Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Silvio Cator

Silvio Cator 

Sylvio P. Cator (October 9, 1900 – July 22, 1952) was a Haitian athlete most successful in the long jump. Born in Cavaillon, Haiti, Cator was a footballer who played for the Trivoli Athletic Club and the Racing Club Haitien. He participated in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris in the high jump, where he finished 15th, and the long jump, where he came in 12th. In the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam he won a silver medal in the long jump. His 7.58 m effort was 16 cm short of gold. A month later, on September 9, 1928, Sylvio Cator broke Edward Hamm's two-months old world record with a 7.93 m jump at the 1924 Olympic stadium near Paris. He participated one more time in the long jump at the 1932 games in Los Angeles, where he took the 9th place.

Up to the present day, his silver medal is the best result of a Haitian athlete in the Olympics, with only one further (bronze) medal for the Haitian free rifle team in the 1924 Olympics. His world record long jump is still (2009) the Haitian national record and, with 79 years, the oldest standing national record in athletics.
In 1946 Cator was elected Mayor of Port-au-Prince. Stade Sylvio Cator, a multi-use stadium in that city, was named for him and was finished in the year of his death in Port-au-Prince. In 1958, Haiti issued a series of seven stamps commemorating Cator's Olympic medal and world record 30 years before.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Simone Duvalier wife of Haitian dictator François "Papa Doc" Duvalier

Simone Duvalier was the wife of Haitian dictator François "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

She was born Simone Ovide in about 1913 near the Haitian town of Léogâne, the daughter of a mulatto merchant and writer, Jules Faine, and Célie Ovide, one of the maids in his household. At an early age her mother gave her up, and she spent much of her childhood in an orphanage in Pétionville, an exclusive suburb in the hills above Port-au-Prince. The orphans were encouraged to acquire vocational skills and Simone Ovide was trained as a nurse's aide. While working as a nurse she met a young doctor named François Duvalier. The couple was married on December 27, 1939, and had four children: Marie Denise, Nicole, Simone, and Jean-Claude, their only son.
After their marriage, François Duvalier became minister of public health and labor in 1949 and won election to the presidency in 1957. Throughout his 14 years in office, his wife guarded access to her husband and developed and promoted her own palace favorites.

Because of her acquired status and her imperious bearing, Haitians referred to her as "Mama Doc". She was, like her husband, reported to be a Vodou expert. She cultivated the image of a benefactor; dispensing charity to inhabitants of "Cite Simone", a planned settlement named for her that is known today as Cité Soleil, one of the most miserable slums in Latin America.

Madame Duvalier's influence reached its peak after the death of her husband in 1971, when her nineteen-year-old son Jean-Claude Duvalier succeeded his father as Haiti's "president for life". She relished the title of first lady and the power it conferred, and was said by associates to deeply resent having to relinquish that role after Jean-Claude Duvalier married in 1980 and she was demoted to "Guardian of the Duvalierist Revolution".
When her son was ousted from power in February 1986, Simone Duvalier joined him and his wife, Michèle Bennett, in exile in France. She was rarely seen in public. After her son's bitter divorce from his wife, Madame Duvalier lived with her son in relative poverty in the suburbs of Paris. She died in 1997.

Source: Simone Duvalier, Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc), Haitian dictator, Haiti History

Dédée Bazile (Défilée La Folle)

Marie Sainte Dédée Bazile often called Défilée La Folle, (Défilée, the Madwoman) was born near Le Cap and her parents were slaves. She was a strong supporter of Emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines and his policies. Défilée retrieved Jean-Jacques Dessalines bloody and mutilated body after his assassination at Pont Larnage, (now known as Pont-Rouge) on October 17, 1806. She gathered the remains of Dessalines in a sack and transported them to the Cimetière Intérieur of Port-au-Prince for a proper burial.

The late Dr. Edward Scobie, author of the Global African Presence, often praised Défilée-La-Folle (Marie Sainte Dédée Bazile) as one of the most significant figures of the Haitian Revolution. 

Thomas Madiou, in his 1847 History of Haiti, writes about Défilée: "Pendant que de nombreux enfants, au milieu de grands cris de joie, criblaient de coups de pierre les restes infortunés de Dessalines, sur la place du Gouvernement, une vieille femme folle nommée Défilée vint à passer. Elle s'approcha de l'attroupement que formaient les enfants... ...On lui dit que c'était Dessalines. Ses yeux égarés devinrent calmes tout à coup; une lueur de raison brilla sur ses traits. Elle alla à la course chercher un sac, revint sur la place, y mit ses restes ensanglantés et les transporta au cimetière intérieur de la ville. [Port-au-Prince] Le général Pétion y envoya quelques militaires qui, pour une modique somme, les enterrèrent."

Bazile followed Jean-Jacques Dessalines's troops, working as a peddler. Défilée is widely regarded as one of the heros of Haiti and is honored as one of the many women that were instrumental in Haiti's revolutionary struggle. In 1892 a marble monument for Dessalines was erected at the cemetery and in March of 1936, it was moved to Pont-Rouge, the site of the assassination of the first ruler of independent Haiti.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche; Haitian Family In The Titanic

Mr Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche was born in Cap Haitien, Haiti on 26 May 1886. In 1901, at age 15, he left Haiti and travelled to Beauvais, France, where he hoped to join the high school to study engineering.

