Sunday, November 14, 2010

FROM DICTATORSHIP TO DEMOCRACY, Haiti: Ten Years After the September 30, 1991 Coup d’état

Note: Written collaboratively and released in September 2001

From: MKarshan@aol.com

Office of the Foreign Press Liaison, National Palace, Haiti
Email:  mkarshan@aol.com
Telephone: (011509) 228-2058


FROM DICTATORSHIP TO DEMOCRACY
Haiti:  Ten Years After the September 30, 1991 Coup d’état

This is not a civil war.  There is no confrontation.  The violence comes from one side alone.  We feel there is a deliberate policy to eliminate Aristide partisans, to break the back of the pro-democracy movement and to terrorize the population.
A Ranking UN human rights official in Haiti, The Miami Herald, April 6, 1994


INTRODUCTION

The September 30, 1991 military coup d'etat in Haiti, the bloodiest coup in 200 years of difficult history is rooted in a continuum of struggle for democratic change in Haiti.  The continuum stretches back from before September 1991, out to today, and into the future.  Although the contours of the struggle change, the objectives have always been liberty and dignity: liberty, of the body and of thought and expression, and the dignity of having the basic materials for human existence: food, shelter, healthcare and education.

This struggle has borne fruit, Haiti's democracy dividend.  Irreversible progress in politics, justice and security has paved the way for fundamental and tangible improvements in the daily lives of Haitians.  The brutal army was dismantled and replaced by a civilian police force, the number of public high schools doubled since 1994. An aggressive campaign to collect unpaid tax and utility bills has generated record revenues for the struggling government, and an extensive land reform program has distributed 2.47 acres of land to each of 1,500 peasant families.  The government has also aggressively pursued an open market approach that has resulted in the development of a competitive and vibrant telecommunication sector and the reopening of the flourmill and cement plant. 

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW: 200 Years of Struggle

Haiti's very existence was born of the struggle for liberty and dignity.  The world's first   independent Black Republic, and only successful slave revolt, emerged in 1804 after a long war with Napoleon's France.  Haiti immediately faced a hostile international community that, in some cases waited a full sixty years before recognizing her.  Some countries only recognized Haiti after payment of a crippling indemnity of 150 million francs to France and the former slave owners.  This amount represented close to ten times the country's annual gross domestic product.  The payment of funds borrowed for the indemnity was not completed until 1922.  The burdensome repayment schedules denied Haiti the opportunity for any real economic development in the early years of the Republic.  Haiti was set on a devastating course of borrowing funds to re-pay an ever-growing debt.

Haiti's chronic indebtedness to foreign banks became a pawn in a scheme of    international financing with political repercussions at home.  Short-lived governments changed often in the years leading up to the nineteen-year United States occupation that began in 1915.  The Armed Forces of Haiti was created during the occupation as a "stabilizing," albeit repressive, force in the country.  The link between the new army and foreign financial interests was made clear when the occupiers seized all customs receipts, and used some of the proceeds to pay the salaries of U.S. officers.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ira Kurzban letter to New York Times re factual errors by Lydia Polgreen (Jan 2, 2004)

Letter from Ira J. Kurzban, Esq.


January 2, 2004


Ms. Lydia Polgreen
New York Times
New York, New York

Dear Ms. Polgreen:

I write to you and your editors because of numerous factual errors contained in your story on the January 1st celebrations in Haiti marking the 200 anniversary of that country's independence. I assume that the factual errors arose from your lack of familiarity with the political situation in Haiti or because you have been provided a good deal of misinformation. The article that I will address below was published on Friday, January 2, 2004 in the International section of the New York Times.

First, your article states that: "Mr Aristide was re-elected to the presidency in voting that many observers said was flawed" and that as result "the country had been locked in political crisis." You further stated that: "The dispute led international donors to suspend $500 million in aid¶" These statements are inaccurate. Such erroneous statements regarding Haiti often arise from the common confusion between the May 2000 parliamentary elections and the November 2000 presidential election. In May, 2000, there were 30,000 candidates who ran for 7,500 positions ranging from mayors and department representatives to Senators and members of the lower chamber. Of the 7,500 elections, the Organization of American States challenged the methodology used in counting 8 senate seats. While the independent electoral council (called the "CEP" in Haiti) claimed that the methodology used in counting the victors in those elections had been used in previous elections, the OAS observers disagreed. The OAS report is clear that there were no credible allegations of wide spread fraud in the elections.

In any event, no responsible international organization or observers contended that Mr. Aristide's election which occurred in November, 2000 was invalid or tainted in any manner as you suggested in your article. I invite you to review the OAS reports. It was clear in November, 2000 that Mr. Aristide's election was not marred by fraud or allegations of impropriety.

As soon as Mr. Aristide took office in February 2001 he used the power of his Presidency and as the head of his party to encourage the senators from the 8 contested seats to step down and pave the way for a new election. The seven senators from his party, Lavalas, agreed to do so. The eighth senator, who came from an opposition party, declined to do so.

The second error in your article is the claim that the international embargo was the result of Mr. Aristide's election. Again, this is erroneous. The international embargo began toward the end of Mr. Preval's term and had nothing to do with Mr. Aristide's election. Indeed, the United States government has repeatedly taken the position that Mr. Aristide is the democratically elected president of the nation. The embargo was continued under President Aristide's term under the claim that funds would not be released until a settlement was reached with the opposition, notwithstanding the fact that the seven senators had resigned. The embargo, which continues to exist today, and makes it impossible for the government to have any success in alleviating the poverty you address in your article, is therefore not in response to solving the political impasse. That impasse was solved when the senator's stepped down. Nor can the financial embargo be seriously linked to progress in making the country more democratic, because the World Bank, the United States, France and the European Union, who today refuse to provide any direct assistance to the Government of Haiti, provided financial assistance to the Duvaliers during their dictatorship, as well as the military governments that succeeded Duvalier. I leave it to your judgment and good sense as to the true reasons for the embargo. In any event, they are completely unrelated to President Aristide's election.

