Why Bernard Gousse should not be Haiti’s next prime minister

by Wadner Pierre

In 2004, I was in Haiti living under the injustice Bernard Gousse inflicted on his own people while serving the Haitian elite and the “international community.” Like many of Gousse’s victims, I was driven into hiding after the arrest of the late Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a prominent Lavalas leader and human rights activist. Under the dictatorship of Gerard Latortue, Gousse ran the Ministry of Justice – an injustice machine that filled Haitian jails with political prisoners, usually targeting the most vulnerable.

Here are seven reasons why Gousse shouldn’t be Haiti’s next prime minister:

1) Gousse became the minister of justice after the 2004 coup against Haiti’s democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Gousse was considered one of the most powerful men in the U.S-backed regime that ruled from 2004 to 2006.

2) Among the people illegally jailed by Gousse were Fanmi Lavalas officials under Aristide such as former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, former Minister of Interior Joselene Joceleme Privet and former legislator Amanus Maette. The allegations against all of them were shown to be completely baseless. In the case of Neptune, the illegality was so egregious that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ordered the Haitian government to pay Yvon Neptune reparations.

3) With Gousse’s enthusiastic support, the Haitian National Police, backed by U.N. troops, launched murderous raids on communities where support for Aristide was very strong, such as Cite Soleil.

4) Since 2009, a Miami-based Haitian human rights group, Veye-Yo, founded by the late Father Jean-Juste, has called for the arrest of Bernard Gousse.

5) Gousse’s crimes occasionally attracted some notice in the corporate press. Below are some examples:

“Once again, one man has become the center of a political storm that threatens to foil this country’s uphill struggle for stability,” wrote Ginger Thompson in the June 16, 2005, New York Times article, “How Haiti’s Future May Depend on a Starving Prisoner.”

“Gousse also has been accused of ignoring alleged atrocities by police against pro-Aristide slum dwellers,” wrote Stevenson Jacobs in the June 16, 2005, Associated Press article, “Interim Justice Minister Resigns.”

However, his crimes are best documented in “Haiti Human Rights Investigation: November 11-21, 2004,” a very detailed report by Thomas Griffin of the University of Miami School of Law.

6) The scale of the crimes committed by the Latortue dictatorship – in which Bernard Gousse played a major role – were revealed by a scientific study published by the Lancet Medical Journal in 2006. The study estimated 4,000 political killings perpetrated by Latortue’s securities forces and its armed allies.

7) There can be no true reconciliation without justice. The choice of Bernard Gousse is a clear signal that the rights of the Haitian people will continue to violated under the Martelly administration.

If Haiti’s current President Michel Martelly is not a U.S. puppet, he should arrest Gousse rather than appoint him as the head of his government. Anyone who has followed the situation in Haiti can see that Haitian people – in fact, anyone – deserves better than Bernard Gousse.

Popular Haitian photojournalist Wadner Pierre is senior staff photographer for the Maroon and Wolf magazines at Loyola University New Orleans, where he is currently studying. Visit indiegogo.com/twadhaiti to help him reach his fundraising goal to return to Haiti this summer to investigate and write about social justice work in the aftermath of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. Also visit his website, haitianalysis.com, and his blogs, wadnerpierre.blogspot.com and dominionpaper.ca/weblogs/wadner_pierre. On The Journey of a Haitian Photojournalist, you are sure to find photos by Wadner that will print themselves indelibly on your heart and can be purchased and displayed for others to enjoy. Wadner can be reached at nwanpi@gmail.com.