Toronto Haiti Action Committee

Solidarity. Not Charity. Never Occupation

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

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.

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In the News: Arrest of attorney spearheading government corruption case triggers protests in Haiti

by Jacqueline Charles — The Miami Herald. Originally posted on Anchorage Daily News

MIAMI – The political climate was tense in Haiti’s capital Wednesday as scores of demonstrators and opposition lawmakers protested the arrest of a prominent attorney leading a corruption case against the first family.

Andre MichelProtesters showed up at the downtown Port-au-Prince courthouse where Andre Michel, a lawyer and government critic, was scheduled for an appearance after his arrest Tuesday night. Michel was accused of obstructing justice after refusing to allow police and the district attorney to search his car. His arrest, well after a 6 p.m. constitutionally mandated cutoff for arrests not related to immediate criminal events, triggered protests and accusations that Haiti had re-entered a dictatorial era.

“Once again the executive has continued with its flagrant violation of the Haitian Constitution,” Sen. Francky Exius said.

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In the News: Aristide supporters protest in Haiti

Originally posted in The Guardian

Thousands mark anniversary of ex-president’s ousting in 1991, with some calling for current president to resign.

Port-au-Prince protestRiot police in Haiti have broken up an anti-government demonstration by thousands of people to mark the anniversary of the ousting in 1991 of the former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

A handful of protesters responded by setting ablaze barricades that blocked a major thoroughfare through the heart of downtown Port-au-Prince.

Critics of the current president, Michel Martelly, gathered under a heavy police presence on Monday morning and marched through the capital’s shanties, all Aristide strongholds. Some demonstrators demanded that Martelly resign because of corruption allegations, while others protested over the absence of elections. Riot police fired teargas at the demonstrators after they left the approved route.

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In the News: Haiti a step closer to having army again

by Trenton Daniel, Associated Press, Sept.16, 2013

Army project of Michel Martelly 4In a small ceremony in the farming village of Petite Rivere de L’Aritibonite, Defense Minister Jean-Rodolphe Joazile greeted the first 41 recruits who recently returned from eight months of training in Ecuador. They will be the first members of a national military force that the government of President Michel Martelly wants to revive.

Joazile said they will spend three months working alongside Ecuadorean military engineers among the rice fields in central Haiti to repair roads and work on other public service projects in their impoverished country, which was hit by a devastating earthquake three years ago.

“Haiti’s needs are not in the infantry but in technical service,” Joazile said in an earlier interview. “The country is in a state of reconstruction. We need mechanics.”

Almost all of those in the new unit are recent high school graduates. They include 30 soldiers, 10 engineers and one officer and will report to the Defense Ministry. They won’t carry weapons for now but could carry handguns, in three to four years, if either the recruits pay for the weapon themselves or the government receives financing to do so, Joazile said in an interview last week.

“If the authorities give them permission, it’s not a problem,” Joazile said.

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In the News: Controversy Follows Death of Prominent Haitian Judge

by Kevin Edmonds, NACLA

Judge Jean Serge JosephOn July 13, Haitian Judge Jean Serge Joseph passed away under suspicious circumstances—sparking controversy within Haiti that his death was related to his involvement in a high profile corruption investigation against President Michel Martelly’s wife Sophia and their son Olivier.

The charges of corruption against Martelly’s family are related to the disappearance of large sums of money from several nationwide sports and social programs which are personally run by Sophia and Olivier, instead of the respective government ministries that should provide oversight. A group of lawyers, including Newton Louis Saint-Juste and André Michel, initially brought forward the high-profile case in August 2012. On July 2, the case took an important turn when Judge Joseph ordered the Haitian Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe, and several senior officials to appear in court as witnesses.

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In the News: After Aristide Testifies to Investigating Judge: Massive March Signals Lavalas Movement’s Resurrection

by Kim Ives. Originally posted at Haiti Liberté

Well over 15,000 people poured out from all corners of Haiti’s capital to march alongside the cortege of cars that carried former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide back to his home in Tabarre from the Port-au-Prince courthouse he visited on May 8.

Fanmi Lavalas Thousands more massed along sidewalks and on rooftops to cheer the procession on, waving flags and wearing small photos of Aristide in their hair, pinned to their clothing, or stuck in their hats.

Led by Fanmi Lavalas party coordinator Maryse Narcisse through a gauntlet of jostling journalists, Aristide had entered the courthouse (the former Belle Époque Hotel) at exactly 9:00 a.m., the time of his appointment to testify before Investigating Judge Ivickel Dabrésil. Aristide had waited with Narcisse in a car outside the court’s backdoor for about 45 minutes. It was only the second time that Aristide had left his home (and the first time publicly) since returning to Haiti on Mar. 18, 2011 from a seven-year exile in Africa following the Feb. 29, 2004 Washington-backed coup d’état which cut short his second government.

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