Friday, August 31, 2007

Two men get life for Jacques Roche murder

Haiti | 31.08.2007

Two men get life for Jacques Roche murder in sign of justice finally moving into action

Reporters sans frontières

(Read the original here)

Reporters Without Borders welcomes the life sentences which a Port-au-Prince court yesterday passed on two men, Alby Joseph and Chéry Beaubrun, for the abduction and murder of Jacques Roche, the head of the Le Matin newspaper’s arts and culture pages. Roche was kidnapped on 10 July 2005 and was found dead four days later.

Joseph, 22, a gang member based in the Port-au-Prince slum district of Solino, was found guilty of killing Roche. Beaubrun was found guilty of receiving money to guard him while he was held hostage. They were sentenced to forced labour for life under a May 2005 decree.

Their conviction came 20 days after an independent commission to support investigations into murders of journalists was created on the initiative of President René Préval and SOS Journalistes, an NGO. The commission was installed in the presence of UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon’s spokesperson, Michèle Montas, who is the widow of Jean Dominique, a radio journalists murdered in April 2000. Dominique’s killers have not been caught.

“We are relieved that justice has finally been rendered in the Roche case,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This conviction and the creation of the commission on 10 August are positive signs of a desire by the political and judicial authorities to start combatting impunity. The other participants in Roche’s abduction who are still at large must also be brought to trial.”

An arts and culture columnist and Creole-language poet, Roche was abducted as he was driving through the Nazon district of Port-au-Prince. Despite intense negotiations with the family, in which the kidnappers demanded a ransom of 250,000 dollars, his handcuffed body was finally found four days later, bearing the marks of torture and bullet wounds.

Joseph named three other persons, former Solino gang boss François “Bibi” Daniel, Dérosiers “Tiyabout” Becker and someone identified only as “Gaetan” as accomplices to Roche’s abduction and murder. All three are currently detained for possession of firearms.

Gérard Jean Juste, a Catholic priest and close political ally of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was also a suspect. He was arrested on 22 July 2005 but was eventually released for health reasons and was allowed to travel to the United States to receive treatment. He returned to Haiti at the start of this month. Several other suspects were arrested in August 2005 but have not yet been tried.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sou chimen tribinal popilè espesyal pou jije politik privatizasyon ak plan neyoliberal la

(This open letter protesting privatization plans in Haiti was recently released by 10 left-wing Haitian groups. The original can be read here. MD)

Lèt tou louvri plizyè òganizasyon voye bay minis travo piblik, Frantz Verella

Dokiman sa a vin jwenn AlterPresse 21 out 2007

Soti nan : Regwoupman òganizasyon k ap lite kont politik privatizasyon antrepriz piblik yo

Pou : Frantz VERELLA, Enj. Minis TPTC Nan biwo l

Objè : Envitasyon

Misye Minis,

Nou menm sendika ak òganizasyon popilè ki siyen lèt sa a, nou konstate ou asosye w ak yon rejim ki pase nan opinyon piblik la pou patizan pèp pandan ekip la ap mare peyi a pi di nan pye tab pisans enperaylis yo. Depi 1991, nan ti pas kout, in-de, lavalas ap jwe alimba ak pouvwa leta yo pandan okenn nan revandikasyon pèp la aprè 7 fevriye 86 yo pa rive satisfè alewè pou revandikasyon fondalnatal mas popilè yo k ap soufri depi 1803. Olye lavalas kreye travay li revoke plis pase 10.000 travayè nan biwo ak antrepriz leta yo epi demantibile tout enstitisyon piblik yo. Olye lavalas remanbre pwodiksyon nasyonal la, li louvri vant peyi a bay machandiz Etazini, Dominikani ak Brezil. Diri pèpè, zagribay poul ak ze sendomeng ap simen payèt. Kap rejim nan tèlman pran van, kounye a li deside bay sektè prive a kontwòl pò yo, ayopò yo, li deside remèt pwodiksyon kouran an bay sektè prive, remèt sektè telekominikasyon an nèt bay prive, pou foure pèp la nan yon politik konsomasyon telefòn san nesesite epi detounen ti kras rezèv peyi a. Akoz ministè w ap dirije a gen gwo responsablite nan fin dechalbore ekonomi peyi a, paske li se ministè ki alatèt majorite enstitisyon piblik ki sou lis likidasyon an, sou chimen ranmase enfòmasyon pou tabli yon tribinal popilè k ap gen pou jije privatizè machann peyi yo, privatizasyon an ak plan neyoberal la, nou envite w vin pote eklèsisman nan yon konferans-deba sou bilan politik privatizasyon an, nan oditoryòm Lekòl Nòmal Siperyè, ri monseyè Giyou, mèkredi 22 out 2007 la, jou deklanchman soulèvman jeneral esklav yo, a 3zè nan aprè midi.

Nou swete, Misye Minis, w ap jwenn yon ti tan pou vin ede n konprann pi byen politik detwi pèp ak kraze peyi gouvènman ou ladan l lan ap aplike a.

N ap kontinye òganize n pou pouvwa kontwòl pèp la tounen yon reyalite !!!





Saturday, August 18, 2007

On the approach of Hurricane Dean

As Hurricane Dean prepares to batter Haiti's southern coast this evening, I recall a time in the country when I witnessed firsthand the terrible devastation that tropical storms and hurricanes can wreak on a place so heavily deforested.

