Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I went to see an old woman with asthma, a customer at LaGioconda.
The poor thing was in a pitiful state, breathing the acrid smell of concentrated sweat and dirty feet that filled her room, mixed with the dust from a couple of armchairs, the only luxury items in her house.
On top of her asthma, she had a heart condition. It is at times like this , when a doctor is conscious of his complete powerlessness, that he longs for change: a change to prevent the injustice of a system in which only a month ago this poor woman was still earning her living as a waitress, wheezing and panting but facing life with dignity.
In circumstances like this, individuals in poor families who can't pay their way become surrounded by an atmosphere of barely disguised acrimony; they stop being father, mother, sister or brother and become a purely negative factor in the struggle for life and, consequently, a source of bitterness for the healthy members of the community who resent their illness as if it were a personal insult to those who have to support them.
It is there, in the final moments, for people whose farthest horizon has always been tomorrow, that one comprehends the profound traqedy circumscribing the life of the proletariat the world over.
In those dying eyes there is a submissive appeal for forgiveness and also, often , a desperate plea for consolation which is lost to the void, just as their body will soon be lost in the magnitude of the mystery surrounding us. How long this present order, based on an absurd idea of caste, will last is not within my means to answer, but it's time that those who govern spent less time publicizing their own virtues and more money, much more money, funding socially useful works.
There isn't much I can do for the sick woman. I simply advise her to improve her diet and prescribe a diuretic and some asthma pills. I have a few Dramamine tablets left and I give them to her. When I leave, I am followed by the fawning words of the old woman and the family's indifferent gaze.
"The Motorcycle Diaries...Notes on a Latin American Journey"
Ernesto "Che" Guevara
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
What was happening in 2004 at OSF was unimaginable.
OSF was going to let Willie die in Haiti from a worn out pacemaker. And Willie had been on the cover of the Children's Hospital of Illinois (CHOI) magazine a few years before. Now he seemed to mean nothing to CHOI.
At the same time, Jackson Jean-Baptiste was becoming more ill in Haiti and OSF would not allow him to return to OSF either. Jackson would be dead in early 2006.
Read how OSF's administrator seemed to find some humor in Willie's picketing the hosptial. Doesn't seem possible, but it happened.
Peoria Journal Star
June 16, 2004
Haitian Hearts doctor pickets Saint Francis
PEORIA - Dr. John Carroll and Willy Fortune, a 16-year-old heart patient, picketed OSF Saint Francis Medical Center on Tuesday because the hospital has refused to provide heart care to Fortune.
"I'm asking for a good pediatric cardiology exam," he said. Haitian Hearts is willing to fully pay for the care, Carroll added, but St. Francis has refused.
Fortune received a pacemaker at St. Francis in 2000. When St. Francis would not replace it this year, Carroll arranged for Fortune to have the surgery done May 21 at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. More care is needed, he said.
"You just don't replace a pacemaker and forget about things," Carroll said.
Carroll said he should not have to take Fortune back to Nashville. "He's here. This hospital has a value system. He's a St. Francis patient."
On Tuesday, Carroll carried a sign with a photograph of Fortune on a poster the hospital used in 2000. It stated "Willy, a mended Haitian Heart at Children's Hospital."
Fortune said he was feeling "good, but was hungry after a long day of picketing."
St. Francis spokesman Chris Lofgren said the hospital would not comment on Carroll, an emergency room physician for 21 years who was fired in December 2001.
Last year, Haitian Hearts became an independent foundation that can accept tax-deductible gifts, and continues to raise money to bring Haitian patients to the U.S. for heart and other care. In 2003, it brought in 16 patients. So far this year, the organization has brought in three patients, Carroll said, and others are planned.
Haitian Hearts was once a part of Children's Hospital at St. Francis, but the hospital severed ties with the group in July after the two entities could not agree on several issues. Since then, the hospital has refused to participate in Haitian Hearts' program.
Carroll also said the Illinois Attorney General's office has been investigating whether St. Francis misused funds donated to its Children's Hospital that were earmarked for Haitian Hearts. People have told him about donations which never were credited to Haitian Hearts, Carroll said. He complained to the Attorney General's Charitable Trust division, he said, and provided the office with records.
"We responded in detail" to the attorney general, Lofgren said. "As far as I know, it's over."
A spokesman for the attorney general, Scott Mulford, said Tuesday that the office is still "looking into the situation."
Carroll said people should be alarmed about St. Francis' refusal to provide care for Fortune.
For the hospital to refuse care to a former patient "is unprecedented," he said. "Where are the Catholic ethicists at St. Francis?" he asked.
My Comments from today March 25, 2009:
1. My wife Maria and I were working in Haiti in early 2004.
2. Willie’s mom brought him to me because he was short of breath. He could walk up a small incline, but walked slowly and was quite short of breath. My exam in Haiti revealed that his pacemaker was malfunctioning. Willie’s pacemaker was on a back up mode which was keeping him alive. He needed a new pacemaker.
3. Willie had been operated at OSF in Peoria in 2000. He had an extended stay in the hospital. Willie had a permanent pacemaker put in at that time. Many excellent people took care of Willie at OSF.
4. However, OSF would not accept Willie back in 2004 even with Haitian Hearts offering complete charges for the new pacemaker. The pacemaker would have been donated by the company for an international patient, and so would not have cost OSF anything. And pacemakers are frequently placed as outpatients.
5. His host family in the Peoria area was shocked and worried. We all thought this may be the end for Willie. We wondered how OSF could turn their back on this young man after he had survived two heart surgeries at OSF a few years before. This did not seem possible.
6. So for the next few months we looked for another medical center in the United States to accept Willie Fortune.
7. In a convoluted fashion Willie was accepted at Vanderbilt Children’s. Haitian Hearts donated $5,000 dollars to Vanderbilt Children’s for the procedure.
8. When Willie showed up at Vanderbilt Children’s, they kept him in the hospital and performed the procedure in a semi urgent fashion. The Vanderbilt Children’s Administrator questioned OSF’s medical ethics when OSF refused Willie.
9. Willie did great after receiving the new pacemaker and came to Peoria to live with Maria and me while he recovered. We walked along the Rock Island Trail and he was able to walk well.
10. For the first time in all of Haitian Hearts history, a physician at OSF who had taken care of Willie in 2000 refused to give Willie a complete cardiac exam in his office. The physician was very frightened to check Willie.
11. So, as the article states, Willie and I picketed OSF. While we were picketing OSF’s administrator Keith Steffen showed up at Sister Canisia’s big plate glass window that looked out over Glen Oak Ave. Mr. Steffen stood slightly behind Sister Canisia and threw back his head and acted like he was laughing at Willie and me on the sidewalk. Sister Canisia could not see Mr. Steffen’s antics. Willie witnessed all of this too but did not understand the inappropriate behavior of Mr. Steffen.
12. The article states that hospital spokesperson Chris Lofgren had no comment. What was Mr. Lofgren to say? Should he have said that everyone at OSF felt great rejecting Willie and that OSF would have left Willie in Haiti to die from a worn out pacemaker after OSF had been offered full charges by Haitian Hearts?
13. And I asked in 2004 where OSF's ethicists were. I am still asking the same question in 2009.
14. Pictured above is Willie's mom in Haiti a few months ago. What right does any medical center have to turn down her son? What right does any medical center have to turn down her son after full charges have been offered for his medical care?
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Free This Priest
Father Gerard Jean-Juste is no outlaw. He's a Magic City hero.
by Chuck Strouse
October 27, 2005
First a rock smashed the front window. Then, after a metal shutter was slammed shut, a bottle exploded against it. Then another. And another.
A thousand Haitians burst through a police barricade one steamy summer Saturday in 1990 and swarmed a storefront off Biscayne Boulevard in Miami. Inside, as muscular Cuban-American shopkeeper Luis Reyes snapped on a bulletproof vest, one Miami cop loaded his shotgun while another pulled his pistol. I sat on a box in the rear, terrified. "They've moved the Dumpster against the back door," Reyes said. "They're starting a fire."
Early in the day, after a store clerk had pummeled a Haitian-American shopper, Creole-language radio announcers egged on the attack at the Rapid Transit Factory Outlet on 79th Street. A mob gathered. Then a young news reporter, I had heard the broadcasts and wandered inside just before the violence began.
After several hours, when there was a lull and the fire had been extinguished, one of the cops decided I should leave. "It might get ugly," he said. "You'll be safer outside." So I tucked my notebook in my pocket, cracked the door, and exited. I was the target for a fuming crowd. "Journaliste," I shouted, hands aloft. "Reporter."
Several men crouched. One moved toward me. I distinctly recall his angry expression and bloodshot eyes.
Then there was a hand on my shoulder, the word friend was spoken in Creole, and in an instant the mood changed. The crowd embraced me.
The hand and the word belonged to the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, whose actions saved me and the others in the store that day. Speaking through a megaphone, he eventually -- peacefully --- helped end the attack.
