Aristide's Rise and Fall
U.S. troops occupy Haiti
by Ashley Smith
International Socialist Review,
For the third time in the last hundred
years, the U.S. has invaded and occupied Haiti. Working behind
the scenes, the U.S. conducted a destabilization campaign aimed
at toppling the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. This is
a message to the rest of the region: If you don't obey, the U.S.
will impose sanctions, overthrow your government, install a client
regime, and support death squads to crush any resistance.
Aristide offered the U.S. an easy target
for such an intervention. He had been the pivotal voice of the
mass movement against the Duvalier dictatorship, neoliberalism,
and American imperialism. But once in office, he cut deals with
the U.S. and demoralized his mass base. As a result, the U.S.
was able to regroup its favored neoliberal technocrats, the Haitian
bourgeoisie, and death squads to impose its wish for a client
state on a resigned country.
The rise of Lavalas and Aristide
Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier
and his son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier ruled Haiti
from 1957 to 1986, consolidating a totalitarian state based on
the Haitian army and a vast network of paid thugs and informants
called the Tontons Macoutes. The dictatorship enforced order on
Haiti's underdeveloped capitalism for the benefit of a parasitic
ruling class that siphoned wealth from the country's overwhelming
peasant majority. With little wealth pumped back into the economy,
the cities swelled with urban poor and the working class remained
In the 1970s and 1980s the U.S. pressed
Baby Doc to opt for a neoliberal economic strategy called the
"American Plan": compel peasants into farming for export
not subsistence, move the "surplus population" from
the countryside to the city, and build sweatshops to take advantage
of abundant and urbanized cheap labor. The plan increased peasant
poverty and accelerated mass migration to Haiti's cities, but
most became part of the urban poor, the sweatshops unable to absorb
them. The plan created an economic and political crisis. Between
1980 and 1985, agriculture production declined by 1.3 percent
and industry by 2.5 percent each year.' Baby Doc's conspicuous
consumption alienated the army, the conservative Catholic Church,
and the private bourgeoisie, who saw his cronyism as a drain on
profits. But it enraged the impoverished peasants, lumpen poor,
and sweatshop workers.
Aristide, who came from a devoutly Catholic
small property-owning family, became a priest in the Salesian
order and was eventually assigned to the St. Jean Bosco church
in the poor La Saline neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. Influenced
by liberation theology, he called for a poor people's movement
that would unite all sympathetic forces, including liberal capitalists,
to overthrow the dictatorship. He became the leader of a network
of radical priests that was able to fill a vacuum that the Duvaliers
had created by their repression of the Left.
A skilled orator, Aristide was able to
articulate the frustration of the Haitian majority. "We must
end this regime where the donkeys do all the work and horses prance
in the sunshine," he said in a 1982 speech that led to his
expulsion to Canada, "a regime of misery imposed on us by
the people in charge. They are voracious and insatiable dogs,
who go their own way, each one looking out for himself."
His was a populist ideology that could appeal across classes.
He could denounce capitalism as a mortal sin and call for a socialist
Haiti in one breath, and in the next breath defend peasants' right
to private property.
The class base of Aristide's Lavalas movement
was the peasantry and the urban lumpen poor. Both of these classes
have found it difficult to build their own organizations and have
tended to be led by other classes. The peasants are divided between
rich and poor and by their competitive aspirations for their own
private plots of land. The lumpen proletariat, as Amy Wilentz
are traditionally fickle. At a moment
of great historical change they may support you for your ideas,
for your words. But many among them can be bought. In times of
plenty they are loyal.... And in times of penury their support
can be and often is purchased by the highest bidder-and for very
little. For a dollar they'll demonstrate. For twenty, maybe less,
they'll torture, they'll burn, they'll kill, they'll assassinate.
Recognizing the fragility of his base
in the lumpen proletariat, Aristide increasingly appealed to liberal
sections of the bourgeoisie to come over to Lavalas's struggle
against Duvalier. His petty-bourgeois background, his brand of
liberation theology, and the weakness of his mass base predisposed
him to a politics of class compromise.
Confronted with the rise of Lavalas, the
U.S. and the Haitian ruling class decided to sacrifice Duvalier
in order to reform and preserve the existing order. They whisked
Baby Doc out of the country to Paris along with a fortune he had
stolen from the Haitian treasury. They backed the army to take
control of the society and guide it toward liberal democracy and
neoliberal economics. Undersecretary of State Eliot Abrams boasted
that the Haitian army and its generals who had terrorized the
population offered the "best chance for democracy."
