MY COMMENTS ON NEW BOOK FROM SIMON & SCHUSTER AND THE PASSAGE ABOUT JUSTIMA AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND CHILD SLAVERY IN HAITI
This new book from Simon & Schuster
(A Crime So Monstrous Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery By E. Benjamin Skinner This Edition: Hardcover Publication Date: March 11, 2008)
is out and it talks about Domestic Servitude in Haiti that the author Mr. Skinner calls "Child Slavery".
The way CHAPTER ONE of this book is written, it is as if the former head of security watch at my presidential campaign's headquarter for the Presidential Elections of February 2006 in Haiti, Bernavil Lerhomme, was engaging around the last trimester of 2005, in an open and systematic trade of children for slavery that he might have ran directly out of my campaign headquarter and that seemingly (at least it can be implied or inferred to) I knew about it, I knew what Lerhomme was up to, while he was "moonlighting" for me as head of security watch for the headquarter, and that I either condoned or never said a word about the whole thing.
I have been asked to contextualize Mr Lerhomme's work for our first presidential campaign attempt aimed at getting our feet wet before we get down to real business for the nation in a future campaign. We are going to show some pictures so no one accepts the impression that seems to be conveyed in Mr Skinner's book that Bernavil Lerhomme was our head security guy. In fact, I emphasize he was the head of simply the detachment unit tasked with watching the headquarter, a very important task, but hardly a central unit of my security apparatus. See for yourself.
I did not seek to pay for the best elite security there are in our country. Although, I do look forward to work with them as well and to blend them seamlessly with what I started doing. Instead, I am about socio-economic promotion and I took average Haitians that are very skilled but out of work and lifted them up with direction and training such as Bernavil Lerhomme that Mr Skinner mentioned as central in his piece on me. This below was one one of my top security details units tasked to protect me and protect any dignitaries I met with. Mr Bernavil Lerhomme is never near such units doing such "protection rapprochée du chef".
The main car that I was driven in was protected at all time, as usual for people around the world doing what I was attempting to do for my country. And Mr Lerhomme again was rarely near such units tasked with such work. In this picture that follows, he is not there.
When I am in the misdt of a crowd talking or even if outside within the walls of the headquarter, other units are tasked to surround me and Mr Lerhomme was rarely around such units such as here.
Any control of the perimeter where we would be was the responsibility of units that Mr Lerhomme was never a part of, such as here.
Mr Bernavil was not also a member of the rapid intervention units in crowd control or in rapid exit strategy such as that one.
When Mr Skinner came to see me,just for an interview as a journalist and he did not tell me he was writing a book, I was receiving delegations after delegations and their committees as attested here. This is where he met me at the terrace level of our hedaquarter. This picture was taken the afternoon of our meeting as you can see me clearly in the middle.
Lastly, when I am making speeches, Mr Bernavil is not among those who stand behind me as attest here. And yes, pay attention to how I am dressed because this will be an issue with Mr Skinner. These are about the same clothes I wore on that day.
Now, it is about time you know why I am so thorough in establishing first what Mr Bernavil was not and what I was, so you can better judge Mr Skinner's piece on me and on my people as he is tackling in his book the critical issue of domestic servitude.
Mr Skinner described me as "smartly dressed", a description that can be interpreted to be more of a subtraction by addition as it is not germane to the subject of child slavery he was describing except if that personally offended him to find a Haitian "smartly dressed". What is implied here, Haitians are not supposed to be "smartly dressed". All of them must still be crawling as half-humans. Either the elite as they are so enshrouded in both their existential “ennui” and their powerlessness. Either the botoom part of our population so enshrouded in their misery. Either the middle class so enshrouded in their negative economic growth and wholesale dysfunctionality of the country that they cannot move up. Because we are that poor, we must alll look like crwaling half-humans. This is such a picture that should have emerged when he met me. Such a picture is more intuitive on what he was expecting to see and more in line with what’s expected of Haitians, for it is this very stereo-type picture that makes us, we Haitians, worthy of pity and of the world’s charity and that justifies the way our motherland is marketed and branded for us and without our consent as the most laggard and backward in the Western Hemisphere, curiously every time the word Haiti is uttered anywhere and we can’t seem to get rid of that tag glued on our back as our country last name.
