Gerard Latortue, Haiti's Illegitimate Ruler

The gloves are off.

U.S.-and-French-installed Viceroy of Haiti, Gerard Latortue, is now demanding that the sovereign nation of Jamaica refuse to allow legitimately elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to stay on the neighboring island country, according to this report from Reuters:

Haiti's new leader fired a diplomatic broadside at Jamaica on Friday for allowing ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to visit, while U.S. and French troops came under renewed attack by gunmen...

Latortue announced he might fly to Haiti's Caribbean neighbor this weekend to pursue an agreement with Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to limit Aristide's stay.

"Since the word was known yesterday afternoon that Aristide is coming to Jamaica we have observed an increase in tensions in Port-au-Prince," Latortue told reporters.

According to the US Government's Voice of America, Washington wants Aristide muzzled while in Jamaica, too.

This is "democracy?" No, this is what the aftermath of a coup d'etat looks like. According to the Associated Press:

Latortue brushed aside Aristide's claims that he never formally stepped down as president.

"Otherwise, what am I doing here?" Latortue asked reporters.

Is that a rhetorical question? Where is Aristide's alleged "resignation letter"? AP's own translation of the supposed "resignation" letter reveals that it was not a resignation at all, not by any legal standard. The text that the US Embassy "translated" from the original Creole as "tonight I am resigning" more truthfully translates to "if tonight is my resignation." What kind of "resignation" is that? (And why haven't AP and other Commercial Media followed up on that story?)

What is Mr. Latortue doing there? He is presiding over an illegitimate government, imposed by violent coup d'etat.

Meanwhile, denials of recent weeks by Colin Powell and other US officials that they had been gagging Aristide from speaking by dumping him in the Central African Republic (another land of a coup installed illigitimate government) were proved to have been lies, today, when Powell got on the phone - according to the reports above - to Jamaican officials and insisted that they stop Aristide from exercising free speech there.

This is all going to come to a boil soon at an upcoming Caribbean Community of nations (CARICOM) meeting this month in St. Kitts... Who will the Caribbean nations recognize as the legitimate governor of Haiti? The one who did not resign and was removed - even by Washington's admission - by threat of force? Or the one who was never elected, but, rather, installed under an illegal process?

It is impossible for any honest journalist to describe Mr. Latortue as a legitimate prime minister. He is not. You will know the dishonest ones by their failure to tell the whole story.

In the meantime, the job ahead for Authentic Journalists and truth tellers everywhere is to spread the word: Coup-installed Gerard Latortue - who has spent recent years in Boca Raton, Florida, living high off an oligarch's TV station - is an illegitimate thief of a nation's democracy, and deserves no respect, only scorn, and constant, insistent, correction to his illegal claims to rule Haiti.

Comments

blood on whose hands?

A quote from the Reuters report linked above.  So-called opposition leader Charles Baker says of Jamaica allowing Aristide to visit:
"Aristide will inflame passions and give more fuel to his assassins. If people are killed in Haiti with Aristide in Jamaica, Patterson will have part of the blood on his hands."
Note that Baker is part of the same "non-violent opposition" that categorically refused any deal which didn't include Aristide's resignation.  Plenty of the blood this coup has caused is already on his hands.  
It can hardly said to be P.J. Patterson's fault that the coup regime in Haiti lacks any legitimacy.  If it were a legitimate regime, Aristide's presence on another carribean island wouldn't be cause for concern.  

A Little OT, But...

I thought this piece in the Miami Herald was hilarious, in a laugh-so-you-don't-cry sort of way.

First:

Latortue was sworn in before a crowd of 200 people under heavy security, saying he was happy to serve his country.

200 people? What happened to all the jubilant crowds of Haitians we've been seeing on CNN? Well, maybe there was a nasty thunderstorm or something... oh.

Second:

Rebel leader Guy Philippe said Friday that he planned to travel around Haiti for several months "to know what my people want, to see how I can help." Philippe, who fled to the Dominican Republic amid charges he was plotting a coup in 2000, stressed he did not plan to run for office.

I really have nothing to add to that one.

Haiti and Guns: A Policy Intended to Fail

Well, last week I whacked Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Sandra Hernandez for sucking up to the Miami Oligarchy crowd, but today she publishes an interesting article.

She interviews an old source of mine, former DEA Resident Agent in Charge for Miami Tom Cash, who helped me understand the drug trade in Florida with a more honest perspective than the official DEA spin-meisters were accustomed to offering.

