TESTIMONY Why Aristide Can’t Go Back (Yet) To Haiti by Raymond Alcide Joseph


  • Why Aristide Can’t Go Back (Yet) To Haiti

New York – For those who doubt the propensity for violence of Aristide’s supporters and claim that Haiti’s military and the Bazin government are the fount of all human rights abuses. I recount what happened to me on Thursday, January 14 – right here in New York. And I wonder what would have been my fate where I to be in a Haiti controlled by Aristide, who always hide behind ‘’the people’’ to excuse such atrocities as executions by ‘’Père Lebrun’’ (the flaming necklace)?

I arrived late for a press conference called by Arioste Denis, of the United Haitian Association of America (UHA), to discuss the plight of Hatian refugees. He had issued a press release, which appeared in the latest issue of the Haiti-Observateur in which he called on ‘’the incoming and outgoing’’ U.S. administrations to stop discriminating against the Haitian refugees, who ‘’must be treated as refugees, in compliance with the Refugee Act and Article 33 of the United Nations Protocole.’’

The subject is of no small interest, and certain press organs, including ABC-TV (local), New York News 1 (cable), Carib News, Radio Tropicale and others showed up. So did we.

As Mr. Denis was closing the press conference, a Haitian woman in her thirties, well-dressed and smartly-coiffed, seized the microphone and began abusing Mr. Denis, whom so called ‘’u piece of sh…, and ugly bum… in the service of George Bush.’’ Pulling from her purse an Aristide button, she held it out as a crucifix to ward off evil spirits, as she screamed: ‘’No Aristide, No Peace… . Until he goes back to Haiti to restore democracy, we will have the refugees, Thank God for Clinton...’’

Then, the woman, who refused to give her name, saw me. ‘’There he is, Raymond Joseph himself, the murderer, the butcher of the Haitian people, the one who’s been writing all the lies in his rag sheet against Aristide… Our beloved Aristide … This Raymond Joseph is a piece of sh… he’s a son on a b…., he’s a pig, he won’t escape,… The people will give him what he deserves.’’ (For lack of a name let us call her ‘’Madame Foulmouthed).

The reporters were caught by surprise. They surrounded me and asked whether I had something to say. ‘’Of course I have something to say, ‘’ I responded. ‘’There you have it! There is no better example why Aristide can’t go back to Haiti. …..

No ! Not Yet! You’ve heard this woman’s venom. You’ve seen her demeanor. If she had a weapon and if she could, she certainly would have executed me right here. When you multiply her by one thousand, ten thousand, then you have an Aristide mob and there’s no escaping a lynching. If Aristide were to return to Haiti today with the likes of her, there’s no question that civil war would break out. …. Aristide can’t return to Haiti, not yet. Not until his followers learn to respect the rights of others,’’ 

(I doubt that the Thursday episode go any coverage, for it was overtaken by a major events. President-elect Clinton announced that for ‘’the time being.’’ He would follow President Bush’s policy regarding Haitian refugees. The U.S. Coast Guard will stop all refugee vessels leaving Haiti and turn them back. And the U.S. governmemt deployed an armada of Coast Guard and Navy ships with planes ans helicopters outside Haiti’s 12-mile limit to keep the refugees in check)

Half an hour have gone by since the press conference and I had forgotten about the little show of ‘’Madame Foul-mouthed’’. But when I reached the street (103rd and Broadway in Manhattan), there she was, reinforced by a small troop, an old lady barely measuring 5 ft, two other middle aged women whose hats came down to their nozes and two college-looking students (one male and one female). ‘’Madame Foul-mouthed’’ assaulted me with invectives that can’t be printed. People gathered on the street to look at this ‘’criminal’’. The college-looking female student of the group approached me: ‘’Mr Joseph,’’ she said, why don’t you leave? Don’t stay there, it’s getting too ugly. ‘’I responded: ‘’ No way! I will not run. We’re not in Haiti. I must receive all that she has to dish out to me, including the slaps that she has promised me.’’

After five minutes, which seemed like an eternity, I decided to go down to the subway, ‘’ Madame Foul-mouthed’’ and her confederates followed me inside the No 1 traiun of the IRT line. At the top of her lungs, she pointed at me : ‘’There he is, the assassin of the Haitian people, the mother f….., the pig, the tormentor of Aristide; he will get what he deserves.’’

The young college-student-looking female approached me again and said: ‘’Get off the train, Mr. Joseph, I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.’’ I responded: ‘’Don’t worry.’’ I don’t run from danger when I am in the right, and we all have the right to be in this train. We are in America, a free country…’’ 

But this time I was transferring from the No 1 train to the A train at 59th Street and Broadway. ‘’Madame Foul-mouthed’’ and her crew followed me into the A train. She started all over with her unprintable invectives. After the train had passed the 14th Street station, she screamed in Creole: ‘’we’ve gone too far! We must get off! We must go back!..

As they went out, two young Caucasian-college looking young men asked me: ‘’Sir, what do you do?’’ And I answered: ‘’I am a writer, a newsman. I happen to have articles that displease them. For this I should be crucified’’

And one said: ‘’Strange!…. Those people are very strange! Thank God they’re gone!’’

I wonder: ‘’What should have been my fate if the train was full of Aristide supporters?’’ Or better : ‘’What would have been my fate, were this to happened Haiti after the return of Aristide, the ‘’glorifier of Père Lebrun?’’

That’s why I say: ‘’Aristide can’t go back to Haiti – Not yet!’’

Raymond Alcide Joseph

Cet article est publié par l’hebdomadaire Haïti-Observateur / ISSN: 1043-3783, Vol. XXIII No. 1 New York, 20 janvier 1993 P.7