Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Human rights, not politics, should be priority for Haiti


The Haitian information resource AlterPresse has published my latest Op-Ed on the situation in that Caribbean country. You can read it here.

12 comments:

Wim Nusselder said...

HUMAN RIGHTS SAFEGUARDING REQUIRES POLITICS

Politics is organizing the future of a society as a whole. Humans rights violation is criminality for political purposes or caused by political neglect. How to organize the future of Haiti to safeguard human rights, should be priority for Haiti. Politics has to deal primarily with the terrible poverty to do so. The rich protect their wealth, the poor try to get a piece of the pie, either with political motives or as ‘mere criminals’. Many Haitians don’t seem to have much scruples about using violence to do so. Relative responsibility for the resulting human rights violation by (those pretending to represent) the poor and (those trying to hide that they primarily represent) the rich partly depends on who controls the state and who gets most outside support. Usually the rich have more means at their disposal to protect their interests than the poor and ... to give the means they use a semblance of legality.

Dealing with poverty requires economics. Economics is organizing that people get what they want. Usually the organizers get more than they need and a lot of others are relatively excluded from wealth. Economics is increasingly globalized. Being rich (like me, living in the Netherlands) implies using resources from everywhere on the globe. Global wealth production stays only just within its ecological limits and even surpasses them at times, e.g. by causing global warming, deforestation, erosion, silting etc.. Being rich therefore usually implies that you use more than your share of earth’s resources. Being rich implies a responsibility to organize wealth for those excluded by one’s disproportionate claim on resources...

Anyhow, human rights cannot be guaranteed without politics, economics and ecological sanity.

Michael Deibert said...

Wim,

I find your comments interesting and thought-provoking. I think you may have misunderstood the title of my piece, though. "Human rights, not politics, should be priority for Haiti," refers to my belief that human rights abuses in Haiti should be investigated and exposed without regard to the political affiliation of those committing them, rather than to advance a partisan agenda or to shield some of the perpetrators from accountability for their actions. I agree with many of the points you raise.

Best,

MD

Wim Nusselder said...

Dear Michael,

Would you mind elaborating on our agreements (and disagreements)?
I suspect that investigating and exposing human rights abuses without regard to political affiliations of the perpetrators is asked a bit much in the Haitian context.
Even in the US the different branches of government aren't really separate; let alone in Haiti.
If you agree that human rights violation can be defined as criminality for political purposes, aren't political affiliation and political purposes of the perpetrators all-important to understand and cure the phenomenon then?
The Lancet study has many defects.
Please see my reply in the Ann Pale thread on it.
I don't doubt the good intentions of its authors though.

With friendly greetings,

Wim

Michael Deibert said...

Wim,

We agree that “dealing with poverty requires economics.” (a somewhat self-evident statement) and that living in a wealthy industrialized country “implies using resources from everywhere on the globe.”

I think, however, the idea that Haiti can afford second-rate human rights, second-rate transparency and second-rate accountability smacks a bit of paternalism and condescension, intentional or not. Haitians are every inch as capable of achieving these goals as anyone else, though Haiti's politicians, for venal political ends, often like to pretend otherwise.

One standard for human rights, one standard for transparency, one standard for accountability. Haiti deserves that no less than any other sovereign nation.

Wim Nusselder said...

Dear Michael,

Let me build on your (implied) agreement that being rich implies using more resources than our proportionate share of what earth provides and thus for the exclusion from wealth of others.

Haitian resources (among others) feed our (American & Dutch) wealth. We have a stake in Haitian politics. The rich and powerful in Haiti are partly rich and powerful because they act in line with globalization, with securing access to resources everywhere for global wealth production.

To the extent that human rights abuse (= politically motivated crime) serves the containment in poverty of the Haitian poor, WE can't afford "second-rate human rights, second-rate transparency and second-rate accountability", because WE can be held co-responsible.

When we leave Haiti alone, the poor and powerless have few options. Some will choose violent ones to get their rightful share of the pie, damaging the wealth producing machinery that produces the pie in the process.
When they vote those they trust in power, some of them -naturally- will be corrupted by it and commit human rights abuse themselves.

What is your impression of the relative extent of human rights abuse by representatives of rich and poor in Haiti in the last decades?
What do you think we outsiders can best do to help those in need of our help?

With friendly greetings,

Wim

Michael Deibert said...