While visiting nearby Villejuif Joseph met Miss Juliette Lafargue; After Joseph graduated and got his degree, he and Juliette were married in March of 1908. Their daughter Simonne was born 19 February 1909; a second daughter, Louise, was born prematurely on 2 July 1910, and suffered many subsequent medical problems.

Racial discrimination prevented Joseph Laroche from obtaining a high-paying job in France. Since the family needed more money to cope with Louise's medical bills, Joseph decided to return to Haiti to find a better-paying engineering job, the move being planned for 1913.

In March 1912, however, Juliette discovered that she was pregnant, so she and Joseph decided to leave for Haiti before her pregnancy became too far advanced for travel. Joseph's mother in Haiti bought them steamship tickets on the La France as a welcome present, but the line's strict policy regarding children caused them to transfer their booking to the Titanic's second class. On April 10 the Laroche family took the train from Paris to Cherbourg in order to board the brand new liner later that evening. 
Joseph - who is thought to have been the only black passenger on the Titanic - died in the sinking but his family were saved, Possibly in lifeboat 14.

Passenger Department

9 Rue Scribe, Paris. 14th. May, 1912

I the undersigned certify that the Laroche family, consisting of

Mr. Joseph Laroche,

Mrs. Laroche,

Miss Simonne Laroche,

Miss Louise Laroche,

embarked on the SS. "Titanic" of the White Star Line, on the 10th., April, 1912. This steamer was wrecked during the night of the 14th-15th., April, and the only members of the above mentioned family who were saved were Mrs. Laroche, Miss Simonne Laroche, Miss Louise Laroche, Up to the present, the body of Mr. Joseph Laroche has not been found.

Mrs Joseph Laroche:  (Juliette Marie Louise Lafargue), was born in Paris on born 20 October 1889 the daughter of widower Monsieur Lafargue, a wine seller of Villejuif, France. She boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg with her husband Joseph and daughters Louise and Simonne. Juliette was pregnant at the time of the disaster. She died in Paris, France on 10 January 1980.

Young actor Paul Rudd met Titanic survivor Louise Laroche in October 1995 

Louise Laroche pictured on 16 April 1997. 

Louise Laroche was the last French Titanic lady. She passed away less than two years after this picture was taken.

Mme Laroche saved this 'second class' envelope in a pocket of the coat her husband Joseph put on her shoulders minutes before leaving the Titanic. This envelope had contained the passage tickets bought at the Paris offices of the White Star Line, at 9 rue Scribe, for Joseph, his pregnant wife Juliette, Simonne and Louise, their daughters.

Mme Laroche saved a White Star Line brochure from the sinking. This 32 page document contained many pieces of information for second class passengers. From the notes on the cover: 'Nicholas Martin, 9, rue Scribe, Paris', it seems that this brochure was available from the Paris offices of the White Star Line only.

Front picture of a memorial card in memory of Joseph Laroche
A mass was given in Villejuif in memory of Joseph Laroche in May 1912. A memorial card was issued. This shows the front. Joseph's family was Juliette (wife), Simonne and Louise (daughters).

This shows the back. Joseph's family was Juliette (wife), Simonne and Louise (daughters).

Source: Enciclopedia Of The Titanica

Sunday, May 19, 2013

"Titanic: The Real Love Story"

Black passengers of the Titanic are largely forgotten

Black passengers add another facet to Titanic story

A twice-overlooked passenger has local ties

In preparing his 1997 movie "Titanic" for 3-D, James Cameron reportedly reshot a scene because an astronomer told him that the position of the stars was wrong in the original movie.

Christine LeBrun, 35, of Palatine, said there's another historical inaccuracy in Cameron's original blockbuster that she wishes he'd corrected for the new "Titanic 3D": He didn't include any mention of Joseph Laroche, a Haitian-born, French-educated engineer traveling with his family who is believed to be the only black man among the passengers on the Titanic.

LeBrun recently found out that Laroche is a distant relative.

The 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking is April 15, and LeBrun says that despite the many accounts about the ill-fated cruise liner, very few have featured Laroche.

How she came to know about her ancestor is a story that begins in a hair salon in 2000.

"About 12 years ago, my uncle Robert's wife was in a beauty salon looking through (an Ebony) magazine," said LeBrun, an alumni relations director for a Catholic high school. "She came across a photo and said, 'Oh, my gosh, that man looks just like my husband.'"

The photograph accompanied an article about an exhibit on the Titanic that had opened at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry and featured Laroche, 26, his pregnant wife, Juliette, 22, and their two daughters. The family was leaving France and moving to Haiti because Laroche couldn't find work in his profession.

Laroche's mother had sent the family first-class tickets to travel on the French liner France. But just before departure, the Laroches learned that the ship wouldn't allow them to dine with their children. Out of concern about the younger daughter, who was sickly, they traded their tickets for second-class tickets on the Titanic.

LeBrun's aunt took the magazine home and showed Laroche's photograph to her husband, Robert Richard. He wasn't certain whether the picture looked like him, but he did recognize the last name.

"He said, 'My real last name was supposed to be Laroche, but because my father never married my mother, we never took his name,'" LeBrun said. "He called (his daughter) and told her he might be related to Joseph and she started to do research."

LeBrun said her cousin Marjorie Alberts, who lives in California, learned that Laroche grew up in a well-to-do Haitian family. When he was 14, his parents sent him to France to study engineering. There he met Juliette, who was white and whose father owned a winery.

