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dimanche 31 août 2014

Sur la Route des esclaves du Bénin à Haïti

Sur la Route des esclaves du Bénin à Haïti
Pour tous ceux qui veulent comprendre Haïti et la richesse de son histoire, l’occasion d’un voyage au Bénin permet d’appréhender le sort des esclaves envoyés depuis le royaume de Dahomey (Bénin actuel) dans les Caraïbes, leur culture et les rites qui perdurèrent de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, comme le vaudou. C’est attirée par cette Histoire que je posais mon sac à dos à Ouidah, sur la côte béninoise, à 40 km à l’ouest de Cotonou.
Nous étions au mois de juin et l’année scolaire touchant à sa fin, les cars d’écoliers affluaient de tout le pays pour les habituelles visites historiques. Ouidah, ville autrefois négrière, est une étape obligatoire sur leur parcours. Le musée d’histoire et la Route des esclaves, mise en valeur avec l’aide de l’Unesco, sont propices aux éclairages historiques, dans un profond silence tant le parcours est poignant.
La Route des esclaves débute par sur la place des enchères, où les hommes et les femmes étaient rassemblés pour être vendus ou échangés. Ce marché fut organisé par le puissant roi d’Abomey, le roi Ghézo, gourmand en marchandises proposées par les colons français, anglais et portugais. Quand les prisonniers et les ennemis ne suffirent plus à faire face à la demande, il fit capturer beaucoup d’hommes et de femmes dans son propre royaume.
En sortant de la ville, les hommes tournaient neuf fois et les femmes sept fois autour de l’Arbre de l’Oubli, symbolisant l’état amnésique des esclaves devant oublier leur passé pour devenir des êtres sans volonté, et donc sans aucune velléité de rébellion. La case de Zomaï était l’étape suivante, où les esclaves étaient enfermés dans d’effroyables conditions et dans un noir total. Zomaï signifie sans feu ni lumière. Cet enfermement était destiné à ne garder que les esclaves les plus robustes, afin de les préparer à la traversée dans les cales des bateaux.
Le mémorial Zounbodji se dresse sur l’ancien cimetière des esclaves, où étaient ensevelis ceux qui n’avaient pas résisté à ces mauvais traitements. Des ossements et chaînes découverts lors d’une fouille de l’Unesco en 1992 sont visibles au musée d’histoire de Ouidah.
Contrairement à l’Arbre de l’Oubli, l’Arbre du Retour est resté intact depuis le XVIIe siècle. Les esclaves devaient en faire trois fois le tour pour retrouver leur mémoire. Aujourd’hui, des danses des revenants se pratiquent régulièrement autour de cet arbre sacré.
Le long de la Route, des bas-reliefs en retracent les étapes, et témoignent également de la lutte pour l’indépendance et l’abolition de l’esclavage. Haïti y est mis en avant avec deux faits majeurs : - le pacte de Bois-Caïman, pacte d’origine vaudou conclu par les esclaves révoltés qui menèrent l’insurrection contre l’armée de Napoléon, dont la lutte se solda par l’indépendance d’Haïti en 1804 ; - L’arrestation de Toussaint Louverture par l’armée du Général Charles Leclerc, transféré au Fort de Joux dans le Jura où il mourra en 1803.
La Route se termine sur la plage de Djegbadji où les esclaves étaient embarqués dans les bateaux pour Haïti, mais aussi Cuba et le Brésil. 20% d’entre eux allaient mourir durant la traversée.
La Porte du Non-Retour a été érigée en 1992 pour témoigner de cette ultime étape. Des fétiches se dressent de part en part de la Porte afin d’accueillir les esprits revenus sur leur terre, symbolisant le lien qui demeure entre l'Afrique et les pays où les esclaves furent envoyés.
La notion de retour est très forte au Bénin, et ne concerne pas uniquement les âmes des ancêtres. En attestent les «Brésiliens», surnom des descendants d’esclaves affranchis revenus en Afrique dès le XVIIIe siècle qui forment une solide communauté.
A l’évocation de mes liens avec Haïti, tous m’expliquèrent que les Béninois étaient majoritairement pour un droit au retour des Haïtiens qu’ils considèrent comme «leurs frères».
http://haiti.blogs.liberation.fr/cooperation/2014/08/du-b%C3%A9nin-%C3%A0-ha%C3%AFti-la-poignante-route-des-esclaves.html

