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Posted on on September 21st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

High Level Debate organized by UNESCO at the International Day of Peace, United Nations Headquarters,

September 21st, 2012

The presentation by H.E. Leonel Fernández, former President of the Dominican Republic
and President of Global Foundation of Democracy and Development, FUNGLODE

Your Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations;

Your Excellency Vuk Jeremic, President of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly;

Honorable Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO;

Distinguished panelists;

Distinguished ambassadors;

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In celebrating World Peace Day today, we arrived to this High Level Debate organized by UNESCO here, in New York, preceded by a week of violence, threats and dreadful unrest in different parts of the world.

What has mostly caught our attention, however, was the amateur video about the Prophet Muhammad put in circulation by an individual, through the use of modern new media, that sparked a wave of riots, protests and killings in different countries of the Arab world.

Reflecting on the occurrence of these regrettable events, we need to analyze from a fresh perspective the role of the media and its impact in an environment of continuous and accelerated technological change, within an interconnected and culturally diverse planet.

In his classical work, titled, Public Opinion, the great American journalist and political philosopher, Walter Lippman, refers to the fact that in 1914, before the outbreak of World War I a group of French, German, British, Italian and Russian citizens, were living in a friendly and peaceful way, ignoring that what was to become the great war had begun among their respective nations in Europe.

Months later, a ship arrived in the island, bringing newspapers and magazines with the news of the events that had taken place in what traditionally has been called “the cradle of civilization”.

Right there, violence broke out and a war began between those that previous to the spreading of the bleak news, had friendly and peaceful ties.

In the video about the Prophet Muhammad, there are lessons to be drawn of symbolic significance to a culture of peace, tolerance and understanding, in the midst of religious and cultural diversity.

First, it is not only that a conflict of anywhere can spread conflict everywhere, as has been analyzed by a range of influential social thinkers, but that now, because of the information and communications technology revolution, for the first time in history, any individual in any part of the world can become a media content provider.

That means, that from being a passive receiver of information, the individual can now play the active role of a transmitter, making modern communication more interactive.

Furthermore, there is no longer need to wait for the boat to arrive to generate a collective behavioral reaction.

Now, it is instantaneous communication, with news cycles going 24/7.

Third, in relation to the showing of the video, government officials reacted by stating that even though they rejected and disapproved its content, they could not ban its distribution for respect of freedom of expression.

There, of course, seems to be a contradiction in the argument. If something is considered legal, it shouldn’t be the object of moral repudiation.

I think we can all agree that freedom of expression and the free flow of ideas do not necessarily mean that there are no limits to their exercise.

In different national legislations, due to libel, slander, defamation, calumny and character assassination, limits has been drawn, beyond which infringement, misdeed or violation are considered.

If this can be achieved at the national level, why not consider the possibility of drafting an international legal framework, legally binding to member states of the UN, that can prohibit and punish blasphemy as the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence toward something considered sacred?

In this second decade of the 21st century, the world has continued, at an accelerated pace, its transition from an industrial to a knowledge-based society, in which information and communication technology play a distinctive role.

Given the fact that it is in the interest of UNESCO to harness the media and ICTs, to promote peace, non-violence, tolerance and intercultural dialogue, it would be of significant value to consider including in its new Program of Action for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, a new international legal approach to the use of cyberspace and global digital media.

In addition, supporting and promoting creative new projects, with the active participation of youths around the world, in the areas of filmmaking, theatre, performing arts, sports, radio and television programs, oriented towards peace, non-violence and cultural diversity.

In that way, the media, instead of being perceived as an instrument at the service of hatred and insult to human dignity and cherished religious beliefs, can become the ideal catalyst for peace, knowledge, understanding, solidarity and pluralism in a new world order characterized for being borderless, wireless and interconnected.

It will depend on our ability and commitment to make it either “” or “”.

Thank you!


Posted on on September 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Climate change, natural disaster and the triple crises of food, finance and fuel jeopardize sustainable development gains made by many developing nations.

We add here that Climate Change, Loss of Biodiversity, and the slow-down in Poverty Reduction are inter-related – talking about one of them while ignoring the others is counter-productive. And what do you know – Climate Change imposed on others by our own excesses is it not, indeed, a novel way of terrorism?


Peruvian President Alan García told the General Assembly today that terrorism and climate change, as well as other global illnesses, require that the United Nations be the forum for world cooperation.

Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández  called for the creation of a new global coalition under United Nations auspices of nations at risk of catastrophe to share experiences and knowledge. He told General Assembly, on the first day of its annual high-level segment,that this year alone – up to now – there have been 47 floods and landslides; 12 hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons; eight serious droughts followed by fires; seven earthquakes; and volcanic eruptions.

“Additionally, we have to include the numerous cold waves, floods, and storms that have occurred as well as the epidemics that took place as a result, particularly cholera in Africa and dengue in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Dr. Fernández proposed the establishment of a World Alliance of Countries at Risk which would be “a great contribution towards designing and implementing policies to help save lives and minimize material damages.”

Many natural disasters, he pointed out, are caused by climate change, underscoring the need to set guidelines to regulate carbon emissions and protect the planet’s biodiversity.


Calling for a new mechanism to stave off the worst effects of natural disasters at the Assembly debate today was Turkish President Abdullah Gül.

“This would also help maintain international peace and security by mitigating the threats stemming from weak governance, collapse of public order and domestic or inter-State conflicts over diminishing natural resources,” he noted.

Dedicating just a small fraction of nations’ defense expenditures to financing this new mechanism could more cost-effectively achieve results in maintaining global peace and stability, he said.

“Moreover,” the Turkish leader said, “If we could pool some of our defense equipment that lost its effective utilization in military terms but are still relevant disaster relief operations, we would swiftly build the said rapid reaction capability.


Climate change, natural disaster and the triple crises of food, finance and fuel jeopardize sustainable development gains made by small island developing States (SIDS), according to a new United Nations report.

The report points out that these events exacerbate the vulnerability of the SIDS due to their small size, remoteness, susceptibility to shocks and narrow resource bases, the publication says.

In some instances, it points out, improved economic and governance capacity in SIDS has been offset by reduced resilience to external shocks.

“Although SIDS are confronted with increasing challenges, the growing international consensus surrounding the need to support SIDS offers an unprecedented opportunity to advance their sustainable development efforts,” the report says.

Its release comes ahead of a high-level General Assembly gathering to review progress towards sustainable development made in these nations. The two-day meeting kicks off tomorrow.

In the past nearly four decades, SIDS including Samoa, Grenada, Vanuatu and Maldives top the list of 180 countries recording the highest economic losses in relative terms due to natural disasters.

In Samoa, a 1983 tropical storm and forest fire, along with three tropical storms in the late 1980s, may have set its capital stock back more than 35 years.

Despite advances made towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight globally-agreed targets with a 2015 deadline, in areas such as health and gender equality, the eradication of poverty is still a major hurdle for small island nations.


In a side event at the UN, Dr. Christiana Figueres, the top UN climate change official, today stressed the urgent need for governments to move forward in their negotiations ahead of the Cancun, Mexico, meeting where the UN contends that she is expected to conclude agreements related to issues such as technology transfer, mitigation and adaptation, and funding.

“We are barely two months away from the UN climate change conference in Cancun, the place where Governments need to take the next firm step on humanity’s journey to meet the full-scale challenge of climate change,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Ahead of the next conference of parties to the Convention, to be held in November in Cancun, governments will hold a negotiating session in Tianjin, China, next week.

It is in Tianjin, said Ms. Figueres, that they will need to “cut down the number of options they have on the table, identify what is achievable in Cancun and muster the political compromises that will deliver those outcomes.”

She told a news conference at UN Headquarters that governments are converging on the need to mandate a full set of ways and means to launch a new wave of global climate action.

“On the whole, governments have been cognizant this year that there is an urgent need to move forward and they have been collaborating in moving beyond their national positions to begin to identify common ground so that they can reach several agreements in Cancun.”

The UN climate change chief said that negotiations are on track towards reaching agreements on the sharing of technology, jump-starting activities in developing countries dealing with reducing deforestation and degradation, setting out a framework for adaptation, and establishing a fund that would help developing countries with their mitigation and adaptation efforts.

“Let me be clear: there is no magic bullet, no one climate agreement that will solve everything right now,” she said.

“To expect that is naïve. It does not do justice to the crucial steps already achieved since the beginning of the Convention and it dangerously ignores the need to keep innovating.”

She noted four major trends shaping the future – energy supply and security; natural resource depletion; population growth; and climate change.

“An unchecked climate change is the flame that would make the other three burn most seriously,” said Ms. Figueres. “Governments can either stand together to turn these four threats into a new development paradigm that harnesses the full power of society, science and business, or they will fail divided.”

But let us not think that Dr. Figueres believes in the “Seal the Deal” mantra – she is on the record of having said earlier that she does not expect a Kyoto Protocol kind of agreement to emerge from Cancun – so the Tianjin meeting is very important in order to avoid renewed failure because of exaggerated expectations.


Posted on on July 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Dep FM Ayalon meets Dominican Republic Minister of Justice

20 Jul 2010
Israel Deputy FM Ayalon and Dominican Republic Minister of Justice:
“We will work together to rehabilitate Haiti.”

Dominican Republic Minister of Justice:
“We wish to assist you in promoting peace in the region.”

Dep FM Ayalon (MFA archive photo)
Danny Ayalon is a former Israel Ambassador to Washington DC; Now as a Member of Foreign Minister’s Avigdor Liberman Israel Beitenu Party – he is his Deputy FM.

(Communicated by the Deputy Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

In the first meeting of its kind between the Minister of Justice of the Dominican Republic and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, it was decided to form a partnership and to strengthen bilateral ties so as to work together in the rehabilitation of Haiti. The plan is to establish an Israeli village that includes a school, a medical center, community centers and sport facilities, as well as the dispatch of a 14-member contingent from the Israeli police force.

DFM Ayalon: “MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation) is Israel’s arm for strengthening its international ties and positioning its image around the world. For example, under the auspices of the MFA, over 5000 Dominican Republic students attended MASHAV training courses in Israel in the fields of development, water and agriculture, and prisoner rehabilitation programs. “Both countries have the potential to upgrade the relationship and to cooperate on various issues.”

DFM Ayalon also mentioned the large amount of Israeli aid aimed at the rehabilitation of Haiti, a process that the Dominican Republic is directing. DFM Ayalon stated that “Israel has the ability to provide humanitarian and professional aid to its friends around the world.”

The Dominican Republic’s Minister of Justice said: “We are deeply impressed with Israeli capabilities in various fields. Cooperation with Israel is very important to us.” The Minister added that his country is interested in assisting with the peace process in the Middle East.

DFM Ayalon briefed his guest on the situation in the Middle East in general and the progress in the negotiations with the Palestinians in particular. DFM Ayalon emphasized his concern with Iranian penetration into South America, and said, “The Iranian nuclear program is not only Israel’s concern, but that of the entire world. The international community must continue to oppose the Iranian nuclear program.” Regarding sanctions against Iran, DFM Ayalon added, “We will be able to determine if the sanctions are working within a few months.”


Posted on on May 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

UNEP leads 27 countries of the Wider Caribbean on  “land-based pollution” at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in Panama City based on the ISTAC of Kingston, Jamaica (Interim Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee to the Cartagena Convention. Will they touch nevertheless the menacing Deep-Water Oil-Well Blow-Out?

from: James Sniffen <>


Panama City, 24th May, 2010:

Over 50 pollution control experts from 27 countries of the Wider Caribbean
gather today (Monday 24th May) in Panama City at the invitation of the
United Nations Environment Programme’s Caribbean Environment Programme
(UNEP CEP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The gathering of experts for the 5th Meeting of the Interim Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee (ISTAC) to the Protocol concerning pollution from land-based sources, commonly known as the LBS Protocol, will last for five days.  The CEP is the Secretariat for this Protocol and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

The LBS Protocol is one of three agreements under the Convention for the
Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean
Region (the Cartagena Convention).  It establishes regional guidelines and
standards for reducing the impact of pollution on the coastal and marine
environment, and on human health.   Over 80% of the pollution of the marine
environment of the Wider Caribbean is estimated to originate from land
based sources and activities.

