Haiti Carnival Tragedy: What Was Planned, What Was an Accident?
by Ezili Danto - Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
Evidence Shows More Than 17 People Died: A Rose Crucifixion?- Remèt Kadav yo!
At 2:48 a.m. on Tuesday, February 17, 2015, during the second day of Haiti’s annual Mardi Gras carnival, while on his float, Daniel Darinus, known as “Fantom” who is a member of the Barikad Crew band hit an overhead, high-voltage wire and set off a mass electrocution and stampede tragedy.
See also Fantom hitting the high-voltage wire with the top of his head in X8 slow motion.
Repòtaj Altagracia Jean Joseph nan Repiblik Dominikèn | Konpatriyòt Jean Robert Elie sou kanaval la.
Nouvèl- 17 Fevriye 2015 - Emisyon Eritye Papa Desalin Madi 17 Fevriye 2015
Fantom was hospitalized and is recovering. No one on the Barakad Crew float died. Champ de Mars is the main public park of Port au Prince where carnival stands lined both sides of the street for the three day event. Overloaded carnival floats move through the tightly packed, narrow route on the Champ de Mars in front of the grounds of the razed presidential palace. The accident happened at Champ de Mars, right in front of the all-pink, palace-like presidential carnival stand and across from a Mayor of Port au Prince-sponsored cemetery stand.
There is much controversy about the number of people who were electrocuted, and how many were crushed in the stampede. Some say they heard shooting. The government authorities announced that 17 people died and 76 were injured, all, from electrocution and the stampede.
Available video evidence suggests the electrical current arced from the power line to the micro-phone of the lead singer Fantom of Barikad Crew. Then traveled through the conductive framework of the float, earthing and electrocuting carnival revelers at ground level, who were in direct contact with live sections of the float and others in physical contact with them at the time. Carnival goers were crowded, like tightly packed-sardines, on all four sides of the vehicle. It’s a visual nightmare to watch. We believe if the entire charge had passed only through Fantom, he would not be alive today. Most of the charge must have traveled through his micro-phone lead. (See, Answering Questions About the Tragedy.)
Eyewitnesses insist that upwards to 100 people died on February 17, 2015. If true, where are all the bodies? Only 17 of the dead were acknowledged at the empty casket state funeral on February 21, 2015. But there seems to be more than 17 dead just in the first photo of clustered deaths, posted above.
THERE ARE LEGITIMATE FEARS OF ORGAN TRAFFICKING IN HAITI
The carnival deaths and the missing bodies bring up the spectacle of organ trafficking that plagues Haiti and African countries, more so with the advent of each new killing catastrophe. During the Haiti earthquake, then Prime Minister of Haiti, Jean-Max Bellerive told CNN about the organ trafficking and sale of Haiti children in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. UNICEF said 15 Haiti children were snatched from hospitals in Haiti and there was a group of US charity workers who we jailed for kidnapping 33 Haiti children. At that time, the head of the MINUSTAH/UN forces was Edmond Mulet. Mulet was once arrested for child trafficking in Guatemala and recently his children trafficking past is catching up with him. The Haiti government and security forces are still under the rule of the Charitable Industrial Complex and the UN-MINUSHAH forces.
FAMILIES DEMAND RETURN OF THE MISSING BODIES
The names of the 17 Champ de Mars dead victims, released by the government are: Jeudy Perterson, Joseph Jeff Darel, Lundy Borgella, Cénat Pegyve, Cedieu Joseph, Johny Hilaire, Alain Paul, Alice Bureau, Jean Rony Civil, Felix Origène, Fedelyn Joseph, Rosier Axianax, Yanick Ferdinand, Jasmine Capitaine, Kenson Thermidor, Louis René, et Gabriel Jacques Leconte.
The authorities released these names, but not the autopsies they claim were conducted before the public funeral.
The visually well organized, quick government funeral hasn’t closed the need for those who can’t find their family members to understand and find closure about their loved ones. There are reports of people being shot that night. We do not see any evidence of this in the videos. These matters require an independent judicial investigation.
Carnival Electrocution, 2015 | Front view of Barikad Crew truck slowly moving through the crowd. Side view beneath the singer at the arcing moment where crowd gets electrocuted and back view of running, scattering and trampling. (See it in slow motion at the moment of ground impact.)
