An urgent call from Haiti Action Committee

On Aug. 13, the Haitian government summoned former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to court on corruption charges. This summons is part of a chilling pattern of repression aimed at destroying Aristide’s political party, Fanmi Lavalas, as the country approaches new legislative elections. We denounce it in the strongest possible terms.

When former President Aristide was summoned to court on May 8, 2013, thousands of Haitians surrounded his car to protect him.
When former President Aristide was summoned to court on May 8, 2013, thousands of Haitians surrounded his car to protect him.

On March 18, 2011, tens of thousands of people followed President Aristide’s car as it drove from the airport to his home, following his return from seven years of forced exile. They then climbed over the walls into the courtyard of the Aristides’ residence to continue an emotional and heart-felt greeting for Haiti’s first democratically elected president, overthrown in a U.S.-orchestrated coup in 2004. In his speech at the airport, President Aristide focused on education and the importance of inclusion for all Haitians in the process of restoring democracy.

Since his return, President Aristide has done exactly what he promised to do – reopen the University of the Aristide Foundation (UNIFA). On Sept. 26, 2011 the Medical School once again opened its doors. Today, there are over 900 students studying medicine, nursing and law at a university whose mission is to provide higher education to all sectors of Haitian society, not just the children of the rich.

And yet, in spite of this powerful and important work, Aristide and other Lavalas leaders and activists remain the target of government harassment and attack. This is not surprising; after all, the Haitian government of Michel Martelly came to power after elections with a historically low turnout in which Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti’s most popular political party, was banned from participation.

A huge crowd poured into the yard and onto the roof of his house to welcome him home on March 18, 2011, after seven years in exile. – Photo: Jean Ristil Jean Baptiste
A huge crowd poured into the yard and onto the roof of his house to welcome him home on March 18, 2011, after seven years in exile. – Photo: Jean Ristil Jean Baptiste

Martelly has embraced Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former Haitian dictator. Human rights organizations estimate that the Duvaliers – “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc” – were responsible for the deaths of over 30,000 Haitian citizens during their 29-year rule. While Duvalier now lives freely in Haiti and was honored by Martelly at the Jan. 1, 2014, Haitian Independence Day celebrations, President Aristide and the democratic movement are under assault.

For over a decade, U.S. and Haitian authorities have periodically threatened President Aristide with indictment and “tried” him in the pages of a compliant media. None of these charges has stuck, for the simple reason that they are all lies. This is the third time since his return in 2011 that Haitian authorities have trumpeted charges against President Aristide. Each time, after sensational headlines, the cases were unceremoniously shelved after an initial hearing and interview, before President Aristide could even challenge the accusations.

The politicized nature of the charges is further evidenced by the history of the judge in the case, Lamarre Bélizaire. The Port-au-Prince Bar Association has suspended Bélizaire for 10 years from the practice of law – the suspension to begin once he steps down as judge – for using the court to persecute opponents of the Martelly regime. This latest summons is one more example of a government determined to derail any opposition.

Haitians gather at the Aristide Foundation July 15, 2011, to celebrate their beloved president’s first birthday since returning home to Haiti. – Photo: Wadner Pierre
Haitians gather at the Aristide Foundation July 15, 2011, to celebrate their beloved president’s first birthday since returning home to Haiti. – Photo: Wadner Pierre

Each time these charges are trotted out, the goal is to defame Aristide, weaken Lavalas and endanger the vital educational work that he has led since his return. Haiti’s grassroots movement knows that each new rumored indictment is part of a campaign to intimidate and silence them. When President Aristide was last called to court, thousands of people surrounded the courthouse, chanting: “If they call our brother, they call all of us.” Yesterday, once again, people took to the streets to show him their support.

We echo their voices. Enough is enough. It is time for education, health care, and democratic development in Haiti, not a resurgence of political repression. We call on the Haitian government to withdraw this warrant.

Contact the Haiti Action Committee at www.haitisolidarity.net and on Facebook.

Revolving door of criminal charges against Aristide in Haiti

A summons was reportedly issued for former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti on Tuesday that was said to be related to corruption charges and a litany of well-known accusations for which evidence has never been presented in a court of law. It is part of a long list of charges in the U.S. and in Haiti that regularly appear whenever there are moves towards serious elections. Aristide and his supporters believe this is part of a documented campaign of character assassination against the former president that is designed to exclude the Lavalas party from free and fair elections in Haiti.

Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio Senior Producer Kevin Pina interviews Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee for an update.

9 COMMENTS

  1. This man is a criminal who need to be judged for his crimes. He sold the country to be president . He destroyed Our army causing thousands of kidnappings and deads. He caused us our independence ,All our heroes had done and died for ,because all he could see was him being the savior. And to make mater worst we allowed him to do it. Now he must pay. I could careless about what happen to him. Hope they lock him up. Like he liked smelling the smell of burning humain being I would love to see his blood being suck away from him by mostique.

  2. The man is the first leader of Haiti who really tried to improve the condition of the vast majority of the Haitian population. How anyone can slander him in this manner and not voice loud protest over the current government snuggling up to murderer and thief Baby Doc is beyond comprehension. There were Macouts under Aristide, there were programs to alleviate ignorance and poverty and reverse terrible medical situations. When Aristide was in exile he lived like a pauper, beholden to host country handouts. When Duvalier was in exile he lived like a king until the stolen millions ran out and he had to return to be protected by boot licking, murderous sycophants from when he and his father were in power and rapiong and killing and stealing the country into worse poverty all the time. Aristide is not a saint, but he is a man of the people and as such should be allowed to participate in the political life of this dear country–not threatened by murderous thugs as above.

    • The real Haitians who were not selling the country who were pride of being Haitians ,we called them marcouts, we killed them and their famillies and caused them to leave the country and now this is the result , We have people like Aristide who stood behind the Catholic Church pretended to be a priest when he was not and the so call senaters and deputies are worried only about how much they can sell themselves for. We need to get back to where we came , start by being pride of who we are and what we accomplished in time in history. We are a rich country but we can’t work together to get to where we suppose to be because of selfishness. Now our great country is being taking over by the great powers by pretending like they are helping us when in reality they can careless about IMG_0523.JPGIMG_0523.JPGus .

  3. Aristide’s place is in jail, many convicted felons have admitted and gave details about the former president involvement and how he would get his ‘percentage’ of many of criminal activities in the country… see Jacques Ketant as the most notorious case in hand… Aristide’s time behind bars will come. Haiti’s justice system cannot miss out on this opportunity to tight the ship. it has been long overdue. Duvalier will get
    his day as well…

    • It would be interesting to know what the puppet government of Haiti is giving the felons who are supposedly testifying against Aristide. Maybe setting them free? Maybe straight payoffs? Maybe letting them return to their former activities. This reborn Duvalier lackey government is afraid to let Aristide’s party participate because they know there is an ass-kicking in store for the elites if they do allow participation by Aristides’s group. The poor and the down trodden know who tried to help them and they know who killed them before and who is killing them now and it ain’t Aristide and his followers!

Leave a Reply