Sunday, May 31, 2009

Revolutionary Haitian Priest, Gerard Jean-Juste, Presente!

Published on Sunday, May 31, 2009 by

by Bill Quigley

Though Haitian priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste died May 27, 2009, at age 62, in Miami from a stroke and breathing problems, he remains present to millions. Justice-loving people world-wide mourn his death and celebrate his life. Pere Jean-Juste worked uncompromisingly for justice for Haitians and the poor, both in Haiti and in the U.S.

Pere Jean-Juste was a Jesus-like revolutionary. In jail and out, he preached liberation of the poor, release of prisoners, human rights for all, and a fair distribution of wealth. A big muscular man with a booming voice and a frequent deep laugh, he wore a brightly colored plastic rosary around his neck and carried another in his pocket. Jailed for nearly a year in Haiti by the U.S. supported coup government which was trying to silence him, Amnesty International called him a Prisoner of Conscience.

Jean-Juste was a scourge to the unelected coup governments of Haiti, who served at the pleasure, and usually the direction, of the U.S. government. He constantly challenged both the powers of Haiti and the U.S. to stop killing and starving and imprisoning the poor. In the U.S. he fought against government actions which deported black Haitians while welcoming Cubans and Nicaraguans and others. In Haiti he called for democracy and respect and human rights for the poor.

Pere Jean-Juste was sometimes called the most dangerous man in Haiti. That was because he was not afraid to die. His computer screen saver was a big blue picture of Mary, the mother of Jesus. "Every day I am ready to meet her." He once told me, when death threats came again. "I will not stop working for justice because of their threats. I am looking forward to heaven."

Jean-Juste was a literally a holy terror to the unelected powers of Haiti and the elected but unaccountable powers of the U.S. Every single day, in jail or out, he said Mass, read the psalms and jubilantly prayed the rosary. In Port au Prince he slept on the floor of his church, St. Claire, which provided meals to thousands of starving children and adults every week. In prison, he organized local nuns to bring him hundreds of plastic rosaries which he gave to fellow prisoners and then lead them in daily prayer.

When Pere Jean-Juste began to speak, to preach really, about justice for the poor and the wrongfully imprisoned, restless crowds drew silent. Listening to him preach was like feeling the air change before a thunderstorm sweeps in. He slowly raised his arms. He spread his powerful hands to punctuate his intensifying words. Minutes passed as the Bible and the Declaration of Human Rights and today's news were interspersed. Justice for the poor. Freedom for those in prison. Comfort for those who mourn. The thunder was rolling now. Crowds were cheering now. Human rights for everyone. Justice for Haiti. Justice for Haiti. Justice for Haiti.

To the rich, Jean-Juste preached that the man with two coats should give one to the woman with none. But, unlike most preachers, he did not stop there. Because there were many people with no coats, Pere Jean-Juste said, no one could justly claim ownership of a second coat. In fact, those who held onto second coats were actually thieves who stole from those who had no coats. In Haiti and the U.S., where there is such a huge gap between the haves and the have-nots, there was much stealing by the rich from the poor. This was revolutionary preaching.

During the day, people streamed to his church to ask for help. Mothers walked miles from Cite de Soleil to his parish to beg him to help them bury their children. Widows sought help. Families with sons in prison asked for a private word. Small packets of money and food were quietly given away. Visitors from rural Haiti, people seeking jobs, many looking for food, police officers who warned of new threats, political organizers with ideas how to challenge the unelected government, reporters and people seeking special prayers - all came all the time.

Every single night when he was home at his church in Port au Prince Pere Jean-Juste led a half hour public rosary for anyone who showed up. Most of the crowd was children and older women who came in part because the church was the only place in the neighborhood which had electricity. He walked the length of the church booming out the first part of the Hail Mary while children held his hand or trailed him calling out their part of the rosary. The children and the women came night after night to pray in Kreyol with Mon Pere.

Pere Jean-Juste lived the preferential option for the poor of liberation theology. Because he was always in trouble with the management of the church, who he also freely criticized, he was usually not allowed regular church parish work. In Florida, he lay down in his clerical blacks on the road in front of busses stopping them from taking Haitians to be deported from the U.S. For years he lived on the run in Haiti, moving from house to house. When he was arrested on trumped up charges, he refused to allow people with money to bribe his way out of jail, he would stay with the poor and share their treatment.

He dedicated his entire adult life to the revolutionary proposition that every single person is entitled to a life of human dignity. No matter the color of skin. No matter what country they were from. No matter how poor or rich. No matter woman or man.

His last time in court in Haiti, when the judge questioned him about a bogus weapons charge against him, Pere Jean-Juste dug into his pocket, pulled out his plastic prayer beads, thrust them high in the air and bellowed, to the delight of the hundreds in attendance, "My rosary is my only weapon!" The crowd roared and all charges were dropped.

Gerard Jean-Juste lived with and fought for and with widows and orphans and those in jail and those being deported and the hungry and the mourning and the sick and the persecuted. Our world is better for his time among us.

Mon Pere, our brother, your spirit, like those of all who struggle for justice for others, lives on. Presente!

By Bill Quigley. Bill represented Pere Jean-Juste many times in Haiti along with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Port au Prince and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Bill is on leave from Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans serving as Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He can be contacted at

Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, A Man who Gave his Life For New Haiti


I was 11 years old in 1996 when I first met Father Gerry in Saint Claire's
Parish. He had just become the pastor of the church. It was he who would
baptize me and later give me my first communion. He appointed me his
"right-hand" altar-boy after my first communion.

I was so proud when he said to Archbishop Miot during the celebration of
Saint Claire, on August 12th, 1998

"Wadner, he is my right hand, here. He helps me so much."

I lived with him between the years 1999 to 2008. I owe my education to him.
He was like an adoptive father to me. His advice was simple and direct:

"Wadner, remember the rules: pray,study, work, and eat."

One day I talked to him about the battle for a new Haiti. He said to me

"Wadner, remember as long as you shall live that a new Haiti is possible.
One day I will leave you. If I leave before you, the struggle must be
continued in the name of Jesus." He added with a smile "You understand, son?"

He became a political prisoner during the UN backed Latortue dictatorship
which ruled Haiti from 2004-2006. He was imprisoned on charges so
ridiculously fraudulent that Amnesty International designated him a "prisoner of
conscience" after his second illegal arrest by the Latortue regime. He was not
only arrested but treated with extremely brutality. His reaction to the
injustice he suffered was revealing of the type of man he was:

"I am a sinner, I forgive everybody who beat me, spit on my face, plotted
against me and my people, but I am sure the battle for democracy will
continue whether I die early or not. It is true, Twad [his nickname for me], they
will repent one day. I pray to God for that.".

He wanted to die in Haiti. He would say "If you see me very sick in Miami,
take me home."

His last travel to Haiti in early January of 2009. While there his
health deteriorated and his friends had to plead with him to get him to return
to Miami. He died on May 27 at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the age of 62.

Father Gerry always held his rosary. He fought with his rosary, and he died
with it. He famously told the Haitian court that finally dismissed all
charges against him that it was his only weapon. When I first traveled to the
United States, in 2007, he gave me a rosary before I left:

"Wadner, what you are doing? How can you travel without your rosary? Do you
know when God will call you? You need to be ready, my little brother."

