Haitians keep fighting against oppression and poverty

Thousands of Haitians are still living in tents after the earthquake of 2010

As this photo shows, thousands of Haitians are still living in tents after the earthquake of 2010.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 27 December 2014


MASS demonstrations continued in Haiti on Xmas eve demanding the resignation of President Michel Martelly and that elections be held.

The Haitian parliament’s mandate runs out on January 12, which will leave Martelly ruling by decree.

There has been a nationwide uprising against the regime of Martelly and his Prime Minister Lamothe over the last month with massive demonstrations in several major cities, including Port-au-Prince, Léogane, Petit Goâve, Cap-Haïtien, Fort-Liberté, Ouanaminthe, and Aux Cayes.

This has resulted in the resignation of Lamothe at midnight on December 13.

Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume was named as Haiti’s interim Prime Minister on the following Sunday.

Guillaume will hold the post for a maximum of 30 days before a permanent choice is presented to Parliament by President Michel Martelly, said Enex Jean-Charles, secretary general of Haiti’s council of ministers.

Martelly was supposed to call elections in 2011. But several opposition senators have used parliamentary procedures to prevent a vote authorising the elections while orchestrating protests to call for the president to resign.

‘Many demonstrators are also calling for the remaining 6,600 soldiers of The United Nations Stabilisation Mission In Haiti (MINUSTAH) to immediately leave Haiti.

An independent commission formed to resolve the crisis had recommended that Lamothe resign, which he did only after days of violent protests.

According to reports from the Haiti Liberté newspaper:

‘Ironically, the “trusted” commission is made up of disgraced and discredited political figures, including Gérard Gourgue, the former “president” of a “parallel government” the opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide concocted in 2001; Evans Paul, the archetypal scheming Haitian politician who was a leader in the 2004 coup; and Réginald Boulos, a leading political strongman championing the interests of Haiti’s tiny bourgeoisie.

‘With typical humour, the Haitian people immediately dubbed Martelly’s proposal the “Baygon Commission,” referring to a popular insecticide in Haiti for killing cockroaches.

‘In early November, Martelly’s Communications Minister, Rudy Hériveaux, a former leader in Aristide’s Lavalas Family party (FL), issued an editorial in which he wrote: “Carried away in a kind of destructive frenzy, these cockroaches are agitated into a disgusting folkloric display in the streets to try to attack the government.” He was referring to the tens of thousands now demonstrating and to the Haitian opposition generally.

‘Such venomous comments and meaningless manoeuvres by government officials have only stoked the flames of “Operation Burkina Faso”, as the movement is called, inspired by the October uprising that unseated President Blaise Compaoré in Ouagadougou. “Here are the cockroaches,” thousands of demonstrators now chant.

‘Following the giant demonstration on November 25, equally large demonstrations swept the capital on November 28 and November 29, two dates with historic symbolism.

‘On November 28, 1980, the Duvalier dictatorship brutally cracked down on its political opponents and the press following the election in the US of right-wing President Ronald Reagan.

‘In the reign of terror that followed, many anti-Duvalierist journalists, politicians, and activists were murdered, imprisoned, tortured, or exiled.

‘Then on November 28, 1985 in Gonaïves, Duvalier’s soldiers and Tonton Macoutes gunned down three students: Mackenson Michel, Daniel Israel, and Jean Robert Cius.

‘Outrage at these killings sparked the nationwide uprising that led to the fall of dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier on February 7, 1986.

‘On November 29, 1987, a neo-Duvalierist military junta, composed of Generals Henry Namphy, and Williams Régala, backed by paramilitary chieftains like Claude Raymond, carried out an election day massacre, killing dozens of would-be voters, most bloodily and infamously at the Argentine School on Ruelle Vaillant in the capital.

‘November 29, 1803 is also the day at Fort Dauphin in Haiti’s North that Haiti’s founding fathers first proclaimed independence, declaring at the time that “we have secured our rights, and we swear to yield to no power on earth.”

‘Inspired by their ancestors, on November 29, 2013, thousands of demonstrators had tried to march on the US Embassy in Tabarre, an action which was characterised as “Dessalines visits Uncle Sam.”

