[News] Haiti - The Lasalin Massacre

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 4 17:03:07 EDT 2019


*The Lasalin Massacre: Is it an accidental event, a fight between rival 
gangs to control an area, or a calculated and planned political act?
*
*
*
*by Vladimir Durace - *https://haitisolidarity.net/the-lasalin-massacre/

This article, originally written in Haitian /Kreyol/ for *Haiti 
Solidarity <https://haitisolidarity.net/the-lasalin-massacre/>* in 
February 2019, was translated by Haiti Action Committee.

Lasalin, a shantytown in the capital of Haiti, is crossed by two main 
thoroughfares, which make it a strategic area coveted by several 
economic and political groups for many reasons. On one side is 
Jean-Jacques Dessalines Boulevard, with Lasalin Boulevard on the other. 
Facing Lasalin are truck terminals and private ports that receive goods 
and merchandise from abroad. The center of the shantytown is situated 
directly across the terminals and ports. For one of the powerful ruling 
social groups, whose origin and methods of operations will be discussed 
later, Lasalin is considered to be a menace. This is a view that is 
generally shared in the oligarchy, which is determined at all costs to 
force out the residents of the community and take over the land to 
enlarge its economic empire. Edouard Baussan, the owner of Unibank, now 
controls these terminals after buying out the other shareholders. For 
this group to achieve its dream, it must remove the people who live in 
the shantytown of Lasalin. The majority of the residents are active 
members of /Fanmi Lavalas Political Organization/ who always publicly 
declare their great appreciation and loyalty to former President 
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who implemented many projects in the area for 
the residents of Lasalin to live in dignity.

It is no secret that these economic groups are connected with wealthy 
businessmen in the international community, particularly in the US, who 
supported and helped them install PHTK (Haitian /Tèt Kale/ Party) to 
power; they continue to provide support in order to defend their 
interests. It is easy to understand why major international media 
provide very little coverage of the political crimes—massacres committed 
against the Haitian people; it is similar in the case of the local 
Haitian media that they control. If it were not for the network of 
social media - Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp - the world would not know 
what had occurred in Haiti on November 13, 2018, when hundreds were 
killed, scores of houses were burned, young women raped, and children 
and elderly mutilated with machetes.

Let us take a little time to examine the origin of the disadvantaged 
class in Haiti.

The struggle of the popular masses - the black descendants of enslaved 
Africans - throughout the history of Haiti, to claim their rightful 
place in the nation, goes way back to the time of slavery. The war for 
physical, economic, political, and cultural independence had forced all 
social classes in the colony of /Saint Domingue/ to unite their forces 
so that the struggle could be easier for them, as each social class had 
interests that differed from the others.

The massacre on November 13, 2018 is not the first to have taken place 
in the community of Lasalin. In 1957, in order for General Antonio 
Thrasybule Kebreau to stage elections to install dictator Francois 
Duvalier as president, he massacred many supporters of President 
Eustache Daniel Fignole, who lived in working class neighborhoods such 
as Lasalin, Bele, and Site Soley. They did not want to obey and accept 
the /coup d’état/ that the Haitian Army had committed against President 
Fignole which sent him into exile. On September 11, 1988, the Haitian 
Army in the service of the Haitian oligarchy enabled paramilitary 
affiliates to massacre parishioners during a mass officiated by Father 
Jean-Bertrand Aristide at St. Jean Bosco Church in Lasalin. And during 
the first /coup d’état/ against President Aristide that started on 
September 29, 1991, the Haitian Army, together with paramilitary 
affiliates, massacred many activists in working class neighborhoods, 
particularly in Lasalin, over the course of several years. On February 
29, 2004—the date of the second /coup d’état/ against President 
Aristide—the working class neighborhoods were once again victims of the 
enemies of democracy. The Haitian people and the neighborhood of Lasalin 
were not spared; many activists were killed.

Can we consider the enslaved population as a social class in the colony 
of /St./ /Domingue/? Social classes have traditionally been defined as:
     1.    Bourgeoisie – The whites who possess a lot of money, wealth, 
plantations, and land.
     2.    Middle class – The small landowners, “mulattos,” and freedmen 
who do not possess a lot of money, wealth, plantations, or land, but who 
are living comfortably.
     3.    Working class – Among which are blacksmiths, shoemakers, 
tailors, teachers, shopkeepers, etc
     4.    Enslaved population – In which class belongs the enslaved who 
owned no plantations and riches, those who were not workers because they 
were not paid for the work that they did? For these reasons we speak of 
social group instead of social class. In his book /Haïti-Haitii: 
Philosophical Reflections for Mental Decolonization/, Dr. Jean-Bertrand 
Aristide references “Article 22 of the Black Code” which explains how 
the enslaved were treated.

