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Chase those crazy baldheads out of town: Resisting the rise of authoritarianism in occupied Haiti

Editorial Statement: As protesters prepare for another manifestation on Sunday, June 9, LeftEast publishes this piece on the current events in Haiti by the Anakawona Collective in cooperation with Commune.

“To change things, we need to be outraged./ If we are outraged, we will organize./ If we are organized, we will become stronger./ If we are stronger, we will rise.”

—Endiye, Fè l an Kreyòl,[1] Guerchang Bastia

A wave of anti-government protests has been taking place in Haiti since February 7 (Photo: Alba Movimientos)

On February 7, 2019,[2] thousands of Haitians took to the streets of Port-au-Prince and other major cities such as Cap-Haitien, Gonaives, and Jacmel to demand the prosecution of governmental officials and business elites who embezzled over $4.2 billion of Venezuela’s PetroCaribe loan to Haiti over the last ten years.[3] Shaking tree branches with leaves, protestors marched to the beat of Rara[4] bands chanting “Jovenel! Today is February 7 and you must go!” They called for the removal of current president Jovenel Moise of the Parti Haitien Tèt Kale (Haitian Party of Baldheads, PHTK),[5] whose company Agritrans S.A.[6] was identified in the partial report delivered by the Cour Supérieure des Comptes et du Contentieux Administratif (Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation).[7] Posters read: “Down with hunger! Down with the high cost of living!”; “We are tired of Jovenel!”; “The wasteful state and system need to disappear!”; “Where is the PetroCaribe money? We are tired of asking for it!”; “Tie the looters of PetroCaribe up!”. One dissident even burned a U.S. American flag and called on Russia’s Vladimir Putin to take over the management of the country.

In Port-au-Prince in particular, many protestors burned tires and cars and erected wood pellets and large rocks as blockades into the center of the city near the ruins of the Palais National (National Palace) and Palais Législatif (Legislative Palace). As such, they paralyzed Haiti’s most important port and largest distribution point. They interrupted transportation and (inter)national trade coming from and through the capital to the northern and southern regions of the country. Some incinerated gas stations and others raided stores for food, household and luxury goods. Dissenters declared a countrywide lockdown (“Peyi Lòk”)—what we might call a general strike. All commercial activities ceased for ten days. Armored men (various police corps and presidential security forces) responded by killing dozens of unarmed rebels. The Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (National Defense Network of Human Rights) reports that 40 people were murdered and 82 injured.[8]

Demonstrators flee as Haitian Police open fire, during the clashes, in the centre of Haitian Capital Port-au-Prince, February 13, 2019, on the seventh day of protests against Haitian President Jovenel Moise. Hector Retamal / AFP.

In a communiqué on the U.S. Embassy’s website on February 10,[9] the Core Group[10] applauded the “professionalism of the Haitian National Police” and decried the “loss of life and property damage caused by the unacceptable acts of violence” of protestors. President Moise followed suit with his own address to the nation on February 14. Warning of civil war, he denounced “the opposition” for marching alongside drug dealers and gangsters who “rape young girls, murder young men, and burn police officers.” Claiming the same “social origins” as the masses, he decried their victimization by the system and implored them to patiently wait for development instead of protesting. Moise emphasized his pride in the police and tasked them to arrest those who terrorize the population. Conjuring God, he concluded his speech by inviting “the opposition” to sit down and dialogue with him and by thanking the “international community” for their support in the “domain of security.”[11]

Dis-entangling the masses and the issues

Marchers on February 7 were primarily mobilized by one of three major coalitions: the PetroChallengers- discussed later; the Konbit Òganizasyon Politik, Sendikal ak Popilè (Konbit[12] of Political, Syndicated and Popular Organizations) regrouping various grassroots organizations, unions, and intellectuals such as Mouvement Démocratique Populaire (Popular Democratic Movement, MODEP), Mouvement de Liberté d’Égalité des Haitiens pour la Fraternité (Movement for Liberty and Equality of Haitians for Fraternity, MOLEGHAF), the Union Nationale des Normaliens et Normaliennes Haitiens (Union of Haitian Teachers), the socialist party Rasin Kan Pèp (Roots of the People’s Camp);and the “opposition” to the Baldheads that includes former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas (The Lavalas Family) and the Secteur Démocratique et Populaire (Democratic and Popular Sector) led by Platfòm Pitit Desalin (Platform of Dessalines’ Children)and Ayiti an Aksyon (Haitian in Action). Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of the players. We should also assume that many “unorganized” people were among the protestors. Though the different dissenters advance different analyses of the socio-economic crisis in Haiti (and distinct solutions), they converged around the PetroCaribe scandal.      

