Conversations with the Living: The Haitian AIDS Crisis

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Haïti Liberté and The Aristide Files

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Haïti Liberté editor Kim Ives was interviewed on Democracy Now! today regarding the 2,000 U.S. diplomatic cables on Haiti.

For those who have researched Haiti’s political history and are aware of the unrest surrounding decades and centuries of political instability, this is an interesting report that touches on the meddling of foreign governments in regards to Haiti’s government over the past decade and offers just a glimpse into findings that are unfortunately far from surprising – an important part of the  historical record.

Ives research found that high-level U.S. and U.N. officials coordinated a politically motivated prosecution of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to prevent him from gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti.

Kim Ives full report for The Nations can also be found at the following link:


“Baby Doc” Duvalier Returns to Haiti

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News hit yesterday that Former Haitian president, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, 59, has unexpectedly returned to Haiti after 25 years in exile, primarily in France.

A Brief history – “Baby Doc” was the ruler of Haiti from 1971-1986. He succeeded his father, François “Papa Doc” Duvalier as “President for Life” upon his father’s death in 1971, becoming the world’s youngest president at the age of nineteen. He remained so until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986, when he was ousted by a revolt after his family and supporters were accused of stealing millions of dollars in government funds.

“Baby Doc” was incapable of properly running the country, resulting in no substantial or essential changes to his father’s regime, which was a dictatorship, based on corruption, repression, and human rights violations. Like his father, “ Baby Doc” relied on the Tontons Macoutes, a brutal militia that controlled Haiti through violence and intimidation.

Many of the youth in Haiti were not alive when “Baby Doc” he was forced into exile, but they have inherited the country that was left behind, and are aware of his legacy, that with the support of the United States government and France crippled the Haitian economy and its people in nearly every way. Although he has a small base of support, how the majority of Haitians respond to his return, both young and old will solidify if he is welcome in Haiti or not. The Haitian people have struggled to have their voices heard and were possibly never more silenced than during the reign of the Duvaliers.

When asked why he chose to return now after nearly three decades, he simply stated that he has “come to help”. His current wife, Veronique Roy, has been doing most of the talking, and has expressed that “Baby Doc” was supposedly moved by the images of the year anniversary of the January earthquake and the recent portrayal of Haiti in the media – begging the question – when in the past 25 years hasn’t Haiti been portrayed poorly by the mainstream media? When haven’t the images accessible on major TV news and Internet been appalling and ripe for concern? Why has he really decided to return now?

Some claim he is broke after years in exile and from his divorce; others think it is a tactic to intensifying the confusion in the post-election political crisis and was planned by current President Rene Preval. Human rights groups are pushing for his immediate arrest and detainment for theft and crimes against humanity committed during his presidency, while they acknowledge his right to return to his home country, they are demanding justice for the Haitian people.

It has been said that the majority of Haitian leaders have been thieves and liars, it just depends on who you talk to in Haiti – so what of the return of Aristide? This too is said to be on the horizon.

Neither is said to be returning as a presidential candidate, yet as a civilian to “help” the people of Haiti.

Aristide’s Return?

Demonstrators are demanding the return of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Many Haitians feel he is the only one who cares about Haiti’s situation and ever really had the interests of the Haitian people in mind.

Once again it depends on who you ask, but he was the only democratically elected president is Haiti’s history. He received 67% of the popular vote, landing him the presidency from 1994 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2004 before he was ousted in February 2004 by a US orchestrated coup d’état against him, when he was forced into exile in South Africa.

The people of Haiti are calling upon President Rene Preval to keep his promise that he made over four years ago during his election to allow Aristide to return to Haiti. This has yet to happen although Aristide has expressed his desire and intentions to return.

During his exile Aristide has maintained a large support base, especially with the poor in Haiti, which is the majority. The exclusion of his party Fanmi Lavalas, a populist leftist party in Haiti, in the recent November Presidential elections was a subject of great debate.

