In the News: Haitian lawyer accuses Montreal mayor Coderre of lying about Aristide ’04 ouster

by Andy Blatchford, with files from Associated Press. Originally posted at The Prince George Citizen

Denis CoderreMONTREAL – A prominent Haitian human-rights lawyer is calling on former federal cabinet minister Denis Coderre to apologize for allegedly lying about Canada’s involvement in the ouster of the Caribbean nation’s president 10 years ago.

Attorney Mario Joseph made the request Thursday during a visit to Montreal that coincided with the anniversary of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s removal from office on Feb. 29, 2004.

At the time of Aristide’s expulsion, Coderre was the Liberal minister responsible for French-speaking countries such as Haiti.

Coderre, who was elected mayor of Montreal last November, says he has nothing to apologize for.

Joseph, who has represented the ex-president, alleged that Coderre lied in the days before Aristide’s removal from office when he said Ottawa did not want the Haitian leader to leave.

Continue reading In the News: Haitian lawyer accuses Montreal mayor Coderre of lying about Aristide ’04 ouster

In the News: Secrecy shrouds Canada’s role in Aristide’s ouster from Haiti

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.

Aristide in South AfricaJean-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.

Continue reading In the News: Secrecy shrouds Canada’s role in Aristide’s ouster from Haiti

The Coup D’État in Haiti: Ten Years Later

Canada was a party to the 2004 coup in Haiti against the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Many of us are not aware of this assault on the self-determination of the Haitian people.

“On Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2003, Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government organized the ‘Ottawa Initiative on Haiti’ to discuss that country’s future. No Haitian officials were invited to this assembly where high-level US, Canadian and French officials decided that Haiti’s elected president ‘must go’, the dreaded army should be recreated and that the country would be put under a Kosovo-like UN trusteeship.” – Yves Engler, writer, journalist and international solidarity activist

Featured Speakers

Mario Joseph of BAIMario Joseph is a Haitian human rights lawyer. Since 1996, he has led the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince, which represents political prisoners, poor people, and victims of political violence. In 2006, The New York Times called Joseph “Haiti’s most prominent human rights lawyer”.

Joseph was the lead lawyer for the victims in the prosecution of the BAI’s most successful case, the Raboteau Massacre trial. The trial was described by a United Nations expert as “the longest and most complex” in the history of the Haitian judicial system.

In 2012, Joseph and IJDH Director Brian Concannon filed suit against the United Nations on behalf of victims of the 2010–2011 Haiti cholera outbreak, allegedly introduced to Haiti by UN troops in October 2010.

Melanie NewtonDr. Melanie Newton, received her doctorate in Modern History from Oxford University in 2001 and is a professor at the University of Toronto. She specializes in the social and cultural history of the Caribbean and the history of slavery, gender and emancipation in the Atlantic World.

Recent publications include the preface to Jerome S. Handler, The Unappropriated People: Freedmen in the Slave Society of Barbados (University of the West Indies Press, 2009 [1974]); The Children of Africa in the Colonies: Free People of Color in Barbados in the Age of Emancipation (Baton Louisiana State University Press, 2008); and “The Road Through Africa: Imperial Nationalism and Diasporic Racial Consciousness in Postslavery Barbados,” in John Chalcraft and Yaseen Nourani (eds.), “Counterhegemony in the Colony and Postcolony” (Palgrave, 2007), pp. 115-137. Her current research project is entitled “This Island’s Mine: Indigeneity in the Caribbean Atlantic World.”

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In the News: Stephen Lewis says United Nations must be accountable for cholera in Haiti

by Roger Annis. Originally posted on

Stephen Lewis
Stephen Lewis (photo by Gordon Griffiths, Apr. 2009)

Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations who has also served at the world agency in several other prominent postings, says the international organization must accept responsibility for the cholera epidemic that broke out in Haiti in October 2010. He says he supports the legal action against the UN that was formally launched in New York City on October 9 on behalf of the victims of the epidemic.

Lewis spelled out strongly-held views in a nine-minute interview on the national, Saturday morning newsmagazine of CBC Radio One, Day 6 on October 12.

The CBC host began the interview by asking Lewis whether he supports the action. He replied, “I do. I think it is unequivocal, the responsibility of the United Nations for the cholera outbreak.”

Lewis dismissed suggestions that definitive proof of the origin of Haiti’s cholera epidemic has not been established. The disease was not present in modern Haiti before October 2010. The epidemic, he said, “has been traced definitively to the Nepalese peacekeeping force” of the UN military mission in Haiti termed MINUSTAH.

Even the UN’s own study on the matter, he said, “came within a hair’s breath of saying ‘we were responsible’, and in fact, the independent investigations by scientists show there is no question of the origin of the cholera”.

Continue reading In the News: Stephen Lewis says United Nations must be accountable for cholera in Haiti