Now Jean-Juste -- a puckish, pudgy-faced, twelve-year South Florida resident who left Miami soon after the riot and has ministered to Haiti's poor children ever since — is stuck in a prison cell in Port-au-Prince. Falsely accused of participating in the killing of his cousin, journalist Jacques Roche, he has become a martyr. Amnesty International has declared him a prisoner of conscience. Thirty-four members of Congress have called for his release. And 400 clergy of all stripes signed a petition sent to President George W. Bush demanding his freedom.
The man ultimately responsible for jailing Jean-Juste on the trumped-up charges — he was in Miami at the time Roche was kidnapped — is longtime Boca Raton radio commentator Gerard Latortue, who's now the country's interim prime minister.
The dispute is a distinctly South Florida affair.
"Jean-Juste is still a hero here," says Dufirstson Neree, a thrice-minted Ivy League grad and Haitian-American who's running for Congress from an area that includes Little Haiti. "No one can defend the position that he is a terrorist or a menace to society."
Three decades ago, Jean-Juste became the first Haitian ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in the United States. In 1978, just two years before a huge wave of his countrymen transformed Miami in a boatlift, he helped establish the Haitian Refugee Center, a group that has fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for the rights of people from the world's first independent black republic.
Jack Lieberman, another HRC cofounder, remembers that Jean-Juste manned the center in Liberty City and helped keep the peace during the many 1980s riots that shook the Magic City. "When he first came to the Haitian Refugee Center, most of the church agencies wanted to treat the Haitian refugee issue as one of charity," Lieberman says. "Jean-Juste pointed out that there was an injustice. Cubans were treated better than Haitians."
In the years that followed, Jean-Juste organized marches against Haiti's Duvalier regime, bad U.S. immigration law, and discriminatory policies in everything from housing to blood donation. For the Miami Herald, I covered a half-dozen protests he led with megaphone in hand. I studied Creole and sat with him in the empty office of Veye Yo, a political meeting house on 54th Street that he helped create.
He often spoke of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. He was a true leader.
Of course, he was a rabble-rouser. Archbishop Edward McCarthy was suspicious of Jean-Juste's Liberation Theology leaning and denied him a pulpit. In response, Jean-Juste termed McCarthy a racist. After several drowned Haitian boat people washed up on a South Florida beach, Jean-Juste sued, claimed the bodies, and turned the burial into a protest.
In 1991, after Jean-Bertrand Aristide took power in a rare democratic election in Haiti, he returned home. "After all the years in exile, he needed to go back to minister to his people," says Lavarice Gaudin, director of Veye Yo today. "He's always been a nonviolent man but one who will nevertheless push for what is right."
He also gained political power as Aristide appointed him minister/liaison for Haitians living abroad. Then, only seven months after Jean-Juste had arrived on the island, Aristide was ousted by a bloody military coup. Jean-Juste went into hiding for three years.
He turned up on the island again in 1994, after U.N. forces returned Aristide to power. For the next ten years, he traveled often between the United States and Haiti, paying particular attention to South Florida, where more than 250,000 Haitians live. He visited his sister Francine, who lives in Broward County, and sometimes led protests. At a demonstration in Washington, D.C., in 1997, the year the Florida Marlins won the World Series, he told the assembled thousands: "The same way all of us came together in Miami to celebrate the Marlins — black, white, and brown — let us all come together for justice, peace, and fairness."
In 1998, on his radio show from Port-au-Prince, Ginen, he helped authorities find the parents of a 12-year-old girl who was gunned down in an Allapattah flea market.
In Haiti, he ministered to a parish of 80,000 Haitian families in a church on a dirt road outside Port-au-Prince. He organized a program to feed 600 youngsters twice a week. And, of course, he politicked, pushing relentlessly for Aristide, even after the president was overthrown in a bloody coup in February 2004.
Jean-Juste's serious problems began in October of last year. Armed security officers dressed in black and wearing black ski masks arrived at his church, broke through iron bars and windows, and then dragged him away on suspicion of inciting violence and hiding pro-Aristide gunmen.
Back then, only 20 of 1,000 inmates in the prison where Jean-Juste was housed had even seen a judge, according to Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor who has represented Jean-Juste in Haitian courts. "In jail," Quigley says, there were "no beds, no blankets, and no water to bathe."
The priest was released after seven weeks for lack of evidence. "It is a big mistake of trying to lock up this guy who is speaking truth," Quigley adds. "He has never said anything about violence; he has never raised a gun."
This past July, Jean-Juste visited South Florida and led a demonstration at the Brazilian Consulate in Miami. The protesters urged that nation — led by former union organizer Luiz Inácio da Silva — to speak out against the United Nations' role in 23 killings in Cité Soleil on the island. "He came to town, said we had this massacre occur, conditions are horrible, please do something," Lieberman says. "So we went to the consulate and basically pleaded our case."
A couple of days later, Jean-Juste headed back to Haiti. Three Veye Yo members I spoke with said a pro-government Creole-language radio host in Miami called for violence toward Jean-Juste back on the island. "Before Father Jean-Juste left, everybody knew something would happen to him," Veye Yo's Gaudin says. "But he said he had a mission."
In Haiti, Jean-Juste — along with Quigley, who was visiting — decided to attend the funeral of murdered journalist Roche, a supporter of the interim government whose family is related to Jean-Juste's. There, the crowd beat them and chased them into a toilet stall before Jean-Juste was arrested and thrown into jail, where he has remained since.
A few days later, Amnesty International termed him a political prisoner. This past August, Jean-Juste fell ill and nearly died in the prison. Recently recovered, he now sleeps on a rubber mat on a concrete floor beneath a picture of murdered Salvadoran Priest Oscar Romero.
In September, a group of U.S. congressmen including Kendrick Meek, Robert Wexler, and Alcee Hastings — all Democrats — sent a letter to Prime Minister Latortue calling for Jean-Juste's freedom. Referring to the release of a convicted murderer, Louis Jodel Chamblain, Meek said, "It is a sad day when a respected community leader, committed to helping the poor, is locked away in a prison cell while a convicted human rights abuser walks free."
In Little Haiti, Jean-Juste's supporters have hung pictures emblazoned with "Free Jean-Juste" in many restaurants and businesses. "Jean-Juste is my best friend," says Merus Benoit, who owns Ben Photo studio on NE 54th Street. "He suggested I go to Miami Dade College to learn English. Any time he needed a picture taken, I took it. I'd do anything for him."
At the urging of the Bush administration, elections in Haiti were scheduled for November (though they were recently postponed until December), and more than a half-dozen Haitian presidential candidates have raised money in South Florida. Jean-Juste has even pondered a try; on August 25, he told the Associated Press he would run for president "if Aristide approves my candidacy." But then, after the archdiocese in Haiti disciplined him, he withdrew.
The problem in Haiti is not quick elections (just as that is not the answer in George W. Bush's more distant morass, Iraq). The answer is more U.S. aid to Haiti, more help to beleaguered U.N. troops there, and a concerted campaign to free Jean-Juste and jailed former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune. South Florida has a strong tie to the island nation. And to many of the Haitians here, Jean-Juste's imprisonment is the top issue.
"Jean-Juste is a black eye on the government of Haiti," says Neree, the congressional candidate. "As long as he is in jail, there can be no free and fair elections."
Imprisoned Haitian priest may need US doctors
From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
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Friday, December 16, 2005
Supporters of jailed priest Jean-Juste say that he needs medical treatment in the United States. His attourney, Bill Quigley, told reporters that the priest, who was considered a potential presidential candidate before his arrest and long detainment, may have cancer and should be released so that he can seek medical attention in the United States. A doctor, Dr. John Carroll, who examined Jean-Juste said that an abnormal white blood cell count, as well as swelling in his neck and under his arms could be early signs of cancer. The government of interim President Alenxandre said that their doctors have examined the priest as well and said no signs of cancer exist.
Jean-Juste has been in jail since July when he was arrested at a funeral of a popular Haitian journalist and poet. He was originally detained for questioning related to the murder but also allegations of illegal weapons possessions have been brought up. He's yet to be charged in any crimes. The doctor who made the claim of possible cancer is a supporter of Jean-Juste and some might think that this is an exaggeration to allow Jean-Juste out of Haiti to plan his political future.
* "Supporters say jailed priest needs medical treatment". CNN, December 16, 2005
* ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU "Haitian Priest Said to Need U.S. Doctor". Chron.com, December 16, 2005
Fr. Jean-Juste Must Be Released Immediately:
Diagnosed with Life-Threatening Medical Problems
by Bill Quigley.
[Please forward as widely as possible]
There is new urgency to the calls for the freedom of Haitian political prisoner Pere Jean-Juste, he is now facing very serious medical problems.
Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, sometimes called the Martin Luther King Jr of Haiti for his outspoken advocacy for the poor, for human rights, and for democracy, has been in jail in Haiti without charges since July 21. He was arrested after being attacked by a mob in a church - none of the mob were charged.
Amnesty International, Human Rights First, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and experts from the UN Commission on Human Rights have called for his release and the release of all political prisoners in Haiti. People in the poorer areas of Haiti and others across the world have campaigned and demonstrated for Fr. Jean-Juste's release.
Unelected Haitian authorities, who took and have held power unconstitutionally after democratically elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide was forced out, have resisted national and international calls for the release of Fr. Jean-Juste. The unelected appear to want to keep Fr. Jean-Juste and others in jail without trial until at least until after the oft-postponed and highly controversial Haitian elections are concluded.
