Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Call to Action 4 Democracy in Haiti

End US complicity in election fraud & violence in Haiti

Outrage over Stolen Election 

Oct. 25 saw massive election fraud in Haiti – ballot stuffing, vote buying, armed coercion, naked vote rigging all the way from polling places to final tabulation. U.N. occupation agencies played a key role in the fraud, which was condemned by voters, most political parties, press, human rights groups, prominent intellectuals and religious leaders. National police and their affiliates fired automatic weapons into working class areas like Arcahaie and Cite Soleil as the election approached, killing many including two pregnant women and a 7-year-old boy. Later, hooded gangs attacked marchers with machetes, pipes, hammers, and guns, killing young election protesters as police turned a blind eye. 

Fraud and violence effectively prevented Haiti’s voters from electing the candidate of their choice. Instead, the ruling party’s handpicked Jovenel Moise, a political neophyte, was made the top-vote-getter. Yet the Haitian people are determined to thwart what they see as an ongoing “electoral coup d’etat” by Haiti’s ruling elite, President Martelly and their U.S., French and Canadian backers – marching in the streets almost daily in their tens of thousands, risking their lives to insist that the fraudulent election be thrown out. Many are comparing today’s non-stop mass demonstrations to the uprisings that led to the 1986 collapse of the dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier. 

 The people are turning the defense of their vote into a focus of mass struggle against the hated neo-Duvalierists in the Haitian government and their foreign backers. Fanmi Lavalas, widely acknowledged as the country’s most popular political party, described the Oct. 25 first round as “… a pre-planned fraudulent enterprise that stripped the elections of all credibility…[in] violation of the rights of the Haitian people who alone can choose their leaders through an electoral process,” in its petition to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights. “These rigged elections of 2015 constitute … an attack on the national sovereignty…and a violation of the political rights of the Haitian people...” 

We in the Haiti Action Committee are initiating this call to action to support our courageous sisters and brothers in Haiti. We urge you to join us. 

Blast an Action Alert Now to mobilize members of your organization and your network of allies. Ask them to organize a flood of email, phone calls and social media to US officials on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, the 25th anniversary of Haiti’s first free election in 1990. Keep up the pressure afterwards to join and support the movement of Haiti's people for democracy and human rights!

-Tweet the Secretary of State @JohnKerry. 
-Call President Obama 202 456 1111 and members of the Congress 202 224 3121. 
-Call Kenneth Merten 202-647-9510 (fax 647 8900) 

Tell them: 

1. Stop supporting fraudulent elections in Haiti. 
2. Stop the US-financed terror campaign against the poor majority who are fighting for democracy in Haiti. 

 Join the International Days in Solidarity with Haiti. Support Haiti’s fight to overturn the stolen election. Organize an action or educational activity in your city or town to support the grassroots movement in Haiti. Please contact us or call 510 848 1656. Tell us the details of any action you are organizing, large or small, so we can publicize it as part of the International Days in Solidarity with Haiti. Let us know your ideas for spreading this movement far and wide. 

The campaign is aimed initially at the week of Dec. 16, the 25 the anniversary of Haiti’s first free election in 1990 which swept a courageous parish priest Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide into the Presidency with two-thirds of the vote. In 2015, after being excluded for 11 years since the 2004 coup, Aristide’s Lavalas party was finally able to run candidates, headed by Presidential standard- bearer Dr. Maryse Narcisse. People in poor neighborhoods all over Haiti welcomed the grassroots campaign of Dr. Narcisse with great joy, and responded angrily to the brazen attempt to steal the elections. 

In solidarity, with thanks for your enduring support for the people of Haiti, Haiti Action Committee @HaitiAction1 and on Facebook.

Some key facts about the 2015 stolen election and state repression: 

-Dr. Narcisse, as part of the official Lavalas legal challenge, visited the Vote Tabulation Center, along with election officials, observers, representatives of another contesting smaller party Meksepa and of the ruling PHTK party. They examined 78 randomly selected vote tally sheets (proces verbaux), and all present agreed that every one of the 78 tally sheets was fraudulent, without exception. The US-backed CEP election commission then abruptly ended the legally-mandated verification process -- invalidating those 78 particular tally sheets, but failing to check the over 13,000 tally sheets remaining to be verified. With that, the CEP inexplicably accepted the fraudulent election “results” as legitimate. 

-Deputy A.R.Bien-Aime and 2 other PHTK candidates made a startling revelation about UNOPS, a U.N. agency assigned to transport ballot boxes to the Tabulation Center. They charged that while in U.N. custody, the ballot boxes were switched en route with boxes of pre-filled-out ballots. In addition, a National Palace official was involved in a vehicle accident in which pre-filled-out ballots, marked for the Presidential candidate of Martelly’s PHTK party, Jovenel Moise, were spilled on the road. 

-15 prominent Haitian intellectuals, outraged by “clear involvement of U.N. agencies in the fraud that marred the elections,” wrote an Open Letter to the U.N. Mission stating, “the whole world is discovering, under pressure from the street…the truth of the biggest electoral fraud operation…for the last 30 years in Haiti.” 

courtesy of
-Kenneth Merten was appointed US Special Haiti Coordinator in August to deal with the election crisis. He was also on the scene for the 2010 elections. Under the direction of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the US favorite Martelly was catapulted from 3rd place into the run-off and ultimately the Presidency. [Election commission chair Pierre Opont admitted last July that the US “rigged the 2010 election.”] Recently Merten said the 2015 election “cannot be decided by the street.” He said the US had committed $31 million to fund the 2015 election, plus $2.8 million to the Haitian National Police for election “security.” 

Some 10,000 police and 2,500 U.N. troops were deployed on election duty. -The so-called Core Group -- which includes the US, France & Canada, whose troops invaded Haiti in the 2004 coup; Brazil, which heads the U.N. military occupation of Haiti; the EU; OAS; and Spain --has also accepted the CEP’s fraudulent election “results” as legitimate. The fix is in.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Congresswoman Waters Urges Secretary Kerry to Support Free, Fair and Democratic Elections in Haiti

For Immediate Release
Contact: Twaun Samuel
Phone: (202) 225-2201
Congresswoman Waters Urges Secretary Kerry to
Support Free, Fair and Democratic Elections in Haiti
Calls for Investigation of Election Violence, Fraud and Voter Intimidation
October 5, 2015
Washington, DC,  – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, expressing deep concern about Haiti’s 2015 elections and the impact they will have on Haiti’s future if the Haitian people do not perceive them to be credible. According to the State Department, Secretary Kerry will be visiting Haiti tomorrow.
Congresswoman Waters’ letter urges Secretary Kerry to take all necessary and appropriate action to support free, fair and democratic elections in Haiti.  The letter specifically calls on him to make a clear statement that the violence, fraud and voter intimidation witnessed in the first round of the elections should be thoroughly and independently investigated, that the individuals and parties responsible for the violence must be sanctioned, regardless of political party affiliation, and that the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) must make the reforms necessary to establish public trust.  A copy of the letter was sent to Kenneth Merten, the State Department’s Haiti Special Coordinator. 
During Congresswoman Waters’ thirteen terms in Congress, she has visited Haiti many times, and she has worked with her colleagues in Congress, State Department officials, Haitian political leaders, and Haitian civil society to promote political stability, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and economic and social development in Haiti.  Following the 2010 earthquake, she introduced the Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act (H.R. 4573), which was passed and signed into law by the President.
The text of the Congresswoman’s letter follows (footnotes were included in the original):

Dear Secretary Kerry:
As you know, I am a strong supporter of Haiti, and I care deeply about the well-being of the Haitian people.  I appreciate the ongoing efforts of the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide assistance to Haiti to improve health, education, nutrition, and economic development for the Haitian people. 
As a supporter of Haiti, I respect Haiti’s sovereignty.  Nevertheless, I am deeply concerned about Haiti’s 2015 elections and the impact they will have on Haiti’s future if the Haitian people do not perceive them to be credible.  Therefore, as you undertake a trip to Haiti at this critical moment, I urge you to take all necessary and appropriate action to support free, fair and democratic elections in Haiti.
The voting in the August 9 first-round parliamentary elections was marred by massive irregularities, which set a troubling precedent for Haiti’s upcoming October 25 Presidential and second-round parliamentary elections. As you stated in your press conference with Prime Minister Evans Paul, it is “imperative” that these elections be successful. To make these elections successful, I believe it is imperative that the many problems noted in the first round of the elections be addressed, so that Haiti’s next government is legitimate and is perceived as legitimate.

Haiti’s first-round legislative elections on August 9 were characterized by disorder, delays and the closing of many polling stations due to violence and fraud. Turnout was extremely low, with less than 18% of registered voters participating nationwide.
Nearly 25% of the votes cast have not been accounted for and were never counted. Political party representatives – sometimes posing as election observers – frequently attempted to influence or intimidate voters, stuff ballot boxes and violently disrupt voting, according to local observer groups.[1] The European Union Observer Mission’s deputy head concluded that the disruptions and violence were consciously planned to influence the results.[2] The election, in the words of one observer group, was “an affront to democratic principles.”[3]

Despite an outcry from Haitian civil society and political parties, the CEP has not adequately remedied these glaring problems. Final results recently released by the CEP indicate that the vote will be rerun only in 24 of the country’s 119 constituencies. The CEP ruled that they would accept the votes from constituencies where at least 70% of the tally sheets were considered valid, a distressingly low threshold for acceptability, which brings into question the legitimacy of the candidates who will eventually take office.[4]

Despite local observers reporting widespread violence and irregularities, the CEP only excluded 16 out of the nearly 2,000 candidates from the election due to their alleged involvement in election-day violence. These sanctions, however, are little more than a slap on the wrist; candidates found responsible for violence and disruption of the voting process should be prosecuted. The CEP also warned parties that further disruptions of the elections would not be tolerated and notably singled out two political parties allegedly close to President Michel Martelly -- Parti Haïtien Tet Kale (PHTK) and Bouclier -- as those most frequently responsible for irregularities and disruptions.[5] However, the CEP announced no significant sanctions to penalize these parties.  The failure of the CEP to take stronger action for blatant electoral violations that often rose to criminal offenses delivers a disturbing political lesson: in Haitian elections, crime pays.

