Thursday, September 18, 2014

Open Letter to Mrs. Obama from a Son of Haiti

Open Letter to Mrs. Obama from a Son of Haiti by on September 18, 2014
Dear First Lady Michelle Obama,

As I type these words, I envision bright smiles on seven faces, those of seven precious young ladies. One of them, I am certain, is happy and safe, enjoying a relaxing morning with her grandmother. Two of them are probably enjoying this blessed day with you and President Obama. Another two, much older today than pictured in the photograph below, are the daughters of our late beloved Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela and Mama Winnie Madikizela.

Unlike mine, yours and the Mandela girls, the sixth and seventh young ladies are neither happy nor safe this morning.  As had happened to Zenani and Zinzi Mandela, under Apartheid South-Africa,  in my native Haiti today, Michaelle and Marie-Christine Aristide are like prisoners in their own home,  worrying about politically and racially-motivated violence targeting them, their parents, Dr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Mrs. Mildred Trouillot-Aristide as well as other members or sympathizers of the Lavalas political party.
On September 16, 2014, U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters wrote to your Secretary of State:
Dear Secretary Kerry: I am deeply concerned that there is an effort to illegally arrest President Aristide”.
Indeed, recently, a man named Lamarre Belizaire issued an illegal arrest warrant against former President Aristide for allegedly ignoring equally-unlawful summons issued by the same, shortly earlier. Belizaire is considered by most Haitians to be an impostor, as he never met minimal legal qualifications to hold the title of “judge”. In fact, Belizaire has been disbarred by the “barreau de Port-au-Prince”, whereby he won’t be allowed to practice law in Haiti for up to 10 years.

Why do I address this letter to you?
Dear Mrs. Obama, I write this urgent letter to you because, for the past 10 years, the governance of Haiti has been effectively taken over by the Government of the United States, of which your husband, Barack Hussein Obama, is President. While neither legal nor accepted by the People of Haiti, this take-over of their country’s governance by the U.S. Government is real.

Since 2004, the U.S. has intervened to determine the outcome of several mocked elections in Haiti. During the latest such exercise, in 2011, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally selected Michel Martelly to be first runner-up, then “President of Haiti”, under circumstances that were so shameful, illegal, blunt and disrespectful that they were openly denounced even by OAS diplomat Ricardo Seitenfus and by former Haitian President René Préval.
the international community had behaved in Haiti as if it were in conquered territory. It boldly put into practice, absent any legal, technical or moral basis, a white coup and a blatant electoral intervention.
– Ricardo Seitenfus
One cannot disagree with René Préval when, faced with the ratification of the election of a candidate imposed by the United States through the international community, he asked himself: In this case, why were elections held?
- Haiti’s Doctored Elections, Seen from the Inside: An Interview with Ricardo Seitenfus (By Dan Beeton and Georgianne Nienaber – February 24, 2014 )
Ten decades ago, under the 1915 U.S. Occupation of Haiti the great American scholar and NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson worked tirelessly to counter the racist arguments that an intellectually backward but politically and economically-powerful sector of U.S. society used to justify the occupation of Haiti.


Disturbingly, the current occupation, a desired and planned outcome, was also predicated on racist and flawed premises. I recall the shocking statement made by then Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, in front of myself as well as several other witnesses at Haiti’s Hotel Montana, on December 31, 2003:
“The real problem with Haiti” said Luigi Einaudi, “is that the ‘International Community’ is so screwed up & divided that they are actually letting Haitians run Haiti.”
Less than two months after Einaudi uttered these words, on February 28-29, 2004, in the dead of night, U.S. Marines entered the residence of Haiti’s president, while Canadian RCMP soldiers secured the airport to facilitate a coup d’etat and the occupation of Haiti. Since that fateful night, Haitians are no longer running Haiti. However, the bloodbath the foreigners claim to have intervened to avoid reached unprecedented proportions, with full involvement of the UN.
The proper solution for the problem of Haiti is creation of an international trusteeship, one that will allow for the institutions of the Haitian state to be rebuilt and to be made effective, prior to transition, under international stewardship, to a fully self-directed democratic state with an effective market economy. However, it is acknowledged that the intervention/ trusteeship solution has been attempted before in Haiti, and it has failed. The long history and unique culture of this country have given the Haitian people a strong sense of independence and nationhood. This poses a considerable challenge to the international community – to develop and implement an approach that will be perceived as legitimate by the Haitian nation, and not one simply imposed by outside powers.
See: “The Case for International Trusteeship in Haiti” by Major Michael T. Ward
After seven years in exile, and thanks to the exemplary courage of South-African presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, the Aristide family returned to Haiti in 2011. As I wrote on the eve of that momentous event, Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return from exile represents a major blow to the face of white supremacist racism and a serious defeat of global banditry.
“As a priest, as an educator, when he was president, and now as he will return to education, [Aristide will] continue to be a person that always, always, always withstands.” – Mrs. Mildred Trouillot-Aristide (see: Amy Goodman’s coverage of the event on Democracy Now).
Given the self-assigned roles foreigners took in Haiti since the 2004 Coup, the current state of affairs in that country must be considered their collective accomplishment.

