and Corporate Media Press for Regime Change in Haiti
Haiti, as in Venezuela, corporate media act as public relations
a political opposition nurtured by the U.S. government. Truth
is shamelessly obscured by relentless quotes from opposition
figures pursuing American goals of “regime change,” a euphemism
for the overthrow of popularly elected governments.
With scant resources
but plenty of courage, Associate
Editor Kevin Pina exposes himself daily to the dangers of telling
the truth about a nation under siege by a superpower. Pina
has lost friends to opposition violence (and gained a newborn
baby boy) during his most recent reporting from Haiti. Meanwhile,
the corporate press hobnob with U.S. embassy officials and
fraternize with the Haitian elite, among the most corrupt in
Below are two links
that demonstrate the hopeless bias of corporate shills who
pretend to be reporters for Reuters and the Associated Press.
The Reuters report is blatant propaganda for the opposition,
who are made to seem victims, while the AP dispatch mentions
21 killings since mid-September, but gives the impression that
pro-Aristide forces are committing most of the violence.
Press, December 14
Yet, as ’s
Kevin Pina reports, the ongoing violence is in fact a deliberate
provocation by the U.S. backed opposition, bent on creating
a climate of anarchy to justify outside military intervention.
article are reports from a Haitian government press spokesperson
and the Haitian Press Agency (AHP) – The Publishers
Student "Revolt" Unmasked
By Kevin Pina, in Port-au-Prince
opposition Group 184 has emerged as the true leadership behind
a recent series of marches and street demonstrations calling
for the ouster of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Under
the guise of an autonomous student movement against Aristide,
members of Group 184 and its ally, the Democratic Convergence,
assumed clear leadership roles in the attempts to lay siege to
the National Palace in Port-au-Prince on December 11th and 12th.
a bizarre political twist, Lavalas Senators Dany Toussaint
and Pierre Prince Sonson,
joined former military officer Himmler Rebu and businessman Andre
Apaid, of the Democratic Convergence and Group 184 respectively,
in calling for Aristide to step down on December 11th. The greatest
irony is that this is the same opposition that had accused Toussaint,
a former military officer and Lavalas Senator, of having masterminded
the assassination of one of Haiti’s most popular journalists,
Jean Dominique. Toussaint now alleges that Aristide had set him
up to take the fall for the murder.
December 12th Dany Toussaint was quoted as stating that Aristide
had only three
choices left to him; resignation and exile, prison or death.
One Lalavas observer commented, “Toussaint is trying to indemnify
himself against a re-opening of the Dominique case and accusations
of drug-trafficking leveled against him by the DEA. He thinks
that joining the Washington-backed movement against Aristide
will provide him with immunity from prosecution. He fears a DEA
indictment more then the emergence of the Aristide ‘dictatorship’ he
claims compelled him to join the opposition. He was also aware
that his political career in Lavalas was coming to an end.” In
a now well-established pattern in Haiti, Senator Sonson declared
that Aristide and Lavalas militants had threatened his life,
giving him no choice but to join the opposition.
police security and a large contingent of international corporate
December 11th opposition demonstration saw nearly
fifteen thousand people take to the streets calling for President
Aristide’s resignation. A number of them were armed with rocks
and clubs studded with large metal spikes and nails. Chanting, “Lavalas
is a minority and we are the majority,” the demonstrators made
their way down to the front of the National Palace where a small
contingent of Lavalas supporters had taken up defensive positions
behind police erected barricades. Lavalas leaders stated they
were determined to avoid a direct confrontation and a potential
bloodbath fearing it would provide a pretext for the Bush administration,
and its surrogates in the OAS, to intervene militarily in Haiti.
The Haitian police were
finally forced to fire tear gas and discharge warning shots when
the opposition demonstrators attacked a police car. The crowd
swung at the police car with spiked clubs before forcing it to
drive through the front line of demonstrators and relative safety
on the other side of the police line. Minutes later, the police
and media were taken by surprise as the same protestors hurled
live teargas canisters that had been stolen from the police car
in the earlier melee. The police responded by firing several
volleys of warning shots into the air and then proceeded to disperse
the crowd by force.
Class and Color
demonstrators then headed up to the wealthy suburb of Petion-Ville
under the leadership of Group 184 and the Democratic Convergence.
As they began to descend Route Delmas back towards the palace,
observers could not help but be struck by the leadership role
assumed by the much lighter-skinned members of Haiti’s mulatto
elite, personified by businessman Andre Apaid and his lieutenants.
