Thursday, March 26, 2009

MEN ANPIL, CHAY PA LOU (more hands, load is light)

"Justice. Verite. Independance."


March 25 - 31, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 36

by Mario Joseph

On Mar. 17, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), based in San Francisco, California, awarded the 2009 Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award to lawyer Mario Joseph of the Office of International Lawyers (Bureau des Avocats Internationaux or BAI) , a Haitian legal organization based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The previous week, on Mar. 8, Joseph received Santa Clara University Law School`s 2009 Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize in Santa Clara, California. It was the second annual Alexander Law prize to be awarded. The prize recognizes a member of the worldwide legal community who has used his or her skills, knowledge, and abilities to correct an injustice in a significant manner.

In recent years, Mario Joseph has become Haiti's foremost human rights lawyer, representing prominent political prisoners like former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, activist priest Father Gérard Jean-Juste, and Lavalas Family party leader Annette "So An" Auguste. Since 1996, he has been the BAI's chief trial lawyer and managing attorney, representing hundreds of victims of political violence and less well-known political prisoners.

He was also one of the lead prosecution lawyers in the watershed Raboto trial. In November 2000, he and his colleagues won the conviction of dozens of military and paramilitary officers who carried out a 1994 massacre in Raboto, a poor neighborhood of the northwestern city of Gona ves.

"We honor Mario Joseph for his passionate fight to improve the justice system in Haiti, and his selfless work on behalf of political prisoners, victims of political violence, and the poor," said Santa Clara Law Dean Donald Polden. "He is a fierce voice calling for justice amid threats to his own life. Mr. Joseph has not only freed individuals from injustice but has placed systematic pressure on the dictatorship to respect the rule of law. We honor him for his courageous leadership, his tireless service to those in need, and his dedication to preserving the rights of all."

The BAI also works in close collaboration with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), headed by U.S.-based lawyer Brian Concannon.

We present now excerpts from the remarks that Mario Joseph delivered on receiving the Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award in San Francisco last week.

- - - -

I would like to thank the Center for Justice and Accountability for this award, on behalf of all the staff of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. I would like to accept the award in the name of the victims in Haiti, especially the victims of the Raboto massacre, whose courage and persistence make our work possible (...)

We have a proverb in Haiti, "men anpil, chay pa lou." It means "many hands make the burden light." (...)

In Haiti we carry many burdens. The burden of injustice, the burden of poverty, the burden of political instability. Often these burdens seem impossible to carry. But sometimes we find that if we have enough hands, we can carry them.

When we started the Raboto case, poor people had never used Haiti's courts to achieve justice against rich or powerful people. But we put our hands together with the Raboto victims, with human rights activists and with judges, prosecutors and police who believed in a democratic justice system for Haiti.

We carried the Raboto case as far as it could go in Haiti. We had a trial, convicted those responsible, and won a damage verdict for our clients. It was a historic victory. But the top leaders of the dictatorship, and their money, were no longer in our country; they were in yours.

Haiti's criminals and the U.S. government made the injustice of Raboto international. With CJA, we made the fight for justice international. CJA was a true collaborator, involving BAI and our clients in all the decisions. CJA took every step necessary to ensure that the Raboto victims got their day in American courts. Last May, I carried a nice burden, $430,000, to our clients in Raboto.

Many of Haiti's burdens are at least in part failures of the rule of law. When hurricanes come, the rain floods our cities quickly, because our laws against cutting trees on mountains above the cities are not enforced. Schools collapse on students because no one is held responsible for poor construction. Political violence breaks out when our constitution is ignored.

Our collaborative, legal approach can carry other burdens in Haiti. We have put our hands together with Dr. Paul Farmer and Partners in Health to enforce the civil, political and health human rights of prisoners. We work with parents to enforce the human right to attend primary school, a right currently denied to half of our children. We work with political prisoners and their families to free the political prisoners remaining from our most recent dictatorship.

We are grateful for the helping hands of CJA, of Partners in Health, the Haiti Action Committee, Hastings Law School and from all our supporters in the U.S.. But Haitians need even more help from people in the U.S., because many of our burdens start in your country. [Former Haitian Army Colonel] Carl Dorelien and [former death squad leader] Toto Constant found refuge here because your government collaborated in their brutality in Haiti. The U.S. did not even recognize Haiti, the second independent country in the Americas, for almost sixty years. The U.S. has helped many of Haiti's 33 coup d'etats, including the most recent one in 2004, when our President was kidnapped and exiled to Africa on a U.S. plane.

