A Neo-Duvalierist Dictatorship à la Martelly Takes Shape

Justice Minister Sanon plays an important role
by Thomas
Péralte (Haiti Liberte)
The regime of
President Michel Martelly, which came to power through the electoral meddling
of the United States and its “Ministry of Colonial Affairs” the
Organization of American States (OAS), is currently planning to replace the
current 6,600 UN occupation troops of MINUSTAH with a new Haitian military
force trained by the U.S. and Brazil over the next two years.
            In May 2013, Nigel Fisher, then head
of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), said that there would be about 3,000 UN troops in Haiti in 2017.
Currently, UN officials are talking with Haitian officials about speeding up
troop withdrawal and “five options [for the UN] to perform the
political and peacekeeping functions that are likely to remain relevant beyond
2016,” said Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, MINUSTAH’s spokesperson.
            MINUSTAH was deployed on Jun. 1,
2004 [some months following the U.S. orchestrated coup of Haiti’s elected government], and Brazil has always provided its commanders and the majority of its
            Now, Brazil will begin training 200 Haitian soldiers for a so-called
“corps of military engineers.” That agreement was signed between
Brazil’s Defense Minister Celso Amorim and Haiti’s Foreign Minister Duly Brutus
in Port-au-Prince on May 29.
            Beginning in July, the U.S. will train 20 Haitian officers at the
Inter-American Defense College in Washington, DC. The military school is
similar to the infamous “School of the Americas” at Ft. Benning in
the state of Georgia and is run by the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB).
            These soldiers will all be part of a
projected “National Guard” (Garde
), which is similar in name and proxy nature to “the Guard of
Haiti” (Garde d’Haïti),
conceived, trained, equipped, and set in place by U.S. Marines in 1934 at the
end of their 19-year military occupation. Haiti’s “National Guard” will begin
with 3,500 soldiers.
            Furthermore, according to Radio
Zenith, Reginald Delva, the Minister of Interior and National Defense, has
resurrected Haiti’s National Intelligence Service (SIN), which was dissolved 20
years ago. The new SIN will deploy 10 informers in each of Haiti’s 565 communal
sections for a total of 5,650 spies.
            Meanwhile, Justice Minister Jean
Renel Sanon, a former officer of the demobilized Armed Forces of Haiti (FAdH),
is restoring the infamous section chiefs (chefs
de section
), again according to Radio Zenith. Each of the 565 section
chiefs will have 10 deputies, who were called during the Duvalier era, “chouket lawoze” (dew breakers).
            So, “official” networks
for spying and repression, similar to the Tonton Macoute legions of the
Duvalier regimes, are already being set up by the Interior Ministry, Justice
Ministry, and the Communications Ministry, headed by Rudy Hériveaux, a former
leader in the Lavalas Family party who has opportunistically joined the
government of President Martelly and his Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
            Alongside are “informal” networks of
so-called “legal bandits” directed by regime strongmen like Calixte
Valentin, Youri Latortue, Joseph Lambert, and Ronald “Roro” Nelson,
who just last week arrested six students who dared to pass his vehicle on the
Ruelle Nazon in the capital.
            Meanwhile, progressive grassroots
activists and organizations have been targeted in recent weeks. Lucien Anerville,
an inspector of the Haitian National Police (PNH), led a commando unit which
tried to search and, some say, assassinate Sen. Moïse Jean Charles in Gressier
on May 8. On May 24, Officer Anerville illegally arrested (many say kidnapped) Rony
Timothée, spokesman for the Patriotic Force for the Respect of the Constitution
(FOPARC), a mass organization. Prison guard Frantzy Julien attacked Sen. Moïse Jean Charles
in Arcahaie on May 30.
