24 October 2004

The Man Eaters of Haiti

Common Sense
John Maxwell

Winston Churchill would be unpleasantly surprised and hugely disappointed. The United States, he said, represented mankind's ascent to the "uplands of history." Churchill seemed to imagine a demi-paradise, basking in the sunny benevolence of democracy, where every prospect pleased.

Today, those sunny uplands are in gloom, overshadowed by the dark deeds and malign intentions of a cabal representing greed, ignorance and a full-scale retreat from civilisation. There are now, in Florida alone, more than 25,000 (twentyfive thousand) lawyers and law students on the watch against an anticipated concerted assault on the human and civil rights of voters, to forestall those who intend to steal a Presidential election if they can manage it, for the second time.

Former President Jimmy Carter has said that the presidential election process in the United States of America as a whole, does not come up to democratic standards. It is as if the United States has suddenly become a Third World country of the Graham Greene genre, where dictators rule and no one is safe..

Serious, sober Americans have written me to say that many of their friends are afraid to speak out, to exercise their democratic rights, fearing some sort of retribution.

Counter-revolution comes home

The French Fourth Republic and Portugal discovered, after Churchill spoke, that it is impossible to employ repression abroad while quarantining it so that it does not come home to attack its host. The same instruments used to destabilise nascent democracies in Latin America over the last century have begun to flex their muscles and sharpen their claws in the home of democracy itself.

Next door, in Haiti, a similar but much more brutal process is in train; a fascist dictatorship has already been established and the regime is arresting priests, politicians and children and shooting children or anyone else who gets in their way.

The two processes depend on each other. It was anticipated by some that a quick decapitation of Haitian democracy would lead to the installation of a new, globalised version of government, run by the rich, for the rich and pacifying the underclass by handing out sweatshop jobs to all and sundry. All the Haitians needed, in this scenario, was a full belly.

As Mr Luigi Einaudi, Assistant Secretary general of the Organisation of United States said in January, the only thing wrong with Haiti was that it was being run by Haitians.

As former US Ambassador to Haiti, Timothy Carney said at the launching of the US government sponsored Haiti Democracy Project (HDP):
"The policies exist to realize the interests. Ambassador Roger Noriega mentioned that one of our interests is to defend human rights, but he didn't mention the fundamental interest, which is to defend Miami Beach. We don't want Haitians on Miami Beach and we have proven that very recently. That is a fundamental interest of the United States — no illegal immigrants. Now that you have realized that interest, you hopefully will have policies by which Haitians can realize their prosperity and their future at home. How do you do that? Well, we haven't figured that out yet, have we?"
Carney was speaking at the opening of the HDP in the august surroundings of the leading right-wing think-tank in the US, the Brookings Institution, on September 19, 2002.

The raw racism of Carney's speech seemed so innocuous to the Haitian Democracy Project that his speech was published in full on their website and may still be there.

The Ambassador Noriega of whom Carney speaks is one of the spawn of the racist US Senator Jesse Helms, father of the Helms Burton Act and intellectual sponsor of any number of bright young fascists, including Otto Reich, who preceded Noriega as the American Assistant Secretaryof State for hemispheric affairs. Reich and Noriega are credibly believed to have been the American point-men in last August-s Panamanian pardon of Luis Posada Carriles and three other notorious Cuban exile terrorists . They had been in jail in Panama for plotting to assassinate President Castro and others at a summit in Panama in 2000. The pardons breached international and Panamanian law, but were delivered by the outgoing President Mireya Moscoso as her parting presidential eructation.

Posada Carriles was exposed by the Miami Herald in 1997 in a news scoop which detailed the links between Posada and the Cuban American Foundation of Miami - stout supporters of Bush - and the bombings in Cuba which attempted to disrupt the tourist industry and killed an Italian tourist as well as damaging several tourist properties.

Racism and terrorism are a noxious mix. They are evil enough on their own. In Haiti, they are lethal.

The Brazilian general in charge of the so-called United Nations contingent in Haiti, one Augusto Heleno, has delivered himself of the profound thought that the trouble in Haiti is the fault of Democratic candidate John Kerry, who, shortly after the February coup, decried the affair and said that Haiti deserved better treatment. Heleno-s bizarre statement statement in my view, makes it patent that not only is the intervention racist and unfair, but that it is directly linked to the presumed prospects of certain candidates in the US general election next week.

