Recent Feature Articles

By Dady Chery, News Junkie Post, April 4, 2017

Haiti’s incarceration rate of roughly 100 prisoners per 100,000 citizens in 2016 was the lowest in the Caribbean. Nevertheless, there is a systematic campaign underway for more prisons. Canada and Norway have each given one prison to Haiti. Thanks to prison aid from the United States, three additional prisons have been inaugurated since 2016, and another is under construction.

In the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Cuba, the incarceration rates per 100,000 people in 2016 were 232, 350, 145, and 510, respectively. These numbers alone do not tell the whole story, because the large majority of Haiti’s prison population are pre-trial detainees, many of whom are members of Aristide’s administration, resisters against government abuses like land expropriation, or political protestors who have not been charged with a crime. If Haiti were to release them, the incarceration rate would drop to about 30 per 100,000, which is lower than in Norway, Sweden, or Japan. Furthermore, if we consider the fact that another group of incarcerated people are Haitian nationals who have lived as legal residents of the United States or Canada nearly all of their lives and committed crimes abroad, then the real incarceration rate of Haitians drops to one of the lowest in the world.

The United Nations, which has militarily occupied Haiti since 2004 with its so-called peacekeeping mission, often credits itself with the country’s low incarceration rate. This is disingenuous, however, since the UN has amply…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, April 1, 2017

On Mar. 29, 2017, the 30th anniversary of the popular referendum which adopted the 1987 Haitian Constitution, about 200 demonstrators rallied and marched from Port-au-Prince’s Champ de Mars to the Parliament to demand the immediate withdrawal of the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), reparations for the victims of MINUSTAH-imported cholera, and respect for the Constitution’s nationalist articles.

Some 3,200 soldiers and police officers are MINUSTAH’s armed component, whose mandate expires Apr. 15. Almost 13 years after MINUSTAH’s deployment in June 2004, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a Mar. 16 report. proposed to the UN Security Council a final six-month mandate with “a staggered but complete withdrawal” of those forces by Oct. 15. However, in reality, the withdrawal would not be complete.

Guterres proposed that a new mission of 295 UN policemen remain in Haiti to oversee elections and ensure “political stability” and “good governance.”

Wednesday’s demonstrators did not agree. They pointed to the Constitution’s Article 263-1 which stipulates that, apart from the Haitian Army and Police: “No other armed corps may exist in the national territory.”

There were two rallies in the Champs de Mars, one sponsored by the Dessalinien Visionary Movement (MOVID) at the Place of the Constitution, and a second organized by the International Lawyers Bureau (BAI) and the Movement of Liberty and Equality of Haitians for Fraternity (MOLEGHAF) at the Place of Dessalines. Militants of the Democratic Popular Movement (MODEP), GAD, and RHEDD also participated.

The two demonstrations joined together for a spirited march through the…

By Jonathan M. Katz, Slate.com, March 31, 2017

Halfway through her confirmation hearing in January, the nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, found herself navigating a river of human waste in Haiti.

Some suspected the then–president-elect had picked the South Carolina governor, who had no foreign policy experience, in order to exile a potential rival to an institution he’s derided as “a waste of time and money.” But for two and a half hours, as senators probed her on places like North Korea, Ukraine, and Israel, the nominee held her own, shoring up talking points with governor’s office banter.

 

That’s when Sen. Ed Markey, the junior Democrat from Massachusetts, asked about a crisis that threatens nothing less than the legitimacy of the United Nations itself. The crisis is the cholera epidemic in Haiti, a still-unfolding catastrophe that all available evidence shows began when U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal infected the country’s most important river system in October 2010. Yet still, after more than 10,000 people have died and incalculable damage has been done…

By Michael Sainato, The Observer, March 31, 2017

In October 2010, United Nations Peacekeepers from Nepal infected Haiti’s most significant river system with cholera, inciting the first cholera outbreak in the country in over a century. So far, the epidemic has taken over 10,000 lives, and some estimate that the disease has infected up to 800,000 people. Those who caused the outbreak—and covered it up—have not assumed assumed responsibility, including the United Nations and several government agencies under the Obama administration, such as Hillary Clinton’s State Department

Slate’s Jonathan Katz reports, “Nepal hadn’t invaded Haiti on its own: Its troops were part of a multinational force created by the Security Council, specifically at the behest of the George W. Bush administration in 2004. For the 13 years since, it has remained in Haiti largely to carry out U.S. policy—at a discount.”