The first public medical report on Fr. Jean-Juste has just been released. US physician Dr. John Carroll MD examined Pere Jean-Juste in September and again in December. The full report is attached. To summarize, Dr. Carroll, board certified in internal medicine, observed increased swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck and under the arms, intermittent hearing loss, and elevated white blood counts. Dr. Carroll concluded that "causes for these findings are numerous including hematological [blood] cancers, metastatic [spreading] cancer, and a host of infectious diseases."
Dr. Carroll says "Fr. Jean-Juste needs an extensive medical workup, CAT scan, and surgical biopsy...and to begin appropriate treatment immediately. Many cancers of the blood have a good prognosis when treated early by specialists." Note the word immediately.
Contact the US Embassy in Haiti and demand they take every step necessary to secure the immediate release of Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste. The unelected government of Haiti serves only at the pleasure of the US. If the US wants Fr. Jean-Juste freed, he will be free.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fr. Gérard Jean-Juste (1947–) is the Roman Catholic rector of Saint Claire's church for the poor in Port-au-Prince, Haïti. He is also a liberation theologian and a supporter of the Fanmi Lavalas political party, the largest in Haïti. In 1978, Father Jean-Juste founded the Haïtian Refugee Center in Miami, Florida. He has been characterized as a beloved figure among South Florida's Haïtian community.
He gained recent renown throughout Haïti and the Haïtian diaspora as a determined opponent of the interim government of Prime Minister Gérard Latortue. Gérard Latortue's de facto rule came about after the violent overthrow of the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide by anti-government rebels (see 2004 Haiti rebellion).
In November 2004, he was released from prison by police after seven weeks in incarceration, following outcries of opposition to his incarceration.
Sister project Wikinews has related news: Imprisoned Haitian priest may need US doctors
Sister project Wikinews has related news: Officials of Fanmi Lavalas party threaten boycott
Sister project Wikinews has related news: Lavalas candidate barred from elections
On July 21, 2005, he was arrested by police following his return from a trip to Miami, Florida in connection with the abduction and subsequent murder of journalist Jacques Roche, despite the fact that Jean-Juste was out of the country at the times of both Roche's abduction (July 10) and the discovery of his mutilated, bullet-riddled body (July 14). No evidence was presented against Father Jean-Juste and it was widely understood that the trial was politically motivated by unelected officials in the interim regime. Jean-Juste, who had turned up at the locale of Roche's funeral to pay his respects, was mobbed, and assaulted and accused of being involved in the murder by Roche's family immediately following the service.
On July 28, 2005, Amnesty International named Jean-Juste a "prisoner of conscience" .
He also emerged as a potential candidate for the Fanmi Lavalas in the 2006 General elections in Haiti which, after several postponements, took place on February 7, 2006.
In August 2005, officials of the Fanmi Lavalas party threatened to boycott the elections if Jean-Juste, and other alleged political prisoners, were not released. They believe Jean-Juste's arrest, made by the interim government, which is an opposition party to Lavalas, is an effort to prevent Lavalas from once again winning in elections. In September, the party attempted to register Jean-Juste as a candidate for president, but they were denied. The provisional electoral council said that electoral law requires candidates to register in person. On February 7, 2005, Jean-Juste formally endorsed Rene Preval.
In late December, 2005, US medical doctor confirmed a colleague’s initial diagnosis that Jean-Juste has cancer. After examining Jean-Juste and analysing a blood sample he drew from him, prominent Harvard University physician and Aristide supporter Paul Farmer said Jean-Juste has chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He said the disease is not immediately fatal but can develop into a more virulent strain of cancer. Farmer told the Miami Herald: "Father Gerry's in serious trouble if he isn't released from jail for proper work-up in the States."
Fr. Jean-Juste was represented by Haitian human rights lawyer Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, and by Bill Quigley, a professor at Loyola New Orleans Law School, and a volunteer lawyer for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. On January 26, 2006, a judge dropped charges against Jean-Juste in regards to the death of Roche. However, Jean-Juste was indicted on two lesser counts of weapons possession and conspiracy, according to Jean-Juste's lawyer, Mario Joseph.
On January 29, 2006, Jean-Juste, after having been granted temporary release by the interim Haitian government, arrived in Miami to receive proper medical treatment for his leukemia.
Haiti Justice Blog
Half-Hour for Haiti: Celebrate Independence for Fr. Gerry!
July 2, 2008
We have some good news: Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste can finally declare independence from the Haitian criminal justice system: last month the Appeals Court of Port-au-Prince dismissed the remaining charges against him. Fr. Gerry endured a true legal Odyssey: the case against him lasted for 3 years and 8 months. He spent almost 8 months in prison, was arrested four times, appeared at numerous hearings, and he contracted, and received successful treatment for leukemia. All this time no evidence of criminal activity was ever presented against Fr. Gerry, not a single witness came forward against him.
Many people pitched in to make this victory possible. Human rights groups from around the world, Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress, the UN, and diplomats from several countries all protested his persecution. Fr. Gerry’s lawyers, Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Haiti, and Professor Bill Quigley of Loyola New Orleans Law School never stopped fighting, Doctors Paul Farmer and John Carroll probably saved his life by diagnosing the leukemia. All this work was supported by the thousands of you who wrote letters, called officials and signed petitions in response to the 8 eight action alerts we issued since Fr. Gerry’s first arrest.
No Contrition From Canadian Press Over Haiti
Written by Joe Emersberger
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Source:Canuck Media Monitor (CMM)
On February 29, 2004, Haiti’s democratically elected government under Jean Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in a coup strongly backed by Canada. Unsurprisingly, the coup led to 4000 political killings in the two year period that followed according to a scientific survey published in the Lancet medical journal.  Haiti's jails were also filled with political prisoners. Overwhelmingly, the perpetrators of these crimes were Canada's allies in Haiti. Today the perpetrators remain not only at large, but on the job with the Haitian police, the judiciary and UN "peacekeepers" (MINUSTAH). The fifth year anniversary of the coup passed with no sign of contrition, or even awareness, in the Canadian press about the lethal propaganda it has spread about Haiti.
The following information was readily available to journalists before US troops removed Aristide from Haiti on February 29, 2004 while Canadian soldiers secured the airport. 
After invading Haiti and imposing a brutal occupation between the years 1915 - 1934, the US departed after ensuring that the Haitian army would keep control. A series of US backed dictators, most notoriously the Duvaliers, murderously enriched themselves and foreign (mainly US) investors. It is widely accepted that the Duvaliers are responsible for the murder of 50,000 Haitians. That estimate does not include those who died from the abject poverty the regime imposed on them. Today, at least 40% of the external debt the Haiti is obliged to pay stems from loans made to the Duvaliers.
In 1991, seven months after an electoral victory applauded around the world as the birth of Haitian democracy, President Jean Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in a military coup. The junta immediately began a campaign to destroy Lavalas - the movement of Haiti's poor majority that brought Aristide to power. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) the military killed at least 3000 to 4000 people while it was in power. The US finally ordered the junta to step down in 1994 after outrageous concessions were secured from Aristide. HRW published very detailed reports highlighting the US imposed concessions. The US (under Clinton) insisted that the perpetrators of the coup not only escape justice but penetrate the security forces of his government. For years HRW publicly asked the US to deport Emmanuel Constant, leader of the FRAPH death squads, and to return 160,000 pages of documents seized from FRAPH offices. The US refused to return the documents unless the names of US citizens were deleted. HRW explained US efforts to keep criminals out of jail and on the job as follows:
"Washington's reasons ranged from a misguided belief that the army was the only institution capable of securing order in Haiti to a realpolitik calculation that the army was necessary to keep leftist political forces in check." [my emphasis]
The US also insisted that Aristide implement economic polices favored by the Haitian elite who had backed the coup. All of this was consistent with US policy objectives in Haiti and throughout Latin America for over a century - ensure that a pro-US elite remains firmly in control – preferably while maintaining a democratic facade but through outright dictatorship if necessary.
In 1995, ignoring US objections, Aristide disbanded the Haitian army. That year Rene Preval, another Lavalas leader, was elected president. Aristide was obliged to step aside because the Haitian constitution does not allow two consecutive terms, and because the US insisted that Aristide's years in exile count as years in office. In 1995 the US began to block the disbursement of aid to Haiti in retaliation for Aristide's, then Preval's, reluctance to implement unpopular "free market reforms".
The US spent 70 million dollars between 1994 and 2002 directly on Haitian NGOs in an attempt to build up Aristide's political opponents.
The US greatly intensified economic sanctions against the Haitian government after the legislative elections in 2000 were won handily by Lavalas candidates. The elections of 2000 were not only free and fair, but the results were completely in line with what US commissioned polls had predicted. The OAS observers initially praised the elections but later objected to the way voting percentages were calculated. According to the OAS several senate seats, out of thousands legislative positions contested, should have gone to a second round. The OAS knew about the procedure for calculating voting percentages beforehand. The procedure had been used, without objection, in previous elections observed by the OAS. Though the OAS conceded that the procedure made no significant impact on the results it became the basis for widespread claims that the 2000 elections were "deeply flawed", "fraudulent" or "stolen" depending on the ignorance or audacity of the commentator.
