Senator Moïse Jean-Charles is presently on a speaking tour in Brazil and Argentina to raise consciousness about and to campaign against the continued military occupation of Haiti by troops of the so-called United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti or MINUSTAH. June 1st will mark the 9th anniversary of MINUSTAH’s deployment in Haiti, a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and of the Haitian Constitution. A major demonstration calling for MINUSTAH’s immediate withdrawal will be held in Haiti on that date, with participants coming from across Latin America.
Brazilian generals have led MINUSTAH since its inception following the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and Brazilian soldiers make up the largest contingent, about 2,200 of the 9,000-head force. Senator Moïse traveled to Sao Paolo, Brazil on Apr. 14 at the invitation of the Trabalho current of the ruling Brazilian Workers Party (PT). On Apr. 15, he flew to the city of Juiz de Fora, where he met with the mayor, local legislators, the teachers’ union, the transport workers’ union, the city’s Movement of Blacks, and the general public. Moïse’s visit to Juiz de Fora was favorably covered by an extensive news report on Globo, Brazil’s largest TV network. “I am opposed to the UN and Brazilian military occupation of Haiti because I am a Haitian nationalist,” he told the network. Late in the day of Apr. 15, the senator traveled to Rio de Janeiro, from which he flew to Brasilia, Brazil’s capital. On the morning of Apr. 16, he met with over 200 high-school students who jammed into an auditorium at Teaching Center #3 in the town of Gama, a suburb of Brazil. Translated into Portuguese by Vogly Pognon, the only Haitian college student studying at the University of Brasilia, Senator Moïse spoke to the students, who displayed rapt attention for over two hours. “95% of the Haitian population is against the occupation,” Moïse told the students. “When the Haitian people hear about UN soldiers raping young Haitians, they are angered. They heard about another young Haitian who was found hung on the UN base in Cap Haïtien. But if a neighborhood has some insecurity and they call MINUSTAH, the soldiers say it’s not their concern and never show up. But when the Haitian people rise up due to hunger, the MINUSTAH shows up to beat them with clubs and to tear-gas them.” Later that afternoon, Senator Moïse met with the Foreign Relations Committee of the House of Deputies in Brasilia. Four deputies, Committee president Nelson Pellegrino and Fernando Ferro, both of the PT, and Luiza Erundina and José Stédile, both of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), held a cordial meeting of over 90 minutes with the senator, who stressed, as he did at other meetings, that the Haitian Senate had unanimously voted a resolution in 2011 calling on MINUSTAH to withdraw from Haiti by October 2012. That resolution has been flagrantly ignored. Then later on the evening of Apr. 16, Senator Moïse met for almost two hours with students at the University of Brasilia, who asked him many questions. “Everybody knows that Brazil is heading up the UN military occupation in Haiti,” he said in response to one question. “But who is making the big money in Haiti? The Americans. Who is giving the orders? The Americans. This game of bluff has to stop.” On Apr. 17, Senator Moïse will meet with the Brazilian Senate’s Human Rights Commission in Brasilia, and later in the day hold another public meeting. On Apr. 18, he will travel to Sao Paolo, where he will meet with several legislators in the local parliament, as well as hold public meetings. On Apr. 21, Senator Moïse will travel to Argentina where he will meet with senators and deputies there, as well as hold a large public meeting with the Workers’ Central of Argentina (CTA), one of Argentina’s largest unions. The union will also present the senator with an award for his work in Haiti. “I commend the government and the people of Brazil on the great progress they have made in this country in recent years,” Senator Moïse said to the students at the University of Brasilia. “But in my country, things are only going to get more complicated for them if the Brazilian troops stay. Recently, President Michel Martelly, who was put in power by Washington, was asked in France if he was afraid of the people rising up against him. He answered that he was not, because the MINUSTAH was there to protect him. That remark says it all.”
Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles speaking with students at the University of Brasilia on Apr. 16.Photo by Kim Ives/Haïti Liberté
Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles meeting with Brazil’s Foreign Relations Committee of the House of Deputies in Brasilia.Photo by Kim Ives/Haïti Liberté
ki mwayen ki pi bon pou yon pep sanksyone yon group ki sou pouvwa ki pa remet anyen ? m kwe ke se eleksyon.. c pou tet sa nap mande ak tout pep ayisyen an pou li pran chimen eleksyon.
First, do no harm.
I wholeheartedly believe most prospective adoptive parents set out to 'do no harm'. To each person considering adoption and to each person who has already completed an adoption, I share the following out of a deep concern for birth-mothers and first families. I share it as an adoptive mother, from a place of sorrow and regret.
Manno & his Papa
Recently I wrote this: I have intensely complicated thoughts about everything related to poverty, orphans, orphanages, and international adoption. Some of my thoughts are developed thoughts and others I am wrestling with as I wonder about the roles I have played in the system and as I watch injustice and unbalanced power all around me.
For months I've been in utter and complete turmoil over many things related to international adoption. We first adopted more than 10 years ago. My turmoil has to do with my son, Isaac. It has to do with his first family. (I plan to share that story in a follow-up to this post soon.) It has to do with the system and its multiple pitfalls. It has to do with doing harm.
The more I learn living in Haiti, the more research I do, the more convinced of the appaling issues I become. The more involved I've been with our children's first families the more I've been forced to face some difficult realities about international adoption. I recognize that I too have been part of the problem. I recognize that "do no harm" requires so much more understanding, awareness, and education than we had.
Ketia & Julianna
In part because of my sister, who was a first-mom that placed her daughter for adoption as an infant, and in part due to my own international adoption experiences, I find myself predisposed to fight for first mothers and their rights.
Having spent a number of years in Haiti, I have had an opportunity to slowly build relationships with many women and that has allowed me a unique peek into their lives and their reality. I've witnessed troubling exploitation of birth-mothers in Haiti. From all that I've learned, I have come to care intensely about the needs and rights of first mothers and fathers.
"Exploitation" is perhaps an intangible term for some. When I say exploitation, I am casting a large net that refers to multiple things. As one example, I refer to a system that rarely tries to help a first mom through a difficult time but has no problem having her sign paperwork she doesn't understand and taking her child off of her hands, for good. If the child is an infant, that can easily be referred for adoption, he or she is received even faster.
I desire reform in the area of ethical practices that go above and beyond to protect vulnerable, materially poor, marginalized, and often times uneducated first mothers/families. Even if we cannot agree how that reform should be fleshed out, I hope we can agree reform that protects poor first families is needed and overdue.
