[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
25230: Haiti Progres (news) This Week in Haiti 23 : 11 5/25/2005 (fwd)
From: Haïti Progrès <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French
and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100,
(fax) 718-434-5551 or e-mail at email@example.com.
Also visit our website at <www.haitiprogres.com>.
"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
May 25 - 31, 2004
Vol. 23, No. 11
MAY 18, 2005:
PRO-DEMOCRACY ANTI-OCCUPATION DEMONSTRATIONS FLARE ACROSS HAITI
Over 10,000 people marched through the streets of Port-au-Prince on May
18 to demand the return of exiled President Jean Bertrand Aristide and
an end to the foreign military occupation of Haiti.
Held on the 202nd anniversary of the creation of the Haitian flag,
Wednesday's march was one of the largest in Haiti since U.S. Special
Forces soldiers kidnapped Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004.
Called by the popular organizations affiliated to the Lavalas Family
party and supported by the National Popular Party (PPN), the
demonstration brought together thousands from Cité Soleil, Belair,
Carrefour, La Saline, and other popular quarters where anti-coup
sentiment runs deep.
As the march ended, a Haitian police came close to having a
confrontation with demonstrators. About 20 masked SWAT cops carrying
M-14s and M-16s were preparing to enter Belair when they encountered
journalist Kevin Pina, a second cameraman and several Haitian radio
journalists near the Cathedral. "The Haitian police demanded that Pina
not videotape them and one commander asked him exactly what his work is
in Haiti," the Haiti Information Project reported. "Pina showed his
press credentials and explained that people in the United States,
especially members of the U.S. Congress, want to understand the role of
the Haitian police. As Pina continued filming, the SWAT unit literally
ran from his camera and left the scene." Pina was also threatened by
Brazilian U.N. occupation troops while filming that day.
The HIP also reported that Haitian police attacked demonstrators
returning to Cite Soleil after the march. "According to witnesses, Sanel
Joseph was shot and killed by the Haitian police for no apparent reason
as he returned home from the demonstration," the HIP said. "No U.N.
security presence or U.N. police monitors were present as the police
Meanwhile, the Lavalas Family party and PPN jointly organized
demonstrations around Haiti's north. Several hundred people rallied in
St. Rose Place in Grande RiviPre du Nord on May 15.
On May 16, several thousand marched in Limbé to calls of "Down with the
occupation, down with the Feb. 29 kidnapping, long live the return of
President Aristide." Demonstrators denounced repression in the town,
where police shot to death a young man earlier this year in Limbé's Nan
Fouwo district. But the demonstration ended without incident in St.
Many thousands also rallied in Cap HaVtien on May 18. Leaders of the PPN
and Lavalas Family party addressed the demonstrators, denouncing the
U.S. and France for their leadership of the coup and orchestration of
the occupation. The march organizers also exhorted the Haitian people to
step up their resistance.
Ironically, the official Flag Day ceremony held on May 18 in the town of
Arcahaie, where the flag was created, was boycotted by the population.
De facto President Boniface Alexandre waxed on the flag's meaning mainly
to his entourage. "If our ancestors' unity allowed us to achieve
independence, unity today will give us our pride and dignity," he said.
But few Haitians see any "pride or dignity" in the illegal, repressive
government which acts as a front for a foreign occupation.
PASSAGE TO HAITI
by Daniel Pena Shaw
This account, written last summer, reveals that the present crackdown in
the Dominican Republic is but another chapter in the constant
persecution of Haitians in that country.
Monday, August 16, 2004, was a day like any other for the more than
1,500,000 Haitians who call the Dominican Republic home. The majority
were up by 6 a.m. with the sun and off to work in the tobacco, rice and
sugarcane fields. The going wage for the Haitian laborers is 150 pesos,
the equivalent of US$3.70 for 10 hours of heavy labor.
Nené and Juné didn't go to work that day. They had picked that day to
travel back to Trou du Nord and Cap HaVtien, their hometowns across the
border in Haiti. They had been saving up their wages for several months
and were anxious to return home and see their families. I sat in the
back of the bus with them and 30 other Haitians. About 15 Dominicans
occupied the rest of the seats in the front listening to the bachata of
Fran Reyes and paying little attention to the kreybl being spoken in the
back. The driver roared over the dry countryside road known as La Linea,
slowing only to avoid large tire-ruining holes.
The trip from Santiago, the Dominican Republic's second largest city, to
Cap, Haiti's second capital, takes approximately seven hours by bus. I
nestled down in my seat introducing myself to several new friends and
taking vocabulary notes on various anecdotes and jokes in kreybl. There
was no sign of trouble until about two hours into the trip when it was
time to pay. The driver's partner, the cobrador, went around collecting
the fare. I asked him several times the price of the trip but he refused
to give an exact answer.
