Sunday, January 30, 2011

Haiti: Aristide Speech - September 27, 1991

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide delivers speech in front of Haiti's national Palace on September 27, 1991.

Few Haitians, scholars and historians have had the opportunity to hear and study the full speech of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on September 27, 1991. The speech was mired in controversy after Raymond Joseph, current Haitian ambassador to Washington D.C. but then Publisher of the right-wing newspaper Haiti Observateur, released his "translation" of the speech.

Joseph's translation was circulated by Ellen Cosgrove, the political officer of the U.S. Embassy in 1991, to the international press as proof that Aristide supported "pe lebrun" or necklacing with burning tires doused with gasoline. Many translators and scholars have since criticized Joseph and the U.S. for slanting the translation countering that Aristide's reference to "tool" and "smell" were colorful Kreyol metaphors describing Haiti's constitution. They say this only becomes clear when heard in the context of the entire speech.

The historical context of the speech is equally important as it follows an attempt by the Duavlierists and Roger Lafontant to overthrow Aristide's government in a coup only three months earlier. Aristide was caught between plots by Duvalierists aligned with Haiti's wealthy elite and the violent reaction and impulses of the Haitian masses to decades of brutal repression known as dechoukaj.

Aristide was overthrown two days after delivering this speech on September 31, 1991. The Joseph translation of the speech was handed out by Ellen Cosgrove to the press on October 7, 1991 during a visit by the Organization of American States (OAS) to Haiti.

This speech has been referred to many times, including in the present context, to justify keeping Aristide out of politics and the violent repression of Haiti's poor masses represented by the Lavalas movement.

Kevin Pina and the Haiti Information Project (HIP) now offer for history the complete unedited speech in Kreyol as it was videotaped that day in Sept. 1991.

Also WATCH Kevin Pina's latest video  
Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits"


Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits

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Format: NTSC 4:3, color, stereo, TRT: 66-minutes 

Watch for Kevin Pina's new documentary Haiti: The Betrayal of Democracy

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Haiti: Harvest of Hope

Narrated by Roscoe Lee Browne, Haiti: Harvest of Hope is the quintessential primer for understanding the roots of the current crisis in Haiti. The film dramatically captures seminal moments in the history of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Lavalas movement that swept him into the presidency in December 1990.

Haiti: Harvest of Hope was originally planned as a documentary about democracy coming to Haiti with the election of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in December 1990. During the final editing of the original (late September 1991) Haiti was struck by yet another military coup. Editing of the first version came to a halt as Kevin Pina (the filmmaker) returned to Haiti and spent the next three weeks chronicling the brutality and machinations of Haiti's new military leaders and their supporters.

Kevin Pina returned to Haiti in late July 1993 just after the negotiation of the Governor's Island Accord between the Haitian Government in exile and General Raoul Cedras. Pina returned again in 1994 to film Aristide's return to Haiti. The world television premiere of Harvest of Hope was in Haiti on Mother's Day, March 28, 1994. The broadcast was dedicated to the mothers of Haiti who sacrificed so much during the years of the coup to restore democracy to Haiti.

The Creole version was produced in association with Jean-Claude Martineau who also introduced the film on Haitian National Television. The first English version of Harvest of Hope was shown to a sold-out house at the Mill Valley, California Film Festival in the summer of 1994.

Never having received wide distribution since, Harvest of Hope is a rare film that few have had the opportunity to experience. The final director's cut was completed in 1998 and has only been seen by a select few. (DVD, 57 minutes, 1998)

WATCH Haiti: Harvest of Hope FREE!!

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Also WATCH Kevin Pina's latest video  
Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits"


Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits

and support documentary film making

Available on DVD for personal home viewing for $20 plus shipping (CA residents add 8.25% tax)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

US Congresswoman Slams Duvalier, Preval and Foreign Intervention in Haiti

Washington D.C. — Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) issued the following statement today:

The plot to control Haiti has gone from the absurd to the ridiculous.  The return of Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti in the midst of a flawed election is truly shocking.  The Duvalier dictatorship was absolutely brutal, and there is extensive documentation of the human rights violations suffered by the Haitian people during his reign.  I was pleased to hear that the authorities had taken him into custody, and I urge that he be tried for his crimes.  Nevertheless, Duvalier's return raises serious questions about who in Haiti facilitated his return and what his supporters expect to gain by bringing him back.

