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Archive for the ‘France’ Category

No Mention Here In the USA Of Haitians Forced to Flee Dominican Republic for Haiti

NB Commentary: Sometimes it is hard for me to wrap my head around the dichotomy that the US calls foreign policy. On one hand they support “freedom fighters” who want to dispose of an evil dictator, on the other hand they prop up evil dictators and guarantee them long life and protection.
In the case of immigration they want to take in Syrians, whom they have no idea what type of social ills they may bring to this country or how many of them may be disgruntled refugees ready to be radicalized, and yet, not far away to the south of the US are poor and starving people, not terrorist but folks who are suffering unfathomable obscenity due to their position on top of tremendous, gas, oil and various other mineral reserves. I am so struck by this and often find myself in a quandary to make sense of it.
Then like clockwork, the little voice inside my head reminds me of what the geopolitical priority of the US & NATO are really based on. And while these “facts” may give way to lesser confusion, it still boggles my mind.

Posted by El-Bull on December 14, 2015 at 5:04am

Along this arid strip of borderland, the river brings life. Its languid waters are used to cook the food, quench the thirst and bathe the bodies of thousands of Haitian migrants who have poured onto its banks from the Dominican Republic, fleeing threats of violence and deportation.
These days, the river also brings death. Horrid sanitation has led to a cholera outbreak in the camps, infecting and killing people who spilled over the border in recent months in hopes of finding refuge here. 
Nearly 3,000 people have arrived in the makeshift camps since the spring, leaving the Dominican Republic by force or by fear after its government began a crackdown on illegal migrants. Some, born in the Dominican Republic but unable to prove it, cannot even speak French or Creole, Haiti’s main languages, showing how wide a net the Dominican government has cast.

    Haitian officials have done almost nothing to support them. The population is scattered across the drought-racked southwest border, mostly barren plains. Families of eight sleep in tents fashioned from sticks and cardboard. They drink river water, struggle to find food, and make do without toilets or medical attention.

    Families wash clothes in the river that runs by Tête à l’Eau, Haiti, where many who fled the Dominican Republic have settled. CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times
    Now stateless, the refugees exist in the literal and figurative space between two nations that, along with their island, share a history steeped in hostility. Some of the camps were created decades ago, during another iteration of their troubled pasts, but had long since been abandoned. Now, in a new cycle of tension between the nations, they are packed to capacity once again.
    The plight along the border is reminiscent, on a smaller scale, of the devastating 2010 earthquake, which claimed the lives of 100,000 to 316,000 Haitians and summoned a wave of billions of dollars in aid. Even today, more than 60,000 displaced people still reside in tent cities around the country.
    Only this time, the upheaval is man-made, the result of the policies of the Dominican Republic and the seeming indifference of the Haitian government. The authorities in Haiti do not even formally recognize that the camps exist.
    “I haven’t felt normal since my son died,” said David Toussaint, 55, whose 9-year-old boy was one of at least 10 people in the camps to die of cholera. Officials say more than 100 people have been infected.
    He lifted himself from a bed his family built in their tent, covered with a frayed tarp. He spends his days there, immobilized by grief. An acrid smell filled the hot air as dust swirled into the tent, cloaking everything.
    “This is no way to live,” he said.
    When the Dominican government announced that all migrants in the country illegally had to register this June, mass deportations were feared. Those later rounded up were taken largely from remote areas, and bused quietly to border crossings. In total, more than 10,000 people were expelled officially, with nearly another 10,000 people claiming to have been kicked out as well, according to the International Organization for Migration.
    But in this climate of fear, an even bigger phenomenon emerged: Tens of thousands of people of Haitian descent decided to leave the Dominican Republic on their own, rather than risk deportation, including some who were born on Dominican soil and knew nothing of Haiti.  
    Why Is Haiti So Poor
    Published on Mar 5, 2013
    Hugo Chavez shares thoughts of why Haiti is poor. The following is a transcript of the speech given prior to Hugo Chavez’s death on March 05, 2013. Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías born on July 28, 1954 – passed away on March 5, 2013)


