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Must learnedly read, too; of intellectual rigor
|Photos: *In P-au-P, Haiti, an old building collapsed, several died and wounded *Haitian and Cuban children in jail in the Bahamas Books & Arts/In Ideas: *Helping an old French art rise Books & Arts/In Dance Review: *Folk meets Baroque at a Haitian soirée Books & Arts/In Book Review: *The organizer of the civil rights movement *A professor who refuses to pull his punches *From Naoh's curse to slavery's rationale Special Reports: *To survive, young forced into servitude *"Good, the vast majority of you stupid Haitians are still living in crushing poverty," says uncommonly chief bandit Aristide. Editorial/Columns: * He urgently needs your help: *He faces 5 years in prison U.S. State Dept. Annual "Diversity Visa Lottery: *dvlottery.state.gov (accessible only Nov. 1-Dec. 1, 2003) Vociferous dictator Aristide: *My victims Important! Urgent! *Kill all the Haitians, they are all drug dealers|
|Odious photographs of notorious criminal Amiot Metayer's body after he was brutally murdered by his uncommonly chief bandit Jean-Bertrand Aristide; protests, murders, burning and much more (updated on Nov. 27 , 2003) *Other Photos: Mardi Gras in Haiti, tyrant Aristide awards himself top prize for best costume|
|Posted at 12:31 p.m., Sunday, November 30, 2003|
|Extremely primitive dictator Aristide fears brutal death is awaiting him and family|
|Posted at 8:17 p.m., Friday November 28, 2003|
|Anti-government rallies in Haiti leave one dead, scores wounded|
|By The Associated Press|
President Jean-Bertrand Aristides partisans pelted students with rocks and poison ivy-spiked water on Friday as clashes at a separate rally on Haitis westcoast killed at least one.
Government opponents clashed with police in the westcoast town of Gonaives on Friday when shots broke out and a bystander was killed. The opponents were gathering to mark the deaths of three students shot to death by the Haitian army 18 years ago during an anti-government rally.
The uproar over the students deaths sparked a movement that eventually led to the ouster of President Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986. It was clear who shot the bystander.
Meanwhile, in the capital of Port-au-Prince, at least four students were hurt when Aristide partisans began throwing rocks and splashing them with the poison-ivy cocktail meant to make people itch.
In the vanguard fighting AIDS, an army of Haitian villagers / Helping an old French art rise / A prominent Haitian Basketball player, not a Haitian boat people or uncommonly brutal dictator of Aristide's nature
The students called for Aristides resignation and the release of two business leaders detained two weeks ago at an opposition rally.
"We say down with Aristides repressive regime and demand the unconditional release of political prisoners," said Herve Saintilus, leader of the Federation of Haitian University Students, who said he was struck on the wrist by a police officer wielding a club.
Saintilus blamed the police for not securing the demonstration. Police, however, were not immediately available for comment.
Tensions have grown in Haiti since flawed 2000 legislative elections that the opposition charged were rigged. In two months, clashes during anti-government protests have left at least 16 dead and scores wounded.
The severed head of an unidentified man was discovered Tuesday on a heap of garbage near the central plaza. Surrounding the head were leaflets threatening some 70 opposition figures and journalists.
"The regime has regressed to the lowest level of barbarity," said Haitian novelist Gary Victor, whose name was on the list.
Businessmen David Apaid and Charles Henry Baker were arrested on Nov. 14 when government supporters penned members of the civil society coalition known as "the 184" into a corner of the downtown central plaza where a rally was to be held, insulting them, pelting them with rocks, and proclaiming their fidelity to Aristide.
The rally, held to present the coalitions proposals for sweeping changes in the Caribbean nation, ended with police firing pepper gas.
No Aristide partisans were arrested, while 25 coalition members were detained when police found three handguns in a vehicle owned by Baker.
The permits had expired but, since police have not renewed any permits since May, they remained valid, said lawyer Gervais Charles.
Baker and David Apaid were charged and jailed in the national penitentiary while the others were released.
Apaid is the nephew of Andy Apaid Jr., leader of "the 184," that includes business associations, womans and human rights groups, labor, peasant, and student unions, as well as medical and religious groups.
Baker is vice-president of the Haitian Association of Manufacturers.
The arrests have provoked a storm of criticism.
"The government is using the judicial system to persecute people who disagree with it," said the vice-president of the Catholic Bishops Conference, Monsignor Guire Poulard.
Government spokesman Mario Dupuy said the matter was for the courts.
The opposition refuses to participate in legislative elections proposed for this year and is demanding Aristide resign.
Aristide says he will serve out his term, which ends in 2006, and has defended his government, saying its efforts to ensure security and progress have been blocked because of the political opposition and shortage of international aid.
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press
|Posted at 8:05 p.m., Thursday, November 27, 2003|
|World hunger on the rise: UN report NO POLITICAL WILL|
One in seven people in the world is malnourished, yet sufficient food is produced to feed everyone, prompting officials to blame political inertia.
NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , DAKAR, SENEGAL Thursday, Nov 27, 2003,Page 7
The number of hungry people worldwide has swelled in recent years, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, because of war, drought, AIDS and trade barriers, according to a report released on Tuesday by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2003, found that after falling steadily during the first half of the 1990s, hunger grew in the second half.
Between 1999 and 2001, the report found, more than 840 million people, or one in seven, went hungry. Most alarming of all, between 1995 and 2001, the number of malnourished people across the developing world grew by an average of 4.5 million a year.
The agency said the findings would make it impossible to meet its goal of halving world hunger by 2015. That goal, set first in 1996, was cited as a top priority by the UN Millennium Summit meeting in September 2000.
The rise in hunger came even though the world produced ample food, and in 22 countries, including Bangladesh, Haiti and Mozambique, the number of undernourished declined in the second half of the decade.
"Bluntly stated, the problem is not so much a lack of food as a lack of political will," the report declared.
The FAO called on rich countries to invest in improving agricultural productivity, conserving natural resources and expanding access to global markets for farmers in the developing world.
Citizens of countries that spend significant portions of their limited export earnings to import food are most likely to go hungry, the report concluded.
By contrast, countries that succeeded in reducing hunger were those where agricultural production rose, population growth slowed and HIV rates were relatively low.
Anti-poverty advocates said the report underscored the need to tackle underlying causes of hunger.
"We tend to think of the solution as, `Well, they need seeds and tools,'" said Adrienne Smith, a spokeswoman for the Boston-based Oxfam America.
"Unfortunately, there are structural issues that conspire to keep people from thriving," she said.
Throughout the 1990s, the report found, only 19 countries, including China, reduced hunger among their peoples. In another 17 countries, where hunger had begun falling in the early 1990s, the number of malnourished people climbed in the latter half of the decade. This group included densely populated nations like India and Nigeria.
"Unless significant gains are made in large countries where progress has stalled, it will be difficult to reverse this negative trend," the report said.
Not surprisingly, the figures from countries at war, like Liberia and Congo, were the most startling. Agricultural production has come to a standstill in those countries, a great many of them in western and central Africa. The vast and fertile Congo topped the chart, with 75 percent of its population estimated to be undernourished in the 1999-2001 period. In Afghanistan and Burundi, 70 percent of people were undernourished.
In southern Africa, the AIDS pandemic has cut a swath through what otherwise would be its most productive citizens. The disease has robbed families of breadwinners and forced some families to abandon their fields. This story has been viewed 140 times.
Copyright © 1999-2003 The Taipei Times
|HUMAN RIGHTS: Ex-Haitian army officer is arrested|
|By Alfonso Chardy|
Federal immigration agents swooped down on an apartment in Homestead before sunrise Wednesday to arrest Jean Claude Simeon, a former lieutenant in the Haitian army allegedly involved in the military coup that overthrew Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991.
The 5:45 a.m. arrest in the 200 block of Northeast 13th Street, near downtown Homestead, raised to more than 50 the number of foreign torture suspects arrested by immigration agents as part of the ''persecutor program'' launched nationwide in 2000. Most of the arrests have occurred in Florida.
Simeon is the highest-ranking former Haitian military officer to be arrested as a torture suspect since former Army Col. Frantz Douby was picked up in downtown Miami Aug. 26 in connection with a Haitian arrest warrant stemming from his alleged role in a 1994 massacre in Haiti.
The arrests reflect an ongoing strategy by the federal immigration service in Florida to detain and deport former officers who were involved in the coup and subsequent violence against civilians and Aristide supporters.
Ana Santiago, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman in Miami, confirmed the arrest but had no details.
According to a federal official familiar with Wednesday's arrest, Simeon arrived in the United States through Miami International Airport carrying a tourist visa in October 1996.
Simeon was supposed to leave the country in April 1997 but stayed and asked for political asylum. The request was denied and Simeon was ordered deported by an immigration judge. Simeon appealed the decision but in 2000 the Board of Immigration Appeals denied his petition.
