Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dark Controversy Surrounds Miss Haiti 2010 Sarodj Bertin

Covering Up the Ugly Truth About the Assassination of Mireille Durocher

Sarodj Bertin has been selected to represent Haiti at the 2010 Miss Universe pageant. Miss Bertin is a 24 year old lawyer who has lived in the Dominican Republic since she was 9.

There is fierce debate in the Haitian diaspora about Miss Bertin's selection as Miss Haiti. The controversy centers around her long-time residency in the Dominican Republic (15 years), her light complexion, her "Dominicanized" persona and most disturbingly, the execution style assassination of her mother Mireille Durocher Bertin in 1995. Given the divide, it remains to be seen whether Miss Haiti will "give hope to a devastated country."

The assassination of Miss Haiti's mother was a terrible tragedy. Unfortunately the sad event is being used by many to demonize Haiti's first real democratically elected government and the Lavalas political party. Lies, misinformation and insinuations about the event are being presented on a daily basis. Often excluded from the dialogue is the fact that the Aristide government made at least two arrests in the case. One Haitian suspect arrested was linked to the U.S. military.

Nevertheless, the implication of some articles is that the Aristide government or Lavalas (Haiti's largest political party) was somehow involved in her execution style murder. This implication is to be viewed with skepticism since Mrs. Durocher's murder was never solved and there are agendas at work here that need to be examined in order to be understood. This includes the continuing demonization of President Aristide and his political party Lavalas, not only in the U.S. mainstream media but also by the coup d'etat cabal who see Haiti as their very own private piggy bank.

Here's the paragraph addressing the issue from a Google News article which seems to imply that President Aristide was somehow involved in the assassination (they misspelled the name of Haiti's capital city):
"Sarodj Bertin had a privileged childhood in Puerto Principe [Port-au-Prince] until age 9, when her mother, lawyer and opposition leader Mireille Durocher Bertin, was gunned down after announcing the creation of a political party that would compete with that of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the upcoming elections."
Another article from the LA Times from 1995 offers more details about the death, including the investigation, revealing that there were a number of arrests. Two Haitians, the LA Times reported, including a translator working for the U.S. military, were arrested and "several high-powered assault weapons and radios were seized." This is how the Haitian government came to be aware of a plot to assassinate Mrs. Durocher:
"Gen. George A. Fisher, the U.S. military commander here, knew at least 10 days before Mireille Durocher was murdered that the outspoken anti-government figure was the target of a serious assassination plot allegedly involving Haitian Interior Minister Mondesir Beaubrun [a charge Beaubrun vehemently denied], American and Haitian sources said Wednesday.
These officials said Fisher wrote to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government, outlining the plot. As a result, Justice Minister Jean-Joseph Exume called Durocher in and told her that U.S. military intelligence believed she was in real danger. Although advised "to take all precautions," she did not get protection from U.S. or Haitian forces, the sources said.
[...] Durocher, 38, was a lawyer closely linked to former Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, the Haitian army commander who led the September, 1991, coup that overthrew Aristide. She also served as chief of staff for Emile Jonassaint, the puppet civilian president installed by Cedras in 1994."
According to a NY Times article, Mrs. Durocher was the passenger in a car being driven by a very shady character by the name of Eugene "Junior" Baillergeau, when it was attacked in broad daylight by gunmen who fired two shots at the car engine and numerous shots into the car. The article reveals that Baillergeau may very well have been the target of the assassination. Junior Baillergeau was a reputed drug trafficker with "known association with illicit business circles close to the former military Government." Reportedly, an autopsy report the NY Times obtained at the time showed that Baillergeau was shot "many more times" than Mireille Durocher.

The NY Times article also indicates that Junior Baillergeau had an ongoing dispute with "American soldiers at the airport." Baillergeau was a pilot who had retained Mrs. Durocher to represent him regarding damages to his plane by the U.S. military.

Another bizarre and disturbing twist is that Mrs. Durocher held a high profile position on a violent death squad organization responsible for the deaths, rapes and torture of thousands of Haitians. More about the paramilitary group: Advancement of Progress of the Haitian People or FRAPH is available at History Commons and Peace not War.

