Sunday March 1st, 7PM La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California Haiti Action Committee invites you to an inspirational evening of culture and solidarity with the Haitian people, to mark the 5th anniversary of the February 29, 2004 coup d'etat. * Oakland delegation visits Haiti - Report on the people's struggle by Nia Imara * Poet-musician Phavia Kujichagulia * Music by the Troublemakers Union * Haiti since the coup - Pierre Labossiere Plus Special Guests: Richard Brown, Black Panther Party veteran, on the San Francisco 8 Nadeen Elshorafa, Arab Resource & Organizing Center, on the situation in GAZA Five years ago, the US, France, Canada and the Haitian ruling elite overthrew Haiti's democratically elected President Aristide and violently reversed the Fanmi Lavalas progressive social agenda. As a result of the coup and subsequent United Nations occupation, thousands of Haitians were killed, imprisoned, exiled or disappeared. Still, Haiti's grassroots movements continue to organize and fight for economic justice, an end to repression, and the return of democracy to Haiti. See you all Sunday, March 1, 2009 - 7 p.m. - La Peña, 3105 Shattuck, Berkeley (near Ashby BART). Wheelchair accessible. Donation requested $10-25 (no one turned away). www.HaitiSolidarity.net 510 847 8657
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by Bill Fletcher, Jr
NNPA Columnist | Originally posted 2/25/2009
On the morning of 29 February 2004 I was asleep in Oakland, Calif., having gone
to that city to deliver a speech. My cell phone went off around 6am and a voice
announced herself as a journalist from a major media outlet. She asked me, in
my then capacity as President of TransAfrica Forum, whether I could confirm
that Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide had stepped down from office.
Needless to say I was stunned and, having no new information, could neither
confirm nor deny the rumor.
It turned out that Aristide had not exactly stepped down; he had been removed
in a coup, a coup in which the then Bush administration was complicit.
At the time of the coup, the mainstream media accepted the line from the Bush
administration that President Aristide had voluntarily chosen to go into exile
in the face of an insurrection.
As the days and weeks went on, and through the work of Congresswoman Maxine
Waters, TransAfrica Forum founder Randall Robinson, and Democracy Now producer
and host Amy Goodman, a very different story was revealed. Rather than Aristide
having voluntarily left Haiti, he had been forced to leave, first going into
the hell of the Central African Republic, and then returning, briefly, to the
Caribbean (where he stayed in Jamaica), and finally residing in South Africa in
de facto exile. In either case, the Bush administration was vehement that
Aristide would not be permitted back in Haiti.
The coup, though successful in removing democratically elected President
Aristide, was unsuccessful in stabilizing the situation in Haiti or improving
the living standard of the Haitian people. Despite the best efforts of the Bush
administration to ensure that a puppet remained in control of the country, the
Haitian people--when they had a chance to vote--elected Rene Preval, a former
president and ally of President Aristide, to the office of the Presidency.
While the overt puppets were now removed, the US continued to keep its hands in
Haiti largely through the occupation of the country by a United Nations force,
a force that was initially greeted as liberators turning back the mercenaries
who overthrew the Aristide presidency.
U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee has reintroduced House Bill 331, a bill ''To
Establish the Independent Commission on the 2004 Coup d'Etat in the Republic of
This is an important piece of legislation that should be supported by
progressive and all fair-minded people and should be pushed to the Obama
administration to sign into law. In essence this act provides for an
investigation into what actually transpired in the period around the February
2004 coup. It seeks to ascertain, among other things, the role of the US
government in supporting the coup.
There have been many discussions regarding holding the Bush administration's
personnel accountable for crimes that took place during those very rough eight
years. Most of the time attention focuses on issues of Iraq, torture,
Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and domestic civil liberties. As important as are
those areas it is too easy to forget Haiti. In fact there is a long history in
the USA of forgetting Haiti, irrespective of whatever crimes the USA commits
Now we have a chance to set things right.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies
and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum.
Five years on: Haiti's suffering continues under occupation
Je ne vais pas vous le cacher, pour ceux qui ne lisent pas l'anglais, l'article
est plutôt déprimant.
