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First published December 17, 2001
Haiti's Journal
Haiti's radical leftist and totalitarian dictator
Aristide says 'The graves are not yet full'

CAMBRIDGE, MA - As far back of late last year, Haiti's radical leftist and totalitarian dictator, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who has long inhabited criminal demimondes, which are not limited to extortion and pillage of the public treasurer, rehearsed all of his familiar comedian-like speeches. "Never will the Tontons Macoutes, a reference to the late Haitian dictator of the far-right, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier's henchmen, "be again allowed to murder the Haitian people," he said.  

The tyrant, who, even today, thinks that burning political opponents alive is an admirable one, had a few more words for the Haitians - long being forced to endure dehumanizing poverty, because education (85 percent of Haiti's citizens cannot read and write), which is an important factor in predicting future earnings and determine living standards, for example, has been the backbone, if at all, of his Lavalas Family Party's dynasty politics, indicating that his current de facto government, like his 1991 regime, does not have an economic program.

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Aristide, why did you murder our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters?
"Oh, yes! Haiti will be a nice country, in fact nicer than the United States, after I change the quality of citizens' lives for the better. I will create at least 500,000 jobs over the next five years," Aristide told Haitians in a (de facto) presidential inaugural speech last year.

But today what is more of a grossly incompetent man, too, so accustomed to making broken promises, and until just a few years ago was advocating outright revolution to mean that only when Haiti embraces Marxism will it save itself from the United States' imperialism? A man, who has made no bones about his admiration for the 20th century's most notorious totalitarian dictators - especially Castro and Stalin - and the repressive regimes they brutally imposed on their fellow citizens, will hardly come to mind after you learn of his most recent odious crimes.

The latest mass killings carried out over the past two months in Haiti by the country's national police force on the order of tyrant Aristide is not the type of news you would wish to hear, or believe in, especially after the United States spent more than $2 billion dollars of its taxpayers' moneys there in the name of ideals - freedom, democracy and human rights. But there are, of course, very good reasons to believe so, because of the nature of their source. "In two months, I have witnessed the execution of about 50 people," an unidentified Haitian police officer, according to a Dec.13 article published in Le Monde, a major daily French newspaper, said.  

For the officer, this is precisely what Aristide is: "A chief bandit, a notorious murderer."
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A woman (front) gesturing and crying over the body of murdered husband while others look on, with great chagrin.

And so continues the long painful testimony of the officer. " For the past two days, I have been able to take a deep breath ... We have not killed anyone in Port-au-Prince. I am a police officer. I saw everything with my own eyes," the officer said.    

But before I continue with the concerned officer's testimony, it is worth knowing how it became public knowledge. The officer, who joined the Haitian National Police, or PNH, as it is known by its French acronym, in 1995, supposedly did not want to be judged by history as an accomplice of those who commit odious crimes. More so, was after he started to have nightmares. A friend he told about the 50 or so summary executions then communicated it all to an unidentified foreign diplomat stationed in the trash-filled capital city of Port-au-Prince.

The officer's testimony was ultimately forwarded to Robert Ménard, the Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders, who during his Nov. 20-24 visit in Port-au-Prince, in a press conference accused tyrant Aristide of obstructing justice in the investigation of prominent Haitian radio journalist, Jean Leopold Dominique. Dominique was brutally murdered in the courtyard of his Radio Haiti Inter station in the early morning of April 3, 2000. And if there were a few unpleasant words that Mérnard had for the dictator and others, including his Lavalas Family Party's de facto Senator and well known drug dealer, Dany Toussaint, who has long been named in an indictment for the murder of Dominique, they were, of course, " You are all hoodlums."

As much as the officer is no longer proud to be an officer, but he said, he could not quit the Haitian National Police, or criminal syndicate. Still, he asked rhetorical questions designed to lead him to answer them in a manner that would help him determine if he would be killed by the people, including colleagues and superiors, of whom he yielded up considerable criminal secrets, just in case he does so in the near future. He introduced possibilities, that were then assumed to be probabilities and, indeed, certitudes.  

More of the officer's testimony went like this: "I chastise Aristide for the growing mass brutal killings, and often after witnessing people being shot to death in the head in the middle of the night I vomit. Too bad there are always guys who do not even hesitate to volunteer for that dirty job."  

