Recent Feature Articles

By Makini Bryce, Reuters, June 1, 2017

For Roseleine Duperval, the United Nations mission to stabilize Haiti will always remind her of one thing - her 8-year-old daughter, who she says was fathered by a Uruguayan peacekeeper.

Duperval is among a group of Haitian women who embarked on a long and largely fruitless journey to try to force peacekeepers who they say fathered their children to contribute to their upbringing. While some have succeeded with their paternity claims, barely any have secured any form of child support.

"Since I became pregnant, he never sent money," said Duperval, who still has identity documents she says her daughter Sasha Francesca's father left behind, apparently because he wanted to be legally recognized as the father. "I have to call friends all the time to help me support my (child)."

The paternity and child support issue is another awkward legacy of the 13-year U.N. mission, known as MINUSTAH, which is winding up in October after being sent in to stabilize a country riven by political turmoil. The mission introduced a cholera epidemic that killed about 10,000 people and has also been dogged by accusations of sexual assault.

Paternity cases in recent years have confirmed seven children in Haiti as having had U.N. peacekeepers as their fathers, according to figures released on the peacekeeping body's conduct and discipline website. More than two dozen Haitian women are still pursuing paternity claims, second only to Democratic Republic of Congo in the number of claims against a U.N. mission worldwide since 2010, according to U.N. data.

The cases also highlight a lack of accountability, critics say, since many of the women's paternity claims are never confirmed either way. Even when paternity is proven, the process rarely delivers any financial support for mothers.

Under the United Nations' "zero-…

By Lucas Koerner, venezuelanalysis.com, May 29, 2017

Three people were killed in Venezuela over the weekend as anti-government demonstrations continued for a third straight month. 

On Friday, Manuel Sosa (33) was reportedly shot in the neck during clashes between protesters and National Guard personnel in the Lara municipality of Cabudare. Sosa’s mother has blamed the death on state security forces. 

Venezuela’s Public Prosecution (MP) has dispatched a state district attorney to investigate the homicide.

The episode gave rise to fresh violence on Saturday. During Sosa’s funeral in Cabudare, a retired National Guard lieutenant was brutally beaten and shot dead by a group of other attendees who allegedly accused him of being an “infiltrator”. 

According to the MP, Lt. Danny José Subero (34) was present at the event with his motorcycle “when he was approached by a group of people who beat him with blunt objects in different parts of his body and shot him various times”. His motorcycle and his other belongings were subsequently burnt “in their entirety”. The MP has commissioned a state prosecutor to investigate the case.

The killing sparked condemnation from National Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, who called the murder a “hate crime” and urged “exemplary punishment against the criminal lynchers”.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro confirmed Sunday those responsible for the murder had been identified and would soon be brought to justice. He also took the opportunity to hit out at Organization of American States (OAS) General Secretary Luis Almagro, who has yet to issue a statement on the homicide. 

“Where is the voice of the OAS when crimes like this are committed?” the president asked.

On Saturday, Almagro published a …

By David McFadden, Associated Press, May 24, 2017

Factories making T-shirts, pants and other apparel in an industrial park in Haiti's capital were closed on Monday, three days since thousands of garment workers took to the streets demanding pay increases.

Industrialists and government officials met in the Port-au-Prince park, where a police presence was heavy and the dozen assembly factories were empty. Roughly 18,000 workers are employed in the factories.

Garment workers say their wages are not enough to support their families amid a depreciating currency and a rising cost of living. A Friday protest which first shuttered the factories occurred days after a significant increase in the price of gasoline.

Workers are demanding 800 Haitian gourdes per eight-hour work day. Based on current exchange rates, that's roughly $12.47 per day. They now earn 300 gourdes, or $4.67. "It's gotten to the point where I can't take care of my son. I don't see any future like this," said Esperancia Mernavil, a garment worker who belongs to the Gosttra union.

Social Affairs and Work Minister Roosevelt Bellevue said Monday that the government will sit down with all sides but "we can't put up the minimum salary that much." "We have to be competitive with other places," said Bellevue, who expected the factories to reopen Tuesday.

Georges Sassine, president of a prominent industrial association, said he doubted that the protest was actually over pay, which he acknowledged has been far from adequate for some time due to currency devaluations and the absence of suitable social services.

He noted that there were no negotiations prior to the Friday protest, which he asserted was sparked by a group of violent demonstrators who stormed into the factories and rounded up workers.