Today he's explaining the futility of the stated US policy of taking away guns from Haitian citizens:

"This is mission impossible," said Tom Cash, an executive with Kroll Inc., an international security company with offices in Miami. "I know of no country in the world that has been able to control the weapons in the hands of its citizens, including here in the United States."

...On Wednesday U.S. Army Gen. James Hill told the Associated Press that getting "the guns off the street" was a priority, and the U.S.-led multinational force would work with Haitian police to collect weapons, from "rusted M-1s to top-of-the-line Uzis."

So far, in their newly expanded role, multinational peacekeepers have gathered few weapons.

We have to learn to read between the lines. When a U.S. General says that it's a priority to disarm the populace, he is setting up a mission that he knows he can't accomplish. Why? Because it then sets up the pretext to continue the occupation indefinitely. It's just like the drug war: a mission that is not only doomed to fail, but is intended to fail, in order to justify police state powers.

The problem in Haiti isn't the guns, it's certain elements who have them: above all, Guy Phillippe and his band of criminals and mercenaries. He has only 300 troops. Round those guys up: they're the ones who already broke all kinds of laws, including the gun laws. But that would be too easy. That could be done in a week. And then there would be no fighting between them and the kids in the barrios... and no further justification for U.S.-French-Canadian-Chilean military occupation.

Washington wants a pretext to stay, because it knows full well that the newly-installed "prime minister" Gerard Latortue, does not count with majority or popular support, and cannot maintain power without the force of foreign guns behind him.

As Tom Cash says in this story:

"Did I miss something or did the police leave their arms, because I recall the armed rebels took over cities without any resistance from police," Cash said. "So how can we now talk about joining the Haitian police in ridding the country of arms when they couldn't even defend themselves before?"

That, of course, is a consequence of three years of economic embargo and a destabilization campaign to deny the elected government of Haiti the ability to defend itself even from a small clique of US-trained and armed mercenaries.

The policy is a crock. It's not credible. Of course, neither is the "government" that U.S. forces now try to prop up without popular support nor democratic mandate.

NY Timesman Michael Wines: Simulator

Add another professional simulator, posing as a journalist, to the New York Times' roster: Michael Wines.

In an article today maliciously titled Aristide Says He Was Duped By U.S. Into Leaving Haiti, Wines claims that a telephone interview he conducted with the exiled legitimate President of Haiti...

...did little to clear up the question of whether Mr. Aristide willingly fled Haiti that morning, as the United States insists, or whether he was forced into exile against his will, as he implied.

That is a knowingly dishonest statement by Wines. All sides of the dispute, including US government officials, admit that they told Aristide that if he did not leave Haiti immediately on February 29th that paramilitary gunmen would come to kill him, his family, and "thousands" of people all over Haiti, and that U.S. troops would do nothing to protect him from the small band of mercenaries.

That precisely defines being "forced into exile against his will." What is Wines' problem? On what semantic point does he seek to hang his definition of the matter? Wines doesn't tell us, he just repeats the big lie.

Twice!:

Despite Mr. Aristide's accusation that he was duped, the extent to which the United States actually forced Mr. Aristide from office remains unclear.

(The choice of the word "duped" is also yellow journalism at its highest. Aristide is not quoted as using that highly-charged word. But Wines uses it, obviously, to hang the deception onto the person deceived, and shield the deceivers. His story says "Aristide is a dupe" and not "US officials lied" when the latter is the real story, the only story, the newsworthy one.)

And yet, in Wines' own article, he includes a fact that makes a lie of his own deceptive wording:

The United States has said that Mr. Aristide chose to go into exile after being told that his refusal to go could lead to innocent deaths.

If that is not "forcing him from office," what is?

Buried farther down in Wines' article are the only three paragraphs he could scrawl truthfully:

Mr. Aristide said that he and his wife have been housed in a spartan two-room apartment in the palace, a 1960's-modern concrete structure largely hidden behind a tall white fence crowned with barbed wire.

It was not clear why republic officials would not allow Mr. Aristide to be interviewed in person rather than by telephone. A senior government official said that security at the palace was too extensive to accommodate impromptu guests, but one American acquaintance of Mr. Aristide has been allowed to visit him this week without difficulty.

Officials of this government, which took power in a military coup almost a year ago, have been sensitive about press coverage of Mr. Aristide, perhaps because people here are heavily dependent on foreign aid.