In May 2004 I traipsed through the Haitian countryside to bring back the words of survivors of flooding that had killed hundreds along the Dominican Border. My observations then were captured in an interview with Melissa Block on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered program, which can be listened to here. Then, in September 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne devastated Haiti, and the Artibonite Valley in particular, killing some three thousand people and leaving some 200,000 homeless. At that time, Haiti’s Caribbean partners in CARICOM (of which Haiti is the most populous member), stood around with their hands in their pockets, refusing to lift and finger to help their Haitian brothers and sisters in their moment of greatest need, and leaving it to United Nations forces in Haiti to do what it could to provide aid.

A year later, in May 2005, I returned to Fonds-Verettes, one of the scenes of some the worst flooding in May 2004, to find that precious little had changed. The article I wrote on my visit, for the valuable journalists’ support organization Panos, is included in its entirety below.

Now, in August 2007, as Haiti has a stable, democratically-elected government in place that has reengaged with its Caribbean and Latin American neighbors, and a peacekeeping force of nearly 6,800 soldiers, one hopes that solidarity will be more forthcoming should, heaven forbid, Haiti need the aid of its neighbors again.

In the more long-term view, as well, one hopes that over the next several years the government of Haitian President René Préval and the international community will be able to seriously and in a sustained way begin to address and reverse Haiti’s environmental decline, thus giving a breath of life to the country’s long-struggling peasantry and helping to avoid the disastrous results of storms such as we have witnessed in recent years.

I wish them all very well and they are in my prayers as I sit here in Paris this evening.



More Than A Year After Devastating Floods, Haitians Still Look for Conditions That Spawn Change

Panos Caribbean/CERN

By Michael Deibert,
31 August 2005

FONDS-VERETTES, Haiti, 31 August 2005 (Panos) - Below mist-shrouded mountains largely stripped bare of trees, amidst a clutch of tarp-covered market stands pitched beside an immense field of boulder-sized rocks, Elise Rousseau, 44, stands with her sister and stirs a pot of boiling marinade patties, remembering the terrible flood that swept through this small town over a year ago.

“About midnight, the water started rushing in,” she says, her voice choked with emotion, as a persistent drizzling rain descends into the valley where the village of Fonds-Verettes lies. “Our houses were swept away, everything we had was swept away. Everyone was running, but they had no idea where they would go. My daughter was sixteen years old and she drowned.”

In the village of Thomin, a rough 30-minute drive down a trickling stream bed from Fonds-Verettes, the story is much the same.

“Many, many people died here,” says Louis Cantel, a 67-year-old farmer, as he stands surveying a field of corn cut through at various points by a similar violent swath of rocks and stones, deposited as the waters swept by in May 2004. “From here all the way to the frontier, those who didn’t die, their goats, cows and chickens were all washed away.”

The rains of May 2004 in this remote, mountainous region where Haiti straddles the Dominican Republic, killed over 900 people in the two countries, the vast majority of them Haitian peasants caught asleep in their shacks or market women who worked the two border crossings at the frontier.

Though subsistence farming forms the backbone of the lives of Haiti's poor, rural majority, one only needs to take a look at the imposing hills surrounding Fonds-Verettes, green and brown, but nearly devoid of trees, to realize the dire environmental problems confronting the country as it tries to feed its 8 million people.

“We have a serious environmental crisis in the country, for sure, but one with several causes,” says Camille Chalmers, director of the Plateforme Haïtienne de Plaidoyer pour un Développement Alternatif (Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development, or PAPDA), an organization which promotes grassroots developmental initiatives on behalf of Haiti’s poor.

“But the first cause is misery, people are born here with a lot of desperation and their sole source of liquidity are the trees.”

Over the past 50 years, 90 percent of Haiti’s tree cover has been destroyed for charcoal and to make room for farming, with the resulting erosion destroying two-thirds of the country’s arable farmland. With little left to hold the topsoil when the rains fall - often torrentially after prolonged spells with no precipitation at all - it rushes in torrents down the mountains, carving gullies and carrying crops and seeds along with it, sweeping vital minerals into the country’s rivers to be deposited, uselessly, in the sea.

Though these conditions have made the valleys set between the steep hills of the Caribbean nation’s countryside prone to flash floods (similar flooding around the northern city of Gonaives killed some 3,000 last September), residents say they have little choice but to remain where they are.

“It’s dangerous to live here, because we know that the water could always come back,” says Thomin farmer Gerard Pierre Paul, 40, as he eyes the clouds from beneath a straw peasant’s hat. “But we don’t have any money to put our houses on top of the mountains.”

Haiti’s tumultuous political situation - which saw the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide amid an armed rebellion and street protests against his rule in February 2004 - has repeatedly, scuttled any efforts at reforestation or other programs to help people in villages like Fonds-Verettes. The rate of hunger in the country is now ranked as the world’s third highest, surpassed by only Somalia and Afghanistan, and the country’s literacy rate hovers around 60%.

“Haiti is a country that’s in chronic crisis, and it’s a low-boil crisis, so you have any major incident, whether it’s a natural disaster or a man-made, socio-political one, and things go under very quickly.

"For the people who suffer most, it’s been a very rough year,” says Abby Maxman, Haiti country director for the aid organization “CARE”, speaking in the group’s headquarters in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

An interim government headed by President Boniface Alexandre and Prime Minister Gerard Latortue took power in Haiti after Aristide’s departure. But, beset by an armed urban campaign of violence against police and civilians launched by Aristide-aligned street gangs in the capital, the administration has largely appeared to be too busy trying to put out political fires and cling to power until legislative and presidential elections this November, to spend much time on issues such as environmental degradation and land reform.

“There needs to be a serious and sustained investment in Haiti countrywide by the international community to insure that we just don’t come here to respond to an acute crisis, because it’s the low-level crisis that keeps everyone unstable,” says Maxman. “We can’t just look at the elections as if that’s end game. That’s the beginning of it, of the real process for getting Haiti on a track for development.”

