Coastal Post Online

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

**** COASTALPOST'S LOGO ****

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

September, 2005

The Growing Horror In Haiti
By Karen Nakamura

Since Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forcefully removed from office in February 2004, the delicate balance between life and death in Haiti has slipped into the negative. Never a peaceful place under any circumstances, (except for the few years of relative calm during Aristide's administration), the hemisphere's poorest country has been under a state of siege.
On July 21 of this year, things got so bad a well-known Catholic priest was pulled from the pulpit and arrested for the murder of the parishioner over who's funeral he was officiating. At the time of the murder Father Gerard Jean-Juste was in the US where he spoke numerous times on Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now and Flashpoint programs. As of this writing, Father Jean-Juste is still jailed and reported to be in bad health.
What is unusual about this unsavory affair is that the United Nations, France and the United States were involved in the overthrow of the democratically elected Aristide government and helped put a gang of known terrorists and assassins in power. These governments are currently facilitating the gunning down of members of Aristide's Lavalas Party simply for asking for their voice in a democracy.
What brought this about tragic turn of events?
One of the accusations against Aristide was a failure to lift his country out of poverty. Rarely mentioned is that the Bush administration froze development assistance to Haiti when it came into office. Jeffrey Sachs stated in the Los Angeles Times in March of 2004, that this squeezed "Haiti's economy dry. US officials surely knew that the aid embargo would mean a crisis in the balance of payments, a rise in inflation, and a collapse of living standards, all of which fed the rebellion."
He went on to point out that "some of the players in the current round are familiar from the previous Bush administration... Key is US Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega - a longtime Aristide-basher - widely thought to have been central to the departure of Aristide."
It has been generally accepted that US denied military protection to Aristide, except to escort him to exile. There are also strong indications that the US supplied weapons and gave back door training to the rebels through the neighboring Dominican Republic. One indication is that the rebels departed from there and appeared in Haiti with sophisticated equipment and new uniforms.
At the same time, according to Sachs, "the US abandoned the call of European and Caribbean leaders for a political compromise that Aristide had already accepted. Most important, did the US bankroll a coup in Haiti, a scenario that, based on the evidence, seems likely? Only someone ignorant of American history and of the administrations of the elder and younger George Bushes would dismiss these questions."
Sachs goes on, "The US has repeatedly sponsored coups and uprisings in Haiti and in neighboring Caribbean countries. The most recent previous episode in Haiti came in 1991, during the first Bush administration, when thugs on the CIA payroll were among the leaders of paramilitary groups that toppled Aristide after his 1990 election."
Those who played a part in the democratizing of Haiti are presently being hunted down and murdered by former members of the very national army Aristide disbanded because of their corruption and terrorist tactics. And the American taxpayer is footing the bill.
The July funeral was for Jacques Roche, a prominent Haitian journalist aligned with the present government. According to Bill Quigley, an eyewitness and the priest's co-counsel, "Jacques Roche's coffin was in the chapel next to the sacristy... At 10 o'clock the bishop and about seven priests robed in white with purple stoles or sashes paraded out of the sacristy of the church to the chapel… to say blessings over the coffin of Jacques Roche… Fr. Jean-Juste went to the funeral expressly to pay his respects to the family and express his open remorse and opposition to any killing of anyone, no matter their political affiliation."
The death, however, was made into a cause by those opposed to Aristides' Lavalas party. Jacques Roche was a supporter of The Group of 184, who overthrew President Aristide. This faction claimed that because Roche's body was found in a poor neighborhood it meant the Lavalas party, which is still strongly supported among the poor, executed him. The congregation was notable for the wealth of its parishioners.
For several days before the funeral, Fr. Jean-Juste was publicly accused of "'a plot against the security of the state, smuggling money and guns into the country, and of being behind all the kidnappings.'"
Quigley goes on, "People knew Fr. Jean-Juste was coming to the funeral because that was printed on the front page of a conservative paper the day before."
"When Fr. Jean-Juste walked out, people started yelling at him in the chapel. They called him 'assassin' and 'criminal' and yelled out to 'arrest and kill the rat.'" He was then surrounded and spit on and "15-20 or more young men not dressed at all for the funeral came into the sacristy. At that point the security forces melted away."
After Fr. Jean-Juste was viciously beaten about the head and punched in the eye by these men, a few UNCIVPOL tried to help but were overwhelmed. The priest, Quigley and a woman who protected them hid in a bathroom until being rescued by a reinforcement of UN troops from Jordan.
Quigley goes on to explain that he and Fr. Jean-Juste were arrested and held for the next seven or eight hours while the UN forces and the Haitian forces negotiated about what to do. "We were told informally that the UN wanted to escort Fr. Jean-Juste back to his parish but the Haitian government was insisting that he be arrested. The attackers were allowed to go free and not arrested, but they wanted to arrest the victim!"
Interesting to note is that this incident was shut out of the mainstream media, which at the time was buzzing about the Bush Administration's attack on Public Broadcast System (PBS) radio. That incident harkened back to the defeated coup attempt on Pacifica radio, which extensively covered both Aristide's removal and Fr. Jean-Juste's arrest.
As Jeffery Sachs relayed in the L.A. Times, when members of the Congressional Black Caucus "demanded an investigation into the US role in Aristide's overthrow, the first Bush administration laughed them off, just as the present administration has done when facing new queries from Caucus members. Indeed, those questioning the administration about Haiti are being smeared as naive and unpatriotic."
The still jailed Fr. Jean-Juste had this to say to his attorney as he and Quigley parted.
"This is all a part of the death sentence called down upon me on the radio in Miami. The searches at the airport, the visits to the police stations, the mandate to appear before a criminal judge yesterday, and now this. It is all part of the effort to silence my voice for democracy. Now you see what we are up against in Haiti... If they treat me like this, think how they treat the poor people."

Coastal Post Home Page