The questions not asked (or not reported) are the most revealing, by their ommission:

 * Is Aristide free to come and go as he pleases from his barbed-wire enclosed cell?

 * What does Aristide think of the untrue "translation" of his letter by the US Embassy that falsely claimed he had "resigned" when he did not?

And, the most obvious question that any first year journalism student would have known to ask:

 * Is the fact that the Central African Republic keeps him under armed guard and refuses to allow reporters to interview him face to face part of an orchestrated campaign to limit what he can say in public?

I don't know Michael Wines, but someday I hope I get the pleasure of confronting him, face to face, in public, and with witnesses, on the willing role he just eagerly played in a disinformation campaign and an ongoing coup d'etat. For he is just as much complicit in that coup as the dictator in the Central African Republic and the US Ambassador to Haiti.

Mrs. Latortue Speaks

There is a story in the Boca Raton News web site that has an interview with Marlene Latortue, the wife of Gerard Latortue. It is a mostly superficial article but in one of the interesting quotes Mrs. Latortue says: "It was Haiti’s Group of the Wise Men, people drawn from all sectors of the population, that chose Gerard to be Prime Minister from a long list of candidates.” The article doesn't mention who exactly are the members of this infamous group of "wise men." It would be interesting to know what "sectors of the population" they represent.

The article states that the Latortues home is located at 19207 Cloister Lake Lane, Boca Isles. According to the article, they have lived there for a decade. Boca Isles is described in a South Florida real state web site as "24 hour manned entry community consisting of single family homes," which sell in the "Low 300's to $500,000" range.

Mrs. Lartoue is quoted as saying: "What I will miss most about living in Boca Raton is the peaceful atmosphere."

Good Eye!

I gave your comment a "4" (highest possible rating), Diego, because your investigation was so smart that I kicked myself for not having already thought of checking out the South Florida real estate website myself! (I used that once before regarding Rush Limbaugh's mansion. A great resource!)

Well, I guess this illigitimate prime minister is wealthy, too! How'd that happen? Suggests various new paths for investigation.

Good eye!

Public records on Latortue

For those of you interested in the nitty gritty of new Haiti Prime Minister Gerard Latortue's home in Florida, see below. I suspect his crib in Haiti is a bit more palatial -- not that his $300,000 suburban home in Palm Beach County is the house of a man of the people. And I bet he never has to trim the barbed wire there.

(Note: The county's appraised value of a home is almost always a good bit less than the actual market value, so the $300,000 value figure is very conservative.)

Wife of Haiti’s new Prime Minister will miss Boca


Palm Beach County Property Appraiser

Palm Beach County
 Property Appraiser  

Property Information
Location Address:     19207 CLOISTER LAKE LN        

Municipality:     COUNTY OF PALM BEACH
Parcel Control Number:     00-41-47-11-04-015-0150
Subdivision:     BOCA ISLES WEST PH 3 B
Official Records Book:     08152    Page:     0544    Sale Date:     Mar-1994
Legal Description:     BOCA ISLES WEST PH 3 B LT 15 BLK 15

Owner Information
Name:     LATORTUE GERARD R &
Mailing Address:     19207 CLOISTER LAKES LN
     BOCA RATON FL 33498 4857        

2003 Certified Appraisal
Improvement Value:     $214,068   
Number of Units:     1       

Land Value:     $80,000    *
Total Sq. Ft:     3334       

Market Value:     $294,068    Acres:     .21       

Use Code:     0100   
Description:     SINGLE FAMILY         
* in residential properties may indicate living area.

2003 Certified Tax
Ad Valorem:     $3,823.44       

Non ad valorem:     $247.05   
Total:     $4,070.49       

2003 Certified Assessed & Taxable Values
Assessed Value:     $220,543     
Exemption amount:     $25,000        (2003 Exemption)
Taxable:     $195,543   

2004 Exemption(s)
Homestead Receipt#:     0015628    Exemption Address:          
Regular Homestead:     $25,000               
TOTAL:     $25,000               

Sales Information
Sales Date    Mar-1994
Price    $263,000   

Supplemental information:

All Owners LATORTUE GERARD R & Marlene Latortue

House includes a pool/spa valued at $3,978

7-member council of the wise

On 3/6/04 a Tripartite Council was set up to name a seven member council of the wise.  This tripartite consisted of Mr. Lesly Voltaire, Minister of Haitians Living Abroad; Mr. Paul Denis, former senator of the republic and a member of the Plate-forme Democratique; and Mr. Adama Guindo, UN Resident Coordinator in Haiti.  The seven wise men (sic) include Anne-Marie Issa, the director general of Radio Signal FM in Haiti which provided detailed coverage of the recent Aristide opposition and their demands for his resignation; Danielle Magloire, considered a member of the Human Rights sector and director of ENFOFANM, a feminist center for information and training which has spoken for the rights of Haitian women in the Dominican Republic (and she may be related to Gen. Paul Magloire but I don't have confirmation); Christian Rousseau, University; Macdonald Jean, senior priest with the Episcopalian Church which has large anti-Aristide factions; Lamartine Clermont, representative of the Catholic Church which has been very involved in government since Duvalier's days and has recently turned fairly anti-Aristide in its attempts to separate from government; Dr. Ariel Henry, representative of the Democratic Convergent opposition which I thought was Aristide's party; and Paul Emil Simon of the Lavalas Party which used to be Aristide's party but now seems pretty much in opposition to him.  It appears that the council of the wise was chosen to include several past Aristide supporting groups who no longer have loyalty to Aristide.

Aristide-Phobia Reveals The Game

A lone man, with no army, no police force, not even trustworthy bodyguards to rely on, causes such fear among cowards like US Ambassador to Haiti James B. Foley and the illigitimate "prime minister of Boca Raton" Gerard Latortue, that the man's mere presence on a neighboring Caribbean island causes them to tremble.

This, from tonight's New York Times:

The United States ambassador to Haiti, James B. Foley, said Saturday that the return of the nation's exiled president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to the Caribbean would risk further destabilizing Haiti by emboldening his followers to rebel against the interim government.

Mr. Aristide, who has been in exile in the Central African Republic since his ouster from Haiti on Jan. 29, was planning to travel in the next few days to Jamaica, 100 miles from Haiti's southwestern tip.

"There is negative potential, there's no denying that," Mr. Foley said during a news conference with Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stopped here for several hours following a five-day tour of Latin America. "It must be said that Jamaican authorities are taking a certain risk and a certain responsibility."

A not-so-veiled threat to Jamaica, a long and loyal ally to the United States... and what is the "risk" that they speak of? That Aristide might speak out loud? That he might exercise the freedom that Americans most hold dear: the right to speak freely? And that people will listen? Enough people to call the weak hand that Dictator-for-Two-Days-and-Counting Gerard Latortue is holding with fake cards?

Would there be this irrational fear of one man's presence 100 miles off the coastline if he did not still count with the support of the Haitian majority?

Would there be this fear if the installed coup regime counted with authentic public support?

Is this not why they forced him into deep freeze in the Central African Dictatorship, under lock and key... to shut him up?

But he has not shut up, nor should he, nor should any human being on this earth ever be censored from his most sacred right: the right to speak and to be heard.

The cowards are afraid of this unarmed man without an army for good reason: He is still the legitimate elected president of his land, and his people know it.

It was they, the cowards, who filled the basement with gasoline and now they fear the spark of speech.

That, alone, reveals them as enemies of democracy, and as evil in their intentions.

Another Little Piece of the Puzzle

Not that I am a believer in the sins of the father -- much less the father-in-law -- but Marlene Latortue is the daughter of Mauclair Zephirin, who served as Foreign Secretary during Gen. Paul Magloire's reign in the '50s.

Magloire was a staunch anti-Commie Washington ally in the Caribbean, roughly analogous to Batista in Cuba. But while the Cubans replaced Batista with Castro, Haiti ended up with Papa Doc...

At any rate, if he was part of Magloire's bunch Zephirin was old, old money in Haiti, and you'd have to think his son-in-law would be too. That could go a long way to answering the question of whose interests he'll be representing.

Venezuela Supports CARICOM Investigation

According to the Trinidad & Tobago Express, today:

PRIME MINISTER Patrick Manning's recent visit to Caracas was in an effort to get support from Venezuela for Caricom's position that there was need for an investigation by the United Nations into the circumstances surrounding the departure of former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide...

Diplomatic sources told the Sunday Express: "The Prime Minister was essentially asked by Caricom to undertake this mission and that was the real reason for the trip."