Dear Wim,

Just out of curiosity, could you point me to the Haitian resources that are feeding Dutch and American wealth? Save for a handful of factories in the capital, Port-au-Prince, Haiti has virtually no industrial base, and exports almost nothing beyond that save some mangoes, rum and occasionally a shipment of essential oils or so. And people. Lots of people. Believe me, I've looked long and hard for any glimmer of life in the Haitian economy for about a decade now, and, with all the political upheaval, they are hard to find.

As to my impression of the relative extent of human rights abuse by representatives of rich and poor in Haiti in the last decades, I think your are mistaken in looking at the violence that cynical, privileged political actors - whether Aristide and the Fanmi Lavalas party or Haiti's elite - force the Haitian poor to endure and co-opt them into committing as being indicative of any inherent violence in Haiti's poor majority. Quite the contrary. I've traveled all over the country by public transportation and never been hassled except in moments of political unrest - demonstrations and the like. Those desperate to cling to power in Haiti will always seek to empower certain elements of the poor - and whether those elements are called macoutes, attaches or chimere they always essentially do the same thing - in order to use those elements as a bludgeon against other sectors of the poor and their own political opponents.

I think what we as foreigners can do best to help Haiti is encourage economic programs that have been proven to be effective - such as the micro credit programs that Fonkoze and Sogebank sponsor - and hold all of Haiti's political actors to the same standards of justice, transparency and accountability when it comes to their activities, so they will know that the international community is behind Haiti's poor, not the politicians in the fancy suits.

Best,

MD

Wmi Nusselder said...

Dear Michael,

Exclusion from access to resources (natural resources, but also education and capital) is a more important cause of containment in poverty than exploitation nowadays. Illegalizing emigration of Haitians to countries where their rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are better guaranteed is one such way of containing them in poverty.

In the case of Haiti, held to be once the wealthiest and most productive colony, lots of resources have already been depleted and used to finance economic infrastructure in Europe. You must know about the $21 billion claim of Haiti against France (e.g. www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/09/01/justice_for_haiti.php). In a sense that capital fund still feeds European wealth.

I must say that I have been wondering why the USA and Canada have shown so much interest in Haiti in the last decades. Probably not because of effective lobbying by the Haitian diaspora... This (www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/expose.html) is where I first found indications that Haiti has considerable mineral and energy reserves in which they are interested. A google search confirms the existence of such natural resources in Haiti. I haven't checked to what extent they are already being exploited.

And of course the people (partly brain drain) you are referring to is also a drain on Haiti's resources.

No, the poor aren't inherently violent, certainly not in the countryside. More so where they live packed together in slums, relatively near to where the elite live and work.

Yes, manipulating discontent of the poor is an instrument of power, used by weak states generally. That still doesn't answer my question, whether politicians representing the rich or politicians pretending/trying to represent the poor have perpetrated more human rights abuses according to you. The question seems relevant to me, however cynical you are about the politicians pretending to (and trusted by a majority to)represent the poor, if human rights abuse is defined as crime with political purposes.

With friendly greetings,

Wim

Michael Deibert said...

W’ap ekri anpil, Wim!

Haiti certainly was made to suffer by European and North American powers as the result of its defeat of the French in 1804 but, as any perusal of the books covering Haiti’s history by, say, the Haitian historian Roger Gaillard, demonstrates, the Haitians themselves have done more than their fair share to wreck the country, almost always with the accompaniment of unscrupulous foreigners and Haitians living in comfortable exile, a tradition that has continue to the present day. The shrill, hysterical declarations of Marguerite Laurent you refer to, quoting Osner Fèvry, an attorney who has consistently called for the return of the Haitian army, prove nothing, but are simply more gaseous posturing by Haiti’s thoroughly discredited political class.

You write that you “have been wondering why the USA and Canada have shown so much interest in Haiti in the last decades. Probably not because of effective lobbying by the Haitian diaspora..” I must confess, this makes me wonder how closely you read my article at the beginning of this thread. If you did so, as well as my Op-Ed “Time to Support Haiti,” (http://zope06.v.servelocity.net/hjs/sections/usa_world/document.2006-04-23.1836431497) or my book (http://www.michaeldeibert.com/notes.html), or any of the other documents (http://www.corpwatch.org/print_article.php?id=12990) that demonstrate the tens of millions of dollars that were funneled to American lobbyists and security firms by Haiti’s 2001-2004 government while the people of Haiti suffered, starved and died, you will know just how much lobbying was done on the Aristide government's behalf. The $21 billion claim of Haiti against France was seen by almost everyone, including my least educated friends in Haiti, for what it was - a blatant attempt at diversion from the government’s disastrous misrule. An honest government could have gone about building a meticulous legal and historical case for repayment of some or all of that debt, yet that would still have left Haiti in the position of going once more hat-in-hand to the international community without achieving any long-term strategy for development. For my part, I will never forget the joke took hold in the streets of Port-au-Prince around the time of the loudest calls for the 21 million that posited a conversation between Aristide and Mario Dupuy inside the National Palace:

“Mr. President, France has agreed to pay Haiti the 21 million, all except for the 48 cents!” Dupuy says. “Isn’t that wonderful?”

