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Eyewitness to History: Journalist remembers 2004 coup in Haiti

A demonstrator in Haiti on March 5, 2004, defiantly faces the deadly assault rifle of a U.S. soldier in an armored personnel carrier during a protest of the Feb. 29 kidnapping and coup d’état and ensuing occupation. His raised hands, five fingers outstretched, symbolize the five-year term mandated by the Haitian constitution that President Aristide was not allowed to complete. Many were killed by the occupation forces from Feb. 29 through April 2004 and to the present, including a Spanish journalist, Ricardo Ortega. – Photo: Kevin Pina, Haiti Information Project

Saturday Morning Talkies/KPFA Producer Kris Welch interviews journalist and filmmaker Kevin Pina & author and activist Yves Engler about the 2004 coup in Haiti that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.





HAITI: WHY WAS THE PORT-AU-PRINCE CATHEDRAL BURNED DOWN? (cries.regionews from Managua January 19, 1991 165 lines) By Gregorio Selser from "La Jornada", Mexico City. January 10, 1991.

International news agencies reported that the diplomatic corps accredited in Haiti protested to the provisional government about the aggression committed against the Vatican embassy in Port-au-Prince which was sacked and burned by demonstrators during the popular uprising against the attempted coup d'etat of Roger Lafontant on Jan. 7.

During the incidents, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, was humiliated by the demonstrators who forced him to remove his trousers and shoes. His secretary, Monsignor Leon Kalenga, was beaten and wounded in the head with machetes. The Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Christian P. Latortue, sent a message to the Vatican in which he regretted the aggression against the religious institutions. In a radio broadcast to the nation, president-elect Jean Bertrand Aristide condemned the "horrible spectacle" of the torching of the religious institutions stating he "shared the pain of the religious authorities and the diplomatic corps" and also called on the people to show discipline.

By mid-week, the army began to repress the demonstrators and Haitian authorities managed to stop the looting and calm the disorders. The question arises as to why there was such a strong and violent reaction by popular sectors against institutions and persons identified with the Catholic Church in

According to news dispatches from Haiti, the old colonial cathedral of Port-au-Prince was reduced to ashes by a fire set by a mob that was looking for the local prelate, Archbishop Francois Wolf Ligonde. They didn't find him because he had already taken refuge in the suburb of Carrefour. So they burned his personal residence in the Nazareth neighborhood. Also the building of the Haitian Bishops Conference (CEH) was set alight, and the residence of the Papal Nuncio and house of the Salesian Sisters were sacked and destroyed. The Haitian people continue to be, in the majority, Catholic, however, in spite of the persistence of voodoo rites, the growing presence of Protestant churches, and a variety of religious sects. It is fitting to ask, then, why was this popular anger directed against Catholic institutions and figures.

The triumphant presidential candidate Jean Bertrand Aristide continues to be a priest in spite of his suspension "a divinis", and in all his electoral speeches, he called for peaceful solutions and an end to all forms of violence, including in his public exhortations to gynecologist Roger Lafontant and his hordes of "tonton macoutes".

There is a long history of resentment and a more recent history of provocations by the CEH, in which the principal figure was Ligonde. In his first homily of the New Year on January 1, he launched a violent diatribe against Aristide which came at the same time as the reports about an imminent coup d'etat by Lafontant. Said in another way, Ligonde, an ultraconservative prelate and first cousin of Michele Benet, the wife of Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, put his money on the Lafontant coup, as did the majority of the bishops and a part of the army, including its commander-in-chief, General Herard Abraham, who permitted the Palace to by taken and the supposed arrest of the provisional president. Then he declared himself to be legalistic when the people began to mobilize and react. The CEH is made up of 10 high prelates, but the people say that in reality there are only one and a half, because although they recognize this high quality in the elderly bishop Willy Romelus, from the city of Jeremie, all the rest don't add up to "half a bishop". The CEH members are the archbishops Ligonde of Port-au-Prince, and Francois Gayot, of Cap Haitien, the bishops Leonard Petion Laroche of Hinche (president of the CEH), Joseph Lafontant and Joseph Kebreau, auxiliaries of Port-au-Prince, Francois Colimon of Port du Paix, Emmanuel Constant of Gonaives, Alix Verrier of Les Cayes, and Guire Poulard of Jacmel.

These high churchmen were born and/or grew up in the shadow of, or by decision of, the Duvalier dynasty, and at difference from those of Panama, they are all Haitian. Their appointments were agreed upon with the Vatican after a harsh confrontation which resulted in the expulsion from Haiti of all the members of the Jesuit Order whom Francois Duvalier accused of being "communists". In the last days of Baby Doc and in light of the reigning unrest, the CEH observed an attitude of "prudent criticism" of the regime, but when he fell and fled, Bishop Laroche, who was named by Papa Doc, warned against the "temptations to violence" in allusion to that which broke out at that time against the "tonton macoutes". Meanwhile, Archbishop Ligonde called for "immediate reconciliation". At the same time, the CEH, acting jointly, censured the activity of the Salesian priest Aristide who had been one of the main forces behind the popular mobilization. The bishops demanded that he not step out of bounds, that is, that he confine himself to his specific religious mission. The polemic that began in this way concluded in 1988 with the expulsion of Aristide from the Salesian Order and the related suspension of his condition as a priest. Aristide's appeal to the Vatican has still not been resolved; but the controversy had the advantage of winning him many more followers, because the episcopate, with the exception of Romelus, was discredited for their attitude of silent compliance during the time of Duvalierism.