Duvalier's return comes in the midst of a desperate attempt by President Rene Préval to maintain control of Haiti by ensuring the election of Jude Celestin, his chosen successor.  President Préval did this by appointing a Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) that was biased in his favor, which refused to allow candidates from over a dozen political parties to participate in the elections.  Among those excluded was Lavalas, Haiti's largest political party and the party most popular among Haiti's poor.  The result was a deeply flawed election that generated widespread and sometimes violent protests among the Haitian people.

Had the elections truly been inclusive, the most likely result would have been the election of a President who represented the impoverished majority of the Haitian people.  This would have been contrary to the interests of the rich and powerful business elites of Haiti, whose main goal has always been the exploitation of the Haitian people as cheap labor.  It is these wealthy Haitian elites who benefited under the reign of the Duvalier regime and who would no doubt benefit if he were to return to power.

Additional confusion was created by the Organization of American States (OAS), which attempted to salvage these flawed elections by issuing a report based on flawed methodology.  The OAS did not conduct a full recount, but instead examined a sample of only 919 of the 11,181 tally sheets from voting booths across Haiti, threw out 234 of these tally sheets, and then concluded that Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly should advance to a runoff, along with Mirlande Manigat, in place of Jude Celestin.  The OAS report concluded that Martelly defeated Celestin by a margin of only 0.3 percent of the votes reported on those tally sheets that the OAS chose to count.  This would mean Préval's candidate, the candidate who is most likely to be trusted by the elites, would be eliminated.

However, according to an analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), tally sheets were either missing or were discounted for irregularities at 1,326 voting booths or 11.9 percent of the total.  The proportion of discounted votes and other irregularities is more than sufficient to cast doubt upon the entire process, especially when the difference between the number of votes counted for Celestin and Martelly is so small.  The recommendation of the OAS to change the names of the candidates included in the runoff election is an ill-advised and sloppy attempt to fix an election that should be scrapped entirely.

In any case, it is now clear that no runoff can be held this month as previously planned, and no successor will be elected prior to February 7th, the last day of President Préval's term in office under the constitution.  Consequently, there is the possibility that Haiti could find itself with no President, thus creating a void and the opportunity for a dictator.

I was shocked to learn that OAS officials discussed forcing President Préval to leave the country on board a plane – much the way that former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced to leave the country in a coup d'état in 2004.  Ricardo Seitanfus, the former OAS Special Representative to Haiti, recently revealed that at a meeting of United Nations, OAS and donor country officials, some representatives suggested that President Préval should leave the country and an airplane should be provided for that purpose.

The OAS and other international agencies have no right to dictate the outcome of the election and no right to plot the exile of the current President of Haiti.  Despite President Préval's role in these failed and fraudulent elections, the OAS cannot be a part of a plan to try to determine the outcome of the elections.

It is absurd and outrageous that anyone would even think to take advantage of this situation to facilitate Baby Doc Duvalier's return to Haiti.  Unfortunately, he has returned, and it is important to ask why.  Who assisted Duvalier in his return?  Where did he get the money to pay for his return?  Were any officials of the U.S. Government aware of his plans to return?  Was the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aware?  If so, was any action taken to stop him from returning or to ensure that he would be arrested and prosecuted for his crimes and not allowed to usurp power if he did return?

I am deeply concerned that the wealthy elites of Haiti who supported the Duvalier regime in the past, along with the assistance of international agencies, may have encouraged Duvalier to return in the hope that the flawed elections will create a power vacuum that could allow him to take power once again.  I am even more concerned that OAS officials may be wittingly or unwittingly helping to create precisely the type of power vacuum that would enable him to do so.

It is important that we determine what role U.S. officials played, if any, in facilitating Duvalier's return.  It is even more important that we determine what role the U.S. Government will play moving forward.

