Kansas University Professor
Asked to Translate Aristide's Statement
Resignation Letter Written
in Haitian Creole
By Jennifer Byrd
director of the Kansas University Institute of Haitian Studies
was called upon Monday by the U.S. Department of State to
translate the controversial resignation letter of former Haitian
Bryant Freeman, a specialist in the Haitian Creole language,
said Aristide's letter never said, "I am
The U.S. Embassy in Haiti translated a key passage of the letter
as: "Tonight I am resigning in order to avoid a
Aristide, who is now in exile in Africa, has said he was
kidnapped and denied resigning his post.
Freeman translated the controversial passage as: "Thus,
if this evening it is my resignation which can prevent a
bloodbath, I agree to leave ... "
Mary Ellen Gilroy, director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs
at the State Department, contacted Freeman to see if he would do
a translation of the document.
"I didn't have a dream I would actually have the original
thing," Freeman said.
Freeman said he was called by the State Department because he
and Gilroy had worked together in Haiti and he is a recognized
expert on the Haitian language.
He's working on the fifth edition of his 55,000-word,
Creole-English dictionary. Freeman has studied Haitian history,
language and culture for more than 45 years.
Freeman said he did not know what the State Department was
planning to do with his translation of Aristide's letter, but he
said he thought the document would be historically significant.
"I think this is one of the three most important historic
documents in the history of Haiti," Freeman said.
Freeman said the other two historic documents include a letter
from the French emperor Napoleon in 1791 calling for the slaves
in Haiti to put down their arms, and a 1793 letter by French
Commissioner Sonthonax freeing the slaves in Haiti.
The fact each of the documents was done in Haitian Creole makes
them important, Freeman said.
"If he (Aristide) were addressing the international
community, he would use an international language, either French
or English," he said.
"Creole is the language of direct, honest discourse between
people in Haiti. He was trying to communicate with his people.
Source: The Lawrence Journal-World,
March 11, 2004
* * *
Organizational Petition on Haiti
As organizations and institutions working for global justice
friends and supporters of Haiti
We are all deeply troubled by the daily horrors of civil unrest in
cities across Haiti costing the lives of hundreds and thousands of
Haitians. The overthrow of the democratically elected government
Haiti by a superpower like the US is a dangerous precedent.
We need to send a clear message to the Bush Administration that
such actions are unacceptable and we will hold accountable those
responsible for these acts of injustice.
You will find below a petition letter that expresses our
sentiments of outrage on the act by the US government to depose
the leader of a sovereign state. President Jean Bertrand Aristide
is the choice of the Haitian people and only they should have the
final say on electing their leader.
We ask you to sign the petition asking for immediate and
unconditional re-instatement of President Aristide of Haiti. We
are also demanding an investigation into the role of the Bush
Administration in its violation of international laws. We will use
this letter to support current demands for Congressional
investigation. Congressmembers Barbara Lee and John Conyers, along
with 24 of their colleagues have proposed the TRUTH Act, which
calls for such an investigation. (Non-profit organizations need
not be concerned about violating the "advocacy on
legislation" clause of their 501.c(3). The petition does not
mention this or any other specific Bill before Congress)
At this time, we are only asking for organizational endorsement of
this petition. Please fill out the form below as completely as
possible and clip and paste to send to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on current conditions in Haiti, please visit:
Walter Turner & Kevin Danaher
Global Exchange, San Francisco, CA
Reverend Dr. J.Alfred Smith Sr.
Allen Temple Baptist Church, Oakland, CA
Haiti Action Committee, Berkeley, CA
Nunu Kidane & Gerald Lenoir
Priority Africa Network, Berkeley, CA
Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas
Text of Petition Below
Petition on Haiti
As organizations and institutions working for global justice:
- We denounce the US government for its role in the coup
overthrowing the democratically elected government of Haiti and
the forced removal of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from his
elected office by the United States military.
- We are outraged at the imprisonment of President Aristide in the
Central African Republic, where he was held virtually
incommunicado under house arrest for two weeks. We oppose any
attempt that seeks to restrict President Aristide's freedom of
speech and movement.
This act of "regime change" sets a dangerous precedent
for the world and has a particularly destabilizing effect on Latin
American countries. This US-engineered coup in Haiti is unethical
and immoral and in clear violation of international and federal
laws, for which the Bush Administration should be held
We demand a Congressional investigation into the Bush
administration's removal of a foreign country's leader from power.
We join CARICOM and Africa Union in condemning this removal of a
democratically elected president. This is not the first time the
US government has acted in direct military retaliation against
governments who differ from its economic and political policies.
Finally, we strongly question the role of the "free"
press in its biased coverage of events in Haiti. Corporate media
legitimizes the new government appointed illegally by the United
States and France,
and continues to report that President Aristide left voluntarily,
when in fact he was forced out of office through coercion,
specifically by threats to the safety of his followers.
For the above reasons, we demand:
-The unconditional and immediate return of President Aristide to
Haiti in order to serve out his term of office until 2006. Respect
the vote of the Haitian people.
- A congressional investigation into the role of the US government
in the deliberate destabilization of the Haitian government and
the implementation of the coup.
- An immediate end to the repression and daily attacks on Lavalas
supporters and those demanding the return of President Aristide.
- Support for Haitian refugees, including Temporary Protective
Services (TPS) to refugees from Haiti who are fleeing the terror
of their home country.
In conclusion, we are alarmed by the Bush Administration's
audacity in forcibly removing an elected President from office in
total disregard of international norms and laws. We are highly
the overall negative image of the US in global politics. As
progressive members of the global community, we strive to co-exist
with people and governments of the world in total respect for
sovereignty, which precludes coercive military attacks on foreign
countries and their elected officials.
* * * * *
The Impact of the
Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World
Reviewed by Mimi Sheller
Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804
A Brief History with Documents
Dubois and John D. Garrigus
* * *
* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—
* * *
Hopes and Prospects
By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky
surveys the dangers and prospects of our
early twenty-first century. Exploring
challenges such as the growing gap
between North and South, American
exceptionalism (including under
President Barack Obama), the fiascos of
Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli
assault on Gaza, and the recent
financial bailouts, he also sees hope
for the future and a way to move
forward—in the democratic wave in Latin
America and in the global solidarity
movements that suggest "real progress
toward freedom and justice." Hopes and
Prospects is essential reading for
anyone who is concerned about the
primary challenges still facing the
human race. "This is a classic Chomsky
work: a bonfire of myths and lies,
sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky
is an enduring inspiration all over the
world—to millions, I suspect—for the
simple reason that he is a truth-teller
on an epic scale. I salute him." —John
In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of
American empire and class domination, at
home and abroad, Chomsky continues a
longstanding and crucial work of
elucidation and activism . . .the
writing remains unswervingly rational
and principled throughout, and lends
bracing impetus to the real alternatives
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
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