Subverting Democracy - From Radical Revolutionary to Imperialist Lackeys
(Haitian "leftist" Coup backers in Panic)

Batay Ouvrye, NCHR and OPL

Like NCHR these "leftist" and so-called "progressive" "human rights organizations" were used and used their U.S. and International Community contacts to help wage the Bicentennial Coup D'etat by forming and sensitizing negative public opinion against the Lavalas Party and Haiti's Ti Pèp (masses who support President Aristide) from the outside of Haiti

The NCHR was funded by the Bush Administration and has selectively targeted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Lavalas movement for criticism, before and after the coup d'etat, including pushing for the incarceration of Prime Minister Yvon Neptune. In contrast, NCHR was silent when anti-Aristide paramilitaries drove Haiti's democratically-elected President from office and systematically released jailed thugs who then went on to participate in repression of Lavalas members and civilians in the populist and poor neighborhoods. The U.S.-backed coup regime replaced those criminals with hundreds of political prisoners, whom McCalla said nothing about until Prime Minister Neptune's principled dissent made the political prisoners an international issue and NY NCHR broke away from its Haiti NCHR branch.

  • 5. Where the LEFT stands is not the question
    With Aristide elected, then kidnapped, where "we" stand is not the question by Charles Demers and Derrick O’Keefe. This article on(Znet, Oct. 2, 2005) makes a point that fits equally into this page on Ouvrye, NCHR, OPL, NGOs and Haitian human rights groups which needs underlining. Demer and O'keefe write about:

    ..the absurdity of a debate which ought to have been easily resolved with common sense, but instead consumes the Left on issues such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti. Put simply: It is a sad, dangerous day when the imperatives and priorities of ‘first world’ NGOs, churches, trade unions or other associations (no matter how well-meaning or benign) come to override the sovereignty of elected and, even, unelected ‘third world’ governments. Beaudet’s analogizing Aristide to Hussein and Noriega is mendacious and absurd, but, in the end, moot; even in those horrific cases, progressive, internationalist principles dictate the opposition to destabilization, regime change from outside, and foreign intervention. " This applies equally to Haitian NGOs, trade unions or other associations. Their interests may not come to override the SOVEREIGNTY of the elected Haitian government and sanctity of the Haitian people's mandate and vote to President Aristide."

    6 .The Enemy of My Donor is My Enemy
    Why government funding and progresssive institutions don't mix

    by Joe Emersberher Znet

    7 . Haiti, Imperialism, and the Treachery of Liberals by Shirley Pate, Znet, October 15, 2005


Haiti Action Committee on Batay Ouvrye as a corruptible element

To the Editor (Regarding Batay Ouvrye):

    We are writing to clarify several points raised in Ricky Baldwin's article about Haiti, "Free Markets and Death Squads" in the September/October Dollars and Sense.

    Unlike Mr. Baldwin, we are not surprised that Batay Ouvriye is "not agitating to bring President Aristide back this time." After all, they were one of the organizations that called for his resignation before the coup. With that stance, they placed themselves against the vast majority of the Haitian peasant and labor movement. It is ironic that Batay is now experiencing repression from the very forces they helped put in power.

    Baldwin's article talks of recent attacks by the coup government and paramilitary forces on farm workers, but fails to mention that these farm workers had received this land during Lavalas administrations. With the ouster of the Aristide government, the former landlords have been emboldened to seize the land again.

    By focusing almost exclusively on the repression against Batay Ouvriye, Baldwin leaves out any mention of the ongoing, wholesale attacks on other union members, journalists, and supporters of Aristide's Lavalas party. Paramilitaries and police have killed or displaced thousands of people since the beginning of the coup in January, and up to 10,000 government workers have been fired from their jobs - victims of a witch-hunt directed at suspected Lavalas sympathizers. Since September 30 the coup government has mounted a state of siege against grassroots activists and their communities in Port-au-Prince, with hundreds of people killed, many of them execution style, and many more arrested, including Father Gerard Jean-Juste. Fr. Jean-Juste was finally released on November 29th after a sustained international campaign, but more than 700 political prisoners still languish in Haitian jails. Almost none of them have gone before a judge. Why is this context missing from Mr. Baldwin's article?

    On December 1st, according to first-hand accounts, members of the Haitian national police murdered over 60 prisoners who were protesting abominable prison conditions and the lack of due process. This attack coincided with Colin Powell's recent visit to Haiti, where he told the Latortue coup regime, "We are with you all the way." Despite this repression, tens of thousands of Haitians demonstrated throughout the country on December 16th and again on February 7, 2005 calling for the return of President Aristide.

