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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Gérald Bloncourt speaks to Marie-Jeannine Myrthil

By Marie-Jeannine Myrthil

CSMS Magazine

As Gérald Bloncourt is poised to release his latest book Journal d’un révolutionaire (A revolutionary diary), we feel it is important to revisit an earlier interview our correspondent in Paris, Marie-Jeannine Myrthil, realized with Gérald Bloncourt at his home in suburban Paris. In that conversation, the Haitian revolutionary hero spoke about his released memoir entitled Le Regard Engagé. Gérald remains true to his ideas in this late chapter of his life. Few of us can claim to be this authentically engaged. He is without question the Dean of La gauche haitienne. (The Haitian left) At the spring of his life, he made his choice. He had rejected his petit-bourgeois aspiration to become the die-hard revolutionary who never stops fighting for social justice. Now at the age of 86, Gérald is as energetic and uncompromising as ever.  

In releasing this latest manuscript, he is sending a message to younger generations of Haitians: We may never win the race against time, but we will certainly triumph over economic inequality and all other forms of injustices if we (Haitians) understand the true meaning of our historical role within the African diaspora. His sentimentalism and revolutionary romanticism never wither despite insurmountable odds he had to sometimes overcome. Childhood friend of Jacques Stephen Alexis and René Dépestre, Gérald believes there can only be one solution to the Haitian dilemma: Uprooting the current state of affair to recreate a holistic state bureaucracy totally beholden to the Haitian masses.


MJM: Monsieur Bloncourt, could you please tell us about your origin?

GB: I was born in Bainet, near Jacmel, in 1926 from a Guadeloupian-Haitian father and a French mother.

MJM: What has led you to write, “Le Regard Engagé?”

GB: This book is an autobiography that retraces my life as a reporter, places I have visited, and also people I have met. By the way, it contains many historical anecdotes. I wanted to put all of these in writing.

MJM: What was the interest of mentioning the trial the Soviet Jews under Stalin?

GB:  The Soviets were arresting Jews accused of being the enemies of the people. They were rehabilitated after the death of Stalin. This is an illustration of what the regime of Stalin really was: a horrible thing against justice, respect for others, and freedom.

MJM: Do you still maintain contact with the Prolisario Front of Western Sahara?   

GB: Last year, I received a telegram from one of the leaders. I more or less maintain some contact with them. You know, everyone has his own preoccupations.

MJM: In the book, you mention the death of your older brother, Tony Bloncourt. Has this tragedy contributed to your profound transformation as a revolutionary?

GB: Tony Bloncourt arrived in France in 1938. He had scholarship to continue his studies at the medical school, of which he had already started in Haiti. He became part of the resistance against the Nazis. He was arrested by French police and handed over to the Gestapo. He was executed by a firing squad in 1942. He became part of the resistance heroes. I was very young at that time, but his assassination helped instill in me the idea that it was necessary to fight for a world more just, more fraternal and more humane as I rejected outright, from then on, injustice and racism.

MJM: What were the circumstances that led you to leave Haiti?

GB:  I was expelled in 1946 by the Lescot government for being one of the leaders of the 1946 movement. Along with Jacques Stephen Alexis, I was one of the founding leaders of the “La Ruche” (The Hive) movement. Our movement engineered the overthrow of the regime, and I became an embarrassment to my parents. Since my mother was French, I was expelled under the pretext that I was a French citizen interfering in the affairs of another country.  

MJM: You use past tense to say that René Depestre was among us. Why?

GB: René Depestre was a young poet who had just released his first collection of poetry entitled “Etincelles” (The Spike). He was part of the “La Ruche” movement. However, misfortune in life had caused Depestre, who was living in Cuba, to find a job at UNESCO with the support of the Duvalier regime. We have kept some distance between us since then. We did meet a few times after that.

MJM: Where is the “Committee to Trial Duvalier?”

GB: With his millions, Duvalier has bought a lot of people. He was not trialed, and I don’t think he ever will be.   

MJM: What does that mean by “He ever will be?”

GB: The court declared that the accords pertinent to crimes against humanity were signed after the presentation of the facts against him. Therefore, those facts could not be used to trial J.C.Duvalier. The truth is that they don’t want a Duvalier trial, which could implicate a lot of important personalities in France. They had found excuses not to hold a trial.    

MJM: Do you still consider yourself a Marxist?

GB: Yes, I do, and I will always be a Marxist. I am for a social justice that would benefit the whole world.

MJM: What do you think of the current situation in Haiti?

GB: At the beginning, I supported Aristide. But when I discovered his hidden ambitions, I turned against him. Today, we have fallen into the sphere of American imperialism. However, there is still hope. I know there are compatriots of good faith who are currently working in a positive way to the benefit of the poor.  

MJM: Do you think we can still talk about a Haitian left?

GB: If it means Serge Jules and the others, I have to say that it is a very poor left. I have no faith in them, and I think they are a whole bunch of opportunists who rely on I. S. (the International Socialists) to win power. They are a bunch of manipulators. Still, I believe in the Haitian people, and I have good faith that tomorrow will be better.

Note: Gerald Bloncourt’s new book is set to be released next month. It was Marie-Jeannine Myrthil, our Paris-based correspondent who spoke to Bloncourt, not Dr. Ardain Isma, as was mentioned in the promo. More pictures of Gerald bloncourt can be found at Facebook page www.facebook.com/csmsmagazine  

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