Months after the legislative elections, Aristide won the presidential election in a landslide as very unpopular opposition candidates boycotted using the "flawed" legislative elections as a pretext. The OAS bolstered the opposition's efforts to discredit the elections of 2000 by refusing to monitor the presidential election. Objections to the legislative elections were rendered even more trivial when the winners of the disputed senate seats stepped down a few months after Aristide's inauguration in 2001.
The severity of the sanctions imposed on Haiti, already among the poorest nations in the world, would have been very hard to justify even if the 2000 elections had been "flawed" as Aristide's opponents claimed. The US, joined by Canada in 2002, blocked 500 million dollars worth of aid to the Haitian government between the years 2001 to 2004. To put that in proportion, the Haitian government's total budget in 2003 was only $300 million (with roughly $60 million per year of those meager funds diverted towards servicing debt).
Despite relentless US efforts to undermine Aristide, polls commissioned in 2002 by USAID found that Aristide remained by far Haiti's most popular politician. Though he would not be constitutionally allowed to run for another term, it was clear that the Lavalas movement was very likely to prevail at the polls again. By February of 2004 armed insurgents launched raids in northern Haiti and were threatening to march into Port-au-Prince.
Some of the Best Haiti Coverage in Canadian Press
The constraints that the corporate press imposes on public debate are most clearly understood by looking at the best coverage on any given topic, not the worst. Consider the following bright spots in the Canadian media's Haiti coverage since February of 2004 based on a Lexis search of major newspapers.
1) Paul Knox says that 'Aristide's Fate must not be decided thugs and cynics"
Very recently Paul Knox reviewed Canadian author Peter Hallward's book (Damning the Flood) about the 2004 coup and its consequences. In that book review Knox wrote
"As a Globe and Mail reporter and columnist, I spent four weeks in Haiti in February–March 2004. In a column published four days before Aristide’s departure, I called for Canada and other nations to send a multinational force to bolster his government against the insurgents. To my knowledge, I was the first Canadian journalist to do so. Nevertheless, readers should know that some commentators accuse the Canadian news media of complicity in Aristide’s overthrow, and that I am not spared in their analysis."
The article that Knox referred to was published on February 25, 2004 with the title "Aristide's fate must not be decided by thugs and cynics". True enough, Knox wrote that Canada should try to prevent the ouster of Aristide’s government, but in that article Knox also wrote that Aristide
"….failed to curb violence among his own supporters, alienated influential backers and shown remarkably little skill at alliance-building. The election in 2000 that brought him to a second term as President was hardly a thorough sounding of the popular will."
Knox argued in favor preventing a coup, but then undercut his argument by casting aspersions on Aristide's legitimacy and human rights record – something Knox had done in several reports from Haiti during those crucial weeks before the coup. I had exchanged emails with him at the time about his reports. The exchange is archived online and I won't go over it in detail. The main thing revealed is that Knox ignored information that was readily available and that, if reported, would have made it difficult for Canada to support the coup. Knox wrote a total of roughly 15,000 words in several reports from Haiti in February of 2004. In about 200 words (as shown above) he could have thoroughly demolished the bogus claims about the elections of 2000. All that was required was a little research he could have done from his office in Canada. Instead, Knox failed to get basic facts straight – like distinguishing between the presidential and legislative elections of 2000. 
Knox now concedes that human rights abuses under Aristide were "greatly exaggerated". However, this also could have been shown through minimal research.
As part of an article published in May of 2004, Peter Hallward (not a professional journalist) reviewed Amnesty International reports and other sources. Despite the ever present threat of a coup (a coup attempt was thwarted in 2001), and the assassination of Aristide supporters, it was clear that human rights abuses under Aristide did not begin to approach what had taken place under the despised regimes of the past. Perhaps 30 political killings can be attributed to the police or Aristide supporters during his second term (2001-2004). Some estimates run as low as 10. Unlike Knox and countless journalists at the time, Hallward provided context and noted that the Aristide government's control over the police, thanks to deliberate US efforts, was limited.
Before leaving the Globe and Mail to teach journalism, Paul Knox rejected an article about Haiti submitted by Yves Engler, one of the author’s of the book "Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority." 
2) Toronto Star blasts Canada for standing "idly by"
On March 1, 2004, a day after the coup, The Toronto Star said
"Prime Minister Paul Martin stood idly by as Aristide, re-elected in 2000, was driven into exile - for the second time by a small band of 300 armed opponents."
This statement, though critical, tacitly endorsed the official US (and Canadian) version of events about what took place the night Aristide was removed from Haiti. Moreover, it was already obvious that Canada had not "stood idly by". Among other things, Canada had joined the US in imposing brutal economic sanctions on Aristide's government, and joined the propaganda campaign against Aristide.
Nevertheless, this editorial must count as a high point in the media's coverage compared to what other Canadian newspapers were saying:
The Montreal Gazette, making no attempt to be humorous, ran an editorial entitled "Only U.S. can help Haiti now" on February, 26, 2004 - just as the consequences of US "help" were about to bear fruit for the Haitian elite.
The Globe and Mail wrote:
"Aristide's fall from power yesterday was mainly a result of his own misrule… When Mr. Aristide finally fled early yesterday morning, the international community, and many Haitians as well, said good riddance."
The National Post editors could not resist putting their bigotry on full display in an editorial that disparaged not just Aristide but all Haitians. The title of the editorial, appropriately enough given the racist content, was "Voodoo is not enough".
Even the Toronto Star, in its editorial, would feel obliged to say the following about Aristide
"…with his divisive style, his alleged corruption and his reliance on gangs to impose control, those who seem likeliest to replace him arrive with still less legitimacy."
The best editorial written at the time spread the propaganda that made the coup possible – that Aristide's government was basically criminal and its legitimacy dubious.
3) Marina Jimenez mentions Thomas Griffin and Father Gerard Jean-Juste
Another high point in the media's coverage came from an unlikely source. Marina Jimenez consistently produced articles after the coup that uncritically regurgitated assertions made by Canadian and Haitian officials. One her worst was an article from January 22, 2005 ("Backyard Bagdad"). 
However, a lengthy article of hers from February 7, 2005 (Haitians languish in squalor awaiting trial) made mention of a detailed report about human rights conditions in Haiti after the coup. The report was written by Thomas Griffin of the University of Miami's Center for the Study of Human Rights. It was published in November of 2004. Since then, according to a Lexis search, only eight articles in Canadian newspapers have mentioned it.
The Jimenez article also mentioned the case of Father Gerard Jean-Juste - a prominent Aristide ally who was illegally arrested twice after the coup (the second occurring months after the Jimenez article). He was declared a "prisoner of conscience" by Amnesty International after his second arrest. Jean-Juste's imprisonment disqualified him from running as a candidate in the Presidential election of 2006. The dictatorship insisted that he register in person – something he could not do from his jail cell.
The Jimenez article was the only one in a US or Canadian newspaper to mention both the Thomas Griffin report and Gerard Jean-Juste.  Her aritcle focused on Yvon Neptune, the former Prime Minister under Aristide who remained a political prisoner of the dictatorship for almost two years.
Jimenez reported Griffin’s conclusion that the courts were ""twisted against poor young men, dissidents and anyone calling for the return of the constitutional government," However, her article omitted facts that should have been of tremendous interest to any Canadian journalist who had read Griffin’s report. Griffin had uncovered that the Canadian government (through CIDA – the Canadian International Development Agency) was paying the salary of Haiti’s Deputy Minister of Justice, Philippe Vixamar.  The report went into detail about the close working relationship between CIDA; the Haitian judiciary and police; and a Haitian "human rights group" known at the time as the National Coalition for Human Rights – NCHR.
Pierre Esperance, the director of NCHR, was quoted in the Jimenez article justifying the Jean-Juste arrest by citing police "suspicions". She did not point out that Esperasnce’s group was the official human rights group of the dictatorship. The group vetted police and the regime had formally agreed to prosecute anyone Esperance denounced – Yvon Neptune was his most well known victim. Soon after the Jimenez article appeared Anthony Fenton obtained documents using the access to information act showing that Esperance’s group was also funded by CIDA.
4) Toronto Star Editorial Says "Canada betrayed Haiti's democrats"
In an editorial of February, 2006; just before the first elections since the coup were about to be held, the Toronto Star basically recycled the editorial it had written in 2004. The bogus charge that Canada "did nothing" was repeated as were the same old smears against Aristide:
"He is a fiery populist who fanned rich-poor tension, relied on gangs and tolerated corruption. But the unelected Haitian elite who chased him from office, with the approval and support of U.S. Republicans, was no better."
Support for the coup went far beyond the Haitian elite and US Republicans. The Canadian and US governments (under Clinton and Bush) funded NGOs hostile to Aristide. Some of the Canadian funded groups were progressive (Christian Aid, Oxfam Quebec, Alternatives, Right and Democracy) yet dutifully parroted the right wing talking points about Aristide. By 2005 this had been extensively documented by Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton. Invariably, these CIDA funded groups would rely on another CIDA grantee, Pierre Esperance, for their information about Haiti. 
