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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,
To those who believe that education is not a privilege, but rather a right for all, SOPUDEP Public School in Pétion-Ville Haiti needs your attention.
We are writing on behalf of the hardworking and dedicated Haitian educators of SOPUDEP School who wish to empower the most vulnerable children in their community. The children of SOPUDEP cannot afford to go to school is Haiti's highly privatized education system. Without SOPUDEP School in their community, these children would never learn to read or have access to a well-rounded education.
The Sawatzky Family Foundation is a registered Canadian charity created in 2008 with the sole purpose of providing financial support for SOPUDEP and raising awareness about this wonderful local social program.
The Sawatzky Family has personally paid the teachers’ salaries ($26,000 (US) for 47 staff) and the majority of the food program that feeds over 650 students five days a week for close to two years.
We have run short on our own resources and are urgently calling for immediate support. We are currently faced with the terrible possibility of cutting teacher salaries. This would force many of them to find other work just to get by, thereby reducing SOPUDEP's effectiveness. Turning away students would subsequently become a very real possibility.
We need a minimum of $6000 (US) to get through the next three months. We are currently preparing a longer-term financial appeal which will allow us to avoid such shortfalls in the future.
SOPUDEP School is a critical social program in Haiti, one that is integral to the future of its people. It is a unique program serving as an example of what free public education should look like in Haiti, and it is one that needs our care and support!
Some of the more than 50 children who finished school last year thanks for the Shada School Fund
Help Send 50 Youth Leaders to School in Haiti
The option of free primary schooling is something that most of us take for granted. This is not so in Haiti where free schooling is non-existent and public schools are inaccessible to the majority of students. Today 85% of Haitian schools are private and costs per student per year range from $10 at state schools to $400 in private schools. In addition to enrollment costs children are required to buy all of their own books and uniforms. For families with an annual income of $1000 who often have many children, school costs are prohibitive. Parents are forced to choose which of their children will attend school.
Kids often stop and start their education for financial reasons, repeat classes and often just plain drop out. Only 67% of Haitian children finish primary school and most never finish high school.
SOIL is an organization based in Cap Haitien Haiti that works on transforming wastes into resources through technology and empowerment projects, including ecological sanitation and garbage transformation contests. For the past 3 years SOIL has worked closely with the community of Shada, an urban area on the outskirts of Cap Haitien where 40,000 people live in a labyrinth of houses without a single road. Shada is one of the poorest communities in Haiti.
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).
Peter Hallward sets forth the crucial facts of the 2004 coup d'état in Haiti which ushered in a two-year reign of terror. From the myth of "Aristide the dictator" to the ongoing military occupation of the country by foreign troops, Hallward debunks the mainstream media version of the facts which exonerated imperial powers and obscured the causes of the crisis. Read on...
L'implication de la France, du Canada et des États-Unis dans la déstabilisation et l'éventuel renversement du gouvernement haïtien en 2004 est maintenant pleinement documentée dans le dernier livre de Peter Hallward: Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment. Dans cette revue, Pierre Dubuc explore tous les éléments majeurs de ce livre et n'hésite pas à dire que le livre "deviendra sûrement un classique de l’analyse des politiques et des méthodes de déstabilisation." Voici la revue...
Dans cette entrevue, le professeur Peter Hallward déconstruit les principaux mensonges au sujet du coup d'état de 2004 en Haïti: le soi-disant "dictateur" Aristide et son "régime de terreur" ainsi que l'aspect "humanitaire" de l'intervention militaire de l'ONU en 2004, une occupation avec laquelle les Haïtens vivent encore de nos jours. Hallward expose l'implication des puissances étrangères (USA, Canada, France) ainsi que leurs homologues de l'élite haïtienne dans cette période catastrophique de l'histoire haïtenne. Il met tout dans un contexte colonial où on fait tout pour empêcher une vraie souveraineté en Haïti. Voici le lien.
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.
Roger Annis is one of Canada’s most dedicated and lucid voices on the subject of the ongoing impact of Canadian policy in Haiti. In this two-part podcast interview by Canadian photographer Darren Ell, Roger describes what he calls a social and economic calamity in Haiti. He traces key elements of this crisis to the 2004 coup d’état in which Canada, France and the US participated, and to a foreign aid system which is keeping Haiti dependent. He addresses what he describes as the failures of NGO’s and human rights organizations to defend democracy in Haiti, the propaganda campaign that deluded the public as to the events surrounding the coup d’état of 2004, and foreign-imposed economic policies that are destroying the country and undermining its sovereignty.
