Photos of this event and further documentation can be found here: http://la.indymedia.org/news/2005/10/137407.php
Los Angeles, September 30, 2005: About 30 people, including myself, are standing in front of the Brazilian Consulate at 8484 Wilshire Boulevard protesting Brazil's role in massacres and human rights abuses that are taking place in Haiti.
Some activists are holding a large banner telling the U.S. to get its hands off Haiti. The many protest signs make statements including, "Aristide is the elected leader of Haiti;" "The L.A. Times lies about Haiti;" and "USA hands off Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba." Haitian flags are also displayed.
Many passing motorists honk in support.
It is announced over a loudspeaker that Margaret Prescod of Pacifica Radio and Women of Color in the Global Women's Strike cannot attend but sends her greetings. She is traveling to South Carolina to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
About 45 minutes into the demonstration, a Brazilian consulate, Henrique Jenne (pronounced "Henry Joo nay"), comes out to speak with us. Many of the demonstrators go over near the building to hear him while others continue demonstrating on the sidewalk.
Throughout the dialog, passing motorists honk at the demonstration signs.
The dialog begins. A question is asked about Brazil's participation in the human rights abuses in Haiti.
HENRIQUE JENNE: You have to understand, first of all, that it is the administration that's sort of involved in this; it's not people. Remember that the government is composed of people, right?
JOHN PARKER: The Brazilian government?
JENNE: Exactly. It's not only one person doing this, but it's the whole thing. That's politics. When a group decides, you go for the group, right? And that's what's happening. . . . It's hard to blame specific factions of people at all. You have to see the government as a whole body.
NOLUTHANDO WILLIAMS (speaks with great passion): Brazil's in charge of a mission which is basically implementing tyranny in Haiti. Even since September 27th and September 28th, armed motorized MINUSTAH convoys went in to Cite Soleil and Bel Air and arrested more than 40 people. Now these 40 people are nothing more than political activists. They arrested them because they didn't want them to take to the streets today. This is the type of tyranny that is going on thanks to Brazil's leadership of the U.N.'s MINUSTAH missions in Haiti right now. Haitians have been killed. As we know, in July, Dread Wilmer's house was bombed. It was bombed under a U.N. mission; Brazil is the head of the U.N. mission. It is time you become accountable for what's going on.
We're here today because our brothers and sisters in Haiti are dying, they are paying with their lives, they are behind bars. There are thousands of political prisoners in Haiti who have yet to be released, who are under the most inhumane conditions. And what we want to know is what is Brazil going to do about this?
FEMALE ACTIVIST: Yes!
[Cars driving past the demonstration honk at the signs.]
WILLIAMS (the passion in her voice is increasing): We came here months ago. In February we came here; nothing has happened since then. I went to Haiti in July, and I had to go to the U.N. ministers and speak myself because to this day there are political activists in Haiti whose names are being put [out] over the radio, and there's death threats. They were saying anyone can kill these people. We had to go to Haiti to talk to them [the ministers]. You're here, we came to talk to you reasonably.
Why has nothing happened since February? People are still dying. Like I said, only two days ago you all went in and arrested more than 40 political leaders for no reason more than the fact that they're political, that they represent the people. You're in cahoots with Condoleezza Rice...
SEVERAL ACTIVISTS: That's right!
WILLIAMS (continued): ...who just went over there within the last week. And she didn't represent the voice of the people, she supports farce elections.
Those are farce elections which must not happen because they're happening to bring people to power legitimately, who illegitimately have been acting with military and paramilitary power and murdering Haiti and not bringing forth rights for the people.
[More cars honk at the demonstration.]
So I'm here today along with my comrades to know what will you do. Because we don't want to leave this time and have nothing happen once again.
JENNE: Well, I'll get to every one of those questions.
CROWD: Yea!! Yeah!!!
[Applause. One demonstrator beats a drum.]
PARKER: One more question, too, just so you don't use the excuse [that] it's the big government because I heard that before in the Nuremberg Trials, when they said, "It wasn't just me, it was someone else higher up." But when you see this kind of genocide and atrocity, everyone down to the last soldier, down to anybody participating has a duty as a human being to fight against this.
The other thing is, do you think that it's okay to kidnap a democratically-elected president from a sovereign nation? And if no, why are you cooperating when Aristide says to this day this was a "coup-napping," this was a kidnapping by the United States?
ROSS PLESSET: And South Africa recognizes him.
PARKER: Yes, and South Africa recog...
JENNE: I'll give you the answer. Brazil was...
Passionate shouting among activists.
JENNE: What I can say is that I just arrived in the United States two days ago, and I['ve been] placed here right now to do something for you guys. Before answering--I don't have the political knowledge in order to answer directly--I could give you an abstract idea of whatever happens, but I know things are happening.