In reality, the army continued Duvalierism
without Duvalier: they integrated the Tontons Macoutes into their
ranks, maintained the cronyism, terrorized the popular movement,
and failed to stabilize the society. They actually killed more
people in their four years of rule than Baby Doc had killed in
his fifteen. Finally, after a period of coups and counter-coups,
the U.S. and Haitian bourgeoisie opted to organize "free
and fair" elections in 1990.
Victory and compromises
The U.S. tried to rig the 1990 election.
In an attempt to undermine Aristide, the U.S. exaggerated his
radicalism, representing him as a beardless, Black Castro and
denouncing him as a "Marxist Maniac" who advocated class
struggle and revolution. They poured $3G million into their chosen
candidate, former World Bank employee Marc Bazin, and hoped that
he would defeat the Duvalierists Roger Lafontant and Victor Benoit,
put forward by the main reformist political group, National Front
for Democracy and Change (FNCD). In a fateful move, Aristide decided
to replace Benoit on the FNCD ticket and run for president himself
in order to head off the neoliberals and Duvalierists. Previously,
Aristide had criticized the idea that elections were a route for
social transformation. He argued that "candidates can't bring
change. Like anywhere else in Latin America elections are in the
hands of the oligarchy who use them to undermine popular demands."
Aristide's candidacy captured the aspirations
of Haiti's poor, voter registration skyrocketed, and he became
the favorite to win the election. Liberal capitalists like Antoine
Izmery and layers of middle class intellectuals also rallied to
his campaign. He won an astonishing 67 percent of the vote and
thoroughly trounced Bazin, who managed only 14 percent. The peasants
and poor resisted the temptation of U.S. dollars and voted for
emancipation. One voter told the press, "I'm not here for
the money, it's of my own free will." One supporter commented,
Aristide's inauguration represents immense
hope nor only for the Haitian people, but also I believe for the
people of the Dominican Republic and all the other peoples of
Latin America. The beacon is no longer Nicaragua, it is now Haiti,
and Haiti truly has the duty and the right to succeed on behalf
of all people who desire the experience of liberation.
The U.S., the bulk of the Haitian ruling
class, and the army reacted in horror. One U.S. official snarled:
"Aristide- slum priest, grass roots activist, exponent of
liberation theology-represents everything that the CIA, DOD, and
FBI think they have been trying to protect this country against
for 50 years."" A U.S. delegation, headed by Jimmy Carter,
attempted to convince Aristide to allow Bazin to become president
even though he had beaten him in a landslide.' A section of Duvalierists
attempted a preemptive coup to prevent Aristide's inauguration,
but a wave of mass protests foiled it.
Aristide took office, left the FNCD, and
established his own political party, the Lavalas Political Organization.
But instead of pursuing fundamental social change, he moderated
his agenda and attempted to mediate the struggle between classes.
Author Robert Fatton notes that Aristide,
in spite of his multiple condemnations
of imperialist and capitalist exploitation, his economic policies
remained extremely pragmatic; at most they entailed a commitment
to social democracy and the World Bank vision of "basic needs."
He was always appealing for the cooperation of what he called
the "nationalist bourgeoisie " and he accepted the necessity
of dealing with international financial organizations.
While he began to uproot the Macoutes,
redistribute state lands, and raise the minimum wage, Aristide
also agreed to a neoliberal program of deficit reduction and trade
liberalization-and, incredibly, he promised a "marriage"
between his government and the army.
This attempt to please both the bourgeoisie
and the masses failed. The masses protested his meetings and agreements
with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. And
the Haitian ruling class and army were terrified by his mild reforms.
Aristide was caught between the movement's demands for revolutionary
change and the capitalist state, which was accountable to the
ruling class. Aristide vacillated between damping down struggle
so that he could maintain peace with the ruling class and encouraging
it in order to improve his bargaining position. It was an untenable
The U.S. government, the Haitian ruling
class, and the army plotted a counter-offensive. The U.S. conducted
a destabilization campaign similar to the ones they had conducted
against Salvador Allende in Chile and Michael Manley in Jamaica
in the 1970s. Haiti's rulers and army then began to organize a
coup that Aristide knew was coming. He gave pyrotechnic speeches
defending people's right to self-defense and celebrating the infamous
pere lebrun, the practice of putting burning tires around the
necks of enemies in acts of popular justice. But he had demobilized
the popular struggle, the only force capable of stopping the storm
of ruling-class vengeance about to break out in Haiti.
