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by Ross Plesset
Monday, Oct. 10, 2005 at 9:46 PM
". . . Why Haiti has been persecuted for the last 200 years? Because it is an affront to the colonial powers to have slaves rise up and defeat them. It is a bad example. [Applause.] There are a lot of lessons to be learned, and they don't want it ever to happen again. [Applause continues.]" -- Margaret Prescod, Pacifica Radio
Ira Kurzban (continued)
U.S. MEDDLING IN HAITI PRE-2004 (KURZBAN)
Like my friends up here on the panel, this is a very emotional subject for me. I've really spent my
entire career working to try and obtain democracy in Haiti. Obviously the events of February
29  were a big blow to the Haitian people and to all the work that we had done over the
years. So what I'd like to do is talk about facts about what's happened. I guess I was in somewhat
of a unique position because I was the attorney for the government from 1991 before the first
coup until February 29, 2004, when I resigned as soon as the United States government
engaged in a second coup against President Aristide. So I'd like to talk about the history.
My representation began in 1991. On September 30th, '91 there was a coup in Haiti, largely
financed, as Lucie said, by the elite in Haiti. But on the day of the coup, there were United States
military forces in Haitian military headquarters. George Herbert Walker Bush was the President,
the Secretary of Defense was Dick Cheney, the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was Colin
Powell, so in many respects it's no mistake what happened in 2004. And in many respects, there
are elements that made what happened in Haiti very similar to what happened in Iraq to the
extent that this was an effort to complete the work that George Bush, Sr. had done in trying to
end popular democracy in Haiti.
After the coup in '91 the first thing that happened was a sustained campaign of disinformation. I
always thought I was a pretty sophisticated guy who had been active in politics for many years
and [had been] a lawyer. I was just shocked. I really feel that in many respects I was very, very
naive about what our government does because I've witnessed it, and I witnessed it almost on a
daily basis for over 10 years. The Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence
Agency did not want popular democracy in Haiti. They never wanted it, just like we're seeing
now in Venezuela, just like we saw under Allende in Chile and Arbenz in Guatemala. And they
were going to do everything they could to make sure that this was not going to happen in Haiti.
One of the things I think they learned after Allende in Chile was that they were not going to make
whoever they got rid of a hero among the either the people on the left or progressive people here
in the United States. And what began in '91 was a sustained disinformation campaign against
President Aristide that continues to this day. As soon as the coup took place on September 30th,
1991, what you read in the newspapers--in the Los Angeles Times, in the New York Times, in
the Washington Post--was that Aristide gave a speech saying that people should necklace [i.e.,
torture] and kill people, and that somehow was what brought on the coup. And that was
intentional, it was leaked by the intelligence services to their friends in the various newspapers in
the United States.
What they didn't report, of course, was who was behind the coup, how it happened, why it
happened, what the involvement of the elite was at the time, [and] what the involvement of the
United States government [was]. It's now 13 years later, [and] there has never been any reporting
in United States papers about what the involvement of the United States government was in the
first coup against President Aristide, let alone the second coup. There's nothing. Believe me, I've
collected every single newspaper article about Haiti since 1991 about Haiti. They're in boxes in
my office stacked up to the ceiling, and there's nothing in there that will tell you anything about
what the United States' role was in the 1991 coup. [They] also don't say very much about what
happened after that. Several thousand people were killed almost immediately after September
30th, 1991. George Bush, Sr. stopped sending Haitians [in boats] back to Haiti for one week and
one week only after September 30th. When you compare that to after people were slaughtered in
Tienanmen Square, the same George Bush allowed 325,000 Chinese to remain permanently in
the United States. His response to what was going on in Haiti was, "We'll just stop interdicting
people for a week." And after that, they began to send people back.
