Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Look Back at the MINUSTAH Killing of 22 Year Old Haitian Kenel Pascal

By: Wadner Pierre -

It was 7:00 am on the 18th of June. Mourners filled the cathedral of Port-Au-Prince to honor the late priest, Gerard Jean-Juste. Most likely, none foresaw that the UN would bring its violent campaign against the Lavalas movement to the cathedral just after the service ended.

A UN troops arrived outside the church to arrest one of the mourners. As they sped away with their suspect, one of troops shot into the crowd. A man known as Kenel Pascal, of Delmas, was killed. The incident was captured on film.

Jean-Juste was an outspoken critic of the UN presence in Haiti and a prominent supporter of Jean Bertrand Aristide, whose democratic government was ousted in a coup of February 2004. Under the UN backed dictatorship of Gerard Latortue, Jean-Juste became Haiti’s most famous political prisoner.

More than 20 priests along with Bishop Andre Pierre and the Archbishop of Port-Au-Prince, Monseigneur Joseph Serge Miot were in attendance. Bishop Andre Pierre spoke glowing of Gerard Jean-Juste at the funeral. However, many of the mourners recalled Jean-Juste’s stormy relationship with the church hierarchy in Haiti. While an international campaign, assisted by Amnesty International, was underway to release Jean-Juste from prison, the Catholic Church opted to deal Jean-Juste another blow by suspending him from church as punishment for his political activism.

People were at the service from all over the world - France, Canada, United States, and various Caribbean countries. Key leaders of the Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party were there - Marise Narcisse, Rene Civil, Annette Auguste (Son An). Mario Joseph, a human rights lawyer who has worked tirelessly on behalf of Haiti’s political prisoners was also there. Also present were members of Veye Yo, a Miami-based group founded by Jean-Juste during the 1970s to defend the rights of Haitian immigrants.

After the shooting, some of the mourners held President Rene Preval directly responsible. He was carried to the presidency in 2006 by Aristide supporters. With Jean-Juste in prison at the time (therefore legally barred from running) Rene Preval, a former Aristide protégé, was by far the most attractive candidate to the Lavalas movement, especially after Gerard Jean-Juste endorsed him. Preval was untainted by any role in the 2004 coup and had always been publicly loyal to Aristide. However, Preval’s elite friendly economic policies and failure to secure Aristide’s return to Haiti have alienated him from the Lavalas movement.

In Cavaillon, Jean-Juste’s hometown, banners paying tribute to “Father Gerry” were everywhere. “You’re struggle will continue” read many of them. One the streets, and at the church where Jean-Juste went as a little boy and celebrated his first mass after ordained as priest in New York, people spoke of the “great man” who devoted his life to the poor.

The troops who stormed the funeral have given Haitians yet another reason to remember Father Gerard Jean-Juste, and another way to contrast his kindness with the UN’s brutality.


By Hervé Jean

Hundreds of members of popular organizations marched through Port-au-Prince in a large and spirited but peaceful demonstration on Tuesday, July 28, 2009. They were commemorating the fateful day of July 28, 1915 when the United States Marines invaded Haiti and began a military occupation that lasted 19 years, from 1915-1934.

Today, our nation is under the boots of United Nations soldiers working at the service of the Haitian bourgeoisie and U.S. and French imperialism. Symbolically, the demonstrators began at the statue of Haiti's founding father Jean-Jacques Dessalines at Pont-Rouge and marched to the United Nations headquarters in the Bourdon district to demand the immediate departure of the U.N. Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), as the occupation force is called.

The UN Security Council mandate for the MINUSTAH expires on October 15, 2009.

Among the slogans written on banners and posters carried by the demonstrators were: "We want the departure of MINUSTAH and the immediate return of President Aristide!" and "We demand the vote and the application of the minimum wage of 200 gourdes!" and "Down with neoliberalism!"

It was in an atmosphere of great patriotic fervor that these compatriots marched so that they could make their demands heard by the Haitian leaders and their accomplices who help keep the country occupied.

Préval was denounced during the whole course of the march. The condemnation of the Haitian President illustrates how his policy of promoting neoliberalism has destroyed any credence he had with the Haitian people, who, in the aftermath of the February 7, 2006 vote, struggled with all their might to block electoral tricks aimed at subverting Préval's election.

