As for the report of the OAS, even Haitian President
René Préval noted that six of the seven "experts" from
the OAS mission were from the U.S., Canada and France: three countries
that led the coup in 2004 and have nothing but self-interest in the
the election. This alone made the OAS report highly suspect.
Others note that it is useless to decide which candidates should proceed to the runoff. More than 150,000 missing votes were ignored even though the indications are that given the voting patterns in the areas affected, they would have shifted the result to Celestin who only trailed the second place candidate by 0.3 per cent. As well, the OAS mission examined only a sample of the tally sheets and did not use any statistical inference to estimate how the 92 per cent of the tally sheets that it did not examine might have affected the results.
TML denounces the U.S. imperialists as well as Canada, France and other big powers whose involvement in Haiti is for purely self-serving purposes intended to once again make Haitians a subject people. It will not pass! The Haitian people, who won their emancipation and independence with great heroism and sacrifice, firmly reject these attempts to impose on them a foreign agenda. In their struggle they have the unequivocal support of all the justice-loving peoples of the world who take a profound interest in the well-being of the Haitian people and are also fighting against foreign interventions and for sovereign control over their own affairs.
Calls for Aristide's Return
Calls for Aristide's return have only multiplied since former Haitian "President-for-Life" Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier unexpectedly arrived in Haiti on January 16, Kim Ives, Editor of Haiti Liberté, reports. The California-based Haiti Action Committee put a full-page ad in the Jan. 23 Miami Herald, calling "on the Haitian government to immediately renew President Aristide's passport as he has requested, and to facilitate his return, without any conditions, to the country of his birth" as well as "on the international authorities, particularly the United Nations and the United States' government, to end their opposition to President Aristide's return." The ad was signed by dozens of activists, lawyers, journalists, religious figures, artists, scholars, and celebrities, including actors Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, authors Randall Robinson and Eduardo Galeano, filmmaker Oliver Stone, former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, Dr. Paul Farmer, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Ira Kurzban, one of Aristide's lawyers in Miami, in a letter to the Haitian government, asked that preparations for Aristide's return begin immediately. He also asked that the government engage in dialogue with the South African government in order to guarantee the immediate and safe return of Aristide. Aristide has been in exile in South Africa since the 2004 coup orchestrated by the U.S., France and Canada.
On January 31, the Haitian government issued a press release signed by the Minister of the Interior and Territorial Collectivity of Haiti Paul Antoine Bien-Aimé, clarifying its position on the issuance of a passport for Aristide:
"For some time, some reports suggest that the Haitian Government has refused to issue a diplomatic passports to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, thus preventing his return to Haiti.
"The Government of the Republic wishes to correct the facts: the issuing or the renew of a passport is done on request of the interested to the Department of Interior and Local Authorities in the case of an ordinary passport or at the Department of Foreign Affairs in the case of a diplomatic passport.
"It appears that so far neither of these Departments have received the application for the issuance or the renewal of passport from the former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
"The Government of the Republic assured that as soon as produced, such a request will be honoured promptly.
"It wishes to clarify, that an expired passport is not an obstacle to the return of a Haitian citizen to their native country. In cases where this return involves one or more stops in a third country, obtaining an authorization from these countries may be necessary, whether the passport is expired or not."
In a further update, Fritz Longchamp, General Secretary
for the Presidency of Haiti stated, "The Council of Ministers, under
the leadership of President René Préval, decided that a
diplomatic passport be issued to President Aristide, if he asks for
it." None of this is true however. When Kurzban went to Haiti to get
the passport, further obstacles were raised. Kurzban presented a
letter from Aristide to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs requesting a passport be issued, the Ministries of
Foreign Affairs and the Interior presented "pseudo-administrative"
why this could not be done, arguing that Aristide himself was required
to present the request. After demanding that Aristide go to Benin to
file his application, despite his lack of a passport, the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs now says it will accept a scanned letter sent by mail.
Will Swiss Banks Block Release of Stolen Haitian Funds to "Baby Doc" Duvalier?