So what I may say, and it's a suggestion, I would bring to us something more palpable in terms of written protest, a list or something so that we can forward this to our authorities. That's the only way we can do something, because what can I do?
[Many people talk simultaneously.]
WILIIAMS: We gave that to you months ago.
PARKER: Yeah, we've done that.
[Various inaudible, overlapping statements.]
JENNE: Yeah, I'd like you to because...
[Several voices talking at once.]
WILLIAMS: The form we gave you was a lot more informal, but you can look through your files to see these basic demands. If you don't [find them], we'd be happy to reproduce it. The thing is that we don't have much time. October 15th is when the elections are set to occur, and those elections cannot happen in Haiti.
You have 400 polling places that the U.N. is setting up for more than eight million Haitians, and there's none in the countryside. So it's a dire situation. How can you have elections to elect a government that was put in by a coup?
PARKER: Was Aristide kidnapped? Do you believe Aristide was kidnapped?
JENNE: It's hard for me to say. How can I say? It's just a question, right? I wasn't there.
[A protestor asks Jenne if he has a business card. Jenne produces one.]
MALE ACTIVIST: Let me ask a question: why is Brazil in Haiti? I'm going to answer this question: because Brazil wants a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations. That's a quid pro quo with the U.S. government: "We go to Haiti, and you give us a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations." That's what Brazil is [inaudible word]...
JENNE: Do you really think so? Do you think it would be effective to that point?
MALE ACTIVIST #1 (or PARKER): Yes, we think...
PARKER: Lula sold his soul to the devil for the purpose of securing a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
MALE ACTIVIST #2: Your position is as consulate here?
JENNE: I'm, let's say, deputy consul.
MALE ACTIVIST #2: You're head consul?
[A burst of honks from cars driving past the demonstration.]
JENNE: No, I'm the second-in-charge.
[More cars honk.]
MALE ACTIVIST #2: The first person in charge is...?
JENNE: It's a lady, it's an ambassador.
MALE ACTIVIST #2: She's here?
JENNE: No. Well, right now I think she's out for lunch or something. She is an ambassador, consul general.
PARKER: Would it be possible for us to speak with her?
JENNE: Whenever she's here you could. What you could do is try to make an appointment, basically. It's much easier.
PARKER: Thirteen-thousand people have been killed since the kidnapping, many arrested, many of the folks who are serial killers who have massacred in the coup have been brought back into action. It's just horrendous what's going on, and I know you know it because you have access to the...
FEMALE ACTIVIST #1: Do you really feel like you can do anything? Us people here feel like we can do something, but you who actually has the name, who has the title, who has some way of being connected to other people that can help us... Do you actually feel like you can do something?
JENNE: I think so. If I had material like this, if I had even more than this, then I'll be able to do something.
FEMALE ACTIVIST #1: So you need more paperwork as opposed to more bodies?
JENNE: Oh yeah, of course.
WILLIAMS: And what can you do?
FEMALE ACTIVIST #1: What can you do if you have more paperwork?
JENNE: The more paper you have the better nowadays. Bureaucracy is fundamental. Without paper you won't go anywhere, right?
PARKER: Let me tell you what would be great: if you could stand out here with us and say that you are against this occupation.
FEMALE ACTIVIST #1: As Henrique Jenne, can you say: "I, Henrique, am against this war in Haiti. I am against the way that these people are being killed." Can you say that as yourself as an opinion besides your title? Human being to human being, can you say that?
JENNE: I'm against any kind of crime. [That's] basically it, because we're here for justice, nothing else. Whatever kind of injustice there is, of course we're against it.
JEB SPRAGUE: Why does the U.N. MINUSTAH force go into Cite Soleil with armored [inaudible word]? Why do they do that?
JENNE: You ask me that, but I'm not there.
WILLIAMS: The problem is, you hold such a high position representing the government here, and yet you seem to know so little about the situation in Haiti. And it's particularly this...
JENNE: Listen, even if I knew more, I wouldn't be able to say much to you basically, because I'm [inaudible word] down. I cannot go too far.
WILLIAMS: What we want is for you to work with the other members of your government like quickly, like in the next week, so that we can follow up with you so we can make sure that the U.N. voices...
JENNE: The more material I get the better. I need more material.
WILLIAMS: That's easy, but what we want is a commitment that with that material, you're going to help...
JENNE: What do you want me to do, sign a contract? [His voice gets drowned out by people talking.]
