by Marie Laurette Numa and Kim Ives. Originally posted at Haiti Liberté
Since the Feb. 6 agreement reached between outgoing President Joseph Michel Martelly and the presidents of the Parliament, Jocelerme Privert (Senate) and Cholzer Chancy (Chamber of Deputies), there was no doubt that the interim president would be Jocelerme Privert.
Both the 1987 Constitution and the “Group of Eight” (G8) opposition presidential candidates called for a judge of the Supreme Court (Court de Cassation) to fill the presidential vacuum. So the Organization of American States (OAS) – Washington’s “Ministry of Colonial Affairs” – in league with the outgoing Martelly clique and Haiti’s ruling class, had to find a formula with a veneer of legality and compromise. Moreover, they needed an interim president who could act as a fireman to pacify Haiti’s streets while at the same time neutralizing Haiti’s formal and informal opposition groups, particularly the G8.
Since Feb. 7, when Martelly handed the presidential sash to Privert (then President of the National Assembly), the theatre in the halls of power is just to blunt and bluff the revolutionary upsurge that has been boiling across Haiti and assure a smooth transfer of from one neo-colonial regime to another. The majority of parliamentarians came to their seats through the same violent, fraudulent elections of Aug. 9 and Oct. 25, 2015 that have sent the masses into the streets demanding their annulment. So the supposedly democratic “debate” in this rump Parliament is only to fool the naive, silence the recalcitrant, and open the door to haggling for ever-coveted ministerial posts.
What drama they were able to generate with a very tight first vote in the Parliament! In the Senate, Privert got 13 votes and Edgar Leblanc Fils, of the Struggling People’s Organization (OPL), 10. Among the Deputies, Privert got 45 votes and Leblanc got 46. There was one blank ballot and not one vote for Déjean Bélizaire, a former Senate president in 1991 before the coup d’état against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Thirty years to the day after Haiti’s last dictator fled the impoverished nation as it took its first wobbly steps toward democracy, another leader stepped down Sunday, without a successor to take his place.
The president, Michel Martelly, left office amid an electoral crisis that underscored how Haiti has struggled to maintain democratic order since the 1986 ouster of Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Mr. Martelly departed at the end of his five-year term, thanks to a last-minute agreement that laid out steps to choose a provisional government to take his place. Although the agreement left major doubts about who will govern the nation in the months to come, experts hailed it as an important move toward at least temporarily resolving a political impasse that had put hundreds of protesters on the streets.
At least one person was beaten to death Friday, as former army soldiers supporting Mr. Martelly hit the streets to counter protests that demanded his ouster.
“I said I would not hand over power to those that don’t believe in elections, but the Parliament guaranteed that they will do everything to make sure the process carries on,” Mr. Martelly said in his last speech to Parliament, before handing the presidential sash to the leader of the National Assembly. “I am leaving office to contribute to constitutional normalcy.”
by Sue Montgomery. Originally printed in the Montreal Gazette February 28, 2014
MONTREAL — Ten years after Haiti’s first democratically elected president was removed from his country in the middle of the night and dumped in Africa, Canada’s role — and that of Montreal’s current mayor — has been shrouded in secrecy.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the former priest from Haiti’s slums who is reviled by the elite minority and revered by the poor masses, claims to this day he was blindfolded and forced to sign a letter of resignation before being airlifted out and dropped in the Central African Republic.
The United States, Canada and France all claim he left voluntarily. They say they told Aristide that no one would come to help him — despite the trio’s signed commitment just four years earlier to do so — and that he, his family and supporters would be killed.
“In some ways, the competing stories are a distinction without a difference,” says Brian Concannon, a lawyer with the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. “It is hard to say that in that situation he had a meaningful choice.”
It was another blow to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere — made destitute by two centuries of racism, greed, revenge and a series of inept and corrupt governments backed by the United States. The Caribbean nation, which shares an island with the better-off Dominican Republic, has had 22 constitutions since winning its freedom in 1804 and lived through 32 coups — 33, if one counts the 2004 ouster of Aristide.
Now, Haitians want an apology from Canada, and particularly Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.
To know Mario Joseph is to wait for Mario Joseph. You will wait for him to return from a last-minute hearing, to stop barking into one of his two mobile phones, to wrap up a meeting that started an hour late. And you will wait because Joseph, managing attorney at the NGO Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, is the best human rights lawyer in Haiti, a country where human rights are honored mostly in the breach. From dawn till dusk, clients gather on his office’s bougainvillea-laced terrace: brave women going after rapists, homeless Haitians evicted from post-quake tent camps, cholera victims seeking reparations.
Joseph’s eyes are often red-rimmed from lack of sleep, but his suits are sharp, his ties are sumptuous and his shoes and fingernails are buffed till they shine. With his percussive Creole and typically stern countenance, Joseph can be intimidating. It’s easy to forget that he was raised in rural poverty by a single mother who couldn’t read, and that he managed to get a law degree only through a series of flukes and his own determination. If fate had had its way, Joseph would have been like the millions of Haitians who never attend school, never see a doctor and live on less than $2 per day.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Testimony in the high-profile case of former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier resumed Thursday, with another alleged victim describing abuses she says were committed under his rule.
Dr. Nicole Magloire told an appellate court about the broad influence wielded by the former leader known as “Baby Doc,” and the alleged violations associated with his 15-year government.
Duvalier “was declared supreme leader of all the armed forces in the country,” said Magloire, an opposition leader who fled into exile during that era. “He was in charge of the National Palace. He was in charge of the army. He was in charge of the country.”
by Evens Sanon and Trenton Daniel, Associated Press. Originally posted at The Miami Herald
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Two men testified before a three-judge appeals panel Thursday that they were imprisoned in ghastly conditions for months without charge under the government of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Agronomist Alix Fils-Aime described his time at the Fort Dimanche prison in the 1970s, saying most of the people held with him were tortured and killed.
“I was able to hear people being beaten, dragged in the hallway, and I could hear women screaming as they were being forced to have sexual relations with the guards,” he said.