Father Gerry was my Father, my hero, my mentor, and now, as far as I am
concerned, he is a Saint in heaven. Saint Geard Jean-Juste, I now dare to call
you my adoptive father. His story will continue. A new Haiti is possible.
He died for it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Haitian Government Raises Minimum Wage to $5.50 per day

May 19th, 2009

By Wadner

Haitian labor activists applauded the Preval administration's decision to raise the minimum wage in Haiti from 70 to 200 gourdes ($5.50 USD) per day. However, the increase has been strongly opposed by Haitian industrialists. Georges Sassine, president of ADIH (an association of Haitian industrialists) warned that the wage increase would cost tens of thousands of jobs. He claimed that similar minimum wage increases in Cambodia have proven disastrous.

HaitiAnalysis asked Jose Cordero, an economist with Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), to respond to the arguments that Georges Sassine and other businessmen have made against the increase. Cordero said ”In the case of Cambodia, I am not sure what disaster they are talking about, but I know that between 2004 and 2007 the country grew at about 11% per year. When inflation rose in 2008, and real wages declined, many factory workers left their jobs to go back to the country or to other informal activities which provide them more revenue than their work at a factory."

Cordero also pointed out that "Workers (especially those making only the minimum wage) have a higher propensity to consume than higher paid workers or company owners. They also have a lower propensity to import. These mean that a higher wage will likely increase aggregate spending, which could stimulate local production, and employment."

Georges Sassine was quoted by the Canadian online journal, the, as saying, "Do we want 100,000 jobs paying 200 gourdes (US$5) or 200,000 jobs at 100gourdes (US$2.50)? What's better? 200,000 people working if I were a politician"

Lavarice Gaudin, the leader of Veye-Yo, a Miami-based advocacy group for Haitian immigrants in the United States, also responded to the objections of the Haitian business community. Guadin, who studied economics, said in a telephone interview with HaitiAnalysis "The new bill fixing the minimum wage to 200 gourdes is obviously nothing, but somehow people like Georges Sassine, will, of course, oppose it because they have been made their profits by exploiting people's work."

Paul Chéry, secretary general of the Haitian Confederation of Workers (CTH), one of Haiti's largest labor organizations, recently noted that in- real terms - the Haitian minimum wage (before the increase to 200 gourdes) was actually lower today than it was 25 years ago.

Former President Jean Bertrand Aristride, who was twice ousted in coups supported by the Haitian business community (1991 and 2004), encountered fierce opposition from Haitian industrialists in 1995 when (shortly after being restored to power) he raised the minimum wage from 15 to 36 gourdes per day. Aristide won a second term in 2000 and during that term increased the minimum wage again to 70 gourdes per day. His government also banned some of the practices (like paying workers per piece) that garment factories have used to avoid paying the minimum wage. Others have questioned the strategy that Haitian industrialists have proposed of expanding low wage, export oriented manufacturing.

In 2007, Inter Press Service (IPS) interviewed Jude Bonhomme, a trained agronomist and a member of the Fédération nationale des paysans agricoles (FENATAPAO). Groups like his have argued for years that Haiti remains an agricultural society and that what it most urgently needs is to revise the fortunes of its peasants. Over the past thirty years, international pressure has forced Haiti to reduce its tariffs and open most of its markets to the world. This has strengthened a demographic shift in which poor rural populations, forced out of work, have moved to urban slums.

Haitians peasants also sustained a major blow during the 1980s when, due to pressure from the United States government, the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier wiped out the Creole pigs (porca) that were indigenous to Haiti. After that catastrophic policy, peasants struggled more than ever to survive. The pigs were crucial to the rural economy, known as the "bank account" of the peasants.

After satisfying local and foreign elites on so many other policy fronts, the Preval administration appears to have the maneuvering room needed to raise the abysmally low minimum wage. It is a positive step from an administration strongly criticized in recent months for its failure to hold legitimate senate elections and clean up Haiti's human rights record.

Ginette Apollon, President of Haiti's National Commission of Women Workers (CNFT), applauded the minimum wage increase while speaking at an annual forum sponsored by the Global Studies Association (GSA) in Florida. She believes that in area of labor reform, the Preval’s administration is doing its best within the constraints imposed on it. However, her talk dealt much more with the human rights situation in Haiti rather than it did with economics.

In 2005, she briefly joined the ranks of Haitian political prisoners under the UN backed Latortue dictatorship. She was arrested after attending a conference in Venezuela where she expressed strong opposition to the coup that deposed Haiti’s democratically elected government in 2004. At the time Apollon was accused of plotting with Venezuela to destabilize Latortue's regime. Her husband and his friend were also arrested when they met her at the airport upon her return to Haiti. The stress that came with the ordeal impacted her health.

Addressing academics and activists at the main lunch panel at the GSA conference, Apollon was passionate about the plight of Haiti's working class and the unemployed. At one point Apollon was heckled by Daniel Michaud, a supporter of Batay Ouvriye - a rival labor organization funded by the US government through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In support of Apollon, a number of audience participants criticized the role of foreign funding which they said manipulated Haiti's political landscape and raised the public profile of otherwise marginal groups.

In addition to labor conditions, Apollon spoke about the case of Haitian political prisoner Ronald Dauphin who has been illegally imprisoned since 2004. Due to the presence of appointee holdovers in Haiti's judiciary from the Latortue years, the transition to democracy in 2006 has not liberated Dauphin. In contrast, perpetrators of grave human rights abuses (like death squad leader Louis Jodel Chamblain) are free.

Apollon also spoke about Lovinsky Pierre Antoine, a prominent human rights activist who was an outspoken opponent of the Latortue regime. Antoine has also been a harsh critic of the raids UN troops launched into Haiti's poorest slum - ostensibly to root out common criminals. Antoine disappeared two years ago – shortly after he announced his intention to run for a candidate for the Haitian senate. Prior to his disappearance, Antoine had helped organize a large protest against UN secretary general Ban Kin Moon. The demonstration, which greeted the UN secretary general at the Port-au-Prince airport, declared Ban Kin Moon persona non grata. Preval, who was said to have been deeply embarrassed by the protest, has yet to comment publicly about Antoine's disappearance.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI LIBERTE newsweekly. For
the complete edition with other news in French and Creole, please contact
the paper at (tel) 718-421-0162, (fax) 718-421-3471 or e-mail at Also visit our website at

"Justice. Verite. Independance."


May 13 - 19, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 43
by Lily Cérat

On Saturday, May 2 in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, a mob of Dominican men with machetes tortured and then decapitated a Haitian named Carlos Nérilus. A Dominican man, Rusbert de Léon Lara, has taken responsibility for the beheading and was placed under arrest on May 6. Dominican police are still investigating circumstances surrounding the decapitation

The Dominican Foreign Ministry described the killings as an "incident between individuals" in a statement on May 5.

Haitian officials have called Nérilus' killing "barbarous" and questioned whether Dominican police could have prevented it. Before he was killed, Nérilus was beaten and tortured for hours before an applauding and laughing crowd without any intervention by Dominican police.

