Haiti Emergency

Bernstein: Repressive forces acting on behalf of puppet Prime Minister Latortue continued their attacks on the pro-democracy movement. On Tuesday U.S. backed Haitian police reportedly entered the neighbourhood of Fort Nationalle, forced 13 people to the ground, and executed them one by one. The UN special envoy to Haiti has called for the U.S. installed puppet government to investigate the killings. Some question whether this is only pro forma because the United Nations forces have in fact been collaborating with the government police and former death squad activists in purging the pro-democracy movement. As we go to air there are protests in San Francisco against the U.S. installed government in Haiti and its violent actions. During this broadcast we’ll see if we can go and speak with Pierre Labossiere on the ground at that protest. But now joining us in the studio is our Flashpoints special correspondent Kevin Pina. Kevin is in the country for an emergency speaking tour; we’ll tell you more about that later. Kevin, it’s good to have you in the studio.

Pina: Thanks Dennis, its great to be here.


Bernstein: Well, let’s now go to a very serious situation. On Tuesday, we were hearing reports of a, essentially, a mass execution by supporters of the U.S. installed government. Tell us about, first, what we know about exactly what happened, and then lets talk about whether we can expect any support for an investigation from the UN.

Pina: Well, this is only one that we’re hearing about that’s made it to the press; there have been others, but on Tuesday heavily armed men dressed in black helmets – which is the signature uniform of the Haitian S.W.A.T team – entered the neighbourhood of Fort Nationalle. According to witnesses in the neighbourhood, 13 young men were rounded up, they were laid out in a long line, in front of several ambulances, and then they were each systematically shot, execution-style, in the back of the head by the S.W.A.T team members. Eight of those bodies ended up in the morgue, while the remaining bodies have yet to be found. It’s assumed that, possibly, the remaining bodies, they were still alive, they were still breathing, and that they may have been dumped some other place after having another bullet put in them.

Bernstein: Now, we know that these forces that work for the U.S. installed government also work closely with the United Nations forces. What can we say about actual UN forces being in the neighbourhood, or nearby when this is happening?

Pina: Well, we know that all activities of the Haitian police are coordinated with, assisted by, the United Nations these days. UN policy is just outrageous at this moment. You’ve got every possible Latin American military [that was] built and paid for by the United States government that has a repressive history in its own country, now on the ground in Haiti “assisting” the Haitian police. The army’s of Brazil, the army’s of Chile, the army of Argentina, and now they’ve got the armies of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. All of them, each of them has a heinous human rights background in their own country, are now part of what I call the “coalition of the killing” in Haiti today.

Bernstein: Now lets go back to this incident on Tuesday. We’re talking about whether its going to be investigated and fairly. Now it’s unlikely that the [U.S.] installed government of Latortue is really going to investigate their own police force. We’re not going to see an investigation from the renegade army mass murderers. We did here from the United Nations that they are calling for an investigation. What kind of investigation should there be and what can we expect?

Pina: Any investigation is necessarily going to have to go into the role of the relationship between the United Nations and the Haitian police. That includes the fact that there have been 100 Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Haiti, who have been working in training the Haitian police since the forced ouster of Jean Bertrand Aristide on February 29th. If there’s going to be an honest investigation it will have to include the fact that the Haitian police are being aided, abetted and backed up by the United Nations, who is supposedly the same organization calling for the investigations.

Bernstein: The [UN] representative.called for the investigation.

Pina: .Any real investigation will implicate the United Nations and their role in Haiti.

Bernstein: And again, this is obviously the most significant story here that you have the United Nations, putting this horrifying story aside, you’ve got a collaboration where the United Nations is really playing an intimate role in the purging of the pro-democracy movement.

Pina: Well, what their role is on the ground, and I’ve seen it, I’ve studied it, I’ve filmed it, I’ve chronicled it, is that they are there to make certain there is no armed resistance while the Haitian police systematically murder, commit arbitrary detentions, arbitrary arrests, in order to destroy the majority political party, President Jean Bertrand’s Family Lavalas party.