The problem of the tenuous existence of Haiti’s rural poor is further complicated by the fact that governments based in Port-au-Prince, usually a remote entity for peasants living hours away on rumbling roads, have often viewed any kind of organizing by the peasant masses with suspicion if not outright hostility, and have responded in kind.

In the 1950's, the military ruler Paul Magloire displaced thousands of peasants to build the Peligre hydroelectric dam near the Dominican border, but those evicted, like the people of Fonds-Verettes, from their land, never saw any of the electricity the dam was supposed to produce. A few years later, the dictator Francois Duvalier formed the Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale (VSN) militia, which became popularly known as the Tontons Macoutes after a Kreyol expression (the name translated as “uncle knapsack”) for a boogeyman, in part to keep an eye on the restless provinces.

In 2002 Aristide, in contrast to the agrarian reform policy of his predecessor, Rene Preval , who governed from 1996-2001, bulldozed some of Haiti’s most productive farmland on the green and fertile Maribaroux Plain in the northeast of the country, to enable the Dominican Grupo M company to create a “free trade” zone. In practice this meant that workers were assembling Levi Jeans from 7 in the morning until 7 at night, having a single 45 minute break to eat lunch and use the bathroom. Compensation was 432 Haitian Gourdes (around US $12) per week and unions were not permitted.

But PAPDA’s Camille Chalmers, for one, refuses to give up hope that Haiti’s environmental degradation is irreversible. PAPDA itself was formed in 1995 in response and opposition to a clutch of economic reforms - including rapid trade liberalization, privatization of key state enterprises and financial deregulation - that the first Aristide government agreed to, in order to facilitate his return from exile after being ousted for three years by a military coup. Growing up in such an environment has made the group, like Haiti’s peasants, no stranger to overcoming adversity.

“We need to have a system of cooperation between the peasants and people in the cities to address the planting of trees and the use of charcoal,” Chalmers says. “We need an aggressive strategy of cooperation to plant trees and an administrative system that will make that happen.”

Meanwhile, in Fond-Verettes, a steady rain is falling, and the market women pull underneath their fragile shelter.

“It’s not just the floods only,” says Pastor Destine Charles, a 34 year-old Fonds-Verettes native who has formed an organization, Kote Pa-M (“Where is Mine?” in Kreyol), to help alleviate poverty and unsafe living conditions of those in the area. The road near the market stands has now turned into a steady gurgling stream and the clouds have descended low over the valley.

“People don’t have houses, access to water, nor hospitals. We have a lot of children that don’t have access to schools. We want to ameliorate our situation but we need help.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Plaintes et rêve d'un bracero haitien à Batey 8

Haiti-Rép. Dominicaine : Plaintes et rêve d'un bracero haitien à Batey 8

mardi 14 août 2007

Entrevue avec un bracero haïtien dans un batey de la République Dominicaine

Par Wooldy Edson Louidor

(Read the original here)

Barahona (Rép. Dominicaine), 13 août 07 [AlterPresse] --- Tito est un bracero (coupeur de canne) haïtien, qui travaille au Batey 8, situé non loin de Barahona (dans le sud-ouest de la République dominicaine).

Agé de 39 ans et originaire de Thomaseau (Ouest d'Haiti), Tito révèle les conditions de travail des braceros haïtiens, ainsi que les difficultés, les abus et les frustrations auxquels ces travailleurs sont confrontés quotidiennement.

Cet homme, qui a vécu et travaillé pendant 17 ans au Batey 8, transmet aussi l'espoir, longtemps caressé par "la diaspora des bateys", de vivre et d'être traités, un jour, avec dignité.

AlterPresse : Tito, pourquoi as-tu décidé de venir ici en République Dominicaine et d'y rester ?

Tito : J'ai laissé mon pays Haïti depuis 1980. Ce n'est pas la faim qui m'a poussé à venir ici en République Dominicaine. J'étais très jeune ; des amis à Thomazo, ma ville natale, m'ont conseillé de venir ici pour connaître un autre pays et pour acquérir de nouvelles expériences.

Par la suite, j'ai rencontré au Batey 8 une femme dominicaine d'origine haïtienne, qui m'a donné huit (8) enfants et avec laquelle je me suis marié. Puisque ma femme et moi, nous n'avons personne ici qui pourrait nous aider avec nos enfants, j'ai été obligé de prendre ma machette et de couper de la canne-à-sucre sous un soleil de plomb, tous les jours, du lundi au samedi, pour pourvoir aux besoins de ma famille.

Vous savez qu'il n'y a pas d'emploi en Haïti et, en plus, mes parents qui vivent là bas ne sont pas en mesure de m'aider. Donc, j'ai été contraint de rester ici en République Dominicaine en acceptant, à contrecœur, de vendre ma force de travail presque gratuitement et de recevoir, en échange, des humiliations et un salaire de misère.

Apr : Quel est ton horaire de travail ?

Tito : Nous autres, les braceros, nous travaillons de 6 heures a.m. à 7 heures p.m. et parfois jusqu'à 8 heures du soir. Dès l'aube nous nous rendons à pied sur les plantations sucrières, et nous revenons chez nous à la tombée de la nuit. Nous observons une seule pause à midi, au cours de laquelle la Compagnie "Consorcio azucarero central" (en français, Consortium sucrier central), pour laquelle nous travaillons, nous donne un peu de nourriture, insuffisante pour assouvir notre faim. Mais, puisque nous n'avons pas d'alternative, nous acceptons cette nourriture afin d'apaiser notre faim, en attendant qu'on prenne un bon souper à notre retour chez nous.

Apr : Combien on te paie ?