Radio Ponzi scheme targeted Haitian Americans

By DAVID OVALLE, Miami Herald
Updated 10:31 pm, Saturday, August 30, 2014
MIAMI (AP) — In the world of Florida's Creole-language talk radio, where hard-working Haitian Americans tune in by the thousands, Philippe Bourciquot pitched the lure of easy money.
He boasted that money "loaned" to him would be plunged into foreign trade markets, 18 countries in all, for massive returns. "You give me $20,000, it is guaranteed that for the year you will receive 60 percent," Bourciquot told listeners in one July 2013 broadcast.
On another show, Bourciquot invoked civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, then asked listeners to dip into their retirement funds: "You bring that money, I will make it work."
And in all of his broadcasts, Bourciquot appealed to a deep national pride, invoking the names of Haitian revolutionary heroes, promising profits that could rebuild a nation battered time and again by tragedy.
"Apple, that's worth several billion dollars, we can do that too," Bourciquot said in one October 2013 broadcast. "If every Haitian embraces what I'm doing, other nations will say Haitians have a business that's worth several billion dollars."
The grand plan, authorities say, was nothing but a sham — a Ponzi scheme that sucked $3.1 million from the wallets of his countrymen and women. For two years, the Lake Worth businessman paid investors with money from new investors, all while using a huge chunk of the money to pay for a house, luxury cars, hotel stays, airplane tickets, car repairs and restaurant meals.
Newly released evidence in the criminal case against him offers a detailed look at the alleged scam while offering a window into how con men use the pay-to-air system of Creole-language radio broadcasts to prey on poor Haitian Americans in Florida.
Simone Passe, a mother of six from West Palm Beach, told the Miami Herald she invested $20,000 with Bourciquot after hearing him on the radio. He was paying her 4 percent interest monthly. Indeed, financial records show, he paid her back — but only $2,700.
"Bourciquot helped me!" Passe wailed. "He is now in the jail. I can't pay my rent for my children." In Florida and on the island nation, talk radio has long been a powerful medium, with on-air buzz deciding elections, spreading political intrigue and serving as an invaluable source of news.
Like Bourciquot, many of the radio hosts pay for the airtime, giving some crooks a platform to lure in victims. His case follows an all-too familiar pattern.
The most notorious Ponzi schemer is Wellington businessman George Theodule, who earlier this year was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison for bilking $30 million out of Haitian Americans in Florida in 2007 and 2008. He is believed to have actually stolen more than twice that amount using radio spots to attract victims.
In 2010, federal authorities arrested four people in a Ponzi scheme that bilked about $8 million from 600 investors. Pitching through Haitian churches and radio spots, the Miami group offered 15 percent returns on one-year investments in a company known as Focus Financial. The group is now in prison. In yet another Ponzi scheme, Florida prosecutors in 2010 arrested three people who used radio and TV spots to lure 200 investors to a sham company called Gen-X. The ringleader,Alix Charles, of Miami, pleaded guilty and is still paying back $300,000 in restitution.
"Radio has been ingrained in our culture, and these rogues prey on that," said Miami lawyer Phillip Brutus, a former state legislator and longtime weekly news show host on WLQY 1320 AM. "They're targeting the poor, downtrodden people."