[.] Details on Pina’s speaking tour, available at http://www.haitiaction.net [.]

Bernstein: Kevin, President Aristide made another statement, obviously he’s far away in South Africa; he’s been accused of fomenting the violence. He called for free and fair elections including the Lavalas movement. Of course that’s not going to happen, is it?

Pina: It doesn’t look like that’s what the plans are on the ground, not at all. It looks like what the plans are are persecution, and removal, physical removal, elimination of Famni Lavalas. Now you’ve e got to remember a Brazilian general, the head of the UN peacekeeping forces a week and a half ago, two weeks ago, said that it was John Kerry’s fault that this latest round of violence had broken out, because on March 7th in the New York Times he [Kerry] had said that if he had been President, according to agreements in the hemisphere, he would have done everything, more than the Bush administration would have done, to ensure that Jean Bertrand Aristide had continued his role as the democratically elected President. Well this General Augusto Heleno said ‘well, that’s tantamount to Kerry inciting violence in Haiti.’ At the same time in those same statements he said ‘any claims that Aristide would be able to return to Haiti are unfounded.’ So here is General Augusto Ribero Heleno, the head of the UN mission, the head of the Brazilian forces, the UN peacekeeping forces in Haiti, dictating policy of who and what will Haiti’s future be for 8 million of its inhabitants. Basically, he’s saying ‘there is no future with Aristide, any talk of him returning is unfounded, Lavalas should just go into that good night and be done with this.’

Bernstein: And of course that’s why there is growing resistance in Haiti to this U.S. installed government because the pro-democracy movement is quite widely supported throughout the country and there was a huge election in [which] a majority of the people of Haiti did elect Jean Bertrand Aristide. I want to ask you, we’ve reported about this plan that we can’t confirm where the U.S. installed government there wants to, as sort of a model, purge, one way or the other, either run them out of the country, run them into the ground or kill them, 25,000 pro-democracy activists. Is that a reasonable figure? What do we know about that kind of backroom talk?

Pina: well, first of all there’s lots of numbers games going on; let’s just start with that, like Associated Press and Reuters, they’re playing this number game. I think the number went from 24 deaths since September 30th to now over 50 deaths. Well, none of that is reality. Just last week before I left the country there was a special call, I think we may have talked about this, maybe it was a week and a half ago, there was this special call by the director of the morgue saying that the morgue had filled since September 30th, and a week and a half ago the morgue had filled beyond its capacity and he had to call the interim Minister of Health to send extra vehicles because there were more than 600 bodies in the morgue over a two week period. None of that is being reported by the Associated Press and Reuters. Well, where did those bodies come from? What are the conditions of those bodies? If there were 600 deaths in a two-week period that we learned accidentally by this public call from the director of the morgue, [then] how many times have there been other calls where they have not been made public, where the morgue has been filled beyond capacity? So there’s a lot more killing going on than we’re learning about, than the press is reporting in Haiti.

Bernstein: .That’s the voice of Kevin Pina, talking about the extent of the violence on the ground, what we really know about the numbers and this notion of an attempt to purge large numbers of the pro-democracy movement.

Pina: Well, there were people in Lavalas who I’ve conducted interviews with, and by the way this has since made the government so paranoid since they’ve read about this, that there were actually people who informed Lavalas of a meeting, a secret meeting that was held between the interim Ministry of the Interior, Herard Abraham, who’s a former General in the Haitian military, as well as the interim Minister of Justice, Bernard Gousse, and Gerard Latortue, in which they discussed what it would take in terms of ending the calls for the return of Jean Bertrand Aristide, and what it would take to basically end this cycle, this period, with Lavalas ‘reticence’ for involving themselves in the elections, which is discrediting them ultimately; and it was discussed and said that in the capital alone there would need to be 25,000 people either killed or forced out of the country in order for them to go forward with those elections next year.