    Readers of Mr. Baldwin's article might find it hard to understand this massive and continuing popular support for Aristide. Mr. Baldwin claims that the Lavalas government embraced a "neo-liberal" economic policy, as evidenced by the Free Trade Zone on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. In fact, successive Lavalas administrations resisted privatization and developed an economic and social agenda centered on local development, health care, a massive literacy program, enforcing taxation of the elite and raising the minimum wage. Of the 11 national industries that the IMF demanded be privatized in 1994, the Lavalas government sold off only two of them. Aristide's refusal to cave in on privatization is one of the reasons international financial institutions cut off loans to Haiti.

    Batay Ouvriye focused its work in the Free Trade Zone, where workers make far more than they do in the Port-au-Prince sweatshops owned by Haiti's elite. The Aristide administration targeted these sweatshops, where workers are paid, in some cases, as low as 55 gourds a day and are killed, arrested, beaten or fired if they try to organize. This could account for the passion with which the Group of 184, representing Haiti's business elite, mobilized to support the U.S.-French coup against Aristide. And this could also explain why Yannick Etienne of Batay Ouvriye, who allied with the Group of 184's attacks on the Aristide government, fails to condemn conditions in the elite's Port-au-Prince factories.

    Ms. Etienne grudgingly admits that President Aristide raised the minimum wage and drew the ire of the State Department and Haiti's elite in the process. But she neglects to mention that immediately after the coup, many of the Port-au-Prince sweatshop owners retracted the raise and lowered wages.

    The United States and France staged the coup in Haiti not just for "cheap labor", but to destroy a social movement that had given hope, democracy, literacy, schools, health care, and even parks, to Haiti's majority. This movement made Haitian Creole an official language, and recognized Vodou as a religion. The United States attacks Haiti, like it does Cuba and every country in the world that has tried to take an independent path to development, to prevent the emergence of an alternative model that supports the majority of the population.

    Why is all of this absent from Mr. Baldwin's article? Why does he fail to discuss the work of Haiti's grassroots labor and peasant federations, who overwhelmingly support Lavalas? In doing so, he presents a distorted picture of Haiti's reality. The Aristide government and the Lavalas movement were - and are -- the _expression of the hopes and dreams of the clear majority of Haitians. That is why so many Haitians have taken to the streets, risking arrest, torture and assassination, to demand the return of Aristide and democratic rule.

    We would be happy to provide Dollars and Sense with the names of labor activists from Haiti who could share with you a far different analysis from that presented by Batay Ouvriye. Are you interested?

    For more information, see reports of Haiti Accompaniment Project and Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti or visit the Haiti Action Committee website at: www.haitiaction.net.

    Charlie Hinton
    Robert Roth
    for the Haiti Action Committee

    PO Box 2218
    Berkeley, CA 94702
    Daytime phone: 510-845-7114, x115


    HLLN Regarding OPL and Batay Ouvriye
    By Marguerite Laurent, June 15, 2005

    The primary complaints of the OPL Party and Batay Ouvriye against President Aristide is that he sold out to the neoliberalist. Yet, out of 11 state owned enterprises only 2 of the smallest enterprises (cement & flour mill) were privatized and said privatization occured under President Preval, not President Aristide and, most importantly were passed by an OPL controlled legislature, not a Fanmi Lavalas-controlled legislature.

    It is time for pro-democracy peace and justice activists to confront these so-called "leftist" in Haiti, with international reach, for they are desperate to regain some legitimacy. For us, at HLLN, this CPUSA resolution brings into sharp focus how the Batay Ouvriyes, OPL, MPP's et al. are continuing to stand against the people of Haiti while projecting, in the international community, this idea that they speak for the people. They don't.

    Chamille Charles of PAPDA talks about how bad neoliberalism is but it is just that: TALK. PAPDA's second in command, Yve Andre Wainwright is the current Minister of the Environment under the illegal and discredited Latortue government! - and we know definitely Latortue was not elected by any Haitian voter or worker.

