Haiti, Aristide, and ideology
excerpted from the article
Zinn & Haiti
by William Blum
It's a good thing the Haitian government did virtually nothing
to help its people following the earthquake [January 2010]; otherwise
it would have been condemned as "socialist" by Fox News,
Sarah Palin, the teabaggers, and other right-thinking Americans.
The last/only Haitian leader strongly committed to putting the
welfare of the Haitian people before that of the domestic and
international financial mafia was President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Being of a socialist persuasion, Aristide was, naturally, kept
from power by the United States - twice; first by Bill Clinton,
then by George W. Bush, the two men appointed by President Obama
to head the earthquake relief effort. Naturally.
Aristide, a reformist priest, was elected to the presidency, then
ousted in a military coup eight months later in 1991 by men on
the CIA payroll. Ironically, the ousted president wound up in
exile in the United States. In 1994 the Clinton White House found
itself in the awkward position of having to pretend - because
of all their rhetoric about "democracy" - that they
supported the democratically-elected Aristide's return to power.
After delaying his return for more than two years, Washington
finally had its military restore Aristide to office, but only
after obliging the priest to guarantee that after his term ended
he would not remain in office to make up the time lost because
of the coup; that he would not seek to help the poor at the expense
of the rich, literally; and that he would stick closely to free-market
economics. This meant that Haiti would continue to be the assembly
plant of the Western Hemisphere, with its workers receiving starvation
wages, literally. If Aristide had thoughts about breaking the
agreement forced upon him, he had only to look out his window
- US troops were stationed in Haiti for the remainder of his term.
On February 28, 2004, during the Bush administration, American
military and diplomatic personnel arrived at the home of Aristide,
who had been elected to the presidency once again in 2002, to
inform him that his private American security agents must either
leave immediately to return to the United States or fight and
die; that the remaining 25 of the American security agents hired
by the Haitian government, who were to arrive the next day, had
been blocked by the United States from coming; that foreign and
Haitian rebels were nearby, heavily armed, determined and ready
to kill thousands of people in a bloodbath.
Aristide was then pressured into signing
a "letter of resignation" before being kidnaped and
flown to exile in Africa by the United States. The leaders and
politicians of the world who pontificate endlessly about "democracy"
and "self-determination" had virtually nothing to say
about this breathtaking act of international thuggery. Indeed,
France and Canada were active allies of the United States in pressing
Aristide to leave.
And then US Secretary of State Colin Powell, in the sincerest
voice he could muster, told the world that Aristide "was
not kidnaped. We did not force him onto the airplane. He went
onto the airplane willingly. And that's the truth." Powell
sounded as sincere as he had sounded a year earlier when he gave
the UN his now-famous detailed inventory of the chemical, biological
and nuclear weapons that Saddam Hussein was preparing to use.
... Aristide has stated that he was able to determine at that
crucial moment that the "rebels" were white and foreign.
But even if they had been natives, why did Colin Powell not explain
why the United States disbanded Aristide's personal security forces?
Why did he not explain why the United States was not protecting
Aristide from the rebels, which the US could have done with the
greatest of ease, without so much as firing a single shot? Nor
did he explain why Aristide would "willingly" give up
The massive US military deployment to Haiti in the wake of the
earthquake has been criticized in various quarters as more of
an occupation than a relief mission, with the airport in the capital
city now an American military base, and with American forces blocking
various aid missions from entering the country in order, apparently,
to serve Washington's own logistical agenda. But the large military
presence can also serve to facilitate two items on Washington's
political agenda - preventing Haitians from trying to emigrate
by sea to the United States and keeping a lid on the numerous
supporters of Aristide lest they threaten to take power once again.