The July 28 demonstration brought together for the first time all the fundamental progressive demands of Haiti's converging mass movements, including student demands for reform at the State University and application of the 200 gourdes ($5.05) daily minimum wage as well as the Lavalas masses' demand for Aristide's return and the release of all political prisoners, including Ronald Dauphin (he is accused of involvement in the long discredited "La Scierie Massacre" hoax concocted by 2004 coup supporters). All sectors are also calling for justice for Kenel Pascal, who was killed by MINUSTAH soldiers outside the Port-au-Prince Cathedral after the June 18 funeral of Father Gérard Jean Juste.

Over a dozen mass organizations came together to organize the march, including the Assembly of Organizations for Change (ROC), the Network of Multiplying National Organs of the Lavalas Family (RONMFL), the Network of Organizations of the West Zone (ROZO), the National Organization for the Equitable Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ONAPROEDEF), and Alternative for Haiti's National Liberation(ALEH).

The march organizers asked Haiti Liberté journalist Yves Pierre-Louis to lay out the demonstration's demands to the leaders of the occupying army. He did so through a bullhorn in front of UN headquarters at the Christophe Hotel in Bourdon. There the protestors were faced by several columns of Haitian police and blue-helmeted UN troops who made a show of force behind coils of barbed wire. Some carried large clubs and plastic shields while others were armed with assault rifles.

At this point, nobody knows what the UN troops are going to do. Are they going to go home, as the people demand, thus ending this contemptible occupation which is destroying the Haitian people's future? Or will they pursue a policy of provocation by continuing the occupation which has already gone on for over five years?

"The country belongs to the Haitian people," said Tony Philistine of the Cité Soleil Action Coalition of the Lavalas Family Base (Aba Satan), one of the march organizers. "There is no question that the people are living as prisoners in their own country. If the people ask the MINUSTAH to leave, the MINUSTAH should obey this sovereign demand. The Haitian Police can provide security. The MINUSTAH should leave with the neoliberal plan in their luggage, so that we can build our own future."

This position was shared by all the march organizers, who in a press release denounced all the atrocities committed by the occupation troops against the Haitian people. For them, Haiti's military occupation and neoliberalism's application are part of one and the same reality. They are imprisoning the Haitian people to make them swallow a fatal pill: the neoliberal plan.

In this battle, the Haitian people are faced with a government which they helped set in place. The Legislative and the Executive officials sanctioning the occupation and neoliberalism were all elected. So the people voted in the agents of their own current misfortune. However, we must continue to vote (but not in bogus elections like thos of April and June 2009) so that the constitution will survive and so that our leaders who have violated the trust people put in them and violated the law will be removed.

The July 28 march should also motivate young people, who are increasingly frustrated by coming of age in a nation where there are no opportunities and no future for them.


This Thursday, July 30, from 9 - 10 p.m. on WBAI 99.5 FM and, "Haiti: The Struggle Continues" will look at the first U.S. Marine Occupation of Haiti which began on July 28, 1915 and lasted 19 years. The show will also look at the current U.N. military occupation of Haiti which began five years ago.

Historian Mary Renda, author of the book "Taking Haiti," will outline the similarities between the 1915 Occupation and today's. In her book, Renda explores the cultural dimensions of U.S. contact with Haiti during the occupation and its aftermath, and how this contributed in crucial and unexpected ways to the emerging culture of U.S. imperialism.

The show will also examine how Washington's current doctrine, "Responsibility to Protect," is a continuation of the "paternalistic interventions" of the early 20th century.

Listen to "Haiti: The Struggle Continues" for news about Haiti and Haitians around the world. 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.


"Justice. Verite. Independance."


July 29 - August 4, 2009
Vol. 3, No. 2
by Kim Ives

The young man who appears to have been gunned down by UN occupation troops after a funeral last month received an all but secret funeral himself on July 14 in Port-au-Prince because the priest and family were fearful of UN and Haitian government reprisals.

The victim has also been finally identified as Kenel Pascal, 22, of Delmas.

On the morning of June 18 outside the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, immediately following the funeral for Father Gérard Jean-Juste, troops of the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) fired at unarmed mourners who shouted angrily at them after they roughly arrested a man in the crowd.