Dieumatha & her little oneIt occurs to me that our western culture of capitalistim, materialism, and consumerism all play a large role in our attitude toward and approach to international adoption. Due to our wealth and ability to provide, sometimes without even realizing it we begin to believe that our material wealth makes us better suited to parent the child of a poor mother. What began as noble and pure and loving can farily easily begin to look a lot more like ethnocentrism and entitlement.
Prospective adoptive parents presented with proof that a healthy and able birth-mother exists rarely ask questions about why she relinquished her child. We want to be trusting people and we believe the story offered by their agency and never look back. Sadly, many later learn that nothing was as it appeared.
(And of course, sometimes -for dozens of reasons First-mothers choose, without force or manipulation, to relinquish their child for adoption out of great need and pure motives. There are absolutely situations where babies and older children are legitimately relinquished.)
Additionally, adoption is being marketed to us by our churches now. The cry from the pulpit to address the "orphan crisis" oftentimes creates pressure to adopt rather than a calling to adopt. I am not at all against a fact-based movement encouraging openness to exploring a new idea. I am against using guilt to propel people into uninformed or reckless action. (Adoption as a way of solving the "orphan crisis" is marketed with sketchy numbers and without delineating "true orphan" from "poverty orphan" - which I find dishonest. Perhaps this is an entirely different blog post for another day.)
I think most adoptive families (choosing to adopt internationally especially) enter into the process thinking they will be helping a child that desperately needs a family. Over and over adoption is marketed as- "Giving a child what they deserve: A family." My struggle is, most of these kids have that family before we arrive. We've not done enough to help their families have other options. We've not invested enough time in educating the birth families; first families frequently don't fully understand what they signed up for, nor do they understand what they can expect in the future.
Wislene and her precious family
It is not a mystery why some injustice continues unchallenged in the adoption arena. Whenever people have a personal interest they are apt to protect themselves over the greater good. Many say, "Once our adoption is done, we'll talk about what we saw, what we heard, or what we learned". So many people that plan to talk "later" get tired or busy with a new family member to acclimate and they never follow through. Meanwhile, every day more children enter institutionalized care and new families turn over their payment and paperwork and the light does not shine on truth. I challenge all adoptive and prospective adoptive parents to refuse to be quiet when things are troubling - to refuse to be frozen in fear - to refuse to allow the powers that be to manipulate or misinform without consequence.
“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” -Elizabeth Stanton
I imagine a world where a prospective adoptive parent would be every bit as willing to advocate (financially, spiritually, emotionally, and otherwise) for the rights and justice of the poor first/birth-mother to keep and parent her child, as they are willing to push for their own completed adoption. I don't think anyone starts out wanting to trample on the marginalized but sadly it seems to be happening by default in many countries around the world.
Justice is not only about seeking fairness and equality for those without a voice; at times it is also risking our own personal happiness or gain in order to bring it.
Those of us in the position to consider an international adoption are the ones with the most power. Let us use our voice for good. Let us stand with the poor in support of their ability to raise children. Let us demand real and measured transparency.Let us not blindly trust what we're being fed by agencies and those that stand to gain most from the entire process. Let us be about exposing the dark parts of this system (truth telling) and educating ourselves and new adoptive families so we can all avoid hurting and oppressing the poor.
Because I believe that with very few exceptions, most adoptive parents set out to "do no harm", it seems possible that we might all be willing to look more critically at the gray areas. If you're open to further consideration, here are some links you where you can begin to read and research further:
- "In many countries,it can be astonishingly easy to fabricate a history for a young child, and in the process, manufacture an orphan.The birth mothers are often poor, young, unmarried, divorced, or otherwise lacking family protection.The children may be born into a locally despised minority group that is afforded few rights.And for enough money,someone will separate these little ones from their vulnerable families,turning them into "paper orphans" for lucrative export."Source: The Lie We Love, Brandeis University
- A story of reunification in Uganda here.
- From this paper on ethical Int'l adoption..."The Big Picture: Internationally the children with the greatest need for adoptive parents are generally older than 5 and sick, disabled,or traumatized. Healthy infants have long lines of adoptive parents hoping to be matched with them."
- PEAR - Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (on Facebook too)
- Multiple links regarding fraud/corruption here at Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism - a.) Proposal for fairer adoption practices here
- From my friend Keren's blog. Read through as many posts as you can. The focus of their work is reunification. A family that had their adoption refused due to fraud.
- I recently finished reading an advance copy of this book. There were things in this book that I found to be a little bit unfair. My perception was that it painted Christians with a broad brush. Some of it left me slightly defensive - BUT - there are enough stories and things that ring true that I hope many adoptive parents will read it for themselves and not take my word for it - simply to be informed of the troubling evidence of coersion and multiple issues that exist within the current system.
- Child Laundering: How the Intercountry Adoption System Legitimizes and Incentivizes the Practices of Buying, Trafficking, Kidnapping, and Stealing Children, by David M. Smolin (This guy is smart and honest and comes at it objectively.)
- If you have already completed an international adoption, I urge you if at all possible/allowed to send photos and updates to your child's first family. They deserve to know their child is well.
... God gives out wisdom free, is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding. He's a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well, a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere ...
- Proverbs 2 -
~ ~ ~ ~
post script ...
Over the last several years, through the work happening here in Haiti, I've been watching Haitian mothers being offered a bit of encouragement and love. In that time I've watched over 250 women choose to parent (and not relinquish to an orphanage) their babies. Less than 1% have chosen to place for international adoption. Some are very, very poor women; some are middle-class women. With a relatively small amount of emotional support these women are choosing to parent their children. Without the benefit of wealth and material blessing they are doing a fabulous job loving and serving their little ones.
Jacquline, her mother, and her newborn daughter
(all photos of Haitian families used with permission)
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Back in December 2005 I stumbled across one of the most poorly informed articles about Haiti that I had ever read in the form of the piece "Undermining Haiti" by Center for Economic and Policy Research co -director Mark Weisbrot, a man with virtually no experience at all in the country and even less grasp of its complicated recent history. I responded with a letter to the publication saying, among other things, that "articles like this, hatched in a cocoon of ideology where rude reality never intrudes, do little to help that long-suffering country." Weisbrot then responded with a libelous tirade against me that one Haiti observer wrote was "pretty pathetic" and which "confirms exactly what you are accusing him of." When I approached then-Nation editor Karen Rothmyer about correcting such libel, I received a pouting response that "if you feel strongly, I'll get our lawyers involved." So much for informing the public, I guess.
