Inter-Actualités Magazine, Special Report on Jean Rabel: Land Ownership, Anti-Communism, the Catholic Church, and Rumors, 16 August 1987

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Download: Inter-Actualités Magazine, Repòtaj Spesyal sou Jean Rabel: Pwopriyetè Tè, Anti-Kominis, Legliz Katolik, ak Twipotaj, 16 daout 1987 (1)

Inter-Actualités Magazine, Repòtaj Spesyal sou Jean Rabel: Pwopriyetè Tè, Anti-Kominis, Legliz Katolik, ak Twipotaj, 16 daout 1987 (2)

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Three weeks after the massacre at Jean Rabel, the independent media is still forbidden to visit the area, so Jean Dominique sits with Michèle Pierre-Louis (who had recently visited the region as part of Mission Alpha) and agronomist Chavannes Jean-Baptiste (the founder of the Peasant Movement of Papaye) to discuss the aftermath of the massacre and the factors underpinning it. Pierre-Louis observes a great deal of hostility toward Jean-Marie Vincent and his missionary team among the peasants of Lacoma. But this hostility is the product of intentional strategy, one that the local landowners adopted when Tèt Ansanm’s ideology called into question existing social structure.

Cartoon from Tèt Kole's 1989 pamphlet commemorating the Jean Rabel massacre.  Peasant farmers plan to cut down the tree of injustice and oppression with the axe of liberation.  (Source: Radio Haïti Inter paper archive)

Cartoon from Tèt Kole’s 1989 pamphlet commemorating the Jean Rabel massacre. Peasant farmers plan to cut down the tree of injustice and oppression with the axe of liberation. (Source: Radio Haïti Inter paper archive)

These landowners — threatened by the possibility of losing their traditional power amid post-Duvalier political change — have manipulated the peasants of the Jean Rabel area, pitting them against one another, currying favor with certain groups of peasants with promises of land redistribution and favoritism. They have created a situation, in Jean-Baptiste’s words, in which the “little dog eats the little dog, poor peasants are killing poor peasants just like themselves.” According to Jean-Baptiste, the landowners and their allies (including certain radio stations and the traditional Catholic Church) have been part of a misinformation campaign, accusing Jean-Marie Vincent of being a communist, creating a climate of fear in which peasants believe that communists are going to seize their land, homes, and possessions. Divisions within the Catholic Church — between the traditional, reactionary Church hierarchy and the “ti legliz” preaching liberation theology and promoting the rights of the poor dispossessed peasantry – are also responsible for the massacre, and, according to Jean-Baptiste, the Church should be held responsible. Interview Jean Dominique.

Father Jean-Marie Vincent on the Jean Rabel Massacre, 28 July 1987

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Download: Pè Jean-Marie Vincent pale sou masak Jean Rabel, 28/7/1987

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Father Jean-Marie Vincent — Catholic priest and director of Caritas — speaks about the recent massacre of peasants in Jean Rabel, northwest Haiti. He blames an alliance of local oligarchs (the Lucas family and Jean-Michel Richardson) and macoutes; they in turn blame Father Vincent, claiming that he armed the members of Tèt Ansanm and incited them to violence. He says he is used to being blamed, attacked, threatened, and called a communist; it is to be expected when one organizes with peasants and encourages them to defend their rights. He rejects claims that the members of Tèt Ansanm are responsible for the violence in Jean Rabel, saying instead that the oligarchs and macoutes are creating a climate of fear and making the victims out to be the aggressors. Father Vincent explains that the conflict began when peasants in Gros Sable reclaimed their land after the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986. It reached its peak with the massacre in Jean Rabel, which has lasted several days. Relatively few people died on the first day, but in the following days, brigades under the direction of those oligarchs attacked and killed people as they attempted to return home and within the hospital. These powerful landowners have impunity. When asked about the Catholic Church’s position (as there are local church authorities who are in opposition to Tèt Ansanm and part of the attacking forces), Father Vincent replies that his order and Caritas have an official mandate to work with and organize the peasants, but that he does not want to risk saying more than that and will wait for higher church authorities to explain their position. Local landowners and oligarchs are profiting from post-dictatorship political instability, leveraging their economic and social capital to crush peasant movements. Father Vincent does not believe that this will be the end of Tèt Ansanm; grassroots peasants groups are the only hope for the masses, so despite suffering and death, they will not disappear. Interview Michèle Montas.

Cazale Massacre: 18 Years Later, 27 March 1987

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Download: Masak Cazale: 18 lane aprè, 27/3/1987

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Liliane Pierre-Paul reports from Cazale on the 18th anniversary of the 1969 massacre. The day prior to the broadcast, Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide gave a mass in commemoration, in which he spoke of liberty and justice. Several witnesses to and survivors of the massacre give emotional testimony about the burning of peasant houses, the pillaging and theft, and the rape of young girls by macoutes. Several members of the Haitian democratic movement attended, including Jean-Claude Bajeux of the Centre Oecumenique des Droits de L’Homme, René Théodore of the Parti Unifié des Communistes Haïtiens (PUCH), Gérard Pierre-Charles, Robert (Boby) Duval  of the Ligue des Anciens Prisonniers Politiques Haïtiens (LAPPH) and Monique Brisson.

Jean Rabel Massacre – Father Jean Rénald Clérismé, Nicol Poitevien, and Jean-Michel Richardson, 30 July 1987

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Download: Jean Rabel – Pè Jean Rénald Clérismé, Nicol Poitivien, ak yon moun enkoni kap defann grandon yo

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Part 1 (0:00 to 3:51): Father Jean Rénald Clérismé makes a hurried call to Radio Haiti-Inter about the terror faced by the peasant members of Tèt Ansanm in the area of Beauchamp near Jean Rabel. The peasants are afraid to sleep at home, because people come to their homes at night to threaten them.Uniformed aggressors are all over the area, looking for members of Tèt Ansanm and threatening them. They have forbidden Tèt Ansanm and Caritas to have meetings, they are pillaging the peasants’ goods, and they have burned down the house of an agronomist who works with Tèt Ansanm and threaten to burn down more peasant homes. Father Clérismé names the four principal aggressors. He says the worst part is that the Haitian Army is responsible for having sent them.

Part 2 (3:55-8:54) Interview with Nicol Poitevien, one of the landowners from Jean Rabel who is accused of being responsible for this violence. Poitevien claims that everyone’s got it wrong: it’s the members of Tèt Ansanm and specifically Father Jean-Marie Vincent who are responsible for the violence, not himself and the other local oligarchs. “The name ‘gwoupman’ is a nice name, but what they’re doing isn’t nice.’ Poitevien claims the peasants are being manipulated and used by “communist” Father Vincent.

Part 3 (8:56-15:00): Jean-Michel Richardson defends the Poitevien, Lucas, and Richardson landowners, claiming that Father Vincent’s missionary team has been organizing the peasants of Tèt Ansanm to engage in dechoukaj, burn down houses, and injure other peasants. He would like to have a press conference to present his proof of this, and says that for every ten peasants who are members of Tèt Ansanm, he’ll show you ten peasants who are victims of Tèt Ansanm.