Haiti Before and After Aristide’s Return

Counterpunch, April 11, 2011

by Robert Roth

On April 4th, Haiti’s electoral council announced that, according to preliminary results, Michel Martelly had been selected Haiti’s new president. A kompa singer and long-time proponent of Jean-Claude Duvalier, Martelly worked with the dreaded FRAPH death squads that killed over 5000 people in Haiti after the first coup against President Jean- Bertrand Aristide in 1991. Martelly supporters had announced they would “burn down the country” if he were not selected.   Only a small number of Haitians – around 20% by most estimates – voted in the elections, the smallest percentage in 60 years to participate in any presidential elections in  the Americas. Fanmi Lavalas, the party of Aristide and by far the most popular in Haiti, was banned from participation. Why should people vote? It was a “selection,” not an “election,” we were told over and over again. By the second round on March 20th, Haitians had to choose between Martelly or Mirlande Manigat, a right-wing member of Haiti’s tiny elite. One Haitian friend told us, “This is a choice between cholera and typhoid. You cannot make such a choice.”

Yet the bitter taste of the dismal elections could not diminish the joy of “the return.” As the plane carrying President Aristide and his family back from a 7-year forced exile in South Africa approached the Port-au-Prince airport on March 18th, there were about 50 of us in the inner courtyard of his home. A day before, we had watched quietly as dozens of Haitians methodically painted walls, swept the same floors over and over again to make sure they were spotless, and fixed any last remnant of the destruction that took place at this house after the coup on February 29, 2004.

We had heard that President Aristide (called Titid throughout Haiti) would arrive at  the airport around noon, but we had gone to the house earlier to avoid the crush. I had come with a dear friend, Pierre Labossiere, representing the work of the Haiti Action Committee. We were both honored and overwhelmed to be there. Continue reading

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement: Solidarity with the Struggle of People of Haiti

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) is an organization of people of Afrikan descent in the United States who believe in fighting for and supporting self-determination and human rights for Afrikans in the United States and around the world. Our organization annually takes an international trip to build solidarity with other people struggling for liberation and social justice. This year, we come in solidarity to Haiti (with the people of Haiti).

Our objective was to meet with Haitian people and popular organizations and assess the current situation in the camps and throughout the country seven months after the earthquake.

What we have found is appalling. There is a lack of security, deteriorating health conditions, and inadequate access to food, water, medicine and education in the camps. We are particularly concerned about the lack of safety and the large number of reported rapes and violent attacks on Haitian women and children in the camps.

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Haiti: Calls Mount to Free Lavalas Activist

Ronald Dauphin's wife at a protest in Port-au-Prince, 2009

Wadner Pierre and Jeb Sprague

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Aug 20 (IPS) – Government authorities in Haiti face recent criticism over allegations that they continue to jail political dissidents.

On Aug. 7, Amnesty International called for the release of Ronald Dauphin, a Haitian political prisoner. Dauphin is an activist with the Fanmi Lavalas movement of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He was seized by armed paramilitaries on Mar. 1, 2004 – the day after Aristide’s government was ousted in a coup d’état.

According to Amnesty, “the delay in bringing Ronald Dauphin to trial is unjustifiable and is politically motivated”. The organisation “opposes Ronald Dauphin’s continued detention without trial, which is in violation of his rights, and urges the Haitian authorities to release him pending trial.”

Amnesty noted that Dauphin’s health has deteriorated severely in Haiti’s National Penitentiary, which is notorious for the appalling conditions to which it subjects inmates. One of Dauphin’s co-defendants, Wantales Lormejuste, died in prison from untreated tuberculosis in April 2007.

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