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|Posted December 1, 2002|
|Keeping Faith in the United States of America|
|By PARNELL DUVERGER|
The Price of Greatness is Responsibility. Winston Churchill
The International Community, led by the Organization of American States (OAS), is facing anew the challenge of convincing the violent, corrupt and despotic rulers of Haiti to stop frustrating their people's quest for democratic freedom. This time around, though, the culprit is -- hold your breath! A political protégé of the Clinton administration, Mr. Jean Bertrand Aristide, who, supported by a brutal private army organized in local bands of thugs, aptly named chimeras, proclaimed himself the winner of token elections in December 2000.
Haitis Aristide: A Record of Lies and Deceit
Since then, Mr. Aristide has been at the helm of a de-facto government that is widely recognized as the most violent, murderous and corrupt dictatorship of Haitis troubled history. As a result, the United States has led the international community in withholding vital economic and financial assistance to the Caribbean nation, pending reforms demanded by Haitis organized civil society and opposition political parties, as well as the international community, through the Organization of American States (OAS). The required reforms are spelled out in OAS Resolutions 806 and 822, which Mr. Aristide has pledged to, but failed to implement, as he has done faithfully since 1991 with all domestic and international political agreements, while the Clinton administration conveniently looked the other way.
In Bill Clintons Washington, Mr. Aristide was placed comfortably in the drivers seat of U.S. foreign policy in Haiti, a unique privilege that emboldened him into believing that neither his countrys political opposition to his dictatorial and increasingly brutal methods, nor the uneasiness felt in the international community, mattered much. Indeed, with the spectacular assassination of his most noted political opponent, Mrs. Mireille Durocher Bertin, on a busy street of Port-au-Prince, by a death squad and in broad daylight, on March 28, 1995, less than 48 hours before an official state visit by the President of the United States, Mr. Aristide had just served notice to Haitians and to the world, that his powers would have no bounds. Incredible powers indeed, for there is no public record of a single word of protest registered by Mr. Bill Clinton during that visit, even though a senior officer of the U.S. Expeditionary Forces, General Georges Fisher, had warned Mr. Aristide in a letter dated March 19, 1995, that U.S. intelligence data pointed to the existence of an assassination plot against Mrs. Bertin.
A few months later, on October 3, 1995, Haitian Army General Henry Max Mayard was murdered in similar fashion. These two murders marked the beginning of a long series of high profile political assassinations, the extraordinary brutality of which was meant to traumatize ordinary Haitians into complete political submission.
While Haitis troubled history must account for its long list of dictatorial regimes, the roots of its current political quagmire are found in the absurd and now openly failed policies of the Clinton administration, which simply lacked the intellectual depth and nuance required to confront Mr. Aristides version of the Theology of Liberation, the new face of Marxism in our hemisphere. Clintons Haiti policy appeared to rest on the notions that: (1) the end of the cold war weakened the political relevance of ideologies, (2) only elections matter in a democracy, so that, once elected, even those leaders who use violence to subvert their nations democratic process, terrorize their population, muzzle the press and murder their political opponents, are immune to sanctions, let alone dismissal, and (3) by treating Mr. Aristide like a democrat, the latter would eventually begin to behave like a democrat.
On the first count, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and its role in worldwide terrorism has been more than a wake up call, as is the current spread of new populist leftist governments sweeping Latin America.
The second notion appears to be a novel concept of democracy so shallow and inconsistent with the core values of modern western political thought, such as human rights or the need to insure political stability through constitutionally mandated separation of state powers or a system of check and balances, as is found in the United States, that it is at once shocking and frightening to find such idea entertained, even vaguely, at the center of political power in the free world. Yet, it is this conceptually flawed new model of democracy that has been allowed to infest the international institutions of our continent to such an extent, that Mr. Aristide of Haiti, followed by Mr. Chavez of Venezuela, can shamelessly and arrogantly play the victims, and denounce as a coup détat the slightest challenge to their political excesses and abuses, including the massive public demonstrations by their nations citizenry calling for their ouster.