When the fusillade ended, Pascal lay dying on the ground just outside a cathedral door, blood bubbling from his head and mouth. He died minutes later. His body was carried by the mourners a half mile to the National Palace. There they left the body in the driveway, laying blame for the killing on President René Préval (see Haiti Liberté, Vol. 2, No. 49, June 24, 2009).

Pascal was originally misidentified as "Ti Charles," then Charles Désir, then "Roudy."

His death was not certified by the Justice Ministry until almost a month later on July 13.

Lavarice Gaudin of the Miami-based Haitian rights organization Veye Yo, founded by Father Jean-Juste, helped organize Pascal's funeral. Most of the arrangements were made by Ketchine Joseph, a Veye Yo sympathizer in Port-au-Prince.

"We had a very difficult time to find a church at which to hold the funeral," Gaudin told Haiti Liberté. "Many turned us away. They were all scared. Finally we had to get an Episcopal priest from Léogane to do the service, but he would only agree to it if there was no press, if his name was not used, and if there were less than 25 people."

The ceremony was held at Chapelle Paradis, a private morgue, in Delmas 31. Only five people signed the funeral record for "Témoignages de Sympathie." The only family members on hand were Pascal's sister, Gerda, and a couple of cousins. According to the death certificate, both Kenel Pascal's father, Mondesir Pascal, and his mother, Miriame Debir, are dead.

Afterwards, Pascal was buried in a Delmas cemetery.

The Vatican and Haitian Catholic hierarchy never offered Pascal's impoverished family any assistance for the funeral. Nor did they demand any investigation of the shooting.

"The Catholic Church shows its complete bankruptcy in Haiti," Gaudin pointed out. "When a mob beat Jean-Juste in St. Pierre Church in Pétionville in 2005, what was the church's compensation? They threw him out of the church. Now they killed Kenel on the Vatican's territory, just the same way they killed Izméry in 1993. Again, the church is silent and does nothing."

The MINUSTAH denied all responsibility for the shooting, saying that Pascal was killed by a "rock' or a "blunt instrument." Michele Montas, spokeswoman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, "categorically" denied that UN troops were involved in the killing.

However, Haiti Liberté has obtained a copy of the autopsy carried out by Dr. Rodrigue Darang on June 22. The report clearly states that Pascal was killed by a bullet which entered his right cheek and passed through his head, shattering his fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae and some teeth.

Furthermore, television footage from Tele-Ginen showed UN soldiers shooting with leveled weapons in Pascal's direction.

Faced with the autopsy, UN officials are now claiming that the size of the entry hole noted in the report - 0.5 centimeters - indicates a bullet caliber smaller than that used by UN troops.

Hundreds demonstrated in Port-au-Prince on July 28, the 94th anniversary of the 1915 U.S. Marine occupation, to demand justice for Kenel Pascal. UN troops have killed dozens of poor unarmed Haitians civilians since they arrived to take over from U.S., French and Canadian occupation forces in June 2004.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Haiti: Thousands March on July 15 while July 28 Mobilization is Prepared

By: Kim Ives - Haiti Liberte

Thousands of demonstrators marched through Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince on July 15 to mark the 56th birthday of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The demonstration, which was called by and adhered to by two rival factions of the Lavalas Family party (FL), was considered a great display of unity by its organizers.

At 9 a.m. the crowds gathered at the gate in front of Aristide's still gutted home in Tabarre. It was decorated with flowers and large photographs of the party's leader, who remains in exile in South Africa over five years after the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d'état against him.

The multitude then moved, like a great river, towards the capital.

Lavalas leaders said that the demonstration was a birthday present for Aristide. "Long live the return of President Aristide!" read some of the posters in the march. " Down with the MINUSTAH [UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti, the military occupation force]! Release of all political prisoners! Reinstatement of all fired State employees! Down with the neo-liberal plan!"

Demonstrators also bitterly denounced President René Préval for betraying their expectations that he would help return Aristide to Haiti and fight neoliberal austerity and privatization. Tens of thousands of Lavalas partisans voted for Préval in 2006, helping him win the presidency.

"Our political organization will defeat all those who are working for its demise," declared Dr. Maryse Narcisse, one of the members of the FL's Executive Committee at the close of the demonstration at the Place of the Constitution on the Champ de Mars, the capital's central square.

