Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Infamous Rosalie by Evelyn Trouillo.t Reviewed by Tammie Jenkins

Trouillot, Evelyn. The Infamous Rosalie. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013. ISBN: 978-0803240261, 156 pp. Reviewed by Tammie Jenkins

The Infamous Rosalie, is a historical fiction novel written by Evelyn Trouillot, translated to English by Marjorie Attignol Salvodon. Based on a story about an Arada midwife, in Saint Domingue, during the 1700s. Trouillot uses this story to connect the strings of slavery from Africa through the Middle Passage to the New World. Using allusions to Haitian Vodou, Haitian history, African traditional religious practices, and island folklore, the author bridges themes of oppression, subjugation, empowerment, and freedom across the intersections of race, class, and geography. Employing the character of Lisette, as a composite of enslaved women, during this time period, the author incorporates the use of re-memory to connect her intergenerational narratives across time and space. The Infamous Rosalie contains a dedication, foreword written by Edwidge Daticat, afterword by the author, a brief author’s biography, and an annotated summary on the back cover.

Set in 1750, Saint Domingue, The Infamous Rosalie is a novel in which intergenerational narratives are passed down matrilineally by its female characters. Using the slave ship “The Rosalie” as a point of departure Trouillot explores the history of slavery on the pre-revolutionary island of Saint Domingue and its impact of the lives of her characters. Embedded with African oral tradition, The Infamous Rosalie, describes the harsh living conditions of enslaved persons as each is systematically broken for plantation life through the use of dehumanization and other humiliating acts at the hands of their enslavers. Employing the narratives surrounding “The Rosalie,” Trouillot explores the strategies used by enslaved women to resist their enslavement through Lisette, a Creole born house slave of Arada heritage, retelling of the stories she had heard from her grandmother Charlotte and godmother Augustine.
As the novel unfolds, it is revealed that “The Rosalie” was the ship which transported Lisette’s family from Africa to Saint Domingue. Providing a fictionalized account of the brutality of enslavement, Trouillot uses oral tradition to capture not only the horrors and the indignities of New World enslavement, but also to articulate the daily acts of resistance enacted by slaves, particularly the women, to survive and to struggle against larger societal demands for their compliance and subjugation, in the form of coerced reproduction, sexual assaults, forced physical labor, and concubinage. Centering on the narratives of the female slaves in Saint Domingue that Lisette encounters, the author introduces alternative narratives challenging many of the taken-for-granted assumptions regarding the complicity of enslaved women in their oppression and subjugation. In addition, Trouillot depicts the commonalities of these women lived experiences and social realities through pseudo relationships and kinship bonds established not only by the Arada women, but also the women and men from the Ibo, Kongo, and Nago tribes aboard “The Rosalie” which continued once they arrived in New World.
Throughout the novel, Trouillot uses tales of Lisette’s great-Aunt Bridgett as a culmination of the lived experiences and social realities of enslaved women on the island of Saint Domingue. Utilizing the character of Lisette, the author presents the story of Lisette’s great-Aunt Bridgett, to whom she is often compared. Lisette learns that Bridgett was a Vodouist, a midwife, and the involuntary concubine of her master, Montreuil. A powerful and revered woman, Bridgett possessed knowledge of “herbs, plants, and the human body” (116) and she used her social position to negotiate the dichotomy of slavery versus freedom. Incorporating the use of re-memory, Lisette embraces the lived experiences of her female line, specifically that of her great-Aunt Bridgett, whom other characters stated “chose her own hell” (94), as Lisette contemplates her own desire for freedom. 

From the narratives provided her grandmother and godmother, Lisette learns the secret accomplishments of her great-Aunt Bridgett, which had been closely guarded by her grandmother Charlotte. With the mystery surrounding the life of her great-Aunt Bridgett exposed, Lisette began to see her as a tangible symbol of the everyday acts of resistance performed by slave women. Making a mental journey through the history of her family tree, Lisette spiritually climbs aboard “The Rosalie” and realizes that she is connected to Africa by her familial bonds as well as to her present as a slave on the island of Saint Domingue. Using this knowledge, Lisette endeavors to include herself in the narratives of the women in her family, while carving out a space for herself as a Creole born slave of Arada heritage. Reaching a crossroads, Lisette must decide whether or not she will move towards physical freedom or remain a slave in more ways than one. 

