Author's Note: This article first appeared in the Black Commentator (www.blackcommentator.com) in Issue 105 - September 16 2004. It was later reprinted in an accidentally abbreviated version on Counterpunch.com. I submit this starting point for those who wish to know events as they actually transpired in Haiti. It's a good place for us to begin.
All is well for me here. I have taken well to my duties in Haiti but I still can’t believe how they let the niggers have the run of the place.”
Haitians running Haiti?
Now let’s fast forward to last December 31, 2003 as Luigi Einaudi of the Organization of American States (OAS) is ushered into the lobby of the Hotel Montana for Haiti’s bicentennial celebrations. While checking into the luxury hotel he makes this comment in front of several witnesses: “The real problem in Haiti is that the international community is so screwed up and divided that they are letting Haitians run Haiti.” When questioned about his objectivity given his attendance at the opening of the Haiti Democracy Project (HDP), a Washington think-tank funded and supported by right-wing Haitians opposed to President John Bertrand-Aristide, he becomes defensive and denies he had been there at all. After it is pointed out to him that there are photos on the organization’s website of him with HDP Director James Morrell he quips, “Maybe I was there, I don’t remember, but I really think Morrell is a kook.” The exchange turns to the question of Otto Reich’s role as “fixer” for the Bush Administration in Haiti, at which time Einaudi grows red in the face and visibly angry, shouting, “You are ignorant, you don’t know what you are talking about,” as he makes a mad dash for the Hotel’s elevator.
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
It is duly noted that Mr.
Einaudi has since gotten his wish. Haitians no longer run Haiti.
The Golden Rule of U.S. sponsored Democracy: He Who
Owns the Gold Makes the Rules
The forced ouster of Haiti’s president on February 29, 2004 begins
with the economic and political isolation of Aristide’s party,
known as Lavalas, following the national elections of May 21, 2000. Aristide’s predecessor, President Rene Preval,
delays the elections several times. Preval’s stated purpose is
to insure proper voter registration. The opposition accuses him
of delaying the national elections to coincide with the upcoming
presidential elections. The opposition and several “undisclosed
diplomatic sources” claim this is being done to give Lavalas candidates
the advantage of “riding on Aristide’s coattails.”
Preval finally relents despite his continuing concerns over inadequate
time for voter registration and security preparations for polling
stations throughout the country. The elections are finally held
on May 21, 2000 and initially praised as the “most free and fair
election in Haitian history” by the U.S. State Department and
the Organization of American States (OAS). When it becomes clear
that the Lavalas party has won by a landslide, despite the absence
of Aristide’s mythical coattails, these very same forces discredit
the results of the elections.
After initially praising the process of the elections, the OAS later
claims that Lavalas purposely miscalculated the vote to favor seven of
their senatorial candidates. It is interesting to note that the OAS,
and several non-governmental organizations contracted by the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID), are at the same
time deeply involved in overseeing and monitoring these elections. They
are included and present during discussions by Haiti’s Provisional
Election Council when it determines the method to tabulate the final
results. OAS representative Orlande Marville, another apostle of the
HDP and the “kook” James Morrell, eventually leaks an internal memo
criticizing the ballot counting methods to the press rather then
quietly negotiating a solution. The OAS shows its hypocrisy when it
turns a blind eye to President Alberto Fujimori’s brazen electoral
fraud in Peru the same year. In Haiti, the OAS double standard results
in Lavalas ultimately forcing the seven contested senators to resign
and creating a timetable for new elections as a formula for compromise.
Why Should I Play if My Rich Uncle’s Gonna Pay Anyway?
Any political compromise is categorically rejected by the Haitian “political opposition” as it becomes more emboldened and entrenched due to increasing funding and nurturing through programs sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU). The opposition and their allies use the issue of the seven contested senate seats to question the validity of the entire election of May 2000. What is conveniently ignored, especially today, is that these elections filled more then 7500 national, municipal and local positions of government largely due to a huge investment of money and human resources by the United States and the international community. They got the democratic process they demanded of Haiti but when the results finally sink in, they do their best to distance themselves and finally take to actively supporting a minority “political opposition” to sully the results. This policy trajectory justifies suspending all direct international assistance and loans to the government of Haiti. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for the majority political party, Lavalas, to implement strategies to alleviate the conditions of extreme poverty among the country’s poor majority – the party’s popular base.
In November 2000, Aristide is re-elected president of Haiti after
a terror campaign of mysterious drive-by shootings and bombings rock the
capital. Despite the violence and the political opposition’s decision
to boycott the election, independent international observers rescue
their validity by pronouncing the vote free and fair despite a
low turnout. The press gives ample attention to the detractors
of this election but are conspicuously silent on the three weeks
of terror that preceded it.