Still, I think it might be useful to dismantle some of Weisbrot's more egregious dishonesty in public view, so I include the below letter (expanded from what I had intended to send The Nation) for readers' edification. Perhaps some day Mr. Weisbrot will get out from behind his desk and experience the places he opines about at ground level. I certainly encourage it.
Michael Deibert's response to Mark Weisbrot's letter to The Nation magazine
While Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Mark Weisbrot's inaccuracies might pass without notice in Washington, (see Mr.Weisbrot's article "Undermining Haiti" in The Nation, Dec. 12), to those of us who have been on the ground in Haiti, it is clear that Weisbrot might benefit in his analysis by a quick review of Haiti's recent history. For journalists who have been privileged with the trust of Haiti's poor majority to tell their stories, it is our duty to reiterate the facts that individuals such as Weisbrot, perhaps unwittingly, do their best to muddy, first in his article, and now in his letter to The Nation responding to my critique of said article (that full exchange follows this email).
In his letter responding to my critique of his article, Weisbrot writes: "Most of the Fanmi Lavalas leadership and activists are in jail, hiding or exile. Nothing approaching this magnitude of state-sponsored violence or repression existed under Aristide."
False, in several aspects. Despite the continuation of brutality and impunity under the interim government that was one of the hallmarks of the Aristide years, many Lavalas leaders, such as cabinet minister Leslie Voltaire, former Senate president Yvon Feuillé, former Chamber of Deputies presidents Rudy Herivaux and Yves Christallin, former Milot mayor Moise Jean-Charles, Aristide's first prime minister during his second term Jean-Marie Cherestal and others still operate with freedom throughout Haiti and, indeed, are still actively involved in politics. As someone who was in Haiti from December 2003 until June 2004 (one of many periods spent living in the country), I can truly say I have rarely seen greater state-sponsored violence or terror than those of us in Haiti witnessed during the final months of the Aristide government. Please refer to my book, Notes from the Last Testament (Seven Stories Press) or reports filed by National Public Radio's Gerry Hadden here and here, to cite but two examples), the Haitian organization AlterPresse, or a myriad of other
sources, for elaboration.
Weisbrot writes: "There is little evidence that the Aristide government "actively thwarted" the investigation of the murder of journalist Jean Léopold Dominique."
False. On March 3rd, 2002, on her daily broadcast on Radio Haiti-Inter, Michele Montas, Mr. Dominique's widow and 2002 winner of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for excellence in journalism from Columbia University, said the following, referring explicitly to the Aristide government's undermining of the investigation, and investigating judge, Claudy Gassant:
On this same date last year, March 3, 2001, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide came to Radio Haiti to express his support publicly for the judicial inquiry and pledge that the executive branch of government would make available to justice the resources needed to investigate the April 3, 2000 assassinations at Radio Haiti. Today, twenty-three months later, facts are speaking louder than words: Fact: The Chief of State, who has the direct and exclusive authority to renew Judge Gassant's mandate, has still not done so although that judge diligently and systematically conducted the investigation for sixteen months with courage and competence. . . . Facts: All the resources, i.e., logistical, technical and financial made available in this judicial case by the preceding government have been cancelled. The special and relatively modest funds which had helped in the success of the trials of Raboteau and Carrefour Feuilles, as well as the funds allocated, among other resources, to the work of the first two investigating judges assigned to the murder cases of Jean Dominique and Jean-Claude Louissaint, allowing them to follow the leads of a difficult investigation in several
areas of the countries, were cancelled.
The fact that the Aristide government directly stonewalled the Dominique murder investigation has since been re-confirmed to me, both by Ms. Montas herself and by numerous other sources in Haiti. At a press conference held by the Radio Haiti-Inter staff on April 3, 2002 (which I attended), Radio Haiti Inter reporter Sony Esteus said that:
Manoeuvre after manoeuvre has been made by the justice minister, by the dean of the civil court, by the 21 May Senate and by the police in order to block the investigation. The person who believes he can deliver the coup de grace is President Aristide. We say the coup de grace because President Aristide, as head of state, has blocked the investigations for four months...President Aristide is chief of a political party that controls the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and he has blocked this investigation at every turn. We demand the president renew the mandate and ensure the security of Judge Gassant.
Weisbrot writes: "(Deibert) claims that thugs acted in December with "visible collusion with police," but that is simply an allegation."
False. During the attack on the university on December 5, 2003, employees of the nearby Fondation Connaissance et Liberté (FOKAL) run by Michèle Pierre-Louis, the former sister-in-law of a well-known slain priest, Jean Pierre- Louis and a pair of visiting French diplomats watched the violence from the organization's headquarters on Avenue Christophe and later released a scathing press release in which they recounted the scene, which read, in part, as follows:
We saw groups of pro-governmental militia . . . regroup in front of our building, visibly preparing to attack the student demonstration scheduled for that day. We saw their arms displayed, ranging from firearms, wooden and iron sticks, rocks and other objects capable of hurting and killing. We saw their chiefs, men and women, also armed, equipped with walkie-talkies and cellular phones, organize and give orders to the commandos that were to attack the students. We saw the police, not neutral as has been reported, but acting as accomplices to the militia. On several occasions, during that day of horror and shame, the police opened the way for the chimere attack and also covered their backs. We saw children aged between twelve and fifteen, some in school uniforms, used by the Lavalas militia to throw rocks and attack the students with fire arms.
Those present during the attack, and footage in the filmmaker Arnold Antonin's documentary about the Aristide government's bloody denouement, GNB Kont Attila, have since confirmed this version of events.
Weisbrot writes: "Aristide made concerted efforts to reform the justice system and to address the root causes of the country's violence."