Electrical surge through some micro-phone leads as Fantom contacts the power line. Source for illustration: Mike Perrett. Thanks to Mike Perrett for the video uploads and slow motion footages. Good job Mike! Mesi anpil.
See also Fantom hitting the high-voltage wire with the top of his head in X8 slow motion.
Haiti Carnival 2015 | Electrocution and AftermathThe negligence that allows carnival floats to be set so high as to touch live wires should be accounted for and not allowed to happen, ever again. Government entities in charge of public security are accused of putting carnival revelers in danger. If the narrow area had not been so congested with people and the people were not touching the float, the deaths would probably not have occurred. The regime is also heatedly criticized for not putting the concerns of the victims’ families at the center of the grief vigil and funeral. It’s fine for the State to pay for the funerals. But insensitive to go on with the carnival the day of the tragedy. Unacceptable for it to refuse the families access to the remains of their loved ones – remèt kadav yo (return the corpses).
The tragedy began with a terrible accident. But there are so many tragedies in this situation. First of all, just last week Henry Jean Claude, a Haitian in the Dominican Republic was beaten, strangled, publicly lynched and left to hang in a Santiago public park. Haitians in the Dominican Republic are facing state terror, daily slaughters, the theft of their belongings and arbitrary deportation even if they’ve legally resided in the DR for 80 years. Instead of showing national concern, the Martelly-Paul regime holds a massive national carnival to dance, revel and waste monies.
After the Henry Jean Claude’s hanging, the Haiti government reportedly gifted 1,000 pesos or approximately $223 dollars to Henry Jean Claude’s young widow. Erzuline Celuma, the grieving widow has two small girls to raise. She was offered no protection by the Haiti government. Contrast this with the monies the Martelly regime spends on national carnival and the luxurious $450,000 palace-like stand, complete with waiting rooms, bathrooms and air-conditioning, built just to be used for an event that will last only three days.
With all the problems the country is facing, the people who lost their lives shouldn’t even have been there if Haiti had a responsible government.
Secondly, for months, the people have been daily protesting the high gas prices, high costs of living, the dissolution of Parliament, the unconstitutional reign of the Martelly regime. So, how does it make sense to waste so much monies on carnival to begin with?
Haiti needs infrastructure, clean water, sanitation, sewer systems, good roads, food sovereignty and local jobs. But the Martelly regime prioritizes carnival drinking, dancing and singing. It abandons the Haitians being terrorized in the Dominican Republic; abandons justice for the 10,000 dead UN-cholera victims, the 850,000 infected ones; ignores the homeless quake victims from the January 2010 earthquake that are still getting evicted from tarp and tent villages and living in pure squalor. Deception and dictatorship are not democracy. It’s unspeakably cruel and terrorizing.
Lastly, the carnival was scheduled for three days, February 15, 16, and 17th. After the accident, Martelly and his crew announced that the last day of carnival was cancelled. But just as Bill Clinton did not build Haiti back better, Martelly did not cancel the carnival. The show went on to ceremonially show Martelly, like Bill Clinton, can handle an emergency with competency. It was smoke and mirrors. A mourning narrative repeated by the irresponsible media. The hideous truth is that the Martelly regime used the carnival tragedy the way their handlers at USAID, the UN, the NGOs and the Clinton Foundation used the earthquake tragedy. Afterwards, the nation was left bleeding, filled with questions, more traumatized and in more grief. (See, Answering Questions About the Tragedy ; The Carnival Was Not Cancelled and A Rose Crucifixion But Not Vodun.)
ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CARNIVAL TRAGEDY
Questions About Electrocuted Victims With No Outward Trauma
Since the carnival tragedy, Haiti activists have been called upon to advocate for the carnival goers’ right to get answers to questions the US-puppets seem too busy posturing for carnival photo-ops to publicly provide.
At first, when folks came to HLLN to say that the dead folks clustered on the electrocuted side of the Barikad Crew float or seen in photos looked more asleep than dead and had no electricity entry and exit wounds, we wondered if toxic gasses could account for the clustered deaths that showed no visible outward trauma? We’re not experts on how an electrocuted body looks like. It took some research and time to speak with doctors and understand enough to try to explain what we were told, which is that AC current causes instantaneous cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation. It’s not uncommon to have no visible outward trauma in electrocution cases.
