Recent Feature Articles

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…

By New York Times Editorial Board, New York Times, March 21, 2017

Today’s lesson in evading moral responsibility comes to us from the United Nations. The organization says it is terribly concerned about the cholera epidemic in Haiti and wishes to eliminate it. But it has not figured out when and how this is going to happen, and with what money.

The “who” and “why” are well known. The United Nations has the duty to end the cholera crisis because the United Nations caused it. The disease was unknown in modern Haiti until peacekeepers, from Nepal, introduced it. They let their raw sewage flow into a river that people use for drinking water. That was in 2010. Cholera has since killed more than 9,000 Haitians and sickened 800,000 others.

The United Nations has spent nearly all that time trying to avoid blame. Only last December did it apologize and promise to make things right. The secretary-general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, promised strenuous efforts, called the “New Approach,” to eradicate…

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, March 17, 2017

It’s time for the United Nations’ 2,300 blue-helmet soldiers in Haiti to head home after 13 years, the head of the world body recommended in a report to the U.N. Security Council this week.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that the peacekeeping operation in Haiti should close by Oct. 15. Guterres made the recommendation in a 37-page U.N. report obtained by the Miami Herald.

“The military component should undergo a staggered but complete withdrawal of the 2,370 personnel,” Guterres said of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, which is more commonly known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH.

Guterres’ recommendation comes as President Donald Trump seeks to significantly cut the United States’ U.N. contribution with a particular focus on reductions in peacekeeping, environment and development. At the same time, the Trump administration is proposing to slash funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Haiti’s biggest donor.

As part of the phasing out of MINUSTAH after more than a decade in Haiti, Guterres is recommending that the $346 million mission “be extended for a final period of six months” after its current mandate expires on April 15. The U.N. Security Council is expected to debate Guterres’ recommendations — including the future role of the United Nations in Haiti — on April 11.

While Security Council members all agree on the draw-down, there is disagreement on the future of the U.N.’s presence in Haiti. Guterres is recommending that a smaller mission replace MINUSTAH to focus on police development and the country’s dysfunctional judiciary.

The move had been expected since last month, when U.N. Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous visited Haiti and …

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, March 15, 2017

“What goes around, comes around,” says the proverb, and former Haitian “rebel” leader Guy Philippe must be pondering this karmic truth as he languishes in his Miami, FL jail cell.

In February 2004, he played a key role in helping U.S. Special Forces kidnap then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from Haiti and whisk him off to a seven year exile in Africa. Today, Philippe claims, through his lawyer, that U.S. government agents illegally kidnapped him from Haiti on Jan. 5, 2017 and, with “shocking and outrageous” conduct, flew him to Florida to stand trial because he has “too much information” about Washington’s overthrow of Aristide.

In November 2005 (21 months after the coup against Aristide), a U.S. grand jury issued a three count indictment against Philippe for drug trafficking and money laundering between 1997 and 2001. After his arrest in Haiti and transport to Miami, Philippe pled not guilty to the charges through his Hollywood, FL-based lawyer, Zeljka Bozanic. On Feb. 28, 2017, she  filed with U.S. District Court in Miami two motions to dismiss and one motion to abate (temporarily suspend) the case against Philippe.

One motion to dismiss argues that the U.S. took too long to arrest Philippe, 49, since the 2005 indictment. “[T]here was and has been no activity whatsoever and no effort by the United States to bring Mr. Philippe to trial until the Defendant’s kidnapping on Jan. 5, 2017,” Bozanic argues.                                                                                                          

Whether through ignorance or dishonesty, this assertion is patently untrue, since agents of Haiti’s Anti-Drug Trafficking Brigade (BLTS) and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made at least two highly-publicized joint…