Established by Venezuela in June 2005, PetroCaribe is an Energy Cooperation Agreement to provide preferential payment arrangement to some Caribbean and Latin American countries for petroleum and petroleum products. The PetroCaribe energy bloc challenged the monopoly capitalism and predatory imperialism of the United States in the Americas. Unlike loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank, PetroCaribe honors sovereignty. The Venezuelan state does not require the receiving state to adopt specific governance and trade policies. Haiti signed the Agreement in 2007 after popular pressure on (now deceased) former president Rene Préval. In 2008, Préval’s administration created the Bureau de Monétisation des Programmes d’Aide au Développement (Monetization Bureau of Development Aid Programs, BMPAD) to manage the funds.[13] The BMPAD placed orders with Petróleos de Venezuela SA (Petroleum of Venezuela SA, PDVSA) for barrels of gasoil, gasoline, and mazut. Trading companies like Novum Energy Trading, Inc.[14] transported the petroleum products from Port José in the northeast of Venezuela to the only two ports in Haiti (located in the capital) where six companies who also own the gas stations throughout the country stored the goods. The BMPAD then collected revenues from distributors to repay 40 to 70% of their debt to Venezuela on a flexible schedule. The PetroCaribe accord allowed Haiti to keep the balance to reinvest in development, paying it off over the next 25 years at 1% interest rate with money or goods and services. Notably, after the 2010 earthquake, Venezuela forgave $395 million of the debt. In February 2018, as a result of the first set of U.S. sanctions interdicting business transactions with Venezuela in U.S. dollars, Haitian president Moise ceased to import petroleum from PDVSA. By January 2019, he voted against Nicolas Maduro’s recognition as the legitimate president of Venezuela in the Organization of American States (OAS), a supranational organization of nation-states in the Americas, created in 1948 to counter the Third World project of national liberation.[15]
Credit: Ayiti Nou Vle A with song by rapper K-Libr.

An estimated $4.2 billion borrowed for development and not one completed project. Unfinished bridges, partial roads, half-baked soccer stadiums. No new hospitals, no new roads, no sewage and trash system, no new housing (especially since the earthquake), no new schools, no social programs, no subsidies on basic commodities. This against 58.5% of the population living under the poverty line with $2.41 per day, a 40.6% unemployment rate, a minimum wage varying from 215 to 800 gourdes ($2.54 to $9.45) per day, an exchange rate of almost 90 gourdes for $1, a maternal mortality rate of 529 deaths per 100,000 live births, an infant mortality rate of 59 deaths per 1,000 live births, life expectancy of 64 years, 0.7 hospital beds per 1,000 people. 7.4 million out of more than 10 million people in the country are without electricity, and 51.2% of foodstuffs are imported. On the Global Climate Risk Index of 2018, Haiti was ranked among the top most vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather events related to climate change.

The petite bourgeoisie in Haiti is at best nominal. Middle class social status is based on the perception of comfort and access. Petit bourgeois status holders manage the matters of the colonial state, the largest employer in the country; execute non-governmental (humanitarian and development) policies; and oversee the affairs of the local import-export and textile subcontracting bourgeoisie. The majority of the population outside this small group serves as surplus labor that migrates temporarily and permanently to the capital, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Miami, New York, Montreal, Brazil, and Chile to labor in textile factories, sugarcane fields and other plantations, fast food restaurants, and people’s homes. Note that 2 out 1,000 people leave the country. These transnational workers with varying (il)legal statuses send remittances to relatives in Haiti, valued at $2 billion per year. Consider that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a little over $8 billion.