"It's puzzling, considering the times, that her father did not take issue with his daughter dating a black man," LeBrun said. "They eventually married and gave birth to Simonne in 1909. She was fine, and it was a normal birth. But when they gave birth to Louise in 1910, she was premature and had lots of problems.

"Joseph (Laroche) at that point had been trying to find work in France, but nobody would give him work because he was black. Coming from a position of privilege in Haiti, he wasn't used to this and he decided to move his family to Haiti, where his uncle was the president and his job prospects would be much better."

The family boarded the Titanic on the evening of April 10, 1912, at Cherbourg, France. According to the museum exhibit, the family spent most of their time enjoying the British luxury liner. But some crew members did make disparaging comments to Laroche and his daughters, believing they were Italian or Japanese because of their darker skin.

On the night of April 14, Laroche was in the smoking parlor with other men traveling second class when he felt the ship hit the iceberg. He ran back to his room to check on his wife and daughters.

When the ship began to sink, Laroche placed the family's money and valuables in a coat and draped it around his wife's shoulders. (The coat was later stolen.) He then placed his family in a lifeboat and stayed on the ship helping get other women and children to safety.

He told his wife he would meet her in New York. But he didn't survive and his body was never found.

LeBrun said Juliette Laroche, their two daughters and unborn son survived, and when they eventually returned to France, her father had lost his winery during World War I. The family lived in poverty for a few years until she won a settlement from the Titanic disaster.

"They led a seminormal life," LeBrun said. "Juliette never remarried, and the girls never married. Some people believe she was overprotective of them. But their son did lead a normal life and he married a woman named Claudine and they had two sons and a daughter."

Alberts said it took her several years to figure out how they were related to Laroche. His grandfather Henri Cadet Laroche was married 11 times. Joseph Laroche was born from the union between the grandfather and his 11th wife. Alberts and LeBrun's family members are the descendants of the union from Henri Cadet Laroche and his first wife.

LeBrun said she just happened to find all of this out last month after she read a Facebook post by Alberts, an actress and writer who's working on a screenplay about Laroche. The cousins hadn't been in contact for nearly two decades.

LeBrun said that while she enjoyed Cameron's tale of two young people from different social classes falling in love aboard a doomed ship, it's not a complete story.

"For me, the real love story is between Joseph and Juliette," LeBrun said.

Alberts said it's important to correct the historical record.

"I want everybody to know that the Titanic was going to Haiti, and there was a black man onboard who wasn't a slave or waiter or servant," Alberts said. "I remember seeing the movie with my father in 1997 and I had goose bumps. It means even more now."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Haitian Beers

A good 98% of all beers consumed in Haiti bear the Prestige label, so you know it can’t be bad. This brew was born and bred in Haiti dating back to the mid-1970’s, and although it has the same light, blonde, refreshing character found in most West Indian lagers, Prestige is different. You see, those other blondes are brewed in accordance with old European traditions, while Prestige tastes more like a typical American beer. So much so, in fact, that it won a gold medal at the 2000 World Beer Cup Awards in the category of “American-Style Lager.”

Did Haiti Save The United States in 1776-1803?

Did Haiti Save The United States in (1776-1803)?

When American policymakers think of Haiti today, misery and revolution are foremost in their mind. Haiti, they fear, is so poor and unstable that it can at anytime erupt in a political chaos and spark and exodus of refugees in the shores of Florida. Their eighteen century forebears George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson had a different view. Strength and wealth where Haiti's hallmarks in the last years of the French colonial Rule, and the founding fathers of the United States expanded much time and energy trying to secure the trade of Saint-Domingue and enlist the colony as military ally.

When the U.S war of independence in 1775, Louis XVI's ministers debated whether to enter the war on the thirteen colonies' behalf. The war, they reasoned, weakened the British enemy, while an Anglo-American reconciliation might result in a joint attack on French and Spanish colonies in the Caribbean, most prominently Saint-Domingue. The 1778 French entry into war, which proved so decisive in securing the United States independence, thus resulted in part from a desire to save Saint-Domingue; the Franco-American treaty alliance specifically mention that the united states would help protect France's sugar colonies.

Saint-Domingue also played a notable role during the American Revolution itself. White and mulatto troops from Saint-Domingue fought in the 1779 campaign in th British-held Savannah, an episode seldom remembered in the United States. Throughout the war, French americanophiles such as Pierre Augustin Caron de beaumarchais used Saint-Domingue as a major transshipment center for weapons smuggled to U.S rebels, while the French navy established an important base in the Cap Francais (The fleet that helped defeat the British squadron near Yorktown in the 1781 had sail from the port).    

When the United States become independent in 1783 the first colony to do so in the western hemisphere it fount itself rather isolated economically. Other colonies were bound by colony trade rules that banned commerce with third party countries; thus, U.S merchants had nobody to trade with except for Saint-Domingue. France, unable to satisfy it's colony's uprising demand for food and timber, introduced some loopholes into its mercantilist  regulations, and an active U.S Domiguian trade soon began. By the 1790's, Staint-Domingue was the United States' second largest trading partner after England.

During 1797-1798, various naval disputes brought the United States and its former French ally to the state of undeclared warfare known as the Quasi-War. No official declaration of hostilities ever took place, but for 3 years, the Caribbean sea became a battle ground in which French and U.S privateers and frigates harassed the opposing nation's ability to do commerce. As the most prominent military leader in the French colony, Louverture could have played a key role in disrupting in disrupting U.S commerce or even use his large army to attack the United States, he did neither. Instead, he signed a treaty with the United States that that opened Saint-Domingue ports to U.S ships while closing its ports to French privateers. Much to the relief of southern planters, Louverture also promised that he would not sponsor any slave uprising in the United States, thus indirectly ensuring the survival of the U.S slave system.