The inability or unwillingness of the CEP to properly investigate and sanction parties and candidates responsible for election irregularities has seriously damaged the institution’s credibility. I urge you to send a clear message that electoral violence will not be tolerated.

Many political parties and Haitian civil society are now demanding, at a minimum, an impartial and independent investigation into the August 9 election irregularities. Many are calling for the resignation of the current CEP and the annulment of the entire first round.[6] Thus far, United States officials in Haiti have refused to recognize the scale of the fraud and violence that affected the August 9 elections. Disregarding the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, U.S. officials continue to insist that incidents of violence and fraud were isolated and did not affect the overall electoral process.[7]

President John Kennedy famously remarked, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Running transparently unfair elections, with the support of the international community, will leave many Haitians to once again conclude that they have no choice but to protest the elections and the consequent government through social disruption. Indeed, this is what happened in the political cycle of the past four years that began with controversial elections in 2010 and 2011 that brought President Martelly to power, and led to the current crisis where every elected office in the country is vacant save for ten Senate seats and the Presidency. Such disruption would threaten to severely limit the next government’s ability to govern and imperil United States’ past and future investments in Haiti’s reconstruction.

I call on you to make a clear statement that the violence, fraud and voter intimidation witnessed on August 9 should be thoroughly and independently investigated, that the individuals and parties responsible for the violence must be sanctioned, regardless of political party affiliation, and that the CEP must make the reforms necessary to establish public trust. The United States government should also state unequivocally that it will not provide funding for elections that do not meet these minimum, basic democratic requirements. 

Maxine Waters
Member of Congress
[1] Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains, Conseil National d’Observation des Elections and Conseil Haïtien des Acteurs non Etatiques, “Rapport sur le premier tour des élections législatives partielles,” August 25, 2015; Justice and Peace Commission, “Twazyèm pozisyon Komisyon Jistis ak Lapè sou jounen vòt 9 dawou 2015 lan,” August 12, 2015; Platforme des Organisations Haïtiennes des Droits Humains, “Rapò preliminè sou dewoulman eleksyon 9 dawout 2015 nan peyi a,” August 13, 2015.
2 Louis-Joseph Olivier, “L’Union européenne fait des propositions pour améliorer le processus électoral,” Le Nouvelliste, August 25, 2015.
3 Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains, Conseil National d’Observation des Elections and Conseil Haïtien des Acteurs non Etatiques, “Scrutin du 9 août 2015 : un accroc aux normes démocratiques !” August 10, 2015
4 Jake Johnston, “Fraud, Violence, and Protests Cloud Results of Haitian Election,” Vice News, September 6, 2015.
5 Ibid.; Conseil électoral provisoire, “Communiqué #51: Mise en Garde au Partis et Groupements Politiques,” August 24, 2015.
6 Remixon Guillaume, “Des partis politiques de tendances différentes, pour l’annulation des élections législatives,” Le Nouvelliste, September 7, 2015; Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains, Conseil National d’Observation des Elections and Conseil Haïtien des Acteurs non Etatiques, “Observation du Processus électoral : Le RNDDH, le CNO et le CONHANE exigent l'évaluation du scrutin du 9 août 2015,” September 7, 2015.
7 At her last press conference on August 27, outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela A. White stated: “I am happy to see that the first round of elections occurred, and that the outcome, while not perfect, was acceptable.” On September 9, Ambassador White released a series of Tweets reaffirming this position that the first-round legislative elections did not require major correctives: “We cannot go back, because that would be ‘lave men siye atè’,” (Literally, “to wash one’s hands and then dirty them on the ground.” This Haitian proverb can be translated as “Ending up back where we started.”) The Ambassador stated her opposition to calls for the resignation of the CEP or the creation of a transitional government and accused protestors criticizing the CEP of “causing disorder in the streets.”

Kathleen Sengstock
Senior Legislative Assistant
Rep. Maxine Waters
2221 Rayburn Building
(202) 225-2201

Friday, October 2, 2015

Aristide, Chimeres and the Imperialist Stooges of Haiti

Some recite well-rehearsed lines accusing former president Jean -Bertrand Aristide of drug trafficking while others blithely repeat monstrous tales of how he armed children and killed babies. Yet others now sing that Aristide is a tool in the imperialist arsenal adding an odd syncopated dissonance to the chorus of voices in 2004 that moved from insulting the "rat pa kaka" poor of Haiti to labeling anyone in the streets supporting Lavalas as a "chimere."

Can these people from the streets of Haiti, once again demanding their right to vote in free and fair elections, be dismissed merely as either ignorant chimeres supporting a drug dealing baby killer or the unsuspecting dupes of an imperialist stooge?

Language reflects and refracts power betraying the interests of those invested in its meaning. Let this short video excerpt speak for itself and when you read Aristide's speech on September 30, 2015, the 24th anniversary of the brutal military coup against his democratic government, remember these words:

"Menm si nou foule beton an avè l, bradsou brad sa
Pou egzije anilasyon koudeta elektoral 9 Out la,
M santi nou ta renmen m di nou sa ak vwa pa m.
Mèsi pou konfyans sa a; se pou sa menm m priye,
Mwen reflechi anpil anvan m pran desizyon sa a.
Desizyon sa a pa ka tranpe nan sòs nayivte paske
Menm ti sèvèl wòwòt ki poko janm plonje nan
Dekolonizasyon mantal, deja konsate ke anverite,
Responsab yo chwazi fè seleksyon e non eleksyon."

Here's the full Kreole text of Aristide's speech given in Tabarre on September 30, 2015:

Sè m, Frè m, Ou menm ki bò isit ou k ap viv lòt bò dlo,
M kontan salye w nan lespri Mèm Amou an.
Nan lonbraj Zansèt nou yo, pèmèt mwen
Bay nou chak yon gwo akolad fratènèl e
Anbrase tout ti moun yo ak Jenès Peyi a
Ki gen yon plas espesyal nan fon kè m.
Ak anpil respè, m bese byen ba pou mwen salye

Memwa tout viktim koudeta 30 Septanm 1991 la.
Kò yo tonbe men yap toujou rete vivan nan lespri n.
Swè ak san Ero nou yo pa dwe koule pou granmesi.
Pou leve memwa tout Ayisyen ki sakrifye lavi yo
Pou delivrans Ayiti, ann manyen rasin mo Ayiti a.
Hai vle di non, pa. Tii vle di obeyi nan lang Swaili.
Haitii vle di pa obeyi. Haïti ou Haitii vle di
pa obeyi. Lontan, esklav yo te toujou ap di:
Pa obeyi kolon yo. Jodia, nou di: pa obeyi moun ki
pa respekte dwa moun. Haitii! Pa obeyi esklav
mantal ki nan koudeta elektoral.

Pa obeyi esklav mantal ki refize respekte vòt Pèp la.
Tout moun se moun. Vòt tout moun dwe konte.
Pwen. Sè m, Frè m, Pandan 3 zan silans sa yo, m
toujou koute vwa n. Lè tribilasyon lavi a ba nou
lafyèv, kò mwen cho. Lè nou swaf tande pozisyon m
aklè, m santi sa tou.
Menm si depi 19 Me 2015 Minouche deja fè n wè Ki
kandida m pra l chwazi pou pòs Prezidan Peyi a,
Menm si nou foule beton an avè l, bradsou bradsa
Pou egzije anilasyon koudeta elektoral 9 Out la,
M santi nou ta renmen m di nou sa ak vwa pa m.

Mèsi pou konfyans sa a; se pou sa menm m priye,
Mwen reflechi anpil anvan m pran desizyon sa a.
Desizyon sa a pa ka tranpe nan sòs nayivte paske
Menm ti sèvèl wòwòt ki poko janm plonje nan
Dekolonizasyon mantal, deja konsate ke anverite,
Responsab yo chwazi fè seleksyon e non eleksyon.
Ak espwa verite sa a pap fwase ou ofanse responsab yo
Ki se frè ak sè nou tou, men ki sa mwen obsève toujou:
Radyografi koudeta elektoral 9 Out 2015 la pote tras
Yon maladi ki rele: Négligence spatiale unilatérale.
Sa vle di, kategori malad sa yo wè yon sèl bò realite a.
Egzanp: Lè malad sa yo ap abiye, yo ka mete rad la
Yon bò kò yo e yo pa wè si lòt bò a rete san abiye.
Lè y ap manje nan yon asyèt, yo manje mwatye e
Yo pa wè si yo kite lòt mwatye manje a nan asyèt la.
Maladi sa a parèt biza men se konsa li manifeste paske
Pwoblèm nan chita nan yon zòn sèvo a ki rele lob parietal.
Responsab koudeta elektoral 9 Out 2015 la konpote yo
Menm jan ak malad sa yo ki wè yon sèl bò realite a.
Yon bò yo wè bilten vòt gwo zam fann fwa vle enpoze,
Men yo pa wè ke lòt bò a, se majorite Pèp Ayisyen an
K ap egzije respè dwa li genyen pou l vote nan eleksyon lib.
Tout moun se moun. Donk, vòt tout moun dwe konte. Pwen.
Radyografi koudeta elektoral 9 Out 2015 la montre
Yon 2e tras: li montre tras malad ki anozognozik.
Sa vle di: Malad ki refize aksepte ke yo malad.
Nan ka konsa, solisyon an se dabò mobilizasyon.
Mobilizasyon nou tout ki pa vle Peyi a tonbe
Nan toubiyon goudougoudou politik san parèy.