But Haitian police brutally dispersed the protest with tear-gas before it reached the embassy.

‘The same thing happened this year. Haitian police met the chanting multitude with tear-gas, batons, and gunfire at the Fleuriot intersection, just a stone’s throw from the home were Aristide remains under virtual house arrest.

‘Meanwhile, in the northeastern cities of Fort Liberté and Ouanaminthe near the border with the Dominican Republic, police wounded about 15 people with tear-gas and gunfire during a week of demonstrations.

‘There were four deaths reported, including a three-month-old infant and a 16-year-old boy. The people of the Northeast department are protesting against blackouts, while they claim that more than 12 megawatts of electricity remains unused at the Caracol Industrial Park, home to assembly factories. The residents of Fort-Liberté and Ouanaminthe want their electrical grids connected to Caracol’s power plant.

‘In Ouanaminthe, demonstrations are demanding the dismissal of customs officials who harass with overcharges and block small merchants crossing over the border’s Massacre River into Dajabon. The demonstrations prevented 10 containers from getting to the Caracol Industrial Park. A contingent of 30 heavily armed policemen from the Brigade of Motorised Intervention (BIM) was dispatched to shepherd the containers in.

‘Earlier this month the townspeople of Cabaret, about 20 miles north of Port-au-Prince, blocked National Highway #1 to demand electricity, drinking water, and a police outpost. Schools, banks, and markets were closed by the protest.

‘An official vehicle, determined to pass through the blockade, apparently fired on the crowd, reportedly killing two: a man known only as “Macintosh” and a woman who sold soda known as “Mabi.

‘As mayhem ensued, the police anti-riot unit, the Company for Intervention and Maintenance of Order (CIMO) arrived to suppress the crowd with tear-gas and water cannons.

‘ “Water is life, electricity is development,” the crowd chanted. “We don’t want to continue to drink dirty water. If the police fire on us, the situation will deteriorate. Down with Martelly!”

‘Christel Thélusma, spokesman for the local organization MADIBA, condemned the government’s repression of peaceful demonstrations for basic needs.

‘ “We do not want street lights, we want electricity in our homes so that our children can study their lessons,’ he said.

‘ “We will not yield to the pressures of the police. Our demands are fair and justified.

‘ “Martelly and Lamothe steal funds intended for development of the country, while we have no electricity, we have no drinking water.

“MINUSTAH’s cholera is killing us. This is our third demonstration, yet the authorities have never come to talk with the people.”

‘Opposition leaders have called for “Operation Burkina Faso” to continue.

‘In the days ahead, the US and Martelly will keep trying to coopt, divide, undermine, and threaten the Haitian opposition, as well as the larger social movement behind it, in an effort to keep Martelly and MINUSTAH in place.

‘The challenge remains for Martelly’s opposition to stay united and for the mass movement to sustain its mobilisation until it has the same momentum as those which drove dictators from power in 1986 and 1990.’

A new report ‘Haiti: Investing in people to fight poverty’ by the National Observatory on Poverty and Social Exclusion (ONPES) and the World Bank suggests the need for more inclusive growth and policies to increase access to basic services.

‘It is clear that the Metropolitan area received more attention in recent years, but we also note that more and more actions are directed to the provinces. If these actions are sustained and integrated into a comprehensive policy to foster development of rural areas, we will undoubtedly have a lower poverty rate,’ said Shirley Augustine Coordinator ONPES.

‘However, poverty remains high and access and quality of basic services remain a major concern, particularly in rural areas. More than 6 million Haitians – almost 60 per cent of the population – live on two dollars a day and the richest 20 per cent of households hold 64 per cent of total income in the country.

‘Incomes have stagnated in rural areas where 80 per cent of the poor are concentrated and about 200,000 children aged 6 to 14 are currently out of school.

‘High cost of access to services is still an obstacle. On average, families spend 10 per cent of their budget on education and 3 per cent on health care.’

Five years have passed since the 2010 Haiti earthquake killed 230,000 people, injured nearly 300,000 more, and left at least 1.5 million—the equivalent of nearly half the nation’s capital—homeless: here.