Sa lecture donne l'impression, comme dans un mauvais rêve, de se trouver pris
au piège dans un tunnel sans fin.
Déja le titre : "Nous en sommes à cinq années : la souffrance d'Haïti se
poursuit sous l'occupation."
Après avoir fait un récapitulatif des événements qui ont conduit au coup
d'Etat de 2004, l'auteur fait un état actuel des lieux 5 ans après le coup de
Pour les francophones purs et durs quelques extraits traduits çi-après :
1- Selon lui, la situation s'est détériorée depuis 2004 : pauvreté et faim
sont en augmentation. La production agricole affaiblie par les ouragans
sucssessifs. La malnutrition s'étend et la famine apparaît dans quelques
coins du pays.Le chômage touche 80% de la population.
"Conditions at every level have worsened in Haiti since 2004. Poverty and
hunger are rising. Agricultural production is weak and suffered further blows
following a succession of four hurricanes this past summer.
Malnutrition is widespread and starvation appeared in some pockets of the
country after the storms. Unemployment is estimated at 80 per cent."
2-La visite récente de M. Préval aux USA est évoquée. L'objectif était de
demander une aide de 100M de $ et également que l'aide internationale aille
directement au gouvernement plutôt que de converger vers le lobby des ONG.
Préval a dit que l'argent serait mieux utilisé, s'il était géré par le
Il s'agit d'un sujet explosif, pas seulement parce qu'il y a tant d'argent
des ONG gaspillé en salaires et en administration mais également parce que
les ONG ont été utilisées par les grands pouvoirs comme une arme contre la
souveraineté du pays. La plupart des plus importantes ONG qui opèrent en
Haïti, ont apporté leur soutien au renversement d'Aristide en 2004; ou alors
elles ont marqué leur approbation en gardant le silence.
Préval also said he wants an end to the U.S. policy of channelling all its aid
money to Haiti through non-governmental organisations (NGOs). It should instead
go directly to the sovereign government, which Preval says can do a better job
in most cases.
This is an explosive issue in Haiti, not only because so much NGO money is
wasted on foreign salaries and bureaucracies but also because NGOs have been
used by the big powers as a weapon against Haitian sovereignty.
Most of the largest international NGOs operating in Haiti supported the
overthrow of Aristide in 2004, or they acquiesced through silence.
3-Un autre point très sensible est abordé. Celui du retour éventuel
d'Aristide en Haïti. Pour l'auteur ce qui rend ce retour très problématique
est: que sa sécurité personnelle serait en danger, que les pouvoirs
étrangers feront tout pour bloquer ce retour, et que cela déclencherait un
torrent d'accueil populaire de bienvenue. Ce qui mettrait en évidence leurs
déclarations mensongères, selon lesquelles Aristide était un leader
impopulaire, dont le "retrait" en 2004 était approuvé par la majorité de
D'autre part, ce qui également rend difficile ce retour d'Aristide, c'est
qu'il provoquerait chez les masses des attentes auxquelles il serait difficile
de répondre, compte tenu de l'hostilité des pouvoirs étrangers et du fait
que ce sont eux qui tirent toutes les ficelles de l'Etat et du gouvernement
"His personal security would be vulnerable. The foreign powers would do their
all to block a return, because it would unleash a torrent of popular welcome
that would put a lie to their claims that he was an unpopular leader whose
"removal" in 2004 was welcomed by the majority.
A return by Aristide would set up expectations among the masses that would be
difficult to meet, given the hostility of the foreign powers and the fact that
they have their hands all over the purse strings of the Haitian government and
4-L'auteur cite le témoignage de 2 personnes présentes, dans le cadre d'une
réunion qui s'est tenue à Boston, le 27 janvier 2009. Ce sont Paul Farmer,
l'auteur du livre " The Uses of Haïti" et fondateur de "Partners in Health" et
l'acteur Matt Damon qui s'était rendu en Haïti à l'invitation de Wyclef
Jean, la star haïtienne de musique, en septembre 2008 pour une visite de
régions touchées par les ouragans.