Ou menm ki depi 11 zan ap monte lesyèl pado,
Nou ki viktim ensekirite, abi, grangou, chomaj,
Jis nap file zegwi san tèt nan blakawout lamizè,
Nou menm kap soufri ak tout Ayisyen ki viktim
Rapatriman sitwayen ki soti Sen Domeng yo,
Ann met ansanm pou evite mal la vin pi mal.
Nou menm pwofesyonèl nan tout branch tankou :
Avoka, enjenyè, agwonòm, enfimyè, doktè,
Komèsan, peyizan, notab, pwofesè lekòl
K ap mare lafimen dezespwa depi 11 lane,
Ann met ansanm pou evite mal la vin pi mal.
Nou menm Jèn ki toupatou, nan pwovens kòm lavil,
Nan inivèsite kòm nan tout baz ak tout katye popilè yo
Ann mobilize pou fè chodyè a sispann bouyi yon sèl bò.
Nou pi plis. Nou se majorite a. Fòk sa bon pou nou tout.
Jan mwen te di nou jou ki te 9 Me 2013 la,
Sonje! Yon sèl machwa pa moulen vyann.
Nou youn bezwen lòt. Respè pou nou tout:
Moun save kòm analfabèt. Analfabèt pa bèt.
Rich kou malere, se antann pou n antann nou.
Aprè 11 lane, fòk nou rekoud drapo inite a.
Men nan men ak tout Ayisyen k ap viv lòt bò dlo
E ki swaf tounen lakay, ann kreye kondisyon pou
Patisipasyon tout moun debyen, tout moun serye,
Tout moun ki pa nan politik men ki konprann ke:
Si n pa sove Diyite n, Diyite n ap sove kite n.
Sè m, Frè m,
Peyi nou an malad grav e pou pi ta pa pi tris,
Fò n mobilize kont koudeta a jis nou rantre
Demokratikman nan Palè Nasyonal avèk
Dr Maryse Narcisse kòm Prezidan Peyi a.
Vote Dr Maryse ak tout kandida Fanmi Lavalas,
Bò Tab la, nimewo 54, se leve yon kokenn defi
Paske konplo a mare ak lajan ki pa rete ak lajan.

Sepandan ! Wi, sepandan !
Bouch an bouch, youn di lòt:
Konplo ki mare ak fòs lajan

Ka demare ak fòs diyite nou.
Bouch an bouch, youn di lòt:

Se pa lajan, se diyite.
Si n pa sove diyite n,
Diyite n ap sove kite n.


Dr Jean-Bertrand Aristide
30 Septanm 2015, Taba

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Militarized police & new army trained as protests grow in Haiti.

Mounting protests against sham elections and corruption, newly trained
paramilitary police units and the upcoming deployment of a new military
force trained in Ecuador.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

HIP coverage of elections in Haiti

Protesters hit the streets in one of many demonstrations in Port au Prince to demand
the annulment of recent parliamentary elections and an end to corruption in Haiti.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Haiti now faces a historical juncture with three rounds of new elections scheduled from August through October 2015. The election timetable is as follows:

·       Partial Legislative Elections: (20 Senators and 118 deputies)
Sunday, August 9, 2015: 1st round
·       2nd round of Legislative Elections/1st round of presidential elections and local elections
Sunday, October 25, 2015
·       If no candidate wins the 1st round all 2nd rounds held:
Sunday, December 27, 2015

I am writing to ask you to consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the Haiti Information Project (HIP) and our efforts to provide news and analysis of Haiti’s next elections. HIP is a collaboration between US and Haitian journalists and is one of the few sources of alternative news and information from the perspective of grassroots communities in Haiti as they struggle for local and national sovereignty. HIP regularly informs the reporting of nationally syndicated news radio shows such as Flashpoints on Pacifica radio and Sojourner Truth at KPFK in Los Angeles. It also provides regular updates and analysis of events in Haiti through the HIP blog and the HIP Twitter account with nearly 5000 followers. You can make a tax-deductible donation to our efforts through our fiscal sponsor, the Marin Interfaith Taskforce on the Americas. Simply designate the amount you’d like to give at the top of the form and under Program, check other and type in HIP to make sure our program receives the funds.

In addition to providing news and analysis, HIP reporters on the ground in Haiti also contribute historically valuable video footage. As you may already know, my past documentary films on Haiti have focused on the context of elections in 1990 and 2000. Haiti: Harvest of Hope traces the history of elections and social movements in Haiti that ultimately led to a Catholic priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, being elected in 1990. Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits has as its center the 2000 elections where the Lavalas party won most of the local and national contests culminating in the re-election of Aristide for a second term that same year. Both of these widely viewed documentaries cover the aftermath of these elections with Aristide overthrown in a brutal military coup in 1991 and then being ousted and forced on a plane by US Marines in 2004. Aristide’s party, Fanmi Lavalas, had been excluded from all elections following the second coup of 2004 and is only now re-emerging to participate in Haiti’s democratic process. Footage from HIP reporters on the ground in Haiti will also allow me to produce another short documentary updating and telling the real story behind mainstream news headlines.

Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

Kevin  Pina
Founding Editor
The Haiti Information Project

 Recent examples of reporting you won't see anywhere else about Haiti:

Friday, August 21, 2015

Results of Haiti's parliamentary elections

Haiti's election council held a press conference today as questions continue to mount about the legitimacy of the last parliamentary elections of August 9, 2015.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lavalas reaction to election irregularities in Haiti

Flashpoints interviews Yvon Kernizan in Haiti about the reaction of Fanmi Lavalas to the irregularities of the August 9, 2015 parliamentary elections. We also speak with political analyst Frantz Jerome for an update.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Haiti's elections legitimate?

Polling station destroyed by masked assailants in Rue Valliant, Port au Prince, Haiti.

Flashpoints interviews Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) who discusses the legitimacy of Haiti's recent parliamentary elections held on August 9, 2015.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Elections in Haiti under Martelly

Earlier in his career Haitian president "Sweet Mickey"/Michel Martelly
dresses in military garb. Martelly is accused of trying to restore
a new version of the historically brutal Haitian military.

Two Haitian analysts discuss the likely outcome of Haiti's parliamentary
elections held on August 9, 2015.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Behind Haiti's Low Voter Turnout

Voters forced to squat over bricks stacked on the floor holding cardboard
divider in Route de Freres polling station in the capital of Port au Prince.

Key polling stations were attacked by masked assailants
in the early morning hours and forced to close.

Flashpoints analysis of parliamentary elections held in Haiti on August, 9, 2015

Play Audio

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Haiti Flashback - May 2000 Elections


#3771: Pina comments on the closing of the poles with conch horns blowing

From: kevin pina <>
At the closing of the polls it was reported that the sound of conch horns 
was heard in several neighborhoods of Port au Prince.  The sound of the 
Caribbean native conch shell has long symbolized as a call for freedom in 
Haiti. It is well known as a call to arms for the maroons, communities of 
escaped slaves in the country's early history, who allied themselves with 
the forces that defeated Napoleon's armies, establishing Haiti as the 
world's first black republic.

Tonight it is heard as the symbol of an anticipated victory for Aristide's 
Lavalas party and political rectification for Haitian majority politics put 
off track by the 1991 coup and the nullification of the results of the 
previous parliamentary elections. There are also reports that quiet, 
spontaneous celebrations have begun to break out in several neighborhoods of 
Port au Prince. At a small but growing gathering in the front yard of a 
small merchant, one celebrant stated, "We have tried one more time to make 
them understand that what we want is change. Lavalas and Aristide are our 
choice." She seemed convinced that if the elections were fair that 
Aristide's Lafamni Lavalas party will emerge victorious.



The Aftermath of Haiti's Election

by Kevin Pina

Port au Prince, May 28, 2000 - There is palpable tension left in the wake of Haiti's recent parliamentary elections as many Lavalas supporters brace themselves for possible attacks by those who oppose a return of Jean-Betrand Aristide to Haiti's presidency. While a few naturally feel it could strike at any moment, others speculate it is more likely to occur closer to the final tallying when Lavalas appears to have won a majority in the Haitian parliament. This is not an irrational fear, as Haitian history will attest. For many, today is as it ever was, confronting the fear of retaliation from the wealthy elite and the military that are backed by powerful political allies in the US government.

When Jean-Bertrand Aristide emerged as the hands down winner of Haiti's presidential elections in 1990, it was at the head of a broad popular movement fomented by Haiti's poor majority known as Lavalas. After having endured years of being ruled as virtual chattel by the wealthy elite and military dictatorships which were propped up through corruption and violence, they courageously spoke with one clear voice in December of 1991 to demand real change in Haiti. Aristide and the Lavalas movement came to symbolize in the hearts and minds of most Haitians the desire to overturn the dark legacy of the past and create the possibility of a new future for Haiti's impoverished majority. Aristide's election by Haiti's poor majority was only the first challenge to the power of the country's traditional rulers. Preval and Aristide then pushed it further by throwing open the gates of Haiti's political reality to include the voice of the country's poor and dispossessed. For the first time the voices of the poor were echoed throughout Haiti's greatest symbol of power, the presidential palace.

