Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Multiple Deaths in Haiti Carnival Accident

Multiple Deaths in Haiti Carnival Accident
A raucous Mardi Gras parade that packed the streets with thousands of revelers in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince ended in tragedy Tuesday when a high-voltage wire hit a float. At least 16 people died in the ensuing panic.

Prime Minister Evans Paul, who declared national days of mourning through Saturday, put the number of dead at 16. Emergency officials said the death toll might be higher. Scores of people were injured, many trampled amid the panic.


The float, packed with members of the Barikad Crew and their fans, had just passed the viewing stand for Haitian President Michel Martelly when it hit a low-hanging power line, according to multiple media reports.

Band manager Youri Chevry told the Miami Herald that Crew singer Fantom "thought he had cleared the power line. Our float was high and he was standing up. He was talking and from the video footage I saw, his head hit the power line."

Chevry told the Herald that Fantom was in stable condition — and said physicians were surprised that the singer didn't suffer a heart attack or die after coming in contact with the power line.

A state funeral for the victims was scheduled for Saturday in the impoverished nation of 10 million.

Joel Desire, a physician at General Hospital, told the Associated Press that most of those killed appeared to have been trampled to death as the crowd surged away from the Carnival float, one of 16 in the downtown parade.

"I saw the wire falling and sparks and I started running for my life," Natacha Saint Fleur, 22, who was near the float, told AP.

Nadia Lochard, coordinator for the Department of Civil Protection, told the Herald that officials were checking with hospitals to find out how many people were killed or injured. She told the newspaper that authorities are reviewing video footage to find out what exactly caused the accident.

In this picture Fantom from barikad crew just got electrocuted ...

Witnesses say about 20 people may have been killed in the accident. It occurred before dawn Tuesday as thousands of people packed the streets of downtown Port-au-Prince for the raucous celebration.
Authorities were responding to the scene and it was not immediately possible to get an official casualty figure.

People at the scene said the accident occurred when someone on the packed float had used a stick or a pole to move a power line. Some managed to jump off the float and escape, sparking panic in the crowd.

Hundreds of people thronged the General Hospital, some carrying victims and others searching for family members brought by ambulance.

More Info on RockMasters Kanaval Page below where you can watch the Kanaval Live

Monday, December 15, 2014

Haiti PM steps down amid anti-govt protests

Haiti President Michel Martelly is seeking his fourth prime minister since taking office in 2011 after Laurent Lamothe quit to diffuse growing protests over a delayed electoral law that could lead to parliament’s dissolution.

Lamothe, who took office in 2012, stepped down Dec. 14 after a tumultuous week in the Caribbean nation that saw a presidential commission call for his resignation, United Nations troops confronting protesters and a high-level diplomatic effort by the U.S. In a 2 a.m. address to the nation, he said he was leaving with a sense of “duty accomplished.”

The 42-year-old Lamothe had won praise from leaders including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and telecommunications billionaire Denis O’Brien for his efforts to lure investment and rebuild Haiti after a 2010 earthquake killed more than 200,000 people. His resignation may not win over an opposition angered by allegations of government corruption, U.S. involvement in the crisis and the contention that Martelly’s election law proposal was unconstitutional.

“To negotiate with Martelly is useless,” said Senator Westner Polycarpe, one of six lawmakers opposing the law, via e-mail. Polycarpe called for the resignation of some members of the Supreme Court and electoral council. “The formation of a provisional government could pacify the country and help realize credible elections,” he said.

No Quorum

With only 20 of the senate’s 30 seats currently filled because elections haven’t been held, the bloc of six senators can prevent a quorum needed to approve or reject legislation.

“The next few days will be very critical,” said Robert Fatton, a Haitian-born professor of politics at the University of Virginia. “Martelly is now very weakened and there’s a segment of the opposition that will continue to protest and continue to call for his resignation.”
In a nationally-televised address before Lamothe stepped down, Martelly praised him for his “courage and determination to help Haiti.”

“I recognize he is taking this decision to help unblock the political situation,” Martelly said.

Rule by Decree

The resignation doesn’t end the dispute over the electoral law. Local elections that had last been scheduled for October still haven’t taken place. Without a breakthrough, parliament will be dissolved next month and Martelly could rule by decree until elections take place.