Haitian-Dominican leader Sonia Pierre, coordinator of the Movement of Haitian-Dominican Women (MUDHA), has spoken out about the murder. On May 7, she gave a long interview about the killing to "Haiti: The Struggle Continues" on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York. The same night, her house burned down.

Arson has not been ruled out. The Dominican Fire Department is investigating whether the blaze might have started from faulty electrical wiring. However, suspicion of foul play remains high in the DR's Haitian and Haitian-Dominican communities.

Pierre has been at the forefront of the debate surrounding citizenship for children born in the DR to Haitian immigrant parents. The Dominican government has sought to deny them citizenship.

Sonia Pierre has condemned Nérilus's brutal murder and the Dominican government's abuse and mistreatment of Haitian migrant workers, who began entering the DR in the 1950s as cane-cutters. Pierre, 47, was born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents who were recruited and contracted to cut cane when the Dominican sugar industry was at its zenith. For her outspoken stances, Sonia Pierre has often received threats, which leads many Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans to suspect arson.

"I will always maintain that beheading someone on a public square is a savage act," Sonia Pierre told this reporter in a telephone interview. "No one, black or white, Haitian or Dominican, should be treated like that As for the fire that destroyed my house, if it is found to be arson, I would be truly saddened by that. I am patriotic; I love my country and my culture. In my daily job, I only try to appeal to the greater humanistic and democratic ideals of my compatriots and government about the way all human-beings ought to be treated, Dominican or not. Xenophobia has no place in our country or in the world. Furthermore, my government must reprimand and take actions against media outlets that are propagating and inciting the citizenry to commit violent discriminatory acts and to take the law into their own hands."

The Haitian and international outrage over Nérilus' beheading has pushed Dominican reactionaries to new depths of anti-Haitian bluster and hatred. The killing was preceded in recent months by new waves of mass expulsions of Haitians.

"This is a barbaric act and it should be vehemently denounced by the Haitian government," said Marie Carmelle Paul-Austin, a former Haitian Education minister who now lives in the New York area. "In principle, our president or chief of government should firmly state their outrage, and recall our current ambassador, Mr. Fritz Cinéas, awaiting investigation, apology, dialogue and a communiqué from both governments to prevent a descent into chaos. Both governments are responsible to ensure that all citizens living on their lands are protected and respected. After all, we are not living in the dark ages."

Jocelyne Mayas is the founder of Empowerment Center for Caribbean Immigrants, a Brooklyn-based organization providing literacy and civic education to Haitian immigrants. "Human life is precious and must be respected and protected," she said of the Nérilus killing.

Mayas and her organization also support MUDHA's work in the bateys, the communities where Haitian cane cutters and laborers live.

"If the burning of Sonia's house is a case of arson, the Dominican government must tell its citizenry that such egregious acts are unacceptable," she said. "There has been a pattern of attacking Haitian immigrants, but it must not be tolerated."

Mayas is referring to the lynching and burning of three Haitian men about two years ago by a Dominican mob which believed them to be responsible for the murder of a Dominican woman store-owner. The killer was later found not to be a Haitian. "Three families lost loved ones in a situation where people took the law in their own hands and carried out despicable acts against a group whose primary crime seems to be simply that they were immigrants," Mayas said.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti share an island, history and culture, but they have often not been good neighbors. Years of conditioning in schools and at home helps to pit Dominicans against their Haitian neighbors. Haiti occupied the Dominican Republic for years in the early 19th century to preempt European attempts to recolonize Haiti. The former French colony achieved independence in 1804, decades before other Latin American colonies. In fact, the Dominican side of the island which Haiti invaded was controlled by Spanish colonizers, who had returned to take possession of Santo Domingo. The Dominican state had not yet been created.

The 1937 massacre of tens of thousands of Haitians by the Trujillo regime created an equally bitter memory for Haitians.

Some Dominicans complain that too many Haitians cross over the porous border into their country looking for work. They ignore that Dominican agro-businesses and construction companies continue to go to Haiti to recruit people for cheap labor. Furthermore, many Dominican businesses rely on financial and commercial activities along the border. Haiti is the number one importer of Dominican goods and products. The two governments must continue to dialogue and devise strategies to control and secure their borders.

"It is really sad, what's going on over there," said a North American woman in New York, who follows the Haitian-Dominican situation. She spoke on condition of anonymity. "After all, the reason why it is so cheap to vacation in the Dominican Republic, like nowhere else in the region, is because of the nearly slave-like wages the Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans are paid. Those folks, although voiceless and nameless, contribute heavily to the boost and development of the Dominican Republic."

Indeed, Haitian and Haitian-Dominican labor predominates in the DR's vast construction sites, hotels, resorts, farms and road projects."Many Americans and Germans vacation in the Dominican Republic," the woman said. "They need to be made aware that their presence as tourists on that side of the island is nothing less than turning their heads away from victims of a neo-holocaust situation."

par Kim Ives

Singers Martha Jean-Claude and Farah Juste are both symbols of their respective generations.

After General Paul Magloire's dictatorship imprisoned her for publishing a play deemed subversive, Martha fled Haiti in 1952 to exile in Cuba, where she became a famous singer on Havana's night club circuit and later a prominent supporter of the Cuban Revolution. She also became a symbol of Haitian-Cuban solidarity.

In 1966, Farah also fled a dictatorship, that of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Like Martha, she began a career of singing politically engaged songs at a young age, first with the "Soley Leve" [Rising Sun] collective in 1972, and then later as a solo artist.

Using their great talents, both singers articulated an anti-dictatorship and anti-imperialist message.

Before her death on November 14, 2001, Martha asked that Farah record an album reprising several of Martha's most well-known compositions. In 2008, Farah traveled to Cuba where she recorded an album entitled "A Tribute to Martha Jean-Claude," accompanied by the musicians that used to play with Martha. The album was arranged and produced by Richard Mirabal, Martha's son and one of her principal musicians.

On May 17, 2009, Farah Juste will perform many compositions from that album at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. It will be her first major New York performance in many years.

Farah, also known as "La Reine Soleil" [the Sun Queen], presently lives in Miami, where she has presented a Haitian Independence Day concert every Jan. 1 for the past 25 years. This past Jan 1, some 3,000 people jammed into Miami's prestigious Carnival Center for the Performing Arts to hear her repertoire from the new album and her old stand-by songs.

The new album and repertoire includes "Chanson pour Martha" [A Song for Martha], a special, touching tribute Farah wrote to Martha.

Her performance will also include such show stoppors as "Haiti Demain" and her signature song "Alleluia for Haiti."
The May 17 concert will include other upcoming Haitian artists: Frero and Lovely with the acclaimed new group "Les Rois d'Afrique" [The Kings of Africa]; Elektra and Jensen from the compas juggernaut Phantoms; King Wawa, a reggae / compas crossover act from California; and Wooly Saint Louis Jean, a gifted vocalist coming direct from Haiti.

Farah Juste will also autograph copies of her new Martha album, which will be on sale at the show.

Farah is part of a generation of great women artists including Annette "So An" Auguste, Myriam Dorismé, Fedia Laguerre, Toto Bissainthe, and Carol Demesmin. They all to different degrees participated in the anti-Duvalierist struggle and viewed Martha Jean-Claude as a model and pioneer.

