Did Catholic Bishop Louis Kébreau, President of
the Haitian Episcopal Conference, call on Haitian President
Michel Martelly to be ruthless and dictatorial?
That is what many Haitians
believe after Kébreau, the only bishop to attend Martelly’s
inauguration, urged the president to “put his Sweet Micky
pants on” in order to “put Haiti back on track,” in
a recent interview with Radio Vision 2000.
He later said that he was calling on Martelly to enforce “law
and order and discipline.”
“Sweet Micky” was the
name of Martelly’s vulgar konpa music persona, whose
greatest claim to fame was as the principal cheerleader for
Haiti’s bloody 1991 and 2004 coups d’état. “Sweet Micky”
defended and celebrated the repression that followed Aristide’s
overthrows, during which a combined total of some 8,000 Haitians
Now President Martelly remains
without a Prime Minister because both of his nominees – Daniel
Gérard Rouzier and Bernard Honorat Gousse – were staunch
defenders of the coups. The Parliament rejected both of them.
The Catholic Church hierarchy
has a deplorable history of backing repression in Haiti. The
Vatican, virtually alone in the world, recognized the Cédras
military dictatorship of 1991-1994. Recent Wikileaks published
by Haďti Liberté have exposed the Vatican’s
behind-the-scenes encouragement of and collaboration with U.S.
efforts to undermine Haiti’s elected government prior to the
2004 coup. After the coup, the Vatican told U.S. officials that
it had “no regrets” about Aristide’s ouster.
Responding to criticism, Bishop
Kébreau said, on Radio Magik 9, that he was misinterpreted and
that there was “no question of repression, no question of
dictatorship." He added that "If we continue to undress
the President, we will go nowhere.”
I am outraged by Bishop Kébreau’s hypocrisy and brazen partisan intervention in Haitian
politics. I was a Catholic altar-boy at St. Claire’s church in
Ti Plas Kazo under the late Father Gérard Jean-Juste. He was a
vocal supporter of Aristide and a courageous resister of the
coups. For his defense of the poor and repressed, Father Jean-Juste
was suspended from carrying out his priestly duties and three
times imprisoned by the government of de facto Prime
Minister Gérard Latortue (2004-2006). It was Bishop Kébreau
himself who signed the letter to suspend Father Jean-Juste from
his sacerdotal functions in 2006. Nor did Kébreau ever speak out
against Father Jean-Juste’s illegal and brutal imprisonment.
While human rights groups from
around the world, including Amnesty International, called for
Jean-Juste’s release, the Catholic hierarchy supported Jean-Juste’s
punishment with a Pontius Pilate-like silence.
But Kébreau is ready to break
his silence to support a neo-Duvalierist who came to power with
a tiny mandate in an openly rigged election. None of this is
surprising for anyone who has followed the Catholic Church’s
role in Haiti's political affairs since even before the nation’s
independence in 1804. The hierarchy has always been on the side
of the elite – about 5% of the population.
My prayer is this: May the Catholic Church’s hierarchy become,
one day, promoters of democracy and social justice, not of
despotism and social injustice. Amen.