5) The Lancet Study Gets Noticed
In August of 2006 the results of a scientific survey conducted by Athena Kolbe and Royce Hudson was published in the Lancet medical journal. It found that 4000 political killings were perpetrated in the greater Port-au-Prince during the two years Haiti was under dictatorial rule. The perpetrators were overwhelmingly the Haitian police and militias allied with them.
Since the survey was published there have been only eight articles in the Canadian press that mentioned it - three in the Toronto Globe and Mail, the other five in the Montreal Gazette (which includes one editorial). Information quickly surface that Athena Kolbe, then going by the name of Lyn Duff, had volunteered at an orphanage established by Aristide. The Lancet investigated the allegations of bias and concluded that it "has confidence in Kolbe and Hutson's findings as published."
The study generated much more scrutiny of Athena Kolbe than of Canada’s murderous policy. The only editorial provoked by the study was entitled "Haiti Study deserved to be trashed" (Montreal Gazette, September 11, 2006).
Only Marina Jimenez reported the Lancet’s findings regarding the allegations of bias ("Author of study on Haiti cleared of bias by journal" February 9, 2007).
6) Token Lefties Speak Out
Two writers who could be described as leftists have regular columns in the corporate press – Rick Salutin (Globe & Mail) and Linda McQuaig. (Toronto Star).
Over the past five years, Linda McQuaig has written two articles about Haiti, both early in 2004 and both touching very lightly on Canada’s role.  In September of 2006 she explained why the Star had rejected her suggestions that Haiti be debated more frequently as follows:
"I have pushed it a few times, but I know there’s no interest in stories that aren’t attracting a lot of news attention, so I have tended to leave it."
In other words, she timidly accepted the corporate media’s priorities. They didn’t consider Canadian responsibility for the worst human rights disaster in the Western Hemisphere newsworthy - so why push it?
Rick Salutin also wrote two articles about Haiti over the past five years. His articles were much more hard hitting and informed about Canada’s role than McQuaig’s.  I emailed him in 2006 asking him to write more about Haiti. He replied as follows:
"I watch the situation there closely and admire the tenacity of the Haitian people as well as that of their supporters, but I tend to write on a topic only when I feel I have something to say that hasn't been said."
His reply made no sense at all unless there were other writers consistently challenging the government’s propaganda about Haiti in the corporate press. That clearly wasn’t the case. I replied to Salutin reminding him of that, and pointing out that the government’s propaganda succeeds through repetition- not originality. He made no further reply.
Writers like Salutin and McQuaig make the corporate media seem far more open than it really is. As Medialens put it (referring to the UK media) they act "as a kind of vaccine—tiny doses of dissent that inoculate people against the idea that they are subject to thought control. But the reality is that this dissent is flooded and overwhelmed by propaganda that keeps us thinking the right way,..."
A remarkable illustration of how well the media has induced Canadians to think the right way was provided shortly after the fifth year anniversary of the coup. Phares Pierre, a former member of Aristide’s cabinet, was appointed by the Federal government to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
"How did a top official in a government denounced for human rights abuses end up being appointed to the tribunal that decides Canada's refugee claims?" asked Elizabeth Thompson in an article that ran in the Toronto Sun. The version published in the Seult Star ran with the headline
"Former chief of staff to Haitian dictator Aristide is appointed to Montreal immigration board " 
The text of the Seult Star article also referred to the "Aristide dictatorship". The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois called on the Conservatives to cancel Pierre’s appointment. The Conservative Immigration Minister responded
"If I had known his background in Haiti it is very probable that I would not have made a recommendation to cabinet."
Five years after helping to install a brutal dictatorship in Haiti, Canadian politicians can openly criminalize any association with the democratic government they helped overthrow. That speaks volumes about how well the corporate media have covered up Canada's crimes in Haiti. Joseph Goebbels would have been impressed.
Write polite, non-abusive emails to
The Globe & Mail - Letters@GlobeAndMail.ca
The Toronto Star - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Montreal Gazette - email@example.com
Elizabeth Thompson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Marina Jimemez - email@example.com
Linda McQuaig - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick Salutin - email@example.com
Please copy your letters and any replies to
Please visit the Canuck Media Monitor website at
Please post information and thoughts relevant to the Canadian media in the CMM forum
 Athena R Kolbe, Royce A Hutson. Human rights abuse and other criminal violations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: a random survey of households. Lancet 2006; 368:864-873; http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673606692118/abstract
 For Human Rights Watch reports see sources cited here Znet: "Haiti and HRW" http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/4131
For most of the rest see Peter Hallward; Option Zero in Haiti; http://www.newleftreview.org/?view=2507
Or his book "Damning the Flood"
 Paul Knox Review; http://lrc.reviewcanada.ca/index.php?page=haiti-s-fallible-hero
Peter Hallward's reply to Knox is at http://canadahaitiaction.ca/?p=404
My exchange with Knox from 2004 is archived at Http://www.medialens.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=327&highlight=
 Znet; Yves Engler; "Haiti Lies";http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/6973
 For letter to Jimenez and her editors re "Backyard Bagdad" see
 Lexis search of "Haiti",Thomas Griffin", "Jean-Juste"
 A Lexis search of "Haiti" and "Philippe Vixamar" turned up only one article over the past five years: Montreal Gazatte: Sue Montgomery; "Lean on Haiti, activists urge:"March 12, 2005
 "Bush short on empathy for Haitians"
The Toronto Star, February 29, 2004 Sunday, 828 words, Linda McQuaig "Is Chavez in America's crosshairs?"
The Toronto Star, March 14, 2004 Sunday, 852 words, Linda McQuaig
 Democracy if necessary, but not ...
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Conditions in Haiti Merit TPS for Haitians
Haitian Times, Commentary, France Francois
Posted: Mar 18
The inscription on the Statue of Liberty should read 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free—unless they are Haitian'. During the week of February 16, 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that, “based on conditions on the ground” in Haiti, the U.S. has deemed it appropriate to resume deportation to the country. An astounding 30,299 Haitian men and women were served deportation orders; an additional 598 are detained and 243 are under house arrest.
The announcement perpetuates a history of oppressive and inhumane policies—originating with a 1981 agreement signed by then-President Ronald Reagan and the oppressive Haitian dictator Jean- Claude Duvalier—that can be summed up in three words: interdiction-detention-deportation. One may wonder why the U.S. government continues a policy agreement made with a Haitian dictator on one hand while condemning the Cuban dictator and offering Cubans an expedited process to citizenship on another?
Furthermore, what are the “conditions on the ground” that merit a continuation of these draconian policies? According to the Miami Herald, Gonaives, Haiti's third largest city, uninhabitable; most of the nation's livestock, food crops, farm tools and seeds destroyed; irrigation systems demolished; collapsed buildings throughout the country; 23,000 houses destroyed; another 85,000 damaged; 964 schools destroyed or damaged; 800,000 people left homeless and more than 800 dead; inadequate access to sanitation and clean water; and the widespread threat of disease conservatively about $1 billion in storm damage.
USAID estimates that 2.3 million Haitians now face "food insecurity," reeling from prices 40 percent higher than in January. U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek and countless other officials visiting Haiti after the storms have called this the worst humanitarian crisis to hit the island. Secretary-General's Special Representative in Haiti, Hédi Annabi, asserted that the storms had "comprehensively destroyed what little infrastructure there was." The administration can not feign ignorance about the conditions in Haiti. Michaelle Jean, Canada's Haitian-born Governor General, spoke to President Barack Obama directly about the “terrible” devastation she saw on her trip to Haiti.
Somehow, based on these “conditions on the ground”, the administration has further concluded that the Haitian case does not currently warrant Temporary Protective Status (TPS). However, TPS was granted and extended for 82,000 Hondurans and 5,000 Nicaraguans after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and to 260,000 Salvadorans after an earthquake in 2001. What differs between the single natural disasters that these countries faced and the four hurricanes from which Haiti is still recovering? Why does the promise championed at Ellis Island not apply to the shores of Biscayne Bay?
Perhaps the U.S. does not want to induce mass migration of immigrants seeking asylum—Haiti is, in fact, closer to Miami than all other countries but Cuba. Of course, the United States must take measures to control the flow of people across its borders. However, history refutes this fear. Citing human rights abuses and civil strife in Haiti, in 1997, former President Clinton granted Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to Haitian nationals in the U.S. who had fled the military junta in Haiti. No subsequent influx of Haitian immigrants ensued.
Perhaps Mr. Clinton said it best in a 1997 statement: ''Haitians deserve the same treatment we sought for Central Americans... Staying the deportation of these Haitians and obtaining for them permanent legislative relief will help support a stable and democratic Haiti, which, in turn, is the best safeguard against a renewed flow of Haitian immigrants to the United States.'' Although, Mr. Clinton's pleas fell on the deaf ears of Congress, I can only hope for the day when Haitians finally qualify for the change promised to America and the world during President Obama's inaugural address. I remain steadfast and optimistic that the American Dream which was been achieved by the Irish, German, Chinese, and Cuban immigrants before us, will finally apply to Haitians. Policies established with a dictatorial regime with no consideration for human rights almost three decades ago must now be replaced with policies that respect the dignity of desperate, impoverished, and frightened people fleeing their homeland. As a starting point, President Obama, TPS should be accorded to Haitians in light of the actual “conditions on the ground”: massive devastation caused by severe storms in 2008 and worsened by a food crisis and the global economic crisis.