So I ask you tonight to lend your hand to our fight for justice. We need you to ask your government to cancel Haiti's unjust debt to the World Bank, and to treat Haitians coming to the U.S. fairly. We need you to make sure that your government reverses its failed policies to Haiti- not just the failed policies of the last 8 years, but the failed policies of the last 200 years.

I know that sometimes Haiti's problems seem impossible to solve. But Haiti is the country where slaves won freedom by defeating Napoleon's army. It is where Dr. Paul Farmer's hospitals provide first-class treatment in remote mountain villages. It is where massacre victims from one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Americas won justice against powerful, connected generals, in the courts of two countries. It is where "men anpil, chay pa lou."

by Lily Cerat

Félix Augustin has always been a controversial figure as Haiti's Consul General in New York. The de facto regime of Gérard Latortue rewarded him with the post after a U.S.-backed coup d'état overthrew elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004.

Augustin was a vocal spokesperson for that coup. As a leader of the so-called "Committee to Defend Democracy in Haiti" in New York, he wrote an infamous letter in 2002 to then Secretary of State Colin Powell calling for the U.S. to oust Aristide and occupy Haiti. Washington finally did exactly that.

Augustin works closely with his cousin, Raymond Joseph, the editor of the arch-reactionary weekly Haiti Observateur. The coup regime appointed Raymond Joseph as Haiti's Ambassador to Washington, a post he still holds.

Augustin has also publicly defended the atrocious human rights record of the de facto regime, arguing that political prisoners illegally and arbitrarily arrested during the coup deserved their fate. In 2005, he even attempted to personally eject a pro-democracy journalist from a public event where coup government officials were dining.

For all these reasons, several Haitian educators attending the 32nd Annual Conference of the New York State Association for Bilingual Education (NYSABE) on Mar. 14 were dismayed to learn that Augustin had been invited to address the gathering.

The annual conference brings together educators from around New York State who work with immigrants and non-English-speaking students and families. Also attending were those who conduct research on the value of maintaining a student's native language and culture and on how that impacts educational achievement.

Before inviting Augustin, NYSABE's Executive Committee did not consult all of the organization's Haitian membership, which may have protested. But faced with a fait accompli, Haitian educators resigned themselves to the prospect of Augustin giving remarks during the Awards Luncheon, a conference tradition where the NYSABE recognizes outstanding peer-nominated educators and students who have won the annual essay and art competition. (This year, Clifford Cedrik Lalanne, a bilingual Haitian student in PS 189's fifth grade, won third place for his essay in Haitian Creole entitled "How Do You Define Your Heritage, and How Does Your Heritage Define You?")

Some Haitian educators reasoned that Augustin might be able to boost teacher tourism to Haiti. This idea took hold with me. After all, teachers do travel. Plenty of vacation time is one of their few rewards. I began to envision Consul Augustin showing up on Saturday morning with a staff from the Consulate to set up a corner with Haitian arts and crafts, brochures, samples of Haitian coffee, rum, and cuisine. Under a banner saying "Come See and Taste Haiti," the consul would invite the attendees, about 350 educators, to come to Haiti during Christmas break, winter recess, spring break, the two summer months, or a few long weekends. There are even some Haitian and Haitian-American teachers who have not visited their homeland in ages. Encouraging words from a consul might have lured them back, especially with Delta Airlines inaugurating flights to Haiti this June.

My reverie grew when, by complete accident in the conference hotel's lobby, I met a woman waiting for a taxi. I told her about the conference, and she told me that she was a hydrogeologist, anxious for an opportunity to visit Haiti. Hydrogeology is the area of geology that deals with the distribution and movement of groundwater in the soil and rocks of the Earth's crust. Haiti needs to be visited by hydrogeologists, who can help us address our nation's dire water problems.