            On May 29 in Delmas 49, as Lavalas
grassroots groups met at the offices of the Association of University Students
Committed to a Haiti with Rights (AUMOHD), they were surrounded by armed,
masked men. A few days earlier, the office had been robbed and burned by regime
thugs, according to AUMOHD’s president, lawyer Evel Fanfan. Mr. Fanfan, who
defends political prisoners including protestors arrested in a demonstration on
May 1, also says he was threatened on Jun. 4 at the courthouse by government
prosecutor Kerson Charles who said: “You are among those who are creating
disorder in the country. You defend troublemakers.” Mr. Fanfan was also
attacked by three gunmen on a motorcycle in Delmas 65 on Jun. 8 at around 9:00
            Volcy Assad, an activist with the
Heads Together Organization (OTAN), was also threatened with arrest by the
shadowy agents who threatened Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles in Gressier on May 8. In
an open letter to President Martelly published last week in Haiti Liberté, Mr. Volcy described the
threats and intimidation endured by many progressive activists in recent
            “On Monday, May 19, four armed
individuals in a pickup without license plates forced my driver to stop after
he had just dropped off my children at school,” Mr. Volcy wrote.
“Even my family’s lives are in danger.”
            Unfortunately, some political
organizations, through anarchic practices and a lack of security and
organizational discipline, allow anyone to participate in their meetings,
thereby facilitating the task of regime spies. These organizations function
more like a church and often do not know who are members and who are not. This
is how, on May 25, Jocelyn Dorval, a liaison officer working for the Justice
Ministry and the State Secretary for Public Security was easily able to
infiltrate and spy on a regular meeting of FOPARC.
            Similarly, on May 23, the regime
managed to penetrate a weekly meeting at the Aristide Foundation for Democracy,
commonly called “Lavalas Family Fridays.” The regime-linked
individuals videotaped and recorded everything said at that meeting. Ten days
later, on Jun. 2, their tape was broadcast on some of the capital’s media,
including Radio Zenith and Scoop FM. Journalist Garry Pierre-Paul Charles,
owner of the latter station, not only broadcast what was said in a private
space but also accused two Lavalas Family leaders – Coordinator, Dr. Maryse
Narcisse, and executive committee member, Joel Edouard “Pasha” Vorbe – of
“preaching violence.” However, it was meeting participants who, at
the end of the meeting, loudly chanted: “Grenadiers, to the assault, for
those who die, we’ll avenge them.”
            Twenty-four hours after the radio
broadcasts, on Jun. 3, the Justice Ministry released a long press release
signed by Minister Jean Renel Sanon. It reads: “The Ministry of Justice and
Public Security (MJSP) is surprised and very concerned about the recent violent
and incendiary statements by two senior officials of the executive board of the
Fanmi Lavalas party. In order to maintain public order and prevent at all costs
the return to a chaotic period of which the nation still has painful memories,
the MJSP feels obliged to alert the public and deter any potential
troublemakers. The Ministry reminds people that the mission of political
parties is, among other things, to maintain the health of democracy while using
peaceful and legal strategies for taking state power. When the most senior
leaders of a party use media microphones to chant slogans like ‘Mache pran yo’ (Go get them), the
Ministry believes that it is all of society, and especially the other political
parties themselves, which need to be concerned. The MJSP is the guarantor of
national security, and these thinly veiled slogans were used to inflame the
country in the darkest moments of violence and killings in the past two decades.
Under no circumstances nor for any reason should such periods reappear in Haiti
today, and we should devote ourselves to the restoration of the rule of law and
stability, the sine qua non for attracting foreign investment. Recalling that
the Haitian Penal Code punishes inflammatory statements and incitements to
violence, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, invites everyone,
especially politicians, to show a sense of responsibility, tolerance, and
moderation, to assist in the conservation of peace and stability which are key
to development in any country.”