“But not the 48 cents?” the joke had Aristide responding. “But what will be left for the people?”

Thus, you’re question “whether politicians representing the rich or politicians pretending/trying to represent the poor have perpetrated more human rights abuses according to you,” is rather beside the point. Almost anyone who has had their hands on political power in Haiti has shown a willingness to use violence against their opponents, and those shut out of political power have shown a willingness to use violence to seize it. In my experience in Haiti, from 1997 until 2004, the vast majority of violence came from elements aligned with the Fanmi Lavalas party and the (second) Aristide government. From 2004 until the present, the violence came from multiple sides - gangs that had been armed and organized by the Aristide government, the interim government's police force, gangs that had links with the elite, and former FADH cadres. Violence comes from all sides in Haiti, and must be condemned without regards to its origin.

Just out of curiosity (and this is an innocent question, as I really don’t know the answer), how much time have you spent in Haiti, and in what context? I am always intersted to learn from the experiences of others there.

Best from New York,

Michael

Wim Nusselder said...

Dear Michael,

I have never been to Haiti. I wouldn't be able to learn much more than I can from here, because I don't understand Creole and can't communicate easily in French. Often one sees the bigger patterns better from a distance and without too close contacts on the spot. My most direct information about Haiti is through a doctor & priest working in Haiti for almost 20 years now.

My main interest as a development economist is not what should change in Haiti or elsewhere in the underdeveloped world, but what should change in the world at large and in the developed world to create better circumstances fro development.

I define economics as the way in which we organize that people get what they want. The main global pattern I see, is that some get far more than they need and a lot get less. Getting less than one needs nowadays is mostly due to not having access to resources to organize one's own wealth. The global wealth production system is organized by the elites of rich and poor countries, who are better connected with each other than with their poor compatriots. They need some of the poor to work for them and exclude the rest.
It's irrelevant for that pattern whether those who contain the Haitian majority in poverty are "Haitians themselves" or "foreigners".

Usually these organizers of wealth make sure that they get more than they need. Vilifying them is counterproductive however. They must be pursuaded to dematerialize their wealth, so their claim on earth's resources becomes less, and to allow more people access to them and the opportunity to organize wealth for themselves. Neither verbal nor lethal violence are very effective ways of convincing people...

I don't know to what extent Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas have been corrupted by power. It seems telling however that a majority of the population still trusts them. That support seems to is especially large among the poor. How do you explain that, if they are just as bad as those more obviously serving the interests of the rich?
Whom do you exclude if you write: "almost anyone who has had their hands on political power in Haiti has shown a willingness to use violence against their opponents"?
Against the background of the global pattern I see, it seems also relevant to me whether these "opponents" are rich or poor. Sure "Violence ... must be condemned without regards to its origin", but preventing it, finding those responsible and having justice done requires different measures depending on that origin. Selfish as I am, I'm mainly concerned with the violence of which the origin has some relation with my wealth... E.g. if MINUSTAH is partly financed from my taxes and is playing a dubious role in containing Haitian poor in poverty, I concentrate on MINUSTAH's violence and I wonder about it's raison d`être. What's your view on the way MINUSTAH operates?

Osner Fèvry is not the only source for the information about Haiti's mineral resources. The gold & copper story is confirmed at the websites of the respective firms: www.sgv.ca/pages/pdf/SummaryReportGeologyMineralResources2004.pdf and www.eurasianminerals.com/s/NewsandInfo.asp?ReportID=145816
Exploitation by SGV appears to have started recently: www.haitipressnetwork.com/news.cfm?articleID=2322
I haven't found confirmations for uranium, natural gas and oil reserves.

With friendly greetings,

Wim

Michael Deibert said...

Dear Wim,

You write the following:

"I have never been to Haiti. I wouldn't be able to learn much more than I can from here, because I don't understand Creole and can't communicate easily in French. Often one sees the bigger patterns better from a distance and without too close contacts on the spot. My most direct information about Haiti is through a doctor & priest working in Haiti for almost 20 years now."

