"Aristide, who has been living in exile in South Africa with his family, announced his offer to return to Haiti in Johannesburg yesterday, according to international media outlets.
’As far as we are concerned, we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time to join the people of Haiti, to share in their suffering, help rebuild the country, moving from misery to poverty with dignity,’ Aristide said."
In light of these reports, I thought I would share my thoughts on an article from the BBC website entitled, "The long history of troubled ties between Haiti and the US" by Vanessa Buschschluter.
At first, the piece lays out a largely truthful history of Haiti/US relations, but later descends into half-truths and outright propaganda. I have composed rebuttals to the ones that I found especially objectionable:
"The ousting of President Aristide by a military regime in 1991 led to a new wave of Haitians headed for the US."In her account, Buschschluter neglects to mention that in the 1991 regime change in Haiti, the US backed the military intervention--General Raoul Cedras later retired to Panama with a "golden parachute" courtesy of the US. So the "wave" of dispossed Haitians was on account of CIA support of the military junta and by proxy the death squads.
"While he enjoyed the support of the Clinton administration during his first term of office, allegations of corruption and links to the drugs trade during President Aristide's second term made for a rocky relationship with Washington.Enjoying himself is not exactly the way most would put it, in light of the conditions that the Clinton administration imposed on Aristide for his return. Especially in light of Washington's insistence that Aristide reconcile, negotiate and empower the elements in Haiti that had ousted him--in other words, his enemies.
After an uprising against President Aristide in 2004, US forces returned to Haiti, this time to airlift him out of the country."
On a personal note, I can attest to the fact that Aristide did not have an "enjoyable" time when he was in Washington under the "protection" of the Clinton administration after the first military coup d'etat. I and another family member had lunch with Aristide at his apt/bunker, while attending a protest march by Haitians in DC in the early 90s. If he was enjoying the largess of DC so much, why did his hands start to shake uncontrollably while holding his knife during lunch? And there was no avoiding the guy who peered at us across the hall as we left Aristide's apartment. Arguably, the man was only making us aware of his presence (his headset indicated that he had been listening to our visit from across the hall) because he was charged with protecting Aristide from his invited guests.
The lies about Aristide being involved in the trafficking of drugs aren't anything but a smoke-screen for the inevitable interventions from Washington--too tiresome to defend. The "conventional wisdom" goes like this; Haiti should be controlled because it is a major avenue for drugs. The right-wing echo chamber has already started the drumbeat--see "Things to Remember While Helping Haiti."
I like FiredogLake's take on Jim Roberts' proposals for Haiti:
"An intense earthquake has devastated Haiti, the number of injured and dead, and the damage, far exceed that country’s ability to cope. Millions of men women and children are likely lacking adequate food, water and shelter.
Haiti’s need for assistance of all kinds is clear.
At such a time when the need to provide assistance should be first and foremost, certain crass and craven individuals have other less honorable things in mind.
It is disgusting to report this , but people who publish such things need to be exposed, so that they may be repudiated in public."
Interestingly, in his opinion piece dated January 13, Jim Roberts suggested that President Obama appoint former Presidents G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to head Haiti relief efforts. The next day, rumors circulated that Obama would be making the formal announcement that Bush Jr. and Bill Clinton would be tapped for the job, prompting David Sirota to Tweet:
"@davidsirota: Following orders from Heritage Foundation, Obama appoints George W. Bush to head Haiti relief. Unreal. http://bit.ly/7mpmOm"
Obama's appointment of George W. Bush to head Haiti Relief is a clear indication that Candidate Obama was just mouthing a platitude when he said that he wanted to move past the "mindset that got us into Iraq." George W. Bush's political legacy is the "Bush Doctrine"-- a doctrine of pre-emptive war and war crimes. In light of Obama's escalation of the "war on terror"; the continuing violations of the Geneva Conventions, in particular, the drone and missile air strikes that amount to "collective punishment" because so many civilians are killed in relation to so-called "terrorist", evidently a corrosive mindset is also part of the "Obama Doctrine."
More on the Buschschluter BBC story:
"Mr Aristide accused the US of forcing him out - an accusation the US rejected as "absurd".There is documented proof that the US ousted Aristide (again) in 2004--if the writer cared to include it. In particular, evidence suggests that the US trained and armed the "rebels"-- comprised of former military thugs and criminals in the Dominican Republic.
With the crisis averted, US interest in Haiti lessened. A UN-led mission took over from US troops in June 2004 and continues to be present there."
Also, it is untrue that "US interest in Haiti lessened," for one, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti is described as a "behemoth" costing 75 million to build in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The compound, finished in 2007 is the fourth largest in cost.
"The election of President Obama and the nomination of Bill Clinton to the post of UN envoy to Haiti, combined with a period of relative political stability, led to a strengthening of US-Haitian ties."Close ties but not in a way that is positive for Haitian democracy and sovereignty. The US financed Haitian elections and a close source tells me, asked Rene Preval to run for President?
Also, The Buschschluter is not being candid, she is glossing over the fact that the UN was brought in to "stabilize" Haiti--only after the "int'l community' caused the chaos! The US, France & Canada (see the Ottawa Initiative) destabilized Haiti, then by virtue of their oppressive, unbalanced power as voting members of the UN Security Council--brought in a brutal (proxy) military occupation to "protect its interests" and squash resistance and democracy.
It's almost laughable the propaganda that passes for "news" in the mainstream media. The BBC had some shred of integrity for real investigative journalism (ex. Greg Palast)-- but this tears it for me. Is it any wonder that newspapers are going out of business, and increasingly people are depending on blogs, political PACs and unembedded journalists for the truth?
People are waking up to the fact that they cannot trust the media to tell the truth and increasingly they are doing their own research to fact-check stories like this that masquerade as journalism but are in fact littered with propagandist spin.
In writing this, I came across an exposé by The New York Times which told of the U.S. Role in the 2004 Coup against President Aristide. Well, I wasn't aware of this investigative piece, but NYT, it's just literally too little too late. The equivocating title tells the story, "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos."
The Obama administration will likely not welcome a return of Aristide, given the tepid response from Secretary Clinton on news that Aristide's party Fanmi Lavalas has been barred from participation in scheduled Congressional and Senate elections in Haiti.
While Fanmi Lavalas Haiti's most popular party was barred, Guy Phillipe's Front for National Reconstruction was approved to run in the elections by Preval’s election council. Guy was trained by US Special Forces in Ecuador. Philippe and former death squad leader Louis Jodel Chamblain lead "rebels" who were the muscle for the coup d'etat machinery which ousted Aristide in 2004.
"A leader of one of the many community organizations affiliated with Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas and who spoke on condition of anonymity stated, “It’s clear to us that Obama and Preval never really intended to arrest Philippe but only wanted to send him a message to shut his mouth. While Fanmi Lavalas has been barred from the next elections in 2010, Philippe’s party has been accepted to run by Preval’s election council. Now Philippe openly holds an FRN meeting in the capital…where’s the DEA? He’s right here if they really want him. Obama and Preval are hypocrites.”
The Obama administration doesn't have Condoleezza Rice at their disposal to warn Aristide to stay out of this hemisphere, but maybe Obama could assign UN Ambassador Susan Rice the task.