Haiti Action Committee Denounces the Attempted Assassination of Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Supporters of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide Photo courtesy of HaitiInfoProj
See also: Video footage of Aristide supporters just prior to assassination attempt. Video courtesy of Wendy Joseph Lerisse
Yesterday, there was an assassination attempt against former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president. President Aristide had been summoned to appear as a witness in a court case. While returning from court, his motorcade was attacked by armed Haitian police. A number of people were injured in the attack. Mass protests against the police broke out immediately.
In the wake of the electoral coup which installed Jovenal Moise, a right-wing protege of former president Michel Martelly, as Haiti’s new president, there has been a marked increase in repression directed against grassroots activists.
This attack on President Aristide signals a new stage of terror in Haiti. It harkens back to the days of the Duvalier dictatorships. Human rights activists and all supporters of democracy in Haiti need to condemn this attempted assassination and demand that those who committed this act be brought to justice.
Former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide greets thousands of supporters in Port-au-Prince 3-20-17 Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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The violent events of the past week have placed the country at a decisive moment. Words matter but deeds matter more. Leadership matters. President Obama spoke about the need for real change and new “practices” following the murders by police officers of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Following this story is a Black Lives Matter statement on the murder of police and escalating protests to end state-sponsored violence against Black people.
Also watch Kevin Pina’s latest documentary “Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits”: http://bit.ly/eWFDLd
Few Haitians, scholars and historians have had the opportunity to hear and study the full speech of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on September 27, 1991. The speech was mired in controversy after Raymond Joseph, current Haitian ambassador to Washington D.C. but then Publisher of the right-wing newspaper Haiti Observateur, released a slanted translation. The translation was circulated by Ellen Cosgrove, the political officer of the U.S. Embassy in 1991, to the international press as proof that Aristide supported “pe lebrun” or necklacing with burning tires doused with gasoline. Other translators and scholars have criticized Joseph and the U.S. for that slant countering that Aristide’s reference to “tool” and “smell” were colorful Kreyol metaphors describing Haiti’s constitution. They say this only becomes clear when heard in the context of the entire speech.
The political context of the speech is equally important as it follows an attempt by the Duavlierists and Roger Lafontant to overthrow Aristide’s government in a coup only three months earlier. Aristide was caught between plots by Duvalierists aligned with Haiti’s wealthy elite and the violent reaction and impulses of the Haitian masses to decades of brutal repression known as dechoukaj.
The military coup that overthrew Aristide began on September 29, 1991, two days after he delivered this speech. The Joseph translation of the speech was handed out by Ellen Cosgrove to the press on October 7, 1991 during a visit by the Organization of American States (OAS) to Haiti.
This speech would be referred to many times, including in the present context, to justify keeping Aristide out of politics and the violent repression of Haiti’s poor masses represented by the Lavalas movement.
Kevin Pina and the Haiti Information Project (HIP) now offer for history the complete unedited speech in Kreyol as it was videotaped that day in Sept. 1991.
SUPPORT FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS IN HAITI
STOP THE ATTACKS ON FANMI LAVALAS
On June 7th, the office of Dr. Maryse Narcisse, the presidential candidate of Fanmi Lavalas, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide who publicly endorsed her, was sprayed with gunfire. This blatant violence against the movement that has long represented Haiti’s poor majority sparked outrage in Haiti but was met by silence in the mainstream media in the U.S. The State Department, which routinely portrays itself as a defender of democracy around the world, including in Haiti, had nothing to say about the attack.
This is no surprise. The U.S., which orchestrated the 2004 coup against the democratically elected government of President Aristide, has been determined to prevent another Lavalas administration from governing in Haiti. Having put in power former president Michel Martelly, who was associated with the disgraced Duvalier regime, through fraudulent elections in 2011, the State Department has been intent on imposing his successor through the same means. In 2015, fraudulent elections placed a little known Martelly protégé in the lead position heading to a run-off. Despite independent investigations that revealed burning of ballots, theft of ballot boxes, “election observers” who voted over and over again, and widespread voter suppression, U.S. State Department Special Coordinator Kenneth Merten argued that Haitians should accept the 2015 results and move on to the next round.
But Haitians refused the dictates of the State Department with statements and banners declaring “We Will Not Obey”. Calling the results an “electoral coup”, tens of thousands of people took to the streets demanding free and fair elections, insisting that their voices be heard and respected. It was only due to these popular protests that the Martelly dictatorial regime was replaced by an interim government, a verification commission was set up to investigate the elections, the fraud was exposed, and the 2015 elections were annulled.
This is a remarkable victory for the grassroots movement in Haiti. But, as Haiti proceeds towards a new round of elections, the State Department and the European Union are challenging the decision to annul the 2015 elections. Both have threatened Haiti with economic consequences if the electoral process does not proceed to their satisfaction. And they are allowing anti-Lavalas armed vigilantes like Guy Philippe, wanted as a drug trafficker by the DEA, to maraud through Haiti.
As the new round of electoral campaigning begins, we view with alarm the attack on Dr. Maryse Narcisse and Fanmi Lavalas. We urge friends and supporters of Haiti to send a clear and strong message to both the State Department and your Congressional representatives.
* Condemn the armed attack on the offices of Dr. Maryse Narcisse and the continued attacks against the Lavalas movement.
* Denounce the continued interference and threats from the State Department and the European Union. They are attacks on Haitian sovereignty and self-determination.
* Support the right of the Haitian people to choose their own government through transparent, free and fair elections.
CALL SECRETARY KERRY’S OFFICE AT: 202-647-9572
or GO TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT WEBSITE AT: https://register.state.gov/contactus/contactusform AND WRITE HIM
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS: (+1) 202-224-3121
In the wake of the failure and collapse of the U.S. imposed dictatorship of Michel Martelly in Haiti, and as conservatives from the U.S. to the U.K. are being investigated for fraudulent electoral practices, the grassroots people of Haiti continue to escalate their fight for liberation, solidarity and dignity. Rocking the streets with “Nou pap obeyi!” illegitimate officials imposed by foreign colonizers, Haitians have fought on all levels to return governance of Haiti to its people.