The U.S. Government promised to help Haiti recover from last year's earthquake and develop its economy.  I introduced legislation to forgive Haiti its foreign debt, and allow the country to secure additional aid in the form of grants so that it wouldn't incur further debt.  I was very pleased that Congress passed the legislation in a bipartisan manner, and that President Obama signed it into law just three months after the earthquake.  President Obama also requested and Congress appropriated almost $3 billion in funds for humanitarian assistance and long-term reconstruction and development for Haiti.  Meanwhile, donor countries committed more than $9 billion in aid for Haiti's reconstruction at an international donors' conference last March.

Haiti's next government will be called upon to make difficult decisions regarding the allocation of these resources.  If these decisions are not made by a credible and legitimately-elected government, billions in U.S. taxpayer funds could be wasted and many donors may refuse to distribute the funds that were promised.  Meanwhile, Haiti's recovery could be delayed for decades and the Haitian people will continue to suffer.

I believe the only recourse is for Haiti to organize new elections that will be free and fair, inclusive of all eligible political parties and candidates, and open to participation by all Haitian voters.  The U.S. Government should demand a clear statement to that effect by both the OAS and President Préval, and the U.S. should stand ready to assist Haiti in organizing new elections.

Only through free, fair and inclusive elections will the people of Haiti be empowered to create a better future for themselves and their children.

Sean Bartlett
Press Secretary
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35)
2344 Rayburn HOB / Washington, DC 20515
(o) 202.225.2201
(f)  202.225.7854

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Haiti: Obama does not like black people

A documentary review by Jafrikayiti

"We now live in a world where powerful countries - all of them so-called democracies - manipulate multilateral bodies to the great disadvantage and suffering of the poorer developing nations". 

Rolihlahla (Nelson) Mandela

As the year 2010 closes the United Nations is facing a serious crisis of credibility. Whether in Ivory Coast, in the Congo or in Haiti, U.N. troops sent to "keep the peace" are repeatedly accused of perpetrating grave human rights violations, including mass murders. This note shall focus on the track record of the Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation d'Haiti (MINUSTHA), which has been in operation in this Caribbean island nation for the past six years. We shall also see, at the end of this brief text, what all this has to do with Barack Obama.

In a recent interview, Brazilian diplomat Ricardo Seitenfus accused the U.N. of "transforming the Haitians into prisoners on their own island". Within a matter of hours, Seitenfus was called back to Brazil and summarily fired from his post as Special Representative of the Organization of American States in Haiti.

In recent days, former Cuban President Fidel Castro spoke publicly in support of Seitenfus ( ). However, is there tangible evidence in support of Seitenfus' grave assertions? American investigative journalist Kevin Pina has just released a powerful documentary that should help answer this specific question without ambiguity.

Pina's We Must Kill the Bandits is 66-minutes long. Its "in your face" style is both provocative and irresistible. Packed with video evidence, "Bandits" leads the viewer to a desturbing yet unescapable conclusion: As per Patrice Lumumba's 1960 Congo, in 2010 Haiti, the United Nations is mobilized as a deadly tool of repression in the hands of powerful countries that are bent on robbing Haitians of their right to self-governance and democratic rule.

We Must Kill the Bandits is available over the Internet at URL: Please be warned! This well-researched documentary is graphic and highly disturbing. The film should not be viewed in the company of small children.

From the onset Pina makes the point that the U.N.-attributed murders documented in his film continue to occur up to the current year.

Among several powerful elements in We Must Kill the Bandits, I propose these segments, listed in chronological order, which are especially deserving of attention:

Pina provides historical context for the term "bandits". He uses archive footages of U.S. invasions of Haiti in 1915 and 2004 (see minutes 5:43 to 8:07)

Pina interviews U.S. author Randall Robinson who shares specific details surrounding the ouster of President Aristide by U.S. military personnel and diplomats, the evening of the February 29, 2004 coup d'état (8:08)

The author painstakingly documents how a campaign of military repression and psychological warfare intensified immediately following Aristide's ouster. He illustrates this with a March 2004 incident whereby U.S. troops gunned down Spanish reporter Ricardo Ortega and maneuvered to have the latter's killing blamed on Aristide supporters (10:09- 12:50).

