Date: Fri, 14 Aug 98 17:10:04 CDT
From: Haiti Progres <>
Organization: Haiti Progres
Subject: This Week in Haiti 16:20 8/5/98
Article: 41170
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Exorcizing Boukman

Haiti Progres. This Week in Haiti,, Vol.16 no.20, 5-12;11 August 1998

The origin of the 13-year Haitian revolution is traced to a voudou ceremony held at Bois Caiman, near the northern city of Cap Haitien, on the night of Aug. 13-14, 1791 and presided over by a slave and voudou priest named Boukman. Now 207 years later, a band of right-wing Protestants has launched an evangelical crusade to posthumously convert Boukman to Christianity.

Pastor Berthony Paul, Pastor Joel Jeune, and preacher Gregory Joseph, a former police attache, have threatened to lead their congregations, which they call Haiti Protestant Vision, to Bois Caiman to hold a Protestant service to exorcise the spirit of Boukman.

But their crusade so far has been foiled by a coalition of Haitian popular organizations as well as by Haitian authorities. On July 8, the Ministry of Culture issued an order prohibiting the Protestants from assembling in the Bois Caiman area. The three Protestant leaders were arrested on Aug. 2 when trying to defy the order.

Meanwhile more than a dozen grassroots organizations like the National Popular Assembly (APN), the Milot Peasant Movement (MPM), FEMODEK, and Zantray have come together into the Initiative Group for the Commemoration of 207 Years of Bois Caiman. In a July 28 declaration, they charged that the Protestants’ project would be a desecration of Bois Caiman and that it is being politically influenced by the International Republican Institute (IRI), the right-arm of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is very active in Haiti these days organizing political opposition to the Lavalas movement. We ask the Macoute pastors Joel Jeune, Gregory Joseph and Berthony Paul along with the reactionary American missionaries to keep their distance from Bois Caiman, the statement said, referring to previous Protestant attempts to overrun the site in August 1997 and January 1998. The plot which IRI is planning with Macoute forces, through Joel Jeune under the cover of the Protestant church, is to organize all the reactionary forces in the country.

On Aug. 2, the pastors tried to march near Bois Caiman with the excuse that they were going to another church. They got into a shouting match with the chief of police of L’Acul du Nord near the police station and were arrested. The following day, several groups of demonstrators from the Initiative Group marched around the area, cleaning it up for the day of commemoration. The demonstrators burned down two raised-roofs (tonel) which the pastors had identified as churches.

With the anniversary approaching, tensions and confrontations may continue to grow over Bois Caiman, which the popular organizations prize above all as a symbol of Haitian independence and resistance. The big powers, which today continue to hold all the small poor countries in shameful modern slavery, have never stopped trying to bury Bois Caiman and all that symbolizes the memory of the Haitian people, the Initiative Group said. The Haitian people reject with all their might the presence of the U.S. military occupation on the soil of Boukman, of [independence leader Jean Jacques] Dessalines, and [1915 anti-occupation guerrilla leader] Charlemagne Peralte. The Haitian people must rise up to throw out the occupying forces the same way as our ancestors at Bois Caiman.