by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
The government of President Michel Martelly is literally sealing off the Haitian island of Ile à Vache, on which the residents are rising up against government plans to throw them off their land. On Mar. 11, Haïti Liberté journalists discovered in the southern city of Aux Cayes that agents of the Martelly government had paid off boat captains, who take people to the island, not to accept Haitian passengers. Meanwhile over 120 heavily armed officers of the Haitian National Police’s Departmental Unit for the Maintenance of Order (UDMO) and the Motorized Intervention Brigade (BIM) have been deployed to the island to uproot residents and control protests. Already 20 families have been dispossessed, according to the Organization of Ile-à-Vache Peasants (KOPI or Konbit peyizan Ilavach), which is leading the resistance on the island. Meanwhile, KOPI’s vice president, journalist/policeman Jean Maltunès Lamy, has been arrested and jailed in the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, which is illegal since it is in a different department (West) than Ile à Vache (South). Following a May 10, 2013 presidential decree declaring the island was a “zone of public utility,” Martelly’s government has begun to implement its plan to kick peasants off their land and townspeople out of their homes and turn the entire island into a tourist resort.
Journalists and Haitian human rights activists seeking to reach the island last week in order to investigate the situation there found that the Haitian government had paid the captains of small boats that ferry people out to the island 10,000 gourdes ($225) to only accept foreigners on their vessels. The normal cost of a round-trip to the island is 4,000 gourdes ($90). It takes about 40 minutes to travel by boat to the 20 square mile island about 10 kilometers southeast of Aux Cayes. It was once a base of the renowned English pirate Henry Morgan (c.1635–1688). Events on the island began to escalate after Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin gave a 90-minute presentation to a group of farmers on Jan. 16.* In response, on Jan. 17, several hundred of the island’s 20,000 residents demonstrated, blocking road, burning tires, closing schools and businesses, and chanting “Ile à Vache is not for sale, neither wholesale or retail!” A week earlier, on Jan. 9, island residents threw stones at Fernand Sajous, one of the owners of the island’s Abaka Bay Resort, Fritz César, the local unelected interim representative of the central government, and Dorcin Fresnel, a secretary of state for agricultural production, after a public meeting about government plans turned sour, according to Jean Claudy Aristil of Radio VKM (Vwa Klodi Mizo our Voice of Claudy Museau). According to KOPI, UDMO soldiers were deployed on the island on the night of Feb. 9, and beat residents Charles Laguerre, Bertin Similien, Maxo Bell, forcing them to remove the barricades they had erected in protest. The next day the UDMO policemen beat up a girl, Rosena Masena, in the township of Madame Bernard, according to KOPI. On Feb. 14 on Radio VKM, one of KOPI’s organizers said that the residents of Ile à Vache do not recognize the Presidential decree divesting them of their lands and denounced the increased police presence. Historically, there have only been two police officers for the whole island. The KOPI leader asked for solidarity from Haitians around Haiti and its diaspora. On Feb. 20, more than 40 soldiers from the BIM arrived on the island and destroyed several houses, according to KOPI. The next day, KOPI Vice President, Jean Matulnès Lamy, himself a police officer, was arrested. Mr. Lamy was imprisoned without being brought before a judge, and many KOPI members went into hiding. The same day, Ile à Vache residents, brandishing tree branches and singing rara songs, protested in the township of Kay Kòk to demand Lamy’s release and to oppose a government delegation’s inauguration of a new community center, restaurant, and radio station. The demonstrators complained that their calls for a high school and vocational school have been ignored and that local masons, foremen, and technicians were passed over for the construction work in favor of people from out of town. The islanders expressed doubt that the government was promoting “eco-tourism” on the island when it has cut down Ile à Vache’s only forest to build an airport. KOPI President Marc Lainé Donald (Jinal) said that KOPI still wants the May 10, 2013 presidential decree rescinded, saying it “reflects a macabre plan, a rat trap, a collective suicide, that aims to drive all the residents from the island. It is a cultural genocide...” On the morning of Feb. 25, soldiers of the BIM, firing live ammunition, attacked a peaceful demonstration of about 1,000 Ile à Vache residents near the Madame Bernard township. The assault was led by the local interim governor, Fritz César, who carried a 9-mm handgun and pointed out which protestors should be beaten or arrested. About 12 people were injured, and two men – Carl Oza and Aizan Silien – were arrested. The injured included Adrien Justin and Genel Justin. Although it was raining, the demonstration started spontaneously when the island’s residents learned that Mr. Lamy was taken to court but was not heard by a judge and instead taken to the National Penitentiary. On Feb. 27, 2014, Sen. Pierre Francky Exius, Chairman of the Senate Committee for Justice and Security, said he would summon Justice Minister Jean-Renel Sanon and the Chief of Police to discuss the Ile à Vache situation. Senator Exius called the arrest of Mr. Lamy “political” and based on “a supposed event which is over one year old and hence no longer anything in flagrante delicto.” On Mar. 1, Tourism Minister Stephanie Villedrouin traveled to Ile à Vache, but KOPI members, still in hiding because they are vilified as “bandits” by the government, refused to meet with her. KOPI said that island residents will not meet with government representatives until after:1. The May 10, 2013 decree to expropriate their lands is rescinded. 2. The 100 BIM soldiers are removed from the island. 3. Jean Maltunès Lamy is released.4. The defamation campaign on Haitian radio, labeling KOPI members as “bandits,” is stopped. The islands residents accuse government officials of lying, insisting that 20 families have already been dispossessed, although they were promised that no one would be. In an effort to quell and appease the uprising, Minister Villedrouin held a press conference in the capital on Mar. 10, saying that “nobody is going to be expelled from Ile-à-Vache” and “up until now, no individual has been expelled,” according to Alterpresse. She said that “measures for compensation are foreseen for the families living in places affected by the plan to build hotels on the western point of the island,” Alterpresse also reports. “Families will be dealt with on a case by case basis,” she said. “Nothing is going to be done in an arbitrary manner.” UDMO and BIM police officers had been dispatched to Ile-à-Vache, Villedrouin said, following “violent demands” and “with the aim of stabilizing the area.” But the minister’s comments are belied by the government’s apparent efforts to seal off the island. A delegation of the Dessalines Coordination (KOD), a new political party, was among those seeking to get to Ile à Vache on Mar. 11. The KOD members had to hunt down a private boat to take them to the island. “Our delegation has come to Ile-à-Vache to bring KOD’s solidarity to the island’s people, whom the government of President Martelly and Prime Minister [Laurent] Lamothe is trying to uproot with the complicity of imperialist governments,” said KOD delegation leader Oxygène David. “Our delegation had a hard time getting to the island. People here tell us that the government has stepped up corruption in an effort to prevent progressives from other places from coming to give solidarity to the island.” Oxygène David also pointed out that “the government had Jean Maltunès Lamy arrested and deported him all the way to the National Penitentiary in Port-Au-Prince without any judge in Aux Cayes charging him with a crime. This is an act of kidnapping because it has no legal or juridical foundation which would allow them to arrest someone in Aux Cayes and then jail them in Port-au-Prince. Any indictment must be done in Aux Cayes’ jurisdiction and then the person goes before a court in that jurisdiction.” In addition to supporting KOPI’s demands, KOD has joined with the population of Ile à Vache in forming three demands: 1. The unconditional liberation of everybody arrested in demonstrations on the island.2. The rescinding of the illegal decree declaring the island a tourist development zone.3. For the government to stop repressing the island’s people and to withdraw all of its BIM police from the island.
