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Haiti's police rough up Lavalas demonstrators commemorating Aristide's first victory

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  • Cort Greene
    http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HA/12_23_12/12_23_12.html Haiti s police rough up Lavalas demonstrators commemorating Aristide s first victory *HaitiAction.net
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 24, 2012
      Haiti's police rough up Lavalas demonstrators commemorating Aristide's
      first victory

      *HaitiAction.net <http://www.haitiaction.net/About.html> - Port au Prince,
      Haiti* � Haiti's police used excessive force in downtown Port au Prince
      last Sunday, December 16 to disrupt Lavalas demonstrators protesting the
      latest insecurity of the Martelly government. Twenty-six protestors � ten
      women and sixteen men � were arrested and taken to the National
      Penitentiary. A member of Haiti's Parliament, Deputy Arnel Belzaire, was
      unusually proactive in trying to obtain the freedom of all those arrested,
      risking arrest himself as well as bringing food for the victims. He spent
      the night at the jail.

      The protesters said that they will continue to "hunt down" � meaning: to
      keep up these demonstrations � this government which has been particularly
      unresponsive to the youth and the voice of the People of Haiti. Continuous
      barrages of tear gas fell upon the protestors as they marched through the
      popular neighborhoods of Port au Prince which swelled to sizable crowd of a
      few thousand. Some of the march participants of the march claimed that the
      Minister of the Interior, Ronsard Saint-Cyr, sent in gangs from their base
      of Martelly supporters � one being led by Ronsa Sainsi � to provoke the
      activists and throw stones at the marchers as a pretense for the inevitable
      police riot.

      Some of the musicians of the Rara marching bands, that accompany most
      demonstrations, lost their instruments in the fracas. Being, as it is,
      shortly before the bands try to make recordings for the upcoming Kanaval
      season, the loss is particularly difficult as many of the musicians come
      from the poorer neighborhoods of Cite Soleil and Bel Air and can't quickly
      come up with the money needed to buy replacements.

      Several demonstrators were badly injured and are now in hospitals trying to
      recover from the police brutality. One of the organizers of the protest,
      Fanmi Lavalas leader Rene Civil, says that they will escalate these
      protests in response to the repression. The Sunday march was relatively
      modest in size to recent demonstrations. Turning out three times as many
      activists at a moments notice for a peaceful demonstration is not beyond
      the capacity of Fanmi Lavalas.

      Share this story with your networks

      *HaitiAction.net <http://www.haitiaction.net/About.html>* is making a
      special fundraising call for the benefit of the Rara musicians that are
      trying to recover from last week's Manifestation and need to buy new
      instruments by January. Donations can be made online to the Rara Fund for
      now. If you wish additional information, send your questions to
      info@... < info@...>
      click fund logo above to donate

      The Rara Bands are a vital component of the pro-democracy demonstrations in
      Haiti. Each band is usually organized around a community and the leaders
      (maestro) are usually pressed for other concerns of benevolence for that
      community. The HaitiAction.net readership has been quite generous in the
      past with their donations to Haiti through this news website; coming up
      with the resources to re-equip these musicians and their community will be
      a relatively simple goal.
      As we prefer to encourage the benefits of a tax paying society, and that
      the Rara bands that we're involved with are striving for the full
      participation of Fanmi Lavalas in the electoral politics of Haiti this
      particular project is NOT tax-deductable.

      Haiti's New Dictatorship[image:
      by Justin Podur Wednesday, 19 December 2012 14:32

      Source: The Bullet <http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/>

      What constitutes a dictatorship? Haiti had an election in 2006, which the
      popular candidate won. It had an election in 2011, which had one of the
      lowest turnouts in recent history and which was subject to all kinds of
      external manipulation. Given these elections, is it unfair to call Haiti, a
      country that suffered 30 years of classic dictatorship under the
      the 1950s to the 1980s, a dictatorship today?

      When the institutions that govern Haiti today are examined, it is clear
      that the label �dictatorship� applies. Haitians have no effective say over
      their own economic and political affairs. Their right to assemble and
      organize politically is sharply limited. Human rights violations are
      routine and go unpunished. Popular political parties are effectively banned
      from running.
      How is Haiti Governed?

      Since 2004, the armed force in Haiti has been controlled by the United
      Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti,
      Haiti's police are trained, and effectively supervised, by a subset of
      MINUSTAH, a mission called CIVPOL (usually commanded by Canadians). The
      current president of Haiti, Michel
      wants to bring back the Haitian Army, but when that army existed, it was
      also an instrument of another country (the U.S.) and its foreign policy �
      bringing back the Haitian Army would be no boost to sovereignty or
      democracy in Haiti.

      Force is controlled from outside. What about finance? MINUSTAH has a budget
      of about $676-million. Since the 2010 earthquake, the big charities have
      spent about the same (around $600-million) in 2010 and 2011. Haiti's own
      government budget this year is based on $1.1-billion in aid and
      $1.25-billion in taxes. Perhaps most importantly, Haiti's economy is also
      supported by about $1.5-billion in remittances from the Haitian diaspora,
      year after year, one of the largest contributions to Haiti's $7.3-billion

      These figures contain a few surprises. In terms of taxes and GDP, most of
      the contribution to Haiti's economy is by Haitians. Presented as an
      international basket-case, Haiti is actually more self-sufficient than its
      donors believe. And the aid � whether in the form of budget support, relief
      and reconstruction aid, or NGO expenditure � buys control. By contributing
      a fraction of what Haitians contribute, foreign donors purchase control
      over the direction of Haiti's economy, including the determination of an
      export- and foreign-investment driven model that keeps wages low and denies
      any protection to the country's agriculture, let alone any local infant
      industries. Haiti's private sector is a subcontracting sector, featuring
      low-wage assembly plants and import-export monopolies, but little prospect
      of increasing productivity or long-term development.