Aristide did not put himself up to be a candidate for the presidency or for any other political office. However, when a convention was held in Vertaillis on October 13-14, 1990 by the "tonton macoutes" and they created the Union for National Reconciliation (URN) and designated Lafontant, their historical leader, as candidate, the association of parties and popular organizations grouped together as the National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD) interviewed the priest and literally demanded that he accept their nomination. On October 18, Lafontant, who continued to be subject to an arrest warrant by authorities, personally presented his candidacy to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) without being arrested. That same day, Aristide accepted his nomination. The electoral campaign was summed up as "the `tonton macoutes' versus democracy", but while the priest talked about peace and fraternity among all Haitians, Lafontant - whose candidacy was finally vetoed by the CEP - was characterized by his calls to violence and the threats he made. On November 24, Bishop Laroche attacked Aristide obliquely, reminding him of article 285/3 of the Code of Canon Law.

On December 5, at the end of a political meeting in the Petionville neighborhood, the "tonton macoutes" attacked with machine guns and bombs and left five dead and more than 50 seriously wounded. Two days later, a CEH document distortedly declared: "How did this come to happen? Is it not because they have tried to divide Haitian society into two camps, that of the good and that of the bad?[...] Thus, violence becomes a necessary instrument for the construction of the new political system, of the new regime of government. What is being prepared is definitely a State founded on the cycle of violence."

The dead and wounded were all from the FNCD, but the bishops put the blame on Aristide. He had asked for an interview with Laroche in order to explain his program for peace. It was granted to him as "a brother in the faith, and not as a politician". Aristide triumphed with more than 68% of the votes on December 16 in the only fair elections in the entire history of Haiti. Days before, Lafontant publicly declared that he would not allow him to assume the presidency. On January 1, Archbishop Ligonde, without any reason, attacked Aristide who at all times has shown himself to be prudent and conciliatory. On the 7th, after midnight, Lafontant began his coup.

Maybe this makes it possible to understand why Ligonde was sought out and why the church and ecclesiastical buildings were burned?

We will never forget you Father Gerard Jean-Juste

Photo: ©2005 Scott Braley

Re-published on February 7, 2014, in honor of his 68th birthday.


Mon Père, Remembrances of Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste 

May 29, 2009

by Kevin Pina

I called Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste 'my father' as did so many others who worked with him and loved him for his courage, commitment and generosity. I first met this incredible man after the first coup against Aristide in 1991. Another Catholic liberation theology priest, Fr. Jean-Marie Vincent, introduced him to me. I had returned to Haiti to continue filming for my documentary Haiti: Harvest of Hope.

When I returned to Haiti Fr. Vincent told me that there was another priest assigned to the parish of St. Gerard in the capital of Port au Prince who was protecting and hiding those targeted by the military repression. At great personal risk and never asking anything in return, Fr. Jean-Juste developed an underground network of non-violent resistance to the military and police repression. His network would later expand to include opposition to the paramilitary forces created by the CIA such as the Front for Advancement and Progress in Haiti or FRAPH.

Fr. Jean-Juste was always clear in his intention. To console me after the assassination of Fr. Vincent in Aug. 1994 he said, "There is no such thing as a safe harbor against such brutality except in your own conscience. No matter how hard they try to kill the thirst of the majority of the poor for a better life in Haiti, their brutality and tactics only provide more water for our struggle. We must never let them set the terms for the liberation of the majority of the poor in Haiti with their acts of violence. We must always stay focused on the goal."

After Aristide's return to Haiti in 1994, Fr. Jean-Juste remained an anchor for the Lavalas movement that he believed represented the interests of the poor majority until his death this last Wednesday in a Miami hospital. For this conviction he would suffer dearly especially after accepting an assignment to St. Clare's church in the neighborhood of Ti Place Cazeau in Haiti's capital. Once there, he would continue to not only preach on behalf of the rights of Haiti's poor majority but would also put his faith into practice by creating community empowerment projects. These included literacy and economic programs providing the poor with opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty and a daily canteen that made hot meals available to the most vulnerable in the community. It was not uncommon to find him singing while serving meals to poor children, who he adored and honored as the future of Haiti, on any given afternoon at St. Clare's.

Following the second coup against Aristide in 2004, he lost his weekly radio program at Radio Ginen after anonymous threats against the station. He would never blame the owner of the station telling me, "I understand the forces of repression and the lies they tell have taken control of Haiti for the moment. They are trying to convince the world that our beautiful movement of the poor is ugly and desolate. Aristide was kidnapped after the elite cut a deal with the Bush administration and this much is clear, the repression against Lavalas has started again."