On the third count, the string of political murders and the sustained violence directed at Aristides political opposition in Haiti, for example, leave no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
Railroad to Failure
The Clintons administration policy toward Haiti was doomed for failure, the moment it became centered on returning Mr. Aristide to power, as the only way to bring the democratic process back on track in the troubled Caribbean nation. For, all available evidence demonstrates, even today, that Mr. Aristide has been and remains the most important obstacle to the establishment of a democratic system of representative government, peace and stability in his nation. Since he entered politics in the early 1990s, Mr. Aristide has been at the center of a long series of serious political crises of his own making, with his calls for a bloody Marxist revolution, his unwillingness to compromise and negotiate with those who oppose him, his violent threats against his countrys business and intellectual elites, his penchant for mob violence against perceived enemies, and his complete disregard for Haitis constitution or legal system.
Tough Questions for a Nation in Pain
In 1991, Mr. Aristides anti-democratic and violent behavior led his countrys power structure, fully supported by the Haitian military, to seek and obtain his ouster, as Haitians painfully searched for answers to the difficult questions they faced: how to protect their country against an emerging dictator resolutely engaged in turning his electoral legitimacy into a violent tool of subversion against his countrys constitution, its democratic institutions, the state, civil liberties and individual human rights? What should society do when this emerging dictator sends a violent mob to ransack the nations Parliament, beat up elected representatives, and prevent the countrys institutions from initiating impeachment procedures against him, as mandated by the constitution?
During the period 1992 1994, Mr. Aristide confronted Haitians with even more pressing questions: How could the nation rebuke safely the exiled and unrepentant Head of State, who had not renounced his violent and anti-democratic ways, had requested and obtained a crippling economic embargo against his own country, the poorest of the western hemisphere, and was too happy to return to power with the support of a foreign military force of occupation that he requested, in a country which not only owed its political independence to a glorious war against foreign military forces of colonial occupation, but also never stopped to lament in shame over the U.S. military occupation of its territory from 1915 to 1934? What should Haiti do to escape the return of its infamous president in exile, a fiercely anti-American and outrageously violent theologian of liberation, who had succeeded in forging a mysterious and unholy alliance with the leader of the free world, without compromising a valued friendship with the United States of America, a necessary partner for economic progress and positive democratic reforms? How could Haitians, committed to democratic changes, persuade the Clinton administration not to force Mr. Aristide on a defenseless nation that felt humiliated, vilified and betrayed publicly by its own Head of State, an unqualified dictator and traitor to his Church, his faith, as well as his political party, who had compromised his countrys economic well being and national sovereignty, without doing damages to the hopeful leadership role that the United States would still be expected to play in salvaging and furthering the nations democratic process?
Ten Years of Brutal and Defiant Dictatorship
Fast forward to November 2002. In a rare show of agreement and unity, Haitians of all walks of life are denouncing the brutal dictatorial regime of Mr. Jean Bertrand Aristide, and want to force him out to bring an end to their nations current political nightmare. Well, this is precisely what the Haitian military, pressured by the nations political power structure, attempted to achieve ten years ago, in 1991, when the dictatorial beast had raised its ugly head and started to devour the countrys fragile democratic institutions, its constitution, and the roasted flesh of those who dared to challenge it. To all those, perhaps more mature today, and politically wiser now, who have rejoined us in our steadfast beliefs that it takes more than an election for any society to achieve democracy, and that a moral obligation exists, for all democrats, to seek and obtain the speedy removal from office, by any means necessary, of an elected leader who converts his electoral legitimacy into a violent tool of subversion against the state and the citizenry, I say thank you for waking up and standing up now to defeat tyranny, moral turpitude, malfeasance and state terrorism.
Now that the whole country is in tumult, demanding that Mr. Aristide resign, as school children are shot and killed in Petit-Goave, anti-government protesters are shot and killed in Gonaives, a radio station is burned down in Cap-Haitien, journalists flee into hiding, the whole population of Port-au-Prince is placed under house arrest as the capital city is shut down by the governments well paid armed gang leaders, in this new war being waged on the defenseless people of Haiti by one General Amiot Metayer, leader of the Haitian presidents private cannibal army, while students, teachers, university professors, business men and women, clergymen, journalists, women, workers, farmers etc., take to the streets daily, screaming that they can no longer tolerate the intolerable or continue to accept this infamy, how many more must die before the international community can honestly recognize that something has gone and remains terribly wrong in Haiti? How many more days of violence, murder, and impunity against a defenseless population should Mr. Aristide continue to enjoy, now that he has emptied his bag of shameless lies and tricks, as the whole world has finally realized that, since 1991, Haitians have been made to endure the greatest political fraud of the 20th Century? Its a fraud against democracy, against the free world, against human dignity and decency, against the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere.