Francois is an M.A. Candidate, and a research assistant at the United States Institute of Peace
Friday, March 20, 2009
Office of the President
3211 FOURTH STREET NE
WASHINGTON DC 20017-1194
202-541-3100 FAX 202-541-3166
Cardinal Francis George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
March 19, 2009
Honorable Barack Obama
United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of the United States, I write to ask you to designate the country of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of eighteen months. The United States Catholic Bishops Conference (USCCB) has a long history of serving the Haitian community, both in the United States and in Haiti, and has first-hand knowledge of the great humanitarian challenges facing the Haitian people.
As you know, a designation of TPS permits nationals of a designated nation living in the United States to reside here legally and qualify for work authorization. A designation of TPS is based upon a determination that armed conflict, political unrest, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions exist in a nation and that the return of that country’s nationals would further destabilize the nation and potentially bring harm to those returned.
Haiti meets the standard for TPS because it has experienced political tumult, four natural disasters, and severe food shortages in the last year, not to mention the devastation of Hurricane Jeanne in 2004. In April 2008, starving citizens took to the streets to protest rising food prices, causing political instability.
In August and September 2008, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and Tropical Storms Fay and Hanna passed through Haiti, causing severe damage and the death of close to 700 persons. Massive flooding from the storms has destroyed homes, crops, roads, and bridges, and largely rendered areas like Gonaives inaccessible to relief workers. Over 90 percent of Haiti has been impacted. Tens of thousands have been displaced, and the fate of thousands more is unknown. More than 300,000 children have been affected.
In addition, the conditions in Haiti are at least as bad, if not worse, than those in nations which recently received an extension of TPS. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced late last year that it was extending TPS for El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras because of “lingering effects” from the earthquakes in 2001 and from Hurricane Mitch in 2004. These effects included destroyed roads and bridges, high unemployment, and incomplete international development efforts.
We agree wholeheartedly with DHS’ decision to extend TPS to these countries. However, if “lingering effects” in these countries merit a grant of TPS, then so do the conditions in Haiti, where multiple disasters this year have left immediate and devastating effects.
Some observers argue that granting TPS to Haiti would cause a massive “boatlift” that would bring thousands of Haitians to the United States. In our view, this argument holds little merit, since TPS is only available to Haitian nationals already in the United States at the time of the designation. No such boatlift occurred in 1997, when President Clinton granted Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to Haiti, or in subsequent years when Haiti experienced increased political violence and civil unrest. Additionally, few Haitian water craft currently exist, having been destroyed by the recent storms.
Another consideration is that designating TPS to Haiti would allow Haitian nationals already in the United States to work and send much-needed remittances back to their poverty-stricken homeland. The Inter-American Development Bank reports that Haitians abroad sent close to $1.83 billion home in 2007, which equals about 35% of the country’s gross domestic product. It is critical that this life-blood of the fragile Haitian economy be sustained.
Mr. President, by any measure, the conditions in Haiti meet the statutory requirements for TPS. There has been “substantial disruption” in living conditions and Haiti is “unable to handle adequately” the return of its citizens abroad. Extending this mantle of protection to struggling Haiti is a just, compassionate, and concrete step the United States can take toward alleviating the human suffering of the Haitian people.
Thank you for your consideration.
Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
March 15, 2009
The following is an interview I did with Heurese.
The interview was conducted in Creole and translated into English. The words in English are not direct translations of her words in Creole, but are very close. Her narrative’s meaning is the same in both languages.
I left out my interview questions and wrote this in the first person. It is in chronological order as Heurese's life has played out.
I was born in Bainet, Haiti in 1978. Like the rest of my brothers and sisters, I was born at home. I have four brothers and four sisters. My mom is living in Bainet now. My parents were never married.
Bainet is on Haiti’s southern peninsula and is a seacoast village. I don't know how many people live in Bainet. We lived up on a mountain side and we could see all that was happening in Bainet. We could also see the ocean to the south.
My father is dead. His name was Vicaisse. He died in February, 1991 at age 41 years. I was about 13 years old when he died.
My father was a fisherman and he use to drop lines into the ocean from a cliff perched above the water. He and a friend left home about 6 PM and sometimes they did not get back until morning.
One night my father and his friend made a fire and sat down on the cliff. His friend was sitting about twenty feet away from my father. At some point his friend hollered out to my father but my father did not answer. His friend walked over to the place where my father was fishing and my father had disappeared.
My father’s friend looked down and saw my father in the ocean below. My father yelled back up that he did not know how he ended up in the ocean. My father said that he did not jump.
My father’s friend threw some rope over the edge of the cliff, but my father could not get to it. So my father’s friend descended the cliff and by the time he got to the water, my father was gone.
My father’s friend came back up the road to our house sobbing.
They searched for my father’s body for two days without success.
My mother went “fou” (crazy) after my father’s death. She talked and screamed a lot. She had to be tied to a chair.
Before my father died, my life was pretty good. I went with him in the morning when he worked in the field. When I stayed at home with my mom she spanked me a lot. But my father disagreed with this and he did not spank me. My father knew that there was something wrong with me. Even when I was four years old my legs were swelling.
Since my father died, my life hasn’t been good. Mwen pa viv bien.
After my father died, my mom made us get up very early and herd the goats and pigs into the woods. My mother still works very hard. Her name is Dieuta. She is about 62 years old now. She doesn’t sit down much.
I love my mother because she carried me in her abdomen for 9 months. She spent a lot of money on me over the years when I was sick. But she didn’t speak nicely to us when we were growing up and spanked me a lot.
(I have spoken to her since surgery in December, 2008 and she is happy that I survived. It was a nice conversation. But she doesn’t really understand.)
My mother goes to a market on a donkey. The market is a long ways away. It is near Mirogoane. She buys beans, bananas, yam, peanuts, and several types of fruit. She sells them from our house which sits right along the road above Bainet.
My mother does not go to church.
My mother does vote. But she does not say who she is voting for. In Haiti that can be dangerous. My brothers go to a church that forbids them talking about politics.
I went to grade school in Bainet. But I was sick a lot. I went to the local Baptist church. I was in the choir and I went on “missions”. I was baptized when I was 12 years old. Now I don’t go to church but I still believe in God.
As the years went by, I moved into Port-au-Prince and went to school in Petionville. When I did not have my lessons done correctly, my teacher would beat the palms of my hands in class with a whip. I would cry and become quite short of breath. Finally, I got so sick that I needed to go back to Bainet.
The years passed in Bainet, and by the time I was 18 years old, I was very sick.
My mother and I went to the houngan's home in Bainet and we both lived with him for two months. My mother paid him a lot of money to care for me.
The houngan believed I had five zombies inside of me. He would beat me to try and drive the zombies out. Also, he made a potion of leaves mixed with water and spread it all over my body including my face. It smelled terrible. Also, this concoction got into my eyes and I could not see.
An elder in the village convinced my mother to take me to our local hospital in Bainet. The houngan asked my mom for $5000 Haitian in order for me to come back to him. After I left the hospital, I could see better and my mom never took me back to the houngan and did not pay him any more money.
I went back home all swollen and was at home in Bainet for about 6 months with no medication. I laid in bed in my mother’s house. I had no medication. Fluid was leaking out of my legs. Many people from Bainet came and visited me and I could hear many of them say that I was going to die.
My mother said I was going to die too. She went out and bought me a mahogany casket for $1,000 Haitian dollars. She put it up off the floor hanging from the boards above. I stared at the casket but I did not think that I would end up in it. My mother thought that someone in Port had sent a zombie to me. I tried to assure her that no one was upset with me in Port and I didn’t believe in zombies. I didn’t think I was going to die.
The doctors in Bainet eventually told my mom that I had tuberculosis and started treating me with injections for tuberculosis.
My mother took me to the General Hospital in Port but most of the hospital was on strike. I went to another hospital in the capital and they told me that I did not have tuberculosis. They told me that I had heart disease. The doctors also told me that I was going to die. However, the doctors at this hospital wrote a note to the doctors not on strike at the General Hospital.
I went back to the General Hospital Emergency Department and they admitted me to a part of the hospital that was still working. They started treating my heart disease and I felt better. I could breathe better. I was in the General Hospital for 15 days. My mothers and sister Vita took care of me there.
The doctors at the General Hospital told my mother that I needed to go to Milot for heart surgery. Milot is a northern city near Cap Haitian. A group of foreign doctors come in once a year and do heart surgery for a couple of weeks.
I was released from the General Hospital and lived in Port with a relative. I returned to the General Hospital every month where I received a shot of penicillin and got more heart medications.
During this period of time I started to feel better. My mother and Vita were working in Bainet and Port, saving their money, and making plans to send me to Milot for heart surgery.