In another high-profile case, North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau was arrested in May, accused of using her radio program to recruit "straw" borrowers to purchase 20 homes while defrauding $8 million from various mortgage lenders. She is awaiting trial.
State agents arrested Bourciquot, 46, in June. Prosecutors in Miami-Dade have charged him with a host of felonies, including racketeering, grand theft, money laundering and fraudulent transactions. He intends to fight the charges, said defense lawyer Bernard Cassidy.
"We're gathering all of the facts so we can present our case to the court," Cassidy said. The latest probe began in November 2013, when an anonymous person lodged a complaint about radio spots in which Bourciquot claimed to be a "leader and benefactor in the Haitian-American community," according to an arrest warrant.
The tips came into Dimitri Bernadotte and Neptime Dieujuste, both Creole-speaking investigators from Florida's Office of Financial Regulation. They teamed up with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Office of Statewide Prosecution.
They soon found that Bourciquot had no license to work in securities trading, and his financial background was littered with irregularities.
He had to pay $15,000 as part of a judgment against one of his Palm Beach companies, while the Internal Revenue Service had twice filed liens against him totaling over $700,000. A bank had also foreclosed on one of his homes.
They also learned Bourciquot had spent over $54,960 since November 2012 buying spots on at least three different radio stations in the South Florida market. He also had started three companies: Freedom Property, Economic Movement and Options Yes.
Bourciquot pitched his investments as "personal loans," backed by an insurance policy and a thriving business and investment portfolio.
But a detailed look at his financial records showed the radio host "did not have any assets to secure any of the investors' loans," according to an arrest warrant prepared by prosecutor Stephen ImMasche. Some of the money was indeed wired to trading firms, domestic and overseas. But in opening his accounts, Bourciquot lied about his net worth — claiming between $1 million to $5 million, according to the arrest warrant.
In all, investigators identified more than 300 investors, most of them from Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Hillsborough counties. In what agents say is a classic Ponzi scheme, he paid at least $1.4 million back to investors, the money coming from new investors.
The rest of the money Bourciquot spent for himself, while hiding at least $640,000 in overseas accounts, according to the arrest warrant.
To help build their case, investigators devised an undercover plan. In February, investigator Bernadotte called Bourciquot posing as an investor with $30,000. In secretly recorded calls, they agreed to meet the following day at a parking lot in Lantana.
Outfitted with hidden audio and video recording devices, Bernadotte insisted that he was concerned about the security of Bourciquot's investment opportunity. The radio host agreed to show him his nearby house.
At the house, Bourciquot proudly showed off his gym equipment — and even did some pushups. The undercover agent noted commercial radio equipment in a home office, believed to be used for illegal broadcasting.
Bourciquot insisted he could provide a 50 percent return, provided he get the money for at least two to three years, The two then drove to a strip mall, where Bourciquot showed off an office he claimed was going to be his business hub. No deal was made — Bourciquot refused to allow the agent to take a "promissory note" document with him because it belonged to his business.
"This is the Haitian system," he told the agent. "I don't know you."
http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Radio-Ponzi-scheme-targeted-Haitian-Americans-5724857.php

