Thursday, July 10, 2008

At the Helm of Trouble in Haiti
Jesse Helms Dead on the 4th of July

Dead on the Fourth of July, what sweet poetic justice. The Nation termed his legacy "the mark of the white hands". Helms formented, tormented and hated so many and is justly reviled far and wide.
    "The Republicans are still working those fault-lines. Indeed, some of the people who worked most closely with Helms as he transformed what began as an anti-slavery party into a comfortable retreat for white-backlash voters are now key players in the campaign of John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president. " (Jesse Helms, John McCain and the Mark of the White Hands)
Helms and his protégés succeeded in the ouster of the democratic government of Haiti. Helms branded Aristide a "psychopath and grave human rights abuser", paving the way for Washington's right-wingers, Paris and Haiti's ultra-rich to engineer "regime change" that resulted in the killing of thousands. The ensuing chaotic years that followed led to the current occupation of Haiti by UN "peacekeeping" forces (who have been responsible for genocidal acts, rapes and other crimes against humanity).

Can the US claim "victory" in Haiti? This was the cynical declaration of the US State Department amid the food riots, kidnappings/disappearances, political imprisonments...etc. Can the forceable removal of a democratic government and the replacement of said government with a neo-colonial regime that is not accountable to the people of Haiti but is to Washington be called a "victory"? That is myopic thinking. This is not long-term victory. What a hollow victory that is predicated on the continuing misery of the Haitian masses.

    "His notorious race-baiting and Red-bashing political campaigns molded the modern Republican party"
    "Jesse Helms may be gone. But if you follow politics, he cannot be forgotten. For every time Republicans win a state in a presidential election by placing a gay marriage ban on the ballot. Every time you hear a member or associate of the McCain campaign question Barack Obama’s patriotism. Every time Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConell sets a new record for obstruction by filibustering another bill. The presence of Jesse Alexander Helms on the American political stage can still be felt."
      The Toxic Legacy of Jesse Helms
      -- Published on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 by The Guardian/UK by Cliff Schecter


    "The Haitian people, desperately looking for something or someone to bring them out of the grinding poverty, found hope and inspiration in Jean Bertrand Aristide. A parish priest influenced by liberation theology, Aristide worked with the poorest of the poor. Loved by the Haitian people, he was elected president by a landslide in 1990. For the first time in recent history, Haitians believed that the government would represent them and that it would work to resolve the needs of the poor majority.

    Aristide's call for populist economic programs set off alarms for the richest Haitians and in Washington D.C. Leading the charge against Aristide was Senator Jesse Helms, then the chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee; Roger Noriega, Helm's chief of staff and Otto Reich, a fanatically anti-Castro policy maker in the Reagan and Bush administrations.

    Aristide's populist experiment in Haiti was not to be allowed by Washington. Guy Philippe and other members of FRAPH, a U.S.-backed death-squad, carried out a coup that killed between 3,000 and 5,000 Haitians just months after Aristide's election."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Jesse Helms represented my state of North Carolina and brought us great shame. I've made many trips to Haiti over the past 30 years, and love the country and its people more than I can say. A couple of my right wing Petionville friends adored Jesse. Figures.The irony is that, light skinned through they are, Helms would have seem them as mere N&*#(*ers.
He was a despicable man. Sadly, his legacy lives on in the race-baiting and innuendos aimed at Obama.

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