Following this period, most international press attention focuses
on the negatives of the Aristide government. The Lavalas party’s
land reform for the peasants and universal literacy programs are
ignored and dismissed as insignificant by the outside world. Financial
and political isolation begins to take its toll. This becomes
a period in which anything positive about Lavalas appears to be
censored while anything that damages the credibility of the Haitian
government is magnified. In this political climate, even former
“leftist” allies of Lavalas, so-called Haitian human rights organizations
and members of Haiti’s press, justify accepting tours to the United
States – paid for by the U.S. State Department. During these tours
they are encouraged to develop contacts with the alternative media
and the United States “Left” as they preach the evils of Aristide
and Lavalas to a largely uninformed American audience.
The political and financial isolation of Aristide and Lavalas
following the May 2000 elections also opened new and unprecedented
levels of support for the “political opposition” from the U.S.
and their partners in the international community. Although this
“political opposition” was incapable of winning at the polls,
the U.S. and the international community provide legitimacy to
their Haitian surrogates by giving them the option to paralyze
the country with a veto over any political compromise that will
break the stalemate over the elections. The final attempt to force
the opposition to make a reasonable compromise with Aristide is
a power sharing solution brokered by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
in early February 2004. The opposition, which clearly sees no
advantage in negotiation as long as the U.S. and the EU continue
to support their intransigence, once again rejects compromise.
The Death Insurance Policy
Two years prior to CARICOM’s last ditch effort to save democracy
in Haiti, new and ominous reports emerge of killings by paramilitary
forces comprised of former death squads and disbanded military
using the Dominican Republic as a safe
haven. At the same time, Haiti’s small but powerful economic
elite is slowly rehabilitated as the legitimate leadership of
the opposition to Lavalas. Andre Apaid, a wealthy owner of many
sweatshops in Haiti, is suddenly touted as an indigenous Gandhi
fighting the evil dictatorship of Aristide while the press and
much of the Haitian left conveniently refrain from questioning
the conditions he imposes upon his own employees. With U.S. and
EU support, Apaid is ultimately able to turn out thousands of
demonstrators demanding Aristide’s resignation. The real power
behind these numbers soon becomes apparent. Apaid’s “movement”
evaporates into next to nothing following Secretary of State Colin
Powell’s disingenuous statement in mid-February 2004 that Washington
will not accept removing Aristide through unconstitutional means.
In the blink of an eye, what was touted in the press as tens of
thousands, mobilized by Apaid to demand Aristide’s resignation,
is reduced to a raucous and violent crowd of several hundred.
While Apaid organizes the opposition demonstrations on the ground,
it is always the U.S. State Department that holds the power of
life or death over Haiti’s fledgling democracy and Aristide's
presidency. Powell’s words soon turn hollow as those now infamous
"undisclosed officials" in Washington are heard from
once again. This time they claim that only a change in the way
Haiti is run, and that includes the possibility of Aristide stepping
down, will solve Haiti's "political crisis."
It is at this moment that the aforementioned paramilitary forces
in the Dominican Republic are suddenly “discovered” in Haiti by
the corporate media amid significant fanfare. While President
Aristide and his spokesmen were left to shout at the wind about
deadly armed incursions by these same forces for more than two
years, corporate media organizations suddenly cough up nice salaries,
per diems and expense accounts in February 2004 to provide the
“rebels” with unprecedented media coverage. These well-armed and
trained forces in Haiti are led by a former Haitian military officer,
Guy Phillipe, accused of human rights abuses by organizations
such as Human Rights Watch and labeled a drug trafficker by the
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the spring of 2001. Phillipe’s
fellow ringleader is Jodel Chamblain, the infamous former second
in command of the dreaded paramilitary death squad, the Front
for Advancement and Progress in Haiti (FRAPH). FRAPH was trained
by the CIA and unleashed upon the Haitian population in the aftermath
of the violent military coup against Aristide in 1991. This band
of former military and death squad killers now wreaks havoc in
the north of Haiti – the ultimate threat and justification for
the U.S. government to remove the country’s democratically elected
Dressing the Stage to Orchestrate the Fall
The media’s grand entrance and belated discovery of the paramilitary
forces from the Dominican Republic ushers in what is generously
described by many observers in Port au Prince as “superb theater.”
Foreign embassy after foreign embassy publicly pleads with their
citizens to flee Haiti as the “rebels surround the capital.” Suddenly,
fifty U.S. marines fly into Haiti dressed in full battle gear,
ostensibly to check on security preparations at the U.S. Embassy.