* Much of the reporting for this article was drawn from the website Haiti Chery of Dady Chery. Her excellent updates can be found at www.dadychery.org.
I want to begin this group of posts with a few caveats.
We are acknowledging that the suggestions and things shared here will not apply to everyone nor will they be possible for every international adoption situation. I am not talking to the adoptive parents of a child that came out of intense abuse or neglect or danger. I am not talking to the adoptive parents that literally have zero ability to locate the first family of the child they adopted.
I have met multiple people that think this is the most ridiculous thing to suggest. They would NEVER consider sending updates or remaining in contact "with some poor family" on the other side of the globe. That grieves me, but I know that is how some folks see it. I don't assume I can change them.
The two Dads that love IsaacIt is probably also important for you to know that I care as much or more about first families than I do adoptive families. I care deeply about the rights and respect owed to a birth-mother. In my opinion protecting them and helping to make the weight of their pain and load lighter should be a high priority.
We can honor them best by acknowledging frequently how important their role is and by giving back to them by offering updates and contact with the children they have placed for adoption. We honor them by never labeling them as uncaring or incapable or reducing them to small definitions because we don't understand them or their lives.
We all need to work much harder at family preservation before and while we do adoptions of children from materially poor countries. Wealth does not equal happiness. I do not think that growing up with electricity and toys is automatically or unquestionably better than growing up without both. I don't believe that the chance at proper nutrition and education equates to international adoption automatically being the better plan for a child than staying in his or her first family without those things. (I digress, and that is not what this post is about.)
If knowing all that makes it too hard for you to read and consider the following thoughts, I am sorry-not-sorry - thanks for stopping by.
This post is about considering the opportunity for beauty and relationship by having contact with the first family of your adopted child.
There are many reasons I have landed where I have on this topic.
I have a best-friend/sister that placed a child for adoption 21 years ago. I have watched closely the roller coaster of things a first mother faces between the pregnancy and placement and the multiple years without contact. I have also watched a successful reunion between my sister and my niece. I am related to adult adoptees and have listened closely to their feelings and thoughts. I am an adoptive mother of three.
I have lived in a materially poor country as a guest and a learner for eight years. In these eight years we have talked to multiple families that have placed children for international adoption. We have spoken at length with the two (close and extended) first families of our three Haitian children and have earnestly sought to understand their thoughts and feelings about adoption.
We work with Haitian women every week that are parenting their children without the benefit of a bank account, car, electricity, or fancy toys and vacations and their children are well loved and thriving. Some of these women have previously placed children for adoption and are now parenting subsequent children successfully.
Hope & Phoebe's two MomsI have seen adoptees reunite with birth families and find peace and I believe in the rights of adoptees to have as much information as possible. I don't think secrets or unanswered questions are easy things for most of us. Many adult adoptees want to know more about their biological family, but cannot get the information. In the age of Internet communication, adoptive parents can now play a role in helping their child find wholeness by helping them stay connected to their biology.
I think it is safe to say that many times the first family and the adoptive family are not entering into the adoption under the same preconceived ideas, hopes, or expectations.
Speaking specifically of our own adoptions, we entered into them naive, dumb, and selfish and we were thinking along these lines: 'They are poor, they just want us to take their kids and feed and educate them. They will be thrilled with that alone.'
Yes, the are materially poor, however, they entered into the adoption thinking that their children's adoptive family (us) would remain in contact via photos or written updates. They did not have a time-line in mind, but they did hope that the kids would come back to Haiti and visit them. They grieved their decision to place the child due to finances and they did not stop thinking about or caring about their kids. Some family members even hoped that one day a successful adult child might return to Haiti to support them financially and live in Haiti or maybe help them get to America, too.
We have been seated across from mothers and grandmothers of other children that have left Haiti that say, "We never got a photo." "We have not heard from them since 2001." "We thought we would get to say goodbye." "I write to them but never hear anything back." "He is 18 now and I want to know if he is still living and okay." "They promised (fill in the blank) but have never done it." (I am not talking about giving gifts or any form of payment during an adoption process. That is illegal for good reason.) We have not yet personally interacted with a birth parent that did not want photos or word of their child's well-being. Perhaps there are exceptions, those that don't want or desire updates; we just haven't met those birth-parents.
I think it is our job as people of love to uplift the marginalized and to be more than fair. If we are honest we know that we hold the power. We (adoptive parents) have the passports and the money and the ability to be connected and jet around the world. With great power comes great responsibility. We made a decision many years back that no matter how intimidated we might be by entering into an open adoption relationship, it was the correct thing to do and a way we could tip the scales of injustice back the other way.
I understand that adoptive parents are afraid of contact in many cases. I don't know what each individual couple or prospective parent fears, but I know that I feared the uncomfortable relationship fraught with difficulty due to cultural and language issues. I feared it being hard on us and hard on the kids. I feared not having a guarantee about how it might play out once we entered into it. I thought it would be too hard to be asked for things.
Twelve years after those fears were born, we are in open-adoption relationships with two first families. The relationships began over seven years ago. We see them fairly regularly, amounting to two or three times a year minimum. Currently I see my son's first father every single Friday. We have met all the biological siblings of our son, and all but one of the biological siblings of our daughters.
Our three adopted children know the names and faces and homes of their first families. They have photos with siblings and photos with their Mother. Two out of three of our children have met their first fathers as well. (At the time of the adoption, we were told the fathers were unknown. This was the orphanage giving advice to the birth-mother to exclude that information.) We have been blessed to know about births, deaths, hardship, and joys in their lives. We (the team at Heartline) even got to deliver the baby of our daughter's older biological sister at the Maternity Center. After the birth, our daughter came over to meet her biological newborn niece.
These relationships are not easy, nor are they super comfortable all the time ... But they are good and necessary. There are cultural challenges and difficulty in communication even with language skills. There are times that it is heavy and difficult to process things. There are times when we need to say "no" and there are times when we need to say, "yes". There are times that being in relationship feels hard.
We believe that the joys outweigh the awkward and that the very least we can do to thank these families is to grant their wish for contact and give them some power and opportunity for relationship.
Without a doubt this decision has been better for our children, better for their first families. Our two twelve-year-old kids are much more able to process this. Our seven-year-old is not ready but knows that when she is, this is open to her as well. (I don't know your kids. There are kids that might resist this, I don't at all suggest forcing a meeting.) Obviously, it is easy for us to build relationship living back in the country of our children's births. I understand that this is not possible for most adoptive parents. For some, only photos are possible, for others, a visit someday might be a consideration.
For future or current adoptive parents that are reading, sending photos might feel scary. For others, that is already happening and only face to face meetings sound scary. We all fear things that are unknown, different or uncomfortable. We had our first two Haitian kids "home" with us in Minnesota for three years before we moved our family to Haiti in 2006. We never sent our first families photos in those three years. I wish I would not have allowed three years to go by without contact. Living here has opened my eyes and heart. I used to believe very simplistic and unfair things about 'the poor' that I no longer believe.
Photos and updates are a gift. One that I hope every adoptive parent will consider.The birth families we know have saved every single shred of information and every photo they have been given. More importantly, the only way for your adult kids to find their birth family 15 or 20 years from now if they want or need to, is (if at all possible) to make these connections now.
If you are considering a reunion in the immediate or distant future, let me assure you, sitting in an awkward situation speaking choppy language to folks that you don't really know how to relate to never killed anyone.