Simeon, arrested as he left his residence, was detained as a result of an order from supervisors at the recently created human rights violators unit of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, D.C., the federal official said.
According to the official, Simeon's immigration file contains evidence that he was a ''human rights abuser'' during his 29 years in the Haitian military. The highest rank he reached was lieutenant, and during the 1991 coup he was posted at the national palace in Port-au-Prince.
The official said he did not have details on precisely what type of abuses Simeon allegedly committed or exactly what his role was in the coup.
Ira Kurzban, a prominent Miami immigration attorney, said he was familiar with Simeon's background. Kurzban called Simeon ''one of the bad guys'' implicated in the coup and efforts to prevent restoration of democracy in Haiti.
''The arrest is a demonstration of the type of positive cooperation that the United States can have with Haiti,'' Kurzban said. ``Our hope is that the U.S. will support the democratically elected government in Haiti.''
Kurzban is also an attorney for the Haitian government and has participated in investigations of human rights abuses by that country's military.
Though U.S. troops restored Aristide to power in 1994, relations between the two countries have deteriorated as the political confrontation in Haiti between Aristide supporters and foes has become more violent.
Reprinted from The Miami Herald of November 27, 2003.
|Posted at 7:19 p.m., Wednesday, November 26, 2003|
|A center of division ... Haitians spar with Catholic Charities over place of their own|
|Posted at 5:25 p.m., Friday, November 21, 2003|
|U.S. Ambassador says Haiti at a crossroads|
|By Paisley Dodds, Associated Press Writer|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Nov. 20 - Warning of a somber future for Haiti unless President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government makes reforms, the U.S. ambassador said in an interview Thursday that the world's oldest black republic is at a decisive crossroads.
Since Aristide's party swept flawed legislative elections in 2000, U.S.-Haitian relations have soured as demonstrations against the government increase and poverty among the 8 million people deepens. U.S. officials say elections are the only way out.
"If Haiti falls into its historical past of authoritarian government, misrule and abuse of human rights, its future will be as somber as its past," U.S. Ambassador James Foley told The Associated Press and Newsday Thursday.
Opposition groups have refused to participate in legislative elections proposed for this year unless Aristide resigns and the government provides a secure environment. An opposition boycott would raise questions about the legitimacy of any elected Parliament.
"To hold free and democratic elections is a constitutional obligation. We want to hold them but we can't hold them alone," said Mario Dupuy, a Haitian government spokesman.
The two-year standoff has paralyzed the Caribbean country where most people are jobless, hungry and hampered by a crumbling infrastructure of shattered roads and sketchy telephone service. So few investors come to Haiti.
The government says it needs funds to restore confidence. Donors, meanwhile, say confidence must be restored before money begins flowing.
Either way, patience is waning at home and abroad as Aristide struggles to rebuild a country battered by two centuries of violent government overthrows, power grabs and corruption.
"In our view what is essential is that there be a government that is acting responsibly within the framework of the rule of law, that there be respect for human rights and that the government be acting as a credible partner with the international community," Foley said.
The U.S. Embassy would not comment Thursday on a report by independent Radio Kiskeya that the United States has canceled the U.S. tourist visa of Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert. Privert has denied allegations by former Aristide partisans that he organized lethal gang attacks on Aristide enforcers and grass-roots leaders who have become an embarrassment to the government.
The United States has canceled the visas of more than a dozen government officials this year, some because of alleged connections to drug trafficking.
Opponents accuse the government of using police and militants to crush dissent.
On Thursday, police fired tear gas to break up a demonstration in coastal Petit-Goave.
A demonstration planned last week by civic groups was overpowered by thousands of Aristide partisans.
In protest, ambassadors from France, the United States and the European Union stayed away from a celebration Tuesday marking the 200th anniversary of a decisive Haitian military victory that ousted the French and ended slavery.
The legacy of slavery and colonial exploitation has led Haitians to be distrustful of foreign assistance and especially of the United States, which three times invaded Haiti. The first invasion led to a 19-year military occupation that ended in 1934. The last restored Aristide to power in 1994 after his ouster in a military coup.
As the political and economic situation worsens, outside help may be Haiti's only answer.
International lenders and donors froze more than $500 million in loans and grants after President Rene Preval's government presided over flawed 2000 legislative elections that were followed by Aristide's victory in a presidential ballot.
On Thursday, however, the Inter-American Development Bank announced it approved a new $25 million loan.
Although the United States continues to be Haiti's largest donor, some $70 million in U.S. aid this year is being funneled through nongovernment organizations. From 1996 to 2002, U.S. aid totaled more than $564 million.
Aristide calls the freezing of aid an "economic blockade" that has hobbled his government's efforts.
"The Americans have their own agenda," said Phillip Jean, 39, an Aristide supporter. "They blame us because of our elections when they can't even hold credible elections."
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press
|Frustration boils over, the Aristide's regime is holding off its enemies - but for how long?|
|By The Economist Magazine|
As Haiti approaches the 200th anniversary of its independence in January, there are signs that the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide may have difficulty controlling growing unrest much beyond that date. Daily anti-government protests across this Caribbean nation of 8m, a violent rupture between the government and its local paramilitary supporters, and international exhaustion with the political crisis all point to difficult days ahead for the worlds first black republic.
Elected for a five-year term in December 2000 following legislative elections earlier that year that many observers regarded as fraudulent, Mr Aristide has been locked in a three-year-long standoff with his domestic political opposition. The two sides have repeatedly failed to come to agreement over when, and how, to conduct new legislative elections. This has stalled critical international financial aid as well as contributed to a breakdown in law and order and an increase in misery in the country, the poorest in the hemisphere.
Gang warfare? One of the chief causes for the increasing shakiness of Mr Aristides position is largely self-inflicted. The president courted criminal-political street gangs to augment a thoroughly politicised Haitian National Police (PNH) and defend him against the ever-present threat of overthrow. (Mr Aristide was ousted previously in a violent coup during his first stint as head of state a decade ago.) But he now faces the thorny problem of how to distance himself from the gangs in order to regain desperately needed international assistance.
In September, Amyot Métayer, the leader of a pro-Aristide street gang called the Cannibal Army from the provincial city of Gonaïves, was found dead along the roadside near that town, a bullet in each eye. His supporters have virtually paralysed the region, accusing Mr Aristide of having orchestrated the murder of Mr Métayer in order to rid himself of a troublesome ally who knew too much. This month, the murder of another gang leader with links to the government, this time in the capitals sprawling Cite Soleil slum, resulted in similar demonstrations and calls for the presidents ouster by the same armed partisans who once defended him.
For its part, the government has always denied links to the gangs, claiming that they were simply supporters acting out of patriotism. However, by the summer of 2002, when gangs were used to brutally stamp out a growing protest movement by university students, the links between the Aristide government and the mobs had become embarrassingly obvious. Gang bosses could regularly be seen leaving Haitis National Palace and Ministry of the Interior. On several occasions (including a December 2002 attack on demonstrators in the capital and harassment of church worshipers beforehand) Haitian National Police officials could clearly be observed and overheard giving orders to armed gang members on how to proceed via walkie-talkie and face to face.
No solid institutions Virtually all of Haitis state institutions, weak as they are, have been put to do the bidding of the executive branch. The PNH alternately suppresses anti-government dissent and stands idly by as protestors are set upon by the government-linked paramilitaries (as happened during an opposition rally in the capital on November 14th). The judicial branch veers between issuing summonses to the presidents opponents and deliberately obstructing investigations into crimes committed against his enemies.
There is no armed forces, there is no justice structure, the state is as weak as can be, says one former member of Haitis security establishment, forced to flee into exile, he says, when he began engaging in counter-narcotics operations that led towards the circles of government power. The most revolutionary thing you could do (in Haiti) is to strengthen an institution.
The situation for the independent press is also grim. Early this year the countrys most prominent journalist, Michele Montas, was forced into exile following the murder of her bodyguard. Ms Montas, the widow of renowned radio commentator Jean Dominique, who himself was murdered in front of Radio Haiti Inter, the radio station they co-owned in April 2000, had long been a thorn in the side of the Aristide government. She had pressed for an aggressive investigation into her husbands murder and criticized the use of armed pressure groups in domestic politics. Since Mr Aristides return to power, human-rights groups say, 31 journalists in addition to Ms Montas have fled the country. This month, Haitis state Telecommunications Council truculently closed down a provincial radio station that had given a forum to opposition spokesmen.
International concerns The Aristide governments approach to addressing international concerns has been largely cosmetic. According to US Department of Justice figures, lavishly paid lobbyists for the Haitian government in the US include the Miami firm of Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger & Tetzeli, which received nearly US$2millions between 2000 and 2002 (the last period for which figures are available). Another is the political consulting firm of former congressional black caucus member Ron Dellums, which received US$400,000 for the same two-year period. Their success, beyond swaying a handful of US journalists into visiting the country or garnering the odd sympathetic statement in Congress, appears to have been negligible.