The coup and a deal with the devil
Raoul Cedras, who Aristide had actually
appointed head of the army to replace the Duvalierist Herard Abraham,
led a coup that drove Aristide from government and into exile
just seven months after he took office. While publicly distancing
itself from the coup, the Bush administration supported it in
order to crush the Lavalas movement.
The Reagan and Bush administrations had
maintained almost every coup leader on the CIA's payroll. The
Bush administration did impose an embargo, but it was perhaps
the leakiest one in history, since the coup leaders enriched themselves,
while the poor, who were actually its intended target, suffered
immensely. Bush denied 60,000 refugees asylum, categorizing them
as economic not political refugees, and either imprisoned them
in concentration camps at Guantanamo Bay or forcibly repatriated
them back to Haiti. Instead of denouncing the coup's reign of
terror, the Bush administration initiated a campaign against Aristide,
claiming he was mentally unstable and a pathological killer.
Even though Clinton had postured against
Bush during the 1992 election, and criticized him for interning
Haitian refugees on Guantanamo Bay, once in office, President
Clinton maintained his predecessor's policies toward Haiti. But
in the wake of the fiasco in Somalia, when thousands of armed
Somalis attacked and killed eighteen marines compelling a U.S.
pullout, Clinton sought to use Haiti to rebuild domestic support
for military interventions. He also wanted to head off domestic
protests against his policy of refusing asylum for Haitian refugees.
Aristide had stated that he had "no
illusion that a military intervention would serve the purpose
of restoring democracy or justice to Haiti." But exile, pressure
from his liberal bourgeois supporters, and Aristide's own ambitions
led him to abandon his reformism and adopt the American plan.
He cut a deal with the devil. After a series of summits with the
Clinton administration and representatives of the coup leaders,
Aristide agreed to accept neoliberalists and former Duvalierists
into his cabinet, give up the three years of his term he had lost
during the coup, and sign on to a neoliberal structural adjustment
program practically identical to that implemented by Baby Doc
in the 1970s and 1980s.
Aristide adopted the World Bank-designed
"Strategy of Social and Economic Reconstruction." Alex
Dupuy notes that
the objective of the neoliberal economic
model adopted by the Strategy was to maintain Haiti's comparative
advantage, namely, its cheap labor. The dislocations caused by
the cheap labor strategy were already well known and they would
inevitably lead to still greater unemployment and rural-to-urban
migration. The main beneficiaries undoubtedly would be the private
local and foreign investors, foreign exporters, and the small
wealthy faaion of the bourgeoisie that controls the import sector.
Aristide betrayed the peasants through
trade liberalization, canceled equity projects for the poor and
sweatshop workers, and instead opened Haiti for business.
With UN approval, the U.S. invaded and
restored Aristide to power in 1994. "Operation Uphold Democracy"
would have been better termed "Operation Withhold Democracy."
U.S. troops did not disarm the death squads; instead they smuggled
incriminating papers that proved American complicity with the
coup out of the country, warned the popular organizations not
to challenge U.S. dictates, and drafted much of the old military
into the new police so that it would have a loyal force ready
to plan another coup.
The degeneration of Aristide
Haiti's crushing debt load had grown from
$302 million in 1980 to more than $1.2 billion today. "About
40 per cent of this debt," notes Farmer, "stems from
loans to the brutal Duvalier dictators, who invested precious
little of it in the country." Back in office, Aristide now
committed Haiti to repaying it. Writes Farmer:
The author of a text entitled "Capitalism
is a Mortal Sin" now meets regularly with representatives
of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and AID
[U.S. Agency for International Development]. He was once the priest
of the poor; now he's president of a beleaguered nation, run into
the ground by a vicious military and business elite and by their
friends abroad. Aristide finds himself most indebted to the very
people and institutions he once denounced from the pulpit.
Aristide became an advocate of the policies
he had formerly opposed. Camille Chalmers, a former aide to Aristide
when he was in exile, said that the post-coup government in Haiti
"completely submits itself to the order given by the United
States, a government ready to do whatever it takes as long as
it can remain in power." "The intervention de-radicalized
Aristide," writes Fatton, "transforming him from an
anti-capitalist prophet into a staunch U.S ally committed to the
virtues of the market."
Aristide did disband the military to prevent
the Duvalierists from carrying out a new coup. He also stalled
on the worst aspects of the neoliberal program, refusing to fully
privatize the state monopolies. But these were exceptions to his
right-wing economic program.
