Let Aristide Return!

On February 29, 2004, US marines abducted him at gunpoint, airlifting him forcibly to the Central Africa Republic. It was one of Haiti’s darkest moments, losing its beloved leader, re-elected President in 2000 with 92% of the vote. For over six years, he’s been exiled in South Africa, wants to return, and on January 19, wrote an open letter, thanking his host country and their people for welcoming him hospitably, saying:

Since forcibly abducted, “the people of Haiti have never stopped calling for my return….Despite the enormous (post-quake) challenges that they face….their determination to make the return happen has increased.”

“As far as I am concerned, I am ready….today, tomorrow, at any time. The purpose is very clear: To contribute to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field of education.”

Returning is also vital “for medical reasons: It is strongly recommended that I not spend the coming winter in South Africa because in 6 years I have undergone 6 eye surgeries. The surgeons are excellent and very well skilled, but the unbearable pain experienced in the winter must be avoided in order to reduce any risk of further complications and blindness.”

Aristide is ready to come any time, and hopes Haitian and South African officials let him. Of course, Washington controls all Haitian affairs. The Bush administration ousted him in 2004, militarily occupied the country with proxy Blue Helmet paramilitaries, banished him abroad, and thus far Obama won’t let him back. One word from him changes everything. So far it’s not forthcoming.

He’s been treated maliciously, victimized by Washington’s intolerance to democracy, abroad and at home. It’s time public outrage demanded better, including in Haiti, the region’s poorest, most oppressed nation, the rights of their people entirely denied, including having their beloved leader back home with them.

New York Times Coverage of Haiti under Aristide

After Washington’s February 29, 2004 middle-of-the-night coup ousted him, a Times March 1 editorial lied, saying:

– he resigned;

– letting marines abduct him “was the right thing to do;”

– they only came after “Mr. Aristide yielded power;”

– he “contributed significantly to his own downfall (because of his) increasingly autocratic and lawless rule;” and

– he manipulated the 2000 legislative elections and didn’t “deliver the democracy he promised.”

Malaciously false on all counts. Under Aristide, Haiti had its only freedom since successfully liberated in 1804, turning slaves into citizens for the first time.

On January 19, Times writer Ginger Thompson headlined, “Aristide Says He Is Ready to Return to Haiti, Too,” saying:

Days after Duvalier’s return, he “issued a statement on Wednesday that fueled rumors that he, too, was angling to return.”

“Angling?” He explained clearly why, and as a Haitian citizen, he’s entitled under international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, giving everyone the right to leave and return to their countries.

Unwittingly in part, Thompson exposed the malicious Times 2004 editorial claiming he resigned and yielded power, saying he “was ousted in 2004 in the midst of growing unrest and under intense pressure from the United States.”

In fact, Washington instigated unrest and “pressure(d)” Aristide at gunpoint by trained marine killers.

Aristide’s statement, said Thompson, “threatened to fuel tensions already stirred by” Duvalier’s return. Of course, one event has nothing to do with another, except to explain that if a former despot comes freely, letting a beloved democrat is imperative.

She also said as President, Aristide “became notorious for his violent crackdowns of political dissent” when, if fact, he did nothing of the kind. Flippantly, she claimed he’s “been hopscotching across Central America and the Caribbean in anticipation of making his own surprise re-entry.”

In fact, in March 2004, he returned briefly to Jamaica. Activist lawyer and TransAfrica founder, Randall Robinson, accompanied him, telling Democracy Now on March 25:

I have learned from a White House source that Condoleezza Rice has pointedly threatened the Jamaican government, telling it to expel President Aristide or face the consequences. The (Bush) administration wants (him) out of the region. (It) views his mere presence in Jamaica as a threat to their (hegemonic) control along with the thugs and the installed (Haitian) government.

Aristide arrived in Jamaica on March 14, 2004. On March 25, the Jamaican government said he’d take “permanent asylum” in South Africa after its April 14 elections. He’s been there since, “hopscotch(ing)” nowhere.