The Inter-American Development Bank announced this November the approval of three loans to Haiti that total US$176.9millions (the first since the IDB lending resumed in July). However, the loans largely sidestep direct contact with the Aristide government, instead going to autonomous and semi-autonomous state agencies and community groups. Foreign donor governments and diplomatic missions, especially the US, have remained largely unmoved.
Increasingly, Haitians fear that the Aristide government is heading for disaster, and that it will take the country with it. Mr Aristide's disorganised domestic opposition, including the Convergence Démocratique alliance, has made only slight headway in gaining popular legitimacy even as the regime has grown more brutal. The main threat to the president, therefore, is that the various armed factions in what Ms Montas labelled a balkanised state will make the country ungovernable.
Mr Aristide's ability to co-opt and play off the various perpetrators of violence against one another and, consequently, to his side, appears to be waning. His dexterity in continuing to be able to do so may well decide the fate of his tenure as Haiti's president. For the last year, groups of armed men claiming to be members of Haiti's disbanded military, allegedly lead by a former major, have roamed the Plateau Central region, killing government officials and policeman and vowing to topple the government. When added to the increasing power of local strongmen like Mr Métayer, some of whom have begun to agitate against the president, this raises the risk that the Aristide government will come to a violent end before the next presidential election, scheduled for November 2005, can take place.
From The Economist Magazine print edition, Nov. 30th, 2003.
|Coast Guard repatriates 204 migrants to Haiti|
|By The Associated Press|
MIAMI, Nov. 20 -- The Coast Guard repatriated 204 migrants to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, on Wednesday after taking them from an overloaded 60-foot sailing boat. officials said.
One of the migrants was Cuban, the rest were Haitian, the Coast Guard said. One migrant was treated for dehydration, the rest were not injured.
The South Carolina-based Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin stopped the ship Saturday about 40 miles northwest of Great Inagua, Bahamas.
When the migrants were transferred to the cutter, the sailing vessels mainsail failed and its stability was jeopardized, the Cast Guard said. The Coast Guard fixed the sail to prevent a possible capsizing during the transfer, officials said.
The sailing vessel was destroyed as a hazard to navigation.
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press
|Anti-government protests hit Haiti|
|By Canute James in Kingston|
Opposition protests this week in Haiti's capital have frustrated the government's efforts to hold legislative elections originally due this month and which are critical to winning funds from international donors.
It remains unclear when the elections will take place. Officials have long vowed to hold elections by the end of the year but have never floated a date, and local opposition groups and US officials say the contests should not proceed under current conditions.
Haiti has yet to meet mandates from the Organisation of American States (OAS), including a non-partisan chief of police, the disarmament of gangs supporting Jean-Bertrand Aristide, president, and the arrest of Aristide supporters who attacked political opponents in December 2001 after an alleged coup attempt.
A general strike on Monday has since been followed by intermittent unrest.
The Caribbean state of 7.5m has been racked recently by violent clashes between government and opposition factions, attacks by government loyalists on civic groups, and armed anti-government gangs. Recent protesters have demanded the resignation of Mr Aristide, elected as a populist but whose administration has been frustrated by political unrest, opposition boycotts and a lack of foreign aid.
Government officials have accused Convergence Democratique, a coalition of opposition parties, of engineering violence to discredit Mr Aristide's administration, and of frustrating political reform rather than competing in elections which it would lose. Convergence has rejected the charges.
Credible elections are central to the reforms that Haiti - the hemisphere's poorest country - must implement in order to access hundreds of millions of dollars. The country has been politically paralysed since disputed legislative elections in 2000. Opposition parties and foreign observers concurred that the result in some districts was manipulated to benefit Mr Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party.
James Foley, the US ambassador, has rejected the government's claims of improving public security.
"The government has not met its responsibilities in preparing for elections," he said. "Security has worsened, and in the current climate it will not be easy to convince people to vote. It will be difficult to achieve a solution when people cannot demonstrate peacefully."
Mr Foley showed his displeasure by refusing to attend ceremonies this week marking Haiti's 200th anniversary of independence.
David Lee, a Canadian diplomat who leads the OAS mission in Haiti, said his organisation was concerned about recent developments, particularly violence by the president's supporters against opposition demonstrations.
Copyright © 2003 The Financial Times Limited. Reprinted from The Financial Times of Nov. 20, 2003.
|Posted at 1:17 p.m, Friday, November 21, 2003|
|Michael Jackson in tight handcuffs without white gloves|
|Michael Jackson, center, in tight handcuffs without white gloves. (AP Photo)|
Michael Jackson (Getty Images)
|A scene reminiscent to the toppling of the many statues of former Iraqis dictator, Saddam Hussein, after the obituary of his reign of terror was written|
|A papier-mâché effigy of President Bush was pulled down in London yesterday as tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest his state visit. (Reuters, via The New York Times)|
|Posted at 10:45 p.m., Wednesday, November 19, 2003|
|Dr. Angelo E. Gousse awarded $33 million by jury in LAPD-Rampart Division racial profiling lawsuit|
|Special to wehaitians.com from Kathy Pinckert, Director of marketing and media relations|
Los Angeles, CA (November 19, 2003) - A Los Angeles Superior Court jury, after three days of deliberation, awarded Dr. Angelo E. Gousse $33 million in general damages in his civil lawsuit against the LAPD-Rampart Division, City of Los Angeles and Budget Rent-A-Car Corporation [NYSE:CD]. The jury apportioned 57% of that amount, or $18,810,000, to Budget Rent-A-Car Corporation; and 43% of that amount, or $15,510,000, to the City of Los Angeles/LAPD.
The trial began October 20, 2003 and was heard before the Hon. Elizabeth A. Grimes. Dr. Gousse was represented by Browne Greene with the Santa Monica, CA. law firm of Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler, LLP and Robert W. Kelley with the Office of Sheldon J. Schlesinger, P.A. of Fort Lauderdale, FL. Gousse vs. City of Los Angeles, Case No. BC 252804.
"If it could happen to me," said Dr. Angelo E. Gousse, "it could happen to you. The jury recognized that a great injustice was done to me and voted accordingly, and I am most grateful to them. I know that I would not have been manhandled, disrespected or injured had I been a white man, and that's why I have spoken out about this case from the beginning."
Added Dr. Gousse: "Now that this trial is over, it is my intent to carry the torch lit by Abner Louima, whose civil rights were violated by the NYPD in 1997, by launching Civil Rights Net. As a web-based non-profit organization, Civil Rights Net will function to better educate the public about their civil rights, and provide them with helpful links, such as referrals to law firms and other civil rights advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union."
"The jury correctly appreciated that Budget Rent-A-Car and the police played equal roles in this case and has held them responsible for Dr. Gousse's injuries," said Browne Greene, "but the victory is bittersweet because he will always be traumatized by the jarring way in which the LAPD-Rampart police treated him. We hope that this case sends a strong message across the United States that no one is above the law when it comes to civil rights violations, particularly those sworn to protect those very rights - the police."
Dr. Gousse filed suit June 21, 2001 against the Defendants for civil rights violations, civil battery, false arrest, negligence and loss of consortium. He alleged that Budget Rent-A-Car's negligence set the stage for the LAPD's misconduct, and which caused him permanent injuries.
A Miami, FL. urological reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Gousse, a 40 year-old black man of Haitian descent, came to Los Angeles in February 2001 for a UCLA medical conference. He rented a car from Budget's LAX location that bore the switched plates of another of its cars that had been reported stolen. Budget's policy was not to allow any of its vehicles to exit the rental lot if its license plate number did not correspond with the license plate number listed in its computer. Dr. Gousse was allowed to leave the lot, even though the license plates on his car were mismatched, and which fact had escaped Budget's attention on 43 other separate occasions with its customers.
On February 11, 2001, Dr. Gousse was driving westbound on the Santa Monica Freeway near Arlington Street when he was stopped by LAPD-Rampart Division officers. Back-up units and a police helicopter were called to the scene, and with their guns aimed at him, the police ordered Dr. Gousse to the ground. He was handcuffed, then pulled up from a prone position, placed in a squad car and taken to Rampart Division. He was arrested, but never read his Miranda rights.
At the scene, Dr. Gousse alleges that the police made no effort to look at his identification or to retrieve the exculpatory car rental documents that were in the glove compartment. He complained that the handcuffs were too tight, but they weren't removed until his hands had gone numb and he was placed in a jail cell. Throughout his almost 2-hour ordeal, Dr. Gousse was subjected to verbal abuse by the police. At the Rampart Station, they learned that the arrest was improper. Instead of releasing him, they began running a tape recorder and tried to ask Dr. Gousse leading questions in an attempt to "cover-up" the police officers' misconduct, but he did not succumb to this ruse.