Paul Farmer eut à dire que parmi les 10 pays dans lesquels il a travaillé,
Haïti est celui où les politiques de privatisation et de versement direct des
aides internationales aux ONG, plutôt qu'à l'Etat, ont été les plus
Matt Damon a désigné la pauvreté, qu'il a constatée sur place, comme
quelque chose d'indescriptible. Une pauvreté extrème avec des gens survivant
avec 1,25$ par jour ou moins, avec les désastres naturels et les ouragans par
dessus tout ça.
" Un être humain ne devrait pas vivre de cette manière" a-t-il dit.
Paul Farmer, author of The Uses of Haiti and founder of the renowned Partners
in Health (PIH), told the Boston meeting, "Of the ten countries in which I work
in the world, the policies of privatization and of directing aid and charity
funds to private, rather than public, agencies are taken to their furthest
extreme in Haiti."
Actor Matt Damon spoke to the meeting about his visit to Haiti in September
2008, following the hurricanes that had struck. He was invited by Haitian-born
international music star Wyclef Jean for a tour of the devastated regions of
He called the poverty he witnessed, "Almost indescribable. Extreme poverty --
people living on $1.25 per day or less -- with a natural disaster, the
hurricanes, piled on top.
"This is not a way that human beings should have to exist.""
L'Article en anglais :
Haiti, the Financial Crisis, and International Solidarity
By Niraj Joshi
Global Research, February 25, 2009 |Socialist Voice
What will be the impact of the global economic crisis, this financial meltdown
in the world's richest economies, on that of the world's most impoverished?
Consider the case of Haiti, where the sheer magnitude of the economic disaster,
already long under way, is difficult to conceive in most countries.
Recent World Bank data warns that the world's peoples already living on the
edge will be pushed into greater misery, even as their absolute numbers swell.
Now situate that catastrophe in a nation that is at the same time militarily,
economically and administratively occupied, and you have the tragic reality of
As Peter Hallward has written in Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of
Containment, Haiti is a country where a tiny transnational clique of wealthy
and well-connected families maintains a grip on industrial production,
international trade, and political and social life. Meanwhile, 80% of their
fellow citizens live in poverty, with 75% surviving on less than $2/day; 70%
are unemployed; life expectancy is 52 years; infant mortality is 62 per 1,000
live births; there is a raging health crisis with grave HIV/AIDS infection
rates, and the list goes on.
Occupation and plunder
Haiti's first democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, stated
that "Haiti's exceptional poverty is the result of an exceptional history —
one that extracted an equally exceptional wealth. That history still remains
both the starting and ending point of Haiti's present reality — two centuries
of imperial intervention and colonial plunder. The most recent manifestation
was the violent U.S., Canadian, and French-inspired coup d'état in February
2004 which left thousands killed, displaced, imprisoned and exiled, and the
imposition of a disastrous regime of human rights abuses that lasted two years
under direct United Nations sanction. The 2004 coup was yet another crushing
blow to Haiti's remarkable democratic movement of the poor majority — and has
set the country back decades, economically, socially and politically.
Although Haiti currently has an elected government under President René
Préval, the U.S., Canada and France play a major role in financing its
ministries, while the majority of "aid" funds are diverted to a plethora of
Non-Governmental Organizations (an estimated 4,000 operate in Haiti). For
example, the agricultural department in Haiti shares control of its budget with
some 800 different NGOs.
These same wealthy nations and the international financial institutions also
direct Haiti's domestic policy through the 10,000-member, UN-sponsored foreign
military, police and political contingent known as MINUSTAH.
The coup and the current occupation have been a continuation (even a
culmination) of years of American/World Bank/IMF economic policy impositions
that turned Haiti into one of the lowest-wage (lowest in the hemisphere),
export-friendly and regulation-free economies in the world, and offering
profitable business and resource extraction opportunities for foreign
investors. It's a strategy that Peter Hallward says has taken Haiti from
"impoverished self-sufficiency towards outright destitution and dependency."
Impact of economic crisis
Under these conditions (and neoliberal IMF conditionalities), a world economic
crisis that results in even a few points uptick in inflation or a couple of
points drop in GDP would not just impact on the basic needs of poor Haitians
but would compromise their very physical survival.
