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Center Column Archives
Sun Jan 22 2006 UN Violence Strikes Fear in Haitian Opposition
The commander of the MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) forces, General Urano Bacellar, was found dead on January 7th with a bullet in his head. It is unclear whether he was murdered or whether it was suicide, but it is known that he was constantly being pushed to escalate the occupation of local neighbourhoods in Haiti. In particular, they demanded that UN troops occupied and acted with "more energy" in the local districts of Porto Principe (Port Au Prince), with the justification being that groups in those areas had been involved in recent kidnappings. Human rights activists state that the real reason is the persecution of opponents to the current regime.
The death of the general has left doubts about the political scene in the country. Presidential and parliamentary elections have been rescheduled for February 7th. However nothing guarantees a substantial change in relation to the current government of Gerard Latortue and Boniface, imposed after 2004 that took President Aristide out of power. Opposition candidates, such as Lavas, are facing problems being accepted. An example of this is father Gerard Jean Juste, who is imprisoned and forbbiden to register. The opponents of the government, whether friendly with Aristide or not, say that the elections are illegitimate, and that they fear repression from MINUSTAH, that could use violence to contain probable protests in districts during the election.
Read More from CMI Brazil | Dossie Haiti | ONU and haitian elite are planning more actions in the local neighbourhoods | Brazilian commander is found dead. Incrise deaths in local neighbourhoods | Indymedia Brasil | Haiti Proges | Haiti Action
Sat Jan 7 2006 Batay Ouvriye
Both before and after the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d'État in Haiti, Washington infiltrated "democracy promotion" programs into almost every sector of Haitian civil society: political parties, media, human rights groups, student groups, vote monitoring organizations, business associations, and labor organizations.
Recently declassified National Endowment for Democracy (NED) documents reveal that a "leftist" workers' organization, Batay Ouvriye (BO), which promoted and called for the overthrow of the constitutionally elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was the targeted beneficiary of a US $99,965 NED grant routed through the AFL-CIO's American Center for International Solidarity (ACILS). Listed in NED's "Summary of Projects Approved in FY 2005" for Haiti, the grant states, "ACILS will work with the May 1st Union Federation- Batay Ouvriye [ESPM-BO] to train workers to organize and educate fellow workers."
Read More | Haiti Democracy Project, Not So Democratic | Posts From Batay Ouvriye: 1 | 2 | 3
Mon Dec 19 2005 Haiti's Elections
Voting registration stretched past the August deadline into October, because registration facilities were not installed in poor urban and rural areas. An international outcry pushed the CEP to expand the opportunities to register, and eventually about 3.5 million people reportedly registered, out of an estimated pool of 4.2 million eligible citizens. The latest schedule calls for a first round of Presidential and legislative elections on January 8, a runoff election on February 15, and local elections on March 5. Several remaining hurdles make reaching this goal unlikely, including distributing electoral cards, printing the ballots, recruiting and training electoral officials and establishing enough voting centers. The electoral cards pose a particular challenge.
The distribution of the electoral cards is complicated, involving alphabetical order and date of registration, and the urban and rural poor who had so much difficulty registering often lack access to radio, television or other means of hearing the announcements. The schedule leaves five weeks before the first round to distribute the cards (and hire and train officials and find facilities for voting centers, which the CEP announced it was starting to do on November 30), when registration alone took over five months. Those particular five weeks may be the hardest of the year to get things done. They include Christmas, Haiti's Independence Day on January 1 and the beginning of Carnaval season on January 8, and much of that is school vacation.
Read More | Taking us to democracy like cattle to the killing house | Haiti's Achievements Under Aristide Now Lost Since The U.S. Led Coup | Haiti sacks Supreme Court judges | Why would I trust this fake election? | Haiti poll postponed a third time | In support of Batay Ouvriye
Mon Dec 19 2005 Update from Haiti Information Project
Read More | Ex-soldiers in Haiti get back pay, refuse to disarm | New Attacks on Cite Soleil Residents by UN Troops
Sat Dec 10 2005 Film About Aristide and Haiti is Playing Now in San Francisco
"Aristide and the Endless Revolution" is showing in San Francisco from December 9th through 15th. The movie examines the 2004 coup d'etat in Haiti, as well as the systemic violence and human rights violations that have erupted under the interim government. An interview with the deposed president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Pretoria, South Africa, is juxtaposed with the views of a wide range of supporters and critics, including US Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega. The film exposes the international interests that are concerned with suppressing popular democracy and ending the reforms Aristide was capable of making - despite embargoes and the need to service a debt for loans Haiti never received.
The film is showing at the Roxie Cinema at 3117 16th Street (at Valencia Street) in San Francisco. Showtimes are each evening at 6:15, 8:00, and 9:45pm. There are additional matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 and 4:00pm.
Mon Sep 26 2005 14th Anniversary of Ouster of Currently Exiled Haitian President
international day of action had been called for September 30th by the Fondasyon Trant Septanm (September Thirtieth Foundation). People were encouraged to have a demonstration on the 30th to denounce the dictatorship and US/UN repression in Haiti, and call for an International Coalition to work for the return of democracy in Haiti, the return of the President, and the establishment a fund, administered by the September 30th Foundation, to support victims of repression in Haiti.
Demonstrations took place in two Bay Area cities on the 30th: a morning rally and picket in San Francisco at the Federal Building, and two protests in San Jose, the first a lunchtime protest at the French Consulate and the second at the Federal Building. Protests were scheduled for over 30 other cities around the world including Dublin, Ireland. In Haiti, demonstrations were not allowed to go forward.
Sat Sep 10 2005 Kevin Pina and Jean Ristil arrested by masked police
9/9/2005: International journalist and Flashpoints Radio correspondent, Kevin Pina, was arrested at about 5:00 PM on Friday. Another journalist, Jean Ristil, was also arrested shortly after he reported on the situation from St. Claire's Church in the Delmas district.
Heavily armed and masked SWAT members of The Police Nationale d'Haiti (PNH) had arrived at Rev. Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste's church to serve a search warrant Friday with a juge d'instruction and juge de paix. The PNH were ostensibly "searching for weapons" at the church where 600 - 800 children are fed. Many children were present when the SWAT police began destroying the rector. Kevin Pina began questioning the government officials as to why they were destroying the church property and was arrested. "You're nothing but a troublemaker! Your friends in California are always causing us trouble ..." claimed the officials as they put Pina under arrest. Reporter Jean Ristil was present during this and was reporting the scene to Marguerite Laurent when he said that he couldn't talk anymore and was also arrested.
Pina and Restil are being held in a small cell with approximately 7 other men. Pina was able to give the following description of events:
"We went to cover the PNH search of Fr. Jean-Juste's church for guns. The police were clearly initmidating the boys in the presbytery. I scaled a wall to enter the compound, but a policeman outside said nothing to stop me from doing so, and I would have stopped had he done so. I also have an open invitation from both Fr. Jean-Juste and the priest who has been conducting the feeding program while Jean-Juste is in prison to come to the church as I please.
"When both Jean and I had scaled the wall the judge of instruction supervising the police operation began screaming at me, saying that I was a foreign terrorist and with Lavalas. He told the police to take my camera, which I would not let them do. I told them that before they did anything else I wanted to see a representative of my embassy. They then handcuffed me and put me in the back of a police car. Now the judge claimed I hit him. I have been covering Haiti since 1989 and I have never raised my hands to anyone in authority, and would never do so."
Read More | Demand Release of Kevin Pina and Jean Ristil | HaitiAction.net | Flashpoints Audio (1.4 mebibytes Mp3) | Flashpoints