“Michel Martelly needs to find a solution to stop the protests in the street by choosing a prime minister from a consensual platform,” said Jean-Junior Joseph, a Haitian political commentator who blogs at the website, in an e-mailed response to questions.

Martelly said negotiations would begin Monday, but he did not lay out a timetable of when an interim prime minister would be selected or say with whom he would be negotiating.

Lamothe and Martelly have courted investors in their bid to boost growth in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, ranked near the bottom of the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business” reports. The nation of 10 million people was rated 163rd out of 175 nations in Transparency International’s 2013 corruption index, behind Venezuela and Zimbabwe. The government still depends on non-profits and foreign aid to provide many basic services.

Cruise Company

Economic growth in Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, isforecast to moderate to 3.7 percent next year from 3.8 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. That compares to 4.2 percent next year for the Dominican Republic and 1.8 percent for Jamaica.

Cruise-ship company Carnival Corp. (CCL) in July announced a $70 million cruise port project on Haiti’s northern Turtle Island, while the government is working with Bermuda-based Lazard Ltd. to raise an investment fund it says can aid the domestic economy.

In a Dec. 11 interview with the Miami Herald, former President Clinton said Lamothe had done a “really good job” and that the country was putting at risk four years of progress since the earthquake.
Demonstrators have taken to the streets in recent weeks to demand that both Martelly and Lamothe step down. On Dec. 12, United Nations peace keepers and Haitian police fired tear gas at protesters as they tried to march on the presidential palace.

U.S. Trip

A committee appointed by Martelly to address the crisis last week recommended that Lamothe, members of his government, the head of the Supreme Court and electoral council members resign to help defuse the crisis.

Following a quick trip to the country by State Department Counselor Thomas Shannon, spokeswomanJen Psaki said the U.S. supported the committee’s work, without specifically endorsing its recommendations.

As he begins negotiating with lawmakers, Martelly will have to appoint an interim prime minister who can work with a deeply polarized opposition, Fatton said. In the meantime, the government will struggle to pass any policy measures.

“We’re in a state of paralysis until there is a resolution and the likeliness of that happening is very full of uncertainty,” he said.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Open letter to members of the Haitian Govt. ; From Dr.Lesly Kernisant

December 10, 2014
To members of the Haitian government,

As a member of the Haitian-American community of New York, I watched intensely the growing disarticulation of the various branches of the current government of Haiti over the past few months. Obviously, as a passive observer, I am asking all our elected officials to put an end to this protracted battle for political supremacy. You have the right to express opposing viewpoints in a democratic system, but to engage in an endless political mud slugging is a clear dereliction of your duties as servants of the people of Haiti, including a large segment of bona fide Haitian citizens living abroad.

For the sake of your local constituency whose interest you were elected to serve, I am appealing to your sense of duty to end the political stalemate using the power of Collaboration over the destructive force of Confrontation. You were all entrusted with the will of the majority to improve their living conditions. Instead, you have spent considerable amount of time promoting political ideologies, name calling, character assassination and have turned the idea of "balance of power" into a battle for "grabbing of power". In the meanwhile, the Haitian electorate, powerless and helpless, continues to pray for their trusted representatives to deliver on your campaign promise of a "better life". They are expecting much needed welfare services, a boom of economic activities, the right to a good education, preservation of civil liberties, safety, justice and security to live free and clear of any danger.

 Sadly, these basic necessities of life expected as part the natural human right package for most citizens of the Western hemisphere, continue to be a dream for most of our compatriots. As unwanted visitors abroad, they are treated like pariahs of society and are being expelled daily from neighboring countries that still use watchdogs, border patrols and newly adopted immigration laws to strip them of their adopted nationality, even those children born of Haitian parents in the host country. From heroes with a proud history of great warriors, we are now carrying the disparaging labels of "beggars of the world" as people and the "failed state" of the Caribbean region. as a country ........
Joining my voice to a chorus of other concerned compatriots, I am urging the country's elected government officials to “do the right thing”.  As a general rule, political stability maintains social control which, in turn, is essential to future economic growth of a country. As such, you, our leaders, should set aside your differences, use your collective effort under the banner of a “Representative Democracy” and make necessary compromises for a quick solution to this simmering political crisis.  While political ideologies are not easily reconciled, divisive issues fueled by political partisanship can be addressed through less disruptive and destabilizing form of disapproval. Time is of essence. We cannot take back the country into a climate of despair and chaos after a long period of relative calmness. When that happens, we will be forced to, once again, rely on the whims and desires of the international community for life-saving rescue missions. As Haitians, we have a rich history and a proud tradition. We cannot continue to perpetrate this self-generating torture of our own people.