The most important contribution Louverture and his black generals ever made to the young American Republic was their victory against Bonaparte's forces. The Lerlec exposition landed in Saint-Domingue in 1802, the same year a secret treaty under which Spain ceded Louisiana to France became effective. Bonaparte hoped to use Louisiana of foodstuffs for laborers on France's Caribbean plantations and create a French empire stretching from the great plans in the north to French Guiana in the south, with Saint-Domingue as it centerpiece, so as to check U.S ambition to to North America. But the Domigian  rebels' military prowess forced Bonapart to divers troops intended for gairison duty in Louisiana to the killing fields of Saint-Domingue and to shove his north American ambitions. In the early 1803, shortly after learning that Lerlec had died and that the expeditionary force in Saint-Domingue was in a hopeless situation, Bonaparte sold Louisiana to the United States, in large part because of the difficulties he had experience in Saint-Domingue. Unwillingly, Staint Domingue's former slave had made a crucial contribution to U.S territorial expansion.

Haitians today tend to harbor anti-American views and often describe the United States  as an imperialist bohemoth that eradicated its native population, crushed its territorial rivals, and repeatedly invaded its weaker neighbors, Haiti in particular. What they often forget is that Haiti, first as the staging ground for French offensives during the American war of independence, then as trading partner during the early years of the republic, and finally as a rebellious colony of France greatly contributed to the rise of an economic and military American colossus to the North.  (Written By Philippe Girard)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pierre-Richard Prosper

"Pierre-Richard Prosper (né en 1963 à Denver, Colorado , Etats-Unis) est un Haitien Américain avocat , procureur et ancien fonctionnaire du gouvernement . Il a été le deuxième aux États-Unis ambassadeur à titre individuel pour les crimes de guerre sous le président George W. Bush de 2001 à 2005. 
Prosper est actuellement associé à Arent Fox LLP , ayant rejoint le cabinet sur 1 Janvier, 2007 après son mandat dans la fonction publique, et est un membre du Comité pour l'élimination de la discrimination raciale."

Pierre-Richard Prosper is the son of two Haitian physician who emigrated to the United States under fear of Francois Duvalier. He was born in Denver, Colorado in 1963. Raised in upstate New York he graduated from Shenendehowa high school and attended Boston College and Pepperdine University School of Law. From 1989 to 1994 he was a Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles where he prosecuted gang related murders. From 1994 to 1996 he was an Assistant United States Attorney for the central District of California where he prosecuted major international drug cartels. He went on to served as a war crimes prosecutor for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, as the lead attorney, where he would successfully prosecute the first ever case of Genocide, and continued to made history by forcing the International Tribunal to recognize rape committed in time of conflict as an act of genocide. On May 16, 2001 the President of the United States, Georges W. Bush chose Pierre-Richard Prosper as the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crime Issues, the head of the Office of Global Criminal Justice. He served in that role till 2005.

Currently, Prosper holds the position of Partner in the Los Angeles office of Arent Fox LLP, where he has handled several high-profile cases. These include advising and representing the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on matters related to the Petroleum sector, investment and infrastructure development; successfully negotiated the release of an American citizen detained in the Islamic Republic of Iran through repeated travels to Iran and engagement with senior Iranian officials; and advises and represents the government of Rwanda on a range of matters including international arbitration, litigation, and contract negotiation, among others. Prosper also serves as a trustee on the Boston College Board of Trustees.

Haitian Flag History

-Haitian Flag History: May 18th 1803- May 18th 2013 ( 210 years)

The flag is blue and red Haiti organized in two horizontal bands. Established in 1803, it was adopted in 1820 and formalized in 1843.

He was replaced by a red and black flag under the Duvalier dictatorship from 1964 to 1986. Ten days after the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier (February 1986), he was officially rehabilitated and confirmed by the 1987 constitution.

The coat of arms of the Republic are: palm surmounted by liberty cap and shading its fins, a trophy of arms with the caption: "The Union is Strength."

In a battle that took place in Cul-de-Sac, between French troops and the thirteenth colonial demi-brigade, it lost its flag was blue tricolor, white and red of France. The French will be seized after made out in a printed text that was not true that the natives had the idea of independence as they had kept the emblem of the French nation.

Alexandre Petion, who commanded the Third Brigade was immediately, meanwhile, report that interpretation to its chief, General Dessalines, and it takes this opportunity to give his troops a new rallying cry.

It was February 1803 and the commander in chief of the natives had his headquarters in Petite-Rivière-de-Artibonite. The act promptly following the idea, he tore the French tricolor and approached the white red blue: the two-color (blue and red) that is now the Flag Independentists was created (...) it brings together key leaders. the corps in a conference which took place at the Village of Arcahaie May 18, 1803. All general who approved the decision of the Chief Executive, the latter went to the Place d'Armes of the town and solemnly presented the regiments formed in a square the new emblem.

The French high command is learned that this event by Admiral Latouche Treville that sailing between Port-au-Prince and Arcahaie was captured the next day on May 19, a native barge carrying a blue and red flag. The French admiral was immediately report noting that the native flag were written the words, "Liberty or Death."