# # #
Dr. Gousse and his wife, Marie May Gousse, were represented by lead trial attorney Browne Greene with the Santa Monica, CA. law firm of Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler, LLP (www.gbpwlaw.com); <http://www.gbpwlaw.com/> Tel: 310.576.1200; and Robert W. Kelley with the Office of Sheldon J. Schlesinger, P.A. of Fort Lauderdale, FL.; Tel: 954.467.8800.
Defendant City of Los Angeles was represented by Cory Brente and Christian Bojorquez with the City Attorney's Office; Tel. 213.978.7027.
Defendant Budget Rent-A-Car was represented by Donald W. Carlson with Carlson, Calladine & Peterson, LLP; Tel: 415.391.8141.
Kathy Pinckert, Director of Marketing & Media Relations
Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler, LLP
Dial: 310 562 0691
Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler LLP
100 Wilshire Boulevard, 21st Floor
P.O. Box 2131
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2131
Tel: (310) 576-1200
Fax: (310) 576-1220
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|Haiti steps up fight for $22 billion from France|
|By Amy Bracken, Reuters Writer|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Nov. 19 (Reuters) - It's hard to listen to Haitian radio or watch Haitian television these days without hearing the uplifting government public service announcement song that goes: "We demand reparations, restitution. France, pay me my money, $21,685,135,571.48."
The television images show people in African clothing dancing and working in fields, the Eiffel Tower, infrastructure such as a dam and buildings and stacks of dollar bills.
Haiti is making serious efforts to get France to pay restitution of nearly $22 billion, according to Haitian Foreign Minister Joseph Antonio.
France colonized the Caribbean nation in the 17th century and imported African slaves to work the sugar cane and coffee plantations. The slaves rebelled, killing or driving out their French rulers, and Haiti declared independence in 1804.
France demanded 150 million francs, worth about $28.3 million today, as compensation for the loss of its colony and the Haitian government paid 90 million of that, enough to plunge the country deeply into debt for decades.
"It was not enough to have taken up arms in the struggle for independence," wrote Haitian novelist Jean Metellus in a historical essay. "It had to be paid for, too, and it's cost was high."
In April, President Jean-Bertrand demanded that France pay restitution, specifying the above sum, which takes into account inflation and interest.
After first refusing to discuss the matter, French President Jacques Chirac finally appointed Regis Debray, a left-wing intellectual, to head a commission to investigate the possibility of restitution.
With an invitation from the French Institute of Haiti, Debray held a conference in Port-au-Prince last month in which he made no promises about restitution but convinced attendants that France is seriously considering the matter.
ALL BUT THE 48 CENTS
Aristide held a three-day international colloquium in October to discuss the matter. It overlapped with the anniversary of Aristide's 1994 return to Haiti under U.S. military protection, which came three years after a coup drove him out.
"If on October 15, 1994, the impossible became possible, when it comes to restitution, the impossible will be possible," Aristide said.
The colloquium featured artistic entertainment, including a Haitian rapper chanting in Creole slang, "Lafrans kale m lamama m," or "France, give me my money."
Some critics believe the money, if paid, would go to waste in a government they view as corrupt. The running joke is that France agreed to pay the entire sum except for the 48 cents, to which Aristide replied, "But then what will be left for the people?"
Others say the government's approach will fail to persuade France, or that the discussion itself will hurt relations between the two countries.
But many are hopeful about the prospective cash flow, while recognizing the process could take years and the sum could be altered.
"I'm optimistic because it's a just fight," said Joseph Antonio. "When the fight is just, you always end up winning ... When is another question."
'MEAN OLD COLONIST'
Evans Paul, head of the opposition Convention for Democratic Unity party, agreed it is a just cause but doesn't think it can be won. He called the president's public and confrontational approach to the issue "political propaganda."
Paul said Aristide "gives the impression that France is a mean old colonist," something he doesn't expect France to respond well to. Paul advocates working with France to find the right moment and conditions for restitution.
"Mr. Paul is not the only one to think that way," said government spokesman Mario Dupuy. "There are some people who think (the president) should do this in private, above the population, which is to say behind the back of the population. But the president has adopted a transparent and public path with the population because ... demanding restitution is for the population."
But some feel that the entire process is a mistake. When Lionel Etienne, a Haitian who heads the French-Haitian Chamber of Commerce, heard about the government's plans to demand restitution, he said, "It was like finding a hair in my soup."
Etienne believes that further developing diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries is far more productive than demanding money.
"France is our port of entry into Europe, and I think it's a shame to put in question our relationship with France" by reducing it to a demand for restitution, he said. "It's a combative undertaking."
Indeed, as the country prepares for the January bicentennial of its victory over France in the battle for independence, the political language, especially in reference to restitution, is full of bellicose terms -- "combat," "fight," "struggle" and "battle."
The demand for restitution may turn out to be the ultimate revolutionary war re-enactment in Haiti.
Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited
|Posted at 9:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 18, 2003|
|Haiti marks Napoleon battle bicentennial|
|By Paisley Dodds, Associated Press Writer|
CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti, Nov. 18 - President Jean-Bertrand Aristide urged Haitians to overcome economic bondage as they marked Tuesday's bicentennial of a decisive victory over Napoleon's troops that led to the world's first successful slave rebellion.
Aristide, whose speech was peppered with Creole proverbs and punctuated by shouts of "Freedom or Death!," said Haitians need to fight again as they once did to overcome "the conspiracy" of rich nations over poor ones.
"After 200 years of economic violence, the traces of slavery are still here," Aristide told more than 10,000 people waving flags and dancing to thumping "racine," or roots music.
"Poverty today is the result of a 200-year plot. Whether it be slavery or embargo, it's the same plot. You are victims. I am a victim," he said on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Vertieres, which led to the creation of the world's first black republic.
The crowd chanted, "We won't serve the masters anymore, we'll serve the people!"
Absent were ambassadors from France, the United States and the European Union (news - web sites), who stayed away to protest the government's failure to stop Aristide partisans from blocking a demonstration in the capital on Friday by civic groups demanding government reforms.
"The refusal of state authorities to let a peaceful demonstration take place has cast a shadow on the bicentennial celebrations," U.S. Ambassador James Foley said Monday.
Diplomats from the Vatican, the Organization of American States and Taiwan joined Haitians from all over the country who crowded Cap-Haitien to celebrate and hear from the embattled Aristide, who's struggling to liberate the nation of 8 million from worsening poverty and despair while his opponents call for his downfall.
More than half the work force among Haiti's 8 million people is unemployed. At least half the population is malnourished.
"I don't have any reason or money to celebrate," said Richard Jean, a 34-year-old tailor who scrapes by on $15 a month in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's northern port and second-largest city.
Marlene Antoine, a 36-year-old street sweeper, is grateful nevertheless.
"I'm thankful for Vertieres," she said, sweeping the mud away from a walkway to the battle site outside Cap-Haitien. Instead of being enslaved, "Now I'm able to send my kids to school."
Hopes have waned that Aristide, Haiti's first freely elected president in 1990, would bring new life to a one-time paradise despoiled by decades of power-hungry dictators.
Aristide's government has overseen flawed legislative elections that have led to a two-year impasse with a disparate opposition coalition. International aid has dried up as donors demand reforms.
Now opponents say Aristide, who remains the country's most popular leader, is becoming a dictator.
Haiti is a shell of what it was two centuries ago when its rich alluvial plains and slave labor made it the wealthiest colony in the New World.
That prosperity impelled Napoleon Bonaparte to order 15,000 troops to oust Toussaint Louverture, a former slave who rallied blacks. The French eventually captured Louverture and imprisoned him in a bleak mountain cell on the French-Swiss border, where he died.
Shortly afterward, however, French troops, weakened by yellow fever, surrendered to Haitian forces.
Vertieres has since become a celebrated victory of black over white, poor over privileged.
"Vertieres: A Battle for the Black Race" declared banners that crisscrossed the narrow streets of Cap-Haitien, a city of brightly painted colonial houses with iron doors.
But the country is plagued by anti-government protests that have intensified in the past two months, with at least 15 killed and scores wounded in clashes between Aristide supporters and opponents and in police raids.
"With or without Aristide, the country can't take much more before it starts to collapse," said artist Reginald Boissant, 39.
Aristide, a former slum priest, came to power urging the poor to overthrow the U.S.-backed Duvalier family dictatorship. Aristide was ousted in a coup within months of being elected but returned to power by a U.S. invasion in 1994.
It was the third invasion by the United States since Haiti's independence, which Washington refused to recognize for decades while slavery continued in the South.
"We got out of the blockade then," Aristide said. "Now there's another one," he said of the aid suspensions, which he calls economic sanctions.