Socio-Economic Indicators:

Source: 2014 Human Development Report, UNDP
  • During the period of foreign occupation (2004 to present), the socio-economic situation of Haitian families has deteriorated, in many ways. Over the same period, Rwanda, a country recovering from horrendous socio-political trauma, significantly improved its human development performance, moving its HDI from several points below that of Haiti in 2004 and surpassing it since 2011.
  • Haiti has known multiple prison breaks, the most recent one involving several hundred criminals at a time, and counting among the “escapees” close friends of “the President”.
  • One of the most disastrous consequences of the Coup and subsequent U.N. tutelage is that Haiti, a country with no known cases of cholera for the past 100 years, now has one of the worst cholera epidemics in the world. Over 10,000 Haitians have been killed and nearly a million sickened by cholera since October 2010, when U.N. troops contaminated a major source of drinking water in the country with the deadly bacterium.
 Political indicators:
  • Enjoying full U.S. support and complicity, Michel Martelly has not organized legislative, municipal and local elections which are overdue, since he took office in 2011.
  • Several political opponents of the Martelly regime have been arrested (Enol and Josué Florestal, Jean Lamy Matulnes), while others are constantly harassed using the judicial system and the police force as tools for political repression.

  • The people of Haiti are currently ruled by a neo-Duvalierist regime, under which former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier benefits the open support of powerful national and international allies. Duvalier has brazenly mocked his victims since his January 2011 return to U.N.-occupied Haiti. The dictator, enjoying full impunity, has been posing for glamour pictures with his protectors and friends Bill Clinton and Martelly (N.B.: Duvalier’s son, Nicolas François, is Martelly’s advisor).
President Barack Obama contributed to the current situation by abdicating too much of his role as Head of State, letting the Clintons do as they please with U.S. policy towards Haiti.
The disastrous results of the foreign occupation of Haiti continue to compel voices of reason worldwide, notably in Haiti and in the U.S., to demand an immediate end to this senseless experiment.

Dear Mrs. Obama:

Surely, you and your husband must know that, under the current neo-Duvalierist regime which is figuratively-led by  Michel Martelly, the erratic actions of Lamarre Bélizaire are symptomatic of widespread dysfunction in the Haitian judicial, police and prison systems. Are you aware, for instance,  that, a few weeks ago, over 329 prisoners were let loose in broad daylight from a supposedly high-level security prison? Among the “escapees”, the Dominican Republic military captured and returned to Haiti alleged gang leader and kidnapper Clifford Brandt, who also happens to be a campaign financier and close friend of Mr. Martelly and Mr. Lamothe. At the end of 2003, another close friend of Mr. Martelly became entangled in a bizarre drug dealing case which seriously threatened to bring down the government. As of January 2014, Mr. Evinx Daniel vanished from the face of the earth. He simply disappeared!

No doubt, the ongoing persecution of Dr. Aristide has diverted attention from these troubling acts of disappearance performed by key Martelly-Lamothe associates.