"It's natural that I struggle for social justice," Martha said in an interview explaining the political nature of many of her 50 songs and 8 albums. "To sing the song of the peasants, that's what is in my heart. I lean toward these people. My songs are what one calls protest ballads."

Sunday's event is sponsored by Haiti Liberté newsweekly in conjunction with the Medgar Evers Haitian Student Association, the Medgar Evers Student Government, and the Medgar Evers French Language Department. It will commemorate the creation of the Haitian Flag in Archaie on May 18, 1803 and also Haitian Mother's Day, which is celebrated later in May than U.S. Mothers Day.

(For tickets or more information, call Haiti Liberté at 718-421-0162. Tickets cost $25 in advance until Saturday, May 16 and $30 at the door. Tickets are also available from Radio Pa Nou at 810 Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn and at many other locations throughout the New York City region.)


This Thursday, May 14, from 9:00 - 11:00 p.m. over WBAI 99.5 FM and WWW.WBAI.ORG, please join "Haiti: The Struggle Continues" for news and commentaries about Haiti and Haitians around the world.

In this special 2-hour edition of "Haiti: The Struggle Continues" we will provide a comprehensive report on this past Sunday's talk by Annette "So An" Auguste in Brooklyn on the difficulties in the Lavalas Family party.

The Haitian Collective at WBAI, which produces the program, can be reached at 917-251-6057 or

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2009



At the G-20 Summit in London in April, the U.S. committed to provide $100 billion in new resources to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to respond to the global recession. Given the IMF's dubious track record in supporting poor countries to achieve equitable economic growth, Congress should take a careful, deliberate approach to approving this funding. As part of its consideration, Congress should require significant IMF reform and the allocation of a portion of planned IMF gold sales for expanded poor country debt relief.

However, without a single oversight hearing, the IMF funding package may be slipped into an $84 billion emergency spending bill moving through the Senate at the 11th hour this week!

Congress has previously rushed through financial bailouts without adequate safeguards or oversight, and should not repeat the same mistake. With such large sums and broad new authorities proposed, Congress must ensure open and transparent debate on the role and policies of the IMF. Hastily attaching IMF funding to a fast-moving emergency spending bill will not allow for the perspectives of poor countries and civil society advocates to be heard.

Please contact your Senators immediately: the Senate Appropriations Committee will mark-up the wartime supplemental bill on the afternoon of Thursday, May 14. It is at this time that an amendment may be offered to attach $100 billion for the IMF. Call your Senator today via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and urge him/her to oppose an amendment to attach IMF funding to the wartime supplemental. Instead, Congress should hold hearings on IMF reform, support gold sales for debt relief, and require real IMF reform in exchange for any new funding from the US.

Sample Script

Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator's office.

"My name is ___________ and I'm calling from _______________[city/state]. I am calling to ask Senator ___________ to support an open and transparent review of funding for the International Monetary Fund. I am concerned that the Senate may rush to approve funding for the IMF without the oversight necessary to ensure this funding will be used effectively. IMF policies have undermined poor countries ability to provide health and education to their citizens, and funding should not be approved until these concerns are addressed. I urge Senator ____________ to speak with Senate and Appropriations Committee leadership in support of an open, transparent and deliberate review process before funding is approved. Thank you."

It is especially important to contact Senators who sit on the Appropriations Committee. Even if your Senator is not a member of the committee, your call matters.

Additional Background

* While developing countries clearly need funds to be able to cope with the global crisis, Congress should resist calls to expand the purse of the IMF without requiring measurable, meaningful reform that will eliminate IMF conditions that stifle economic growth and social protection, and set the stage for a new external debt crisis.
* There is no need to rush this funding. In the past, the IMF has exacerbated the effect of economic crises in poor countries, so it's more important for Congress to ensure this is done right rather than done quickly. Moreover, the IMF currently has more than enough resources to meet any urgent needs that would come up while Congress responsibly deliberates new resources.
* Congress should ensure that new IMF loans do not set the stage for the next debt crisis. Of the $1 trillion in support announced by the G-20, 2.5% is devoted for the poorest countries. Additional funds - on more beneficial terms and without harmful conditions - should be made available to the poorest. Congress should require the Treasury Secretary to advocate within the IMF to use some of the revenue from its already planned gold sales and/or other related sources of income to provide at least $5 billion in non debt creating assistance to the world's poorest countries - either via debt relief or grants.
* The IMF should stop imposing contractionary policies in a time of recession. The G-20 committed to increase resources for the IMF to provide countries with resources for a global stimulus - yet the IMF continues to impose contractionary monetary and fiscal policies which will exacerbate recessions in recipient countries. The Fund's loans since September 2008 to countries rocked by the financial crisis almost uniformly require budget cuts, wage freezes, and interest rate hikes. Recipient countries' economies vary widely, and a one-size-fits-all IMF policy prescription is inappropriate.
* The IMF must be more accountable by requiring parliamentary approval for its loans. Currently, the IMF negotiates and obtains approval for loans from the executive branch of recipient countries, leaving little room for democratic debates over the content and terms of new loans. A requirement for parliamentary approval of IMF loans would help to ensure greater democratic participation and transparency, as well as a safeguard against corruption.
* The IMF should stop impeding increased health and education spending through policies that limit government spending or wage bill ceilings. The IMF has made promises to eliminate wage bill ceilings as conditions for lending, but it continues to implement these in some cases, and it continues to direct countries to accept policies that limit overall government spending flexibility. Such policies should be eliminated.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009


This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI LIBERTE newsweekly. For
the complete edition with other news in French and Creole, please contact
the paper at (tel) 718-421-0162, (fax) 718-421-3471 or e-mail at Also visit our website at

"Justice. Verite. Independance."


May 6 - 12, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 42

by Marquez Osson

Daniel Simidor is a well-known Haitian ultra-left commentator and an outspoken supporter of the 2001-2004 imperialist destabilization campaign and the February 29, 2004 coup d'état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's elected government.

It's therefore not surprising that Daniel Simidor today supports the on-going coup at New York's leading community radio station, WBAI 99.5 FM, part of the five-station Pacifica Radio network.

The WBAI coup is being led by a Pacifica's Interim Executive Director, Grace Aaron of Los Angeles (a devotee of L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology), along with the Pacifica National Board majority and the WBAI Local Station Board (LSB) majority. Exploiting a very real financial crisis at the station, they want to replace community-based programs with more "professional" and middle-class-oriented shows in an effort to attract a more affluent listenership to support the station.

It is reported that Aaron and her backers have fired this week WBAI's General Manager Tony Riddle and are on the verge of ousting long-time Program Director Bernard White.

In an April 23 email to a Pacifica listserve, Simidor lent his support to this coup, calling for Pacifica management to use "a strong broom." He denounced "Wake Up Call" producer Errol Maitland for on-air remarks he made about Mitchell Cohen, an Aaron ally on the LSB. A gag rule has since been imposed on programmers dissenting from the station's take-over.