Coast Guard repatriates Cuban, Haitian migrants

Published: August 31, 2014
MIAMI (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has repatriated 86 migrants it says were illegally migrating from Cuba and Haiti.
The Coast Guard said in a statement Saturday that the repatriations are the result of five separate interdictions of people attempting to illegally migrate to the United States through the Florida Straits. The incidents occurred over more than a week.
On Aug. 21 the Coast Guard Cutter Williams Flores interdicted 24 Haitian migrants north of the Grand Bahamas Island. Sixteen of the migrants were reported to have jumped into the water, but were rescued. In a span of a week in the south Florida Straits, Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection units located and interdicted 62 Cuban migrants from homemade vessels in three separate incidents.
http://tbo.com/news/florida/coast-guard-repatriates-cuban-haitian-migrants-ap_florida9fd1a95012c7410b88bffe5d268c7eb0

Food Relief Group Makes a Difference for Haitians and Locals

Added by Tamara Van Hooser on August 30, 2014.
Food relief is headed to Haitians still recovering from the 2010 earthquake and local needy families in Eustis, Florida thanks to a humanitarian aid group trying to make a difference. Bob Bostic, who founded the Deliver the Difference organization with his wife Mairi in 2010 avows that their goal is to give people a hand up and help them escape the vicious cycle of poverty. The latest efforts of the Bostics and their committed group of volunteers give them the opportunity to work directly with the Haitian government and the people to bring hundreds of sponsored meals to the beleaguered island nation. They hope to grow the program to bring a positive influence of nutrition and sanitation to thousands of malnourished and unhealthy schoolchildren, orphans and other needy Haitian families.
The Bostics founded Deliver the Difference as a non-profit in Lake County, Florida, after work with another relief organization in the wake of the devastating earthquake gave them a firsthand look at the magnitude of bringing assistance to the devastated area and the need for more helping hands. The group’s focus is on food distribution that makes a difference, not only to Haiti, but also to local families in need of relief. The only requirement for their assistance is that recipients be hungry. Bostic says he would rather give someone more than they need than fail to provide meals for someone who really needs the help.
After packing 200,000 meals for post-earthquake relief in Haiti, they delivered an additional 46,000 meal boxes in the first year alone. In the second year they supported survivors of the 2011 Japanese earthquake with 100,000 meals with an additional 200,000 plus meals headed for the Alabama and Joplin tornado regions and the Horn of Africa for a grand total of over half a million by year-end. At this point, they noticed a growing homeless problem in their own community and jumped into efforts to provide relief on the home front as well. More than 2,400 volunteers prepared, packaged and delivered 2,000 Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for low-income individual and families in the area. They continue to distribute thousands of food boxes every year to needy residents, both local and international.
They have a Kidspacks program that distributes weekly backpacks filled with two each of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, along with juice boxes and milk to homeless children without a steady source of food on the weekends. Recipients also receive two bonus brown bag meals from Kids Against Hunger for their families. Schools pre-qualify students with parental approval and then receive the regular donation to sustain them and give them hope in circumstances over which they have no control. Deliver the Difference takes a firm stand that allowing the innocent to suffer is wrong and sounds the call for the community to take a stand with them in doing something about it.
The Kidspacks are given to students each week, who have been pre-qualified by the schools with their parents’ approval. The Kidspacks are given to students that don’t always know if they will get to eat a meal over the weekend or before they go back to school on Monday. In Lake County, there are over 2,600 homeless children. Not homeless like in a third world country, but homeless because of job losses, the economy and circumstances they have no control over. Deliver the Difference believes this is wrong and as a community, we need to stand up and do something about it.
Bostic makes it clear that Deliver the Difference assistance comes entirely from their own sources with no help from the federal government. On average, the group traffics 60,000 pounds of food resources through their local warehouse for relief efforts aimed to make a difference in Haiti and at home. The organization regularly receives thank you cards from grateful families and reading their comments is what inspires Bostic to keep at it. Bostic dreams that someday all the food needs of the world will be met, but until then, he and his volunteers will stay the course in their quest to make a difference. by Tamara Christine Van Hooser
Sources: http://guardianlv.com/2014/08/food-relief-group-makes-a-difference-for-haitians-and-locals/#6lFZYyF572TvSCyC.99