Dear Mrs. Obama:

It is high time the United States of North-America abandons its antiquated foreign policy consisting of propping up semi-educated dictators in Latin America and the Caribbean who persecute intellectuals and break political dissent with violent and illegal means. We need real change in which we can all truly believe. You’ve witnessed first-hand how your husband’s ability to lead as President of the United States has, at times, been undermined by a racist fringe of the U.S. population. Surely, you must empathize with the struggle of Haiti’s impoverished majority and their embattled leader Jean-Bertrand Arisitide as they continue to face numerically few, but economically well-endowed national and international ideologues who are stubbornly bent on denying black majority rule in Haiti, on account of old racist ideas. Haitians deserve your help in their struggle to recover their sovereign rights!

By this, I am NOT asking President Obama or the U.S. Government to interfere further in Haitian affairs. Unfortunately, this very week, several U.S. Congressmen took this ill-fated direction. On the contrary, I am asking all the foreign forces, including the U.S. Government, the Congress et al. to assume responsibility for the damage they have already caused, pay due reparations to Haitians and get out of Haiti’s business, without undue delay.

Haitians keep saying every which way they can that Einaudi’s assessment of “the real problem with Haiti” was and is wrong. The objective facts also prove the Haitians right. The 2004 foreign occupation of Haiti, conducted and maintained under racist premises, is a dismal and tragic failure.
In honor of millions of displaced, enslaved and tortured Africans, the heroes who fought and died all over the Americas in order to secure our right to freedom, Mrs. Obama, please encourage your husband and his government to finally commit to real positive change in U.S. Policy towards Haiti, today!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Haiti, Hip-Hop, & Hypermasculinity by Brandon Byrd

Haiti, Hip-Hop, & Hypermasculinity by Brandon Byrd

B.. Rabbit and Papa Doc
B.. Rabbit and Papa Doc

8 Mile opens to a sinister beat and a haunting dedication to “all the killers and a hundred dollar billers.” Even casual hip-hop fans immediately recognize the song as Mobb Deep’s iconic “Shook Ones (Part II).” They also quickly identify the actor from whose headphones the song emanates. Marshall Mathers plays “Bunny Rabbit,” an aspiring rapper whose struggles mimic those that plagued Mathers before he became a Grammy-winning artist better known as Eminem. In the opening scene, for instance, the anticipation of an upcoming rap battle causes “Rabbit” to vomit on himself. The would-be rapper is clearly not yet a “killer.” Instead, he is the pretender mocked by Mobb Deep—“scared to death, scared to look . . . he ain’t a crook son, he’s just a shook one.”
The insecurities displayed by “Rabbit” stand in stark contrast to the bravado of another competitor in the Detroit hip-hop scene. Played by Anthony Mackie, “Papa Doc” is brash, aggressive, and the unquestioned leader of the Free World, the leading clique in the city. After Rabbit changes out of his soiled sweatshirt, the opening scene shifts to “Papa Doc” humiliating an opponent.

The name of this swaggering emcee who threatens to slaughter his challenger before staring him down is noteworthy. François “Papa Doc” Duvalier is, of course, one of the most notorious dictators of the twentieth century. Press censorship, corruption, and thousands of state-sanctioned arrests, disappearances, and murders became the principal legacy of the former physician who ruled Haiti from 1957 to 1971. Indeed, his son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, would perpetuate the violent assertion of state power for another fifteen years after the death of his father. The hundreds of thousands of Haitian Americans who live in exile in Miami, New York, and other U.S. cities are a testament to the ruthless efficiency of both Duvalier regimes.

Consequently, the character played by Anthony Mackie in 8 Mile does not simply provide a useful foil to the character played by Eminem. Instead, the fictional “Papa Doc” reaffirms the imagined place of Haiti and Haitians in contemporary hip-hop culture. For up-and-coming artists as well as established stars, it seems that an effective way to prove one’s aggression is by accentuating an alleged connection to Haiti and its people. In other words, Haiti, hypermasculinity, and hip-hop have become linked in explicit and often problematic ways.[1]

