Haiti de factos try bribing disgruntled former soldiers
January 03, 2005
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Haiti de factos try bribing disgruntled former soldiers

December 29, 2004 - January 4, 2005
Vol. 22, No. 42

Former Haitian soldiers seem to be getting some results from their brief take-over of President Jean Bertrand Aristide's Tabarre home on Dec. 15 (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 22, No. 41, 12/22/2004).

This past week the government of illegal Prime Minister Gérard Latortue created a new office to finish settling accounts with ex-soldiers who have been demanding 10 years back pay because, they claim, Aristide illegally dissolved the Army in 1995.

The new office, created on Dec. 21, continues the work of previous government commissions which have failed to satisfy the ex-soldiers' claims. Headed by three ex-colonels, the revamped commission is supposed to get money into ex-soldiers' hands before Jan. 1.

"There has been a continuity with the work already done to help the new members of the commission to get out as quickly as possible, before the holidays, even a partial list so that it can give the demobilized soldiers at least an advance so that they can have a little money on hand to celebrate like any citizen," Latortue declared. Of course, most Haitian citizens have no cause or money for celebration this year.

De facto secretary of state for Public Security, Davide Bazile, said that the new commission would be working through the holidays to get the money to the soldiers before the New Year, starting on Dec. 28.

"The soldiers based in Jacmel that we visited agreed to lay down their arms and are going to receive their restitution," he said. Some 100 million gourdes ($2.7 million) have been squeezed from the drained state coffers to pay off the soldiers, de facto President Boniface Alexandre announced. The ex-soldiers also got a 54% increase in their pensions.

Despite these moves, the arrest warrant for the erstwhile leader of the ex-soldiers, Rémicinthe Ravix, remains in effect. But Ravix, speaking regularly on radio shows, has shown no signs of fear as he points to the de facto government's hypocrisy. "All those in the interim government who are attacking me and saying I am not a former soldier always supported me financially during the anti-Aristide insurrection," Ravix said.


On December 27, the National Popular Party (PPN) issued a statement denouncing the plans of the de facto government and occupation authorities to hold elections in Haiti in 2005. The PPN ridiculed the notion that free and democratic elections could be held in the present context of foreign occupation, fierce crackdowns and near-universal hunger.

"This Christmas and the coming New Year's celebration have left a bitter taste in the people's mouth due to the repression of the occupation forces, the former soldiers and the Macoute section chiefs who have returned with a vengeance all over the country," the PPN said. "There is no constitutional order so no elections can be held in the country."

The PPN also condemned talk of a "national conference" as mere "build-up for the fake elections they need to hold."

"What kind of national conference are they talking about when they have carried out the coup d'état/kidnapping of Feb. 29 in an attempt to remove the masses from the political scene?" the PPN asked.

For the planned elections, the party asked similar questions: "What kind of elections can be held when the ruling class sells the country in 2004 on the 200th anniversary of Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the slave masses giving us independence?"

The PPN urged "the masses and all people of good faith" to shun all calls for elections under the current repressive occupation regime and to "organize and struggle for another 1804."

by Margaret FéquiPre

The 12th Annual African Diaspora Film Festival was held in New York from November 26 to December 12, 2004. December 2nd was entitled "A Day in the Caribbean." That day, I had the opportunity to view two premieres: Catch a Fire and How to Conquer America.

Catch a Fire is a brief documentary/reenactment of Reverend Paul Bogle's 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion against slavery in Jamaica. For the Jamaican people, Reverend Bogle was a martyr, renowned for his strength and nobility. The most tragic aspect of his death was that he was sold out by some of the very people that he was fighting for.

In the film, Bogle's great-grandchild walks us through the events that led to the Morant Bay Rebellion and eventually Bogle's death on October 24, 1865. The film left me feeling sad yet angry. It reminded me that our struggle to be free from slavery still continues and that we need time to reflect on the past so that we may avoid repeating the same mistakes.

This serious, thought-provoking documentary was followed by a subtle and humorous film about a night in the life of three Haitians and two Canadians.

How to Conquer America in One Night is a comedy written and directed by Montréal-based Haitian writer Dany LaferriPre. It juxtaposes the struggle of two Haitian men living in a cold country and dreaming of returning to their homeland, with that of one of the men's young nephew, who is immigrating to Canada from Haiti and dreaming about "conquering America in one night." The film is a must-see for those of us who came to North America young and full of aspirations but whom circumstances in life have kept from reaching their full potential.

Danny LaferriPre, known for his books, How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired, On The Verge of a Fever, and now, How To Conquer America in One Night has produced several critically acclaimed films based on his novels. From this sad struggle of living in the diaspora, he reveals the joy of living that is embedded within our culture. Through studying Haitian history, I have often wondered how we have managed to continue the struggle. LaferriPre's latest film answers that question by finding the humor in difficult situations.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED. Please credit Haiti Progres.

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