Since Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier arrived in Haiti on January 12, a question on the minds of many is why he would return. On January 21, he finally held a press conference to say he had landed at the "François Duvalier International Airport," as the Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport had been called prior to his 1986 departure in the face of a nationwide uprising, "to pay homage to the numerous victims of the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010." He was prepared for "all sorts of persecution" and "harassment," he said.
While he offered "condolences to my millions of partisans" who he claimed were persecuted, brutalized and killed after his departure, he expressed no apology but only "deep sadness to my compatriots who recognize, rightly, that they were victims under my Government," not "of" his government. Meanwhile, former political prisoners -- Michèle Montas, Alix Fils-Aimé, Nicole Magloire and Claude Rosier -- filed charges against him on January 19 for "arbitrary imprisonment, exile, destruction of property, physical and psychological torture, and violation of civil and political rights."
It also came to light that Duvalier may have returned to Haiti in an effort to get his hands on some $7.6 million that Swiss authorities have withheld from him. This money, from the funds he stole during his dictatorship, is due to be returned to the Haitian government. Duvalier hoped to reclaim the money if he were to manage to enter Haiti and leave again without being prosecuted and convicted of embezzlement.
However, news agencies report that Switzerland has blocked Duvalier from accessing his frozen Swiss funds under new legislation that came into force February 1. Dubbed the "Duvalier law," the legislation was rushed through the Swiss parliament last year to ease the restitution of assets stolen by corrupt or greedy politicians to their home countries. The Swiss Foreign Ministry confirmed on its website the new law on the restitution of assets of politically exposed persons. "The Duvalier funds were then blocked under article 14," setting in motion the legal process for seizure, it added.
The Swiss government can now ask the finance ministry to file a request for confiscation of the assets with the Federal Administrative Tribunal, foreign ministry spokesperson Jenny Piaget said. In the Duvalier case, the deadline for confiscation "is only one year," Piaget said, compared with 10 years for subsequent new cases. Duvalier still has "the opportunity to demonstrate the legal origin of the frozen funds."
But those are not the only funds Duvalier is after. Following his press conference, three North Americans -- former Georgia congressman Bob Barr, longtime Duvalier family adviser and lawyer Ed Marger and lawyer Mike Puglise -- took questions from reporters.
"Marger, who handled most of the queries, said they were there to help Duvalier collect undelivered reconstruction funds promised by the United States and other countries at the March 31, 2010, UN donors' conference," reported Jonathan Katz of the Associated Press. "He said Duvalier could manage them more effectively than former U.S. President Bill Clinton and distribute them more justly than current Haitian President René Préval."
Kim Ives, Editor of Haiti Liberté points out that clearly Duvalier is not satisfied with the $800 million that he and his cronies embezzled in the 1980s. He has come back to Haiti to see if he -- with Barr & Company's help -- can make off with some of the $10 billion that other nations have promised for Haiti's reconstruction.
Cubans on Frontline of Combatting Cholera Epidemic
Effective Cuban Humanitarian Assistance
Members of the Cuban medical brigade at work in Haiti.
An official report from the Haitian Ministry of Public Health states that as of January 24, nearly 4,030 people have died from the cholera epidemic while 209,034 people are infected with the disease.
The Cuban medical brigade in Haiti, presently 1,200 strong following additional reinforcements sent in December, continues its leading work to contain the epidemic. With the experience gained through their humanitarian medical assistance worldwide and in Haiti for the past 12 years, the Cuban personnel are an experienced and intrepid force. While most of the other foreign assistance is concentrated in the capital Port-au-Prince, Cuba's medics deliberately seek out cholera victims in hard-to-reach rural areas. Dr. Lorenzo Somarriba, coordinator of the Cuban Medical Brigade in Haiti and a Cuban Vice Minister of Health, speaking to Reuters in December pointed out, "We don't look for publicity but we do look for the people." He added, "The Cuban doctors are working in the most difficult places. It's our policy to concentrate on areas outside the national capital," a fact acknowledged by both Haitian and foreign health authorities. "We know the terrain. We have people who speak Creole and the people know us," said Somarriba, citing the 12-year presence of a Cuban medical brigade in Haiti. Cuban medics first came to help after Hurricane George in 1998. He also noted that Cuban doctors and nurses already in Haiti treated the first cases of the cholera outbreak on October 15, 2010 in Mirebalais in the Centre Department, raising the alarm about severe diarrhea later confirmed to be cholera.
