August 12, 2010
On this day three years ago, Haitian human rights defender and Fanmi Lavalas supporter Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine disappeared, not to be seen or heard from since, aside from chilling phone calls his captors made a few days later to his relatives in which Lovinsky could be heard in the background. Initially it seemed the kidnapping was a common kidnapping-for-ransom, but as weeks turned to months, Lovinsky’s family, friends, and colleagues increasingly became convinced that his disappearance was a political, not a common, crime.
International pleas from human rights groups, U.S. members of Congress, and individuals around the world called for the Haitian government and police to make finding Lovinsky a priority. Yet three years later, it is unclear that any serious effort has ever been made to find Lovinsky or discover what happened to him.
In the aftermath of the 2004 coup against Aristide, Haitian police and death squads moved to round up or eliminate Fanmi Lavalas leaders and Aristide supporters around the country. Lovinsky left Haiti and would spend the next two-and-a-half years in the Washington, D.C. area. While in D.C., he never ceased to speak out against the undemocratic removal of Haiti’s democratically elected government, or the rampant human rights violations that followed. When he decided to return to Haiti in 2006, he did so knowing well that his life would still be in danger, but this didn’t deter him from organizing protests and denouncing the ongoing persecution of Fanmi Lavalas members and the forced exile of President Aristide.
As the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti wrote in October 2007:
Mr. Pierre-Antoine is a prominent critic of outside interference in Haitian affairs, and of economic policies that fail to afford the average Haitian the minimum essentials necessary for a dignified existence. He is perhaps Haiti’s leading proponent of a constitutional amendment to bar the return of Haiti’s armed forces.
Mr. Pierre-Antoine has consistently received death threats because of his human rights work, since at least 1996. He was forced to flee Haiti following the February 29, 2004 coup d’état, and he spent the next three years in Washington, D.C., speaking out against the repression in his homeland. He returned to Haiti soon after the restoration of democracy in May, 2006, despite more death threats. Mr. Pierre-Antoine is active in the Fanmi Lavalas (Lavalas Family) political party, and some Fanmi Lavalas components have called for him to run for Senator in the elections scheduled for later this year.
Lovinsky is one of thousands that could today be helping Haiti reemerge from the rubble it still finds itself in, seven months after the earthquake, were he allowed the chance.