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Posted January 20, 2004
President Aristide, It's Time To Resign





On January 1, 2004, Haitians celebrated the 200th anniversary of their country’s independence by increasing the scope and intensity of public protests, held almost daily since September 2003, to denounce the human rights abuses, unparalleled corruption and economic mismanagement that define president Jean Bertrand Aristide’s murderous dictatorship. On such an important date, Haitians gave up all joyful festivities, choosing instead to amplify their protests on the streets against the brutality of Mr. Aristide’s Lavalas regime, as if to prove to the world, once again, their unfailing readiness to continue to face death in an unending fight for freedom, human dignity, economic progress and social justice.

To honor and salute the courage and determination of the vast majority of Haitians who are now calling on their president to step down, as the only way to end the social unrest that paralyzes Haiti’s economy, as well as renew hope for representative democracy and a prosperous free market economy in the troubled Caribbean nation, the United States should lead the international community in demanding that president Jean Bertrand Aristide resign immediately. Mr. Aristide’s resignation is necessary for Haitians, as well as the international community, to put behind them a strange and sad Haitian saga that will be remembered forever as the greatest political fraud of the 20th century, a major policy blunder of the Clinton’s administration, and an unqualified policy failure of the international community. Indeed, faced with widespread and growing protests throughout his entire country, and in Haitian communities abroad, president Aristide has lost the ability to govern and must resign without delay to spare his country further political violence and economic damage.

Panrnell Duverger, a professor of economics, is President & CEO of Market Power Econometrics & Mgmt. Corp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Professor Duverger's partial coordinate: pduverger@marketpowers.com
The Greatest Political Fraud Of The 20th Century

December 1990: Mr. Jean Bertrand Aristide becomes a presidential candidate in the elections that he spent months denouncing as a “ploy by America, the great Satan, to rob the people of Haiti of their revolution.” At the same time, throughout the entire country, an ominous message appears on walls everywhere: “Elections or not, Lavalas will take over”. In Haitian Creole, lavalas refers to a raging flood that leaves death and devastation on its trails, so the message is clear and Haitians understand it: if Jean Bertrand Aristide is not elected president on December 16, the country will face violent consequences. On elections day, representatives of Mr. Aristide’s political party are the only ones admitted in polling places. All other political parties are excluded. Haitians who are not voting for Mr. Aristide are beaten up in the polling places. This includes Rev. pastor Sylvio Claude, a popular presidential candidate. Less than three hours into the voting process, Mr. Aristide’s supporters rampage through the streets, proclaiming him the winner. Some are seen on television carrying ballot boxes to their private homes “to prevent the enemies of democracy from tampering with the ballots.” According to his menacing supporters, Mr. Aristide won 67% of the vote. The elections are over. An official count is not performed, and no official results are ever published. Mr. Jean Bertrand Aristide is the new president of Haiti.

It is democracy by fraud and intimidation. But, it works. Fearing the violence announced by the new president’s supporters, Haitians accept this “fait accompli”. So does the international community. An ordained catholic priest and adept of the neo-Marxist theology of liberation, Mr. Aristide has no vision for the future of Haiti, nor does he propose a program of action as a blue print to guide his government and his country towards achieving social stability or economic development. The new president’s only stated agenda is “to fight capitalism, a threat worse than AIDS, to confront and defeat the United States, the great Satan, to turn the streets of Port-au-Prince red with American blood should the United States oppose his violent brand of populist neo-communism, to burn alive (through neck-lacing) “tonton macoutes” as all his opponents are now branded, and to insure that ‘Haitian bourgeois capitalists’ have a taste of the poverty plaguing the masses.”

President Jean Bertrand Aristide’s official speeches are colorful, violent and morbid. He holds a simple Manichean view of the world: on one side, those who support him as the new messiah of Haiti and whose motives are so pure that they are allowed and encouraged to use the most violent means to rid the country of all the others, on the other side, who oppose the new president’s peculiar and offensive methods of governing, including his penchant for inciting violent class struggle. For Mr. Aristide, this malevolent “other side” includes anybody or group that doesn’t support him, i.e. political opponents who are lumped together into one hated class of “duvalierists” or “tonton macoutes” who ought “to receive what they deserve”, i.e. the infamous “Pè Lebrun”, an atrocious death inflicted by placing a tire around a person’s neck, dousing his or her body with gasoline and setting it afire, a barbarous act that Mr. Aristide finds inspiring for “the nice fire and the pleasant aroma” it produces.

As he inaugurates his administration on February 7, 1991, President Aristide launches his first formal attack on the Haitian Armed Forces, in violation of the Haitian constitution, publicly and dangerously, as well as on the country’s economic elite. In the following seven months, the entire country remains in fear, an atmosphere of violent revolution reigns. The president and his prime minister, whose method of selection violated the constitution, are in war with the elected members of the Haitian parliament. Mr. Aristide’s violent thugs make their first appearance on the political scene, invading the Haitian parliament, beating up the elected representatives who question his methods and raise concerns about the new bloody dictatorship already taking shape. Mr. Aristide’s supporters take to the airwaves to claim that the Haitian constitution is now irrelevant. Opponents are being arrested by an illegal secret police while the deadly torture killing known as “Pe Lebrun” reigns supreme. As the international community remains silent, Haitians fear the worse. Finally, on September 30, 1991, Mr. Aristide’s “Red Army”, as his violent thugs are then known, stage armed attacks on a few small military posts throughout the country, killing soldiers and setting their barracks afire. The Haitian Armed Forces have enough and act quickly: Mr. Aristide is arrested and sent into exile, putting an end to the violence and the political chaos instituted by an unconstitutional “people’s republic”, patterned on revolutionary Lybia. For Mr. Aristide’s make believe or sound bite democracy, the set back is just temporary. The fraud against representative democracy and its core values of individual freedoms, freedom of enterprise, secured property rights, non-violent, free and fair elections, human rights and the sanctity of life, is going to continue to be carried out – hold your breath – from Washington, D.C., in the United States.

A Major Policy Blunder Of The Clinton Administration

The Haitian military’s attempt to rescue their country’s budding representative system of democratic government from its kidnappers of the extreme left, would be short lived, however. The social engineers who had been busy helping Mr. Aristide establish his violent “people’s democratic republic” decide to go into a self-imposed exile to rally around their deposed president in Washington D.C., of all places. It’s a clever move that puts them in the international political power seat of the market economy or capitalism that their leader loves to hate as a “mortal sin.” Soon, they are busy again helping Mr. Aristide raid Haitian Treasury funds in the United States, to mount an intensive and well moneyed campaign of lies and deceit, structured around an elaborate double talk about democracy, by which they mean the perverted “people’s democratic republic” system of government claimed by Marxist and other dictatorships such as communist China, Cuba, the former Soviet Union, or Lybia, and which their well-paid lobbyists would continue to portray as the representative system of democratic government, so dear to real democrats of the free western world. Mr. Aristide’s make believe or sound bite democracy is now in full swing: his neo-communist theology of liberation and his call for violent class warfare are muted, his violent speeches are forgotten, his attacks on his country’s political, economic and civil institutions are occulted, and even his visceral anti-American obsessions and his rejections of America’s democratic values are ignored.

Tens of millions of Haitian taxpayers’ dollars are diverted into image reconstruction and influence buying for Mr. Aristide. In the United States, powerful forces are enlisted to whitewash Mr. Aristide’s violent misrule as president of Haiti, and to campaign for his return to Haiti: the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, expensive lobbyists, popular actors and other celebrities, as well as international bureaucrats. In Haiti, new “press agencies” entirely devoted to Mr. Aristide’s political agenda are created and bankrolled for the specific purpose of controlling the news and disseminating the president’s propaganda presented as news. Also, a gigantic operation is financed to deliver loads of boat people to Florida’s shores as a mean of applying additional pressure on the Clinton’s administration.

Indeed, when Bill Clinton inaugurates his presidency in January 1992, Mr. Aristide’s already formidable lobbying and propaganda machine is well established in Washington’s corridors of power. Soon, the new U.S. president reverses his negative opinion about Mr. Aristide’s democratic credentials, rejects the CIA’s negative views of Mr. Aristide’s politics as unfair, partisan, and reflecting misinformation fed by members of a corrupt Haitian economic elite, and insists on returning the defrocked catholic priest to his presidential palace in Haiti. Suddenly, it is as if U.S. foreign policy toward Haiti is entirely driven by Mr. Aristide, who demands and obtains an international economic embargo against his own country, the poorest of the western hemisphere. This particularly bizarre turn of event appears to have led to the resignation Mr. Clinton’s Special Envoy to Haiti, Mr. Lawrence Pezullo.

For Mr. Aristide, it gets even better as president Clinton gives him access to millions of dollars of Haitian Treasury funds located in the United States. Mr. Aristide digs deep into these funds, without any approval or control from the elected parliament or any other competent institution of the state of Haiti. Such funds are generously distributed to powerful lobbying firms, in addition to being spent on Mr. Aristide’s very luxurious Washington lifestyle. For the exiled president, it is money well spent. Even the international media joins in the remaking and repackaging of Mr. Aristide’s undemocratic and violent track record. A legend is born: Jean Bertrand Aristide, a catholic priest and elected president, devoted to the well being of his country and a candidate for sainthood, is leading an epic fight against his country’s “most repugnant elite,” sacrificing himself for the triumph of democracy around the world. Out of his boundless love for his country, Mr. Aristide asks the international community to impose a devastating economic embargo on the poorest country of our hemisphere and, finally, to send an international armada of 20,000 troops, led by the United States, to violate his country’s sovereignty and pride, so that democracy, meaning him, could be restored. Only a couple of months after Mr. Aristide’s triumphant return to Haiti, his most vocal opponent, Mrs. Mireille Durocher Bertin, an able lawyer, is assassinated in broad day light because she kept denouncing the embargo and the invasion of her country by foreign troops, while insisting that “a Haitian problem can only be solved by Haitians.”

More political murders follow. But, the legend lives on. While the killings continue unabated, the international community looks the other way and the international media relay Mr. Aristide’s disinformation that, behind any criticism or questioning of his new bloody dictatorship, a “coup d’état” is lurking because “the laboratory” (read the CIA) will never give up trying to unseat him. It sounds and looks unreal, insane, unbelievable, incredible, but it is all true: Mr. Aristide’s sound-bites or make-believe democracy has conquered the world and is even a model now, like in Mr. Chavez’s new Venezuela. Even the United States is cowered into playing president Aristide’s new game of democracy. Indeed, Mr. Aristide has now redefined democracy for the people of the Americas. Latin America is quick to understand and love the new game, and takes a turn to the left. The OAS and CARICOM have a new hero: Jean Bertrand Aristide is rewriting the rules of democracy, and guiding American principles and values are no longer a part of it.

It is this game of make-believe democracy in Haiti, which must be regarded properly as a major foreign policy blunder of the Clinton administration, that has led to the current political impasse in the world’s first independent black republic, because the country’s tired, poor, abused, and betrayed majority is now saying that is has enough of this perversion of democracy. It wants the real thing. Too many lies and empty promises have been repeated ad nauseam, too much blood has been spilled: Mr. Aristide must now resign and face the consequences of his actions.

An Unqualified Failure Of The International Community

After the international community returns him to power in Haiti in August 1994, Mr. Aristide is quick to seize control of everything everywhere. Competent Haitian professionals are unable to work in the public sector without an explicit recommendation from the president or one of his cronies. Graduating classes of the new police academy pledge allegiance to the president, not to their country, its constitution or its institutions. All institutions, political, economic, and civil, are under attack. The Haitian Armed Forces are disbanded illegally, and the soldiers’ pension funds are seized. Phony criminal accusations are leveled in Haitian kangaroo courts against Mr. Aristide’s political enemies, who are thrown in jail even when found innocent or deported from the United States to face sentences meted out by Haitian judges totally servile to Mr. Aristide. Hundreds more of the president’s political opponents are simply murdered or go into self-imposed exile. The international community sees no evil and hears no evil: the new victims have no human rights, they are just evil tonton macoutes or duvalierists or members of a “corrupt economic or intellectual elite” who continue to want to be a thorn on Mr. Aristide’s sensitive side. Haiti is transformed into a sad, deadly, cynical and disgraceful political spectacle. Haitians everywhere are ashamed, depressed and desperate. But, in this new Haitian world of make believe democracy, the international community loves Mr. Aristide’s clever sound bites and doubletalk, and looks the other way. It’s all good. As a democrat, Mr. Aristide is a pure fabrication of the international community. And, yes, he is also a Teflon president. Absolutely.

