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One decade since the last round of disinformation about former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide kicked into high gear, Quebec mainstream print media has proven itself impervious to historical fact. According to columnists, editors and political cartoonists in Quebec’s most influential print media, Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a lunatic, a dictator on par with Baby Doc, a last-ditch hope for desperate Haitians, and a danger to Haiti. Here’s some of what the chroniclers of our time have been saying to the majority French population in Quebec. The translations to English are mine.
The principle columnist on Haiti for La Presse in Montreal has been Vincent Marissal, a popular figure on the Quebec media landscape. Reporting from Port-au-Prince, he mused about who should replace Préval (a failed leader who he feels should be replaced with no democratic process) :
« Obviously, several leaders are totally inappropriate, but as long as the opposition doesn’t find someone capable of rallying people and creating a concensus, it will be wasting its energy. It’s not for nothing that we see banners and graffiti demanding the return of Aristide. People are looking for a glimmer of hope, even if it means looking into the darkest corners of their recent past. »(1)
In his February 12th column, Vincent Marissal, chronicler for La Presse in Montreal, called for an imposed tutelage for five years in Haiti. He proposed it should be made up of unnamed well-known Haitian personalities, members of the diaspora and the international community. According to him, the failed relief effort in Haiti is to be blamed entirely on the Préval administration, which has lost all legitimacy in Haiti and should thereby be replaced from the outside. Below is a response I have written to Mr. Marissal. I encourage you to draft your own, in English or French. He can be reached at email@example.com
Here is a link to his original article: (http://www.cyberpresse.ca/opinions/chroniqueurs/vincent-marissal/201002/12/01-948858-le-temps-dagir.php)
Montreal, February 14th, 2010
Dear Mr. Marissal,
by Bill Quigley
One. Allow all Haitians in the US to work. The number one source of money for poor people in Haiti is the money sent from family and workers in the US back home. Haitians will continue to help themselves if given a chance. Haitians in the US will continue to help when the world community moves on to other problems.
Two. Do not allow US military in Haiti to point their guns at Haitians. Hungry Haitians are not the enemy. Decisions have already been made which will militarize the humanitarian relief - but do not allow the victims to be cast as criminals. Do not demonize the people.
Three. Give Haiti grants as help, not loans. Haiti does not need any more debt. Make sure that the relief given helps Haiti rebuild its public sector so the country can provide its own citizens with basic public services.
Four. Prioritize humanitarian aid to help women, children and the elderly. They are always moved to the back of the line. If they are moved to the back of the line, start at the back.
Five. President Obama can enact Temporary Protected Status for Haitians with the stroke of a pen. Do it. The US has already done it for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Sudan and Somalia. President Obama should do it on Martin Luther King Day.
Six. Respect Human Rights from Day One. The UN has enacted Guiding Principles for Internally Displaced People. Make them required reading for every official and non-governmental person and organization. Non governmental organizations like charities and international aid groups are extremely powerful in Haiti - they too must respect the human dignity and human rights of all people.
Seven. Apologize to the Haitian people everywhere for Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh.
Ciné Institute Director David Belle reports from Port-au-Prince:
"I have been told that much US media coverage paints Haiti as a tinderbox ready to explode. I'm told that lead stories in major media are of looting, violence and chaos. There could be nothing further from the truth.
"I have traveled the entire city daily since my arrival. The extent of damages is absolutely staggering. At every step, at every bend is one horrific tragedy after another; homes, businesses, schools and churches leveled to nothing. Inside every mountain of rubble there are people, most dead at this point. The smell is overwhelming. On every street are people -- survivors -- who have lost everything they have: homes, parents, children, friends.
"NOT ONCE have we witnessed a single act of aggression or violence. To the contrary, we have witnessed neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends and strangers. We've seen neighbors digging in rubble with their bare hands to find survivors. We've seen traditional healers treating the injured; we've seen dignified ceremonies for mass burials and residents patiently waiting under boiling sun with nothing but their few remaining belongings. A crippled city of two million awaits help, medicine, food and water. Most haven't received any.
"Haiti can be proud of its survivors. Their dignity and decency in the face of this tragedy is itself staggering."
David Belle, January 17th, 2010
Posted by Wadner Pierre at 10:57
By Wadner Pierre
From August 6 - 9, 2009, about 300 Haitians from different corners of Haiti's diaspora - often called the 11th Department - gathered in Miami Beach, Florida for the 2009 Haitian Diaspora Unity Congress. The event was organized by the Haitian League, whose Chairman of the Board is Dr. Bernier Lauredan. He is a Haitian pediatrician living in New Jersey, where the first conference was held last year without, apparently, too much success.