    What progressives in the U.S. may define as "leftist" or "worker" has an altogether different meaning also in Haiti as applied to OPL, Batay Ouvriye, et al in Haiti. For instance, no one in the U.S. would say Jesse Helms or Roger Noreiga his protégé are "leftist" concerned with "workers rights." Yet, one of the key contacts for Jesse Helms in Haiti was Gérard Pierre-Charles of OPL, known as a so-called "leftist". And we also saw how they had done a job on this sector in Venezuela. A quick look at the money trail, at the who funds Batay Ouvriye, PABDA and you will discover that many of these so-called anti-neoliberalism groups, (perhaps because they pushed the "anti-Aristide" line of the neocons), were funded by mainstream organizations who are on the right of right.

    What US progressive may not understand is that Haiti is a country filled with "non-workers." With an "informal sector" that is the economic backbone of Ti Pèp La - the masses in Haiti. As high as 70% under the Constitutional government and up to over 90% unemployment right now because of the Coup D'etat these "leftist" help sponsor. Who then, do these progressive unions represent? And do their file and rank numbers not want the return of President Aristide? Where's their proof of membership. If most Haitians work in the informal sector and are labelled "non-workers" and unrepresented by unions such as Ouvriye, then aren't they representing the select few to the detriment of the masses of "non-workers" pressing for a representative government instead of this foreign imposed cabal, that would recognize their right to jobs, health care, schooling, housing, clean drinking water, safe working conditions, living wages, et al.

    HLLN and other pro-democracy groups, such as Haiti Action Committee, and Veye Yo, can show almost on a daily basis thousands upon thousands of Haitians - the majority in Haiti, requesting for the return to Constitutional rule. It would seem these petti bourgeois "leftist" leaders? speak to their own interest and not FOR the people of Haiti and never have.

    OPL has strong family links with Batay Ouvriye. These theorists talk
    left but walk right. What they project on the international scene and
    how they are viewed in Haiti are vastly different.

    Their role in the bicentennial Coup D'etat is undisputed. Thus, these people, can by no stretch of the imagination, be labeled "progressives." What the unions and workers-advocacy groups in the U.S. may not understand is that most of these unionist and progressives in Haiti, spent a lot of time undermining Haiti's national sovereignty, not because they had worker proposals that weren't passed by the Lavalas governments, but because they personally wanted higher positions in that government and felt rejected. PAPDA, Batay Ouvriye, SOFA, KAYFANM, et al, with the
    help of international "progressives" like Charles Authur of England, so
    maligned the Aristide government it is not an exaggeration to say they
    actively participated in bringing on the Coup D'etat. And are
    responsible and should be made accountable for the great suffering of
    the Haitian people today under this Bush's death regime. Fact is, like
    the former Duvalierist who where re-imaged as "Civil Society" and
    funded by IRI, USAID "democracy enhancement programs" so where these
    so-called progressives. They were bought. Their constituencies are mainly
    foreigners, not Haitians - workers or non-workers.

    They are still playing to their foreign constituency.

    HLLN is in touch with many Haitians on the ground in Haiti,
    with first hand knowledge of these groups, who could provide a
    different view of these groups than they are projecting to the
    international workers unions and groups.

    If I can be of any help with this let me know. Below is a piece I wrote
    not too long ago on this subject of "workers rights vs. national
    sovereignty." It concerns Batay Ouvrye. I've removed the names in the
    original but the substance is below and might shed further light on how
    phony and irresponsible these so-called leftist groups from Haiti are.
    Thanks for your continued support.

    Marguerite Laurent, Esq.
    Founder and Chair, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
    (Dedicated to protecting the human, civil and cultural rights of Haitians living at home and abroad)
    June 15, 2005

    October 2005
    Haiti: With Aristide elected, then kidnapped, where ‘we’ stand is not the question

    A Reply to Pierre Beaudet
    [Pierre Beaudet's article titled "Haiti, the struggle continues"
    appeared, among other places, on ZNet <http://tinyurl.com/b34mm>
    (October 2, 2005)]

    By Charles Demers and Derrick O’Keefe

    Comrades: We cannot, as North American progressives, fall in to a defense of the thuggery, autocracy and brutality of the Viet Cong bandits – even if we are uncomfortable with elements of the American intervention in Vietnam. Instead, we must insist on building the civil society mechanisms needed to ensure the most democratic Republic of South Vietnam possible.

