The Haiti File
DV's Coverage of Haiti
Updated: March 30, 2004

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March 30, 2004

Haiti’s Troika of Terror: Thugs, a Buffoon, the Pirates
by Glen Ford and Peter Gamble

The United States has delivered George Bush’s ghoulish brand of democracy to Haiti. The nightmarish components of Haiti’s ruling troika gathered last Saturday, in Gonaives, the country’s fourth-largest city – a macabre assemblage that seemed designed to assault the sensibilities of civilized humans. . . (full article)

March 29

Robert Novak's Allies
by Justin Felux

What do conservative pundit Robert Novak and rapper Ice-T have in common? Believe it or not, they have both glorified murdering policemen. Ice-T did it in his controversial song, "Cop Killer," which he made to protest police brutality. Robert Novak did it more recently when he hailed Guy Philippe's cop-murdering thugs in Haiti as "freedom fighters." Ice-T's song caused a firestorm of controversy among the righteous right in this country, but so far Novak's disgraceful comments have gone unpunished. In another recent column titled "Aristide's Allies," Novak suggests that those who support President Jean-Bertrand Aristide as the duly elected leader of Haiti are only doing so because of seedy financial ties with the exiled leader. What Novak doesn't tell his readers is that he has a history as an apologist for anti-Aristide death squads in Haiti. . . (full article)

March 25

US and Haiti: Imperial Arrogance at its Worst
by Justin Felux

Maybe I should have known better, but I almost couldn't believe my eyes when I read a recent piece in the Miami Herald about Haiti.  In describing the Bush administration's reaction to Jamaica briefly hosting President Aristide and allowing him to reunite with his daughters, the report said, "Jamaica's decision ... has infuriated Bush administration officials ... Asked whether the United States will take any concrete measures against Jamaica, U.S. officials say the Bush Administration will not cut aid to fight AIDS in the region or reduce other kinds of humanitarian assistance."  How utterly gracious of the Bush administration!  You know a country has become too powerful for its own good when it refrains from denying life-saving aid to a tiny, helpless country and considers it an act of courtesy. . . (full article)

March 18

Thwarting the Democratic Will of Haitians
by Kim Petersen

It is difficult at the best of times to fathom the hubris of the George W Bush administration. Back in April of 2002 Bush and his cabal had engineered a coup in Venezuela and the president Hugo Chávez was arrested. Elite figures quickly seized power, moved to suspend the constitution and stack the courts and other government bodies with corporate-friendly types. But after three days the coup crumbled. Why? Because people took to the streets in support of their president and the military fell in with the people. As reported by Associated Press: “Never before in modern times has an elected president been overthrown by military commanders, his successor inaugurated, and then the ousted leader returned to power on the wings of a popular uprising.” Now the Bush cabal has attempted a second shot at deposing a Caribbean regime. The neoconservatives even went so far as to claim that Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide had resigned and left the country overnight -- identical to the pronouncements made when Chávez was temporarily ousted. Have they learned anything? (full article)

Condi Rice, In a Sense, Makes a Fool of Herself
by Justin Felux

When asked about the overthrow of Haiti's Aristide government in a television interview, Condoleezza Rice lent credibility to Hugo Chavez's claim that she is an illiterate by saying, "We believe that President Aristide, in a sense, forfeited his ability to lead his people, because he did not govern democratically."  She later said, "Haiti is moving forward.  There's a new president.  There is a new prime minister.  There is a new chief of police. There's an Eminent Persons Council that is trying to guide that process."  So let me get this straight:  becoming president by winning an overwhelming majority of the vote in free and fair elections is not democratic, but being arbitrarily appointed by a council of "eminent persons" is? (full article)

March 14

Debunking the Media's Lies about President Aristide
by Justin Felux

If you believe the stories of the corporate media and the Bush administration, you would think Aristide is getting what he deserves. He is a "corrupt dictator" who abuses human rights. He is a "psychopath" who advocated "necklacing" his opponents. He didn't do anything to bring Haiti out of poverty; in fact, he made Haiti more poor than ever. All of these statements are distortions or outright lies. Aristide's true crime was the same crime committed by L'Ouverture 200 years ago: he stood up to the powers that be. He empowered the Haitian people and belied the racist caricature of Haiti as a land of savage, voodoo-practicing black people who aren't fit to govern themselves; the view expressed by William Jennings Bryan when he said "Think of it, niggers speaking French," or by Pat Buchanan when he disgracefully referred to Haitian refugees as "the Zulus off Miami Beach." Aristide showed those who painted the Haitian people as ungovernable savages needed to take a look in the mirror before they presumed to control the affairs of Haiti, and for that, he had to be deposed. . . (full article)