"It's the same conspiracy" to keep black and poor people down, Aristide said. "We won that victory. We can walk toward another victory."
The United States has cut all direct assistance to the Haitian government but channels $70 million in humanitarian aid to private organizations.
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press
|Haiti wants to file $2.5-million lawsuit against Quebec lawyer over comments|
|By Ross Marowits, CP Writer|
MONTREAL, Nov. 18 - The Haitian government is seeking permission to launch a $2.5-million lawsuit against a Quebec lawyer who said prostitution is part of the island country's culture.
Yves Andre Le Boutillier ignited controversy last week when he made the comments that members of the province's black community have interpreted as racist. The Quebec City lawyer, who's defending a Haitian client charged in a teen prostitution ring, said prostitution is a norm in the Caribbean country's culture just as smoking marijuana is in Jamaica.
"He's black, he's Haitian," Le Boutillier said outside court in Quebec City. "It's part of their culture, like it's part of Jamaican culture to smoke cannabis. Prostitution in that environment is normal."
The Haitian government was so appalled that its consulate in Montreal filed papers in court on Tuesday seeking permission to launch a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the more than 100,000 Haitians living in Canada, most of whom live in Quebec. Organizers want $25 in compensation for each person.
"It's not the first time that comments like these were made and I think that this time we have to take a meaningful stand," said Gerard Pierre, a lawyer representing the consulate.
A judge will decide on Jan. 30 whether the lawsuit will go ahead.
Le Boutillier apologized in a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon.
"I reiterate, as I did on Friday, that my comments were unfortunate and that I am very aware they may have hurt the ethnic communities named," Le Boutillier said.
He went on to say that his many personal and professional links to Haitian and other ethnic groups allow him to "understand the problems they face in Quebec and elsewhere."
"If my words have upset or offended many of you, I apologize."
Late last week, Le Boutillier said the media had misinterpreted his comments.
"What I said is that in Haiti there is a lot of prostitution," he said at the time.
The Quebec Bar Association has launched an investigation into the comments.
Pierre said he would like the bar association to be severe with Le Boutillier.
"Being a lawyer, I would expect that the bar would maybe disbar him for a month or three to the max because of the comments that were made. We don't feel that would be sufficient."
He said lawyers are obligated to treat people with respect even though they're trying to defend their clients.
Meanwhile, a human rights group also said Tuesday it's preparing a civil rights complaint to the Quebec Human Rights Commission on behalf of Haitians and Jamaicans.
The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations is seeking $6,000 in moral and punitive damages against Le Boutillier for each person who joins the complaint, started by three people.
The commission has already initiated an investigation to determine if the comments violated the province's human rights charter.
The complaint will be an important test case about the degree to which someone can be held liable for making racist statements in a public place, said Fo Niemi, the centre's executive director.
"The Supreme Court has recognized that one has free speech but one cannot go out and basically tarnish the reputation of other people," he said in an interview.
Peter Flegel, executive director of Montreal's Black Youth in Action, said an undercurrent of racism has surfaced recently in protests against the alleged teen prostitution ring in Quebec City.
He said at least 10 black students at the University of Laval have been attacked and called racist names since the case surfaced last year.
"For us, the comments of Le Boutillier only add legitimacy to the racist beliefs that are circulating in Quebec City and are making things worse for black youth in the city," Flegel said.
A coalition of 30 groups in Montreal's black community has demanded a public apology and a government inquiry into perceived prejudice in the judicial and legal systems.
Copyright © 2003 Canadian Press Copyright © 2003
|Posted at 1:18 a.m., Tuesday, November 18, 2003|
|An extremely racist, anti-Haitian video game, "kill all the Haitians, they are all drug dealers," that must be condemned by all who reject the idea of advocating a genocide|
|Posted at 12:58 a.m., Saturday, November 15, 2003|
|Haiti police fire tear gas at thousands|
|By Paisley Dodds, Associated Press Writer|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Nov. 14 - Riot police fired tear gas at thousands of rock-throwing protesters on Friday as a demonstration against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overpowered by throngs of supporters of the Haitian leader.
|Unidentified anti-government demonstrators partake in an anti-government demonstration called by the 'Group of 184 Organizations' which was prevented from taking place because police allegedly allowed Aristide supporters to intimidate and attack the 184 supporters as police arrested over two dozen of them, preventing their mobile bandstand from arriving at the Champs de Mars in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Friday, Nov. 14, 2003. (AP Photo/Daniel Morel) More photos|
Demonstrators scattered as tear gas canisters fell, and shots rang out in the crowd. There were reports of at least two people injured and 30 arrests. Civic groups planned the demonstration to urge social change. But more than 8,000 Aristide partisans corralled the protesters into a small section of gritty Port-au-Prince. Police separated the groups and fired tear gas when some protesters lobbed rocks at each other.
"We want a change and we want a better tomorrow, but we also want to keep Aristide," said Jean Robert, 36, waving a picture of Haiti's embattled leader.
Tension has grown as Aristide struggles to break an impasse with an opposition coalition that is refusing to participate in elections unless he steps down. Countries including the United States are refusing aid to Haiti's government until the president holds legislative elections to repair flawed balloting in a May 2000 vote.
A coalition of civic groups is also demanding widespread changes, including freedom of assembly.
Before the demonstration began, dozens of the protest leaders including many vocal critics of Aristide were arrested on weapons charges when police stopped a trailer carrying a stage for the protest, said Andy Apaid, a coalition coordinator.
"Aristide made a choice today, a choice against democracy, and society must draw the conclusions," Apaid said.
He said police found three guns on the trailer and arrested the leaders for allegedly keeping weapons illegally. But Apaid said they had permits for the guns.
Police, who have been criticized in the past for preventing anti-government protests, were vigilant on Friday in guarding both camps of protesters. Still, many civic leaders were kept from the demonstration during intensive vehicle searches.
"The government has deliberately obstructed our right to assemble," said Lyonel Trouillot, a novelist and playwright.
Despite losing pockets of support, Aristide has maintained popularity in Port-au-Prince, where the former priest rose to power. Many of his supporters criticize the opposition and the civic groups for being from Haiti's "light-skinned" and privileged upper class.
"They have done nothing for the people. That's why we blocked them," said Yves Derisine, 39, a plumber and Aristide supporter. "The only right they have to speak is the right to speak for the majority."
The crowd chanted "Aristide for another five years," holding photos of the president and Haitian flags.
Aristide has said he intends to served out his term, which ends in 2006, and has defended his government, saying it has made efforts toward security and progress despite many obstacles.
A series of anti-government demonstrations have been staged over the past two months to criticize deepening poverty and what protesters say is the government's failure to ensure security.
Clashes during those protests have left more than a dozen dead and scores wounded.
"The country can't be run by bandits," said Phillip Jean, 39, who came to support the civic groups Friday. "We want changes with security and we want a lower cost of living.
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press
|Posted at 1:51 p.m., Friday, November 14, 2003|
|Totalitarian dictator Aristide's bandits stone freedom fighters, several wounded (In French)|
|A United States Congress's letter to Andy Apaid (Group 184)|
|Haitian female student brutally murdered by police|
|By Agence France-Presse|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov 13 (AFP) - A young female student was shot and killed on Thursday in the city of Gonaives 170 kilometers (106 miles) north of here as police broke up an anti-government (Haiti's government deserves condemnation) protest, according to sources at the scene.
The 21-year-old student is the second to die there this week in connection with the protests. A girl aged seven died of her wounds after being shot when police opened fire on a similar protest Monday.
The womans death came as Haitian police used teargas and fired shots into the air in the capital to prevent clashes between rival groups of protesters, after 1,000 students took to the streets to demand President Jean Bertrand Aristides resignation.
The student protesters, who marched through the center of the capital, had the backing of unions and groups close to the political opposition.
The protest was peaceful until a group of Aristide supporters formed a counter-demonstration insisting Aristide finish his five-year term.
Violent protests have rocked the Caribbean nation since September 23, when Amiot Metayer, a gang leader close to the ruling party, was found dead.
At least 13 people have died and 39 others have been wounded in the unrest.
Metayers followers believe he was betrayed and that Aristide ordered his killing. They have since sided with opposition groups.
Copyright © 2003 Agence France-Presse
|Posted at 7:48 p.m., Thursday, November 13, 2003|
|Haiti's opposition demands Aristide quit|
|By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Nov. 13 - Hundreds of government opponents protested in Haiti's capital Thursday, calling for the resignation of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide because of deepening poverty and insecurity in the Caribbean country.
