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samedi 20 février 2016

JOCELERME PRIVERT ET JEAN BERTRAND ARISTIDE 1/3

Haïti se rappellera pendant longtemps ce 14 février 2016.
Cette date ne sera plus uniquement cette journée dédiée à l’amour et aux amoureux. Elle restera dans les anales la date des élections indirectes pour combler une vacance présidentielle de fin de mandat. Une situation inédite donc sans provision dans les pages de la Constitution.
Le récit serait trop long pour expliquer comment on a pu aboutir à une pareille situation.
Ceux qui suivent avec assiduité l’actualité haïtienne se passeront de cette introduction. Pour ceux qui se trouvent entrain de lire ce texte sans avoir été intéressé par Haïti, je ferai un résumé le plus succinct possible. Ce qui est déjà assez compliqué dans le cas d’Haïti car chaque fois qu’il est nécessaire de remonter à la genèse d’un problème il semble qu’il faut aller à la genèse de cette nation en faillite.
En fait le président dont le mandat a pris fin le 7 Février dernier avec une exigence de passer la main à un autre président élu démocratiquement à l’issue des élections présidentielles libres, crédibles
, inclusives et transparentes dont il avait la responsabilité.
Mais avant les joutes présidentielles, d’autres échéances électorales prévues pendant le quinquennat ont été carrément oubliées. Michel Martelly n’en n’a organisé aucune. Avec un parlement caduc il a pris son pied à gouverner par décret.
Il comptait sur les élections présidentielles et législatives de cette année, avec la bénédiction/indifférence de la communauté internationale pour choisir son successeur à qui il passerait la bande présidentielle.
Ce qu’il n’avait pas prévu arriva.
Malgré une insistance téméraire et menaçante de la communauté internationale, l’opposition rendit impossible la poursuite et la conclusion du processus électoral.
Les forces démocratiques venaient de gifler de plein fouet l’ensemble de la communauté internationale pour qui stabilité rime avec passation de pouvoir entre un président élu à un autre. Peu importe dans quelles conditions. Les standards sont tellement rabaissés en Haïti que ce qui est inacceptable ailleurs est célébré en Haïti avec Caviar et Champagne !
Toujours est-il que le 7 Février arriva sans président élu. Et il fallait bien trouver une solution car la gestion d’un pays est constante et permanente.
Le quinquennat de Martelly s’est écoulé sans que son administration n’ait pensé à aucune institution.
On sait bien qu’en théorie le pouvoir exécutif s’exerce par une structure triangulaire composée du pouvoir exécutif personnifié dans le binôme présidé de la République /Premier Ministre, le pouvoir législatif et le pouvoir judiciaire.
Au sept février 2016, aucun de ces trois pouvoirs jouissait d’un fonctionnement normal capable de lui accréditer une légitimité pour prendre le contrôle de la nation.
En fait Monsieur Evans Paul premier ministre est considéré comme un premier ministre de facto car il a été nommé comme premier ministre d’un faux consensus ou de connivence pour une énième sortie de crise.
Le pouvoir législatif venait à peine de se reconstituer dans une ultime démarche du gouvernement pour valider les résultats des élections contestées alimentant la grogne d’une grande partie de la population.
Le pouvoir judiciaire est lui aussi bancal et peu fonctionnel car Martelly n’avait pas procédé à des nominations surtout au niveau de la Cour de cassation.
Quand il a fallu trouver une solution de sortie de crise, le parlement récemment intronisé devint l’institution regroupant plusieurs identités et sensibilités politiques, se vit attribuer une étiquette de représentativité.
Le Parlement ne demandait pas mieux car certains élus sont contestés et pensent se mettre à l’abri ou en position pour négocier, avec cette prise de pouvoir.
A partir de ce moment, comme l’avait fait les Forces Armées d’Haïti au départ de Jean-Claude Duvalier, cette prise de pouvoir s’est assimilée à un coup d’état dans la mesure où on peut considérer qu’il s’est accaparé du pouvoir de façon absolue et exclusive, sans tenir compte des forces politiques ni de la population qui ont fait échec au plan de Martelly et poussé à l’annulation du processus électoral.
Dans des circonstances particulières Monsieur Jocelerme Privert président du sénat haïtien se porta candidat au poste de Président Provisoire et se fit élire le 14 Février 2016. Cet ancien fonctionnaire de l’administration lavalas de Jean Bertrand Aristide qui, à la chute de ce dernier fit de la prison, scelle avec cette élection non seulement une victoire personnelle et individuelle mais aussi marque le retour de Lavalas au palais national onze ans plus tard.
Comme preuve infaillible circule une jolie photo de famille avec l’ex première dame de la République Madame Mildred Trouillot Aristide et Madame Maryse Narcisse candidate du parti aux élections inachevées.
Ce retour de Lavalas claironne à raison par divers secteurs et acteurs de la vie politique haïtienne a permis des scénarios des plus improbables dont une action de l’actuel Président qui viserait un retour de Jean Bertrand Aristide au pouvoir avec :
- Le renvoi du parlement
- Création d’un CEP lavalaso-compatible
- Des élections parlementaires qu’emporterait avec une majorité absolue la mouvance Lavalas
- Modification de la Constitution
- Nouvelles élections avec Aristide comme candidat