Simidor then went on to invent an absurd account of his own brief passage in the early stages of the Haitian Collective at WBAI, which produces the weekly program "Haiti: The Struggle Continues," now heard from 9-10 p.m. on Thursday nights.

The political split within the Haitian Collective surfaced in December 2002, the month that pro-imperialist Haitian opposition leaders were meeting in the Dominican Republic under the aegis of Washington's National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a cousin agency of the CIA. Also at that time, Washington-backed Haitian contras known as "rebels" were stepping up their deadly attacks across the border from the neighboring Dominican Republic, the Pentagon gave the Dominican Army 10,000 new M-16s, and the Haitian opposition adopted a no-negotiations stance. It was in this context that Simidor chose to write an open letter calling on President Aristide to resign.

Even after the repressive coup regime of Gérard Latortue was put in place under the protection of U.S., French and Canadian occupation troops, Simidor and ultra-leftist groups like Batay Ouvriye, SELA, MOKAM, et al. continued to defend the coup.

"While the September 30, 1991 coup d'état was a great loss for the people, the February 29, 2004 coup d'état does not at all represent a loss for the Haitian people," they wrote in a March 2004 text titled Kriz la (The Crisis).

Simidor even applauded when U.S. occupation troops arrested popular leader Annette "So An" Auguste in the middle of the night after assaulting her home, killing her dogs, and handcuffing and head-bagging her 5-year-old grandchild.

"So Ann was arrested in the middle of the night? Well, well, maybe the Haitian National Police feared that with a warning she would, like any able mambo [vodou priestess], use her "pwen disparet" [disappearing spell] to melt into the background," he wrote in May 2004 on Bob Corbett's Haiti mailing list. "Some Lavalas incorrigibles are complaining there was no mandate for her arrest. But of course there was one: people had been clamoring for weeks for So Ann to be brought to justice. It is to [de facto Haitian Justice Minister Bernard] Gousse's credit that he held back this long. Some silly goose (no minister of mine) will be clamoring next for her release, supposedly because the law says she must be brought in front of her natural judges within 48 hours. As if Lavalas ever bothered with such niceties. The author of this note knows and worked with So Ann for several years in Brooklyn, and has had many reasons to admire her activism and her personal talent with the folk song. I also know her talent in surrounding herself with all kinds of opportunists and shady elements. The public outcry in Port-au-Prince is that she was the intermediate between Aristide and various gangs in Belair, Delmas and Cité Soleil. Let there be a fair trial, and if she is vindicated, I'll be the first one to applaud. OK, I'll send flowers..."

So An spent two and a half years in a tiny, squalid cell with no trial, and for much of that time, without even any charges. The ordeal devastated her health, her finances and her family. And Simidor thinks it's all a joke.

Bernard Gousse was also an arch-reactionary who directed some of the 2004-2006 coup's worst repression and massacres. But Simidor lamented his departure in 2005. "Justice minister Bernard Gousse is an intellectual, a man of ideas, somehow that makes him a bad minister," Simidor wrote on Corbett's list (message #25406).

At about the same time, Simidor would vigorously besmirch two studies - one by the Miami Law School and the other by the British medical journal The Lancet - which were extremely damaging to Latortue's coup regime and the occupation by exposing the massacre of the popular masses.

"By selecting Feb. 29, 2004 as their start up date, the authors of the Lancet study created a definite bias that invited every tendency toward exaggeration, plus a good measure of empathy with their perceived goals on the part of respondents," Simidor wrote (Corbett message #29138 Sep. 12, 2006).

Meanwhile, the NED was funneling tens of thousands of dollars to Simidor's "left-wing" associates in Batay Ouvriye. This union was one of the coup's most vociferous cheerleaders: "Down with the bloodthirsty Lavalas thieves, criminals," Batay Ouvriye wrote on December 20, 2003 .

Batay Ouvriye got support from the Solidarity Center, one of NED's "labor" tentacles. The union recognizes this.

"Batay Ouvriye appealed for international solidarity and various organizations answered our appeal, amongst them, the Solidarity Center," Batay Ouvriye wrote. "The Solidarity Center proposed to support two instances of our struggles, one in Port-au-Prince and the other in [the northeast town of] `Ounaminthe. They looked for funds to contribute, and that was the root of all the trouble: the funds originated from the NED, an imperialist agency that tries to thwart popular struggles all over the world, and the Solidarity Center itself has taken an active part in various reactionary imperialist plots, particularly in attempts to overthrow Chavez, among others."

In the face of a firestorm of outcry over the funding, this was Batay Ouvriye's response: "Batay Ouvriye has accepted various forms of solidarity. In this, we took into account the various contradictions amidst the class struggles, nationally and internationally. In the fight against Disney, for example, we accepted solidarity from many currents. Some offered a politically limited solidarity on a humanitarian basis. We accepted it. But we always clearly showed its limits and, in some cases, its reactionary nature." (Clarification, Dec 16, 2005).

The Haitian community is politically sophisticated. It knows how to follow the money and the guns. We look at whom the imperialists are funding to know whom they like. And we look at whose opposition they are arming to know whom they don't like.

Simidor, Batay Ouvriye and other ultra-leftists try to obfuscate this simple and reliable logic.

(To stay abreast of events at WBAI, go to or contact or call 212-591-2111. Also listen to


On Wednesday, April 22, by a unanimous vote of 51 to 0, the City Council passed a resolution introduced by Council Member Mathieu Eugene (D-Brooklyn, 40th District) supporting the Congressional Haitian Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 144), which urges the U.S. government to designate nationals of Haiti eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. TPS would permit eligible Haitian nationals already living in the United States to remain in this country temporarily while Haiti recovers from its current wave of political difficulties and natural disasters, which have combined to create a state of grinding poverty, social instability, hunger and death. If granted, Haiti would join six other countries now receiving TPS: Burundi, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan.

The passage of this resolution in support of H.R. 144 was the result of wide-ranging and sustained efforts by Council Member Eugene, who first introduced legislation regarding TPS for Haitians in September 2008 when he also went before the Congressional Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere to advocate for this designation. He wrote to President Barack Obama and to US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano urging them to grant TPS to Haitians and met with members of Congress, including New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer asking them to support the measure. Subsequently, Senators Schumer and Patrick Leahy wrote to President Obama, expressing support for granting TPS to Haitians.

"It is impossible to describe the devastation wreaked upon the entire country, reaching every city, town and village," Eugene told his colleagues at a City Council hearing. "In total, these storms caused more than $1 billion in damage - approximately 50% of Haiti's GDP - and reversed much of the progress made after the destruction of hurricane Jeanne in 2004."

At a City Hall press conference, Eugene also defended the Haitian nationals who would be eligible for TPS: "These are people who have been living in the United States, contributing to the fabric of this country, paying their taxes and raising their children. If they were deported back to Haiti, we would be breaking up families and traumatizing children. We simply cannot sit back and do nothing while people who help make our City strong and prosperous are sent back to a country that can barely sustain its current population."

The resolution came to the floor of the City Council for a vote with strong support, including 34 co-sponsors.

"By voting in this resolution, we are sending a strong message to Washington that we who serve in the New York City Council believe that all men are created equal and should be treated with equal justice and fairness," Eugene said.

