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


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.

Caritas’ Efforts to Replace the Creole Pig, November 1986

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Download: Reportage cochons créole/caritas Nov 86, 4ème partie

Discussion of the eradication of the Creole pig in the early 1980s (due to fears of swine flu) through the Programme pour l’Eradication de la Peste Porcine Africaine et pour le Développement de l’Elevage Porcin (PEPPADEP), and the eradication program’s deleterious effects on the peasants.  At the time, the Creole pig was a main source of financial possibility stability for peasant families — “the peasant’s bank.”  Initial attempts to replace Creole pigs with industrial North American pigs were disastrous, as the North American pigs were ill-suited to the environment and Haitian peasants lacked the means to care for them. The program discusses subsequent attempts by the Catholic NGO Caritas to replace the Creole pig with similar pigs imported from Jamaica.