After the death of Dessalines, October 17, 1806, General Petion, leader of the West and South of the country, changed the flag by placing horizontal blue and red. At the same time, General Henry Christophe (1811-1820) who ruled the North, North-West (in part) and the Artibonite adopted the black and red flag.

On the death of Christopher, General Jean-Pierre Boyer, who had succeeded in 1818 in Alexandre Petion together under the banner of blue and red flag, the rest of the North Country.

When the arms of the Republic, although adopted by President Petion, they began to appear on the Haitian flag after the passing of the Constitution of 1843 which prescribed in Article 192: "The national colors are blue and Red placed horizontally. Weapons of the Republic are palm surmounted cap of liberty and decorated with a trophy of arms with the legend "The Union We Stand".

Racism monitor to sue over French bank's Haiti 'plunder'

A racism watchdog group in France announced Friday it will file a legal suit against a state-owned bank over its role in the slave trade in Haiti even as President François Hollande ruled out reparations to the former Caribbean colony.

One of France’s leading racism watchdogs said on Friday that it will push ahead with plans to sue a state-owned bank over profits from the colonial-era slave trade and reparations extorted from Haiti, on the same day President François Hollande said Paris would not pay reparations for the country's past mistakes.

The France’s Representative Council of Black Associations has accused the Caisse des Depots bank of collecting damages that France forced Haiti to pay after slavery was abolished in the Caribbean nation, which declared independence from France in 1804 following the world's first successful slave revolt.

“There are many ways France can repair its past errors. It could build a museum dedicated to slavery, it could promote education around the issue, it could pay reparations to Haiti. But Hollande refuses to do anything,” Luis-Georges Tin, CRAN’s president, told FRANCE 24.

After winning its independence from France, Haiti was forced to pay-off the French government 90 million gold francs to compensate European slave-owners for their financial losses and in exchange for recognition of Haiti's autonomy.

“Haiti was the victim of a double crime. First the crime of slavery, and then this ‘ransom’ for its independence,” Tin said, adding that the reimbursement, which continued until 1946, was equivalent to $90 billion. Other sources have estimated the payment at $21 billion.

Tin said that his organization had received a promise from Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault in October of 2012 that the French government would pursue a policy of reparations with Haiti, but that the promise had since been “slapped”.

“This is why we have decided to resolve this political issue in the courts,” Tin said of the impending lawsuit.

Earlier in the day President Hollande said it would be impossible to financially compensate victims for the mistakes of history.

“What has been, has been,” Hollande said in a speech in Paris to mark France's slavery remembrance day. “History cannot be rubbed out. It cannot be subjected to an accounting process that... would be impossible to complete.”  Source: France 24.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Rehabilitation Of Haiti's Palais Aux 365 Portes Begins

"The Palace of the Belle Rivière, was built in 1820 by Louis Dupeyrac to serve of residence to Henri 1er, then king of Haiti. Still under construction at the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 1820, it remained unfinished. The Palace of the Belle-Rivière, is the second largest palace built by Christophe after that of Sans Souci in Milot.
The palace has a rectangular plan 68 m long and 11 m wide. At its western facade is backed by a large wide roundhouse 12 meters in diameter. The palace walls are of stone masonry and clay bricks bound by lime mortar."
"Palace of 365 Doors"
There have been numerous attempts to restore the palace. President Sténio Vincent saw to a significant amount of restoration to the palace in 1932 in a concerted effort to preserve Haiti’s national treasures. Under his administration, the palace floor and roof were fortified with steel and wood. The palace was most recently used a few years ago as a primary school and as a municipal administration headquarters.
The palace is currently inhospitable, having been severely damaged by rainwater. The fortitude of the structure is also questionable with many parts of the palace wall being quite shaky to the touch.
News about Haiti spending money on restoration may be questioned by pragmatists. Restoration projects such as this one, however, are being undertaken in an effort to build sustainable tourism to Haiti.
Lamothe will be accompanied by Monique Rocourt, the Director of the Institute for the Protection of National Heritage (ISPAN). The Palace was deemed a national treasure by presidential decree August, 23, 1995.

Haiti travel getting competition

Traveling to Haiti just got a bit more competitive.
JetBlue Airways, the low-cost carrier that has become a major player in the South Florida and Caribbean market, said Thursday it plans to begin offering daily nonstop service to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from New York and Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood as early as December.
The announcement of JetBlue’s continued expansion into the region comes as a new Haitian start-up prepares for its Mother’s Day inaugural flight from Nassau, Bahamas to Port-au-Prince. The airline, Kombit, will partner with Fort-Lauderdale-based IBC Travel Inc, which currently offers charter services to the northern Haitian city of Cap-Haïtien from Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
As part of the partnership, IBC will enter into a co-share arrangement for its international fights. It is also providing Kombit with Saab 340 turboprops twin-engine turboprop aircrafts for flights between Port-au-Prince and key Haitian cities.
“They see the opportunities that are right now in Haiti,” Dimitri Fouchard, a Haitian airline veteran who is an investor in Kombit, said about IBC, which is also adding flights from West Palm Beach to Cap-Haïtien, Haiti’s second-largest city. IBC now offers direct jet service into Cap-Haïtien from Miami and Fort Lauderdale five times per week.
Currently, Insel Air and legacy carriers American and Air France offer service from Miami to Port-au-Prince; Spirit Airlines and American Eagle also offer direct service from Fort Lauderdale. Delta also flies to Port-au-Prince from Atlanta and New York.“This is great news for Haiti, particularly for the tourism sector,” said Haiti’s Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin, who met with JetBlue executives in Haiti last month. "I am confident with JetBlue we will be able to plan tourist packages for Haitians living abroad, especially for the youth who want to travel and visit their country of origin."
The expanded travel choices for Haiti visitors come as the country’s government seeks to boost tourism and attract both foreigners and Haitians as vacationers. Several new hotels have opened in recent months, including U.S. and Spanish brands, and hundreds of additional hotel rooms are under construction. The government also is investing in renovating and expanding airports outside the capital.
In October, the Haitian government unveiled a newly asphalted 7,500-foot runway in Cap-Haïtien, the first step in transforming the regional airport into an international hub. Last month, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced that the airport, which is still being renovated, will be renamed in honor of deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
JetBlue spokeswoman Allison Steinberg said it’s too early to tell whether flights to Cap-Haïtien will be in its future lineup. The airline will begin flying into Haiti’s capital as early as December — just in time for Christmas and pre-carnival celebrations — pending Haitian and U.S. government approval.
“We feel the airport infrastructure can support our operations,’’ she said.
From Port-au-Prince’s Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport, JetBlue plans to offer one daily nonstop flight to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and twice daily flights to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).     Source:The Miami Herald