Ultimately, The Infamous Rosalie, is a fictionalized illustration of matriarchal power and resiliency in the face of insurmountable odds. Providing realistic counter-narratives, The Infamous Rosalie, challenges dominant discourses of slavery on the island of Saint Domingue, prior to the Haitian Revolution. The strength of the novel is Trouillot’s authentic integration of Haitian history, Haitian Vodou, island folklore, oral tradition, and African traditional religious practices with narrative fiction, to situate her story in the social climate of eighteenth century Saint Domingue. A weakness of The Infamous Rosalie, is that the novel is written in chapter format, although the separations between each section is not clearly marked by titles or numerical distinctions. Nonetheless, scholars with interests in Post-Colonial Literature, Women and Gender Studies, Young Adult Literature, Cultural Studies, Haitian History, as well as Africana Studies may find The Infamous Rosalie a useful introductory text.

The Intersection of American Imperialism and Haitian Cabana Boy Politics by Pascal Robert

The Intersection of American Imperialism and Haitian Cabana Boy Politics
by Pascal Robert


When will Haitians learn that all this bickering between their political parties is a farce created by the Western Imperialists like the United States, Canada, and the EU to keep Haitians blinded in the blood feud laced Hegelian dialectical battle between the faux left and the faux right. The Lavalas and the Group 184? The Chermier and the FRAPH?

The Hegelian Binary (left vs. right) political model is an old rouse of Anglo-American Empire to keep the political options of the masses managed by the elites so the elites can continue to expropriate wealth and resources for their benefit to the detriment of the poor. Both the Haitian left, the Lavalas, and the Haitian Right, Neo-Duvalieriste, Group 184, etc. etc. have been puppets and pawns of segments of the blood sucking parasitic Haitian bourgeois commercial class BAMBAM (an acronym for the first letter of the last name of the six–probably more-families that have controlled all real business in Haiti for close to a century) that have been the willing agents of the rape of Haiti’s poor at the behest of their White paymasters, the Anglo-Americans and the Europeans. There were BAMBAM families that were supporters and beneficiaries of Aristide and there are BAMBAM families that are supporters and beneficiaries of Martelly. BOTH OF THESE POLITICAL FACTIONS HAVE BEEN NOTHING BUT RESTAVEKS (SERVANTS) FOR THE IMPERIALISTS!!

Haitian politics has been a side show, a canard, an idiotic bloody shell game controlled by the Imperialists using their Elite Collaborators and BAMBAM acolytes ever since the U.S. Occupied Haiti in 1915. I implore all Haitians to read, “The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934,” by Hans Schmidt. Perhaps Estime was the only Haitian president who tried his best to legitimately break this cycle, and he was thrown out by the Americans under the guise of being suspected of Communism. Let us not forget that segments of the BAMBAM elite families were major enablers of Francois Duvalier’s rise to power. He danced a dance with the Americans getting financing for his murderous regime under the guise of being a hardliner against Communism in Haiti during the height of the Cold War. WE HAVE HAD NOTHING BUT RESTAVEK CABANA BOY POLITICAL LEADERS IN HAITI SINCE THE AMERICANS LEFT IN 1934 barring the meager attempts of Estime to break that cycle.

The Lavalas left is the brain child of Rene Preval combined with his connections to the Haitian bourgeois and petite-bourgeois that was sealed with his marriage to one such family. They used the charismatic demagogue Jean Bertrand Aristide as a front man while their party cut side deals with the BAMBAM class, used the BAMBAM class to interface with the Clinton Regime in America in the 90s, and reap the financial reward from the sale and exploitation of Haitian assets like Teleco and the other government run enterprises. Left wing Ton-Ton Macoute tactics were not outside their purview as well.

The Neo-Duvaliarist, Group 184, FRAPH contingency has been the creation of the Right Wing faction of the BAMBAM importing murder and weapons payed for by acolytes of the Republican party in the U.S., as well as using perhaps more bloodthirsty and less altruistic methodology to facilitate the wholesale rape of Haitian assets and newly found resources such as oil, iridium, gold, and other natural resources currently being robbed from Haiti under the Martelly regime.
Meanwhile, Haitians sit around in a circle jerk of stupidity yammering on about plots to overthrow Martelly, finance Lavalas, or have Lavalas exterminated and support Martelly’s puppet regime. The Hegelian dialectic binary Anglo-American political creation has brought havoc on the Haitian people and spilled countless amounts of Haitian blood while all the Haitian Diaspora on the internet, social media, and global social forums blather on about the importance of supporting one side over the other and neutralizing the “opposition” which is also a farce.