The third error in your article is simply baffling. I assume you attended the January 1st ceremonies at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince based upon the information contained in your story. The Miami Herald stated that there were "hundreds of thousands" of Haitians at the National Palace. Even the most minimum reasonable estimate of the number of supporters at the National Palace on January 1st, had to range conservatively from 50,000 to 100,000 people. Your description that Aristide spoke to a "small but enthusiastic crowd" simply blinks reality. I have taken the liberty to send photographs to a professional service that will provide me and your editors with a true count as to the number of people who appeared at the National Palace. Although the numbers game can be tricky and I am not assuming you had any bias in writing your article, one would literally have to be blind to say that there was a "small" crowd at the National Palace.

Your article also states that President Mbeki was the only head of state to attend the ceremonies. Your article states: "But it was a measure of Mr. Aristide's political isolation and Haiti's persistent troubles that only one [head of state] showed up." Your own article contradicts this assertion as you state later that the Prime Minister of the Bahamas attended the ceremonies. Indeed, as you were at the National Palace, I am sure you heard Prime Minister Perry Christie state that this was an historic occasion because it was the first time a head of state from the Bahamas had visited the Republic of Haiti. I understand that this may not detract from your general statement, but it certainly is misleading to single out Mr. Mbeki, to ignore Prime Minister Christie, and to ignore the scores of delegations from around the world who attended the celebration.

Finally, there is the question of violence. Your article was remarkably silent on the violence perpetrated by the opposition on January 1st and before that date. Opposition members burnt a police car on January 1st. They blocked all three major roads into the center of Port-au-Prince by setting fires in the road and placing boulders throughout the city. I am sure you witnessed all of these events if you were in Port-au-Prince. Yet your article makes the opposition appear as law abiding democratically-motivated individuals who are subjected to tear-gassing by the police on one hand and violence by Aristide supporters on the other. Had you inquired sufficiently, you would have learned that more supporters of Lavalas have been killed since December 5, 2003 than in the opposition. I am not condoning violence on either side. However, it is misleading to suggest that the violence is simply directed at one side as opposed to the other.

In light of the numerous errors in the article and as the counsel for the Government of Haiti in the United States, I kindly request that these errors be corrected publicly in a manner the New York Times deems appropriate.

As I am certain there was no intention on your part to be biased in the presentation of the facts, I would be honored to have the opportunity to discuss with you any of these or other matters that are of interest to you concerning the Government of Haiti.

Sincerely,



Ira J. Kurzban, Esq.


The New York Times corrects two points in its Bicentennial story



LYDIA POLGREEN and has added these two paragraphs as an addendum to the original article:

"An article on Friday about the bicentennial of Haiti's independence misidentified the election that outside observers called flawed, a finding that led to the suspension of $500 million in foreign aid to Haiti and contributed to the current political crisis there. It was the May 2000 legislative election, in which the Organization of American States disputed the counting method used in eight Senate races, not the November 2000 election of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, which the O.A.S. said was not fraudulent."

"Because of an editing error, the article also referred imprecisely to the size of the crowd that attended the bicentennial celebration outside the presidential palace. While the government estimated it in the hundreds of thousands, and outside journalists' estimates ranged as low as 15,000, the crowd was not small.'

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Karshan to Vedrine on education (March 2003)

From: MKarshan@aol.com


Karshan to Vedrine on education*

Haiti list, 5 March 2003

Vedrine raises very valid points about the education system in Haiti. Under President Preval the Minister of Education began to address these concerns by creating standardized education.

Paolo Friere, the Brazilian educator who dared to teach literacy to Brazil’s peasants, addressed these critical points in his Pedogogy of the Oppressed (published in numerous languages and once banned in South Africa, punishable by imprisonment), describing such teaching methods as a banking system where a teacher merely deposits the information and the pupil is graded for how well he can spit it back verbatim—usually without concern as to whether the student understood the material or concepts therein.

I think of that book when I hear Haitian children sitting for hours reciting material. Not all schools are operating like this. For two years my daughter went to a middle class Haitian school where the teachers were excited about the materials and the children were engaged in dialogue. Of course this also goes to the issue of how a society views children.

I have been haunted by the fact that very few Haitian students actually read novels, instead learning about novels from the notes of teachers passed from one to another.

I think what Friere was also pointing out, and Bob correct me if I’m wrong (Bob taught a Friere course!) was that such a system, as well as a society that is content to keep its people illiterate, is part of a structure to maintain the status quo in societies such as Brazil, Haiti, etc.

So, by changing the educational system to one where all children will learn and can excel, ultimately transending class lines, you are engaging in a revolution, that will ultimately transform the society. That is why Friere was originally thrown out of Brasil and why literacy was not on the government agenda before Aristide. Instead literacy workers were sought and killed (La Saline 1987?).

With a large percent of the schools in Haiti being private, and many of those being driven just by the desire for profit, or private schools being overcrowded because the government doesn’t provide enough schools, education suffers. That is why it is essential that the government of Haiti continue building schools throughout the country but also essential is teacher training and a new view of children.
 
* post from the Corbett listserve
 
From the Haiti Dream Keeper Archives

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Briefing Paper on Haiti's Deteriorating Health Conditions in Wake of US-Led Financial Embargo (March 2002)

From: MKarshan@aol.com

March 2002


BRIEFING PAPER ON HAITI'S DETERIORATING HEALTH CONDITIONS IN WAKE OF US-LED FINANCIAL EMBARGO

THE UNITED STATES RESISTS HUMANITARIAN CALLS TO RELEASE AID AND LOANS PROMISED FOR HAITI'S HEALTH SERVICES AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS

"There are too many needs in Haiti going unaddressed and we should not be holding up any funds. We are putting politics and process above the needs of the Haitian people." Andrew Cuomo, February 20, 2002 on a recent visit to Haiti where he toured the maternity ward of the ailing State General Hospital

Background:

At the urging of the United States, funds to the government of Haiti are being withheld by the United States, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). In early 2001, the government of Haiti met all the conditions for the approval of the IDB loans, which are for health and accompanying development, including satisfying all arrears owed to the IDB. The IDB subsequently approved the loans to Haiti and were ready to disperse the funds when the US caused them to be halted ( i ). Although the IDB acknowledges that this situation is   unprecedented, the government of Haiti is being penalized with a charge of $79,000 per month in credit commissions to the IDB on loans, which have yet to be disbursed.