He only had a few months remaining in
office before, under the terms of his restoration, he would have
to step down in 1995. His ally, Rene Preval won the presidential
election on the Lavalas ticket, but Aristide continued to dominate
from behind the scenes. The Clinton administration withheld and
then released aid to strong-arm the Aristide/Preval regime into
continuing its neoliberal policies. The Preval administration
was paralyzed by bickering with the legislature, and as a result
the society and economy stagnated.
In this situation, the Lavalas leadership
followed the pattern of the Haitian petty bourgeoisie. "The
historical trajectory of the Haitian petite bourgeoisie,"
writes Fatton, "indicates very short-lived revolutionary
proclivities and more enduring long-term aspirations to integrate
into the dominant class. The Lavalas cadres could thus easily
fall into the most opportunistic type of behavior." Soon
Aristide's allies were spotted driving SWs and buying expensive
houses. Haitians began to call them grands mangeurs-big eaters-who
were literally getting fat off government spoils.
Factions in the leadership of Lavalas
competed for control of the government. Aristide formed his own
political party, Fanmi Lavalas (FL), and his lesser-know competitors
like Gerard Pierre-Charles formed the Organization for People's
Struggle (OPL). Neither offered a distinct political vision. Both
accepted U.S. imperial dominance, advocated neoliberal economics,
and incorporated members of the neoliberal technocracy and old
Duvalierists. Michele Montas, wife of the famous anti-Duvalier
radio journalist Jean Dominique who was mysteriously assassinated
in 2000, denounced the parties for making "unholy alliances
not only between victims and former torturers but also between
those aspiring to positions of power and the fierce and proven
enemies of democratic principles who inspired the [Raoul Cedras]
Haitian society was coming apart at the
seams. No real investment was coming in. Most U.S aid paid for
the costs of the occupation. Drug trafficking developed, much
of it through the utterly incompetent and corrupt new police force.
In this unstable situation, the ruling class as a whole turned
to private security forces to protect themselves and defend their
hold on power. After he won the 2000 election, Aristide relied
on his own security force, the Chimeres, built out of the lumpen
proletariat that had been his original base. They increasingly
used violence against Aristide's opponents, who in turn built
up their own networks of thugs.
Aristide's second presidency
The 2000 election precipitated a political
crisis that paralyzed the government and gave the U.S the excuse
to finally rid itself of Aristide. Aristide hoped that his presidential
campaign would pull the FL's legislative candidates into office
and guarantee him a super majority. The OPL rallied a motley crew
of opposition forces of former Lavalas supporters and Duvalierists
to challenge the FL in the election. Aristide and FL soundly defeated
the opposition, but in an unnecessary move to consolidate an absolute
majority in the legislature, the FL fixed the counting of votes
in eight different races, seven of which were won by FL candidates.
Nevertheless, Aristide and his compromised government consolidated
Aristide's new regime continued the neoliberal
agenda, initiating plans with the U.S and the Dominican Republic
to build an export processing zone that would be the first of
fourteen he planned to construct in Haiti. Moreover, in a sign
of complete political bankruptcy, Aristide appointed a crew of
Duvalierists to his administration: Stanley Theard as commerce
minister; Garry Lissade as justice minister; Faubert Gustave as
minister of the economy and finances; and his old adversary, Marc
Bazin, as minister of planning and external cooperation.
Aristide covered up this turn to the right
with left-wing rhetoric. He did double the minimum wage and also
continued to stall on some aspects of neoliberal privatization.
Moreover, his demands that France pay $21 billion in reparations
for the debt it imposed on Haiti upon its independence in 1804
irritated the imperialist powers who oppose reparations for slavery.
Moreover, the likes of Otto Reich, Roger Noriega, and Elliot Abrams
in the new Bush administration had long hated Aristide and lost
patience with his incomplete obedience of U.S dictates.
Another U.S. coup
Despite repeated denials that it was advocating
regime change in Haiti, the U.S. in fact orchestrated the coup
that toppled Aristide in February 2004. On the eve of the coup,
Jeffrey Sachs' comments were prescient:
Haiti is ablaze. President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide is widely blamed, and he may be toppled soon. Almost
nobody, however, understands that today's chaos was made in Washington-deliberately,
cynically, and steadfastly. History will bear this out. In the
meantime, political, social, and economic chaos will deepen, and
Haiti's impoverished people will suffer.