The Sunday Express was told that Chavez received Manning at his Mira Flores Presidential Palace and was briefed on the matter over dinner.

Venezuelan diplomatic sources said: "The President listened to what Mr Manning had to say and indicated that Caricom could depend on his Government's support because Haiti was a member of Caricom and if the regional grouping felt there was a need for an investigation, then there should be one."

Chavez subsequently released a statement calling for an investigation and has also decided to give US$1 million to aid Haiti...

Keep your eyes on the dates April 11 to 13 in Venezuela, the second anniversary of the coup and counter-coup, now the nation's most celebrated national holiday. Folks from all over the world will converge on Caracas (including Narco News reporters) and the question on everyone's lips is: Will Aristide be delivering a keynote?

Fascism in Action

From Reuters:

Haiti police round up Aristide associates

"They're chasing after people who were with Aristide," Nazaire told Reuters through the jailhouse bars. Asked if he expected a fair trial, he said: "I can't hope for anything. If there was a real effort at reconciliation, this wouldn't be happening."

Latortue Recalls Ambassador from Jamaica

From AP:

Haiti Suspends Relations With Jamaica

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- The interim prime minister said Monday he was recalling Haiti's ambassador to Jamaica and putting relations on hold over the return of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Latortue withdraws Haiti from CARICOM

From Xinhuanet:

Haiti suspends ties with CARICOM

HAVANA, March 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Haitian appointed Prime Minister Gerard Latortue announced Monday he temporarily suspended his country's membership in the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and withdrew Haiti's ambassador from Jamaica, reports from Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince stated.

On Haiti's Boneheaded Exit from CARICOM

Wow. This erratic, irrational, behavior by the Haitian Dictator-for-four-days-and-counting Gerard Latortue is really interesting to watch.

First he shuts down diplomatic relations with Jamaica, his country's most historic ally.

And over what? Allowing a free citizen, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to visit with his wife and daughters there.

So unconfident is he in his own people: If he really feels that hearing that Aristide is 100 miles off his coasts will destabilize his coup-installed regime, he understands very well that he governs without a mandate, and he admits that he is... let me spell it right this time... I-L-L-E-G-I-T-I-M-A-T-E.

Now, based on the action of just one of 13 Caribbean nations, a humanitarian, democratic, legal, and honorable, action - allowing a free citizen to travel there - he alienates the entire CARICOM (Caribbean Community of Nations) roster!

This guy is mentally deranged. He is not fit to govern. This is going to be interesting, and perhaps even fun, to watch him unravel.

Hatchet Job

Nice piece by Rickey Singh from Trinidad and Tobago Express:

Con-men out for your money

As the controversies rage over the ousting of Aristide and his presence in Jamaica, some 130 miles away from Haiti, LaTortue will come to realise that having done a political hatchet job on Caricom on behalf of his sponsor, Uncle Sam, he may not even be around to function as Prime Minister of a new and legitimate government in Port-au-Prince.

More from Rickey Singh on CARICOM and Latortue

From the Barbados Daily Nation:

OUR CARIBBEAN: This unwise decision by Haiti regime

THE UNITED STATES-approved interim Prime Minister of Haiti, Gerard LaTortue, has shown a surprising lack of appreciation for diplomacy and the historical nature of Haitian-Caribbean Community relations when he announced on Monday a freeze of Haiti’s membership in CARICOM. It is an unwise move, however engineered.

While official focus in Washington, primary sponsor of the interim regime in Haiti, as well as in Port-au-Prince, is expediently designed to specifically blame Jamaica for hosting ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide, the reality is that the George Bush administration has gone on the offensive to foment division within CARICOM on the issue. But it will not succeed.

None can be so politically obtuse not to understand the real reason: It has to do with independent nations of CARICOM exercising their sovereign right, collectively, to openly question the circumstances of Aristide’s dramatic departure from power and flight into exile on February 29.

Latortue on "democracy"

Today's NYT describes a speech given under heavy military guard by the Coup-Appointed Prime Minister Lortortue, where he "promised to introduce a culture of governmental accountability."  Deeper into the article it mentions how Lortortue is claiming that elections "can't be held" until 2005.  So apparently, accountable doesn't mean accountable to the Haitian people.  At least not to a Haitian people that would probably reelect Arisitide in any election held right now.
Maybe he really means accountability to something else.  How about France?  AFP reported (sorry, I can't find the link right now) that the first foreign bigwig to visit the new coup government will be none other than the French foreign minister.  This will be the first state visit on such a high level to Haiti from France since the success of the revolution in 1804.  