Tito : En dépit du travail très dur que nous réalisons, les responsables de la Compagnie nous paient très mal : parfois ils nous donnent entre 500 et 600 pesos dominicains pour le travail effectué pendant la semaine (du lundi au samedi), tandis qu'ils devraient nous payer 1 200 pesos et même un peu plus. Au contraire, ils se plaignent en disant que nous n'avions pas travaillé suffisamment au cours de la semaine et que nous ne méritons pas un salaire de 1 200 pesos, en prenant comme prétexte le rapport que les pesadores (ceux qui pèsent le nombre de tonnes de canne coupée) leur ont fait parvenir. Avec ce salaire, nos enfants et nos femmes ne peuvent vivre ; ils connaissent des conditions de vie très difficiles sur le territoire dominicain…

Quand nous protestons contre cette injustice, ces responsables nous repoussent en nous enjoignant de ne pas élever la voix. Généralement, les autres braceros ne se solidarisent pas avec la cause que nous défendons, surtout les migrants communément appelés "congos", c'est-à-dire ceux qui viennent d'arriver aux bateys. Ils acceptent de travailler pour n'importe quel salaire, aussi dérisoire qu'il soit ; et si on ne les rémunère pas, ils ne disent rien.

Autrefois, quand les plantations sucrières appartenaient à l'État dominicain, il existait des syndicats qui défendaient les braceros ; en outre, le Consulat haïtien à Barahona envoyait ses agents visiter les bateys pour voir les conditions de vie et de travail des Haïtiens. Tout récemment, on vient d'expulser le père Pedro Ruquoy qui était notre seul défenseur. Depuis lors, nous nous trouvons seuls, comme des orphelins, face aux pesadores et aux responsables du Consortium sucrier.

Apr : Comment tu te sens dans le travail ?

Tito : En fait, dans le travail, les pesadores, qui sont aussi des superviseurs et dont la majorité sont des Haïtiens, nous traitent comme des animaux. On paie les pesadores très bien, avec bonus et assurance de santé, eux qui, pourtant, ne font rien et qui passent tout le temps dans les plantations à dormir et à raconter des blagues. Cependant, le peu d'argent qu'on nous paie, nous qui travaillons réellement, ne suffit même pas à donner à manger à nos familles, voire envoyer les enfants à l'école ou à l'hôpital…

Les pesadores nous font savoir que si nous valions quelque chose, nous ne serions pas venus vivre et travailler ici dans un batey. Nous nous sentons vraiment humiliés et sans défense.

Apr : Quel est le message que vous aimeriez envoyer à vos compatriotes en Haïti ?

Tito : J'aimerais que l'actuel gouvernement haïtien parle avec les autorités dominicaines pour leur demander de traiter les braceros haïtiens comme des êtres humains, en appréciant et récompensant notre travail à sa juste valeur et en nous offrant des conditions de vie et de travail dignes.

Monday, August 13, 2007

PLANOPA denonse politik ekonomik gouvènman an

The following is a statement for the Platfòm Nasyonal òganizasyon Peyizan Ayisyen (PLANOPA) peasant collection (in its original Kreyol) criticizing (to put it mildly) the economic policies of the Haitian government. MD

Ayiti : PLANOPA denonse politik ekonomik gouvènman an

jedi 9 out 2007

(Read the original here)

Kominike Platfòm Nasyonal òganizasyon Peyizan Ayisyen (PLANOPA)

Dokiman sa a vin jwenn AlterPresse 9 out 2007

Nou menm manm kòdinasyon Platfòm Nasyonal òganizasyon Peyizan Ayisyen, “PLANOPA”, ki soti nan 8 depatman jewografik peyi a e ki reprezante 221 òganizasyon peyizan, nou te reyini nan dat 7 ak 8 Daout la nan pòtoprens kote nou reflechi sou sitiyasyon peyizan yo ak fason pouvwa leta yo ap Mennen bak peyi a. Aprè anpil brase lide, men sa nou konstate:

Depi gouvènman Préval / Alexis a pran pouvwa a sitiyasyon peyizan yo ak mas popilè a vin pi grav. Mizè, grangou ap pete fyèl pèp la, malgre dola a bese jiska 34 goud, lavi a vin pi chè chak jou pi plis, pouvwa acha popilasyon an bese nèt.

Gouvènman an pa kreye okenn travay pou soulaje mizè pèp la. Okontrè, gouvènman an ap aplike yon politik neyoliberal tèt bese pou satisfè enperyalis la odetriman enterè mas popilè yo, tankou : privatizasyon antrepriz piblik yo, revokasyon moun pa bann e pa pakèt. Divès kote nan peyi a, grandon ap kouri dèyè peyizan yo sou tè yap travay yo. Anpil pawòl ap pale pou kontinye kouri dèyè peyizan yo sou tè yap travay pou tabli lòt zòn franch nan peyi a. Eske sa se rezilta refòm agrè prezidan Préval te fè a ? Tout sa rantre nan kad aplikasyon pwogram politik ekonomik neyoliberal kap fèt nan peyi a.

Palman ayisyen an, pap defann enterè pèp la tout bon vre, yo pa fè anyen pou bare plan anti-pèp, anti-peyizan ke gouvènman an ap aplike la a yo pi enterese ap defann ti enterè mesken ki pap mennen peyi a okenn kote.

Nou konstate tou, majorite lidè politik yo rete an silans devan move sitiyasyon peyi a paske yo jwenn moso pa yo nan gouvènman an. Ak ki figi yap retounen vin mande pèp la vòt ankò?

Se vre ensekirite a fè yon ti bese, se vre anpil chèf gang anba kòd men èske gwo kantite zam ilegal kap sikile nan peyi a pa rete yon menas pou popilasyon an ? Eske arete kèk chèf gang vle di tout gang yo kraze ? Eske tout kriminèl ki tap simen lanmò, masakre pèp la deja anba kòd ?