President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, ducked questions about the outbreak in her confirmation hearing, as did Obama’s UN ambassadors during his presidency. The United Nations formally …

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, March 29, 2017

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet visited Haiti this week ostensibly to discuss with Haitian President Jovenel Moïse the future of United Nations troops in Haiti. Since the deployment of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) in June 2004, over 12,000 Chilean troops have been deployed in Haiti, Bachelet said. Today, Chile has 392 soldiers and 41 police in Haiti, the second largest contingent after Brazil’s 981 soldiers.

On Apr. 15, the UN Security Council is likely to renew MINUSTAH’s mandate for a final six-month period, as recommended by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a Mar. 16 report. Guterres proposed to the Council “a staggered but complete withdrawal” of the 2,370 UN soldiers remaining in Haiti to be replaced by a new mission of 295 UN police officers which would “support political stability, [and] good governance, including electoral oversight and reform.” There are now about 844 UN police officers in Haiti, bringing the current MINUSTAH armed force to over 3,200.

In short, after MINUSTAH’s Oct. 15 end, a reduced, renamed mission would remain, on behalf of the U.S., Canada, and France primarily, to “monitor and exercise an early warning function” against any anti-imperialist political developments in Haiti (of course, Guterres used the euphemism “for conflict prevention, human rights and rule of law issues”).

However, the day after Bachelet met with Moïse on Mar. 27, the Organization of American States (OAS) convened an extraordinary session at its Washington, DC headquarters on whether to sanction Venezuela for what OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro says is Venezuela’s “violation of every article in…

By Jay Weaver & Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, March 24, 2017

A Miami federal judge has rejected a motion to throw out a drug-trafficking indictment against Guy Philippe, a prominent public figure in Haiti who was arrested on the island by U.S. agents on Jan. 5, just days before he was going to be sworn in as a senator.

U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga faulted federal authorities for not making a consistent effort to arrest Philippe since his indictment in late 2005, but found prosecutors did not violate his constitutional right to a speedy trial because he had “reneged” on a promise to turn himself in.

The judge also found that Philippe, 49, did not have immunity against prosecution as an elected public official in Haiti because he had not been sworn in before his arrest.

This week, Altonaga delayed Philippe’s federal trial for one month until May 1, requiring him and his defense lawyers to let her know whether he plans to change his plea to guilty by April 17. The trial was delayed because prosecutors recently uncovered FBI tapes from 20 years ago on which the defendant’s voice was recorded.

Before his election as a Haitian senator, Philippe was best known as a national police commander who had led a rebellion to oust former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. The following year, the one-time police official was charged under a sealed indictment in Miami with conspiring to import Colombian cocaine via Haiti into the United States and laundering kickback payments from traffickers.

In her ruling, the judge found that while under indictment, Philippe “had direct…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, March 22, 2017

On Mar. 20, Haitian police fired on partisans accompanying the vehicle of former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, after he had responded to the summons of an investigating judge in a money-laundering case against one of his former security chiefs.

Several hundred supporters were escorting the three vehicles returning Aristide, accompanied by his party’s former presidential candidate Maryse Narcisse, back to his home in Tabarre, just outside of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

At the bottom of Avenue John Brown (known as Lalue), rocks began to fly, many in the direction of a unit of the Haitian National Police’s Motorized Intervention Brigade (BIM), which was observing the march from a distance. There are conflicting reports as to whether Aristide’s partisans initiated or were responding to stone-throwing.

The police began firing many rounds at the demonstrators, also hitting the SUV carrying Aristide.

"The motorcade came under fire, and this is tantamount to an assassination attempt," said Mario Joseph, one of Aristide’s lawyers.

A police bullet passed through the arm of one of Aristide’s partisans, Jackson Noel, who was later treated and filmed at a hospital. A second unidentified person was also reported wounded.

Aristide, 63, was unharmed.

The former president had testified for more than two hours before Judge Jean Wilner Morin as part of an investigation into money-laundering charges against Jean Anthony Nazaire, who used to act as Aristide’s security chief.