    Comrades: It’s useless to call for the return of the strong-arm
    Bonapartist, Hugo Chavez. We must work within the new political
    context, under President Carmona, to build a viable, participatory

    Comrades: Cuba – I mean come on. What can I say about Cuba?With an endless list of populist, democratic, and even authoritarian
    third world leaders deposed in the ‘post’-colonial era by the wealthy
    countries of the North to grave ends and with disastrous consequences in the South – Mossadegh, Lumumba, Allende, Sukarno, and, yes, even the ill-conceived, vacuum-inducing ouster of the barbarous Saddam Hussein, which has set the context for decades of confessional violence in what was once Iraq – at least one lesson of history ought to be abundantly clear for the Left. That lesson is that, even with the best of intentions, Empire-builders drunk on hubris have not and can not build safety, democracy or security over and against the wills of subject peoples (even if the dubious claim that this is what they’re doing is taken at face value, which it oughn’t be).

    The failure to learn this lesson is the crux of the problem with the
    recent contribution of Pierre Beaudet to the discussion on the
    orientation that progressives and solidarity activists should adopt
    towards the situation of French-, American- and Canadian-mandated
    regime change Haiti; a greater problem even than his bungling of
    simple, basic, and straightforward facts (Beaudet has, for instance,
    René Preval running as a “‘stand-in’” for Aristide in the elections
    of 2000, when in actuality, the latter overwhelmingly won that
    election himself). On the facts of the matter, the recently released
    book Canada in Haiti, written by Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton,
    rigorously exposes Ottawa’s financial, political and military role in
    the February 29, 2004 coup d’état and subsequent occupation, as well
    as the facts on the ground in Haiti.

    Beaudet gives scant attention to these matters, preferring to recycle
    unsubstantiated (and un-cited) blanket assertions of “rigged
    elections” under Aristide. In fact, rather than explicitly
    addressing the Left’s and his own organization’s position on Haiti,
    Beaudet sets up a familiar and unconvincing straw-man: That those
    actively involved in opposing the occupation of Haiti and calling for
    the return of constitutional order are uncritical apologists for
    Aristide and the shortcomings of his government.

    The facetious, hypothetical polemics advanced at the opening of this
    essay with regards to Vietnam, Venezuela and Cuba, are meant as more than simply cheeky rhetorical devices; we are trying, instead, to
    highlight the absurdity of a debate which ought to have been easily
    resolved with common sense, but instead consumes the Left on issues such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti. Put simply: It is a sad, dangerous day when the imperatives and priorities of ‘first world’ NGOs, churches, trade unions or other associations (no matter how well-meaning or benign) come to override the sovereignty of elected and, even, unelected ‘third world’ governments. Beaudet’s analogizing Aristide to Hussein and Noriega is mendacious and absurd, but, in the end, moot; even in those horrific cases, progressive, internationalist principles dictate the opposition to destabilization, regime change from outside, and foreign intervention.

    The overriding fact of the matter is: The recognized and sovereign
    nation of Haiti carried out legal elections in the year 2000; a
    process more decisive and perhaps closer to ideal than elections
    carried out in another former slave republic of the Americas that
    same year. In the midst of his term, the legitimate president was
    kidnapped by historically hostile interlopers who ferried him into an
    exile from which he has been unable to carry out his mandate. The
    clock stopped then for Haitian democracy; it starts again when he
    comes back.

    With America pretending to control over Iraq, many ‘progressives’ in
    the United States are trying to make the best of a ‘bad’ situation;
    at least one sectarian socialist newspaper has called for Iraqis to
    make use of the “civic space” opened up by the occupation. But
    whether it’s Christopher Hitchens supporting the Iraqi occupation to
    advance secularism and Kurdish rights, or Pierre Beaudet supporting
    the NGOs backing Aristide’s ouster for whatever ‘democratic’
    rationales, their fundamental validations of the imperial project are
    untenable and unjust. After over 200 years of intimidation, debt
    slavery and foreign invasion, the Haitian people deserve the freedom
    to create their own national destiny – replete with glories and
    mistakes. This is where solidarity activists should stand: behind
    the Haitian people, and the organized expression of their own free

    ZNet | Haiti
    October 15, 2005

    The Enemy of My Donor is My Enemy
    Why government funding and progressive institutions don't mix

    by Joe Emersberger

    [Note: This is a reply to Pierre Beaudet <http://tinyurl.com/b34mm>
    of the Canadian-government-funded NGO 'Alternatives', whose article
    was a reply to Nik Barry-Shaw <http://tinyurl.com/c5bhh>, who argued that 'Alternatives' was a tool of Canadian foreign policy.]
    October 15, 2005