    Vive Haiti!
    Haiti, the Black Jacobins, that of Toussaint Louverture.
    Haiti that of Pétion.
    Haiti, from where Miranda arrived with our flag, it, and a dream of several years, and a project: the South American revolution.
    Haiti, that of Bolivar.
    Haiti, that of the expeditions of Los Cayos, sister Haiti, Haiti, painful reality.
    Fidel Castro, as always, continues to launch his thoughts, his ideas, his contributions to the world in which we live. And this afternoon I received – this morning, rather – the reflections of Fidel, his most recent.
    Fidel said, permit me to read some of these deep thoughts of our companion, comrade, commander.
    I read: “The tragedy excites, in good faith, a lot of people, specially because of its natural character. But very few of them stop and ask the question: why Haiti is a poor country?
    Why does the population depend almost 50% on orders sent from the outside by its families.
    Why not also analyze the realities that led to the current situation of Haiti and its enormous suffering? “
    I would add that this painful moment seems opportune to reflect and get to the bottom of things: why haiti is so poor?
    Why is there so much misery in Haiti?
    I continue reading Fidel:
    “The most curious in this story is that nobody said a word to remember that Haiti was the first country in which enslaved Africans 400,000 of them, trafficked by Europeans, rose against white owners 30,000 plantation sugar cane and coffee, fulfilling the first great social revolution of our hemisphere. Pages of unsurpassable glory could be written around the earth.
    The most eminent general was defeated, Napoleon, out there. Haiti is the net product colonialism. Haiti is the net product of colonialism and imperialism, of more than a century of use of its human resources in the hardest work, of military interventions and the extraction of its wealth.
    This historical oblivion is not so serious to the reality which is that Haiti is the shame for our time, in a world where those prevail on the exploitation and plundering of the vast majority of the inhabitants of the planet. “
    And then continues in Fidel and his reflections by launching rays of light that lives for this moment humanity. But it is by here we start:
    “Haiti is a net product of colonialism. Haiti is a product of imperialism. As not only will complete colonialism, as not only will complete imperialism, and I go further: as not only will complete capitalism, we have situations and people living the painful situation facing Haiti.”
    I confess my personal experience, when several years, for the first time, we visited Haiti. I confess, I wanted to cry myself. With one of my companions, I went to see these people in the street, with elation, hope, magic and misery, and I remembered a phrase that came out of the soul, I told my companion nearest the descent of a van – we wanted to walk for a while and we ended up running into a street – I told him: look, mate, the gates of hell, inhabited by black angels.
    Because it is a people full of it: this is an angelic people.
    I ratify what President Sylia has decreed: while our commitment to our people, all the people, the Venezuelan people are with Haiti, the Bolivarian revolution is with the people of Haiti, with its pain, with its tragedy, with its hope.
    — in Caracas, Distrito Federal.

    INTERNATIONAL COMMENTARY
    Border Tensions Are on the Rise Between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
    James M. Roberts / October 02, 2015 / 
    Excerpt: “This summer, officials in the Dominican Republic (DR) began deporting Haitian migrants and Dominican-born but undocumented people of Haitian descent.That decision has received wide attention, and the DR government of Danilo Medina has been criticized by human rights activists.
    For some Haitians, the deportation order invoked memories of the notoriousParsley Massacre of 1937, when Dominican President Trujillo ordered troops to kill thousands of Haitian migrants living along the border of the two countries.
    The rekindling of old racial conflicts under the new DR deportation policy may be a populist attempt to stoke support during stagnant economic times in advance of 2016 presidential election in the DR. The Obama administration has reportedly leaned heavily on Medina’s government to ease the deportation order.”

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    France the Arch Enemy of Africa