Sassine said the result from the factory closures is…

By Lisa Nikolau, Humanosphere.org, May 23, 2017

Health experts say the international community has turned a blind eye to widespread food insecurity in Haiti, where communities across nearly every region of the island are approaching risk of famine.

In March, a report from the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that of the 2.1 million Haitians affected by the hurricane last October, 1.4 million still don’t have enough food or safe drinking water.

More recently, statistics from the European Commission indicated that eight out of Haiti’s 10 departments have reached “crisis” levels of food insecurity. The EU institution said that three of those regions would likely be in a state of emergency or famine had they not received humanitarian assistance.

According to health experts from the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, one of several in-country actors locating and treating people suffering from malnutrition, the food insecurity crisis has received little attention from international policymakers and organizations.

“I wonder if it’s the fact that Haiti has experienced natural disasters before, and therefore this one isn’t getting the attention it deserves,” St. Boniface Haiti Foundation President and CEO Conor Shapiro told …

By Jeb Sprague, Haiti Liberté, May 10, 2017

Subtitle: Selections from “Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti” - Part 2 of 3

Last week, we learned how a cabal of Haitian police chiefs, who had been trained in Ecuador (therefore known as the “Ecuadorians”), attempted to organize a preemptive coup in October 2000 to prevent former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s reelection in November 2000 and return to power in February 2001

Their plot discovered by Haitian authorities, the police chiefs fled to the Dominican Republic, where they began to set up the Front pour la Libération et la Reconstruction Nationale (FLRN), of which Guy Philippe became the leader. It’s goal was to remove Aristide from office through a coup.

This week, we learn how Philippe connected with FRAPH death squad leader Louis Jodel Chamblain and former Haitian soldier Remissainthe Ravix to build the force, all with the connivance of Dominican authorities.

- Kim Ives, Haïti Liberté

 

Dominican-Republic shelters conspirators

The Oct. 23, 2000, edition of the Dominican daily Listín Diario reported that the Haitian police chiefs “crossed the border with the assistance of members of the Dominican Armed Forces in Dajabón and Monte Cristi.” (35) In Dajabón, which was home to thousands of Haitian migrant workers, few were likely happy to see Philippe and his fellow military men, especially as paramilitaries had often been used to attack striking workers, or to intimidate and assassinate trade unionists. Late at night, local workers encircled the hotel that the ex-military men were staying in; some were intent on lynching the men inside.

In response to the furor, Dominican soldiers intervened and evacuated Dragon, Philippe, and the others by helicopter to Santo Domingo, where the Dominican military held them in protective…

By: Roger Leduc & Kim Ives interview Jeb Sprague, May 1, 2017

On the May 1, 2017 edition of WBAI-FM’s “Lanbi Call,” Jeb Sprague, author of “Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti,” talks about paramilitary leader Guy Philippe, who pleaded guilty on April 24, 2017 in Miami to money laundering in connection with drug trafficking. Philippe’s real crime, however, is the murder of Haitian democracy and of hundreds of Haitians in the 2004 coup d’état against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Jeb Sprague lays out about this bloody paramilitary legacy. With Kim Ives and Roger Leduc, “Lanbi Call” co-hosts.

continue to listen to the interview

 

Posted May 2, 2017

By Darlene Dubuisson & Mark Schuller, Huffpost, April 25, 2017

“With TPS, it’s like you live under fear,” thirtysomething aspiring nurse Michaëlle explained. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. I live with stress because of that.” Michaëlle’s situation just got worse on April 20, when Trump’s immigration agency recommended an end to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 50,000 Haitian people living in the U.S.

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, President Obama granted temporary relief status to undocumented Haitians who had arrived in the U.S. before 2011. Given the slow pace of recovery efforts and subsequent disasters – notably the cholera epidemic that has killed over 10,000 and counting, and Hurricane Matthew that hit Haiti last October – TPS has been extended several times. The latest TPS is set to expire on July 22, 2017.

In essence, the Trump administration’s policy would amount to kicking out 50,000 people who have, despite their fear, put their faith in the U.S. government to legalize, like fifty something child care provider Wideline. She recalls that “[We were told to] tell all fellow Haitians they don’t need to…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, April 24, 2017

Former Haitian paramilitary leader and Senator-elect Guy Philippe sealed a plea bargain today with the U.S. Attorney’s office to get a lighter sentence in return for pleading guilty to just one count of money laundering.