I find this statement highly problematic on several levels. You see, it is somewhat of the same logic that the wealthy around the world, whether government officials or affluent professional “activists”, in my own country, use to avoid having to do any of the heavy lifting and speaking to its people in poor countries to find out what’s actually going on there. I know that, in comparison to the United States, Europe has fairly generous vacation allotments, so why not buy one of many Kreyol study guides available, and carve out some time from your schedule in 2007 to spend a few weeks in Haiti? It’s a great country, and I think you would learn a lot. I always feel that I do whenever I go there.

I would also ask you to remember and consider the words of a countryman of yours who I have a great deal of respect for, the Dutch writer Stephen Ellis who, when describing the incredulity that some ascribed to accounts of Liberia's civil war, wrote that "While descriptions (of the civil war) are routinely dismissed as sensational journalism by high-minded academics, it would be foolish simply to scoff at the opinions of correspondents who glean their impressions at first hand. Journalists acquire detailed knowledge, and an appreciation for the flavor of events, which can escape distant observers."

Your comment also makes me wonder on what you base your statement "I don't know to what extent Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas have been corrupted by power/It seems telling however that a majority of the population still trusts them" on? From your own admission, it is not from traveling around Haiti, certainly not on talking to poor Haitians in places like the Artibonite Valley and the Plateau Central (whose peasant farmers make up the majority of Haiti's population, not the urban poor), or in the slums of places like Gonaives. Saying that the majority of Haiti’s poor still trusts Aristide and the Lavalas party is a fiction that would be disproved by any sustained contact with the poor in that country, Wim.

Regarding Haiti’s alleged mineral deposits: I am not disputing the existence of negligible mineral resources in Haiti, but this does not prove the point Mr. Fèvry (a man I have nothing against personally) appears to be positing, that because of these deposits - that represent a drop of a drop in the bucket of the global economy - the United Nations intends to set up some sort of permanent presence in Haiti so as to exploit the supposedly ripe fruits of Haiti's economy. I have been highly critical of some of the ways MINUSTAH has operated, but this scenario seems highly unlikely to anyone who has seen the environmental and structural destruction in Haiti firsthand, not to mention the pervasive corruption, that makes any business enterprise in Haiti a risky venture indeed.

Anyway, though this debate is enjoyable and enlightening, this post is now nearly a month old and there have been a lot of things posted on this blog since then. Shall we move on?

Best regards,

MD

Wim Nusselder said...

Dear Michael,

If you want to 'move on' meaning ending our exchange, just say so. Please be aware that it is not really about (just) one of your blog posts, however, but about your and my role in creating a better future for Haiti. I moved it here, because we don't seem to be very welcome in the Ann Pale Forum, which would have been a more proper place.

Given my main interest in what should change in the world at large and in the developed world to create better circumstances for development, it doesn't seem unlogical to me to not travel myself to the underdeveloped world to collect information. Staying in the Netherlands I can process and combine more information from a wider range of sources in a few weeks than if I travel to Haiti. Also, I'm avoiding travel by air (as well as by car) to limit my drain on natural resources.

I don't scoff at the impressions of correspondents and other first-hand observers. I draw on your/their information. Can we see it as a division of tasks?

My statement about the continuing trust of the Haitian poor in Aristide and in the Lavalas movement (maybe not the party), is based on election results. My interpretation of them was helped by for instance Peter Hallward (see www.radicalphilosophy.com/default.asp?channel_id=2187&editorial_id=22053 ). Like you he seems to have a fairly long-time involvement with Haiti and to have spoken with Haitians personally.
What do you think of his analysis?

I'm still interested in your answer on the question whom you exclude if you write: "almost anyone who has had their hands on political power in Haiti has shown a willingness to use violence against their opponents".
I would also be very grateful if you could share some of your observations about the way MINUSTAH operates, as I am currently e-corresponding with MINUSTAH about it.
For the record: I don't see MINUSTAH as an occupation force meant to enable exploitation of Haiti's natural reserves. I AM concerned that they communicate better with the elite and with what you call "unscrupulous foreigners" than with the Haitian poor.

With friendly greetings,

Wim

Michael Deibert said...

Dear Wim,

I'd never want to shut down dialogue but I do (as I'm sure you do) get busy sometimes!