Haiti Planning to Develop 1,000 Hotel Rooms on Ile a Vache

By the Caribbean Journal staff
Haiti’s recently-revived tourism push has a major focus: developing the island of Ile a Vache.
The government said this week that it’s projects on the island had already launched, with plans for 1,000 luxury hotel rooms, an archaeology museum, nightclubs, art galleries and craft boutiques.
The government has built a 2.6-kilometre runway with plans for an international airport, with the construction already underway.
In a statement this week, Haiti’s Ministry of Communication said several dredging projects had also been completed, along with a new courthouse, a rehabilitated police station and a new school that is almost complete and the installation of around 250 street lights.
Haiti said around $50 million USD had been mobilized on projects on the island, which is home to about 15,000 people on about 289 square kilometres off the southeastern coast of Les Cayes.
Last year, Haiti’s Ministry of Tourism released its initial plans for the island, which centered around sustainable tourism and around 1,500 units.
The development of 1,000 hotel units would make Ile a Vache among the largest ongoing tourism projects in the Caribbean.
Another Caribbean island, Guiana Island off the coast of Antigua, is also the site of a major potential project by a Chinese investor.
There’s also the still-in-development Baha Mar project, which is slated for completion in the spring of 2015.
http://www.caribjournal.com/2014/08/30/haiti-planning-to-develop-1000-hotel-rooms-on-ile-a-vache/

Why Haiti Needs Bioscience Education

By Ilio Durandis
CJ Contributor
TWO YEARS ago, as I was contemplating the different ways to contribute to a new Haiti, an idea to bring bioscience education and training to Haiti emerged.
In order to move past a simple idea to reality, the support and collaboration of many would be needed to make it happen.
The idea to educate, train and prepare young Haitian professionals in the biosciences is not only an innovation in Haitian education, but it can also serve an important purpose to address some real issues facing the country, from lack of quality control of raw materials to food safety. The potential impact of bioscience education in Haiti is limitless.
The Haitian Bioscience Initiative (HBI) was born out of a passion to make a difference in the lives of young Haitians.
Its main goal is not simply to transfer the knowledge of biosciences, but rather to help render Haitian professionals employable as lab technicians and future researchers who can become leaders in creating a whole set of new industries in Haiti.
Last month, the long-awaited pilot was launched at Ecole Superieure d’Infotronique d’Haiti. This pilot would not have been possible without the unconditional support of that school director, Patrick Attie. The core team behind the HBI includes Dr Phil Gibson of the Georgia Bioscience Training Center, Prof. James Dekloe of Solano Community College, who also serves as lead instructor during the pilot, Stuart Leiderman , Prof. Barry Hoopengardner of Central Connecticut State University, and Patrick Laguerre, President of Solano Community College.
To organize the pilot we needed the support of companies and organizations, such asLabster, uBiome, Amplyus the makers of miniPCR, Zafen, and more than a dozen individual donors who supported our Indiegogo campaign last year.
Why bioscience education, training and employment in Haiti?
The country is at an important junction between more regression and moving forward. The choice it needs to make is clear.
The time is no longer about being stationary.
Haiti has to move forward, and there has never been a better time to do so than now.
Haiti has reached a critical time in history to move forward, and the human resources, international partners, and collaborators might just align at the right moment to make sure that Haiti not only build back better, but that it becomes a model for development in the third world. This development cannot take place without a sound investment and support in the sciences.
Training young Haitian professionals in the biosciences can serve many urgent needs and help solve difficult issues facing Haiti in areas such as health care, sanitation, quality control, crime investigation, food supply, raw materials analyses, agro-industries, pharmaceuticals, disease control, water quality and treatment to cite just a few.
The pilot reassures us that the youth of Haiti is capable and ready to become future laboratory technicians, regulatory agents, and researchers in a nascent field that could change the landscape of Haiti for good.
The Biosciences include basic techniques such as analysis of heavy metals in drinking water, total organic carbon, presence of contamination in food products and more advanced techniques like DNA analysis in crime scenes, in paternity cases, microbiological assays, environmental monitoring, soil fertility, development of plants based drugs and much more.
For the pilot, we had 23 participants including professionals, high school seniors, and university students. The learning materials involved DNA extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction using the miniPCR, microbes and the environment, different steps in waste water treatment, the role of buffers in biological system.
The participants also visited Tamarinier National Laboratory and the University of Florida lab in Gressier. At those labs the participants were able to get a better understanding of what it takes to work in a laboratory environment and perform various real life analyses.
At Gressier, our participants witnessed technicians working on the V. cholera bacterium, which has already killed more than 8,000 Haitians since the outbreak was first discovered in late 2010.
The Haitian Bioscience Initiative seeks to collaborate with existing Haitian institutions that want to promote practical scientific technology and experience in their curriculum.
Already, schools like College Catts-Pressoir, one of Haiti’s best primary and secondary school, Ecole Superieure d’Infotronique d’Haiti , University of Notre Dame in Hinche to cite just a few are very keen in teaming up with us to make bioscience training and education available to as many young Haitians as possible.
The goal is eventually for Haiti to have a burgeoning biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industry that can serve the needs of its population and play a major role at creating new jobs that can pay a livable wage and help the country develops. This is not an easy task, but it is one of the things that need to be done to reverse the cycle of poverty and unemployment in Haiti.
A network of international professors and professionals in the biosciences is ready to support the initiative and make sure that the teaching materials are first class, and that everyone who will participate in this program will simply get the best training possible.
For the Haitian Bioscience Initiative to succeed in its mission a joint private-public collaboration must exist, and the Haitian government in its public politics must reiterate the value of science education, if Haiti is to take off for good.
Ilio Durandis, a Caribbean Journal contributor, is the founder of Haiti 2015, a social movement for a just and prosperous Haiti. He is also a former columnist with The Haitian Times.
http://www.caribjournal.com/2014/06/25/why-haiti-needs-bioscience-education/

