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: http://www.haitiaction.net/News/about/FrJJ.html and see a video of him speaking http://video.google.com /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. http://www.democracynow.org/2005/7/25/father_jean_juste_arrested_in_port
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: http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2937
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: http://www.ijdh.org/
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? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF74KU3iFlA&feature=related
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.