Now I feel that I understand your position a bit better. While I do understand the logic of avoiding travel by air (as well as by car) to limit your drain on natural resources (I myself, living in New York City, use exclusively public transportation, having no need or desire for my own vehicle here), I do believe that some issues, such as understanding the struggles of places like Haiti, perhaps warrant an exception. It’s one thing - even for the sharpest of minds - to cull information from a variety of resources second or third-hand, quite another to smell the fires, foliage, rotting fruit and sewage of Port-au-Prince first-hand, to speak with peasants in their homes in the countryside, to speak with a nation of people who, crushingly, realize their lack of opportunities and the fact that their lives are going nowhere fast and yet are powerless to change that situation.

The article you cite by Peter Hallward is one that I had read previously and one that, though perhaps I am mistaken in this analysis, seemed to me suggest , rather than “fairly long-time involvement with Haiti,” the writing of someone who formed their opinions of Haiti long before ever setting foot in the country, and then heard what they wanted to hear once they did arrive for what seems like a brief trip. I know that Mr. Hallward is bringing out a book on Haiti in the near future, which I look forward to with interest and will read with an open mind, as I say, we can all learn from one another on the subject of Haiti. This article itself, though, is riddled with many easily-checkable errors.

When Hallward states that “Aristide was the first politician regularly to speak in Kreyol,” for instance, it is completely false, and shows little understanding of Haiti’s tortured political history. Daniel Fignole, president in 1957, was known as a passionate and stunning Kreyol orator. Fignole founded Le Mouvement des Ouvries et Paysans (The Worker-Peasants Movement, or MOP) in the 1940’s, and could summon throngs of the poor into the streets with bitter rhetoric against the mulatto establishment that Elie Lescot’s rule had come to symbolize, referring to them as his rouleau compresseur or steamroller. Francois Duvalier was also a vituperative Kreyol speaker when addressing the nation, and Evans Paul, first as a political activist in the 1980s and later as Aristide’s campaign manager and Port-au-Prince mayor in the 1990s, was know for his acerbic grasp of the language.

When Hallward writes that “René Préval ― a man who, though far from a mere acolyte, is still widely and fondly known as the marassa or twin brother of Aristide,” he ignores the well-known split that occurred between Préval and Aristide following the latter’s intentional blocking of the investigation into the killing of Préval’s friend and advisor, the journalist Jean Leopold Dominique, and that by 2003 the two were no longer on speaking terms. Every single Haitian I have spoken to in the last two years who was supportive of Préval ’s re-election as president, - that is, the poor majority who voted for him - supported Préval precisely because of the fact they viewed him as far different than the demagogic Aristide, as something of a country man, one of them. Aristide, who, by his second term was guarded by white American bodyguards, lived in a mansion and addressed Haiti’s people while seated on a gold chair, had ceased to a man of the people many years ago.

If you want more background on Mr. Aristide’s blocking on the investigation into the Dominique murder, I suggest you read the comments by Mr. Dominique’s window, Michèle Montas, delivered while she was still at the helm of Radio Haiti-Inter and before a 2002 attempt on her own life drove her into exile. You can find one editorial here:

http://www.haitipolicy.org/archives/Dec2001-Feb02/Montas-Dominique.htm


Further on, when Hallward writes that” despite massive cuts in international support, Préval and Aristide built more secondary schools than in the whole previous history of Haiti; they opened thousands of literacy centres and with Cuban assistance established or René wed hundreds of health clinics,” he cites not a single source to back up these claims. From first-hand experience I can tell you that there was not a single government-run literacy center in Cite Soleil, the country’s largest slum, between 2001 and 2004, the years of Mr. Aristide’s second tenure in office.

When Mr. Hallward speaks of Mr. Aristide’s progressive critics as “left-leaning members of the intelligentsia,” I am forced to wonder if he even knows of the existence of the 200,000 strong Mouvman Peyizan Nasyonal Kongre Papay (MPNKP) organization, Haiti's largest peasant movement, lead Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, a man who has been organizing subsistence farmers against abusive governments and working to halt Haiti's environmental degradation in the country's Plateau Central for over thirty years. Mr. Jean-Baptiste was the recipient of the prestigious 2005 Goldman Environmental Prize. For his troubles, in November 2000, a peasant meeting in the Plateau Central was fired upon by a gang lead by Lavalas officials and Mr. Jean-Baptiste watched as his brother Dieugrand was shot in the chest and nearly died. Has Mr. Hallwall heard of or interviewed members of the Tet Kole (Heads Together) peasant movement? As far back as June 1995 the group’s leader Orly St. Louis, (speaking on Radio Haiti-Inter, interestingly enough), said, in reference to Mr. Aristide's willingness to sell off of state-owned monopolies, eliminate government jobs, lower trade tariffs and a keep Haiti’s criminally low minimum wage at a depressed level in exchange for his return at the bayonet point of a foreign army, the following:

“Aristide always has a double-face, a double-game, at every juncture. He looks at the moment to see how to act so he can use it to his advantage and make political capital from it, and I think that is what is happening today. The first person who signed the thing at the beginning was Aristide. He could have refused, because the people were behind him.”