While we condemn the explosive nature of your on-going debate on such controversial issues as "checks and balances" in a normal system of governance, it is a legitimate concern to protect the citizens against potential “abuse of power”. All of us from the Diaspora support the existing bicameral form of government that clearly establishes boundaries delineating legal, constitutional, social and political rights of individual citizens. For most of us, having lived in adoptive countries where such principles are held sacred, we understand the need to allow political parties free speech under the constitution, free election for legislatures and a separate, totally independent judiciary. At the same time, we also have a moral obligation to differentiate “the right from wrong”. As a parallel, we cannot get rid of termites in a single room by blowing up the entire house with a stick of dynamites. That would be counterproductive.  Under the constitution, the executive branch works in concert with the other two branches to guarantee “stability of the government”.  We cannot therefore remove a duly elected President by simply waving a mass protest or igniting the popular fuse into a mass mayhem. We just cannot act irresponsibly as leaders whose decisions will impact the lives and livelihood of a nation with a population of 11 millions.

We have to follow the Constitution; the president serves for a fixed term and cannot be removed from office unless we follow the dictum of our Constitution. In the unlikely event of an impeachable offense warranting such a removal from office, there is always an orderly, peaceful procedure to follow. In my view, any attempt at launching a complex and extensive campaign to unseat a duly elected President at the tail end of his constitutional mandate is futile and counterproductive. All of us should operate within the boundaries of reason as we continue to freely express our opposing views. It is fair game to criticize, but it is also fair play to point out key achievements while we highlight the significant failures. 

In my humble opinion, the socio-economic pulse of the country is more palpable now than it has ever been.  As one travels the countryside, there is noticeable improvement of our previously barren national landscape. Some areas are beaming with construction, new creations and lush vegetation. The security situation has had a remarkable improvement and the social scene is now more vibrant than it was four years ago. Arguably, these steps of progress are largely infused with international goodwill, but the government-built platform for change, coordination and collaboration cannot be dismissed as not-enough.

In a country with a culture of poverty where destruction is used as a weapon to erase any structure that memorializes a predecessor’s accomplishment, it is worth-mentioning that the current government has a track record that tends to preserve what is built and build on what was conceived. Hence, this progressive agenda should be considered a great step in the right direction. Conversely, we can cite a few examples of disappointment. We can openly decry the widening economic gap between the haves and the have-nots, the on-going political feud between the legislative and the executive branch of government, the missed opportunities of a high post-quake international interest that has quickly dissipated with very few long term, foreign investments.

Finally, when the glare of the world-wide cameras was turned off on the large number of our citizens, victims of the disastrous earthquake, we have essentially submerged them in the deep recesses of our minds’ distant memory. The flimsy tents of the post-quake era have not yet totally disappeared, a substantial number of homeless families have simply relocated their tents not far away from Port-au-Prince. In fairness tough, one should agree that the fulfillment of all the transformational changes promised and articulated in most presidential inauguration speeches are never implemented within the predicted timeline. It is therefore unfair to use a sort of a knee-jerk skepticism to call for a drastic and immediate change of government.

As we begin a New Year in a couple of weeks, it may be time for all of us to reflect on the past with a renewed sense of “Country first” objective. We have two distinct choices.  We can follow our emotional impulses by mobilizing an already divided population toward a specific ideology. Inevitably, any movement that sparks the emotional tinderbox through civil disobedience can also lead to violence and destructive behavior. Inevitably, the end-results of such a political solution will destabilize the government, plunge the country in a state of chaos and create a perfect reason for the International Big brother to impose a state of emergency in a “failed state” or a “Banana Republic” or the “poorest, most politically volatile Caribbean country”, the same old images of our recent past. That would take us back to a familiar theme” Haiti, back to the future”.