Threatening Jamaica and much of the Caribean

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/nation/8
222803.htm

Miami Herald reports of White House officials "fuming over Jamaica's red-carpet welcome to Aristide."  
''I think you are going to see a cooling of relations,'' a well-placed U.S. official said. ``Their actions on Haiti, and their willingness to believe a pathological liar like Aristide over the verifiable facts of his departure, have damaged U.S.-CARICOM relations a great deal.''
"Asked whether the United States will take any concrete measures against Jamaica, U.S. officials say the Bush Administration will not cut aid to fight AIDS in the region or reduce other kinds of humanitarian assistance. But they hint that other nonhumanitarian bilateral programs could be slowed down.
''We are reviewing the relationship to see what is the appropriate reaction,'' said one of the officials, who asked for anonymity."
Jamaica has had some experience with what can happen when the United States hates its government.  During the first government of Michael Manley in the 1970s (same party as today's P.J. Patterson), Jamaica was subject to an extremely disruptive destabilization campaign because the United States preferred other policies.  (William Blum's excellent compendium "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II" has a good chapter on this history.)

Jamaica does not recognize Latortue...

In an AFP dispatch in spanish:
http://www.mipunto.com/punto_noticias/noticia_lati noamerica.jsp?tipo=LATINOAMERICAYA&archivo=040 316201400.6r8xpm50.txt
Seems Latortue is getting in deep trouble very soon. Now Jamaica is saying they do not recognize the new regime in Haiti until CARICOM states it's position. As Al said in a previous comment it's going to be interesting to see how long it takes for Latortue to self-implode.

Venezuela does not recognize Latortue

It's getting better every moment.

I just saw Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on CNN Español saying that:

  1. Venezuela does not recognize the regime of Latortue in Haiti as a legitimate government, and...
  2. That Venezuela nonetheless offers to donate all the petroleum and generator equipment needed for all hospitals in Haiti to have electric power.
This is very smart. Now Latortue has to either accept this generous offer of humanitarian aid, and facilitate its arrival from a government that does not recognize his legitmacy... or he alone will face the blame and the wrath of the Haitian people for his personal responsibility in keeping the hospitals closed.

I'll try to find a link online to this news.

Latortue's Cabinet: Herard Abraham

Herard Abraham has been named Minister of the Interior in Latortue's cabinet. VERY interesting.

Abraham is the former general who replaced Avril as head of the armed forces after Avril's dictatorship fell. He shepherded Haiti through the 1990 elections that saw Aristide's rise, and in fact it was Abraham's quick action that thwarted Baby Doc associate Roger Lafontant's coup attempt in January 1991, just before Aristide's inaugeration.

That was over a decade ago, however. Aristide nudged him into retirement shortly after he took office, and Abraham's been living in Miami ever since. He was on the short list for the PM job Latortue got, and may have been the White House's first choice. Since the coup, he's also called for the army to be reconstituted.

Oh, and according to this Miami Herald article, "one of Abraham's relatives... is also a close associate of rebel leader Guy Philippe".

Hugo Chavez on Haiti

In an article in spanish, Chavez 'blasts' the UN and OAS for not condemning the Aristides kidnapping.
http://128.241.247.93/noticias/nacionales/Notanac2 004031919171.htm
 It's good to see that at least someone is paying atention to such things. It not too surprising from the OAS, the US has traditionally controled this organization. But the UN should have a little more independance. Who knows, maybe Argentina and Brasil will wake up to what this might mean for them if it's not stopped.

Latortues kin may soon learn too much

Friday, march 12th...2 days after Latortue arrives in Haiti as new prime Minister.

…. A bit dated, but with all the talk about Latortues personal life, i figure some may find this interesting.  I was covering a rally for Mexican farmworkers rights in Lakeland, Florida.   The march walked along the sidewalks, with about 50 people chanting “boycott Mount olive pickles!” and El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido!”

I noticed a group of several college-aged people with matching t-shirts on, and I began interviewing one of them.  The young woman was a student from the University of Florida, they were participating in a“farmworker spring break” focused on the issue of farmworkers rights; the week long program included such activities as going out into the fields to pick strawberries and learn first hand from the workers what they have to deal with, and helping organize this protest.  It was Friday afternoon, the last day of the weeklong experience, so I asked her to reflect on her experience.  Then I asked her name...