Nobody can dispute, according to the officer, the idea that totalitarian dictator, Aristide, did, in fact, order his officers to assassinate the 50 or so young men and many others.

"If you see someone trying to rob someone else, all you the police have to do is kill him right on the spot, and I mean right on the spot; there is no need for you to arrest him, and then for the criminal to be afforded the opportunity to appear before a judge. You listen to me. He is a criminal! No question about it," said tyrant Aristide when he not long ago launched his so-called crime fighting operation, "Zéro Tolérance."

Your life can be tormented, especially after witnessing people being murdered. This is exactly the type of life that the officer has been leading. "Since that night my life has completely changed." In fact, the night that the officer was referring to was when three young men who were in handcuffed were shot to death after his colleagues covered the head of each of the victims with black plastic bags.  

"Often, people arrested for no valid reasons whatsoever are kept in solitary confinement. Late at night is what the police officers call 'Le nettoyage' (House cleaning time). They, the detainees, are taken to an isolated section of the capital Port-au-Prince. Upon arriving at destination, within seconds, they are shot to death," the officer said.

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A presumed political opponent ordered burned alive by tyrant Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

"The officers are killers, judges and everything else you can imagine. Aristide has given the green light to officers to kill as they wish. Every night, after they are through shooting to death innocent people in the head, they quietly return to their police precincts as if nothing bad at all had happened. There are no witnesses," the officer said.  

Who were the innocent people brutally murdered? According to the officer, "people who were in the wrong place and, by coincidence, at the wrong time."   

What did happen to the bodies of the victims? Added the officer, "Often they were brought to the city's morgue by an ambulance that accompanied the officers to a killing  field called Titanyen." The killing field in question is reputed for its use by the Duvaliers to dump an innumerable number of their victims' bodies. "On many occasions, bodies were left on the streets until noon the next day to be removed and taken to the city's morgue by the next shift patrolling officers."

For the officer, his police force is a disgrace. "The international community, which includes the United States, France and Canada," he enunciated, "spent millions of dollars and invested an extraordinary amount of time and effort so Haiti could have a professional police force. Unfortunately, today all Haiti can show for all of that effort and money is a gang - not even a well organized one, which mainly serves to help Aristide consolidate his brutal rule."  

The officer deserves respect, not because he himself pulled the trigger - he has never constrained to do so, he said - but because, unlike others, he chose to speak out. He wants, he insisted, Haiti to become a civilized nation. "Yes, I am afraid, but things cannot continue the way they are; things must change; if not, how do you expect me to teach my daughter about being a moral person, but not a criminal," he rhetorically asked himself.  

Too bad the civilized Haitians have not yet seen the democracy they long hope for, but over the past ten years, one totalitarian dictator has been replaced by another in the name of democracy.             

Consequently, with the Dec. 3 hacking-to-death of radio journalist, Brignol Lindor, 32, in the L'Acul section, near the provincial city of Petit-Goave, in broad daylight, by tyrant Aristide's Deputy Mayor, Dume Bony, and members of a so-called pro-government peasant organization, Domi Nan Bwa ("Sleeping in the Woods"), lately it has become clearer that only when the dictator is no longer in office, though largely fraudulent so, and after he is brought before the International War Crimes Tribunal, in the Hague, to face murder-crimes charges, will totalitarian terror, hopefully, be consigned to the archives of history.  

So, too, will tyrant Aristide no longer stages "coup d'états" - not bloodless at all - like the Dec.16-17 one, in an attempt to further create an uncorrectable condition of anarchy, particularly obliterating the democratic opposition and the news media, which he and supporters, preferably, fanatics, often accuse of being unfavorable to his de facto government in its reporting.  

Yves A. Isidor teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and is a spokesperson for We Haitians United We Stand For Democracy, a Cambridge, MA-based nonpartisan political pressure group.   

*Read Le Monde's article, "En deux mois, j'ai assisté a l'exécution d'environ cinquante personnes", or "In two months, I witnessed the execution of about fifty people, but in French. 

*This column was also published on Dec. 25 in  MetroWest Daily News managing editor Joe Dwinell's live report on WB-56 every Thursday and Friday at 7:45 a.m., the scholarly journal of democracy and human rights
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