This stood in stark contrast to the swelling numbers of exclusively
black faces in the Lavalas counter-demonstration waiting for
them in front of the National Palace.
the opposition stated this was an example of the diversity
of the movement opposed
to President Aristide, many in Lavalas pointed out that it was
Apaid’s class who traditionally ruled Haiti by buying the loyalty
of the now defunct Haitian military. One Lavalas militant summed
it up this way, “In addition to the personal fortunes they have
amassed in Haiti, Apaid and his class have received a lot of
financial backup from Washington and Paris. This is traditional
reactionary politics of the wealthy elite rearing its ugly head
once again in Haiti. Since there is no longer a military for
sale to the highest bidder, they have now resorted to purchasing
demonstrators with black faces to serve as a front for them.
There is no difference between these paid mercenaries and opportunists
than the black servants in Apaid’s household. When they don’t
do as they are told, he will fire them. Just as when he does
not do what he is told by Washington, they will fire him. Anyone
who mistakes Apaid and his friends as leaders of a democratic
movement representing the interests of the black poor majority
would do well to re-read their Haitian history. If he were really
interested in breaking the apartheid-like system we have in Haiti,
he would have helped make things work long ago. He would have
supported us when we asked the wealthy elite to pay their taxes
to help improve the country. He would have sat at the table with
us in sincere dialogue instead of letting Washington use him
to block our every move towards changing the conditions of the
poor black majority. Antoine Izmery he is not.” (Antoine Izmery
was a wealthy mulatto businessman and Lavalas supporter assassinated
by paramilitary auxiliaries of the former military known as attachés in September 1994).
opposition demonstration ended before arriving at Haiti’s National
Palace but another series of dramatic events was to take place
the same evening.
As night fell a campaign of terror began that would remain unreported
and ignored by the Haitian press and the international corporate
two separate but similar incidents, unidentified cars drove
through the poor neighborhoods
of Cite Soleil and La Saline firing indiscriminately at pedestrians
only to disappear into the night. Three people were killed and
six wounded in the drive-by campaign of terror. A third incident
took place near the National Palace itself, resulting in the
cold-blooded assassination of Andre Jan-Marie, the Program Coordinator
of the government’s literacy program in Petion-Ville. As Andre
got out of his parked car, he was shot once through the heart
and once in the head. Palace security rushed to his aid and took
him to General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Andre Jan-Marie was a member of the development oriented popular
organization the Society of Providence and Union for Economic
Development in Petion-Ville (SOPUDEP). He was also one of the
founders of the SOPUDEP School that serves the poorest children
in Petion-Ville and is housed in the former mansion of Duvalier
assassin and drug dealer Lionel Wooley.
opposition had planned a second day of protest on December
12th calling for Aristide’s
resignation. By 4 a.m. Lavalas militants began paralyzing the
capital with burning barricades at all major intersections. By
8 a.m. more than 30,000 Lavalas supporters had massed to defend
the National Palace. A group of about 200 opposition protestors
under heavy police escort and led by Andre Apaid, marched from
downtown Port au Prince and arrived in Petion-Ville at 11 a.m.
Once there they were met by scattered bands of Lavalas supporters
who had not received the word to stay away and began throwing
rocks. Contrary to claims by the opposition that the Haitian
police show deference to Lavalas protestors, the police forced
the Lavalas supporters away from Petion-Ville’s central market
with teargas as the opposition cheered. This seemed to refute
opposition charges that freedom of speech is impossible, and
their exaggerated claims that conditions are worse in Haiti than
they were following the coup of 1991.
protestors numbered about three hundred strong as the event
took on a carnavalesque
and party-like atmosphere. Members of Haiti’s mulatto elite
mixed with a few well-known Haitian intellectuals and artists
who congratulate each other and give statements to an eager Haitian
and international press. Meanwhile, several of the poorer black
protesters in the opposition contingent were seen openly threatening
known Lavalas members with reprisal once Aristide is forced from
office. One protestor brazenly threatened a bystander, “Once
Aristide leaves I am coming after you. You better get ready!!” Abandoning
all pretense of professionalism, emotional members of Haiti’s
press corps were caught provoking people in a passing pickup
truck, “Fuck your mother, I know you are a attaché!” (the paramilitary death squads under the Cedras
dictatorship). Another taunted, “Come down and get me.”