False. After driving two judges - Jean Sénat Fleury, and Claudy Gassant - off of the Jean Dominique case, in mid-April 2002, the Aristide government succeeded in pressing Henry Kesner Noel, magistrate of the city of Saint Marc, into signing an arrest warrant charging former dictator Prosper Avril with orchestrating the 1990 massacre of peasant farmers in the village of Piatre, in central Haiti, even though the massacre occurred after the dictator had been ousted from power. Following the signing of Avril's arrest warrant, Justice Noel fled Haiti for Florida, saying that Aristide officials - Noel mentioned Secretary of State for Public Security Gérard Dubreuil by name - had forced him to sign the warrant and he feared for his life should he remain in Haiti. The Aristide government's actions in this event were a blatant violation of Article 60 of Haiti's constitution, which delegated firmly the independence of the executive and judicial branches of government. In January 2003, when Judge Marcel Jean, the investigating judge in charge of Aristide-loyalist Amiot Metayer's case in the city of Gonaives, attempted to board a plane to the United States on, he discovered that his name was on a list of those banned from leaving the country by Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert. Jean's passport was seized, and he was denied the right to leave the country. Many viewed the move as an attempt to force Jean to "legalize" Metayer's jailbreak of August 2 the previous year. Eventually, Jean slipped out of the country and went into exile. Rosemond Jean, who helped form and became the spokesman for the Coordination Nationale des Societaires Victimes (CONASOVIC) on behalf of the victims of the co-operative scandal, was held from September 2002 until March 2003 without trial.
The list goes on and on. Another example of Aristide's commitment to the rule of law was the speech he gave gave while visiting Haiti's police headquarters in June 2001, Referring to *zenglendos*?the
Kreyol term for common criminals that had become an all-purpose catch phrase for referring to people that those in a position of power in Haiti wanted to eliminate, Aristide said that "If a zenglendo stops a car out on the street, takes the car keys, forces the driver to get out and drives away with the vehicle, then that person is guilty. You do not need to take him to court to answer to the judge, because the car does not belong to him. If a criminal carries out physical violence against somebody out in the street with intent to kill that person, you do not need to wait for that criminal to appear before the judge, you can prevent that murderer from taking action. When it has to do with criminals it is zero tolerance. Period and full stop." So much for due process.
Following the murder of journalist Brignol Lindor in December 2001, his killers - members of a pro-government gang called Domi Nan Bwa in the provincial city of Petit Goave who readily confessed to their crime - announced that they had meted out "zero tolerance" to Lindor.
Weisbrot writes: "Since all governments commit mistakes and abuses, this argument can always be constructed; it is perhaps easier to do so for a very poor country where the rule of law is not well established. Deibert's efforts fall squarely within that dishonorable tradition."
As Mao's defenders in the West such as the journalists Felix Greene, Anna Louise Strong, Edgar Snow and the economist Gilbert Etienne, attempted to deny the terrible reality of the suffering inflicted on the Chinese people during The Great Leap Forward, when tens of millions of people died needlessly, most of starvation, on the alter of Mao's vanity, so Mr. Weisbrot would appear to be dancing perilously close to his own "dishonorable tradition," that of the Western observer who believes that the lives of the world's poor are some how more expendable to bring about a desired political reality than their own sheltered, pampered existence.
As the noted Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck has written about Haiti and the serial defenders of the Aristide government's excesses: "It became a habit among the tyrant's "friends," in particular among his American friends in the pseudo-left sector, to downplay these trends, or to hold his entourage
responsible. Is this to say that there are crimes condemnable in a western country but acceptable in Haiti? Are journalists' assassinations, threats, the dismissal of judges who are honest or not "flexible" enough, the forced exile of bothersome adversarie, ?are these "acceptable?" Do we only deserve a dime store version of democracy? A patronizing conceit that "low-end" democracy is good enough for "poor" Haitians?"
Whether Mr. Weisbrot is deliberately spreading misinformation, or is simply ill-informed in opining about things he has little first-hand knowledge of, is a matter for him to explain. But I think, given the evidence of his deception, he owes Haiti's poor majority greater intellectual and historical rigor when commenting on their struggle than he has thus far displayed.
Michael DeibertNew York City
Yesterday I was walking through the kitchen of the Maternity Center when I saw the little old toothless lady on the right in the photo above. If I were in this photo, you'd know she is approximately four feet nine inches tall on a good day. I instantly knew that I had seen and spoken with her before. "I know your face", I said in Kreyol. She laughed and said "wi" and started speaking a million words a minute. I did not catch a lot of it, but I knew she was telling me that she'd brought a pregnant person and she wanted them in the program.
On Fridays newly pregnant women are able to come get their name on the waiting list. We don't always have the space in the month they are due to take them into the program. It is difficult to disappoint them. It isn't that we think we can help everyone or ever even make a significant dent in the overwhelming need for Maternal Health. It stinks to say no to someone with real needs and very few options.
When Granny sat down with the woman she'd brought, I learned that she was the sister of Jesula (above on left). Jesula delivered last year. Gran is the mom of Jesula and the woman she brought on Friday was Jesula's sister.
We asked a few questions and checked her blood pressure to try to determine if we are able to offer care. High blood pressure is tricky to manage and we always try to refer on to higher level of care (the problem with that lies in very little access or availablity of higher level care). I told the two women that the blood pressure was pretty concerning and that I could not decide anything without talking to Beth and other more experienced midwives. I told them I'd call on Tuesday with an answer.
Upon hearing that Gran kicked into high-level-advocacy and started talking with a bit of force. She told me that when we call on Tuesday we will be calling to tell her daughter that we will take her. When I said, "No, not promising that", she said, "You will take her. You must take her. Today or Tuesday it doesn't matter but Thursday she will start." She continued talking very fast just to keep me from objecting. :) She didn't back down ever. In Haiti they call that "tet di" (hard head or stubborn.)
I loved so much to see a mom pushing so hard for her 30-something daughter. This is the kind of advocate everyone needs.
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A chorus of outrage is building against former Haitian president Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier as he sits in the dock of a Haitian court, charged with crimes against humanity during his 15-year rule. However, the U.S. government remains strangely and completely silent. A 40-year-old trove of diplomatic cables, newly unearthed by WikiLeaks, helps explain why.
