How the U.S. Keeps Haiti Poor…


How the U.S. Keeps Haiti Poor and Its Refugees Out with Selective, Racist Immigration Policies By David Love .As the world’s first Black republic, Haiti holds a special place as the first nation in the Western hemisphere to abolish slavery. Haiti secured its freedom from slavery and colonial oppression over two centuries ago and has been paying the price ever since.

Among the poorest countries in the world, Haiti is exploited by governments and corporations alike, while refugees fleeing the Caribbean nation and making their way to the U.S. are subjected to an unfair and racist immigration policy.

The U.S. government has made it clear that it does not want Haitian refugees. In a press statement, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that the U.S. would resume its removal of Haitians from the country.

“Removal flights from the United States to Haiti have now resumed. In the last several weeks, ICE has removed over 200 Haitian nationals and plans to significantly expand removal operations in the coming weeks,” Johnson said, noting that Haitians comprise 4,400 of the 41,000 people in detention facilities. “I have authorized ICE to acquire additional detention space so that those apprehended at the border and not eligible for humanitarian relief can be detained and sent home as soon as possible.”

“We must enforce the immigration laws consistent with our priorities. Those who attempt to enter our country illegally must know that, consistent with our laws and our values, we must and we will send you back.“

Criminalization of Haitian Refugees

Ninaj Raoul, executive director of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, told Atlanta Black Star that the U.S. has vacillated between automatically detaining and deporting Haitian refugees on the one hand, and temporarily ceasing their removal due to earthquakes and hurricanes in recent years on the other. Now, the tide has shifted once again amid an increase in Haitian refugees crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The shifting that has taken place in the past six months … thousands of people have been coming up from the southern border, mostly from Brazil. They were welcomed after the earthquake. Brazil needed the labor for the Olympics. And tens of thousands of Haitians moved there,” Raoul said. “[But now] Brazil is experiencing political turmoil and economic crisis, which is pushing Haitians out because there are no jobs, there is no work for them. So, thousands decided to move north to the U.S.” Raoul made special note of the fact that Haitians must travel through 10 countries to reach the entry point where Tijuana meets San Diego.

Additionally, Haitians coming into this country are criminalized, Raoul said. Those who have been placed on “humanitarian parole” have been detained anywhere from two days to two months before being released and are forced to wear ankle monitors, she said.

“They’re traumatized, [it’s] very humiliating. It’s like a cell phone, you have to keep plugging it in,” Raoul said. Furthermore, Haitians are often detained in locations across the country where there are no Haitian communities — places like Colorado, Tennessee and Louisiana — and are separated from their families in the process, she said. And because they were in Brazil, very few bother to seek asylum, which would be a difficult argument to make
Racist Immigration Policy

Haitians are subjected to a U.S. immigration policy that critics cite as uneven, hypocritical and downright racist. A stark illustration of the contrast is evident in the U.S.’s treatment of Cubans when compared to its handling of Haitians.

For example, in 2014, Al Jazeera America reported that thousands of undocumented Cubans were welcomed into the U.S. under the “wet foot, dry foot” policy of the 1965 Cuban Adjustment Act, a holdover of the Cold War era. And still today, once Cubans enter the U.S., they are not required to prove their eligibility for asylum and do not have to prove their lives are in danger or that they belong to a particular persecuted group. They are provided with food, work permits and health care, and they are registered, able to become permanent residents after only one year.

And in 2013, the U.S. took in 26,407 Cuban refugees and asylum seekers, nearly one quarter of the total number of such peoples admitted to the country that year.

A discriminatory immigration policy is but one example in the larger picture of the U.S.’s history of racism against Haiti, however. “The Haitian people have a long history of being discriminated against by the United States,” Tia Oso, National Organizer with Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) told Atlanta Black Star. “The United States government has a history of hostility towards Haitians, not respecting Haitian sovereignty and not respecting the humanity of the Haitian people.”

Further, Raoul noted that in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake, neither the UN nor the U.S. allocated funds for relief efforts. “If it wasn’t a Black nation, the survivors would have been classified as refugees,” she said. Raoul added that the social unrest following the delayed election in Haiti was part of the ongoing instability exacerbated by the U.S. Yet, the U.S. rejects the claims of Haitian nationals seeking refuge in the United States.