Raymond Joseph, a former Haitian representative to the Organization of American States and Haiti’s ambassador to the United States at the time of the devastating 2010 earthquake, recently declared on Bloomberg TV’s “Money Makers” program that “we don’t know where the money has gone.” Joseph was referring to the billions of dollars in foreign aid—including $4 billion pledged by the United States—for earthquake relief in Haiti: here.

Haiti: Martelly to rule by decree: here.

On October 9, the cabinet of Haitian prime minister Evans Paul adopted a decree to reestablish the country’s armed forces. The previous Haitian military, which for decades under the Duvalier dictatorships had served as force of internal repression, was disbanded in 1994 by then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide: here.

14 thoughts on “Haitians keep fighting against oppression and poverty

  1. simply put, its the Haiti Elite, who are the economic oppressors and why is Haiti not functioning as a democracy? its all part of the corrupt system enforced by the police who are overall a backward simple lot who are concerned only about their pay.


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  4. 100 years ago: United States invades Haiti

    On the July 28, 1915, the United States invasion of Haiti began with the landing of 330 marines at Port au Prince, following the assassination of pro-US President Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam by his political rivals. The assassination of Sam was part of a protracted period of instability in Haitian politics, spurred by conflicts within the local ruling elite, and intensifying imperialist intervention. Sam was the country’s seventh president in four years.

    The US invasion force, ordered to protect American and foreign interests, seized control of Haiti’s treasury and customs houses, and forced the installation of a pro-US president in the country’s legislature.

    A former French colony, Haitian independence was won in 1804. France surrendered control over the country only after being defeated militarily by a slave revolt. Paris then financially blackmailed the fledgling black republic, imposing crushing indemnity payments. The French ruling class ensured that an independent Haiti was born in ruins, incapable of freeing itself from poverty and oppression.

    The US considered Germany its main rival in the Caribbean. Haiti was strategically important in terms of manpower, material worth and port facilities. Whichever imperialist power had control over Haiti would have an advantage with regard to the rest of the region.

    In the early part of the 20th century, German trade interests were large in Haiti, controlling about 80 percent of the country’s international commerce. In an attempt to limit German influence, in 1910-11 the US State Department backed a consortium of banks which acquired control of the National Bank of Haiti, the nation’s only commercial bank, and the government treasury.

    The initial years of the US occupation saw a campaign to suppress opposition from the cacos, a peasant-based rebel movement. The movement gained broad support from Haiti’s most oppressed layers, in large measure due to the brutal methods used by the US occupiers, who seized peasants and forced them into chain-gang-style labor.

    Under the control of the US, a select group of the Haitian upper class achieved a certain level of economic prosperity, and functioned as a servile comprador of Washington, while the vast majority of the population remained in abject poverty.



    • The same all over the world the oppression of the many with elite puppet governments, is this the fate of Egypt? having a American supported government over throwing a elected government?


  5. Thursday 10th December 2015

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    Haitians oppose ‘electoral coup’ and call for new elections. Selma James and Nina Lopez report

    On December 16 the people of Haiti will mark the 25th anniversary of their first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the liberation theology priest they lovingly call Titid.

    This is an important date, especially because Haiti is the midst of elections — parliamentary, then presidential, the final round scheduled for December 27.

    But the elections, funded by the US to the tune of $30 million, are being stolen and since August tens of thousands of people have repeatedly taken to the streets to protest at an “electoral coup.”

    For the first time since 2004, when a US coup removed Aristide for the second time, his party Fanmi Lavalas has been allowed on the ballot and its candidate Maryse Narcisse, a woman, has been personally endorsed by him.

    The election has been marred by state violence and fraud. Maxine Waters, member of the US congressional black caucus and longstanding supporter of Haiti, wrote to the Secretary of State John Kerry: “Many are calling for the resignation of the current CEP [Provisional Electoral Council] and the annulment of the entire first round.”

    She was ignored and on October 25 the second round went ahead. Again, intimidation and anomalies were reported including by the Caribbean Community (Caricom) electoral observation mission.