Fr. Jean-Juste would continue to preach that Lavalas was a beautiful movement of the poor while most of the world fell prey to a systematic campaign to label and isolate it as a violent aberration. He would use every opportunity to condemn the second ouster of Aristide as a "coup-napping" that relied upon the brutal force of the former military and death squads who had invaded Haiti from the Dominican Republic in early February 2004. Fr. Jean-Juste described the situation as, "The Bush administration hiding behind the pretext of death squads and the military to justify kidnapping our democratically elected president." This insistence earned him the love and respect of Haiti's poor majority along with regular condemnation and death threats from supporters of the coup.

Fr. Jean-Juste along with many others considered September 30, 2004 a true test and turning point for the Lavalas movement in Haiti. The Haitian police opened fired on unarmed protestors during a demonstration on the thirteenth anniversary of the first military coup against Aristide. The slaughter would be justified by Jean-Claude Bajeux, a so-called human rights advocate and leader of a ‘civil society organization' called the Group 184 that worked for Aristide's ouster. Bajeux claimed that Lavalas partisans had emulated terrorists in Iraq and beheaded police officers earlier in the day. The Latortue regime ran with it and borrowed Bajeaux's unfounded assertion that it was part of a terror campaign by Lavalas called "Operation Baghdad." The international community, already compromised and cajoled by the Bush administration, stood poised and ready to accept any explanation that provided a counter argument to the massive demonstrations in the streets calling for Aristide's return. The demonstrations were proving an embarrassing reminder that the so-called opposition to Aristide was really a minority and that he never lost the support of the masses of the Haitian people as they had claimed.

Associating Lavalas with terrorists in Iraq was a marketable product in the international press that would not only distract from the growing demonstrations but also serve to justify the increasing repression. In actuality, it was a continuation of the strategy the Bush administration had employed against the popular Haitian folksinger Annette Auguste in May 2004 justifying her arrest by claiming she was organizing with Muslims in a local mosque to attack U.S. Marines in Haiti.

Attempts by the Latortue regime and the international community to label Lavalas as a terrorist organization with Operation Baghdad were always ludicrous. Fr. Jean-Juste with his usual clarity would state, "Bush and the Organization of American States are trying to equate the resistance against the coup by the poor with Al-Qaida and Iraqi terrorists. The OAS is bought off and a disgrace to the memory of Haiti having helped Bolivar for the emancipation of Latin America. They along with the U.S., France and Canada are siding with the elite in Haiti who would rather use this foreign label to brand the Lavalas movement as terrorists than accept their own responsibility for having driven this country into the ground with their own greed."

The Latortue regime and its allies believed that Operation Baghdad had finally provided them with the excuse they needed to destroy Lavalas and repress its most vocal supporters. High on the list was Fr. Jean-Juste. After Sept. 30, I heard several radio interviews with Haitian police spokesperson Jesse Coicou accusing unnamed priests of harboring and assisting gunmen involved in Operation Baghdad. I knew whom they meant and called Fr. Jean-Juste to make sure he was safe. He seemed unconcerned and reminded me that part of their goal was to frighten any one who opposed the coup into silence. He finished with "It is in God's hands and we have to keep talking about what's really going on here. We have to keep doing our work."

On October 13, 2004 the UN allowed the former brutal military to ‘officially' enter the capital of Port-au-Prince unchallenged. As they paraded through the streets waving automatic weapons and promising to kill ‘Lavalas bandits,' Fr. Jean-Juste was serving meals to the children at St. Claire's parish. As the children ate, heavily armed police wearing black ski masks surrounded the church before entering the premises with their guns drawn. As the children watched in terror they brutalized Fr. Jean-Juste before dragging him out and throwing him into the back of a waiting police car.

Fr. Jean-Juste's arrest came in the midst of a campaign of unprecedented slaughter and mass arrests throughout Oct. and Nov. 2004. It was clearly meant to silence his criticism of what he considered crimes against humanity being committed by the Haitian police against poor communities in the capital. The repression and his arrest were justified by Operation Baghdad, as the Latin American countries in charge of the UN military mission, namely Brazil, Chile and Argentina, remained silent and continued to provide support to the Haitian National Police.

Despite the reality that no warrant was ever produced nor any evidence linking Fr. Jean-Juste to a crime ever presented, he was held in prison for more than six weeks. He was finally released under the cover of darkness at 2 o'clock in the morning on Nov. 29 to avoid the spectacle of thousands of Lavalas supporters gathering to celebrate the news. I called him later in the day to express my joy and arrange another interview. All he would say was "Kev, get over here. We can't start the party without you."

Fr. Jean-Juste began giving interviews right after his release in which he condemned the U.S., France and Canada for their role in the coup and the UN for backing the repression against the Lavalas movement. He declared that Latortue was leading a ‘regime of terror' and chastised the UN for their "despicable role in providing support to the Haitian police as they unjustly murder and jail thousands for their political convictions." It was statements like these and his popularity among the poor that made him an even larger target for the Latortue regime. All they needed was the right circumstances and a new pretext for hauling him back to prison. Fr. Jean-Juste knew this but refused to remain silent.

