Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Interesting Articles on Haiti's Fr. Jean-Juste's Recent History

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

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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.

Gérard Jean-Juste
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.[1][2]

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" [3][4].

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.[5]

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."[6]

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.[7]

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. [1] 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. [2]

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. [3]

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." [4]

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"). [5]

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. [6] 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. [7] 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. [8]

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. [9] 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. [10] 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,..."[11]

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 " [12]

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 - lettertoed@thestar.ca

The Montreal Gazette - letters@thegazette.canwest.com

Elizabeth Thompson - elizabeth.thompson@sunmedia.ca

Marina Jimemez - mjimenez@globeandmail.com

Linda McQuaig - lmcquaig@sympatico.ca

Rick Salutin - rsalutin@globeandmail.ca

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



[1] 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

[2] 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"

[3] 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=

[4] Znet; Yves Engler; "Haiti Lies";http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/6973

[5] For letter to Jimenez and her editors re "Backyard Bagdad" see


[6] Lexis search of "Haiti",Thomas Griffin", "Jean-Juste"

[7] 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

[8] http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/62/62.htm

[9] "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

[10] Democracy if necessary, but not ...


Michael Deibert said...

Hi John,

You might be interested in my take on the Lancet study and Peter Hallward's book, as well. They can be read as follows:

Human rights, not politics, should be priority for Haiti

A Review of Peter Hallward’s Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment

All best,


John A. Carroll, M.D. said...

Dear Michael,

Thank you for reading and thanks for your comment.

I know that you are extremely fond of Haitian people and know that they deserve much better.

I have known Fr. Jean-Juste since he returned from exile after Papa and Baby Doc's reign of terror ended.

Fr. Jean-Juste is such an authentic person and has denied himself so much over the years. His living conditions in Haiti are very simple. Fr. Jean-Juste pleaded for the help of Saint Jude for all Haitians at mass at Saint Clare's in Kazo.

Michael, thank you for caring so much about Haiti. As Pope John Paul II said in Haiti in 1983, "...things need to change".

Who would disagree?