During the days before I was to leave for Milot, I was staying in my aunt’s home in Port. The night before I was to leave Port for Milot, I had a dream. In the dream someone came to me and told me not to go to Milot. After the dream, I woke up early, got up, and snuck to a friend’s house. The driver that had come to take me to Milot could not find me.
I remained in my friend's house for three days.
When I returned to my aunt’s house, my mother and Vita were really mad. They said they were finished with me and refused to pay for any more medication for me or to take me back to the General Hospital.
So I went back to Bainet and stayed a few months in my mother’s home. I felt better but needed more medication. Eventually my mother gave in and paid for more medication. I had been without medication for three months.
In 2002 I decided to go back into the Port to make peace with my sister Vita. Vita was working at a home for disabled children. The home is called Notre Maison.
When I arrived Vita told me that her boss, the director of Notre Maison, had met Dr. John and told him about my medical problems.
I immediately went to see Dr. John. He examined me and told me that he would bring me to the U.S. for heart surgery. I went back to Bainet and told my mother this. She said that Dr. John would never take me.
Dr. John took me to the U.S. for heart surgery in 2002. I did very well and felt good after surgery.
I have no jealousy towards the people of the United States with all that they have. I believe the people in the U.S. deserve what they have because they work hard.
When I came back from Haiti after my surgery in October 2002, I traveled alone on a bus from Port to Bainet. I was dropped off in Bainet with my one suitcase and met my sister Jenny at her school in Bainet. Jenny was happy to see me.
Jenny and I walked up the mountain for 45 minutes and arrived at my mom’s house. Jenny helped me carry the suitcase.
When I got to my house in Bainet, the doors and windows were closed. I knocked on the door and no one answered. Eventually Jenny put her finger on her lips like to say “shhh”.
My mom finally came to the door and asked me why I came back from the States. She asked my why I didn’t stay there and work. She was very mad at me for returning to Haiti. A passerby on the street heard my mother shouting at me and intervened and tried to be a peacemaker. After some talking, my mother calmed down and let me in the house and things were better.
In July 2003, I moved back to Petionville and took a part time job with a missionary from Canada. I worked in her school in Delmas.
I also met a young man who I liked very much. He was from Bainet.
I became pregnant with his child. However, his family were devout Baptists that thought a man and a woman should be married when having children. However, they were very much against their son marrying me because they described me “pa youn moun anke”. What this means is that I was not a whole person, I was just a "piece of a person" because I had heart surgery in the United States.
One day in 2003 I was eating with my boyfriend at his place in Bainet and was given a plate of rice and beans. He was given the same meal on a different plate.
After the meal, my boyfriend went to Jacmel to collect his check from Teleco. He supplied me with money.
But in Jacmel he became quite ill. The next day he found someone with a motor scooter to give him a ride back to Bainet. My boyfriend was so weak that he had to be tied with a rope to the driver so he would not fall off the motor scooter.
When my boyfriend arrived in Bainet he was very sick and was vomiting blood. His last words to me were that his family had tried to poison me, but they got the plates of food mixed up, and in fact had accidentally poisoned him.
He died 10 days later after that meal of rice and beans. I did not go to his funeral. His family was mad at me and said that my mother was the person that poisoned their son.
Two months later I delivered our baby girl.
I went back to Carefour. Carefour is a zone in Port.
The years went by and I met another young man and had a baby boy with him in 2004. He stayed with me for two years but then left us for another woman.
In March, 2008 I became quite ill again. I was too sick to go to Mirogoane to the market to buy used clothes to sell in the market in Carefour. I sold fruit in the market in Carefour when I felt good enough. However, I had no constant source of food to give to my children and my health was deteriorating. None of us were eating regularly. I thought I was going to die.
I gave my children to my family members in Bainet and went back to Carefour to live in our one room shack with my 19 year old brother, Saint Louis.
In addition to all of this, Haiti’s food prices are very high and we had food riots last year. Four hurricanes hit Haiti last year and many people starved to death all over Haiti.
And the kidnappings continued in 2008.
However, one day my brother Saint Louis, was in a cyber cafe in Carefour. A young man entered the cyber cafe and asked my brother if he could type a quick e mail on my brother's computer because he had no money. My brother agreed.
My brother noted that this young man, who he did not know, was sending an e mail to Dr. John. Saint-Louis asked the young man how he knew Dr. John. The young man, whose name is Frandy, replied that he had a heart problem too and was taken to the United States also by Haitian Hearts. Saint Louis then told Frandy that I was very sick, and that I had heart surgery in the United States in 2002, and needed to see Dr. John as soon as possible.
A few weeks after that Frandy came to visit me and asked me questions about Dr. John and his family to see if I really knew him or not. I answered the questions correctly and Frandy believed me.
Frandy contacted Dr. John and told him that I was very sick and needed help. Frandy helped me a lot.
When I found out that OSF in Peoria would not accept me back for repeat heart surgery, I thought it was because I had done something to hurt my heart after they fixed it and that the hospital was mad at me. Dr. John assured me that that was not the case.
In December, 2008 I returned to the U.S. for heart surgery at a different hospital. I am gaining weight again and feel good. When I go back to Haiti, I hope to move to a cleaner and safer area of Port. I live near the gang members in Carefour. I hear in the mornings how they asked people for their money or cell phone as the people are heading to Carefour market. If people do not give them something, they will be killed by the gang. But the gang in Carefour is not as bad as the gangs in Soleil.
I think the UN provides good security for Haiti. However, Haitian girls sell themselves to UN soldiers all of the time for money. This is how Haitian girls can feed their families. This is Haiti’s biggest problem.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
March 16, 2009
Dear OSF Charity Assistance Program and Sister Judith Ann,
My name is Heurese Joseph and I am from Haiti. I am 30 years old. Dr. John Carroll is helping me write this letter to you since I don’t speak English.
I am humbly requesting an echocardiogram to be done pro bono by OSF through the Charity Assistance Program. I would have it done as an outpatient at HeartCare Midwest. The cardiologist that would read the echocardiogram told Dr. John that he would read it for no charge.
In 2002, Dr. John brought me to OSF for heart valve surgery and closure of a ventricular septal defect. I was very thankful for all the physicians and nurses who took care of me at OSF.
I returned to Haiti in 2002 and Dr. John and his wife Maria returned to Haiti many times during the next six years. Dr. Carroll examined me each year and Haitian Hearts brought me medicine and provided me with echocardiograms in Port-au-Prince.
However in 2008 I became quite ill again and had to give my two young children to my family to care for. I was in congestive heart failure and could not feed my children or myself. I felt like I was dying.
Dr. John examined me again and another echocardiogram showed that I needed repeat heart surgery.
During November, 2008 Haitian Hearts moved me to a guest house in Port-au-Prince for the entire month. I was able to eat three meals a day and did not worry about being kidnapped from my home in the slum.
Since OSF-SFMC would not accept me back last year, Dr. John fortunately found another medical center to do my surgery. In December, 2008 I was successfully operated and have a new aortic valve.
I am living with Dr. John and his family during the last month of my stay in the United States. I feel great for the first time in a long time.
I have no income in Haiti. My mother, who is also very poor, pays equivalent to 90 dollars U.S. every six months for my one room home in Port-au-Prince. The room is about 15 feet by 15 feet. I share it with my 19 year old brother.
I have no running water and cook on a charcoal grill outside my front door. I have electricity occasionally. My hope is to move to a safer and cleaner area of Port-au-Prince with my children when I return to Haiti.
Dr. John stopped my Coumadin today and started me on another type of blood thinner. My surgeon wants me to have an echocardiogram in one week. We have to be sure that my new aortic valve is working properly.
Please allow me to have my echocardiogram done free of charge. I have no funds to pay you.
Thank you for all you did for me in 2002.
P.S. Please forward a copy of this to Sister Judith Ann Duval at OSF Corporate. I know that she would not refuse me.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Protected status sought for Haitians
Nicholas Kralev (Contact)
The Obama administration is resisting pressure from congressional Democrats and immigration advocates to allow tens of thousands of undocumented Haitians to remain legally in the United States until their impoverished country recovers from a devastating food crisis and a series of natural disasters.
The House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on immigration, citizenship, refugees, border security and international law is considering a draft bill granting "temporary protected status" (TPS) to Haitians, but its prospects for passage are slim.
A much faster way to provide relief would be for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to exercise her power under the law and approve such status by executive order. But she has no such intention, said her spokesman, Sean Smith.
"There is no change in our policy on temporary protected status, and deportations to Haiti are continuing," he said Tuesday. "And let me be clear: No one living in Haiti right now should be attempting to come to the United States in hopes that they will be granted TPS."
The Department of Homeland Security's decision is certain to anger the Haitian government, which repeatedly urged the Bush administration to stop deporting Haitian citizens. Officials at the Haitian Embassy in Washington could not be reached for comment.
Mrs. Napolitano's predecessor, Michael Chertoff, wrote in a letter to Haitian President Rene Preval in January that, "after very careful consideration, I have concluded that Haiti does not currently warrant a TPS designation."
Advocates of TPS had hoped that the new administration would change U.S. policy. If approved, TPS would stop the ongoing deportations and allow migrants to work here legally but would not lead to permanent residency.
