Clinton's 'silence' challenged in Haiti
July 7, 2009
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Residents of Cite Soleil marked the anniversary of the UN massacre on July 6, 2005 with a video showing the aftermath of the raid.
©2009 Jean Ristil
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits a sweatshop run by coup supporter and founder of the Group 184, Andy Apaid on April 16, 2009.

The most terrifying images captured by Ristil on July 6, 2005 were those of a family killed in their home. The victims included a mother and her two infant sons.

Clinton's 'silence' challenged in Haiti

by Kevin Pina

Bill Clinton arrived in Port au Prince on Monday to assume his post as the new special UN Envoy to Haiti amid much fanfare in the press. Jonathan Katz of the Associated Press (AP) wrote, "Bill Clinton aims to refocus international attention on this Caribbean country's deep economic problems and environmental decay during his first visit as the United Nations' special envoy to Haiti."
Clinton stated at UN headquarters in New York prior to his departure, "Haiti, notwithstanding the total devastation wreaked by the four storms last year, has the best chance to escape the darker aspects of its history in the 35 years that I have been going there." Clinton continued, "[Haiti is safer today] because of the work of the United Nations peacekeeping and police forces. No effort like that is without controversy and incident, but they have basically done a good job. I was there in the streets of Cite Soleil. I saw the children walking without fear."
The ‘controversy and incident' referred to by Mr. Clinton stems from accusations of UN involvement in human rights abuses and their oversight of the Haitian police as the force committed summary executions and widespread false arrests following Aristide's ouster in 2004. More importantly, it may betray some recognition on Clinton's part that the day he chose for his debut in Haiti was also the fourth anniversary of what is alleged to be a massacre committed by UN forces in the teaming seaside slum of Cite Soleil.
On July 6, 2005 the residents of Cite Soleil were the objects of a full military assault by UN forces. It resulted in over 22,000 rounds being fired in a raid on the pro-Aristide slum ordered by Brazilian General Heleno Ribera. By the time the gun smoke cleared it revealed a nightmare of blood and screams as people bled to death in close-knit tin roof houses, small alleys and narrow roadways in Cite Soleil.
"For many of them, I knew I couldn't save them so I filmed their last moments of life. For others I filmed their violent death after the U.N. shot up Cite Soleil on July 6, 2005," says Haitian journalist Jean Ristil. He was the only videographer to capture the full impact and terror of the UN raid that fateful day. One example is when Ristil films a headshot victim, Leon Chery, as he bleeds to death on camera. Chery holds his bloody jaw that was separated from his head by a single high-powered gunshot. As Chery dies on camera Jean Ristil comments that it was "casque bleu" or blue helmets that shot him.
The most terrifying images captured by Ristil on July 6, 2005 were those of a family killed in their home. The sole survivor, a tearful father, sits in a chair over the lifeless bodies of his wife and two infant sons lying on the floor. Fredi Romulus explains in detail how UN troops lobbed a red smoke grenade into his house and everyone panicked. He sobbed deeply as he expressed his grief over leaving the house first and turning to see UN soldiers fire into the doorway towards his wife and children. Sonia Romulus was holding her one year-old son Nelson when the UN bullet passed through his small body killing both of them instantly. A separate head shot killed four year-old Stanley Romulus, Nelson's older brother.
Ribera ordered the raid after weeks of intense pressure from Haiti's wealthy elite. In the end he agreed with the likes of Andy Apaid over what they commonly referred to as ‘Bandits in Cite Soleil' and the necessity of eliminating them by force. Apaid was the founder of the Group 184 that was backed by the Haiti Democracy Project (HDP) in Washington D.C. that provided the veneer of mass appeal to the second coup against Aristide in Feb. 2004.  Apaid is also cited in several human right reports for having funded gangs in Cite Soleil to attack Aristide supporters. And finally, Mr. Apaid is also an owner of large industrial tracks in Haiti where he builds factories to create partnerships with U.S. and Canadian manufacturers. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently visited one of Apaid's factories in an effort to push the Hope II act in the U.S. Congress that would allow for tax breaks for U.S. apparel manufacturers doing business in Haiti.
In reality it was clear before July 6, 2005 that complete isolation of Cite Soleil by UN forces was not going to stop the growing demonstrations demanding the return of Aristide and an end to the repression. Thousands marching for the Lavalas movement in Cite Soleil every month became an embarrassing reminder that the UN mission in Haiti was based upon a fabrication evolved and orchestrated by the governments of Bush, Martin and Chirac. Each demonstration was a challenge to this triumvirate's pretext for Aristide's ouster in 2004 and the subsequent repression, namely that Aristide had lost the support of the Haitian people and that he had been toppled in a ‘popular rebellion.' Cite Soleil's example was amplified by similar demonstrations that continued in Bel Air, another community whose population was targeted with frequent deadly raids and massive sweeps for bandits.
The primary U.N. military target on July 6, 2005 was the leader of an armed resistance movement to police and U.N. control of Cite Soleil. Emmanuel Wilmer, a.k.a. Dred Wilme, decided to pick up a gun and resist following regular attacks on the community by paramilitary forces, trigger-happy Haitian police, and finally U.N. military raids. For Wilmer and the community it became clear that the UN was backing the violence of Aristide's opposition and the actions of the Haitian police as they indiscriminately shot at suspected Lavalas supporters in their homes and during peaceful demonstrations. The UN also coordinated huge dragnets with the Haitian police resulting in wholesale arrests of suspected ‘bandits.' This would quickly overwhelm the already nightmarish prison system in Haiti even as the Canadian government claimed responsibility for training the police and reforming the prisons. The killings and prolonged detention of Lavalas political opponents by the Latorture regime continued and even increased during 2005-2006.