Coming soonish - some or maybe all of this ...
In Part II -
Prepping the kids:-Is it feasible to visit with formerly adopted kids? -Who decides when to come? If we are not ready to come, how can we send photos and an update? -How do we prep the kids for experiencing Haiti? The kids are really worried about the poverty, how do we prepare them for that? How do we portray Haiti (any country) factually, but positively, so that they understand that people may not have *things*, but that they are proud and strong?
Practical considerations:-How easy/hard is it to find birth families if it has been a while since we've had contact?-When visiting Haiti, where do you recommend families stay? -How would we do things like: hire someone to translate, get around, etc? -Do you recommend that we have the birth families visit us at a guest house, etc? Do you recommend that we visit the families at their home, if invited? -Are there safety considerations we should keep in mind?-Would you recommend taking the birth families to a nicer place to eat and spend the day, or is it better to "keep it simple?"
Cultural considerations when interacting with families:-What expectations might birth families have of us? (financial or otherwise)-How do you navigate a level of openness that you feel comfortable with? For example, if they want to call, and we are not comfortable with that, but would be comfortable with pictures and/or updates. -What expectations might birth families have of the kids? What about helping birth families long after the adoption is done. Should we?
Part III -
Where I share more about the things it has meant to our children and their first families with the two oldest (both 12 now) helping me write about the two most recent visits and how they felt. Also, some stories birth families have shared about their pain over not knowing.
We are going through some discomfort, mess, and emptiness and it is making it difficult to write or stay focused on any one thing for long. We have been doing our best in this time to grab onto the joy and hope that is all around us and to notice the beautiful things while we lean into the uncomfortable and scary stuff.
I generally fear writing when troubles pile up - It is not out of dishonesty or shame, but it is out of a desire for there to be light in the things I write.
Sometimes the hardest task or assignment of our days is to choose one loving thought over one angry, hurt, or fearful thought, and to choose it over and over as much as possible minute by minute and hour by hour and day by day. Because: Love wins.
Today we are starting our day reminding ourselves that we don't need to see the end of the path, we don't need to know how every last thing will play out, we just need to choose love while we wait for the light to return.
[…] 2010年1月12日の地震から4年経過した。しかし、ルネ・ガルシア・プレヴァル前大統領およびミシェル・マテリ現大統領が策定した主だった4つの震災復興住宅事業については、今も疑問がつきまとっている。この事業で建てた住宅には誰が住んでいるのか。誰が管理しているのか。居住者は家賃または住宅ローンを払うことができるのか。居住者は震災被災者なのか。 […]
- Noah, upon opening this Lego gift at the end of the day on his 10th Birthday said, "I am SO impressed with you." He then did a wicked awesome break dance for us to show his appreciation. I mean. Really. That is what all parents are ultimately aiming for, amIright? We have impressed a ten year old. Go us.
- We manage to stay plenty busy with program and regular things that are always going on, but the Maternity Center is experiencing another lull in births. We were slammed in late January and early/mid February. Now we have been waiting on a delivery for three weeks. The last birth we had was an intense shoulder dystocia (stuck shoulder) that turned out well. We are really hoping for some easy, drama-free March babies. The prayer page (tab above) has new photos of ladies in the program if you would like to pray for them.
- Paige arrived March 7 for Spring Break - we went straight to two nights at the beach and had breakfast in our jammies and lots of fun.
On March 11 Matt and Annie arrived. Matt ^ is our brother in law. Troy and Matt went to high school together and in college they did dumb things and wasted brain cells and money together. Now they are brothers and everyone is mature and wise. Gah. (as if!) Annie was adopted by Matt and my little sister, Tina. Annie lived with us for two years and is visiting Haiti for the first time since she left in 2010. We forced the girls to sit for re-do photos. Below you will see today vs. late 2008. Let it be said, life has mainly been easier since oh-eight and oh-nine. (Except sometimes when it hasn't been.)
Matt ran some intense workouts to help spring break lards get off their butts. We didn't intend on having Matt take care of kids but it has been so great that he has been here while we are at work. Tomorrow Matt and Annie get their turn at the beach.
We went to spend time with birth/first-families at their homes this week. I haven't had time to process it all and think about which parts to write about but we are going to write a few posts about open international adoption and try to address the things we have learned talking to many birth families (not just our own) here over the years. If you are adopting from Haiti, I can tell you that most birth parents we have talked with really want to see photos and get updates. In our experience if it is possible, it is a good choice to connect with them annually. Our kids benefit from this as much or more than the first families but I think everyone wins when honesty and openness are employed.
The single biggest finding on that day was that Isaac has been celebrating his birthday eleven days late for the last twelve years. (We had never questioned his birthday and just went with what the paperwork said. There was 100% certainty on his birth date and we got to hear the story of his birth too!) Isaac is GIDDY about EVERYTHING and this is no different. He gets to celebrate SOONER from now on. When I asked him, "Buddy, are you at all sad that we had the wrong date for so many years?" He said, "Well, NO, I have enjoyed EVERY birthday I've had so it has been wonderful!" Then he added, "I do want to switch to the right date now." More on all of it soon.
I said this the other day, until I get the time to write it all out, this is still true-
Tara Porter LivesayMarch 12
Open International Adoption - one of the most complicated AND one of the best decisions we've made since moving here. Visiting the kids' first families today. The most complex things are filled with opportunities to grow and see clearer.
************By Shane Claiborne"The most remarkable thing about the pope is that what he is doing should not be remarkable. He is simply doing what popes and Christians should do – care for the poor, critique inequity, interrupt injustice, surprise the world with grace, include the excluded and challenge the entitled. Pope Francis is leaving off the fragrance of Jesus, and he is fascinating the world with Christ. Maybe his witness will invite more folks to give Jesus a chance despite the embarrassing things we Christians have done in his name. I hope so. I want the world to see a Christianity that looks like Jesus again, a Christianity that is not just known for who we have excluded but for who we have embraced. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Christians were known for our love again… not for our picket signs, or our bumper stickers, or t-shirts, or dogma… but for our love."Read FULL ARTICLE HERE ************New photos and ladies to pray for at Heartline's Prenatal Program HERE.
New post by Beth Johnson about the Prenatal Program.
By Beth McHoul
I grew up in Boston. We call it Bahhhst-inn, which is the official pronunciation, by the way. Life called us away from Boston to a resource-poor island in the Caribbean many years ago. Although I haven’t lived there in 25 years, my husband and I still carry our accents and our Bostonian pride with us. We don’t pronounce our ‘R’s and Boston is still home.The Boston Marathon bombings rendered me senseless last year. I anxiously waited until the news came that my running sister, who had been a mile from the finish, was safe. My team of co-workers and midwives here in Haiti, a world away from Boston, worried with me. We prayed and stalked Internet news, sitting on the edge of our chairs as each new piece of information was released. I am no stranger to upheaval; my own world here in Haiti is often volatile and full of chaos.Read the rest of Beth's post at The Daily Runner - HERE
To read more about Beth McHoul, see this post at Rachel Held Evans' site - HERE
(First of two parts)*
by Georgianne Nienaber and Dan Beeton (Haiti Liberte)
The title of Brazilian professor Ricardo Seitenfus’ book, HAITI: Dilemas e Fracassos Internacionais (“International Crossroads and Failures in Haiti,” published in Brazil by the Editora Unijui – Universite de Ijui– in the series Globalization and International Relations) appropriately opens with a reference to existentialist philosopher Albert Camus. Camus’ third great novel, The Fall, is a work of fiction in which the author makes the case that every living person is responsible for any atrocity that can be quantified or named. In the case of Haiti, the January 2010 earthquake set the final stage for what amounted to what Seitenfus says is an “international embezzlement” of the country.
