Women, Children Subjected
by the Haiti Information Project
May 12, 2004
At 12:30 a.m. on the morning of May 10, a Special Forces squad of approximately 20 U.S. Marines executed a military assault on the home of 69-year-old Annette Auguste, a.k.a. So Anne. Auguste's residence is part of a compound that includes four other apartments that were also invaded by the U.S. military forces. The troops forcefully covered the heads of eleven Haitians with black hoods and then forced them to the lay face down on the ground while binding their wrists with plastic manacles behind their backs. The victims of this terrifying U.S. military invasion included five-year-old Chamyr Samedi, 10-year-old Kerlande Philippe, 12-year-old Loubahida Auguste, 14-year-old Luckmar Auguste and seven adults.
Evidence gathered at the site included paraphernalia left behind, such as blasting caps, igniters for explosive devices that terrorized the occupants when the troops invaded the residence. [click here to see slide show of the damage - 256k - nine images]
There was not a single member of the Haitian National Police (PNH) force or the de facto Haitian government present, according to the arrestees, when the U.S. forces unilaterally attacked the residence. According to Haitian law, as is the norm in any democratic country, no arrest can be made without a proper warrant issued by judicial authorities. The Haitian Constitution requires that warrants only be executed between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. The lack of any legality within the context of Haitian law and the fact this was executed unilaterally by U.S. military forces in Haiti raises serious questions of national sovereignty and the role of U.S. military forces in Haiti today.
Lesly Voltaire, one of the highest ranking Lavalas officials remaining in Haiti, has consistently condemned the campaign of political persecution and arbitrary arrests against his political party. Voltaire stated, "This was an illegal arrest done past midnight. The law does not allow arrests after 6:00 p.m. I strongly condemn this armed assault and believe that the charges against Annette Auguste are unfounded. We are fighting for due process and this was not performed within the context of due process and Haitian law. This is clearly a part of the campaign of persecution against Lavalas. No Haitian police or authorities were present. We must ask what are the rules of engagement for U.S. military authorities in Haiti and what right do they have to do this? Is Haiti still a sovereign nation?"
Ms. Auguste is detained incommunicado at the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince despite the claim of National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) that they visited her at the prison. This claim by NCHR is disputed by her husband, Wilfrid Lavaud, who says he has no knowledge that NCHR visited Ms. Auguste. He stated that if NCHR did visit her, they did so without the knowledge of the family. Her husband also stated that he does not consider NCHR to be a credible human rights organization because they have worked so closely with the Haitian opposition to the constitutional government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the past. NCHR has played a significant role in the media disinformation campaign regarding the events surrounding the coup and Lavalas in general:
see article Propaganda War Intensifies Against Haiti as Opposition Grabs for Power
also NLG - Haiti Delegation Report
It should be also be noted that other international journalists attempted to visit Auguste at the National Penitentiary but were spurned by the current Latorture government, citing that they were "too busy" to respond to requests to see her.
Why was Annette Auguste targeted for this military-type assault by U.S. Marines in Haiti? One week ago, Lavalas officials, who had been calling for the end of political persecution and repression against their party had publicly announced they would begin demonstrations calling for the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide beginning on May 18. Given the important role that Annette Auguste has played in supporting the constitutional government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and helping to build the base of support among the majority of the poor in Haiti for that cause, many in Lavalas see this attack against Annette Auguste as a preemptive strike by the Bush administration to continue the destabilization campaign begun by Otto Reich and Roger Noriega that eventually led to the forced departure of President Aristide.
The real question is what right does a special military assault team of U.S. forces in Haiti have to perform such an action. In typical fashion, the Haitian media controlled by the same forces that had allied themselves with the Bush administration to forcibly remove President Aristide have reported several uncorroborated accusations justifying this action. Among them is the tried-and-true claim that Annette Auguste controlled violent factions associated with the constitutional government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. A second accusation fielded by Radio Metropole is that Ms.Auguste was organizing a clandestine operation aimed at performing armed assaults against U.S. military personnel in Haiti. As per usual with the Haitian media, controlled by the wealthy elite, no corroboration or factual evidence was ever given to back up these claims made by their paid surrogates. Guyler C. Delva of the Association of Haitian Journalists has actually accused many Haitian journalists of working as paid informants for U.S. military operations and the Haitian police in Haiti. These are the same media in Haiti that actively worked hand-in-hand with the campaign to destabilize the constitutional government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide that led to his forcible removal on February 29, 2004.
continued next column
|©2004 Haiti Information Project - Sister Anne, Pro-Aristide Lavalas leader Annette Auguste (Sò Anne) at her arraignment while many demonstrators protest nearby demanding her release - May 13 2004|
These types of accusations against Lavalas, and particularly against Annette Auguste, are not new. Ms. Auguste, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has been a frequent target for persecution due to her close ties with President Aristide. She is the leader of PROP (Pouvwa Rasembleman Organizacion Popile), a popular Lavalas organization. She is also a singer of Haitian folk songs and is open about her practice of voodoo, officially recognized as a national religion for the first time in Haitian history under the Aristide administration. Ms. Auguste's religious beliefs and practices have led to many unfounded, disparaging rumors and a campaign of demonization against her.