Oso also pointed out the “significant social stigma” that deportees experience when they return to Haiti, a nation that is in no position to reintegrate them into society. As the North American Congress on Latin America, a nonprofit organization that reports on Latin America and the Caribbean, stated, deportees are stigmatized because they are easily identified by their American accents and behavior, as well as their lack of local history and personal contacts in Haiti. Further, most people assume deportees are criminals.

Economic vs. Political Refugees

Typically, Haitians are denied asylum in the U.S. because they are regarded as economic refugees as opposed to political ones. “It is ridiculous to screen for economic or political refugees and if you’re political, you can stay, but if you’re economic, you’re deported. But they are related,” said Raoul, of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees. “When we hear Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, we have to ask, ‘Why is it poor?’”

As Loyola law professor Bill Quigley wrote in the Huffington Post, when Haiti gained its independence from France in 1804, France and the U.S. imposed a crippling economic embargo on the nation until 1863. Further, the U.S., which held millions of African people in bondage, refused to recognize Haiti for 60 years, fearing that the world’s first revolution of enslaved people would encourage insurrection in America. Moreover, France forced Haiti to pay 150 million francs in reparations for freeing all of the enslaved people, at a current value of over $20 billion. Haiti paid off the loan in 1947 after it was forced to borrow money from the U.S.

In addition, the U.S. occupied Haiti through a brutal military rule between 1915 and 1934, killing thousands and siphoning off billions, Quigley noted. Further, between 1957 and 1986, Haiti suffered under U.S.-backed dictators “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc” Duvalier.







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Rutshelle Guillaume

Biography of Rutshelle Guillaume …
Born in Port-au-Prince on July 28, a family of three children, Rutshelle GUILLAUME is the only daughter of her Father. At the age of five, she began to sing at the church of God of Boulard directed by Pastor Louis DESTINVAL. His passion for music takes him to 19 years, in the group “REL”, a musical formation composed for the most part of young musicians of the National School of … Arts (ENARTS). She was able to meet her husband, Walner O. Registre (Doc wor) band leader of the group Rèl, father of her beloved daughter (Ruth-Warly O. Registre). Rutshelle is one of the most listening and charming women’s voices on the air today. Her opus “KITE M KRIYE” is asked and asked again in the shows to which she is invited to produce. This song, according to her, comes out of the particular to reach the social. Rutshelle, Philosopher of formation, joined the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) of the State University of Haiti (U.E.H) in 2008. After completing her studies, she is currently completing her research in order to obtain her degree in philosophy. – Former Professor of Grammar and Philosophy at New Bird College. Rutshelle Guillaume currently works as: Protocol Officer attached to the Kiosk of the Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad (MHAVE) at TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE International Airport. – During a training on vocal techniques organized by James Germain, Emmeline Michel and Stevenson Théodore at the Fokal in 2011, his performance on stage enabled him to surprise Yole DEROSE, in search of young female talents for his project “Haiti Heart of Women “. She chose to be part of her project. While awaiting the release of her album, she presents to the public the opportunity to discover it in her song titled “KITEM KRIYE” which is video-clip. In addition, Rutshelle had already participated on numerous projects with several artists and musical groups, such as: – Roosevelt SAILLANT, known as BIC Tizon dife: “Mesi ti cheri doudou” a song from his latest album entitled “Kreyòl sings Kreyòl Konpran” . Doc Filah: “Trèv pou amoni”, a song from his album “Akrilik sou twal rezon” – Eunide Edouarin dit (Eud) and Aristor Oberson says (Dad Crazy): “Fòk mwen fete”, a song of their album “Limyè wouj” – Jean Bernard Félicien dit (Hurricane) and Valkency Décembre dit (K-lib): “yon lide”, a song from their album “Knock Out” – Barikad crew , konplèks, bafon plafon “, songs from the album” RED “. To name but a few



Neefah Song

Prior to launching her musical career, Neefah got her start by auditioning for the Brooklyn High School of the Arts; a specialized arts school where she majored in vocal music. In addition, she took Music Theory for she believes reading and writing music should be a very important factor in any musicians training.