the marchers wandered off in what seemed like an aimless fashion,
in search of more encounters. A market woman who had quietly
watched the madness commented, “I guess that’s what they mean
Kevin Pina’s previous reports on the U.S.-backed offensive
against the Aristide government:
Intensifies Against Haiti, October 30
U.S. Corporate Media Distorts Haitian Events, November 6
Bush Administration’s End Game for Haiti
Pina is a documentary filmmaker and freelance journalist
who has been working and living in Haiti for the past three
years. He has been covering events in Haiti for the past
decade and produced a documentary film entitled "Haiti: Harvest
of Hope". Mr. Pina is also the Haiti Special Correspondent
for the Flashpoints radio program on the Pacifica Network's
flagship station KPFA in Berkeley CA.
Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison, National Palace
notes on Friday's events that may have thus far not been reported.
is based on a combination of radio broadcasts of events and interviews
(radio stations across the band), National Television reporting,
conversations with US and local press present at events, and my
As I said in an earlier email, Thursday night popular organizations
came out to stand vigilant in front of the National Palace,
to guard the people's
choice. Cars circulated Thursday night and Friday morning (again when
pro-government masses were taking to the streets) shooting indiscriminately
into crowds (approx. 10 shot, approx. 7 dead. See below for some
Nevertheless, in sharp contrast to the violent demands of the opposition
for the immediate overthrow of the government, the people took to the streets
by the tens of thousands Friday to call for respect of the constitutional
mandate of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Tens of thousands (seen on National Television and reports by press
present) of pro-government supporters marched through the streets
of downtown Port-au-Prince
Friday morning to mid-day. Amongst them were women, children, elderly
and students who identified themselves as the Collective of University
Students, and parliamentary and local representatives from throughout
The majority responds to the minority. With both hands thrust in
the air displaying all five fingers on each hand to represent the
term and the people's will to see the President finish his term, people
YES! Coup d'etat, NO! Aristide for FIVE YEARS!"
People said if the opposition thinks they are the majority then why
don't they go to elections to prove it. (To date the opposition
has sabotaged all efforts to hold elections.)
The people expressed their commitment to democracy and its processes
saying that if after Aristide's term of five years is over, whoever
runs for President
and is democratically elected, then their term will be respected, no matter
who it is, but that the five years of this President must be allowed to
finish its term.
Representatives of the Collective, a pro-government group of public
and private university students, spoke to the press (aired on National
said they also denounce the violent incident that took place at one of
the universities last week but that they stand for education and
that it is patriotic
to go to school and as such they stand against the closing of the schools. Schools
have been closed because of the demonstrations held by the opposition. They
said yes to schooling, no to closing the universities!
The people who flooded the streets - diverse members of the popular
movement - were heard on numerous radio stations across the band
as well as on the
National Television. People also came out in different towns and also
were interviewed on the radio stations, particularly Radio Ginen.
of a class struggle between the rich and the poor. Many denounced
army and reiterated the people's determination not to go backwards. In
response to Dany Toussaint's comments Thursday, many people interviewed said
the people are watching the former military, and now Dany is standing face
to face against the people once again as the military did. They
said they say no to going backwards, and reiterated that the people have
democracy as the way!
Saying that children need schooling, families need food and
houses to live in, the people said they will not go backwards,
asked for respect for the people's choice.
People said that the opposition is trying to boycott and sabotage
the upcoming 2004 bicentennial celebrations – plunging Haiti into violence and paralysis. People
said the masses are for Jean-Bertrand Aristide and will continue
to mobilize for 2004.
People said, There will be no coup d'etat in the country again. The
people are clear, the Haitian people have stood up. No to anarchy, yes to
democracy! They cannot bring down the resistance of the people! No
matter what, the President will finish his term.
Some people addressed the university students who were working
with the opposition, asking them not to allow themselves to be
the opposition by
gifts of visas or money. They also said they don't want ambassadors
to visit universities anymore because they are luring people with
offers of visas.
Some people interviewed said that former military and FRAPH members
had infiltrated the "student" march the day before
(on Thursday) swelling the numbers of persons in their march.
People said they will remain vigilant in the streets throughout
the country to demand respect for democratic principles.
Mario Dupuy, the Secretary of State for Communications, said, "We will
protect the rights of all citizens… All people should help the police to
protect the radio stations." He also said, "We will continue
to mobilize and celebrate in peace our bicentennial of independence." The
police secured various radio stations.