Panama, the host country, is one of only six countries to have ratified the LBS Protocol.  The others are Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Saint Lucia, France and the United States.  Discussions during the meeting will focus on measures to increase the region’s commitment to ratify the Protocol, and have it enter into force and become international law as soon as possible.

In support of regional cooperation, UNEP CEP is partnering with the IMO and their joint Regional Activity Centre for Oil Spills (RAC REMPEITC) to bring together experts from environmental agencies, maritime authorities and port administrations for this 5th LBS ISTAC.

Delegates are expected to identify practical measures to improve the implementation of marine environmental agreements including the IMO London Convention on the control of pollution from dumping of wastes at sea and the MARPOL Convention on the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships.

According to Nelson Andrade, Coordinator of UNEP CEP”   “It is vital that
Governments adopt a more integrated approach to reducing pollution from
land and marine based sources”.  He noted that the continued partnership
between UNEP and IMO will help to effectively implement the Cartagena
Convention and its three Protocols and to reduce marine contamination.

Meeting Participants are also expected to review recent achievements of the
UNEP CEP to reduce and control marine pollution and to endorse a new work
plan and budget for 2010-2011.

For additional information, please contact:

Christopher Corbin,Programme Officer,
Assessment and Management of Environment Pollution (AMEP),
Regional Co-ordinating Unit, UNEP CEP
Kingston, Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 922-9267 — Fax: (876) 922-9292;;

About UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) –  The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) in 1976 under the framework of its Regional Seas Programme.   It was based on the importance and value of the Wider Caribbean Region’s fragile and vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems including an abundant and mainly endemic flora and fauna,

A Caribbean Action Plan was adopted by the Caribbean countries and led to the adoption, in 1983, of the only current regional, legally-binding agreement for the protection of the marine environment, the Cartagena Convention.  The Convention and its first Protocol (Oil Spill) entered into force in 1986.

Two other protocols were developed by the region – the Protocols on Special Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) and the Control of Pollution from Land Based Sources (LBS) in 1990 and 1999 respectively.

The SPAW Protocol entered into force in 2000, whereas three ratifying countries are still needed for the LBS Protocol.

The Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU) serves as the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

Each Protocol is served by a Regional Activity Centre.  These Centres are
based in the Netherlands Antilles (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency
Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean, RAC/REMPEITC) for
the Oil Spills Protocol, Guadeloupe (RAC/SPAW) for the SPAW Protocol, Cuba
(Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays) and
Trinidad & Tobago (Institute of Marine Affairs) for the LBS Protocol.

Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210


Posted on on February 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Latin Nations of the Western Hemisphere try to unite and discard the old world and the US and Canada infringement on what they see as their territory. It all started with the ALBA group. The US might try now to mend its ways with Cuba, but the UK is out for confrontation because of Antarctic oil. The US will have to take position when this issue reaches the Security Council. What if Argentina offers China rights to drill in the same areas that they consider part of their territorial waters?

We keep saying – the US will find it difficult to continue with wars in Asia if its backyard “south of the border” gets shaken up.

* * *

From: AS/COA Online <>
Date: Wed, Feb 24, 2010
Subject: Weekly Roundup: Latin America’s New Bloc.
* * *
Americas Society/Council of the Americas
AS/COA Online Weekly Roundup
Argentina brings its dispute over drilling in the Falklands to the UN, Brazil and Mexico move on FTA, and Mayans celebrate 5126. Read these stories and more in the Weekly Roundup.

Stories this week:

This week on AS/COA Online:

Rio Group Pitches New Latin American Body
Leaders at a Rio Group summit proposed a new regional bloc that would exclude the United States and Canada.


Haiti and the Dominican Republic Mend Fences
The Dominican Republic rallied to help neighboring Haiti after last month’s devastating earthquake. But Dominican concerns over refugees crossing the border could strain relations.

Americas Society and
Council of the Americas:

The Weekly Roundup summarizes editorials, blogs, and analysis for an overview of news about the Americas.


Posted on on January 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The pre-State-of-the-Union Sunday on US TV called to President Obama to stop acting like a Prime Minister and start rather be Presidential.
We guess that this meant a call for him to find ways to achieve goals he set to himself by using the Presidential regulatory powers – given him by the Constitution and by US law. The TV pundits were saying that the President got involved in the minutiae and lost the larger scope – he got involved in the messy legislative sausage making. The last President to have done this was President Johnson when pushing through the Equal Rights Act. He succeeded by getting Republicans on board to replace the reluctant Democrats – and then acted it out as a President
– but Obama did not manage to get any Republicans to his side.

The Republicans have been obstructionist – but the figures show the
public still likes Obama as a leader and the real question the public
has is – “has he effected the way Washington Works”; Fareed Zakharia
asked at the beginning of the CNN/GPS program “WHAT SHOULD HE DO?”

As that was the week with Haiti on our mind – the first question was –
what should the US realistically do about Haiti? We know that after
the immediate crisis is gone – people will go home and what then?

Former Secretary of State Zbigniew Brzezinski said that Haiti is a
National Security Problem to the US and how does it compare to other
security problems? A failed State next door could even bring in
Al-Qaeda. We do not need grand-style visits by leaders – but we need a
Statement of Purpose. We need a US push at the UN to create an

The participants reminded us of the history of colonialism and
imperialism and the troubled past US involvement in Haiti. They warned
of an International Trusteeship of the UN and pointed out that Haiti
has an important resource – human capital – that was not utilized. The
Haitians in the US demonstrated they are dynamic and creative – this
potential is terribly underutilized! Brzezinski called for a UN flag
so there is no perception of colonialism and said what we say all the

The Dominican Republic, shares the same Island and is doing fine – how
is it that the two had such a different path? The answer may be in the
deforestation in Haiti that changed its agricultural base. For the
immediate reaction – just drop food from the air – do not worry about
the internal conflicts at this time of need – then start building on
existing institutions like the church and their own local honored
society – I took this as a nod to the Voodoo culture.

Brzezinski also pointed out that Haiti takes US attention away from
the Iraq and AfPak regions and we must focus there.

In Haiti we must create a Nation State – this is a Nation Building issue, but Haiti is not the Germany of 1945. A Marshall plan is a huge commitment and Dominique Strauss-Kahn of the IMF talks of reviving a viable economy &quot;with people building and selling.&quot; He says the Haitians must be in the driver’s seat. Calls for US, French, Canadians involved. Edmond Mulet – the French Guatemalan in charge of the UN in Haiti, after the previous French speaking Tunisian leader died in the earthquake, was also brought to the program, but this segment seemed rather like a call back to the old ways of the UN and the US.
I missed there the Latin and Central American true angle, and the evolution of Brazilian leadership – the Brazilians having lost more people in Haiti then other foreigners except the American citizens of Haitian origin. The US was also mentioned in regard to the TPS status that will be allowed for those in the US illegally now – so they surface for an 18 months legal status that allows the closing of the borders for next push by Haitians.

Edwidge Danticat, a successful Haitian-American writer from Miami, was brought to the Program – this as evidence of Haitian success when free to compete and unleash their talents, though fully aware of their close family having undergone oppression back home and here in the US. she Spoke of family loss in Haiti.

Peggy Noonan, with the Haiti topic out of the way, turned to the
President’s loss – just in one year – of the backing of the
Independent voters. She thinks – you must hold the center if you want
to prosper as a President. Even the Conservatives in Red States
(Republican State) are not safe – it is an Independent Vote that wins!
getting something done is another level of government – from here back
to Johnson and the Civil Rights Vote experience. He had George Aiken
introduce the bill – we do not see his legislative genius in action.
Had Obama gone to John McCain for support the legislation would have
been much more acceptable. We lost the probability to get results
because of the squabbling in congress.

Walter Isaacson, the author of “The Wise Men: Six Friends and the
World They Made” – this how the Johnson world was made to work – said
that the Massachusetts election to US Senate, that lost the Ted
Kennedy seat to a Republican, might be not so much of a blow as a
Blessing in Disguise! Obama said his Presidency should be
transformational – we need this!

Obama was in a different direction from the people, Reagan was in the
same direction with the people – that is why he succeeded better.
You cannot transform the country on a pure position basis – continued
Isaacson. Republicans produced books against government – but Reagan
did not walk in by saying government was bad! His success required
moving to the middle. It seems that the Isaacson books should be made
required reading in this White House.

The point is that Obama should go to the Republicans and say – we need
a health care bill and I want you on board. The same with other

As we waited for a week before writing up what was said last Sunday –
that is before the actual State of the Union speech, it is only fair
to note that Friday,last night, and now today, the TV and papers are
full with the news from President Obama being part of the Republican
conclave that met to discuss the State of the Union – and there in the
lyon’s den – Obama defends the truth in the face of Republican and
Democratic distortions. This psychodrama may not have immediate
results – but somewhere it might find its way to the better part of
the milder Republicans so they could help free the President from the
worse Democrats – just like in Johnson’s days – ot is this just my own
imagination’s hope for results of attempts at a mutual consciousness
raising session?

Sam Tanenhaus, who wrote “The Death of Conservatism”; looks at Rush
Limbaugh as the example of the takeover of true conservatism by the
right fringe.

Looking at China – Fareed Zakharia picked up the fact that China
government, with its rule of only 20 films from the West that can be
shown to its people during one year – disallows Avatar in favor of a
Confucius movie. But Fareed reminds the Chinese of the Confucius
YOURSELF” – in his interpretation – don’t become insular because
others might do this to you also.

We say – if they do not really become part of a Climate Change agreement- what is there to hold the rest of the world back from changing WTO rules so there are carbon taxes at the border?


Posted on on January 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN Dodges on Search and Safety, 278 National Staff Unaccounted For, Blames Media

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 19 — As UN officials in Haiti lash out at the media for reporting on looting, they are unable or unwilling to answer Press questions about the safety of their building, rescue efforts made or a helicopter “crash” that they themselves reported.

Top UN Peacekeeper Alain Leroy on Tuesday morning told Inner City Press he had heard the same reports of a helicopter crash in Haiti, but to ask his deputy Edmond Mulet, who was appear at noon by video link for Haiti.

When he did, Mulet said “I’ve heard about this crash” but that “the UN and MINUSTAH have nothing to do with it.” But the UN says it is playing the central coordinating role. Inner City Press asked for an update on MINUSTAH’s inquiry into the safety of its 1200 national Haitian staff, on whom at first it did not report. Mulet responded that 278 are still unaccounted for, adding that perhaps some are “dealing with their own grievances.” Video here, from Minute 21:26. Speaking of grieving, Inner City Press asked what had been done to try to find and save staffer Alexandra Duguay, an energetic Canadian who until recently worked at UN headquarters, as well as running marathons.

During Sunday’s whirlwind tour of Port au Prince by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and some hand selected media, complaints were made that not enough was done to find Ms. Duguay. Since then, the National Post quoted her parents that she had been found, dead. Still, MINUSTAH spokesman David Wimhurst replied that he had no information, “I don’t have” ID’s, while mentioning another building that collapsed with ten people inside. Video here, from Minute 32:20. On Monday evening, Inner City Press directed to Mr. Wimhurst a question about the helicopter crash on which UN sources were reporting, without any further information being given. Rather, the UN’s communications strategy appears to be to attack media which reports on looting or rioting in Haiti.

Ruins of UN’s rented Hotel Christopher, with copter in background

Mr. Mulet calls such reports “irresponsible” — he also called looting “normal” — while Mr. Wimhurst, pointing out that he attended Columbia School of Journalism and was “well trained,” chided media for “looking for conflict,” for trying to blame the UN for things. One wonders what Mr. Wimhurst, and others in the UN, thought of the media’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina and responses in New Orleans. It is known that the Secretariat and Spokesman have reacted angrily to this comparison. Mulet said he wasn’t aware if the UN’s headquarters in the Christopher Hotel, for which it paid out $94,000 a month, had been brought into MOSS compliance. Mulet said all the records were destroyed. It seems strange that records on a contract and lease of this size were stored in the building itself. Mulet said this would be followed up on. We will be following up.

* * *

At UN on Haiti, Ban Dodges on Immigration, Armenians Rebuffed, No Copter

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, January 19 — As the UN Security Council voted to authorize 3500 more peacekeepers for Haiti, including 1500 more police, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on member states to step forward with offers of troops.