After only seven months, this was, in the common tradition of Haiti, followed by a violent military coup financed and backed by the wealthy elite with powerful allies in Washington. This vicious military coup was prolonged by a half-hearted US led embargo that many in Lavalas believe was designed to allow time for the movement to slowly get chewed up by the army. At the same time, many within Haiti's traditional elite strengthened their position and added to their vast fortunes through profiteering during the embargo. Many Lavalas veterans view the coup as having been a "slow bleed" scenario for depleting the best resources of a popular movement for change while allowing Washington's traditional allies to grow stronger.

Those who offer this view have good reason to believe that the political machinations of Washington will not cease until they have a government to their liking in Haiti. First there was the coup of September 1991. Then, after Aristide's return there was the parliamentary elections of 1997, in which Lavalas won a clear majority, only to have them annulled following charges of fraud led by the likes of the International Republican Institute, The Carter Center for Democracy and the National Democratic Institute and the OPL. For many of in Haiti's grassroots it has become crystal clear that a government to Washington's liking does not include Aristide or Lavalas. As Haiti approaches the final tally of the ballots in this latest round of "US sponsored" elections, many are convinced it is essentially the same configuration of forces and dynamics in play today, the poor majority of Haitians opposed by the wealthy elite and their allies in the former military supported by powerful friends in Washington.

Not surprisingly, remnants of the US-trained Haitian military don't agree with the concept of popular democracy and in light of recent evidence there is growing speculation they have been plotting a comeback for quite some time. A May 11th story broke in Haiti reporting that eight former members of the Haitian military had been arrested for operating an underground recruitment network that supplied photo IDs bearing the official logo of the Armed Forces of Haiti. A warrant was also issued for the arrest of the signatory of the military IDs, identified as Mr. Serge Justafort who was working as chief of security for rental installations used by the US diplomatic mission in Haiti. Although much attention was given to this story in Haiti, confirmed by the Haitian National Police and the Ministry of Justice, not one word of it reached the international press.

The name of a Canadian national named Lynn Garrison also surfaced in connection with the busts in Haiti. Garrison was described in a June 1994 interview in the Toronto Globe and Mail as "a former Canadian born fighter pilot…playing the improbable role of advisor to the military regime, public relations man for the 1991 coup, and intelligence source for attacks by American conservatives on exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide." Garrison has made public claims he was the source for the "psychological profile" of former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide that was presented by the CIA's Brian Latelle to the US Senate in 1993. In that report, Aristide was described as mentally unbalanced, on lithium, and having been confined to a Canadian mental institution in the 1980's. On may 17th, less than one week before Haiti's scheduled election, the Haitian National Police issued an "arrest on sight" for Garrison on charges of "activities suspected of being destabilizing to democratic order." As one could have guessed, no mention was ever made of this in the international press.

The US Embassy staff, under former Ambassador Alvin Adams, used to refer to Haiti's wealthy class as the MRE's or the Morally Repugnent Elite because of their pronounced lack of concern for their fellow human beings. They too have also resurfaced in the form of Olivier Nadal, unabashed coup supporter and president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Nadal claims to have taken refuge in Washington out of fear of reprisals from Aristide, Preval, Lavalas, and the Haitian people. Popular organizations in Haiti have publicly accused Mr. Nadal of involvement in a campaign to force small peasant farmers off their land in the Artibonite Valley in 1995. It resulted in the "sacking and burning of over 100 homes and left several dead" according to the peasant rights organization Tet Kole.

Mr. Nadal's departure from Haiti coincided with the shenanigans of American Rice Corporation, owned by the Erly Corporation based in Los Angeles California, whose company representatives staged a dramatic flight from the country after it was revealed they had under claimed imports values to avoid customs fees. Nadal is also the voice closest to the ears of Senator Jesse Helms(R-SC), the powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and is known to have the favor of Congressman Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), chairman of the House International Relations Committee. On May 19, the eve of Haiti's parliamentary elections Nadal stated, " Aristide demonized Haiti's military to a point that no one commented upon its destruction, even though the army was Haiti's only structured element of law-and-order. This was replaced by an Aristide controlled police force, now coordinating much of the cocaine traffic into America. It is greatly responsible for much of the violence in Haiti as Aristide directs their activities from his 50 plus acre estate at Tabarre. Not bad for a priest who renounced his "vows of poverty" in October of 1990. He is now said to be worth over one billion dollars-much of his cocaine related"!!

 Given the recent revelations about the military and Nadal's pronouncements, to many in Lavalas it appears there is a new alliance being forged between Haiti's former military and the wealthy elite that represents a long lineage of "traditional" rulers known for their brutality and ruthlessness. They realize that the thought of a Lavalas led parliament and Aristide's return to the presidency must be a nightmare scenario to these familiar opponents. It must be the same for their allies in Washington. Early press reports from the election included scenarios of an Aristide "dictatorship" replete with a circle of "drug barons" and "political assassins" while Lavalas is portrayed as a violent mob under the control of a charismatic leader. There has, after all, been much invested in this campaign to cultivate an image of Aristide as a former priest and president transformed into a monster leading unruly mobs through the streets of Port au Prince.


Moving the Goal Posts in Haiti's Democratic Game

By Kevin Pina - Port-au-Prince, July 5, 2000
On May 21, 2000, the Haitian people once again played
by the rules of the democratic game, as directed and tutored by Washington and
the international community, only to see their hope for social change squashed
by yet another endless series of technicalities and accusations.  The current
political crisis in Haiti should come as no surprise if seen within the
context of earlier efforts at democratic change that resulted in the bloody
coup of 1991 and annulled elections in 1997.  Popular sentiment among Haiti's
grassroots organizations seems to be that each time they manage to score a
goal in the democratic game the United States and the international community
change the rules and move the goal posts farther out of reach.

Prior to the May 21st elections in Haiti, tremendous pressure was placed on
the Preval government to set a date for elections despite its official
objections that an evaluation of the process was necessary before proceeding
with the ballot.   The US anointed "political opposition" in Haiti cried foul
showing once again how their greatest constituency resides not in Haiti but
abroad.  They proclaimed loudly that Preval and Aristide were attempting to
delay the process so that parliamentary elections could coincide with
presidential elections in a plot to sweep Lavalas to victory on Aristide's
"coattails."  The Preval government ultimately relented and elections were
held on May 21st in what have been called "the most promising elections in
Haiti to date."  The international community initially embraced the May 21st
elections until it became clear that Aristide's "coattails" are so wide that
they must precede him as well as follow him.  Given the international
community's insistence on an accelerated timetable for the ballot, it made it
difficult for them to back down from initially endorsing the validity of these
elections.  This set the stage for the timely political debacle that has
ensued and what many in Haiti view as disingenuous performances by Orlande
Marville of the Organization of American States and Leon Manus the president
of the Provisional Election Council or CEP.

Given the tremendous investment involved, one cannot help but wonder at what
moment Mr. Marville was inspired to conclude that the calculations of the
ballots was based solely upon the top four vote getters and not the total
percentage of votes cast in the elections. It is difficult to believe that the
international community, and the OAS in particular, were not present to
observe the entire process of balloting and calculations of the ballot count
prior to the CEP releasing the initial results of the election.  Rather than
quietly communicating this discrepancy to the CEP and requesting a change in
the calculations prior to the release of results, the OAS chose to wait until
the CEP had committed itself to the purported incorrect calculations and timed
its "electoral revelations" in a manner that has obviously caused great damage
to the political process in Haiti.

And what of Leon Manus, president of the CEP, who has fled to a self-imposed
exile in the US claiming that his life had been threatened by the Haitian
government if he did not sign off on the "bad calculations?"  Immediately
following Mr. Marville's revelations, Mr. Manus was quoted on Radio Metropole
in Haiti stating that the results had been calculated in the same manner as
previous elections. If we are to believe Mr. Manus's first position then the
last example we have to look to are the annulled parliamentary elections of
1997.  The results of that election, which appeared to give Lavalas a
parliamentary majority, were discounted amid charges of electoral fraud led by
the International Republican Institute, the Carter Center for Democracy and
the National Democratic Institute, each closely associated with the Republican
and Democratic parties in the US respectively.  An analysis of press reports
from that period clearly show that the procedure for calculating the
percentages of ballots was never once brought into question with respect to
the 1997 parliamentary elections.  Instead, charges focused on "voting
irregularities" amidst a ramped up campaign to link Aristide and Lavalas to
violence and political assassinations in Haiti.

Presently, Mr. Manus has fled Haiti adding one more note in a well-documented
campaign to associate Preval, Aristide and Lavalas with violence as he
embraces the position of the OAS in a complete reversal of his initial
statement.  Mr. Manus's claims, whether coincidentally or by design,
overshadows the obvious error made by the "coattail" theorists and lends
support to the assertion that Aristide and Lavalas rigged the vote count in an
effort to establish a one-party dictatorship.

Haiti's poor majority has fought tirelessly since the coup of 1991 to restore
their original mandate of 1990 to transform a system of endemic,
institutionalized, predatory corruption into a modern democracy fulfilling the
aspirations of its citizenry.  A prevalent view among many Lavalas supporters
is that every imaginable obstacle has been placed before them to preclude this
restoration including a brutal military coup, charges of fraud, charges of
political violence, charges of drug running by Lavalas officials, and finally,
bad mathematics. In this context one might understand why Lavalas supporters
took to the streets in force to denounce what they view as another attempt to
overturn the results of yet another election in which they believe to have
reclaimed their original mandate for change in Haiti.

