Oldspeak: “It really is disheartening to see how sanitized mainstream U.S. journalism has become. Look for yourself, CNN, MSNBC, YAHOO, FOX, AP, AFP, UPI, etc etc. never mention U.S. involvement in the coup that lead to the ouster of President Aristide. No mention of the violation of international law by President Obama and U.N. General Secratary Ban Ki-Moon when they called South African president Jacob Zuma to urge him to keep Aristide in South Africa. They just repeat on a constant loop the newspeak that “Former President Aristide has chosen to remain outside of Haiti for seven years. To return this week could only be seen as a conscious choice to impact Haiti’s elections. We would urge former President Aristide to delay his return until after the electoral process has concluded, to permit the Haitian people to cast their ballots in a peaceful atmosphere. Return prior to the election may potentially be destabilizing to the political process.” –U.S. State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner. Aristide did not “choose to leave”. There is nothing peaceful about what is going on in Haiti. Thousands of forced evictions, rigged elections, government under foreign rule, a year after the earthquake, thousands still living in tent cities with limited access to basic necessities for survival. This story from a british news paper is the only one I could find that stated the facts of the matter.”
By Mark Welsbrot @ The U.K. Guardian:
Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is scheduled to return to his homeland this week after seven years in exile in South Africa. He was overthrown – for the second time – in a 2004 coup organised by the United States and its allies. Washington has gone to great lengths to prevent his return over the last seven years, and this week the state department once again warned that Aristide should not return until “after the [20 March] electoral process is concluded.”
The state department is pretending that Aristide can simply come home after the election, and that he must have some sinister political motive for returning before the vote. This is completely dishonest. It is obvious that the next elected president will likely defer to the US and keep Aristide out. Furthermore, there is electoral pressure right now to allow Aristide back in the country. The Miami Herald reports that both of the contenders in the Sunday election have now said they welcome Aristide’s return, after previously opposing it. This about-face is obviously an attempt to court Fanmi Lavalas (Aristide’s party) voters. But we Americans know what happens to candidates’ political stances after the election is over.
Clearly, Aristide is taking advantage of his first, and possibly only, opportunity to return home. Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reports that phone calls from President Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon failed to convince South African president Jacob Zuma to keep Aristide from leaving South Africa.
How disgraceful that President Obama, a former law professor himself, would conspire to violate international law by attempting to deprive President Aristide of his human rights. And that the secretary general of the United Nations would bend to Obama’s will and collaborate with him. As noted in a letter to the state department by prominent lawyers and law professors, this is a violation of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty which the United States has ratified. It states that “[n]o one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.”
Washington and its allies would do better to take advantage of this opportunity to change course in Haiti, and accept the concept of self-determination for the Haitian people. They have denied this for decades, and especially since Aristide first was elected president in 1990. Within seven months, he was overthrown by the military and others who werelater found to be paid by the US Central Intelligence Agency.
The United States has denied self-government to Haiti ever since. After Aristide was democratically elected for the second time in 2000, with more than 90% of the vote, the United States “sought … to block bilateral and multilateral aid to Haiti, having an objection to the policies and views of the administration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide … Choking off assistance for development and for the provision of basic services also choked off oxygen to the government, which was the intention all along: to dislodge the Aristide administration.” That was Paul Farmer of Harvard’s medical school, Bill Clinton’s deputy special envoy from the UN to Haiti, testifying to US Congress last summer.
While many complain about the non-functional Haitian state as the country struggles to rebuild, they forget how large a role the “international community” has had in destroying the Haitian government even before the earthquake demolished most of what was left of it. The reconstruction of Haiti will need a legitimate, functioning state. This will require a process of consensus-building among the country’s most important political constituencies. This process will, therefore, have to include Aristide and his political party, Fanmi Lavalas, which remains the most popular party in the country.
Washington and its allies – including Brazil, which heads up the UN occupation force – must now accept this reality. Haiti cannot be ruled through violence, as it has been for most of the past century. Aristide, as the country’s first legitimate president, was able to eliminate 98% of Haiti’s political violence – mostly by abolishing Haiti’s murderous army. By contrast, after each coup (1991 and 2004) that overthrew his government, thousands of Haitians were murdered.
That is the choice going forward: a legitimate government or a violent government.
So far, the international community does not appear to be much concerned about establishing a legitimate government. Fanmi Lavalas was arbitrarily excluded from the first round (28 November) of Haiti’s presidential election, in which a record three quarters of the electorate did not vote. Then, Washington and its allies forced the government to change the results of the first round of the election, eliminating the government candidate and leaving only two rightwing candidates in the race.
Haiti today is an occupied country, with almost no legitimate authority. United Nations troops police the country, and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) provide most basic services, which are severely inadequate. More than a year after the earthquake, there has been little progress in removing rubble, or providing adequate shelter or sanitation for more than one million people displaced. And Haiti faces another rainy season beginning next month. Humanitarian needs are dire.
The situation in Haiti is potentially explosive, and it is not because, as the US state department argues, Aristide might return before the election. Rather, it is because they have denied Haitians their right to self-government, and continue to do so. Aristide has been Haiti’s only national political leader for the past two decades, and his party the country’s largest political party. It is long past time that the international community recognised that reality, rather than trying to exclude them from the political process through intimidation and violence.”