According to Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) in an interview on CNN, the administration is responsible for the overthrow of Haiti’s former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide; Aristide was “a democratically elected,” albeit “not perfect” figure. The opposition is comprised of “thugs,” although Dodd does not know anything about their leader, Guy Philippe. According to Dodd, the administration weakened democratic legitimacy in Latin America by not supporting Aristide, because it did not like him. Of course, the fact that two presidents of Ecuador, one of Argentina and, more recently, the very pro-US president of Bolivia, Sanchez de Lozada, all democratically elected, were overthrown during the past few years, with no US intervention, conveniently escapes Senator Dodd’s memory. That, considering Mr. Dodd’s well-established romance with the unsavory Left in Latin America, is no surprise; the fact that such statements make him a moderate among Democrats, is one.
Indeed, Rep. Maxine Waters of California claimed that Aristide’s wife told her that she and her husband, “"felt like [Aristide] was in jail…Yes, he felt like he was under arrest and in jail." Whether that is true or not, and Waters is known to have peculiar feelings of her own--she described the racist Los Angeles riots as “rebellion” and was a promoter of the notion that crack was introduced by the CIA as a plot against blacks. Randall Robinson, self-exiled black racialist, apologist for Aristide and noisy promoter of the notion that “America owes” its wealth to blacks and thus “owes” them “reparations,” repeated the claims. Clearly, Haiti’s voodoo-laced conspiracy culture is not limited to that country.
Referring to Aristide as having been democratically elected is a misnomer. For example, when Saddam Hussein declared himself elected with 100% of the Iraqi vote in 2002, just about everybody laughed (I cannot vouch for Rep. Waters or Mr. Robinson); when Aristide was “elected” in 2000 with 97% of the vote, which the opposition boycotted (only 15% bothered to participate), that, according to Sen. Dodd, Mr. Robinson and Rep. Waters (and mindlessly joined by the media) makes him “democratically elected.” And, implicitly, the fact that one year later he blatantly rigged parliamentary elections presumably strengthens his Jeffersonian credentials.
But none of that matters for the Congressional Black Caucus--Aristide was a “democrat” overthrown by the implicitly racist Bush gang, yet another demonstration of the Caucus increasingly pernicious irrelevance. Aristide was black, anti-American, a “progressive” who made it rich in the Hemisphere’s poorest country--all endearing characteristics, apparently. Never mind that 99% of Aristide’s opponents, and all his victims--the Haitian people--were also black, or that a few hundred (black and poorly armed) opponents drove him out amidst mass sympathy or indifference from the population--evidently those were neither black enough, nor “progressive” enough nor, presumably, aware of what is good for them. As for the “racists” in the Administration, such as Powell and Rice, we all know, because Harry Belafonte told us, that they are just “house slaves.” Aristide’s racialist “progressivism” evidently has an echo among some in Congress.
As Garry Pierre-Pierre, publisher and editor-in-chief of New York's Haitian Times, put it in The Wall Street Journal, “[Aristide’s] detractors included the intellectual left, instrumental in forming the Lavalas popular movement which swept him into power 14 years ago; and they also included women's groups, church groups, and the labor unions, which, all taken together, made clear that there was no part of his original radical base that was not against him. (Only the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, far removed from Haiti and from reality, stood by its man.).”
Aristide, always the Orwellian, told state radio in Bangui, "By toppling me, they have cut down the tree of peace, but it will grow again." Indeed, peace is not exactly the word one would immediately associate with Aristide--after his first, and only legitimate election in 1990, this former man of the cloth was openly encouraging the mobs of Port au Prince to enjoy themselves with “Pére Lebrun” – the creole term for “necklacing” (burning people with gasoline filled tires around their neck) made famous by the other famous racialist “progressive”--convicted thief and kidnapper Winnie Mandela. That was then--after regaining power on the backs of the Marines, the now defrocked ex-priest took more than a page from the Duvalier regime he helped overthrow--the new pro-regime mobs were renamed--from Tontons Macoutes into chimères. When the CIA accurately predicted all this, its analyst was criticized, implicitly--or not so implicitly--accused of racism.
Is “America” guilty of anything in Haiti? The answer should be obvious: “America” is not; the race obsessed Left is. But do not expect Waters, Robinson or Jesse Jackson to ever admit it--no, it is always somebody else’s fault. That is just like Aristide’s claim (perhaps inspired by Robinson) that France “owes” Haiti (or him?) some $ 21 billion--precisely the sort of claim that would make a Dominique de Villepin furious and revengeful--and that Franco-American “colonialism” is the cause of Haiti’s misery.
What next? “WE HAVE seen quite a few revolutions, but this is the weirdest one,” said Walter Bussenius, a retired hotelier in Cap-Haïtien,” quoted by The Economist. Indeed, Haiti had 32 prior violent changes of government in 200 years of existence--an average of one every six years, and this one is the weirdest, because it was probably the least violent (so far), started by Aristide’s thugs turning against him, and implemented by only a handful of men. That said, it is unlikely to be the last--or the weirdest, for long. The middle class is virtually non-existent or in New York and Miami; the political parties are fictional; the decent opposition to Aristide has no guns, and the successful one has guns but is far from decent.
Next question: does the United States owe anything to Haiti? The answer is, again, no, but Washington has an obligation to prevent yet another uncontrollable wave of illegal Haitian immigrants. That means that the Coast Guard will be in view of the Haitian coast for a long time. Other than that, here is the perfect opportunity for the United Nations to demonstrate that it could do what France and the Democratic candidates for president claim it could and should have done in Iraq--fix a broken society, dysfunctional political culture, and tradition of violence. Perhaps France, which for once has demonstrated more clarity and steadier will than Washington, would take the leadership of a UN force of Fijians and Bangladeshis and do what US interventions in Haiti (one lasting between 1915-1931) have failed to do. We should cheer them on.