In return, the U.S. government dropped its other two charges of “Conspiracy to Import Cocaine into the United States,” which carries a sentence of 30 years to life in prison, and “Engaging in Transactions Derived from Unlawful Activity,” which carries a 10 year sentence.

The charge to which Philippe, 49, pleaded guilty – “Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments” – carries a 20 year maximum sentence, but as part of the deal, prosecutors recommended Philippe be sentenced to only nine years. Judge Cecilia Altonaga will set Philippe’s sentence in Miami on Jul. 5, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.. As in most plea deals, she will likely follow the U.S. Attorney’s recommendation.

Parole cannot be granted in federal cases, but the government can give Philippe a 15% reduction in his prison term for “good conduct,” meaning he could be out in seven and a half years or 2024.                                                                                                                     

The hearing to change Philippe’s Jan. 13 plea of “not guilty” took place in Miami on Mon., Apr. 24 at 2:30 p.m. and took all of 21 minutes. In addition to the defendant, in attendance were lawyers Mark A. Irish, Lynn M. Kirkpatrick, and Andy Camacho for the U.S. Attorney’s office, and Alan Shelley Ross and Zeljka Bozanic representing Philippe.

“We were contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s office quite recently, proposing a plea bargain,” said Ross. “We were prepared to go to trial, but if you go to trial and you…

By: Sputnik News interviews Camille Chalmers, April 19, 2017

The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) can be described as 13 years of suffering and violations of fundamental human rights, Haitian political analyst Camille Chalmers told Sputnik Brazil.

In an interview with Sputnik Brazil, Haitian political analyst Camille Chalmers commented on the upcoming completion of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which she bitterly described as 13 years of suffering and the violation of fundamental human rights.

Last week, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to wrap up its 13-year-long peacekeeping mission in Haiti by October 15 and replace it with a smaller police-only force. Led by Brazil, the mission was launched in 2004 when a rebellion led to the ouster and exile of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

"These were 13 years of pain, suffering and occupation which failed to reach its stated goals… Also, these were 13 years of fundamental human rights abuse in Haiti. The most important thing is that the UN admitted its guilt for the damage done and started the reconstruction process in order to pay its debts to the Haitians," Camille Chalmers said.

"This is why we welcome this [UN's] decision," he added, stressing the necessity of overcoming the negative impact of the UN mission now that a full review of relations with Haiti has begun.

Chalmers slammed MINUSTAH as "a constant interference" in Haiti's recent elections, during which "attempts were made to take control of the election campaign and its results as well as influence the appointment of authorities."

 

According to him, "the Haitians went through it with great disappointment, anger and irritation," something that he said was reflected in the "very…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, April 24, 2017

Former Haitian paramilitary leader and Senator-elect Guy Philippe sealed a plea bargain today with the U.S. Attorney’s office to get a lighter sentence in return for pleading guilty to just one count of money laundering.

In return, the U.S. government dropped its other two charges of “Conspiracy to Import Cocaine into the United States,” which carries a sentence of 30 years to life in prison, and “Engaging in Transactions Derived from Unlawful Activity,” which carries a 10 year sentence.

The charge to which Philippe, 49, pleaded guilty – “Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments” – carries a 20 year maximum sentence, but as part of the deal, prosecutors recommended Philippe be sentenced to only nine years.

Judge Cecilia Altonaga will set Philippe’s sentence in Miami on Jul. 5, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.. As in most plea deals, she will likely follow the U.S. Attorney’s recommendation.

Parole cannot be granted in federal cases, but the government can give Philippe a 15% reduction in his prison term for “good conduct,” meaning he could be out in seven and a half years or 2024.

The hearing to change Philippe’s Jan. 13 plea of “not guilty” took place in Miami on Mon., Apr. 24 at 2:30 p.m. and took all of 21 minutes. In addition to the defendant, in attendance were lawyers Mark A. Irish, Lynn M. Kirkpatrick, and Andy Camacho for the U.S. Attorney’s office, and Alan Shelley Ross and Zeljka Bozanic representing Philippe.

“We were contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s office quite recently, proposing a plea bargain,” said Ross. “We were prepared to go to trial, but if you go to trial and you lose, you get whacked.”

Judge Cecilia Altonaga will set Philippe’s sentence in Miami on Jul. 5, 2017…