The chair of this year's Congress was Dr. Rudolph Moise, a physician and actor well known in Miami for his more or less conventional activism.
Several former Lavalas government officials took part including former Minister for Haitians Living Abroad Leslie Voltaire, former minister without portfolio Marc Bazin, former Justice Minister Camille Leblanc, former Planning Minister Anthony Dessources, and former inspector of the Haitian National Police Luc Eucher Joseph, now Secretary of State of Justice and Public Safety. These officials are considered by Haiti's masses as politically bourgeois and, excepting Voltaire, were never Lavalas Family party members.
Meanwhile, there were also members or associates of President Boniface Alexandre's and Prime Minister Gérard Latortue's de facto government (2004 - 2006). The most prominent of them was Bernard Gousse, the former de facto Justice Minister, whom the Miami-based popular organization Veye Yo brands as a criminal for his role in ordering several deadly crackdowns on rebellious shanty towns and the first arrest of the late Father Gérard Jean-Juste, Veye Yo's founder.
From the Haiti Information Project
Photos: UN arrests unidentified protestor minutes before opening fire on crowd during funeral for Father Gerard Jean-Juste
HIP - Port au Prince, Haiti -One protestor was killed as UN forces opened fire during a funeral for Catholic priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste. A human rights advocate and well-known supporter of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas movement, Jean-Juste died on May 27 in a Miami hospital from complications following a stroke and long respiratory illness.
Eyewitnesses report today's shooting incident involving the UN began after mourners began chanting slogans for the return of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide outside of Haiti's national cathedral.
One of the protestors was seen inadvertently passing through a security barrier erected by UN forces and was detained. As the UN arrested him hundreds more rushed past the barrier and resumed chants for Lavalas and Aristide.
According to witnesses, UN troops on the scene began shooting indiscriminately at the crowd killing a young man identified only as "Junior" from the neighborhood of Solino.
Hundreds more protestors then took the body of the victim to the front of Haiti's National Palace where they began chanting, "Down with Preval" and "Long live Aristide."
By Jeb Sprague -IPS
NEW YORK, Apr 17 (IPS) - Weekend senatorial elections in Haiti are mired in controversy as Fanmi Lavalas (FL), the political party widely backed by the poor majority, has been disqualified.
Read the rest of this story on:
*Wadner Pierre in Miami contributed to this story.
Le photographe Montréalais Darren Ell présente sa nouvelle exposition intitulée Haïti: Rembobiner. M. Ell a créé l'expo en réponse à la politique canadienne, française et américaine en Haïti. L'expo comporte des photos, des extraits de vidéo et des textes ramassés lors de ses voyages en Haïti entre 2006 et 2008. Elle expose le rôle des puissances étrangères dans la déstabilisation et le renversement du gouvernement populaire de Jean-Bertrand Aristide en février 2004. Elle examine aussi les séquelles du renversement du gouvernement élu, un événement avec lequel les Haïtiens vivent encore aujourd'hui. M. Ell remet en question la supposée bienveillance de la présence militaire et policière des Nations-unies qui est la puissance prédominante en Haïti depuis 2004.
Les photographies et les projections de l'expo situent l'intervention étrangère dans l'histoire coloniale d'Haïti. Des photos ont été prises lors des opérations onusiennes et des manifestations contre la vie chère. Elles évoquent les tableaux des peintres français œuvrant au plus fort de la puissance impériale française, et elles rappellent le travail du peintre activiste américain Léon Golub.
La première projection combine un paysage tranquille et abandonné de Cité Soleil avec la voix du Canado-Haïtien Jean St-Vil, qui récite le témoignage de Frantz Gabriel, seul témoin de l'enlèvement de Jean-Bertrand Aristide le 29 février 2004. Gabriel fut responsable de la sécurité d'Aristide et a été lui-même enlevé. La deuxième projection montre des douzaines de noms, accompagnés de données légales, de prisonniers politiques emprisonnés pendant le coup d'état.
A new exhibition by Montreal photographer Darren Ell is set to open on September 18th. Ell's exhibition, Haiti: Rewind, was created as a response to Canadian, French and U.S. policy in Haiti and comprises material drawn from Ell's visits to Haiti between 2006 and 2008. The photo exhibition exposes the role of these three powers in the destabilization and subsequent overthrow of the popular government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.
The photo exhibition looks at the consequences of the overthrow of the elected government, an event with which the Haitian people are living to this day. It questions the purported benevolence of the United Nations force that has been the predominant power in Haiti since 2004.