The first phase of the IDB loans is to address quality and access to healthcare through targeted tasks such as construction of low-cost community health centers, training of personnel, purchase of basic materials, providing of healthcare services to 2 million Haitians (25% of population), including pre-natal, post-natal care, primary dental care, treatment of contagious diseases. The ultimate objective is to reduce the high infant mortality rate, reduce the high juvenile death rate, and reduce the birth rate ( ii ).

Current Status of Healthcare in Haiti:

With the current financial sanctions taking a toll on Haitians and the delivery of healthcare, the original statistics cited in 1998 with the signing of the loan agreements between the IDB and the government of Haiti pale when compared with today's realities as follows ( iii ):

· Child mortality rose from 74 deaths per 1,000 to 80;

Issue Papers, Feb 7 2003: Education & Adult Literacy

 LFrom: MKarshan@aol.com

Education and Adult Literacy
Issue Papers, 7 February 2003

EDUCATION

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Historically the Haitian government placed little emphasis on primary education, and even less so for children in rural area, with the first rural school established 40 years after the country’s independence. Public schools were scare and requirements for schooling, such as shoes, textbooks, school supplies, transportation, uniforms, were out of reach for the majority of children. As a result, those children fortunate to access schooling usually only reached third grade.

Haiti’s 1987 Constitution provides for schooling for all children, a concept consist with the democratic movement that swept the country at that time. President Aristide set education as a priority and set out upon his inauguration in 1991 to create conditions for all children to go to school.

After President Aristide returned to Haiti, following the three year coup d’etat period, he immediately put in place a government program that would increase the number of schools, provide support services and materials for schooling, and provided 90,000 scholarships for primary school children, who unable to access a public school, relied on private schools in their regions. 200 primary and secondary schools were eventually built or renovated and the Ministry of Education standardized primary education.

With President Aristide’s return to the presidency in 2001, his platform of Universal Schooling was implemented by dedicating 20% of the national budget to education. Renovation and construction of schools continues with the aim of providing one school in each of Haiti’s 565 communal sections. Additionally, a study was conducted to better understand what obstacles prevented rural children from accessing schooling in four major rural areas. Findings from that study created recommendations which when implemented allowed an additional 160,000 children to enter school Fall 2001.

EFFORTS

•Created conditions which enabled an additional 160,000 children to enter school in Fall 2001;

•By end of school year 2002, 13 new public schools were created;

•Provided support services to schooling including school buses;

•Subsidized textbooks and supplies by 55% Fall 2001 and 2,275,400 textbooks subsidized by 60% in Fall 2002;

•Provided 150,000 free uniforms in Fall 2001 and again in Fall 2002;

•Breakfast and hot lunch program to reach 200,000 children school year 2002-2003;

•Installed libraries and cyber cafes in public high schools;

•Assistance with school tuition;

•57 schools renovated and 38 to be built school year 2002-2003.

LITERACY

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Illiteracy stood at an abysmal rate of 85% while the people’s movement for literacy (or alphabetization) training was repressed by the military under the Duvalier regime. Illiteracy, one of the major obstacles to full human development, continued to handicap the majority of Haitians. Haitians remained limited to manual labor, unable to participate in tasks that required reading and writing skills, and preventing the majority from understanding documents, reading newspapers, business contracts, or their children’s school work.

President Aristide created a Secretary of State for Literacy office after his return in 1994 laying the groundwork for a national campaign.

AIMS

The adult illiteracy rate currently stands between 55 to 60 percent. The government has set as one of its primary goals for Haiti’s 200th anniversary of independence in 2004 to significantly decrease the literacy rate. The linking of literacy with development motivates the population to participate in literacy centers, both in urban and rural settings. The success of this campaign will ultimately develop the nation as the poor, once they become literate, move into the business and social service sectors. Additionally, poverty reduction is achieved through literacy when, for example, parents can better participate in their child’s healthcare, farmers and merchants become better informed, and democracy strengthened when citizens are more fully informed.

EFFORTS

•Launched nationwide literacy campaign in September 2001;

•Waging public information campaign engaging population in literacy training;

•Opened approximately 20,000 literacy centers;

•The Secretary of State for Literacy has created training materials for teachers and students with more than 2 million manuals printed;

•Trained thousands of literacy facilitators and guides, including high school students;

•Approximately 320,000 people currently enrolled in literacy classes in urban and rural areas;

•State offices, including National Palace, have established literacy training centers for employees or the public;

•In addition to government funds dedicated to literacy campaign, a fund was created through donations made by government officials and employees;

•Distance training techniques for rural areas including radio classes with accompanying manual.
 
From the Haiti Dream Keeper Archives

‘Economic Terrorism’: Ignoring the Debt Issue in Haiti Part 1 by Michelle Karshan

Jubilee's Blog the Debt (Member blogs from Haiti)
01 October 2007 

‘Economic Terrorism’: Ignoring the Debt Issue in Haiti Part 1
by Michelle Karshan

[Michelle Karshan, a member of ONE Partner Jubilee USA and former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide foreign press liason, is fasting right now for Haiti. She blogs her perspective on how Haiti’s struggle with debt and economic recovery was ignored by the international press.]

In May 2007, while in Haiti, friends told me of the rising cost of living. As I spent what seemed like a lot of money purchasing food to cook three meals a day, I wondered how folks were feeding their families even one meal a day at those exorbitant prices.

Michelet, a young man, considerably thinner since 2004, pointed out that he had personally seen a rise in TB in his own neighborhood. He explained that with the increase in the cost of living people could not nourish themselves enough to fend off disease.

Dr. Paul Farmer has so eloquently drawn this connection between infectious disease and poverty, yet the international financial institutions have yet to reprioritize their economic plans.

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide often referred to structural adjustment and the debt as “Economic Terrorism”, because globalization and the way it revolves around creating and keeping impoverished countries impoverished results in starvation, disease, illiteracy and death. And, in the end millions of dollars spent on poverty reduction cannot turn a country around without debt reduction and forgiveness.

Last week, while Haiti and each Haitian there still suffers from the backbreaking debt inherited from the Duvalier regime, former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier was heard on the airways apologizing for the atrocities and corruption during his administration.

Not coincidentally, his plea for forgiveness came immediately following Switzerland’s announcement that they would extend the Haitian government’s period of time to wage their legal battle to recover the millions of dollars in Duvalier’s Swiss bank accounts.

Haitian President Rene Preval rightly responded to Duvalier’s maneuvers, stating that while forgiveness is good, justice must prevail. Preval made it clear that his government would continue its pursuit of the monies, and that if Duvalier chooses to return to Haiti he will certainly be brought to justice.

It was extremely frustrating working as the Foreign Press Liaison to presidents Aristide, Preval and Aristide again. All the while, the international press ignored the debt that shackled any efforts towards recovery, ignored the U.S.-led embargo against Haiti’s government, and the economic “death plan” Aristide tried to resist. The U.S. Embassy waged a campaign denying that there was any financial embargo and they harassed press who dared to call the embargo an embargo!

The international press, distracting its readers from the real talking points, lay all blame at Aristide’s door, and characterized Haiti as: “spiraling downward;” “a basket case;” “a failed state;” and “a people unable to govern themselves.”

Yet inside the storm, at the eye of the storm, was globalization, the endless debt, the imposed impoverishment of a country up against a proud nation that believes that justice — economic justice — means accessible, universal health care, schools, literacy programs, and the right to work and farm.

It will not be hard for me to begin my fast today. What has been hard is to eat, knowing that more than 8 million people in Haiti cannot eat one meal a day.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

We Will Not Forget. The Achievements of Lavalas in Haiti by Laura Flynn and Robert Roth

To see or print actual full booklet with images: http://www.teledyol.net/WWNF/wwnf.pdf

We Will Not Forget. THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF LAVALAS IN HAITI by Laura Flynn and Robert Roth, published by the Haiti Action Committee

(Includes lists of achievements by subject)

In February 29, 2004, the constitutional government of Haiti was  overthrown, bringing Haiti’s ten-year experience with democracy to a brutal end. Orchestrated by the United States, France and Canada, the coup forced President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile and removed  thousands of elected officials from office.

A year after the coup, the Haitian people continue to demand the restoration of democracy. On September 30, 2004, tens of thousands of Haitians took to the streets of Port-au-Prince. Braving police  gunfire, threats of arrests and beatings, they marched while holding up their five fingers, signifying their determination that Aristide complete his five-year term.

On December 1, 2004, while then-Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Haiti to express support for the coup regime, Haitian police massacred dozens of prisoners in the National Penitentiary who had staged a protest over prison conditions. Despite this repression, more than 10,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Cap-Haitien on December 16, 2004, calling for the release of all political prisoners and the return of their elected president. On February 7, 2005, thousands more once again demonstrated in Port-au-Prince and other cities, raising the same demands.

Why are Haitians so insistent on Aristide’s return? Why have they been so resolute in their opposition to the coup and the subsequent U.S./U.N. occupation? Answering these questions requires a close look at what actually occurred during the years of democratic rule in Haiti.

To view entire booklet. To see or print actual full booklet with images:

http://www.teledyol.net/WWNF/wwnf.pdf

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

HAITI'S BICENTENNIAL: What's to Celebrate? by Adele DellaValle-Rauth (The Catholic Virginian)

HAITI'S BICENTENNIAL: What's to Celebrate?


By Adele DellaValle-Rauth, The Catholic Virginian, March 17, 2003

As part of our January Richmond Diocese retreat mission in Haiti, jointly led by myself and Bob, our group of nine met with Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison in Haiti. Michelle hosted us in her home in Port-au-Prince where she lives with her daughter Riva.

In the course of our conversation Michelle brought up the celebration of Haiti's bi-centennial in 2004. "The whole country is gearing up for this," she said excitedly.

Having just experienced the depth of the poverty in the capital city and in the rural countryside, and having visited Haiti many times since 1983, I couldn't resist asking: "What is there for Haiti to celebrate?" The economy is on a downward spiral, the Gourde has gone from 5Gde/$1US to 38Gde/$1US; Aristide is under attack from the foreign press (beginning with his presidency in 1991) but even internally there is some civil unrest and the subject of "regime change" comes up occasionally albeit from a vocal minority; some street violence by gangs has occurred attacking both demonstrators and opposition politicians; international donors have frozen $500 million in aid because of alleged irregularities in the 2000 Parliamentary elections; a U.S.-led embargo since January 2001 has prevented 146M in loans from being disbursed - loans marked and desperately needed for humanitarian use. Of course there is the gnawing challenge and responsibility in all of this to seek the truth and to separate truth from fiction, myth or propaganda.

So - what's to celebrate?

Lots - according to Michelle and others. The struggle for democratic change in Haiti, she declares, has borne fruit. The objectives of this struggle have always been liberty and dignity: liberty, of the body and of thought and expression, and the dignity of having the basic materials for human existence: food, shelter, healthcare and education. There are some undeniable, tangible improvements, fruits of this struggle that dates back to Haiti's emergence in 1804 as the world's first independent Black Republic after a long war with Napoleon's France. Telescoping beyond early transitional years of oppression by self-appointed, punitive leaders, chronic indebtedness to foreign banks, U.S. Thomas Jefferson's embargo until 1862, a demeaning 19 years of U.S. occupation, 29 years of cruel Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier dictatorships starting in 1957 and followed by an unstable series of short-term rulers - Haiti has made significant strides toward democracy since 1990:

The Birth and Struggle of Democracy:

- Haiti achieved the first free and fair elections in 1990 - with an overwhelming 67% of the electorate voting for Aristide.

Despite a brutal coup d'etat on Sept. 30, 1991, the bloodiest of 33 coups in 200 years of difficult history, democracy was restored in October 1994 with the return of Aristide.

Dissolution of the army in 1994, by President Aristide, has been called the most significant step forward for democracy in Haiti. The army was replaced by Haiti's first civilian police force.

On Feb. 7, 1996 President Aristide became the first Haitian president to leave voluntarily at the end of his original term (5 years minus 3 years of the coup), passing the mantle to President Rene Preval, Haiti's second freely elected president.

Haiti Makes Its Case for Reparations by J. Damu (FinalCall)

Haiti Makes Its Case for Reparations

By J. Damu, guest columnist, Final Call, 10 February 2004

The meter is running at $34 per second

You've got to hand it to Haiti. Not only was it the world's first country of enslaved workers to stand up and demand their freedom and independence; now they are the world's first country to stand up to their former slavery-era master, France, and demand the return of its stolen wealth.

Everyone say "Amen."

Haiti's president and other government officials claim their country was held up at gunpoint in broad daylight in 1825 and now they want the admitted thief, France, to replace the stolen wealth to the tune of $21.7 billion. his, despite massive attempts, well documented elsewhere, by the United States and world lending institutions to destabilize and overthrow the democratically elected government of Jean Bertrand Aristide.

Government officials also say, due to forced efforts to hand over its wealth in a timely manner to France, the coerced payments so distorted and stunted the economy, Haiti feels the effects to this day. They also say, due to those efforts, Haiti became saddled with a form of class oppression that resembles racism.

In a soon to be published booklet provided to a U.S. reporter by the foreign press liaison to President Jean Bertrand Aristide, Haitian government officials dissect the 1825 "agreement" that initially forced Haiti to pay to France 150 million francs in exchange for liberty.

The booklet, like Haiti's restitution claim, is based largely on the research of Dr. Francis St. Hubert, a member of the government's Haiti Restitution Commission.

"I did most of my research in New York at the Columbia University Library and the Schomburg Center," Dr. Hubert said by phone from Port-au-Prince.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lift sanctions to help Haiti solve problems by Michelle Karshan (Chicago Tribune)

ChicagoTribune

Lift sanctions to help Haiti solve problems


VOICE OF THE PEOPLE (letter). February 05, 2004

By Michelle Karshan, Foreign press liaison, National Palace.

Haiti — It is commendable that the Chicago Tribune saw fit to take a position on the current impasse in Haiti ("Elusive democracy in Haiti," Editorial, Jan. 24), and that your position appears to support democracy.

The notion, however, that it might be a "valid option" to pressure President Jean Bertrand Aristide to resign if there were a "suitable successor" is inconsistent with democratic principles and Haiti's 1987 Constitution.

The opposition has refused to participate in the formation of an electoral council, which would oversee new elections necessary for the functioning of a parliament. The terms have expired for a portion of the parliamentarians, leaving Parliament not shuttered, as you said, but unable to function without the required quorum.

Democracy has definitely taken hold in Haiti and has come far in its few years since the restoration of democracy with Aristide's return in 1994. Aristide laid down the brutal Haitian army and created Haiti's first civilian police force.

The opposition has the right to demonstrate, when in compliance with requirements for a permit; journalists openly make commentaries against the government; and the country has already gone through several rounds of democratic elections.

Aristide has called upon the Haitian government to reinforce measures that would further guarantee the liberty of people to demonstrate. Haiti's police force was recently praised by both the U.S. ambassador and the Organization of American States for its conduct in providing security to those demonstrating in opposition to the government.

Aristide still enjoys enormous popularity among the Haitian people and throughout the world. It is under Aristide that Haiti met all the requirements to become a full member of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and it is committed to helping Haiti strengthen its democracy. Haiti is successfully collaborating with numerous countries and international organizations in the areas of education, commerce, trade, medical care, etc.

Aristide has consistently invited the opposition to sit down together and participate in the oversight of elections. The anti-Aristide camp, which represents a small minority in Haiti, refuses to participate in any elections because they know they cannot gain power through a participatory and democratic process.

Immediately following the recent Caricom meeting in Haiti, in which the Caricom leaders who are helping mediate the crisis were seeking a peaceful and constitutional resolution between all parties, the opposition announced their intention to continue to paralyze the country in an effort to overthrow Haiti's president.

Your editorial fails to mention the vast number of violent acts committed by the opposition, including lynchings, assassinations, terrorizing schoolchildren, forcing schools and hospitals to close, and more.

Only through the lifting of economic sanctions will Haiti be able to efficiently address serious problems plaguing the nation, such as drug trans-shipping, poverty, expanding access to potable water, education and health care.

From the Haiti Dream Keeper Archives

Fanmi Lavalas Government Plan (White Book) for 2001-2006

Fanmi Lavalas Government Plan: The Major Axis

Translation released February 11, 2001

THE MAJOR AXIS

First Axis: INFRASTRUCTURE AND COMMUNICATIONS

Organization Fanmi Lavalas has retained the communal section, the smallest territorial unit, as the basis for its actions. Thus, in the framework of extension of the nation road network it has opted to disenclave and interconnect the 565 communal sections. All initiatives in the sector of infrastructures shall be guided by the concern to facilitate access to basic social services (education, health) and economic trade (agriculture and industrial production, tourism, crafts, commerce).

Organization Fanmi Lavalas deems it fundamental to establish a certain number of conditions to guarantee the sustainability of the interventions to be undertaken. The most important are:

a) the participation of local leaders and communities in the beneficiary regions;

b) partnerships between the State and private investment groups for the provision of services (production, commercialization and management);

c) the presence of small and midsize construction firms to encash human resources in each department;

d) the encashment of national savings and foreign capital.

On this last point, the Organization intends to first identify the national sources of funding, in particular Public Treasury funds and use them as efficiently as necessary to reach its objectives.

The Organization will actively seek private partners (big investors, small and mid-sized businesses, individuals or potential shareholders) interested in investing in services such as electricity, potable water, construction of industrial complexes and tourist resorts... It will pursue negotiations with the bilateral and multilateral agencies that are willing to continue their support of this sector and will actively seek out new alliances.

The Organization's concerns do not stop at rehabilitating existing infrastructures and constructing new ones. It also intends to develop the country's capacity for maintenance to avoid having to constantly start over and prevent countless losses of investments. It's aim is to meet an enormous challenge: Building and Maintenance for sustained development.

Under "Infrastructure" Fanmi Lavalas includes the following sub-sectors:

Roads and construction works

Ports and airports

Transportation and Traffic

Housing

Public Buildings

Energy

Potable Water

Drainage and Sanitation


Objective 2004

Second Axis: NATIONAL PRODUCTION

The reactivation of national production is necessary to provide a solid and stable basis for the economy. Only national production can provide the bulk of durable employment needed to build the society of peace envisioned by Fanmi Lavalas and guarantee the State's income.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fanmi Lavalas Govt Plan: The Program's Foundations (for 2001-2006)

English translation released February 11, 2001

The Program's Foundations

The economic and social program of Organization Fanmi Lavalas for the five-year term 2001-2006, is recorded in the global policy defined in Investir dans l'Humain and takes into account the recent assessment of the socio-political and economic situation.

OBJECTIVES
Thus, in the context of this program, the Organization is pursuing the following specific objectives: a) to promote economic growth and more participation in development in order to improve the average per capita income of US $300 per year and to make it possible to double it over the next decade; b) to reinforce the private sector, promoters and social movements that are trying to revitalize the social and economic fabric and induce them to invest in the creation of a number of economic activities that would be development hubs for job creation; c) to dynamize the peaceful struggle of the disadvantaged minorities who are ceaselessly requesting: justice, transparance, and participation;

THE MAJOR AXIS
In order to reach these objectives, the Organization has selected five major courses of action which are: a) The execution of infrastructure works in the very short term, covering and opening up the 565 existing communal sections in order to allow the population's effective participation in the country's economic and social development. This supposes a long term, stable and viable organization of the following sectors: Energy, transportation (roads, airports, seaports, transportation services...), telecommunications (urban, regional and international telephone service...); b) The pursuit of efforts to revive the national production for the five years to come giving priority to growth in the areas of: agriculture, exports, import substitution industries, and crafts. Decisive action will be undertaken in order to promote micro finances and the various types of cooperatives and make them the levers of such growth; c) The pursuit and implementation of the National Education Plan, with three very specific objectives to be reached by 2004, they are: a functional fundamental school in each communal section, universal schooling and a significant reduction of the adult illiteracy rate; d) National health coverage through the expansion of the health center network and reinforcement of primary health care. The objective here is to have a functional body in each communal section by 2004, with effective involvement of the population in the decision-making process; e) The reorganization of the judicial system in the framework of the fight against impunity, the concept of reparation, as well as the extension of law enforcement services to all social categories, especially those living in rural areas. The development of these major axis with the participation of all Haitian citizens, as well as Haiti's friends shall be mostly primarily based on the valorization and management of all of the country's resources. This will also send out a positive signal for taking the road to decentralization.

THE APPROACH SELECTED
The Organization has opted for an approach based above all on the human capital and the long term pay off of economic actions and will rely on a stable and lasting partnership between the representatives of the Central State, the local assemblies concerned and all of the economic and social groups interested and involved in the development process. It will also work at reinforcing a state under the rule of law, a strategy oriented and regulatory state, that will guarantee the adoption and application of "open and lasting policies."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Coup d'etat attack on Haiti's National Palace, December 17, 2001

From: MKarshan@aol.com

Details on the attempted coup d'etat attack on Haiti's National Palace on December 17, 2001

COMPILATION OF PUBLIC INFORMATION THAT WAS RELEASED THROUGH NATIONAL
TELEVISION, THE POLICE SPOKESPERSON, AGENCE HAITIENNE PRESSE, ASSOCIATED
PRESS & HAITI PRESS NETWORK

On December 17, 2001 at 2 am, using the element of surprise, three (3) pickup trucks carrying approximately 30 commandos approached the entryway known as Westgate of the National Palace (which is directly across from ministry offices) and launched a grenade into the entryway before storming the gate and invading the National Palace grounds through the right hand side. The iron gate was damaged from the impact.

The National Palace security personnel were forced to retreat for cover in face of the heavy weapons used by the commandos including an M2 with M50 caliber weapon, which is a ground to air weapon, which was prominently bolted onto one of the vehicles on a bi-pod. Through the M2 was draped a large quantity of M50 caliber linked missile-like projectile ammunition, each which are approximately 5 inches long. An M2 with M50 caliber bullets can reach a radius of 25 kilometers.

Haiti's security units do not have weapons of this magnitude and the overwhelming majority of Haiti’s security forces have never seen weapons of this type or witnessed its sound or impact.

Some of the National Palace security took cover and worked together to plan their strategy for an offensive.

When the vehicles entered the National Palace grounds they started shooting at the National Palace building causing large holes of approximately 2 inches deep in the side wall of the National Palace.

The commandos were wearing green camouflage military clothes identical to the uniforms worn by the Leopard unit of the former Haitian military. There was very heavy shooting and exchange of fire between the commandos and the palace security personnel.

Press fail to identify key players in Gonaives opposition violence

Press fail to identify key players in Gonaives opposition violence nor do they examine timing of terrorist acts


Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison - National Palace, Haiti
Tel: (011509) 228-2058 - Fax: (011509) 228-2171 - Email: mkarshan@aol.com

Haiti's Secretary of State for Communications, Mario Dupuy, responded to this week's extreme violence by the opposition in Gonaives explaining that these are "terrorist acts undertaken by the armed wing of the opposition." Indeed, immediately after the attack on the police station in Gonaives (which includes destroying the national prison there, aiding the escape of prisoners, burning of government buildings, homes and stores, murdering police and civilians, setting people on fire) the leaders of the opposition in Port-au-Prince openly praised the terrorist acts in Gonaives.

Journalist Scott Wilson, in his Washington Post article, "Armed Attacks Increase Pressure on Haitian Leader, Groups Extend Reach Into Provincial Areas" published November 18, 2003 (see link at end of this section) described the armed branch of the opposition as follows: "Many of the participants are either former members of Haiti's military, which was dissolved after the 1994 U.S. invasion that restored Aristide to power following a military coup, or they belonged to a paramilitary force that opposed the president's return. The groups have increased the tempo of their attacks in recent months, and are showing signs of coordinating military efforts around the country."

In that same November 2003 article, Prime Minister Yvon Neptune stated, "Our information is that there are links between some elements of these armed groups with the opposition on every level -- financial as well as the political goal of ousting President Aristide," Neptune said. "We're trying to show that this is all a pretext for not wanting to participate in elections."