Prise de but en blanc, on serait tenté de qualifier cette réflexion d’utopie caractérisée. Cependant j’ai l’habitude de dire qu’en Haïti et l’imaginable comme l’inimaginable peuvent devenir réels. Tout dépend en effet de celui qui imagine ou cesserait d’imaginer !
Il est vrai que l’aboutissement d’un tel projet relève d’une prouesse d’une envergure telle qu’elle ferait intervenir des actions et des comportements aujourd’hui difficilement acceptables.
Cependant ma réflexion sur ce scénario se porte sur les deux protagonistes : JOCELERME PRIVERT ET JEAN BERTRAND ARISTIDE… (A SUIVRE)

Finding Haiti on Vinyl: A crate-digging journey in search of a lost musical legacy.

By Vik Sohonie
In Jacmel, a sleepy beach town on Haiti’s southern coast, I hit pay dirt: In the archives of a local radio station, stuffed inside a gray metal locker, were hundreds of rare vinyl records, relics of a golden age of Haitian music. I sorted and sifted for hours, previewed each record on my portable turntable, and then entered into lengthy and sometimes frustrating negotiations over cost. Among the stacks was a holy grail of Haitian music: the debut LP of les Loups Noirs—the Black Wolves—titled Jouent Pour Vous, recorded in 1970 when the group members were still in their early 20s. Les Loups Noirs became a key part of a rich musical tradition that few people off the island or outside the Haitian diaspora know exists.

I’d come to Haiti in search of rare and obscure Haitian vinyl records just like these, mainly from the 1960s to the ’80s, in a bid to preserve, remaster, and compile them and issue an anthology of the cosmopolitan Haitian sound at its experimental, revivalist best. During what crate-diggers and curators refer to as the “modern” or “golden era” of Haitian music, musicians experimented with traditional rhythms while balancing a host of outside influences.
There was the jazz-era instrumentation, imported during the early-20th-century American occupation, which introduced horn sections to Haitian ensembles. From Cuba came meringue, mambo, son, guajira, and charanga. Accordion-driven Colombian cumbia and Dominican merengue left their marks as well.
Added to the melting pot of sound were rhythms, drum patterns, and percussion brought across the Atlantic from Africa. Haiti, like Cuba and Brazil, received a far greater number of enslaved Africans than the United States. Nago rhythms from what is today Nigeria and Benin, Kongo rhythms from Central Africa, and Petwo rhythms from the vodou traditions of Guinea, among many other influences, were revived in an age of black consciousness, driven by the Negritude and Noiriste philosophies of Afro-Caribbean intellectuals like Jamaica’s Marcus Garvey and Martinique’s Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire.
The lasting result is a rich, layered terrine that spawned Haiti’s Cuban-inspired meringue; the dominant kompa direct of Nemours Jean-Baptiste; the silky tenor sax-led cadence rampa pioneered by Webert Sicot; psychedelic mini jazz; and the dance-floor-filling vodou jazz compositions of the de facto national orchestra, Super Jazz des Jeunes. At its peak, Haitian music was widely distributed, proliferating its unique blend of sound across the Francophone Caribbean and West Africa.