Narcisse also criticized Préval for seeking to amend Haiti's 1987 Constitution while at the same time violating its laws. "Lavalas remains true to its dream of a better Haiti, where all citizens can have access to education, health, housing, and employment," she concluded. "Realization of this dream goes hand in hand with the return of President Aristide to Haiti."

Also participating in the demonstration was the singer and activist Annette Auguste, known as So An. She was also named to the FL's Executive Committee but presently does not sit with its other three members, Narcisse, Lionel Etienne and Jacques Mathelier. Her faction of the party has proposed some reforms which has caused controversy within the party.

"I am a dedicated Lavalassian," So An told Haiti Liberté. " President Aristide Lavalas is not more Lavalas than me. President Aristide might turn his back on me, but I will never turn my back on him." She declared her full support for Aristide's return and said that the July 15 demonstration was a living testimony to the FL's strength, power, and vitality.

"This event is great proof that the Lavalas would have won the [April 19 and June 21] senatorial elections boycotted by the national majority," she said. " That is why Lavalas was excluded from those elections. The objectively manifest goal is to destroy the Lavalas."

At the Place of the Constitution, Lavalas activists like René Civil and Lavarice Gaudin criticized the government of Préval and his prime minister Michele Pierre-Louis for pursuing policies condemned by Haiti's masses. They demanded the immediate and unconditional return of Aristide to Haiti.

Meanwhile, the Lavalas base organizations which made July 15 a success have called another major mobilization for Tuesday, July 28, the 94th anniversary of the first U.S. Marine occupation of Haiti in 1915.

The popular organizations have planned the demonstrations with some of Haiti's student organizers, marking the first time that the demands of the Lavalas mass movement and those of the student protests, which have raged at the State University in recent months, will be united.

The demands for July 28th are: 1) MINUSTAH's departure; 2) Aristide's return; 3) Apply the Parliament's vote for a 200 gourde a day [$5.05] minimum wage; 4) Reform at the State University; 5) Justice for Roudy, the man shot dead by MINUSTAH soldiers at the Port-au-Prince Cathedral on June 18; 6) Liberation of all political prisoners, above all Ronald Dauphin; 7) Down with the neoliberal plan.

Among the groups calling the July 28 demonstration are the Cité Soleil Action Coalition of the Lavalas Family Base (ABA SATAN), the Assembly of Organizations for Change (ROC), the Network of Multiplying National Organs of the Lavalas Family (RONMFL), the Network of Organizations of the West Zone (ROZO), the National Organization for the Equitable Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ONAPROEDEF), Alternative for Haiti's National Liberation(ALEH), the Force of Principled Organizations for a National Alternative (FOKAN), Movement to Bury Repression (MARE), Group of Popular Initiative, the student group KOMAP/FRAE, and the International Support Haiti Network (ISHN).

"L'union fait la force" (Unity makes strength) says the motto on Haiti's flag. Organizers of the July 28 march hope that the merging of the Lavalas mass movement with the anti-imperialist student movement will lift Haiti's struggle for justice, democracy and sovereignty to a new level.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gonaives, a Destroyed and Abandoned City

by Wadner Pierre -
All photos by Wadner Pierre

Gonaives is a port city with an estimated population of 200,000. It is the sixth largest city in Haiti and is located approximately 110 kilometers north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. In 2003, it was one of first places to come under the control of armed rebels who helped oust Haiti's democratic government on February 29, 2004. The coup was actually completed by foreign powers - primarily France, Canada and the US. Months after the coup, in September of 2004, Gonaives was hit by Hurricane Jeanne. Three thousand lives were lost. In 2008, with the damage done by Jeanne still unrepaired, fierce storms (Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna) battered Gonaives yet again. At least 500 were killed, over a hundred thousand made homeless. An astounding 800,000 were victimized by the storms if crop destruction and drinking water contamination are considered.

On my way to Gonaives

It was just after mid day on June 19th, two days prior to another round of senatorial elections boycotted by most Haitians, when my bus left Port-au-Prince with 70 other passengers. Before 2004, it would have taken about 2 hours to reach the city. Now it takes almost 5 hours. The so-called good part of the road is from Port-au-Prince to Montrouis in the northern part of the capital, also the last part of West department. Travelers are usually talkative in Haiti. They often discuss religion or political, economic and social issues. On this trip, they would talk mainly about the destruction visible everywhere in Gonaives. They complained about the state of the road and blamed political leaders in the Artibonite department and at the national level for the lack of reconstruction.

