Bernstein: I’m looking at a very troubling photograph and it represents the level and intensity of violence taking place on the ground in Haiti. First of all, describe this photograph, tell us if we know who this is, and what does it signify?
Pina: This is a resident of Cite Soleil. There’s evidence of gunshots, obviously this person was shot several times, the body appears to have then been doused with gasoline and set afire, and then it appears as if someone had taken a brick and thrown it at the body afterwards as well, opening up the chest.
Bernstein: This is not just a killing, this is a message. Talk a little about the message this is sending and the context of the message.
Pina: It’s really clear, this is murder with the intent to terrorize; this takes a lot of work to do this to somebody, and this is what’s going on in Cite Soleil today. We reported here on November 26th that while the Associated Press and Reuters had been reporting that this is inter-gang warfare, we reported it here first based upon witness testimony in Cite Soleil that Andy Apaid of the Group of 184 which is the opposition to Aristide and Rudolph Boulos who is one of the founders of the Haiti Democracy Project in Washington that was the PR arm of the opposition to Aristide, they have been funding gangs in Cite Soleil in order to attack and kill Lavalas members, and this [photograph] is evidence of one of those killings and they are not just killings, this is horrendous torture and maiming of bodies that’s meant to terrorize the community.
Bernstein: Let’s spend a minute on the atmospheric pressure in Haiti on the ground. If you are a pro-democracy activist, what is life like?
Pina: If you were at all involved in something as benign as the literacy project, teaching people to read and write, today you are in fear of your life, today you are in hiding, today you are separated from your family. In many instances you may have had to leave the country for the Dominican Republic. You don’t know what’s happening to the rest of your family members. Or, you’re going to be in jail, you’re going to be arbitrarily arrested, possibly picked up in a dragnet, someone may have said that you worked with the literacy program, and then the police would have arrested you for it, and you’d be spending your nights in a cell packed with other Lavalas political prisoners, with the floor filled with urine and defecation, very little food; family members are afraid to bring you food, bring you things to help you because they’re afraid they might be arrested if they bring you what you need. Or, you’re dead; it’s as simple as that.
Bernstein: I want to talk about the collaboration between the Brazilian [and Canadian-] led peacekeepers and the killer national police/military, re-instituted by the puppet government in Haiti. The Brazilian general came out and said that the French and the Canadians [and the U.S.] want the peacekeepers to be “tougher.” Talk about this relationship between the UN and the killers and why it is significant.
Pina: We know that the so-called United Nations peacekeeping coalition in Haiti is led by the Brazilian military, in particular by a man named General Heleno Ribeiro. Right now Lula Da Silva is catching a lot of heat. The United Nations forces including the Brazilians have been actively working with the Haitian police as the Haitian police have been committing massacre after massacre against Lavalas supporters in the poor neighbourhoods of the capital. We also know that the Argentinean forces and the Chilean forces have been openly patrolling the streets with the former military, the former brutal military, many of whom today are behind a lot of the killing of Lavalas supporters in the streets of Port au Prince, but also in places like Cap Haitien, and L’Artibonite in the Central Plateau. It’s really clear that the United Nations is giving credibility and a veneer of legitimacy to what is basically – I can describe it no other terms – a campaign of extermination physically through violence of the majority political party, which is Jean Bertrand Aristide’s Lavalas party. I think listeners heard me interview Reed Lindsay in Port au Prince, it’s not just the Brazilians.
Bernstein: Well this is the important part; I want you to tell that story, and it has to do with the kinds of people who are participating in this so-called “peacekeeping” action.
Pina: Reed, in our interview live from Port au Prince, he was telling me how he was on a rooftop with snipers who were working with the Brazilians, but they weren’t Brazilians they were Chinese, from the People’s Republic of China, who were on top of the rooftop with Haitian police, training them in sniping, and what was it they were looking at while they were on that roof? What was it that they were training them, using as an example of training? It was a peaceful demonstration in Bel Air, exactly the kinds of demonstrations that the Haitian police down in the streets [during which] have already been shooting at unarmed demonstrators, have already been killing people in the streets. And now, snipers from the police of the People’s Republic of China are going to teach the Haitian police sniping techniques from rooftops? It’s outrageous Dennis, I can’t imagine anything that more clearly demonstrates the duplicity of the United Nations, calling this a peacekeeping mission.
Bernstein: And complicity in what amounts to the purging of the very large pro-democracy, pro-Aristide movement. Over some period of time we’ve hear about the secret plans to purge over 25,000 members of the pro-democracy movement or kill them to make room for this so-called election that will happen sometime and somewhere.
Colin Powell was in Haiti last week and there were shots fired while he was in the presidential palace. Talk about what he was doing there and the significance of his visit. And what have you heard about those shots?
Pina: It’s very interesting; there are some very devious and I have to say downright evil people in Haiti. I’ll give you an example; there was that drive-by shooting in 1993 that I survived, and they shot the wrong guy that I was interviewing Senator [inaudible], who I didn’t know was standing behind me when they did the drive-by, and then it was surprising to see the next morning they accused me of the attempted assassination of the Senator. That’s the kind of thinking that some of these people put into some of what’s going on on the ground in Haiti today.
The theatre that happened when Colin Powell was there was no different. For example, they claimed that a car came by and shot at the palace. What they don’t say, what the Associated Press and Reuters omit is that for two blocks around the palace the entire area is controlled by heavily armed Haitian police.I’m talking to people on the ground who are saying ‘they’re trying to tell us that a car full of Lavalas gunmen could drive through one of the most heavily armed cordons in the entire country’? As well [there were] United Nations forces that are on the corners with them, so something’s not right, something is amiss. If that car got through and fired in the area of the palace it was because the Haitian police wanted it to get through and have that gunfire be heard while Colin Powell was speaking, because what was Colin Powell’s message? ‘Those are exactly the kind of gunmen that we have to deal with and get rid of.’ And of course, that was code for ‘Lavalas'; again Lavalas is blamed. The same day you’ve got the national penitentiary; they claim that the prisoners started to riot and that they attacked the guards.What did they attack them with, their toothbrushes? Eleven political prisoners [killed]; are they now going to claim that Lavalas is entering the prison and killing its own? That’s how absurd this is getting.
Bernstein: I’d like to spend the last minute on the role that the human rights groups, particularly Amnesty International, have played in their failure to document this in a way that they could hold this puppet accountable.
Pina: I was talking about this photo you had me describe earlier. If me with my limited resources and my crew, the crew that I work with, of other Haitian journalists and foreign journalists on the ground, can get this photographic documentary evidence and we can interview the families and we can interview the witnesses, why in the hell can’t an organization like Amnesty International with all of its resources and its international reputation do the same? That’s what I don’t understand. Why can we do it with the limited resources we have, but they can’t