In this past week I have been on two radio programmes with representatives of the Haitian private sector, following another two weeks ago. In the first programme, one Mr Wedemeyer, head honcho of Radio Metropole in Port au Prince,said he knew nothing about the arrest of Haiti's best known folklorist, the 69 year old ‘So Anne- August. This arrest happened in August, and was particularly brutal, because a hand grenade was used to blow in So Anne-s door at midnight and she and her family, including a six year old granddaughter and another child, were hooded, manacled and taken off to jail without a warrant. The children have been released. So Anne is still in jail. At the time of her arrest she was still recuperating from a serious surgical operation.

The President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Port au Prince, one M. Armand, exploded in fury when I asked him on the Breakfast Club what had happened to So Anne? Was she a violent person, as he had alleged about Father Guerarrd Jean-Juste? Armand shouted imprecations and hung up the telephone. That night we met again on RJR's Beyond the Headlines. Somebody must have told him that he had made a fool of himself earlier in the day. He was determined not to be rattled and tried to talk over every question. But he showed embarrassment and confusion when asked about So Anne and Father Jean Juste, declaring that the government was right to arrest So Anne and that she had been charged with an offence. This lie was quickly disproved when a very brave Haitian journalist came onto the programme.. After a few statements which contradicted M. Armand's version, M. Armand counselled the journalist to be very careful because I was entrapping him with my questions. The journalist paid no heed, and at the end of the programme, M. Armand was unable to provide any rational defence for the government which he supports.

Death on the Streets

There is on the Internet a great deal of information about the horror story that is Haiti. Mr Colin Powell can say there is genocide in Darfur, in the Sudan, but he either cannot or will not deign to say what he thinks the situation is in Haiti.

The US press is similarly discreet, unlike Mr La Tortue, the resident satrap. I confess that I judged him simply to be seeking publicity when he said last week that President Aristide fomented the violence in Haiti from his temporary residence in South Africa.

The outburst demonstrates some of the less intelligent features of the so-called "interim prime minister." La Tortue doesn't think that people are intelligent enough to figure out that it would take an enormous organisation for Aristide to carry out subversion in Haiti, or that people don't know that Aristide is a man of peace, despite the lies spread by his opponents.

The South African government gave La Tortue short shrift , while President Aristide responded as I expected he would, in character.

"October 1, 2004, one day following a lawful demonstration in Haiti, de facto prime minister Gerard LaTortue acknowledged that he is a killer. In a publicly broadcast radio interview about the demonstration he declared: "We fired on them. Some died others were wounded, and others fled."

"A shocking and appalling admission; all the more reprehensible when made by a so-called public official. The statement was confirmed the next day ... LaTortue crossed the line; he unleashed a new torrent of repression in Haiti and is now looking for a scapegoat. He is attempting to bury his self incriminating statements with lies. LaTortue-s lies come after his salute of convicted criminals as "freedom fighters"; his de facto government's exoneration of one in a hasty, overnight trial; his consent in allowing soldiers of the disbanded brutal army to take charge and remain in charge of entire areas of the country; and his sanctioning their use of violence."

President Aristide then appealed for a change of course towards peace:

"LaTortue, stop the lying, stop the killings. Start paving the way for a dialogue which we have unceasingly invoked these past three and a half years.
"True dialogue is the only solution. With the lives of millions at stake, public officials must act responsibly. As we have repeatedly declared: violence and murder are not the answer. During these past eight months thousands of Haitians have been killed in defense of democratic principles. The Haitian people clearly want peace and a return to a state of law. Let us work to bring a tumultuous bicentennial year to a close with a lasting political solution that is imperative to the future of our nation."

The world's press does not pay much attention to President Aristide.

He is out of Favour with the Lords of the Earth.

The world Press does not try to investigate what is happening in Haiti. Like William Jennings Bryan they seem to think that the Haitians are pretending to a position above their station "Imagine! Niggers speaking French!!!"

But it was these people who ushered in the modern age, who translated the Enlightenment into reality, by rising up, and by overthrowing and abolishing slavery. Two hundred years ago the Haitians spoke powerfully and decisively on behalf of humanity, on behaalf of all the wretched and enslaved of the earth.

It is long past time for us to speak for them.

But is Mr Patterson listening? Is Mr Annan paying attention? And where, on this planet, can we locate the conscience of Colin Powell?


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