In the past, critics such as Yves A. Isidor, professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and Executive Editor of wehaitians.com, and Raymond Joseph of the Haiti Observateur, now the Chief Diplomatic Representative to America for Haiti, have accused Ms. Auguste of things as outrageous as human sacrifice. Isidor authored a January 2, 2001, article that charged Ms. Auguste was President Aristide's "voodoo medium" and that she bathed him in human blood to curse George W. Bush and ensure the election of Vice President Al Gore in 2000. No evidence or witnesses were cited as sources for this information.
This article was picked up and embellished by Raymond Joseph. Joseph added details regarding a ceremony where a newborn was sacrificed in a giant mortar with a heavy pestle. Joseph contends that those who question the veracity of this allegation need only find support in the statement, "But who would have thought that men infected with the AIDS virus in South Africa believe that they can be healed by having intercourse with a young virgin!" Joseph never actually states that Ms. Auguste was involved in the alleged sacrifice, but two paragraphs later, his reference to her as Aristide's "voodoo medium" implies her presence there. Joseph directly accuses Ms. Auguste of holding meetings at her home where criminal activities, the nature of which is never revealed, were planned.
Joseph recently demonstrated his "journalistic" attempts when he lambasted Representative Maxine Waters in a March 11, 2004, article in The New York Sun because Rep. Waters had made three trips to Haiti in seven weeks, with the third trip being first-class. Joseph asked, "Do American taxpayers have to pick up the tabs? Or is it the Haitian government robbing from the poor in the 'poorest country in the Western Hemisphere' to maintain Waters and company in luxurious style?" Joseph provided no support or explanation for these allegations. He simply sought to discredit Rep. Waters, never even offering the possible explanation that she paid for the tickets herself or upgraded with frequent flier miles. As a reward for his part in the destabilization campaign of lies and misinformation against Aristide and Lavalas, Ramond Joseph has been named the highest diplomatic representative of the Boca Raton regime to the United States. We are sure he, along with Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, have much in common when it comes to the current witch-hunt and political persecution against Haiti's undeniably largest political party representing the majority of the poor.
|©2004 Haiti Information Project - Pro-Aristide demonstrators risk reprisal demanding the release of Lavalas leader Annette Auguste
Sister Anne-at her arrainment. - Port au Prince - May 13 2004
Annette Auguste, a.k.a. Souer Anne (Sister Anne), is being robbed of her Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status in the United States due to this arrest by the U.S. Marines. It has been widely reported in the past that Ms. Auguste is a naturalized U.S. citizen; however, these are rumors designed to destroy her political career in Haiti. The Haitian Constitution requires that members of the government be only citizens of Haiti. In an attempt to destroy the political careers of leading Lavalas members, opposition organizations used media outlets such as Radio Caraïbe to report that they were actually United States citizens. The deception went so far as to include fake passport numbers. Ms. Auguste's husband confirms that she only has LPR status and is not a naturalized citizen.
Ms. Auguste is required to travel to the United States every six months to renew her LPR status. An operation in February delayed her ability to make the trip and her doctor provided her with documentation that would grant her an extra three months for recovery. However, her detention is keeping her in Haiti beyond the time she was granted for recovery, and as a result, she will lose her status in the U.S.
Ms. Auguste's older sister is a United States citizen and lives in the same compound as Souer Anne. The Marines stormed into the elder Auguste's residence at the same time they raided Souer Anne's home. She demanded that they leave and stated that she was a U.S. citizen. They told her to get out of their way and that they were looking for Annette Auguste. She clearly explained that Souer Anne lived next door, but they did not leave until after doing an extensive amount of damages to her home. She has demanded restitution from the U.S. Embassy.
Restitution and damages have also been demanded from the U.S. Embassy for Souer Anne. They have denied this request and will not release her from U.S. custody in the National Penitentiary. According to her husband, rumors are circulating that the U.S. is accusing Ms. Auguste of collaborating with Al Q'aeda and that they are planning on trying her in the United States. There is serious concern for her safety and Haiti's sovereignty.
Emergency Action Alert
|Blasting caps and manual ignitions for plastic explosives left at the site. The caps are labeled Igniter Time Blasting Fuse Weatherproof M60 with serial number PS194E001-017.|