The tragedy began over 200 years ago in 1804, when Haiti committed what Seitenfus terms an “original sin,” a crime of lèse-majesté for a troubled world: it became the first (and only) independent nation to emerge from a slave rebellion. “The Haitian revolutionary model scared the colonialist and racist Great Powers,” Seitenfus writes. The U.S. only recognized Haiti’s independence in 1862, just before it abolished its own slavery system, and France demanded heavy financial compensation from the new republic as a condition of its honoring Haiti’s nationhood. Haiti has been isolated and manipulated on the international scene ever since, its people “prisoners on their own island.” To understand Seitenfus’ journey into the theater of the absurd, it is necessary to revisit the months after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. As the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Special Representative in Haiti, Seitenfus lost his job in December 2010 after an interview in which he sharply criticized the role of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the devastated country. But it appears that the author also had insider information about international plans for a “silent coup d’etat,” electoral interference and more.
On the Ground in Haiti: October-December 2010
It was not yet one year since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed 220,000 or more, left infrastructure in chaos, and 1.5 million people homeless. Accusations were rampant in October international press reports that the United Nations mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH) had introduced cholera into Haiti’s river system. As of Feb. 9, 2014, 699,244 people contracted cholera and 8,549 have died. Ground zero for the outbreak was negligent sewage disposal at the Nepalese Mirebalais MINUSTAH camp. The malfeasance was first documented by the Associated Press and ultimately provided crucial proof of the U.N.’s guilt. Thousands were infected and the number of dead rose exponentially. On Nov. 28, the national election was contested in what can only be termed an electoral crisis. Hundreds of thousands of voters were either shut out of the electoral process or boycotted the vote after the most popular party in the country — Fanmi Lavalas — was again banned from competing. Many of those displaced by the earthquake were not allowed to vote, and in the end less than 23% of registered voters had their vote counted. Eyewitness testimony on election day reported numerous electoral violations: ballot stuffing, tearing up of ballots, intimidation and fraud. Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council , responsible for overseeing elections, announced that former first lady Mirlande Manigat won but lacked the margin of victory needed to avoid a runoff. An OAS “experts” mission was dispatched to examine the results. Even though it was indeterminate that he should advance, due to the OAS’ intervention, candidate and pop musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly was selected to compete in the runoff instead of the governing party’s candidate Jude Célestin. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) subsequently released a report showing that there were so many problems with the election tallies that the OAS’ conclusions represented a political, rather than an electoral decision. CEPR reported that for some 1,326 voting booths, or 11.9% of the total, tally sheets were either never received by the CEP, or were quarantined for irregularities. This corresponded to about 12.7% of the vote not being counted and not included in the final totals that were released by the CEP on Dec. 7, 2010 and reported by the press. CEPR also noted that in its review of the tally sheets, the OAS Mission chose to examine only a portion, and that those it discarded were from disproportionately pro-Célestin areas. Nor did the OAS mission use any statistical inference to estimate what might have resulted had it examined the other 92% of tally sheets that it did not examine. The runoff was finally scheduled for Mar. 20, 2011 and Martelly was declared the winner with 67.6% of the vote versus Manigat’s 31.5%. Turnout was so low that Martelly was declared president-elect after receiving the votes of less than 17% of the electorate in the second round. Into the fray stepped Brazilian professor Ricardo Seitenfus. Seitenfus, a respected scholar, made statements to Swiss newspaper Le Temps criticizing international meddling in Haiti in general and by MINUSTAH and NGOs in particular. He was abruptly ousted on Christmas Day. The press was equivocal on whether Seitenfus was fired or forced to take a two-month “vacation” before his tenure ended in March 2011. Was Seitenfus let go for citing a “maléfique ou perverse” (evil or perverse) relationship between the government of Haiti and NGOs operating amidst fraud and waste; his accusations about the cholera cover-up; or more troubling, knowledge of a silent coup being orchestrated against then-President Rene Préval by a secret “Core Group?” Was he silenced because of his knowledge of covert meetings between the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General and MINUSTAH chief Edmond Mulet, then U.S Ambassador Kenneth Merten, and then-Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive? Seitenfus’ passionate accounting of the events in the year after the January 2010 earthquake reveals a man seemingly at odds with his internal moral compass and what he describes as “the black hole of western consciousness” in relations between Haiti and the international community of donor nations. This is a book written by a man enthralled by the beauty and promise of Haiti. It is also a book written by a professor serving as a diplomat struggling to be a whistleblower in the absurd and troubling world of international diplomacy.
Q: You write about international collusion in plans for a “silent coup.” Why wait until now to name the perpetrators? Does the fact that Mulet, Bellerive and Merten have all moved on from their offices have anything to do with your timing? You state emphatically that you opposed the coup plans.
RS: No. It is not true that I kept quiet. I gave various interviews to the Brazilian and international press, in late December 2010 and early January 2011, mentioning this and other episodes. See, for example, the BBC and AlJazeera. The problem is that the international press was manipulated during the electoral crisis and never had an interest in doing investigative journalism. In the interviews that I gave, and especially in my book (“International Crossroads and Failures in Haiti”), soon to be published in Brazil and other countries, I describe the electoral coup in great detail. Furthermore, the vast majority of the elements I reveal, I discovered in a scientific research project over the past three years. Many questions were hanging in the air, without adequate answers. I believe I managed to connect the different views and actors, providing the reader a logical and consistent interpretation about what happened. We are dealing with a work that is required by the historical memory, without any shadow of revenge or settling of scores.
Q: Were you the background press source on early reports of the cholera epidemic being caused by MINUSTAH in October 2010? You write about the “shameless” attitude of the United Nations (including Edmond Mulet and Ban Ki-moon) and ambassadors of the so-called “friends of Haiti;” countries that refused to take responsibility after MINUSTAH introduced cholera to Haiti. You say that this “transforms this peace mission into one of the worst in the history of the United Nations.” Would you be willing to testify in the current class action lawsuit, filed in a U.S. federal court, accusing the U.N. of gross negligence and misconduct on behalf of cholera victims in Haiti?