Read more here:

First Jews In Haiti

We will never forget that during the Holocaust, Haiti issued without counting Haitian passports to Jews fleeing Nazi Europe's. What about relations between Haiti, Jews and Israel?
First Jews in Haiti
Haiti received Jews fleeing the Inquisition as `probably Columbus and most of his crew and the Jew is the first and Luis de Torres, interpreter of Columbus in 1492. After its conquest by France in 1633, although she sees influx of Dutch Jews from Brazil to develop sugarcane plantations and many of whom are ex-Marranos of Spain.
Despite the edicts of 1615, 1683 and 1685 ordering Jews to chase the French Islands of America, Jews, merchants and industrialists, still live in the favor of "letters of naturalization" and economic interest. In the mid-18th century, the Jews are back, but in 1804, the slave revolt led by Toussaint L'Ouverture in the expluse again. The best years of Jews in Haiti
* From 1830, Jews fleeing pogroms Polish and many other (Lebanon, Syria, Egyte) find refuge. They settled near ports to work especially in trade. It was discovered the ruins of an underground synagogue in the town of Jeremie and Jewish tombstones in Cap Haitien and Jacmel.
* In 1915, there were 200 Jewish families in Haiti, a number that fall with the U.S. occupation and their departure to America.
* In 1937, Haiti delivers generously visas and passports to European immigrants fleeing the Nazis and the island reached 300 families who stay until the 60s.
* The 60's, time of wealth and hopes of future large development of Haiti! It met many Jewish names: Cohen, Khan, Weiner, Dreyfus, Hillel, Cardozo, Pereira, Goldman, Monsanto, Alvarez, Hakim, Silveira, which, alas, most had forgotten their ethno-religious backgrounds. They gradually leave before the ongoing crisis and to foster their children's marriages between Jews.
* Those who are leaving for the Panama or the U.S. in the early 2000s, due to the waves of violence. Today, less than a hundred Jews in Haiti on 8.5 million inhabitants, the Weiners (coffee exporters) and Salzmanns (refugees from Austria).
* Gilbert Bigio, a retired businessman in Petionville (Port au Prince), directs the Community, sporting a beautiful flag of Israel in her garden, and there married his daughter 10 years ago. The coordinates of the Community: "Jewish Community of Haiti" PO Box 687. Port-au-Prince. Tel. : Local code and 509-1-20-638

Haitians have always shown great respect for the Jewish religion and a great friendship for the Jews. The son of Jewish deportees feel affinity with the republic founded by former deportees, with the imaginary bond between the Jewish destiny and the destiny of Haiti.
Jews and Haitians, who have each experienced the tragedy of slavery, produced during their history of almost comparable myths. As the Haitian zombie, the myth of the Golem embodies the fantasy of man transformed into an automaton, controlled by a master. As the Jews of Prague, Russia or Poland survived once in the shtetl with the energy of despair and the power of tradition, Haitian peasants now stand above the burdens of everyday life by the imagination. They are surrounded by miracles and myths surprising. Like the Jewish dybbuk, the spirit of the Haitian voodoo hangs over the lives of every day as a shadow.
Haiti had, after much procrastination, voted in favor of the crétaion Israel in 1947 at the UN. Israel and Haiti have strong diplomatic ties and the embassy is located in Panama for reasons of synergy.

Friday, May 10, 2013

"Month of May"

Haitian Heritage Month is a nationally dedicated time where the Haitian community celebrates the culture and traditions of Haiti. The celebration is an expansion of the Haitian Flag Day on May 18th, a major patriotic day celebration in Haiti and the Diaspora created to encourage patriotism....

To remember the unity reached by the Black and Mulatto officers at their historic congress on May 15-18, 1803 to fight together against slavery in the French colony of St. Domingue, and for its independence, which they proclaimed on January 1, 1804.

To celebrate the creation of the blue and red Haitian flag on May 18, 1803.

To honor Haitian General Toussaint Louverture who was born on May 20 1743.

To celebrate Haitian achievements and contributions across the globe.

To raise awareness and understanding about Haitian culture and traditions.

To strengthen the self-esteem of Haitian/Haitian American youth.

