Inter-Actualités Magazine, Special Report: The Slaughter at Jean Rabel, late July 1987

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Download: Inter-Actualités Magazine, Repòtaj Spesyal: Masak Jean Rabel (l’Hécatombe de Jean Rabel), fen jiye 1987 (1)

Inter-Actualités Magazine, Repòtaj Spesyal: Masak Jean Rabel (l’Hécatombe de Jean Rabel), fen jiye 1987 (2)

 

DESCRIPTION

As news of the massacre of peasants at Jean Rabel reaches Port-au-Prince, Jean Dominique tries to make sense of the situation based on the scarce information at hand.  All that is known is that a group of peasants in the grassroots group Tèt Ansanm who were demanding land reform have been killed by other peasants as the result of the machinations of Duvalierist landowners.  Jean Rabel is in a remote area and the press can not yet go there.  There are conflicting reports about the number of dead; tens to hundreds are reported dead, and there is the possibility that the death counts have been inflated by the aggressors.

July1989_chantepeyizan_cartoon_1 copy

Cartoon from Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen’s 1989 pamphlet commemorating the Jean Rabel massacre. Wealthy landowners, the army, the Church, and the US, among others, are destroying Haitian peasant farmers. (Source: Radio Haïti Inter paper archive.)

This program revisits several other recordings — the July 3, 1987 interview with members of Tèt Ansanm in which they they warn that the situation is getting more perilous for Jean-Marie Vincent’s missionary team, the July 28, 1987 broadcast from Radio Soleil in which members of Tèt Ansanm who escaped the massacre described what they saw and experienced, Konpè Filo’s interview with Rémy Lucas and Jean-Michel Richardson earlier in 1987 after the violence at Gros Sable, and Michèle Montas’ interview with Father Jean-Marie Vincent on July 28, 1987.  While Jean-Marie Vincent is careful not to criticize Church authorities directly, the Association Nationale des Agronômes Haïtiens is more direct in its denunciation; in an open letter, they claim that bishops and priests have long been attacking Tèt Ansanm and Father Jean-Marie’s missionary team through inflammatory sermons, and that the Church is implicated in this violence.  According to speakers from the community of Plaine de l’Arbre, Tèt Ansanm had also been promoting national production and the consumption of local agricultural products by blocking imported food and food aid (manje sinistre), which created resentment for peasants whose families could not eat without this aid.  The recording concludes with Father Jean-Marie’s words on the future of Tèt Ansanm and grassroots peasant organization.

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)

DESCRIPTION

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.

Face à l’Opinion: Anderson Charles, Jean François Germain, and Anosthène Eliscar on Peasant Organizations and Agricultural Policy in Haiti, 17 Jan. 1996

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Download: Face à l’Opinion: Anderson Charles, Jean Francois Germain, ak Anosthene Eliscar sou Mouvman Peyizan ak Politik Agrikòl an Ayiti (1)

Face à l’Opinion: Anderson Charles, Jean Francois Germain, ak Anosthene Eliscar sou Mouvman Peyizan ak Politik Agrikòl an Ayiti, 17/01/1996 (2)

DESCRIPTION

Three members of peasant organizations, Anderson Charles, Jean François Germain, and Anosthène Eliscar, discuss agricultural policy, the current situation of peasant farmers in Haiti, their dreams and goals, and the resources available to bring those dreams to fruition. They discuss, in particular, the problems facing national agricultural production as it is threatened and undersold by cheap imports from abroad, waste of resources, the abuse and exploitation of peasant farmers by big landowners, the seizure of peasant land and questions of land ownership, violence against peasants by the army and the National Police of Haiti (PNH), and the peasantry’s role in participatory democracy under Aristide. Interview Jean Dominique.

“If we had a private sector that was truly patriotic or nationalist, and would work on these things, it would let people take a break and breathe. That means creating a plan both for the peasant sector, and for city people, and we will be able to grow more food to eat, and in that way, we will no longer depend on imports from overseas.” — Jean-François Germain

 

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

DESCRIPTION

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.