By 1993--in something very similar what the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA did in
Iran, El Salvador, and in Guatemala and in Honduras--they began to develop death squads in
Haiti. And this was one of the few things that actually was ever reported. It was reported in
Nation magazine by Alan Nairn in 1993 that a Colonel Collins, who was at the United States
Embassy [as] the Defense Intelligence Agency representative, got Jodel Chamblain and
Emmanuel Constant to begin FRAPH. FRAPH was a death squad that they set up in Haiti to
execute any of the people who were involved in the Lavalas movement at that time. Chamblain,
enough surprisingly enough, was one of the so-called rebel leaders who in 2004, came across the
border from the Dominican Republic to depose President Aristide. [He was] well-armed with
new M16 weapons, with new camouflage outfits all supplied by the new Dominican Republic
Army and I'm sure by virtue of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence
Collins sets up FRAPH in '93. Their goal was to do the same thing that they did in El Salvador.
PRESIDENT CLINTON RETURNS ARISTIDE TO POWER (KURZBAN)
And then Clinton did something which really upset the intelligence agencies. Because so many
people were being killed--it was so blatant--it was in the newspapers every day, Clinton changed
the policy of the U.S. government [and] took the one dramatic step . I think [that] may be one of
the only courageous things he ever did do as president. [He] said that we were going to return
Aristide. He did that in the face of tremendous opposition in the government.
In 1993, there was something called the Governor's Island Accord, where President Aristide went
to Governor's Island in New York, and General Cedras, who was the head of the military coup in
Haiti, went to Governor's Island. And they reached an agreement where President Aristide would
come back on October 15, 1993, and Cedras would step down. On October 12th, Cedras
announced that he would not step down. The United States, the most powerful nation
in the world, sends a military warship to Haiti. Twenty guys, all FRAPH members(7), stand on
the dock, shoot off weapons, and the United States military ship turns around and goes back to
the United States in the face of this tremendous onslaught of these 20 guys standing at the dock.
And it was all pre-arranged by the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, who
did not want Aristide back under any circumstances. This all came out later because there was a
fight and a split between the State Department and the Defense Department and the Central
Intelligence Agency about U.S. government policy at the time. By the way, that split no longer
exists, you'll be happy to know. Under the Bush administration we now have everybody saying
the exact same thing, which is opposing popular democracy in the Western Hemisphere. But at
that time there was a split that ultimately led to Clinton bringing Aristide back.
The reason why I mention this is, I think many of you here are very sophisticated, but the average
American says: "We did everything we could. We brought Aristide back. He just messed
everything up, and that's why his own people opposed him, and he had to leave the country." As
if the United States government under Bush was really the same government under Clinton and
the same government under the second Bush. People don't recognize that on the one hand, the
president could bring Aristide back, and on the other hand, the Central Intelligence Agency and
the Defense Intelligence Agency could do everything they could to undermine Aristide's
Even though Aristide came back, he came back under a plan that forced him basically to do two
things: one was to adopt a neoliberal plan for Haiti, which has basically destroyed the Haitian
economy. And secondly, to accept the fact that he was only coming back for a year-and-a-half.
Even though he had only served eight months as president, the United States government,
even under Clinton, took the position, "We recognized you as president while you were [in exile]
in the United States, so you only get another year as president in Haiti." And those were the
conditions under which President Aristide was brought back. He abided by those conditions, and
actually in Haiti we had the first successful transition from one democratic president to the
second democratic president, when President Preval came into office. When President Preval
came in, the United States government engaged in the same kind of tactics that they did when
Aristide came back, which was to do everything to undermine the government.
ARISTIDE'S RE-ELECTION IN 2000 AND MORE MEDIA LIES (KURZBAN)
But by 2000, to cut it short (I could obviously spend three days talking about this), Haiti had an
election. They first had an election in May of 2000, and then they had an election in November of
2000. In May of 2000, 30,000 candidates ran for 7,500 positions in Haiti. Every position, at the
lowest level of government to the highest level of government--with [the] exception of the
president's office and some senators--there was an election. And in that election the Lavalas party
won overwhelmingly. Over 80% of all the seats taken at the local level and at the national level
were won by Aristide's party, Lavalas. The response was, and you would have read this if you
followed Haiti, that this was a flawed, and some papers said fraudulent, election.
Let me you tell you about that election. The Organization of American States said it was a free
and fair election. Their criticism of those 7,500 positions [concerned] eight senate seats. No one
on an international level has ever contested 7,492 other people who were elected--who, by the
way, today have all been thrown out of office. All of them. When Latortue came in and the U.S.
