Toronto Haiti Action Committee

Solidarity. Not Charity. Never Occupation

Toronto Haiti Action Committee - Solidarity. Not Charity. Never Occupation

In the News: Lavalas Masses Rise up Against Aristide’s Political Persecution

by Isabelle Papillon. Originally posted at Haïti Liberté

When Lucmane Délille, Port-au-Prince’s district attorney, summoned former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to appear before him on Wednesday, Jan. 9 to answer patently frivolous complaints, it caused a great awakening of the Lavalas masses, alarming those in Haiti and abroad who thought it was time to behead Aristide’s party, the Lavalas Family.

Indeed, tensions ran high that day when thousands of Aristide’s supporters massed outside the courthouse where Aristide was summoned to appear before Délille at 10 a.m.. Similar outpourings took place in Haiti’s major cities like Cap Haïtien, Gonaïves, and Jérémie. However, when the prosecutor saw the crowds, he decided, at the urging of Aristide’s lawyers, to go meet with the former head of state at his home in Tabarre, on the northern outskirts of the capital.

When the crowd heard that news, the thousand of demonstrators marched, jogged, and ran from the courthouse to Aristide’s home, about four miles away.

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In the News: International Delegation Challenges UN Officials on Renewal of Haiti Occupation

UN Official Suggests that Troops May Stay Until 2015

by Kim Ives, published in Haiti Liberte, Oct 17, 2012

On October 12, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to renew for one more year the foreign military occupation of Haiti known as the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti, or MINUSTAH, which has been deployed in Haiti since June 1, 2004.

However, the Haitian people, and increasingly people throughout Latin America, are calling for UN troops to immediately leave Haiti and respect Haiti’s sovereignty and right to self-determination. This was the message of an international delegation led by Haitian Senator Moïse Jean-Charles which met for almost two hours with high-ranking UN officials on Oct. 11, the day before the vote.

The 10-member delegation, composed of unionists, activists, and journalists, met with William Gardner, the Senior Political Affairs Officer of UN Department of Peace-Keeping Operations’ Europe and Latin America Division, and three of his Political Affairs Officers, Patrick Hein, Ekaterina Pischalnikova, and Nedialko Kostov.

Sen. Moïse’s delegation included Julio Turra, National Executive Director of the United Trade Union Central of Workers of Brazil (CUT); Pablo Micheli, General Secretary of the Confederation of Workers of Argentina (CTA); Fignolé St. Cyr, General Secretary of the Autonomous Confederation of Haitian Workers (CATH); Jocelyn Lapitre, a leader with the Front against Profit (LKP) in Guadeloupe; Colia Clark of the Guadeloupe-Haiti Campaign Committee; Alan Benjamin of the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples (ILC); Robert Garoute, of the Progressive Movement for Haiti’s Development (MPDH); Geffrard Jude Joseph, the director of Radio Panou; and Kim Ives, a journalist with Haiti Liberté newspaper.

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In the News: Police kill unarmed peasants in another controversial eviction

by Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté

Haitian police have killed four people and destroyed seven homes in an attempt to clear peasants from a remote mountain-top park where they have lived and farmed for the past 70 years. The bloody confrontation, which occurred (July 23, 2012) exactly 25 years to the day after an infamous 1987 peasant massacre near the northwestern town of Jean-Rabel, has incensed the Southeast Department’s population and redoubled charges that the President Michel Martelly’s government is resurrecting the repressive tactics of the Duvalierist and neo-Duvalierist dictatorships which ruled and scarred Haiti over two decades ago.

The incident was first reported and photographed by Claudy Bélizaire of the Jacmel-based Reference Institute for Journalism and Communication (RIJN). His photographs of bloody corpses and burned houses in Galette Seche/Seguin, a remote locality near the peaks of some of Haiti’s highest mountains, have gone viral on the Internet, Twitter and Facebook. Meanwhile, the mainstream media has largely ignored the story to date.

