A Shot Off the Bow: Haitian Democracy be Damned!
Posted: Monday, March 8, 2004
By Jack Random
March 08, 2004
We have seen in Haiti what happens when a democracy goes against the interests and ideology of the Bush administration. For all their talk of democracy (the only surviving rationale for the war on Iraq), we now know what we ought to have known all along: America's support is contingent on cooperation in free trade policies; democracy be damned!
"It is clear to us who know Haiti that this is not an uprising of the people against their government, but rather a military operation by former soldiers and death squads with the support of shadowy sectors in the US and Dominican governments," says Ray Laforest of the Haiti Support Network.
Mr. Laforest is generous in his analysis. When true history makes its account it will record that the shadows of this government began at the top. It will reveal that special operations, with the expressed support of the president, were dispatched to foster unrest and to organize, supply, arm and finance opposition forces for the sole purpose of overthrowing lawfully elected governments in Haiti and Venezuela. It remains to be seen if Lula of Brazil has sufficiently reformed his policies to avoid the same fate.
The action in Haiti is a shot off the bow. It is a warning to all governments in the hemisphere: Drop your trade barriers and allow the international corporations to move in or you will be replaced by any means.
The arrogance of this administration has reached new heights. They will proceed with their plans for global dominance even in an election year. They will not so much as pretend to be peacemakers (or rather their pretense is so blatantly fraudulent that it is offered as a mere diplomatic courtesy). They will mock their glorified claims to democracy and flaunt it like a drag queen at a gay pride parade.
The case against Aristide seems to be that he came to power in a fraudulent election (he won with 90% of the vote) and his administration was corrupt.
The audacity of the Bush White House is almost admirable. We had heard about a fraudulent millennial election but it was several hundred miles north of Port-au-Prince. Did Aristide disenfranchise tens of thousands of registered voters? Did he purge the electorate and blockade the polls? Did he hire partisan thugs to stop a mandated recount? Was he appointed by a politicized Supreme Court? Americans were instructed to forgive and forget the "shenanigans" of our own politicians but the poor citizens of Haiti must endure another in a long line of military coups.
Was their corruption in the Aristide government? Is there a third world nation on earth that is immune to the charge? How would it compare to the Enron debacle and the fraudulent west coast energy crisis? Fifty billion dollars were stolen from the California economy alone, bankrupting the state and triggering a nationwide recession, yet none of the Bush supporting Texas corporations responsible has been held to account. California was rewarded with a political coup but at least we were spared a military occupation.
What really went down in Haiti? We know that economic sanctions were imposed on the hemisphere's most impoverished state. We know that the leaders of the insurgency - Guy Philippe, Jean Pierre Baptiste and Louis Jodel Chamblain - are thugs, assassins and terrorists who served the former Duvalier regime and the reversed 1990 coup. We know that they were well armed and organized in military units. We know that they returned to Haiti from exile and their numbers poured across the Dominican border. We know that they converged on the capital with machine-like precision, facing little resistance from a stunned and desperate populace.
Who organized the operation: Haitian exiles or operatives in Langley, Virginia? The operation bears all the markings of central intelligence. In all but the outcome, it is a replay of the failed Venezuelan coup of April 2002. For two days it appeared that that coup had succeeded until the people rose up to demand democracy and the military backed down. The battle goes on in Venezuela. What prevents a similar reversal in Haiti is the absence of a Haitian military (abolished by Aristide in 1995) and the imposition of a clearly biased international force, lead by America with the cooperation of France (both accountable for Haitian reparations). What will follow are continued poverty, suffering and struggle.
The Bush administration is right in one regard: There is an inherent desire for freedom and democracy. It may lie dormant under conditions of extreme poverty and oppression but it will rise again.
For Americans, there are a great many questions and an obligation to demand answers:
1. What role did our intelligence community play in the insurgency? Did we provide planning, logistical support, arms and financing for the uprising? Were our operatives on the ground in Haiti or in the Dominican Republic? Did we engage in propaganda or "Cyclops" to foster unrest? Did we act to destabilize the population?
2. What role did the US play in pushing Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile? Did we apply pressure? Did we threaten or otherwise influence the lawfully elected president of a sovereign nation to leave his country in the hands of terrorists?
3. When the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) plan for restoring peace and stability within a democratic framework was rejected by the rebels and accepted by Aristide, why did we then side with the rebels? Why did this administration demand Aristide's removal from office against all precepts of democratic transition?
4. What happens now? Have we assumed responsibility for nation building in Haiti? We will detain Aristide's followers at Guantanamo Bay or let them suffer retribution? Will we commit our troops, our aid and assistance for the long term or was it just about getting rid of Aristide?
5. What was and is our role in the continuing violence in Venezuela? Under the blissful eye of a cooperative corporate media, have we embarked on a murderous policy of covert operations reminiscent of the Cold War era?
Under the administration of Ronald Reagan, when anti-Castro fanatics such as Roger Noriega and Otto Reich (servants of the current administration) ran terrorist operations throughout Latin America, Congress finally found the courage to conduct hearings. The results were a shock to the American psyche and a temporary halt to the terrorist war in Nicaragua. We must demand that our congressional leaders conduct comprehensive hearings now. Unlike their predecessors, congressional oversight must not only be intensive but ongoing. The Bush administration's campaign of covert operations in contradiction to democracy and in detriment to the anti-terrorist cause must end. We have too many enemies already.
It is not for us, as the most powerful nation on earth, to select which kinds of governments are allowed to proceed from democracy. It is our greater challenge and ultimate responsibility to embrace democracy in all its diverse forms.
Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press 2000) and the Jazzman Chronicles, Volume One (Crow Dog Press 2003).
This article is reproduced at Trinicenter with permission from the author, and was originally published at www.counterpunch.org