MALE ACTIVIST #3: I'm Brazilian, and I can understand him. Most of the people in Brazil do not support this, and he probably does not either. His age is about my age, and we know what happened. We cannot support this, but he's working for the Brazilian government. You cannot expect that he go and says, "I am against the invasion." I believe he is on the side of the Haitian people. [That's a] personal opinion, but I think so. We can sign a paper [saying that] "We are asking the Brazilian government to get out of Haiti." You had a coup d'etat there [in Brazil] before. [He also mentions that Lula, Brazil's current president, was once arrested, and a female politician was jailed for "two or three years" and almost killed.] So he's on our side probably. Let's sign something [telling] the Brazilian government: "Get out of there. Don't help the United States."
PARKER: Okay, we have done that, but we're willing to do it again. One thing is clear, though: if in my house there are massacres going on, there are children being abused, there is all kinds of death of innocent people and torture going on--IN MY HOUSE--I have the responsibility to not say to someone else who's pointing to my house and saying it's bad, to say, "Oh, you give me more information." All I gotta do is turn around and look at my house, and I can see what's going on. You [Jenne] have the responsibility not to tell us what to give you. You have the responsibility to find out, if you don't already know, 'cause you're in the position to do something.
Maybe if you say something, you'll lose your job. Well, if you do, you'll be our hero.
JENNE: Well, I wouldn't lose my job...
PARKER: There is something you can do because you have a voice. You have a loud voice due to your position, so there is something that you can do. And if it means you have to go against your government and stand with the people, then we hope we can give you the power to do that.
But the onus is on the Brazilian government, the onus is on you as a participant of that government to do something about it.
JENNE: Okay, let me just say one thing which I think could be more or less conclusive.
[More car honks in support of the demonstrators.]
JENNE (continued): You must bear in mind that Brazil and Haiti are brothers. We're very similar in many senses, not only racial[ly], even our cultures are very similar. So you should ask yourselves this question: "Why Brazil, why Haiti?" because we're very close to each other. I cannot just tell you, "Look, the government is doing the wrong thing," and "Down with the government! Screw [them?]" No, our peoples are the same; we think the same way, we have the same color. I'm very white, but most Brazilians are your color.
PARKER: It's because of the United States orchestrating...
JENNE: But that's another thing: I cannot interfere. It's their problem...
[Several people talk at once.]
WILLIAMS: You have with you today a member of the State Department who's here with you [referring to a suited man standing near Jenne]. Truly the United States, especially the State Department, plays a role in this.
PARKER: In fact, they're watching what you're saying right now [referring again to the suited man and another man in a security uniform]. I see the strings attached right now! [Laughter.]
UNIFORMED MAN: I'm only security.
WILLIAMS: You know the proper channels, so there are some resources for you to work...
MALE ACTIVIST: Why [does] the government accept [that] America use them like a puppet?
[Another car honks in support of the vigil.]
WILLIAMS: That's right.
JENNE: I don't know. What I'm telling you is I'm not in the government. Like I said in the beginning, it's a government structure that's working. It's very difficult for me to say, "This us because of that or that." Politics is very complicated, man. It's so complicated that...
PARKER: It's not so complicated. It's not so complicated.
JENNE: But think about it: what you can do is try to rectify things. That's what we're trying to do here. I mean that's why you're here, and that's why I'm taking this paper and possibly your signatures. I mean, we have to do something, I agree with that. Now if you ask me, "Why are they doing this" or "Why are they not doing this?" I'm not in the military, I'm not in the Brazilian government, I'm not with Americans either. I am one person like you all are, and we're trying to find a [inaudible word] or something for the people.
What I'm trying to say, again, is Brazil and Haiti are countries that are very similar. So we have to do our best in order to get the similarities forward.
MALE ACTIVIST: One more question: do you [know] why I think Brazilian government accepts to be used by Americans? Do you know why?
JENNE: You tell me.
MALE ACTIVIST: I think [it's] because they have got something to hide themselves, because they treat their people almost the same way as Americans do in [inaudible word]. That's why they cannot stand up to say, "enough is enough."
FEMALE ACTIVIST #4: And can you pass on to your ambassador and to others in government of Brazil that we are one of 44 cities which is having an action today in support of the people of Haiti. [This is happening in] 15 different countries. We really feel very strongly about it. It's a very strong international movement that wants to see occupation ended in Haiti...
JENNE: Okay, you can count on me for that, yes.
FEMALE ACTIVIST #4 (continued): ...and wants the Haitian people to be able to reestablish the government that THEY CHOOSE, not one that the U.S. or any other government chooses.
JENNE: Okay, we'll convey that...
WILLIAMS: And Brazil is seen as a target in this campaign because you are the head of MINUSTAH forces.