Inner City Press asked about the Dominican Republic’s offer of a battalion, said to number 800, and whether Ban and the UN think that countries should be less stringent with their immigration restrictions after the Haitian earthquake. Mr. Ban replied by praising the Dominican Republic for its troop offer — which some see as simply blue helmeting a border guarding force — and for its help with the humanitarian effort. He is aware, he said, of the Dominican Republic’s attempt to accommodate Haitians within the Republic’s “rules and regulations.” Inner City Press asked Ban about reports that the UN had run out of fuel for its trucks to deliver aid. Top humanitarian John Holmes passed a note to Ban Ki-moon, who read out that last night 10,000 gallons of fuels had arrived. When Holmes himself took to the custom made podium brought out for Ban Ki-moon, Inner City Press asked him about a reported complaint by Armenia’s Mission to the UN, that they had offered a rescue team last Thursday but were never told of any UN acceptance or decision.

Holmes replied that he was unaware, but that there are always issues of matching needs with offers. But from member states? Inner City Press, which reported exclusively Monday evening about what UN sources said
was a helicopter crash in Haiti
, asked chief Peacekeeper Alain Leroy for an update. I’ve seen those reports, he said, but I have no new information this morning. He said to ask Edmond Mulet, who will be appearing later on Tuesday by video link from Haiti.

UN’s Ban and former spokeswoman, answers on immigration not shown

The Ambassador of China Zhang Yesui , this month’s Security Council president, came out at announced the Council’s vote. While usually he leaves the stakeout without taking any questions — on Monday he walked away as Inner City Press asked about the attacks in Afghanistan — this time he called on Xinhua, and offered a long answer on camera, in Chinese. It concerned the UN’s role in responding to Haiti. Asked if China would offer any more troops — its 125 member contingent is, as Inner City Press has reported, a “riot squad” that when rotated has flown back to Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region — Zhang Yesui said it would be taken under advisement. The last speaker at the stakeout was U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, who came prepared with an answer to Inner City Press’ question of Monday, whether the $100 million of aid announced by President Barack Obama would be part of the UN’s flash appeal.

No, Ambassador Wolff said, the $100 million is “bilateral.” But he said that the US will be contributing generously to the UN’s flash appeal, in the coming days. We’ll see. Footnote: because the UN and even Security Council has become all Haiti, all the time for now, Inner City Press asked the U.S.’s Alejandro Wolff about reports of bombing in Darfur, requests to protect civilians, and Chad’s statement it does not want the mandate of the Darfur related MINURCAT peacekeeping mission renewed. Wolff said the U.S. is concerned and is seeking more information. Inner City Press has asked the UN too, and hopes to be able to write more on this topic shortly. Watch this site.

From the UN’s January 19 transcript:Inner City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, the Dominican Republic has offered a battalion – it has been said publicly – they’ve also said that they are very concerned about immigration and people crossing the border. Does the UN have anything to say whether countries should loosen their immigration restrictions on Haitians, or otherwise, after this crisis? And also, does the UN still have gas to run its trucks? There was a report in USA Today that the UN was running out of gas for its food distribution trucks.

SG Ban Ki-moon: From the beginning of this crisis, the Dominican Republic Government has been providing very generously and swiftly all possible assistance to their neighbouring country, Haiti, and we are very much grateful to them. I am also aware of the Dominican Republic’s intention to dispatch troops there – that is also welcome. For the immigration issues, I am also aware that the Dominican Republic Government is trying to accommodate as many as possible, those people within the existing rules and regulations of their country, but they have been very generous. Of course, this fuel is quite limited in Haiti. Ten thousand gallons of fuel, I think, arrived last night from the Dominican Republic. That will help more, as we continue our operations.


Among UN P-5, France and UK Talk Secret, US Fetes New Diplomat, Russia Dubious on Yemen, China Flew in 3 Hours

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 19 — Amid the Haitian earthquake emergency, attacks on Kabul, in Yemen and in Darfur, the US Mission to the UN on Tuesday night welcomed a diplomat into the fold, on the 42nd floor of the Waldorff Towers.

As U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff put it in his introduction, Rick Barton has represented the US in 30 countries in ten years. And on his family vacation, he went to post-Katrina New Orleans to build homes. The well attended reception, complete with miniature grilled cheese sandwiches and brownies, began with somber statements for Haiti. In the crowd, many asked Inner City Press if the coverage of the UN was too negative, unfair, sensational. CNN’s Anderson Cooper showed looters; the Washington Post’s new Turtle swung for the fences dubbing Haiti “Ban’s Katrina.” At a UN Foundation luncheon on Tuesday, Ban Ki-moon took that author to task for several minutes, publicly. This, apparently, is the new take-charge Ban, more general than secretary, at least for now. From Haiti via video link Ban’s former spokesman Michele Montas also said the media is being too negative. Ban envoy Edmond Mulet called the Press irresponsible. The Missions to the UN of the UK and France take a different approach to the media. Each has an off the record briefing scheduled January 20 for selected reporters. The two used to hold such briefings on different days, but then even the “Western diplomat” moniker was too transparent.

Now they hide behind each other, only because few file stories between the UK’s early morning briefing and France’s 5 p.m. follow up. Call them the taciturn twins. One knows what was said but it not supposed to report it. What then is the point?

Here’s one the UK Ambassador should be asked: is it true, as Middle Eastern sources say, that the UK is trying in the Security Council to bring up the conflict in Yemen, specifically targeting Iran’s support for some parties?

UK’s Lyall Grant and US in Council, Yemen and secret briefings not shown

In this account, the Russians balked, saying as Missourians do, Show me. Or at least wait until the conference on Yemen in London on January 27. Before that, on January 25 in Montreal, there’s a conference on Haiti. France’s Ambassador Araud — who initially put the date at February 25 — took a decidedly different stance on the U.S. in Haiti than did his foreign minister and Cooperation minister.

The ministers questioned U.S. domination, while Araud stepped back and said, we are grateful, we live here. But what will he say behind closed doors?

A French journalist, while suggesting to Inner City Press that Araud was being diplomatic — imagine that! — also lambasted the Obama administration’s resurrection of the Monroe Doctrine. “They have spoken with the Brazilians and the Canadians,” he said, “as if that is enough.” So the US hardly briefs anymore, and the UK and France do so mostly on deepest background. What has happened, some wonder, to these P-2, P-3, even P-5? Chinese Ambassador Liu on Tuesday night told Inner City Press that China had its search and rescue team in the air to Haiti three hours after the earthquake. He asked, of disaster forecasting, “But why didn’t they have notice?” Why indeed.

Ironically the Chinese mission can be more open than the UK or France. With decided irony, a Chinese diplomat told Inner City Press that the Council first Press Statement on Haiti was only unobjectionable because of the UN presence there. Otherwise, he said with a wink, it would be an internal matter.

Meanwhile the UN Missions of the UK and France, while espousing free press, play a more elite game, casting aspersions on background, what some call a secret club of slander and others call diplomatic. They want their positions put in a positive light, but provide only selective illumination.

Tuesday night Rick Barton, after a stirring speech of the type that perhaps shouldhave been deployed earlier in Massachusetts, ended with a folksy talefrom his childhood. He lived in Bronxville — connected he said toworld affairs by one who died with Dag Hammarskjold in his Central African plane crash — and visited the UN. His mother ran across First Avenue, causes taxi after taxi to screech to a stop.

“Heylady,” the last cabbie shouted, addressing his mother as he had never heard before. “Next year, the Olympics!” Barton related this challenge to his UN work, a marathon of plenary speeches. But that’s only the onthe record part. Watch this site.

* * *

AtUN, It’s “All Hail” to US in Haiti, While Elsewhere Franceand Brazil Are Critical

ByMatthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 18 — As the UNSecurity Council emptied out Mondayat noon, sources told Inner City Press that in closed consultations,the U.S. said that to strengthen the mandate of the UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, would “send the wrong message… that the Haitian government is weak.”Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, who represented the U.S. in the meeting and spokeafterwards to the Press, said that the U.S. is supporting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s request for a vote authorizing 2000more troops and 1500 more police for MINUSTAH. InnerCity Press asked Ambassador Wolff if it is true that the U.S. thinking strengthening the mandate would send some wrong message. Wolffr eplied that the UN, including chief Peacekeeper Alain Leroy, has not identified any deficiency in the mandate. AsBrazil’s A mbassador left the Council, Inner City Press asked her about publicquotes from Brazil that MINUSTAH’s mandate should, in fact, bebolstered. She, however, called the mandate “sufficient.”

When askedabout any difficulties Brazilian NGOs have had gettinginto Haiti through the airport, now run by the U.S., she said therehave been “no such problems.”

French Ambassador Gerard Araud, too, was over the top in his praise of the U.S.,telling the Press that “we are living in the US after all.” Inner City Press asked if, as reported, France supported Medecins Sans Frontierescomplaints about having planes blocked by the Americansfrom the Portau Prince airport.

French Ambassador Araud, ministers’ critiques of U.S. not shown

Araudquickly answered (video here)that the Americans are doing a good job, that the airport is small by international standards, and that “we are living inthe US after all.” Infact, French Cooperation Minister AlainJoyandet made a complaint about the blocking of MSF’s plane. And Araud’s boss Bernard Kouchnerhas said the airport has become an “annex or Washington,” according to France’s Ambassador to Haiti Didier Le Bret.

So what is France’s position — these two statements, or Araud’s?

From the French Mission’stranscription, of question dubious, ofanswer less so:

Inner City Press:Médecins sans frontières complained that its planes couldn’t get in to the airport and blamed the Americans. Does France confirm that?

Amb. Araud: Of course, no.I think we areextremely grateful and personally I said it in the Council, extremely grateful for what the US government is doing, and especially managing the airport. You know, frustrations are understandable. You have asmall airport, in international terms, which was devastated by the earthquake and you have hundred of planes which want to land. So it’s totally normal that there are delays, but I think that the situation has dramatically improved. Yesterday, you know, it was possible tohave sixty planes landing and today it will be one hundred planes landing. But the most important will be to work on the port. We have to rehabilitate the port where we can bring most of the aid.

Once again, we are living in the US after all, and we want to express our gratitude for the mobilization of the US administration and the US people.

From the US Mission’s transcript:Inner City Press: Someone said on this idea of strengthening the mandate that the U.S. had a concern that this would send a message some how that the Government of Haiti was too weak. I just want to know whether you think there is a danger in that type of message being sent. And also whether the U.S. will be participating in the UN’s Flash Appeal that was announced on Friday, whether the $100 million announced by President Obama in any way is related to that or should be counted towards that.

Ambassador Wolff: I’ll get back to you on the later question, I want to make sure I have the right information for you, exactly how that $100 million fits into that,into the Flash Appeal. As to the mandate issue, there is no indication, indeed neither the Secretary-General nor Undersecretary-General Le Roy mentioned any deficiency in the current mandate. And so, if the UN is satisfied and the troop contributors are satisfied and the force commander is satisfied then we should focus on what we need to do under the current mandate. Of course, asyou indicate, we will need to look and evaluate over the longer term,as we assess the long term impact of this tragedy on the country andon the UN’s ability to function, and whether the requirements for the UN have to be adapted in any way. That is something that we dowith any mandate and we will obviously do it with particular attention in this case.

Watch this site.

Footnote: Since the Security Council has other matters on its agenda, Inner City Press tried to ask this month’s Council president, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui, if and when heexpects the Council to address Afghanistan. But having been asked if the Chinese search and rescue team stopped after finding the Chinese delegation who’d met with Hedi Annabi, Zhang Yesui just walked away. Who will replace him as China’s Ambassador is not yet known.


Posted on on January 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The end of Slavery in Brazil and Haiti: Cultural similarities that led to the Zumbi semi-mythical events of 1695 in the Northeast of Brazil, and to the playing out of the local and global forces in Haiti of the post-French Revolution of 1789. Condomble and Voodoo, black natural generals and  politicians. Reasons we think that Brazil involvement in Haiti could be most understanding.

Brazil abolished slavery in 1888.

Unipalmares – a University in Sao Paolo is named after rebel slave Zumbi dos Palmares.