Around midnight in the early morning hours of Jul. 23, 1973, a fire broke out in the packed armory of Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier’s National Palace. Almost immediately, “President-for-Life” Duvalier and his Army Chief of Staff, General Claude Raymond, telephoned the U.S. Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Thomas J. Corcoran, to tell him about the fire and ask for U.S. assistance in putting it out. The destruction of Haiti’s large weapons cache became, in the following days, the perfect excuse to resume the sale of military weapons as well as military aid and training to the Duvalier dictatorship, after it had been halted during the 1960s under the notorious regime of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Haïti Liberté has been able to reconstruct a clear picture of this pivotal historical moment thanks to a new website constructed by WikiLeaks called the Public Library of U.S. Diplomacy or PlusD. The site enables searching of over 1.7 million State Department cables from 1973 to 1976 which had been declassified and stored in the U.S. National Archives, but which were all but inaccessible due to the form in which they were kept. Haïti Liberté is one of 18 media partners worldwide to which WikiLeaks provided exclusive access to the PlusD search engine in early March, prior to its unveiling for public use on Apr. 8. This article is one of several which Haïti Liberté is planning based on the cables from the 1970s. “General Raymond and President Duvalier telephoned me at 0245 [2:45 a.m.] to report fire in National Palace and to request fire extinguishers which we dispatched,” Corcoran explained in a Jul. 23, 1973 Confidential cable. “At about 0325 Foreign Minister [Adrien] Raymond informed me fire was spreading throughout ammunition storage including small arms and artillery ammo and beyond control of local firefighting facilities.” The U.S. immediately deployed a team of nine military fire-fighters from its naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They “acted without regard for their personal safety in fighting the fire in an area in which a large variety of explosive ordnance had been stored and exposed to intense heat over a period of hours,” Corcoran wrote in a Jul. 27, 1973 cable commending their valor. On Jul. 24, 1973, the day immediately after the fire, Foreign Minister Raymond “summoned” Corcoran and “presented [him] a list of ammunition and mortars which GOH [the Government of Haiti] urgently desires to purchase for the ‘maintenance of public peace, the tranquillity of families and protection of property.’” Adrien “on instructions of President Jean-Claude Duvalier” urgently requested millions of rounds of ammunition for Haiti’s Army. Among the largest items on the long list were 1.5 million 30 caliber rounds for M-1 rifles, 800,000 rounds for 50 caliber machine guns, 600,000 5.56 mm rounds for M-16 automatic rifles, and 400,000 9mm rounds for Uzi submachine guns. Duvalier also wanted dozens of mortars and tens of thousands of mortar shells. The Haitian Army had never waged war against any enemy other than the Haitian people. Nonetheless, Corcoran and the U.S. Embassy’s military attaché called the list “reasonable” and “strongly recommend[ed] approval of sale,” the cable said. In the following weeks, Haiti’s military laundry list would grow in length and breadth, asking not just for more ammunition but also for weapons and supplies, including 38 and 45 caliber handguns, M-1 rifles, M-2 carbines, 30 and 50 mm machine guns, 60 and 81 mm mortars, grenade launchers, cartridge belts, and high-capacity ammo clips. On Jul. 25, 1973, Corcoran sent another Confidential cable where he encouraged the State and Defense Departments “to take quickest possible action” and make an “extraordinary effort to expedite paper work” to reply favorably to Duvalier’s request because, among other reasons, “the Haitian Government is prepared to pay for its requirements, and there is no reason why the US should not get the sale.” (Not long before, Haiti had bought weapons from Israel and Jordan, as well as “from ‘fast-buck’ private arms dealers,” according to Corcoran.) Furthermore, Duvalier’s “request seems an excellent opportunity to strengthen U.S. influence even more with the GOH... and to win the goodwill of individual Haitian military officers,” Corcoran wrote in the cable. The U.S. had curtailed military aid and sales to Haiti after François Duvalier expelled a U.S. Marine Mission from the country in 1963. But following Papa Doc’s death in April 1971, his son “Baby Doc” inherited the “Presidency for Life” and began to repair and improve relations with the U.S., from which he wanted aid and investment. Indeed, the sale was approved and the “GOH delivered to [the U.S.] Embassy Sept. 19, 1973 check no. 163211 drawn on National Bank of Republic of Haiti same date payable to USAFSA [United States Army Forces in South America] in amount of dollars $273,411.40,” Corcoran wrote in a Sep. 19, 1973 cable. The sale was equivalent to over $1.4 million in 2013 dollars. Nonetheless, the U.S. was worried about appearances, and Corcoran wrote in an Aug. 17, 1973 cable that “no, repeat no, USG [U.S. Government] aircraft delivery [is] contemplated.” Instead the guns and ammo arrived on two Pan Am charter flights on Sep. 26 and Oct. 1, 1973, the cables show. Around the same time, the U.S. Embassy was also negotiating with the regime for the sale of six “Cadillac-Gage commando armored cars,” two of which would be used for the Leopards, an elite counter-insurgency unit of the Haitian army. The U.S. wanted to proceed with the sale of just four cars, the request for which had been made in June, before the armory fire. The Embassy wanted to finish with the pending ammunition and weapons sale “before addressing [the] problem of [the] other two cars,” but Duvalier had threatened to take his business elsewhere, namely to the French, Corcoran explained in an Aug. 31, 1973 cable. He recommended that “that State/Defense [Departments] reply gently to implied threat to transfer order to French firm that financial outlay of that sort to French company at time U.S. giving economic assistance to Haiti might raise all sorts of questions.” Military aid was also being resumed in this period. The “Embassy can understand Haiti's exclusion from the list of countries eligible for grant military training in the 1960s, owing to political conditions prevailing at that time,” Corcoran argued in a Nov. 23, 1973 cable. “However, times in Haiti have changed. The country has a new, young president moving in some positive new directions.” He claimed that “in the past few years, repression has been markedly and genuinely eased in Haiti” and that the government was showing “political restraint” and “a clear desire to do more for the economic development of the country.” Most importantly, “in international organizations, the new government in Haiti has been a dependable, good friend of the U.S., for whatever that is worth,” Corcoran wrote. “All these are positive tendencies which it seems to us should be encouraged.” This was “why we believe some grant military training for Haiti is very much in our interests,” because, among other things, it provided “the opportunity to establish some influence with the whole generation of younger Haitian military officers who know nothing of the U.S..” “In sum,” Corcoran concluded, “it seems illogical that Haiti... should still be singled out for total exclusion from grant training programs enjoyed by nearly every other nation of the hemisphere for many years -- training which will contribute substantially to advancing a number of our important interests in the region.” Indeed, U.S. military aid was resumed, specifically to train units like the Leopards, which was described by the National Coalition for Haitian Rights in a 1986 report as“particularly brutal in dealing with civilians.” Researcher Jeb Sprague explains in his new book “Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti” that the Leopards were trained and equipped “by former U.S. marine instructors who were working through a company (Aerotrade International and Aerotrade Inc) under contract with the CIA and signed off by the U.S. Department of State. Baby Doc himself trained with the Leopards, forming particularly close bonds with some in the force. A U.S. military attaché bragged that the creation of the force had been his idea. Aerotrade’s CEO, James Byers, interviewed on camera, explained that he had ‘no trouble exporting massive quantities of arms. The State Department signed off on the licenses, and the CIA had copies of all the contracts. M-16 fully automatic weapons, thousands and thousands of rounds of ammunition, patrol boats, T-28 aircraft, Sikorsky helicopters. Thirty-caliber machine guns. Fifty-caliber machine guns. Mortars. Twenty-millimeter rapid-fire cannons. Armored troop carriers.’ A handful of veterans from this force would later serve, off and on, as key figures in various paramilitary forces” which the U.S. used to carry out and maintain coups against the governments of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991 and 2004. Jean-Claude Duvalier, who returned to Haiti in January 2011 from a 25 year golden exile in France, is now technically under house arrest in Haiti. An appeals court is receiving testimony and evidence from witnesses charging that Duvalier must be tried for crimes against humanity. Haitian and international human rights groups have documented hundreds of cases of torture and extrajudicial killings and imprisonments under Baby Doc’s 15 year rule from 1971 to 1986. In January 2012, investigating judge Carves Jean dismissed the human rights charges against Duvalier, arguing that the statute of limitations had expired. The appeals court may overrule that decision. About 7,000 of the 1.7 million secret diplomatic cables from 1973 to 1976 deal with Haiti. The cables “were reviewed by the United States Department of State's systematic 25-year declassification process,” WikiLeaks explains on its PlusD website. The cables were then “either declassified or kept classified with some or all of the metadata records declassified” and then “subject to an additional review by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).” Those cables released then “ were placed as individual PDFs at the National Archives as part of their Central Foreign Policy Files collection.” However, the cables in their PDF form “are actually quite difficult to get to for the general public,” explained Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesperson for WikiLeaks and a former Icelandic investigative journalist, to Democracy Now on Apr. 8. “It’s very hard to access them. So, in our view, the inaccessibility and the difficulty of accessing them is a form of secrecy... so we found it important to get it to the general public in a good searchable database.” Twenty-five year old U.S. classified documents are supposed to be reviewed and declassified every year. The public should therefore be able to view classified documents as late as 1988. However, the declassification process has only been done until 1976, meaning it is 12 years behind schedule. Another reason that WikiLeaks established the PlusD database is because “there has been a trend in the last decade and a half to reverse previously declassified policy,” Hrafnsson explained. “A policy set out, for example, by Clinton in the mid-'90s was, a few years later under Bush, is reversed. It was revealed in 2006, for example, that over 55,000 documents that were previously available had been reclassified by the demand of the CIA and other agencies. And it is known that this program continued at least until 2009. So, it is very worrying when the government actually starts taking back behind the veil of secrecy what was previously available.” The PlusD database cannot be snatched back behind the veil. The 1973 to 1976 cables cover the period that infamous Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was in office under both Presidents Richard Nixon and then Gerald Ford. WikiLeaks has therefore dubbed the trove the “Kissinger Cables.” (After he left his post, Kissinger and his wife visited Duvalier in Haiti.) In 2011, WikiLeaks provided Haïti Liberté exclusively with about 2,000 secret U.S. cables related to Haiti dating from 2003 to 2010. They came from a larger 250,000-cable trove, known as “Cablegate,” which was anonymously provided to WikiLeaks by U.S. Corp. Bradley Manning. He has been imprisoned in “pre-trial detention” some 1,050 days under torture-like conditions. He is being court-martialed and may be charged with treason, which can carry the death penalty. There is a world-wide movement denouncing the U.S. government’s treatment of Manning, who also gave to WikiLeaks a video showing a U.S. Apache helicopter gunning down 12 civilians in Iraq in 2007, including two Reuters journalists. With the release of PlusD and the “Kissinger Cables,” WikiLeaks has once again provided journalists and people around the world a glimpse into the shrouded world of U.S. foreign policy. While Top Secret cables are not available, the thousands of formerly Secret and Confidential cables from the 1970s provide a clear look into how the State Department fashioned its rationales for many outrageous policies during that period, like the resumption of military aid to an unelected, corrupt, and repressive dictator like Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Jean-Claude Duvalier shaking hands with a U.S. military officer in the early 1970s. Does Washington’s military support for Baby Doc when he was in power explain its silence about his prosecution for human rights crimes today?
Jean-Claude dressed in uniform of the Leopards, a counter-insurgency unit of the Haitian Army. Washington resumed military aid to train and fund Baby Doc’s forces despite continuing political killings, imprisonment, and torture under his regime.
A Confidential cable from the U.S. Embassy in Haiti to Washington on July 24, 1973 requesting ammunition for Haitian government.
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Troy says to Isaac, (about Easter candy) "Peeps make me sick at the thought of them." Isaac replies, "I have the same problem with tire-swings."
"My newest favorite words to use are serpentine and fetter." -Announcement made this morning.
The torture of being asked forced to do dishes:And then of course, the victory:Saturday afternoon a straw broke the camel's back and we were launched by force into lecture-mode. A few times a year Troy and I snap over one annoyance or another and conduct a well coordinated and expertly executed attack on the utter laziness of our little people.
On this day thrice annually, we go on and on and ooooonnn about how spoiled we are to have help and how it seems possible that nobody will ever marry any of them because they are lards ... And how in real life nobody picks up your dang legos for you. Troy usually throws in a few analogies that go over their heads and by the end everyone sits quietly with their heads cast down silently begging God to let it end already.
This lecture results in two to three weeks days hours of "enthusiastic" and exemplary behavior and work ethic. (See photos.)
Before the hate mail - please, read this: they never left the driveway/gate, they never went more than 5 mph, they are safe in their room playing dolls right now. No humans or canines were hurt in the making of this quick, joy-filled, entertaining, moment (caputred on camera) on a late Sunday afternoon.