Amidst the results of a November 28 election and allegations of vote rigging by the current party in power, the return of “Baby Doc” and possible return of Aristide is a cause of great concern, especially now as Haitians exist in a constant state of crisis and political and civil unrest. The people are already, and for good reason, up in arms. There is a lot of history, inexplicably brutal and painful history with these two men that one must understand in order to understand the current state of Haiti.

Haiti’s people (Her greatest asset) are ready for change – to move forward, but must be given a chance with leadership that is willing to take responsibility for Haiti and her people, and many fear that the return of these former leaders, even as civilians, will not only complicate the political environment, but create even greater chaos in a nation plagued by one disaster after another.

We will be following the news regarding Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s return and the possible return of Jean Bertrand Aristide. Please also follow us on Twitter for updates.


January 12th – 1 Year Later

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So, it’s been almost one full year since the cataclysmic earthquake that devastated Port Au Prince and it’s outlying areas. Haiti’s already unstable infrastructure and volatile political structure took a violent  hit; one that may potentially take another century to fully recover from.

In the quake’s aftermath we saw the international community stand up in a show of solidarity; vowing to help this unfortunate island state to rebuild. Countries all over the world pledged billions of dollars and endless amounts of manpower to assist in recovery.

Out of the spotlight celebrities and politicos worldwide dusted off their camouflage and khakis, without a doubt tweaking their press conference speeches on chartered Gulf stream jet rides to the Dominican Republic, as they prepped for the cameras documenting their forays across the St. Domingue/Ayiti border.

Hell, we even had Haitian politicians finally fessing up and promising to put aside their petty banana republic ideological differences and do what’s best for the country.

In the US, Haitian Americans and ex-pats united in a way that hadn’t been seen since the days of the 4 H’s in the 1980’s. Haitian groups were organizing, planning, plotting, and pontificating at an insane rate; guided by the simple premise of rebuilding this once proud nation into the land that L’Ouverture and Dessalines would have envisioned. There were fund raisers, records, and conversations with the UN. We even united Bubba and Dubya!

Haiti was finally on the map, and for those of us that lost family and possessions on January 12, 2011, there was hope. Then a funny thing happened over the next year.

Absolutely nothing.

Gede Greg Cee

Exclusion In Upcoming Haitian Elections

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Isn’t what is supposed to be so attractive about a Democratic system of government is that the governing power is derived from the people?

If not carefully legislated there will certainly be an uneven distribution of power where the virtues of liberty, justice, and rights that are constitutionally given to the people are obstructed or even disappear. If not overseen, then a system of government could accumulate power that excludes populations, and forfeits the rights of its citizens, becoming undemocratic – sounds like the U.S. to me, but this is about Haiti.

The upcoming elections in Haiti exclude over a dozen political parties – including the country’s largest party, Fanmi Lavalas. If only we could just get rid of politicians and political parties whose interests and views don’t align with our own. If only we could completely disregard the constitution of the United States and omit Democrats and Republicans from running for political office in an upcoming “democratic” election. What of the majority rule? Who needs to represent the masses? If the masses are weak, then the powerful minority is well, powerful, and if they aren’t already wealthy, they smell money.

I smell tyranny.  This imbalance is nothing new for the people of Haiti, just another election poised to go terribly wrong. Where is the voice of the people? Silenced in a tent city? Silenced in perpetual poverty and hunger? Perpetually silenced? This question is vitally important as Haiti struggles with a natural disaster, an endless list of pre-existing and ever-growing social, economic, and medical challenges, and a history of corrupt and poor governance. 

Can they really exclude 90% of the population who might benefit from a fair election if candidates of interest were on the ballot? Why make an appearance if your constituents aren’t represented?  There is no more surefire way of controlling the outcome of an election than to make it illegal and postured for the benefit of a few candidates and their constituents. In addition, the government has yet to address how it will register and identify the nearly 2 million Haitians who lost their homes and documents in the January 12th earthquake.

If the electoral council in Haiti won’t even let the most popular party participate in the election where is the popular vote? Absent, without governmental or constitutional protections of individual liberties given to them through their constitution. Give a reason to the people for an illegal election in the guise of democracy. Give the people their country!