Haiti’s Visitation Hospital event honors Ed Johnston

Visitation Hospital Foundation invites the community to a gala event at OZ Nashville from 6-10 p.m.
Sept. 6.
The fundraiser “With a Little Help from Our Friends: A Benefit for Visitation Hospital Foundation” will honor Ed Johnston of Franklin, who will receive the organization’s first Jim Carell Award.
“After brainstorming with students about ways to give back and help others, Ed decided to arrange a mission trip to Haiti with his students at Father Ryan High School, and traveled there each year for four consecutive years from 1969 to 1973,” said Fran Rajotte, associate director of Visitation Hospital Foundation.
“These trips opened minds and hearts, even amidst the poorest of conditions. The group gained as much as they contributed,” she said.
“Ed has continued to serve the people of Haiti,” Rajotte said. “He joined Visitation Hospital Foundation’s fundraising efforts in 2004 and during the years that followed helped raise over $700,000 to build the Visitation Clinic in Petite Rivière de Nippes. Ed served as a board member in 2005 to 2007 and his network of past students and friends in the Nashville, Memphis and Chattanooga areas were a huge support during our earlier years.”
VHF Executive Director Sarah McCool gave her thanks to the Nashville community for their support of the work to provide health care and health education for the people of Haiti. “The Nashville community’s support has resulted in the clinic’s 80 percent decrease in child malnutrition cases, elimination of worms in children and adults and a healthier community due to our water purification distribution efforts,” McCool stated.
A cocktail reception will be followed by a silent auction, buffet dinner, brief presentation, a live auction hosted by Nashville’s Phil Ponder and professional auctioneer Earl Campbell. Live music is provided by the WannaBeatles, a Grammy nominated Nashville-based Beatles tribute band. OZ Nashville is at 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle, Nashville.
Dress is cocktail attire and coat and tie. Cost is $125 per person at www.visitationhospital.org or by email at fran@visitationhospital.org. For more information call 615-673-3501.
If you go
Dress is cocktail attire and coat and tie. Cost is $125 per person at www.visitationhospital.org or by email at fran@visitationhospital.org. A cocktail reception will be followed by a silent auction, buffet dinner, brief presentation, a live auction hosted by Nashville’s Phil Ponder and professional auctioneer Earl Campbell. Live music is provided by the WannaBeatles, a Grammy nominated Nashville-based Beatles tribute band. OZ Nashville is at 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle, Nashville. For more information, call 615-673-3501.
http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/williamson/franklin/2014/08/31/haitis-visitation-hospital-event-honors-ed-johnston/14895591/