The U.S, the Organization of American
States, and various international financial institutions exacerbated
the economic crisis. First Clinton and then Bush used the irregularities
in the 2000 election to justify an embargo of $500 million in
aid. The U.S. hoped to discredit Aristide, drive the population
into despair and passivity, and open the space for its chosen
Through the National Endowment for Democracy,
the Bush administration funded and sustained the OPL-led coalition
called Democratic Convergence (CD) and the new Group of 184 headed
by American-born sweatshop magnate Andre Apaid. Knowing they could
not beat Aristide or his party, Fanmi Lavalas, in a free and fair
election, they protested the 2000 election, refused to compromise
or participate in a new election, paralyzed the government, and
agitated for Aristide's resignation. The Washington Post reported
CD's most determined...men...freely express
their desire to see the U.S. military intervene once again, this
time to get rid of Aristide and rebuild the disbanded Haitian
Army. "That would be the cleanest solution," said one
opposition party leader. Failing that, they say, the CIA should
train and equip Haitian officers exiled in the neighboring Dominican
Republic so they could stage a comeback themselves."
The Bush administration facilitated the
rise of the so-called rebels in their training bases in the Dominican
Republic. All the leaders had been on the U.S. payroll at one
time or another. The U.S. trained Guy Phillipe at a military camp
in Ecuador in the early 1990s. As a police chief, he had led other
officers in an attempted coup against Aristide in October 2000
and, after it failed, fled to the Dominican Republic. Louis-Jodel
Chamblain was second in command of Emmanuel Constant's FRAPH death
squad bankrolled by the CIA during the 1991-1994 Cedras dictatorship.
Chamblain was one of seven military leaders convicted in absentia
of the murder of Lavalas supporter Antoine Izmery.
These two and their several dozen accomplices
stormed through Haiti armed with brand new M-16s and other military
hardware that most certainly came out of the U.S. arms shipment
recently sent to the Dominican Republic. Chamblain boasted of
the rebels cooperation with the U.S.: "We do not have problems
with the international forces. We are together with them like
brothers." Ira Kurzban, the general counsel to the Haitian
government, concluded, "I believe that this is a group that
is armed by, trained by, and employed by the intelligence service
of the United States. This is clearly a military operation, and
it's a military coup." The U.S. rushed to finish the coup
after South Africa sent a planeload of arms and Venezuela offered
to send troops to defend the embattled Aristide government.
The U.S. finished off the coup by abducting
the president and transporting him to the Central African Republic.
Founder of TransAfrica Forum, Randall Robinson, told "Democracy
Now" that Aristide "did not resign. He was taken by
force from his residence in the middle of the night, forced on
to a plane, taken away without being told where he was going.
He was kidnapped." After the coup, Guy Phillipe announced,
"I am the chief, the military chief." He then professed
his love for Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet, who massacred
30,000 people after he overthrew democratically elected President
Salvador Allende in 1973. He declared, "Pinochet made Chile
what it is today," and promised that "we're not going
to let the country have another Aristide."
The coup leaders have not yet turned to
the scale of repression seen in 1991-1994, in part because of
the demoralization and demobilization of the mass of Haitians,
who have largely stood by and watched events, while Aristide's
supporters have mainly gone into hiding. But the signs are ominous.
According to one eyewitness:
Since Aristide's ouster over a month ago,
one of the men [a former leader in Aristide's party] has not dared
sleep in the same house two nights running. He quit our meeting
early so as to stay on the move. Later that day we found out that
his name was read out on the radio, which is like being marked
for death. Every afternoon around 4 p.m., names are broadcast.
Perhaps they are on a list of those whom the new government wants
to arrest, or perhaps listeners call in with the name of so-and-so.
All are linked with Aristide in some way. Some of those named
The same writer describes the U.S. Marines
who patrol the streets and the airport, and fly helicopters almost
constantly over the poorer parts of Port-au-Prince night and day.
U.S. forces have made many night-time raids into some of the poorest
quarters, particularly the one called Belair. In these raids they
have killed an uncertain number of people, estimates going as
high as 70. Occasionally the foreign soldiers venture into middle
class neighborhoods, but never threaten the houses on the hills
where the wealthy live.