If an elected official of their choice does not represent them how will they really rebuild? Foreign interests and investment might appear to represent opportunity, but with the current U.S. and European monetary and political support of “illegal” elections in Haiti, and historical support of oppressive and unstable government, our interests are clearly not noble or humanitarian, as many Americans would like to believe. What are our interests? Occupy? Militarize? Industrialize? Claim and exploit resources and people? But where are the people? Do they intend to let the majority of Haitians play a part? Sadly Haiti’s history has proven the answer to be no. I fear that Haitians will continue to have very little control over their future.

Regardless of where you stand on the issues facing Haitians in the upcoming election, any election’s credibility is based on the respect of its laws and regulations.  An election based on exclusion is illegal and the people have a very real fear of where their country is headed, continued instability, oppression, and even death.

Haitians want and deserve real change. The same behavior that mirrors elections past is frightening.  Why can’t the Haitian government and international community let Haitians work to make their country a better place? What is the plan really? Let them vote without exclusion; let them work for a better Haiti. They are ready and willing.

Show Us The Money, Don’t Show Us The Way

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Washington Post reporter Mary Beth Sheridan wrote an interesting piece on how a fraction of aid pledged to Haiti for disaster relief and the rebuild of Port Au Prince has actually been distributed. To blame are the usual suspects, Rene Preval and the rest of the Haitian leadership, for hampering progress. Either they are not making decisions fast enough, or in Preval’s case, not warming up to the US backed Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) which would monitor fraud and be co-chaired by Jean Max Bellerive and Bill Clinton, as primary reasons why things are currently a mess in PAP.

The seeds are being sown for  a full scale takeover of Haiti at this point. We all know that the only time a disaster is really a disaster is when you miss a chance to implement policies that you couldn’t have previously. What the UN, US, and EU are calling procrastination on Haitian leaders’ parts is probably a nation’s realization that it’s hard fought sovereignty is slipping away. You be the judge.

Show Us The Money, Don’t Show Us The Way

Gede Greg C.

Displaced and Desperate Makes For Good Copy

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According to this piece in the NY Times, only 28,000 of the 1.5 million displaced Haitians in Port Au Prince have moved into new homes. Port Au Prince is still a wretched tapestry of filthy tent camps, strewn rubble, and congestion. The Haitian government isn’t acting fast or firm enough for citizens or the international community pledging donations to have much faith in the future of the rebuild. There have been some success stories, mostly by NGO’s and citizens joining forces, but they have been far and few in between.

Any country attempting to rebuild from such a catastrophe would find it a monumental task, but it feels like there’s an underlying tone in this story that is somewhat discomforting. The onus of the rebuild failure has been disproportionately placed on the Haitian government. There hasn’t really been unbiased reporting on how past US and European foreign policy and Haiti’s historically troubled relations with the superpowers of the world helped to lead the country into such an unstable state pre-Januuary 12th.

Usually, propaganda disguised as investigative reporting like this, is used to convince the world that the nation in question (Haiti) may need the assistance (read takeover) of the aforementioned superpowers. We’ve seen the US and European nations do this many times in the past, and there’s no reason to think that this disaster coverage isn’t a prelude to a full out US and EU occupation of the island. After all, they must protect the citizens from themselves and do the job that their own government seems incapable of doing. Wink, wink.

Mark my words, this has the potential to happen quicker than anyone would like to believe, or at least quicker than your local news outlet would have you.  The clock is ticking towards the November 28th elections. If the Haitian government doesn’t get it “right” once and for all, expect a press conference at the UN announcing an occupation to bring stability to the region.

All for the greater good of the citizens of Haiti of course.

Displaced and Desperate Makes For Good Copy

Gede Greg C.

Haiti Makes Esquire

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Below please find a link to a preview of the latest issue of Esquire that hits the newsstands next week. Included in this issue is a preview of an interview with Bill Clinton where he pledges to commit the next three years to Haiti and its rebuild. Also in there are some words from Paul Farmer on the state of Haitian health care. Check it out and expect a feature length post here when the issue hits the stands.

Haiti Makes Esquire

Gede Greg C.