Other questions the family’s raised were about why the people on the float were not killed. How did the people on the ground get electrocuted if the power-line did not fall to the ground and no one on the float died? In an effort to answer credibly, we publicly discussed the questions on-line, invited assistance and scoured tons of on-line video footages to locate the best ones from all angles.
Knowledgeable folks who we sent the videos to and consulted with maintained that it’s not at all surprising that the people on top of the float weren’t shocked, since they were not between the singer and the ground. In a power line electrocution, the current is divided equally among everyone who is in contact directly or indirectly with the victim who touched the line. Fantom who was victim #1 had surface burns, but most of the others would not have visible trauma.
Watch the three videos (posted on the side panel and also here, here, and here) which show Fantom getting electrocuted and best explains how the people on the ground were electrocuted.
The first video video shows the front view of the Barikad Crew truck slowly moving through the crowd. The camera pans for a side view beneath the singer. Shows the moment the crowd gets the electric shock or electrocuted. There’s a flashing spark, people drop instantaneously. There’s a back view of running, scattering and trampling. We’ve cropped and slowed down the first video video by 8 times to make it easier to follow what happened. The slow motion footage shows the moment of impact. How the people touching the float on the left (Fantom side) and only side the electricity traveled were electrocuted and the aftermath back view.
The second video shows the actual front top view of the electrocution of the shirtless Fantom, but there’s no float panic. One sees the rush starting at the back/side view of the float on the ground level. You hear someone say, “gen moun ki mouri anba cha.” – some people are died under the float. See the second video cropped and in X8 slow motion showing Fantom hitting the high-voltage wire with the top of his head.
The third video (13:47) shows a better angled ground view and the longer aftermath footage of the accident. It shows that at the instant of the power-line accident, the crowd of people on the left side, walking next to the float with their hands against the float and everyone within about 5 feet of the rear dropped instantly to the ground, while people right next to them seemed unaffected by the electrocution. There was then a brief panic. Some of the people on the left-side got up and ran after they were shocked. Others from the back began jumping off the float to run. It looks like at least two victims were trampled perhaps 15 ft behind the float. They were later attended to by medics, and didn’t seem to get up. No gun shots are heard on the videos we’ve watched. From what is seen in the third video (13:47 minute) time span, carnival goers, the light green cap-wearing folks from the National Carnival Committee (NCC) and some emergency medical units were there picking up the injured and rushing them out of the area.
In terms of organization during a national emergency, the actually Saturday, February 21, 2015 funeral was visually well executed with 17 empty caskets. But if you look at the videos of the tragedy, some police authorities wandered into the accident area, but didn’t seem to be very effective or have any unified plan or actions.
If more updates come in, we will share it at this post or perhaps in a later essay. There was a power outage at some point, which lasted for 6 or so minutes. Questions remain as to how many died from electrocution, from the float running over them, from being crushed by the crowd, from the little bit of running that’s observable. The victims’ families have the right to examine the remains, see the autopsies, be told the truth so they may get better closure. (For more on the carnival tragedy, go to A Rose Crucifixion but not Vodun ; The Carnival Was Not Cancelled, and More Than 17 People Died In Haiti Carnival Tragedy.)
WHAT THE QUESTION OF SORCERY AND SACRIFICE REALLY MEANS IS: WAS THIS TRAGEDY PLANNED?
A Rose-crucifixion but not Vodun. Madigra m pa pè w, se moun ou ye.
The carnival tragedy is a product of poor infrastructure and governmental failures. Mysticism cannot be a scapegoat for this catastrophe. The Martelly regime’s cemetery stand, where the accident occurred is filled with the old European pirate’s skull and bones pirate flag symbol. This indeed is a fitting depiction for the plundering US-puppet dictatorship and US occupation of Haiti behind UN mercenary guns. Skull and bones are not Vodun symbols.
In Haiti whenever something bad happens, inevitably someone will blame it on Vodun. Vodun is African. God is the white Jesus according to Western ethos. So, it’s not surprising that many are negatively connecting Vodun to the carnival tragedy. This is irresponsible and lazy. Foreigners and clueless Haitians need to stop feeding that colonial narrative. But what gives this more legs is that the electrocution took place across from the unpopular government’s cemetery stand.