To honor Haitian tradition of celebrating

May is Haitian Heritage Month

Cite Soleil "Cite Simone"

Cite Soleil has the reputation for being the worst slum in Haiti but did you know Cite Soleil is a good idea gone bad?

Site Soleil was born in 1958 with the construction of homes for 52 families, sugar workers at the old Haitian American Sugar Company complex (HASCO). In the summer of 1966, there was a serious fire in La Saline. The fire displaced many of the La saline Residents. 1,197 new homes, were built in Cite Soleil, and then Cite Soleil was was renamed after former president Francois Duvalier's wife "Cite Simone." In 1972, There was a major fire near the Central market in Port-au-Prince. More people were displaced. The Duvalier government send everyone to Cute soleil "Cite Cimone" This is when Cite Boston was born (an area of Cite Soleil name after the US city of Boston). By 1983, twenty five years later, there there were more then 82,000 people living in Cite Soleil. That's from 52 families 25 years earlier. By 2009, with poor Haitian souls coming into the city hoping to find a job, Cite Soleil had more than 240,000 residents and no jobs... That's over 240,000 people living in 8.4 square miles. From a 52 family housing project to 1/4 million people in 50 years. Will cite Soleil ever be a descent place to live, what can we do to make that happen?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Haitian Eats

Haitians eat three meals a day with very little snacking in between. Breakfast is usually something pretty heavy like eggs and boiled plantains or even spaghetti. Kids often have a lighter dish like bread and café au lait or hot chocolate.

Lunch is a pretty heavy meal, as well. Most dishes will consist of rice, beans and meat such as: Chicken, goat and beef... Some people also like to include a vegetable such as yuca, plantains or breadfruit. The dish below is red beans and rice, fried plantains, chicken. Fried pork (griyo) is a very common dish sold by street vendors all over Haiti.

Dinner is usually the lightest meal of the day, most of us would usually make soup with either regular flour, cornmeal or plantain (Labouyi Bannan) and eat it with toast (Biswit). Picture of plantain soup is shown in the picture below.

This is a very brief information, there is so much more to Haitian Cuisine... If you eat differently at home, please share :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Haitian Flag History

Revolutionary Haiti, 1803 
In July 1802 the population led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, revolted against the French who had jailed the black leader Toussaint L'Ouverture and invaded the country. In February 1803 they proclaimed Haiti's independence. On 18 May 1803 at the Congress of Arcahaie all chiefs declared their loyalty to Dessalines who tore up the French flag, threw away the white stripe as a symbol of the whites and had the remaining stripes sewn together as the first Haitian flag.

Republic of Haiti, 1804
On 1 January 1804, Independence Day, Haiti's flag was modified: the blue and red bands were now placed horizontally this time: this was the first flag of the independent republic of Haiti.

Empire of Haiti, 1805
On 8 October 1804 Dessalines was proclaimed Emperor of Haiti under the name of Jacques I and the blue band (placed vertically again) was changed to black on 20 May 1805; this can be interpreted as symbolising the people of the country or the colours could symbolise the motto ''Freedom (red) or Death (black)''. After Dessalines was assassinated the country was divided: the republic in the north, directed by Henri Christophe, retained this flag.

Republic of Haiti, 1806
General Pétion was proclaimed president of the south and western part of Haiti on 19 March 1807. Pétion changed his blue-red vertical flag back to the horizontal configuration of 1804. He added a white rectangle with the country's arms: a Palm tree surmounted by the Phrygian liberty cap, flags and cannons and the motto ''L'UNION FAIT LA FORCE'' (Unity makes Strength). This flag has endured throughout the 19th and 20th Century, with minor changes in the arms and the size of the white rectangle.

Kingdom of Haiti, 1811
Henri Christophe, who was recognised in the north, northwest and in Arbonite had maintained the imperial black-red flag of Dessalines. On 28 March 1811 he was proclaimed King under the name of Henri I, and the flag was changed: red at the hoist and black at the fly with, in the centre, a shield with a phoenix under five five-pointed stars, all in gold on a blue background; the shield bore a crown and the Latin inscription ''Ex cinerebus nascitur'' (From the ashes we will arise). This lasted until 1818, when Pétion conquered the north, deposed Henri and imposed the blue and red flag.

Empire of Haiti, 1849
Faustin Soulouque was elected president of Haiti in 1847, but then proclaimed himself Emperor under the name Faustin I (1849-1859). In 1849 the coat of arms was replaced by imperial symbols. The Empire of Faustin I ended on January 15, 1859 when he was overthrown and sent into exile and the coat of arms of the Republic was reintroduced.

Republic of Haiti in 1964
Dr. François Duvalier (Papa Doc) became President of Haiti in 1957. In 1964, he made himself president for life and 25 May 1964, the black and red flag of Dessalines was restored and officially enacted June 21, 1964. The state flag features the armorial bearings, flags also changed for those in black and red vertically divided and without the Phrygian cap freedom above the palm.

Republic of Haiti, 1986
On February 25 1986, after the overthrow of Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc) and his regime, the people requested that the red and blue flag be reestablished. On the State flag the original coat of arms was reintroduced, but smaller in size: the width of the rectangle is one-fifth the flag's width. However, flags with much larger rectangles may be seen, so this does not seem to be a hard and fast rule. The flag's proportions are 3:5, although sometimes flags with other proportions (like 3:4) may be used.