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In the News: Brazil delegation meets with Defense Minister, demands withdrawal of UN Troops from Haiti

by Kim Ives, published in Haiti Liberte (print weekly), July 25, 2012

On July 10, a delegation of parliamentarians, unionists and Haiti solidarity activists met with Brazil’s Defense Minister Celso Amorim at the Defense Ministry in Brasilia and grilled him about the continuing UN military occupation of Haiti.

Brazilian generals head the military component of the 9,000-member force known as the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) and Brazilian troops predominate.

Markus Sokol, a member of the national directorate of Brazil’s ruling Workers Party (PT), told Amorim that over 600 people, with representatives from seven countries, had gathered in São Paulo last November for a congress which launched a “Continental Day of Action” against the UN occupation of Haiti on June 1, 2012, the date of the eighth anniversary of MINUSTAH. There were anti-occupation actions in ten countries (including 20 Brazilian cities) on that date.

“What are we doing in Haiti?” Sokol asked Amorim. “Former [Defense] minister [Nelson Jobim] said that we were training to scale the hills of Rio; that can’t be!

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In the News: The legality or not of President Martelly’s proposed constitutional changes

Interview with lawyers Mario Joseph and Brian Concannon: How President Martelly’s proposed constitutional changes are illegal

Interview by Kim Ives and Roger Leduc, published in Haiti Liberte, June 14, 2012

Haitian President Joseph Michel Martelly recently announced his intention to publish amendments to Haiti’s 1987 Constitution during the month of June. Once published in the government’s official journal Le Moniteur, laws are supposed to go into effect. But according to Haiti’s existing 1987 Constitution, amendments made during one administration are not supposed to take effect until the following administration.

Martelly’s plan to publish the amendments, which were partially and faultily drafted under Haiti’s last president, René Préval (2006-2011), has provoked a storm of protest among constitutional scholars, lawyers, politicians, and activists who charge that it would be patently illegal. But the U.S. and its allies continue to push Martelly to publish the amendments despite widespread and vehement objections.

On June 7, Kim Ives and Roger Leduc interviewed Mario Joseph, the lead lawyer of the Office of International Lawyers (BAI) based in Port-au-Prince, and lawyer Brian Concannon of the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) on the radio program “Haiti: The Struggle Continues,” broadcast every Thursday from 9 to 10 p.m. on the Pacifica Network’s WBAI-FM in New York (streamed live and archived on www.wbai.org). What follows is an edited version of that interview. Mario Joseph’s responses in Kreyòl have been translated into English.

Kim Ives: Brian, can you briefly explain what are the key amendments to the Constitution that have been drafted, and what has gone wrong with their publication?

Brian Concannon: One overarching theme which is often lost in this discussion is the whole idea of why you have a constitution. Constitutions are by design hard to amend because they are supposed to set down your bedrock principles that can’t be changed quickly or easily. Constitutions are hard to change, you have to do it with a two-thirds vote, and, in almost all constitutions, you need to do it through some specialized procedure. The basic problem here is that the Haitian Constitution’s drafters made amendments a fairly easy procedure.

The way you’re supposed to do it is this. An outgoing legislature in its last session votes a law, and then the next legislature – which comes in with the next president – votes on the same law, up or down, just after an election, after the people have had an opportunity to have some say. The people get their input by having the elections.

What happened was this: in October 2009, the outgoing legislature voted a law, and then in 2011, a new legislature changed it, making a very different law. The hard part is that nobody really knows what that law is. The legislature claims that it has one version; former President Préval claims that he has another version. There’s lots of problems with both versions, and nobody really knows what’s in both.

A lot of people like some of the proposed changes, like those which allow double nationality and set a goal of 30% participation of women in government. But some of the changes might affect the fundamental democratic structure of the country. For example, the new law allows the president to name local officials instead of having them be elected; it changes the terms of senators and deputies in ways that might suggest the changes should not be made in the haphazard way they’ve been done.

Read the rest at the CHAN website.