The interview includes a discussion about the way forward for Haiti in light of the new developments in neighbouring South America. Click here to hear the podcast.
Canadian photographer Darren Ell's films, photographs, interviews, podcasts and weblinks about Canada's involvement in the 2004 coup d'état in Haiti and its ongoing impact is all online now with the National FilmBoard of Canada website Citizenshift. This work was released several months ago, but there were problems with the video pieces. Everything is now fully functioning! So dive in and learn!
Yves Engler is the co-author with Anthony Fenton of the most significant book on Canada's involvement in the 2004 overthrow of democracy in Haiti: Canada in Haiti: Waging War On the Poor Majority. The full audio interview with Yves Engler regarding Canada's involvement in the crisis in Haiti since 2004 is now online with the NFB website Citizenshift. The interview develops further ideas not presented in the video interviews published in Darren Ell's Citizenshift dossier about Haiti and Canada. In particular, Yves addresses the role of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Canadian Embassy in blocking meaningful progress in Haiti.
Canadian photographer Darren Ell and the National FilmBoard website CitizenShift have published a new online resource about Canada and the 2004 coup d'état in Canada. The site includes new short films and captioned photographs by Ell as well as photos by young Haitian journalist Wadner Pierre; it also includes podcasted interviews, links to important websites, as well as texts and links to interviews Ell has published about the ongoing impact of the coup. The focus of all the material is Canada's involvement in the coup, it's violent legacy, and digital tools for getting involved. It's called The Damage Done: Canada and the Coup in Haiti
Darren Ell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've just published a new article about the UN's propaganda machine in Haiti and the way it has been misrepresenting its humanitarian work in the country. The article deals with the mass arrests in February in Cite Soleil and the photo ops and lies that followed each phase of these arrests. These lies continue to this day via the UN News Service and were unexamined by Canadian journalist Jean-Michel Leprince (Radio-Canada) when he was embedded with MINUSTAH in February during these missions. To read the article, go to Montreal Serai Magazine.
When in Haiti recently, I conducted an extensive interview with Mario Joseph, the head lawyer of the Bureau des avocats internationaux, the only legal firm working on the tens of thousands of human rights violations that preceeded and followed the Feb 29th, 2007 coup d'etat. In the interview, Mario discusses the impact of the coup on the justice system, the struggle to rebuild the rule of law, the thorny problem of MINUSTAH, the continued problem of foreign (including Canadian) hypocrisy and more.
Can anyone have info or links regarding the Quebec Government's involvement in education in Haiti? email@example.com
One of the few Haitian journalists reporting from the point of view of the poor majority needs your assistance. Wadner Pierre has been regularly contributing to important solidarity sites such as HaitiAction and HaitiAnalysis and the Institute for Democracy and Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), but his camera is barely functioning. Darren Ell and the IJDH are selling 8x10 photographs taken by Wadner and Darren in the last year in Haiti to raise money for a new camera.
The need for strong independent voices in Haiti is greater than ever. Here is your chance to support the work of a young Haitian photojournalist whose work is appearing on HaitiAction.net, Haitianalysis and other media important to the struggle for democracy. Wadner Pierre has been living and working with Father Gerard Jean-Juste for the last ten years. For the last two years, he has been reporting and photographing important human rights issues in Haiti. He brings to the world information and analysis directly from Haiti’s poor, something absent in the mainstream media.
To see the latest version of facts by Canadian mainstream TV on recent operations in Cite Soleil, go to the link below. It's in French, but my summary and criticism below is in English.
It's a report called "Au coeur du mal" (Into the heart of Evil) by a big dude with Radio-Canada: Jean-Michel Le Prince. Let's ignore the title of the report. His report just reached probably over a million Quebecois and a couple hundred thousand Francophones outside of Quebec. In the report, he's embedded with the MINUSTAH troops and follows the recent mass arrests and gang hunt in Cite Soleil. I was there for the end of the operation. Check out the report and blog in your comments. Here's mine:
A representative of Doctors Without Borders in Haiti has asked me to remind people to the work they are doing with women in Haiti as a way of marking International Women's Day. If you go to their site, you'll find the following the informationl below.