Ben Dupuy had this to say about Mrs. Durocher Bertin in an article at Third World Traveler.
"But the dream didn't last for long. As 1995 progressed, friction between Aristide and the U.S. began to surface. For example, on March 28, three days before President Clinton was to visit Haiti, a putschist political figure, Mireille Durocher Bertin was publicly assassinated. The hit was never solved but its highly professional execution suggests it was a CIA operation carried out to smear Aristide and embarrass Clinton.

In the U.S. mainstream press, Bertin was lionized as an "opposition figure" and "an expert in international law." Listen to the beginning of a March 31 Associated Press dispatch movingly titled, "Her Last Days" by Michelle Faul: "She was setting up an opposition party running her busy law office, redecorating her home, writing and publishing a newsletter, and making time to educate her four children."
The killing was indeed seen as an embarrassment to the Aristide government. As noted in the NY Times article:
"There is no doubt that President Aristide's reputation has been severely blemished," said a prominent intellectual critical of the old order. "The killing is a major blow to President Aristide -- and to President Clinton."
Miss Haiti, Sarodj Bertin is evidently unaware of the finer details of her mother's political involvements. On Miss Bertin's blog this is what is said about her mother: "Mireille, Sarodj's mother, was a woman highly admired by the Haitian people, she was a fighter; dreamed with having a country with more opportunities, being able to institutionalize the country and guarantee their rights to the haitian citizens."

Perhaps her father Jean presented her mother's death to her as being at the hands of Aristide "thugs." It's not a stretch to come to that conclusion given his statements after the murder.
In the couple's massive stone house in the hills high above the city, John Bertin recalled it differently. "I, as head of the family, was not notified," he said stiffly, and added that a phone call from the Justice Minister [Jean-Joseph Exume] to his wife told her only not to worry and did not warn of the plot.
It is very dangerous business when one represents a paramilitary group which is guilty of overthrowing a democratically elected government. Mrs. Durocher's involvement apparently caught up with her on March 28, 1995. A reasonable conclusion is that the killings were calculated to embarrass the Aristide administration. What is in serious doubt is whether Aristide or his Lavalas party had much to gain from the spectacular nature of Mr. Durocher's demise. Especially given the fact that, the Clinton administration had "advised" Aristide to make nice with his "opponents." This was a particularly onerous demand by the U.S. since these were actually the sworn enemies of the Aristide government and of any real democracy in Haiti. These same "opponents" had been involved in the traitorous military Coup D'etat of October 31, 1991. The Advancement of Progress of the Haitian People (FRAPH) overthrew the government while President Aristide was on a visit to the UN in New York.

Some quick facts about FRAPH. The second in command of FRAPH Louis-Jodel Chamblain was convicted in absentia for the Raboteau Massacre and the assassination of pro-democracy advocate Antoine Izmery (who was dragged from church during mass and executed). Chamblain was also a death squad leader under the tyrannical regime of Jean Claude "Baby" Doc Duvalier. The leader of FRAPH, Emmanuel "Toto" Constant has acknowledged that he was in the employ of the CIA and paid $500 a month for his services. On 60 Minutes Mr. Constant said that in "daily meetings" with the CIA, he was never confronted about FRAPH's criminal activities.

Constant was convicted of mortgage fraud in Brooklyn, NY in 2007. The case, Doe vs. Constant was a civil case brought against Constant on behalf of three women who survived attempted killings, rapes and torture at the hands of Constant's paramilitary group FRAPH.

At Constant's trial, two Haitian women testified in court behind screens about the horrors they suffered. The case is summarized at The Center for Justice and Accountability website (CJA). CJA filed the criminal fraud case against Constant on Dec. 22, 2004. More about the case is also available at the Center for Constitutional Rights website.

In his article, "The Attempted Character Assassination of Aristide," Ben Dupuy is critical of the media for not exposing the truth about Mrs. Durocher's involvement with FRAPH: "They never say that she defended the slaughter of over 5,000 people by Haitian soldiers and FRAPH thugs during the coup. Indeed, she sat on the leadership committee of the death squad FRAPH."