Marines came in, all of them were thrown out, even though they were all democratically-elected.
Forget about Aristide, all the others were thrown out [and] they were all democratically elected.
So the contest [in 2000] was over eight senate seats. One of those was not even a member from
Lavalas; the other seven were members of Aristide's party. Within two weeks of Aristide coming
into office--he wasn't president at the time of the election--he wrote to the Organization of
American States and said: "Let's redo this election. Let's redo the seven senate seats." They
totally ignored it. They continued to proceed as if it was a flawed or fraudulent election to use
that as an excuse to totally strangle Haiti economically. By the way, of all the reporters in
America, the worst reporter on Haiti is here in Los Angeles. [Applause.] She has written things
that are totally fraudulent. She has made up things. I've been at demonstrations where there
was 100,000 people; she said there was 5,000 people there.
ANGRY VOICES IN AUDIENCE: What's her name?!!
PANELIST: Carol Williams.
KURZBAN: I was in front of the National Palace on the day of the 200th anniversary of Haitian
Independence. There were hundreds of thousands of people there. You go back and read what
Carol Williams wrote in the Los Angeles Times about how many people were there.
So during this period of time after the election occurred, the next thing that happened was the
election for president in November. The United States did a Gallup Poll. This is something
that you all should know: the United States government is constantly polling every country in the
world, and Gallup is constantly polling in all these countries. Gallup did a poll one month before
the election. They asked the Haitian people how many of [them] supported Lavalas. Seventy-five
percent said they supported Lavalas. This is the United States government's own poll conducted
in Haiti. They asked how many people would come out to vote. Fifty-five percent of the people
said that they were definitely coming out to vote, another 20% said they were likely to come out
to vote. The United States government's official position, even in the Los Angeles Times, was
that five percent of the people voted. The [Haitian] government's own statistics said 65%, [and]
an independent group that was there said 62%.
What the U.S. government did was they took newspaper reporters to two polling places in the
wealthier areas in Haiti, and they saw how many people voted. Based on that, they announced
that five percent of the people voted. And that's their official position today.
HOW THE U.S., CANADA, AND FRANCE UNDERMINED HAITI'S ECONOMY
They used all of that to develop the most fierce economic embargo against the poorest country in
the Western Hemisphere. They got the World Bank to stop giving money to Haiti, the
Inter-American Bank to stop giving money to Haiti, the European Union stopped giving money
to Haiti, the United States government stopped giving money to Haiti. From the year 2000 until
February 29, 2004, the Haitian government--the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere--did
not receive one penny from the Inter-American Development Bank, The World Bank, the IMF,
the United Stated government, the French government, the Canadian government, [or] the
European Union. It was all designed to create what Americans saw in February of 2004: total
chaos in Haiti and to bring down the government. That's what our [the U.S.] government did; we
were the leader. We went to the Inter-American Development Bank, we got the Inter-American
Development Bank, to their shame and disgrace, to stop giving loans to Haiti that were already
approved. They were already approved, they were already signed, they were supposed to be given
to the government. They just stopped them because the United States controls the World Bank,
[and] they control the Inter-American Development Bank, and they told them to stop giving
money. That's what happened. Then they began to arm people through the Army of the
Dominican Republic, and what we saw in February 2004 was a concerted effort by the United
States government, France, and Canada to bring down the democratically-elected government.
Obviously, I could go on, but I just wanted to give you a background and a history.
MARGARET PRESCOD: Thank you so much. [This is] really quite a distinguished panel. Let's
give them a hand again. [Applause and shouts.]
DON WHITE, KPFK BOARD CHAIR
DON WHITE: Has this been a profound experience, or has it been a profound experience?
Speaking as the chair of the KPFK board--that's KPFK 90.7 FM on your dial--I just want to
tell you how proud we are of [how] Margaret Prescod and the other programers are giving the
REALITY of Haiti on KPFK. Margaret, thank you so much. You're a marvelous programmer.