    A review demanded by Narcisse confirmed irregularities in 98 per cent of the tally sheets re-examined. The executive director of the National Human Rights Defense Network declared they reflected “massive acts of fraud aimed at changing the results of the elections” to benefit Jovenel Moise, the candidate backed by outgoing president Michel Martelly and his US sponsors.

    Any candidate who benefits from fraud can be expelled, but the CEP has refused to disqualify Moise, hence Narcisse is bringing a claim against the CEP before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

    Margaret Prescod, journalist and co-ordinator of Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike, was part of a grassroots fact-finding delegation organised by the Haiti Action Committee. Her show, Sojourner Truth (on KPFK Pacifica radio), has reported on police attacking protesters with tear gas, batons and live bullets.

    You would be forgiven for not knowing any of this as the mainstream media has largely kept its distance. When we urged a Channel 4 News correspondent to cover the fraudulent elections, she was dismissive: “I used to live in Haiti. It happens all the time.” Haitian lives, it seems, don’t matter.

    Yet when the devastating earthquake killed over 200,000 in 2004, British people and others around the world helped with generous donations as an unprecedented $13.5 billion was raised — but it never reached survivors.

    Many NGOs — the US Red Cross particularly — stand accused of stealing the money. With hundreds of thousands still living in camps without clean water the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund and the International Financial Corporation have been building luxury hotels in Petion-Ville.

    To spare the sensibilities of guests paying $250 a night, the slums they tower over got a lick of paint, quaint bright colours of course.

    But Haitians have a glorious history they have never forgotten. Their 1804 revolution, vividly told in the classic book The Black Jacobins, defeated Napoleon and abolished slavery, setting an example for the rest of the world.

    The colonial empires trembled at the sight of slaves who had freed themselves and were helping liberation movements in the Americas.

    Haitians have been punished for their success and systematically impoverished ever since. In 1825 France imposed a “debt” for the loss of “its property” — the liberated slaves!

    When Aristide demanded reparations from France in 2003, the money Haiti had paid France was estimated at $21.7bn. In 1914 the US occupied and took over Haiti’s national bank. Both France and US backed the Duvalier dictators — Papa and Baby Doc — who stole millions while their Tonton Macoutes paramilitaries terrorised the island for decades.

    Intervention has had other disastrous consequences. Haiti was swamped with US rice which destroyed its subsistence agriculture and its 1.3 million native pigs were exterminated with the excuse that they might bring swine fever to the US.

    But Haitians have never given up. Their 1986-90 mass movement forced Baby Doc Duvalier into exile and voted in Aristide. Within months he was removed by a CIA-backed coup, survived, came back and was re-elected, with 93 per cent of the votes.

    While in office, he refused to privatise public assets, built schools and hospitals, supported women and farmers, abolished the dreaded army and doubled the minimum wage. No wonder he is loved.

    In 2004 the fearless Aristide who had opened the government palace to street kids was removed again, this time by US marines. UN troops moved in, legitimising the coup.

    Unlike in Rwanda where UN troops did not to intervene to stop genocide, in Haiti they are in overdrive — they killed Aristide supporters, raped boys as well as girls (Sri Lankan and Uruguayan soldiers had to be withdrawn over rape allegations) and infected the population with cholera.

    In their struggle against imperialism, today’s black Jacobins face not only the US, Canada and France but even Latin America’s progressive governments as Brazil heads the occupying UN forces and Ecuador trains their repressive police. And while some objected to the US “selection” of Martelly, a former Tonton Macoute, as president, they have not refused to work with him.

    We were there in 2011 to welcome Aristide and family when they were finally allowed to return. An extraordinary day, full of love, hope and excitement as thousands of people accompanied their Titid home from the airport. His wife Mildred Trouillot told us: “This is a victory they cannot take away.”

    She was right. Despite every intervention and occupation the revolutionary people of Haiti have not been defeated and today they are calling for transparent elections.

    International support actions are planned on December 16, including in front of the US embassy in London.

    Selma James and Nina Lopez are joint co-ordinators of the Global Women’s Strike. For more information contact: gws@globalwomenstrike.net and http://www.haitisolidarity.net



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