Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Haitian Lavalas Party Crippled, Many Detained

Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release March 21, 2005
http://www.btlonline.org

Washington-Installed Haitian Government's Detention of Political Prisoners and Human Rights Violations Stirs U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters to Action

Interview with U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. conducted by Scott Harris

From: http://www.btlonline.org/btl032505.html

Listen in RealAudio:
http://www.btlonline.org/waters032505.ram

One year ago, rebel attacks against the government of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide led to the Feb. 29 overthrow of that Caribbean nation's first democratically elected president. The former Catholic priest charged that he was the victim of a political kidnapping carried out by members of the United States military when he was taken aboard an American plane and forced into exile in the Central African Republic. Aristide was later given political asylum in Jamaica and now resides in South Africa.

Haiti's Washington-installed Prime Minister, Gerard Latortue, has imprisoned hundreds of officials and supporters of Aristide's overthrown government, including former Prime Minister Yvonne Neptune and Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert. Both men, detained since June 27 without charge, have undertaken a hunger strike in protest. Neptune, who was hospitalized on March 10 for treatment of severe dehydration, has vowed to continue his fast until he's released.

California Congresswoman Maxine Waters visited Haiti on March 7 with a delegation of American human rights advocates and met with Neptune and Privert. The Democratic lawmaker expressed grave concern about the deplorable prison conditions and the human rights situation she observed in Haiti. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Congresswoman Waters about her fact-finding trip to Haiti and her criticism of Bush administration policy toward that troubled island nation.

Rep. Waters: We learned that Yvonne Neptune, the former prime minister under president Aristide was in prison and was on a hunger fast. We knew he had been arrested some time ago, but we became worried about him because we learned that he was on a hunger fast -- by that time he had been on it, I guess almost two weeks.

So, I went to Haiti along with some other people to basically see about him, to see what his health condition was and to try and encourage him to either discontinue the strike or certainly try to encourage the United States government to assist him in getting him out of jail.

I traveled there and was able to visit with him. He was very weak when I visited and he was just talking above a whisper. And I held a press conference and I let everybody know that I thought that he was in danger. I talked to our embassy personnel down there, I sent a letter to (Secretary of State) Condoleeza Rice, to the president of the United States and when I returned, I sent out more information describing his condition.

Well, since that time he's been moved to a U.N. hospital and I understand that he's doing better and I'm anxiously awaiting more information even today as I fly into Washington.

Between The Lines: As your delegation reported, there are many political prisoners being held by the government of Gerard Latortue, which was installed by the U.S. military after the coup one year ago. What is the situation for political prisoners in general in Haiti?

Rep. Waters: The conditions are absolutely deplorable. We did visit with former minister Privert who's in prison, who also has started a hunger fast. We visited with other political prisoners. I had a chance to talk with a young man named Jacques Mathelier, who had served as counsel to President Aristide at one time. He was in prison in filthy conditions. He was guilty of nothing; he had not been charged with anything. They simply had arrested him because of his relationship to President Aristide.

We had been hearing these stories about members of the Lavalas party, President Aristide's political party, being thrown in jail -- like So-anne the very popular singer and humanitarian that is also in prison -- we didn't get a chance to see her. Not only are they being thrown into prison, a lot of Lavalas members have been killed particularly in Cite Sole and Belaire and some of the very poor areas. So, I think that there is an attempt to literally get rid of Lavalas leaders so that when they hold this fake election they're planning, they won't have anybody to run representing the Lavalas party. So I think it's an effort to silence them prior to this election they plan on holding.

The United States has to accept responsibility for Latortue, he's basically our puppet. And so I'm calling on the United States to accept responsibility and see to it that these political prisoners are released and provide some real security for them.

Between The Lines: Congresswoman Waters have you been in touch with ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide lately, he's in South Africa I believe. What are his plans if any, do you know?

Rep. Waters: Well, yes I've been in touch with him, and he is working to see what he can do to get South Africa, CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and the A.U. (Africa Union) involved in helping Haiti, particularly if there are going to be any elections. We believe, and he believes, that it's very important that a number of countries get involved to try and help organize and implement a true free and fair election in Haiti. So, I know that that's foremost on his mind.

Between The Lines: Congresswoman Waters, President Bush has been using his office, the presidency, to promote democracy all around the world; particularly the Middle East has been a focus of his administration in recent months. How do you square the rhetoric coming out of the White House with the U.S. policy towards Haiti?

Rep. Waters: Well, you know, anybody who observes our relationship to Haiti would soon conclude that we really don't care about Haiti. That if there's any stepchild of the foreign relations agenda of America, it's Haiti, despite the fact it's right here in the Western Hemisphere, right here next door to us, we have disrespected Haiti in every way. We have a discriminatory immigration policy toward Haiti. We have abandoned Haiti and left it to Brazilian forces who know little or nothing about the culture, and basically are there for political reasons in an attempt to get the support of the United States so that President Lula (da Silva) can serve on the Security Council at the U.N. So all that I can explain is, it's a black country of poor people who mean little or nothing to the United States of America.

Democracy is about letting the people decide. The people decided they wanted to elect, and did elect Mr. Aristide -- and the United States assisted in removing him. That certainly doesn't speak to our support for democracy. So yeah, there's a contradiction in what they say and what they do.

For more information, call Congresswoman Waters' office at (202) 225-2201, or visit her website at http://www.house.gov/waters.

Related links at http://www.btlonline.org/btl032505.html#2hed:

* Center for Constitutional Rights

* Council on Hemispheric Affairs

* Haiti Progres

* Haiti Action

*************

Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 35 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at http://www.btlonline.org. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending March 25, 2005. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Scott Harris and Anna Manzo.

*************

TO DONATE

It's your future ... help make a difference against the corporate media's blackout of news and viewpoints like those in the interview above by helping us distribute to a wider audience in 2005! Please send your donation to:

Squeaky Wheel Productions, Inc. P.O. Box 110176 Trumbull, CT 06611

*** Please note: If you would like your donation to be tax-deductible, please make your check out to our fiscal sponsor, The Center for Global Communications Foundation Inc. (or The Global Center) and send to the above address.***

*************

PRINT INFORMATION: For reprint permission, please email betweenthelines@s net.net.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news