News and opinions on situation in Haiti
One Year Anniversary of Coup in Haiti Met With Violence/Bahamas deports Haitians, et al
To visit the Occupied Haiti Resource Page, go to: auto_sol.tao.ca/node/view/881
Free Speech Radio News www.fsrn.org/
Monday, February 28, 2005
One Year Anniversary of Coup in Haiti Met With Violence Reed Linsay reports from Port-au-Prince, Haiti
ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF COUP IN HAITI MET WITH VIOLENCE (4:28) In Haiti, police killed at least one and injured others after firing into a crowd of several hundred unarmed demonstrators today who were marching through the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Bel Air in commemoration of the one year anniversary of exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s ouster. Witnesses say one other person was killed and a worker at the morgue confirmed a police ambulance delivered two bodies shortly after the shootings. A UN Brazilian peacekeeper said that police dressed in desert camouflage had killed the man— 26-year-old Stanley Blot. He also reported that police had fired in the direction of the UN troops. Firing shots into the air, officers identified in Blot’s killing surrounded the body so a police ambulance could take him away. Residents of Bel Air yelled at the police and pleaded with Brazilian peacekeepers to stop them, as bodies taken away by police officers are sometimes never seen again. The demonstration in Bel Air was the biggest in the neighborhood since September 30, when gunfire disrupted another pro-Aristide march, unleashing a wave of violence committed by police officers, pro-Aristide gangs, anti-Aristide gangs and purely criminal gangs. One year after U.S. Marines whisked Haiti’s former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile in Africa, Haitians are expressing rising discontent with the interim government that has replaced him. Aristide’s supporters from poor urban areas continue to call for his return and even some of his enemies are demanding the prime minister’s resignation. Meanwhile, promises of international aid have fallen short and a nine-month-old UN peacekeeping mission has been ridiculed for failing to stop crime or prevent human rights abuses. Reed Lindsay reports from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
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Bahamas deports Haitians Reuters
March 3, 2005
NASSAU, Bahamas, March 3 (Reuters) – Police in the Bahamas have rounded up 208 Haitians and 22 Jamaicans as part of efforts to clear the country of illegal immigrants.
The migrants, rounded up in raids in the capital on Wednesday, face deportation from the Bahamas, an island chain on the northwestern edge of the Caribbean with a population of about 300,000.
“We will have sustained exercises until all the immigrants, no matter where they are from, are picked up and repatriated,” Labor and Immigration Minister Vincent Peet said.
Eugene Newry, Bahamas ambassador to Haiti, echoed the minister’s remarks, saying: “If anyone is illegal in the Bahamas they should be rounded up and sent home because there is a proper way of coming into the country.”
More than 3,000 illegal immigrants were deported in 2004. This year, nearly 1,000 illegal immigrants have been detained in the Bahamas. The majority were repatriated to Haiti, where political turmoil and desperate poverty have pushed thousands of people to take to sea to try to make a better life abroad.
The Bahamas enjoys relative prosperity compared to some of its Caribbean neighbors.
Free Speech Radio News www.fsrn.org/
March 03, 2005
Canadians Rally to Support Jean Bertrand Aristide Stephan Christoff reports from Montreal
Canadians Rally to Support Jean Bertrand Aristide (2:40) In one of the largest demonstrations outside of Haiti, over 500 people took to the streets of downtown Montreal last Saturday, marking the one-year anniversary of the ousting of Haiti’s democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was forced by U.S. soldiers onto a military plane and into exile in South Africa. Free Speech Radio News correspondent Stephan Christoff files this report from Montreal.
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The Disinformation on Haiti Continues by Dick Bernard February 17, 2005.
The official U.S. exultation over the recent election in Iraq brought memories of another democratic election: the November, 2000, election of Jean-Bertrand Aristide as President of our neighbor, Haiti.
While in Haiti in December, 2003, I was told that President Aristide had, in November 2000, been democratically elected with 92% of the vote, with 62% of eligible Haitians voting for President.
(The same month, G.W. Bush had been elected by less than half of the approximately 50% who had voted for president in the United States. Like in Haiti, the U.S. presidential election in November, 2004, and the January, 2005, Iraq election reportedly drew a voter turnout of approximately 60% of those eligible to vote.)
February 29, 2004, Aristide and Haiti government officials – thousands – were felled by a coup d’etat and its aftermath. How Aristide’s election was reported by the U.S. government should be troubling and is instructive. I observed the diabolical art of official propaganda and character assassination, U.S. style. Official U.S. talk about Aristide’s election is only one revealing example of this assassination.