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

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dominican Republic's Violence Against Haitians: Time to Act, Not Just Condemn

May 8th, 2009

by Wadner Pierre-

A Haitian man was beheaded on May 1 in the Santo Domingo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires as onlookers applauded. Some reportedly used their cell phones to film the murder.

According to news reports. the murder was in reprisal for the beheading of Dominican man - a crime allegedly perpetrated by a Haitian national who remains at large.

The Dominican Republic (DR) and Haiti share the island of Hispaniola. Approximately 1 million Haitians live in the DR - typically doing the most arduous and undesirable work available in agriculture and construction. They are regularly subjected to mob violence and other abuse.

Haiti's foreign minister, Alrich Nicolas, called the lynching "barbarous" and delivered an official protest to the Dominican authorities. I am much more impressed by an open letter sent to Haitian President Rene Preval, which I published on my blog,

A Haitian woman who lives aboard, asked the Preval's administration to act, not only to condemn. Indeed, we must press the Dominican Republic for reparations for its many crimes against Haitians.

The DR allowed itself to be used as a staging ground for rebels who helped overthrow Haiti's democratically elected government in 2004. In 1994, when the US finally ordered Haiti's military government to step down, the DR provided refuge to many of its most notorious members. Most infamously, there was the Parsley Massacre of 1937.

That year, that US backed dictator of the DR, Rafael Trujillo, decided to unilaterally redraw the boundary between the countries. Between 18,000 to 35,000 Haitians were massacred. A US brokered agreement obliged the DR to pay about $29 per officially recognized death. Shortly after the killing spree, US Secretary of State Cordell Hull said that Trujillo "is one of the greatest men in Central America and in most of South America."

I cry out for my fellow Haitians who have been mistreated for so long in the DR. As a Haitian, I carry with me the abuse and humiliation that my brothers and sisters have accumulated for so long in the neighboring republic. The Haitian government should go to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and demand justice for thousands that had been murdered and abused. Today with our supposedly democratic government, and with all the human rights groups that exist, it doesn't seem like too much to ask.

We share this island with our brothers and sisters in the DR. Racism destroys our ability to live in peace with one another. I wish Dominicans would explore why there is so much hatred of us in their country. In fairness, during the early 1800s Haitian troops invaded the DR - unsuccessfully attempting to deny foreign powers a base from which to attack Haiti. Today, Haiti has no army at all. In fact, the Aristide government provoked hostility in the DR by disbanding Haiti's army and thereby denying the DR's military a credible reason to exist.

Like this Haitian woman, I am tired of counting our corpses in the DR. Our government must use this case to put an end to the targeting of Haitians in the DR once and for all.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lavalas Flexes its Muscles in Haiti

Kevin Pina,
San Francisco Bay View, News Report, Posted: May 04, 2009

Haiti’s Lavalas movement effectively destroyed the credibility of the April 19 Senate election through a successful boycott campaign called Operation Closed Door. Even the most generous electoral count puts participation at less than 10 percent in the capital of Port-au-Prince, while the actual figure may be as low as 3 percent nationwide.

According to Rene Civil, one of the spokespersons for Operation Closed Door: “What we are seeing is the non-violent resistance of the Haitian people to undemocratic elections. There is no way they will be able to call the senators elected in this process legitimate. You cannot hold elections without the majority political party.”

Ronald Fareau, another representative of the campaign, stated: “We want to congratulate the international community for their hypocrisy in these elections. They spent over $17 million on another electoral fraud in Haiti while our people continue to suffer from malnutrition and illiteracy.”

The controversy over the election began when factions of the Fanmi Lavalas party originally presented two slates of candidates to the Conseil Electoral Provisoire or CEP. In an apparent attempt to wrest control from Aristide, one faction led by former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune questioned the legitimacy of the slate presented by the former president’s appointed representative, Dr. Maryse Narcisse. Neptune’s faction presented a second slate, but in the end the Fanmi Lavalas party’s leadership managed to hammer out a compromise list of candidates in time to meet the deadline.

The CEP finally refused to accept the Fanmi Lavalas applications on the grounds they did not have former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s personal signature from exile in South Africa. The CEP reportedly would not allow for a facsimile copy of his signature on the documents when they were presented on the final day of the application deadline. This effectively excluded all Fanmi Lavalas candidates from participating in the election and led to the boycott of the Senate elections on Sunday.

Neptune and other members of his faction within the Fanmi Lavalas party called for participation in the election despite the nationwide boycott. Early Sunday morning Neptune said publicly on a local radio program, “We must vote today if we are to keep the integrity of the democratic process.”
When asked on Radio Caraibe’s Ranmase program if he had a message for voters, Neptune responded, “Vote well.” The success of yesterday’s boycott was taken as a referendum of support for Aristide by the base of the Lavalas movement in the much-touted internal party conflict.

Although there were some reports of sporadic violence in yesterday’s elections between supporters of current president Rene Preval’s Lespwa party and its rival, L’Union, the disruptions were isolated to a single city, Mirebalais, in the country’s Central Plateau region.

There were largely no reports of violence or voting irregularities in the capital, where streets and polling stations remained deserted throughout the day. The only incident occurred in the seaside shantytown of Cite Soleil after a member of the L’Union party was accused of handing out money and food to bribe voters.

Private vehicles and motorcycles were banned during the election as they were during the presidential election in February 2006. Where long lines formed at the polls early in the day on Feb. 7, 2006, polling stations remained virtually empty on Sunday due to the Lavalas boycott.

Five Lavalas hunger strikers continued to occupy Haiti’s parliament building in an effort to draw attention to their party’s exclusion from the election. They vowed to continue until the election is nullified and demanded that it be held over again during upcoming national elections scheduled for November.
On the following day, thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the parliament to support the hunger strikers as SWAT teams with the Haitian National Police, backed by U.N. military personnel, surrounded the building.

Popular initiative calls for removal of Bush appointee

A spokesperson for grassroots organizations aligned with Haiti’s Fanmi Lavalas party demanded the Obama administration remove current U.S. Ambassador Janet Sanderson. Reached by telephone in the capital of Port-au-Prince, a leader of a group calling itself the Popular Initiative stated, “She is lying about last Sunday’s elections by not acknowledging it was our boycott that kept voters away.”
He continued, “She claims it was because this was not a regular election year and that people may be tired of the political process. The only voter fatigue we have in Haiti is with undemocratic elections. Allow Fanmi Lavalas to participate and we’ll show you the voters have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for an authentic democratic process. She is out of touch with reality in Haiti.”

Haiti held controversial Senate elections last week that were boycotted by Fanmi Lavalas after all of their candidates were excluded on procedural grounds. Voters mostly stayed at home on Election Day after Lavalas launched a campaign called Operation Closed Door. The Obama administration is widely seen as having green lighted the contested elections after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Haiti three days prior to the ballot.

The Popular Initiative has also called for a re-evaluation of U.S. policy in Haiti by the Obama administration, claiming that its current direction is a holdover from the Bush administration. A second spokesperson in the conference call declared, “It is time for a real change in Haiti and that can only come by breaking with the past, which means the policies of the Bush administration. A good place to start is with the removal of Ambassador Sanderson, who was put in place by the Bush government.”