There were so many positive things that an upstanding and responsible Haitian Consul could promote with a good speech. But, obviously, Félix Augustin is not such a consul. After committing to the event, he simply never showed up. My Haitian colleagues and I were embarrassed to be represented by such a flaky official. Distance could not be the excuse: the conference took place at the Westchester Marriott, about an hour away from New York City.

Perhaps we should have expected no better from a man with Augustin's political credentials. However, his cavalier lapse reminded me why we must continue to fight for a government and diplomatic corps which are responsible, disciplined and democratic.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Liberte. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Liberte.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More of the Same as Bill Clinton and Ban Ki-Moon visit Haiti

by Wadner

Haiti has always seemed to attract more high profile and supposedly benevolent visitors than any other Caribbean country. For example, there are more NGOs per capita in Haiti then anywhere in the world – up to 20,000 according to a 1998 World Bank estimate. Since the coup that ousted Aristide's democratic government in 2004, Haiti also “hosts” thousands of UN soldiers and support staff. Countless visitors profess a desire to improve life for Haitians and to promote democracy but they seldom deliver.. That does not excuse the Haitian authorities and Haiti's bourgeoisie class who have kept Haitians living in extreme poverty. Nevertheless, one must wonder what visitors to Haiti really want for Haitians.

I have witnessed and heard many of the false promises, particularly since 1994 with the return of Haiti's constitutional order. On October 15, 1994, the Clinton Administration allowed Aristide's government to return but under strict conditions. Many people say Aristide should not have accepted those conditions but he did not seem to have much choice. Aristide tried to keep the Democrats on his side, especially after Bush was elected, but with the exception of the Congressional Black Caucus, especially Maxine Waters, they betrayed him and the Haitian people. It was under Clinton, in 1995, that economic sanctions began to be brought against Aristide's government for not moving quickly enough on privatization to please Washington.

With these facts an mind, what can Haitians expect from the recent visit they received from former US president Bill Clinton and UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon? “Nothing” answered some Haitian parliamentarians. They will spend a few days in Haiti, eat some nice food at the National Palace, make more empty promises, and perhaps encourage more false hope. Perhaps they will congratulate Preval for not stepping out of line as did Aristide.

For the Lavalas supporters, it will be a chance to draw attention to some demands: the return of their leader and the reintegration of Fanmi Lavalas in the electoral process. Finally, they will try, via the presence of the international press, to send a message Barack Obama. In fact, a rally is planned in front of the International Airport, Toussaint Louverture for March 9, 2009.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fanmi Lavalas Party Divided and Confused

Wadner Pierre

As elections approach for twelve senate seats in the Haitian Senate the
Fanmi Lavalas (FL) party (the electoral vehicle of the Lavalas movement) has
divided into two factions. One is headed by former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune,
Annette Auguste (aka So Ann), and former parliamentarian, Yves Crystallin.
Both Neptune and Auguste were prominent political prisoners of the UN installed
regime of Gerard Latortue. The other FL faction is directed by Senator Rudy
Herivaux and a former Arisride spokeswoman, Maryse Narcisse. Both factions
sent lists to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP).

The CEP must decide which faction has the better claim to represent FL in
the elections. The Neptune-Auguste faction is confident that the CEP will rule
in their favor after examining the founding FL documents in which their
members are more prominent. However, adding to the confusion, both factions
recognize Aristide as the leader of FL, and their electoral lists include some of
the same candidates.

One FL candidates, Nahoum Marcellus, has expressed a widely held desire
among FL supporters: “ It is Aristide himself who has to intervene to resolve
this dispute.( source,” Aristide has intervened, according to a report in Haiti Liberte
by Kim Ives. However, Aristide has reportedly done so discretely through
telephone calls to the members of both factions. He has probably avoided public
pronouncements due to his precarious situation in South Africa where he lives in
exile since the US orchestrated coup that deposed him in 2004.

Lavalas opponents have openly enjoyed the spectacle of an internal feud.
Others have gone on the attack.

The National Network of Defense Human Rights, (RNDDH),” a vehemently
anti-Lavalas “human rights group“ that has been funded by both the Canadian and US
governments, has recently gone on the offensive. In a February 3 press
release RNDDH implored Haitians not to “transform the Senate in to a haven for
bandits”. [1] The press release, which rehashed thoroughly discredited claims
about a “massacre” of “La Scierie”, was clearly aimed at the Lavalas movement,
though it did also denounce some Lavalas opponents such as Guy Philippe in an
apparent attempt to look impartial. RNDDH was formerly known as the
National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR). The name change was made in 2005 at
the request of its New York associates who wished to distance themselves from
its work after the 2004 coup. Even UN officials have publicly criticized
flagrant partisanship and unsubstantiated allegations of RNDDH.