In the words of one young militant, belonging to one of the popular
organizations behind the recent show of Lavalas strength in the streets of
Port of Prince, "Haitian history will not move forward without a return of
Lavalas and Aristide to the presidency."  Many in Lavalas are convinced that
the OAS and the international community are conspiring to discredit the May
21st elections and throw them into disarray in an attempt to forestall the
coming presidential elections in which Aristide would be the hands down
winner.  Others believe that this recent political battle over the credibility
of the May 21st elections is intended to discredit the majority's popular
mandate and further isolate a Lavalas ruled Haiti from the community of
nations.  Let us hope for the sake of the Haitian people and the integrity of
US foreign policy that they are not right.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Elections in Haiti and the continuing scandals of President Martelly

Flashpoints interviews political analyst Frantz Jerome about upcoming elections in Haiti and new scandals brewing for President Michel Martelly and his PHTK party.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Price of Fame: Why Leading Artists and Intellectuals in Haiti supported the 2004 coup

A Vain Fascination: Writing from and 
about Haiti after the Earthquake

Raoul Peck—a leading member of the the pro-2004 coup G184 and Collectif Non!

Author: Andrew Leak


In the wake of the huge earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, Haiti instantly became the focus of media attention across the world. At that moment, the tropes that had imprisoned Haiti for two centuries (barbarism, savagery, vodou, the land-that-God-forgot, etc.) began to resurface. Some Haitian intellectuals sought to combat those images, but in so doing they inadvertently revealed their complicity not only in the negative discursive construction of their country, but also in the economic and military re-colonisation of Haiti over the last decade. Adept in the fabrication of replicas of ‘post-political’ discourse, These Haitian intellectuals are in reality a subset of that country's morally bankrupt political class.


Haiti is a country that rarely registers on the consciousness of news media—outside of the USA and Canada at least—unless its president is being deposed or it has been hit by a hurricane. But after a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti late in the afternoon of 12 January 2010, the world's media cast a spotlight on that country that continued to shine for several weeks, a spotlight that has been re-lit on each of the three subsequent anniversaries—albeit with diminishing intensity. However, that spotlight left some important issues in the shadows. My purpose in this article is to cast a little light into those shadowy recesses. For reasons that I will explain shortly, Haiti was immediately represented in the world's media by a small group of writers who enjoyed some name-prominence in France, Canada and, to a lesser extent, in the USA. Their neutrality or objectivity—not to mention their ‘authenticity’—appeared to be guaranteed by the simple labels ‘writer’ or ‘intellectual’ or ‘educator’. But as I will attempt to show, they had a history. 

And that history was one of an active, if disavowed, complicity with the reactionary forces—both within their country and outside of it—that have struggled to maintain Haiti's unenviable status as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

Reaping What You Sow

Haiti is the quintessential subaltern: deprived of the right to speak and subject to decisions taken by the elites both inside and outside of the country. Haiti has always been ‘known’ primarily through the narratives constructed about it in the centres of imperialist power. In finally defeating Napoleon's expeditionary force in 1803, Haiti endowed itself with a symbolic power that far exceeded its actual strength: throughout the nineteenth century, the great dread of the French bourgeoisie—haunted by memories of the Parisian mob during the French Revolution—was the ‘haitianisation’ of the popular classes, and if Haiti was not recognised by the Land of the Free until 1862, after the secession of the South, it is because of the dangerous example it had set in destroying the institution of slavery. As the Haitian sociologist Jean Casimir has noted, Haiti has always been a country that ‘disturbs’ (quoted in Dubois, 2012: 11). 

All forms of economic terrorism, backed up when necessary by means of gunboat diplomacy, were used to subdue this disturbing presence, but the weapon of choice has always been language. Haiti was imprisoned in the trope of barbarism. It was certainly no coincidence that it was during the USA's brutal occupation of Haiti (1915–1934) that lurid novels started to appear portraying Haiti as the Devil's own land, inhabited by cannibals and zombies: these texts were little more than projections of the occupiers' own brutality onto their victims. Many more tropes—by which I mean rhetorical constructs harnessed to an ideological agenda—have followed: despotism, corruption, coups d'état, vodou, poverty, violence. In January 2010, with the dust still not settled on Port-au-Prince, these clichés began to be resurrected by the world's media. In March, the evangelical preacher Pat Robertson assured his listeners on the Christian Broadcasting Network that Haiti owed its freedom to having made a pact with the devil (The Huffington Post, 2010). 

 The likely historical reference in Robertson's claim is to the semi-legendary ceremony at the Bois Caïman in August 1791: presided over by a vodou priest and priestess, it is widely held to have marked the start of the slave revolt (Dubois, 2012: 92). But the idea that Haiti was a cursed land was repeated in newspapers and television studios far more sympathetic to the plight of the Haitians than Robertson and his fundamentalist flock. So pervasive was the idea that Haiti was the object of a presumably divine malediction that it would be tedious to attempt even a cursory enumeration of those articles. The article published by Le Monde on 15 June 2010 under the banner headline ‘Haïti, la malédiction’ (The Curse on Haiti) and signed by modern historian-cum-reporter Jérôme Gautheret could serve as the epitome. In that article—where, amongst other things, the US occupation is described as an attempt to ‘restore a little order [to the country]’—Gautheret pulls off the tour de force of equating two centuries of interventions, exploitation and brutalisation with a succession of natural catastrophes (Gautheret, 2010).

No sooner had these first ill-judged articles appeared than voices were raised in protest. The voices in question were not those of Haiti's accredited representatives—its politicians—but those of Haitian writers and artists. By a curious happenstance, on 12 January 2010 Port-au-Prince was full of Haitian writers. The ‘Etonnants Voyageurs’ literary festival, organised by Michel Le Bris to promote his notion of ‘littérature-monde en français’ (world literature in French) was due to open in Port-au-Prince later that week. The organisers had been in place for a week; celebrated novelists such as Dany Laferrière had been doing the rounds of radio and TV stations for days; the poet and publisher Rodney Saint-Eloi (Laferrière's fellow Montréal ‘exile’) arrived at the Hotel Karibe only an hour or so before the earthquake hit. About twenty more French and francophone writers and academics were scheduled to arrive in the following days. And that is in addition to the many Haiti-based authors—such as Lyonel Trouillot, Yanick Lahens and Gary Victor—who were present and due to participate in the festival. The voices of these writers were amplified in short order by those of a veritable panoply of Haitian intellectuals with connections in the international media. By the autumn of 2010, many of these artists and intellectuals had published books which reproduced and supplemented the articles they wrote and interviews they gave at the time of the earthquake. These are listed at the end of this article.

One of the most urgent tasks for the writers responding to the disaster of 12 January was to combat the discourse being woven around the disaster in the international media. Dany Laferrière, for one, sensed the danger: ‘I can see a new label starting to emerge, one that is getting ready to bury us all completely: Haiti is a cursed country. There are even some Haitians who are starting to use it. You have to be really desperate to take on board the contempt of the other for oneself’ (Laferrière, 2010: 78). He continued: ‘All it takes is for one person to launch the word “curse” on the airwaves for it to metastatise like a cancer. Before they start talking about vodou, savagery, cannibalism and vampires, I feel that I still have enough energy to speak out against it’ (Laferrière, 2010: 79). I shall return to these cannibals in a moment.

Another cliché doing the rounds concerned the famous ‘resilience’ of the Haitian people. It fell to another novelist, Yanick Lahens, to inveigh against that particular cliché: ‘There is a kind of exoticism in glorifying the resilience of the Haitians. [The foreign press] has turned it into such a leitmotiv that it has become a cliché’ (Lahens, 2010b: 142). Lahens's pointed use of the term ‘exoticism’ signals her awareness that colonial habits die hard. Rodney Saint-Eloi, for his part, wished the word could be struck from the dictionaries (Saint-Éloi, 2010: 259).

Tiring perhaps of vodou, vampires and cannibalism, some French newspapers attempted to present a more upbeat image of Haiti. A week after the seism, Libération invited eight Haitian writers to provide a rectification. One idea runs through these articles: the idea that Haiti's unique artistic vibrancy and creativity was the key to national recovery. Here is Yanick Lahens:
But Haiti provides another quite essential measure of the world—that of creativity. Because we have also forged our resistance to the worst by the constant transformation of pain into human creativity. In what René Char called ‘the sanitary virtue of misfortune (la santé du malheur).’ I have no doubt that we writers will continue to impart to the world a particular savour. (Lahens, 2010a)
In fairness, Lahens retracted that view in the autumn of 2010, seeing in it a fascinating lure –‘I will say, contradicting a very fashionable discourse, that artistic production will not save us. To repeat that it will is to inscribe ourselves within the logic of a vain fascination (une séduction stérile)’ (Lahens, 2010b: 156)—although she does appear to have forgotten that she herself had contributed toward making that discourse fashionable in the first place… Her colleague Rodney Saint-Éloi is less circumspect. Here is Saint-Eloi counselling his friend, the polymathic creator Frankétienne: ‘Nothing has changed. Don't allow yourself to be intimidated by the earthquake, carry on doing what you know how to do. Culture is the only thing that can put the country back on its feet’ (Saint-Éloi, 2010: 83). And again: ‘Only art possesses the energy that we need to pick ourselves up again’ (Saint-Éloi, 2010: 83).

