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a773: This Week in Haiti 19:48 2/13/2002 (fwd)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Haiti Progrès" <email@example.com>
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French
and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100,
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
February 13 - 19, 2002
Vol. 19, No. 48
DOMINIQUE/LOUISSAINT MURDER INVESTIGATION STYMIED AGAIN
After five months of deliberation, a special commission of the
Haitian Senate charged with determining if the body should lift
the legal immunity of Sen. Dany Toussaint announced Jan. 31 that
it did not have enough information to make a recommendation.
Toussaint is charged with involvement in the murders of Radio
Haiti director Jean Dominique and his caretaker Jean-Claude
Louissaint on Apr. 3, 2000 (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 18, No. 3,
The commission's long-delayed non-recommendation came just one
week after investigating judge Claudy Gassant was effectively
removed from the case on Jan. 23, when President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide failed to renew his mandate, which expired Jan. 4, and
instead replaced him with three new judges: Josua Agnant, Bernard
Sainvil and Joachim Saint-Clair. Gassant is now staying with
relatives in southern Florida for security reasons.
After questioning Toussaint several times, Gassant last year
formally charged the senator with involvement in the murders and
asked the Senate to lift his immunity. Toussaint and his lawyers
claim that Gassant's investigation is part of a plot to discredit
him and President Jean Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family party
(FL), to which the senator belongs.
"The commission feels that it does not have in its possession the
essential elements that would enable it to make an unequivocal
recommendation in strict respect of Article 115 of the
Constitution," declared Sen. Victor Magloire on behalf of the
six-member commission. Article 115 states that no legislator may
be "arrested" unless s/he is caught "in the act" of committing a
crime or unless "the House of which [s/]he is a member"
The long document presented by the Senate commission, which also
included Sens. Harry Desiré, Fourel Célestin, Immacula Bazile,
Youseline Bell, and Mirlande Libérus Pavert, was illogical and
diversionary, according to Sen. Gérald Gilles. "It is a report
which is filled with contradictions, lies, and which is not
balanced," he bitterly complained.
"You say that you couldn't obtain enough information, but that's
the flagrant contradiction," said Sen. Prince Sonson Pierre, who
has been one of the most vocal critics of the Senate's
obstruction of the Dominique/Louissaint investigation. "There is
a principle that the investigation should be secret and that the
Senate should not interfere in it. This body cannot give itself
judicial powers. If you gather all the information, you will have
gathered all the evidence, and then you will pronounce the
verdict! It would no longer be necessary to carry out an
investigation or to lift the immunity of the senator so that he
can go before the courts."
"The commission trespassed into the judicial process," asserted
Sen. Lans Clonès. "In the end, it did not even do what it was
supposed to, namely to declare whether or not it is necessary to
lift the senator's parliamentary immunity."
Although Gilles, Pierre, and Clonès are the only three senators
(out of 19 in the exclusively FL chamber) to regularly speak out
in favor of lifting immunity, Toussaint was not taking any
chances on the day of the commission's report. He arrived at the
Parliament with an impressive detachment of armed bodyguards who
brazenly ignored the requests of Sen. President Yvon Neptune that
they not enter onto the Senate floor. Their menacing presence
threw a chill over the session's "debate."
Robert Ménard, the secretary-general of the Paris-based Reporters
Without Borders (RSF) wrote in a letter to President Jean-
Bertrand Aristide last month that "the murder of Jean Dominique
and the numerous obstructions to Judge Gassant's investigation
are a symbol of the impunity that exists in Haiti. With the
replacement of Gassant, there is now virtually no hope of finding
out the truth about the killing, especially if the authorities
continue to block the investigation."
Pierre Espérance of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights
echoed this assessment. "The three new judges are going to take a
lot of time to reconstruct the facts and reassemble the case," he
said. "The executive has thus chosen the road of impunity."
"The conduct of President Aristide reminds us of the saying of
the famous French politician, Thiers," quipped Ben Dupuy,
secretary general of the National Popular Party (PPN). "He said:
'When I want to get rid of a problem, I just name a commission.'
There have already been enough diversions in this case, and it
would have been much more simple to just renew [Judge Gassant's]
Patrick Elie of Echo Voix Jean Dominique, an organization close
to Radio Haiti Inter and pressing for justice in the
Dominique/Louissaint murders, also questioned the new three-
judge commission and said there was no reason to remove Judge
Gassant from the case unless it could be proven he was
"incompetent" or involved in "shady dealings."