And thanks to that tag and thanks to that picture, out of pity or out of the goodness of their heart, there is a perpetual rush to our Haiti, in an unending waltz of photo-opps after photo-opps, of people who say they come to our rescue, helpless Haitians that we are, since for them there is no end in sight when finally they can help us make it happen in turning it around, in taking our country and ourselves to make the quantum leap forward that must definitively and irreversibly change our life conditions so that we may begin to live, at last, like real human beings live in the 21st century. We, Haitians of a new generation, have not seen a rush of people interested in that yet and I am sorry I disappointed Mr. Skinner in making that new Haitian (that is fighting to emerge) looks good.
Mr. Skinner stated as he met me, I introduced myself as “one of the smartest Haitians in the world". So much for contextualizing a conversation and for intellectual probity! I trust Mr. Skinner's readers are intelligent readers and they will ask themselves how would you meet someone who is running for the supreme "magistrate" of the State and the first thing he would say to you in introducing himself would be to arrogantly brand himself as” one of the smartest Haitians in the world"? If he is endowed with just one ounce of that level of smartness, this would not be very smart of him.
I don't know what would make me introduce myself specifically as such except that in my response to Mr. Skinner's leading question, I tried to put in context for him that Haiti has now the greatest number of well-educated Haitians in its entire history since 1804 and as one of them I stated to Mr. Skinner as I state often to others_ which is for me naturally staying on message_ ’to whom much has been given much is required and that we, the greatest number of educated Haitians since 1804, can be the second greatest generation of Haitians in History if we answer the social historic generational call to use our education to effectively manipulate the structural and infrastructural conditions and the realities of Haiti to such extent that we transform lives and every day reality for Haitians and do it for Haiti today's needs and its tomorrow's aspirations and demands.’
Also, Mr. Skinner stated I said one of the pledges of my campaign was "greater rights for restavek" (the name given to people doing domestic work in Haiti. Read “Reste Avec” or living in with). We never discussed such. I would have told Mr Skinner “slavery” is slavery whichever way you cut it and that my presidential campaign pledge would not simply be to just give greater rights to children in slavery or in modern day captivity, in the form of domestic servitude, but to liberate them from such conditions and to obtain that they become "domestic workers" rather than "domestic servants" and that they get paid about 7 times less what their employers would earn as total annual income (if their employer makes $ 49,000 a year they would have to pay them $ 7000 a year as a domestic employee up to a cap of $70,000 a year) based on our cardinal belief that in any construction system and for its structural stability and integrity "the floor is linked to the ceiling" as in the constructing of a stable and just and perennial society. Otherwise, those at the top of the socio-economic ladder would tend to run away as they lift themselves up and neglect to reach down and lift also those upon the shoulders they are getting their bounce of.
No, Mr. Skinner did not ask me about child slavery and some of my staff who was there can testify to that. Everybody in Haiti and outside Haiti knows I want to bring a new day in Haiti, I want to break, not tinker with, the traditional, the old cake of custom and bring about 2 key things that have been lacking, innovation and technical change, in every area of Haitian life. My position, as it has been reported extensively, is that you cannot continue to "ameliorate" what is no longer “ameliorable", improving what is no longer improvable. How could my campaign for the presidency of my country amounts to nothing more than just "greater rights" for the "restaveks"? Every Haitian or foreign journalist who has ever approached me knows that I salute at every turn I take the Haitian people for winning their existential struggle by themselves, without much help from a real visionary and transformational leader with a culture of delivering tangible, life-changing, profound results until now and that to pick up from such existential standpoint, my change platform calls not just for a "mieux-etre" or a "better off" for each one of them but for a "plus-etre" a quality of life in elevation; not just helping people that are surviving now to finally live but helping them, with life-changing sensible and significant transformations of the country and of their lives to compensate the fact they have been waiting as a people for so long for that change; since 1804; my platform calls for not just " better surviving and coping" and “living” but for ushering the day of "living well" for each Haitian, finally in a Haiti that finally delivers on the promise of its birth made to the grand-parents of each one of us.