Rick Ross
Rick Ross performing in 2011

The music of Rick Ross, born William Leonard Roberts II, perhaps best demonstrates this trend. Since leaving Albany State University—where he had a brief career as a scholarship football player—and the South Florida Reception Center—where he had a longer stint as a corrections officer—the product of Carol City, Florida has become a self-perceived success story, the embodiment of a trap star. In song after song, Ross highlights how he transcended his ghetto environment by becoming more violent and, consequently, more masculine than his peers. And, in doing so, he frequently exaggerates his connections to Haiti, Haitians, and the Haitian Diaspora.
For instance, take “Yella Diamonds” from the critically-acclaimed mixtape Rich Forever. The song is an ode to Ross’s cocaine-trafficking skills and a promise that he will hurt anybody who harms his business. To emphasize the latter point, Ross claims support from Haitians. In the second verse he tells a shady business associate that “the time is now fuck all the waiting, nigga/I can’t hold back all these Haitian niggas/You know they talking home invasion, nigga/Seeing your daughter scream can be very persuasive, nigga.” Ross thus attempts to erase any doubts that he possesses the aggressiveness needed to succeed in the dope game by referencing Haitian associates who, the listener is meant to assume, exude this stereotypical aspect of male behavior.

Such references are typical for Ross. On the “I’m So Hood (Remix),” Ross establishes his hood bonafides by claiming that “you fools fugazi, my fools from Haiti.” Likewise, listeners of “So Sophisticated,” a hit from the album God Forgives, I Don’t, find Ross boasting that “my Lil’ Haiti shooters will have your ass on TMZ.” Ross even highlights his connections to violent Haitian associates in “Magnificent,” the lead single from Deeper than Rap. In a song otherwise dedicated to his opulent lifestyle—the video portrays Ross wearing an all-white suit sipping champagne at the race track—the Maybach Music Group founder cannot refrain from saying “sak passé to Zoe Pound,” the most notorious Haitian gang in the United States.

Such lyrics reflect the charisma that has made Ross so popular as well as the everyday experiences of those who live in the ethnically diverse communities of urban south Florida. But, at the same time, they strike a rather dissonant chord with the historical and contemporary issues that confront Haitians and Haitian-Americans. Although African Americans have long maintained a positive association among Haitians, masculine aggression, and violent resistance to oppression, foreign countries have typically regarded Haitians’ alleged penchant for violence in a much more negative light. As demonstrated by the U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934 and the U.S. military intervention in Haiti from 1994 to 1995, the perception of unchecked and inherent violence among Haitians has even excused the usurpation of Haitian autonomy.

Indeed, conflating Haiti with hypermasculine aggression has ramifications for Haitians in Diaspora. For decades, Haitians have been subjected to a different set of immigration policies than other migrants from the Caribbean. Rather than receiving the sympathy offered to Cuban asylum seekers, Haitians searching for improved social and economic conditions in the United States have been and still are regarded as threats to internal security. Other factors—most notably, the hysteria about AIDS in the 1980s—have certainly contributed to this discriminatory treatment of Haitian migrants. But immigration policy towards Haiti is shaped in important ways by perceived connections among Haiti, drug trafficking, and gang violence. In that regard, it is jarring to watch Rick Ross perform in front of thousands of admirers in Port-au-Prince. As Ross glorifies the Zoe Pound, government officials craft policies designed to keep the potential hypermasculine “thugs” from entering the United States or leaving the ghetto if they do 

A screenshot from the History Channel documentary on the Zoe Pound.
A screenshot from a documentary on the Zoe Pound.

8 Mile concludes with a battle between “Rabbit” and “Papa Doc.” Since the opening scene, Eminem’s character has found self-confidence. This battle—occurring after “Rabbit” has defeated two other members of the “Free World”—will be his final test, the moment when he either fulfills his potential as an emcee or demonstrates his inability to compete with the best. Accordingly, “Papa Doc” has his reputation on the line. The reigning king of the Detroit rap scene cannot let the white upstart dethrone him.

The dj spins the record. It is Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones (Part II).” This time, though, “Rabbit” is neither “shook” nor the “half-way crook.” Instead, he establishes his authenticity and exposes “Papa Doc” as the scared fraud. In a scathing lyrical attack, “Rabbit” reveals that his opponent’s real name is Clarence, he is not from the city of Detroit, he attended a prestigious private school, and comes from a stable two-parent household. The menacing swagger of “Papa Doc” gives way to shame as the crowd roars at the belittlement of the pretend gangster.