RS: There is no doubt that the fact that the United Nations — especially Edmond Mulet and Ban Ki-moon — systematically denied its direct and scientifically-verified responsibility for the introduction of the Vibrio cholera into Haiti, projects a lasting shadow over that peace operation. What is shocking is not MINUSTAH’s carelessness and negligence. What is shocking is the lie, turned into strategy, by the international community. The connivance of the alleged “Group of Friends of Haiti” (integrated at first by Argentina, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Chile, the United States, Guatemala, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, as well as Germany, France, Spain and Norway, in their role as Permanent Observers before the OAS) in this genocide by negligence, constitutes an embarrassment that will forever mark their relations with Haiti. Even former President Clinton, in a visit in early March 2012 to a hospital in the central region of Haiti, publicly admitted that “I don’t know that the person who introduced cholera in Haiti, the U.N. peacekeeper, or [U.N.] soldier from South Asia, was aware that he was carrying the virus. It was the proximate cause of cholera. That is, he was carrying the cholera strain. It came from his waste stream into the waterways of Haiti, into the bodies of Haitians.”  Although soon after he stated that the absence of a sanitation system in Haiti propagated the epidemic, these statements by the Special Envoy of the U.N. Secretary General for Haiti represent the first major fissure in the denial strategy of the crime committed by the United Nations. Currently, the United Nations hides behind the immunity clause conferred by the Jul. 9, 2004 agreement signed with Haiti legalizing MINUSTAH’s existence. Now, this agreement is void, since it was not signed, as provided in the Haitian Constitution (Article 139), by the Acting President of Haiti, Boniface Alexandre, but by the PM [Prime Minister] Gerard Latortue. According to the 1969 and 1986 Vienna Conventions on the Law of Treaties, any treaty signed by someone who lacks jus tractum — that is, treaty making power — is null and considered ineffective. As with any legal action, without validity it has no [legal] effect. The existence of a lack of consent — whether due to the inability of state representatives to conclude a treaty or to an imperfect ratification — results in the absolute voiding of the action (Vienna Convention, Article 46, paragraph 1). With the contempt for Haitian constitutional rites and for the legal principles that govern the Law of Treaties, the United Nations demonstrated, once again, the constant levity with which it treats Haitian matters. Responsible for establishing the rule of law in the country, according to its own mission, the UN does not follow even its own fundamental provisions, thus making the text that it supports and that should legalize its actions in Haiti void and ineffective.Therefore, the UN’s last recourse in trying to deny its responsibility for introducing cholera in Haiti can be easily circumvented, since MINUSTAH’s very existence is plagued with illegalities.Clearly, I am and will always be available to any judicial power that deals with this case. Even federal courts in the United States. If asked, I will testify, with the goal of contributing to establish the truth of the facts and the search for justice.
Q: Were you threatened in any way prior to your departure from Haiti? Since you were effectively fired, why not name names and discuss the actions of the “Core Group” in 2010?
RS: As a coordination agency for the main foreign actors (states and international organizations) in Haiti, a limited Core Group (which includes Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, the UN, the OAS and the European Union) is an indispensable and fundamental instrument in the relations between the international community and the Haitian government. It is not about questioning its existence. What I was able to verify was that on [election day] Nov. 28, 2010, in the absence of any discussion or decision about the matter, [then head of MINUSTAH] Edmond Mulet, speaking on behalf of the Core Group, tried to remove [then president of Haiti] René Préval from power and to send him into exile. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince published a press release at 9 p.m. the same day dismissing the voting results and imposing its position on the whole Core Group. Still, the majority of the decisions in which I participated as representative to the OAS in the Core Group during the years 2009 and 2010 were sensible and important.
Q: You write about the “maléfique ou perverse” (evil or perverse) relationship between NGOs and Haiti. In your view, has this problem become institutionalized? You said some of the NGOs exist only because of Haitian misfortune?
RS: There is a will — deliberate or tacit — by the international community to bypass the Haitian institutions and to give preference to Transnational Non-Governmental Organizations (TNGOs).  Their overwhelming invasion following the earthquake reached levels never before imagined. [Then] U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, herself pointed out in an interview some months after the earthquake that more than 10,000 TNGOs were operating in Haiti. This means that there was an increase in their presence of over 4,000% in the course of a short period of time. This NGOization turns Haiti into what many have called a true “Republic of the TNGOs.” In the face of a weakened state and one that was almost destroyed by the earthquake, the emergency aid apparatus had no option but to directly confront reality. Direct connections were established with the victims and even those in charge of the UN system in Haiti were not taken into account. A true pandemonium came into being in which everyone decided on his own what to do, and when and how to do it. An optimistic and official report, presented by Ban Ki-moon to the UN Security Council in October 2012, recognizes that of the alleged US$ 5.78 billion in contributions made over the 2010-2012 period by bilateral and multilateral donors, a little less than 10% (US$ 556 million) was given to the Haitian government. It is worth mentioning that the governments of the donor states use both private donations and public resources to cover the spending of their own interventions in Haiti. As such, for example, more than US$ 200 million in private donations from U.S. citizens served to finance the transportation and stay of U.S. soldiers in Haiti soon after the earthquake. Traditionally in Haiti, the “goods” such as hospitals, schools and humanitarian aid are delivered by the private sector, while the “bads” — that is, police enforcement — is the state’s responsibility. The earthquake further deepened this terrible dichotomy. The circle was closed with the ideological discourse to justify this way of proceeding. According to this [discourse], the transfer of resources is done through the TNGOs for the simple reason that the Haitian state suffers from total and permanent corruption. Sometimes, the lack of managerial capacity is cited. Therefore, there is nothing more logical than to bypass public authorities without even thinking that without a structured and effective state, no human society has managed to develop. The former Governor General of Canada, Michäelle Jean — of Haitian origin — is one of the rare voices in the international community to propose a complete change of strategy. To her,“Charity comes from the heart, but sometimes, when it’s poorly organized, it contributes more to the problems than to the solutions. Haiti is among the countries that’s been transformed into a vast laboratory of all the experiments, all the tests, and all the errors of the international aid system; of the faulty strategies that have never generated results, that have never produced or achieved anything that’s really sustainable despite the millions of dollars amassed in total disorder, without long term vision and in a completely scattered fashion.”  Certainly, direct financial cooperation with a state that has a lack of administrative capacity increases the risk that resources will be misused. However, there is no other solution: either the public management capacity of the Haitian state is strengthened or we will keep plowing the sea. Unfortunately, the international community prefers to continue with the strategy that has already proved to be thoroughly inefficient. It not only impedes financial transfers to Haitian institutions, but it also tries to force them to channel their own meager resources to be administrated by international organizations. There was, for example, an attempt to transfer the PetroCaribe fund resources for Haiti to the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. The determined resistance by Préval and Bellerive terminated this move. Nonetheless, in every election campaign, the donor countries insist on having the resources of the Haitian treasury be administered by the UN Development Program (UNDP). Therefore, the strategy of the international community not only impedes institutional strengthening, but it also takes away from the Haitian state the little financial autonomy that it possesses. The model imposed on Haiti since 2004 has two elements. On the one hand, there is the military presence through MINUSTAH, and on the other the civil presence in the form of the TNGOs and the alleged private development corporations. Added to these are the bilateral strategies of the member states in the so-called Group of Friends of Haiti. In interpreting the popular sentiment, it is impossible to disagree with these words by Liliane Pierre-Paul:“The great majority of Haitians weren’t mistaken and the promises ultimately did nothing to change the disastrous perception of an international community that was bureaucratic, condescending, wasteful, inefficient, and lacking in soul, modesty and creativity.”  As long as this model is not significantly revamped there will be no solution. Social vulnerability and the precariousness of the state continue to be major Haitian characteristics. With the model applied by the international community through the UN system, the TNGOs and the United States, we are deceiving ourselves, misleading world public opinion and frustrating the Haitian people.
Q: What are your thoughts on the amount of agricultural land taken out of production to make way for the Caracol Industrial Park, a $300 million public-private partnership among a diverse set of stakeholders??
RS: Caracol symbolizes a development policy far more than any loss of mainly agricultural lands. It so happens that the Caracol model was used during the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier and its results are known to everyone. As a complement to agricultural production, Caracol is acceptable. Nonetheless, to want to turn Haiti into a “Taiwan of the Caribbean”  is to completely disregard the social, anthropological, historical and economic characteristics of the country.