“Axel Latortue”

“Any relation to the new prime minister of Haiti?”

“Yes actually, he my fathers cousin.”

What follows is a transcript of our conversation, both about Mexican farmworkers rights, and about her relatives rise to power…nothing groundbreaking, but to me it brings up many issues, especially when we think about “taking sides” in these politically polarized days—painting people as good or evil.  Latortues' second cousin is spending her vacation marching for the rights of disempowered Latin Americans, yet she does not seem to be aware of the fact that similar mechanisms of US funded imperialism were taking place as we spoke, under the power of her own flesh and blood.

This one's for the Bush daughters…

---------------
Axel Latortue: We’ve been out here since Saturday, working with FLOC (farm Labor Organizing Campaign), Learning about farmworkers, meeting them, and preparing for this march today.

Andrew Stelzer:  So what have you learned?

AL:  “we’ve learned about that conditions that they work in, pesticides a lot of the time, the wages that they earn, we actually worked out in the fields with them one day, and actually picked alongside farmworkers.  We picked 27 flats of Strawberries between the11 of us, whereas 1 worker picked 24 on his own, and so we learned how difficult it was and how little they get paid for it.  Were out here because it’s a human rights issue, we want justice, we want to help make a difference.”

AS:  What did the farmworkers say to you when you were visiting?

AL:  They were laughing at us when they saw us picking, because we were pretty new at it, but they were very very welcoming.  They would offer us the shirts off their backs, they fed us a lot.

AS:  I’m surprised a farmer let you do that, come out to the fields.

AL:  I think they were a little skeptical about who we were, but they did let us do it.

AS:  Were the farmworkers telling you about things that need to change, about their conditions?

AL:  No actually they didn’t.  I think they don’t want to look like bad workers, and they’re afraid because if they do look like they aren’t doing their job, they may get sent back home, and the conditions here are better than they are for them in Mexico, so they didn’t say anything like that.

AS:  That’s one thing that seems to come up a lot in this issue, people say ‘well you shouldn’t be complaining, you’re making more money that you could in whatever country you come from.”  What do you think about when people say that?

AL:  I guess in some ways we are a little bit better than it is over there, but that doesn’t make it right.  I think we have the power here to be able to help them and to be able to give them more without bringing ourselves down, and I think it’s our responsibility to do that.

AS:  I guess your spring break is almost over, but is this going to change you, are you gonna take on this issue?

AL:  I was very already very passionate about human rights issues prior to this, which is why I wanted to come out here; but this is definitely gonna fuel my fire, and I’m going to go back to school with a whole new passion for it, I hope, and hopefully ill be able to do more than I am doing now.

AS:  What’s your name?

AL:  Axel Latortue

AS:  What year in school are you?

AL:  I’m a junior.

AS: Are you related to the Latortue that just…?

AL: Yes I am.  He is my Fathers cousin so I guess that makes him my second cousin.  

AS:  Do you know him?  (Gerard Latortue)

AL:  My mom has told me I met him, but I don’t remember it.

AS:  What do they say about that whole situation in Haiti?

AL:  I’m not sure what they think, but I think it’s for the better.  They always say it cant get any worse but it usually does.

AS:  Have you been over to Haiti?

AL:  Yes. I was born there and I lived there for about half my life.

AS:  Do you think he (Aristide) was kidnapped?

AL: No.  I talked to my mom about it, according to her, he did sign resignation papers, and so if he signed it then I think he was just saying that he can still be in power and be protected.

AS:  Do you have any family still over there?

AL:  Yeah, a lot of my extended family is still over there.

AS:  That’s got to be a little scary...

AL:  I guess I’m kind of disconnected from it since I’ve been living here for a while now, but still, you never know what could happen.

AS:  So did your mom just say, ‘oh by the way, your uncle is the new prime minister of Haiti?’

AL: She asked me if I had heard the news.  I was on this trip and so we haven’t had access to TV; So I didn’t know.

AS:  You should go hang out in the palace over there now.  

AL:  I don’t know if I’d be safe there.

Once for all, professor

Once for all, professor Jean-Bertrand Aristide, democratically elected president of Haiti, was kidnapped by foreign empires including haitian kidnappers for the second time,... Period.

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Reporters' Notebooks

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About Al Giordano

Biography

Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.