Nou menm nan PLANOPA, nou denonse ak tout fòs nou, politik ekonomik gouvènman an ap aplike nan peyi a, kòm yon politik anti pèp, anti peyizan. Nou mande gouvènman Préval / Alexis a pou kanpe sou plan lanmò sa a. Nou rete kwè antrepriz piblik yo gen pwoblèm jesyon ak kòripsyon ki merite rezoud, men yo pa dwe vann pou satisfè plan enperyalis la. PLANOPA pwofite pote solidarite l bay peyizan APROLIM yo nan Limonad ke grandon ap kouri dèyè yo sou tè yap travay epi nou mande pou gouvènman an pran tout mezi pou peyizan APROLIM yo jwenn lapè sou tè yo, san pèsekisyon grandon yo.

Nou denonse gouvènman an ki fèmen je l devan grangou kap ravaje pèp ayisyen an pandan li mare sosis ak Tonton Sam pou pwodwi Mestiyen ki pral sèvi matyè premyè pou fè agrokabiran pou fè machin mache alòske sak ta dwe priyorite peyi a jounen jodia se pwodiksyon manje natif natal pou pèp la konsome..

Nou mande pou tout peyizan makònen fòs yo chak jou pi plis pou defann tèt yo devan plan lanmò a.

Viv inite nan sektè peyizan an ! Aba okipasyon peyi a ! Aba plan lanmò a !

Pòtoprens, Mèkredi 08 Daout 2007

Pou Planopa :

Philefrant St-Naré, Kòdonatè

Yvette MICHAUD, Trezoryè

Taléus CHRISTOPHE, Pòtpawòl

Assancio JACQUES, Sekretè

Milostène CASTIN, Manm

Roody Kernisant (Lame Ti Manchèt) se mouri

Roody Kernisant, a leader of the dreaded Lame Ti Manchèt, one of the deadliest of the armed bands that terrorized the residents of the Port-au-Prince district of Martissant in recent years, has reportedly “committed suicide.”

This is an extraordinarily un-Haitian and convenient end to a man who no doubt knew things that could have made many powerful people in Haiti quite uncomfortable but, according to Radio Kiskeya, cornered by a joint United Nations (MINUSTAH) and Police Nationale d'Haiti (PNH) patrol, Kernisant, implicated in the murder of 18 police officers and dozens of civilians, shot himself in the head with his own .38.

If accurate, Kernisant’s suicide would make a first in my experience of having observed Haitian gang leaders for nearly a decade, who in my experience prefer to go down guns blazing, taking as many of their opponents with them as they can.

Composition of CIAPEAJ revealed

The personnel of the Commission indépendante d'appui aux enquêtes relatives aux assassinats des journalistes haïtiens (CIAPEAJ) - charged with looking into the slayings of journalists Jean Dominique, Brignol Lindor, Jacques Roche and others - will be as follows:

  • Joseph Guyler C. Delva (SOS Journalistes, Reuters, Mélodie FM)
  • Valéry Numa (Radio Vision 2000)
  • Marie Nic Marcelin (Radio Ibo)
  • Louis Gary Cyprien (Le Nouvelliste)
  • Euvrard St-Amand (Caraïbes FM)
  • Dieudonne Cency (Radio Métropole)
  • Anne Marguerite Auguste (Radio Solidarité)
  • Idson Saint-Fleur (Radio Signal FM)
  • Jean Wilner Morin (Tropic FM/TELEMAX)
The forming of the commission is, in my view, a brave and bold move by Hait's President René Préval, and the composition of the body looks well balanced to hopefully keep any competing political agendas in check.

Given how terribly Haiti's press corps has suffered over the last several years, it is good that there will be a group of this nature to keep the process of seeking justice for its members before the public eye. If the commission works effectively intandem with Secretary of State for Public Security Luc Eucher Joseph, Port-au-Prince chief prosecutor Claudy Gassant and Police Nationale d’Haïti chief Mario Andrésol, we may finally see the beginning of the end of impunity for crimes against journalists in Haiti.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Haiti forms commission to help solve journalist slayings

Haiti forms commission to help solve journalist slayings

The Associated Press

Friday, August 10, 2007

(Read the original here)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Haiti has created an independent commission to speed up stalled investigations into the slayings of journalists in the impoverished nation.

Eight journalists have been killed in the Caribbean country since 2000, and the notoriously weak and corrupt justice system has yet to convict anyone in the deaths.

The nine-member body, made up of Haitian journalists, will review each case and issue public reports on ways to move the investigations forward, commission president Guy Delva said Friday.

"We want to push the justice system to act. If there are obstacles to these cases, we want to know what they are, who is responsible and how to fix them," said Delva, a correspondent for the Reuters news agency and the head of a Haitian press freedom group.

President Rene Preval pledged full support to the commission, the first of its kind in Haiti.

"The state must make providing justice a priority," Preval said at a ceremony to introduce the commission. "I think the journalists, working together with justice officials, can help reinforce justice in the country."

Delva said the body's first task will be to revisit the murder of Haiti's most famous journalist, Jean Dominique, who was gunned down along with a bodyguard outside his radio station on April 3, 2000. Dominique's life was chronicled in the 2003 documentary "The Agronomist," directed by American filmmaker Jonathan Demme.

The probe into his killing has been plagued by delays, missing case files and the resignation of two investigating judges who received death threats. Three early suspects have been killed, including one under mysterious circumstances in police custody.

Dominique's widow, Michele Montas said revisiting his case offers hope after years of frustration.