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The UN knew exactly where Wilmer was that day and went after him first. He and four of his comrades were felled in a hail of bullets in a UN miltary raid that clearly viewed his assassination as its primary objective. The UN would continue firing for several hours reportedly shooting at anything that moved. Seth Donnelly was in Haiti as part of a human rights delegation that was sponsored by the San Francisco Labor Council. Donnelly and a small human rights team investigated the scene the next day and video taped extensive testimony with the survivors. Donnelly recalls, "We arrived in Cite Soleil on July 7th, 2005, approximately 24 hours after a major ‘UN operation' there. It was clear that UN troops had shot many unarmed individuals the day before. Many people-- old and young-- came forward to our delegation and gave testimony that U.N. soldiers had injured and killed innocent Haitians in the name of going after Dred Wilme and "gang" members. We also discovered the fly-ridden corpses of a mother and her two young children who were reportedly killed by UN gunfire in their home." 

"Haitians love Bill Clinton" read the headline in the UN Dispatch on June 16 where John Boonstra would write, "Clinton also had strong praiseworthy words for the UN peacekeepers in the country, who contributed, in his words, to an environment of ‘children walking without fear' in Cite Soleil, one of the worst slums in Haiti's capital city." When asked what he thought of Bill Clinton's arrival as UN Envoy on July 6 Seth Donnelly was incredulous, "Why did Bill Clinton-- who arrived in Haiti today on the 4th anniversary of the UN assault on the people of Cite Soleil-- make no mention of this incident? Why did he instead choose to praise UN peacekeepers in Haiti?"
Katz would write of Clinton's arrival in the Associated Press, "Still, Clinton remains widely popular - especially among the mostly poor supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide who are old enough to remember Clinton's help in restoring Aristide to power in 1994 after a coup."
Rene Civil of the Lavalas Mobilization Commission does not share Katz's assessment.  The commission leaders and the membership of Lavalas embody Katz's description of "mostly poor supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide." It was exactly this movement that recently waged a successful boycott campaign against UN -sponsored Senate elections after Lavalas was barred from participating.
Civil describes Clinton as, "using his name and trading on his past history to cover-up the massacre of July 6, 2005 and other atrocities committed by the United Nations against Lavalas supporters." Civil also doesn't believe Clinton's new role really changes anything, "Clinton is also siding with the Haitian elite in Haiti that worked with the Bush administration to kidnap president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.We expect the same treatment we always get from the UN after the killing whether Bill Clinton is here or not. The UN denies killing a mourner in broad daylight during Father Jean-Juste's funeral on June 18 and nothing has been done about it. Just like July 6, 2005, the denials are always followed by the suffering of the survivors and the silence of the grave." 
Later in the evening of July 6, as Clinton and his staff settled into their luxury hotel suites, the residents of Cite Soleil would hold events to remember the victims of the UN raid on their community four years ago. Tears and grief would give way to angry shouts of "Down with the UN" and "Clinton, where are you now?" as a video showing the aftermath of the raid and other military incursions by the UN played on a large screen. As the evening progressed the angry invectives against Clinton and the UN only grew louder and more determined. It became clear that whatever affection the poor in Cite Soleil may have once had for Clinton has since been replaced by the realization that he will do little to help them in their search for justice.

©2009 Haiti Information Project

The Haiti Information Project (HIP) is a non-profit alternative news service providing coverage and analysis of breaking developments in Haiti.

Winner of the CENSORED 2008 REAL NEWS AWARD for Outstanding Investigative Journalism

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see also

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Lavalas closed the doors again, elections in Haiti a disaster for Lespwa government Jun 27

"Thank you Bill Clinton" — one more assassination by UN troops in Haiti Jun 20

Haiti bids "A Dieu" to Father Jeri and promises "The Struggle continues" Jun 19

Haiti and Miami activists meet to plan for Fr. Jean Juste funeral Jun 17

Mon Père, Remembrances of Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste May 29 UPDATE Reverend Father Gerard Jean-Juste many past articles, photos and links of our beloved Pér Jean-Juste compiled on one page

Pè Jean Juste: personal remembrances - Respè

Lavalas flexes its muscles in Haiti Apr 20

Poll projects low voter turnout in Haiti: Protests banned by Kevin Pina    Apr 16   

Perverted Priorities: Corpses, sham elections, and sweatshops in Haiti Apr 10

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Thousands march in Haiti demanding return of Aristide Feb 29

Propagandhi: progressive thrash, Haiti and activism on tour Feb 26

Haiti bill calling for investigation of U.S. role in 2004 Coup d'État Feb 5

The rebirth of Konbit in Haiti Dec 17

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