“The scramble for Haiti” and the rise of the Baldheads

State corruption and predation of course are not new in Haiti. Though moments “have their historical specificity, they also exhibit similarities and continuities with other moments,” according to Marxist intellectual Stuart Hall. “Moments,” he testifies, “are always conjunctural.” The genocide of one million Indigenous people, and the enslavement of one million Africans over more than one hundred years made possible the “Pearl of the Antilles,” France’s most lucrative sugar-producing colony in the eighteenthcentury. Westernized “postcolonial” statesmen would upend the Revolution of 1804 to reinforce the plantation system and renew the country’s dependence and indebtedness to France. In the early twentieth century, they would welcome the new regional power—the United States—to assume Haiti’s tutelage (1915-1934). The U.S. occupation of Haiti (and other countries in the region) facilitated Wall Street’s colonization of the Caribbean through the maintenance of the extractivist model, the formation of a local military, and the imposition of “Jim Crow” (racial segregation) laws.[16] Sanctioned by “Uncle Sam” during the Cold War, the Duvalier family continued the privatization of sovereignty through the brute use of military and paramilitary forces for 29 years (1957-1986). The three-decade long struggle to overthrow the Duvalier dictatorship culminated in the first democratic election of liberation theologist Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991. The transition to democracy, however, was short lived. In less than one year, the U.S. Army School of the Americas-trained military deposed the charismatic leader. The latter returned from exile in 1994 to disband the army.[17] In its place, Aristide established a Haitian National Police, ironically trained by the U.S.-led United Nations missionary troops who accompanied him and whose mandates were renewed uninterruptedly until the second coup d’état against him in 2004.[18]

That same year, that is the bicentennial anniversary of the Revolution that established Haiti as the “first Black republic”[1], five thousand Brazilian army-led United Nations Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH) troops invaded the country and the Core Group- composed of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the European Union, the United States and the Special Representative of the Organization of American States- formed. Apparently, Aristide’s acquiescence to lower tariffs, which led to the collapse of national production, had not sufficiently restructured the economy. The MINUSTAH surveilled, raped and murdered residents, including children, in Haitian “popular neighborhoods”[19] where armed supporters of the deposed leader organized resistance.[20] Since its formation, the Core Group facilitates the new “scramble for Haiti.” It supported former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s appropriation of more than $6 billion of emergency relief funds through the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (ICRH) after the 2010 earthquake.[21]

The Core Group also assisted the Haitian Party of Baldheads’ rise to power with its nomination of president Michel Martelly in 2011, a neo-Duvalierist singer. Martelly declared Haiti “open for business” especially for extractivist export-oriented enterprises like agribusiness, tourism, mining, and textile factories in free trade zones. “The legal bandit”[22] amended the 1987 Constitution allowing for dual citizenship and consequently, foreign ownership of land. He also welcomed Jean-Claude Duvalier back to the country after twenty-five years of exile. Since Martelly’s election, the state collects $1.50 from every wire transaction via Western Union and MoneyGram coming into the country. Martelly stayed silent about the cholera epidemic unleashed by the MINUSTAH in 2010 that killed almost 9,000 and infected over 665,000 people to date. Moreover, he never denounced the forced repatriation of more than 300,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent including ten thousand unaccompanied children since 2013. [23] Perhaps, it is the artist’s relationship to Dominican officials like Senator Felix Bautista whose construction company Hadom received (Haitian) government contracts of more than $200 million for incomplete projects that deterred him. Under Martelly’s administration, two-thirds of the PetroCaribe funds were laundered.

Source: Wikimedia.

In October 2017, the United Nations Mission Justice Support for Haiti (MINUJUSTH), now led by India, replaced the MINUSTAH. Martelly’s successor, the current appointed president Jovenel Moise, began to reconstitute the Haitian armed forces. Since the beginning of this year, 2019, the International Organization of Migration (IOM), in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, has been funding the border patrol police POLIFRONT. In their effort to augment border security in their War on Terror, the U.S. also bankrolls the Dominican Cuerpo Especializado en Seguridad Fronteriza Terrestre (Specialized Border Security Corps, CESFRONT) established in 2013. Note that the formal border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic was erected in 1929 during the U.S. occupation of the entire island.