      Haiti's social services sector is controlled by non-governmental
      organizations. These NGOs are better described, using Peter Hallward's
      phrase, as �other-governmental,� since they are financed by, and beholden
      to, foreign donor countries. With daily welfare in the hands of a totally
      decentralized NGO economy, there is no prospect of any sort of national or
      regional coordination. This has real, and deadly consequences. Hurricane
      Sandy in 2012 provides an example. Cuba's early warning system and national
      government enabled that country to evacuate a huge hurricane-affected area
      before the storm hit, with hundreds of thousands of people being
      efficiently moved out of danger and back to their homes after the storm
      passed. With every NGO in the world, and half of the world's countries
      participating in MINUSTAH, the international community could not manage
      such an orderly evacuation in Haiti. This is one of the reasons Haiti,
      under international tutelage, loses more lives than sovereign countries do
      every hurricane season and why it lost more lives during the 2010
      earthquake than countries like Chile or China (that were hit with severe
      earthquakes around the same time).

      A final feature of dictatorships is impunity, a situation in which crimes
      committed by the regime go unpunished. There is now irrefutable scientific
      evidence that the United Nations brought cholera to Haiti, and that cholera
      has killed over 7500 people since it was introduced. MINUSTAH's initial
      position was to claim that there was no proof. Now that there is proof,
      MINUSTAH insists that it is not to blame because it was not done on
      purpose, even though no one ever claimed it was. But if the effective
      government of a country causes thousands of deaths and insists that no one
      is to blame, shouldn't it raise questions about how the country is governed?
      The Coup and Canadian Intervention

      The story of how Haiti's new dictatorship was imposed is also appalling.
      The MINUSTAH-international donor regime was imposed after the elected
      government was overthrown in 2004. That government, of Lavalas, saw its
      president, Jean Bertrand
      kidnapped and flown to the Central African Republic, where he was held
      until he was basically rescued by an American delegation. The coup against
      the Lavalas government was accompanied by many claims that Aristide was a
      great human rights violator and participant in corruption. The factual
      basis for almost all of these claims has since collapsed, but the
      government that replaced Aristide engaged in real political cleansing,
      killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people since 2004, and the aid
      economy wastes more money than most classic-mould dictators could dream of

      The 2004 coup in Haiti followed a script, parts of which were used in 2002
      in Venezuela (unsuccessfully), in 2009 in Honduras (successfully), and in
      2012 in Paraguay (successfully). Studying the record of how the
      �international community� has governed Haiti in the eight years since the
      coup should be important for those who are wondering where the next coups
      will be.

      In 2005, a Canadian official told me that Haiti is a practice ground for
      how the �international community� might handle the �Cuban transition.�
      After securing key sites in Port au Prince to help the coupsters in 2004,
      Canadian missions have trained and supervised Haiti's police throughout the
      worst periods of human rights violations since the coup. So when Canada's
      minister of international cooperation Julian Fantino, a former police chief
      himself, went to Haiti at the end of November, it is perhaps unsurprising
      that he spoke<http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/CEC-1125112737-MBC>
      what Canada expects from Haiti: �The Government of Canada and Canadians
      expect transparency and accountability from the Government of Haiti given
      Canadians significant level of generosity. I will be expressing this
      expectation in my meetings with senior officials.� If only Haiti could
      expect the same level of transparency and accountability for what Canada
      has done in their country. Imagine how different the world would have to be
      for a Haitian to be able to say such words publicly.

      When Fantino was in Haiti, I was on a book
      tour<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXxQhMchxi8> sponsored
      by the Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN), a network that has tried to
      raise the issue of what Canada has been doing in Haiti since 2004 � tries
      to demand, in other words, some �transparency and accountability� from the
      government of Canada for its support of the coup and its role in post-coup
      governance. Mostly, crowds were small, but there were interesting people
      who found their way to events: the physio-therapist in Halifax who went on
      a two week medical mission only to discover that such missions aren't all
      that big a help and that the mission organizers made the medical volunteers
      afraid to leave their walled compound in Port au Prince; the young Haitians
      in Montreal who said it was refreshing to hear their own history told in a
      respectful way, as opposed to a contemptuous one; the black Canadian Forces
      soldier who answered an audience question about racism among international
      forces by telling a story of how French soldiers joked that Haiti needed to
      be recolonized by France.

      In the 2004 coup, these kinds of people, people interested in helping
      Haiti, were the targets of propaganda. They were told that Haiti was faced
      with the stark choice between local corruption and international control.
      But the record shows that the government that was overthrown wasn't all
      that corrupt and that international control was a catastrophe. This is
      something people who want to help Haiti badly need to know.

      There are other ways, real ways, to help. The Cuban medical missions
      managed to train Haitian doctors and keep providing health care through
      every disruption; Venezuela provided oil at lower than the global market
      rate. NGOs like MSF <http://www.msf.ca/> and Partners in
      great work in the health sector, and CHAN
      <http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/> tries
      hard to stay in touch with grassroots Haitian organizations in the
      democratic movement. International solidarity, as opposed to aid, will
      require working around the structures of the dictatorship, something that
      can only be done if we see them for what they are. �

      *Justin Podur is the author of Haiti's New Dictatorship
      , Between the Lines <http://www.btlbooks.com/book/haitis-new-dictatorship>,
      and Palgrave-Macmillan 2012).*

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