The photographs and video installations of the exhibition place current foreign meddling in Haiti squarely within colonial history. Photographs taken in Port-au-Prince during UN police raids and popular demonstrations against rising prices harken back to French painters working at the height of French imperial power in Haiti in the late 1700's and to activist American painter Leon Golub.
The first video installation features a serene but abandoned landscape from Cité Soleil with a voice-over by Haitian-Canadian Jean St-Vil reading Frantz Gabriel's eye-witness account of the abduction of Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29th, 2004. Gabriel was responsible for Aristide's security and was abducted himself.
The second video installation is a looping projection of legal data concerning the hundreds of political prisoners still detained in Haiti. The information for this piece was obtained from Haiti's Bureau des avocats internationaux (Office of International Lawyers).
Time to make money or to help people?
By Wadner Pierre- www.haitianalysis.com
Early in September of 2004, the people of Gonaives, the “city of Independence”, located 152 kilometers north of the capital, Port-au-Prince, woke to the destruction brought by Hurricane Jeanne. Four years after Jeanne killed 3000 people, Gonaives is in agony again.
Hurricane Gustav has devastated southern Haiti: Southeast (Jacmel) department, South department (Les Cayes), Grand’Anse (Jeremie) and Nippes (Miragoane) department. Authorities do not yet have reliable numbers but early reports estimate at least 190 people dead – a death toll that will certainly rise.
Officials say 61 people were killed by Hurricane Hanna, which also just struck Haiti. Twenty one of those dead were found in Gonaives alone.
Hurricane Jeanne ravaged Haiti in 2004 only eight months after the coup that ousted Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Gerard Latortue, head of the UN installed dictatorship and a native of Govaives, received money from all over the world to help Gonaives rebuild. Unfortunately, the victims received very little benefit from the money. Gonaives lies below sea level but levees were never built; many roads have still not been repaired. The meager results obtained with international aid money have produced a widespread belief in Gonaives that Latortue's cronies and corrupt NGOs simply pocketed the money.
In 2004 a young survivor of Hurricane Jeanne talked to a reporter and sarcastically thanked Jeanne for destroying her life by killing off her parents and countless relatives. Today many survive on the rooftops of their homes, and say that the flooding from Hannah is even worse than it was with Jeanne, which left 250,000 Gonaives resident homeless.
People everywhere in the globe, listen the voice of people in Gonaives and in the rest of Haiti. It is hard and it's really hard a sit can be for people. As a Haitian and a Gonaivian man I am very concern, I ask you my brothers and sisters in the world to help my relatives there in the way you can. Haiti is not the most hit by the hurricanes, but we are the most victimized people, cause our political leaders most of them don't care about people live. They care about themselves and they families. Those who want to improve live; they often plot against them and keep the country in perpetual instability politic, that is the way they make money. The loss of sight is more humane than the one presented by the authorities. How they can pretend determine the number of death and disappeared people while they do not have any infrastructures to reach them. After four years, which road has been rebuilt in Gonaives? Therefore, they are happy to steal the money and the aids that people deserve. Once gain, they do not put the real problem of Haiti on the table, particularly Gonaives, where the level of the ocean is higher than the land. Nobody cannot forget what happened in New Orleans in 2005, even this city was protected by levees and after the levees broke, you could see how ravaged was New Orleans by floodwater. Then Gonaives before and after Jeanne the just passed Hanna was not and is not protected by levees. And the worst is, no plan to prevent or to protect the city from another natural disaster as this of Jeanne and Hanna.
Dear friends everywhere,
What is happening now in Gonaives is worse than hurricane Jeanne in 2004, Hanna is hitting Gonaives now. I talked to my mother who lives there, she said (I quote) "My son it is hard for your mother and people in Gonaives, we do not know what to do. Nothing, nothing, it is raining, wind".
The situation that she explained is the same for almost people in Gonaives are living this morning. Les Cayes in southern Haiti, Cap-Haitian, It is the worst time for Haiti.
God bless Haiti and save people's lives in Gonaives, my city, Cap-Haitian, Les Cayes and the rest of our entire Planet.
By: Wadner Pierre and Jean-Ristil Jean Baptiste -
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a prominent human rights worker and Famni Lavalas activist, has been missing since August 12, 2007. He is the founder of Trant Septanm Organizasyon (September 30 Foundation) an organization that assists victims of the coup that took place September 30th, 1991. That coup ousted Haiti's first democratically elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide only seven months after his inauguration. According to human rights groups there were five thousand people killed by the military regime of Raul Cedras. Thousands were also raped and tortured by the Cedras regime, and hundreds of thousands driven into hiding.