Lavalas supporters may well ask “what does Fanmi Lavalas stand for?” Does
it stand for people, or for seats in the Haitian Senate? What should Aristide
do to end the internal dispute? The Fanmi Lavalas party is clearly
struggling against itself.

Its supporters would, no doub,t like FL leaders to remember the party motto “
Alone, we are weak, together, we are strong, together, together, we are
By: Wadner Pierre

[1] _

Thursday, March 5, 2009


March 4 - 10, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 33


By Francesca Guerrier

Over 500 demonstrators gathered in front of the remote immigrant detention jail known as the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida on Saturday, Feb. 28 to demand that the Obama administration stop the threatened deportation of some 30,000 Haitians back to their strife and storm battered country.

The protest was called by Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), Haitian Citizen United Taskforce (HCUT), the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), and the union Unite for Dignity. Officials of Miami Dade County, where most Haitians in South Florida live, assisted by providing buses for protestors coming from Miami, 30 miles south.

The rally was boisterous but peaceful and well-organized. The crowd demanded TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for Haitians, which was previously denied by the Bush administration. TPS has been granted in recent years to nine countries plagued by war or natural disasters: El Salvador, Honduras, Liberia, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Sudan. It allows refugees from those countries to live and work legally in the US. The designation is effective for a minimum of six months and a maximum of 18 months.

After four storms in August and September 2008 brought widespread death and destruction to Haiti, the U.S. government suspended Haitian deportations for three months. But expulsions resumed after Dec. 5, sending dozens of Haitians back to their homeland since then. Between January and December 2008, 1024 Haitians were repatriated, said Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement or ICE.

In February, U.S. immigration officials announced that 30,299 Haitians were subject to immediate deportation back to Haiti.

Jonel Lemy, a Haitian-American lawyer with the Haitian Lawyers Association, told the Sun Sentinel that he has seen an increase in deportation cases in the last six months, even taking the three month reprieve into account.

"Arrests are up," Lemy said. "People are being arrested as they drop their kids off at school or on their way to work."

Lending visibility to the rally were hip-hop star Wyclef Jean and his younger sister Melky Jean, who is also a singer. She performed a passionate song in Krey l and said that TPS for Haitians was "only fair." She founded and helps run the CARMA Foundation which provides shoes and other relief to poor children in Haiti.

Farah Juste, another well-known Haitian singer and activist, took the microphone after Melky to lead the crowd in an improvised song in Krey l: "Prezidan Obama, se TPS nou mande." (President Obama, we demand TPS).

Lavarice Gaudin, a leader with the long-standing grassroots organization Veye Yo based in Miami's Little Haiti, addressed the hundreds of demonstrators on behalf of the group's founder Father Gérard Jean Juste, who couldn't attend the rally due to poor health. Lavarice telephoned Jean-Juste, who then addressed the crowd by phone, which received him with warmth and enthusiasm.

"What do we want?" Jean-Juste asked. "TPS," the crowd loudly responded.

"When do we want it?" Jean-Juste continued. "NOW!" the crowd came back.

Other speakers and singers communed with the crowd, expressing solidarity with the Haitians held in the nearby detention center.

Wyclef Jean made a surprise appearance at the rally, which delighted the crowd.. Speaking in English and Krey l, he said he had a message for President Obama, "my President, our President."

"Haitians are strong in number but not in politics," he said. "Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere. If they deport 30,000 people back to Haiti, we will see 60,000 coming to the USA the following week, only because the country is in bad shape. I left Haiti when I was 9 years old and I believed in the American dream. I think giving justice to Haitians is the American dream. My President Obama, when my parent came here, they didn't have papers, but they worked hard for 15 years. Like in this situation, if they had been sent back to Haiti, America and the world wouldn't have had the gift of Wyclef Jean. This is not a Haitian cause. This is a human cause."