Opposing the Baldheads

In 2011, Michel Martelly was confirmed as the president alongside the 99-member Chamber of Deputies and 11 out of 30 senate seats, none of whom were from his party PHTK. Martelly immediately fired the members of the Conseil Electoral Provisoire (Provisional Electoral Council, CEP), responsible for organizing elections that year. He only formed a new CEP after the terms of another one-third of the Senate seats had expired. Meeting the 16-member quorum needed to legislate became difficult. By 2015, when the terms of another third of the Senate and the entire 99-seat Chamber of Deputies concluded, Martelly dissolved the legislature and ruled by decree. In consequence, “the opposition” joined protestors in 2016 to reject the questionable election of PHTK presidential candidate Jovenel Moise, who was under investigation at the time by the state organism Unité Centrale des Renseignements Financiers (Central Intelligence Office on Financial Information, UCREF) for money laundering. An interim government was put in place during this crisis. Senator of Artibonite (one of 10 regional departments of Haiti) Youri Latortue of Ayiti an Aksyon immediately created a Commission Éthique et Anti-corruption (Commission of Ethics and Anti-corruption) to investigate the management of PetroCaribe funds. The resulting August 2016 report accused high dignitaries including Martelly’s first Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. A second Commission Sénatoriale Spéciale d’Enquête sur le fonds PetroCaribe (Special Senatorial Commission to Investigate the PetroCaribe Funds) in 2017 produced a (“methodologically flawed”) 647-page elaboration of the first findings.[24]

Senator Latortue heading an anti-corruption commission is laughable. Consider that he was a member of the Forces Armées d’Haiti (Haitian Armed Forces, FAdH) and participated as a lieutenant in the first coup d’état against Aristide in 1991. He was also accused of leading death squads during the military junta control of the country (1991-1994). When Aristide disbanded the army upon his return to Haiti 1994, Latortue (like other former army members) joined the police force and was later integrated into the presidential palace’s security team. Latortue left the service before Aristide’s second term started in 2001. He spent the next years traveling abroad and organizing alongside other former army members to overthrow Aristide again in 2004. Latortue is also known for drug dealing and kidnapping.[25]

Resisting occupation, neoliberalism, and the Baldheads

Though corruption and (il)legal violence profoundly shape life in the Caribbean country, the recent rearrangement of power relations, of course, is not uncontested. In particular, social movement organizations used the 2010 earthquake as a political opening to initiate another wave of resistance to neoliberalism and occupation. For example, in November 2011, national syndicate Batay Ouvriye (Workers’ Struggle) organized a conference that culminated into a march in Cap-Haitien along with its national and inter/national homologues (from Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, France, and the U.S.) to denounce the UN occupation and the “Clinton Plan.”[26] In October 2013, socialist feminist federation Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (Haitian Woman in Solidarity, SOFA) led several other feminist and allied organizations to hold symbolic parliamentary sessions to decry the elision of women from the state, President Martelly’s dismissal of elected municipals, his delay of senatorial and other local elections, the state’s collaboration with the occupation, its refusal to officialize the domestic servitude and electoral quota reform laws, its cooptation of the Ministère à la Condition Féminine et aux Droits des Femmes (Ministry of the Feminine Condition and Women’s Rights), and its destruction of national production and traditional farming methods. Since 2013, organizations like Mouvement de Liberté d’Égalité des Haitiens pour la Fraternité (Movement for Liberty and Equality of Haitians for Fraternity, MOLEGHAF) based in the “popular neighborhood” of Belair coordinate street protests against election fraud, corruption, and occupation.[27] Recall too, the countrywide shutdown of last July 2018 (which was reduced in the mainstream media in Haiti and abroad as nothing more than looting and violence) after the announcement of yet another rise in gas prices.[28] So, the PetroCaribe Challenge is inscribed in this particular round of resistance against colonialism, Empire, and emerging authoritarianism.

PetroCaribe Challenge: A renewed cycle of struggle

On Sep. 2, hundreds marched through Port-au-Prince to ask where money from the PetroCaribe Fund had gone. Credit: Milo Milfort/Haïti Liberté

The PetroCaribe Challenge[29] was launched in mid-August 2018 when artists and cultural workers in Haiti and its diaspora took up the hashtag “Kot kòb PetroCaribe a? (Where is the PetroCaribe money?)” on their social media pages. Movement adherents called for on-the-ground demonstrations a few days later. Challengers mobilized on Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, and Instagram through memes, informational videos, and press releases. With relatively educated young people between 15 and 54 making up almost 60% of the population living in the country, more than 55% of the population living in urban areas and almost 6.5 million people with access to mobile devices, the difficulties of mobility within and outside of the territory, robust diasporas located at different sites in the Empire, and the control of mainstream (traditional) media by local elites, social media outlets presented as ripe opportunities to organize surplus populations seeking new formations and leadership and new visions for an alternative development. By the third march on October 17, marking the anniversary of the death of the Haitian Republic’s founding father Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the PetroCaribe movement rallied more than 100,000 protestors throughout the country to denounce their inability to assure their own social reproduction. Protests also took place in Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haitien, Gonaives, Jacmel, as well as in Miami, New York, Montreal, and Paris.[30]