The ugly truth is that Mrs. Durocher was deeply involved with a death squad. FRAPH's weapon of war against Haitians (for their family's political affiliations) was the signature atrocity of sexual violence against women.

It would be either dark irony or fitting justice if Miss Haiti were to choose as her platform the defense of women against sexual violence. That would be a gesture that could bridge the divide between the privileged, anointed class in Haiti and the downtrodden masses who are often their victims.

Background:More on the motives for the double murder from
Haiti Info, Vol. 3, no. 13, 8 April 1995
Double-Murder Significant

The most famous attack was the well-executed assassination of staunch coup supporter Mireille Durocher Bertin and Eugene Baillergeau, a former pilot for coup-leader Lt. General Raoul Cedras, obviously timed to throw a wrench in the celebrations.

The case has all the necessary ingredients: the more well-known victim is an outspoken enemy of Aristide and the democratic movement, two brothers, labeled "ultra-leftists" by the local and international reactionary press, have confessed to a similar plot and have implicated Aristide's Minister of the Interior, and well before the murder (in mid-March), rumors of a "hit list" of Aristide enemies began to surface in the U.S. (not the Haitian) press.

Whether the intended victim was Durocher Bertin, a lawyer who was frequently at anti-Aristide demonstrations, who led the effort to impeach Aristide, who served as counselor to de facto President Emile Jonassaint's ministerial council and who recently founded a political party which was said to be supported by the National Democratic Institute, or Baillergeau, as some have speculated, the other intended victims were obviously Aristide and Clinton.
Beginning before March 31, the sectors opposed to Clinton used the murders in an attempt to tarnish the celebrations of one of his few "foreign policy successes," and the assault has continued. Yesterday Senator Jesse Helms renewed his attack on Aristide and demanded Clinton block all aid to Haiti until the murder investigation is completed.


thezenhaitian said...

U.S. propaganda machinery and right-wing elements opposed to Clinton used the murders in partisan attacks against his administration and to demand that aid be cut to Haiti. The effort was led by racist Senator Jesse Helms. With George W. Bush's election in 2001 the efforts to destabilize the Aristide government went into full gear and an aid, loans and arms embargo was commenced.

Anonymous said...

So far, she has given many interviews to Spanish Media and some interviews to the American Press.

As someone who is 'representing' Haiti, do her handlers have planned to have her be interviewed by Haitians and Haitian-Americans media?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your efforts to keep the record straight in the unsolved murder of Mireille Durocher Bertin.

It is very unfortunate that some folks are using this ' Miss Haiti ' pageant to continue their attack on Fanmi Lavalas and by extension the struggle of the vast majority of the Haitian people for human dignity and self determination.

sam said...

I see no reason to rule out Aristide without an official investigation. Motive seems to be established though...

thezenhaitian said...

@sam Since the official investigation was conducted by the FBI. I see no reason to rule out Bill Clinton. He does tend to get involved with the ladies...

thezenhaitian said...

Miss Bertin says her life dream was to represent Haiti. Evidently, she is very ambitious. Her dream was sidetracked when she competed in the Miss Hawaiian Tropics beauty contest as Miss Dominican Republic.

thezenhaitian said...

Mireille Durocher-Bertin was a member of the death squad FRAPH. is a trusted resource for reporters and researchers and they pride themselves on reporting the facts.

Revolutionary Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress (FRAPH)

"Until 1990, Louis Jodel Chamblain was a sergeant in the Haitian Armed Forces, and a member of its elite Corps des Léopards. He is alleged to have headed a death squad under President-for-Life Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who fled the country for exile in 1986. In 1993 he co-founded the paramilitary organization FRAPH (Front pour l'Avancement et le Progrès d'Haïti, Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti), whose acronym is phonetically identical to the French/Creole word for "hit." He served as its "Coordinator," the number two leadership position behind Secretary-General Emmanuel "Toto" Constant. The other two members of its central committee were Alphonse Lahens, a prominent Duvalierist, and Mireille Durocher-Bertin, a lawyer who was murdered in 1995…"

Amnesty International reports: Haiti | A Question of Justice

"As soon as President Aristide returned to Haiti in October 1994 following the arrival in the country of a United States-led Multinational Force (MNF), there was a dramatic reduction in the kind of gross human rights violations that characterized the de facto military government of General Raoul Cédras."