Q: You write that Venezuela’s PetroCaribe initiative was a key motive for the U.S. government’s turn against Préval. Why then do you think the U.S. and the OAS wanted a candidate – Michel Martelly – in the second round of elections who would ultimately be even friendlier with Venezuela? Do you think Martelly’s relations with Venezuela might pose a threat to him as well?
RS: Compared to the alleged development cooperation model imposed by the international community on Haiti, Cuba and Venezuela follow absolutely opposite paths. Whatever our opinion about the domestic policies of these countries, it cannot be denied that their form of cooperation takes into account more the demands and needs expressed by Haitians themselves. Cuba — lacking financial resources and rich in human resources –since 1998 has implemented a local family health and medicine program that reaches the most remote places in Haiti. Cuban medical diplomacy directly benefits the most humble of the Haitian people and attempts to compensate for the brain drain in the health sector promoted by certain western countries, particularly Canada. In turn, although recent, the Venezuelan development cooperation offered to Haiti asserts itself as a new paradigm in the Caribbean Basin. It is sustained through the following trilogy: on the one hand, Caracas listens to the Haitian claims and strives to make its offers and possibilities compatible with these demands. On the other, nothing is carried out without the knowledge and previous consent of the public institutions and the Haitian government. Finally, the cooperation aims to bring direct benefits to the Haitian people without taking into consideration any ideological discrepancy there may be with the incumbent government in Haiti. This is a principle equally espoused by Cuba and it explains not only the absence of any interference by the two countries during the election crisis of 2010, but also the excellent relations maintained, both by Havana and Caracas, with the Martelly administration. The PetroCaribe program is the crown jewel of Haitian-Venezuelan cooperation. Everything is put into it. Everything depends on it. In the face of a true boycott of Haitian public power promoted by the so-called Group of Friends of Haiti, the resources made available by the PetroCaribe program represented, in 2013, 94% of the investment capacity of the Haitian state.  Most of the beneficiary countries — as with Haiti — do not include the resources from the PetroCaribe program in the national budget, preventing legal and accounting oversight. This situation generates distrust and criticism, both domestic and foreign, due to the lack of transparency in using them. Far beyond its results, the philosophy on which the Venezuelan cooperation is based contrasts with that of the developed countries. The energetic Pedro Antonio Canino Gonzalez, Venezuelan ambassador in Port-au-Prince since 2007, highlights the principles that guide the actions of the ALBA countries in Haiti: “We did not come to carry out an electoral campaign in Haiti. Why would we make spurious commitments? Venezuela’s assistance aims to attenuate the Haitian people’s misery without any strings attached. My government isn’t even interested in the Haitian Republic’s diplomatic relations with other countries, including the U.S.. This is a prerogative of the Haitian authorities, who are free to have relations with whomever they wish.”  This is the exact opposite of the long and constantly increasing list of conditionalities that characterizes the cooperation offered by the west. With disregard for national idiosyncrasies, the idea of democracy is used as a screen to camouflage their own national interests. The United States and its allies in Haiti should pay attention to the lessons of the young Venezuelan cooperation because, in addition to respect for the public institutions of the host state, as a current Haitian leader bluntly states, ” Friendship with a country as poor and with as many needs as Haiti isn’t measured in the number of years of domination, but in how many millions are on the table. “ Although the PetroCaribe program is based on an anti-imperialist and liberationist discourse to mark a break between Monroe and Bolivar, it is, in fact, a counter model to traditional development aid from the developed countries and international organizations. In the universe of the international cooperation provided to Haiti, Venezuela constitutes an exception, being the only one that provides, regularly, financial resources directly to the Haitian state. 
(To be continued)
* This article was originally published under the title “International Crossroads and Failures in Haiti” by the LA Progressive. Georgianne Nienaber is a freelance writer and author and frequent contributor to LA Progressive. Dan Beeton is International Communications Director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and a frequent contributor to its "Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch" blog.
Notes1. ABC News, March 9, 2012. Accessed January 7, 2014.2. Seitenfus: “I prefer the term TNGO because I am only referring to the foreign non-governmental organizations that operate in Haiti.”3. In Le Nouvelliste, Michaelle Jean: Présidente d’Haïti ? , Port-au-Prince, March 25, 2013.4. La grande manip in Pierre Buteau, Rodney Saint-Eloi and Lyonel Trouillot, Refonder Haïti ?,
It was coincidental that I did not like motorcycles. (I am named after an uncle that lost his life on one.) It was coincidental that Troy (my groom to be) happened to own one. It only made sense to sell that death machine in exchange for dozens and dozens stuffed mushrooms, prosciutto wrapped anythings, and a handsome man in a white coat and tall hat ready to carve roast beef on demand.
People die on motorcycles. Nobody ever died from too much roast beef.
Two birds. One stone. No more scary form of transportation available to my fiancé and money for upitty Hors d'oeuvres. Clearly a Win - Win.
At that time we had no earthy idea what lay ahead. Maybe we knew we needed some cash, but little did we know that a motorcycle that carries only two butts would be the last thing we would need. Had someone said "Uh, little morons, the day will come when a basic mini-van will not even carry your family", we would certainly have laughed in their face.
Fast forward six years. We are now the proud parents of five children. My precious husband began saying he really wanted to get another motorcycle to go to and from work and save gas money. I threw an ever-livin fit. No way. Not on my watch. Will.Not.Happen, I said. "Do you want me to leave you to raise five kids on your own?" No? I didn't think so. Case closed.
Sometime in the following year we moved far away from Minnesota and its entire three month motorcycle season. Discussion forever closed. Or so I thought.
Fast forward two more years. We are now the frazzled parents of seven children. We live in the land of unlimited and impossible traffic. "A motorcycle would get me places quicker and I would end up being home more", he said.
"Hmmm. Let me think. No. Not really. That would be true right up until you were not home at all-EVER - because you were dead," I replied.
We made an agreement. When our youngest daughter, Lydia, is 15 years old - a motorcycle could once again be an option for transportation. Our kids would be mainly grown. It would be okay to drive around on a death machine at that point. We shook on it.
Fast forward to early summer of last year. There were so many things going on in our lives. Reviewing them would exhaust us all. I won't review. Suffice it to say, Troy and his friends in Haiti sensed my fatigue and weakness. They preyed upon a distracted, beaten down, stressed-out mother and midwifery student.
One day I woke up and we owned a motorcycle. I could barely recall agreeing to it, but somewhere deep in the dusty and cobweb-filled corners of my atrophied mind I recalled that I had sort of agreed to the purchase.
I "learned to ride it". In fact I demanded that it be called my motorcycle. I figured, if we own this thing, I will be the one driving it. Things went really well in the driveway and up and down the paved street in front of our house. I was learning.
One morning after Troy had left with our kids, I felt pompy (read: overly confident) and started it up to head to the Maternity Center. The distance between my house and the Maternity Center is certainly not more than 1/3 of a mile, probably less. I exited the neighborhood we live in, grinning broadly at the gate man's surprise at seeing me on a motorcycle. I rounded the first right turn, no trouble. I took the first left turn with equal excellence and precision. Just as I was about to make my last turn, the turn that brings the Maternity Center into sight, I heard the sound of a truck. Because I could not see the truck, but knew it was coming, I panicked and over compensated by jerking the handle-bars too quickly. The loose gravel beneath the tires didn't accommodate my herky-jerky movement and the back tire came around and out from underneath me. Down in the dirt I went. Exactly two people saw this happen. I jumped up, pretended that wiping out on a motorcycle was my job and said "Bon jour - tout bagay anfom?" (Good morning - everything is in order?) That is how you act uber cool to people that just saw you wipe out. Just like in Junior High when you tripped up the steps...as if they don't notice that your life is not in order, because of the crashing to the ground.