At the same time the elected government is not allowed to implement its own
development or economic recovery plans. Shockingly little has been done from
2004 to the present by the foreign powers and international financial
institutions to assist Haiti's recovery and development. Haiti's infrastructure
remains crippled and no significant money by the big powers has been put into
building roads, markets, health care or any other infrastructure for the
people. Only Venezuela, Cuba, and a handful of well-intentioned charities or
development agencies have provided meaningful assistance.
The totality of the Haitian government budget comes from outside. The Haitian
state has little capacity for generating revenue; all the less so during an
intensified international crisis. Even part of the Central Bank is being sold
in a recapitalization operation. Tax laws have been revised, but only to spur
private sector development. Meanwhile, the parliament is only minimally
functional because of foreign constraints and confusing elections. Last year
for example, only five major laws were passed.
Of course, the foreign occupiers have not been completely remiss and are making
some preparation for the expected fallout from a worsening economic crisis. One
such contingency plan has the US funding a military base for MINUSTAH in Cité
Soleil as part of its development aid to Haiti. Cité Soleil is the largest
slum in Haiti's capital city and has been a hotbed of resistance to the
A highlight of the recent visit of Canadian Governor-General Michaëlle Jean to
Haiti was her ceremonial opening of a new police station and jail, built with
Canadian "aid" funds.
Repression and killings
Military domination in dealing with social unrest has been a consistent
strategy by the foreign occupation over the past five years. For example, the
soaring global food prices that crippled many poor countries last spring also
devastated Haitians. Some of the poorest survived by eating cakes of toxic clay
baked under the Haitian sun. Starvation appeared in pockets of the countryside.
More than half of the island's food is imported, a direct consequence of
neoliberal reforms begun in the 1980s, so the surge in global prices hit
The fallout was angry protests throughout the country directed both at the
unresponsive government and the military occupation. These protests were then
violently dispersed and suppressed by police and UN forces. At least five
starving Haitians were killed, scores more were injured, and the Prime Minister
was dismissed, causing a further paralyzing of Parliament for months following.
The food crisis was followed by terrible tropical storms in the late summer.
Once again, the occupying powers put nothing in place to mitigate the effects
of the expected disaster which killed 1,000 people, displaced several thousands
more, flooded almost all agricultural land and destroyed almost the entire
season's harvest. The World Bank put the aggregated damage and loss to
agriculture and infrastructure at $900 million, equivalent to 8% of Haiti's GDP
and representing the largest disaster in Haiti for more than 100 years. Once
again, the scale of the tragedy was hardly natural.
The Haitian government complained that it became impossible to coordinate the
relief work among the many different and disparate international aid agencies.
Further, 90% of the promised $100 million in emergency aid never arrived, while
some $197 million which the government tried to release from the Central Bank
was not disbursed because it had been placed in U.S. financial markets without
consultation with the Haitian Parliament!
So as Haiti celebrated its 205th anniversary of Independence on January 1,
President Préval's bleak message to his occupied nation was to "avoid rosy
expectations" for 2009. The suggestion was that following on the sorrows of
2008 will be even more hunger and more pain. Under a growing global recession,
there will be a significant slowdown in remittances. As working-class Haitians
in the U.S. and Canada endure more layoffs and cut backs, they will have less
disposable income to send to relatives back home.
Remittances are the most important economic factor in Haiti today. Many Haitian
households are being sustained by these transfers from the diaspora, estimated
at $1.65 billion a year. The sum is twice the national budget and accounts for
15% of the nation's GDP — dwarfing the sum total of all the foreign aid from
all sources (promised, delivered or otherwise). Some surveys are already
showing a 25% slowdown at this early stage.
In addition, the Haitian economy is almost entirely dependent on the American
economy, most notably as a market for its exports. A downturn is expected in
Haitian exports alongside Haiti's subcontracting sector. This, in combination
with the reduction in remittances, will mean that Haiti is unlikely to achieve
even the modest growth rates of 1.5% conservatively hoped for.
That will be the immediate effect.
A more long-term worry is that as the government continues to be pressured into
implementing neo-liberal options imposed by the international financial
institutions, there will be an ongoing crisis in national sovereignty, a
continuation of the disintegration of the national economy and continued
collapse of the crucial peasant economy — the very conditions that over the
decades of foreign domination (including over the past five years) have brought
the country to ruin.