Zumbi also known as Zumbi dos Palmares (1655 – November 20, 1695, pronounced: ‘zoombee’) was the last of the leaders of the Quilombo dos Palmares, in the present-day state of Alagoas, Brazil.

Quilombos were fugitive slave settlements or slave refugee settlements. Quilombos represented slave resistance which occurred in three forms: slave settlements, attempts at seizing power, and armed insurrection. Members of quilombos often returned to plantations or towns to encourage their former fellow slaves to flee and join the quilombos. If necessary, they brought slaves by force and sabotaged plantations. Slaves who came to quilombos on their own were considered free, but those who were captured and brought by force were considered slaves and continued to be slaves in the settlement. They could be considered free if they were to bring another captive to the settlement.

Quilombo dos Palmares was a self-sustaining republic of Maroons escaped from the Portuguese settlements in Brazil, “a region perhaps the size of Portugal in the hinterland of Bahia”. At its height, Palmares had a population of over 30,000. Forced to defend against repeated attacks by Portuguese colonial power, the warriors of Palmares were expert in capoeira, a martial arts form that was brought to or created in Brazil by African slaves circa the 16th century.

An African known only as Zumbi was born free in Palmares in 1655, but was captured by the Portuguese and given to a missionary, Father António Melo, when he was approximately 6 years old. Baptized Francisco, Zumbi was taught the sacraments, learned Portuguese and Latin, and helped with daily mass. Despite attempts to pacify him, Zumbi escaped in 1670 and, at the age of 15, returned to his birthplace. Zumbi became known for his physical prowess and cunning in battle and was a respected military strategist by the time he was in his early twenties.

By 1678, the governor of the captaincy of Pernambuco, Pedro Almeida, weary of the longstanding conflict with Palmares, approached its leader Ganga Zumba with an olive branch. Almeida offered freedom for all runaway slaves if Palmares would submit to Portuguese authority, a proposal which Ganga Zumba favored. But Zumbi was distrustful of the Portuguese. Further, he refused to accept freedom for the people of Palmares while other Africans remained enslaved. He rejected Almeida’s overture and challenged Ganga Zumba’s leadership. Vowing to continue the resistance to Portuguese oppression, Zumbi became the new leader of Palmares.

Fifteen years after Zumbi assumed leadership of Palmares, Portuguese military commanders Domingos Jorge Velho and Bernardo Vieira de Melo mounted an artillery assault on the quilombo. February 6, 1694, after 67 years of ceaseless conflict with the cafuzos, or Maroons, of Palmares, the Portuguese succeeded in destroying Cerca do Macaco, the republic’s central settlement. Before the king Ganga Zumba was dead, Zumbi had taken it upon himself to fight for Palmares’ independence. In doing so he became known as the commander-in-chief in 1675. Due to his heroic efforts it increased his prestige. Palmares’ warriors were no match for the Portuguese artillery; the republic fell, and Zumbi was wounded in one leg.

Though he survived and managed to elude the Portuguese and continue the rebellion for almost two years, he was betrayed by a mulato who belonged to the quilombo and had been captured by the Paulistas, and, in return for his life, led them to Zumbi’s hideout. Zumbi was captured and beheaded on the spot November 20, 1695. The Portuguese transported Zumbi’s head to Recife, where it was displayed in the central praça as proof that, contrary to popular legend among African slaves, Zumbi was not immortal. This was also done as a warning of what would happen to others if they tried to be as brave as him. Remnants of quilombo dwellers continued to reside in the region for another hundred years.


A Black Spartacus in the Northeast of Brazil – some reality – some myth – but from that myth reality in Brazil was born.

Excerpts from –  ZUMBI DOS PALMARES

(Slave Freedom Fighter: 1655-1695)

by Fernando Correia da Silva

c. 1600: Blacks who have escaped slave labour on the sugar plantations in Pernambuco found the maroon community, or quilombo, of Palmares in the Serra da Barriga hills.  The population grows incessantly, later reaching 30 thousand.  For the slaves, Palmares is the Promised Land. – 1630: The Dutch invade the Northeast of Brazil. – 1644: Just as the Portuguese failed, the Dutch also fail in their attempt to destroy Palmares. – 1654: The Portuguese drive the Dutch out of the Northeast of Brazil. – 1655: Zumbi is born in one of the many settlements of Palmares. – 1662(?): Still a child, Zumbi is taken prisoner by soldiers and given to Father António Melo.  He is baptised Francisco and later learns to help at mass and studies Portuguese and Latin. – 1670: Zumbi runs away and returns to Palmares. – 1675: In the battle against Portuguese soldiers commanded by Sergeant-Major Manuel Lopes, Zumbi shows himself to be a great warrior and military organiser. – 1678: Pedro Almeida, governor of the captaincy of Pernambuco, is more interested in the submission of Palmares than its destruction and approaches chief Ganga Zumba with a proposal of peace and freedom for all runaway slaves. Ganga Zumba accepts, but Zumbi is opposed to the idea; he cannot accept that some blacks should be free while others remain in slavery. – 1680: Zumbi becomes the leader of Palmares and commands the resistance movement against the Portuguese soldiers. – 1694: With the help of heavy artillery, Domingos Jorge Velho and Vieira de Mello lead the final attack against Cerca do Macaco, the main settlement of Palmares.  Although wounded, Zumbi manages to escape. – November 20, 1695: Turned in by an old companion, Zumbi is hunted down, taken prisoner and beheaded.


I become good friends with Ricardo, a fair-skinned mulatto, considerably older than myself.  He is an economist with a good job at Banco do Brasil.  But he has never been promoted.  His white peers, who started at the same time as he did, are already on double the salary.  He tells me sarcastically, “My friend, I’m not white enough to be the boss but too white to mop the floors.”

Richard points out a Banco do Brasil office clerk, Zé Pelintra, ebony black, a weak figure, lacklustre, timid, modest.  But when he is possessed by his orixá, Ogum, in Candomblé rites, he becomes dominating and belligerent.  I interrupt:

“Ogum is Saint George, isn’t he?

Ricardo becomes irritated.

“At this altar, Ogum is Ogum, not Saint George; Iansã is Iansã, not Saint Barbara; Xangô is Xangô, not Saint Jerome, Oxalá is Oxalá, not Jesus Christ.  There is no confusion; it’s all authentic, not a carnival for the tourists.  It is not a sect – it’s the religion of the oppressed.  Understand, my friend?”

I understand, but I want to see it with my own eyes.  He hesitates.  Only blacks go to this temple.  And people would be suspicious of or even opposed to the presence of a white.  I don’t let the opportunity slip:

“Wait a minute, Ricardo.  What’s the story?  Is this racism in reverse?

He decides to take me.  It’s the night of November 19, this I remember.  They really do eye me with mistrust.  Some even snort and snarl in hostility.  There is a rhythmic beating of drums.  Babalorixás and Ialorixás, priests and priestesses chant canticles, alaluê, alaluá, and goodness knows what else in an African language or dialect.  Zé Pelintra slips into a trance, foams at the mouth, shudders and falls to the ground, writhing.  He gets up quickly and really has changed personality; his eyes even spark.  Saravá! Ogum has arrived.  Always commanding, counselling and protecting his followers, some of whom also go into a trance when touched by his hands.  Suddenly, he looks at me and points.

“You don’t believe, do you?”

I nod my head, but he insists.

“Seeing is believing, like St. Thomas, right?  You want a beer?”

“Wine if there is any.  I prefer red.”

“That’s the drink of Xangô, your orixá, by the looks.  Let’s call him…”

He comes closer to me, places his hands on my forehead.

I black out.

When I recover my senses it’s already the 20th.  There is a beating of drums and people singing: “Zumbi, Zumbi, oia Zumbi!  Oia Zumbi the saviour.  Oia Zumbi!


Early morning at the Candomblé temple, the ground is scattered with wilted flowers.  Ogum has gone.  There is just Zé Pelintra, that weak figure, his timidity resurfaced.  Ricardo tells me that in spite of the fact that I’m white, Axé, the life force of God, revealed himself through me.  Xangô, the orixá of justice, possessed me.  Then Princess Aqualtune spoke through me, followed by her sons, Ganga Zumba and Gana Zona, and finally her grandson, Zumbi dos Palmares.  Today is the 20th of November, the date on which Zumbi was executed.  Perhaps that is why…

If an orixá used me to reveal itself in this world, I, on the other hand, used it to see the other.  Ricardo tells me that this cannot happen, it is not possible, ever!  I shake my head.  Never?  But I see everything, everything, and how I see it!

I see the swaying sugar cane fields along the entire north-eastern coast of Brazil.  I see the slave ships weighing anchor in Recife, having set sail from the West Coast of Africa.  Is white always the colour of oppressors?  What about the African chieftains and rulers that sold other blacks – their prisoners – to the white slave traders?

Transported like cattle in the hold, I see Yorubas, Angolas, Benguelas, Kongos, Cabindans, Monjolos, Kilwans, Minas and so many others; men, women, even children being offloaded in Pernambuco.

I see Princess Aqualtune being sold at a slave auction.  I see her being taken to a plantation owner’s manor house.  She is given a bath and new clothes and will be trained to wait on the table.

I see her brothers and sisters and her people crammed into the slaves’ quarters.  I see that they are woken with whips before sunrise, and driven to the cane fields where they begin cutting.  Some blacks are promoted to foremen and they also use whips.  Is white always the colour of oppressors?  I see the captives gathering and bundling up cane.  I see them carrying the bundles on their backs to the sugar mill.  I see the rollers, boiling house, furnaces, coppers, sheds and deposits, blacks toiling endlessly.  Much work, little food, they’ll live another six or seven years at the most.

“Let them die!” says one slave-owner.  “In Africa there is no shortage of them.  The important thing is to produce!”

I see the demand for this sugar in the European markets.  I see an exhausted captive slacken the pace of his work.  A foreman (black, black…)  whips him across the back.  Another whacks him across the buttocks.  They rub salt into his wounds, live flesh.  This is the punishment for laziness; the pain will be forever branded in his memory.

o freedom…

“Palmares must be destroyed, and those runaway slaves brought back, sold or killed!” say the plantation owners and the Portuguese soldiers.  And they try, I see them trying to destroy the quilombo again and again, but they are always fought off.  The settlement of Cerca do Macaco alone is protected by three stockades, each of which is guarded by 200 men.  The defence of liberty is, without a doubt, the great organising force of the people of Palmares.

First the Portuguese are fought off, followed by the Dutch in 1644.  I see that the Dutch finally give up their siege on the quilombo.  They have other more pressing wars…

In 1654 the Portuguese drive the Dutch out of the Northeast of Brazil.  After 24 years of guerrilla warfare, life in the captaincy returns to normal, and so does sugar production.

“Now we must bring down Palmares!” I hear the plantation owners protesting and I see the Governor agreeing with their demand.

But I also see that the following year one of Princess Aqualtune’s daughters gives birth to a baby boy who is given the name Zumbi, meaning The Spirit!  How I know this, I’m not exactly sure…


Zumbi returns to Palmares.

I see that the young Zumbi is free to roam through the cultivated land of his home settlement, Cerca do Macaco.  I see that at the age of seven Portuguese soldiers catch him off guard and haul him off with other blacks to Porto Calvo.  I see the boy being offered to Father Antönio Melo.  The priest christens him Francisco and teaches him Portuguese and Latin.  He learns quickly and begins to help at mass.  He is considered a bright boy and a trustworthy captive, his watch slackens and he plots his escape.  I see that at the age of fifteen he finally flees the parish and returns to Palmares, to his own.

I see that in this same year, 1670, Ganga Zumba, son of Princess Aqualtune, Zumbi’s uncle, becomes leader of the quilombo.  After a bloody battle in 1675 the troop commanded by Sergeant-Major Manuel Lopes occupies a settlement with more than a thousand huts.  The blacks retreat.  I see that five months later the blacks counter-attack, there is fierce fighting and Manuel Lopes is obliged to retreat to Recife.

The leader of the guerrillas is Zumbi, already revered at only 20 years of age.  I push aside the souls in my path, find him, and say:

“Is that you, black Spartacus?

He eyes me suspiciously.  He has a seriousness that reminds me of Agostinho Neto.

“Who’s that?

“He was a rebel slave leader in ancient Rome.”