March 11

Haiti: No News is Bad News
by David Edwards and Media Lens

The beauty of news for a society like ours is that it doesn’t have to make sense. If we were introducing students to modern physics, we would feel obliged to explain Newton’s Laws and Einstein’s famous theorem, E=mc2; we would naturally point to issues raised by quantum mechanics. There would obviously be no prospect of students understanding, much less tackling, the latest problems in modern physics without first achieving this basic understanding. But when our media broadcast news on, say, the crisis in Haiti they fail, as it were, even to mention that Newton ever existed, or that Newtonian mechanics provide a pretty good description of the everyday world. Their attempts at explanation are limited to reporting, in effect: "Some physicists are flying to a meeting in Switzerland," while "others will be writing papers about what was discussed there." . . . (full article)

Behind Aristide’s Fall: What Led to the US-Engineered Coup?
by Helen Scott and Ashley Smith

Helen Scott and Ashley Smith look at how Jean-Bertrand Aristide arose as a leader of the mass movement against dictatorship in Haiti--and why his compromises with U.S. imperialism set the stage for his overthrow. . . (full article)

March 8

The Rape of Haiti
by Justin Felux

The recent events in Haiti are yet another sad chapter in the history of Western imperialism.  The roots of the current crisis trace all the way back to January 1, 1804, when Toussaint L'Ouverture and his army of African slaves humiliated France and the rest of the "civilized" world by liberating the island of St. Domingue, the place now called Haiti. . . (full article)

March 6

US and France Kiss and Makeup, Haitian Democracy Dies
by Justin Felux

Leave it to the New York Times to turn the bloody overthrow of a democratically elected President into a veritable love story. In an article published on March 3rd entitled "U.S. and France Set Aside Differences in Effort to Resolve Haiti Conflict" the newspaper of record reported that "the joint diplomacy over Haiti is a dramatic example of how the longtime allies can set aside differences, find common ground, play to their strengths and even operate in an atmosphere of trust." The story goes on to weave a tale so charming and rosy that one would never guess scores of people were being needlessly slaughtered in the background. . .
(full article)

Democrats Slam Bush Administration Over Aristide Ouster
by Jim Lobe

The Bush administration's role in facilitating the ouster of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide came under sharp and sustained attack by Democrats in Congress Wednesday, while leaders of the of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) called for an independent investigation into the circumstances that led to his exile aboard a U.S.-chartered jet Sunday...(full article)

March 4

Assuming the Right to Intervene
by Norman Solomon

If Mark Twain were living now instead of a century ago -- when he declared himself “an anti-imperialist” and proclaimed that “I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land” -- the famous writer’s views would exist well outside the frame of today’s mainstream news media. In the current era, it’s rare for much ink or air time to challenge the right of the U.S. government to directly intervene in other countries. Instead, the featured arguments are about whether -- or how --  it is wise to do so in a particular instance. It’s not just a matter of American boots on the ground and bombs from the sky. Much more common than the range of overt violence from U.S. military actions is the process of deepening poverty from economic intervention. Outside the media glare, Washington’s routine policies involve pulling financial levers to penalize nations that have leaders who displease the world’s only superpower. . .
(full article)

Regime Change in Haiti: A Coup By Any Other Name
by Mark Weisbrot

We still don't know the exact circumstances of President Aristide's departure from Haiti last Sunday. Aristide, as well as some members of the U.S. Congress, call it a kidnapping. The Bush Administration denies these charges. But one thing seems clear: he did not voluntarily step down from the presidency. He was forced out, and the United States helped force him out. . . (full article)

Godfather Colin Powell: The Gangster of Haiti
by Glen Ford and Peter Gamble

The new order congeals like blood on the streets of Port-au-Prince. Haiti’s dance of death begins anew, a convergence of low-life assassins, high-living compradors, preening French imperialists and global American pirates – an unspeakable bacchanal. . . (full article)