A more rational approach, however, is to invoke our sense of patriotism, the love of country and the well-being of the citizens of Haiti, inside and outside the borders of the country.  Together, we can compromise, we can make deals, we can strategize a socio-economic system designed for the well-being of the people.  Together, we can dream of a country with many centers of economic activities (Decentralization of Port-au-Prince), a country with greater access to healthcare, with equal opportunity for a good education, a country secure enough to guarantee personal freedom for all its citizens and finally, a country whose past image of systemic dysfunction can become a relic of the past. This can become a reality only if all of us, elected officials, community leaders, appointed members of the executives together with the Haitian expatriates embrace the notion of " United, we will succeed, Divided we will surely fail "

Wishing you the best for the holidays,

Lesly Kernisant MD, FACOG
Executive Director of Clinical Practices
AdvantageCare Physicians
441 9th Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 1000
718-422-8030 - Office

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review of the premiere of Madame ou Mademoiselle?: By Jean Claude Elie

Review of the premiere of Madame ou Mademoiselle?
By: Eng. Jean Claude Elie (RockMaster)
November 17, 2014


With more than five years in the making and delayed by numerous starts, stops and restarts, mostly caused by budget constraints, writer & director Sheila Degraff finally pulled the switch and achieved what I, and many skeptics thought would never come to fruition. Yes, director Degraff, you pulled it off on October 26, 2014 with the release of the very first Haitian movie musical “Madame ou Mademoiselle?”

Most, if not all of us, know Sheila as a talented songwriter and vocalist originating from  the roots (racine) music world, as a performer in the group Rara Machine, led by Clifford Sylvain. At that time, a future as a script writer and movie director was surely not part of her plans, I presume.

Many years ago, Sheila had embarked on a project to produce a new music album. The first song she wrote was about a wife singing in anger “Tande’m Tande”..gin yon ti fanm ki vle pran mari’m. As Sheila listened to the finished song, she thought, “Why not create dialog in which the “ti fanm” (Mademoiselle)” replies to the wife (Madame)?. Thus came the next song “Gason marié”.

One thing led to another, culminating in her decision to make the CD into a full featured movie musical.  She then began writing the script for the first Haitian movie musical, “Madame ou Mademoiselle?”


With no budget to hire professional actors, and with little financial sponsorship, producing the movie would be a challenge. So Sheila decided to reach out to personal friends and acquaintances that have talents, most no movie acting experience, to join her in this project.

She subsequently revealed an exceptional skill in casting, as she perfectly matched these mostly rookie actors with roles that each one of them excelled in. It included this writer who had the perfect role of playing himself in a short appearance. Each one of the actors played his or her role to perfection. Namely; Mikerline Pierre (Mamay), Adina Anglade (Kapita), Jean Claude Eugene (Bruno), Mayer Morisette (Pierre), Marjorie Renaud (Lumina), Yatande Boko (Palasso), Steffy Bee (Tamara), only to name a few. In short, she hit a home run in the casting category.

Then came the tedious work and challenges of finding shooting locations, scheduling the actors, technical crew, etc for rehearsals and final takes with the technical director Johnny Regice. Adding to the stress, was the constant search of financial support to cover the mounting expenses.

Hard work and years of perseverance paid off,  and  took us to the Vault Café on October 26, 2014 for the grand premiere of “Madame ou Mademoiselle?”


Anxious, excited and nervous, Sheila was on the phone all morning making sure everything was in place, including calling me, the MC, a least 5 times  stressing “Don’t be late”

Comes 4:00 PM, the scheduled door opening time, there was already a line outside the club. By the time of my arrival at 5PM, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the room was almost full with very few seats left.

As I looked around the room, I observed a public made of a cross section of the Haitian community, including artists, media personalities, politicians, business owners, young people to senior citizen and the general public as a whole. Everyone wearing perfect attire for the occasion. It was a reminder of the old traditional Sunday afternoon at the movies in Haiti.

