Since the advent of constituent modern-states, anyone embracing the notion of social and economic justice has always been considered subversive by the Powers-That-Be. Even in the world’s greatest Democracies, which today pride themselves as paragon of virtues as they relate to human rights and civil liberties, the road to these fundamental rights has always been treacherous and unforgiving. In Europe and the US, countless thousands were murdered or ostracized for advocating the right of assembly and to speak freely without government interferences, to popular participation and other entreaties that today form the quintessence of civil liberties. This epic triumph of enlightenment over ignorance in the US and the European countries validates a simple reality: repression, a potent symbol of obscurantism, does have a natural life spam.
It is thus surprising that a disproportionate number of the planet’s inhabitants is still fighting for those rights in many areas of the globe, particularly in Haiti where an unholy alliance between the international community and the repugnant local elite is stalling the inevitable march toward these inalienable rights. For starters, it takes two to tango. The notion of calling a citizen’s presence in his own country “a destabilizing factor” is not only superfluous but also implies that the status quos is more desirable than the potential albeit abstract change that Aristide’s return to Haiti may bring to the tortured and exhausted poor. After seven years in exile, the man commands more popular support than any other politician in Haiti, a reality which, by itself, is an indictment of the system in place under the aegis of the purported UN stabilization mission.
To understand what is at stake, one needs to analyze the conditions that facilitated Aristide’s rise and earned him the enmity of the elite and the international community. In the 1980’s, there was not a political and economic system in the world that remotely resembled that of Haiti, where a tiny elite systematically terrorized the overwhelmingly poor majority with the support of the international community. That is unfortunately still the case with the UN occupation (2004-?) By speaking passionately on behalf of the downtrodden and calling Capitalism “A mortal sin”, the man came to be regarded by the local barons and the international community as a dangerous subversive who needed to be silenced. At the urging of his supporters and despite numerous assassinations attempts against his person, Aristide entered Haiti’s 1990 presidential fray and was elected by a whopping two-third of the vote. On September 30, 1991, seven months into his presidency, he was overthrown by the military in a bloody coup that subsequently took the lives of thousands of his supporters. Despite the stated will of then-US president Bill Clinton, the CIA was so absorbed on keeping Aristide out of power that it circulated a fake anti-psychosis drug prescription supposedly written by a Canadian doctor proving that the exiled president suffers from some form of mental disease. In the context of the post-Cold War geopolitical reality, a Third World leader defying Washington may conceivably be considered mentally ill, but faking an anti-psychosis drug prescription to prove the point is a stretch.
Brought back to power by American troops in 1994, Aristide presided over the first peaceful transfer of power in Haitian history. Reelected in 2001, he was immediately confronted with an unofficial embargo imposed by the international community, foreign-instigated political unrests and finally an armed revolt by mercenaries trained in the DR, Haiti’s next door neighbor. On February 29th, 2004, French and U.S forces invaded Haiti and Aristide was flown into exile, first in the Central African Republic (CAR) and later South Africa. Then-US National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, famously said that she did not want that man to set foot in the Western Hemisphere, a dictum that were to remain valid for 7 years. Meanwhile thousands of his supporters were murdered under the UN-backed Latortue regime (2004-06); his political party (Fanmi Lavalas) banned from ensuing elections while the poor continue to suffer under the repressive rule of the elite/ MINUSTAH.
This is the reality in Haiti for the last two decades and the saga of the man who presumably will destabilize that country upon his return. As of now, the first salvos in the blaming game of “Who is destabilizing Haiti” are being fired. In an interview with Time Magazine, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, bluntly stated “Aristide could be a disruption or a distraction” to a democratic process that American taxpayers had put a lot of money into. “Nothing should be done to create instability or to intensify the existing problems of Haiti, and that is the responsibility of all, not just the candidates, but former politicians” concurred the Organization of American States Assistant Secretary-General Albert Ramdin. And, when Raymond Mulet, the representative of the UN General Secretary in Haiti asserted “there are Haitians who don’t love their country”, he was apparently referring to the former president and his supporters under the twisted logic put forward by the international community.
Having returned to the lion’s den, Aristide’s travails and those of the destitute peasants and slum dwellers are far from over since the elite/MINUSTAH rule is well entrenched. Thus solving Haiti’s problems requires a thorough restructuring, if not the obliteration, of the present system. And, as the present situation dictates, only one man possesses the power to extricate the poor out of their lethargic state and galvanize them into actions against their oppressors, and that is Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
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