“What happened to him?”

“He fought to the end, was taken prisoner and executed.  He died on the cross.

“Better that than the one that Father Melo wanted to force on me…”

I protest:

“Why do you say that?  Especially you, who learned Latin and helped at mass…”

He grins and I recognise the smile of Amilcar Cabral.  It is all I need to get caught up in another time warp and I find myself suddenly in the mother church of Olinda.  The famous preacher Ricardo was referring to was, after all, Father António Vieira himself.  Preaching docility, he addresses the blacks gathered before him:

“If only the blacke people taken from the thickets of their Æthiopia and brought to Brazil knew how indebted they were to God and the Holy Mother for what might appear to be exile, captivity and misfortune, yet is nothing less than a miracle, a great miracle!”

Antonio Vieira then speaks of Korah, referring to Calvary.

“David reveals the identity of the workers of these laborious workshops in the title of the last psalm; they are the sons of Korah:  Pro torcularibus filiis Core.  There is no work, nor life in this world that better resembles the cross and the passion of Christ than yours on these plantations.”

And he concludes:

“Blessed are those of you who recognise the grace of your state, a great miracle of providence and divine mercy.”

I see and hear everything, the time warp smoothes out and I return to Palmares.  I want to continue talking but Zumbi, smiling like Amilcar, waves goodbye and take his leave.  He has more pressing things to see to, his guerrillas await him.


I see that in 1686 there is a new Governor of Pernambuco, Souto Maior, and the war against Zumbi and Palmares is as bloody as ever.

I see that Souto Maior sends for Domingos Jorge Velho from the state of São Paulo who, with his troop of fierce soldiers, was capturing and killing the Piauí Indians.  I see that he is invited to take part in the war against Palmares in return for a fifth of the value of the blacks recaptured, plus land and pardon for any crimes committed by his men.  The government will provide weapons, ammunition and supplies.  I see that they sign an agreement in 1691.  I see a thousand men attacking Palmares and Zumbi and the Young Guard resist them at Cerca do Macaco. Domingos Jorge Velho retreats to Porto Calvo.

But I also see that the Governor sends Captain-Major Vieira de Mello to help Domingos Jorge Velho.  The soldiers try to break through the stockade twice between the 23rd and 29th of January of 1694, and are driven back twice.  Even women throw boiling water on the Portuguese soldiers from above.  But on February 6 bombard cannons arrive from Recife and, under heavy fire, manage to break through the settlement’s triple stockade.  The soldiers invade the citadel through this opening; there is face to face fighting, massacre, puddles of blood.  I see that Zumbi is shot twice but manages to escape.  The blacks pray:

“Zumbi won’t die, oia Zumbi! He can’t die, oia Zumbi! He is protected against evil, oia Zumbi!”

I see that in 1695, on the road from Penedo to Recife, an old quilombo dweller is captured.  He is promised his life if he tells them where Zumbi’s hideout is.  He agrees.  André Furtado de Mendonça leads the siege, succeeds, takes Zumbi prisoner and beheads him.  It is the 20th of November, 1695.  His head is taken to Recife, the bells toll, and the day is declared a public holiday, a day of thanksgiving.

“Zumbi, Zumbi, oia Zumbi!  Oia Zumbi the saviour. Oia Zumbi!”

I see that the imprisoned blacks are all sold to faraway captaincies, nipping in the bud any hope of regenerating the quilombo.  The lands of Palmares are divided into lots and given to the victorious captains.

From 1600 to 1695…  For almost one hundred years, a thorn in the side of the slave owners of Pernambuco…  Those of the manor houses and slave quarters; that Luso-tropical myth…

Today – Zumbi dos Palmares International Airport is an international airport serving Maceió in Brazil. The airport has connections to several major airports in Brazil and international connections to Milan in Italy and Buenos Aires in Argentina.

To this day the Quilombo dos Palmares, its history, still lives on for it is recognized by some as the birthplace of Capoeira. Zumbi, as ruler of the quilombo, is largely responsible for that. Being the warrior he was Zumbi earned the respect and loyalty of the people fighting and dying for their freedom. He led the slaves of the Palmares in their struggle and resistance against the Portuguese and, eventually, to their emancipation. He may have lived over 300 years ago, but Zumbi exists today as a symbol of the African slaves fight for freedom and social equality. (a few notes from a School of Capoeira in New Orleans, Louisiana. Further, an activity as recent as November 12, 2009 mentions this….


From the above – forward to Haiti:  The shortest account which one typically hears of the Haitian Revolution is that the slaves rose up In 1791 and by 1803 had driven the whites out of Saint-Domingue, (the colonial name of Haiti) declaring the independent Republic of Haiti. It’s certainly true that this happened. But, the Revolution was much more complex. Actually there were several revolutions going on simultaneously, all deeply influenced by the French Revolution which commenced In Paris in 1789.

– The planters’ move toward independence.
– The people of color’s revolution for full citizenship.
– The slave uprising of 1791…

From an essay by Bob Corbett I gleaned this convoluted history of how Haiti became independent of France – in wars that involved the British and Spain, as well as influence from the newly independent United States. Further, the internal structure of the this richest French colony was such that it provided for many different alliances. Reading this, one sees the roots of Haiti’s problems, but one still remains perplexed why the economy of this western one third of the Hispaniola Island has deteriorated to its present situation.

The colony of Saint-Domingue, geographically roughly the same land mass that is today Haiti, was the richest colony in the West Indies and probably the richest colony in the history of the world. Driven by slave labor and enabled by fertile soil and ideal climate, Saint-Domingue produced sugar, coffee, cocoa, indigo, tobacco, cotton, sisal as well as some fruits and vegetables for the motherland, France. Where has all this potential gone?

When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, there were four distinct sets of interest groups in Saint-Domingue, with distinct sets of interests and even some important distinctions within these many categories:

– The whites
– The free people of color
– The black slaves
– The maroons

The Whites

There were approximately 20,000 whites, mainly French, in Saint-Domingue. They were divided into two main groups:

The Planters

These were wealthy whites who owned plantations and many slaves. Since their wealth and position rested entirely on the slave economy they were united in support of slavery. They were, by 1770, extremely disenchanted with France. Their complaint was almost identical with the complaints that led the North American British to rebel against King George in 1776 and declare their independence. That is, the metropole (France), imposed strict laws on the colony prohibiting any trading with any partner except France. Further, the colonists had no formal representation with the French government.

Virtually all the planters violated the laws of France and carried on an illegal trade especially with the fledgling nation, the United States of America. Most of the planters leaned strongly toward independence for Saint-Domingue along the same lines as the U.S., that is, a slave nation governed by white males.

It is important to note at the outset that this group was revolutionary, independence-minded and defiant of the laws of France.

Petit Blancs

The second group of whites were less powerful than the planters. They were artisans, shop keepers, merchants, teachers and various middle and underclass whites. They often had a few slaves, but were not wealthy like the planters.

They tended to be less independence-minded and more loyal to France.

However, they were committed to slavery and were especially anti-black, seeing free persons of color as serious economic and social competitors.

The Free Persons of Color

There were approximately 30,000 free persons of color in 1789. About half of them were mulattoes, children of white Frenchmen and slave women. These mulattoes were often freed by their father-masters in some sort of paternal guilt or concern. These mulatto children were usually feared by the slaves since the masters often displayed unpredictable behavior toward them, at times recognizing them as their children and demanding special treatment, at other times wishing to deny their existence. Thus the slaves wanted nothing to do with the mulattoes if possible.

The other half of the free persons of color were black slaves who had purchased their own freedom or been given freedom by their masters for various reasons.

The free people of color were often quite wealthy, certainly usually more wealthy than the petit blancs (thus accounting for the distinct hatred of the free persons of color on the part of the petit blancs), and often even more wealthy than the planters.

The free persons of color could own plantations and owned a large portion of the slaves. They often treated their slaves poorly and almost always wanted to draw distinct lines between themselves and the slaves. Free people of color were usually strongly pro-slavery.

There were special laws which limited the behavior of the free people of color and they did not have rights as citizens of France. Like the planters, they tended to lean toward independence and to wish for a free Saint-Domingue which would be a slave nation in which they could be free and independent citizens. As a class they certainly regarded the slaves as much more their enemies than they did the whites.

Culturally the free people of color strove to be more white than the whites. They denied everything about their African and black roots. They dressed as French and European as the law would allow, they were well educated in the French manner, spoke French and denigrated the Creole language of the slaves. They were scrupulous Catholics and denounced the Voodoo religion of Africa. While the whites treated them badly and scorned their color, they nonetheless strove to imitate every thing white, seeing this a way of separating themselves from the status of the slaves whom they despised.

The Black Slaves

There were some 500,000 slaves on the eve of the French Revolution. This means the slaves outnumbered the free people by about 10-1. In general the slave system in Saint-Domingue was especially cruel. In the pecking order of slavery one of the most frightening threats to recalcitrant slaves in the rest of the Americas was to threaten to sell them to Saint- Domingue. Nonetheless, there was an important division among the slaves which will account for some divided behavior of the slaves in the early years of the revolution.

Domestic Slaves

About 100,000 of the slaves were domestics who worked as cooks, personal servants and various artisans around the plantation manor, or in the towns. These slaves were generally better treated than the common field hands and tended to identify more fully with their white and mulatto masters. As a class they were longer in coming into the anti-slave revolution, and often, in the early years, remained loyal to their owners.

Field Hands

The 400,000 field hands were the slaves who had the harshest and most hopeless lives. They worked from sun up to sun down in the difficult climate of Saint-Domingue. They were inadequately fed, with virtually no medical care, not allowed to learn to read or write and in general were treated much worse than the work animals on the plantation. Despite French philosophical positions which admitted the human status of slaves (something which the Spanish, United States and British systems did NOT do at this time), the French slave owners found it much easier to replace slaves by purchasing new ones than in worrying much to preserve the lives of existing slaves.

The Maroons

There was a large group of run-away slaves who retreated deep into the mountains of Saint-Domingue. They lived in small villages where they did subsistence farming and kept alive African ways, developing African architecture, social relations, religion and customs. They were bitterly anti-slavery, but alone, were not willing to fight the fight for freedom. They did supplement their subsistence farming with occasional raids on local plantations, and maintained defense systems to resist planter forays to capture and re-enslave them.

It is hard to estimate their numbers, but most scholars believe there were tens of thousands of them prior to the Revolution of 1791. Actually two of the leading generals of the early slave revolution were maroons.

Pre-Revolutionary Moments and Complex Alliances

The French Revolution of 1789 In France was the spark which lit The Haitian Revolution of 1791. But, prior to that spark there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the Metropolitan France and that dissatisfaction created some very strange alliances and movements.

All the whites of Saint-Domingue began to sport the red cockade of the revolution, and the French bureaucrats were painted with the white cockade of French monarchy. However, this was an uneasy alliance. The white planters were not revolutionaries in the French sense at all. Nor did they want full rights for the petit blancs. It was a doomed alliance and didn’t last long.

On the other hard, the natural allies of the white planter’s were the free people of color. Both were from the wealthy class, both supported independence and slavery and neither wanted to change the traditional control of society by wealthy propertied people. The change would have been to allow the wealthy free persons of color their share in power, wealth and social prestige in this union. This was extremely difficult for the white planters to do until it was too late.

Rich Saint-Domingue mulatto, Vincent Oge had been in Paris during the debates of March, 1790. He had tried to be seated as a delegate from Saint- Domingue and was rebuffed. He and other Saint-Dominguan men of color had tried to get the General Assembly to specify that the provision for citizenship included the free persons of color. Having failed in all of that, Oge resolved to return to Saint-Domingue and one way or the other, by power of persuasion or power of arms, to force the issue of citizenship for free persons of color.

Oge visited the famous anti-slavery advocate Thomas Clarkson in England, then went to the United States to meet with leading abolitionists and to purchase arms and munitions. He returned to Saint-Domingue and began to pursue his cause. Upon seeing that there was no hope to persuade the whites to allow their citizenship, Oge formed a military band with Jean-Baptist Chavannes. They set up headquarters in Grand Riviere, just east of Cape Francois and prepared to march on the stronghold of the colonists. It is important to note that Oge consciously rejected the help of black slaves. He wanted no part of any alliance with the slaves, and regarded them in the same way the whites did — a property.