He collected 100 pesos from most of the passengers. The Haitians grew
anxious as they waited for their change because they suspected they
would be cheated. They protested. The driver stopped the bus and
threatened to throw off any Haitians who wasn't quiet. Tension grew. The
cobrador slapped Nené across the face a few times in a half-playful,
half-mocking way and told him to sit down. It reminded me of the way
masters probably slapped their house slaves not too long ago. I called
the cobrador over and stayed calm. I put him in a light headlock and
whispered to him that the jokes were over. If he wanted to slap
somebody, I was right there, I said, but kindly keep his hands off
I demanded that he declare the exact price to the Haitian border in
order to sort out all of the confusion. I smiled and he began to give
the Haitians their change. He moved toward the front of the bus. I
thought we had broken bread but had gravely miscalculated the man's
bitterness. He stood in the door of the bus and yelled back at me a few
threats. I erupted and told him in several languages that a crook was a
crook. At the next military checkpoint somewhere between Montecristi and
Dajabon, he got off the bus and called the Colonel in charge of the
military headquarters. Soon, a police chief and three soldiers were
pleading with me to get off the bus, saying I had created a riotous
situation. I refused. They were not sure what to do about me. Had I been
Haitian, I would surely have had a few bullets pumped into me. But a
North American tourist? A Westerner from a country of privilege? A white
man? All the Haitians whispered to me: "Don't get off." I didn't intend
Then the chief and his three henchmen charged onto the bus, pushing
through women and children. They tried to put cuffs on me but I
wrestled. Machine guns were drawn, and I found the captain's .22 caliber
piston to my head. The wrestling was over. They dragged a random Haitian
man off the bus with me for good measure. I never caught his name nor
saw him again. A few Dominican women who understood all too well the
routine protested to the army that I wasn't in violation of any law. I
appreciated their speaking up. But they were wrong. I had violated a
deathly silence that resides across the Dominican Republic concerning
Haitians and human rights.
As they dragged me away, I struggled to make one last point. Though the
military and president Hipolito Mejia are to blame for the corruption
and violence marking the roads to and from Haiti, every Dominican
citizen and every citizen of the world who stays quiet in the face of
this Apartheid also carries the responsibility. Duarte, Sanchez, Mella,
CaamaZo, and every other Dominican patriot would be ashamed. Haitians
are not responsible for the miserable economic downturn the D.R. has
taken in the past four years and for the past four centuries for that
matter. They are simply the easiest scapegoat. A spent a few lonely
hours in jail and bribed my way out. I imagine the Haitian who was
detained did not sure the same luck that I did.
What transpired in the course of this journey was not unique. It was a
microcosm of the everyday humiliation Haitians are subjected to in the
neighboring country. The only difference was that I was there to witness
what I hadn't scene in three years since I worked as an ethnographer and
teacher in the Caribbean. I'm excited for everyone out there, we have
recently graduated lawyers, journalists, and other professionals among
us. May we continue to put our heads together to mobilize against the
humiliations of imperialism.
CANADIAN COMPLICITY IN THE HAITIAN CRISIS
by Marie-Jeanne D'HaVti
As federal elections in Canada become more likely, it is timely to turn
our attention to the role played by Canada, along with the United States
and France, in Haiti's deteriorating political and economic situation.
Since 2000, the Canadian government has suggested in various forums that
Haiti be put in trusteeship. On March 15, 2003, the magazine L'Actualité
published an article by Michel Vastel in which the overthrow of
Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government was proposed, not by the Haitian
opposition, but by a coalition of countries convened by Canada.
In April 2003, in an interview given while he was in the Dominican
Republic, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien declared that the
"international community" should not have to wake up with Aristide in
power on January 1, 2004, Haiti's bicentennial.
In Montreal, shortly before Aristide's kidnapping, the current
international affairs minister Pierre Pettigrew met Paul Arcelin, an
opposition representative, a close associate of "rebel" chief Guy
Philippe, and a mastermind of the coup d'état.
Meanwhile, Denis Coderre, Prime Minister Paul Martin's special counselor
for Haiti, was part of the delegation of « last chance, » charged with
presenting an exit plan to the crisis which peaked in February 2004.
This mission did not put pressure on the opposition, which refused the
plan, but on Aristide, who accepted it.
Finally, when the coup happened, Prime Minister Martin was at UN
headquarters in New York and quickly accepted Aristide's resignation,
without knowing its circumstances.
If Paul Martin's liberal government is sincere about wanting to help
Haiti, it must unite Haitians in Canada around a project aimed at a
viable and sustainable solution for Haiti. It must cease its politics of
"divide and conquer," which is bad and counter-productive for Haiti.
Canada's Haitians and friends of the Haitian people must remember: O
Canada.Je me souviens.
The author is a member of the Quebecois Committee to Recognize the
Rights of Haitian Workers in the Dominican Republic, based in Montréal.
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.