The crowd of university students and opposition activists marched to the National Palace, where some 50 Aristide supporters confronted them, yelling, "If Aristide isn't there, who will replace him?"
|People crowd around the body of a person dragged from the rubble by workers after part of an old building collapsed on Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2003. At least two people were saved and the bodies of at least four people, many of them vendors who sold their wares under the gallery, were crushed by bricks and cement. (AP Photo/Daniel Morel)||Laurent Joseph, 18, waits for rescue workers after he became trapped when part of an old building collapsed on Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2003. (AP Photo/Daniel Morel)|
Police stood between the two groups, ordering them to separate. Some students later threw rocks at government supporters before police broke up the demonstration, firing rifle shots into the air.
It was the latest in a series of demonstrations called to complain about Haiti's stagnant economy and what protesters say is the government's failure to ensure safety and stability.
On Wednesday, government opponents set fire to a pro-government radio station, Radio Pyramide, in the west coast town of St. Marc, witnesses said. No one was injured, but the fire gutted the station.
The attack came hours after the state Telecommunications Council closed Radio Tete-a-Tete, a station in the town that had given voice to the opposition. The closure was because the station didn't have proper legal authorization to broadcast, not for political reasons, government official Daniel Jean-Charles said.
Clashes during anti-government demonstrations in the past two months have killed at least 12 people and wounded scores. Heavily armed police broke up a demonstration Tuesday in the west coast town of Gonaives.
Joseph Maurice, a 26-year-old protester, likened the situation in the Caribbean country to Bolivia, where last month violent protests led President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to step down.
"In Bolivia the people forced the president to resign why not in Haiti?" Maurice said.
Aristide's supporters have vowed to thwart opposition protests during upcoming celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of Haiti's independence.
"We're behind Aristide all the way for him to finish his five-year term," in 2006, said Marc-Andre Alexandre, a 21-year-old at Thursday's pro-government demonstration.
On Tuesday, Haiti is to mark the 200th anniversary of its decisive military defeat of the French outside the northern city of Cap-Haitien. Seeking to keep the celebrations peaceful, the government has banned protests in the city until Wednesday.
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press
|Quebec lawyer to face investigation after comments about Haitian community|
QUEBEC, Nov. 13 (CP) - A lawyer representing a Haitian man charged in an alleged teen prostitution ring will be investigated by the Quebec Bar Association for saying it's normal for people from the Caribbean island to be involved in prostitution.
"He's black, he's Haitian," Yves-Andre Le Bouthillier said in an interview this week outside the court about his client, Andre Pelissier, who has been charged with pimping.
"Prostitution in that environment is normal.
"It's part of their culture, like it's part of Jamaican culture to smoke cannabis."
Pierre Gagnon, president of the bar association, said Thursday the statement touches two cultural communities and can't be ignored.
"The Quebec Bar Association disassociates itself from such a statement," he told RDI, Radio-Canada's all-news channel.
Gagnon said an independent committee will look into the matter to decide if a complaint will be laid and sanctions taken against Le Bouthillier.
Alix Joseph, who works with an organization to help integrate Haitians into their new environment, told RDI the comments were insulting.
"I think it's a slap in the face for the Haitian community," Joseph said.
He said Le Bouthillier should be made to apologize and he suggested the provincial bar association make him take cultural sensitivity training.
Joseph acknowledged that prostitution does exist in Haiti but said it doesn't involve minors.
Le Bouthillier said Thursday his comments had been "misinterpreted" by the media.
"What I said is that in Haiti there is a lot of prostitution."
Pelissier is being tried separately from others charged in the alleged prostitution ring.
A judge recently decided to move the trial of others accused in the alleged ring to Montreal from Quebec City to ensure a fair trial.
Copyright © 2003 Canadian Press
|Posted at 12:15 p.m., Monday, November 10, 2003|
|The house of a tyrant Aristide's notorious criminal consumed by flames|
|By Yves A. Isidor, wehaitians.com executive editor|
CAMBRIDGE, MA, Nov. 10 - The continuing response has been predictable: looting, burning, killings, and to top it all, "criminal Aristide must go."
Since September 22, when the bullet-riddled body of Amiot Metayer - a notorious criminal who brutally murdered innocent citizens, and this in an effort to help Haiti's chief bandit, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat - was discovered in the vicinity of the provincial dusty city of Gonaives, Haiti, if seating on your front porch, even during the day, in Gonaives, can be a risky thing to do, because you can easily be shot dead, but working in the capacity of a police auxiliary, or attaché, as informers and government bandits are often described, can be even more risky.
The house of William Joseph, in the city of Gonaives, north-west of the capital Port-au-Prince, was set ablaze in the late hours of Saturday night by the late Metayer's Canibal Army, a violent gang, which accused Joseph of being in the pay of Gonaives Haiti's National Police Commissariat.
So afraid for his life, the former head, Joseph, of the said Organization for the Promotion of Democracy in Raboteau, based in the Gonaives' vast slum of Raboteau, together with his family, took refuge in the city's police commissariat.
|Posted at 7:25 p.m., Sunday, November 9, 2003|
|Haiti's bicentennial of bad news|
Little to celebrate since 1804 war of independence. Bad just gets worse in Hemisphere poorest country. More
|Posted at 6:10 a.m., Friday, November 7, 2003|
|U.S. envoy: Better election security needed|
|By The Associated Press|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov. 6 -- (AP) -- Haiti's government must do more to ensure security ahead of legislative elections planned for the end of this month, the U.S. ambassador said Wednesday.
Newly appointed Ambassador James Foley said ''the government has not assumed its responsibilities'' in preparing for the tentatively scheduled parliamentary elections.
''Security has much deteriorated in recent weeks,'' Foley said, speaking at his first news conference since assuming his post in September. ``In current conditions, it's not easy to convince people to vote.''
More than a dozen people have been killed and scores wounded in six weeks of antigovernment demonstrations calling on President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to step down.
Last week, rock-throwing Aristide supporters dispersed two antigovernment demonstrations in Port-au-Prince. One was organized by women's rights activists to criticize violence against women, and another was called by an opposition party to protest environmental degradation.
''It's hard to advocate an electoral solution when people can't demonstrate peacefully,'' Foley said.
Government spokesman Mario Dupuy declined to comment on Foley's declaration before studying it.
Haiti's government and opposition have been at odds since Aristide's Lavalas Family Party swept legislative elections in May 2000 that the opposition said were rigged.
Since then, Haiti has plunged deeper into poverty and unrest, with opposition parties and other civic groups refusing to join an electoral council until the government disarms its supporters, prosecutes those accused of political violence and overhauls the police leadership.
The government insists it has done its utmost to comply with Organization of American States resolutions calling for a secure environment ahead of elections.
It has formed an electoral council despite the opposition's boycott and has accused the opposition of stirring protests because it is afraid it will lose at the polls.
Foley said the international community would not accept the results ``if the government organizes unilateral elections.
Editor's note: "In Guatemala, as elsewhere in Latin America, criminals and mafiosos have found in 'democracy' the perfect Trojan Horse for attaining and preserving real power inside essentially hijacked states. Don't let elections hide the truth about a corrupt system," wrote Francisco Golman in a November 3, 2003 New Times Op-Ed article, Guatemala's Fictional Democracy.
|Posted at 11:35 p.m., Wednesday, November 5, 2003|
|Haitians grapple with insidious corruption|
|By Amy Bracken, Reuters Writer|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov 4 (Reuters) - When gang members broke into the house of 15-year-old Natacha Jean-Jacques in March 2000 and tried to rape her, the girl fatally stabbed one of the attackers in self-defence, according to witnesses.
Still, Jean-Jacques spent almost three years in jail where she was allegedly raped and impregnated by a corrections employee. She was never put on trial and her attackers were never prosecuted.
Jean-Jacques came from a poor family, and it was only through the work of Haitian womens groups and eventually international pressure that she was released from jail.
Had Jean-Jacques been from a wealthy family, her story would have been very different, said Marilyn Allien, president of the Port-au-Prince-based Foundation for Haitian Heritage - Center for Public and Private Ethics and Integrity, a chapter of the international anti-corruption coalition Transparency International.
"I swear my child wouldnt have spent a day in jail," she said. "This is a clear case where corruption, when applied, would have protected that little girl."
Haiti was last month named one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Transparency International pegged Haiti at No. 3 out of 131 countries around the world, and No. 1 out of 30 nations in the Americas and the Caribbean in terms of the depth and breadth of corruption. It called Haitis corruption "pervasive."
At a Foundation for Haitian Heritage conference in March, participants in the public and private sectors said they had experienced corruption at the levels of government ministries, parliament, the judiciary, presidency, the presidents office, the prime ministers office, the municipal administration, tax services, the national police and traffic police.
Frequently the corruption involved officials soliciting bribes, they said. An employee at a nongovernmental organisation said that when an acquaintance was shot to death in his car, he had to pay a police officer to make a report, the state ambulance to pick up the body and the hospital to put the body in its morgue.
Allien calls it a historical problem.