©2009 Kevin Pina

Kevin Pina is a journalist and documentary filmmaker who has covered events in Haiti since 1991. As well as considering him a close friend and mentor, Pina interviewed Fr. Jean-Juste many times over the past 19 years. Interviews and personal conversations between the author and Fr. Jean-Juste form the basis of this article.

Exclusive interview with Former Lavalas Senator accused of killing Jean Dominique in Haiti

Former Senator Myrlande Liberus served as director at the Aristide Foundation for Democracy
where delegates regularly vote on grassroots initiatives aimed at improving life in their communities.

Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio Senior Producer Kevin Pina interviews former Lavalas Senator Myrlande Liberus who was recently accused by a judge in Haiti of assassinating journalist and commentator Jean Leopold Dominique in April 2000. Also joining him is Laura Flynn, a member of the Board of Directors of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).



9 in Haiti Accused in Journalist Case


Did Aristide order Myrlande Liberus to kill Jean Dominique in Haiti?

Dominique and a security guard were gunned down on
April 3, 2000 at the journalist's radio station, Radio Haiti Inter.

Executive Producer of Flashpoints Dennis Bernstein interviews attorney Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and Senior Producer Kevin Pina about the recent charges related to the assassination of journalist and commentator Jean Dominique.

Who really killed Jean Dominique and Jacques Roche?

Father Jean-Juste after one of several politically motivated false
arrests in Haiti including for the murder of Jacques Roche.

 by Kevin Pina and Father Gerard Jean-Juste

Kevin Pina interviewed legendary Haitian priest and human rights activist, Father Gerard Jean-Juste from Miami, Florida in April 2006 on the program Flashpoints heard on the Pacifica network. The following is a transcript of the interview made possible by Kevin Salinger.

Kevin Pina: Good afternoon, this is Kevin Pina with Flashpoints on Pacifica. Today's very special guest is my dear friend, and a man who has fought tirelessly for justice in Haiti, who has fought tirelessly for human rights in Haiti, Father Gerard Jean-Juste. Father Gerard Jean-Juste is currently in Miami, he is undergoing chemotherapy. He was, of course diagnosed with leukemia while he was being held without charges in a Haitian jail. He was tested by Doctor Paul Farmer, who then smuggled out his blood and diagnosed him with leukemia. Finally the US, United Nations-backed forces, the US-backed government, installed government of Gerard Latortue was forced to free Father Gerard Jean-Juste to allow him to begin his medical treatment. Father Gerard Jean-Juste, good afternoon, and welcome to Flashpoints.

Fr. Jean-Juste: Good afternoon Kevin, good afternoon to all the listeners of Flashpoints. Kevin Pina: Well, now you've had a little bit of time, you've been in Miami. How are the treatments going Father, how are you feeling? Fr. Jean-Juste: It has been improving for a while, and I feel better now. I thank God; I thank all of you for your prayers, and for your support. And also, I'm getting ready right now for the second cycle of chemotherapy treatment. I have about five more cycles left, so the first one went very well, and I hope the second one will go well too, and the other ones, so they hope within five months I may recuperate pretty good.

Kevin Pina: Now I know that, in theory, your case is still pending in Haiti, but I'd like to get into that a little bit, particularly in light of the fact that there's been a lot of talk lately by Reporters Without Borders, and by the widow of Jean Dominique lately, raising the question of Jean Dominique, in particular the involvement of Lavalas in the murder of Jean Dominique; and I can't help but think of the parallels, in that, you of course are accused of being involved in the kidnapping and the murder -- a preposterous accusation of course -- and the murder of Jacques Roche. Jacques Roche was a reporter who was, really, I guess a sort of slanted reporter, I guess there is another term for it, a reporter who worked with the Group 184, which was, of course, the opposition group that helped to oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004. But Father, I don't think that we ever really heard from you. How did you feel when you first heard this preposterous accusation against you? I know you must have felt it was preposterous.

Fr. Jean-Juste: Definitely, definitely, it was ridiculous to charge me with such a preposterous accusation. I was in Miami on business, and then I returned to Haiti on the 15th, two days or three days after the Jacques Roche assassination. So I had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with Jacques Roche. Of course, now they are looking for a way to get rid of me, to shut my mouth, and also to stop Lavalas from participating in the election, in order for them to go to the elections and carry all the posts. But, unfortunately for them, and fortunately for us, within time the case of Jacques Roche has been dying -- inaudible -- because the search found nothing about us, they dropped the charges. But I would like to see Jacques Roche obtain justice, in the sense that they should try to find the true killers and go after them, and bring justice to the case. But now we have to ask the question: who was the true killers of Jacques Roche? Because it seems to me this is a political killing in order to capitalize, in order to benefit out of the exploitation of the death of Jacques Roche. And this is the beginning of what we call the "arming of ti machet." That was the first in a series where we've been attacked at the church, it was something plain, by some officers of the de facto government, and later on we discovered that the death squad was in full speed going after Lavalas people, even at the soccer game, organized, or sponsored by the USAID, where so many Lavalas people have been assassinated and killed in cold blood. So I guess there was a -- inaudible -- going on, and they were looking for a way to trap us Lavalas, and put everything on our back, and then get rid of Lavalas. So they have failed, Lavalas has survived, and now we hope we will keep moving forward, obtain justice, not only for myself, but for the other political prisoners, and for everyone else accused falsely in the case.

