An unknown number of Haitians were killed, raped, and burned alive in La Saline, Haiti, the home of African Diaspora liberation. Margaret Prescod talks about what she found
MARC STEINER: Welcome, everyone. This is Marc Steiner here for The Real News.
And we’re talking with Margaret Prescod, whose show, Sojourner Truth, appears on Pacifica. She went to Haiti for The Real News and joins us now. We’re going to continue our conversation with her.
And Margaret, let me just begin by showing this video of you walking into this home where they found a skeleton of a woman who was burned alive.
MARC STEINER: So Margaret, I can hear from your own voice in this video, and what you saw, that it was just almost too difficult to watch. But I think it was important to be seen, to show the kind of level of violence taking place against the Haitian people. And this is a pregnant woman burned alive in her home.
MARGARET PRESCOD: And smell was still there, Marc. Could you could you imagine that? So we not only had to enter a space that in many ways was a sacred space because this was a skeleton of a woman there, but still the smell of her death in the room and some of her bones were scattered. A lot of it was together, but some of it was scattered in other places. You could see the burn marks on some of the bones. I mean, I have never in my life had to witness something like that. And the residents of La Saline, they really wanted us to see that, they want the world to see it. And they were saying, “What can you do to get this message out?” And that’s why, Marc, what you’re doing and what The Real News is doing is so important. I think this is the first video footage, actually, likely to be seen of what happened in La Saline. But it was quite a moment, as you could well imagine; just devastating, just heartbreaking.
MARC STEINER: So as we’re talking here, we’re also going to show our viewers this photo of a man, it’s a nude photo of a man who was killed and later cut up by the Haitian police. So let me–as we’re looking at this, Margaret, and these are not easy things to look at or watch, but let’s just talk about what, again, politically what’s behind this and why this is happening. We saw that in the last few weeks that five mercenaries were arrested in Haiti–Americans, former SEALs some of them, one is Serbian–and then sent back to United States, saying they were there to protect things in Haiti, they weren’t there to kill people. But the weapons they took were these major assault weapons. And is there a connection here? What politically is happening, why there are mercenaries in Haiti, why these scenes of horrendous violence are taking place against the Haitian people? What is underneath this?
MARGARET PRESCOD: Yes. And if you see, and if your viewers see, some of the bullet holes, you’ll see that these were major weapons that were used. This isn’t just some small caliber bullet for the most part. And then, on the ground in Haiti, we saw teams of mercenaries–I can’t tell you. I mean, it seemed as though every time we paused to sit down somewhere to grab a cup of coffee or something to eat, here came a group of people, men, Americans speaking English perhaps with someone who looked like maybe they were Jordanian or Latinx in the mix. And the energy and the vibe you got, definitely these are teams of mercenaries. And as you know, the United Nations that had occupied Haiti for quite some time, they are in the process of withdrawing. And it seems to me, anyway, our thought and of our entire team, that these teams of mercenaries are basically replacing the UN troops.
And we know, we heard of people being killed by expert sniper fire. You need training to be able to do something like that. We also know that Martine Moise, who is the First Lady of Haiti, a few days before the November massacre began, she went to La Saline with a lot of money, giving out money to the people. She met with a community leader in La Saline, and the deal was they wanted the protests to stop and for the people of La Saline to support her husband and her husband’s party. Of course, the people took the money, but then they and the leader, the community-based leader, made it clear that they would never support the government of her husband, that it was corrupt and that they were demanding accountability. What happened is that that community leader was arrested, he’s still in prison. The people of La Saline are demanding his release. But then, what they say is that that visit from the first lady was the trigger that began these massacres.
Now, some of–even public radio in the United States and mainstream media, they’re reporting that what’s going on in La Saline a conflict between two gangs. That is not the case, all right. Because what the people–they name names of people in government, and they have made it clear that then, these paramilitary people come in to torture and kill, that they are led in by BOID. BOID are like the special Haitian police forces, specially trained by the UN, by the United States, likely by some of these very mercenaries that are in the country. How is that possible? And people, so many people have had to flee La Saline.
One other quick point I should make also is that there were a few apartment-type buildings that were built for the people during the Aristide era because a lot of people there basically live in shacks. Now, those homes were also targeted. They were some of the first to be targeted, and people who lived in those homes had to flee. And they went to another place near the water, and they were sleeping on the concrete floor on pieces of cardboard. We interviewed a young mother there who had given birth in this place that they fled to. And honestly, I’m looking at her child, we knew she had no medical care, she had very little food, and we don’t have much hope that that child likely lived. But these are the conditions. And people are very, very angry about it, and they know that government forces are behind it and they know why. Nevertheless, as you could see from the video, they were ready to speak out about what is happening and who they think is responsible for this.
MARC STEINER: So very quickly, just to conclude, I want to talk to you very quickly about what you think has to happen from this end. What are the measures we can take in this country to let people know, but also what this country has to do to not allow this to happen?
MARGARET PRESCOD: That’s right. And I think it’s very important for a delegation to get down there, perhaps the Congressional Black Caucus leading a delegation to go as soon as possible; be on the ground in Haiti not only to meet with the present government, which we understand they likely will have to do, but also to meet with the people who survive La Saline, to meet with the leadership of Lavalas. The people in La Saline, by the way, made it very, very clear that if President Aristide or Lavalas was there, this would not be happening. And that’s another reason that they’re going after La Saline, because it is a stronghold of the party of President Aristide as well. So that urgently needs to happen.
And more media going down there, perhaps another round from Real News, Pacifica, et cetera, going down there and getting the update as to what is happening, and documenting all of this. Because the people of La Saline say this has got to stop. And they made an appeal, actually, to the Congressional Black Caucus in the United States to say, “Please help us, please do something to stop these massacres.”
MARC STEINER: Margaret Prescod, thank you so much for joining us. And thanks for going into Haiti for The Real News and Pacifica to get this story to us. The entire video will be shown when it’s finished editing and we look forward to your thoughts on this. And Margaret, thanks so much for joining us here on The Real News.
MARGARET PRESCOD: Thank you so very much, Marc.
MARC STEINER: And I’m Mark Steiner here for The Real News Network. Thanks for joining us. Take care.