They also blamed Ambassador Janet Sanderson for pressuring the Preval administration to issue arrest warrants for 42 of the organizers of the election boycott, including five hunger strikers who were forced out of the parliament building by police earlier on Monday, the day after the election.

“She made remarks on the radio that the organizers should be investigated. Since then several of our people have been forced into hiding, including Rene Civil and Nawoon Marcellus. They have invented a new and bizarre charge, ‘obstruction of democracy,’” concluded the spokesperson.

At a press conference yesterday, the Popular Initiative and other groups aligned with Lavalas announced they would step up the pressure for the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide from exile in the Republic of South Africa. They declared May and June months of mass mobilization against elections that exclude Lavalas and to fight what they call the “growing misery and poverty as a result of the removal of our democratically elected president on Feb. 29, 2004.”

Kevin Pina is special correspondent to Flashpoints, heard weekdays at 5 p.m. on KPFA 94.1 and dozens of other stations nationwide. Haiti Information Project (HIP), winner of the Project Censored 2008 Real News Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, is a non-profit alternative news service providing coverage and analysis of breaking developments in Haiti. Email HIP at To learn more, visit

Monday, May 4, 2009

Haiti needs U.S. support for democracy

Ansel Herz

Daily Texan Guest Columnist

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Published: Friday, May 1, 2009

Updated: Friday, May 1, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood on the floor of a textile factory in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, earlier this month and talked about America’s commitment to the island nation. “I pledge we will do more to create more good jobs for the people of Haiti,” she told an audience of textile workers.

Sounds good, right? But when Clinton finished her speech with a smile, the applause was muted. Many of the workers could not understand her speech because it was not translated into Kreyol, the language spoken by the vast majority of Haitians. Clinton’s obliviousness is typical of policy makers who ignore a deeply flawed democratic process in Haiti, while pushing anti-poverty schemes against Haiti from afar.

Clinton, along with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, is touting a plan devised by Oxford economist Paul Collier to expand tariff-free export zones around Haiti. The plan calls for Haiti to lift urban slum-dwellers out of poverty through jobs in textile factories, like the Inter-American Garment Factory at which Clinton spoke.

There is little popular demand in Haiti for this maquiladora-style development. Workers at the factory assembling clothes for American companies like Levi’s are paid twice Haiti’s minimum wage, but they have complained to Al Jazeera English, the English version of the Arabic-language news network, that the wages are still so low that the workers cannot escape poverty.
The former president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whose Lavalas party has enjoyed overwhelming support among Haitians in many elections, tried during the 1990s to triple the minimum wage. But under pressure from U.S. officials and people like Andy Apaid, a Haitian who owns numerous sweatshops and the garment factory that hosted Clinton, Aristide was forced to drastically scale back the wage increase.

In 2004, Apaid and other members of the tiny Haitian elite successfully conspired to overthrow Aristide with the help of the U.S. government. Aristide was flown out of the country on a U.S. jet surrounded by Marines and dumped in Central African Republic. Aristide says he was kidnapped and still has not returned to Haiti.

Aristide and Lavalas represent a grassroots threat to the centuries-old status quo in Haiti and international interests that have exploited it. Aristide raised taxes on the rich, launched highly effective literacy and anti-AIDS programs and built schools and hospitals across the country during his two presidential terms, each cut short by U.S.-backed coups.

The Lavalas party has tried to carry on amid continuing repression. A heavily armed U.N. peacekeeping force has repeatedly shelled and occupied Cite Soleil, a slum outside the capital and one of Lavalas’ strongest bases of support.
Many of the party’s leaders were imprisoned on bogus charges by the post-coup regime, and without Aristide the party is less united than it once was.

Lavalas was banned from last week’s Haitian Senate elections by the government’s Provisional Electoral Council because of a technical problem with the list of candidates it submitted. A judge who ruled that the council’s decision was illegal was promptly stripped of his post by the Haitian government.

Like the rebel force of slaves that defeated Napoleon’s armies and founded Haiti, however, Lavalas and its agenda of social uplift have not been easily marginalized. The organization called for a boycott of the Senate elections from which it was banned, and Haitians heeded the call — voter turnout on April 19 was estimated at less than 10 percent.
Popular Haitian demands include revitalization of local peasant economies, debt cancellation, temporary protected status for immigrants in the United States and the return of Aristide. The Obama administration has already pledged $20 million to pay off part of Haiti’s illegitimate debt to the World Bank. That’s a start.

The mentality that the “international community” knows what is best for Haiti’s poor has been discredited by decades of worsening poverty. Strong support from the Obama administration for democracy in Haiti, including the participation of Lavalas, would represent change Haitians can believe in and so desperately need.

Herz is a journalism senior.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Living the Dream

By Sarah LadY, Sonoma State University

The passion and motivation come from the heart for Wadner Pierre, an independent journalist and an all-around inspiring person. Interesting is an understatement to describe Wadner. He is good-hearted, true and dedicated. It is clearly present in his daily life and all the work he does. He is very thankful and blessed for everything he has been given. His life is about using his writing to spread the truth. Most of his writing is influenced by his home country of Haiti, but he also writes on other issues that affect everyone. He wants to increase awareness and give perspective to the world.

Born in 1983 in the city of Gonaives in the Artibonite province of Haiti. Wadner has eight half brothers and sisters. He is currently visiting California from his home in Port-au-Prince, where he writes for the Inter Press Service and other independent news outlets. He is a co-founder and contributor to, a media collective of young journalists from Haiti, the United States and abroad. In 2007, he won an award from Project Censored for his outstanding coverage of the largely overlooked conflicts currently taking place in Haiti. Many of Wadner’s photos are used in magazines throughout the world, such as Human Rights Network Magazine. During his time here in Sonoma county, he has had articles in the Bay View Newspaper, Press Democrat, and different Sonoma State University mediums. Although, Wadner has not been in the journalist field for long, he has received more awards and accomplishments than some do in a lifetime.

Wadner is very dedicated to his family, friends, and pursuing his dreams. He is focused on all of those important aspects of his life. Belief in himself, and God has helped, guided him to where he is today. It is hard for the citizens of Haiti to break free from their routine and live outside the normal lifestyle. Wadner has proven to do more than just separate himself from the rest, but create a successful and fulfilling life.

Besides writing, Wadner enjoys insightful conversation with interesting people, biking, and thinking. On his days off, he likes to engage in church activities and hangout with friends. Since, he’s began his career as a independent journalist only two years ago, he has already experienced a world full of adventure. He has traveled to many different places, met many interesting people, and made many lasting memories. He is very happy and excited with where his life is leading him. He is so appreciative to be able to travel and continue his true passion. Wadner is motivated for the future and all the journeys he will experience. He likes to take one day at a time and knows things will workout the way God intends them to.

I Met A student, a Writer At Sonoma State University, Ca

Below is what she wrote about me, about my conversation with her.
Erin Guenther

All he wants is peace and love. A self-proclaimed man of the world, Wadner
Pierre is unlike any other person you will ever meet. He dreams of a world
where everyone can have access to the things that make them happy; peace,
love, food, and education.