It is perhaps always the images that flatter one's own narcissism that are the most difficult to detect and avoid, and that expression, ‘une séduction stérile’, captures very well the historic tendency of francophone Haitian artists and intellectuals to become fascinated by the gaze of the prestigious Other. As Lahens implies, the result is as devoid of creativity as an image infinitely reflected between two facing mirrors. That need for recognition can attain pathological proportions. Such is the case of the aforementioned Frankétienne, who is obsessed with the idea that he deserves to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (that is to say, to be recognised by the Nobel committee). He told Saint-Éloi that he was glad he had been ‘overlooked’ for the prize in 2009, since, had he won then, his glory would have been overshadowed by the 450,000 [sic] deaths in the earthquake (Saint-Éloi, 2010: 251).

Not all of the ‘Haitian tropes’ that resurfaced after the earthquake were manufactured abroad. There is one that echoes through the texts of Laferrière, Lahens and Saint-Eloi and, as far as I can tell, it originated in Haiti. I refer to the ‘we are all in it together’ refrain. As if anticipating—and attempting to forestall—the press reports of anarchy and looting, writers present on 12 January emphasised the dignity and solidarity of the victims. But Laferrière and Saint-Éloi go much further, detecting in the immediate, human reaction of shell-shocked people the dawning of a new community. As if, in levelling Port-au-Prince, the earthquake had also created a level playing field, sweeping away two centuries of social apartheid. Saint-Éloi remarks:
Rich and poor alike are in this boat that is sinking towards the abyss. They shake hands with each other, afflicted by the same sense of desolation. ‘Tout moun jwenn’ [everyone gets their share/their slice of the pie] says Jean [the taxi-driver]. Why did it take an earthquake for people to want to make common cause, to have a collective project and to feel this desire to form a crowd and to be fully engaged in their history? Is catastrophe the only thing capable of bringing people together? (Saint-Éloi, 2010: 120)
It is true that the earthquake did not discriminate on social grounds when it struck: if anything, the middle classes were disproportionately affected, as they were the ones most likely to be buried under the concrete of collapsing office blocks and administrative offices. But those 39 seconds of dreadful equality passed in the blink of an eye: the very moment the tremors ceased, the chances of survival were conditioned by money, power and influence. The filmmaker Raoul Peck reports that the instant going rate for digging somebody out of the rubble was $6000—in a country where 80 percent of people live on $2 per day (Peck, 2010).

The economics of survival have become even clearer in the three years since the earthquake. Within days, at least 1.5 million people found themselves living in tents or under plastic sheets and scraps of tarpaulin in makeshift camps. More than three years on, 365,000 of them are still there. Predictably, those who were best able to get out of the camps were those with access to funds or to still-habitable property. Those with family in the Haitian diaspora able to send them money did not remain long in the camps. But how does one come to have access to such resources? Who had family in the diaspora? Historically, emigration from Haiti has correlated strongly with level of education. Between 1965 and 2000, 84 percent of Haitians with a tertiary (university level) education left Haiti—compared with just 22 percent in the Dominican Republic (Soukar, 2010: 314). Over the same period, 3 percent of Haitians with only the most basic level of education (primary) emigrated—for the most part to seek work on the Dominican sugar plantations, the bateys. As the Haitian saying has it: ‘boujwa-a ap mache avèk viza-l nan pòch li’ (lit: the bourgeois walks around with his visa in his pocket, i.e. ready to hand). In turn, access to education is also overwhelmingly predicated on class and wealth: over 90 percent of tertiary educational provision in Haiti is private and fee-paying. For the briefest of moments, then, rich and poor were in the same boat, but today only the poorest of the poor remain in the camps, where they are increasingly subject to illegal evictions, as the International Organisation for Migration—the UN body tasked with protecting the rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)—looks on.

In unleashing a plethora of writing about Haiti, the earthquake laid bare a certain relation. What interests me in the foregoing discussion is not the discourse about Haiti produced outside Haiti per se, nor the discourse about Haiti produced from within that country, but rather the way those discourses are related, or articulated one on the other. Before moving on to discuss a second level of post-earthquake discourse, I will provide one particularly striking example of this discursive relation. 

We heard Laferrière vowing to combat the invidious clichés that threatened to ‘bury’ Haiti before it was too late—before ‘they’ started to talk about ‘vodou, savagery, cannibalism and vampires’ (Laferrière, 2010: 79). But within living memory—if not within Laferrière's, apparently—‘they’ had been talking at great length about vodou, savagery and cannibalism. Except that in this instance ‘they’ were not thrill-seeking journos in the foreign press, but Laferrière's own close friends and colleagues, Lyonel Trouillot, Gary Victor and Frankétienne. In a set of interviews published by the journal Africultures shortly after the ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, at a moment when Haiti had high visibility in the world's media, these writers were determined to tell the truth about the departed ‘despot’. Frankétienne assured the journal's readers that Aristide was guilty of ‘plunder, murder, child-sacrifice’, that he had ‘latched on to the other side of the divinity, the diabolical side’ and that ‘even Satan has abandoned him, you can see it in his face’ (Frankétienne et al., 2004). For his part, Trouillot—apparently hankering after the good old days of Papa Doc, when at least you knew where you were—opined that Aristide was worse than Duvalier because at least the latter ‘took responsibility for (assumait) his killings’. Now well into his stride, Trouillot could not resist feeding a last titillating morsel to the interviewer: ‘Aristide used vodou as much as Duvalier, or at least a certain kind of vodou […] A few months ago, a baby disappeared from the general hospital. What a scandal! Of course, everyone knows that Aristide had the child sacrificed in order to win the favour of the loas’ (Frankétienne et al., 2004, my emphasis). It apparently did not occur to the interviewer to ask who this ‘everybody’ was and precisely how they ‘knew’ these things. Gary Victor dutifully echoes his colleagues: ‘Haitian despots have always had recourse to Oungans (vodou priests) or Boko [sic] (sorcerers) to consolidate their power’ (Frankétienne et al., 2004). Not a trick was missed: despotism, vodou, savagery, cannibalism. 

 Little wonder that Laferrière was worried. The propagandising of Frankétienne, Trouillot and Victor is to be understood in the context of a much broader campaign of demonisation mounted against Aristide from Autumn 2002 onwards by a so-called civil society group, the G184 (Groupe des 184). All three were enthusiastic members of that group. I shall return to it presently.

Taken in isolation, the Africultures episode is illustrative of a certain mechanism. Information theorists might call it a positive feedback loop (‘a’ produces ‘b’, which produces more of ‘a’, which produces more of ‘b’ - where ‘a’ and ‘b’ are sites of discursive production inside Haiti and outside of Haiti).  

Psychoanalysts would more likely be reminded of D.W. Winnicott's description of the basis of narcissistic identification: ‘What does the baby see when he or she looks at the mother's face? I am suggesting that, ordinarily, what the baby sees is himself or herself. In other words, the mother is looking at the baby and what she looks like is related to what she sees there’ (Winnicott, 1971: 112). Except that, in our case, it is Mother France whose benign approbation is so craved by the francophone Haitian intellectuals. (Not to mention the generous artistic subsidies handed out to Haitian writers who take the ‘correct’ view of Franco-Haitian relations.) Put simply, Haitian intellectuals of the likes of Trouillot and co. feed the images of Haiti produced in the centres of imperialist and neo-colonial power and then react to those images with pathetic gratitude (if they flatter their narcissism) or with uncontrollable fury (should they wound their narcissism). The libellous diatribe unleashed by Trouillot against Peter Hallward in the pages of Small Axe a few years ago is a textbook example of the latter kind of reaction (Trouillot, 2009).

What is said about Haiti is one thing; what is done to it is another. But in very recent history, words have proved to be the prelude to deeds, and Haiti in 2013 is still living with the consequences of those deeds. If the Haitian intelligentsia feign ignorance of their role in the representation of Haiti in Europe and North America, when it comes to their responsibility for the fact that Haiti is now, effectively, an occupied country, their attitude is one of total disavowal. I will develop this assertion with reference to one particularly illuminating work that was written in direct response to the challenges of post-earthquake reconstruction.

The Disavowal of Responsibility

In October 2010 the Quebec publisher Mémoire d'Encrier put out a 400-page volume of essays titled Refonder Haïti? The volume contains 43 pieces written by those who like to think of themselves as Haiti's ‘qualitative majority’: novelists, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, economists, film-makers, journalists, political scientists. The selection ignores the old inside–outside rivalries between Haitian intellectuals: the contributors are drawn from Canada, France and the USA, as well as from Haiti itself. 

