, descriptions, and even gossip that relentlessly tease the reader to turn the page. But like many love stories, while this lushly detailed account of post-Duvalier Haiti appeals to the heart, it ends up disappointing the mind.
            Creating a patchwork quilt of first-person ruminations, historical synopses, and witty portraits of the famous and unknown, Wilentz takes the reader on a journey, not only through Haiti's fitful past three years, but also through her own personal struggles and revelations. 

Thousands of pro-Lavalas demonstrators in the streets of Port-au-Prince to mark the 8th anniversary of the forced departure of President Aristide

By: Agence Haitienne de Presse - Translation by Haiti Analysis
News February 29, 2012
     Port-au-Prince, February 29, 2012 - (AHP) - A large pro-Aristide demonstration was held Wednesday in Port-au-Prince called by several organizations close to the Lavalas political organization whose former president and national representative returned from exile nearly a year ago (18 March 2011). 
     The event began at the ruins of the Church of Saint John Bosco, the former parish of Father Aristide, and in a warm atmosphere skirted through several streets and neighborhoods of the metropolitan area of ​​the capital before arriving at the Haitian parliament.

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