    14 African Countries Forced by France to Pay Colonial Tax For the Benefits of Slavery and Colonization

    By: Mawuna Remarque KOUTONIN
    Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 at 3:41 pm.
    Africa-France-relationship. Did you know many African countries continue to pay colonial tax to France since their independence till today!
    When Sékou Touré of Guinea decided in 1958 to get out of french colonial empire, and opted for the country independence, the french colonial elite in Paris got so furious, and in a historic act of fury the french administration in Guinea destroyed everything in the country which represented what they called the benefits from french colonization.
    Three thousand French left the country, taking all their property and destroying anything that which could not be moved: schools, nurseries, public administration buildings were crumbled; cars, books, medicine, research institute instruments, tractors were crushed and sabotaged; horses, cows in the farms were killed, and food in warehouses were burned or poisoned.
    The purpose of this outrageous act was to send a clear message to all other colonies that the consequences for rejecting France would be very high.
    Slowly fear spread trough the african elite, and none after the Guinea events ever found the courage to follow the example of Sékou Touré, whose slogan was “We prefer freedom in poverty to opulence in slavery.”
    Sylvanus Olympio, the first president of the Republic of Togo, a tiny country in west Africa, found a middle ground solution with the French.
    He didn’t want his country to continue to be a french dominion, therefore he refused to sign the colonisation continuation pact De Gaule proposed, but agree to pay an annual debt to France for the so called benefits Togo got from french colonization.
    It was the only conditions for the French not to destroy the country before leaving. However, the amount estimated by France was so big that the reimbursement of the so called “colonial debt” was close to 40% of the country budget in 1963.
    The financial situation of the newly independent Togo was very unstable, so in order to get out the situation, Olympio decided to get out the french colonial money FCFA (the franc for french african colonies), and issue the country own currency.
    On January 13, 1963, three days after he started printing his country own currency, a squad of illiterate soldiers backed by France killed the first elected president of newly independent Africa. Olympio was killed by an ex French Foreign Legionnaire army sergeant called Etienne Gnassingbe who supposedly received a bounty of $612 from the local French embassy for the hit man job.
    Olympio’s dream was to build an independent and self-sufficient and self-reliant country. But the French didn’t like the idea.
    On June 30, 1962, Modiba Keita , the first president of the Republic of Mali, decided to withdraw from the french colonial currency FCFA which was imposed on 12 newly independent African countries. For the Malian president, who was leaning more to a socialist economy, it was clear that colonisation continuation pact with France was a trap, a burden for the country development.
    On November 19, 1968, like, Olympio, Keita will be the victim of a coup carried out by another ex French Foreign legionnaire, the Lieutenant Moussa Traoré.
    In fact during that turbulent period of African fighting to liberate themselves from European colonization, France would repeatedly use many ex Foreign legionnaires to carry out coups against elected presidents:
    – On January 1st, 1966, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, an ex french foreign legionnaire, carried a coup against David Dacko, the first President of the Central African Republic.
    – On January 3, 1966, Maurice Yaméogo, the first President of the Republic of Upper Volta, now called Burkina Faso, was victim of a coup carried by Aboubacar Sangoulé Lamizana, an ex French legionnaire who fought with french troops in Indonesia and Algeria against these countries independence.
    – on 26 October 1972, Mathieu Kérékou who was a security guard to President Hubert Maga, the first President of the Republic of Benin, carried a coup against the president, after he attended French military schools from 1968 to 1970.
    In fact, during the last 50 years, a total of 67 coups happened in 26 countries in Africa, 16 of those countries are french ex-colonies, which means 61% of the coups happened in Francophone Africa.
    Number of Coups in Africa by country
    Ex French colonies Other African countries
    Country Number of coup Country number of coup
    Togo 1 Egypte 1
    Tunisia 1 Libye 1
    Cote d’Ivoire 1 Equatorial Guinea 1
    Madagascar 1 Guinea Bissau 2
    Rwanda 1 Liberia 2
    Algeria 2 Nigeria 3
    Congo – RDC 2 Ethiopia 3
    Mali 2 Ouganda 4
    Guinea Conakry 2 Soudan 5
    SUB-TOTAL 1 13
    Congo 3
    Tchad 3
    Burundi 4
    Central Africa 4
    Niger 4
    Mauritania 4
    Burkina Faso 5
    Comores 5
    SUB-TOTAL 2 32
    TOTAL (1 + 2) 45 TOTAL 22
    As these numbers demonstrate, France is quite desperate but active to keep a strong hold on his colonies what ever the cost, no matter what.
    In March 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac said:
    “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power”
    Chirac’s predecessor François Mitterand already prophesied in 1957 that:
    “Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century”
    At this very moment I’m writing this article, 14 african countries are obliged by France, trough a colonial pact, to put 85% of their foreign reserve into France central bank under French minister of Finance control. Until now, 2014, Togo and about 13 other african countries still have to pay colonial debt to France. African leaders who refuse are killed or victim of coup. Those who obey are supported and rewarded by France with lavish lifestyle while their people endure extreme poverty, and desperation.