For an hour before the start of live performances, it was time for socializing, networking and joyous friendly reunions toasted with a cocktail at the bar


Then it was time for the live performances. MC Jean-Claude Elie (RockMaster) took the stage to welcome everyone and announce the start of the festivities. First was the introduction of the star of the night Sheila Degraff, with a brief bio of her voyage from Singer to Script Writer to Movie Director.

Following was a series of lively performances that truly delighted the public. It featured: Blaise (System  Band) and his dancers, singer Jocelyne Dorisme, actress/singer Adina Anglade, Actor/Vocalist Jean Claude Eugene, Actor/R&B Singer Mayer Morisette, Kizomba dance, drum solo, closing with dancers of the Mikerline Dance School. In short it was an hour packed with a variety of exciting performances.


Theater lights out, Silence, Projector Beam streaming across the room;

‘Madame ou Mademoiselle” has finally hit the big screen. and in a split second, Sheila’s dream has become a reality. One could detect a big smile  widening  across her face.

Be careful though! Just as this moment is pure joy, one question remains. Will it be a lasting joy or will disappointment set-in 2 hours later? The answer will be in the hands of the viewing public and the critics, once the room’s lights are back on.

As the minutes kept ticking, scenes after scenes on the big screen, a sense of relief started to built,  as laughter, applause, tension, silence, sudden screams, and all the emotions which are signs of a great movie filled the room for the full 2 hours.

Then : “THE END”. Lights are back on, followed by applause and a standing ovation. Sheila’s big smile and joy has survived and will last.

The critics were unanimous. “Great Script, Great Music, Fun and Exciting Movie”.

Now, it’s time for you, the reader, to taste the feeling of being present by watching this condensed video which I put together with highlights of what is reported above.
Jean Claude Elie, Eng
RockMasters Marketing Services

Sunday, October 19, 2014

'American Idol' alum Joanne Borgella dies at 32

Singer and model Joanne Borgella, an "American Idol" contestant in 2008, died on Saturday at age 32 after a battle with cancer, her family said on her Facebook page.

"With heavy hearts, we are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved Joanne," the family wrote. "Although our family is suffering with this great loss, we find comfort in the closeness Joanne shared with the Lord. We know her spirit still shines and will continue to live on in heaven."

The New York-born Haitian-American entertainer made it to the top 24 of "American Idol's" seventh season, three years after appearing on "Mo'Nique's Fat Chance," a contest for plus-size models. She went on to model professionally for brands such as Ashley Stewart, Macy's and Nordstrom, and created her own jewelry and plus-size clothing line. She also appeared on "Curvy Girls," which airs on English-language Latino network NUVOtv.

"All of us at NUVOtv are deeply saddened at the news of Joanne Borgella's passing. We are thankful to have known such a courageous woman with a beautiful voice who brought passion, faith and heart to everything she did. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this very difficult time," NUVOtv spokeswoman Diane Castro said.

Borgella went public with her throat cancer diagnosis last year in a YouTube video, telling fans that it had spread to her chest. Since then she has documented her treatment on Facebook.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


We are pleased to present you with this Video Newsreel recapping the 3 days activities and speeches of Haiti's government while in NY for the 69th Assembly of the United Nation.

This video presentation is the product of a week's work compiling videos, pictures etc of the speeches and meetings by the President and Prime Minister. It is meant to be informative and to make you feel that you were present for the ride. From the arrivals to NY to meetings with heads of states, UN Committees, TV interviews. Including the full presidential address to the UN, and closing with a lightning and exhilarating appearance in Brooklyn to address the Diaspora



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Former President Jean-Claude Duvalier dead at 63

Jean-Claude Duvalier, a former president of Haiti known as Baby Doc who ruled the country with a bloody brutality and then shocked the country anew with a sudden return from a 25-year exile in 2011, died on Saturday.

Mr. Duvalier, 63, died of a heart attack at his home, his lawyer told The Associated Press. President Michel J. Martelly announced the death on Twitter.

Mr. Duvalier continued to defend what human rights workers called one of the most oppressive governments in the Western Hemisphere, following in the footsteps of his father, François, known as Papa Doc, who also died suddenly, in 1971. The son was 19 when he assumed the post “president for life,” as he and his father called it, becoming the youngest head of state at the time.

He never apologized for atrocities, including brutal crackdowns on opponents at the hands of the feared Tonton Macoutes, a civilian militia that left a thousand people, if not more, dead, disappeared or illegally detained in harsh prisons.

Indeed, he defended himself as victims of his government pursued cases in Haitian courts on charges of corruption and human rights abuses. Mr. Duvalier had appeared in court and calmly denied any wrongdoing and even asserted the country was better off when he ruled.

“Were there deaths and summary executions under your government?” a judge asked him at a hearing in March 2013.

“Deaths exist in all countries,” Mr. Duvalier replied almost inaudibly. “I didn’t intervene in the activities of the police.”

He regularly dined in restaurants in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, and attended events at the invitation of Mr. Martelly, whose administration has included relatives and allies of people associated with Mr. Duvalier.

This year, his old political party announced that it would field candidates in elections and opened an office, though analysts were not sure if it was a serious move or a thumb in the eye of the rival he loathed and who succeeded him, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, another formerly exiled president who also returned and still is a political force.

Mr. Duvalier fled the country in 1986, as political repression and worsening economic conditions set off violent unrest in what was then and still is the hemisphere’s poorest country. He asked France for asylum and the United States for the plane that would take him there, an American official said at the time.

His departure set the stage for democratic, though tumultuous, elections. Human rights groups have said that he looted Haiti’s treasury of millions of dollars and has largely lived off ill-gotten gains ever since.

His presence in the country, and the fact that he will now escape trial, appalled victims and human rights workers.

“On Duvalier’s death I’m thinking of the look in my mother’s eyes when she talks about her brother Joel who was disappeared by that dictator,” Patrick Gaspard, a Haitian-American who is the American ambassador to South Africa, said on Twitter. “News of the passing of Duvalier makes me honor my father and generations of Haitians who resisted that vicious dictatorship.”

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
Mr. Duvalier was born July 3, 1951, in Port-au-Prince. Biographical sketches published at the time he became president describe him as an introvert who liked fast cars and jazz and was a martial arts enthusiast. He spoke English, Spanish and French and attended classes at the University of Haiti, though diplomats whispered that he was unprepared for office and speculated that his father’s ministers would be the power behind the throne.

But Mr. Duvalier took obvious cues from his father and quickly squashed whatever dissent emerged.

He curried favor with the United States and exploited its Cold War aims to ensure that Haiti did not fall under Cuba’s sway.

Investment increased and he pushed an urbanization program. He welcomed nongovernment organizations to fill in what his government could not or would not do, leading to a heavy presence that still exists today.

“The years of Jean-Claude Duvalier were also the time of a ramping up of the current highly fragmented landscape of aid delivery in Haiti,” said Laurent Dubois, an expert on modern Haitian history at Duke University.

Jean-Claude Duvalier inherited a carefully constructed state apparatus for political repression from his father, and he largely maintained it during his regime,” Mr. Dubois said. “But he also cultivated new connections with the U.S., seeking new types of investment in the country. The model of using small manufacturing to expand the economy — some talked of Haiti becoming the ‘Taiwan of the Caribbean’ — was a key part of his economic policy, though even he later admitted that its ultimate success in alleviating poverty was quite limited.”

As political oppression mounted, so did stories of his extravagances. When he fled Haiti, American officials said he held $200 million to $500 million in foreign bank accounts and had a reputation for million-dollar vacations at luxury resorts, as millions of Haitians lived in squalor and scrounged for food.

While in exile, he kept a low profile but he suddenly returned to Haiti in Jan. 16, 2011, saying that the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the capital broke his heart and that he wanted to help rebuild the country. But others wondered if he was making a bid to secure money still stashed away; he had admitted he spent a fortune on jewelry, trips and an expensive divorce from his first wife, Michele Bennett, scion of a coffee-producing family.

He looked frail and far thinner than the 250 pounds he once carried on his six-foot frame, and with occasional trips to the hospital, Haitian media speculated that he had returned home to die.

He is survived by his wife, Veronique Roy, and a son and daughter from his first marriage, François Nicolas and Anya.