Last week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures in favor of the 567 families that have been under constant threat of eviction in the Grace Village camp. Given the “imminent” threat to those in the camp, the IACHR urged the Government of Haiti:
1. To adopt the necessary measures to avoid the excessive use of force and of violence in any eviction. In particular, to guarantee that the public authorities' actions as well as those of private parties pose no risk to the life and personal integrity of the camp residents;
2. To implement effective security measures, in particular, to ensure that there is an adequate patrol around and inside the camp and to install police stations close to the camp. To this effect, the IACHR asks the Government to provide special protection to women and children;
3. To ensure that the residents have access to the potable water required for basic needs;
4. To consult with the beneficiaries and their representatives regarding the measures that need to be taken. In particular, ensure that the camp residents' committee as well as grassroots women's groups can fully participate in the planning and execution of the measures implemented for the benefit of residents, including measures focused on the prevention of sexual violence and other forms of violence in the camp; and
5. To inform [the public] regarding the adopted measures so as to investigate the events that justifies the adoption of precautionary measures
As we have written previously, the residents of Grace Village have faced significant and on-going harassment, which has included government complicity at both the local and national level. The alleged owner of the land is Pastor Joel Jeune, the founder of a Florida based 501(c)(3) organization, Grace International Inc. As the request for precautionary measures points out, the pastor’s close “ties to the mayor’s office and the local police force him to enlist the help of Haitian police to carry out illegal evictions. With his private security forces and the Haitian police, Pastor Joel Jeune has orchestrated and participated in violent, forced evictions of displaced families living inside Grace Village.” Amnesty International had warned earlier this month that the camp was “under threat of forced eviction” and that there was a “list of people from the camp” that the police were going to arrest. Amnesty urged the Haitian government to “ensure that residents of Grace Village camp are not evicted without due process, adequate notice and consultation, and that all those affected have access to adequate alternative accommodation.” In requesting the precautionary measures, human rights lawyers Mario Joseph, Patrice Florvilus and Nicole Phillips argue that:
the Haitian government’s failure to protect a vulnerable group, while simultaneously assisting non-state actors in brutalizing this vulnerable group, violates the Equal Protection clause enshrined in Article 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights. Finally, the Haitian government’s failure to protect displaced families in Grace Village from forced evictions interferes with these individuals’ exercise of fundamental rights, including the right to life, personal liberty, privacy, family, property, and judicial protection, as guaranteed by the Inter-American Convention.
The recommendations by the IACHR “reconfirm that forced evictions from displacement camps not only add trauma to earthquake victims, but also violate Haitian and international human rights standards,” said Nicole Phillips of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. She added, “landowners should raise their concerns with the Haitian government and international community who have not provided adequate housing to earthquake victims, rather than waging violence against displaced communities desperate to find a safe home.” Meanwhile, in Haiti on Mar. 28, hundreds and perhaps thousands of displaced persons marched for adequate housing and against forced evictions. Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye, which tweeted updates from the march, noted that, “Each time the IDP protest passes a camp the number of people grows; was several hundreds, now thousands.” According to the UN, over 70,000 people (20% of the total displaced population) are facing threats of eviction in 2013.
Hundreds of IDP camp residents marched through Port-au-Prince on Mar. 28 to protest against threats and evictions.
Photo by: Bri Kouri Nouvel Gaye
Hundreds of Haitians, since the beginning of 2013, continue to risk their lives to seek a better life abroad, to escape poverty, hunger, unemployment, and poor living conditions. Promises of change and millions or even billions of dollars released in the name of alleviating poverty in Haiti never seem able to actually improve the living conditions of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest people. Haitians living in the most remote corners of the country have no choice but to flee to the Dominican Republic, Florida, and other Caribbean Islands.
During March 2013, many compatriots who had braved the danger of emigrating found themselves repatriated. On Mar. 26, 75 Haitians, including 36 women, were repatriated to Cap-Haïtien, the country's second largest city, having been intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard off Puerto Rico a week earlier. On Mar. 27, a group of 48 Haitians were arrested by Puerto Rican Police in the District of Isabella on the west coast of the island. During the Easter weekend, another group of 43 Haitian boat people were arrested off Jamaica. They were all from the Grand Anse department in Haiti’s South-West. According to refugees, they tried to flee the country for the same reasons: unemployment, poverty, hunger, poor living conditions, and loss of hope. "We are unable to meet our daily needs,” said one on his return. “We are chronically unemployed. We have no assistance in working our fields. Our children cannot continue their studies. The cost of living continues to rise to dizzying heights. We are left to ourselves. We have no choice but to risk our lives in search of a better life elsewhere." The Haitian government, which satisfies itself with generating false propaganda in an attempt to put people to sleep, offers no solution to this problem. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Haiti is said to have budgeted $100,000 to carry out a program, which is clearly ineffective, aimed at educating Haitians, especially those living in Haiti’s Northwest department, about the dangers of “illegal” migration. Through this fund, the IOM plans to continue its information campaign in the media and through a radio drama entitled "chimen lakay" (the path home). It also plans to provide assistance to returnees, giving them transport, temporary shelter, and medical assistance after registering them. This process is carried out with the assistance of the staff of the National Office of Migration (ONM), a Haitian state agency responsible for giving support to Haitian returnees. However, the political and economic situation in Haiti is steadily worsening. Marginalized people, both in the cities’ slums and the remote countryside, are the main victims. On Apr. 3, the UN announced that more than more than 1.5 million Haitians are at risk of malnutrition because of crops lost due to Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Isaac last year. The poor governance of the regime of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe just puts salt on the wound. There are all the signs that a social explosion is brewing, as the people’s hunger, and the government’s corruption and repression, grow weekly.
Just as under the Duvalier regime, Haitian refugees are increasingly taking to sailboats to escape hunger in Haiti.
By Beverly Bell
April 4, 2013
Inside the USAID-headquarters-turned-courthouse in Port-au-Prince, the case against former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier was being heard, in a trial unlikely to bring justice to the hundreds of thousands killed and tortured by him and his father François.
Vexed by the circus show of judges and defense lawyers, I fled the building and hailed a collective taxicab. The driver asked my nationality. When I told him, he said, “If you don’t…
Today I am guest-posting at D.L. Mayfield's site for her series called "War Photographers".
(Click here to learn about the inspiration for the series.)You can find the post HERE.
When a young, intelligent, post-modern, edgy writer asks her old, dullish, edgeless, ambivalent Internet friend to write a guest post - well - the aging unhipster shakes off the nervous, pulls out the prescription strength deodorant, and gives it a go. Seriously though, the Internet can be a lot of things. Good. Bad. Inspiring. Disturbing. Too much of too much of too much. Today, it's an annoying mutual admiration society. Please forgive the irritation and allow me to say: There are some younger brilliant deep-thinkers writing and challenging us with the things they share and the way they walk out their faith in their daily life. D.L. is one of those. She writes about life in the upside down kingdom. I encourage you to read this and this and scour her site for all sorts of unique expressions of faith, beauty, pain, loss, and triumph.