Even though Aristide is still the most
popular politician in Haiti, the masses that elected him in 1990
have lost hope and retreated to just surviving amidst horrible
poverty. "The same social deterioration that ended up giving
us this invasion has also hit the popular movement," said
Jean-Francois, an associate of Aristide's when he was involved
in popular organizations that grew up around the president's church,
St. Jean Bosco. "The movement is incapable of even articulating
its disapproval or of even offering an alternative." This
is the tragedy of Aristide's policy of compromise in the face
of imperialist pressure.
The American plan for Haiti and the region
With UN approval, the U.S., France (which
seems to have collaborated with the U.S. in the coup plot), Canada,
and Chile have sent in so-called peacekeeping troops to consolidate
the coup. There are now a total of 3,G00 troops-2,000 of them
U.S. Marines and 800 French-currently in Haiti. U.S. troops are
set to stay for three months, when a UN-sponsored force is set
to take over. The U.S. has backed an interim government headed
by an old ally of Duvalier, Gerard Latortue, who has spent most
of the last thirty years in Boca Raton, Florida.
Latortue, in a triumphant ceremony in
Gonaive, praised the death squads who now terrorize the country
as "freedom fighters." These death squads have intimidated,
hounded, and in some cases murdered Aristide supporters. He released
from jail convicted Duvalierist criminals like General Prosper
Avril who was convicted of massacring activists in the 1980s.
Reaching the height of hypocrisy, Latortue cavorts with murderers
while threatening to put Aristide and his supporters on trial
for human rights abuses.
Latortue has built an interim government
out of neoliberal technocrats and Duvalierist military leaders
like General Herard Abraham and plans to implement the old American
plan: establish a shell of a democracy, rig it so that only pro-U.S.
candidates could win, and restore the military to repress a desperate
The motivation for the invasion is not
so much economic as it is to stabilize the country on U.S. terms
and send a message to the region, where the U.S. confronts a rebellion
that has erupted over the last decade against free-trade globalization.
In some cases the movement has brought to power governments that
have partially balked at U.S. dictates-Lula in Brazil, Chavez
in Venezuela, and of course the long-term thorn in the side of
the U.S., Castro in Cuba. The U.S. is already engaged in a proxy
war in Colombia and tried to topple Chavez in 2002. The intervention
in Haiti shows that it stands ready to return to its historic
strategy of coups, invasions, and occupations to install client
What next for Haiti?
"You took our president-now you're
taking our country!" was the greeting to a U.S. marine convoy
in Port-au-Prince from a Haitian youth. Once again, the U.S.-with
UN approval, it must be noted-has used the pretext of "disorder"
to invade, occupy, and impose a "regime change" in Haiti.
Our first duty is to expose the coup and demand that the occupiers
get out of Haiti and allow Haiti's democratically elected president
to return. But there are also crucial lessons to be learned from
what has taken place.
The U.S coup in Haiti has produced confusion
on the left both inside Haiti and in the U.S. Some became Aristide's
uncritical supporters while others, frustrated with his betrayals,
have called for his resignation. But neither position offers a
way forward. Uncritical support for Aristide means blinding oneself
to the way in which his accommodation to American imperialism
demoralized and demobilized the movement in Haiti. Unfortunately,
many progressives in the U.S. accepted uncritically Clinton's
1994 invasion as a legitimate "humanitarian" intervention
rather than what it really was-another illegitimate exercise of
But calling for Aristide's resignation
without a popular, progressive alternative to his left only aided
and abetted the U.S. coup. Many Haitian activists, disillusioned
by Aristide's betrayals, fell into this trap. A new movement in
Haiti against the occupiers and the Haitian bosses they are there
to defend can only be built successfully if it stakes its ground
independently of Aristide and the politics of compromise. It is
necessary to defend Aristide against the coup-makers, but also
to recognize the way in which Aristide himself contributed to
the ease with which the coup-makers seized power.
At the same time, the movement in Haiti
must develop a new strategy to win liberation. Any strategy to
transform Haiti that remains within a national framework will
founder on the hard reality of Haitian capitalism's underdevelopment.
This is not to absolve Aristide for his compromises with imperialism
and with the Haitian capitalist class. Nevertheless, it remains
true that the Haitian masses, no matter how determined to free
themselves from unemployment, low wages and domestic and foreign
repression, cannot shoulder their liberation alone. Haiti's future
depends not only on what happens in Haiti, but what happens in
the rest of Latin America, and in particular, on the building
of a strong anti-imperialist movement in the United States.
The Haitian poor and working class will
fight again; but its success requires that it be united with the
movements against neoliberalism, imperialism, and capitalism from
the Dominican Republic to Brazil and the United States.