Mrs. Guerda, a nurse who teaches at a private vocational school, chatted with Frantz (who also works in the health care field) about the diseases and psychological trauma she witnessed among victims of the storms. Frantz asked Guerda for advice on how to help a friend's son who is plagued with psychological problems following the storm. Unfortunately, Guerda could only tell him that such problems are extremely common among victims.

Guerda tells me that many from Gonaives have moved to nearby cities such as Saint Marc, Cap-Haitian, and very often Port-au-Prince. She explains the General Hospital in Gonaives, La Providence, no longer exists. Its operations have been transferred north to a warehouse once used by the humanitarian group CARE. It was renamed “Hopital de Secours” (Help Hospital). She assured me that I would not recognize the city. The water and filth are everywhere she says, and it creates a fertile environment for mosquitoes, which spread disease. Her children have abandoned the city but, despite her pessimism, she cannot leave the city where she made her life and established her career.

Yves, who earns a living by using his motorcycle as a taxi, said that there is no hope for Gonaives. He will not leave and is resigned to living there in poverty. He will not vote in the upcoming elections because he feels that they are irrelevant to his life.


Unfortunately, Gonaives turned out to be just as Guerda described.

Upon entering the city I was overwhelmed by images of filth and destruction, of people wading through or leaping around puddles of water. For some reason, an image that lingers in my mind is one I witnessed in front of the police station. A man on a motorcycle struggled to drag a few sheep through the mud. The most galling images were of UN vehicles that quite uselessly patrolled the wreckage of Gonaives.

The city is below sea level. The area surrounding it is so deforested that the city has no natural protection from heavy rains.

Most people I talked to believe that reconstruction funds have simply been pocketed by corrupt officials. It is easy to see why given the meagre evidence of reconstruction. The Preval government recently established a state company (the CNE) to supplement the rebuilding efforts of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and Communication (MTPTC). The CNE, run by a close friend of Preval's, Jude Celestin, has made no obvious impact in the months that it has been operating - much like the countless foreign NGOs who have hovered around Gonaives for years.

In 2005, the Latortue dictatorship, flush with foreign funds that poured in after it seized power, initiated construction of a bridge a few kilometers south of the city that was to suppose to facilitate transportation. Latortue boasted that it would be the largest bridge in the Caribbean. It was never finished or used. The storms of 2008 destroyed it.

Most of the farmers near Gonaives have lost all hope. Their sons and daughter have often fled to the Bahamas to find work. They will be exploited, of course, since they will be illegal immigrants, but the lucky ones will at least survive the journey.

One farmer I talked to had sent his son, Santo, to Nassau. They spent $2000 to get him there - the family's life savings. They had spoken to Santo by phone recently. He confirmed that life is certainly tough for illegal immigrants, but at least he is there.


On the bus trip back to Port-au-Prince I chatted with a gentle 23 year old man named Rodrigue. He fled Gonaives in 2008 and now works in an iron shop in Port-au-Prince. His father still lives in Gonaives and is very ill. Rodrigue had only returned to Gonaives to check on him for three days. Rodrigue's job allows him to pay his high school tuition and take care of his father. He still has not finished high school and will have to quit this year to replenish his funds. "Next year, God willing, I will be able to enroll in night school."

Friday, July 3, 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."


July 1 - 7, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 50
by Berthony Dupont

Subversion and destructive violence are rampant in Iran, aimed at destroying the peace and independence of the Iranian revolution. This trouble is fomented by Western imperialism which wants to cast doubt on Iran's recent election results. U.S. President Barack Obama has found nothing better to say to the Iranian government than "the world is watching." Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, in contrast, said: "We ask the world to respect Iran because some are trying to undermine the stronghold of the Iranian revolution."

This is not the first time that the so-called "international community" has used electoral violence to destabilize a country. We will never forget the attacks on the elections of May 21, 2000 and November 26, 2000 in Haiti, where opposition parties including the OPL, the MPSN, MOCHRENA, RDNP, PADEM, and the MDN formed the Democratic Convergence and on February 6, 2001 proclaimed Gérard Gourgue provisional president, while the next day, February 7, Jean Bertrand Aristide was to be sworn in as the President constitutionally elected by the people. We know all the fuss the "international community" made to sabotage our nation, which it still militarily occupies.

