I have thoroughly enjoyed Paul Farmer's piece in the London Review of Books entitled "Who Removed Aristide?".

Farmer makes an excellent case that Aristide's departure was forced by the United States.

"Did the US and France have a hand in Aristide's removal? Were he and his wife being held against their will? Most of Aristide's claims, initially disputed by US officials from Noriega to Donald Rumsfeld, are now acknowledged to be true. His enemies' claims that Aristide met with officials in Antigua - Aristide said they were not allowed to move from their seats - were undermined by reports from Antigua itself. Noriega acknowledged during a House hearing that Aristide did not know of his destination until less than an hour before landing in the Central African Republic. Even CAR officials acknowledge that no Haitian authorities were involved in the choice of destination."
More importantly, perhaps, is the history lesson he gives on American involvement in Haiti over the last decade and a half, and their close ties with some of the most vicious thugs involved with the overthrow.
"[O]n 16 December 1990, [Aristide] got 67 per cent of the vote in a field of 12 candidates. No run-off was required. The United States might not have been able to prevent Aristide's landslide victory, but there was plenty they could do to undermine him. The most effective method, adopted by the first Bush administration, was to fund both the opposition - their poor showing at the polls was no reason, it appears, to cut off aid to them - and the military. Declassified records now make it clear that the CIA and other US groups helped to create and fund a paramilitary group called FRAPH, which rose to prominence after a military coup that ousted Aristide in September 1991. Thousands of civilians were killed and hundreds of thousands fled overseas or across the border into the Dominican Republic. For the next three years Haiti was run by military-civilian juntas as ruthless as the Duvaliers.

In October 1994, under Clinton, the US military intervened and restored Aristide to power, with a little over a year of his term left to run. Although authorised by the UN, the restoration was basically a US operation. Then, seven weeks after Aristide's return, Republicans took control of the Congress, and influential Republicans have worked ever since to block aid to Haiti or burden it with preconditions.

The aid coming through official channels was never very substantial: the US gave Haiti, per capita, one tenth of what it distributed in Kosovo. It is true that, as former US ambassadors and the Bush administration have recently claimed, hundreds of millions of dollars flowed into Haiti - but not to the elected government. A great deal of it went to the anti-Aristide opposition. A lot also went to pay for the UN occupation, and Halliburton support services. There was little effort to rebuild schools, the healthcare infrastructure, roads, ports, telecommunications or airports."

Moreover, the democratic government was forced to pay for the debts incurred, under US auspices, by the previously unelected tyrants. In order to even be considered for more aid,
"the cash-strapped Haitian government was required to pay ever-expanding arrears on its debts, many of them linked to loans paid out to the Duvalier dictatorship and to the military regimes that ruled Haiti with great brutality from 1986 to 1990. In July 2003, Haiti sent more than 90 per cent of all its foreign reserves to Washington to pay off these arrears."
As Farmer points out, the US has close ties with a number of the brutes who's fortunes have been greatly improved with the coup. For example, there is former General Propser Avril
"a leader of the notorious Presidential Guard under both Duvaliers. Avril seized power in September 1988, and was deposed in March 1990. A US District Court found that his regime engaged in a 'systematic pattern of egregious human rights abuses'. It also found him personally responsible for enough 'torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment' to award six of his victims a total of $41 million in compensation. The victims included opposition politicians, union leaders, scholars, even a doctor trying to practise community medicine. Avril's repression was not subtle: three torture victims were paraded on national television with their faces grotesquely swollen, their limbs bruised and their clothing covered with blood. He suspended 37 articles of the constitution, and declared a state of siege. The US started protecting Avril shortly after the 1994 restitution of Aristide."
Once US troops from the previous intervention had been removed in May of 2001, Haitian magistrates moved against Avril.
"He was in prison awaiting the end of the pre-trial proceedings when he was freed [by the new US-installed regime] on 2 March - a few days after Aristide was deposed."
And then there is Guy Philippe who made a splash during the overthrow.
"The rebel leader Guy Philippe received training, during the last coup, at a US military facility in Ecuador. When the army was demobilised, Philippe was incorporated into the new police force, serving as police chief in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Delmas and in the second city, Cap-Haïtien. During his tenure, the UN International Civilian Mission learned, dozens of suspected gang members were summarily ex ecuted, most of them by police under the command of Philippe's deputy. The US embassy has also implicated Philippe in drug smuggling during his police career ... Philippe fled Haiti in October 2000, when the authorities discovered him plotting a coup with a clique of fellow police chiefs. Since then, the Haitian government has accused him of masterminding terrorist attacks in July and December 2001, as well as lethal hit-and-run raids against police stations on Haiti's central plateau."
And yet there was Philippe boasting to the US press on 2nd March that the country was in his hands.

It is dangerous and violent people like these, favoured by State Departrment and CIA creatures such as Otto Reich and John Negroponte, who work hand in hand to create and action US policy in Central and South America.

April 21, 2004 in Haiti | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack