Michael Deibert, Writer
Michael Deibert is a journalist and author of Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti, praised by The Miami Herald as “a powerfully documented exposé” and by The San Antonio Express-News as “a compelling mix of reportage, memoir and social criticism.” His website is www.michaeldeibert.com and he can be followed at twitter.com/michaelcdeibert.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Note on Jean-Bertrand Aristide's return to Haiti
As questionable friends of Haiti such as Amy Goodman, Danny Glover and others celebrate the return to Haiti of a man as politically and personally corrupt and ruthless as any that I have ever reported on, it seems only fitting that, if they don't have the dignity or respect to do so, some foreigner should write a note of apology to the many Haitians who fell opposing the man's rancid and despotic regime, or for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So here it goes.
On behalf of all the misguided and ignorant foreigners who still act as apologists for a man who did as much to impoverish Haiti and destroy its fragile institutions as any ruler in its history (and this is by no means a complete list), I would like to apologize
* To Marie Christine Jeune, the courageous young female Police Nationale d'Haïti (PNH) officer who had publicly criticized Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s attempts to link the police force with armed gangs and was found, raped and mutilated in March 1995
* To the thirteen people murdered in the Fort Mercredi slum in June 2001 by the forces of gang leader Felix “Don Fefe” Bien-Aimé, whom Jean-Bertrand Aristide had appointed as director of the Port-au-Prince cemetery as a reward for his loyalty
* To Brignol Lindor, the journalist murdered by the pro-Aristide Domi Nan Bwa gang in Petit-Goâve on 3 December 2001
* To Eric Pierre, the 27-year-old medical student from Jacmel, was was shot and killed while leaving the Haiti’s Faculté de Medicine in January 2003 on a day of planned anti- government demonstrations, with witnesses saying attackers fled the scene in a car with official TELECO plates and even providing license numbers
* To 25-year-old Saurel Volny, shot and killed by police during an anti-government demonstration in Gonaives in January 2003.
* To Ronald Cadet, a student activist who was shot and killed in Haiti's capital in February 2003 after being forced to live in hiding since November 2002
* To the eleven people, including Michelet Lozier, mother of five, killed by Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s security forces as they raided the Gonaives slum of Raboteau in the early morning hours of 2 October 2003
* To the fourteen people, including seventeen-year-old Josline Michel and the month old baby girl of Micheline Limay, also killed by Jean-Betrand Aristide’s security forces when they again raided Raboteau on 27 October 2003
* To Danielle Lustin, the university professor, feminist activist and expert in microfinancing murdered on 22 October 2003 and whose memorial mass at Sacre-Coeur was interrupted by a gang of young mean descending from a white pickup bearing “Officielle” license plates, who pummeled them with rocks and bottles, crying “Viv Aristide” and threatening them in the most base, misogynistic terms
* To Maxime Desulmond, the well-known student leader from Jacmel, killed when pro-Aristide gangs fired upon an anti-govenrment demonstration in Port-au-Prince on 7 January 2003
* To Leroy Joseph, Kenol St. Gilles, Yveto Morancy and the rest of the at least 27 people who were murdered and the women raped by a combination of PNH, Unite de Securite de la Garde du Palais National d’Haiti and Bale Wouze forces in Saint Marc between 11 February and 29 February 2004.
* To my dear friend James "Billy" Petit-Frere, and his brother Winston "Tupac" Jean-Bart, and all the other young men used as cannon fodder by Aristide and then abandoned to their fates or their lives extinguished (such as Roland François) when they were no longer of use
Also on behalf of we foreigners, I would like to apologize to the Haitian constitution, shredded like Lyonel Trouillot's "faded piece of cloth fought over by dogs" by Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the following manner:
* By a demobilization of the Haitian army in April 1995, which was illegal without a constitutional amendment, as the army was still enshrined in Article 263 of the Haitian constitution.
* By his violation of Article 7 of Haiti's constitution, which states that "the cult of personality is categorically forbidden. Effigies and names of living personages may not appear on the currency, stamps, seals, public buildings, streets or works of art." Jean-Bertrand Aristide placed hagiographic billboards bearing his image throughout the country, and the state television station TNH showed ceaseless homages to the president.
* By personally and directly blocking the investigation into the murder of Haiti's foremost journalist, Radio Haiti Inter owner Jean Dominique and Jean-Claude Louissaint - as attested to by the staff of Radio Haiti Inter, investigating magistrate Claudy Gassant and now-PNH chief Mario Andresol - and and by pressuring Justice Henry Kesner Noel, to sign a re-arrest warrant for Prosper Avril in April 2002, among other acts, Jean-Bertrand Aristide violated Article 60 of Haiti's constitution, which delegated firmly the independence of the executive and judicial branches of government.
* By attempting in September 2003 revive a presidential decree passed by Jean-Claude Duvalier on October 12, 1977 ("broadcast information must be precise, objective and impartial, and must come from authorized sources which are to be mentioned when broadcasting. Those who are responsible for the broadcasts have to control the programs to ensure that the information "even when it is correct ”cannot harm or alarm the population by its form, presentation or timing. The broadcast stations will provide a channel for the broadcasting of official programs, if so required by the public powers .") which was a naked assault on articles 28-1, 28-2 and 245 of Haiti's constitution, which forbids censorship and protects free speech and journalistic practices.
* To say nothing of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's arming of a generation of desperately poor street children which violated Article 268 of the Haitian constitution whereby the PNH were to be the only body with the right to distribute and circulate weapons in the country.
Haitian people, you deserve better foreign friends than those who touch your soil today with the man who victimized you so. Perhaps some day you will have the foreign friends that you deserve. Until then, I know you will persevere. You are the children of heroes, after all.