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"Justice. Verite. Independance."
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
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 www.justiceunity.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-591-2111. Also listen to www.wbix.org).
NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTS TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR HAITIANS
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.
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