    Canada is backing a brutal unelected regime in Haiti that is
    preparing for sham elections by ensuring the most popular Lavalas
    leaders and activists are either dead, in prison or in hiding. One
    reason Canada has succeeded in getting away with its murderous
    policies in Haiti is the support they have received from CIDA funded
    groups like Alternatives. [1]

    These groups pose as leftists but often parrot the line of the Haiti's elite (like the recently acquitted Jodel Chamblain) who now run Haiti with direct assistance from Ottawa. Haiti has exposed the rot within many "progressive" institutions and the dangers inherent in receiving any government funding. For this reason alone, the piece Rabble.ca published on October 6, 2005 by Peirre Beaudet - a founding member of Alternatives - should be examined by anyone interested in developing genuinely
    progressive movements. Alternatives lists as 'supporters' people like
    Naomi Klein, who, having interviewed Aristide and helped get the word out about the 2004 coup, would probably be surprised to see her name used as a smokescreen for Beaudet's ill-informed and reprehensible posturing. [2]

    Beaudet wrote that Haiti's elections were "rigged" in 2000 and
    appears to be ignorant of the fact that Aristide, not Rene Preval,
    won the presidential election of 2000. Putting aside the clarity of
    his writing, anyone who has bothered to look into the elections knows they were not rigged. The OAS disputed the way voting percentages
    were calculated for several senatorial seats (despite knowing about
    the procedure beforehand). [3] They believed the vote for those seats should have gone to a second round. The OAS did not question the
    scale of the Lavalas victory and noted that Haitians "voted in large
    numbers in an atmosphere of relative calm and absence of intimidation.."[4] The results were consistent with what US
    commissioned polls predicted.

    The OAS refused to monitor the presidential vote that followed the
    "flawed" legislative elections. Aristide's opponents boycotted. The
    U.K. Economist, a right wing magazine hostile to Aristide, reported
    at the time that their boycott was "a welcome way for them to save
    face, since none would have come close to defeating the far more
    popular Mr Aristide and his well-organised party." [5]

    The opposition boycott and the OAS refusal to monitor the presidential election has proven useful to those who have dismissed Aristide's victory. Beaudet claims, without citing a source, that only 15% of the electorate showed up. That number doesn't stand up to scrutiny. A USAID poll
    weeks before the election found that 92.8% of the electorate knew of
    the vote and that 56% were "very likely" to vote. Another 22.7% were "somewhat likely to vote". Those numbers support the claims by
    independent observers and Haitian officials that turnout was 60%.. [6]

    Beaudet wrote that after the elections "the big international players
    kept out, creating around Haiti an invisible wall of isolation and
    neglect." In reality Canada seized on the fuss made over the senate
    seats to follow the US and the EU in blocking hundreds of millions of
    dollars in critically needed aid from the government. The
    "international community" told Aristide that for aid flows to resume
    he would have to cut a deal with his opponents to hold new elections.
    His opponents refused to accept their designated seats on the
    Provisional Elections Council, which (given the stance of international donors) became necessary for balloting to occur. The opposition therefore sustained the pretext that the US and EU used to withhold aid. Haiti was not neglected. It was deliberately destabilized.[7]

    Contrary to the impression given by Beaudet with his mention of
    "popular demonstrations" Aristide remained far more popular than his opponents even after the aid embargo. A US government commissioned poll in 2002 confirmed why the opposition insisted on Aristide's departure rather than allow elections in which he would run [8]

    Beaudet refers vaguely to Aristide's crimes while in office and makes
    no attempt to place them (or his achievements) in proportion to those
    of his opponents.[9] The military junta that overthrew Aristide in
    1991 murdered at least 3000 people according to mainstream human
    rights organizations like Human Rights Watch. [10]

    Even if one holds Aristide responsible for the actions of supporters during his subsequent time in office it is impossible to conclude that his crimes were remotely comparable or that he relied on violence to retain power. In fact, most of the serious abuses during Aristide's time in office were committed by his armed opponents. [11]

    Since the coup Haiti has been subjected to repression of similar magnitude to what occurred under the military rule. Thousands of Lavalas supporters have been murdered, imprisoned or exiled. [12]

    That isn't surprising because people like Jodel Chamblain, who were deeply involved with repression during the military regime, have been acquitted of crimes, sprung from prison, and even paid "compensation" by the unelected regime. [13]

    The "flaws" of 2000 elections provoked devastating sanctions, but the "international community" happily resumed aid while Lavalas supporters are filling up morgues and prisons.