In an interview with Fox TV after his intervention, Wyclef noted that Haitians should receive the same treatment and rights as "my Cubans brothers and sisters."

"Haitians need to be politically empowered in Florida," he continued. "Otherwise we will keep on having the same problem."

"I want to let young people know that if you don't stand for something, you stand for nothing," he told Haiti Liberté. "We need to be strong politically, I encourage young Haitians to study... We have to take part in the Haitian struggle otherwise we fool ourselves if we don't stand up for ourselves."

FANM's Marleine Bastiene asked Wyclef why he had felt compelled to attend a rally that was not in his schedule.

"When I found out this [rally] was happening, I decided to come and ask President Obama to stop deportations to Haiti," he replied. "Even though he's dealing with the economic crisis we are facing, Haiti is in extreme crisis, he has to act immediately to stop all deportations to Haiti; otherwise they will have huge problems in the island which will have repercussions back in the US ultimately."

Of the 30, 000 Haitians with deportation orders against them, 600 are in detention centers and 260 are allowed to stay at home and in their communities, although their movements are monitored with ankle bracelet transmitters.

Haitian President René Préval, who has also asked Washington to grant TPS to Haitians in the U.S., has effectively blocked deportations by having his government refuse to grant would-be deportees travel documents.

"President Obama, the time has arrived to right this wrong," said Marleine Bastien to the crowd.

The world capitalist crisis and soaring jobless rate in the US put great pressure on Obama to deport undocumented workers, as right-wing politicians urge. But Obama has lots of political capital to lose with Haitian-Americans, one of his power bases, if their undocumented compatriots are deported. Conversely, his administration gains lots of easy political capital if it grants TPS, a very short-term measure which does nothing to address the fundamental injustice of U.S. immigration restrictions and their enforcement.

Clearly, many in the crowd had high hopes that their continued mobilization would sway the Obama administration to grant the TPS that the Bush administration denied. "We will continue to protest and take our message to Washington, and we expect President Obama to support us," lawyer Jonel Lemy said.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Liberte. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Liberte.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Le Carnaval de Jacmel, un model a suivre

Ecrit par:
Dave Thompson
“ORIJINALITE’M SE PA’M (Mon originalité est la meienne)”

C’est sur ce terme que s’est deroulé le carnaval a Jacmel cette année.

Malgré les maigres moyens de la mairie de Jacmel, et ceux des artisans

Une fois de plus, ils ont prouvé l’envie de montrer au monde entier qu’ils

Ont de “l’originalité” et qu’Haiti qu’en dépit des mauvaises figures qu’on

Lui expose au monde entier, qu’on ait d’innombrables choses que l’on pourrait

présenter, afin que que le monde entier puisse avoir une pensée positive envers nous.

Et ce qui se passe là-bas a Jacmel n’a rien a envier a celui du Brésil, Cuba, et a Santiago

en matière de carnaval.

A noter que chaque année ils présentent des nouveautés.

Pour l’année ’09 les artisans n’ont pas ratté l’occasion de stupéfier les gens qui ont

Manifesté leur présence a cette belle fête culturelle avec des maisons, des cannons,etc.…

Ce sont des choses incroyables, et le plus beau de tout c’est qu’ils n’utilisent pas

de machines, ils travaillent toutes ces choses a la main.

Apres avoir passé plus de quatre a cinq heures de temps a assister au défile des

groupes masques et bandes a pieds On a pu constate que l’imagination

était au rendez-vous.

A Jacmel le carnaval est typiquement artistique et créative contrairement a

Port-au-Prince ou l’on évoque l’aspect des groupes sonores en premier.

Pour cette année, ça a été une réussite, en route pour l’année prochaine

Il nous faut travailler beaucoup plus car, le carnaval ne cesse d’épater les

Touristes chaque année et déjà, la ville de Jacmel a elle seule sans le carnaval

Attire des milliers de touristes venant de partout chaque année.

Le carnaval de Jacmel est un patrimoine a préserver tout comme les sites historiques.