The editors were Pierre Buteau, Rodney Saint-Eloi and Lyonel Trouillot. The overly modest biographical notes on the editors inform readers that Buteau is an historian and teacher (professeur) at the Université d'Etat d'Haïti; Saint-Eloi a writer, publisher (he co-founded Mémoire d'Encrier) and academic; Trouillot a novelist, poet and teacher of literature. In brief, a trio of well-meaning intellectuals and artists, passionately committed to the cause of the Haitian people but apparently standing aloof from the political mêlée. The problematic of the volume is clearly presented in the Introduction:
Re-found what? Should we rebuild on the basis of the devastation that has been left by the earthquake, or re-found on the basis of the past and of history in order to create the anchoring points of renewal, making whatever breaks with the past are necessary in order to construct a fair and just society (une société juste)? (Buteau et al., 2010: 5)
The editors of the volume recognise that Haitian society was broken long before the earthquake provided a physical analogue of that dysfunctionality. The task now is to identify the constructive and destructive elements of the past with a view to building a ‘common sphere of citizenship (une sphère commune de citoyenneté)’. (Buteau et al., 2010: 5). The range of ‘elements’ discussed is impressively broad: inequalities in the education system; discrimination against Kreyòl, against women, against children; the undervaluation of popular culture and religion; the need to reform journalistic practices; the need to involve the diaspora in the political life of Haiti; ecological disaster; the importance of good diplomacy [sic!]; the need to eradicate gender-based violence; the need to decentralise, etc. But very few of the contributors appear willing to go directly to the root causes of the situation in which Haiti found itself in the wake of the earthquake. One of the best-informed essays in the volume, and one of the few that articulates the reality of Haiti's situation clearly, is ‘Construire et reconstruire Haïti? Acteurs, enjeux et représentations [To construct and reconstruct Haïti? Actors, stakes and representations]’. The piece was penned by Émile Brutus and Camille Chalmers. Describing himself as a ‘political militant’ in his biographical note, Chalmers is a highly educated socio-economist who is the co-ordinator of the Haitian Platform for an Alternative Development (PAPDA), one of Haiti's longest established civil-society organisations. In their article, Chalmers and Brutus develop the unsurprising view that Haiti is the historical ‘laboratory’ of the neo-liberal project, and provide a succinct summary of Haitian actuality:
A tiny minority, just one percent of the population, owns more than 40 percent of national wealth and puts in place a state system of predation and repression against the majority—the peasants and the urban popular classes—with the support of a proteiform petty bourgeoisie and some imperialist powers. (Brutus and Chalmers, 2010: 35)
Unlike many of the contributors to Refonder Haïti?, Brutus and Chalmers are sceptical about the idea that the earthquake might represent a watershed in Haitian history, let alone a ‘tabula rasa’. They point out that the USA and the World Bank had been pursuing the reconfiguration of the Haitian economy for many years prior to the earthquake (when that project was rebaptised as ‘reconstruction’), beginning with Reagan's Caribbean Basin Initiative, through the waves of liberalisation of 1983, during the years after the departure of Baby Doc in 1986–1990, throughout the first Préval presidency (1995–2000), right through to Hope 1 and Hope 2 (2007–2008), the latest Poverty Reduction Strategy (2007–2010) and the Collier Plan (2009). In that context, it was obvious that the Post Disaster Needs Assessment of March 2010 would not bring forth any new ideas for the ‘reconstruction’ of Haiti, let alone its ‘re-foundation’ (Brutus and Chalmers, 2010: 41). Instead of the authors' preferred remedy—democratic, popular socialism—the Haitians have, since 2010, simply seen more of the same: the accelerated development of Free Trade Zones, high-end tourism, the liberalisation of foreign trade (the further lowering of import tariffs), privatisation of the few remaining state-owned enterprises, the further erosion of the prerogatives of the Haitian state and the slashing of the public sector.

So far, so good, but we need to ask ourselves precisely what kind of object we are dealing with in Refonder Haïti?. Chalmers' prescription of ‘democratic, popular socialism’ strikes a decidedly discordant note in the volume. The introduction, signed by all three editors, strikes a quite different tone. According to them, Haiti does not have ‘social classes’ but is, rather, made up of ‘différentes composantes sociales’ (various social constituent parts); and the aim of the volume, they say, is to reflect on how to bring about ‘une nouvelle sphère de citoyenneté’ (a new sphere of citizenship). Even while they go through the motions of attacking the neo-liberal guardianship of Haiti, the language of most of the contributions is that of the ‘post-political’ liberal consensus. In couching their analyses and prescriptions in an ethical discourse, vaguely inflected towards human rights, the editors and most of the contributors carefully eschew the properly political—that is to say, the domain of action.

A feeling of uncanniness hangs over the volume, extending to the authors themselves. It is the uncanniness encountered in a dream where a person is simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar: both one person and another. A useful reference here would be Chris Bongie's Friends and Enemies. The Scribal Politics of Post/Colonial Literature, in which he talks (after Debray) of ‘the disavowed relation between “mercenary scribes” and their uncanny doubles—the intellectual, the man of letters, and so on’ (Bongie, 2008: 33). 

I referred above to the biographical notes included in Refonder Haïti? as ‘over-modest’. Perhaps ‘disingenuous’ would have been a more accurate description, for two of the editors—Buteau and Trouillot—have political pasts that are somewhat at odds with the personae they create for themselves in the ‘notes on contributors’. At this point, we need to go back to ten years before the publication of Refonder Haïti?.

After the election of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2000, Haiti was plunged into political crisis: the ‘opposition’ to Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas—who baptised themselves, laughably, the ‘Democratic Convergence’—refused to oppose in any recognisable, democratic sense of the term, and chose instead to adopt a ‘zero option’ designed to bring the country to the point of collapse—at which point, they calculated, the International Community would step in and restore democracy and the rule of law (see, inter alia, Dupuy, 2007; Hallward, 2007; Fleurimond, 2009; Chomsky et al., 2004). In 2002, a ‘civil society’ front dedicated to the same ends was formed. It was called the Groupe des 184 (G184). It was created by two of Haiti's sweatshop oligarchs: Andy Apaid Jnr. and his brother-in-law, Charles Henri Baker. They succeeded in co-opting a range of civil society organisations (student groups, trades unions, peasant groups, women's groups, church groups), many of which did not actually exist, except in the form of an acronym. The active connections in the G184 had as much to do with clan as with political platforms. The Haitian elites believe in keeping things in the family: Yanick Lahens, a writer whose work I have referred to here, was co-president of the G184 with Apaid; she is the wife of Philippe Lahens (Vice Governor of the Banque Républicaine d'Haïti and former President of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce) and the daughter of a former minister of François Duvalier; her brother Alain Jean Pierre is Secretary General of the Haitian Olympic Committee, whose president is Jean-Edouard Baker. And so on. If the moving force behind the group were the business elites, it was the ‘intellectuals’ who provided them with their fig-leaf. Indeed, the only named individuals in the G184's membership list are the eighteen members of the ‘Cultural Sector (Intellectuals, Writers and Artists)’. In 2003, an offshoot of the G184 called the Collectif Non! was formed by G184 members Lyonel Trouillot, Magalie Comeau-Denis and Syto Cavé.

To return to Refonder Haïti?, no fewer than sixteen of the contributors to that volume were members of the G184 or the Collectif Non!. Trouillot and Buteau were members of both. Between September 2003 and the ouster of Aristide in February 2004, the Collectif Non! put out nine increasingly hysterical press releases which were widely reproduced and treated as fact, especially in the French, US and Canadian media. These press releases contained a mish-mash of half-truths, hyperbole, deliberate obfuscation and, occasionally, outright falsehoods. Their content had the tedious predictability of ‘a message from our sponsors’; the same key messages and buzzwords are repeated ad nauseam: Aristide was a despot, a tyrant, a dictator, a drugs trafficker; he had hordes of heavily armed thugs carrying out massacres all over the country etc. When the word ‘massacre’ did not have the desired effect, the authors escalated it to ‘genocide’ (Collectif Non!, 2004). Under the pen of Trouillot and co., the huge mass of poor Haitians who had elected Aristide in 2000 found themselves transformed into ‘Lavalas henchmen’. That recent history merits barely a mention in the pages of Refonder Haïti?, which is odd given that ‘[t]he secret of the future, of any future, resides in the past’, as the three editors so sagely remind us (Buteau et al., 2010: 6).

The authors of the Collectif Non! press releases were careful not to call explicitly for intervention by the ‘international community’ to rid them of that troublesome (former) priest, but that appeal is crystal clear in texts such as that of 31 January 2004, titled ‘Jusqu'où ira l'International dans l'acception de l'inacceptable? (Just how far will the International [sic] go in its acceptance of the unacceptable?) (Collectif Non!, 2004). And ‘intervention’ is precisely what happened on 29 February 2004, when the combination of a tiny paramilitary force and American, Canadian and French special forces effected the removal of Aristide and his banishment into an exile that would last seven years.

The de facto regime imposed by the State Department immediately set about ‘stabilising’ the country. As documented by numerous international human rights observers, that ‘stabilisation’ took the form of two years of arbitrary arrests and imprisonment; the return of beatings, torture, ‘disappearances’ and unexplained deaths in custody; the use of rape as a weapon of war; deadly raids into the shanty towns of Port-au-Prince (Griffin, 2004; Amnesty International, 2005; Mance et al., 2006) and blanket impunity—the most egregious example being the night-time court hearing that acquitted Jodel Chamblain and Jackson Jonais, former FRAPH death-squad members previously convicted for their part in the Raboteau massacre of 1994. Amnesty International called the acquittal a ‘mockery’ and ‘an insult to justice’ (Amnesty International, 2004).

In the period February 2004–January 2006, it is estimated that some four thousand almost exclusively poor, shanty-dwelling Haitians lost their lives (Hallward, 2007: 277–310). If the actions of Trouillot and the G184 intellectuals contributed directly to bringing about that state of affairs, they had a further consequence that is still shaping the political and economic landscape of Haiti to this day. On 1 June 2004, the Multinational Interim Force (essentially the remnants of the forces that had ousted Aristide) was replaced by a large contingent of United Nations troops (MINUSTAH, or United Nations Mission for the Stabilisation of Haiti) deployed under Statute VII of the United Nations charter. That statute was specifically designed to deal with states whose aggression posed a real and present threat to neighbouring states. Despite its dubious legal justification, the mandate of MINUSTAH has been renewed annually for the last nine years. The terms of its deployment allowed for a much more pro-active engagement than we have seen in real conflict zones such as Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo, and MINUSTAH commanders fulfilled their brief enthusiastically. MINUSTAH forces regularly accompanied Haitian National Police and sundry right-wing paramilitary groups on punitive raids into the poorest quarters of Port-au-Prince. The 6 July 2005 raid on the huge seaside slum Cité Soleil—perceived as a stronghold of Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party, that is, home to the poorest of the poor who had voted for Aristide en masse in 1990 and 2000—was one of the most murderous (Hallward, 2007: 286–295).