Neefah excelled in the program and later attended the AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts where she graduated in 2006 with a degree in Musical Theater. She also graduated from the Barbizon School of Modeling the same year. Upon both graduations, Neefah began pursuing music full-time.

Stephanie “Neefah” Fontus was born on February 21st in Brooklyn, NY to a Haitian mother and a Haitian and Bahamian father. Her father, a professional bassist didn’t give her much support or encouragement when it came to music and her mother supported his decision because they didn’t want their daughter to make a career in music instead they encouraged her to complete her studies and have a normal and stable life and career. Neefah heeded her parents’ advice however it was in school where she actually found the drive and necessary encouragement that she needed and it came from her music teacher. Through her teaching and mentoring, Neefah finally felt secure enough to pursue her dream in entertainment.

Neefah went on to perform at some very prestigious events and places such as the United Nations, FAME on 42nd Street (Broadway Musical), VH1 Hop Hop Honors where she opened the show, she sang the national anthem at the Yankees’ stadium for the Mets twice to name a few.

With her career looking bright Neefah still felt the need to please her parents and obtain a degree in criminal justice but her heart still remains in music.

Neefah’s musical training and experience may be outside of the Haitian Music Industry’s (HMI) realm, she is no novice to the industry. Neefah’s collaborations include Dola Mizik, Clinton Benoit, Madman JP and Charlot Maitre on lead vocals.

Neefah’s new single entitled “Nobody but you” is officially released and Neefah is currently in the studio adding the finishing touches to her album slated for a Summer release.

Written by Cheyna Pierre



Yves Joseph

Yves Joseph

Background vocal

A Native of Petion-Ville, Yves Joseph, better known as Fanfan, is one of the original members of the band. Fanfan started with the band in 1968 playing the congas. In the 80’s, he moved to the front as an additional vocalist in support of Shoubou. The two have formed an impressive singing duo for the last 45 years. Fanfan is, undoubtedly, one of the most important and versatile members of Tabou Combo. Apart from being the band background vocalist, he’s also the band’s manager and main songwriter. Fanfan is a graduate (Cum Laude) from City College with a major in International Relations and a minor in Education. In the Summer of 2000, Fanfan became the first Haitian artist to land an endorsement deal with a major U.S. company when he signed with LATIN PERCUSSION (LP). Fanfan said his most positive experience with Tabou Combo was when the hit single NEW YORK CITY was released. ‘It is a good feeling to hear your songs everywhere you go in Europe, in jukeboxes, major radio stations, and Clubs,’ said Fanfan. ‘The attention you get, the pampering and the fame is unbelievable…’



Yvon Andre

Yvon Andre


It was in 1968 when then fifteen year old percussionist Yvon Andre, known to all as Kapi, became a member of Tabou Combo. Back then the young musician had to sneak out of his family’s home in Petion-Ville to play with the band due to the fact that his parents were determined not to let their son become a musician. However, his love for music was too strong to be stopped. Kapi said he could have become anything, but he chose to be a musician because he loves music. It is that love that has motivated him to stay with Tabou Combo for so many years. Kapi is not just a mere percussionist; he’s also a pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. Kapi has penned many of Tabou’s hit songs. He has also written most of the band’s Spanish songs including FIESTA and PANAMA QUERIDA. The latter he co-wrote with Fanfan. Kapi said his most memorable moments as a member of Tabou was in 1998 when he traveled to the Ivory Coast to receive a lifetime achievement award on behalf of Tabou Combo, and again when RFO (French radio/television) honored Tabou Combo in Martinique; those, he said, were historical moments.



Tabou Combo


“Rhythm is the essence of Tabou Combo,” says Tabou Combo’s co-founder and ex-drummer Herman Nau. The infectious rhythm of Haiti’s national dance music, Konpa (con-pah), has propelled the country’s preeminent dance band around the world. The 12 members of the band have covered many territories since leaving Haiti and relocating to New York City in 1971. By that time, Tabou had already established itself as Haiti’s number one group, and as the “Ambassadors of Konpa.” Tabou Combo now has worldwide fans and followers from London to Paris, Holland, Switzerland, Japan, South America, throughout the Caribbean and in North America.

