Opinion » Columnists

Haiti: Time for justice

Haiti to have local elections on 9th October and presidential and parliamentary elections on 13th November  

The elections will fill the gap in Haiti since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced from power last year in the most blatant example of political interference and intrusion by the United States of America in the region since the failed coup d'etat in Venezuela.

As the elections are announced, members of Aristide's party, the Lavalas Family Party, complain that their senior members are being detained without trial (a practice with which Washington has been connected elsewhere).

In fact, the recent history of Haiti is a study in Washington's interference against a progressive, democratically-elected government. From the time when Aristide was elected in 2000, the USA launched an economic aid embargo, funded opposition groups, and provided support for coup plots.

The coup d'etat against Aristide came on February 29th 2004. But this was not only a coup against the president: it was a coup against a progressive manifesto, just as the attempted coup against Hugo Chavez had been as antidemocratic an act as the countless others perpetrated by Washington's playboys who insist on treating Latin America as their back yard.

According to Washington, Aristide was "ousted" because of the level of "popular revolt" against him. But what is the truth?

The truth is, as so often, very far from what Washington says. The truth is that Washington was funding and aiding anti-Aristide militia, whose attacks were becoming so violent that government of the country was untenable. Out with Aristide went government literacy programmes, educational programmes, progressive social and economic programmes which aimed to restructure the wealth distribution in the country and ensure that opportunity was available on a more democratic basis.

Just as it did in Afghanistan, where the progressive socialist government of Dr. Najibullah was overthrown by the Mujaheddin/Taleban, backed by Washington, the United States of America yet again provides a telling example of the innate undemocratic, nay antidemocratic tenets which form the core of the institutions which dictate this country's policy.

As usual, Washington's right-wing senators and congressmen, with personal ties to Haiti's super-rich elite, dictate the foreign policy of their country, which as usual, goes against the grain of the fundamental law set out in the US Constitution.

It is the right-wing elitists in Haiti which Washington's policy strives to defend, not the people and not those who work towards a more democratic and free Haiti. Perversely, it was the USA's International Republican Institute, purporting to "promote international democracy", along with the European Union, which channeled money to the anti-Aristide opposition, the leader of whom is Andre Apaid. Among his cronies are former death-squad members and drugs barons (compare Washington's friends in Afghanistan)

Andre Apaid is an interesting character. Apart from being a citizen of the United States of America, he has close ties to the Haitian business community (and, it is said, also owns sweatshops).

The forthcoming elections will be interesting, since before the coup against Aristide, the opposition never managed to muster popular support. That is precisely why Aristide was kidnapped by US armed forces, threatened with death along with his family and spirited away to Africa, where he now lives in exile. Those who replaced him, howling messages of support for the USA, took less than 24 hours to engage in acts of mass murder.

It remains to be seen whether the electoral model imposed on the citizens of Haiti will be the same as that adopted in the USA. But it will be a perfect opportunity for those who believe in freedom and democracy to win hearts and minds in Haiti, not through shock and awe campaigns based upon wholesale slaughter, but upon the respect for the rule of law, of which Washington these days evidently has none.

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