You know, this panel has told us what we already really know about Haiti. We know that no
struggle has reflected more pain or more human sacrifice. Also, no struggle has been as historic
and heroic as the struggle of Haiti. And it is an inspiration to the world that a people will
continue to struggle against overwhelming adversity, not taking a step backward but moving
forward and telling the world that we're not going to take what's happening to us through U.S.
imperialism, U.S. policy, and so on. It's a struggle against overwhelming adversity, but it's a
heroic and an inspiring story. It tells us that the people of the south and the people of the
Caribbean are showing us the way here in the United States. We're learning what it is to resist.
[Applause.] We're learning what it is to stand up and say, "No more." And in El Salvador, we see
the same thing and in Honduras [and] in Bolivia, were the indigenous people have brought down
two presidents [applause and shouting] while we're still putting up with the same one! And in
Venezuela, [applause] where a 100,000 people surrounded the palace and said, "Bring our
president back." But tonight we're focusing on the people of Haiti. We see now that it's the poor,
it's the campesinos, it's the indigenous, it's the people of color, it's the working class that is really
standing up to neoliberalism, to war, and to trade policies that eke more misery among the poor.
What we're seeing in Haiti is a reflection of how in the world today, the poorer you are, the
braver you are; the more vulnerable you are, the bolder you are. Here in the United States we've
gotten kind of comfortable, but in Latin America [and] in the Caribbean, we're seeing [that] the
more danger you face in your political activity, the more militant you become in the face not only
of adversity but in the face of death.
QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, AND ANSWERS
Margaret Prescod invites audience members to ask questions. To keep speed up the process, she
says that all questions will be asked before the panelists begin to answer.
A woman, identifies herself as "one of the cochairs of The Coalition in Solidarity with Haiti,
says, "I just wanted to put out a word that if anyone is interested in working in the Southern
California area, to see one of the members of the Coalition." She has the members who are in the
audience stand up.
She Thanks Prescod for organizing the event and for keeping African issues at the fore.
"Thirdly," she continues, "in 1804, enslaved peoples said that we're no longer taking this and
defeated the most powerful armies at that particular time: the French and the Spanish and set up a
black republic. That revolutionary struggle that existed then still exists today. Both of the
panelists spoke about that. So I want to ask if they can elaborate on that a little more. [Also,] I
would like you to comment in terms of the labor movement. What is the labor movement's
position in terms of this struggle? Thank you." [Pierre Labossiere later addressed this question,
but unfortunately it could not be transcribed here due to technical issues.]
Another lady steps up to the microphone.
QUESTION #2: Merci, merci. I want to call on my ancestors right now, to all those ancestors
under the earth right now that came to my people in Haiti in 1804 to defeat the oppressor. I give
thanks to [those] in this room right now; I give thanks to you, Lucie; and to you, Ira for bringing
the information and especially for bringing the spirit of liberation against all odds. My question
is, how much [of] what is happening today a reflection of 1804? I don't look at it as a coincidence
that in the year that the world should have been able to celebrate 200 years of independence in
solidarity with Haiti, [we saw] the president ousted. Also, I know that President Aristide was
pressing for reparations in the U.N. So how much do you feel [that] what we're seeing happening
in Haiti is a reflection of them trying to suppress the voice of liberation and freedom that
Haiti is symbolic of? [Audience applauses.]
QUESTION #3: We understand why in certain countries the United States takes the positions
that it takes: oil and other natural resources, but I'm confused about Haiti. What is behind all of
this? Why is the United States doing this?
QUESTION #4 (COMMENT): I think that the reason why the U.S. orchestrated this coup and
overthrew the government in Haiti is because they [now] have Marines stationed in Haiti, so
when Cuba becomes post-Castro, it will be easier for the Marines to go from Haiti straight to
Cuba rather than making it so obvious. That's my theory. They try to cover it by bringing the
United Nations in. If they really want peace troops, they should be having peace troops in
Rwanda, they should be having peace troops in Ethiopia and Somalia and Peace troops in South
America. And they should have peace troops in Appalachia. There's people suffering in
Appalachia. People don't even know how many are going hungry here in America. Send people
to countries were people are suffering. So that's what I wanted to say. [Applause.]
QUESTION #5: Haiti is very deforested, and they've been stripped of a lot of their natural
resources. I wonder if anybody could comment on that.
QUESTION #6: I'm interested in knowing if the elections are still going to occur in November. I
want to [find out] what the plans are politically, or has there been an outline set out?