"We have a 200-year legacy of dictatorships, where the group in power believes that winner takes all, that politics is a means toward personal wealth and power," she said.
It is extremely difficult to fight corruption in a country that has a 70 percent unemployment rate, Allien said. There are almost no whistle-blowers because people are terrified of losing their jobs.
As one solution, Allien advocates increased exposure, the job of organisations like hers and investigative journalists.
She is also working to create a coalition of civil society and private sector organisations to produce an anti-corruption advocacy report that would be presented to the public and hopes to get the Haitian parliament to ratify the Organisation of American States anti-corruption resolution, which Haiti signed in 1996.
Allien is optimistic that corruption is becoming more of a public concern. When she was first developing her organisation, she said: "I spent four year knocking on doors to get funding. Most international donors didnt understand the need."
Today major international organisations are calling the issue a priority.
Emilio Cueto, the Inter-American Development Banks new representative in Haiti, said he hopes to get approval to provide a loan that would go specifically to create more transparency in the national budget.
Allien said corruption may be deterring badly needed international aid to Haiti. International donors and lending organisations, citing governance problems, usually give to nongovernmental organisations rather than to the Haitian government. But there is a will on the part of some in the Haitian government to fight corruption.
As education minister in the mid-1990s, Emmanuel Buteau tried to reform the system from the inside and found there was not enough will on the part of those around him to change.
REFUSING TO PARTICIPATE
Buteau said that as minister he tried to fight corruption simply by not participating in it and was persecuted for it.
When a school director wanted to admit students who had no evidence that they had passed the required admissions exam but whose parents paid him, Buteau refused to allow the admissions, he said.
The school director responded by having a judge publicly condemn Buteau for blocking childrens education.
Today Buteau is the director of a Port-au-Prince high school where he continues to be haunted by a corrupt system. For example, Buteau said, he always pays his taxes on time, yet always gets letters from tax services saying he owes them.
"Are you a corrupt person if you pay someone at tax services to get them off your back?" he said.
Most people in Haiti are honest and ethical, said Buteau, "but unfortunately, the government is a corrupting one."
|Serious violations of core labor rights in Haiti|
|Brussels, 04 November 2003 (ICFTU Online ): A new report produced by the ICFTU on core
labour standards in Haiti, to coincide with the Trade Policy Review of Haiti at the WTO
starting today, shows widespread violations of core labour standards in that country.
The ICFTU report criticises Haitis flagrant lack of compliance with the eight ILO conventions referred to as "Core Labour Standards". The report notes that workers rights are essentially non-existent. Those workers who try to organise are subject to constant threats, violence and even murder. Yet the government does not investigate cases of violence against trade union members. Labour legislation is not enforced, collective bargaining barely exists and employers set wages virtually unilaterally.
The large majority of workers are employed in the informal economy, which makes protection of workers even more difficult as a result of the non-application of labour legislation.
Some 25,000 workers are engaged in export production, mainly in textiles (80%). Conditions in the textile plants are very bad, with workers expected to work for a pittance at extremely high rates and without proper sanitation, due largely to the absence of trade union rights. The government is now establishing export processing zones (epz) where violations of workers rights will almost certainly be even worse. There is however some prospect for improvement concerning a new epz development on the border with the Dominican Republic, where the World Banks International Finance Corporation has made respect for all core labour standards a condition of a loan to "Grupo M" the Dominican Republic company developing the epz. With regard to discrimination, the report notes the lack of employment opportunities for the majority of poor urban women. Most are employed in domestic service or informal vending. In the formal economy women have very limited opportunities and are rarely able to obtain better jobs. Women workers in export-oriented manufacturing are often sexually abused.
Child labour is a widespread and serious problem. It is estimated that as many as 25 percent of children between 10 and 14 years work. They are mainly engaged in rural and urban informal activities. School attendance is low and access to education is limited in rural areas.
One of the most serious problems is child domestic labour in Haiti, known as Restavek, whereby children perform domestic labour in exchange for room and board. Some of these children are sold into slavery. It is estimated that there are some 300,000 Restavek children in Haiti. The report also mentions forced labour in trafficking for prostitution and labour into the Dominican Republic.
The ICFTU calls upon the government of Haiti to apply the core labour conventions it has ratified, and to ratify those it has not (ILO conventions 138 and 182, on minimum age and the worst forms of child labour). Legislation has to be brought into conformity with ILO Conventions No. 87 and No. 98 and violations of trade union rights brought to an end. Child labour has to be eliminated, in particular child domestic labour (Restavek), and access to quality education for all children must be ensured. Furthermore, the Government has to take effective measures against discrimination of women.
*New ICFTU Report submitted to the WTO
|Group: Bahamas mistreats asylum seekers|
|By Domini Duncombe, Associated Press Writer|
NASSAU, Bahamas, Nov. 5 - The Bahamian government is mistreating asylum seekers from Cuba and Haiti by not giving them forms in their own language and by detaining their children for prolonged periods without much exercise and education, Amnesty International said Wednesday.
Last year, only four people were granted refugee status in the Bahamas, a nation of 700 islands off the coast of Florida, the group said.
"One woman said she did not want to ask for asylum because of the conditions that her child was living in," said the report by the London-based group, which sent a research delegation to the Bahamas last year.
"The delegation was repeatedly told by detainees, particularly those from Jamaica and Cuba, that their situation ... was so distressing that they wanted to go home."
The Bahamas is less than 60 miles away from the Florida coast, making it a popular launching point for illegal migrants from Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba.
The Bahamian government responded to the Amnesty report, calling it unbalanced and inconsiderate of the country's crumbling infrastructure.
"The report mentions some things which are true and some things which are not true," said Mark Wilson, permanent secretary for the National Security Ministry. "Our overall reaction is the report lacks balance."
The report said the island nation was negligent when interviewing would-be asylum seekers, sometimes giving English forms to illiterate, Creole-speaking Haitians or to Spanish-speaking Cubans.
When dealing with Cuban migrants, Bahamian authorities sent information about them including names, addresses and photos to the Havana government within 72 hours of their arrival, the report said.
"Amnesty International is concerned that if the authorities provide this information prior to considering protection needs, they may potentially put the detainees and the families of the detainees at risk," it said.
Wilson said authorities are obligated to notify foreign governments if their nationals are being deported. Unlike the United States, the Bahamas does not offer Cubans de facto asylum.
Like other Caribbean nations, the cash-strapped Bahamas has struggled to make due with an antiquated detention system as illegal immigration and low-level crime grow.
One in every 200 Bahamians is in prison, the eighth-highest rate in the world, Amnesty International said.
Non-migrant children detained on minor charges such as vagrancy were put into the former British colony's main prison with adult inmates, the report said.
The Bahamas is trying to alleviate overcrowding but it needs $50 million for a new 1,000-cell maximum security prison, Wilson said.
The report also said poor prison conditions contributed to last year's death of Polish inmate Kazimierz Kwasiborski from an asthma attack.
"Simple actions in the Kwasiborski's case provision of a medical inhaler, earlier intervention by prison and immigration officers, prompt access to legal advice, an interpreter and family may have meant the difference between life and death," the report said.
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press
|Posted at 10:10 p.m., Monday, November 3, 2003|
|A high-speed boat with 4,500 cocaine on board is chased and caught|
|By The Associated Press|
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Nov. 3 (AP) - A high-speed chase from the waters off Haiti to Colombia netted about 2,050 kilograms (4,510 pounds) of cocaine in a multinational operation, the U.S. Coast Guard said Monday.
A British Royal Navy plane spotted a twin-engine speedboat traveling at high speed south of Haiti on Sunday, Coast Guard spokesman Ensign Eric Willis said.
British destroyer HMS Manchester, with seven U.S. Coast Guardsmen aboard, was dispatched to intercept the boat, Willis said.
A helicopter from the destroyer spotted the speedboat but when the warship approached, the boats passengers started throwing bundles overboard, he said. A high-speed chase began with another British ship, Wave Knight, authorities said. Meanwhile, the HMS Manchester recovered 47 bundles from the sea weighing more than 1,050 kilograms (2,310 pounds).
The speedboat eluded British authorities but a Dutch plane based in the southern Netherlands Antilles tracked the boat as it headed toward the coastal province of Guarija, Colombia.
U.S., British and Dutch authorities notified Colombian officials. Authorities in the South American country later detained three people believed to be the boats passengers and confiscated about 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) being transported by them on a 2-ton flatbed pickup truck, Willis said.
Since Sept. 23, international authorities in the Caribbean have confiscated more 12,600 kilograms (28,000 pounds) of cocaine and nearly 3,600 kilograms (8,000 pounds) of marijuana, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Colombia is the worlds largest cocaine exporter.
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press
|Followers of slain gang leader demonstrate against Haiti's president|
|By The Associated Press|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Nov. 3 (AP) - Followers of a slain gang leader demonstrated in a seaside shantytown bordering the capital Monday, calling on President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to resign.