Why do we speak of “physical” independence? The behavior and actions of 
a number of officials in Haitian society shows plainly that, to this 
day, they still have in their mind that they are dependent on the 
countries of the former colonizers. Moreover, they believe that any 
action they take has to be blessed by the colonizer. These officials act 
as governors who are at the beck and call of the metropole. This means 
that to this day, “mentally,” they think and act as slaves. This 
behavior is favorable for the Haitian oligarchy in the “mulatto 
class/group,” in organizing a system of corruption and repression that 
assassinates and massacres people—the working class—any time they take a 
stand to demand their fundamental rights, such as the right to food, 
education, health care, housing, and work.

If the struggle for physical independence forced a unity, for the 
moment, between the various social classes, group interests and personal 
interests led to division after the victorious War for Independence. 
Each group fought to maintain and defend their interests and to enlarge 
the economic empire of their particular group.

In all of these social groups, /only the enslaved group/ spoke words 
such as "creating a nation," "equitable distribution for all the people 
of the land," and "live free and independent or die." However, the other 
social groups saw it differently. Black people coming out of slavery 
were not considered human beings; they had no rights in the new nation. 
They were not part of the societal project. Alexandre Pétion was a 
leader from the mulatto group, which started behaving as the new 
masters. They built no schools or hospitals. In short, what was needed 
for a state apparatus to function in the service of the population was 
not in their interest. If the descendants of the enslaved learned to 
read, they would have a lot more clarity on what is happening in the 
world. /They would become a threat to the system/. For these reasons, 
the Black Code continued to be implemented under a different guise to 
maintain the people in misery.

The “mulattos” considered the colony as a place to conduct business and 
make money. They considered themselves French citizens or subjects. It 
was the black officers, the formerly enslaved in the indigenous army 
who, raising the problem of exclusion, demanded inclusion for all, in 
particular for the formerly enslaved. We can cite the following 
examples: Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Henri Christophe, Francois 
Capois—those who spoke for total, unconditional independence, economic 
independence, political, cultural, and physical independence.

It is this same group, the formerly enslaved, who throughout the history 
of Haiti have been fighting a continuous struggle to claim their rights 
in this brand-new nation, to live with honor and dignity and the right 
to work; the right to healthcare; the right to food, education, justice, 
and good housing. From this standpoint, Jean-Jacques Dessalines stated, 
“What about the blacks whose fathers are in Africa? There will be 
nothing for them?” This declaration is one of the causes for the killing 
of Jean-Jacques Dessalines. “/All for them, nothing for the masses of 
the people/.” From this time on, this class of assassins has always come 
together to crush the majority population—the formerly enslaved, the 
marginalized, those kept on the margins of society.

The ruling elite which not only controls the economy but also the local 
media, engages in lobbying foreign governments and international media, 
in order to tarnish the image of the struggle of the majority 
population. Local and international lobbyists have concocted a variety 
of names throughout the history of the majority population’s struggles 
to free themselves from unparalleled misery and from the label of the 
poorest and most corrupt nation. Lobbyists have labeled them with 
derogatory names: /kamoken/, /chime/, /bandi/, /dechouke/, /rat pa 
kaka/, /kidnape/, /ravet/….This is part and parcel of a psychological 
war to work on public opinion, so that when they commit a 
politically-motivated massacre, the rest of society will conclude that 
the police are killing bandits and criminals.

No nation can develop if it is not politically independent; it will find 
it impossible to choose the leadership that the people want to govern. 
When other people are choosing, it is not in the best interest of the 
population. The enslaved understood this. Jean-Jacques Dessalines and 
Christophe understood it, too. The disadvantaged group understands it, 
and this is the motivative force for the struggle for independence - 
political, cultural, etc - that is being carried out today. One of the 
better ways to wage this struggle is to /mentally decolonize/ all the 
groups and classes of Haitian society who are still colonized.

In these modern times, there is a different approach to slavery, but the 
results remain the same. This is why it is referred to as modern-day 
slavery. Working class neighborhoods like Site Soley, Lasalin, Solino, 
Raboto, Sentelen, and Jalouzi are considered by colonialist countries as 
“warehouses for modern slaves.” If one reads the Black Code that states 
how to manage slaves in the colony of St. Domingue, if one reads the 
book by Dr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, /Haïti-Haitii: Philosophical 
Reflections for Mental Decolonization/, it becomes understandable and 
easy to observe that while it is the same politics, the methods have 
changed - they have been modernized.[1] We see the silence of the big 
media and the international community as massacres are taking place in 
Haiti, particularly in working class neighborhoods that they consider to 
be slave warehouses. And yet, it is not only the working class 
neighborhoods that are viewed as slave warehouses, but the entire 
country of Haiti. If not, can anyone explain why a Haitian worker is 
expected to live on a minimum wage that is less than only five dollars a 
day for a full day of work?

The bourgeois class in Haiti includes descendants of mulattos and 
freedmen, with nationals from the US and countries of the Middle East 
and Europe such as Reginald Boulos, Sherif Abdallah, Reynold Deeb of the 
Deka Group, Andy Apaid, Dimitri Craan, Gilbert Bigio, and Handal.