    It’s such an evil system even denounced by the European Union, but France is not ready to move from that colonial system which puts about 500 billions dollars from Africa to its treasury year in year out.
    We often accuse African leaders of corruption and serving western nations interests instead, but there is a clear explanation for that behavior. They behave so because they are afraid the be killed or victim of a coup. They want a powerful nation to back them in case of aggression or trouble. But, contrary to a friendly nation protection, the western protection is often offered in exchange of these leaders renouncing to serve their own people or nations’ interests.
    African leaders would work in the interest of their people if they were not constantly stalked and bullied by colonial countries.
    In 1958, scared about the consequence of choosing independence from France, Leopold Sédar Senghor declared: “The choice of the Senegalese people is independence; they want it to take place only in friendship with France, not in dispute.”
    From then on France accepted only an “independence on paper” for his colonies, but signed binding “Cooperation Accords”, detailing the nature of their relations with France, in particular ties to France colonial currency (the Franc), France educational system, military and commercial preferences.
    Below are the 11 main components of the Colonisation continuation pact since 1950s:
    #1. Colonial Debt for the benefits of France colonization
    The newly “independent” countries should pay for the infrastructure built by France in the country during colonization.
    I still have to find out the complete details about the amounts, the evaluation of the colonial benefits and the terms of payment imposed on the african countries, but we are working on that (help us with info).
    #2. Automatic confiscation of national reserves
    The African countries should deposit their national monetary reserves into France Central bank.
    France has been holding the national reserves of fourteen african countries since 1961: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
    “The monetary policy governing such a diverse aggregation of countries is uncomplicated because it is, in fact, operated by the French Treasury, without reference to the central fiscal authorities of any of the WAEMU or the CEMAC. Under the terms of the agreement which set up these banks and the CFA the Central Bank of each African country is obliged to keep at least 65% of its foreign exchange reserves in an “operations account” held at the French Treasury, as well as another 20% to cover financial liabilities.
    The CFA central banks also impose a cap on credit extended to each member country equivalent to 20% of that country’s public revenue in the preceding year. Even though the BEAC and the BCEAO have an overdraft facility with the French Treasury, the drawdowns on those overdraft facilities are subject to the consent of the French Treasury. The final say is that of the French Treasury which has invested the foreign reserves of the African countries in its own name on the Paris Bourse.
    In short, more than 80% of the foreign reserves of these African countries are deposited in the “operations accounts” controlled by the French Treasury. The two CFA banks are African in name, but have no monetary policies of their own. The countries themselves do not know, nor are they told, how much of the pool of foreign reserves held by the French Treasury belongs to them as a group or individually.
    The earnings of the investment of these funds in the French Treasury pool are supposed to be added to the pool but no accounting is given to either the banks or the countries of the details of any such changes. The limited group of high officials in the French Treasury who have knowledge of the amounts in the “operations accounts”, where these funds are invested; whether there is a profit on these investments; are prohibited from disclosing any of this information to the CFA banks or the central banks of the African states .” Wrote Dr. Gary K. Busch
    It’s now estimated that France is holding close to 500 billions African countries money in its treasury, and would do anything to fight anyone who want to shed a light on this dark side of the old empire.
    The African countries don’t have access to that money.
    France allows them to access only 15% of the money in any given year. If they need more than that, they have to borrow the extra money from their own 65% from the French Treasury at commercial rates.
    To make things more tragic, France impose a cap on the amount of money the countries could borrow from the reserve. The cap is fixed at 20% of their public revenue in the preceding year. If the countries need to borrow more than 20% of their own money, France has a veto.
    Former French President Jacques Chirac recently spoke about the African nations money in France banks. Here is a video of him speaking about the french exploitation scheme. He is speaking in French, but here is a short excerpt transcript: “We have to be honest, and acknowledge that a big part of the money in our banks come precisely from the exploitation of the African continent.”
    #3. Right of first refusal on any raw or natural resource discovered in the country
    France has the first right to buy any natural resources found in the land of its ex-colonies. It’s only after France would say, “I’m not interested”, that the African countries are allowed to seek other partners…….Continued click the link below.