    Should progressives want any part of organizations like Beaudet's
    that fail to speak up against such monstrous hypocrisy?

    Then Beaudet sinks even lower by asserting, again without citing a
    source, that since the latest coup "Aristide has succeeded in joining
    hands with some of the hard-nose gangs in the capital to create
    havoc". The theory that Aristide is directing gangs in Haiti by
    remote control from South Africa has been made by Roger Norriega - a U.S. diplomat who helped organize the Contra army that terrorized
    Nicaragua throughout the 1980s. One would hope that only Bush
    Administration officials would be capable of spewing such an
    outlandish claim, but in Canada the state of ignorance about Haiti is
    such that government funded "progressives" spew it as well. [14]

    The left should stand for the right of Haitians to vote for Aristide,
    or the Reverend Gereard Jean Juste or for whomever they want without having to worry that the "international community" will conspire with sweatshops owners and death squad leaders to veto their choice.
    We should not let government funded "progressives" get in the way.


    [1] CIDA is the Canadian International Development Agency.

    Alternatives' website says that "government sources", primarily CIDA,
    provide 50% of its funding. (see here) CIDA is also the direct
    employer of Philipe Vixamar - Haiti's Deputy Minister of Justice.

    That would be the ministry responsible for acquitting mass murderer
    Jodel Chamblain while imprisoning the Rev, Gerard Jean Juste, whom
    Amnesty International has designated a "prisoner of conscience". For
    more details about the Vixamr see Thomas Griffin's report cited in
    note 12

    CIDA recently announced http://tinyurl.com/7d5pc that "more than $2
    million to help local media representatives provide fair and balanced
    reporting during and after the electoral period: the training will be
    provided by Alternatives and Réseau Liberté"

    [2] Rabble.ca lists Alternatives as a "business partners" (see here
    <http://www.rabble.ca/about_us/about_us.shtml?x=745>). Alternatives
    proudly claims <http://www.alternatives.ca/article99.html> Naomi
    Klein and Judy Rebick as "supporters".

    [3] The OAS was aware of the procedure since 1999 when it was
    directly involved in Haition elections. See "Canada in Haiti: Waging
    war on the Poor Majority" by Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton: pg 32

    ELECTIONS: July 13, 2000 <http://tinyurl.com/7h5dk>

    [5] Economist: "The inevitable president"; Nov 16, 2000

    [6]"Canada in Haiti: Waging war on the Poor Majority": pg 31, 34;
    cited note 3

    [7] OAS Resolution 822 said that the Provisional Electoral Council
    (CEP) would have be formed "in accordance with the process proposed
    by the OAS in the Draft Initial Accord (Rev. 9) of June 12, 2002, no
    later than two months after adoption of this resolution." The accord
    stated that the nine member CEP would have one member from the
    rabidly anti-Aristide Deomcraticque Convergence and another member
    taken from The Haitian Chamber of Commerce.

    [8] NYT: Tracy Kidder, op-ed, NYT, Feb 26,2004;

    [9] On Aristide's (and his supporter's) achievements see

    [10] Shortly before Aristide's return Human Rights Watch reported
    that "Conservative estimates put the death toll since the coup-d'etat
    at 3,000 and rising"

    [11] Below from NLR: Option Zero in Haiti by Peter Hallward
    <http://tinyurl.com/a3ssp>: "Amnesty International's reports covering
    the years 2000-03 attribute a total of around 20 to 30 killings to
    the police and supporters of the FL—a far cry from the 5,000
    committed by the junta and its supporters in 1991–94, let alone the
    50,000 usually attributed to the Duvalier dictatorships.....
    Amnesty International reports indicate that at least 20 police
    officers or FL supporters were killed by army veterans in 2001, and
    another 25 in further paramilitary attacks in 2003, mostly in the
    lower Central Plateau near the US-monitored Dominican border."