"He was a symbol that gave a voice to the voiceless, and that voice was silenced," said Montas, who once fled the country because of death threats and now serves as spokeswoman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "So we're asking for justice for him and everyone else."

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Ban Ki-moon editorial on Haiti

August 9, 2007

Hope at last for Haiti

Ban Ki-moon

The Washington Times

(Read the original here)

There may be worse slums in Haiti, but none so infamous for its violence and grinding poverty as Cite Soleil in the heart of the capital city, Port-au-Prince. Drinking water is scarce, public sanitation nonexistent. Most of its 300,000 residents have no electricity; fewer have jobs. The neighborhood's mayor was blunt when I met him during my visit to Haiti last week. "Here," he said, "we need everything."

And yet I also saw hope in Cite Soleil. At the mayor's offices, a new local government is putting down roots in a community it long ago abandoned. Across the street, I toured a newly refurbished school. Youngsters greeted me, excited by the prospect of resuming their education. Nearby, young men played soccer.

People struggle merely to survive in Cite Soleil. The irony of its name, Sun City, is cruel. Yet I was glad to see this lively bustle, these signs of normal life. Six months ago, there would have been none of this. Gangs ruled, terrorizing ordinary people, extorting money and destroying lives. Kidnappings were routine — nearly 100 a month. Even poor families feared to leave home, especially with children.

Last December, newly elected President Rene Preval asked the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti to do something. It did, with a decisiveness and efficiency that serves as a model of robust international peacekeeping. In an operation lasting six weeks, amid fierce firefights, U.N. forces took control of the slum. Roughly 800 gang members were arrested; their leaders have been jailed. The practical results are plain to see. In June, only six kidnappings were reported. Security has returned not only to the streets of Cite Soleil, but to the rest of the capital and other Haitian cities as well.

I saw other signs of progress. For the first time in a long while, Haiti has a stable, democratically elected government, widely accepted across all social strata and by all political parties. The economy is no longer in free-fall. Inflation has dropped to 8 percent, from 40 percent three years ago. The International Monetary Fund projects growth of 3½ percent this year — as opposed to negative growth for much of the previous decade. Thanks to new laws, tax revenues rose by a third last year. Just as Mr. Preval took on Haiti's gangs, so has he declared war on corruption, endemic to every sphere of life. This shows real political courage.

I am convinced Haiti is at a turning point. Long the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, seemingly forever mired in political turmoil, it at long last has a golden chance to begin to rebuild itself. With the help of the international community — and the United Nations in particular — it can. Haiti has seen five multinational interventions over the last decade. In each case, we left too soon, before real change could take hold. Or we let our efforts be too circumscribed — restricted, say, to trying to maintain security or supervise an election.

This time will be different. That is why, in October, I will ask the Security Council to renew the U.N.'s mandate in Haiti for a term beyond the customary six months. In clear language, I assured the Haitian government — and the people — that we intend to stay until our mission is accomplished, consistent with their wishes, however long it takes.

Haiti is nearing the end of the first phase of its nascent recovery — that of ensuring peace and security. The second phase must focus on social and economic development. More than ever, Haiti needs our energetic help in building functioning civil institutions —beginning with creation of an effective and honest national police force, backed by a reformed justice system.

I was therefore immensely encouraged that, in response to my visit, the Haitian Senate last week approved ambitious new legislation aimed at reconstituting an effective and independent judiciary and creating a legal climate more conducive to economic development and foreign investment. Without such changes, the trends of global commerce, finance and tourism will continue to pass Haiti by. I called on all sectors of Haitian society — the government, business and ordinary people — to commit themselves to work together for social change. Without their mutual cooperation, Haiti cannot advance.

Above all, the ordinary people of Haiti must see tangible evidence they can look forward to a better future — starting now, not tomorrow. We must therefore assist the government in delivering what many call a "peace dividend." It's nothing grand, as our Brazilian force commander Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz explained to me. Yes, the people of Cite Soleil, like all Haitians, welcome the new peace on their streets. But more, he said, they need "the basics." Water. Food. Jobs.

Of course, this is ultimately Haiti's responsibility. But it is ours to help achieve it.

Ban Ki-moon is secretary-general of the United Nations.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Adieu, Gérard Barthélemy

The anthropologist and writer Gérard Barthélemy, who surveyed Haiti for over 20 years with a perceptive lens, passed away in France last week. The author of such books as L’univers rural haïtien : le pays en dehors and Dans la splendeur d’un après-midi d’histoire, Barthélemy is the subject of a thoughtful tributes on the AlterPresse website here and on the site of his publisher, Vents d'Ailleurs, here. In an era when too much fake scholarship on Haiti and lazy, unengaged academia passes for serious research on the subject, Gérard Barthélemy will be remembered as a true authority on the development on this much-beloved and troubled land.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Pa bliye Pere Ti Jean

On 3 August 1998, assassins in Haiti struck down Father Jean Pierre-Louis, known as “Pere Ti Jean” to the peasants in Haiti’s Plateau Central, on whose behalf he had advocated for many years. The fifty-year-old priest was a diminutive mulatto from a family of some means—his former sister-in-law, Michele Pierre-Louis, was the executive director of the respected Fondation Connaissance et Liberte (FOKAL)—yet he had chosen to work among Haiti’s poor and had helped found the Sèvis Ekimenik pou Devlopman ak Edikasyon Popilè (Ecumenical Service for Popular Development or SEDEP).

On the 9th anniversary of Pere Ti Jean's slaying, SEDEP, along with the Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen organization, has issued a call for a new investigation into the slaying, which was never solved and for which those responsible were never held accountable. The full text of the declaration can be read in the original Kreyol below.