Deputy Police Commissioner Jean Alix Pierre-Louis claims the BIM policemen acted in self-defense and that Aristide’s partisans also fired guns. There was "a lot of shooting from different directions," he said.

A widely diffused video of the confrontation, however, clearly…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, March 22, 2017

For eleven years, the U.S. attempted all manner of ruses, persuasion, negotiations, and ambushes in an attempt to capture paramilitary leader Guy Philippe after a Miami grand jury issued a November 2005 indictment against him for drug trafficking and money laundering. But it was all unsuccessful until he left the rural, seaside Haitian town where he was holed up and ventured into the capital.

Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg enumerated the efforts of Haitian and U.S. authorities to apprehend Philippe, 49, in a Mar. 10 response to his lawyer’s motions to dismiss the charges against him because too much time had elapsed between the indictment and his Jan. 5, 2017 arrest by Haitian police. Philippe, through his attorney Zeljka Bozanic, also claimed he was unaware that he was being pursued, a contention the U.S. calls “patently false.”

Greenberg also refuted Philippe’s assertion that he enjoys parliamentary immunity and that he was mistreated after his arrest.

Interestingly, however, Greenberg did not contest Philippe’s claim that in April 2006 he visited the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, where they made no effort to arrest him. Furthermore, the U.S. State Department has not responded to Haïti Liberté’s inquiries about the veracity of Philippe’s claim.

In early 2006, the U.S. gave Philippe “a travel authorization letter” to “lure [him] to the United States,” but “that travel did not occur,” Greenberg wrote. It is not clear how the letter was given to Philippe or if it was delivered to him at the U.S. Embassy.

Greenberg also outlined a “highly publicized” July 2007 raid on Pestel “involving multiple helicopters,” followed by another on Mar. 28, 2008. Authorities then laid siege to the area for about a week, setting up “checkpoints” and…

By Jake Johnston, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), March 22, 2017

The following is the introduction to an investigative report conducted by independent researcher Mark Snyder entitled "Sexual Exploitation and Abuse at the Hands of the United Nation's Stabilization Mission in Haiti." The full report is available here

Investigative Overview

A preliminary independent investigation conducted in areas close to existing or abandoned bases for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) brings to light the alarming magnitude of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) at the hands of United Nations personnel in Haiti. The purpose of this investigation is to determine if the initial unreported cases brought to the attention of the author were isolated incidents or are instead a result of a systemic problem present in the UN's mission in Haiti. In consultation with Haitian civil society partners, the following report considers that a further, in-depth investigation into these abuses is vital and urgent.

The results of our investigation strongly suggest that the issue of SEA by United Nations personnel in Haiti is substantial and has been grossly underreported. Using the same methodology in all areas where MINUSTAH bases are or have been located[i], a thorough and in-depth investigation would be expected to identify close to 600 victims who would agree to in-person interviews. This number in itself indicates a victim count that requires immediate attention and significant modifications to current MINUSTAH peacekeeping…

By TeleSUR, March 21, 2017

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide survived an apparent assassination attempt Monday when gunmen opened fire on his motorcade, injuring two passersby.

Aristide was leaving a courthouse in Port-au-Prince, providing testimony for a money laundering case against Jean Anthony Nazaire, former commissary of the Haitian national police, when bullets flew toward his car.

Ira Kurzban, a Miami attorney who represents Aristide, told NBC News that "at least two people standing in front of the car were hit and there (was) blood on the right front bumper and headlight of the vehicle."

"Thank God no one was killed and at least one of the shooting victims was taken to the university medical center that President Aristide was instrumental in founding," Kurzban told the outlet.

Protests in support of the still-popular former president broke out soon after. Aristide is regarded as heroic by many in the country for working his way to the top post as the country's first democratically elected president after growing up in poverty. An adherent of liberation theology, the former Catholic priest played an instrumental role in expelling dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986, whose family ruled the country for almost 30 years.

Elected twice as president, Aristide was forced to flee the country both times, the first time in 1991 to Venezuela, and then later to the United States after a military coup against him. He was returned to office in 1994 with the help of pressure from the U.S. Then, in 2004, the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush backed a coup against him and he was flown out of the country – a move Aristide described as a kidnapping, when he had to spend his first months in exile in Jamaica before relocating to South Africa.

Aristide…