    Please take a moment and go to this link to read the article in its entirety!  http://mereja.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=106735#p619879

    President Ahmed Sékou Touré of the Republic of Guinea arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland during a visit to Washington DC. (June 1982)
    AFRICANGLOBE – The West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) is an organization of eight West African states. It was established to promote economic integration among countries that share the Communauté Financière d’Afrique (CFA) franc as a common currency. The currency is issued by the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO), located in Dakar, Senegal, for the members of the UEMOA. The union administers the West African CFA franc, now a Euro-pegged currency that is used in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Read More…
    Sylvanus Epiphanio Olympio (6 September 1902 – 13 January 1963) was a Togolese politician who served as Prime Minister, and then President, of Togo from 1958 until his assassination in 1963. . He was assassinated during the 1963 Togolese coup d’état.
    A great illustration on how corporations take control of countries, and how capitalism drives the expansion of the Military Industrial Complex. Made by Studio Joho who have allowed me to upload their video.

    Laurent Gbagbo[1][2] (Gagnoa BétéGbagbo [ɡ͡baɡ͡bo]French pronunciation: ​[loʁɑ̃ baɡbo]; born 31 May 1945) was thePresident of Côte d’Ivoire from 2000 until his arrest in April 2011. Source
    In March 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac said:
    “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power” and that Chirac’s predecessor François Mitterand already prophesied in 1957 that: “Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century”.

    The CFA franc, used by 14 African countries, was created in 1945 by a decree signed by Charles de Gaulle [EPA]

    A hoard of cash sits in the Bank of France: $20 billion in African money held in trust by the French government and earning just 0.75 percent interest. Now economists and politicians from 14 Central and West African countries say they want their funds returned and an arrangement dating back to the days of France’s colonial empire ended.
    France holds the money to guarantee that the CFA franc, the currency used in the 14 nations, stays convertible into euros at a fixed exchange rate of 655.957. The compulsory deposits started more than half a century ago, when the then-colonies had to place all their financial reserves in the French Treasury. The deposit requirement has dropped over the decades: Today the African members entrust 50 percent of their reserves to Paris.  Source..
    Three weeks ago, a rumour emerged that the CFA franc – two closely-related currencies used by 14 countries in western and central Africa – would be devalued by 35 per cent on January 1, 2012.
    As a result, anxiety is taking hold of the 140 million citizens of francophone Africa. The devaluation could create a liquidity crisis and cause inflation rates to soar. Although the two governors of the central banks of Western and Central Africa have dismissed the rumour, the fact that French authorities and African heads of state failed to comment fuels peoples’ fears and could result in a massive financial outflow.
    The eurozone crisis and France’s struggle to maintain its credit rating deepened fears that devaluing the CFA franc could be indirectly used as. Source

    François Mitterrand

    French Complicity in the Crisis in Central African Republic
    By the end of 2013, “the White man’s burden” was proving too heavy to bear for France. Feeling militarily and materially outstretched, Paris cried for help from other European powers to help it shoulder “its responsibility” to quell violence, restore peace, order and political legitimacy in its backyards of Mali and Central African Republic, both in turmoil: the Islamists terrorists linked to Al-Qaïda in Maghreb (Aqmi), Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and so on, are wreaking havoc in northern Mali and Christians and Muslims are hacking each other to death in Central African Republic (CAR). Both Belgium and the United States responded positively by providing logistics and transport for the French and African troops.
    by Antoine Roger Lokongo
    Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power.”
    By the end of 2013, “the White man’s burden” was proving too heavy to bear for France. Feeling militarily and materially outstretched, Paris cried for help from other European powers to help it shoulder “its responsibility” to quell violence, restore peace, order and political legitimacy in its backyards of Mali and Central African Republic, both in turmoil: the Islamists terrorists linked to Al-Qaïda in Maghreb (Aqmi), Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and so on, are wreaking havoc in northern Mali and Christians and Muslims are hacking each other to death in Central African Republic (CAR). Both Belgium and the United States responded positively by providing logistics and transport for the French and African troops.
    Chirac’s predecessor François Mitterand already prophesied in 1957 that ‘Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century’ (François Mitterrand, Présence française et abandon, 1957, Paris: Plon).”


    61% of the coups happened in Francophone Africa.


    Number of Coups in Africa by country
    Ex French colonies 

    Other African countries
    Country 
    Number of coup
    Country
    number of coup
    Togo
    1
    Egypte
    1
    Tunisia
    1
    Libye
    1
    Cote d’Ivoire
    1
    Equatorial Guinea
    1
    Madagascar
    1
    Guinea Bissau
    2
    Rwanda
    1
    Liberia
    2
    Algeria
    2
    Nigeria
    3
    Congo – RDC
    2
    Ethiopia
    3
    Mali
    2
    Ouganda
    4
    Guinea Conakry
    2
    Soudan
    5
    SUB-TOTAL 1
    13
    Congo
    3
    Tchad
    3
    Burundi
    4
    Central Africa
    4
    Niger
    4
    Mauritania
    4
    Burkina Faso
    5
    Comores
    5
    SUB-TOTAL 2
    32
    TOTAL (1 + 2)
    45
    TOTAL
    22
    African Countries whose Official Language is  French
    In short, the Colonial Pact has created a legal mechanism under which
     France obtains a special place in the political and economic life of its former colonies. Source:

    NB Commentary: Paris attacks shaping the G20 Summit meeting

    Paris attacks shaping the G20 Summit meeting

    Okay, so now it’s Daesh?? why? Because ISIS really stands for Israeli Secret Intelligence Service. So it got downgraded to IS, and now Daesh. I keep telling them, they don’t need to re-invent the wheel. And they keep trying to convince us that this thing, this quagmire can be won. and now they trying to get everybody scared, looking under their beds for terrorists.