With a one-of-kind video interview of former Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, the filmmaker presents indisputable proof that Neptune knew that Haitian President Aristide was taken out of Haiti against his will and that the post-coup puppet president (Boniface Alexandre) was illegally installed by foreign diplomats (13:24-15:00).

Convincingly, Pina describes the process by which former military tough guy and CIA-operative Herard Abraham was remobilized to orchestrate, in conjunction with Canadian Special Forces, a resurrection of Haiti's hated Forces Armées d'Haiti (FAdH) and its paramilitary arm FRAPH, by recycling their membership within the Haitian National Police. (15:50 - 17:55)

The camera follows the campaign to silence popular folk artist and political activist Annette (Sò Anne) Auguste (20:15- 22:08)

U.N. massacres that happened between September 30 and December 2004 as well as the arrest of human rights activist Father Gérard Jean-Juste are presented with graphic details (26:10- 36:00).

The second half of the documentary exposes how the U.N. campaign of repression continued unabated throughout 2005 and 2006. A number of specific confrontations are highlighted: First, between pro-democracy demonstrators and Brazilian U.N. General Heleno (37:00-46:00) - it is noteworthy that Heleno's successor, U.N. Commander Urano Teixeira Da Matta Bacellar, met a tragic end that has never been fully explained at Hotel Montana, on January 7, 2006. Then, between masked Haitian policemen operating with full U.N. support and the journalists, including producer Kevin Pina, whom they try to intimidate into silence. This is yet another "must watch" moment (48:50 - 50:53).

Particularly disturbing and graphic are the final images of the documentary where the producers describe U.N. massacres in Cité Soleil, that occurred May 31, 2005 (50:54 - 54:25), July 6, 2005 (56:11 - 1:00: 43) and December 22, 2006. In the latter piece, a blind man nursing several gunshot wounds grabs a guitar and offers a song to the foreigners ("blan"- "whites") whom he accuses to have shot him and wounded his two children. « blan MINUSTAH sa m genyen ak ou?" - (What have I done to you MINUSTAH foreigners?).

As we ponder the blind man's question, I have not forgotten my promise to address your own. Indeed, what does all of this have to do with Barack Obama? At the risk of confusing you even further, let me answer: "nothing whatsoever!." In these days of Hollywood-style reporting, it is apparently impossible to attract interest in the plight of millions of human beings dying at the end of U.N. guns. That the same "peacekeeping forces" supposedly mobilized to bring peace to an impoverished people has instead caused a deadly epidemic of cholera in their midst isn't deserving of the attention of mainstream media. Even less so is the valiant effort being deployed by Haitians to resist the incredible set of natural and man-made disasters visited upon them since 2004. They will likely never make the screens of CNN, BBC or Radio-Canada. Mindful of this sad fact, a clever producer recently titled his powerful documentary A Marshall Plan for Haiti. Yet, rather that daydreaming about sudden goodwill towards Haiti by its historical tormentors, this film sheds light on the existence of true transformative Haitian leadership in action. Perhaps, Pina should also change the title of his film to "Please Make Haiti a U.N. Protectorate Governed by Bill (Tarzan) Clinton."

I apologize for the misleading title of this article. Unlike We Must Kill the Bandits that focuses on the real fight for power in streets of Haiti, Hollywoodized culture in the US continues to emphasize the immensely attractive theme of black fratricide. We've seen them project that concept onto Africa, Haiti and poor black communities throughout the US. With that in mind, I invite you to partake in Haiti's traditional Independence Day (January 1) "soup joumou" (Pumpkin soup). And, as we do, let us remember and ponder upon the words of His Majesty Jean-Jacques Dessalines, liberator and founder of the first Republic of the Americas to have abolished racial slavery and truly embraced universal human freedom: "and those whose fathers are in Africa, will they have nothing?"