English Site: http://www.msf.ca/en/news/newsreleases/2007/021907_haiti.html
- a brief introductory article to the Jude Anne hospital project
- web video interview with our Head of Mission on obstetric needs of women in Port au Prince
- photo slide show with captions
Almost every night in Haiti I would unwind at the end of the day by walking down from my hotel to a local family's shop, buy a beer, then sit with the owner and his family, chatting about various things with them and friends that came by. Five children, two parents, two chickens, 8 chicks and a cat lived in a 200 square foot home. His farm habits came from a previous life led in the countryside, fitting the pattern of growing chaotic urbanization in Haiti. Eventually, the father asked me for financial help for his girl's education (Haiti has one of the most privatized education systems in the world, or so I was told, and so it certainly seemed).
Mario Joseph, the leading human rights lawyer in Haiti, granted me a long interview yesterday in Port-au-Prince. We discussed many things (published soon), but when I asked him about what activists should be doing in Canada and the US, he said: "Keep your eyes wide open, watch your governments closely, be sophisticated in your research." He expressed deep gratitude as well to all those who have been working for democracy in Haiti.
In part 2 of my interview with Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, now online at HaitiAction.net, Lovinsky talks about what he calls the "ongoing coup d'etat of 2004." He talks about the lack of services to help heal the scars of the thousands of victims of 2004. He speaks of the bureacracy and judiciary staffed by Latortue's people who ensure that the victims will not see justice. He points to how this problem ensures impunity for the perpetrators. He discusses the danger of a potential preparation of yet another coup d'etat by such initiatives as the creation of a parallel police force using the 800 former members of the dreaded Haitian Army who are now in the Haitian National Police.
The two part photo essay about recent arrests and spin by MINUSTAH is now online at Haitianalysis.com As the title of this blog entry suggests, the title of the photo essay is "Brutalized and Abandoned." The photo essay addresses mass arrests, lies about social services in Cité Soleil and the demands of the victims of MINUSTAH.
I couldn't help but notice the lack of journalists in Cité Soleil yesterday as we interviewed yet another person who spoke of a neighbor being illegally arrested by MINUSTAH forces. MINUSTAH now claims they have "a nice catch," meaning over 60 "armed marauders" in the last month. Seeing as we connected with five cases who said the victims of the arrests had nothing to do with crime at all (and this was definitely not an exhaustive investigation) the question can at least be raised as to the legality of MINUSTAH operations in Haiti (yet once again). I haven't seen that question asked of MINUSTAH, but maybe I didn't catch it.
As we entered Cite Soleil this morning with Brian Concannon, founder of the IJDH (Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti) we got a call saying a crowd had gathered outside one of the MINUSTAH headquarters in the Boston quarter of the Cite. We pulled up and sure enough there was a group of about 15 people facing the two armored MINUSTAH vehicules. Someone had been arrested that the crowd felt shouldn't have been arrested and they were demanding he be released. As has been the way every time we pull up with cameras, the MINUSTAH troops run away. All the soldiers piled into the vehicules and took off.
To find out the scale of lies coming out of MINUSTAH on the ground, read any of the UN News Service press releases in the last two weeks. According to interviews we have conducted in Cite Soleil, and according to a source in the Cite today, the arrests continue to be arbitrary. People are being arrested who have nothing to do with what the UN is calling "gangs" or "criminals" or "bandits" No warrents are issued. This is only part of the lie. Every UN communique in the last two weeks talks of setting up health clinics and transforming former gang leaders homes into community centres. Again, complete lies easily verifiable by a stroll through these areas.
Been in haiti for two weeks. Some content is now online. Check HaitiAction.net for a two part interview with Lovinsky Pierre Antoine, coordinator of the 30th of September Foundation that works with the victims of the coup d'états of 1991 and 2004. Also check my new photo essay, done with local photojournalist Wadner Pierre, on Haitianalysis.com. Pretty gripping. Finally, if you to keep up to speed on my wanderings, read my blog with the NFB website Citizenshift. Eventually I'll be putting together a full dossier for them with interviews I'm conducting with human rights people, former pol
Dominion Weblogs compiles the weblogs of Dominion editors and writers. The topics discussed are wide-ranging, but Canadian Foreign Policy, grassroots politics, and independent media are chief among them.