The Other Aristide

Yesterday was Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s birthday and, as we’ve already blogged, there was a celebration in Haiti. Aristide himself didn’t attend, but his wife, Mildred Aristide, made a few remarks at the event.

So that lead me on a bit of a search to see if I could find some good Creative Commons images of Mildred Aristide. I still haven’t found that, but I did stumble upon some interesting quotations which are from a Democracy Now! interview with the former First Lady. At one point of the interview, she talks about the perception of dwelling on the past:

You know, when we were in Central Africa, someone gave us a book on Barthélemy Boganda, who was the founder of Central Africa, the precursor of their independence, because he ultimately — he died before Central Africa gained its independence from France. And there was a line in the book that made me freeze. When they were criticizing Boganda for being critical still of the relations between colonial France and Central Africa, and they kept telling him, “You’re talking about the past,” and that it was a new set of relations between the colonizer and the colony, and Boganda said, “I would stop talking about the past, if it weren’t so present.”

Later, she talks about the Ugandan economist and lawyer, Dani Nabudere:
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In the News: A thousand supporters fete former Haiti leader

Originally posted at the Sacramento Bee, July 15th, 2012

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — About a thousand people in Haiti have turned up to celebrate the 59th birthday of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The two-time president did not show up at a public event at the foundation named for him but his wife, Mildred, spoke briefly on his behalf.

The former first lady presented a new book of poetry written by Aristide in Haitian Creole that includes Swahili proverbs. The book is called, Haiti – Haitii? Philosophical Poetry for Mental Decolonization.

Aristide has remained in his compound on the northeastern edge of the capital since he returned last year following a seven-year exile.

The one-time Roman Catholic priest served two separate presidential terms and was ousted both times. He lived in South Africa after a rebellion toppled him in 2004.

In the News: Haiti’s Military Monster Makes a Creeping Comeback

by Brian Fitzpatrick
Thursday, 05 July 2012 15:35, originally posted at Upside Down World

“I am in charge of Haiti!” one excited former soldier in his fifties exclaims. The others laugh on cue, one of them holding a handgun casually by his side. Swinging around to pose for the camera, an older man in fatigues carelessly waves the barrel of his machine gun past me at chest height. Two hours north of Port-au-Prince, in the town of Saint-Marc, we’ve received our first introduction to the 3,000-strong band of military enthusiasts dubbed Haiti’s “rogue” army.

Two-hundred yards past a police checkpoint, the illegal group has set up its own road stop in full view of passing UN vehicles; a green blur of ill-fitting helmets, mismatched uniforms and bullet belts. It is Bonne Fête Saint-Marc, the town’s annual celebration, and they’ve chosen the big day for a show of force. Remarkably, the nearby UN personnel and Haitian police (PNH) maintain only a watching brief.

Continue reading In the News: Haiti’s Military Monster Makes a Creeping Comeback

In the News: Haiti faces threats to freedom of expression, journalist says

by Lynn Romero, posted at the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, July 13th, 2012.

Gotson Pierre, founder of Alterpresse in Haiti, told the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas that journalists in the Dominican Republic and Haiti are facing serious, recent threats against freedom of expression.

According to Pierre, who presented at the 10th annual Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas, the press situation in Haiti has deteriorated during the past year and a hostile environment for journalists has been created under the watch of Haiti’s new president. Measures are currently being taken in Haiti to pass a new law that would criminalize defamation even as other Latin American and Caribbean countries are decriminalizing the offense.

Continue reading In the News: Haiti faces threats to freedom of expression, journalist says

Out of the Past: A Look at Papa Doc Duvalier

While digging around in the Wikimedia Commons, I came upon this 1971 documentary about Papa Doc Duvalier created by the US government. The language that it uses to describe the Haitian people, Haitian history, and the Vodou religion is fairly problematic, but it’s an interesting document of how the US was talking about Haiti then.

Obviously the film excludes any mention of how a French colony was only “prosperous” because it enslaved people to produce wealth. It also fails to talk about the fact that the US was happy to lavish aid on Duvalier’s regime who then used that money as his own personal stipend.

MSF on the Cholera Crisis

Here’s a blurb from a recent MSF dispatch:

In the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, where nearly a third of Haiti’s population lives, the public health facilities have not integrated cholera treatment into their services, which means that if you present at a public hospital with cholera symptoms you will be referred to the CTC of an NGO like MSF. In the department of Artibonite, where approximately 20 percent of all cholera cases have been reported since the epidemic began, some CTCs are facing medical supply issues, and some of the staff have not been paid their salaries since January. This has direct consequences for patient care. However, these situations are in contrast with the successes in Nord department, where the local health authorities responded well to the last peak in the epidemic. This calls into question the national authorities’ political will to set up an effective national cholera response system.

This situation is further complicated by the decrease in international funding, which has reduced the number of NGOs working on cholera—whether on the medical care level or the prevention level with activities concerning water, hygiene, and sanitation. There are fewer and fewer operators engaged in the fight against cholera in Haiti, but the population is still vulnerable to the disease.

Successful coordination of responses to the epidemic between the remaining operators depends on quality, reliable epidemiological data. Yet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) support to the Haitian government in setting up an effective epidemiological surveillance system—which would make it possible to adapt the cholera response in strategic locations—has been lacking.