In this instance, art imitates life with the redemption of “Rabbit” mirroring a formative moment in Eminem’s career. One wishes that it did so in other ways, too. Hip-hop has ample room for nuanced and thoughtful representations of Haiti and it could certainly benefit from more rappers like Wyclef Jean, an artist whose eclectic songs often capture the fullness of Haitian life at home and abroad. But it could, perhaps, use a few less “Papa Docs.”

[1] On the representation of black masculinity in hip-hop culture see Miles White’s From Jim Crow to Jay-Z: Race, Rap, and the Performance of Masculinity (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011).

Source: African American Intellectual History  Society

HTN Welcomes Jafrikayiti (Jean Elissaint Saint-Vil)!

 Jafrikayiti (Jean Elissaint Saint-Vil)


Jafrikayiti ak Zumbi (Salvador, Bahia)



Jafrikayiti (Jean Elissaint Saint-Vil) self-describes as a devout student of all things pertaining to Haiti, history, science and religion. He is the author of “LAFIMEN: Listwa Pèp Ayisyen Depi Nan Ginen, 2010 (CD 4), 2006 (CD 2&3) and 2003 (CD#1) – audio recordings on the history of the Haitian People;  and Viv Bondye ! Aba Relijyon!, 2000 – Book, essay on spirituality and the Afro-Haitian experience with Christianity.

A University of Waterloo (Hon. B.Sc., Biology) graduate who lives in Ottawa-Gatineau with his wife and two children, Jean Saint Vil is currently the Director of Policy and International Relations at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Co-founder of two grassroots organizations AKASAN (Ayisyen ki ap soutni Ayisyen nètalkole) and Jaku Konbit which follow the principles popularized by Marcus Garvey, he is also an artist-activist immersed in the Global Peace and Social Justice movement.

In Ottawa Jafrikayiti co-hosts several regular weekly radio programs, including: Bouyon-Rasin at the University of Ottawa’s CHUO 89.1 FM,  Rendez-vous Haitien at Carleton University’s CKCU 93.1 FM, Chèche pa peche and Pawòl pou cheche chimen on He has been widely featured as a commentator of Haitian affairs, on Canadian as well as international media such as CBC, Democracy Now, France 24 and Al Jazeera.

Jafrikayiti's personal web site is

Jafrikayiti (Jean Elissaint Saint-Vil) wè douvanjou nan lavil Pòtoprens, Ayiti. Nan mwa avril 1983, li fè vwèl pou peyi Kanada, e se la li fè dènye ane lekòl segondè yo, anvan li te al rapousuiv yon diplòm nan domèn Lasyans (Honnors B.Sc.) nan University of Waterloo. Aktyèlman, li se Direktè politik ak relasyon entènasyonal nan Conseil de Recherches en Sciences Naturelles et en Génie (CRSNG), ajans ki finanse rechèch syantis ak enjenyè ap fè nan inivèsite kanadyen.

Etank atis pent, ekriven osnon reyalizatè, Jafrikayiti, pwodui zèv tankou : LAFIMEN - Listwa Pèp Ayisyen Depi Nan Ginen, 2010 (CD 4), 2006 (CD 2&3), 2003 (CD 1) – yon seri anrejistreman odyo ki tabli sou listwa; Viv Bondye ! Aba Relijyon!, 2000 – yon liv osijè koze espirityalite epi eksperyans Nèg peyi d Ayiti fè ak relijyon Krisyanis lan; If Garvey was here /Si Garvey était ici - dokimantè videyo, 2001; Representing YBM Productions - dokimantè videyo; Jafrikayiti patisipe tou nan pwodiksyon Dlo se lavi – yon liv Antonio Miguel ekri epi nan Li, Ekri Konprann - Yon Ti Jaden Kreyòl – yon liv plizyè otè reyini pou yo ekri.