THE 1804 HAITIAN REVOLUTION IS BEING "REENACTED" TODAY (TONDREAU)
TONDREAU: One thing that the audience needs to understand is that we only had 15 minutes to
talk. [Laughs.] There is so much to say about Haiti. There is so much to explain [to] make you
understand the current situation. A little about the history of Haiti for those who don't know.
In November of 1804, the Haitians defeated the army of Napoleon Bonaparte with nothing. At
that time the army of Napoleon was the most sophisticated army in the world. They had the most
sophisticated weapons to ensure that the slaves stayed enslaved. [Nevertheless, the Haitians]
were able to defeat that. Today in neighborhoods like Bel Air and Cite Soleil, they are just
reenacting what [they were] doing before the independence of Haiti. . . . Since cell phones can be
traced and bugged, they effectively use the drums and other ways of communication to pass
on messages. . . . So they are using the same things that they used 200 years ago, and it's working.
They are still there, they were able to defeat the National Police. They are still able to maintain
their heads high against the United Nations that are there. So 1804 is being reenacted today. In
terms of... [Cries and applause.]
THE DEFORESTATION OF HAITI (TONDREAU)
In terms of deforestation, that goes back to when we were under the occupation of France. They
took all of the mahogany trees that they had cut, sent them to Europe to make furniture, and they
have never replaced them. That was the beginning of the deforestation of Haiti(9).
FRANCE'S MOTIVES FOR HELPING WITH THE 2004 COUP (TONDREAU)
Remember that Haiti, under President Boyer, had to pay the debt of independence(8), and this is
the money that Aristide was asking France to reimburse the people of Haiti. Remember that
France and Canada were in a cold-shoulder war with the United States for not taking part in the
Iraq invasion. One way that they could make amends was to put themselves together to destroy
Haiti. France took part in the "coup-d-napping" of President Aristide because how dare
somebody like Jean Bertrand Aristide go and ask for restitution and reparations. Remember, right
after the "coup-d-napping," Mr.Latortue went to France and told President Chirac: "You don't
owe us any money. That restitution thing, forget it."
HAITIAN RESISTANCE IS STILL STRONG (TONDREAU)
But I want you to know that the struggle is very strong. Imagine a group of people with no
sophisticated weapons [that] are able to maintain the resistance for over a year. Although over
10,000 people have been killed, they still strong. There are demonstrations full of people, and
they are keeping the resistance going and demanding for the return of President-Elect Aristide.
[Shouting and applause.]
STATUS OF SO ANN (TONDREAU)
Somebody asked a question about So Anne. [Background info.:
http://www.haitiaction.net/News/Hac/hac5_11_4.html ] She is still in jail, of course. There have
been an investigation made about the so-called murder that Neptune was accused of doing....
KURZBAN ON UPCOMING "ELECTIONS" IN NOVEMBER AND "WHY HAITI?"
KURZBAN: I wanted to answer the questions about the so-called upcoming elections and about
the "why?" of Haiti. It's something that I've thought about for 13 years: why is the United States
really interested in [Haiti]? What does Haiti have that would make the United States particularly
interested in it?
First of all, I don't think we really know what Haiti has. We have lots of satellites mapping he
world and the world's resources on a daily basis. Quite frankly, I don't think the Haitian
government knew what the United States government knows about the resources of Haiti. But
putting that aside, it's clear to me that what this has always been about is stopping popular
democracy. The United States government does not want popular democracy in the Western
Hemisphere, period. They don't want it in Venezuela, the didn't want it in Guatemala, they didn't
want it in Chile, they didn't want it when Michael Manley was in Jamaica, they didn't want it in
Grenada. They just don't want it. The people who run [this] policy in the United States have
generally [been] the hard-liners. Obviously it's gotten much, much worse, but traditionally it's
always been the hard-liners in the Defense Department, in the intelligence agencies, and in the
Haiti, to me, is a classic example of that. They felt very threatened by Aristide's election. They
didn't expect it; they were shocked that Aristide won in 1991. There were lots of personal things
that if I could talk about them, I would. But I can tell you that they were shocked. They expected
Marc Bazin to win. Marc Bazin is a typical American candidate: he got educated in the United
States, worked for the World Bank, [he was] the kind of technocrat, the kind of Latortue person
that the United States virtually/just/ lifted from Boca Raton, Florida and put in Haiti. He's never
been elected to any office in Haiti, and they brought him in thinking he was like a technocrat who
was going to solve Haiti's problems, who had had very close ties with U.S. intelligence agencies.