My shaking legs and bloody arm hidden from their view, I hopped back on the moto and took it the extra block to the Maternity Center. Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.
Living that down was not fun. My maiden voyage on 'my moto', a failure. When Noah saw my hacked up arm, he threatened to "take that thing apart piece by piece if Mom ever rides it again."
We left the motorcycle behind when we spent those multiple months in the USA. Now we are back in Haiti and I am still not really sure how we ended up owning this thing. Lydia is six years old. She is not fifteen.
I suppose I feel that this massive compromise on my part has gone unnoticed. Shouldn't there be a ceremony, some sort of commemoration, awarding me an awesome-compromising-wife medal? Something?
Since we returned to Haiti, there have been no new dramatic incidents to report on the moto. The other night, we took off to dinner and our daughter, Hope, snapped this photo. It shocked me to see that I was groping (hard-core clutching) Troy. If this is how I grab him when I ride with him, maybe I misunderstood the reason he wanted this dumb thing all along.
I figure if nobody else is going to award me, I will just have to self-award.
Until the next time we need a giant quantity of Roast Beef, you may see one of us around Port au Prince on these two fancy wheels; I call her Defeat.
We know grace and beauty well. We know it well because we have been given it in the form of friends and family that model it with their lives.
We are grateful for friends that are safe to share the things that swirl in our heads, the things that threaten to drag us down if we don't let them out. I am grateful to have people in my life that can handle a faith crisis or a meltdown or a combination of the two. It is good to chat with loved ones that can live in the incongruity and utter chaos and tension of this life without trying to explain it away with religious platitudes. We have those people. People that sit with us in the discomfort and in the mess. Just sit.with.us.
This Ash Wednesday ( a day traditionally set aside to contemplate, pray, repent, abstain)we want to pause to express our gratitude to our people.We also want to be this kind of people - the kind that sit together in brokenness, feel the pain, and with undying hope, wait for the healing to come.
We are all waiting.
Our friends Danielle and Krispin are always working at loving people and asking tough questions. Fellow wrestlers, they are.
I think this piece at A Deeper Church is something worth your time. Read it when you have time to sit with it.
*****Lord, Lord, I know what you told me to do: aspire to be righteous, know all the right answers, speak with a surety in your voice and heart. Seek after happiness, an American birthright. Pursue positions of power and importance, for that is where you will effect the most good. Be satisfied with where you are, with what you know to be true for you and yours. Work hard and you will be rewarded, everyone is responsible for themselves. Punish the evildoers, set right what is wrong (and use force, if necessary).Make sure you are well-liked, adored, that you get the accolades you deserve. Be the toast of the town, the poster boy or girl for your particular brand of religion. Be easy, safe, accessible to all, the person everyone wants at their parties, full of small talk and pleasantries.Be palatable, honey. Tone it down, blend in.CLICK HERE to read Danielle's full re-write of the Sermon on the Mount.
Beware, it is difficult.
*******On her own site, she wrote these words... He painted Christ, in the center, and around him he filled in the broken-hearted. A woman kneeling with her dead baby clutched in her hands. A refugee with a walking stick. A man lost at sea, a man who killed himself with his own dagger. A poet imprisoned as a madman, three generations of women, all abused. The oppressed throughout the ages–a Polish independence fighter, a Greek warrior, a Roman slave, an African slave. A dying man, with Jesus taking off his shackles. Mary Magdalene, the famously forgiven, kneeling at his feet. Everyone is pleading, stretching, shackled, in agony–and everyone leaning into the Christ. And he consoles them. It’s what he came to do. like he always has done, throughout the centuries. He comforts the imprisoned, the sick, the sad, the dying, the lonely. The burnt-out, the lost at sea, those floating out ever farther from the land they staked their lives on, adrift and unmoored by the suffering and pain of the world. And we who are lost are brought back by one person alone, and that person is the Christ. The one who suffered like us, with us, for us. Who promises to break all the chains, to bring his new kingdom here in this earth. Who hangs out with the outsiders, the ones the world forget. Who sees us for who we are, as the bringers of his kingdom....Read the entire post here.~ ~ ~
The past weekend was an unusually quiet one - no births at Heartline - it seems like most babies come on the weekends. (Well, quiet is a relative term. Quiet save the little concussion Lydia suffered Saturday. Slightly scary, some puking and small d drama - but she's 100% fine now!)
We are thankful for the pocket of peace this weekend and the time to reflect and talk and pray and read and run and be.
This week in Haiti is a big deal (it is Karnaval week). - Schools are closed at least 3 days this week, some all week and tomorrow is the gwo fet (big-par-tay) before we all repent on Ash Wednesday. I'm gonna skip Fat Tuesday and start repenting early. Seems like a better way to go. This week is a big deal for us because Noah turns ten on Wednesday. I don't know that I am a spokesperson for all moms -- but having the babies turn five, ten, thirteen, sixteen, and twenty-one all feel like really big ones to me. We are looking forward to celebrating the life of our family comedian.
It has been 10 years since the February 29, 2004 coup d’etat that ousted the democratically-elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. Paramilitary groups – including many former members of Haiti’s disbanded army and/or CIA-funded death squads – had engaged in a campaign of violence directed against supporters of the government, and the Haitian National Police (HNP), for years before. Supported by the Dominican government and advised by groups based in Washington, they unleashed a wave of terror, killing innocent civilians including children and women, assaulting and brutalizing others, and burning down police stations and other government buildings. In the end, however, these groups seem to have realized they could not mount a successful incursion into Port-au-Prince, and it was a U.S. plane that flew Aristide out of the country.
As CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot wrote after the coup, Washington also directed international financial institutions to withhold funds from the Aristide government (some of which were designated for potable water – their being withheld helping to create the conditions for the cholera epidemic several years later):[T]he Administration has been working on toppling Aristide for the past three years, plunging the country into chaos in the process.The major international financial institutions (IFI's) -- including the IMF, World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, supported the administration's destabilization efforts by cutting off hundreds of millions of dollars in credit to one of the most desperately poor countries in the world.The pretext was a dispute over the election of seven senators of Aristide's party in 2001. Aristide offered every possible solution but it didn't matter. With Washington and the IFI's backing them, the opposition refused any agreement short of Aristide's resignation.In the end, Aristide did not resign – although the Bush administration claimed he did. Aristide himself claimed instead that he was the victim of a “kidnapping in the service of a coup d’etat.” His account is verified by witnesses, as Randall Robinson has pointed out in his account of events related to the coup. Bundled onto a plane, he and First Lady Mildred Aristide were flown to an unknown destination, what turned out to be the Central African Republic.
The coup took place amidst what can only be seen as a massive disinformation campaign against Haiti’s popular and democratic government. Scholars such as Jeb Sprague and Peter Hallward have combed through previously classified U.S. government documents and conducted countless interviews with people involved. Often the perpetrators of the destabilization of the Aristide government have been open in discussing their activities and who supported them. Accounts of grave human rights abuses by the Aristide government – often promoted by Haitian organizations that had essentially been bought off – have now been shown to be false, but at the time they were carried in the domestic and international media and did much to harm Aristide’s reputation. They also served as a pretext for the political persecution of members of Aristide’s government, including Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert, and leaders and prominent supporters of the Fanmi Lavalas party such as Annette Auguste and the late FatherGerard Jean-Juste.