B Bernstein: Well, there’s going to be a big battle around that and that battle is also shaping up in the Bay area and around the United States where a growing number of people are resisting this U.S. installed government of Latortue. One of those is a friend of yours and ours, and of this program, Pierre Labossiere. He is now in downtown San Francisco at a protest. Pierre is one of the founders of Haiti Action [Committee], and you can find out all about them at: http://www.haitiaction.net. Pierre, welcome back to Flashpoints.

Labossiere: yes, how are you?

Bernstein: I’m good, it’s good to have you here with Kevin. Tell us where you are and what’s going on.

Labossiere: Well right now we are at the corner, we just left Market and Powell; we are marching on, taking our anger to Bush and Powell, marching on Powell Street and maybe you can hear some of the sounds back there; I’ll let you hear a little bit.


Labossiere: Yes, a very spirited demonstration, and we are marching up and protesting the role that Bush and Powell and the ‘coalition of the killing,’ as Kevin said, that they have put together, murdering our people in Haiti. We are very outraged about this; there was a massacre Tuesday evening in Haiti of, according to various estimates I got, close to about 30 people who were murdered in different parts of Port au Prince. What is their crime? Because they support the President that they elected, this is their crime, so we are very, very angry about this and we are expressing our outrage and encouraging people to call their elected representatives and to protest, to call the UN and protest their participation in these atrocities that are going on in Haiti. And I want to mention that Brazil is one of the countries, Brazil is actually leading the UN forces in Haiti, and so we definitely need our brothers and sisters from Brazil to express their outrage to the Brazilian government, as well as the government of Chile. So this is really a misuse of the United Nations, this is.I’ll tell you Dennis, I am so outraged by what’s going on, you know? This is not what the UN was supposed to be.

Bernstein: Let me jump in here, Pierre. I know that among the worst parts of this for you are these phone calls that you get from Haiti all times of the day and the night; could you tell us about some of the phone calls you get about people who you know, pro-democracy activists, union activists, how they’re being treated, where they are, where they’re running from?

Labossiere: Yes, I got a call from a friend of mine, he called me to ask me if we had any funds to help out his family, because their loved one was murdered, was wounded by police gunfire, because they were firing indiscriminately; and so because they didn’t want to take the chance taking this man to the hospital, but they had to do it after a while, they had to take him to the hospital, and in the hospital he was one of the people taken by the police and murdered, from the hospital! This is the kind of stuff that we are getting, these are the calls; just like last night I got a call from a peasant organization where the radio station, the generator that they had, that was supplied by people from the Bay Area.that generator, they were going to try and take it, the military, the former military were going to take it. Other calls I’ve gotten; the labour leader Loulou Chery, because he’s a labour leader who doesn’t go along with what’s going on in Haiti, they have come after him and ransacked his home, so several times he has had to go into hiding where he is now currently. Other calls about people who have been victimized, people who are in hiding, it’s terrible, it’s terrible what’s going on.

Bernstein: Pierre, you are speaking to us from downtown Market and Powell, people can still join that protest, share your anger, speak out against this illegal operation in which the U.S. government overthrew the duly constituted government of Haiti and Jean Bertrand Aristide. Pierre, we’re going to stay on this, I urge people to join you there right now; you’re on your way to Bush and Powell?

Labossiere: Precisely.

Bernstein: Good place to be. And we thank you for being with us Pierre.

Labossiere: Thank you so much Dennis, bye-bye.

Bernstein: We’re going top continue our dialogue with Kevin tomorrow. Final comments today Kevin.

Kevin: .The point is that what’s going on in Haiti is wrong, that all of the things that the so-called opposition against Aristide had accused him of, being a dictator, arbitrary arrests, detentions, murders, none of that happened under Aristide against that so-called opposition and certainly if you see in Haiti today what you see is their accusations of Aristide being a dictator has become their own self-fulfilling prophecy in Haiti today. Today is the real dictatorship of murders, arbitrary arrests, detentions, no civil liberties, no freedom of expression.

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