That's our model for all of Latin America and for the Caribbean. So I believe, after doing this 13
years, that's the "why."
HAITI'S UPCOMING "ELECTIONS" (KURZBAN)
What they intend to do [this October] is to have a completely fraudulent election in Haiti. . . .
This is something that's very important for all of you to push the press on, push the
government on, and push publicly on. . . . I'm reminded of what happened in Iraq. On the day of
the election in Iraq, what was the first thing you heard? Seventy-two percent of the people
voted. That was what came out over the news wires. Then it turned out that only 42% voted, and
the Sunnis didn't vote, and so forth. In Haiti, no matter how many people vote, you're going to
hear that 60% or 70% of the people vote and that this was a big success. And they're going to
show you some picture that Carol Williams of the Los Angeles Times is going to have a reporter
take of 100 people standing in a voting booth saying that this was a big success.
Let me tell you about the statistics right now: four point five million people were registered to
vote under Aristide and under Preval. A hundred and thirteen-thousand hundred people are
registered to vote now, and that's if you believe the statistics of the Latortue government. That
means that less the three percent of the people eligible to vote are currently registered to vote.
And the Haitian people have spoken loudly and eloquently about how they regard this as a
complete and total sham.
Secondly, the CEP (Provisional Electoral Council), the governing body that was set up under the
constitution but is now run by people who are self-anointed because they were never elected and
never legitimately appointed, have decided that there will only be 600 polling places in Haiti.
Under Aristide and Preval, there were 13,000 polling places. Where do you think this election's
going to happen? It's going to happen in Hatianville and among the elite in Haiti. They're going
to have those people elect themselves, and they're going to anoint somebody as president.
And that's what the United States wants. The only question remaining is, how are they going to
picture this as a big success?
For more recent comments by Kurzban regarding Haiti's highly-controversial elections, see:
CALL FOR ACTION (KURZBAN)
I think it's our job, and I say this in every reporter's face in America that I can: "Why don't you
look at the statistics? Why don't you look at what's really happening? Who's running for
office? Where are they going to put the polling places, and whether or not this is going to be a
real election. Right now it's a sham. So I think all of you who feel very strongly about Haiti need
to speak out about this. The embassy, which really runs the government of Haiti, has said, "We're
having an election."
GOAL OF COUP (KURZBAN)
The ambassador [James B. Foley], by the way, who used to be the ambassador in Kosovo and
who took the Kosovo Liberation Army, a death squad, and integrated them into the army in
Kosovo, was brought to Haiti a month before the coup to do the same thing in Haiti. What he's
doing is taking the ex-death squad members and the ex-military people and integrating them into
the army. Because this coup is about two things: One, Totally destroying Lavalas. [That is]
cutting off the head by cutting off Aristide; cutting off the leadership of Lavalas by sending him
out of the country or in the case of Privert and the prime minister [Yvon Neptune] arresting them;
and then going after the masses by going into places like Cite Soleil and executing people. That
was the plan from day one.
The other part of this plan was to take these ex-military guys and the ex-death squad people and
put them in the police in Haiti. One of the last graduating classes in Haiti graduated 300
people; over 150 of them were ex-militaries. And that's what they want to do. The United States
government's vision of Haiti is to have the ex-army running the police without [saying] it's the
army, having an election where an elite comes in and decides to bring back the army. If Andre
Apaid and his friends win the election, the first thing they're going to do is vote to
reconstitute the Haitian Army, and the United States is perfectly happy with that. That's what we
So I think it's incumbent on everybody here and all of us who are active in this to keep pushing
the press about what this election really is about. [Applause.]
[Margaret Prescod encourages everyone to take copies of the Porto Alegre Declaration on Haiti,
available in the back on the room, and get as many people to sign it as possible.]