The Deaths of Oge and Chavannes

In early November Oge and Chavannes’ forces were badly beaten, many of their tiny band of 300 captured while Oge and Chavannes escaped into Santo Domingo, the Spanish part of the island. The Spanish happily arrested the two and turned them over to the whites in Cape Francois. On March 9, 1791 the captured soldiers were hanged and Oge and Chavannes tortured to death in the public square, being put on the rack and their bodies split apart. The whites intended to send a strong message to any people of color who would dare to fight back.

Thus ended the first mini-war in the Haitian Revolution. It had nothing to do with freeing the slaves and didn’t involve the slaves in any way at all. Yet the divisions among slave owners, the divisions among the whites, the divisions among colonial French and metropolitan French, the divisions among whites and free persons of color, all set the stage to make possible a more successful slave rebellion than had previously been possible.

The Slave Rebellion of August 21, 1791

Typically historians date the beginnings of the Haitian Revolution with the uprising of the slaves on the night of August 21st. While I’ve given reasons above to suspect that the revolution was already under way, the entry of the slaves into the struggle is certainly an historic event. And the event is so colorful that not even Hollywood would have to improve upon history.

Boukman and the Voodoo Service

For several years the slaves had been deserting their plantations with increasing frequency. The numbers of maroons had swollen dramatically and all that was needed was some spark to ignite the pent up frustration, hatred and impulse toward independence.

This event was a Petwo Voodoo service. On the evening of August 14th Dutty Boukman, a houngan and practitioner of the Petwo Voodoo cult, held a service at Bois Caiman. A woman at the service was possessed by Ogoun, the Voodoo warrior spirit. She sacrificed a black pig, and speaking the voice of the spirit, named those who were to lead the slaves and maroons to revolt and seek a stark justice from their white oppressors. (Ironically, it was the whites and not the people of color who were the targets of the revolution, even though the people of color were often very harsh slave owners.)

The woman named Boukman, Jean-Francois, Biassou and Jeannot as the leaders of the uprising. It was some time later before Toussaint, Henry Christophe, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Andre Rigaud took their places as the leading generals who brought The Haitian Revolution to its final triumph.

Word spread rapidly of this historic and prophetic religious service and the maroons and slaves readied themselves for a major assault on the whites. This uprising which would not ever be turned back, began on the evening of August 21st. The whole northern plain surrounding Cape Francois was in flames. Plantation owners were murdered, their women raped and killed, children slaughtered and their bodies mounted on poles to lead the slaves. It was an incredibly savage outburst, yet it still fell short of the treatment the slaves had received, and would still continue to receive, from the white planters.

The once rich colony was in smoldering ruins. More than a thousand whites had been killed. Slaves and maroons across the land were hurrying to the banner of the revolution. The masses of northern slaves laid siege to Cape Francois itself.

In the south and west the rebellion took on a different flavor. In Mirebalais there was a union of people of color and slaves, and they were menacing the whole region. A contingent of white soldiers marched out of Port-au-Prince, but were soundly defeated. Then the revolutionaries marched on Port-au-Prince. However, the free people of color did not want to defeat the whites, they wanted to join them. And, more importantly, they didn’t want to see the slaves succeed and push for emancipation. Consequently, they offered a deal to the whites and joined forces with them, turning treacherously on their black comrades in arms.

This was a signal to the whites in Cape Francois of how to handle their difficult and deteriorating situation. On September 20, 1791 the Colonial Assembly recognized the Paris decree of May, and they even took it a step further. They recognized the citizenship of all free people of color, regardless of their property and birth status. Thus the battle lines were drawn with all the free people, regardless of color, on the one side, and the black slaves and maroons on the other.

Meanwhile, in France word of the uprising caused the General Assembly to re-think its position. The Assembly thought it had gone too far with the May Decree and had endangered the colonial status of Saint-Domingue. Consequently on September 23rd the May Decree was revoked. Then the Assembly named three commissioners to go to Saint-Domingue with 18,000 soldiers and restore order, slavery and French control.

When the commissioners arrived In December, 1791, their position was considerably weaker than the General Assembly had suggested. Instead of 18,000 troops they had 6,000. In the meantime the whites in the south and west had attempted to revoke the rights of free people of color, and broken the alliance. Not only did the free people of color break with the whites and set up their own struggle centered in Croix-des-Bouquets, but many whites, particularly the planters, joined them. Thus thus south and west were divided into three factions, and the whites in Port-au-Prince were in a most weakened position.

In Cape Francois the Colonial Assembly did not move against the free people of color, but the slaves intensified their struggle and the whites were virtual prisoners in the town of Cape Francois. Most of the northern plain was in ruins.

Back in France it became apparent that the First Civil Commission with its 6,000 troops could not bring peace back to Saint-Domingue. When the authorities in France debated the issue it was clear to them that the problem was to bring unity between the free people of color and the whites against the rebelling slaves. Thus once again Paris reversed itself and with the historic and landmark Decree of April, 4, 1792, the free people of color were finally given full citizenship with the whites.

The Assembly in Paris prepared a Second Civil Commission to go to Saint- Domingue and enforce the April 4th decree. This commission contained Felicite Leger Sonthonax, a man who was to figure importantly in the future of The Haitian Revolution.

The French National Assembly was deeply worried by the independence movement among the white planters and free men of color. There are even those historians who believe the French government itself engineered the initial slave uprising of 1791 in order to drive the land owners back into the arms of France’s protection. If so, the Assembly unleashed a Pandora’s box of ills for France!

By early 1792 the slaves controlled most of the rich northern plain, and Cap Francois (modern Cap Haitien) was under constant siege. Hundreds of whites had been killed, the plantations were in ruins and the slaves were learning their military skills. Yet it was not the slaves whom the Assembly feared. It was the struggle between free persons of color and the white planters. Many of the planters openly favored independence. They were carrying on an illegal and profitable trade with the newly formed United States. Not only were they profiting economically, but the U.S.’s recent revolution against Britain was a model which the planters studied well.

On the other hand, the free persons of color looked to France as their sole hope. Britain, France, Spain and the United States did not allow citizenship to blacks. The French had at least declared the universal Rights of Man, and this ambiguous principle seemed to offer free men of color the right of citizenship. This position was further clarified and emphasized with the king’s signing of the decree of April 4, 1792 providing citizenship for property owning free men of color.

It was the belief of the Assembly that if the struggle between the white and black property owners (and slave owners) could end, and their loyalty be won back to France, then the “slave question” would be a simple issue. The rebellion would be quickly broken and the slaves returned to their plantations. There had been rebellions in the past, there would be rebellions in the future. But, reasoned the Assembly, slaves could be managed in the long run.

But a decree announcing this citizenship was one thing; to enforce it another. On June 2, 1792 the French National Assembly appointed a three man Civil Commission to go to Saint-Domingue and insure the enforcement of the April 4th decree.

Toussaint Louverture and the Slave Rebellion:

The primary black generals in the earliest days of the slave rebellion were Jean-Francois, Biassou and Jeannot. Jeannot was soon put to death by Jean-Francois and Biassou for excessive cruelty. Shortly after the 1791 uprising, Toussaint Louverture, a former slave who was over forty years old, joined the camp of the rebels as a medical officer. Toussaint practiced herbal and African healing, but unlike most such healers, he was not a Voodoo houngan. However, Toussaint did not remain a medical officer for long. His ability to organize, train and lead men became immediately apparent. Toussaint rose from his position of aide-de-camp to become a general, first fighting under Biassou, and then a general of his own troops.

Sonthonax and the other commissioners realized the British would probably attack Saint-Domingue, as would the Spanish and their Saint-Domingue slave army. They began to prepare their defenses as best they could. However, they were immediately betrayed from within. General Galbaud, a Frenchman, had been left in charge of Cap Francois while Sonthonax joined the other commissioners to prepare the defenses of Port-au-Prince. Galbaud, himself a land owner, conspired with the planters to deport the commissioners and to work with the British to return the ancient regime, negating the citizenship of free men of color. Sonthonax learned of this and returned to Le Cap with a large force of free men of color. They surprised Galbaud and he seemingly agreed to return to France. However, he convinced 3000 sailors and French troops to fight with him and the battle was joined on June 20, 1793.

It looked as though Galbaud’s forces would triumph. Sonthonax took the ultimate plunge — he offered freedom and the rights of French citizenship to 15,000 slaves, part of the slave army encamped just outside Le Cap, if they would fight for France and the commissioners. They accepted and Galbaud was quickly defeated.

Sonthonax, now faced with 15,000 new citizens, had a problem. Most of these men had wives and children who were still slaves. Thus, in short order he also freed the entire families of the new French soldiers.

AUGUST 23, 1793: Sonthonnax’ Emancipation

The engines of emancipation had been set in motion. Sonthonax had long protested that he came to Saint-Domingue to defend the free persons of color. He had explicitly stated that he DID NOT intend to free the slaves. However, the Galbaud affair had forced him to free 30,000 to 40,000 people to protect his position.

Now he was in a major bind. The white planters and petit blancs were totally outraged. Even his allies, the free persons of color, were appalled. They were mainly slave holding property owners. They did not want any more slaves freed. Yet Sonthonax knew his time was running short. The British were preparing to invade, the Spanish were training, arming and supplying a large slave army in Santo Domingo.

Sonthonax’ position was difficult. There was no hope of reinforcements or even supplies from France. The European war precluded that. How could he possibly save the colony for France? The slaves seemed his only hope. There were 500,000 of them. Toussaint, Jean-Francois and Biassou had a well-armed, well-trained army in Santo Domingo. Other slaves were not armed or trained, but their sheer numbers might provide some defense. Would they fight to defend France? Certainly not. Would they fight to defend their freedom? It was a gamble Sonthonax felt he had to take.

On August 29, 1793 Sonthonax unilaterally decreed the emancipation of slavery in Saint-Domingue. Robert Stein, Sonthonax’ biographer, calls this “…the most radical step of the Haitian Revolution and perhaps even of the French Revolution.” But, would the slaves respond? Would the gamble pay off? Sonthonax could only wait and see.

The British Campaign Begins

Sonthonax was right to expect the British to invade. Saint-Domingue had been the richest colony in the Caribbean. Since the British navy controlled access to the Caribbean, Saint-Domingue seemed easy pickings. British General Cuyler assured British officials in London that he had “no apprehension of our successes in the West Indies.” On September 19, 1793 the British landed at Jeremie. They were welcomed by the white property owners, who had already signed a secret accommodation with Britain. In exchange for their support, Saint-Domingue would become a British colony. Slavery would be reinstated, people of color would be stripped of citizenship, and the conditions of Britain’s economic policies would favor the colonists more than did France’s exclusif.

By June 4, 1794 the British had captured Port-au-Prince and held most of the port towns from St. Nicholas in the north to Jeremie at the southern tip. It looked as though the French forces, with little support from Saint- Domingue land owners, could not hold out against the Spanish supported British onslaught.

The Volte-Face of Toussaint Louverture

Like Stein, one may well regard Sonthonax’ freeing of the slaves as the most significant event of this period, nonetheless, the volte-face, the changing sides, of Toussaint Louverture, had the most immediate practical effect. Republican France’s position in Saint-Domingue was pushed to the wall. The British held many port towns and the white planters were mainly in the British camp. The bulk of the slaves under arms were with the Spanish. However, France’s enemies were not without their own problems. France was prohibited from supplying Sonthonax and the commissioners by the British fleet and the press of the war in Europe. But, that same war left the British without supplies and reinforcements too. The British army, suffering desperately from yellow fever, and seemingly ignored by London, was quickly being depleted and suffered from extremely poor morale. The Spanish were in grave difficulty in the European war, and were declining as a force to be reckoned with. Finally, the free persons of color, despising Sonthonax’ freeing of the slaves, were nonetheless becoming convinced that neither the British nor Spanish were any real hope for them. More and more of the people of color were returning to the French banner.

The war in Saint-Domingue was going badly for the French, but, despite the British gains in the south, the situation was improving, though it was grave and dangerous.