(my) Full post here:
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. “That laundry is not very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.” Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: “Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? ” The husband replies, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.” And so it is with life… What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look.–Author Unknown
When one of the poorest countries in the world happens to be positioned a mere 700 miles from the southern tip of one of the richest countries in the world, short-term and long-term missions abound. I am citing no source but I’d venture to guess this is the most visited, blogged about, and photographed “mission” destination on the planet earth.
The convenient 90-minute plane ride from Miami means an estimated 200,000 people per year come to Haiti. Many seem to think that their group or purpose or trip is a one-of-a-kind and are incredulous when they hear how frequently large groups of matching T-shirts arrive here with similar plans. Additionally, there are thousands of longer-term workers sprinkled all across the island.
It is common for these expats to arrive thinking of people as projects.
As we are all prone to do, people show up here having already decided things about Haiti. They hear the tag lines and have watched or read the mass media news stories and they build their image of the country and her people and what they need before they ever set foot on Haitian soil. Wherever they hail from, they seem to arrive having heard about vodou, poverty, danger, an earthquake, and orphans.
For whatever reason there is a movement among evangelical churches and faith-based organizations that markets mission trips in such a way that it casts the missionary as a hero and those on the other side are in dire need of their help. This means that in addition to what the prospective visitor has heard and decided about Haiti, they are also being told that in one or two weeks they might be able to make a significant impact.
For an extended time, our family has been learning and growing and being uncomfortably twisted and molded by living in this land that so many visit. During these years we’ve learned about our own pride, our own soul poverty, and our preconceived ideas. (Related: We have become cynical and skeptical and things we don’t like too.) We now better recognize the ways in which we have painted this place with a broad brush and forget that individual souls created in the image of God should not be reduced to our small-minded descriptions or looked upon as a project.
As a body of believers called to bring the justice of Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven to earth it does little good to arrive with anything decided. Each one of us is wonderfully complex and unique and we would do well to remember that is true of everyone, everywhere. Media reports and the State Department don’t have the ability to summarize hearts of people. Churches and mission organizations should not market with the “go save them” narrative.
In our time here, working with and observing different organizations, we’ve had an opportunity to witness many visitors. Perhaps the marketing of short-term trips feeds the problem. When cast as the hero, you are bound to come in with an air of superiority. That to say, at times we cringe over things said and done. The cringing comes partially from a place of our own guilt, in knowing we once said and did disrespectful things; in knowing we probably still do sometimes. Other times we gasp at the disdain some ‘heroes” carry with them.
It is not at all unusual to hear visitors botch something up they are working on and say, “Oh well, it is good enough for Haiti.” I confess that it is those people who I want to follow home with a gallon of ugly colored oil paint and an old tattered brush and walk into their kitchen to show them what my “good enough” looks like at their house.
On occasion our second daughter agrees to translate for teams. One such medical team was performing minor surgeries. One of the surgeons brought his fourteen-year-old son on the trip. The son observed the surgeries and occasionally held a tool or handed his father something. At one point in the week the father asked his son if he would like to do a spinal-block. The Doctor stood nearby as his son performed the block.
I am certain the doctor didn’t necessarily mean harm, but when a well-trained, perfectly able physician allows his fourteen year old to stick a needle in someone’s back it says, “This is good enough for a Haitian”. As my daughter told me this story I wondered if the physician would appreciate a rookie shoving a needle in his child’s back.
The truth of the matter is this, somewhere along the line we all became convinced that we are a big deal arriving to a place or a people that need us. Therefore, anything we do is better than nothing, right? (That doesn’t sound like Jesus to me.) This superiority leads us to think, and even say, “Well, it is good enough for them.” Casting ourselves as the fixers and heroes and “them” as the project is troubling on many levels.
If we want to let the river of His justice flow through us, we have to arrive aware of how prone to superiority we are, how prejudiced we are. We must examine our motivation and presuppositions in the light. What window am I looking through when I look at others? What window am I seeing myself through? I know my tendency is to think I am needed. It is a difficult but necessary exercise to continually spend time asking Jesus to mercifully guide us as we attempt to walk with people in wisdom and humility.
God is not made manifest in our ability to “fix” or “heal” or “solve” anything. He has not cast us as the heroes. He is made manifest in our humility and in our own need to receive healing. When I can see my own weakness and pride and my need for grace and healing I am left in a position of having nothing to offer …
And you know what?
When I have nothing to offer, Jesus shows up.
~ ~ ~ ~
From the same series, a beautiful excerpt by Becca at exilefertility.com - To read the entire post go here.
We worked in a government maternity hospital that served the poorest women in our South Indian state. There was an unimaginable collision of beauty and hellishness every single day – on one metal table a woman welcomes her baby boy, healthy and screaming, into her arms; next to her a baby girl is stillborn, her mother weeps, her own body with a serious infection. She had laboured in the village for three days before coming to the hospital. She hadn’t known to get help sooner. Extraordinary life burst forth in the seventy or so births that happened every day. And there was darkness, women suffering without partners or mothers supporting, most labours sped up (and painfully intensified) with oxytocin just to handle the volume of women coming to give birth. Fear and threats were commonplace – exhausted and overwhelmed young doctors working 24+ hour shifts and the lines of women just kept coming. We would show up every day to serve, to love, to rub backs and hold hands, monitor vitals and pray with everything we had in us for God’s kingdom to arrive like these babies, into our hands waiting. I wanted to judge the doctors for shouting at women, the hospital cleaners for taking bribes from families, the men for marrying women too young, judge the caste system for creating mothers in such poverty, judge the practice of dowry for causing new moms to fear birthing baby girls. I wanted to judge because I was angry, I was tired, and I didn’t understand. I didn’t know what else to do, and it felt like something at least, my best defense against the threatening hopelessness and apathy of my own heart.
We pray “your kingdom come, your will be done” because it’s not happening yet. When you’ve caught God’s vision for shalom on earth, you can’t help but see the need for change, for justice. We are a passionate people. We want to protect, to champion, Robin Hood-esque in the lines we draw, how we categorize people into good and bad, oppressed and oppressor, us and them with God always on our side. Simple explanations with issues clearly labeled make our communication easier, readers know where to give the money, at whom to be angry and what prayers to pray. This is the problem, here’s the solution, the victim, the villain, the hero. We write music and emails, we blog and tumble and tweet because if there’s any time in history when we have a sphere of influence, it is now. But we cannot only be storytellers watching from the sidelines or holding signs with clever slogans.
We have to be peacemakers.