The Haitian people need to wake up out of this idiocy and put the Haitian race first and the Island of Haiti next as the most important thing to be pulled from the blood sucking imperialist Anglo-Americans and Europeans in the spirit of the Nation’s father Jean-Jacques Dessalines, or else Haiti and Haitians will continue on this trajectory into the abyss.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

" Imperial Monroe Doctrine in Force: Quiet Coups in Latin America, the Case of Ecuador" by Dady Chery

" Imperial Monroe Doctrine in Force: Quiet Coups in Latin America, the Case of Ecuador" by Dady Chery


The appearance of stability in Latin America is preferable to any kind of political upheaval. The Monroe Doctrine is very much in force, but from a superficial look at elections and the constitutional order, one might surmise that the simultaneous United States-sponsored military regimes in Argentina, Brazil and Chile during the 1970s could not happen again. Overt dictatorships in Honduras and Paraguay are dismissed as being temporary anomalies. Yet curiously, the proverbial trains run on time, and the rate of growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) is approved by global financiers. A sudden respect for elections and increased trade with China are sometimes offered as the explanations for this apparent utopia. The stability of Latin America, however, is that of a comatose patient. It began with a massive peacetime expansion of police and military forces in Argentina, Brazil and Chile (ABC), starting around 2004, with sponsorhip by the United Nations. Latin Americans were called up to crush Haitian resistance after the removal of Haiti’s democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, by the country’s elite together with the US, France and Canada. South America’s military inclinations have reemerged from their dormancy. During the last decade, Latin American generals from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay have enthusiastically tested their weaponry and trained, expanded and modernized their armies in Haiti. These massive armies are beginning to chip at their home countries’ economies and civil liberties.


The 30-S coup in Ecuador

Through a continuous accretion as “peacekeepers” in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), by Fall 2010 Ecuador’s police force had grown from about 10,000 to 52,000 troops; the military force had likewise grown to 72,644 soldiers. In a country of 15 million people, this amounted to one police or army troop for every 120 people. Being short of funds to finance this obese force, on September 29, 2010, the National Assembly passed a Public Service Law for all state employees that would cut the automatic salary raises that accompany promotions, extend the time between promotions, suppress bonuses and incentives, and put a cap on careers in public service involving mandatory retirement, among other things. The law was not vetoed by the President and was about to take effect on September 30, 2010: a day that has become known in Ecuador as 30-S.
More than four years later, various sectors of Ecuadorian society still grapple with 30-S. 


The President has vehemently called it a failed coup and assassination attempt. The opposition has said that there was never any coup intent and that the President had misrepresented a police riot to enhance his popularity. The local press has likewise concluded that evidence of a conspiracy could not be found, and 30-S was merely a police riot that had spun out of control. I wish to propose yet another explanation, which to my knowledge, has never been considered: a successful army coup took place in Ecuador on 30-S, but a powerless President was kept in office to give the appearance of stability.


On the morning of 30-S, three key places in Quito, Ecuador, were attacked: the country’s biggest airport, the Parliament building, and the headquarters of Regiment No. 1 of the National Police. At Mariscal Sucre International Airport, no flights could take off or land because a group of about 150 soldiers from the Air Force had closed the airport. At the Parliament, a group of masked policemen on motorcycles had blocked the lawmakers from entering the building for the morning session. Simultaneously, there was chaos in several other cities that were left unpoliced and where, in some cases, policemen started riots and set up roadblocks with burning tires.


At around 11 a.m. President Rafael Correa went to the headquarters of Regiment No. 1, where an angry group of masked policemen had demanded to speak to the authorities. After Correa, who had recently had knee surgery, was heckled and attacked with tear gas, he was removed by his escort detail to a police hospital adjacent to the barracks. The hospital was quickly surrounded by police rebels. Correa went to an upper-story window, removed his tie and opened his shirt to show that he was wearing no body armor, and he told the angry crowd: “kill me if you want, kill me if you have the nerve, instead of staying in the crowd, hiding like cowards….” At noon, the Presidency’s Legal Secretary, Alexis Mera, announced at a press conference in the Government Palace that a state of emergency had been declared throughout the national territory and that the internal and external security of the country had been turned over to the armed forces.