Kevin Pina: It seems so hard though to figure out the truth and to be able get justice, when people seem to politicize incidents like this, and use it as a tool of political persecution against those who are associated with Lavalas. Of course there's the most recent example of your own where you were not involved with Jacques Roche, but yet we know that the minister of culture under the Latortue government got up and accused you personally, accused Lavalas of involvement. Without any proof it was printed in the media, in the mainstream media and in the Haitian press, and there were very few questions raised as far as the validity of it until you were finally released when the charges were dropped. But I can't help but also think about the Jean Dominique case. And now I hear about Michelle Montas, who of course I have respect for, and I hear Reporters Without Borders who I have very little respect for, bringing up the Jean Dominique case again. But I also remember when those same forces had accused President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of having given Senator Dany Toussaint the order to have Jean Dominique, Haiti's most famous journalist, assassinated. I remember quite clearly, everyone, the political line was President Jean-Bertrand Aristide gave Senator Dany Toussaint the order to kill Jean Dominique. And yet, Senator Dany Toussaint, in the recent presidential elections, ran as a candidate for the presidency, and nobody said a word about it again. But yet the damage had been done. Father, can you help us to understand how these sorts of mysterious murders are used for political reasons, for a tool of political persecution against Lavalas, how accusations are made, peoples' lives are destroyed, and then suddenly we find out that what they told us was the truth, wasn't the truth.

Fr. Jean-Juste: Yeah, it is unfortunate Kevin that in Haitian politics, some politician can do anything to blame, or to condemn the opponent, the adversaries. So, this is a very bad practice. It reminds me of the tactic on the international level, once in awhile we see that whenever they want to create a problem for a president, for a party, for a group, they manage to get somebody killed, and then they manage to blame some group they want to get rid of. In French we always say that -- speaking in French -- we say that whenever we want to get rid of somebody, just look for an alibi, look for a case we hear of murder, and put it on the back of the person, and then we make propaganda about it. So it is unfortunate. And in the case of Jean Dominique, Jean was a Lavalas, strong Lavalas, and helping the peasants, helping the poorest ones. And who should profit off the killing of Jean? Who should profit off getting rid of such a great journalist? You understand, so they use Jean to put pressure on the Lavalas government. It's like having a family, where someone will try to kill the son or the daughter of the family, and now try to blame the whole family for the killing. It is ridiculous. So in that sense, we are putting it so Jean Dominique could obtain justice. But I think that Reporters Without Borders is just using the case for their own purpose. Understand that the last three years we heard nothing about the case. Why is it now coming back again on the scene? It seems that every time a Lavalas, comes back- is running, they try to bring up something in order to stop the government of the people.

Kevin Pina: And of course Reporters Without Borders said absolutely nothing, or very little about this thing of Abdias Jean. You know we don't know, there's no clear evidence who killed Jean Dominique, but we know that there were eyewitnesses who say that the Haitian police summarily executed Abdias Jean in January 2005, in the neighborhood of Cite de Dieu. We know that for a fact. Fr. Jean-Juste: Yeah, that's true. Unfortunately, this is the type of reporting we have coming from France. And understand that some French officials have been helping some Haitian students in order to make them rise against the Lavalas government all the time. And because President Aristide was apparently asking for France to repair it, to repair, to uh - Kevin Pina: Give reparations. Fr. Jean-Juste: - for reparations, and they [owe] 22 billion dollars to Haiti, and France refused, and in that case, I guess Reporters Sans Frontiers is trying to think ahead, to make us forget what we are looking for. We're looking for reparations, we're looking for restitution, and I think its about time that France stop- and deal frankly with the issue, otherwise, they cannot understand the issue. We're still alive, and probably after Jacques Chirac or some other government, we'll still continue to demand reparations and restitution, and we will gain justice someday.

Kevin Pina: Now you know, sometimes it almost seems like a cultural war for me. When I see the attacks, the character assassination on leadership of Lavalas, when I see the attempt to destroy the reputation of Lavalas, when I see the attempt to paint it with a wide brush stroke, that it was a violent movement at the behest of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the dictator of Haiti, all of this sort of propaganda machine within culture. And a latest example is this film that was just released, which I haven't seen yet, but the main theme of it, its called Ghosts of Cite Soleil, its produced by the son of Jorgen Leth, Asgar Leth. Jorgen Leth of course was the former Danish honorary counsel to Haiti, who had to resign because he had written a book that detailed his sexual exploits with his 17-year-old house servant, and that created a very moral uproar and he had to resign from that position. But his son Asgar Leth now has produced a film called Ghosts of Cite Soleil, in which he now chronicles the exploits of two gang leaders in Cite Soleil called Tupac and Billy. And according to this film, there are these phone calls that are made reportedly, in this film, that say that they are being made by those close to Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is getting leadership to the gangs in Cite Soleil to go out and kill the opposition. Father Gerard Jean-Juste, I've never asked you this question before: what is your opinion about the accusations that have been leveled against Jean-Bertrand Aristide, that he was using the state to sponsor violence against the opposition in Haiti?