Brazil is also helping Cuba carry out its important mission. At a January 2 meeting in Brasilia, the new President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff and the Cuban First Vice-President José Ramón Machado agreed to increase aid to Haiti. Brazil had already committed to provide $80 million to fund a trilateral agreement between Brazil-Cuba-Haiti. This program includes the renovation and reconstruction of hospitals, health clinics and other centers of basic health care, the establishment of a National Centre for Epidemiology, provision of ambulances, vaccination and awareness campaigns. Brazil and Cuba "will seek other means under existing agreements, to provide more effective and complete assistance in the health care field in Haiti,” President Rousseff said.
Canadian Network on Cuba Steps Up
May 5, 2010: CNC spokesperson Professor Isaac Saney (centre) in Havana with Haitian youth being trained as doctors at the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba.
The Canadian Network on Cuba is stepping up its "Cuba for Haiti" campaign which supports the work of the Cuban medical and humanitarian personnel in Haiti. Professor Keith Ellis, coordinator of the Cuba for Haiti Campaign, reports that the fundraising campaign has been going very well and the Canadian Network on Cuba has been able to send $214,000 so far to the account established in Havana for this purpose.
"It is necessary for us to continue our campaign with full zeal, with agile imagination and in the spirit of Cuba, with an acute awareness of clever propaganda that can subtly undermine our efforts,” Professor Ellis says. He continues, “For example, U.S. sources, knowing of the effectiveness of Cuban humanitarian efforts, have placed in U.S. newspapers items that have suggested that the United States is cooperating with Cuba in its work in Haiti. This kind of 'information,' which is in fact completely false, implies a genuine positive U.S. internationalism of humanitarianism and cooperativeness that gives undue credit to the U.S. It also tends to make any Cuban opposition to U.S. activities seem like obstinate obstructionism. It is certainly harmful to our fundraising efforts, since it gives the impression that, with the great material resources that the United States can potentially command to help Cuba's work in Haiti, our efforts to support Cuba to help Haiti are not of vital importance. In fact, these great material resources are chimeral for Haitians, since the substantial amounts pledged to Haiti by the U.S. (and other wealthy countries) have not been reaching Haiti, unless one counts as part of those amounts the money that pays for keeping 20,000 U.S. troops in that country. We must remember that, within 24 hours of the occurrence of the earthquake, Cuban doctors had attended to 1,109 Haitian patients and that the U.S. medical team, represented by the U.S. hospital ship USNS Comfort, spent nearly two months in a Haitian harbour giving very useful aid to only 871 patients.
"[...] The Cuba for Haiti contributions go into a special account in Cuba, ensuring that 100% of all donations are used for medical support and aid to Haiti. We have no administrative expenses. All work on this campaign is voluntary. We are working directly with the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa and the Consulate General in Toronto."
TML calls on everyone to support the important work of Cuba's medical and humanitarian brigades in Haiti and spread the word about the Cuba for Haiti Campaign. Donations should be made as follows: make a cheque payable to the Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund, taking care to write "Cuba for Haiti" on the memo line, and mail it to: The Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund, Att: Sharon Skup, 56 Riverwood Terrace, Bolton, ON L7E 1S4. A charitable receipt will be issued by the Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund (Charitable Org -- Revenue Canada Reg. #88876 9197RR0001). To get involved or to find out more about the Cuba for Haiti Campaign contact Keith Ellis, phone: 905-822-1972, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campaign to Free Puerto Rican Political Prisoners
Oscar López Rivera
TML condemns the U.S. Parole Commission hearing held on January 5 at which examiner Mark Tanner announced he would recommend that Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera be denied parole. There were no grounds to deny parole because Rivera has been a model prisoner for 30 years and was never convicted of any violent act. Despite this, he was brought to the hearing handcuffed to a chain around his waist by eight Bureau of Prisons personnel to give the impression he poses a threat and, in a clear attempt to prejudice the outcome of the hearing, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald provided a seven-page letter which listed acts unrelated to Oscar's case so as to paint him as a violent and dangerous person. The examiner Tanner also heard live testimony from four people he characterized as "victims" -- a wounded survivor and family members of people who died in the 1975 explosion in New York's Fraunces Tavern. Oscar was not accused or convicted of anything related to the explosion or any violent crime. (Fitzgerald is the same U.S. attorney currently spearheading government attacks against anti-war and pro-Palestinian activists in Chicago.)