    What does Daesh mean? ISIS ‘threatens to cut out the tongues’ of anyone using this word

    Excerpt: “In January this year, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that he would begin referring to the Islamic State group by this name, saying: “Daesh hates being referred to by this term, and what they don’t like has an instinctive appeal to me.”It seems that other world leaders have now followed suit, with French president Francois Hollande and the USA’s secretary of state John Kerry both using the term.According to NBC, ISIS has reportedly threatened to ‘cut out the tongues’ of anyone it hears using the term.Evan Kohlmann, a national security analyst, told NBC: “It’s a derogatory term and not something people should use even if you dislike them.”

    Cognitive dissonance at the helm of this campaign or have the Psychopaths of the world been unleashed?

    How is it that the dots are not being connected? When you bomb somebody’s home, town, city, country, infrastructure, where are they supposed to go? What are they supposed to do. Stay there and risk loosing their lives?

    The War on Terror is waged on all people civilians and militants alike. No longer is it an army against another army or a country against another country, we are looking at what I would call, tribal wars, where people are fighting people simply because they have decided that the “PEOPLE” are the enemy.

    And to legitimize this operation they arm the rebels so they rebels can have something to fight back with? It is pure insanity and beyond comprehension that any of this could make any sense to anyone except another Psychopath!

    And while we are at it, let’s create an even worse crisis for the refugees fleeing Syria as Turkey outright bombs with western and US back ammo. Turkey, under the bidding of the US has further destabilized its own sovereignty wanting so desperately to be an EU member while endangering the very lives of its own citizens. So as a show of force and strength it will send 10 thousand troops to the border to keep the very people they disenfranchised out of Turkey. Can we scream TOTAL FAIL??

    I would like to know who their military strategist is who comes up with these plans, do they have any clue about the “blowback” this can create? Had they even thought about the already looming refugee crisis happening as a result of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, where did they think the people of Syria who want to live their lives in peace where going to go when their lives and livelihoods have been totally usurped from them? Did they think they could kill off all the civilians and just have the issue of mass graves instead of mass tent cities lining their Turkish borders.

    Turkey has geo-politically placed itself inside a cesspool with a bunch of folks who could care less about Turkish interests and are more concerned with their own hegemony in the so-called Middle East.

    "Venus Noire" ("Black Venus") Film & Review

    “Venus Noire” 

    (“Black Venus” – Controversial Hottentot Venus Film)

    Part 1

    Part 2

    It’s been over a year since I saw Venus Noire (Black Venus) at the New York Film Festival in the fall of 2010, and it never received a stateside release; actually I’m not sure it got much of a release outside of the international film festival circuit and a few European territories.
    So I’m betting most of you have never seen French/Tunisian filmmaker Abdel Kechiche’s problematic though worth-watching Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman, otherwise derogatorily known as the Hottentot Venus film, which starred newcomer Yahima Torres in the title role.
    The subject matter certain isn’t one that will attract audiences to the theater en masse; and the fact that the film is almost 3 hours long, with subtitles, likely didn’t exactly make potentially interested American distributors salivate at the film’s box office potential.
    But if you’re in Los Angeles during the month of February, and you’re at all interested in seeing the film, here’s your shot! It’s either now, or you wait for a stateside home video release (though it’s on DVD in parts of Europe and Canada; just not in the USA). 
    But I’d recommend a theatrical viewing.

    It’s a challenging work, and one that I’m sure will piss a lot of people off, not only because of its content, but also the manner in which it’s handled by the director. It’s just something you should see for yourselves.
    I wrote a lengthy review of it last year, after I saw it; and, as I said in that write-up, I was left with conflicting thoughts on the film. Unfortunately, I never got to see it again, even though I wanted to. I’ll be at the PAFF this year, so I just might see it again on the big screen, if my schedule allows for it
    In the meantime, below you’ll find my initial review, as well as a trailer for the film, a clip from it, and an interview with star Yahima Torress…