Pierre-Antoine worked with many national and international human rights organizations to promote the rights of all people, particularly the right to justice. The perpetrators of the 1991 coup (the Haitian elite and their ex-military allies) gradually regrouped and in 2004 managed to overthrow Aristide again - this time with the overt backing of the US, France and Canada. In October 2005, at the first “International Tribunal on Haiti” that investigated the 2004 coup, Pierre-Antoine explained to an audience of hundreds in Washington how he had been arrested, assaulted and expelled from the country by authorities at the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince.
From Haiti Liberte, via Haiti Analysis:
Preval was also pressured to choose Ericq Pierre by several visiting foreign officials such as Alain Joyandel, French Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), and Miguel Angel Moratinos, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
...Pierre also eloquently expressed his technocratic vision when he said: "There is no reform of the left or the right, there are only necessary reforms." The greatest outcry against Ericq Pierre's nomination may come from the Haitian people themselves. The uprising that began of April 3 and swept away Alexis was not just against food's high cost but against neoliberal austerity policies in general. In this light, Pierre's nomination is likely to provoke more anger and demonstrations in the weeks ahead.
Canada's Response? Foreign Affairs Minister Maxine Bernier stated that his government "welcomes this first step in forming a new government in Haiti, in keeping with the provisions of the Haitian constitution."
First step? As if the Haitian people had never elected their own governments before. Wasn't the appointment of Jacques Edouard Alexis back in 2006 the "first step in forming a new government?"
By: Wadner Pierre - HaitiAnalysis.com
Amongst the poor in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, the lack of affordable food is becoming a mounting problem. On tap-taps, colorfully decorated automobiles used for transportation by the poor, one can hear this discussion daily. Conversations on the tap-taps are referred to as "Radio thirty two".
Many poor Haitians have taken to referring meanwhile to hunger as "Klorox", a reference to a bleach which can kill people if enough of it is swallowed. Riding the tap-tap one hears references to "Klorox" when people mean hunger, a code word to mask the daily misery.
Recently, international headlines have paid attention to hunger in Haiti, where people resort to eating mud pies.
During the 1980s, due to pressure from the United States government, the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier wiped out the creole pigs (porca) that were indigenous to Haiti. After that catastrophic policy, peasants struggled more than ever to feed their children and to take them to school. The pigs were crucial to the rural economy, the "bank account" of the peasants. The problems were compounded by neo-liberal policies first implemented by the military government of Henry Namphy and continually pressured upon the country over the following decades. Trade liberalization meant that food imports undercut farmers who were also denied the means to invest in their production.
[From an email:]
Engineers Without Borders hosted a lecture by former PM Paul Martin last night at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. The title of the lecture was called: "How business and government can help Africa." The auditorium spilled into 2 other full rooms. The rooms were filled with many Liberals but also several people completely offended by the lecture. We had a great flyer done up, which mocked the event and had information about Paul Martin's track record.
When Paul Martin began his speech. Two UNB students unfurled a banner that read "Canada Out of Haiti and Afghanistan". They were told by a student organizer to move to the side, which actually made them closer to Martin. The students were surprised when they were not told to leave. Another couple of students unfurled another banner that read "Neo-Liberalism=Neo-Colonialism" on the other side of Martin. They stood there during his entire talk with Martin acknowledging their presence a couple of times.
If you have twenty extra dollars or more, you could help 31 children in Haiti’s second city, Cap Haitian, finish their school year. Let me explain. I recently completed my third trip to Haiti as an independent journalist investigating the ongoing impact of the US-France-Canada coup d’état of 2004. It is no exaggeration to say that this event and the policies which followed have left 8 million people in a desperate state. When I was introduced to Madame Bwa, a key community activist in the poorest community of Haiti’s second city, Cap Haitian, I was faced with a startling sight: 26 young people, aged 4 to 18 who had all been sent home from school in the previous 2 weeks because their families couldn’t afford their children’s basic school fees. Madame Bwa informed me that there were five more, bringing the total to 31, but that they were not present that day.
I have maintained close contact with Madame Bwa since returning to Canada. She has done the math, and says that she needs $650 to pay the school fees for all of these children so they can finish the year. This is the current reality in Haiti. The state has been crippled by the last two coup d’états and is unable to subsidize anyone’s education. People are left to themselves in a society where unemployment sits at 70%. 96% of Haitian children never finish high school because of poverty. Your donation will not solved Haiti’s economic crisis. It will however ensure that 31 young people finish the 2008 school year. If you have some extra money, please contribute.