About the time of the coup, a congressional staff person, responding to my concern about U.S. maltreatment of Haiti, claimed that Aristide had been elected by only 10% of Haitians in 2000. This comment came to be typical. One newspaper report I read post-coup claimed that only 5% of Haitians had voted for Aristide. What about that 92% of over 60% claim in 2000, I wondered.
A March, 2004, internet search brought CNN.com’s World election watch, which seemed a potentially reliable source. CNN reported a 92% electoral win for Aristide, and suggested that the voter turnout in Haiti in 2000 was even higher than 62%. The source of data, IFES (International Foundation for Election Systems), seemed credible.
The disinformation continued: The Haiti desk at the U.S. State Department provided me with a briefing paper of the Agency for International Development (USAID) dated March 31, 2004: “In November, 2000, the [Aristide] opposition boycotted the presidential election that Aristide won unopposed with low voter turnout,” it said. (CNN showed 7 candidates had received votes for the Haiti presidency in 2000.)
The office of a U.S. Senator provided a Congressional Research Service/Library of Congress report on Haiti dated March 23, 2004 which said: “Although Aristide won the election with a reported 91.5% of the vote, turnout was very low, with estimates ranging from 5% to 20% of eligible voters participating.”
Several U.S. commissioned CID-Gallup polls of Haitians had been done before and after the 2000 Haiti election. The polls verified the substantial probability that the true election results in Haiti would be about that which I had heard in Haiti and seen at CNN.com. The poll results apparently never saw public light of day, but they have been seen. They refute the U.S. propaganda line about Aristide’s election.
Not long after the coup, Haiti essentially disappeared from U.S. news, and I filed away all of the reports until I read the report of a post-coup Human Rights Investigation in Haiti, released by the Center for the Study of Human Rights of the University of Miami School of Law in mid-January, 2005. Several pages of this report summarized interviews with IFES representatives in Haiti: “IFES is a U.S.-based tax-exempt organization that … has worked in Haiti since 1990…USAID awarded IFES a series of contracts for millions of dollars, often as sole bidder, and gave IFES substantial logistical assistance in Haiti”, the report said. “[IFES] administrators stated that the ouster of Aristide [February 29, 2004] “was not the objective of the IFES program, but it was the result.” They further stated that IFES/USAID workers in Haiti want to take credit for the ouster of Aristide, but cannot “out of respect for the wishes of the U.S. government.” You have read this far, and thus, likely, already had an interest and an opinion about Aristide and Haiti. Dishonesty in reporting after the 2000 Haiti election is but a single example of what seems to be callous and deliberate U.S. moves to destroy a legitimate government, freely and democratically elected by its people.
On this, the first anniversary of the 2004 coup d’etat in Haiti (ironically accomplished during the country’s bicentennial of freedom), there is, I think, a reasonable question to consider: is your opinion formed based on honest information, or from deliberate and malicious misinformation, received second or third hand, or even worse? The most destructive lies are often those passed along by unsuspecting carriers.
Start Seeing Haiti. Dick Bernard 6905 Romeo Road Woodbury MN 55125-2421 651-730-4849 www.chez-nous.net/peace_haiti.html and www.chez-nous.net/haiti_4.html the writer is a retired person, a grandfather, with a very active interest in Haiti issues. Sources: www.cnn.com/WORLD/election.watch/americas/haiti1.html HAITI – Complex Emergency, U.S. Agency for International Development, March 31, 2004 from U.S. Department of State
CRS Report for Congress Order Code RL 32294, Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress, March 23, 2004, from office of Senator Mark Dayton, p. 4
HAITI HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATION: November 11-21, 2004, Center for the Study of Human Rights, University of Miami School of Law,www.law.miami.edu/news/368.html pp 27-30 and 32.
Haiti Solidarity B.C. Canada
Haiti Solidarity B.C. press release:
Vancouver – RCMP attempts to thwart peaceful demonstration opposing Haiti coup
February 28, 2005
In recognition of the one year anniversary of the Canada, U.S., and France assisted coup d’etat in Haiti, a group of citizens attempted to present Liberal MP and Cabinet Minister David Emerson with a copy of the comprehensive University of Miami School of Law human rights report, authored by immigration attorney Thomas Griffin. Knowing that Emerson is a prominent member of Prime Minister Paul Martin’s cabinet, members of Haiti Solidarity B.C. felt that they would be sending a strong message to the Liberal government that Canada’s policies in Haiti are not condoned by those who have availed themselves of the realities in Haiti since democracy was overthrown there on February 29, 2004.