    And finally here’s my 2010 review:
     So there I was waiting for the subway train after my screening of Venus Noire (Black Venus), and what did I see plastered almost all over one of those ubiquitous tunnel newsstands? Covers for various magazines, many unabashedly featuring the barely covered-up plump bottoms of predominantly black women in seductive poses – 2 dimensional images of voiceless bodies, objectified, exotified, envied, denigrated, and more; depending on the viewer.
    And with that picture, Obvious Guy asks, so, really, has much changed in the 200 years since Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman found herself victim of the same kind of mixed gaze? Of course, there’s the perceived independence, and even false sense of power and control some might claim those in the present-day wield over their spectators (an illusory brand of feminism as I’ve heard others suggest), and they aren’t introduced in cages by a man carrying a whip (well, actually, some are), and Saartjie’s experiences were more direct and literal; but, frankly, the similarities can’t be ignored. I even considered that Saartjie’s torment was strictly race-based, and a result of its time; but I was able to dismiss that notion in realizing that there still certainly exists a racial “otherness” that precedes and influences the various gazes I mentioned above. For example, I still (unfortunately) hear stories about enthralled white women asking black women if they can touch their hair, ignorant of the sensation the request itself provokes.
    The film opens in 1815, France, some time after Saartjie’s death, as a French academic, addressing what look like his peers, with a physical mold of Saartjie’s body on display, makes his scientific and historic case for why her “species” is inferior to theirs. The lengthy opening lecture is met with applause from his audience of all white men. The matter-of-fact nature of the entire sequence is revelatory in that it shows just how ignorant, yet assured of themselves these leaders of the world were, and helps explain their callous treatment of their perceived inferiors – a trend that continued long after they themselves perished.
    Following that opening sequence, we travel back in time, 5 years, to 1810, London, some time after Baartman had been taken from Cape Town, with promises of wealth, via exhibition, in Europe. And so the tragic tale of the “freak show attraction” known as the Hottentot Venus began…
    Like those women on the magazine covers, Saartjie is mostly mute throughout the film, her body language representative of her thoughts, and clearly, she isn’t exactly cherishing the spectacle that’s being made of her physical self – much of it some will find difficult to watch, as it should be. Writer/director Abdellatif Kechichemakes sure of that, with numerous scenes running quite lengthy – possibly 10 minutes or more in some cases.
    Given the style in which the film is made, it felt almost like a documentary. Kechiche does little to distract from the narrative; the performances from the entire cast are realistic (you believe them), including Yahima Torres(as Baartman), Andre Jacobs, Olivier Gourmet, Elina Lowensohn, Francois Marthouret, Michel Gionti, andJean-Christophe Bouvet; there’s virtually no soundtrack (any music heard occurs naturally within the scene); the mostly hand-held camera moves but, oddly, you forget that it’s there – partly due to the stark nature of the physical settings, and also of the subject matter itself; you may feel guilty enough to look away, but you can’t.
    In reading some early reviews of the film before I saw it, I expected to be turned off by what some seemed to suggest would be gratuitous on the part of the director. But I didn’t feel what they felt, and I do wonder if the reactions to Venus Noire will be similar to a film like Precious (a story about a character whose physical self was also arguably a character in its own right), in that they will be separated along color lines. I could certainly make sense of a white film critic being made uncomfortable by the inhumane treatment Saartjie endured; her captors are white. And as I’ve already suggested, one can’t help but see connections to the present-day race- and sex-based prejudices that still exist. There’s a reason (amongst many) that films that center on whites-as-saviors-of-“others” continue to be produced. They like to see themselves in that light. Rarely do we see stories told that detail the inhumanities whites have dished out intently and indiscriminately on the darker-skinned “others” across the world, without retribution. In a way, it’s like a revision of history.
    But no one comes to save Saartjie here; she lives a brutal life, and dies just as punishingly, with the film not necessarily making it clear who we are supposed to point our fingers to, for blame.
    Although, I felt numb to it all, and I wonder if my reaction would mirror those of other people of African descent. By most accounts, I should have been appalled, disgusted, and completely turned off by Kechiche’s lengthy scenes showing all the horror that Saartjie endured before her early death. But, little of it actually disturbed me.
    In thinking about it further, I realized that it wasn’t necessarily because the filmmaker had failed in creating moments within the film that would elicit specific reactions out of me (although, who am I to say what the filmmaker intended); I felt numb because, again, as I eluded to above, we have and still are so bombarded with similar parades of images of women’s bodies (specifically black women’s bodies), accentuating specific attributes, whether still or moving, that what I saw on screen, as revolting as it was, seemed almost, dare I say, “ordinary” to me.