For several months there has been a new twist in the history for the poor in Haiti, but the story has been enveloped in silence. The standard of living has been declining, with rising costs of basic goods and a continued lack of social programs. People cannot afford to eat.
Haiti has become a 'republic of NGOs' long dependent on outside aid because of the methodical destruction of its own civil enterprises and popular alternatives.
Around the new-year a huge march against poverty and unemployment took place in the capital of Port-au-Prince. The protestors demanded reparations and that the government represent the interests of the poor.
The most pressing issue for the poor is the most basic commodity of life, food. This week, particularly in the poorest districts, such as Cité-Soleil, people go starving and bathe in muddy streets. In Cité-Soleil, a woman sells small plots of eroded land for a living. She says it "is my life, this is where I earn my daily income."
Haiti's wealthy in the hills of Pétionville, where most foreign journalists spend their time, have profited from the growing gap in wealth.
NGOs more and more fill the abyss, an abyss left by the eroded state. But one must ask: Should NGOs replace the state? Why is this happening? What is the plan of the government? Is the government folding in on itself for the sake of global capitalism?
The Fascists Are Still Capable
A new blow is always being prepared, afraid of what the popular winds might bring. "Resignation", investigation, imprisonment, interpellation of the rich, we must wait for the results. They will tell us what happens. This is the fake democracy we are living with in Haiti. A "democracy" only in rhetoric.
On Friday, December 28th, 2007, several hundred supporters of Fanmi Lavalas, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, marched through several streets of Port-au-Prince protesting the rising the cost of living in Haiti. Slogans on placards reflected the denunciations of demonstrators of the Minister of Trade, Ms. Maggy Durce of the Democratic Alliance Party of Mr. Evans Paul, for having done nothing to improve the living conditions of the population. Some demanded the departure of the Minister and others a profound change in the government of Jacques Edouard Alexis.
As usual they did not hide their commitment to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, demanding his physical return to the country, which many insisted could help the country, especially the poorest regions.
"Titid we love you and we hope you will return very soon," said Deshommes Presengloire, member of Base cell of Fanmi Lavalas. "This is the year of mobilizations for the return of our historic leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and this is one of the main demonstrations."
The march against the high cost of living would end in front of the Ministry of Commerce. Organizers insisted that the Minister takes her responsibilities seriously or withdraws from this post.
"We are here to ask for Madam Maggy Durcé to take control of her responsibilities, because women can no longer continue to be cope with the rising prices of basic necessities," added Mrs. Kermeline. "As a woman, she knows our pain very well."
This march was well secured by several units of the Haitian National Police (HNP), police of the United Nations mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and a jeep contingent of Brazilian MINUSTAH soldiers.
Christmas is the celebration of love, sharing, solidarity and reconciliation, which is often conducted in the popular neighborhoods.
With this sentence we wonder too how can one celebrate Christmas in a country like Haiti, the poorest country in the American continent, which is going through a horrible and inhuman situation, despite the efforts of its people? A government able to fulfill the needs of its citizens, to relieve the misery of its people, renders street-level demands of respect for the principles voted for during elections unnecessary.
Today, members of Haiti's diaspora, despite their best efforts, are unable to meet the needs of their relatives in Haiti. Why not? The current blockade of the ports deprives much of the Haitian population, which depends directly upon the Haitian Diaspora for its livelihood. The Eleventh Department has recently made a gesture about removing the blockade, but we still hear sighs, grinding of teeth, continually climbing commodity prices. Is this is a conspiracy against the people? Where are the forces of nation, the Church, especially the Catholic church, which is the official religion of this country, the economic sector, the Haitian bourgeoisie?
Children from neighborhoods, people who are accustomed to receiving toys from the Haitian presidency during the years of the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, complain today because of the backwardness of the Ministry of Social Affairs in this case. But this year, it seems, is the worst since 2004, despite statements by authorities. We see nothing new.
"On the wings of time the sadness flies and the time brings pleasure."
Wyclef and Akon visited Bel'Air, one of the poorest districts in Port-Au-Prince, during their recent visit in Haiti. The people were happy to receive them. Wyclef goes there sometimes when he comes in Haiti, but for Akon it was his first time. He ate at a "Yele Cuisine" (yele kitchen), a restaurant where people with little money can buy a plate of food. There are two of these kitchens in the capital, one in Bel'Air and the largest in Cite Soleil. "Yele Cuisine" is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which funds the UN's World Food Program (WFP).
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.