Clearly the turning point in this war and in all Haitian history was the return to the French side of Toussaint Louverture and eventually all his black and mulatto forces. But when and why did Toussaint return? This is a very difficult question and scholars are not in agreement. I find myself persuaded by the arguments of David Geggus who fixes the date of the volte-face at around May 6, 1794. The reasons for the turn are not quite certain, but Geggus argues it was a collage of several factors:

Toussaint was sincerely fighting for general emancipation of slavery, and Sonthonax’ emancipation weighed on him. By May 6th it is unlikely that Toussaint knew that the French National Assembly had already ratified Sonthonax’ move on Feb. 4th. However, Toussaint had a close relationship with the French General Laveaux, and seems to have already been negotiating with him to come over to the French side. Laveaux may well have convinced him that France was sincere in the emancipation.
Toussaint was having serious problems with the Spanish. They did not trust him, perhaps knowing of his discussions with Laveaux.
Toussaint knew that the Spanish position in Europe was not strong and perhaps sensed that he was fighting for a loosing side.
Toussaint was having serious problems with both Jean-Francois and Biassou and wanted not only to break with them, but to become superior to them.
Whatever the full complement of reasons, Toussaint made his change and that made all the difference. His army fought a guerrilla war and he was known for his lightening attacks, covering territory at seemingly impossible speeds. He attacked both Jean-Francois and Biassou, his former associates and defeated them. He harassed the British, though he could not dislodge them from the coastal towns they held. One chronicler says: “He disappears–he has flown–as if by magic. Now he reappears again where he is least expected. He seems to be ubiquitous. One never knows where his army is, what it subsists on, how he manages his supplies and his treasury. He, on the other hand, seems perfectly informed concerning everything that goes on in the enemy camp.”

The Spanish soon ended their war. The French in defeated them Europe and signed a peace treaty on July 22, 1795. A significant part of the treaty was that Spain ceded Santo Domingo to the French, though it was some time before Toussaint’s army actually took over the eastern part of the island. The Spanish black armies were disbanded, though many came over to Toussaint. Jean-Francois retired to Spain and Biassou went to Florida. By this time Toussaint had become an important part of the French forces and was promoted to brigadier general.

Toussaint turns out to be the primary force for four years, May, 1794 to October, 1798. In that time he had driven the British out of Saint- Domingue, overseen the retreat of the Spanish, ousted all genuine French authority and become commander in chief and governor general of the Saint- Domingue. As he saw it there were only three challenges left to his supreme authority.

– the belief of the National Assembly that he was not loyal to France.
– Andre Rigaud and the mulatto forces.
– the existence of Spanish Santo Domingo next door. Toussaint took up the challenge of these three threats.

The French, fearing Toussaint’s growing power and suspecting that he had sentiments toward independence, sent special agent Thomas Hedouville to save the colony for France. Hedouville managed to hammer home the fatal wedge between Toussaint and mulatto general, Andre Rigaud.

Toussaint and Independence

Thomas Hedouville fled Haiti on Oct. 22, 1798. Toussaint was the leading figure in the colony and playing both ends of his spectrum — apparent loyalty to France; apparent sympathy to the United States’ pushing Saint- Domingue toward independence. Not only was the U.S., herself a newly free nation, a model that Toussaint might follow, but Secretary of State Timothy Pickering was presenting a very friendly and supportive position. Finally, Toussaint felt much more comfortable with the small, fledgling United States than with either Britain or France.

The primary interest which Toussaint felt toward the United States was the better deal Saint- Domingue could get in trade. France imposed the “exclusif” on Saint- Domingue. Under this law of colony to metropole, Saint-Domingue could only trade with France, who then had the power to set the prices. Further, manufacturing of finished goods from the raw farm products was forbidden by France. All manufacturing of Saint-Domingan goods was reserved for France. The United States, on the other hand, paid a more competitive price for Saint-Domingan goods and placed no restrictions on their form. Even the landowners supported trade with the United States. At first it would seem that this was not in their economic interests. Sonthonax had freed the slaves and Toussaint would certainly uphold this emancipation. This meant that the former slaves became paid field hands, and the landowners would lose approximately 50% of their income to the government and to farm labor. Nonetheless, the 50% that they could earn on the free market was more than 100% of what France was willing to pay under the exclusif.

Nonetheless, Toussaint kept up the appearance of loyalty to France and appointed Philippe Roume, French agent in Santo Domingo, to replace Hedouville as France’s representative in Saint-Domingue. Toussaint’s loyalty to France was not all posturing. There was a very strong call of culture from France. This was especially true among the affranchais, the blacks and mulattos freed before the general emancipation. They wanted to separate themselves from the slaves. They had adopted French culture and customs as their identity, scorning anything African. They spoke French, dressed in European fashion, practiced the Catholic religion and, in general, idealized France and French culture. Even Toussaint was pulled in this direction and had a strong bond to France.

The War of Knives

On June 16, 1799 Rigaud attacked Petit Goave, putting many people to death with the sword. It was from Rigaud’s violence with the sword that this civil war got it’s name — The War of Knives.

The first five months of war were characterized by gruesome excesses on both sides. Finally, by mid-November, the war centered on Rigaud’s stronghold at Jacmel, defended by Alexander Petion. Jean-Jacques Dessalines was the besieging general for Toussaint. Dessalines was to become the first president, then emperor of free Haiti in 1804, and Petion was to become the president of The Republic of Haiti in 1807. On March 11, 1800 Jacmel fell, virtually ending Rigaud’s resistance. Nonetheless, he hung on until July, finally fleeing to France until he returned as part of Napoleon’s invasion force in 1802.

Toussaint had a reputation for clemency and avoiding unnecessary bloodshed. But, he appointed the blood thirsty and violent Dessalines as pacifier of the south. Dessalines butchered many mulattos (the estimates range from 200 to 10,000!). When Toussaint finally halted the massacre he reportedly said: “I did not want this! I told him to prune the tree, not to uproot it.”

The Conquest of Santo Domingo

By August, 1800 Toussaint was ruler of all Saint-Domingue and no foreign power was on Saint-Domingue soil. He was governor general of the whole colony. However, Santo Domingo, present day Dominican Republic, was an intolerable situation to him. The Spanish had ceded Santo Domingo to the French in the Treaty of Bale on July 22, 1795. Nonetheless, the Spanish never turned the colony over to the French, and the French, unsure of Toussaint’s loyalties, never pressed the issue. Spain’s presence in Santo Domingo was in France’s interest. They could keep an eye on Toussaint. But he now set out to claim France’s (and his own) authority over the entire island of Hispaniola.

After initial resistance on the part of Roume, who, recall, had been the French agent in Santo Domingo before Toussaint appointed him to the Saint-Domingue post, Roume was pressured into approving the unification movement. However, Spanish Captain-General Don Joaquin Garcia y Moreno was unwilling to turn over command to black Haitians. He prepared to resist, and his resistance gave Roume the courage to rescind his order. This gave Toussaint a pretext to charge Roume with disloyalty to France — after all, France owned Santo Domingo by treaty — and Roume was held prisoner for nearly a year. Meanwhile Toussaint massed his troops for the invasion of Santo Domingo. He encountered only tentative resistance and entered the capital, Santo Domingo City on Jan. 26, 1801. He quickly consolidated his power and emerged as the governor-general of Hispaniola.

Toussaint’s Constitution:   The Document that Tweaked Napolean

On July 26, 1801 Toussaint published and promulgated a new constitution for Saint-Domingue which abolished slavery, but did allow the importation of free blacks to work the plantations. The constitution recognized the centrality of sugar plantations to the Saint-Domingue economy, and accepted Roman Catholicism as the state religion. Perhaps two of the most significant items were that Toussaint was governor-general for life and that all men from 14 to 55 years of age were in the state militia. Nonetheless, the constitution professed loyalty and subservience to France. The most galling thing for Napoleon was that Toussaint published and proclaimed the constitution without prior approval from France and the First Consul.

Thus by July of 1801 Toussaint had emerged as the leading figure in Saint-Domingue, and seemed headed toward declaring an independent republic. He had defeated the Spanish and British, maneuvered the French Commissioners out of the colony, defeated Andre Rigaud in a Civil War, taken possession of the eastern portion of the island, eradicated slavery on the entire island and promulgated a constitution in which he was declared governor general for life.

Both Britain and the United States treated with Toussaint as though he were the head of an independent state, though Toussaint’s constitution and public demeanor claimed that he was a loyal French citizen who had saved the colony for France.

Virtually no one believed Toussaint’s claims of loyalty to France. Britain and the United States wanted to deal with Toussaint to ensure an end of French privateering from Saint-Dominguan waters. Both nations hoped to contain the slave rebellion to Saint-Domingue alone. Both nations strove to out do one another in establishing trade relations with Toussaint’s government, in defiance of France’s regulations for the colony. Thus Napoleon might well be excused if he took with a healthy dose of salt Toussaint’s claims of being a loyal son and protector of French rights in Saint-Domingue.

For Napoleon, the die was cast. “This gilded African,” as he called Toussaint, would have to go. Bonaparte chafed at the power of the black first consul, but there was little he could do while France was at war with Britain. However, on Oct. 1, 1801 France and Britain signed a peace treaty and Napoleon’s hands were free to deal with Toussaint.

It is important to note that Bonaparte’s personal detestation of Toussaint was only one factor in his decision to retake Saint-Domingue to more trustworthy French rule. The French Directory, before Napoleon’s coup d’etat of Nov. 9, 1799, had already set a West Indian policy in which Saint-Domingue was the center piece. Napoleon inherited this foreign policy and inherited the constant political pressure of the French planters who had been disenfranchised by the liberation of the slaves. Bonaparte needed the wealth of Saint-Domingue and there seemed a grave danger that Toussaint would lead the colony toward independence. All of these issues, and others, weighed in Bonaparte’s decision to launch an invasion against his own governor-general of Saint-Domingue.

The Leclerc Invasion:

Once committed, Napoleon sent a well-outfitted troop of 12,000 soldiers under the leadership of his brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc. In Leclerc’s invasion force Toussaint was going to have to deal with many old enemies including Alexander Petion and Andre Rigaud.

Napoleon gave Leclerc a set of secret instructions which demanded Leclerc give his word of honor about many things and then violate it. The general plan was to first promise the black leadership places of authority in a French-dominated government. Then, once having established control, to move to the second stage of arresting and deporting any black leaders who seemed troublesome, especially Toussaint Louverture. The third and final stage was not only to disarm all the blacks, but to return the colony to slavery and the pre-Revolutionary colonial state. Virtually no one in Saint-Domingue was fooled by Leclerc’s protestations of benevolent purpose.

On Feb. 2, 1802 Leclerc arrived in the bay of Cap Francois, the city governed and defended by Henri Christophe, one of Toussaint’s most important generals, and later on Haiti’s second president and first and only king. Christophe would not allow the French to disembark, and prepared to burn the city to the ground if they tried. Leclerc pressed the issue and, true to his word, Christophe torched this Paris of the Americas. The black armies retreated to the interior to fight a guerilla war and Leclerc took over a huge pile of ashes. The final stage of the Haitian Revolution had begun.

The Leclerc Campaign

Phase 1:   Crete-a-Pierrot

Leclerc’s forces quickly took most of the coastal towns, though Haitians burned many of them before they retreated. Eventually a decisive moment came as Dessalines and his second in command, Lamartiniere, were asked to hold the small former British fort, Crete-a-Pierrot, an arsenal of the Haitians.

Both sides claimed victory. It sort of depends on what measure one uses. The French ended up with the fort, but they lost twice as many men as the Haitians, and were shocked to discover how well the blacks could fight in a pitched battle. The Haitians took great solace in their ability to hold off the French for so long. For the rest of the war they used Crete-a-Pierrot as a rallying cry. After abandoning the fort, the Haitians retreated into the Cahos mountains and fought a guerrilla war from then on.

Phase 2:   Surrender

By April 26 Christophe and his troops surrendered to Leclerc. Toussaint followed on May 1st. Even though things had not gone as Napoleon planned, within two months Leclerc had achieved Napoleon’s first goal–pacification of the leaders. Now Leclerc was free to implement phase 2 — the arrest and deportation of “trouble makers.”