With the exception of the new administration of U.S. president Georges W. Bush, whose team of competent policy advisors and political emissaries continue to display the wisdom and the courage of denouncing the barbarity of Mr. Aristide’s dictatorship, the international community – the OAS as well as CARICOM – have wasted all their credibility and good will as actors in Haiti’s political drama, because of their blind, persistent, defying and even arrogant support of Mr. Aristide’s perverse notions of democracy, through words and deeds that have consistently shown the utmost disrespect and contempt for the people of Haiti. For this reason also, Mr. Aristide must resign, since only then can the opportunity be renewed for a new relationship based on mutual respect, common interests, trust, shared democratic values and true friendship between Haiti and member states of the OAS and CARICOM.

Mr. President, It's Time To Resign

Feeling betrayed, sickened and outraged by the troubling relationship, some say the complicity, between the Organization of American States (OAS), the Caribbean community (CARICOM), the region’s institutional mediators and peacekeepers, and Mr. Aristide, in “diplomatic efforts” designed to buy time and allow the controversial Haitian president to remain in power at the expense at his country’s national economy and political stability, Haitians of all walks of life, races and creed, rich and poor, within and without Haiti – students, business men and women, human rights advocates, workers’ unions, peasants, artists, intellectuals, women rights organizations, non-governmental organizations, political parties, professionals of all stripes, organized religions, educators, people of all races and creed, rich and poor, including large numbers of disappointed former supporters of an increasingly isolated president Aristide – take to the streets daily demanding an end to the disgraceful orgy of violence, corruption, economic mismanagement, lies and deceit perpetrated against the sons and daughters of a suffering, but great and always hopeful nation. Too much bloodshed, they say, Aristide must go.

When all organized sectors of civil society join together in massive and sustained daily protests against a government, bringing social and economic activities to a halt, as is the case in today’s Haiti, that government has lost the ability as well as any legitimity to govern. Bloody repressions can be exercised against protesters, but the ability to govern is irretrievably lost. That is what Mr. Aristide needs to understand today, and that is the unique message that can be delivered to him by all other heads of government and true democrats around the world, if the suffering of the people of Haiti is to be shortened to give way to new hopes for individual freedoms, secured property rights, free, open and competitive economic markets, human rights, social justice, equal opportunities for all, dearly held values of free societies indeed, without which Haiti holds no hope for political stability, social harmony or economic progress.

As I look today at the images of a student’s funeral procession being brutally dispersed by the police, as if insult was being piled upon injury, I keep thinking that, nearly two decades ago, Reverend father Aristide would have been at the forefront of the funeral party for this young man who died, on president Aristide’s watch, for the very cause that the priest turned president claimed, then, to have espoused: the cause of freedom and human dignity for all Haitians. I keep thinking also about the following words of an anonymous philosopher to Pontius Pilate: “…Pilate…Pilate… you can spend eternity trying to demonstrate your neutrality, and therefore your innocence, forever it will said that Jesus of Nazareth suffered under Pontius Pilate”. Yes, like Pontius Pilate before him, it all happened on president Aristide’s watch: the missed opportunities, the lies, the deceit, the suffering, the violence, the bloodshed, the despair and the hopelessness.

President Aristide had much more than a fair chance. And, like the communists of the old Soviet Union before him, he has tried and failed. Let God to be the judge of it all: his intentions, his words, and his deeds.

But, for now, even with the best of intentions, if any, it is no longer desirable, practical or possible for Mr. Aristide to govern Haiti. What is left for the controversial president to do is to give his suffering nation a fair chance to get what he promised for so long, but can now deliver only through his resignation: peace, social stability and a hopeful economic future for the world’s first independent black nation and the poorest country of our hemisphere. Let us remain hopeful that, supported by honorable men and women of the Americas, president Georges Bush and his team of seasoned diplomats will find the words that can convince Mr. Aristide that yes, indeed, it’s time for him to resign.             

Wehaitians.com, the scholarly journal of democracy and human rights
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