It is easy to understand why Tabou Combo’s relentless and high-energy style of Compas dance beat knows no language barrier. Singing in English, Spanish, French or their native Creole, Tabou serves a hot mix of grooves and textures with roots from around the world. You will hear a strong dose of the Dominican Republic’s national dance music, meringue. In addition, there is Haiti’s dance-till-you-drop carnival music, rara, the hypnotic drums of Haitian voodoo rituals. Add to that quadrilles and contra-dances from Haiti’s French colonizers and funk from the American soul era to James Brown for good measure. The mixture of all these influences makes for a serious bass line that brings new meaning to the word bottom; layer upon layer of accents courtesy of drums, percussion and congas; the constant intertwining of two guitars with the feel of West African Soukous topped with bright piano riff and the brassy sound of a 3-man horn section.

Tabou Combo got started in 1968 in Petion-Ville, a town just outside Port-au-Prince, by Albert Chancy and Herman Nau and some friends, all in their teens. They began by naming themselves “Los Incognitos” because they were unknown at that time. They changed to Tabou Combo in 1969, in order to bear a name closer to the Haitian culture. That year, the band won first prize in a televised talent contest, gaining a national reputation in Haiti, and by 1970 it was one of the island’s leading bands. Then the Chancy’s parents stepped in, and Albert, the band’s guitarist, and original, leader was sent to college in Montreal and gave up music. The band dissolved and its members drifted to the United States. Early in 1971, however, an unexpected meeting led to a Tabou reunion with rhythm guitarist Jean-Claude Jean as the leader and the band has been together, with a few changes, ever since.

Employing the repetition and breaks of Afro-American gospel music, TABOU COMBO entices the listener to become listener and dancer. Almost four decades after TABOU COMBO’s establishment, the band has audiences dancing everywhere from concert halls to the streets and in nightclubs around the world. Says Fanfan, the band’s background vocalist and main songwriter, “We want people to dance and forget their sorrows.”

There is no doubt, the music is made for dancing, but Tabou also features lyrics that focus on social issues of the day. For example, the lyrics from the title cut of the group’s 1991 release ZAP ZAP deal with uplifting the image of Haitian people in the wake of bad press connected to the AIDS epidemic.

It was 1974 when the band captured Europe’s attention with its million-selling hit single NEW YORK CITY. Tabou steadily has been building its international followers ever since. The 1989 release, AUX ANTILLES (The Antilles), topped European and Caribbean charts for six consecutive weeks. AUX ANTILLES also won Best Album for Haitian Dance Music at the 1991 1st Annual Caribbean Music Awards at New York City’s famed Apollo Theater. Tabou’s release, KITEM FE ZAFEM (Let Me Do My Things), was voted among Beat Magazine’s Best of 1988. In 1989, KITEM FE ZAFEM, along with ZAP ZAP were used by the film director Jonathan Demme in his movie MYSTERY DATE. The song JUICY LUCY was chosen by French movie maker Maurice Pialat for his movie POLICE (1985). In 2002, world known guitarist Carlos Santana recorded the song MABOUYA (Foo Foo) on his album SHAMAN.

After traveling around the world with Tabou, Fanfan says he has found that people everywhere are all the same and they all love music. TABOU COMBO seduces the people with rhythm that does not let go. Konpa’s unrelenting dance beat is contagious and there are plenty of witnesses. Many of the thousands of TABOU COMBO fans around the world eagerly will testify… that is if they can stop dancing long enough to talk!





Based out of Hollywood, Florida, Dat7 is a Haitian band with a style deeply rooted in the finest tradition of Compas Direct with Zouk and R&B influences. Dat7 came into existence in late 2014 when former bandmates and longtime friends, Ricot Amazan (conga drums), and Eddy Viau (percussionist), join forces and created the band. They were later joined by Vladimir Alexis (drums), and Olivier Duret (vocalist), to complete the ensemble. Dat7 has created quite a stir since releasing their debut album VERDICT in October of 2015. Having been awarded the “Revelation de L’année 2015” award and the Haitian Academy Award in 2017, Dat7 continues to position itself as one of the most notable new bands, especially for their superb live performances.




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