Ayiti : 3 out 2007, 9 lane depi kriminèl te fè kò sasinay sou pè Ti Jan Pyè Lwi

vendredi 3 août 2007

(Read the original here)

“Nou mande Minis Jistis la, Mèt René Magloire ak komisè gouvènman Pakè Pòtoprens lan, Mèt Claudy Gasan pou yo pran mezi legal nesesè pou mete Aksyon Piblik an mouvman pou chache, arete epi jije prezime kriminèl ki te sasinen san kè sote Pè Ti Jan gwo lajounen bò midi jou ki te

3 Dawou 1998 la, nan lakou biwo l, nan SEDEP. ”

Pozisyon Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen ak SEDEP

Dokiman sa a vin jwenn AlterPresse 2 out 2007

Pòtoprens 31 jiyè 2007

3 Dawou 1998 – 3 Dawou 2007 fè 9 lane depi bandi kriminèl yo te telegide te sasinen Pè Jean Pierre Louis, di Pè Ti Jan, nan lakou SEDEP, yon enstitisyon Pè Ti Jan t ap dirije.

Pè Ti Jan Pyèlwi, se te youn nan dènye pè konsekan Legliz Katolik, ki depi nan lane 1960 yo, anfas rejim diktati Divalye a, te toujou pran pozisyon pou defann enterè peyi a ak enterè mas pèp ayisyen an. Ti Jan te toujou leve kanpe kont tout sistèm dominasyon, krazezo ak eksplwatasyon feyodal ak kapitalis ki t ap toupizi mas pèp la. Se pou sa, nan zòn kote li te pase pifò tan l kòm pè, nan komin Savanèt, grandon pat vle wè l. Yo te toujou ap monte konplo kont li, paske li te toujou ap pran defans ti peyizan, malere ak malerèz.

Kriminèl asasen te rive tchwe Pè Ti Jan, kèk semèn sèlman apre li te patisipe nan yon reyinyon nan Palè Nasyonal, sou envitasyon premye gouvènman prezidan Preval la. Nan moman an, Pè Ti Jan te manm Komisyon Nasyonal Refòm Agrè, evèk Legliz Katolik nan peyi Dayiti te mete kanpe pou te reflechi sou Dosye REFOM Agrè prezidan Preval t ap klewonnen nan moman an. Se nan kad sa a, Pè Ti Jan t al patisipe nan rankont Palè Nasyonal la, kote divès lòt pè te envite.

Reyinyon sa a te bay Pè Ti Jan okazyon pou te denonse piblikman, jan li te abitye fè l nan prèch li, blòf, demagoji, vòl ak koripsyon ki t ap devlope nan moman an anndan Leta a, nan mitan gouvènman Preval la e menm anndan Legliz la.

9 lane apre krim nan, tout gouvènman ki pase alatèt Leta a pa leve yon ti dwèt pou Aparèy Jistis la mete Aksyon Piblik an mouvman kont prezime kriminèl yo. Nonplis tou, okenn komisè gouvènman, omepri lalwa, pa janm pran okenn mezi legal pou fè limyè sou krim nan, malgre laklamè piblik pa janm sispann egzije jistis pou Pè Ti Jan epi denonse kriminèl yo ak tout konplis yo.

Nan okazyon nevyèm anivèsè sasinay Pè Ti Jan, nou menm oganizasyon ak enstitisyon ki pran pozisyon sa a, mande Prezidan René Préval ak Premye Minis Jacques Edouard Alexis, yo menm ki te deja sou pouvwa a nan moman krim nan te komèt nan lane 1998, yo menm ki tal rann paran Pè Ti Jan vizit lakay yo epi ki te patisipe nan ekspozisyon ki te fèt nan ponp finèb, nou mande yo fwa sa a pran reskonsablite yo. Nou mande Minis Jistis la, Mèt René Magloire ak komisè gouvènman Pakè Pòtoprens lan, Mèt Claudy Gasan pou yo pran mezi legal nesesè pou mete Aksyon Piblik an mouvman pou chache, arete epi jije prezime kriminèl ki te sasinen san kè sote Pè Ti Jan gwo lajounen bò midi jou ki te 3 Dawou 1998 la, nan lakou biwo l, nan SEDEP.

Pandan n ap renouvle solidarite ak senpati nou ak fanmi Pè Ti Jan, n ap envite tout fanmi an, zanmi, kanmarad, senpatizan ak fidèl Pè Ti Jan yo nan seremoni komemorasyon, TET KOLE TI PEYIZAN AYISYEN ak dòt òganizasyon popilè ap òganize jou k ap 3 Dawou a nan vil Savanèt, pou fè sonje memwa Pè Ti Jan ki rete yon modèl fidelite ak angajman nan lit pèp la.

Rosnel Jean-Baptiste Tet Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen

Jhon Blot SEDEP

Author gives insight into Haitian politics

Book Review: Author gives insight into Haitian politics

Web Posted: 02/19/2006 12:00 AM CST

By Char Miller

Special to the San Antonio Express-News

Notes From the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti

By Michael Deibert. Foreword by Raoul Peck.

Seven Stories Press, $22.95

(Read the original review here)

Thomas Jefferson was aghast: In 1791, Haitian slaves revolted against France, establishing the Western Hemisphere's second republic. The principal author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence feared that this successful Caribbean revolution would foster "a great disposition to insurgency among American slaves," a war that would "never end but in the extermination of one or the other race." To forestall that dread possibility, he cut off all trade to the new state, and refused to extend it diplomatic recognition, expecting to bankrupt its future.

His strategy worked, and a century later Woodrow Wilson sealed Haiti's fate. In 1915, he sent in the Marines, an occupation that lasted until the mid-1930s; the occupiers wrote a new constitution that granted them unilateral power, built an island-wide road system with forced labor, and disrupted Haitian political maturation, reinforcing its crippling colonial legacy.