            In response, Ms. Narcisse,
accompanied by Mr. Vorbe and Lionel Etienne, another Lavalas Family Executive
Committee member, gave a press conference on Jun. 6 in which they denounced
government intimidation of their party. “The Lavalas Family will not allow
itself to be intimidated by the regime,” said Ms. Narcisse. “We will not let
the image of the Lavalas Family be tarnished. We speak the truth, and we will
continue to speak the truth, and the people must continue to mobilize to defend
the truth. We denounce the base intimidation and threats carried out by the
Lamothe government against honest citizens, the leaders of the Lavalas Family.
This is further evidence that demonstrates that they are afraid and
            Ironically, on May 30 in Kenscoff,
Prime Minister Lamothe, reportedly sang with the former Macoute leader of that
town, Father Jeanty Oxide alias Pè Siko. “Go get them, Martelly. Go get
them, Pè Siko. Go get them, Lamothe, go get them.”
            These songs harken back to the
terror during the Duvalier regimes (1957-1986) when dictatorship supporters
used to sing: “Go get them, Duvalier, go get them.”
            There are many disturbing things in
the record of Minister Sanon, who today would like to give democracy lessons to
            ● In October 2013, he reported that
there was a subversive meeting, organized by people hostile to elections, on
Avenue Pouplard in the capital, in which the murder of journalist Jean Monard
Metellus of Radio Caraïbes FM was discussed. Despite this detailed disclosure,
Minister Sanon has never managed to name the would-be killers or bring them to
            ● Also in October 2013, on Minister
Sanon’s orders, Government Prosecutor René Francisco ordered the arrest of
opposition lawyer André Michel. A note from the Justice Ministry said the
arrest was carried out before the arrest deadline specified by the
Constitution, 6:00 p.m. But Mr. Michel was arrested at 7:30 p.m. Nonetheless,
Sanon disingenuously said the arrest was carried out in strict compliance with
the law.
            ● In September 2012, Sen. Edwin
“Edo” Zenny, a regime ally, spat in a judge’s face in Jacmel. Rather
than denounce Sen. Zenny, Minister Sanon fired the judge, Bob Simonise. The
incident occurred in front of witnesses at a Jacmel radio station.
            ● In late 2013, Government
Prosecutor Jean-Marie Salomon was fired after he arrested in flagrante delicto
a suspected drug trafficker, hotelier Evinx Daniel. Minister Sanon dispatched
his lawyers to release Mr. Daniel. Mr. Salomon was then fired and forced to
seek refuge overseas. Mr. Daniel has been missing since January.
            ● Minister Sanon took part in an
infamous Jul. 11, 2013 meeting in which President Martelly and Prime Minister
Lamothe reportedly threatened Judge Jean Serge Joseph for investigating a
corruption case involving Sophia and Olivier Martelly, respectively the
president’s wife and son. Judge Joseph died two days later under very
suspicious circumstances.
            ● On Mar. 29, 2014, Minister Sanon,
accompanied by Government Prosecutor Gerald Norgaisse, personally went to the
women’s prison in Petion-ville in order to illegally release the wife of Woodly
Ethéard aka Sonson La Familia, who was accused of involvement in money
laundering, drug trafficking, and conspiracy. Since then, Marie Taïssa Mazile
Ethéard has disappeared while the examining magistrate Jean François Sonel, who
is the only person who can legally release her, has called for her to return to
            ● Former Government Prosecutor Jean
Renel Sénatus accused Jean Renel Sanon, a former FAdH officer, of being
involved in sexual encounters and parties (zokiki) with minors.
            The regime’s emerging repression and
threats have brought about a change in the political position of some
organizations, particularly the Lavalas Family. Party leader Maryse Narcisse
used to say that President Martelly should complete his mandate despite
widespread calls for his resignation. The party even expelled Sen. Moise
Jean-Charles for his clear and consistent denunciations of the budding
dictatorship. Now, the Lavalas Family is being targeted, and recent
declarations by some of its leaders suggest it may soon publicly join the call
of the vast majority of the Haitian people that President Martelly and Prime
Minister Lamothe step down so that a provisional government can conduct free,
fair, and sovereign elections.