The US-Backed Coup in Haiti Continues
by Heather Williams and Karl Laraque

With President Jean-Bertrand Aristide driven out of Haiti U.S. officials now magnanimously declare that Haiti can start a new chapter in its history. Declaring with the same straight face he wore when insisting there were WMDs in Iraq, that the U.S. and its partners in an international force will sponsor a "responsive, functioning, non-corrupt government" in Haiti, Secretary of State Colin Powell has dismissed charges from Representative Maxine Waters, TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus that what took place on Sunday morning in Port Au Prince was a palace coup rather than a resignation. Whatever the precise circumstances of President Aristide's exit from power, there is little question three days later that occupying powers have every intention of cobbling together a new ruling order from an odious collection of armed groups with grim agendas. . . (full article)

"A War Waged on the Aristide Regime": Author Robert Fatton
on the Background to the Crisis

by Eric Ruder

Robert Fatton is the Haitian-born author of Haiti’s Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy. He teaches political science at the University of Virginia. Fatton talked to Socialist Worker’s Eric Ruder after the U.S. government engineered the toppling of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. . . (full article)

If John Kerry is the Answer, What is the Question?
by William Blum

Of all the issues that the presidential campaign will revolve around, none is more important to me than foreign policy. I say this not because that is my area of specialty, but because the bombings, invasions, coups d'état, depleted uranium, and other horrors that are built into United States foreign policy regularly bring to the people of the world much more suffering and despair than any American domestic policy does at home. I do not yearn for "anybody but Bush". I yearn for a president who will put an end to Washington's interminable indecent interventions against humanity. This is, moreover, the only way to end the decades-long hatred that has spawned so many anti-American terrorists. So desperate am I to have the chance to vote for someone like that, that a few days ago I allowed myself to feel a bit buoyed when John Kerry, in response to a question about the situation in Haiti, said that the Bush administration "has a theological and ideological hatred for Aristide" which has led to the administration "empowering" the rebels. To me that remark revealed a significant nuance of understanding of the world of US foreign policy that rarely makes it to the lips of an American politician. Could it be, I wondered, that Kerry is actually a cut or two above prevailing wisdom and rhetoric on such matters? (full article)

Mainstream Media Fails Itself
by  Peter Phillips

On February 29, Richard Boucher from the U.S. Department of State released a press release claiming that Jean Bertrand Aristide had resigned as president of Haiti and that the United State facilitated his safe departure. Within hours the major broadcast news stations in the United States including CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, and NPR were reporting that Aristide had fled Haiti. An Associated Press release that evening said "Aristide resigns, flees into exile." The next day headlines in the major newspapers across the country, including the Washington Post, USA Today, New York Times, and Atlanta Journal Constitution, all announced "Aristide Flees Haiti." The Baltimore sun reported, "Haiti's first democratically-elected president was forced to flee his country yesterday like despots before him." However on Sunday afternoon February 29, Pacific News network with reporters live in Port-au-Prince Haiti were claiming that Aristide was forced to resign by the US and taken out of the Presidential Palace by armed US marines. On Monday morning Amy Goodman with Democracy Now! news show interviewed Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Waters said she had received a phone call from Aristide at 9:00 AM EST March 1 in which Aristide emphatically denied that he had resigned and said that he had been kidnapped by US and French forces. Aristide made calls to others including TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, who verified congresswomen Waters' report. Mainstream corporate media was faced with a dilemma. . . (full article)

March 2

Killing Hope: Bringing Hell to Haiti, Part 2
by David Edwards and Media Lens

Jean-Bertrand Aristide told the Associated Press yesterday that he was forced to leave Haiti by US military forces. Asked if he left on his own, Aristide answered: “No. I was forced to leave. Agents were telling me that if I don’t leave they would start shooting and killing in a matter of time.” (Eliott C. McLaughlin, Associated Press, March 1, 2004) “Haiti, again, is ablaze”, Jeffrey Sachs, professor of economics at Columbia University, writes: “Almost nobody, however, understands that today’s chaos was made in Washington - deliberately, cynically, and steadfastly. History will bear this out.” . . . (full article)

Aristide Kidnapped by U.S. Forces?
by William Rivers Pitt

The front pages of major American newspapers and the talking heads on the news channels would have you believe that the resignation of Jean-Bertrand Aristide from his presidency in Haiti was voluntary. Questions have been raised, however, about the manner in which his departure unfolded. In short, there is mounting evidence to suggest that Aristide was removed involuntarily from power by American forces. . . (full article)

Head of US Security Firm That Guarded Aristide Speaks Out:
White House Blocked Deployment of More Guards to Protect Aristide
by Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!