Today in Iran, Western imperialism calls to "verify the expressed will of the people." What a great idea! Since when has the "international community" paid attention to the people's will and respected their choice? Look what had happened in Mexico during the 2006 presidential elections with the two leading candidates Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and Andrés Manuel López Obrador. More than two million people protested for more than three months in the streets of Mexico against Calderón's electoral coup. At the time, the West did not feel compelled to "verify the expressed will of the people" of Mexico.

On April 19 and June 21, 2009, the Haitian people clearly and peacefully expressed their will by massively boycotting Préval's rigged elections. Worse yet, the masses were excluded from the outset. What was the international community's reaction? It was pleased with the vote and welcomed the fact that these elections were conducted peacefully in all of Haiti's geographic departments.

There are events which by themselves forever mark an era, either because of their importance or because of the profound changes they herald. The Iranian crisis should be for us in the Haitian popular and progressive sector an indicator, a guide, for the transformation of our overall strategy, because class struggle is the only dynamic, rational and historically correct approach to defeat the maneuvers of the imperialist powers.

Thus during the student demonstrations to force the bourgeoisie and Préval to publish the minimum wage law, the UN occupation force's soldiers fired at the students, killing one. At the funeral of the progressive Lavalas priest, Father Gérard Jean-Juste, MINUSTAH soldiers repeated the crime by killing a young man from Solino. What is the message, the link between these two crimes? What is the lesson we should draw? It is that one cannot separate the struggle of the students from the struggle of the masses. They are one. The struggle for change and national liberation is the struggle of all progressive forces of the people.

The aim and tactic of the imperialists is to neutralize, to paralyze us, to break the resistance of the dominated classes. In this sense, to avoid the mistakes of 2004, where Apaid, Baker and the other agents, instruments, allies, partners or agents of imperialism infiltrated the students, it is now essential and even vital, in this phase, to strengthen our solidarity and our class cohesion to combat the common enemy.

From all appearances, the situation is moving towards a confrontation which which will effect all the people. A crisis is deepening in the State University; many Lavalas supporters still languish in Préval's jail; modern-day slave drivers, led by Préval, want to maintain slave wages; in the February 2004 coup d'état, then-President Jean Bertrand Aristide was arrested by Western imperialists just as their colonialist ancestors kidnapped Taino Indian leader Caonabo and anti-slavery revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture. In order to save this country, a unity of the forces for change is needed among Haiti's progressive and democratic forces against the common enemy of the masses.

By the force of events, we are all called on to take responsibility. We remain confident that the vigilance of revolutionary and progressive forces will defeat the dark machinations and shenanigans of the people's main enemy.

by Kim Ives

After years of campaigns cajoling them to do so, three international banks announced on June 30 that were annulling what Haiti owes them, thereby cancelling 63% of Haiti's $1.9 billion debt.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are forgiving about $690 million of loans. The Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), Haiti's biggest creditor, followed suit the same day saying it would forgive another $511 million, a promise it made back in March 2007.

Haiti had been paying about $5 million a month in interest payments on its overall debt. "The debt relief will help us invest in growth and poverty reduction programs," said Haiti's Finance Minister Daniel Dorsainvil. "Haiti has demonstrated over the past four to five years that it can commit itself to a menu of reforms and respect this commitment."

Much of Haiti's debt never went to benefit Haitians. "The Haitian people are still paying for the crimes of their past leaders," explained the Jubilee USA Network, which has petitioned for debt relief for Haiti for many years, in a July 2008 statement. "45% of the country's current external debt was incurred by the Duvaliers, while the country's lenders turned a blind eye to the corruption. Not only did these loans fail to benefit the Haitian people, the consequent debt service payments continue to cost the country millions of dollars that could be better spent on education and health. Meanwhile, harmful economic policies mandated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank continue to undermine the country's ability to chart its own development path."

The announcement of debt relief was seen by some Haitians as an effort to bolster the government of President René Préval, which is deeply unpopular and faced with a sharpening economic crisis.