Pour vous, ne connaissant pas encore Jacmel, c’est une splendide ville situee a 34km

De la ville de Leogane. Réputée pour ces hotels et ses plages ce qui lui a fallu le nom

de “ Première ville touristique d’Haiti.” Alors, si vous passer dans le coin, demander

A visiter “Cap Lamandou hotel” Peace of Mind hotel” “Piano Piano Bar” ce dernier

est un lieu que fréquente des hommes comme l’ex. Ambassadeur Américain en Haiti Bryan Dean Coran, l’actuel Amb. Du Danemark et de L’argentine etc… Il faut notre que Jacmnel est la ville de l'actuelle Gouverneure de Canada, Mme Micheal Jean. Jacmel est surnommé, la capitale touristique d'Haiti, les plages sont belles et admirables aussi.

"Pour ceux qui ont ratté cette année nous vous attendons pour la toute prochaine édition" a dit jacmelien.

Et vous verrez qu’Haiti a beaucoup plus a vendre que ce a quoi qu’on nous reproche fort souvent.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


"Justice. Verite. Independance."


February 18 - 24, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 31

In the early morning hours of Feb. 29, 2004, U.S. Special Forces took Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his wife Mildred from their home in Tabarre and loaded them onto an unmarked U.S. jet already waiting at the Port-au-Prince airport. The U.S. troops then flew Aristide into exile in Africa, where he remains to this day, five years later.

Thus unfolded one of the Bush Administration's few successes: the forcible overthrow of an elected government, disguised and recorded in the mainstream press as a mass uprising against an unpopular would-be dictator.

The majority of the Haitian people were not duped. They suspected the collaboration of the Dominican-based Haitian "rebels" led by former soldiers Guy Philippe and Jodel Chamblain with the National Endowment for Democracy-spawned "civil opposition" front known as the "Group of 184," headed by assembly factory owners Andy Apaid and Charles Henri Baker. In recent years, proof of that collusion was made public as the putschist alliance, like the government they cobbled together, fell apart.

The whole sordid endeavor was underwritten and militarily facilitated by the U.S., France and Canada, each power having important economic and political interests in Haiti.

On the coup's fifth anniversary, demonstrations, masses, conferences and vigils will be held in many quadrants of Haiti's far-flung diaspora. In BROOKLYN, the Lavalas Family party has called for a mass on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at Holy Innocent Church at the corner of Beverly Road and E. 17th Street in the heart of New York City's Little Haiti. In FLORIDA, on the same day from 3 to 6 p.m., the Florida Immigration Coalition will sponsor a rally to demand Temporary Protected Status for undocumented Haitian immigrants in the U.S. The rally will be held at the Broward Transitional Center, 3900 N. Powerline Road in Pompano Beach, FL.

Perhaps the most ambitious commemorative event is the OTTAWA INITIATIVE ON HAITI 2009, a one-day conference to analyze the 2004 coup, with special attention to Canada's role. The Feb. 28th conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University of Ottawa's Alumni Theatre at 85 University (Jock-Turcot Building). The event will also address what roles Canada, the U.S. and the Haitian diaspora might play in Haiti today. Some of the speakers invited include author Edwidge Danticat, political activist Patrick Elie, economists Camille Chalmers and Kesner Pharel, and Ottawa-based Haitian activists Raymond Dubuisson and Jean Saint-Vil. Peter Hallward, author of "Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment," and Michel Chossudovsky, director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and Economics Professor, will also attend.

Central to the organization of the Ottawa Initiative is the Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN), a vibrant and effective nationwide coalition of Canadian groups and individuals which formed during the 2004-2006 coup. CHAN issued a statement on Jan. 24, 2009 which succinctly summarizes Haiti's situation today. The organization also makes five demands, including a call to investigate the coup and ensuing massacres by occupation troops. We close with that statement.

Kim Ives


Statement by the Canada Haiti Action Network, on the fifth anniversary of the overthrow of elected government in Haiti.

This February, the Haitian people will commemorate the fifth anniversary of a seminal date in their long and proud history. But it won't be a celebration. They will mobilize in angry protests to condemn the overthrow of the elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004. They will also condemn the decades of foreign domination that has brought the country to ruin; made all the worse since 2004.

The illegal coup of 2004 has had an extremely negative impact on Haiti's social fabric - breakdown in government services, including education and health care; increased poverty; decline of agricultural production; increased violence by pro-coup gangs and by foreign military forces and the Haitian National Police; an increase in emigration of educated Haitians; and heightened tensions within families as a result of all of the above.