Reports emerged yesterday that the private U.S. security firm guarding President Aristide was prevented by the White House from sending reinforcements to Haiti last week to bolster his security. We speak with the CEO of the firm Kenneth Kurtz. . . (full article)

Haiti: A View from Canada
Does Our New Prime Minister Support Democracy In the Americas
or US Orchestrated Coups?
by Yves Engler

In his first major foreign policy move Paul Martin’s government faithfully followed the U.S. (and French) lead in removing the legally elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, from power. Contrast this with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) whose chairperson, Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, said in a statement that CARICOM deplored  “the removal of [Haitian] President Aristide “ from office, as setting  “a dangerous precedent for democratically-elected governments anywhere and everywhere.” . . . (full article)

Haiti: Dangerous Muddle
by Conn Hallinan

In 1994, when President Bill Clinton sent 20,000 American troops into Haiti to restore Jean-Bernard Aristide to the presidency, there was widespread support for a mission aimed at restoring democracy and relieving the misery of the Haitian people. It also seemed to herald a new day in the post-cold war world, when American invasions were not automatically synonymous with supporting some Latin American caudillo or South East Asian despot. With the exception of the isolationist Right, virtually every voice in the political spectrum cheered the policy of “liberal intervention.” The use of American power to make good things happen was a heady drug. Unfortunately, an addictive one. Although there is no question that the 1994 intervention was good for Haiti , military intervention has turned out to be fraught with problems, particularly when it is wielded by one country. . . (full article)

March 1

Bringing Hell to Haiti, Part 1
by David Edwards and Media Lens

Have you noticed how stupid you feel when you watch the news? Hands up anybody who understands what’s going on in Haiti? The media is good at repeatedly broadcasting footage of armed gangs roaming in trucks, and of quoting senior officials. But the absence of meaningful context and informed analysis ­ and above all the unwillingness to question the official version of events - means that it is often literally impossible for viewers to make sense of what is happening. For all their satellite communications and computer-generated studios, the news media often do not give us news at all ­ they give us noise. . . (full article)

February 28

Bush Call Off Your Dogs!: The US Can End the Killing it Started in Haiti
by Glen Ford and Peter Gamble

In willful ignorance and with every bad intention, the U.S. corporate media ask the ridiculous question, Should the US intervene in Haiti, or not? The bloody answer screams back from the Haitian mountains and cities: Washington has already intervened militarily in Haiti, through its surrogates’ armed invasion from the Dominican Republic. The Americans set loose the dogs of war, and can rein them back in – if Washington chooses. Any discussion that fails to acknowledge the U.S. role in nurturing the several-hundred-man force that has systematically overrun much of the country, is a conversation divorced from reality. . . (full article)

February 26

Haiti's Lawyer: US is Arming Anti-Aristide Paramilitaries
by Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill and Democracy Now!

The US lawyer representing the government of Haiti charged today that the US government is directly involved in a military coup attempt against the country's democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Ira Kurzban, the Miami-based attorney who has served as General Counsel to the Haitian government since 1991, said that the paramilitaries fighting to overthrow Aristide are being backed by Washington. . . (full article)

February 19

How Washington Set the Stage for Haiti’s Uprising:
US-Connected Businessmen and Military Thugs Behind the Opposition
by Lee Sustar

The media has a standard story line to explain the uprising in Haiti--one-time populist leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide has become a corrupt authoritarian who is relying on armed gangs to crush a popular uprising. In reality, the anti-Aristide opposition that is behind the uprising shaking Haiti today is a Washington-connected collection of Haitian businessmen and a scattering of former leftists. If they succeed in their aim of ousting Aristide, they’ll try to turn back the clock to the days when military officers and paramilitary gangs ruled Haiti through sheer terror. Any doubts as to the nature of the rebellion in the city of Gonaïeves should be put to rest by the role played by leaders of the military dictatorship of the 1980s. . . (full article)

Colin Powell's Policy Towards Haiti: Callous Indifference
or Desire for Regime Change?
by Larry Birns

Secretary of State Colin Powell’s current policy toward Haiti can be described at best as irrelevant, and at worst as a covert effort to stand by as a coup de main comes down on Haitian democracy as a result of the forcible removal of President Aristide from office. . .
(full article)