The Arrest and Deportation of Toussaint Louverture

After Toussaint’s surrendered, he ostensibly retired to his plantation at Enery to live out his days. However, there is a good deal of historical controversy about this. Some argue that Toussaint immediately began to plot anew against the French. I really don’t know which way the factual evidence leans, but the logic of the situation leads me to suspect that these charges against Toussaint were true. First of all it is not like Toussaint to simply walk away and abandon the struggle of the past 10 years. Further, he had to have suspected that the French would reinstate slavery and the old colonial system. Again, it’s not like Toussaint to quietly acquiesce in such a turnabout. Finally, he must have known how weakened the French were becoming from the ravages of yellow fever. How long and how seriously could the French fight with only a fraction of their men?

But all of this is mere logical speculation, not factual knowledge. What we do know are the details of Leclerc’s dishonorable subterfuge to arrest and deport Toussaint. On June 7 Toussaint received a message from French General Brunet to meet with him at a plantation near Gonaives. Brunet assured Toussaint that he’d be perfectly safe with the French, who were, after all, gentlemen!

Shortly after arriving at the plantation he was arrested and shipped off to prison in France. Toussaint was taken to Fort de Joux, a cold, damp prison near the Swiss border. Toussaint soon withered away and died on April, 7, 1803. So much for French honor!

The Final Up-Rising and French Defeat

The dishonorable treatment of the aging Toussaint was not only a moral outrage, but a practical error of irreversible scope. The Haitians were so incensed, and recognized that if Toussaint could be so treated, so could anyone else. The masses realized the French must be defeated once and for all.

Leclerc made a second tactical blunder upon the heels of Toussaint’s arrest. He immediately began a disarmament campaign, planning to disarm all the blacks. The net effect was to open the eyes of many and drive thousands back under the banner of the revolution. From June to October, 1802 Leclerc’s soldiers carried on this mainly unsuccessful campaign.

During this period both Dessalines and Christophe were working with the French. Dessalines was a particularly vicious warrior against the rebels. However, there is a strong case to be made that he was more interested in his own position of power than anything else.

Working with the French he could have it both ways. On the one hand, if the French prevailed he was becoming increasingly indispensable to whatever order prevailed, thus assuring his position there. On the other hand, he was capturing and killing rebel leaders. Thus if the revolution were to once again catch fire, he was in a position to bolt the French and take up leadership of the rebels, which is exactly what he did. Haitian independence and black rule seem to have been honestly desired by Dessalines. But, first and foremost he wanted Jean-Jacques Dessalines to be an important power in whatever government prevailed in Saint-Domingue.

As the situation deteriorated for the French, Dessalines, Christophe, Petion and Clairveaux all conspired with rebel leaders. On Oct. 13, 1802, Petion and Clairveaux deserted to the rebels. Christophe and Dessalines followed and within days only Cap Francois, Port-au-Prince and Le Cayes were fully in French hands. The final battle had begun.

The Arcahaye Conference and the Death of Leclerc

Nov. 2, 1802 the rebel leaders met at Arcahaye, a small village south of St. Marc. The leaders elected Dessalines as rebel commander-in-chief and chose the red and blue flag as their banner. The story is that Dessalines took the tricolor French flag — a band each of red, blue and white, and tore out the white, announcing to the cheering assembled mass that Haiti, too, would drive out the whites. Certainly such a dramatic symbol, if it actually occurred, would have been an inspiring and motivating gesture.

On the same day as the Arcahaye conference, Leclerc died of yellow fever. General Rochambeau took command. He was an able and fearless commander, and reinforced by another 10,000 troops in mid-November, carried on the French defense for another year.

By the time of the Arcahaye conference most of the maroons had also come to see that the French were the true enemy. Prior to this the maroons had been separated and vacillating, not really joining the revolution, but fighting an independent war of self-interest wherever and whenever it served their purposes. But now they joined in unified fashion with the rest of the Haitians to drive the French from the island for once and for all, and to preserve the nation as a free, non-slave entity.

Dessalines and Rochambeau

Each side was under the leadership of a capable and ruthless leader. Each side traded atrocity with atrocity, the particular description of which are sickening and defy credulity of even those used to human inhumanity to humans. Torture, rape, brutal murders, mass murders of non-combatants, mutilation, forcing families to watch the torture, rape and death of loved ones and on and on. The last year of the Haitian Revolution was as savage as any conflict one can read of in human history. Thomas Ott says this had become a war of racial extermination on both sides.

Despite the ravages of yellow fever and the increasing numbers of Haitians joining the revolution, Rochambeau’s forces made considerable gains in early 1803. Napoleon, heartened by the return of slavery to Guadeloupe, sent a further reinforcement of 15,000 troops. Rochambeau seized the moment to launch a vigorous attack on the rebels.

A New European War Helps Shift the Balance

On May 18, 1803 Europe was again plunged into war, and Britain declared war on France. Dessalines was now a welcomed ally of Britain who provided arms and naval support. At the same time this European war announced the end of reinforcements and supplies for the French. The conditions were set for a reversal of the fortunes of the revolutionaries.

By the end of October the French were reduced to holding only Le Cap and were besieged and in danger of starvation. Finally on November 19, 1803 Rochambeau begged for a 10 day truce to allow the evacuation of Le Cap, thus giving Haiti to the Haitians.

Independence Day, January 1, 1804

After 13 years of revolutionary activity France was formally removed from the island and Haitian independence declared, only the second republic in the Americas. The country was in ruins, the masses mainly uneducated and struggling for survival. The western world’s large and interested nations, the United States, Britain, Spain and, of course, France, were all skeptical and nervous about an all-black republic. After all, the large nations were all slave-owning states.
Independence until the 1915 when THE US MOVES IN and hangs on to power till 1934.


Posted on on April 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


The Global Endorsement of Declarations for Human Rights of World Citizens and Peace consists of three very important declarations:

  1. “Love of the World A Declaration of Peace” declared after the three massive earthquakes in 1999 ( Columbia , Turkey , and Taiwan ). Appeal to the world that we should respect life, we should protect nature, we should love ourselves and others, and we should love our own countries as well as other people’s countries.
  2. “Peace Declaration” declared in the 2001 World Citizenship Assembly (WCA) by more than 600 delegates from over 50 countries.
  3. “Declaration of Human Rights for World Citizens” declared in 2002. Peace originates from the harmonious coexistence between human and nature. Human rights originate from the mutual respect among people. We treat love as our momentums and culture exchanges as the power to unite people’s hearts. So we as world citizens can together enjoy freedoms, our human rights be protected, and peace be achieved.

These three declarations result in profound and tremendous influence on human history. In light of the importance, UN/NGO Association of World Citizens, the Federation of World Peace and Love, and the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy have invited friends from all walks of life to endorse the declarations by signing their names and nationalities, and making a wish for love and peace. About two million people from 158 countries have endorsed the declarations in 2004.

During the 57th Annual DPI/NGO Conference in 2004 , in a presenting ceremony held at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze, Honorary Vice President and member of Advisory Board of Association of World Citizens UN/NGO/DPI/ECOSOC, presented an endorsement CD of 2 million signatures to Joan Levy, Chair, NGO/DPI Executive Committee , and Joan Kirby, Chair, 57th Annual DPI/NGO Conference, to refer to Kofi Annan, General Secretary of the UN, to voice out people’s wish for love and peace.

The campaign of the Global Endorsement of Declarations for Human Rights of World Citizens and Peace is in full swing on March 29 th to further extend the achievements made in 2004 and motivate the idea of “How One Good Thought Can Improve the World.” A change starts from oneself and to practice love and peace in daily lives. If people can always have good thoughts, the destiny of this world will differ and move toward a brighter future.

Please log on to the Tai Ji Men website to watch the movie “How One Good Thought Can Improve the World.” To learn how world leaders, including President Wade of Senegal, President Fradique de Menezes of Sao Tome and Principe, and President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, turn the symbolic key of the world and put their words into actions for world peace.

Welcome to visit Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy website at Click for a look and to acquire immediately the wisdoms that will influence your whole life.
As we were inducted by FOWPAL to their campaign, and we had the honor to ring the organization’s Peace Bell, as Pope John Paul II, many Presidents and Nobel Prize Winners, and NGO leaders did. We signed onto their previous campaigns, and now I was invited to their 04.04.08 Manhattan launching of the 2008 campaign – this past Friday – at a hotel near the UN.

For Dr. Hong spoke Rick Ulfik from “We The World” that tries to move the world “from the path of capacity to the path of sustainability, peace and transformation.” Dr. Hong’s concept of INTERDEPENDENCE – “we or all of us are in it together – when the least of us is hurt – we are all diminished.” Speaking of FOWPAL, Rick said that – ” working with Oliver, Julie, and others in FOWPAL, we get that this transformation has to start with PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION   – INSPIRE, INFORM, and INVOLVE. That is what Rick’s organization does, and that is what FOWPAL does. People are inspired to get to a better level that leads to taking action.

Since my last visit with FOWPAL, the organization has developed an interesting symbolism that uses both hands to describe a heart, then people link in a chain using those same heart finger-touch, and eventually fluter away as   free spirits, but then the right hand returns with strength to declare ENERGY, ENERGY, ENERGY!

This is a depiction of spiritual energy – but to me this translated also as their basic concept of sustainability – which ends with the call ENERGY – which is to all of us the base for sustainability. Fowpal does not just preach appeasement, it rather includes the call to action embodied in these cries of energy.

From the FOWPAL Press release following the 04.04.08 evening:




The Libyan Permanent Ambassador to the UN is the second man from left, next to him is the Chairman of the Global Systems Analysis and Simulation Association in the US.

Now one last word – the evening was specially interesting when I realized that I was there of a sudden in the company of the man who represented Libya in its leadership month – the Presidency of the UN Security Council – and you know what?     He was there to cut the ribbon for starting the campaign for human rights and sustainability embodied in that cry of ENERGY, ENERGY, ENERGY! Only at the outskirts of the UN, this becomes an actuality!


Posted on on February 19th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

IOM ( The International Organization for Migration ) Press Briefing Notes of Tuesday, February 19, 2008.

THE BAHAMAS – Strengthening Travel and Identity Document Examination – To complement the government of The Bahamas’ e-Passport, Visa, e-identification and Border control initiative, designed to efficiently manage entry and exit of passenger flows, IOM is hosting a series of workshops for law enforcement officials.

Officers from The Bahamas Immigration Department, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Bahamas Customs and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force will gather today for the first of several training sessions taking place in Nassau, where IOM technical experts will be discussing ways to facilitate legitimate travel while developing the required expertise to identify and deter potential security risks, which might threaten national and regional security.

Nidia Casati, IOM Chief of Mission in the Dominican Republic, explains the importance of the workshops: “Over the last decades, the notion of security and the nature of security threats have broadened as challenges to both have become more complex. The current international climate and the increasing threat and mobility of international terrorism, has put state security concerns at the forefront of the discussion on the international movement of persons. With national economies depending on the brisk movement of tourism and trade, states need to ensure that their border security will not be compromised while facilitating legitimate travel.”

The sessions, basic and advanced (training of trainers) will focus on travel and identity document examination, detection of fraudulent documents, handling and securing evidence and detection of impostors, among other related topics.

The trainers will share their knowledge and expertise and provide training to enhance the participants’ ability to detect and prevent the use of fraudulent and counterfeit travel documents and strengthen overall security while facilitating legitimate transit and travel throughout the region.

The Bahamas, an archipelagic nation with a total land mass of 5,400 square miles spread out over an area of 100,000 square miles of ocean, faces a daunting challenge with respect to managing migration and securing its borders.

The training sessions will be conducted by IOM experts on travel document fraud in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection (DHS/CBP).

This IOM project is funded by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA).

For more information, please contact Niurka Piñeiro at IOM Washington, Tel: 1.202.862.1826 ext. 225, Email:  npineiro at

For additional information:

Office of the Permanent Observer to the United Nations Ÿ 122 East 42nd Street, Suite 1610, New York, NY 10168
Tel: 1(212) 681 7000 – Fax: 1(212) 867-5887 – E-mail:  unobserver at – Internet: or
Jean-Philippe Chauzy ŸTel: 41 22 717 9361 – Mobile: 41 79 285 4366 Ÿ E-mail:  pchauzy at
Jemini Pandya Ÿ Tel 41 22 717 9486 – Mobile : 41 79 217 3374 Ÿ E-mail :  jpandya at