As part of the state of emergency, all private radio and television stations were ordered to broadcast the signal from the state channel for eight hours, in accordance with Ecuadorian law, and this resulted in a media blackout, especially regarding the chaos elsewhere in the country. Throughout this time Correa remained in the hospital, where the rebel policemen continued to control the perimeter. Attempts by the President’s supporters to approach the building were met with volleys of rubber bullets.
Between noon and 9 p.m. on 30-S, an intense series of negotiations took place between Rafael Correa, his Defense Minister Javier Ponce, who might have also been taken captive (but not in the hospital), representatives of the police rebels, and Ecuador’s military high command. Mr. Correa also communicated by phone during this time with numerous people, including various heads of state.

Despite the declaration of a state of emergency around noon, it took more than three hours for a message of army loyalty to the President to be broadcast by General Luis Ernesto Gonzalez, the Head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces of Ecuador. That message was thought to have been recorded earlier but to have been delayed as a bargaining chip in the talks with the defense ministry. It took another six hours before an army operation involving 900 troops arrived to extract Correa from the hospital in a shootout. In all, the crisis left eight dead and 274 injured.


In the end, all money concessions were granted. In Ecuador, where the monthly minimum wage was $240 in 2010, the salaries of mid-range police and military officers were increased by 25 percent to between $400 to $570 per month. Salaries of army captains were raised from $1,600 to $2,140 per month, and the salary of a major was raised from $1,870 to $2,280 per month. Moreover, all the raises were made retroactive to January 2010.
Given the relatively weak positions of Mr. Correa and his Defense Minister during the negotiations, one might reasonably assume that the salary increases for the police and army were not their sole concession to Ecuador’s military brass.


Gutierrez family to the rescue
Throughout the crisis, Mr. Correa insisted that a coup was in progress and suggested that it had been organized by those who “cannot win at the ballot box.” After his rescue, he directly accused Ecuador’s former president, Lucio Gutierrez (2003-2005), a pro-US military man whom he had helped to unseat, of being behind the crisis. While Gutierrez denied that he ever had anything to do with the events of 30-S, he boasted that his daughter Karina, a lieutenant in the army, had participated in Correa’s rescue. In an e-mail to her father, Karina wrote: “Papito bello: As you know, my batallion is used in emergency situations. I went to the rescue yesterday, and I was in the middle of all the gas and shootings. I know that I would never risk the lives of our people. For this, I am proud of you. I love you.” Guitierrez’ brother Gilmar, a legislator of the pro-US Patriotic Society Party, further revealed that a cousin of the former president, Army Major Robert Vargas Borgua, had also participated in the rescue.


Contagious riots
In Bolivia, a police mutiny worse than that of 30-S took place in Summer 2012 that also required the army’s deployment. The crisis spread throughout the entire country, starting with a takeover of the headquarters of Bolivia’s riot police and eight other police stations. The government became paralyzed, and the riots escalated to bombings of the Parliament building and Presidential Palace, and breaking into the National Intelligence Directorate to destroy documents. Like Rafael Correa, President Evo Morales accused his political opponents of fomenting a coup. As in Ecuador, the crisis ended with an agreement that probably conceded much more than money to the army and police.

Stability of the comatose
Since the 30-S crisis, Ecuador has become second to none in its alacrity to support a dictatorship in Haiti. Ecuador was the very first country to renew its UN “peacekeeping” troops in Haiti after the dissolution of the country’s parliament on January 12, 2015. Since 2012, Ecuador has given military training to groups of men handpicked by Michel Martelly so as to create his new army of Tontons Macoutes. The training continues today, and this new paramilitary force is expected to be deployed in Summer 2015.


As recently as 2005, Ecuador was vituperatively called “the most unstable country in the western hemisphere,” because it seemed unable to keep a president in office for more than two years. After eight different presidents between 1995 and 2005, Rafael Correa was elected in 2006, reelected in 2009 under a much acclaimed 2008 Constitution, and elected yet again in 2013. Since 30-S, however, the Ecuadorian government has worked to undermine the 2008 Constitution by promoting a series of unpopular measures. The country has declared war on indigenous activists opposed to mining projects. A new judicial council has appointed and dismissed hundreds of judges. The National Assembly is set to amend the Constitution to allow, among other things, participation of the armed forces in public security operations and unlimited re-election of the President.


Editor’s Notes: Photographs two and nine from the archive of US Department of State; three and five by Andre Gustavo Stumpf ; four, six and eleven from the archive of Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador; eight by El Freddy; ten and thirteen by Felipe Canova; and twelve by Senor Codo.