The taunting cemetery billboard stand is sponsored by the mayor of Port-au-Prince, supposedly for the cemetery. Which needs advertising? Yes, you can see the credulity at the outset. It gets worse.
Next to the cemetery stand is where the Barikad Crew float had the accident. The Government’s cemetery is also located not too far away from Martelly’s $450,000 palace-like presidential float. Of course, this only aggravated and provoked morbid rumors, especially with the coded, dual meanings depicted on the cemetery stand like “Frap La” – “Nap Manyen Yo” and “Frap la Revelasyon 2015.“
The coded meanings are readily understandable to the pro-democracy masses in Haiti. Why would the major of Port-au-Prince would sponsor such a stand? Probably because he was appointed by Martelly and in his younger days, Martelly participated in FRAPH, a paramilitary group that helped take down the first democratically elected Aristide government and kept it out of power from 1991 through to 1994.
There’s a sort of Bill Clinton plausible deniability for Haiti officials when they’re charged with taunting the anti-dictatorship protestors and opposition by using carnival and carnival funds for political purposes. There’s a carnival group called Frap La, which literally means “Frap (better known as FRAPH) is still here.” So, it could be argued that it’s the words from that band’s name and music that are part of what’s etched on the government’s cemetery stand. There is no political message directed at the anti-Martelly demonstrators. But then why would such a personal artist’s message be sponsored at the cemetery by the offices of the Mayor of Port-au-Prince?
While the Martelly regime basks in its sudden good fortune in free and heightened publicity from the carnival tragedy, elsewhere in the nation, tensions are running high. People are scared, looking for answers. It seems to Haitians that their lives are being sacrificed left and right with poor infrastructure that causes deaths while the rich live well, drink clean water, have year-round electricity and want to bring in tourists on lands taken from Haitians. The harsh reality is no one with access to any world power seems to care about what happens to Haitians. Certainly not the Martelly dictatorship or its Pamela White/Samatha Powers “Core Group” handlers.
It’s in this context we find certain Haiti journalists, commentators and plain ordinary folks saying, out-loud that Vodun was used to cause the accident or, on the other hand, blaming the carnival victims for their fate for participating in Martelly’s carnival in the first place. Both are untenable. Black life matters, is most precious. None of the carnival goers deserve the bad fortune that unfurled. And certainly the Ancient Ones would not be our warrior ancestors, would not be our winning ancetors of the Haiti revolution if their way (Vodun) would sanction Haiti blood to fuel Empire’s vampires.
The pink carnival stand with the cemetery motif where the accident took place is definitely not Vodouist in design. First off, it’s pink and green, with skulls and bones, a green pentagram and two bodiless heads with the top of their BRAINS chopped off. This makes no sense in Vodun. Guede yo, Baron Samedi, Grann Brigit are not PINK nor GREEN in vibration, vevé nor color. Skull and bones is a European secret society. It’s commonly associated with European elites from an undergraduate senior secret society at Yale University. Members of the power elite, US skull and bones secret society include current US Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, former president George W. Bush. (Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton also went to Yale, but for their law degrees in 1973.)
The strange pink stand has an eye of Horus under one of the skull and bones and it’s painted in green. I’d guess this, combined with the implication that FRAPH is still alive in Haiti – “Frap La” is written on the float – could be some dictatorship/US intelligence operatives making fun of the Haiti struggle to end the outsourced occupation and the Martelly dictatorship by telling pro-democracy militants the CIA-created FRAPH death squads are still around. Frap la!
Deceive, divide, dominate is a tried and true colonial blueprint. But this attempt to show Martelly’s invincibility with a pink cemetery stand or to create chaos and a sort of Papa-Doc psychological terror with the cemetery stand was executed in such a manner that shows the artists and sponsors of the stand have no knowledge of the Egyptian mystery system nor Vodun. The brainless clown faces and their symbolism on this cemetery carnival float are NOT connected to traditional Haitian symbols, much less Vodouist. My point is both evil or good deeds are not mysterious. They’re the work of human beings: Madigra m pa pè w, se moun ou ye. Deliberately or inadvertent that’s the question some Haitians are asking about the carnival tragedy. It’s natural for the families of the victims to want more information and an investigation. They want access to the corpse of their loved ones to examine their deaths.