 Fr. Jean-Juste: Well its completely false, its completely propaganda, its completely unjust doing that to President Aristide. The president was elected by the people, the president was well-loved by the people, by most Haitians, as the president was being so good to the poorest ones in Haiti by offering education to everyone, regardless that the international community had stopped all aid, all assistance to President Aristide as well as President Preval in the past; and these presidents, loved by the people, had managed to offer maximum services to the people. And that is the reason that now we have so many people coming out, still supporting these Lavalas presidents. So I guess the enemy should take a lesson, instead of trying to destroy all those who want good for the grassroots, who want good for the people in general, who want good for everyone in general, rich or poor, who want possibilities for the poor, want - going after these good Haitians; and I think they should, instead, try to find ways to bring cooperation and help us better the life of the people. That's the way how I see it, but unfortunately we have a long way to go to make these people, to make the enemies of the Haitian people understand that. Its not the proper way to live, its not the proper way to operate, and they should come on the side of the people. So we hope with our prayers, with our discipline, we shall convince them, someday they will change. That's why hope, or otherwise I'll see why people who are educated, who are supposed to know better, will go in a way of -- inaudible -- that leads to the assassination of so many Haitian brothers and sisters. And President Aristide, he is loved by the Haitian people, not because he is President, or because he has done something great, its because he has shown complete love for the people. Poor people can enter the palace and eat with the president, and party with the president, as well as rich people. So President Aristide has been opening his arms and heart to everyone. So at the moment that the people have tasted this type of service, this type of offer coming from the president -

Kevin Pina: Open government?

Fr. Jean-Juste: - from the government -- you can do whatever you want, they will give their life for the movement, because the movement is in their advantage, giving them more dignity, and more hope, and improve their living. So that's the best way to operate. The best way to operate is completely to come with some services that allow people to receive basic human needs. So this is the best way, and you're going to have the Haitian people with you forever. But the other ways, exploiting them, killing them, and telling them nonsense -- they won't accept any of that nonsense.

 Kevin Pina: You know Father, there seems to be a revision of history going on as well. People seem to be wanting to sweep under the rug what life has been like in Haiti the past two years, which I can only describe as a human rights hell. But I wonder if you could just help our listeners to understand, if you could describe, define what the last two years have been like in Haiti before the elections, after the coup against Aristide, February 29, 2004. How would you describe that period of history?

Father. Fr. Jean-Juste: Well as you just were referring, it was hell in Haiti, cause, imagine that we had a democratic government functioning, and in effect, within the international community, they come together and, with some putchist leaders, coup leaders, and they get rid of this elected president. And that has been quite a blow to us Haitians. So many innocent people have been killed for nothing, and the people who have survived have received no services at all, and all the public places that were built, to serve the people, to welcome them -- the parks, the public institutions in education, meant to serve the people -- everything has been either destroyed or disappeared. And so the de facto government that has been imposed on us the last two years has received more assistance from that sector of the international community -- from the international community at large, I should say -- and has done nothing for the people in concrete. Look at Haiti now: they are still without electricity, no woods, and no food for the people, and -- inaudible -- it's very expensive. And on the human rights level forget it. The jails are overcrowded with innocent people, most of them Lavalas people. And so this is a situation where they have tried to force a government in the throat of the people, and the people have stood up and thwarted them. So I think we have a great lesson today, and Haiti should never, never live such a sad, hellish moment, like we've had the last two years, in its history. So we have to find ways now to make democracy a growing, and find ways to make sure that human rights of all in Haiti are respected, and find ways to correct whatever wrong has been done by the previous de facto government, and move ahead to see if we can bring as many Haitians -- to bring them together, as many as possible, and to rebuild this beautiful country God has given us. So that's the way how I see it, because it is true that I'm not able to speak more, but you know, in the condition I'm now, I'm in the middle of treatment and I'm taking a lot of medication right now.

Kevin Pina: I understand Father. This is Kevin Pina on Flashpoints on Pacifica, our guest today is Father Gerard Jean-Juste. Now Father they've set you free to undergo chemotherapy for lymphatic leukemia, which of course is very dangerous. They had held you to the point where it had become life-threatening, and of course your treatment had to commence immediately. But technically you're still a political prisoner, because technically after your treatment you're supposed to return to Haiti. Is that right?

Fr. Jean-Juste: Yes, I'm looking forward to returning to Haiti. As far as my case is concerned, in order to send me for treatment the government wanted to pardon me. I said, what have I done to deserve a pardon? So I am the one who went on appeal. I'm going on appeal, and I would like to win the case all the way, all the way, and I won't back off until I receive justice from the government of Haiti, probably now would be under government under Preval administration, yeah.