    [12] See Thomas Griffin's Report "HAITI HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATION:
    NOVEMBER 11-21, 2004" <http://www.law.miami.edu/news/368.html>
    Published by University of Miami. See also "Keeping the Peace in
    Haiti?" Published by Harvard Law School <http://tinyurl.com/8tou3>

    [13] Congresswoman Maxine Waters and several of her colleges wrote a
    letter to George Bush on Jan 7, 2005 strongly protesting that the US
    funded regime was paying "compensation" to the murderous Haitian
    army. They put Canada's NDP to shame. For more details see "Canada In
    Haiti" pg 63 cited in note 3

    [14] Alternatives... to what? Why is this Canadian NGO acting as a
    tool of imperialism? <http://tinyurl.com/c5bhh> Nikolas Barry-Shaw

    Haiti, Imperialism, and the Treachery of Liberals by Shirley Pate, Znet, October 15, 2005


    A Situation of Terror: Haitian Union Leader on the 2004 coup
    Paul chry interviewed by Keven Skerrett, ZNET, Nov. 4, 2005

    In late September 2005, the General Secretary of the Confédération des travailleurs haitiens (CTH - one of Haiti’s biggest unions), Paul “Loulou” Chéry, visited Ottawa and Montréal. Chéry was on a speaking tour organized to allow Canadian and Québecois trade unionists direct access to a trade union voice from Haiti.

    Kevin Skerrett, a trade union researcher active with the Canada Haiti Action Network, interviewed Loulou on September 26. The interview focused particular attention on the perspective of Haiti’s labour movement on the February 29, 2004 coup d’état that overthrew Haiti’s elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, along with thousands of other elected officials. The following is a translation and transcript of that interview.

    Kevin Skerrett: First of all, can you introduce yourself a bit, and give us a sense of the current situation in Haiti?

    Loulou Chéry: Yes, my name is Paul “Loulou” Chéry, and I am the General Secretary of the Confédération des Travailleurs Haitiens, the CTH. I follow the current situation very closely, obviously, especially the situation of the labour movement, and the population in general. After the coup of 29 February, 2004, the general situation has deteriorated a great deal. It is a crisis without precedent, our population has not known a situation this grave since the founding of the country. There is the appearance of life, but in reality, there is no life.

    The majority of the population has been plunged into misery, and exclusion. At the level of the workers, there is hopelessness, as there are practically no jobs. There are, maybe, 15% of the population who are truly employed. Even those who work, do not have the “luxury” of being unionized. There are some exceptions to this. For example, we have the APN, the National Port Authority, and there is a union there, a strong union, affiliated to the CTH. At the post office, there is a union which is linked to the Québec Federation of Labour, which also has a good working relationship with the CTH. There is also Teleco (the publicly-owned national telephone company), where there is a union which is independent, but which also has a relationship with the FTQ (Québec Federation of Labour).

    As for the other state enterprises, there are not really any unionized workforces, and in the private sector, there is practically no unionization. There are only unions in certain professions, such as teachers, artisans, informal sector, transport, and here they are independent unions.

    Currently, as you know, we are facing elections, in order to elect a president, a president who will succeed President Boniface [Alexandre], the current de facto president, who replaced President Aristide after the coup. At this point, the de facto government is conducting a witch-hunt. They are creating a situation of terror, a situation of fear, of systematic repression. This repression has resulted in the killing of thousands of people since the execution of the coup. Despite this, they are now organizing elections.

    What is the reaction of the population to this planning of elections? The people are not ready for elections, this is clear. They are organizing them anyway, because the three countries (Canada, US, France) have to prove that they were right to remove President Aristide through the coup. They have to prove to everyone that this was the only solution, and so they are proceeding with the elections even though any future “elected” president will be what we call a “puppet” president – meaning, a president who has no power. No real power. The real decisions will be taken by Washington, by Ottawa, etc.

    And, I think, right after February 7 2006, the protests will start the very next day. These elections are already contested. And this will create a paralysis.

    KS: So this new president is not going to have any legitimacy in the minds of the population?

    LS: No. It’s impossible, because it will not be the will of the population that will be expressed in these elections; it’s the will of small groups who will “select” someone to be the president.

    KS: On the coup d’état itself, the Government of Canada has claimed that President Aristide had lost support among the population of Haiti…

    LS: This is false. It’s totally false. Whatever they say, it’s false. Certain small groups were manipulated by certain political leaders of the political opposition. And, the Group 184, which is led by the bosses, did influence a student group, which unfortunately today regrets what happened, and they now understand that the situation is totally different from what they had claimed at the time.

    KS: Were there not trade unions that signed-on to the Group 184 (a “civil society” political opposition group)?

    LS: There were no unions; there were certain trade unionists.

    KS: What’s the difference?