Haiti's crippled economy was dealt further blows when a series of hurricanes struck the island last summer. Several thousand died and agricultural production was dealt a heavy blow. The city of Gonaives, the fourth largest in Haiti, still lies under several feet of dried, rock-hard mud.

Some $100 million was pledged by foreign governments in relief following the storms. Almost nothing has been received. This follows the pattern of the past five years whereby the United Nations and participating countries have spent hundreds of millions of dollars each year on their 9,000-member military mission while spending next to nothing on social and economic development.

Canada supported the overthrow of the government of President Aristide and thousands of other elected officials in 2004. Troops from the U.S., France and Canada joined with Haitian rightists to consolidate that illegal act. The three big powers got a stamp of approval from the United Nations Security Council. An appointed regime of human rights violators ruled Haiti from 2004 to 2006 and ran the country into the ground.

Today, a 9,000-member foreign police and military force, including the aforementioned Big Three, patrols the country with the endorsement of the UN Security Council. These powers have a preponderant role in the financing of the Haitian government and thus in its policy decisions.

The Canadian government and its Canadian International Development Agency say they are providing $110 million per year to assist Haiti. But little of that money reaches ordinary Haitians. Most of it is used to prop up institutions of foreign domination, including NGOs and propaganda agencies that supported, or were silent in the aftermath of, the 2004 coup.

Political persecutions dating from the 2004 coup are continuing. These include:

Ronald Dauphin, still imprisoned after five years.

Political rights leader Lovinsky Pierre Antoine who was "disappeared" on August 12, 2007 and whose whereabouts remain unknown. Incredibly, his case was not even mentioned in the 2007 report of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.

One of the ideological pillars of the 2004 overthrow in Haiti was the doctrine of "Responsibility to Protect." The doctrine is increasingly used today to justify military intervention against many of the world's poorer countries - from Venezuela and Cuba to Sudan and Zimbabwe. Thus, the lessons of Haiti have an added importance for the world's people.

Haitians are fighting to retake the sovereignty of their country. Just one month ago, on December 16, tens of thousands marched and rallied in Port au Prince and in other cities across Haiti to reaffirm their opposition to foreign occupation.

The Canada Haiti Action Network will hold public events in at least seven cities across Canada to commemorate the 2004 coup d'etat in Haiti, featuring speakers or films. In late March, we are sponsoring a delegation of trade union activists to Haiti for one week. We continue to assist in sending medical supplies to health providers. We invite you and your organization to join us at anniversary events - become a co-sponsor. Join us in the work of our projects. We encourage local and national media to join us in examining the conditions in Haiti today.


1) Reparations to the Haitian people for all the damage of the past five years caused by foreign occupation.

2) An investigation of the raids by United Nations military forces into Cité Soleil on July 6, 2005 and December 22, 2006. The UN stands accused by residents of "massacres" that cost dozens of lives. To date, not a single international human rights group has undertaken a serious investigation of the community's allegations.

3) Free all political prisoners, including Ronald Dauphin. End the grisly overcrowding in Haiti's prisons.

4) The United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) must conduct an independent investigation into the disappearance of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.

5) An independent inquiry into Canada's role in the overthrow of Haiti's elected government in 2004. This inquiry must release the full documentation of the "Ottawa Initiative on Haiti" meeting held in Meech Lake, Quebec on Jan 31 - Feb 1, 2003 that sketched plans for the overthrow of Haiti's government. It must conduct a comprehensive assessment of Canada's aid programs in Haiti, including the extensive involvement in Haiti's persistently dysfunctional justice system and national police service.

For the Canada Haiti Action Network and its local chapters,

Roger Annis, Vancouver 778 858 5179

Chris Semrick, Nanaimo 250 616 7009

Regan Boychuk, Calgary 403-479-8637

Macho Philipovich, Wpg 204 783 2571

Niraj Joshi, Toronto 416 731 2325

Stuart Neatby, Ottawa 613 293 9480

Nik Barry Shaw, Montreal 514 225 5984

Tracy Glynn, Fredericton 506 458 8747

For information on the web, including activities in cities across Canada:

For an in-depth look at the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine:

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