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28882: Selby (ask) foreign discourse about Haiti, rape (fwd)

From: Lynn Selby <lselby@mail.utexas.edu>


I heard word-of-mouth that the infamous cablegram from the U.S. embassy on April 22, 1994 that claimed that rape is a part of Haitian "culture" was actually echoing a statement made by the papal nuncio. I have not been able to find any other sources/publications to substantiate this, and I would really appreciate help from any one interested in the Corbett discussion group on the supposed comment by the papal nuncio, the issue of representation of rape in Haiti, and of sexuality and Black women in Haiti. I learned about the cablegram through a really good anthropology dissertation written by Erica Caple James in 2003. I am providing a quote from the cablegram cited in her dissertation for your reference. The cable gram was sent from the U.S. embassy to then Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, and others in the (Papa) Bush administration.

A case in point is the sudden epidemic of rapes reported by pro-Aristide human rights activists and by the ICM.[1] For a range of /cultural /reasons (not pleasant to contemplate), rape has never been considered or reported as a serious crime here….We are, frankly, suspicious of the sudden, high number of reported rapes, particularly in this /culture/, occurring at the same time that Aristide activists seek to draw a comparison between Haiti and Bosnia.[2] [author’s emphasis]

Much thanks in advance. Please contact me directly at lselby@mail.utexas.edu.

[1] ICM: International Civilian Mission

[2] As quoted in James 2003, 243.