Remembering Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine

Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine is an internationally respected Haitian human rights activist who disappeared on the evening of 12 August 2007 after meeting a US-Canadian human rights delegation in Port-au-Prince. We are acutely aware of the suffering, hardship and heartbreak Lovinsky’s disappearance has meant for his family and other loved ones, as well as of the anger and suffering of the community from whose arms this gentle man and leading advocate for the poor has been snatched.

Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine is a father, a husband, an uncle, a member of an extended family; a soft-spoken man of great compassion with a big heart and a sense of humor. He is also an extraordinary grassroots leader. Lovinsky, as he is generally known, is a co-founder of Fondasyon Trant Septanm (September 30th Foundation), an organization founded by family members and others concerned about the victims of the 1991 coup, the first against President Aristide; the organization’s name is the date of that coup. Similar to the work of internationally renowned Mothers of the Disappeared in Central and South America, the September 30th Foundation for over a decade held weekly vigils demanding justice for victims of human rights violations and the release of political prisoners.

Lovinsky was the co-founder of Fondasyon Kore Timoun Yo (Foundation for the Support of Children) for young street children in Port-au-Prince, FAM (Foyer pour Adolescentes Mères), a center for teenage mothers, and Map Viv (“I Live”), a program designed to give medical and psychological aid to the victims of the 1991coup. His present community-based human rights organization Fondasyon Trant Septanm grew out of the work of those earlier efforts. He is part of the Lavalas movement and a member of the Lavalas Party, and was a potential candidate for the Haitian Senate.

Lovinsky lived in Washington DC during the turmoil and violence that followed the removal of President Aristide in 2004. During that time he continued his work as an advocate for Haiti’s poverty-stricken majority, including gathering support of a wide network of organizations and individuals in the US, meeting with members of Congress, speaking at human rights forums in Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere in the US as well as in Brazil, Canada and Venezuela. A month after he returned to Haiti, Lovinsky was instrumental in bringing together a delegation that included journalists and others from Guyana, Barbados and the United States to attend the May 2006 Inauguration of President René Préval.

Lovinsky received from grassroots Haitians as they greeted him publicly for the first time since his return. At a community-based event to mark the inauguration of President Préval, he was mobbed as a returning hero, a man who was clearly respected, loved and had been missed by the thousands who had gathered hopeful for a new day in Haiti. The mutual respect and love between him and other grassroots women and men was also evident in a later meeting with women from Cité Soleil most of whom were either former political prisoners or the mothers, wives and other relatives of political prisoners, many carrying photographs of their tortured children and husbands.