In reporting on this week's atrocities in Gonaives, the foreign press, so far, has continued to portray the opposition in Gonaives as former Aristide supporters when in fact the former military, macoutes and FRAPH figure prominently amongst them! Today's Associated Press article by Michael Norton does admit the presence of former military in Gonaives but distances their involvement from the high command of the terrorists as follows: "Former soldiers of Haiti's disbanded army carrying heavy weapons patrolled the streets in support of the uprising in Gonaives."

President Aristide wants to bring FRAPH to justice

REVISED February 17, 2004

Press Release

Contact: Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison
National Palace, Haiti
Tel: (011509) 228-2058
Fax: (011509) 228-2171

President Aristide says Haiti's justice system might use FRAPH documents in pursuit of justice in investigation of FRAPH leader, Louis-Jodel Chamblain

Port-au-Prince - During a press conference held at Haiti's National Palace today regarding the humanitarian crisis caused by recent acts of terrorism, President Aristide revealed that the Government of Haiti may need to unveil the famous FRAPH documents. These documents and photos may be helpful in the pursuit of justice with regard to a criminal investigation underway involving FRAPH commander Louis-Jodel Chamblain, who emerged Friday as one of the terrorists in Gonaives. The terrorists are currently holding the approximately 150,000 residents of Gonaives hostage. Their violence and blocking of roads has cut off food, fuel and medical supplies to the Northern portion of the country.

Today, in discussing the violence in Gonaives and other towns, Aristide said Haiti's justice system may need to refer to the FRAPH documents in the pursuit of justice. He added that the names contained in the FRAPH documents are of persons who were actively involved in FRAPH, as well as those who supported it. President Aristide suggested that more than likely many of those same names engaged in the terrorist activities from that period are also implicated in the recent destablization and violence being waged today.

The criminal investigation the President referred to involves the Cite Soleil fire, an arson committed during the coup d'etat period, in which Chamblain is implicated. After trials were held on two other matters, Chamblain was earlier convicted in the Raboteau Massacre, as well as the assassination of businessman and Aristide supporter, Antoine Izmery. Both of these crimes occurred during the three-year coup period. Chamblain is also named in the Cite Soleil arson.

FRAPH, (Revolutionary Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress), a paramilitary organization formed during the second half of the coup d'etat (1991-1994) has been reported on and denounced by all international human rights groups for their use of torture, assassination and rape against Aristide supporters during that time.

FRAPH was founded by Emmanuel (Toto) Constant, who later revealed during a 60 Minutes interview that he met regularly with the CIA station chief in Haiti at the time, advising him in advance of all upcoming FRAPH activities and also stated that he received regular funds from the station chief.

Monday, August 16, 2010

(On eve of 2004 coup d'etat) 4-step plan,Key Points and Historical Footnote

Haiti: Press Release, 4-step plan,Key Points and Historical Footnote
Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison
National Palace, Haiti
(011509) 228-2058
Email: mkarshan [at] aol.com

Press Release

Dated: February 28, 2004

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Continues Calls for Peace, non-violence, and Reinforcement of Democracy in Address to Nation

(President Aristide’s Proposed Four Step Process Out of Current Crisis & Key Points on Recent Events with Historical Footnote are Attached at End of Press Release Below)

Addressing the Nation. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide delivered a statement to his nation overnight during a two-hour show on Haiti’s National Television which included a call-in segment. The show began at 11:30 last night and finished at 1:30 this morning.

Called on Terrorists to Leave the Country and Stop Killing People. While the US Embassy limited its call to the armed terrorists to abandon plans to invade Port-au-Prince, President Aristide called on the terrorists to leave Haiti and to stop killing its citizens declaring that, “When terrorists kill, we all suffer.” President Aristide also denounced the opposition for refusing to agree to the proposed peace plan put forth by the international community which would permit power sharing and steps to move forward to police reform and legislative and local elections.

Called on all to Defend their Democracy Through Non-Violent Action. “Rich, poor, public sector, private sector, Lavalas, opposition, come together to defend democracy because democracy is vital to the future of the nation, President Aristide stated. He also called upon his supporters who have been actively defending democracy and their vote, to not use violence in the process. “On the streets, there is vigilance, and vigilance without violence is necessary to protect democracy. The people of Haiti have demonstrated solidarity in this non-violent vigilance. “Non-violent vigilance is good.”

Active Non-Violence – Setting Ground Rules. President Aristide spoke firmly in clarifying acceptable methods for vigilance. Setting ground rules for the defense of the constitutional government, President Aristide said, “What is not good is criminality, stealing cars, looting. No one has the right to steal cars or loot or to violate the law. People should not take the law into their own hands.” He added, "We condemn that! When it's not good we have to say so.”

Haiti Raboteau Massacre Trial to Begin

From: MKarshan@aol.com
Release Date: September 24, 2000
Contact: Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison
Telephone: (011509) 228-2058

HAITI'S RABOTEAU MASSACRE TRIAL WILL TRY 22 DEFENDANTS IN DETENTION AND 36 IN ABSTENTIA INCLUDING FRAPH'S TOTO CONSTANT AND THE MILITARY HIGH COMMAND

On September 29, 2000, the Haitian government will bring to trial its biggest human rights case, the Raboteau Massacre. There are 58 defendants in the se, ranging from low level soldiers and paramilitaires, up through the military and paramilitary leadership. The latter group includes the coup leaders Raoul Cedras, Michel Francois and Philippe Biamby, the military high command, and Emmanuel Constant, the head of the paramilitary organization FRAPH. Twenty-two defendants are in custody, the highest ranked Captain
Cenafils Castera, the commander of the Gonaives military district.

The trial is expected to last about six weeks taking place in Gonaives approximately 3 hours north of Port-au-Prince. The case is based primarily on the eyewitness testimony. Forty-five people have filed formal complaints, and dozens more have come forward with first-hand reports. These witnesses will be buttressed by testimony from international experts in forensic anthropology, genetics, military organization, and human rights, as well as documents from the Haitian army archives. The prosecution did not have access to the "FRAPH/FADH Documents", 160,000 pages of materials seized by U.S. forces from military and paramilitary facilities in 1994. The U.S. government has refused to return the documents, despite repeated requests from the Haitian government, joined by members of the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, and human rights groups throughout the world.