Kevin Pina: Well I can't thank you enough Father Gerard Jean-Juste. God bless you sir and thank you so much for your time. Please take care. Fr. Jean-Juste: Thank you very much Kevin. My greeting to all the listeners, and I hope God bless every one of us. Thank you.

Haiti's Batay Ouvriye plays both ends against the middle as "maquila workers take to the streets —again"

Many in Haiti's labor movement have called foul and a conflict of interest, noting that Yannick Etienne of Batay Ouvriye, also known as Yvane Elie Castera, actually serves as a member of Martelly's Administrative Council of Social Security Bodies (CAOSS). She joined Martelly's "labor initiative" even as tens of thousands of Haitians have taken to the streets in recent months demanding Martelly resign amid accusations of corruption and the lack of free and fair elections.

Just this last

World War 4 Report

Defending the Fourth World, Deconstructing Overseas Contingency Operations

"One of the representatives, Yannick Etienne of the leftist Batay Ouvriye ("Worker's Struggle"), reported that "steps are under way for a consensus among the different parties on this situation. There are possibilities of meetings with the [CSS], the bosses and some unions." She added that "the question of the wages for the workers has to be renegotiated, because they don't accept the 225 gourdes."

The factories reopened on Dec. 13, but according to Batay Ouvriye "the main officials of the factory [union] committees weren't allowed to enter, sometimes with a letter indicating a suspension or a penalty, when it wasn't an outright dismissal." (AlterPresse, Dec. 13; Batay Ouvriye News, Dec. 13)

A smiling Yvane Elie Castera, an active supporter 
of the 2004 coup in Haiti standing to the right of Martelly in this recent
photograph, is also known as Yannick Etienne of Batay Ouvriye.

Written by The Sentinel Staff

Sunday, September 01, 2013 11:57 AM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti ( - Two institutions in the management of workers insurance and wage protection, the Superior Council of Salaries (CSS) and the Administrative Council of Social Security Departments (CAOSS) were inaugurated on Thursday during a ceremony at the National Palace.

 The installation ceremony was presided by the President of the Republic, Michel Martelly in the presence of the Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, Charles Jean Jacques and some members of the government, some parliamentarians, members of the private sector, representatives of international organizations and the trade union sector.

In a statement, the National Palace said "the setting-up of these two institutions is a milestone in the history of social security in Haiti."

The two structures established, according to President Martelly, are "to improve the performance of the institutions provided for by law in order to strengthen democracy, to support the Republican values​​, while ensuring security and peace for all citizens." The Head of State said, "I rely on these players who will assume their responsibilities."

The installation of CSS and CAOSS aims to respond to the needs of working men and women brave, thirty years after the adoption of the law establishing the CAOSS and CSS . The Head of State believes it is necessary to strengthen the organization of our social security system . With CAOSS , ONA and OFATMA will be better able to meet the workers in terms of social benefits and can contribute more to the stability and national cohesion.

"By making the functional CAOSS I want to reform and strengthen the foundations of our social security system guaranteeing distribution solidarity between generations. I take this opportunity to remind the mandatory contributions to social security funds."

For his part, the Minister of Social Affairs thanked the CAOSS and CSS, which in a patriotic spirit and public service , have agreed as part of tripartism to be part of these tips and give their time to advance the agenda of social security and the highly sensitive issue of the wage in Haiti.

The members of the Administrative Council of Social Security Bodies (CAOSS) are:
Volmy Desrameaux Fils, Tamara Georges Decastro, Reginald Delva (State Representatives );
Nahomme Dorvil, Nathale Hermantin, Gérald Marie Tardieu (Patron Representatives);
Leonel Pierre, Wisler Romain, Yvane Elie Castera (Representatives of Wage)
The Superior Council of Salaries is composed of:
 Marie France H. Mondesir, Renan Hédouville, Daniel Altine (State Representatives);
Norma Powell, Dany Jean Pierre Francois, Reginald Boulos (Representatives of Employers);
Jean Bonald Golinsky Fatal Jean Franck Noisimond , Fignole St Louis Cyr (Representatives of Wage).

Investiture  du conseil supérieur des salaires et du conseil d’administration des organes de sécurité sociale

Port-au-Prince, le 29 aout 2013 – (AHP) - Le président Michel Martelly a donné Investiture  jeudi au conseil supérieur des salaires et au conseil d’administration des organes de sécurité sociale (CAOSS).

La cérémonie s’est déroulée au palais présidentiel en preesence du ministre des affaires sociales et du travail Charles Jean-Jacques.

Le ministre Jean-Jacques s’est félicité du fait que gouvernement de montre intéressé à rendre fonctionnelles ces instances prévues par la loi depuis près d’une trentaine d’années.

Tout en reconnaissant les difficultés qui ont empêché leur mise en place M. Jean-Jacques a renouvelé l’engagement de l’équipe au pouvoir à garantir le respect des droits de la population à travers un système efficace de protection sociale.

Le président Michel Martelly a exhorté les membres du conseil d’administration des organes de sécurité sociale et du conseil supérieur des salaires à prendre à cœur les responsabilités auxquelles ils sont appelées.

Le chef de l’État a indiqué que toutes les entités concernées par la situation des travailleurs doivent travailler dans la plus parfaite harmonie.
C’est une condition sine qua non à la prospérité économique, a-t-il indiqué.

Michel Martelly a une nouvelle fois pris l’engagement de contribuer à la mise en place d’un système efficace de sécurité sociale et  à l’amélioration des conditions socio-économiques de la population en général.

 Les membres du Conseil d’Administration des Organes de Sécurité Sociale (C.A.O.S.S.) sont :

Volmy Desrameaux Fils, Tamara Georges Decastro, Réginald de Delva, (Représentants de l’Etat) ;

Nahomme Dorvil, Nathale Hermantin, Gérald Marie Tardieu ( Représentants du patronnat) ;

Leonel Pierre, Wisler Romain, Yvane Elie Castera (Représentants du Salariat).

Le Conseil Supérieur des Salaires est composé de :

Marie France H. Mondésir, Renan Hédouville, Daniel Altiné (Représentants de l’État) ;

Norma Powell, Jean Dany Pierre Francois, Réginald Boulos (Représentants du Patronat) ;

Jean Bonald Golinsky Fatal,  Jean Franck Noisimond, Louis Fignolé St Cyr (Représentants du Salariat).


Why is Sean Penn the Honorary Ambassador for 
an undemocratic and corrupt regime in Haiti? 

November 14, 2013 - Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio Senior Correspondent
Kevin Pina interviews political analysts about Sean Penn's role in Haiti


Protesters outside of Dreamforce Conference in SF on Nov. 19 where Sean Penn spoke glowingly
of Martelly's regime to a star-struck crowd including president Marc Benioff.

In a startling display of ignorance for a purported genius,
founder Marc Benioff falls prey to Sean Penn's celebrity by welcoming
Haiti PM Laurent Lamothe to the Dreamforce Conference in SF.
The previous day, tens of thousands of Haitians demonstrated
throughout Haiti calling for the resignation of president Michel Martelly
who came to office through a series of tainted elections

Kevin Pina joins Margaret Prescod on Sojourner Truth heard on KPFK in Los Angeles. He discusses how Haitian president Martelly has moved to rehabilitate and protect "Baby Doc" Duvalier who stands accused of human right abuses and crimes against humanity. Pina also lambasts the role of actor Sean Penn for providing credibility to Martelly even as he stacks his government with Duvalier supporters.


Call for demonstration in San Francisco just released:


Protests grow in Haiti despite biased news coverage


Last Thursday, Nov. 7, saw a large protest against the Martelly regime in Haiti.  Yet, a mere  three days later, this is what appears on Google as current news in Haiti (see Google snapshot below). 

In this NGO/Celebrity/Charity alternate reality, the overarching narrative regularly presented in the international press is that foreigners are the subject, heroes and protagonists of Haiti. Most people aren't aware of the real situation in Haiti because, whether unintentionally or through design, the press mostly feeds them a steady diet of foreigners committing selfless acts of charity as a distraction

The common reality of repression, corruption and grinding poverty experienced by most Haitians today remains largely unseen, unspoken and under reported.

Top of the Haiti Google News Search
November 10, 2013  - 5pm PST/8pm EST

Haiti anti-government protest turns violent

Demonstrators call on President Martelly to resign, accusing him of cronyism and failing to ease poverty. 

Last updated: 08 Nov 2013 09:11
Haiti has seen a wave of anti-government protests over the past month [Reuters]

Thousands of Haitian protesters have demanded the resignation of President Michel Martelly, clashing with supporters of the leader in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

Protesters said two people suffered gunshot wounds after Martelly loyalists opened fire during Thursday's skirmishes that lasted for several hours.

The two sides hurled stones at each other during the fighting, which brought parts of the city to a standstill and triggered huge traffic jams.

Anti-Martelly demonstrators accused the Haitian president of cronyism, charging that he is ruling the impoverished Caribbean nation for the benefit of his friends and family.

"We are from the ghettos. We get nothing from the government which works only for the rich," protester Johnny Joseph shouted.

The march began peacefully as the crowd grew to a few thousand people and passed through poor neighbourhoods, many of them strongholds of government critics.

"This is the people's fight for a change for better conditions,'' said Carlo Jean Daniel as he walked among the marchers. "Nothing is coming down for the people."

The demonstrators were dispersed by police after attempting to reach the Presidential Palace.
Haiti has seen a wave of anti-government protests over the past month, with demonstrators accusing Martelly of failing to ease poverty and unemployment and demanding his resignation.

The United Nations' peacekeeping mission in Haiti issued a statement on Thursday asking the divided legislative and executive branches to agree on "priority political issues," which include the holding of elections.


How long has it been since 
the last elections in Haiti?:

Now you can make your voice heard for real democracy and free & fair elections in Haiti by placing this counter on your webpage or blog with this embed code:
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