Vodou in Danger in Haiti with Repeal of the 1987 Constitution

Myriam J. A. Chancy brings an interesting article to our attention (via Facebook). She explains: “Apparently [. . .] the Haitian constitution of 1987 giving the right of freedom of religion to all has been repealed, returning the constitution to the 1935 law on religion under Sténio Vincent, which reduces Vodou to superstition and which reinstates the right to persecute Vodou leaders and practitioners.”

The article states that the Ati National (the highest authority in Vodou) Max Gesner Beauvoir, fears that the repeal of Article 297 of the Constitution of 29 March 1987 by the controversial amendment adopted in May 2011, paves the way for new persecution against Vodou. “This act takes us directly back to the 1935 Act by Sténio Joseph Vincent (November 18, 1930-May 15, 1941) which asserts that Vodou is a superstitious practice that must be destroyed, and which legalizes the ‘Rejetés’ campaigns of 1941 and thereafter,” says Beauvoir. The “Rejetés” campaigns were “witch hunts” against Vodou and its practitioners, held during the regime of d’Antoine Louis Léocardie Élie Lescot (May 15, 1941-January 11, 1946) with the blessing of the Roman Catholic Church in Haiti.

Beauvoir also criticized the marginalization of the religion by President Joseph Michel Martelly, stressing that although Martelly had visited and is in good terms with Protestants, Freemasons, and Roman Catholics, he has never approached Vodou or visited a peristyle. Beauvoir underlines the irony that “Compas, a popular Haitian music style, of which Martelly declares himself a leading proponent, draws its rhythmic base in the peristyle.” Beauvoir feels that the repeal of Article 297 may well be the act by which the persecutions against Vodou will be brought back.

For original article (in French), see http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article13213

Also see related articles http://www.haitilibre.com/article-6200-haiti-religion-le-gouvernement-veut-rassurer-le-secteur-vodou.html and http://www.africultures.com/php/index.php?nav=murmure&no=10149,

Photo from http://academics.smcvt.edu/africanart2/Thomas/Vodou/ritual1.htm

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