Jafrikayiti se manm fondatè AKASAN ak Jaku Konbit, de òganizasyon ki kanpe sou prensip Marcus Garvey te popilarize tankou «tèt ansanm » epi « se mèt kò ki veye kò ».  Jafrikayiti se yon atis-militan, patizan yon mouvman anfavè lapè ak jistis sosyal toupatou sou latè. Li anime 2  emisyon radio: Bouyon-Rasin nan C.H.U.O 89.1 F.M (Université d’ Ottawa) epi Rendez-vous Haitien nan C.K.C.U 93.1 F.M (Carleton University). Detanzantan yo envite Jafrikayiti pataje analiz politik li nan emisyon radio ak televizyon, tankou nan Democracy Now, Al Jazeera, CTV, CBC / Radio-Canada , chenn ki okipe zafè politik nan peyi Kanada a, CPAC, osnon Televizyon Rogers Ottawa.

Jafrikayiti marye, li gen de tilezanj. Yo tabli kanpman yo nan lavil Ottawa-Gatineau. Mèzalò, detanzantan Jafrikayiti fè yon retounen lakay li, nan peyi d Ayiti.

Sit entènèt pèsonèl Jafrikayiti se:

E-mail address:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kesyon ki soulve sou valè istorik dat 20 septanm 1758 la pa Jafrikayiti Jean Elissaint Saint-Vil

Kesyon ki soulve sou valè istorik dat 20 septanm 1758 la pa JafrikayitiJean Elissaint Saint-Vil


Kesyon ki soulve sou valè istorik dat 20 septanm 1758 la enpòtan. Gen plizyè dokiman referans ki ka ede nou fè limyè sou koze a.

 1) Travay rechèch pwofesè Bayyinah Bello ki enplike nan Fondasyon Felisite (FF) - 

 Bayyinah Bello : Jean Jacques Dessalines

2) Braselide k ap fèt nan kominote a sou kesyon sa a depi kèk ane. Men moso nan yon atik Haiti en Marche ekri nan ane 2006 sou kesyon an: "Aujourd’hui vouloir donner une date de naissance à Dessalines n’est pas une pure fantaisie, mais appartient à un besoin ou un mouvement de réhabilitation du père de la patrie. Un geste symbolique qui veut marquer que le premier de nos héros a été jusqu’ici victime de l’exclusion, considérée chez nous comme le sommet de la discrimination. La même exclusion qui frappe le paysan haïtien toujours dans l’impossibilité de dire sa date de naissance, sachant seulement qu’il est né sous tel président…"
3) Rezilta travay rechèch jeneyalojik, tankou
kote Genealogie d'Haiti et de Saint-Domingue idantifye manman Dessalines kòm yon fanm ki te rele Marie Elizabeth.

Mwen kwè nan moman an, sa ki enpòtan se pou rechèch kontinye fèt pou detanzantan nou kapab dekouvri, korije, verifye, konfime enfòmasyon sou fè istorik enpòtan sa yo. Desizyon pou selebre anivèsè a limenm menm, konekte avèk, men li pa depann de, rezilta rechèch sa yo.

 Jodi a, Kretyen toupatou sou planèt la pran dat 25 desanm pou yo selebre nesans Jezi. Men, pa gen okenn baz istorik pou sa. Sitiyasyon Dessalines nan pi solid lontan paske limanite gen prèv Dessalines te ekziste, li te viv Ayiti....e nou konnen kontèks istorik ki fè nou pa ka sèten 100% ki dat li te fèt, ni ki lès ki te manman li. Kanta papa menm, se gwo tèt chaje puiske menm jan ak tout Afriken sou koloni esklavajis la, Dessalines t ap viv ak enkyetid fondamantal sa a "Le colon guette maman" - (Kolon an gen je sou manman ou) - sa vle di fanm Afriken an pa t fasil konnen pou ki moun li ansent. Se ta gen dwa nonm li, osnon yon esklav kolon an pase lòd "kwaze" ak li, osnon kolon kadejakè a limenm menm.

 Se pou rezon sa a lè mwen te pran desizyon patisipe nan tradisyon fete anivèsè nesans Dessalines nan mwen te ekri:

"yon nègès te kaselezo pou li pouse yon potorik gason limanite vin konnen sou non DESSALINES. Mèzalò, nou te riske pèdi tout tras nègès vanyan sa a. Paske zòt te mete chenn nan pye li, zòt te fè dappiyanp sou tout sa li te posede kit se lèt ki te nan tete li kit se non manman li, non papa li, osnon non nonm li. Poutan, Dessalines pat yon san manman!"