    From music videos, to magazines… however, less obvious and even deceptive are those studies, surveys, investigations into the so-called black experience that suggest an “otherness;” different, and thus must be observed and studied like monkeys in a cage. Whether it’s CNN’s redundant, surface “Black In America” series, the recent article about how black people use Twitter, or more direct, scientist claims that people of African descent are less intelligent than whites, and so on.
    I’ve rallied against most of these ideas and occurrences on this blog and elsewhere, and will continue to do so. However, the point here is that this long-standing, continuous assault on our senses, all suggesting an inferiority as the basis for marginalization of a group of people, have had an effect on how I react to similar instances (real or fictional). Numb – which can be a dangerous place to be, because it could lead to a lessened desire to act against like injustices.
    Saartjie doesn’t speak very much in the film, as I already stated; usually only when spoken to; we don’t really get a sense for how she feels. Certainly, as I said above, her body language leaves little doubt that this isn’t the kind of life she thought she would be leading, or that was promised to her by the man who brought her to Europe (he lied, telling her and her slave owner that she’d essentially be a song and dance act, not the circus freak show he would eventually convince her to be); but I would have liked to hear her wrestle with her predicament; here she is, seemingly a willing (coerced) participant in an act, sharing in the benefits afforded by the booty (no pun intended), though unequally, with her captors; but struggling to come to terms with the truth of who (or rather what) she is to the ignorant, yet curious and enchanted audience that pays to watch her perform. To contemporize it, think of the strippers who are “trapped” by the money they earn used to feed, house and clothe themselves, but who struggle with the impact the work they do has on their lives, and the perception others have of them. Not exactly the same thing as what Saatjie endured, but I’m trying to make sense of what I felt was one of the film’s notable deficiencies. We see Saartjie through the eyes of her captors and the audiences that pay to see her – as a lottery ticket, and a spectacle respectively – but we get few glimpses into the mind of the woman that the body belongs to.
    From the film, we know she despised her treatment, she’s outright defiant in moments, and the filmmaker does attempt to humanize her, giving her some 3-dimensionality; and I never once felt like he was being exploitative; but, as is, it’s still questionable just how much control she really had over her predicament (although we know that she was a slave). In the film, she remains something of a mystery, and I can’t say whether that was all intentional on the filmmaker’s part, as, I’d guess, he tried to piece together a personality based on limited availability of information, written by others about her.
    There’s also that saying about the the presence of mental shackles even in the absence of tangible ones.
    Director Kechiche’s film isn’t a lecture on the matters it documents. Each scene is presented “as is,” without any obvious commentary, you could say. It’s neither what I’d describe as a call to action. You are simply witness to an ugly injustice, an accomplice even, and your reaction to it is just that… your reaction, based on your own life experiences, which will also determine what you choose to do about whatever it is you felt, assuming you’re inspired to act in any way.
    Don’t go into this looking for a biopic of Baartman, as you will be disappointed. It’s more a document of a very specific part of her life, that which she’s most known for. And despite the title of the film, she instead feels like one of several equal players in this tragedy, instead of its star center. There’s also what I’d call a disconnect between the filmmaker and the material. Like I said, he doesn’t necessarily take sides. In fact, the film played out more like a series of filmed news reports.
    It does take a few creative liberties, however, the script remains fairly close to the true story of Saartjie Baartman. At almost 3 hours in length, some editing could have been done to trim it a bit, without losing its substance; and that running time makes it a tough sell for audiences outside of the expected art-house crowd – especially here in the USA.
    Although, I certainly hope it does receive a wide enough release. I’m curious about global reactions to the film. I suspect most aren’t at all familiar with Saartjie Baartman’s story, or are even aware of the derogatory “Hottentot Venus.” In a way, I actually envy those who’ll be seeing the film ignorant of the real-life story it’s based on. Most importantly, it means that one is less likely to spend time comparing the film’s details to what they know of the historic figure the characterization is inspired by. I can only imagine what their reactions would be, but I expect sharply contrasting sets of opinions.
    I’m left with conflicting thoughts on the film, and I wasn’t even sure how I would review the film. I feel like I could write volumes on the experience I  had watching it. But maybe that’s all a good thing. I think a second viewing might be helpful in clarifying my thoughts. If anything, it’s not a film one walks out of the theater and immediately forgets. Other reviews I’ve read thus far have expressed concern about the film being hard to watch – not because it’s a bad film, but due to the contemptible scenarios Baartman lived through as explicitly documented in the film. As I’ve said before, the subject matter is already controversial enough, that any film made about Baartman will find it impossible to escape controversy. Kechiche’s handling of it is obviously crucial, and I’d say he handles it better than I expected. It certainly should inspire further discussion, especially with regards to contemporary correlations.

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