Recordings capturing this vibrant laboratory of colliding influences were produced and pressed in Haiti, the U.S., France, and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Huge catalogs from the heavyweight record labels of the time—IBO Records, Marc Records, and Mini Records—and the smaller, private presses have been largely forgotten in recent decades. Many people have tossed their collections or left them to warp in damp basements. A unique piece of Haitian history and culture was at risk of being lost. Most of the world had never heard these sounds, and I wanted to change that.


LP cover of Ensemble Meridional des Cayes, 1972.
Vik Sohonie
 
The roads of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, are unruly and unpaved, covered in dust and soot. Communal taxis, known as tap-taps, aggressively compete with oil and water tankers, nongovernmental organization and aid agency vans, and armored vehicles carrying U.N. peacekeepers along the main roads. Police roadblocks bottleneck traffic in vital arteries of the city’s center.

But the streets are also home to a unique vibrancy. Roaming “rara” bands play folkloric rhythms with hypnotic horns and haunting percussion. Prim and proper uniformed youths flood the winding hillside roads around the capital to socialize over after-school snacks. The air is filled with smells of goat bouillon, pig feet ragout, and scotch bonnet peppers.

Radio stations were the first port of call in my search for buried recordings. The radio enjoys a special place in the Haitian imagination. It remains the most widely used conduit of information and entertainment for Haitians at home and in the diaspora. More than television, more than the Internet. “The importance of radio among Haitian-Americans has its roots in Haiti, where the illiteracy rate is about 80 percent and most people cannot afford a television,” wrote the New York Times in 1993. “In Haiti, a peasant may not wear shoes, but he has a transistor radio,” Raymond Cajuste, a radio show host, told the newspaper.

Radio’s prominence in Haitian life dates back to 1935, when Ricardo Widmaïer, a German immigrant, set up Radio HH3W, later named Radio d’Haiti, where some of the very first recordings took place. Ricardo’s son, Herby Widmaïer, established Radio Métropole in 1970. It played a key role in developing and advancing modern Haitian music. Word spread throughout certain circles in the city that I was in town looking for records. I continued to be greeted with disbelief and laughter.
Tucked away in a quieter corner of Port-au-Prince, Radio Métropole’s property is one of the best kept in the city. A garden, adorned with a range of flora, surrounds a stone lined walkway leading to the one-story building. I was given a tour by Herby Widmaïer’s son, Joel, who introduced me to a Haitian music insider: George Michelle, an aging man with a large figure and a commanding voice. Michelle was a close Widmaïer family confidant in the station’s early days.

In the backroom of their largest studio, now fitted with state-of-the-art radio technology, Michelle recalled the story of Radio Métropole and its impact on Haitian music culture. During the 1950s and early ’60s, about a dozen AM radio stations were scattered around Port-au-Prince. With the import of new technology from Japan and Europe, Radio Métropole created the first FM radio station in the country. The sound quality increased, allowing for a host of radio programs, talk shows, and phone-in shows. Better technology led to greater influence, and Radio Métropole drove the popularity of Haitian music. Bands were frequently in the studio to play live. Les Difficiles de Pétion-Ville, a seminal electric band from the upscale Port-au-Prince suburb, for example, earned the station’s highest ratings.
Métropole set the standard and inspired the growth of a broadcasting industry across the country. Radio stations like Radio Haiti Diffusion and Radio Caraibe, still standing today, began to spread the gospel of Latin music, especially Cuban music, which, in the same manner as West and Central Africa, had a huge impact on the development of Haiti’s musical identity.



Alongside Cuban sounds, Mexican Ranchera, French music, and popular American jazz and soul made its way to Haiti’s airwaves. Michelle said that at one point Haiti was “overwhelmed” by Latin music. It won by default. But by the ’60s, as more radio stations entered the market, Haitian music began to dominate.
At the time, radio stations still relied on magnetic tapes. Vinyl, Michelle said, was far too expensive and not readily available in Haiti.
 There were only three stores in Port-au-Prince at the time that sold actual LPs. Most of the records were pressed for the U.S. market and for Haitians in the diaspora, who could better afford them. Radio, as a result, played a huge role in the dissemination of popular Haitian music. This would explain the lack of vinyl culture in Haiti as oppose to other islands in the Caribbean, like Cuba and Jamaica, or Colombia’s Caribbean coast.



Super Jazz des Jeunes performing at one of the
Haitian community’s legendary dance parties
in New York, 1970s. Vik Sohonie
 
François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, Haiti’s brutal president from 1957 to 1971, used his secret police, the Tonton Macoute, against broadcasters deemed a political threat. Several radio stations closed, some by force, some voluntarily, and many radio owners and broadcast engineers left the country, Michelle told me. At Radio Jacmel, where I found the stash of rare vinyl, journalists were shot dead. Intellectuals who aired their views were also killed.

Journalists and other personalities at Radio Métropole were killed, jailed, or exiled. Music, however, was not forbidden under Duvalier. Some radio stations, according to Michelle, were forced to play political music supportive of his rule, but, indeed, some of the most exceptional interpretations of Latin and Cuban music, as well as the deepest, darkest big-band vodou jazz cuts, were recorded under Duvalier’s reign. Duvalier chose bands and organized carnivals to promote his rule and enshrine his cult of personality. Haiti’s political elite, closely allied to Duvalier, became the biggest private audience for Nemours Jean-Baptiste and Webert Sicot’s early bands. The rivalry and persistent competition between Jean-Baptiste’s kompa direct style and Sicot’s cadence rampa vitalized the Haitian music scene, inspiring a generation of young musicians to follow their example.

It was here, at Radio Métropole, and at several other radio outlets, where I placed ads for every single piece of vinyl in the city and dug through the radio’s archives. Most people I met were bewildered by my quest. Not far from the presidential palace, I made my way to an old music shop selling only CDs. In response to my queries, a voice shouted from a group of men huddled outside: “Plaques? Plaques??”—as records are known in Haiti— “W ap chèche les plaques? No plaques!”

Roughly translated: “You’re mad.” Eventually the response to my incessant and persistent requests changed from laughter to annoyance. The devastating 2010 earthquake had destroyed many of the archives, and the pain of that loss was reflected in the reaction of radio operators, who rightly cherished these artifacts.

Many radio stations were also ruined during the earthquake. But the owners who lost nearly everything set up shop in makeshift studios on building rooftops, using the most basic of microphones, sound mixing boards, and transistors. One radio operator invited me to be a guest on a show dedicated to Haitian music of the ’60s and ’70s.

“You’re searching for the 33s (33 RPM), yes?” asked the radio operator in French. He was a rotund man with a round face, specks on his cheeks, and quiet grace in his deep voice. “Yes, and 7-inch plaques,” I replied.

Debut LP of Les Loups Noirs, 1970.- Vik Sohonie


“You won’t find much in Haiti, there’s more in the U.S. and France and the other Caribbean islands. The earthquake crushed my radio’s archives and my personal collection,” he said.

Word spread throughout certain circles in the city that I was in town looking for records. I continued to be greeted with disbelief and laughter at my mission. Radio station after radio station shooed me away. My phone remained silent despite a number of ads placed.

After two weeks, a call or two came in. In downtown Port-au-Prince, I scoured old warehouses and garages, finding gems like Tabou Combo’s first LP with the track “Gislene,” a storming accordion-driven ’60s Haitian dance-floor workout.

But I still wasn’t finding the kind of variety I’d come here for. But then one day I got a phone call from a man who said he had collection of 3,000 records. It was exactly what I needed—a goldmine, albeit one covered in dust and insects.

I spent six hours with the man and his family sifting through and listening to the records. Here, in my dusty hands, was a rare piece of Haitian history, largely forgotten but still very much alive.
Vik Sohonie’s upcoming compilation, Tanbou Toujou Lou: Meringue, Kompa Kreyol, Vodou Jazz, and Electric Folklore from Haiti 1960–1981, will be released this spring onOstinato Records. This piece is adapted from the liner notes.

Based in New York and Bangkok, Vik Sohonie is a record collector, DJ, writer, and founder of Ostinato Records, a label dedicated to Afro-Atlantic sounds.
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/roads/2016/02/searching_for_haiti_s_lost_musical_legacy_in_radio_and_records.2.html