This Thursday, July 2, from 9 - 10 p.m. on WBAI 99.5 FM and on "Haiti: The Struggle Continues," Miami-based Haitian community advocate and para-legal LUCIE TONDREAU will explain the challenges and pitfalls President Barack Obama faces as his administration works to overhaul U.S. immigration policy. Ms. Tondreau, who has been an immigrants' rights advocate for over a quarter of a century, will also analyze what Haitian and the other immigrant communities must do to influence policy changes that will be favorable to the undocumented.

Also, JESUS LUC of Bourgeoizie Filmz will talk to us about "Lost in Haiti," a soon-to-be completed documentary about the life of U.S.-raised Haitian deportees in Port-au-Prince.

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.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mourning met with State Violence

By: Jeb Sprague, A Guest Author for Wadner Pierre's Blog

Hello, I would like to share some information and thoughts on the continued violent United Nations-Brazilian led-military occupation of Haiti.

After overthrowing Haiti?s democratically elected government (of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide) in February 2004, the United States,France and Canada put in place a neoliberal regime.

From 2004 to 2006, under a foreign installed dictatorship, Haiti was subjected to thousands of political killings, with thousands more exiled and illegally jailed, often under the watchful eye of UN authorities; this amounted to what some believe to be the largest human rights disaster in the western hemisphere over the last decade.

Today Haiti has an elected government that came to office in an"electoral" process tightly managed by elites and transnational technocrats.

Conditions for the poor have worsened with the outfall of the global financial crisis now greatly affecting developing aid dependent countries. Under the auspices of the UN military occupation, the sovereign course and focus on social investment programs by the former Aristide government are but a fading memory.

People are starving, unemployment and the costs of living soar,political prisoners such as Ronald Dauphin rot sick in jail, Human Rights leaders such as Lovinsky Pierre Antoine have been disappeared without investigation, the main political party/movement of the poor (Fanmi Lavalas) has been banned from running in elections, NGOs along
with right wing American evangelists and those civil society groups befriended by foreign embassies and SUV-sporting aid agencies hold immense influence.

But what I would most like to talk about is the life and death of Father Jean-Juste.

In mid-June, Father Jean-Juste, who I came to love and admire as a friend and comrade passed away in a Miami hospital. The hospital authorities refused him the medical care he needed because he could not afford to pay. He was in debt with tens of thousands of dollars in medical care expenses.

Juste spent his adult life advocating for some of the most poor and exploited on the earth. A liberation theologian and Lavalassian, he was committed to the self-organizing of the poor and telling the truth about the positive achievements and goals that the Lavalas movement associated with former-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide worked toward. You can read more on him here: and see a video of him speaking /videoplay?docid=7070064382749695889

In 2005, the US-backed post-coup dictatorship in Haiti put Jean-Juste in prison for his political advocacy on the part of the poor, his refusal to accept the 2004 coup and his unflinching demand for the return of President Aristide.

This is part of a story rarely told in the popular media, how for years after the 2004 coup huge demonstrations of the poor came together continually demanding the return of their elected government.Interim Haitian police and former-military Duvalierist death squaders (accompanied by UN escorts) killed hundreds of demonstrators- often with high powered sniper gun shots to the back of the head. Massacres that were almost completely absent from the news headlines in North America or the advocacy-publicity of most the highly funded NGOs in the country:

Luckily, Amnesty International recognized Jean-Juste as a political prisoner. Still, he was not released until Harvard medical doctor (& founder of Partners in Health) Paul Farmer smuggled equipment into his prison cell diagnosing him with Cancer

Jean-Juste was an activist his entire adult life, fighting for the rights of Haitian Immigrants in North America as well as for popular democracy in his home country (continually undermined and destabilized by the US government..a process that continues strong under Obama).

In Port-au-Prince, hundreds of homeless children found a place to live and eat daily through an orphanage run by Jean-Juste and local practitioners of liberation theology.

Astonishingly, last week during a HUGE funeral gathering (that flowed with spontaneous music from crowds assembled outside) for Jean-Juste in Port-au-Prince, UN troops opened fire resulting in the death of a young man taking part in the procession.

What is going on today in Haiti is an example of a global security apparatus deployed to intimidate and maintain a hegemonic elite project over some of the poorest people in the world.

Today, even at funerals, the popular movement in Haiti is not allowed peace. Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons cannot celebrate the life of their most cherished spiritual leader without being shot at. Mourning is met with state violence.