President Jean Bertrand Aristide has proposed to meet with Echo
Voix Jean Dominique after Carnaval, which culminated Feb. 10 -
12. But unless Gassant is reinstated and Toussaint's immunity is
lifted, it is hard to see where such a meeting can lead.
WATCHING AND BURNING
by Katia Ulysse
Tanya lives on the sidewalk, a few blocks south of the White
House. She sits on a bundle of rags, her precious belongings. The
sun rises and sets on her shoulders. Time unravels before her
like the stitches in her tattered dress. The conversations of
passersby fall on her like drops of rain. Those who notice her
decide she is insignificant - another san fanmi child of the
streets. Others rush by, year after year, oblivious to her
I see Tanya every day. She smiles as if she knows something no
one else does. If I move too fast and seem to ignore her greeting
- and she is used to being ignored - she swallows the 'hello'
quickly, keeping her dignity. When I stop and ask her, "What's
going on?" Tanya replies: "I'm alive. I'm still here," then
laughs in spite of her destitution.
Haiti floats on the sea, a stone's throw from Washington, DC. She
sits on a bundle of history, her treasured possessions. The sun
also rises and sets on her shoulders. Time unfurls and billows in
a storm of promises. Some say she is inconsequential, a worn-out
I see Haiti every day: in the eyes of market women staring down
from kaleidoscopic canvases, in tureens of Premier Janvier
pumpkin soup, in the headlines, between the lines - dividing the
Brooklyn Bridge, in mothers' mourning dresses, in the narratives
of gifted dyas girl- and boy children, on yellow Post-it notes at
the bank - inside a circular file, in the footnotes of ecological
studies, in Jean-Robert Simeon's unflinching pride, in the
tempestuous drum song of a man who braved the ocean with a
goat-skinned dream strapped to his back - like a cross. I see
Haiti in the scalpel of a surgeon, meticulously restoring a dying
man's lifeline, in a church thronged with a thousand worshippers
on Sunday morning, at the wharf - where the conch isn't quite a
conch, but the smell of the Potomac River still takes me back to
a deserted resort near Baie des Cayes - the tourists had left in
a hurry. I see Haiti in kreyòl on the Metro, the subway, on the
Internet, in art galleries, at the movies, on prime-time TV, at
conferences where intellectuals converge to discuss the
particulars of poverty, at Saturday evening dinners where
relatives threaten to reveal, once and for all, what Kaseyol told
the cow, at research facilities from San Francisco to
Switzerland, at universities where young anthropologists decode
the pawol vye granmoun. I see Haiti before closing my eyes at
night: in the black and white oil waterfall cascading from the
frame on the wall.
Some see Haiti the way they see Tanya - in her little corner
south of the White House, sitting on a bundle of rags, her
precious possessions. Others fly by, year after year, oblivious
to her existence. If you stop and ask: "Sak Pase?" What's going
on? She might say, "Ma p gade. ma p boule." Watching and
- - -
Katia Ulysse was born in Haiti. She grew up in the U. S., where
she lives and writes. Her work recently appeared in "The
Butterfly's Way," an anthology of Haitian voices edited by
Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat. A collection of Ms.
Ulysse's short stories will be published in 2002.
THE BROKEN GLASS
by Michel Sanon
I may have awakened
With a distorted sense
Of a reality drowned
In the rising tide
Of virtual humanity.
Otherwise, I may have been
Caught in the fuzz of dreams
By the subconscious
Of a brave collectivity
Casting stones of scourge
At its own shadow.
How is one to handle
The deceptive pieces
Of the perennial glass
Which hasn't stopped breaking
Since the infamous day
Of the great emperor's death?
Here, in my humble hands
Bruised and trembling
With pains untold,
I try to hold and reunite
The puzzling pieces
Each so precious to the whole.
I knew somebody's hands
Had to get through the flames.
I knew somebody's hands
Had to suffer the nails
Within the realm of pettiness
And sterile politics,
The grip of which must be broken.
As I try to perform
This legitimate task
To the mere mortal,
I witness with anguish
The constant mutation
Of friends and foes,
Of sheep and wolves
And life flip-flops
In the twilight zone.
I would never loose sight
Of the diverse pieces
Of the broken glass
Broken by the sheer weight
Of selfishness and pride,
And the perfidious intrusion
Of imperialist ghosts
Who glory in and profit
>From the woes of our home
And the bleeding of our hearts.
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.