I would be very inconsistent and blatantly hypocritical if suddenly I would simply want just "greater rights" for children in captivity or in slavery and not their total emancipation from slavery or from servitude conditions so each one of these children can be transformed into a licensed domestic worker who earns a real living on a living wage, paid in US Dollars or its equivalent, by those who can afford to hire their service for their households, in an economy that must be “dollarized” or “euro-nized” if it is to be poised for real sizable wealth creation, accumulation and distribution that restores the island to its glory days when it was The Kuwait of its time in size and economic output. Haiti can because Haitians can. I refuse to believe it was simply our masters who could make the land prosper and that we are destined to work eternally for them rather than becoming really the masters of our own domain which is our Haiti. This is why I talk about a 25-30 year vision that can stir the soul of all Haitians and make them want another shot at glory for our country and I leave incremental improvements to others who see us still in that situation for another 200 years.
Children should not work. But If Children must work, let them be bona fide workers protected by a body of laws that make sure not only they "live well" ,proportionately to those who think they cannot take care of all the demands of their household without having at their house such licensed domestic helpers, but that these young licensed domestic workers attains also a comparable status as hotel workers and be protected enough so they amass the financial resources over time and are given the work schedule to go the school of their choosing, in preparing themselves to graduate as early as they can from their domestic worker situation and move up to the next socio-economic status and class which is from working class to middle class. That has been my aim for all those who works hard and plays by the rules in any just society and especially in this new Haitian society I want to bring about and that my fellow Haitians would render me extremely humble if, next time around, they elect me to usher it in. Had Mr. Skinner asked, he would have known these are my long held views.
This is a very serious and important subject and I give Benjamin Skinner credit for tackling it. There was no reason in my view for him to pose as a journalist for one group of us and as a humanitarian for another, to sneak in and trick people in order to get out information which is, to me, critical for an investigation of child slavery in Haiti which is a very legitimate investigation. Later in that same chapter one, Mr. Skinner admits his dishonesty in dealing with my former security aide. He wrote:
"The potential for fraud was enormous. Assuming for a moment that Benavil smelled my
humanitarian bluff, who is to say he would provide me with a girl genuinely poised to enter
slavery? Perhaps he would give me the child of a friend of the family who was poor but not in danger, as a way for a blanc to pay for school".
Therefore he admits that my aide was merely trying to provide chiefly a socio-economic service, albeit one that we all can condemn, of finding children for domestic work that can border often to domestic servitude, and as in the case of recruiters or head-hunters who provide candidates who ultimately the boss may date, that may not have been a chief concern of Mr Lerhomme who was trying to make an honest living. Still, had Mr. Skinner told me that he found out Bernavil Lerhomme, my security aide, was willing to engage into finding children for child sex slavery, I would have acted swiftly. But Mr. Skinner would not have had much of a story to tell, would he? It is a shame how one can profit out of the misfortune of others on the cover of "humanitarian bluff", his words, not mine.
Mr. Skinner wanted a story, he got one. Now, I trust beyond that he is genuinely interested in that complex social problem and wants to report also on all structural and systemic efforts to uproot that socio-economic evil. For, there will continue to be an issue of child sex slavery or of child in domestic servitude or of child in sweat shops or of child labor in any society that does not continually create an explosion of opportunities, of plenty and of abundance for families to be able to stir themselves and their children away from such falsehoods, and from hunger and from lack and graduate their whole family from one socio-economic class to another, in one generation, without the need to get their child engaged in making a living or in helping the family making ends meet. This is a major complicated issue and I cannot fault needy parents who are preoccupied with the here and now to survive and may not discern among people there to help them help themselves and people who pretext aiding or pretext to be genuinely interested in pushing their child while in actuality they seek sexual gratification or to work that child like a horse in a state of apparent perpetual bondage.
It is still not too late for Mr. Skinner to not take this issue as an intellectual exercise and a Manichean moral view of you are right, you are wrong. I invite him to reach back to me and to reach to those who are in the trenches and who are busy like me figuring out how to turn for good, over a span of 25 years, life conditions in Haiti for children, for young adults, for women, for peasants, for the working poor, for the middle class and yes also for the new investors and the new "bourgeoisie" class that is trying to emerge to lead us to a new Haiti. Mr. Skinner will find, while we don't have all the answers, we are working on them and on a platform for their implementations, soon, God willing.
On a sadder note, I invite you to read the following passage of the except of Chapter One:
“The problem of child slavery in Haiti has deep roots in society. And the problem has
spread well beyond aiti's Borders...”
This is the first time (and I read quite a lot) and this is the worst diminutive I have seen somebody using when writing the name of my country. Even in Creole or in indigenous Taino, I know Ayiti, never “aiti” in small cap and minuscule like it does not even matter, referring to the country of about 10 millions proud people living an already difficult life in the island and of about 2 millions living outside the island who still cannot get the country out of their blood even if they were to try hard enough. This is most appalling and I ask for an apology from the author and from the publisher, to Haiti and to Haitians, because its editors should have caught that ultimately disrespect, a young author butchering the name of a country, although poor and down now and not out and which, nonetheless, had made historic contributions to mankind and the universal.
Go at the bottom of Mr. Skinner's Except of Chapter One to read about the comments I am referring to
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Blog about The HAITI.2 MOVEMENT & JUSTIMA's 21st century-style New Politics for HAITI
For Renewing the Haitian Political Personnel so Advancers now lead Decliners.
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Welcome to the Blog where you can hear from me directly. Make yourself at home.
Bienvenue sur le Blog où je peux tout vous exposer directement. Faîtes comme chez vous.
Byenvini sou Blog la. Ou Lakay ou. Mete-w Alèz.
Bienvenido. Mi casa es su casa.
- La Vallée-Jacmel, Plateau Central et Port-au-Prince (Cité Soleil), Haiti
- Qui est Justima?: Un homme qui voit le côté positif des choses et qui part en guerre contre l'idée fataliste qu'Haïti qui est sans cesse dans une descente et chute libre mystiques depuis 200 ans ne se resaisira pas dans les 5 prochaines années pour commencer à réussir une ascencion matérielle et mentale qui va étonner le monde. Un homme de croyances profondes et de principes qui part en guerre contre notre instabilité politico-sociale chronique, désordre institutionnel systémique généralisé, dysfonctionnement économique total et qui dit qu'Haïti a besoin d'un pouvoir volontariste fort pour combler le retard et le mal-developpement de plus de 200 ans. Un homme de famille qui croit que si le plus petit noyau d'Haïtiens qui est la famille connaisse un renouveau et re-apprenne à tisser entre ses membres des liens de confiance et de constance solides et durables ceci refairait fractalement la société haïtienne et le tissu social haïtien et augmenterait exponentiellement le capital social sur lequel on doit lever une nouvelle nation. Un homme qui adore chanter, danser, faire à manger, voyager et qui adore aimer. Justima est le second plus jeune ancien Candidat à la Présidence d'Haiti.
LABEL OF OUR POSTS
- Carnaval, Raras et Vodou: Justima pour un Carnaval haïtien planétaire et pour la construction du plus grand péristyle mondial de Vodou en Haïti pour sortir cette religion de l'archaïque et de la pauvreté
- Justima Add on Wishes to the Diasporas for 2009: What is on the HAITI.2 Platform Wish List For You.- All who is in the diasporas inluding their children of Haitian ancestry and their non-Haitian spouse will be eligible to ask for a Haitian passport the next day of the accession to power of Haiti.2, in the greatest census worldwide of those who stand with the new Haiti. We need you and all other hands on deck that we can find. It is a critical strategic move in grafting or adding producing capacity
- Mesaj Ve JUSTIMA bay Pep Ayisyen an Pou 2009: Kenbe-Gen Yon AYITI.2 Lan WOUT
- Justima Wishes to The Haitian People for 2009: You will see it... It is possible now
- Adresse de Justima au Peuple Haitien pour 2009: Tiens Ferme. Tu es presqu'au bout de tes peines sans aide
- Haitian Bloggers about Mounting Frustrations in Haiti.- The role of a leader is to lead. So leaders of Haiti, you asked for power: LEAD
- Justima on hurricane hanna and disaster in Gonaives: This job must be done as Justima called it, for the sake of Gonaives and very probable continuing calamities.
- Justima on Obama-Haiti-The Caribbean and Africa: I call on Haiti to become a platform country out of a new jumbo port, top notch intercontinental airport and a sophisticated financial system in a new Haiti under new management. That can help lift not just Haiti but the Americas economies and the African continent economies by way of mutual economic stimulation. Our Haiti.2 Plan: The only win-win-win plan on the table for another Haiti, Africa and The Americas.
- Justima and book on child slavery of Simon & Schuster: While I applaud the young journalist author who wrote this book for being interested in my country and for tackling a very important subject: domestic servitude, I am tired of people who say they are there to help from the outside but who will not make the investment to dig really deeper and who just brand anyone in Haiti and who brand my country anyway that suits them. Yes, had the author asks he would have known, I see a Haiti.2 without "Restaveks" but with well-paid domestic workers with benefits
- What does Justima wants? His Ambition for Country: A gigantic nation-building. Anything less will simply not have less effect, it simply will have no effect
- Haiti is starting to fall in the hands of young people: Time for a new cohort of Haitians to try and make its imprint on Haiti and re-direct the Haitian society
- What does Justima wants: Re-structuring Haiti top to bottom. The 7 new Top Leadership Posts For a New Haiti under New Management. The new top 21 focus areas for a Haiti with a Future, a Haiti.2
- Justima's Fondation work on the ground since 2001: Who will fit the shoes of tomorrow's leaders if we do not start with Education for people of every social class everywhere? Operating on the ground in stealth mode to bring results.
- What did Justima started working on since the last Presidential Elections of 2006?
- Letter from The General Committee Supporting Justima and Haiti.2: Let us organize ouselves so we can be the support system Justima and Haiti.2 need to succeed and to win into transforming Haiti as we know it
- Fondation JUSTIMA and its ambitious plan to try to bring direct food prices relief, some time this year, to 250,000 Households in Haiti. Direct tangible help may be on its way to alleviate hunger in the meantime until the hunger for life-altering changes can be satisfied
- Our Open University: What should have been Our National Anthem
- Our Open University: Geo-political Background on why Haiti is where it is today and the historical weight of the USA in all that
- Who is Justima? The story of a reversal of fortune of a son of Cite Soleil. Emblematic of the life-altering transformational change he is ushering: The Story of Justima.-Starting like most Haitians with a great socio-economic disadvantage, Justima's rise from where he was born which literally has become Cité Soleil
- Qui est Justima? Dans ce qui présage cette transformation des conditions de vie dont il veut l'avénement pour le pays: L'histoire de la vie de Justima et d'un retournement spectaculaire de situation socio-économique d'un jeune leader né littéralement à ce qui est devenu la Cité Soleil du jour
- Justima has launched his blog: Embracing Technology as a tell tell sign of real generational change, the first official blog of a Haitian political personality
- About Justima: One of the main founders and leaders of one of the 4 main political regroupings of 2006 in Haiti: The Block Alternative
- Justima's comments on the return of Aristide: If I was President, it would not be if Aristide should return, it would be how for maximum positive good to come out of it and less social and political disruptions so we can move beyond the Aristide factor as the smoke screen and start tackling the real nation-building issues of a post Aristide/post Préval era
- To Professor Yunus Nobel Laureate: I am about a different politics. I know a thing or two about poverty and misery. I am not just for poverty alleviation and reduction that you champion. God bless your heart for that. But I am about systematic poverty elimination. Instead of helping out 10 millions cope with poverty over 30 years, but all still remain poor with no end in sight, my country will be be better off that we help lift about 5 millions completely out of poverty over that same period of time. And this will trickle down. And the poorest country in the hemisphere will be be better for it. How about joining me in pushing that politics of new hope and of new possibilities?
Web links about Justima/Liste des liens sur le Web parlant de Justima