February 18

Washington Must Dramatically Raise its Profile Regarding Haiti
or Await the Deluge
by Larry Birns and Jessica Leight

Unlike his U.S. counterpart, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has said that his government is considering dispatching French troops to Haiti as part of an international police force to put down the present violence in the country. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell must do more than simply say that he is “disappointed” with the quality of leadership that Jean Bertrand Aristide has afforded Haiti. In response to Powell’s statement, many Haitians could respond that despite Aristide’s many shortcomings, his level of performance compares favorably to the Bush administration’s failed strategy towards the island, which has been based on freezing all aid to Aristide and waiting for the inevitable chaos to descend. Throughout Aristide’s three-year exile in Washington and after his restoration to the presidency in 1994 (after a U.S.-led regional force landed in Haiti), Washington has treated the Haitian president as a potentially dangerous figure who must be curbed in order to fence off his radical politics and messianic tendencies. . . (full article)

February 12

Is the US Funding Haitian Contras?
by Kevin Pina

If you read about Haiti today in the mainstream press, you find a barrage of negative stories about Aristide and Lavalas with descriptions of demonstrations and general strikes calling for Aristide's resignation, fraudulent elections, a politicized police force, drug-dealing officials and violent mobs of government supporters attacking the political opposition. The overarching message is that Haiti has become a lawless state ruled by a leader with waning popularity whose only hold on office is to call out the violent shock troops of his Lavalas movement. Most stories filed by news agencies like Reuters and the Associated Press have little room to provide any real in-depth analysis or historical context. Stories that do probe a little deeper are almost always exclusively negative about Haiti's current leadership or make startling revelations pounding yet another nail of evil into the coffin of the body politic of Lavalas. But are we really getting the whole story? (full article)

Haiti: Waiting for Something Bad to Happen
by Jessica Leight

Political violence in Haiti continues to mount, placing the country’s hard-won democracy in an increasingly perilous position and raising widespread fears of a violent coup that would return a military-led caretaker junta to power.  Those who are guilty of jeopardizing the nation’s stability include a collection of brigands who participated in the 1991-1994 military junta, along with paramilitary thugs and those guilty of human rights violations in that period (like Emmanuel Constant, and Gen. Raul Cedras), as well as members of the island’s tiny economic elite. . . Given the opposition’s heavy dependence on U.S. support, an open and specific denunciation of their obstructionist tactics by the Bush administration could immediately force the Democratic Convergence and Group 184 to abandon their attempts to overthrow the Aristide government by intimidation, threats and street violence.  Refusing to force them to turn to negotiation, the administration has not uttered even a weak acknowledgment of the latter’s culpability in the deteriorating situation in Haiti.  Instead, it covertly works for Aristide’s resignation, which in fact is Washington’s very policy, as it acknowledges that it is preparing to house upwards of 15,000 Haitian boat people after they are interdicted on their way to Florida. . . (full article)

US-Financed Insurrectionists Wreaking Havoc in Haiti
by Larry Birns and Jessica Leight

What had been an increasingly disloyal and violent opposition is now leading an openly anti-democratic insurrection, as anti-Aristide forces turn Haiti into a hellish war zone, using sequestered weapons to sack a number of cities.  An existing explosive political stalemate has been worsening since December, when the rebels adopted a violent street strategy along with an inflexible policy of non-negotiation to oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  Yet for the State Department, Haiti's desperate struggle to preserve its hard-won democracy was given low priority.  Strangely, given the likely crushing impact on U.S. domestic politics registered by tens of thousands of desperate Haitians who predictably will soon undertake the perilous voyage to Florida, Secretary of State Colin Powell remains almost languorous in the face of daily fierce melées in Port-au-Prince.  Meanwhile, the Haitian opposition organizes a blatant power grab through belligerent demonstrations aimed at unseating Aristide.  Now Haiti has entered into an endgame with portentous consequences, as armed opposition mobs loot a number of cities and scores of residents are killed. . . (full article)

February 5

Haiti Fatigue?
by Mickey Z.

A February 5, 2004 New York Times editorial declared Jean-Bertrand Aristide's second presidency "is declining into despotism." Reporting from the land of Supreme Court-decided elections, the Times (fresh off suggesting Sharpton and Kucinich go away quietly) laughingly offered this solution to the people of Haiti: "make sure that the next presidential election, due late next year, is fair and on time." . . . (full article)



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