PRESCOD: . . . Even if you can't get out to meetings regularly, I think it's a great idea, whoever
suggested it, to go and picket outside the Los Angeles Times.
. . . This is the beginning of a conversation and of us coming together to take action and move
Haiti forward. In leaving tonight, I wanted to share with you some of the words of C.L.R.
James's Black Jacobins. If you haven't read Black Jacobins on the Haiti Revolution, you must.
[She first reads a statement that she wrote.]
"We have always understood that what happens in Haiti reflects whether we are winning or
losing our own struggle to be free. Haiti has been used as the whipping boy, as the example of
what would be done to the rest of us if we dared to do what the Haitians did so brilliantly: defeat
the colonial powers. And if you want to know 'Why Haiti?' you've got to look to that. Why
Haiti has been persecuted for the last 200 years? Because it is an affront to the colonial powers to
have slaves rise up and defeat them. It is a bad example. [Applause.] There are a lot of lessons to
be learned, and they don't want it ever to happen again. [Applause continues.]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Amen!
PRESCOD (continues): They have paid the price for the liberation of all of us. Haiti has stood
with us, has made the way for our liberation, and it's about time that all of us in this country,
in Latin America, throughout the diaspora stand with Haiti.
And furthermore, this is what C.L.R. James had to say. It was C.L.R. James, a Caribbean man
born and bred in Trinidad and Tobago, who wrote in Black Jacobins, the great history of the
"The transformation of slaves, trembling in the hundreds before a single white man into a people
able to organize themselves and defeat the most powerful European nations of their day, is one of
the great epics of revolutionary struggles and achievement." End of quote.
We have always felt deeply that we must defend Haiti because Haiti is ours, and now we must
This event was coordinated by Women of Color in the Global Women's Strike and Global
Media sponsor: KPFK Pacifica Radio 90.7FM
Cosponsors: Alexandria House, ANSWER-LA. East Side Cafe, El Sereno Neighbors for Peace
and Justice, Danny Glover, IAC/LA, Office of the Americas, San Gabriel Valley Neighbors for
Peace and Justice.
(1)Simon Bolivar "is regarded as the liberator of South America, one of the great heroes of its
history," says the 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia. "[H]e led the liberation of
Venezuela [from Spain] in 1821 and created the federal state of Greater Colombia, including
what is now Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. He went on to liberate Peru and to form the
republic of Bolivia (1825)." Before long, though, various countries seceded from Bolivar's state.
(See: The 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia, Volume 2, 1999 Edition, pp. 20-21.
Published by Trident Press International in Naples, Florida.)
The website VenezuelAnalysis.com says that Bolivar's "major contribution was perhaps his
understanding of importance of Latin American integration. He understood very early on that our
countries had no future unless they joined in their struggle against European countries and the
United States. Already, in the second decade of the 19th century, he foresaw that 'in the name
of freedom, the United States of North America seem to have been destined by providence to
plague America with miseries.' (see: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1040 )
(2)After the event ended, this author asked Sharmini Peries about a rumor that was prevalent in
Southern California in early 2004 that President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was planning to
send Venezuelan troops to Haiti to protect Aristide. Of course, that never happened, and Aristide
was removed. Peries denied this rumor. She said that during the days preceding the coup in Haiti,
Chavez was attending to other matters.
(3)The For the Love of Freedom Trilogy was produced and performed as three full-length plays
over a three-year period starting in 2001. Part I: Toussaint (The Soul) Rise and Revolution (2001)
depicted Toussaint L'Ouverture and how he led the enslaved populace of San Domingo (later to
become Haiti) to freedom and independence from French colonialism and enslavement. Part II:
Dessalines (The Heart) Blood and Liberation (2002) told the story of Jean-Jacques Dessalines,
who fought under Toussaint during Haiti's struggle for freedom. Dessalines later replaced
Toussaint as leader of the revolution when Toussaint was arrested by the French. Dessalines
oversaw the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte's forces and declared independence for Haiti. Part III:
Christophe (the Spirit) Passion and Glory (2004) was set in the aftermath of Haiti's
independence, when President (and later King) Henri Christophe had to deal with a bitter power
struggle between mulattos and darker-skinned Haitians, which result in civil war. The play asked
the question: was Henri Christophe a hero or tyrant?