Haiti's History

Nicolas Sarkozy, First French President To Visit Haiti.
On Feb 17, 2010, French President Nicolas Sarkozy became the first President of France to visit Haiti since the slave revolt in 1804. This first visit ever by a French president to Haiti, once his nation's richest colony, lasted four-and-a-half hours.

"Haiti, I'm Sorry!"

"Haiti, I'm Sorry!"

In 1988, the calypsonian David Rudder of Trinidad & Tobago, produced the classic calypso "Haiti, I'm sorry". In the chorus he sang :

Haiti, I'm sorry
We misunderstood you
One day we'll turn our heads
And look inside you
Haiti, I'm sorry. Haiti, I'm sorry
One day we'll turn our heads
Restore your glory.

Today, many all over the world can identify with Rudder's core sentiment, 'Haiti, I'm sorry', even if they do not buy into his argument. For Rudder had maintained that : "Toussaint was a mighty man/And to make matters worse he was black/Black and back in the days when black men knew/Their place was in the back/But this rebel, he walked through Napoleon/Who thought it wasn't very nice/And so today my brothers in Haiti/They still pay the price...yeah, yeah..."

The Haitian situation has always challenged the imagination and intellect of Caribbean peoples. C.L.R. James' The Black Jacobins, first published in 1923, is still the greatest historical account we have of the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804. Our own Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott, has produced the Haitian Trilogy of historical plays: Henri Christophe, Drums and Colours and The Haytian Earth.

Even as aftershocks continue to rumble through the devastated capital of Haiti, many are honestly asking "Why Haiti"? Some well-intentioned persons, among them Christians of all denomination, continue to spew the venom of their racial and ideological prejudice. They designate Haiti, the first Black Republic of the new world, as the sin capital of the world; Satan's footstool, doomed to persistent poverty, self-inflicted backwardness and continuous devastation because of the wrath of God.

They ignore the bloody history by which a nation with a population of one million had been reduced to 60,000 by the Spaniards in 1507; how Toussaint Louverture with 20,500 men had withstood the onslaught of French army of 55,609 men; and that even after his defeat on May 1, 1802, the insurrection led by Christophe, Pétion, Clerveaux, Dessalines, Larose, Lamour Dérance, Petit-Noel Prieur, Sans-Souci, Romain, Yayou and others had led to the defeat of the French at Vertières on November 18, 1803 and the declaration of Independence at Gonaives on January 1, 1804. It is true that throughout the history of Haiti there have been many corrupt and ruthless leaders who placed self-aggrandisement before the national interest. But that does not tell the full story of the demise of Haiti.

As Caribbean scholar Sir Hilary Beckles has observed "Buried beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda, out of both Western Europe and the United States, is the evidence which shows that Haiti's independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy."

Those who see Haiti as a 'cursed place' never ask the question why in 1825 "The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical assets, the 500 000 citizens who were formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services" amounting to 150 million gold francs (the "Boyer Independence debt"), "an amount equivalent to 90 per cent of the entire Haitian budget for the foreseeable future" according to one writer, to be paid in reparation to France in return for national recognition; and that when this debt became too burdensome City Bank offered Haiti a 'debt-exchange' by which they would pay off France in exchange for a lower-interest, long-term debt.

Such detractors of Haiti seldom ask why did the United States of America occupy Haiti from 1915-1934? For James Weldon Johnson, the renowned black activist who was executive secretary of the NAACP would tell them of his exposé entitled 'Self-Determining Haiti: The American Occupation' written for The Nation (No.111, August 28, 1920) in which he wrote:

"To know the reasons for the present political situation in Haiti, to understand why the United States landed and has for five years maintained military forces in that country, why some three thousand Haitian men, women, and children have been shot down by American rifles and machine guns, it is necessary, among other things, to know that the National City Bank of New York is very much interested in Haiti. It is necessary to know that the National City Bank controls the National Bank of Haiti and is the depository for all of the Haitian national funds that are being collected by American officials..."

But that was during the 1915-1934 occupation. The question still remains why should the United States have just built one of its largest embassies in the world (only the embassies of China, Iraq, Afganistan and Germany are larger) with a staff of 1,000 in that 'God-forsaken country' Haiti? Whereas the recently launched relief effort by the United States is laudable, how much of this is motivated by US and international business interests in Haiti's mineral wealth as well as by fear of thousands of Haitian 'boat people' invading the waters of Florida?

It was two years ago, on December 17, 2008, that Eurasian Minerals Inc.(EMX) announced it had been awarded twenty-seven new exploration licenses in northern Haiti giving the Company a commanding land position along 130 kilometers of strike length in an emerging new gold-silver-copper mineral belt. This brings the company's land holdings to 281,858 hectares. With EMX's La Miel, La Mine, and Champagne projects, as well as the Pueblo Viejo deposit in the adjacent Dominican Republic, there is still considerable opportunity for financial and economic exploitation. For example, Pueblo Viejo has 215 million tons of proven and probable reserves containing 20.4 million ounces of gold, 117.3 million ounces of silver, and 423.5 million pounds of copper as of year-end 2007 reporting. This explains why so many nations and global institutions are interested in Haiti. It's not all for Haiti's sake.

This is why, like David Rudder, we're truly sorry for Haiti. We are sorry not just for the thousands buried under the rubble of their city, nor the hundreds of thousands without food or shelter. We are sorry for the sickness in the human heart which will continue to drive people to ruthlessly exploit the human and natural resources of Haiti while at the same time using all the tools of modern communication to reinvent the truth about that country. Haiti, I'm really sorry!