I spoke with three journalists who each visited the hospital
on Friday at different times during the day. They interviewed persons (two of the
journalists told me they were persons who identified themselves as militants
who were taking to the streets in support of the government) who were shot
either Thursday night or Friday morning by cars circulating (some said without
license plates) and shooting indiscriminately at people. One
person was shot by the marketplace downtown, one on Rue Pavee, one
injured when she fled from a car that was speeding at people.
Kevin Pina interviewed these gunshot victims on film. (Press can contact
me for his contact information). (Evens Sanon photographed these victims. Press
can contact me for his contact information). (Amy Bracken of Reuters
interviewed these victims). As I said, from talking with these journalists
I estimated that approximately 10 persons were at the General Hospital as
a result of these shootings. Approximately 7 of them died on
As for the gentleman (Andre Jean-Marie) I talked about in my
earlier email, it seems that he had arrived in a car near the
join other popular organizations in front of the Palace to give his
support to the President, when he was struck by bullets. Kevin
Pina describes the tragic incident as follows:
From the AHP
(Haitian Press Agency) News:
Thousands of students
and members of the opposition engage in violent demonstrations
in Port-au-Prince: one of their objectives is to seize the
Port-au-Prince, December 11, 2003-(AHP)- Several thousand students along
with members of the Democratic Convergence political coalition and the Group
of 184 demonstrated this Thursday in Port-au-Prince seeking the departure
of the current government.
The demonstrators set off from the Faculty of Ethnology without having a
pre-determined route. From the Champ de mars, they next moved toward Turgeau
before taking Lalue by way of Alix Roi Street.
On their way back to the Champ de Mars, the students and members of the opposition,
armed with hammers and batons filled with nails bumped up against the perimeter
in front of the National Palace, an area that had been marked off by the
police as restricted access not open to the public.
"Our objective is to besiege the Palace and oust the government authorities," the
demonstrators then said.
At the same moment, some of them threw volleys of stones at the police, injuring
three police officers, while other demonstrators threw tear gas. The security
forces then fired into the air to cause the demonstrators to disperse.
Rumors reported by the radio stations that the police fired directly into
the crowd have been rejected. There have been no injuries or deaths reported
from the police action.
At the front of the procession, not far from the U.S. Consulate, a group
of students had beat up a group of young people whom they chased into an
"We will not give in to this provocation" the victims yelled as they
Some demonstrators also beat students who were not involved in the anti-government
demonstration at the moment they were about to start a press conference at
the faculty of Ethnology to state their position on the crisis affecting
A camera operator from Télé Timoun who was covering the events
was violently manhandled. He said that a student had aimed a
revolver at him.
In the vicinity of Poste-Marchand, demonstrators also threw volleys of stones
at private residences in response, they said, to stones that had been thrown
The occupants of several of these homes were violently beaten by students
who were then accused of resorting to the same abuses which they accuse government
supporters of committing.
On the Delmas Road, students threw rocks at the ONA office (National
Office of Senior Citizen Insurance), causing significant damage.
The students accused
the agency of financing chimères (underprivileged people).
The demonstrators enjoyed the support of former major Dany Toussaint,
who for a long time was accused by the opposition and some human
of involvement in the assassination of Jean Dominique. The demonstrations
were also supported by former colonel Himler Rébu.
Several radio stations in the capital, stating that they were quoting demonstrators,
said that with the presence of these two men, the objective was to take over
the National Palace by force.
Several other opposition officials took part in the demonstration,
including former Secretary of State for Youth and Sports Evans
Lescouflair, as well
as members of the "No Collective", and some active members of NCHR.
Senator Prince Pierre Sonson, whom the opposition has accused of involvement
in the violence of December 17, 2001, was also among the demonstration's
In the early afternoon, former colonel Rébu, who led the
failed coup d'Etat against the military ruler General
in 1989, took the lead of
the demonstration as it passed in front of the office of the Organization
of American States (OAS) in Musseau.
Mr. Rébu, one of the leaders of the Democratic Convergence,
then accused the OAS of preventing the opposition from ousting
officials of the elected
The students, massed in front of the headquarters of the OAS
in Haiti, said that they will take power with or without the
help of the OAS, by utilizing,
they said, all means available to them.
As they returned to the downtown area, the demonstrators were
finally dispersed by means of tear gas as they attempted for
a second time to break through
the perimeter of the restricted area with the objective of taking the National
Palace by force.