    LS: The union is the structure that brings together the collectivity of the membership. But, there were certain influential individuals who went around the union structure, and affiliated themselves to the Group 184 as individuals. Doing so meant going completely outside the norms, the principles, the democracy of the union. This is to say, it did not reflect the labour movement or any of the unions as a whole. This was a small group of what we call, in general, we refer to these individuals as dissidents, dissidents who use the name of the movement, who leave the movement and use the name of the movement to involve themselves in politics.

    KS: So, for you, for a Canadian NGO, such as Rights and Democracy, to suggest that the Group 184 was a “promising” civil society movement, what would be your reaction to this suggestion?

    LS: Listen, this was a systematic campaign of dismantling and destabilization of the Lavalas government. It was a media campaign, orchestrated by certain media in Haiti, of which I could give you several names, that supported and paid a lot of money to spin lies and send lies outside of Haiti, to say that President Aristide had lost his popularity. On the ground, it’s completely different. I can give you an example. On the first of January 2004, there were about one million Haitians in the streets, supporting President Aristide. And again, on the 7th of February, there were more than one million Haitians out in the streets supporting President Aristide – more than a million! Imagine! And never, ever, could the opposition put close to 100,000 people in the street. Never. It’s just like in Venezuela. Remember? There was a small group who wanted to overthrow President Chavez. Fortunately, they weren’t able to do this…

    KS: They nearly did.

    LS: Yes, nearly. But the population mobilized, and they blocked it. They stopped a coup very similar to what later unfolded in Haiti.

    KS: And perhaps, without the intervention of the US military in Haiti, we might have seen the same mobilization, the same sort of thing could have happened in Haiti. A popular mobilization in defense of their elected government.

    LS: Exactly. Because, the US trained a group of former military, former soldiers, former police officers – now called “rebels” – who went into certain areas of the country, and started killing people, killing police officers. It became a “capture” of the population that they would use to justify their intervention. And, in doing so, they killed the dream of the people with this coup.

    KS: We have heard a lot in the alternative press, since the coup, about the fact that there are still many people in Haiti who continue to demonstrate in the streets their support for President Aristide and the elected constitutional government. But in our Canadian newspapers, such as the Globe and Mail, and even in some of our “alternative media”, such as the NGO called Alternatives, we read about a supposed campaign of violence, a terror campaign, carried out by Lavalas called “Operation Baghdad”. I’d like to know your reaction to these stories.

    LS: They use this phrase to demonize the movement, the people, and Lavalas supporters in particular, in order to stop this movement. There have been instances, at times, of infiltration by thugs, who infiltrate demonstrations in order to create panic and disorder. But in general, the demonstrations are quite peaceful. However, several times, I don’t have all the dates right here, but several times, it has been the police that opened fire on the crowd. And, this did provoke a hostile reaction from the crowd, some of whom went after the police, and things degenerated. They took from this, they labeled this “Operation Baghdad”. But there is no “Operation Baghdad”. It’s totally false.

    KS: It doesn’t exist?

    LS: It doesn’t exist! It’s to misinform people, to distract people away from the real problems, and the real causes of this violence.

    KS: Last question. Our government, the Government of Canada, is claiming that they are delivering financial aid for the reconstruction of Haiti, the construction of highways, of schools, etc. What is your sense of the validity of these claims, and what is the perception of Canada among the population of Haiti?

    LS: The people of Haiti view the United States, Canada, France, and even the United Nations, very badly. Very badly. Because, the population does not see among these countries any will to truly help the population. We don’t see it. There are promises, promises to donate and rebuild, and these promises today remain just that - promises. The suggestion that Canada has been building highways – I have not seen a single kilometre of highway built by Canada. I am not everywhere, I live in Port-au-Prince, so it’s possible that I may have missed something – but I doubt it. I think I would have heard about this.

    KS: Loulou, thanks for your time.

    LS: No problem.

    On November 12, at 1:00pm, the Canada Haiti Action Network will kick off a “Pan-Canadian Week of Action” in solidarity with the people of Haiti with a mass demonstration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. For more information, see: http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca

    To join the email info-list of the Canada Haiti Action Network, email kskerrett@cupe.ca




    "Transformation is only valid if it is carried out with the people, not for them. Liberation is like a childbirth, and a painful one. The person who emerges is a new person: no longer either oppressor or oppressed, but a person in the process of achieving freedom. It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free their oppressors."

- Paulo Freire, from Pedagogy of the Oppressed (learn more)


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