Anticorruption demonstrations are cyclical in Haiti and are typically led by organizations and people who identify as working class. This time, the political landscape is complicated with the emergence of new actors from the so-called middle class (petit bourgeois), people in their late twenties to late thirties with tertiary degrees, professionals (entrepreneurs, filmmakers, sociologists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, singers/rappers), some of whom lived and/or studied abroad in France, the U.S., and Canada. PetroChallengers grew up under the terror of paramilitary groups that protected the power of the military junta which led the first coup d’état against President Aristide in 1991. At best, they are ambivalent about this deposed leader. They constitute a generation whose elementary and secondary school history books abscond the realities of the Duvalier dictatorship and the Cold War in Haiti. They grew up listening and dancing to the “King of Konpa”[31] Michel Martelly and perhaps trusted him to deliver on the promise he made during his inaugural speech in 2011 to assist the growth of the middle class, what he called “the economic engine of a country” and to “open Haiti for business.”[32]

Women are central and visible organizers of the PetroCaribe movement. Many participants are members of preexisting “traditional” organizations,[33] notably the Sèk Gramsci (Gramsci’s Circle);[34] but most are affiliated with the group Ayiti Nou Vle A (The Haiti We Want, ANVA) that pushed the original tweet in August 2018. Since December 2018, these disparate challengers assembled into the group Nou Pap Dòmi (We Are Watching)[35] and meet at the LGBT-friendly café in downtown Port-au-Prince Yanvalou, around the corner from the Superior Court of Accounts. To disassociate themselves from the political machinery (what they call “politics”), PetroChallengers define themselves as “engaged citizens” comprising a “social” rather than a “political” movement.[36]

PetroChallengers are from an educated generation who are social media savvy. Movement messaging (namely short informational videos and posters about unfinished projects) is primarily in Kreyòl, the language common to all Haitians (as opposed to French), and is shared via social media platforms to bridge geographical gaps. Challengers make use of historical dates to plan and execute their actions which consist mostly of sit-ins and marches. Their last sit-in in front of the Superior Court of Accounts took place on April 26, a date commemorating a bloody massacre in 1963 perpetrated by Duvalier’s Tonton Makout (boogey men). What PetroChallengers demand is a full investigation of the spending of Venezuela solidarity funds and subsequent indictment, trial, and imprisonment of the culprits: a clique of governmental officials and business elites (some embodying both roles).

With the release on May 31, 2019 of the Superior Court’s 600-page report on the misuse of 77% of PetroCaribe funds, Nou Pap Dòmi is officially (like “the opposition”) demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise. This coming June 9, the group has planned another protest. Ultimately, PetroChallengers seek to expose the opacity and corruption that uphold the colonial state, and as such to heighten the contradictions of the “system” that permits only a few to over-accumulate capital, in this case through national debt, while most fail to reproduce themselves socially.

Beyond protests: The horizon

A mosaic of actors manage a repression that marks a neoliberal mode of governance and governmentality in the Caribbean country. The current conjuncture brings to light the formation of new regional blocs under U.S. tutelage and thus the need to complicate and disentangle South-South relations. While the U.S. is busy warring to maintain the conditions for further capitalist expansion in the Middle East, it exploits the imperialist aspirations of Brazil and India to outsource its control over Haiti. The current conjuncture also exposes the collusion of and fissures between the various national and international institutions and corporations operating the state apparatus. Having inherited a fractured state, President Moise endeavors to monopolize all forms of power under the protection of the “international community.” As Haitian-American anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot reminds us, contrarily to the dominant discourses on Haiti that travel throughout the world, the Haitian state is neither a failed or weak one. It does what it was designed to do since inception; it oversees the contradictions of capitalist accumulation for some, and premature death, for most.