[...] In only one case, that of the murder of right-wing politician and lawyer Mireille Durocher Bertin, a prominent opponent of President Aristide, and her client Eugène Baillergeau on 28 March 1995 in Port-au-Prince, has there been any specific allegation of the involvement of a government official. In that case, the Haitian Government established a commission made up of officers of the interim police and headed by Major James Jean-Baptiste to investigate the case. It also sought assistance from the US Government who sent a team of detectives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to assist the Haitian police in their work. Press reports at the time of the killing indicated that Mireille Durocher Bertin had been warned by government officials that there was a plot to kill her but she reportedly refused a government offer of protection. Some press reports, said to be based on US military intelligence, alleged that the killings had been carried out on the orders of the then Haitian Minister of the Interior, Mondésir Beaubrun. Another theory put forward later suggested that the incident may have been drugs-related. Seven people who had been detained in connection with the investigation, some before the killings even took place, were released on bail in September 1995."

thezenhaitian said...

CIA allies with drug trafficking military against Aristide:

"Some of the high military officials involved in the coup have been on the CIA's payroll from "the mid-1980s at least until the 1991 coup..." According to one government official, "Several of the principal players of the current situation were compensated by the US government."

Further, the CIA "tried to intervene in Haiti's election with a covert- action program that would have undercut the political strength" of Aristide. The aborted attempt to influence the 1988 election was authorized by then-President Ronald Reagan and the National Security Council. The program was blocked by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in a rare move.

Next, a confidential Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) report revealed that Haiti is "a major transshipment point for cocaine traffickers" who are funneling drugs from Colombia and the Dominican Republic into the United States. The DEA report also revealed that the drug trafficking, which is bringing one to four tons of cocaine per month into the US, [or 12-48 tons per year] worth $300-$500 million annually, is taking place with "the knowledge and active involvement of high military officials and business elites."

According to Patrick Elie, who was Aristide's anti-drug czar, Haitian police chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois is at the center of the drug trade. Francois' "attaches" reportedly have been responsible for a large number of murders and violence since the coup.

The revelations offer a disturbing look into CIA and State Department policy toward Haiti. Elie stated that he was constantly rebuffed by the CIA when he tried to alert it to the military's drug trafficking: "All we were met with was stonewalling, and in fact we were told there was going to be no more cooperation between the US and Haiti, but at the same time... the CIA continued to cooperate with the Haitian military." Elie reported how the CIA-created Haitian National Intelligence Service (NIS)--supposedly created to combat drugs--was actually involved with narcotics-trafficking, and "functioned as a political intimidation and assassination squad."

The Clinton administration's silence on the Haitian drug flow has led some congressional critics, such as John Conyers (D-MI), to suggest that his silence reflects de facto support for the drug-trafficking Haitian military and a reluctance to substantively support the democratically- elected Aristide."

Anonymous said...

The embellished narrative surrounding her mother's death and her selection as 'Miss Haiti' serve many purposes including: turning perpetrators into victims, turning their victims into villains and turning those who give refuge to these perpetrators into heroes.

Then topple it off by having the perpetrator's progeny lord it over their victims' progenies in a 'beauty contest' where the perpetrator's progeny 'wins' and get to 'speak on behalf of the victims' progenies'.

Anonymous said...

While the public is being entertained with ' Miss Haiti ' and 'all the things she had to overcome ', on the street of Port-au-Prince IDP camps dwellers are still battling forced evictions and are tired of sleeping on garbage:

MrsBarbaraJ said...

I really enjoyed this article; but to reiterate, there are still some people sleeping in the streets under tents.

Pierre said...