Blocking streets with big rocks and shouting ``Down with Aristide ! about 100 protesters called for justice, accusing Cite Soleil Mayor Fritz Joseph of having sent a rival to kill Wilson Lemaire.
Joseph, who is a member of Aristides Lavalas Family party, denied the accusations, saying Lemaire killed a rival gang member Wednesday and the rivals followers sought revenge on their own.
Lemaire was never charged with killing anyone.
The 23-year-old Lemaire, aka ``Colobri or ``humming bird in English, was ambushed Saturday evening in Cite Soleil, a city of 200,000 people who live in unhygienic conditions. Lemaire was shot nine times, said Bernard Casseus, another Cite Soleil gang leader, in an interview with the private Radio Vision 2000.
An Aristide stronghold, Cite Soleil is 15 square kilometers (6 square miles) of landfill that borders the capital Port-au-Prince. It became a city this year.
``Many people are happy, Joseph said, accusing Lemaire of shaking down shopkeepers and street merchants. Authorities also said the gang was involved in armed robberies and ransom kidnappings.
The baby-faced Lemaire was also shot about three years ago and liked to show off a long scar running down from his chest to the abdomen from the shooting. Police have not reported any arrests in his killing.
In July, Lemaire led a group of rock-throwing Aristide partisans who disrupted a meeting of 184 civil society groups, which had assembled in the slum to discuss a project to restore law and order to their violence-prone Caribbean nation. Dozens were injured.
Several other Aristide street activist leaders have been killed in unclear circumstances this year.
``Aristide uses them and then disposes of them when they become an inconvenience, said opposition party spokesman and former Sen. Paul Denis. The government denies the accusations.
Since the September killing of gang leader Amiot Metayer, his followers have torched government buildings and clashed with police in west-coast Gonaives. Police have retaliated with bloody raids.
Metayer was once a fervent supporter of Aristide but his followers turned after his death, saying his government masterminded Metayers killing to prevent him from revealing compromising information. The government denies this.
At least 13 people have been killed and 38 shot and wounded in six weeks of protest. Haiti has a population of 8 million and is the Western Hemispheres poorest country.
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press
|Group says it has weapons, seeks "civil war" to overthrow Aristide|
|By The BBC Monitoring|
Civil war is not far off in the country, because the Youth Front To Save Haiti [French : Front des Jeunes pour Sauver Haiti - Frojesha], a peoples organization [OP] close to the opposition in Carrefour, has decided to respond very soon to the attack by members of Operation Stranglehold and Shield that was announced by Lavalas OPs.
David Cocy, the coordinator of this organization, says he is going to launch a counter-attack next week aimed at thwarting the brutality of the Lavalas OPs. He therefore demands the support of the former armed forces and the understanding of the people of this commune, whom he invites to help. Let us unite to thwart the violence of the Lavalas partisans [he says]. Jean-Claudy Saint-Cyr was at the scene. His report follows :
[Saint-Cyr - recording] This organization is based in Carrefour. Frojesha, an OP close to the opposition, says enough is enough, because peaceful demonstrations and marches cannot do anything against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. They think that only civil war can cause the president to be overthrown. To put an end to everything, they have decided that there must be bloodshed. In spite of all the ammunition these OP members say they have, they have asked for the support of the former armed forces.
[Cocy] We have already mobilized all our grassroots and everything we have. We are telling Aristide that civil war has been declared. We say that on 1 January 2004, whether it be through our blood, whether it ( ?costs us our lives), Aristide must go. Therefore, we call on all former servicemen, all former soldiers. If you have galils [rifles], keep your galils. If you have heavy weapons, start loading your cartridges so we can revolt against Aristide. [words indistinct] we are calling on mothers and fathers of families to stay at home : there will be no school in Carrefour. We in Frojesha say the mobilization has begun.
[Saint-Cyr] As you just heard, Frojesha says it has decided not to celebrate 2004 with President Aristide in power. The OPs close to the opposition say they are ready to walk through blood to put an end to the Lavalas regime. [Cocy] We already have all our materiel. We call on Aristide to come with his own ambulance.
We already have our own ambulance to pick up scoundrels and zenglendos like him. I do not care if you wonder whether Carrefour will be like Raboteau. As for us, we shall start shooting. We shall start shooting at everything that exists [as heard], so that we can overthrow Aristide.
[Saint-Cyr] These OPs explain that they are not afraid of being arrested by the police. They challenge the heads of OPs close to the current government, such as Rene Civil and Paul Raymond, who launched Operation Stranglehold and Shield, to come to Carrefour. We are recalling that for some time now the OPs close to the current government have always disrupted any and all demonstrations by members of the opposition. Will the members of the opposition be able to resist the pressure of [Operation] Stranglehold and Shield this time ? BBC Monitoring Service
Copyright 2003 The BBC
|Pa man dies of diphtheria after Haiti trip|
|By The Associated Press|
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 3 - (AP) A 63-year-old Pennsylvania man who traveled to Haiti in October has died of diphtheria, one of just 54 reported cases in the United States since 1980, health officials said.
The man, who was not identified, was previously healthy but apparently was never vaccinated for the disease, according to a news release issued this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
His Oct. 25 death was the first case of diphtheria reported in Pennsylvania since 1992, and only the third since 1980, according to a bulletin issued Monday by Dr. Calvin B. Johnson, the state health secretary.
Diphtheria, an acute bacterial disease, typically attacks the tonsils, larynx, nose, skin and occasionally other mucous membranes, causing grayish patches and inflammation in the affected areas.
While rare in the United States where children are routinely given a combined vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis diphtheria remains endemic to many parts of the world, including Haiti, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The Pennsylvanian traveled there from Oct. 3-10 with seven other men from New York and West Virginia to work in a Haitian village.
He developed a sore throat on Oct. 9 and went to an emergency room in Pennsylvania on Oct. 12.
He was given antibiotics and sent home, but returned Oct. 13, when he had a swollen neck and was wheezing, vomiting and having difficulty speaking and breathing.
Hospital staff put him on a ventilator in the intensive care unit, and transferred him to another hospital on Oct. 17.
He was given a diphtheria antitoxin on Oct. 18, but died a week later.
The mans death points out the importance of reviewing health information such as the need for vaccines before taking a trip outside the United States, officials said.
The victims traveling companions, his wife and two people in close contact with him were given preventative treatments. Fellow passengers on the mans commercial flight were not considered close contacts and did not need to be treated, officials said.
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press
|Posted at 12:10 p.m., Sunday, October 2, 2003|
|In Haiti, Day of the Dead|
|By Micheal Norton, Associated Press Writer|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Nov. 1 - Passing under a crumbling archway that reads "Thou Art Dust," voodoo practitioners flocked to Haiti's largest cemetery Saturday to honor the guardian of the dead with rum, thunderous music and lewd behavior designed to awaken mischievous spirits.
Followers visit the tombstones of relatives and pay their respects to Baron Samedi, the god of the dead, and to his lascivious, sardonic offspring, Gede. To show they are "possessed," followers often rub hot pepper juice on their bodies. Some hold swearing contests steps away from the gates of the capital's sprawling municipal cemetery.
Two-thirds of Haiti's 8 million people are said to practice voodoo. Earlier this year, Haiti's government officially sanctioned the faith as a religion, allowing priests to legally perform baptisms and marriages.
"The Gedes helped us win our independence," said voodoo priest Desaville Espady, 38, dressed in a white robe with a silver cross on a thick chain hanging from his neck. "We pay homage to our ancestors, and they cure us of our ills."
Gede was the name of a West African tribe that disappeared during the slave trade.
Voodoo followers integrated some Christian rites into their practice before Haiti won independence from slave-holding France in 1804. The slaves, forbidden from practicing their African rites, disguised their gods in the trappings of Roman Catholic saints. The Catholic church frowns on voodoo and, in the 1940s, tried unsuccessfully to eradicate it.
Practitioners believe in a supreme god and spirits linking the human and the divine. Many believe their spirits will return to Africa when they die. The bodies of slaves were buried without ceremony.
Men and women say they are possessed by Gede. Dressed in mauve kerchiefs, white pants and white or violet dresses, they wander in a mystic trance through the cemetery, spouting obscenities and asking for money.
"The cult of the dead is one of the first steps of resistance against slavery and a foundation stone of voodoo," Haitian sociologist Laennec Hurbon said.
Encumbered by political problems, Haiti's economy has been in a slump since 1980. The poorest nation in the Americas, the Caribbean country's population has declined for two years, and life expectancy dropped from about 53 years in 2002 to about 49 years in 2003. Most people survive on less than $1 per day.
Because of deepening poverty, voodoo which often requires pricey offerings of alcohol and food to the spirits has lost some followers. One-third of Haitians are Protestants.
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press
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