Ben Guillory directed the trilogy of plays, which were written by Levy Lee Simon as an
outgrowth of a graduate thesis project. (Source: program, For the Love of Freedom Part III.)
At the time of this writing, Danny Glover, cofounder of the Robey Theater Company, was
preparing to direct a movie about the Haitian Revolution. On March 2, 2005, the Associated
Press vis-a-vis The San Jose Mercury News, reported that the movie was one of six projects,
features and documentaries, to be produced by Glover's newly-formed production company,
Louverture. Entitled Toussaint, the movie was described as an "historic action epic based on the
Haitian Revolution (1789-1804) and the life of Toussaint Louverture, who led the only
successful slave uprising in history and established the first independent black republic -
Haiti." Glover was announced as the director.
"Glover and long-time collaborator, director Jonathan Demme, have reportedly been interested in
shooting a film based on the life of Louverture for some time," reported The Louverture Project ,
"but have not been able to get the project off the ground." (see:
Another of the company's announced projects, according to the Associated Press, was "God's Bits
of Wood, based on the African literary classic and written by filmmaker Ousmane Sembene. It's
about the 1947 strike on the Dakar-Niger railway that ignited the independence movement in
(4)Prescod added: "She's now dubbed me as a chimere. We're now chimere sisters."
(5)In a follow-up conversation with this author, Tondreau elaborated on this statement. Most of
the business owners in Haiti are making millions out of the masses' blood," she said.
"It is why they would never let a progressive government run the country, especially like
President Aristide did: ask[ing] to raise the wages to decent salaries and better conditions of
(6)Several weeks after the forum was held, Tondreau elaborated on her remarks about Boulos.
"Again," she said, "it was Reginald Boulos's pharmaceutical company Farval Laboratories, Syrup
Asservil, the Valondon cough syrup, whom killed and handicapped thousands of children in Haiti
in 2002. Family members were never compensated for that, and he was never blamed or arrested.
Today he is head of the Chamber [of Commerce] in Haiti, still selling his products. And the
population is at his mercy.
". . . Reginald Boulos was the one along with Charles Henry Baker, who asked to deal with the
security problem themselves if the National Police Force were unable to. And the next day the
people's market was burned to the ground, [resulting in] many victims."
(7)"Including Toto Constant," continued Kurzban, "who later goes on 60 Minutes and says: 'Yes,
I worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. I was paid by them.'" And he specifically
mentions what happens at the dock in October of 1993."
(8)In 1825, France imposed on Haiti a harsh "compensation" (which in today's dollars amounts to
billion) for the losses of its slave owners. (Source: Porto Alegre Declaration on Haiti,
January 2005.) It took Haiti until 1947 to pay it off. More information:
(9)Jamaican journalist John Maxwell described to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now the role of
the U.S. in the deforestation in Haiti (see:
"[T]he American policies over the last 80 years or so have made Haiti defenseless [against the
hurricane]," he said. "It has stripped Haiti of its vegetation. Not only were the trees chopped
down during the American occupation so they could plant other things, but the poverty of the
country is directly caused by the fact that the Americans have never allowed Haiti to govern itself
and have reneged on promises to Aristide."
The same instalment of Democracy Now (September 27, 2004) reported horrific consequences of
Hurricane Jeanne in Haiti. "In nearby Haiti the situation remains dire with more than 1,500
people dead and more than 1,000 people missing," Goodman reported. "On Sunday, Haitian
officials said more bodies were recovered from debris in Gonaives. Meanwhile, the United
Nations is deploying more peacekeepers to Haiti to curb looting that broke out in the wake of the
devastation. The general in charge of the U.N. operations in Haiti said many people were
suffering from diarrhea while others, many of them children, were contracting gangrene. He said
amputations were being performed under horrendous conditions. Most injuries being treated are
gashes from collapsing roofs or pieces of zinc roof hidden by the mud that still covers the city,
where most survivors walk barefooted. . . "
During President Aristide's second term, efforts got underway to restore Haiti's trees and ground
cover. However, there is currently a problem with funding. See:
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||Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2005 at 3:16 PM
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||Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2005 at 12:48 AM
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