The current conjuncture then is an opportunity to seriously propose an abandonment of the neoliberal extractivist project of development and instead to amplify already existing experiments with new non-capitalist practices. At its official (online) inauguration last November, Ayiti Nou Vle A (The Haiti We Want, ANVA) invited the country at large to participate in drawing up a 30-year plan out of the crisis.[37] A similar effort was already undertaken by the Platfòm Ayisyen Pledwaye pou yon Devlòpman Altènatif (Haitian Platform of Avocacy for an Alternative Development, PAPDA)[38] from 2013 to 2018 in consultation with over 153 grassroots organizations throughout the country to produce a Kaye Nasyonal Revandikasyon Òganizasyon Peyizan ak Peyizàn Ayisyen yo (Haitian Peasant Notebook of Demands). Perhaps the growing rapprochement between “traditional” social movement organizations (some more than 30 years old), many of which are members of the coalition Konbit Òganizasyon Politik, Sendikal ak Popilè (Konbit of Political, Syndicated and Popular Organizations), and emergent groups like Nou Pap Dòmi (We are Watching)offer the possibility of a cross-class movement independent of the opposition that dominates the political landscape.

Author: Kolektif Anakawona is Guerchang Bastia, Nixon Boumba, Sabine Lamour, Mamyrah Prosper.[39]

Mamyrah Prosper is a visiting fellow at the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the Graduate Center, City University of New York and the International Coordinator of Community Movement Builders.  

Sabine Lamour is the national coordinator of feminist socialist organization Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn (Haitian Women in Solidarity) and a lecturer in sociology at the Université d’Etat d’Haiti.

Nixon Boumba is a founding member of Mouvement Démocratique Populaire (Democratic Popular Movement, MODEP). He works as a capacity-builder for the anti-mining and land rights, as well as the LGBTI movements. He is also the Haiti country consultant for American Jewish World Service.  

Guerchang Bastia is a member of Sèk Gramsci (Gramsci’s Circle), Asosyasyon Inivèsitè ak Inivèsitèz Desalinyè (Association of Dessalinian Academics)[40] at the Université d’Etat d’Haiti, and the socialist party Rasin Kan Pèp La.

[1] Haitian Kreyòl for: Outrage, Do it in Kreyòl. This is an excerpt from Guerchang Bastia’s new Haitian roots album.

[2] February 7 marks the anniversary of the overthrow of the 29-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family in 1986.

[3] The partial report revealed that $4,237,598,789.12 (so far) have been misused and/or embezzled. For more information, see

[4] Rara is a festive type of music performed and danced in the streets, typically during Easter Week. The songs are usually commentaries on current social and political issues. For more information, consult U.S. anthropologist Elizabeth McAlister’s (2002) Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora.

[5] Many of the visible and boisterous leaders of the Party are baldheaded men.

[6] Agritrans S.A. established Haiti’s first agricultural export trading zone in the Northeast of the country, dispossessing landed peasants despite the protests of local organizations.

[7] The report was incomplete since the Court experienced “slowness and difficulty finding the majority of documents linked to said projects. . . from the concerned institutions” like the Banque de la République d’Haiti (Republic of Haiti Bank) and the Ministére de l’Economie et des Finances (Ministry of the Economy and Finances. This sentence figured in the Court’s official report. See link above in note 4.

[8] For more information, consult

[9] Built in 2008, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti is the fourth largest in the world. 

[10] The Group Core is composed of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the European Union, the United States and the Special Representative of the Organization of American States.

[11] For full speech, see

[12] Konbit is a mode of non-monetized exchange of labor and resources between family members and neighbors occupying a given territory. The practice has many other appellations throughout the country. For more information, see Beauvoir, Rachel and Didier Dominique. 2003 [1989]. Savalou E. Montréal: Editions du CIDIHCA. In this case, konbit is used instead of coalition.

[13] In 1954, Congress passed the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, known as Public Law 480, to “enable food-deficit ‘friendly countries’ to purchase US agricultural commodities with local currency.” In other words, this program would help to dispose U.S. agricultural surpluses overseas. In 1985, through a presidential ordinance, Jean-Claude Duvalier established the Programme d’Alimentation pour le Développement, Bureau de Gestion PL-480/Titre III (Food Program for Development, Management Bureau PL-480/Title III) to manage (and monetize) food aid from the U.S. and eventually Canada, Spain, Italy, France and Japan. In 2008, under the administration of René Préval, the Management Bureau was replaced by the Monetization Bureau of Development Aid Programs (BMPAD) to primarily monetize the PetroCaribe funds (and to continue to serve as the National Agency for Implementation for the World Bank).

[14] Incorporated in Texas in 2011 and registered in the British Virgin Islands, Novum Energy of course is a competitor of PDVSA. Since late February, the company refuses to dock to delivery 150,000 barrels of petroleum until it receives its late payment of more than $60 million from BMPAD. Gas shortage entails longer periods of blackout since the electricity production in Haiti depends on petroleum.    