Members of the bourgeois class invest a lot of money in the campaigns of 
candidates for parliament deputy, senator, and president, favoring 
people involved in criminal acts and corruption. Thus, they can 
participate in contraband, corruption, illegal weapons trafficking, 
crime, drug dealing, and kidnapping. The political connections of 
members of the bourgeois class are strengthened by investments in the 
campaign of selected candidates, making possible their great influence 
in the state apparatus to impose ministers, directors-general, and 
members of the electoral council. They also benefit by receiving 
duty-free status, paying no taxes on their imported merchandise that is 
later sold to the population at inflated prices.

For all these reasons each group that is part of the Haitian oligarchy 
has its own clique within the Haitian National Police—for example, Jimmy 
“/Barbecue/” Cherizier and Gregory “/Ti Greg/” Antoine - that works with 
armed civilians such as Serge “/Ti Junior/” Alectis to eliminate 
adversaries. Whether political, economic or social, the December 21, 
2018 assassination of Alain Douge, who was working on a new labor code 
for Haiti, stands as an example. With the complicity of the police, 
government officials, senators, and deputies in the parliament, using 
their private customs office right across from Lasalin, these groups 
from the oligarchy can easily bring any type of weaponry into the 
country. How can anyone explain that a poor person living in Lasalin or 
Granravin - who cannot even afford to eat and receiving a wage as little 
as $3 for a full day’s work - can buy a weapon that costs several 
thousands of dollars, not to mention cost of the bullets?

The politics to maintain monopolistic control lead to these economic 
groups becoming very violent, stopping at nothing to defend their 
interests. Presently in everyday language, one hears of /Groupe Bigio/, 
/Groupe de Bourdon/, /Groupe Acra/, /Groupe Unibank/, and /Core Groupe/.

Thus various groups seek to have at their disposal an armed militia 
under the cover of a security service. They make alliances with a few 
outlaws in some of the working class neighborhoods, provide them with 
money and weapons, creating groundless rivalries that conveniently allow 
for the elimination of political adversaries. The assassination of Paul 
“/Ti Koton/” Ambroise allegedly by Gregory “/Ti/ /Greg/” Antoine is a 
clear example. Ambroise was a potential candidate for mayor of 
Port-au-Prince under the banner of /Fanmi Lavalas/; he was assassinated 
in plain view of the police after attending a soccer game at the Silvyo 
Cator stadium.

In conclusion, gang warfare does not exist and has never existed in 
Haitian society, especially in Lasalin, Granravin, and similar working 
class neighborhoods. If working class neighborhoods are viewed as 
warehouses for modern day slavery, we have to conclude that it is all 
the people of the country of Haiti who are viewed as a slave warehouse 
by a particular sector of the international community. It is not 
surprising that there is no coverage of the massacres that are occurring 
in various areas of Haiti, in order to maintain a system that is built 
on a new Black Code that is no different from the old one. 
Two-hundred-eighty-three people were killed in Lasalin during the month 
of November 2018 alone, according to community residents and various 
human rights observers. What gang would have the capacity to carry out 
such a massacre without the complicity of the government and the police? 
What gang would have enough money to buy all of these weapons of war. 
The Lasalin massacre amounts to /slaves killing other slaves/, as 
/colonialists/ white and black are implementing the theory of William 
Lynch.[2]

What do Barbecue, Ti Junior, Ti Greg, Vlaw, Ti Je, and Arnel Belizvaire 
represent in the struggle? Without a doubt they are the “weapons” placed 
in the midst of the enslaved that the bourgeoisie can use whenever 
needed. What do Boulos, Edouard Baussan, Andy Apaid, Baker Charles, 
Dimitri Craan, Sherif Abdallah and Bigio represent? The oligarchy. If 
Lasalin, Vilaj de Dye, Matisan, or Granravin become a political 
obstacle, it follows naturally that the oligarchy will try to eliminate 
all of their political adversaries, in order for the field to be wide 
open in advance of the next elections. Since the majority of community 
residents in these neighborhoods is /Lavalas/, it is repression against 
/Lavalas/ itself. The Lasalin massacre was neither an accidental 
occurrence nor an intergang turf war. It was a political act, calculated 
and planned.

*Endnotes*
1. "Article 22 [of the Black Code]: ‘…Every week, the slave master must 
give every slave that is 10 years old or more 2 and a half pots of 
manioc flour, according to measures used in Paris, or else 3 cassavas 
that each weigh at least 2 and a half pounds…and 2 pounds of salted beef 
or else 3 pounds of fish….As for infants, once they are weaned and until 
the age of 10, they will be given half of the quantity of food indicated 
in article 22, every week.’” Aristide, Jean-Bertrand. Haïti-Haitii: 
Philosophical Reflections for Mental Decolonization. Paradigm 
Publishers. 2011.
2. 
https://pasadenajournal.com/the-making-of-a-slave-the-infamous-willie-lynch-letter

-- 
sent by Haiti Action Committee
www.haitisolidarity.net <http://www.haitisolidarity.net>

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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