In the coup’s wake, the people of Haiti experienced one of the country’s worst human rights disasters in recent times. Human rights researchers estimate that some 4,000 people were killed for political reasons, with killings targeting members of Fanmi Lavalas and opponents of the coup and of the interim government imposed on the country; some massacres carried out in broad daylight. Others were falsely imprisoned, or forcibly disappeared. Some 35,000 women and girls reported having been the victim of sexual assault; of these “officers from the Haitian National Police accounted for 13·8% and armed anti-Lavalas groups accounted for 10·6% of identified perpetrators” according to a study in The Lancet. Some of the same paramilitaries who had rampaged through Haiti from 2000 up to the coup carried out the violence while the interim government and international community stood by. (Many of them would be integrated into the HNP, as Sprague explains in detail.) Other atrocities were committed by the HNP, sometimes with the involvement or tacit support of MINUSTAH (U.N. mission) troops. At the urging of Haiti’s powerful elite, HNP officers and MINUSTAH troops carried out deadly raids into slums in order to eliminate “gang” leaders, often killing bystanders in the process.
International human rights organizations paid little attention to what was almost certainly the largest human rights crisis in the hemisphere at the time, and the international media even less. A few brave journalists – usually independent –documented some of these events.
While the intensity of the post-coup human rights crisis may have been greater, this period of political persecution and repression never really ended. Fanmi Lavalas leaders and supporters have continued to find themselves targeted. In 2007, when René Préval was president, human rights activist and Fanmi Lavalas supporterLovinsky Pierre-Antoine was kidnapped and disappeared. International cries of alarm were met with rumors that it was a “fake” kidnapping, and that Lovinsky was trying to get attention. He has never been found. More recently, leading human rights activist Daniel Dorsainvil and his wife Girldy Lareche were murdered, and a new round of bogus accusations have been leveled against Annette Auguste, Mirlande Libérus Pavert and others relating to the still-unsolved murder of journalist Jean Dominique in 2000, while some of the individuals that evidence links most closely to the crime are ignored. More well-known is that Fanmi Lavalas as a party has beenarbitrarily excluded from elections since the coup.
Aristide’s return to Haiti from forced exile in 2011 – against the U.S. government’s wishes and efforts to convince the South African government to stop him – has undermined the various false accusations leveled at him and Fanmi Lavalas. For years, we heard that Aristide would likely face charges of corruption and human rights crimes if he ever returned to Haiti. Nearly three years later, he has yet to be charged with anything. As Aristide’s attorney Ira Kurzban wrote before Aristide’s return to Haiti – and as still holds true, he is “charged with no crime” and “The New York Times noted during his first exile (1991-1994), [Aristide] ‘won Haiti’s first and only democratic election overwhelmingly,’ followed by a “seven-month tenure [that] was marked by fewer human-rights violations and fewer boat people than any comparable period in modern Haitian history.’”
The coup and the events after also are part of a pattern of foreign intervention in Haiti going back centuries, and such interference continues today as well, as the U.S. government seeks to “manage Haiti” through the ongoing MINUSTAH presence and other means. Along with the U.S. government, France and Canada also overtly supported the undermining and removal of the Aristide government (France motivated in part by Aristide’s call for it to pay back the ransom it demanded Haiti hand over as a price for its independence). This intervention has continued, notably – as recently recounted by former Organization of American States (OAS) Special Representative to Haiti Ricardo Seitenfus -- in the 2010 threatened removal of then-President Préval (via airplane, a la Aristide) and the blatant intervention by the OAS – led by the U.S., Canada and France – in Haiti’s elections, resulting in the arbitrary replacement of governing party candidate Jude Célestin with Michel Martelly in the run-off. Martelly would go on to win the presidency despite receiving votes from less than 17 percent of the electorate in the second round.
In order for Haiti to be able to move beyond the 2004 coup and the subsequent political and human rights crisis, this foreign intervention must end. Fanmi Lavalas and other political parties must be allowed to participate in elections, and the Haitian people’s will freely expressed in choosing its government and its own path forward. This is called national sovereignty and democracy, and it is unfortunately what powerful outside interests have been trying to impede in Haiti for over 210 years.
Love God. Love your neighbor.That.is.all.
These are things I say to myself before I weigh in each time I see a theological or political debate online that gets heated and intense and maybe even slightly angry or passive aggressive.
Whether I agree or disagree with what I'm seeing, it helps me to remember to keep my mouth shut (or fingers still) just a little more often than I naturally might. It is not that I don't have the opinions - of course, we all do - and I do! When I am overwhelmed seeing how much disagreement there is and it feels like nobody is listening or trying to step out of their own shoes, this is something tangible I can try to remember (and do).
Love God. Love others. L. O. V. E. (some days are easier than others)
I have never mastered those first two directives - therefore I don't need to spend much time on anything else and social media wars about my theological or political leanings don't seem to change me or anyone.
A less gentle way to say "Love God, love your neighbor", is "Less with the jaws, more with the paws."
Instead of always saying and sharing and writing our opinions - we could all (me and especially me included) just DO our opinions. (Yes, I see the irony in writing this opinion now.)
Instead of simply talking about love, we can DO love.
Instead of talking about the justice we want, we can DO justice.
Instead of just talking about mercy and grace toward the marginalized, outcast, and downtrodden, we can truly offer - or (DO) mercy and grace.
Instead of saying what we hate about the world or the way our society and our culture is changing and failing and sucking so badly, we can go DO the things that reflect our convictions. We can do them with excellence, commitment, and big/loud/persistent love.
There are well known sayings that remind us to DO (and not simply say)
1. Talk is cheap
2. Actions speak louder than words
3. Love DOES
Let us officially add to the list ...
4. Less with the jaws, more with the paws
If you read THIS STORY more than two years ago, you will want to celebrate today that Moses is on an airplane headed for Wyoming. He sets the orphan free! That post was one of the most shared posts ever - so grateful to you all. Most grateful to God for showing us all how valuable Moses is to Him.
This family is an example of courage and love to us all. It is not that they aren't afraid, it is that they showed up anyway.
With his Mom and Dad Sunday ...
With some awesome ladies (taken yesterday) that prayed daily for him at Heartline ...
L to R - Gran Rosemond, Andrema, Moses, Clermita, Lisa RiebOn an airplane today ...
A series (explanation here) on my friend, Glennon's blog - proving that all of us have fear and insecurity in our lives. As G. said,
Here is the thing that the two groups have in common: NO ONE REALLY KNOWS WHAT SHE’S DOING. None of the people in either of the two groups. The people who are running the world and the people who are sitting life out are exactly the same. They are all messy, complicated, confused people who are unsure of what to do next. They all have messy relationships and insecurities and anger and blind spots. They are ALL AFRAID.Here is the difference between the two groups: The Dream Followers and Servers believe that it’s okay to be messy and complicated and afraid and show up anyway. The second group believes that folks who show up have to be fabulous and perfect. So they’re waiting to get perfect. They are spending their lives IMPROVING instead of just showing up as they are. They are waiting till they’re “ready.” And the thing is that they will be waiting forever and ever, amen. Because all the good and all the beautiful in the world is created by people who show up before they’re ready.
Day One HERE
Day Two HERE
Day Three HERE
Day Four (mine is day four) HERE
Day Five HERE