I would urge you to keep up on Haiti, see this excellent website: The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti:

In regards to the killing at the funeral for Jean-Juste, you can see footage of the entire chain of events below, including the UN brutality:

Inside the church

Funeral Gathering Outside of church- Poor chanting for Father Jean-Juste as well as exiled President Aristide ?Titid?

UN Troops Arresting Funeral Participant, Brutalizing Him

UN Troops Opening Fire- Bullets fall down into crowd- another view

And for some interesting videos, see these lectures from the 1990s by
Haiti's overthrown former-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on
liberation theology- who was also a close friend of Jean-Juste.
Today, even after being exiled to the tip of Africa by the Bush
regime, Aristide continues to be the most popular leader in the country.

Jubilee-Grassroots: Haiti wins permanent debt cancellation!

Mercredi 1 Juillet 2009 17h44mn 22s

Dear Jubilee friends and colleagues,
On my last day as a Jubilee staff member, it is a great pleasure to announce that Haiti has achieved completion point in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries program. This means that $1.2 billion in debt claimed from Haiti by creditors including the World Bank, InterAmerican Development Bank and the United States has been finally and permanently cancelled. See Jubilee’s press release below for more information.

This is a tremendous victory for which the people of Haiti have waited, worked and suffered for far too long.

Congratulations and thanks to all of you for years of advocacy and activism in solidarity with Haiti and in partnership with campaigners around the world which helped to bring about yesterday’s announcement.

On a personal note, it has been an enormous pleasure working with all of you. I will miss Jubilee and look forward to crossing paths with many of you in the future. After today I can be reached via my personal email address:

Wishing you peace and all good things!


Jubilee USA Network

Contact: Mimi Lyjte, 202-783-0214

Victory for Haiti as Nation Secures $1.2 Billion in Debt Cancellation

Extended Campaign to Win Relief for Haiti Finally Pays Off

WASHINGTON – Jubilee USA Network today welcomed the news that Haiti reached “completion point” in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries program yesterday.

This step means that $1.2 billion in external debt owed by the impoverished island nation to bilateral and multilateral lenders including the IMF, World Bank, and US government has been cancelled. The Boards of the World Bank and IMF met yesterday to formally approve Haiti ’s debt stock cancellation under HIPC and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative.

“Today’s action to free Haiti of its unjust and unpayable external debt is a welcome and long overdue step. Debt cancellation will provide desperately needed relief for the people of Haiti ,” said Neil Watkins, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of religious groups, development agencies, and human rights groups that has campaigned for Haiti ’s debt cancellation for more than five years.

Haiti suffered through a serious of humanitarian crises in 2008 and endured the devastating impact of four hurricanes. Sharp increases in food and energy prices have also led to an escalation of hunger among the poorest sectors of the population. And Haiti now faces the severe and negative effects of the recent downtown in the global economy.

Through this time of crisis for the island nation, a coalition of political leaders and organizations has pressed for the immediate cancellation of Haiti ’s debt. US organizations including Jubilee USA Network, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, TransAfrica Forum, the Quixote Center, Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Episcopal Church, and Partners in Health worked together to build the political will in the US for Haiti’s debt cancellation, in partnership with colleagues in Haiti, throughout the Americas, across Europe and around the world.

In the US , a bi-partisan coalition of 72 Members of Congress signed a letter to World Bank President Robert Zoellick in February 2009 urging immediate debt cancellation for Haiti . In April 2009, the Obama Administration announced it would cover up to $20 million in debt service payments from Haiti until Haiti reached completion point.

Haiti – the most impoverished nation in the Hemisphere – faced a long struggle to achieve debt cancellation, facing repeated delays under the World Bank/IMF Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Haiti ’s completion point date was repeatedly pushed back by the World Bank. Jubilee USA and its partners have long argued that much of Haiti ’s debt should be considered odious, dating back to loans contracted and often stolen by the brutal Duvalier dictatorships.

For more information, see:

World Bank press release on Haiti ’s completion point:,,contentMDK:22232346~pagePK:146736~piPK:226340~theSitePK:258554,00.html


Kristin Sundell, M.Div.
Deputy Director
Jubilee USA Network

443-845-4461 (cell)

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