The stated goal of the UN mission—to restore the rule of law and establish the stability necessary for the democratic process to take its course—was clearly a sham. The troops were deployed as proxy enforcers of US regional policy. Their mission was to destroy the remnants of the popular movement that had first brought Aristide to power in 1990, and to promote the interests of the ‘business-friendly’ Haitian transnational bourgeoisie. In brief, to further the neo-liberal economic agenda that had subtended US foreign policy in the Caribbean and Latin America ever since it first strove to establish a ‘stable business environment’ in Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in the 1960s and 1970s. This is not speculation on my part: we have it from the horse's mouth. In 2011, Haïti Liberté and The Nation published leaked diplomatic cables between Washington and the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince that had been obtained by Wikileaks. In those cables, the then US ambassador Janet Sanderson, noted that ‘[t]he UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti is an indispensable tool in realizing the core USG [US Government] policy interests in Haiti’—interests which included suppressing ‘resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces’. She continues, in a self-congratulatory tone, to boast that MINUSTAH was ‘a financial and regional security bargain for the USG’ (Ives and Herz, 2011).

One might charitably assume that Trouillot and his G184 colleagues were simply victims of their own naivety, caught up in a cruel game of unintended consequences. If that were the case, Trouillot, Frankétienne, Lahens and Victor would have been horrified by the well-documented human rights abuses that followed the ouster of Aristide; and contrite, perhaps, at having opened the door and invited in an army of occupation. After all, they positioned themselves in their Collectif Non! press releases as politically disinterested champions of human rights. Not at all. The closest any of them have come to admitting any kind of responsibility, let alone regret, is a pseudo mea culpa that occurs towards the end of Lyonel Trouillot's (2012) autobiographical text Objectif: l'autre. It is such a rare bird that it is worth quoting in full. Trouillot says that he has only ‘felt bad’ twice in his life, and the second occasion was when he heard ‘the coordinator of a Haitian “civil society” movement pleading in front of the Parliament against the raising of the minimum wage.’ He continues:
A Haitian worker earns less than five euros a day. I had taken risks with that man when the government [of Aristide] was using banditism as a political weapon and was sliding towards totalitarianism in the first half of the 2000s. It looked as if the Haitian bourgeoisie was finally accepting that it was not possible to build a modern society without tackling the glaring inequalities that forbid Haitians access to a common sphere of citizenship. Once the government had been overthrown, that bourgeoisie simply returned to its old habits of exclusion and unregulated exploitation (exploitation sauvage). I reproach myself, I reproach all of those people, people of the left, who had participated in that movement, for not having been more vigilant, for not having forced these champions of exclusion masquerading as democrats to make the effort of humanity that would show that there is more to them than their appetites and their desire to continue enjoying their rents and their privileges untroubled by the slightest pang of guilt (sans état d'âme). (Trouillot, 2012: 208–209)
One is left almost speechless by the bad faith on display in that quotation. Could Trouillot seriously expect his readers to believe that he was disappointed and surprised to see this anonymous businessman (in fact, the sweatshop magnate Andy Apaid Jnr.) oppose the raising of the minimum wage? Had he perhaps been looking the other way when, after Aristide's re-election in 2000, Apaid, along with virtually every businessman in the G184, had opposed Aristide's attempts to raise the minimum wage, as they had the first time he was elected, in 1990? It is no more credible that Trouillot should have been surprised that Haiti's so-called MREs (Morally Repugnant Elites: the clue is in the name) should have reverted to their ‘habits of exclusion and unregulated exploitation’. As a connoisseur of Kreyòl proverbs, Trouillot is doubtless familiar with the phrase ‘bourik swe pou chwal dekore ak dentèl’ (lit: the donkey sweats so that the horse can be adorned with lace). As for Trouillot himself, he emerges with his credentials as ‘man of the left’ and ‘champion of the downtrodden’ enhanced by his denunciation of the perfidy of his erstwhile comrade in arms (‘I had taken risks with that man’).

The fact is that it is not only the Haitian business elites, the State Department and US financial institutions and corporations looking for business opportunities who benefited richly from the ousting of Aristide. Trouillot and his band of merry ‘scribes’ did quite well too. Above all, they got what the narcissist craves: recognition. Since 2004, Collectif Non! writers have been awarded more than a dozen literary prizes, many of them more or less in the gift of the French government. But the gratitude (‘reconnaissance’, in French, means both gratitude and recognition) of the Chirac and Sarkozy administrations went further than literary prizes: on 10 January 2010, Raoul Peck—a leading member of the G184 and a film-maker of decidedly modest achievements [at the time]—was made President of the ‘Ecole nationale supérieure des métiers de l'image et du son’ (normally known as ‘La Fémis’, or French National Film School) by presidential decree; Victor and Trouillot are both ‘Chevaliers des Arts et des Lettres de la France’, but they are trumped by Frankétienne, who was made a ‘Commandeur’ of that Order in 2010; back in Haiti, Magalie Comeau-Denis was made Minister of Culture and Communication in the de facto regime imposed by the USA after Aristide's removal; Lyonel Trouillot was appointed to a junior position in that ministry; Pierre Buteau was named Minister of National Education, Youth, Sport and Civic Education. Frankétienne, meanwhile, came close to deification when, in 2006, he was proclaimed a ‘Living National Treasure’ by a foundation created by several Haitian business elites, the ‘Fondation Françoise Canez Auguste et Image et Marketing’.

At the start of this section, I referred to Refonder Haiti? as a simulacram. I was alluding to the uncanny quality of much of the writing in that volume: indictments that appear genuinely impassioned, prescriptions that appear rational and well-reasoned, lamentations so heart-rending that one can almost perceive the dried tear-stains on the paper; yet all of that is totally divorced from a context that would allow readers to take full measure of the object they hold in their hands: not one of the sixteen erstwhile G184 members sees fit to remember that glorious past in the ‘notes on contributors’. Even the note on Camille Chalmers, which lists at great length his manifold achievements and honours, omits to mention the moment in January 2004 when he threw in his lot with the ‘tiny minority’ and the ‘imperialist powers’ (see above): in a press-release for PAPDA, he wrote:
Aristide must go immediately. The Haitian Platform to Advocate for an Alternative Development (PAPDA) praises the courage and foresight of the Haitian people who are mobilising in greater numbers every day to demand the resignation of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. PAPDA is happy to associate itself with this demand and reiterates its conviction that President Aristide's departure constitutes an essential element of any real way out of the crisis facing the country today. (PAPDA, 2004)
The press release is headed, in large capitals: ‘PAPDA is opposed to the intervention of any multinational police or military force on Haitian soil under the pretext of re-establishing order’. He might just as well have handed to the French, Americans and Canadians—whose intentions were by then quite clear (Hallward, 2007: 91)—a handful of bullets, saying ‘but if you use them, I take no responsibility for the consequences!’ Ultimately, Chalmers' complicity in a situation of oppression that he now decries, seriously weakens the moral force behind his article in Refonder Haïti?.As I move towards a conclusion, I feel that I should address a foreseeable criticism of the foregoing. This article was not conceived as a paean to Aristide or to what was left of Fanmi Lavalas by 2004. I hold no personal brief for Aristide: I tend to think that he was a quite seriously flawed leader. But this is not about the personal qualities of Aristide, nor even about the success or failure of his administrations. It is about a people who twice glimpsed a fleeting chance of empowerment, only to see that chimera evaporate before its eyes. One obstinate fact remains—and it is a fact that sticks in the craw of the unelectable Apaid, and the unrepresentative Trouillot: Aristide was democratically elected by a huge popular majority in 2000; a mature, responsible opposition would have allowed Aristide to see out his mandate and would have put their alternative vision before the people in the next election. As it is, in not only calling for the departure of Aristide but actively working for his removal, they sent the message that democratic elections were fine, but only so long as their result was acceptable to the Haitian elites and the US State Department.

The narcissism of the virtual totality of what passes for an intelligentsia in Haiti is matched only by their irresponsibility: things ‘happen’ but like Eliot's Macavity, they are never there. What are we to make of ‘committed intellectuals’ who take responsibility for nothing? But ‘we’ also need to look in the mirror, even if we may not like what we see there. We have our own narcissism to confront. The veritable Haiti industry that has sprung up (particularly) in North American and French academic circles in recent years received a shot in the arm after January 2010—not unlike that received by the neo-liberal ‘project’ for Haiti. Haitian writers are invited to conferences and colloquia in order to be admired, and because it is thought that their presence adds the cachet of ‘authenticity’ to the proceedings. But never once does anyone dare to ask them who or what they represent. In short, it behoves academics working in the centres of what Trouillot half-ironically calls the ‘empire’ (Trouillot, 2009: 128) to cease preferring interlocutors from the South on the basis of some supposed resemblance

 Let us start questioning the oracular status of these ‘good elites’ and recognise them for the consummate ventriloquists that they are. Perhaps then we can seek out, listen to, and amplify the voices we have allowed them to silence.