Despair and hope
All this is discouraging. There is a lot of despair in Haiti. Yet, there is
also hope. Weakening of multinationals and restricted capital and credit may
create new space for local Haitian industries to emerge. The UN is experiencing
a budget shortfall and MINUSTAH is costing more than a million dollars a day.
Some of the biggest protests against MINUSTAH outside of Haiti have been in
Brazil, which plays the leading role in the occupation force. The pressures of
the economic crisis may make it more difficult for countries like Brazil to
maintain their participation, which has already cost them over $300 million,
while 40 million of its own citizens are living in poverty. Some say the first
U.S. occupation of Haiti in 1915 was ended in 1934 by President Franklin D
Roosevelt, in large part due to the constraints the great depression imposed on
the U.S. economy.
More importantly, however, these shifts may also mean a change in Haiti's
connection to, and dependence on, the U.S. and opportunities to create
alternative, sovereign projects. For example, right now the financial sector
accumulates tens of billions of gourdes (Haitian currency) and invests
absolutely nothing in the real economy. The commercial banks extend less than
1% of their credit to the countryside, where the majority of Haitians live and
work. Instead, credit is being concentrated in the metropolitan area of the
capital, Port au Prince and wasted on speculation, exchange and consumption.
The fiasco of the $197 million dollars marked for hurricane relief from the
Central Bank has given more leverage for calls that Haiti's parliament be able
to closely monitor how national reserves are managed. This could then mean that
capital can be brought back to Haiti so that it can be invested in the national
Then there is always hope among the Haitian poor majority. Although Haiti's
democratic movement is in a state of disarray after two coups d'états in a
space of 13 years, the core of that movement remains defiant and combative.
Huge anti-imperialist demonstrations consistently fill the streets of the
cities and the unfolding economic calamity may once again serve to unite the
divided social movements into the formidable force it once was.
International support and solidarity
And of course there are the new international progressive, anti-imperial and
pro-socialist forces of Latin America (like Venezuela and Bolivia) offering new
sources of political and economic support for the beleaguered national
democratic forces in Haiti. South America is heralding a new era of genuine
globalization, that is, of regional and international integration in the
interests of people, not investors or private sector ownership. For example,
Haiti recently concluded an agreement to obtain cheaper financing from
Venezuela under the Petro Caraïbe agreement for its petroleum usage. Venezuela
and Cuba are also jointly funding a billion dollar program to develop energy,
health and other infrastructure in Haiti.
Finally, there has to be an expanding role for international solidarity
struggles with Haiti, particularly in the powerful western nations. Haiti needs
to control its own destiny and rebuild its sovereignty and control its
territory. The people of Haiti have expressed that they want democratic control
over their financial and economic institutions so that they themselves can make
the best decision to deal with national crises — and begin dismantling the
programs and structures of years of colonialism and neoliberalism (as every
major demonstration over the past five years has demanded). That then has to
become part of the demands on our government as well — an end to
neoliberalism in Haiti and the associated presence of MINUSTAH.
Until now, every elected leader in Haiti has had to contend with how U.S.
foreign policy and that of U.S. allies affects the country and to balance that
against the needs of the Haitian majority. This has been the consistent and
tragic conflict facing Haitian democracy. True solidarity with Haiti comes with
the understanding that democracy in Haiti will be best advanced by the
democratization of the foreign policies of the western nations, and the
ultimate responsibility of that lies with us.
Niraj Joshi is a coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network and its
affiliate in Toronto, the Toronto Haiti Action Committee
Haiti Solidarity Actions: Between February 27 and March 6, member committees of
the Canada Haiti Action Network will host public events in nine cities across
Canada to mark the fifth anniversary of the overthrow of the elected government
of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. Filmmaker Kevin Pina will do
presentations in six of those cities. In Ottawa on February 28, a day-long
conference will feature speakers from different sides of the events of February
2004. For more information on these events, go to the website of the Canada
Haiti Action Network http://canadahaitiaction.ca/?page_id=492.
The url address of this article is:
Forwarded by Ezili's Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network