Haiti Solidarity BC member, Charles Boylan, a resident in the Vancouver Kingsway constituency represented by Emerson, contacted Emerson’s office two weeks in advance by telephone. Boylan was informed by Emerson’s staff person, Dale Flood, that either Emerson himself or Mr. Flood would be available to meet with Haiti Solidarity B.C. in his office 808, 300 West Georgia at 10:30 A.M on February 28th, 2005 . Immediately following this conversation Boylan sent an e-mail confirming the arrangement. No one responded to the e-mail nor answered a follow up telephone message left to Mr. Flood on February 25th. In speaking to a secretary in Emerson’s office on the morning of Feb. 28th, Haiti Solidarity B.C. learned that events had taken a peculiar and disturbing turn.
Phoning the office at 9:30 a.m., Boylan was told by the office secretary that Mr. Flood was unavailable. Boylan made a second call insisting an appointment had been made. She replied that a meeting in Emerson’s Vancouver office, which is housed on the 8th floor of a federal government building in downtown Vancouver, would not be possible. The HSBC member was then informed that the reason for this was due to the fact that the RCMP had intervened to “lock down” the 8th floor, out of a concern for a “demonstration,” which they believed was going to take place at Emerson’s offices on the anniversary of Haiti’s coup.
Boylan insisted in speaking to a responsible Ministry staffer, and finally Dale Flood came on the phone to confirm that the RCMP had indeed locked down the floor containing the offices of David Emerson, federal Minister of Industry, in the interests of “security.” He further stated he could not meet the HSBC delegation that morning as “something had come up.” After Boylan insisted Flood meet his commitment to HSBC, he agreed to move the scheduled 10:30 AM meeting to 10:00 AM., but they would not be meeting in the office. Instead, Flood insisted that he would only meet in the lobby of the federal building. This conversation took place at 9:40 am.
HSBC members Boylan and Anthony Fenton immediately made their way over to the federal building to meet with Flood and demand to know why the RCMP had gone to such lengths to thwart the peaceful presentation by a small delegation of citizens of a human rights report to a federal cabinet minister. These HSBC members were met in the lobby of 300 West Georgia Street, a Federal Government office building, by Flood and, shortly thereafter, an RCMP plainclothes officer, Corporal Van Saters.
A third HSBC member, Andrea Pinochet, subsequently joined the delegation, observing the conversation and events that would follow. HSBC challenged the lockdown of the 8th floor by the RCMP, and contended that it was “absurd” that an ordinary prearranged meeting between local constituents and an elected Member of Parliament, should be transformed by the RCMP into a “pre-emptive lockdown” silencing dissent. And this, presumably, on the mere presumption that something beyond the presentation of a human rights report was going to take place in Emerson’s offices on this day.
When told it was an insult to be received in the lobby, and insisting on going to the office, the HSBC delegation was informed by Flood he couldn’t permit this as it was an RCMP order. Turning then to Cpl. Van Satsen, Boylan asked, has the RCMP taken upon itself to intervene in politics and decide which constituent can or can not meet in the Minister’s office? The corporal flushed and replied, no, his presence was purely for security, and the decision to go to the office was up to the staffers. Turning back to Flood, HSBC declared, “well the issue is decided then. Let’s go up to the office.” Faced with the prospect of the media appearing, a thoroughly embarrassed Mr. Flood meekly agreed, using his lock down card in the elevator to take the HSBC delegation to his office on the 8th floor, Cp. Van Satsen in tow.
Once in Emerson’s office, HSBC presented two copies of Thomas Griffin’s human rights to Flood, who assured everyone that one copy would be couriered to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, and that he and Emerson would read the document. He also assured the delegation that he would maintain lines of communication and be open to a meeting with Emerson and HSBC at a future date. He also regretted not replying to HSBC’s messages confirming the meeting.
The RCMP officer accompanied the HSBC members to the lobby, who proceeded to question him on the nature of the lockdown. Van Saset feigned ignorance saying he was merely reporting to work as a routine given that ministers were in the city. HSBC promptly labelled his response “disingenuous” given that both the secretary and Flood had informed HSBC earlier that the RCMP had locked the building down anticipating a demonstration.
The HSBC delegation then proceeded to the Vancouver Public Library next door where they hung their banner and distributed leaflets pertaining to the severe repression that is taking place in Haiti under the command of Canadian Forces, RCMP, and Canadian diplomats.