The loss of the meager life savings of tens of thousands of Haitians in the Aristide government-endorse cooperative investment pyramid scheme in 2002, which is still an issue even today (http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article5229) over four years later, is also strangely ignored.

When Mr. Hallward writes that “perhaps 20 or 30 individuals may have been killed by people with some (often tenuous) connection to the FL” during Mr. Aristide’s second term in office, this is also totally false. At least that many people who were killed in Cite Soleil on a month-by-month basis in wars between gangs, almost all of whom were being given ammunition and other largess by Haiti’s police force. I know this because I was friends with the gang leaders themselves, almost all of whom are now deceased. In one night in June 2001 alone, in the capital's Fort Mercredi slum, at least thirteen people were killed in a gang attack lead by Felix “Don Fefe” Bien- Aimé, an Aristide loyalist and Fanmi Lavalas partisan who served as director of the Port-au-Prince cemetery and lived in the adjoining Grande Ravine area. The next week, Bien-Aimé met with Aristide at the National Palace along with what was left of the local Fort Mercredi gang. Under Aristide’s gaze, the gangs signed a joint statement declaring their conflict over. No one was ever arrested for the killings and Bien- Aimé was picked up and "disappeared" by the police in September 2002.

That same month, a bloody two-week gang war raged in Cité Soleil between the Boston baz of the gang leader and gunmen loyal to Emmanuel “Dread” Wilmé - both of whom were in regular contact with the National Palace and the Haitian police and both of whom had at various time received ammunition from the latter - killed at least 20 people. In October 2003, Dread Wilmé’s gunmen killed at least twelve people in Cité Soleil areas allied with Labanye. The October 2003 attack on the Raboteau slum in Gonaives by PNH and Unité de Securite du Palais Nationale personnel killed 11 people in a single afternoon. Mr. Hallward’s statement, I am afraid to say, speaks of unbelievably sloppy and lazy research.

When Mr. Hallward writes that “American rice currently trades at 75% of the price of local rice, and over the last twenty years, Haitian rice imports from the US rose from just 7,000 tons to more than 220,000 tons (out of a total market of around 350,000 tons),” he leaves out a huge detail. Haiti, had produced low-cost, inexpensive rice for domestic consumption for many years until the 1990s, when it the lost the ability to do so competitively in 1995. That was the year the Aristide government - to implement an economic adjustment plan mandated by the IMF - cut tariffs on rice imports to the country to 3%, from 35%.

I am also a bit curious about how and in what context Hallward “visited the poorer neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince over several weeks in April 2006...(and) met with community leaders and interviewed dozens of people at random” where he says he found undiminished support for Mr. Aristide and his party.

According to the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at London’s Middlesex University where Mr. Hallward teaches, his research interests are “Recent and contemporary French Philosophy, especially Sartre, Foucault, Deleuze, Badiou, Ranciere; contemporary critical theory; political philosophy and contemporary politics; existentialism; theories of globalization; postcolonial theory.” I don’t see any background in the study of Haitian history or Kreyol there, so I am forced to ask: How did he gain access to these neighborhoods? Who took him? What language did he interview his subjects in? Where the interviews in a public space or a private home?

I ask these question because, given Haiti’s violent political history, in my experience, people , particularly those living in the more desperate quarters of Port-au-Prince, are very, very cautious about voicing any public opinions to an outsider who comes traipsing through their neighborhood. To give you some idea of comparable context, given the violence inflicted on the population of poor quarters by some of Mr. Aristide’s partisans, walking up to the average man on the street in some sections of Port-au-Prince (Bel Air, La Saline, Cite Soleil, Solino) and asking them in public what they thought of Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas is roughly equivalent to going into one of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro controlled by one of the drug cartels there and loudly inquiring as to people’s opinion on the drug trade. People will tell you what they think the men with guns want you to here because the price of not doing so is usually a bullet.

When you ask who in political power did not use violence against their political opponents, I can think of a handful of people, mostly cabinet ministers, a few senators, a few deputies, that I have not heard any reports of involvement with gangs, drugs or other nefarious elements, really, the numbers are rather few and far between on the national level.

Let me address my view of how MINUSTAH operates in another post.

Best,

MD