It’s hard to explain just how captivating he is. After talking with him I
cannot help but feel enlightened and motivated to do something for the
world. It’s rare to find someone who shows such dedication and passion to
make changes in their country like Pierre does.

A native of Haiti, a country plagued with political turmoil and civil
unrest, Pierre came to SSU this spring to increase his knowledge of the
English language and the American culture. He still continues to try to
make a difference.

“If there is a problem in one country, it is a problem for the whole
world,” said Pierre. With the amount of turmoil in Haiti, he is on a
mission to show the world what a Haitian’s life is really like.

“It is my dream to meet people, talk and spend time with them, and tell
their story,” he said.

Pierre began documenting the plight of the Haitian people as a
photographer and journalist in August 2006, when his first article about
the release of political prisoners arrested by an illegal government was
printed. Since then, he has been writing, photographing and making his
voice heard, publishing in several newspapers and winning awards.

“That’s my dream, but I can still do more,” Pierre thought to himself
after his first article was published by the Institute for Justice and
Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).

In early 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned as President of Haiti, some
say at the hands of Canada, France, and the United States, creating some
of the worst political turmoil the country has ever seen. With the uproar
caused by the resignation and the swearing in of current president
Boniface Alexandre, the UN established a resolution authorizing a
stabilization mission known as MINUSTAH.

Originally aimed at increasing security and protection during the
electoral period and to assist with the restoration and maintenance of the
rule of law, public safety and public order in Haiti, MINUSTAH is
responsible for more political disorder and is accused of murdering many
civilians. Critics of the resolution fell that it’s alter, and true,
mission is to stop the election of the popular vote in Haiti in order to
assist the “imperialist” agenda of Canada, France and the U.S.

MINUSTAH seems to have now focused all of its attention on “gangsters,”
storming the cities of Cite Soleil and Port-au-prince in an attempt to
gain control of the area. In several of these raids, many innocent
Haitians have been arrested or killed. Estimates on one such example range
from five to 80, with no MINUSTAH fatalities.

Revolts and protests for the return of President Aristide continue
throughout the area, with MINUSTAH personnel constantly thwarting and
arresting those involved.

Pierre’s activism began at age 14 when he worked with Father Gerard
Jean-Juste, a local activist with a mission to help everyone in a
religious youth group.

“Jean-Juste represented hope for our community,” said Pierre. Jean-Juste
was arrested twice for his political opinions by the illegal government,
and it was these arrests that inspired Pierre to do something. After his
release, Jean-Juste continued to fight for the return of Aristide.

“We couldn’t just look at the problem,” said Pierre. “We had to fight,
fight, fight. And we fought, and we fought, and we fought.”

Pierre continued to fight by documenting the events in Haiti, regularly
writing articles for “The Haiti Analysis” and other political activism
sites, stressing the importance of independent journalism.

“We need independent journalists and photojournalists. The world is
thirsty for the truth and the truth is a duty for all journalists,” he

His photography is used by many other news sources and while at SSU he
posts photos and other updates on his online blog

An immeasurable amount of passion is reflected in his photography. He
explained that words may be able to explain a situation, but it cannot
touch someone’s heart. A picture can hit someone deep within and bring out
emotions, so they may truly understand what is happening around the world.

“I like to photograph and register the voice of the people, to translate
what they say, what they want,” he said.

A snapshot of his work, "The Haiti Experience: a Struggle for Liberty" was
featured in the Sonoma State Student Union until March 7. The exhibit
showcased over 20 photographs and writing excerpts by the photojournalist
about the traumatic struggles Haiti has endured since the removal of
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February of 2004.

Although he never truly wanted much recognition, Pierre’s work has
received a lot of attention and awards. Project Censored recently honored
Pierre for his article about the horrible way the UN was treating Haitian
civilians. The article, “HAITI: Poor Residents of Capital Describe a State
of Siege” can be viewed at

“I cried I was so happy,” said Pierre. “My work is being followed by the
world and I have some support from the American people.”

“I believe I can change something in my country,” he said. “I don’t wish
to die without using my mind, my knowledge to do something for my country
and the world. I love the change. I believe I can make change.”

Friday, May 1, 2009

Haiti's Electoral Farce Continues in June of 2009

by Wadner Pierre

As widely predicted, Haiti's senatorial elections of April 19 were boycotted by the overwhelming majority of the electorate. Two days ago, as if to deliberately invite more ridicule, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced that there were no winners in the first round for 12 vacant senate seats that were contested. Haiti has a 30 seat senate. A second round of the discredited elections will take place on June 7. However, the vote in the Haiti's Central Plateau has been cancelled due to fear of violence.

Government officials have claimed that turnout was 11% but many political organizations say it was 2-3% - consistent with a pre-election survey by the Florida-based advocacy organization Haiti Priorities Project (HPP). Regardless of the exact figure, no one is disputing that turnout was extremely low. U.S. Ambassador Janet Sanderson attempted to dismiss the significance of low turnout by saying

"Historically, off-year elections in the United States as well as in other countries tend not to be as well-attended as presidential elections. We'll have to see."

However, in 2006, turnout was 30%, according to UN officials, for legislative elections held months after Rene Preval won the presidency.

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, gently chastised the Haitian people.

"Indifference is harmful for a democratic process that requires a strong interaction between political actors and governments".

In fact, outrage, rather than indifference, explains why voters stayed away. The boycott was provoked by the CEP's disqualification of candidates put forward by Famni Lavalas (FL), the party of deposed president Jean Bertrand Aristide. International donors, embarrassed by the CEP decision, were initially critical of the ban but soon opted to promise more aid for Haiti as a way to appease voters.

Eliminating FL was the objective of the 2004 coup backed primarily by US, France and Canada. Thousands of FL partisans were murdered during the two year rule of a UN backed dictatorship and hundreds became political prisoners. The FL base, overcoming countless obstacles to their participation, carried Rene Preval to victory in the presidential election of 2006. It was widely hoped that he would make it possible for Aristide to return to Haiti. He has disappointed the FL partisans many times since his election, but going along with the CEP's disqualification of FL appears to have been the last straw.

Increasingly bitter critics observe that Preval's LESPWA party is well positioned to prevail after the second round in June. Nine LESPWA candidates appear headed toward victory. It has been suggested that Preval's allies in the senate will then amend the Haitian constitution.

FL partisans sent a powerful message with the successful boycott. They have referred to it as "operation closed doors and empty streets." A group young people interviewed on a radio station said "We, in Bel Air, belong to Lavalas. Preval excluded us. We cannot vote today."

Cite Soleil, an FL stronghold with over 300 000 people, predictably shunned the election. An inhabitant of Cite Soeleil told a reporter "This election is not for us. It is for Preval. Lavalas are out we are out as well."

FL's message appears to have even reached the international press. An April 21 press report by AP reporter Jonathan Katz refers to FL as the "still-popular" party of Aristide.

Haiti Liberte reports that even a group of senators, led by Evaliere Beauplan, whose parties participated in the April 19 polling, dismissed the elections as a "farce" and called on Preval to apologize to the Haitian people.

After four tropical storms that ravaged Haiti last year, the $16 million wasted on this so-called election (which was postponed several times) could have used to help starving people.