[15] First, Haiti abstained from voting in the June 2018 OAS decision to recognize or reject Nicolas Maduro. At the second vote, Haiti voted against the Bolivarian leader. Recall that the Special Representative of the OAS is a member of the Core Group. 

[16] U.S. Historian Peter Hudson’s (2017) Bankers and Empire: How Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean exposes this scheme.

[17] General Raoul Cédras trained alongside chief of military intelligence Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno who served as a de facto ruler in Panama after a coup d’état. Cédras sought refuge in Panama after his removal.

[18] After years of negotiations with former U.S. president Bill Clinton, Aristide returned to Haiti with United Nations troops. Structural adjustment transformed the Caribbean country into what social movement critiques call “the Republic of NGOs.” Moreover, Haiti’s food dependency on the United States dramatically increased. Today, for example, 80% of rice imports hail from the Great Northern power.

[19] Denizens of popular neighborhoods (low-income communities) refer to these spaces as ghettos/geto.

[20] According to UneAfro militants in Brazil, Cité Soleil especially served as a laboratory for the Brazilian army to test and perfect its tactics to undermine and displace favela residents before the 2014 World Cup. The migration of over fifty thousand Haitians over the last fifteen years to Brazil promises to further develop a Pan-African consciousness.

[21] Find out more about this scandal in Michel Mitchell’s (2012) documentary Haiti: Where did the Money Go?

[22] In 2008, Michel Martelly’s band Sweet Micky released an album entitled Bandi Legal– Legal Bandit.

[23] Consult the research of Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatriés et aux Réfugiés­-Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GARR) for more information.

[24] To view the report, see

[25] This information was made public thanks to the work of Wikileaks. #freeassange #freeolabini

[26] While Hillary Clinton was U.S. Secretary of State, she (and Bill through the Clinton Global Initiative) facilitated United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Inter-American Development Bank loans to support the land dispossession of peasants in the Northeast of Haiti (land grabbing) and establish the Caracol (free trade zone) Industrial Park whose current tenant is the South Korean garment manufacture Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd. The Park disgorges chemical byproducts in the Caracol Bay from the manufacture of Old Navy clothing.

[27] MINUSTAH and the U.S. Embassy consider Belair a “red zone” neighborhood.

[28] The uprisings took place a few days after President Moise evicted people occupying and living for more than a century on parcels of land behind his residence the Haitian state rents out for him and his family. 

[29] The tag “Challenge” is used in reference to the social media practice especially in the U.S. of inviting other concerned citizens around an issue to follow suit my re-posting the same message or action.

[30] The Committee to Mobilize Against Dictatorship in Haiti (KOMOKODA) in New York organizes weekly protests in front of the Haitian Consulate and outside venues where PHTK founder Michel Martelly and his band perform. Recently, Solidarity Québec-Haiti successfully lobbied Montréal mayor to deny Martelly’s band entry into Canada.

[31] Konpa is a genre of Haitian music born in the 1970s. Songs typically focus on love and sex. Martelly was one of the first to take on political issues in this genre of music.

[32] See for more information:

[33] The traditional militants are typically referred to as the ’86 generation, people who struggled to overthrow the Duvalier dictatorship who then went on to found new organizations at the democratic turn to fight against coup d’état and neoliberalism.

[34] This group was founded by students at the Faculté des Sciences Humaines (College of Human Sciences) at the Université d’Etat d’Haiti (State University of Haiti) in 2006. Guerchang Bastia is among the founders.

[35] The literal translation is: We are not sleeping. #Noupapdòmi  #PwosèPetroCaribeA

[36] For an exposé on some of the keys members, see

[37] To view the video:

[38] Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn (Haitian Women in Solidarity, SOFA) is a founding member of PAPDA. After 20 years of grassroots work, PAPDA founders established the socialist party Rasin Kan Pèp La in 2015, now a member of Konbit.

[39] Anakawona was the cacique of Xaragua, territory that makes up the southern half of modern-day Haiti (and southeast Dominican Republic). She (and the other caciques) resisted to death the invasion of European powers. Note that African leaders after the Revolution named the “first Black republic” after one of the Indigenous appellations of the island, Haiti.  

[40] Jean-Jacques Dessalines is the founding father of the Republic of Haiti.