PARKER: Perhaps we should ask the real folks who are pulling the strings [indicating the men standing behind Jenne]. Maybe we should ask the U.S. State Department: Why are you committing this genocide in Haiti? Why are you allowing it to go on?
MAN: We're here for nothing more than a security purpose. We're Diplomatic Security.
PARKER: But you're from the State Department?
MAN: That's correct.
PARKER: And you know about the U.S. policy in Haiti?
MAN: We're not policy makers at all. We're here because of the consulate protests. We're nothing more than just security.
PARKER: So do you think Aristide was kidnapped?
MAN: I'm here for nothing more than a security function, sir.
PARKER: A security function? Because we're friendly people.
MAN: I know you are...
[Various voices overlap.]
SPRAGUE: The U.S. State Department, for five years, completely trained and financed and equipped the opposition in Haiti, the so-called democratic opposition. They had 12 meetings in the capital of the Dominican Republic during 2003 and 2002, where they trained them in how to organize, create political coalitions, and [coordinate] oppositions. And then if you look at Guy Philippe, who was formerly trained by the CIA in Ecuador and a...
PARKER: ...a drug dealer.
SPRAGUE (continued): And the rebels are based out of the Dominican Republic. They had State Department connections with the U.S. embassy in the Dominican Republic.
[More car honks because of the demonstration.]
SPRAGUE: So the whole thing that happened in Haiti was like a four-or-five-year plan through the U.S. State Department under Bush, under [Roger] Noriega, under Kirsten Madison of the National Security Council. And both of those two people were former staffers of Jesse Helms, which is one of the most well-known racist senators in U.S. history, who was anti- Aristide from the start, anti-Haitian democracy from the start...
PARKER: ...antiblack in general...
SEVERAL ACTIVISTS: Yes.
SPRAGUE (continued): Yeah, and antipoor black countries having democracy, antiany poor country having democracy, unless it's a puppet democracy controlled by sweatshop owners like Andre Apaid or Reginald Boulos or other people like that.
And I wish we did have somebody from the State Department here with knowledge because if we did ask them, you could bet that they would give you a bullshit answer.
JENNE: Can I just ask you one thing? If you would be able to get us the signatures you suggested, that would be very important. And I would need photos, also, of this demonstration. That's fundamental for us. Because what I want to do is to convey to our government, at least on our part (it's going to be coming from other countries as well), that we are really worried about this as well. So provide me with as much material as you can. That would be lovely. Even though my answers were neutral, I mean.. [Williams starts to speak.] Go ahead.
WILLIAMS: The man is asking for signatures and photos, the man is standing here working with the State Department, right? So what he wants to do...
JENNE: No, I don't work for the State Department...
WILLIAMS: Well, they're his security. So what I'm saying, as activists in the belly of a very militaristic beast, if we're going to hand over that type of information to you, what we would want to know is what is your commitment? Like give us a time frame. When are you going to get to your government...?
JENNE: As soon as I get the material.
WILLIAMS (continued): ...and when can when can you follow up with us?
[Meanwhile, a tall suited, Caucasian man with dark glasses, who had been standing behind Jenne, is leaning against a member of Global Women's Strike. This woman is documenting this event with a camcorder.]
FEMALE VIDEOGRAPHER: I don't think you're allowed to touch me like that.
SUITED MAN: [Inaudible.]
FEMALE VIDEOGRAPHER: I don't think you're allowed to touch me.
PARKER: Excuse me sir, excuse me sir. I know you're with security, but please don't harass our people here.
SUITED MAN: [His voice is mostly drowned out by people talking.] ...I just need to see what's going on.
FEMALE VIDEOGRAPHER: Both of my hands are tied up with the camera, sir. I'm not a threat to this fine gentleman right here. You're about two feet taller than me; you can see right over me.
[The man in the security uniform suggests to the videographer in a loud voice that she should drop the issue.]
[A passing motorist honks repeatedly at the demonstration.]
[Several people talk at once.]
JENNE: Well, you have my card, anyway. So what you do is bring me whatever you have in materials because what I want to do is... Can you go off for just one minute [Referring to people with recording devices], because I would like to tell you something? Can you switch off the cameras and everything for just a second?
[The cameras and tape recorder are turned off. Jenne says that the demonstration would be more effective if a bigger crowd was present.
This author resumes demonstrating at the sidewalk. Moments later, another activist comes to me and says I should hear the negative things that Jenne is saying about the Monsanto Company. I accompany this person back to Jenne and listen. It is suggested that I secretly record Jenne's remarks, but I decide against it. We hear the Brazilian consul say that various activities that Monsanto is doing around the world should be stopped. He also describes the current events in Haiti as horrible and says that Aristide should return to Haiti.]