López Rivera's attorney Jan Susler protested the chains and demanded their removal but was overruled. She vehemently objected to the inconclusive evidence. She attempted to bring Tanner's attention to the matter at hand, reciting the criteria for release on parole and demonstrating how the evidence proved that Oscar meets the criteria:
- In the past 30 years of prison, he has not been
accused of violating a single prison rule;
- His release would not depreciate the seriousness of the offense or promote disrespect for the law;
- Release would not jeopardize the public welfare.
In 1999 López Rivera and 13 other Puerto Rican
independence fighters were offered clemency by outgoing President Bill
Clinton. López Rivera turned it down because two other comrades
were not included in the offer and he vowed to serve out the remainder
of his term. In the end, 12 people were
released and the two that López Rivera wanted freed at the time
have since been released. López Rivera has met the conditions as
set by Clinton's clemency, yet despite this, Tanner determined that
Oscar, who has already served 30 years, either be held in prison until
his mandatory release date in 2023 or serve
another 15 years before being reconsidered for parole, whichever comes
It must also be remembered that fellow Puerto Rican
patriot Avelino González Claudio also remains in prison. He was
arrested in 2008 for his involvement with the Puerto Rican
independence movement, having evaded U.S. authorities for 20 years. Now
aged 67 and suffering from
Parkinson's disease, he was sentenced to seven years in prison in May
Various organizations supporting Oscar López Rivera are carrying forward with efforts to demand the Parole Commission reject Tanner's recommendation and order his release on parole.
As part of the longstanding rejection of U.S. colonialism, Puerto Ricans succeeded in evicting the U.S. Navy from the island of Vieques after 62 years on May 1, 2003.
Oscar López Rivera has
already spent 30 years in
prison on charges of seditious conspiracy that were unjust and illegal
from the start. As a fighter for Puerto Rican independence from U.S.
colonialism, he has the right to resist U.S. occupation. It is not
sedition when the aim is ending colonialism. It is colonialism
that is the crime and resistance a right of those occupied. It is
precisely because Oscar continues to wage this battle with fortitude
and integrity that the U.S. government is punishing him. Despite 30
years in prison, many in solitary confinement, Oscar remains
unvanquished in his stand for Puerto Rican independence
and for the rights of all.
The U.S. has colonized Puerto Rico since 1898, and made
every effort to crush the struggle for independence, using
assassinations, jailings and violence against the resistance. It has
imposed such poverty on the country that millions of Puerto Ricans come
to the U.S. to live. But like Oscar, who came
at the age of twelve, their heart and their struggle remain with Puerto
Rican independence. We salute Oscar and all those fighting for
independence for Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico belongs to the Puerto Ricans and the U.S.
must get out now!
Oscar should never have been charged or jailed in the first place. He has a place of honor in the ranks of all those resisting for his integrity to the just causes of the people and his determined stand for Puerto Rican independence -- something which would counter U.S. aggression and contribute to peace and progress in the world.
The U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization vehemently denounces the continued imprisonment of Oscar López Rivera and demands that he be released now! We urge President Obama to immediately grant unconditional clemency. We urge everyone to join in demanding Oscar's release and in supporting the just struggle of the Puerto Rican people for independence.
Puerto Rico for the Puerto Ricans!
Website: www.cpcml.ca Email: email@example.com