Haiti Solidarity B.C. makes note of and denounces the cowardly actions of the RCMP, who clearly attempted to intimidate and potentially criminalize those attempting to express their political opposition to Canadian government policies in Haiti. HSBC further notes that it is well within the purview of democratic rights to have concerned citizens present a human rights report to an elected official, and contrasts the lockdown in Vancouver with the formal reception of a large and vocal delegation at the Prime Minister’s Office on the same issue the same day in Ottawa.
Further, Haiti Solidarity B.C. notes that the RCMP are presently within the command structure of the UN sanctioned occupation of Haiti, and are mandated with the task of “assisting, supporting and training,” the Haitian National Police. These same Haitian police have been implicated in numerous summary executions of Haitians in poor neighborhoods where support for democratically elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide remains strong.
Both the RCMP and the Liberal government have reasons to deflect legitimate criticism of their clear criminal role in Haiti. The events played out in Vancouver today demonstrate that both the RCMP and the federal government are willing to go to considerable lengths to coverup the realities of their actions and policies in Haiti. However, Haiti Solidarity B.C. will not be intimidated and will continue to help educate Canadians about these realities while challenging the federal government and RCMP on these important issues.
HSBC is sending the following letter demanding an explanation and apology from the office of Industry Minister David Emerson.
The Honourable David Emerson, Minister of Industry Government of Canada
Please find enclosed a press release containing most of the pertinent facts regarding my effort on behalf of Haiti Solidarity BC to present you a report on human rights violations in Haiti as a result of the coup d’etat which your government and the governments of the United States and France planned and then carried out on February 29th, 2004 removing from office the elected President of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide.
I am particularly disturbed, not only as a member of the Haiti Solidarity BC delegation scheduled to meet with you or your representative, but also because I live in Vancouver Kingsway. I had made it perfectly clear to your representative, Mr. Flood that I was coming to the meeting as a concerned constituency member. Further, I was a candidate in the June 28, 2004 federal election for a registered political party, and I regard your treatment of our scheduled meeting, calling in the RCMP to lock-down the 8th Floor, to be a ridiculous and sinister action, an affront and challenge to the exercise of our right to be political and our right to conscience. How does your government justify such direct police intervention in ordinary relations between a constituent and member of parliament? How does any group of citizens trying to present a government minister a brief on an urgent matter get to be criminalized in the manner we were by this “lock-down” of your office in Vancouver on February 28, 2005?
Fortunately, we were determined not to be intimidated, nor marginalized by this high-handed behavior of your staff and RCMP responsible for security. They did retreat under pressure.
However, the Haiti Solidarity BC and I personally, as a citizen living in your constituency of Vancouver Kingsway, demand both an explanation and an apology. Please also be aware I was told directly by your constituency office that I should bring matters such as Haiti to your office at 808, 300 West Georgia Street, which is why we followed the normal and civil procedure we did to schedule a meeting with you or Mr. Flood at 10:30 a.m. February 28th.
Charles Boylan Haiti Solidarity BC
February 28, 2005
Occupied Haiti Resource Page
Autonomy & Solidarity auto_sol.tao.ca/ has produced an Occupied Haiti Resource Page that contains background analysis, breaking news and multimedia on the occupation and pro-Aristide resistance.
Today marks the one year anniversary of the coup in Haiti. On February 29, 2004, Haiti’s elected government led by Jean Bertrand Aristide was overthrown by right wing militias linked to Haitian elites and to the US and Canadian governments. After the coup, American, French, Canadian and Chilean troops occupied the country in order to preserve what had transpired, including the imposition of a puppet government and the abolition of the minimum wage. A year on, the puppet regime continues to repress Aristide’s Lavalas Party, which remains the largest and the most popular in Haiti. The Canadian RCMP are overseeing the training of the Haitian police, which are committing massacres against the popular movements for democracy and for Aristide’s return. The Occupied Haiti Resource Page contains background analysis, breaking news and multimedia on the occupation and pro-Aristide resistance.
To visit the Occupied Haiti Resource Page, go to:
“Men anpil chay pa lou” is Kreyol for – “Many hands make light a heavy load.”
See, The Haitian Leadership Networks’ 7 “Men Anpil Chay Pa Lou” campaigns to help restore Haiti’s independence, the will of the mass electorate and the rule of law. www.margueritelaurent.com/law/lawpress.html