It was never a problem up to this point and time that most of Haiti's jails were filled with political dissidents or people who were "detainees," that is, who had never been charged with a crime or seen a judge. In fact, the Global Policy Forum notes that "Since early 2001, Washington had blocked important economic and humanitarian aid to the country. Earlier, it had reneged on police training and on funding for UN human rights and election monitors." Of course, those actions were taken in order to destabilize a Haitian government that the U.S. wanted removed, so they make allowances for the suffering that occurs while enforcing their foreign policy interests.
When will the New York Times investigate MINUSTAH for the massacres in Cite Soley and other violent incursions into the vulnerable shantytowns in Port-au-Prince and other extra-judicial murders they allegedly committed in the process of "securing the peace" and capturing those they term, "gang members" and "Chimeres?" In reality, MINUSTAH's actions were designed for the majority of the time to crush political dissent.
|Maurice Geigher -- contractor for USAID. Explains how there were indications that people had been shot in their cells. The families of the dead prisoners were never notified of their death.|
It's very interesting that the New York Times, USAID, an American Priest and the UN have now gotten together to condemn the Haitian police and justice system for practicing violence and perpetuating human rights abuses. Do they possibly share culpability for these crimes? Especially those committed during the reign of the puppet regime of Gerard LaTortue?
The timing is questionable. While one can't entirely dismiss the NY Times "concern" for the Haitian populace's human rights, we still have to question their motives because their actions in the past are not matching up with their actions now. Not a peep about human rights violations from most of the U.S. media during the Duvalier dictatorship and the killing of over 50,000 Haitians. The deaths of over 5,000 after the first U.S. sponsored coup in 1991 didn't seem to make much of an impression either. After another U.S. planned, sponsored, financed coup in 2004, the New York Times called its investigation of the international crime that eventually saw over 8,000 dead and 35,000 raped, by the euphemistic title "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos."
Investigative reporter Max Blumenthal recorded his criticism of the New York Times "exposé":
"which claimed to expose how the a taxpayer funded Washington non-profit with close ties to the Bush administration, the International Republican Institute, and its Haiti operative, Stanley Lucas, fomented a coup in Haiti that deposed its democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In fact, the story was remarkably similar to a story I wrote nearly two years ago for Salon.com. On January 3, 2005, a New York Times staffer named Ursula Andrews emailed me, asking for help with research. I was excited that the newspaper of record was finally picking up on the story, and complied with their request. When the Times published its story, it contained no citation of my work."Is the U.S. government laying the groundwork for direct control of Haiti's institutions? This article by the New York Times could be a first salvo in anticipation of the barrage of criticism to be expected from such a move. They perhaps see the need to establish a chain of evidence to solidify their case. Human rights abuses in Haiti was of no particular concern for the U.S. up until now, particularly when their puppet Gerard LaTortue (unfortunate name) ran the show.
Read and listen to Andrew S. Natsios of Georgetown University and Mark L. Schneider of the International Crisis Group's testimonies to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The statements from Natsios and Schneider were not surprising -- just the usual U.S. propaganda lines about Haiti, with no perspective on how Haiti was brought to this state by the interventions, occupation, trade policies and paternalistic actions of the U.S. government and their active arms in Haiti - USAID, UN and NGOs. No question, they had help from the Morally Repugnant Elite (MRE), but the strategy and planning was evidently done by the internationals. One surprise however, was Sean Penn going so far as saying that Haiti is not ready to be independent. Haiti, said Mr. Penn, should not be "prematurely" independent -- that would be "murder by another name."
In Mr. Natsios' testimony, he makes mention of the ouster of President Aristide, stating that Aristide during his time in office had, "..simply replaced one tyranny with another."
Mr. Natsios, did not however present evidence to back his unsubstantiated claim about President Aristide. He also did not find the U.S. to have any culpability for their sponsorship of the two coups that brought chaos and violence to Haiti.
Natsios does concede that "...US and UN Security Council Sanctions in the 1990s contributed to the end of the hope of industrialization and economic growth." He does however place the blame for Haiti's condition squarely on the shoulders of the governing class, "gang violence" and poverty :
"This tragedy was not simply a natural disaster; it was a man-made disaster stemming from a failed Haitian state characterized by widespread patrimonialism, corruption, and critically ineffective service delivery. Despite $5.3 billion in foreign aid invested by bilateral and multilateral donors from 1990 to 2005 (approximately $1.5 billion of which came from the U.S.), Haiti persists as one of the poorest and worst governed countries in the hemisphere, if not the world.All seem to be looking to the newly formed Interim Commission for Haiti Reconstruction to save Haiti from itself. The Commission cedes Haiti's independence and makes the Chair, Bill Clinton, the new Viceroy in charge of dispensing donor funds for Haiti's reconstruction.
Much of this US government assistance has been humanitarian rather than nation building assistance, and has kept people alive through repeated political crisis [emphasis added]. The Government of Haiti has been characterized as autocratic and unstable. To ensure loyalty within a society that has been riddled with gang violence and plagued by abject poverty for decades, elites have created patronage networks to employ their supporters, provided selective public services to them, all funded by rent-seeking and limits on the creation of legitimate institutions which might challenge their monopoly control over the society."
Natsios mentions that "The composition of the Action Plan‘s proposed Interim Commission for Haitian Reconstruction has been called into question by Transparency International‘s Senior Consultant Roslyn Hees: ―the majority of the commission would be made up of international agencies and a minority would be made up of Haitian representatives. Even within the Haitian representation, there is no one from civil society, except a representative of Haitian unions, who cover a minuscule proportion of the Haitian workforce since most of the workforce is informal and not unionized."
Natsios dismisses the criticism with double speak: "Although it is essential that the Haitian government assume ownership in the agenda-building process, it is critical that the U.S. contributes only to a long-term development plan that is both inclusive and transformational."
Thank you New York Times for exposing this injustice to the prisoners of Les Cayes. Thoughts and prayers are with the surviving families members of these prisoners, who have suffered this devastating bereavement. Those who perpetuated this crime against humanity at Les Cayes Prison must be brought to justice and held accountable. However, the New York Times should understand the skepticism they incur regarding the intent behind their sudden concern over human rights abuses by officials in Haiti.
See the video at the New York Times website.
The Bellingham Herald reports that "President Rene Preval has asked the United Nations for help in forming an independent commission to investigate allegations that dozens of prisoners were shot by Haitian police during a jail riot in the southern city of Les Cayes a week after the Jan. 12 earthquake."