Background: In the early hours of April 22, 1994, soldiers and paramilitaries raided Raboteau, a seaside neighborhood of Gonaives, attacking the area's resistant, but unarmed, population.

The attackers forcibly entered dozens of homes, beating and arresting those found within, including the elderly and small children. Many people were arrested and tortured, others were tortured or humiliated on site. Some were forced to lie in open sewers, or out in the hot sun for hours, some were forced to tear down a house with their bare hands. Those who fled to the sea, Raboteau's traditional refuge, were shot at, some were killed.

Concrete Steps to Combat Trafficking in Persons

Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison, National Palace, June 12, 2003

US Turns Blind Eye to Concrete Steps Made by Haiti to Combat Trafficking in Persons

The release yesterday of the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report, placing Haiti in the category of least compliant countries, came as a complete shock to the Government of Haiti. Over the past two years Haiti's government has made significant progress to enforce the human rights and quality of life for its children, as well as passing legislation in May prohibiting trafficking in persons and banning the provision of the labor code which sanctioned child domestic labor. (See below for more details on efforts made by the Government of Haiti.)

The State Department defines a tier 3 rating as applying to those countries "whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so." Haiti's Minister of Education, Marie Carmel Paul Austin, explained that placing Haiti in this category "is unjustified and appears completely at odds with the criteria used to rate other listed countries in their efforts to combat trafficking."

An example of how the report does not consistently apply its own criteria and fails to take into consideration measures taken by the Haitian government, while praising and crediting identical efforts made by other nations, can be found in the area of education. Haiti's Universal Schooling program has increased access to schooling through construction of additional schools in rural and urban areas, subsidizing school uniforms and textbooks by 70%, expanding its hot lunch program, increasing its school bus program, and waging a nationwide literacy program, now in its second year.

These measures to promote greater school enrollment in Haiti were not even cited in the report as preventive measures to combat child domestic service, whereas in the case of 17 other countries ranked tier 1 and tier 2 nations, raising school enrollment is cited as a significant preventive measure.

Many glaring contradictions are evident when comparing Haiti with other countries who were placed in less damning categories. The State Department report completely ignored the important provision of Haiti's anti-trafficking legislation that rescinds the provision of the Labor Code sanctioning child domestic service -- which has long been criticized by the human rights community. Oddly enough, 13 countries with no anti-trafficking legislation whatsoever are ranked tier 2 or tier 1, while Haiti is ranked tier 3.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What's Next for Haiti? by Michelle Karshan

What's Next for Haiti?
Haiti Policy Analysts Weigh in Putting the Pieces Together

by Michelle Karshan, published by the Haiti Action Committee

December 16, 2002 - Twelve years ago today, on December 16, 1990, Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected President by an overwhelming majority and inaugurated on February 7, 1991. Seven months later he was ousted in a violent coup d'etat carried out by the military and its sponsors. After three years of resistance by the Haitian people, in which 5,000 died, thousands were tortured and raped, and tens of thousands took to the high seas, the U.S. restored Aristide to Haiti through a military intervention, under international pressure.

Although his supporters wanted his term extended because of the three years that Aristide was forced to spend in exile, President Aristide finished his five-year term on February 7, 1996 and for the first time in Haiti's history a democratically elected President handed power over to the next democratically elected President. President Rene Preval served his entire five-year term without interruption, setting another precedent, and on February 7, 2001, after a landslide election, Aristide was once again inaugurated to the Presidency.

Tom F. Driver, a theology professor at New York's Union Theological Seminary, sums up the last couple of years in Haiti, "Since early in the year 2000, when it became apparent that Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Lavalas Family Party would win elections by large majorities, those opposed to popular government in Haiti have been determined to use every means necessary to thwart it. When they could not prevent Aristide's return to the Presidency, they set about to make it impossible for him to govern effectively. When they could not achieve their ends at the polls, they tried to invalidate the elections. When compromise was offered, they rejected it out of hand. Because persuasion will not avail them, they have threatened violence. Their efforts are encouraged, if not engineered, by elements in the United States Government, which has cut off all loans in aid to the Government of Haiti. The administration in Haiti is by no means perfect, but that is not the issue. The issue is legitimacy, all of which lies on the side of the Government and none on the side of the concerted opposition that has been nothing but obstructionist since the year 2000."

In remarks made by Kerry Kennedy Cuomo at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award ceremony a few weeks ago, she revealed that, "Six months ago, a high ranking Bush administration official commented to a member of our board, 'Only when the economic sanctions lead to Florida being flooded with boat people will this administration's policy change.' That statement has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A few weeks ago, over 200 Haitians in a rickety, leaking boat washed up on Key Biscayne Boulevard."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Where Did the Money Go? "AID" Received by Haiti: October 94 - October 1995

Where Did the Money Go?


Prepared by the

Washington Office on Haiti

“AID” Received by Haiti: October 94 – October 1995


A record amount of money from foreign sources was both committed and disbursed to Haiti since the return of President Aristide in October 1994. During the first year alone (October 1994-October 1995), $515.6 million of foreign aid poured into Haiti.

Many people wonder how such a large amount of money, equivalent to more than 30% of Haiti’s GDP, could have so little noticeable impact on people’s day-to-day lives and economic situation.

What follows is an attempt to answer this question by looking at international donors’ and lenders’ commitments, focusing on money actually disbursed over the first year of democratic rule. However, it should be noted that the money disbursed over this period is only part of a much larger package totaling U.S. $2.1 billion.

Of this sum, $1.12 billion are loans, and the rest are in the form of grants. The loans come primarily from three international financial institutions: Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the IDA (a branch of the World Bank), and the International Monetary Fund. Most of this money is conditional on reaching agreements on structural adjustment.

It should be kept in mind that much of the foreign “aid” that flows into Haiti goes right back out, without leaving much impact on production of goods and services within Haiti. Most of it is used for imports – the trade deficit reached a record U.S. $176 million for the first six months of 1995 alone. Some goes for consultancies to foreign nationals, foreign financial assets or accounts owned by wealthy Haitian nationals. A U.S. AID official in Haiti recently told visitors that 79 cents of every U.S.AID dollar worldwide is actually spent in the U.S.

The major categories of “aid” to Haiti have been: