Books on the Caribbean
Hubert Cole. Christophe: King of Haiti. New
York: The Viking Press, 1967.
The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution
Caribbean Doscourse (2004)
/ Barbara Harlow.
Resistance Literature (1987)
Josaphat B. Kubayanda.
The Poet's Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime
Paul Laraque and Jack Hirschman.
Gate An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry
David P. Geggus, ed.
The Impact of the
Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World.
University of South Carolina Press, 2001.
Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a
Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization
* * *
The Illegal Coup in Haiti
Kidnapping of Aristide
US and International Law
By Marjorie Cohn
Beginning in early February 2004, the
democratically elected President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, faced an armed rebellion starting from the North of
his country and moving South. The rebel leaders, whom U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell characterized as "thugs and
criminals," include former members of the dissolved Haitian
army, drug dealers, and members of the former paramilitary
organization universally recognized as having operated
terrorist/execution squads during the 1991-1994 military coup.
The driving force behind these rebels was
Jean Tatoune, a formerly a member of the Front Revolutionnaire
pour l'Avancement el le Progres d'Haiti (FRAPH), and Jodel
Chamblain, the co-founder of FRAPH. Both are convicted human
The nominal rebel leader was Guy Phillipe, a
well-known drug dealer, who had been implicated in masterminding
another coup attempt against the democratically elected
government of Haiti under President Preval.
The movement of the rebel army towards the
South was rapid, as it was armed with M-16s and M-60s of
American manufacture, and the national police had been
eviscerated by the financial and arms embargo imposed on Haiti
for the past few years, under the false pretenses of faulty
President Aristide had accepted the proposals
of the international community, and had entreated the opposition
to agree to the proposed political solution in order to avoid
the return to power of the forces who in the past had terrorized
the Haitian people.
On February 26, the rebel army threatened to
enter Port-au-Prince, and threatened President Aristide's
government and his life. The civil opposition that had been
calling for President Aristide's resignation rejected the
international proposals. At this point, Colin Powell stated that
the U.S. would not send troops to protect the democratically
elected government until a political solution had been reached.
Two days later, the Steele Foundation, a U.S.
company which had provided President Aristide with security
under contract, informed him that the U.S. government had
forbade the company from bringing in additional security forces
to protect President Aristide. The same day, U.S. diplomats told
the President that if he remained in Port-au-Prince, the U.S.
would not provide any assistance when the insurgents attacked,
and that they expected the President, his wife, and supporters
would be killed.
Later that night, the U.S. Depute Charge de
Mission (DCM) in Haiti, Luis Moreno, accompanied by a contingent
of U.S. Marines, met with the President. Moreno told him that
only if he left at that moment, the U.S. would provide aircraft
for him to leave, but that assistance was contingent on the
President providing the United States with a letter of
In the early morning hours of February 29,
the President and some family members were taken by Moreno and
the Marines to an airplane rented by the U.S. State Department.
Moreno told the President that he must give Moreno a letter of
resignation and agree to ask no questions about where he would
be taken, or the President and his wife would be left at the
airport and they would be killed.
Under extreme duress, President Aristide
signed a letter of resignation and boarded the plane. During the
flight, despite their repeated requests, the President and his
wife were forbidden from communicating with anyone in the
outside world. They were never asked whether their destination,
the Central African Republic, was acceptable to them.
Because they were prevented from having any
communication, the President and his wife were prevented from
seeking the agreement of other countries to accept their
Although both George W. Bush and Colin Powell
had said they would not send U.S. troops to Haiti until there
was a political solution, U.S. troops were ordered to Haiti
within one hour of President Aristide's departure. Dick Cheney
denied that the United States arrested or forcibly ousted
President Aristide, saying that President Aristide, who had
"worn out his welcome with the Haitian people," had
"left of his own free will."
Shortly after President Aristide's
"resignation," Boniface Alexandre was named acting
president of Haiti. All 3,000 people held in the National
Penitentiary were freed on March 14, according to the Associated
Press. Several of these prisoners had been convicted of massive
human rights violations, or were awaiting trial for massive
human rights violations. The UN news wire reported on March 5,
that in Fort Liberte, recently released prisoners were said to
be in charge of security.
The Observer reported a security
vacuum throughout the country, and the BBC reported that rioters
in Port-au-Prince looted stores, ransacked police stations, and
set fire to gas stations. There have been many brutal reprisal
attacks on political opponents, extra-judicial arrests and
killings, lack of effective civil authority, and disruption of
humanitarian aid efforts. Serious human rights abuses, political
violence, and social turbulence have escalated to the level of a
There has been a serious attack on the
freedom of the press since February 29. Staff from the Aristide
government media continue to be attacked and beaten, some
journalists have been forced into exile, and the U.S.-supported
opposition now controls most of the airwaves.
Human Rights Watch reported on March 2 that
the U.S. Coast Guard had already repatriated at least 867
Haitians. Joanne Mariner, deputy director of Human Rights
Watch's Americas Division, said, "With people being shot
dead in the streets by gangs of criminal thugs, it was
unconscionable for the United States to dump entire families
into this danger zone."
According to Mariner, "Haiti remains
unstable and insecure. The international community must take
rapid steps to take the country back from armed criminals and
thugs who are now in control of the country."
Forcible regime change violates
Haiti's democratically elected President
Aristide was removed from Haiti by the United States, by threat
of force. Forcible regime change violates the well-established
principle that people should be able to choose their own
government. The International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights recognizes self-determination as a human right, and
specifies that all peoples have the right to "freely
determine their political status and freely pursue their
economic, social, and cultural development."
The United Nations Charter also prohibits the
use of force "against ... [t]he political
independence" of another state.
The governing charters of the Americas also
prohibit forcible regime change. The Charter of the Organization
of American States (OAS) affirms that "every State has the
right to choose, without external interference, its political,
economic, and social system and to organize itself in the way
best suited to it, and has the duty to abstain from intervening
in the affairs of another State."
Likewise, the Inter-American Democratic
Charter, signed on September 11, 2001, reiterates the
indispensability of representative democracy and the principle
of non-intervention. It provides that when a government of a
member state considers its legitimate exercise of power at risk,
it may request assistance from the Secretary General or the
Permanent Council for the strengthening and preservation of its
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, as duly elected
President of Haiti, is entitled to request such assistance. The
Charter further provides, "In the event of an
unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that
seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state, any
member state or the Secretary General may request the immediate
convocation of the Permanent Council to undertake a collective
assessment of the situation and to take such decisions as it
The Security Council recognized President
On February 29, the Security Council adopted
Resolution 1529, which took note of the resignation of President
Aristide and the swearing in of Boniface Alexandre as acting
president "in accordance with the Constitution of
Haiti." The Council stated in Resolution 1529 that it was
acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which gives Council
decisions binding effect. In the Libya case, the ICJ deferred to
the Security Council, saying that the Council's imposition of
sanctions on Libya preempted the Court's jurisdiction. However,
the Council has not imposed sanctions in Haiti, but merely taken
note of President Aristide's resignation and the swearing-in of
Boniface Alexandre as acting president.
Additionally, when Resolution 1529 was
adopted, President Aristide had not had a full opportunity to
present his allegations that he had been kidnapped and forced to
sign a letter of resignation. Any subsequent attempt to secure a
new Security Council resolution would invariably be vetoed by
the United States and France, which also supported the ouster of
President Aristide. Since President Aristide did not truly
resign, as head of state of Haiti he still has a seat at the
United Nations General Assembly, and can request a resolution
condemning the coup.
Resolution 1529 also authorized the immediate
deployment of a Multinational Interim Force to Haiti. If
President Aristide returned to Haiti, the United Nations troops
would be compelled to protect him.
The U.S. violated a treaty it ratified by
kidnapping President Aristide
In 1976, the United States ratified the
multilateral treaty, Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against
Internationally Protected Persons, Including Diplomatic Agents.
The Republic of Haiti is also a party to this treaty. It
prohibits the intentional kidnapping or other attack upon the
person or liberty of an internationally protected person. A Head
of State and his wife - President Aristide and Mildred Trouillot
Aristide - are considered to be internationally protected
persons under this treaty.
The terms of the treaty require the U.S. to
punish those responsible for an intentional kidnapping.
President Aristide could sue the United States in the name of
Haiti, on the basis of a "dispute" arising from the
failure of the U.S. to punish.
Haiti could also sue for the perpetration of
the kidnapping by the U.S., based on the Bosnian precedent. The
Genocide Convention, at issue in the Bosnia case, similarly
requires states to prohibit and prevent genocide. Bosnia argued
that this also means a state can be sued for its own
perpetration of genocide. Yugoslavia as respondent objected and
said it could not be sued for perpetration. The International
Court of Justice (ICJ) agreed with Bosnia and said that even
though the Convention requires only that a state prevent and
prohibit, that impliedly includes an obligation not to
perpetrate. The ICJ would likely conclude that Haiti and the
U.S. have a "dispute" by virtue of their disagreement
over whether the U. S. perpetrated kidnapping of an
internationally protected person.
The ICJ would take oral testimony and would
determine whether a kidnapping occurred.
On March 8, 2004, President Aristide's
lawyer, Ira J. Kurzban, presented a written demand to Colin
Powell that the United States fulfill its international legal
obligations to the Republic of Haiti under this treaty. This
letter demanded that the U.S. government submit, without undue
delay, the case to its competent authorities for the prosecution
of the U.S. nationals who organized and implemented the
kidnapping of President Aristide and his wife.
Under the terms of this treaty, any dispute
between two or more States Parties concerning its interpretation
or application, which is not settled by negotiation or
arbitration, can be referred to the ICJ by any one of those
parties. Since the U.S. did not file a declaration relating to
the dispute settlement provision, it did not opt out of ICJ
The U.S. kidnapping of President Aristide
violates U.S. law
United States law makes it a criminal offense
for United States persons to kidnap an internationally protected
person. See 18 U.S.C. sections 112, 878 and 1201. A prima facie
case of violation of this statute has been made out since
President Aristide and his wife were taken against their will on
an aircraft registered in the United States and owned, leased or
controlled by U.S. persons.
Ira Kurzban sent a letter to Attorney General
John Ashcroft asking the Justice Department to investigate the
circumstances of President Aristide's departure from Haiti on
The U.S. repatriation of Haitians violates
International law prohibits rendition, or
sending people back to places where they risk being persecuted,
tortured or killed. On February 25, the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees recommended that neighboring countries
suspend forced returns to Haiti. Nevertheless, the U.S. Coast
Guard repatriated at least 867 Haitians, which puts them in
grave danger due to the current conditions of violence and
instability. The United States violated international law by
repatriating these people.
The Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights should conduct an investigation
On February 26, the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights issued a statement deploring the violence
occurring in Haiti and called attention to the urgent need for a
response from the international community.
On March 8, President Aristides' attorney Ira
Kurzban, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Haiti,
extended a standing invitation to the Commission to effectuate
as many on-site human rights visits as necessary to document the
human rights situation in the country, and make such
recommendations as it deems necessary to reestablish the rule of
law and respect for fundamental rights.
The same day, more than 100 law professors
and human rights organizations wrote to the executive secretary
of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, urging that
the Commission conduct an on-site visit to Haiti to investigate
the critical human rights situation there.
CARICOM, U.S. representatives, and human
rights organizations call for probe
Fourteen Caribbean nations that comprise the
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were reportedly "extremely
disappointed" at the involvement of "Western
partners" in the departure of President Aristide from
Haiti, and called for a probe into the President's charge that
the United States forced him out of office.
Several members of Congress, including Maxine
Waters, called for an investigation into the United States' role
in the ouster of President Aristide.
An international team of lawyers filed a
petition in a Paris court alleging that officials from the
French and United Stats governments kidnapped President Aristide
and led a coup in Haiti.
The American Association of Jurists (AAJ),
while recognizing that during the government of President
Aristide, violations of the political and human rights of the
Haitian people were committed, declared that jurists have a duty
to condemn the U.S. participation in the planning and execution
of a modern day coup d'etat which is part of the U.S. policy of
imperial conquest of the American continent.
The AAJ condemns the Haitian intervention
directed by the U.S., with France's collaboration; calls for the
formation of an independent commission of Latin American and
Caribbean parliaments to investigate the conditions under which
Aristide left the Presidency and the country, including the
possible role played by the government of the Dominican Republic
in the training of armed militias and invasion from Dominican
soil; invites Latin America to demand the immediate pullout of
U.S. and French occupation troops from Haiti, and replacement
with a Latin American contingent according to the procedures in
the Interamerican Democratic Charter, in consultation with
legitimate Haitian authorities; and invites the OAS to conduct
an investigation to establish the circumstances which put
Aristide out of the office of the Presidency of Haiti.
The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL)
expressed "its maximum outrage and disgust with the
imperialist, lawless, and brutal campaign of terrorism that has
been inflicted on the people of Haiti by the Bush
administration." The organization demanded immediate
answers to questions about "U.S. involvement with armed
terrorists who have destabilized the island nation," and
called for "the formation of a global Pan-African alliance
of organizations that will be prepared to counter future
imperialist intervention through coordinated economic
On March 27, NCBL filed a complaint with the
International Criminal Court's (ICC) prosecutor, requesting
investigation of whether charges may be brought against the Bush
administration for war crimes in the kidnapping of President
Aristide from Haiti. The complaint noted that even though
neither the U.S. nor Haiti is a party to the ICC's statute, the
Central African Republic, to which President Aristide was
forcibly removed and detained, is a party to the ICC, and thus
jurisdiction would lie.
It further noted that unlawful deportation or
transfer or unlawful confinement constitutes a grave breach of
the Geneva Convention, which, in turn, constitutes a war crime.
The National Lawyers Guild and several
organizations and institutions working for global justice
denounced the U.S. government for its role in the coup
overthrowing the democratically elected government of Haiti and
the forced removal of President Aristide by the U.S. military.
They demanded a Congressional investigation into the role of the
U.S. 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 those demanding the
return of President Aristide; and support for Haitian refugees.
The National Lawyers Guild will send a
delegation to Haiti to meet with victims, witnesses and their
families and with grassroots leaders. The delegation will
investigate detention conditions for those held in Haitian
prisons and by the international occupation troops.
The United States has rejected calls for an
inquiry into President Aristide's removal from Haiti. State
Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "There is
nothing to investigate, we do not encourage nor believe there is
any need for an investigation.
There was no kidnapping, there was no coup,
there were no threats." As with the Cheney energy task
force, the 9/11 commission, and the inquiry into the
intelligence leading to the war on Iraq, the Bush administration
is resisting an independent investigation.
Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson
School in San Diego, is executive vice president of the National
Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive
committee of the American Association of Jurists. She can be
* * *
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
The Impact of the
Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World
Reviewed by Mimi Sheller
The slave revolution
that two hundred years ago created the state of Haiti
alarmed and excited public opinion on both sides of the
Atlantic. Its repercussions ranged from the world commodity
markets to the imagination of poets, from the council
chambers of the great powers to slave quarters in Virginia
and Brazil and most points in between. Sharing attention
with such tumultuous events as the French Revolution and the
Napoleonic War, Haiti's fifteen-year struggle for racial
equality, slave emancipation, and colonial independence
challenged notions about racial hierarchy that were gaining
legitimacy in an Atlantic world dominated by Europeans and
the slave trade. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the
Atlantic World explores the multifarious influence—from
economic to ideological to psychological—that a revolt on a
small Caribbean island had on the continents surrounding it.
Fifteen international scholars,
including eminent historians David Brion Davis, Seymour Drescher, and
Robin Blackburn, explicate such diverse ramifications as the spawning of
slave resistance and the stimulation of slavery's expansion, the opening
of economic frontiers, and the formation of black and white diasporas.
Seeking to disentangle the effects of the Haitian Revolutionfrom those
of the French Revolution, they demonstrate that its impact was
ambiguous, complex, and contradictory.—Publisher,
University of South Carolina
David P. Geggus is a
professor of history at the University of Florida in Gainesville and a
former Guggenheim and National Humanities Center fellow. He has
published extensively on the history of slavery and the Caribbean, with
a particular focus on the Haitian Revolution. He is the author of
Slavery, War and Revolution: The British Occupation of Saint Domingue,
1793–1798 and an editor of
A Turbulent Time: The French Revolution and the Greater Caribbean.
Geggus lives in Gainesville.
* * * * *
Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804
A Brief History with Documents
By Laurent Dubois and
John D. Garrigus
This is the most
succinct, convenient and accurate history of the Haitian
Revolution currently available. It fills a significant gap
in the historiography between monographs and general
histories on one side and novels and creative literature on
the other. The authors have produced an intelligent and
highly useful collection of documents, many virtually
inaccessible, and conveniently translated them for the
English-speaking audience. Their ability to contextualize
the events of the revolution briefly is simply exemplary.' -
Franklin Knight, Johns Hopkins University, USA 'This is the
most amazing document collection I have ever read. It is
emotionally gripping, intellectually stimulating, morally
provocative, action-packed and full of points of comparison
to histories of slavery and freedom everywhere. It has a
terrific narrative flow and inherent pathos. . . .This is a
wonderful achievement for which all sorts of teachers will
be most grateful.—Evan
Haefeli, Tufts University
This volume details the first slave
rebellion to have a successful outcome, leading to the establishment of
Haiti as a free black republic and paving the way for the emancipation
of slaves in the rest of the French Empire and the world. Incited by the
French Revolution, the enslaved inhabitants of the French Caribbean
began a series of revolts, and in 1791 plantation workers in Haiti, then
known as Saint-Domingue, overwhelmed their planter owners and began to
take control of the island. They achieved emancipation in 1794, and
after successfully opposing Napoleonic forces eight years later, emerged
as part of an independent nation in 1804. A broad selection of
documents, all newly translated by the authors, is contextualized by a
thorough introduction considering the very latest scholarship. Laurent
Dubois and John D. Garrigus clarify for students the complex political,
economic, and racial issues surrounding the revolution and its
reverberations worldwide. Useful pedagogical tools include maps,
illustrations, a chronology, and a selected bibliography.—Publisher,
* * *
update 6 May 2010