Miss Sarodj Bertin has a dazzling beauty according to the Eurocentric standards of beauty. However, its beauty does not reflect Afro-centric standard of beauty which 95% of the Haitian women represent.
According to statistics from , de la CIA World Factbook, and other statistical data bases, the Haitian population consists of 95% black and 5% mulatto, and white. Thus, Ms. Sarodj Bertin does not represent the typical Haitian women and should not be arbitrarily chosen by the Haitian Government to represent Haiti in a beauty contest. We hope that integrity prevail in the future.
Mademoiselle Sarodj Bertin est d'une beauté éblouissante selon les normes eurocentrique de la beauté. Toutefois, sa beauté ne reflète pas la norme afro-centrique de la beauté dont 95% des femmes haïtiennes représentent.
Selon les statistiques de, de la CIA World Factbook, et d'autres bases de données statistiques, la population haïtienne se compose de 95% de noir et 5% mulâtre, et blanc. Ainsi, Mllee Sarodj Bertin ne représente pas les femmes haïtiennes typiques et ne devrait pas être arbitrairement choisie par le Gouvernement haïtien pour représenter Haïti à un concours de beauté. Nous espérons que l'intégrité prévaudra la prochaine fois.

thezenhaitian said...

Pierre, you make a good point about standards of beauty. Since the majority of the world does not resemble Europeans, it is important for the world to have a more diverse and inclusive standard of beauty.

It was a positive sign that an African beauty was crowned as Miss Norway in 2010. Iman Kerigo represented Norway in the Miss Universe pageant. Miss Kerigo was born and raised in Norway but her parents were from Kenya.

That said, I do think that beauty contests are frivolous and encourage people to objectify women and devaluate their humanity. In an ideal world, we would all be judged by the content of our character and not what we look like. Ask yourself, would it be acceptable to have a beauty contest for young attractive males? Why does the very idea seem unacceptable and somewhat revolting?

For some Miss Sarodj's complexion was an issue, but for others she was not the ideal representative of Haiti because first and foremost, she has not lived in Haiti for most of her life. Also, she was crowned Miss Santo Domingo in a previous beauty contest. Notably, although she speaks fluent Kreyol and English with a charming Spanish accent, she is evidently more Dominican, then Haitian. Most critically, her "selection" did not serve as a unifying factor for Haitians, but tended to be divisive and controversial.

Finally, the controversial involvement of her family in the deaths of thousands of Haitians at the hands of a brutal military junta cannot be denied, nor played down. It is what it is, her mother clearly was not the "hero" or upstanding citizen that the mulatto/white faction that have a strangle hold on the wealth and resources in Haiti would like us to believe.

thezenhaitian said...

Pierre, vous faites un bon point sur les normes de la beauté. Puisque la majorité du monde ne ressemble pas les Européens, il est important pour le monde d'avoir une plus diversifiée et inclusive standard de la beauté.

Il est un signe positif que d'une beauté africaine a été couronné comme Miss Norvège en 2010. Iman Kerigo représenté la Norvège dans l'élection de «Miss Universe». Melle Kerigo est né et a grandi en Norvège, mais ses parents ont été en provenance du Kenya.

Cela dit, je pense que les concours de beauté sont frivoles et encourager les gens à objectiver les femmes et dévaluer leur humanité. Dans un monde idéal, nous aimerions tous être jugés par le contenu de notre caractère et non pas ce que nous ressemblent. Demandez-vous, serait-il acceptable d'avoir un concours de beauté pour les jeunes hommes attractif? Pourquoi l'idée même semble inacceptable et un peu révoltante?

Pour le teint certains Melle Sarodj a été un problème, mais pour d'autres elle n'est pas le représentant idéal d'Haïti parce que d'abord et avant tout, elle n'a pas vécu en Haïti pour la plupart de sa vie. En outre, elle a été couronnée Miss Santo Domingo dans un concours de beauté précédente. Notamment, même si elle parle couramment le créole et en anglais avec un charmant accent espagnol, elle est évidemment plus Dominicaine, que Haïtienne. La plupart des critiques, sa «sélection» ne constituent pas un facteur d'unification pour les Haïtiens, mais ont tendance à semer la discorde et la controverse.

Enfin, la participation controversée de sa famille à la mort de milliers d'Haïtiens aux mains d'une junte militaire brutale ne peut être nié, ni minimisé. Elle est ce qu'elle est, sa mère n'était manifestement pas le «héros» ou honnêtes citoyens que le mulâtre / blanc faction qui ont une prise de strangulation sur la richesse et des ressources en Haïti voudrais nous faire croire.

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