But Haiti also has been wracked with more than its share of internal torment, as journalist Michael Deibert demonstrates in his gripping first book. A Reuters' correspondent in the capital city of Port-au-Prince from 2001 to 2003, Deibert has a sharp eye for the complicating ironies of history. Not least of which is the way that past brutalities have shaped contemporary behavior. Jean-Jacques Dessaline's bloody reprisals against European slave-owners in the early 1800s found their parallel in the 1950s as Papa Doc Duvalier unleashed a terrifying cycle "of tin-pot despotism and pointless bloodletting." Even once-heralded reformers turned vicious: broad-based opposition to Jean-Bertrand Aristide was part of an enduring struggle "against the two-century tradition of electoral coup d'états."

The complex tale of Aristide's rise, fall and exile, his return and removal is the central focus of "Notes From the Last Testament." A compelling mix of reportage, memoir, social criticism, it offers a searching, if at times garrulous, account of contemporary Haitian political culture.
Aristide had been the people's priest, in the 1980s using his pulpit to defend the defenseless.

Booted out of his religious order, he later wrote: "I did not invent class struggle any more than Karl Marx did. But who can avoid encountering class struggle in the heart of Port-au-Prince? It is not a subject of controversy, but a fact, a given." That insight, and the electoral clout that came with it, powered Aristide into the presidency in December 1990.

By the next September a military junta had forced him into exile, but three years later, courtesy of a Clinton-administration negotiation that was enforced with 25,000 U.S. and international troops, Aristide returned as president.

Deibert masterfully recounts what then ensued: wild swings in the republic's political compass as Aristide and his equally mean-spirited opponents jockeyed for position and power, using the streets and slums as stages on which to assault those arrayed against them. The drumbeat of violence, like machine-gun fire, echoes through his narrative, and as the casualties mount, the former priest bears the brunt of Deibert's angered scrutiny: "Seldom has a leader betrayed the legitimate hopes of so many so thoroughly. In all its essentials — the killing of civilians, restriction of personal and professional liberty, the subjugation of all state institutions to the whim of the executive branch — the Aristide government deserved to be overthrown as much as any in Haiti."

Pushed out by popular protest and international pressure, Aristide's second exile has not brought peace, a conundrum Deibert underscores in his conclusion: "Haiti is populated by some of the more resourceful, hard-working and decent people in the world, despite the face the political culture presents, but they cannot change the country on their own," a hopeful and harrowing prospect.

Char Miller is director of Urban Studies at Trinity University, and editor of "50 Years of the Texas Observer."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A call to arms to save Haiti's environment

One of Haiti's most effective and politically progressive organizations, the Groupe d'Appui aux Rapatries et Refugies (GARR), has issued a call to action regarding the dramatically deteriorating state of the country's environment. The GARR statement can be read in full in the original French below.

SOS pour une prise en charge rapide de l’environnement physique et humain d’Haiti

samedi 28 juillet 2007

Groupe d'Appui aux Rapatries et Refugies

(Read the original here)

Suite aux inondations du 20 juillet 2007 qui ont frappé plusieurs localités de la frontière appartenant à la commune de Ganthier (Département de l’Ouest), le GARR lance un cri d’alarme aux autorités et populations haïtiennes pour qu’elles accordent le bénéfice de l’urgence et la priorité à notre environnement physique et humain.

La dégradation de l’environnement et les catastrophes naturelles constituent deux causes importantes qui poussent de nombreux/se haïtiens/nes à fuir leur pays. Il est fondamental que des investissements soient consentis pour satisfaire les besoins vitaux de la population et régénérer l’environnement très affecté par la pression constante qu’elle subit de la part de personnes en détresse, qui tentent de survivre par tous les moyens.

Les pluies du 20 juillet dernier ont laissé derrière elles un bilan très lourd dans la commune de Ganthier : 4 morts, plus de 300 familles sinistrées, des maisons ensevelies, de nombreuses têtes de bétail emportées, des plantations et tronçons de route submergés. Les communautés les plus touchées sont Toman, Fond-Parisien, Leroche et Lastic.

Si à Fond-Parisien, localité frontalière proche de Jimani, les degâts sont moindres, la population reste toutefois préoccupée dans certains quartiers, par la fragilité de leur environnement à la moindre averse. Il s’en est fallu de peu pour que les récentes crues n’envahissent le village de Fond Bayard occupé par d’anciens rapatriés-es venus de la République Dominicaine.

La plupart des riverains s’accordent à dire que le déboisement accéléré des mornes et espaces verts avoisinants, en particulier, la Forêt des Pins, serait l’une des causes majeures de cette catastrophe ayant touché ces localités souffrant déjà, pour la plupart, d’une carence d’infrastructures de base et d’un manque d’accompagnement effectif des institutions étatiques. En outre, ces localités sont marquées par un fort taux de chômage et une tendance à l’émigration.

Conscients de l’acuité du problème environnemental qui induit une détérioration de leurs conditions de vie, les habitants de Fond-Verrettes, autre localité frontalière du Département de l’Ouest durement frappée par les crues de 2004 ont déjà présenté aux autorités, en mai dernier, un cahier de charges avec des propositions pertinentes pour la régénération de cette commune et surtout la rétention des jeunes.

Encore une fois, le GARR profite de l’occasion pour attirer l’attention des responsables du gouvernement et du Parlement sur les liens étroits existant entre la migration et la dégradation de l’environnement. La prise en charge de notre environnement physique et humain est une urgence nationale que les autorités haïtiennes ont l’obligation d’adresser sans délai.