Representatives of the U.S.- and EU-backed opposition to Aristide
take to the airwaves with daily pronouncements that an exit strategy
has already been prepared for the president and it is just a matter
of time before his eventual departure. Then there is the frightened
reaction of the masses of Lavalas partisans who erect elaborate
and deadly barricades at all entrances to Port au Prince and,
finally, throughout the main thoroughfares of the capital itself.
It becomes clear to most observers on the ground that the so-called
rebels never stand a chance of entering the capital despite U.S.
claims to the contrary. Supplies of diesel gasoline, which is
needed to run the mighty turbine generators that provide electricity
to the capital, begin to dwindle as nightly blackouts combine
with the sporadic gunfire of determined Aristide partisans to
create an atmosphere of fear and tension.
The drama reaches epic proportions, as the U.S. demands all of its citizens to abandon Haiti and, for some unknown reason, suspends all commercial airline flights to the capital. All of this despite the fact that not a single foreign national ever receives so much as a scratch during this period, nor is there ever any threat whatsoever to the now seemingly sacred tarmac of the Toussaint Louverture International Airport. The stage is now set to provide a plausible pretext to remove Haiti’s elected president. All that’s needed is one more turn of the screw to bring on the final act.
Friends in Struggle: Venezuela and South Africa Force Washington’s
The second week of February 2004 President Aristide made a public
pronouncement that he would never resign his elected authority,
invoking the image of the fallen democrat Salvador Allende of
Chile by announcing he was “willing to die in office.” The following
week it appeared Washington had all the pieces in place to take
him out including the final gambit of a “rebel” paramilitary army
surrounding Port au Prince. In Washington it was thought this
was more than enough to pressure Aristide into voluntarily resigning
his office and fleeing Haiti. More important was that all of Washington’s
window dressing would give the impression of yet another embattled
dictator of Haiti falling upon his own sword. The State Department
needed just a little more time to close the noose around Aristide’s
neck. The plan was to allow Phillipe and Chamblain’s forces to
move closer to the capital and clash with defending Lavalas partisans,
thus making the scenario complete for the gullible international
press. Unfortunately, this calculation depended upon a weakened
and docile president of Haiti, paralyzed and incapable of defending
himself. Reality caught U.S. planners by surprise and led to what
history will recall as one of the greatest scandals of U.S.-sponsored
democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the days preceding Aristide’s overthrow a press report surfaces
that causes panic in the U.S. State Department. An undisclosed
Venezuelan diplomat is quoted as saying his government is prepared
to provide unilateral assistance to the Haitian government under
the terms of the Rio Treaty and the Democratic Charter of the
Organization of American States. At about the same time a credible
source working in the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince leaks word
of intercepted phone calls of advisors close to Aristide who are
“actively procuring additional arms and ammunition to re-supply
the Haitian National Police. These same advisors discussed releasing
existing stockpiles of arms to local auxiliary forces aligned
with Lavalas.” This new information means that Aristide and his
advisors were actively pursuing means to defend his government
by force of arms, and that the image the U.S. State Department
promulgated of a defeated president reconciled to his fate would
no longer play with the media. It was determined that they had
to act fast before Aristide regrouped for the final showdown.
While the United States watches Venezuela closely for any move
on the part of the Chavez government to aid Aristide, CARICOM
quietly negotiates with a second friendly nation to provide arms,
ammunition and riot control gear for the Haitian police. The Republic
of South Africa, whose President Thabo Mbeki was one of the highest
ranking international dignitaries to attend Haiti’s bicentennial
celebrations, agrees to send 150 R1 rifles, 5 000 bullets, 200
smoke grenades, and 200 bullet-proof vests to re-supply Haiti’s
embattled police. The U.S. Marines enter Aristide’s residence
with overwhelming force and put him on a plane the very moment
a Boeing 747 filled with this equipment is refueling on a tarmac
in Kingston, Jamaica, less than 300 miles away.
Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson later admits the plane was refueling in Jamaica before heading on to Haiti, but that it had been stopped after Aristide's departure. A far cry from the image presented by the governments of Washington, Paris and Ottawa of a defeated leader resigned to his fate, it is now clear that Aristide was prepared to fight to the end to continue his democratic mandate and the right of Haitians to run Haiti. The U.S. Marines intervened to insure this would never happen.
by Kevin Pina Kevin Pina gives a swift accounting of recent history in Haiti and the role of the Bush adminstration. He also gives an...
by Kevin Pina Listen to podcast here: http://www.wvud.org/podcast/PublicAffairs/ProgressiveVoices/ProgressiveVoices6-6-06.mp3 ...
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