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat and author of the House bill, urged Mrs. Napolitano to grant TPS to Haitians in a meeting last week, said Lale M. Mamaux, Mr. Hastings' chief of staff.
"It is my understanding that Secretary Napolitano has taken these recommendations under consideration and will be presenting them to the White House," she said. "The congressman very much hopes that the White House will do the right thing and seize the opportunity to help our struggling neighbor."
Mr. Smith said that Mrs. Napolitano did not mean to suggest to Mr. Hastings that a change of policy was forthcoming.
In his bill, which has 40 co-sponsors, Mr. Hastings wrote that, "while United States policy advises Americans that current conditions make it unsafe to travel to Haiti, the same conditions make it dangerous and inappropriate to forcibly repatriate Haitians at this time."
"The Haitian government's ability to provide basic governmental services - clean water, education, passable road and basic health care - has been severely compromised by the natural disasters and food crisis in 2008," he wrote.
Citizens of six countries are currently under TPS: Burundi, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan, according to the DHS Web site.
Daniel Erikson, director of Caribbean programs at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank, said TPS "would help to relieve some of the pressure on the Haitian government in the short term."
"But what Haiti needs most is a long-term nation-building effort, not short-term stop-gap measures," he said. "Granting TPS to Haiti is merely a Band-Aid that cannot heal a deeply wounded country and may raise the risks of a new wave of migration."
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Having a baby in Haiti is dangerous.
Haiti has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world...even higher than southeast Asia.
Read Jonathan Katz's article in the Miami Herald.
This is another problem in Haiti that is solvable if we had the will.
Haiti has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world...even higher than southeast Asia.
Read Jonathan Katz's article in the Miami Herald.
This is another problem in Haiti that is solvable if we had the will.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Haiti has had many kidnappings during the last three years. More kidnappings have occurred in Haiti the last few years than in any other country in the Western Hemisphere. There were hundreds of people kidnapped in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Everyone is fair game to be taken. Both children and adults are kidnapped.
Twenty-five U.S. citizens were kidnapped in 2008. We have known a fair number of people who were kidnapped or had family members kidnapped and Haitian Hearts has been involved in negotiations for their release.
This video tells the story of a man named Phil. After he was kidnapped in Port-au-Prince several years ago, we were with his family. There was much anxiety as deliberations went on between the kidnappers and the FBI. Phil's family was not allowed to talk to him on the phone or to deliberate with the kidnappers.
The night he was released, he appeared amazingly good for all that he had endured. While he was held in the slum, he told us that he couldn't understand why family members would not answer when the kidnappers called them on his cell phone. Phil understood after he was released that the FBI did not want family members offering outrageous ransoms and getting in the way of deliberations. It was a very tricky business.
We examined him the night he was released and started him on antibiotics for the shotgun wound to his left shoulder.
Phil left Haiti 5 days later with a child that needed eye surgery in the States. Phil and his family continue to work in Haiti today.
All kidnappings in Haiti must stop. Prostitution and kidnappings are not the answer for poor people that need money. Real long term, fair paying jobs for Haiti is the answer.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The last post takes us to the end of 2003.
The next series of Looking Back posts will be about the ambulance monopoly in Peoria and how it changed in the last few years. Some of the posts will be about OSF's denial of care to Haitian kids that continues today.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Peoria Journal Star
September 21, 2003
Haitian Hearts expands to national program -- Group continuing mission as independent foundation
PEORIA - Cut off from OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, where it operated for years, Haitian Hearts is expanding into a national organization.
It now has 16 patients who have undergone heart surgery this year or who have been accepted for surgery at hospitals in New York, Virginia, Florida, Ohio and elsewhere in Illinois, founder Dr. John Carroll said.
"We're really happy," he said.
The group has become an independent foundation and can accept tax-deductible gifts. It will continue to raise money and bring Haitians to the United States for treatment, Carroll said.
Several of the surgical procedures this year are being funded by the Rotary Club's Gift of Life program, through contacts he made in New York, Carroll said. This program pays hospitals $5,000 per case.
Haitian Hearts arranges for the surgery, negotiates discounts with hospitals when payment is necessary, Carroll said, and pays for travel, visa and other expenses.
Physicians donate their services, and hospital social workers find temporary placements for the patients, mostly children, as they recover, he said.
The downside, he said, is that the patients no longer will be staying with families in the Peoria area. Many people have benefited from the experience of hosting these children and developing contacts with their families in Haiti, he said.
Carroll said the Haitian Hearts program arranged for 17 patients to have surgery last year, with 15 of those at St. Francis.
Since the program began, it has brought almost 100 Haitians to the United States for life-saving treatment. Most are children and most had heart surgery unavailable in Haiti.
"We gave Children's Hospital (at St. Francis) $1.1 million over six years. In cash," Carroll said.
But in July, OSF Healthcare System and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced they would no longer participate in the program after financial negotiations failed.
Carroll said St. Francis then was offered $25,000 cash to perform a surgical procedure, but the hospital refused to accept the patient, who was successfully treated elsewhere for $5,400.
St. Francis spokesman Chris Lofgren said the hospital would not comment.
Last December, St. Francis refused to approve any more visas for medical care for the Haitian patients.
St. Francis fired Carroll in December 2001 from his job of 21 years as an emergency room physician after a dispute with hospital managers.
1. As the article mentioned, we were very happy to have patients operated on elsewhere. These kids stood no chance in Haiti without surgery.
2. Late in 2003, Haitian Hearts noticed that we had received no funds from OSF. Generous people in the community were still donating to Haitian Hearts but their donations were going to Children's Hospital of Illinois. And we became a 501 C 3 not for profit in 2002. We questioned OSF Foundation repeatedly and they said they would provide us with a donor list, but they never did. If we didn't get the funds we at least wanted to know who to thank. Finally, late in 2003, OSF turned over a check to Haitian Hearts signed by Keith Steffen and Sister Canisia for money that was donated to Haitian Hearts, not Children's Hosptial of Illinois. (I am quite sure that Sister Canisia had no idea that she was giving us our own money back.) Children's had taken the money, was going to keep it, except we kept after them for it, so they finally gave it up. And they never told us who donated the funds, so we had no one to thank as 2003 ended.
OSF was blocking the door to Haitian kids every way they could manage.
Peoria Journal Star
August 14, 2003
Haitian Hearts will continue its program -- Patients will be treated in the U.S. and elsewhere
PEORIA - Haitian Hearts will continue to bring heart patients from Haiti for treatment at hospitals in the U.S. and perhaps elsewhere, its founder, Dr. John Carroll said Wednesday.
Carroll returned last week from Haiti where he arranged for two adult patients to be treated in the U.S. One is scheduled to receive a pacemaker at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, he said, and the other is to have heart valve surgery at a Jacksonville, Fla., hospital.
In July, OSF Healthcare System and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced they would no longer participate in the Haitian Hearts program.
Haitian Hearts has brought nearly 100 Haitians, mainly children, from Haiti to Peoria for medical treatment, mostly heart surgery at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.
On Tuesday, the last Haitian child in Peoria, a 10-year-old girl who has been in the U.S. since last year, received heart surgery at St. Francis, a follow-up to earlier surgery.
Carroll said the surgery went well.
Doctors, nurses and others who have cared for this child and other Haitians have expressed regret that the program is ending in Peoria, Carroll said. Some have donated their time and materials, and even offered to care for Haitian children in their homes while they recovered, he said.
Carroll said he now is working with others interested in Haiti, including the Mercy and Sharing Foundation, founded by philanthropist Susan Scott Krabacher. The organization operates an orphanage and medical center in Haiti. Its Web site is www.haitichildren.com.
Carroll said he hopes that up to 20 children soon will be placed in hospitals in the U.S., Canada and Europe for surgery. He has identified 38 who need surgery. A 19-year-old died while on the waiting list, he said.
Since December, St. Francis has refused to approve any visas for medical care for Haitian Hearts patients.
St. Francis fired Carroll in December 2001 from his job of 21 years as an emergency room physician after a dispute with hospital managers.
My comments today, March 12, 2009:
1. Haitian Hearts has had Haitian kids operated in New York, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, and Ohio. My wife Maria and I travelled to Guatamala and met Dr. Aldo Castaneda in Guatamala City. He was considered the best pediatric heart surgeon in the world during his years in Boston. Dr. Castaneda and his team accepted a Haitian toddler with a ventricular septal defect to be operated in Guatamala.
2. And as mentioned in a previous post, we have brought or played a role in bringing about 150 kids to the States for surgery, usually cardiac.
3. Douglass Marshall, OSF's attorney, sent me a letter several years ago stating that OSF would not accept any patients from me. So far they are sticking to this unfair and deadly embargo of their own Haitian patients that need to return to OSF for follow up surgery. The Children's Hospital Advisory Board and the Children's Hospital International Committee must be in agreement with this policy because I have written them pleading for their help with no answer. Finding other medical centers to take care of OSF's Haitian kids that have been abandonded by OSF is not easy. Other medical centers that have accepted OSF's Haitian Hearts patients are not happy with OSF.