Keeping Faith in the United States
As he campaigned for the presidency, Mr. George W. Bush made it clear that American troops would not, under his stewardship, go into foreign lands to engage in nation building or in support of ill defined or bizarre missions like the one that brought Mr. Aristide back to Haiti. But, Mr. Bush did also tell us that he would never hesitate to confront, as he does now with great skills and statesmanship, the international bandits who pose a threat to the national security of the United States. We agreed with him, then. We support him now.
Well, Mr. President, the time has come to take a serious look at Haitis Aristide. Let us listen again to his speeches, the old and the new. Let us investigate why, even today, the well paid gang leaders who are the high ranking officers of his Cannibal Army, would dare bring their troops to the gates of the U.S. embassy in Haiti, to proclaim their love and support for Osama Bin Laden, in much the same way that his Red Army did in 1991 for Fidel Castro and Mouhamar Khadafi. Let us find out why the Haitian secret service would engineer the landing of a boat, carrying over 200 would be refugees, on the shores of the State of Florida, a week before the recent November 5th elections in the United States? Let us ask ourselves: what this former catholic priest, a fiercely anti-American and violent proponent of the Theology of Liberation, the de-facto Head of State of a small Caribbean nation, intend to do with the more than $ 800 million dollars he is reported to have stolen from his countrys treasury? Finally, let us try to understand why, every time Mr. Aristide finds himself threatened by domestic political crises of his own making, he finds it clever to blame and accuse the United States, falsely and publicly, of plotting a coup détat against him?
With Mr. Aristide, we have seen it all and heard it all. So, if as I believe, it is time to act and bring an end to this masquerade in Haiti, let us allow the many in the Haitian American community, who have been blessed with partaking in the unique American culture of freedom, to serve, once again, the cause of democracy, freedom, justice and human dignity, much as they did proudly in the past, in the various uniforms of the different branches of the U.S. military, by networking and partnering with Haitian freedom fighters, to help the people of Haiti conquer the political liberties they have been longing for, at last.
Since 1994, the U.S. has spent over $ 3 billions dollars in Haiti, unwittingly helping Mr. Aristide develop his private Cannibal Army, to terrorize the suffering people of his nation. With a tiny fraction of that amount, the United States could help struggling Haitians achieve a positive regime change that would jumpstart the democratic process interrupted in Haiti by Mr. Aristide since 1991.
Let us reject, once and for all, the conceptually flawed and logically incorrect notion that an elected leader, even in rigged elections, must be allowed to murder thousands of his nations citizens and/or destroy his countrys democratic institutions, at will and with impunity.
Let us hear the cries of the tens of thousands of protesters who crowd the streets of Haiti, everyday now, with courage and determination, as they continue to face death at the hand of Mr. Aristides murderous bunch of armed gang leaders, to demand the resignation of their corrupt, incompetent, dictatorial and violent de-facto government. Let their hope for freedom and justice reach the hearts and consciences of Secretary of State Colin Powell and former president Jimmy Carter, our 2002 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who, as members of the delegation that included former Senator Sam Nunn, succeeded in negotiating an honorable exit for the Haitian military in 1994, thwarting Mr. Aristides will to spill the blood of his own countrymen in an ill-advised hostile military occupation of Haiti, the only purpose of which was to return a dictator to political power. Few Americans today possess, as do Secretary Powell and Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter, the combined knowledge and understanding of the true nature of the current political mess in Haiti, the political discernment necessary to unravel the political fraud perpetrated against the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere since 1991, and the political power or prestige needed to influence key decision makers into a just, fair, quick and lasting end to this gratuitous suffering of the general population of Haiti.
Let us keep faith in the United States of America as a beacon of hope for freedom, democracy and justice in our hemisphere, as well as in the generosity and proverbial compassion of Americans everywhere, including in the U.S. government, to establish immediately an Haiti Freedom Fund that can be tapped to level the playing field for the courageous people of Haiti, so that their freedom fighters can be assisted with the financial support they deserve to hasten the end of the unspeakable political fraud being perpetrated on their suffering nation, and renew their efforts to achieve political stability and peace, democracy, the rule of law and economic development.
Parnell Duverger Senior Economist, Planeconomics Consultants Corp. Chairman, Louverture Center for Freedom and Development November 28, 2002.
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