Haiti carnival should not be an instrument of propaganda for the presidential palace. The Martelly regime routinely excludes carnival artists for lyrics bashing Martelly – their artistic and cultural expressions. But he uses public funds to promote more amenable artists or to fund a huge $450,000 pink, National Palace-sized presidential stand. Or, a Mayor of Port-au-Prince carnival stand with veiled death-threat messages aimed at his detractors and the anti-dictatorship demonstrators. (See, More Than 17 People Died In Haiti Carnival Tragedy ; Answering Questions About the Tragedy; and The Carnival Was Not Cancelled.)
THE CARNIVAL WAS NOT CANCELLED
The Martelly dictatorships’ political use of the tragedy is unseemly. The carnival was not cancelled. It went forward, but pitched to media cameras and the nation, as an all-white vigil and a state funeral.
Something cannot be both planned and an accident. The carnival tragedy was set off when Fantom’s head hit the overhead power line. But, there is truth to the observation that something was planned. That something is the aftermath. That perception is not a figment of the people’s fertile imagination. The band played on. Martelly, the self-styled carnival king was center stage. Outrageously, there was no breathing room between the tragedy and the resumption of the carnival.
The deaths occurred on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 2:48 p.m. The government announced on that same day that the carnival was cancelled and a three day period of national mourning would began. But in reality, on the day of the deaths, by 5:00 p.m., the carnival had resumed.
Martelly couldn’t be bothered to really change or delay his big carnival finale plans just because untold numbers of carnival revelers were electrocuted and killed on the second day of his carnival. You see, he’d already paid an unprecedented $450,000 on his own palatial spot at the public square to view the festivities with special friends and entourage. So, blithely, the Martelly presidential band marched on, even better with Martelly marching along, for the cameras and international media, while grieving families and the victims’ friends were scouring hospitals, demanding answers and searching everywhere for their missing relatives. Ceremony and pageantry was valued more than substance.
Martelly just took the opportunity of the tragedy to put on a more effective political show for the cameras. His regime faces constant and widespread demands that he steps down. This was his well-scripted, manna from heaven, big Hollywood comeback. An all-white-outfitted carnival event, etched from the massive, pre-planned street celebrations that normally closes out the carnival festivities. The usual finale was re-formatted and pitched as a mourning vigil for the carnival victims and grieving families. Different sectors participated. The image projected was of an inclusive and popular Martelly government. The reality is the Martelly regime is most known in Haiti, these last three years for its unpopularity, exclusion, elitism, and ruling by decree. People go to carnival not because they approve of Martelly, but because it’s free and distracting. Which is exactly why Martelly holds so many of them. It’s a cheap way, like the old time Roman gladiator games, to keep the people busily distracted from the country’s real issues. It’s a handy way to stop, at least for three days, the widespread demonstrations against his illegitimate rule.
The Band Played On: A Carnival Parade Pitched to The Public as a Vigil
The handling of the vigil without family participation, the sudden great organization skills of Martelly’s emergency response, and the fact that the incident happened across from the weird government-sponsored cemetery death stand, which doesn’t fit into a happy carnival theme, understandably upsets and perplexes many Haitians. The government could dispel this confusion if it put the people’s needs for answers ahead of its media publicity stunts.
The authorities in charge of public security, including the police, the Mayor of Port au Prince, the Director General of Electricity of Haiti (EDH), the National Carnival Committee (NCC), the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Culture and the President, all should be held accountable for the overcrowding and patently unsafe public conditions that led to the Champ De Mars tragedy. The Commissaire de Gouvernment (prosecutors office) must open up an investigation to assure impunity does not reign, due reparations are accorded to the victims and measures to improve public security at future carnivals are put in place. (See also, More Than 17 People Died In Haiti Carnival Tragedy ; Answering Questions About the Tragedy; and A Rose Crucifixion but not Vodun.)
Ezili Dantò, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN)
and Free Haiti Movement
February 22, 2015
“The West has two faces. One evil.”