Further, Thompson claimed he has no valid Haitian passport, saying the Preval government won’t issue him one so he can’t return, despite knowing (or should know) that citizens don’t need passports to their own countries.

At issue is one unnamed analyst’s opinion, saying:

Aristide could have 15 passports and he’s still not going to come back to Haiti (because) France and the United States are standing in the way.

In fact, Washington has full control as colonial occupier, denying Haitians all rights, including sovereignty, democratic elections with all legitimate parties participating, and the right of their beloved leader to return in any capacity. He only wishes to as a private citizen for health reasons and to provide whatever help he can. No longer should he be denied.

Let Aristide return!

Stephen Lendman wrote How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Contact him at: lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.

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  1. mary said on January 22nd, 2011 at 4:25am #

    WikiLeaks points to US meddling in Haiti

    US embassy cables reveal how anxious the US was to enlist Brazil to keep the deposed Jean-Bertrand Aristide out of Haiti

    {http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jan/21/haiti-wikileaks}

    Confidential US diplomatic cables from 2005 and 2006 released this week by WikiLeaks reveal Washington’s well-known obsession to keep exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide out of Haiti and Haitian affairs. (On Thursday, Aristide issued a public letter in which he reiterated “my readiness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time” from South Africa for Haiti, because the Haitian people “have never stopped calling for my return” and “for medical reasons”, concerning his eyes.)

    In a 8 June 2005 meeting of US Ambassador to Brazil John Danilovich, joined by his political counsellor (usually, the local CIA station chief), with then President Lula da Silva’s international affairs adviser Marco Aurelio Garcia, we learn that:

    “Ambassador and PolCouns … stressed continued US G[overnment] insistence that all efforts must be made to keep Aristide from returning to Haiti or influencing the political process … [and that Washington was] increasingly concerned about a major deterioration in security, especially in Port au Prince.”

    The ambassador and his adviser were also anxious about “reestablishing [the] credibility” of the UN Mission to Stabilise Haiti (Minustah), as the UN occupation troops are called. The Americans reminded Garcia that then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had called “for firm Minustah action and the possibility that the US may be asked to send troops at some point”.

    Careful reading between the lines of the cable shows that Garcia was a bit taken aback by the Americans’ “insistence”; he reassured the duo “that security is a critical component, but must move in tandem with”, among other things, “an inclusive political process”. Garcia also noted that “some elements of Lavalas [Aristide's political party] are willing to become involved in a constructive dialogue and should be encouraged”, although there was “continued Brazilian resolve to keep Aristide from returning to the country or exerting political influence”.

    Aristide “does not fit in with a democratic political future” in Haiti, Garcia is quoted as saying. However, he was “cautious on the issue of introduction of US forces” into Haiti, and “would not be drawn into discussion”.

    The American duo then met on 10 June with Brazilian Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Antonio de Aguiar Patriota. They told him, and he acknowledged, that “Minustah has not been sufficiently robust.” All this dismay was over the leadership of Brazilian General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, then Minustah’s military commander. Heleno had repeatedly voiced trepidation about causing unnecessary casualties and, more importantly, being hauled before an international court for war crimes. (At the time, there was an independent International Tribunal on Haiti preparing to hold hearings on the crimes committed by UN troops, Haitian police and paramilitaries during the 2004 coup and the runup to it.)

    Less than a month after these meetings, on 5 July 2005, a browbeaten Heleno would lead Minustah’s first deadly assault on the armed groups resisting the coup and occupation in Cité Soleil.

    Attacking in the middle of the night with helicopters, tanks and ground troops, the Brazilian-led operation fired tens of thousands of bullets and dropped bombs, killing and wounding many dozens of innocent civilians, including children and infants.

    Later that month, Heleno was cycled out of Minustah and replaced by 57-year-old General Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar. Like Heleno, Bacellar was reluctant to use force in Haiti’s shanty towns. But pressure from Washington for “robust” action continued, and in late December 2005, “Bacellar had tense meetings with UN and coup regime officials and the rightwing business elite,” reported the Haiti Action Committee at the time:

    “They reportedly put ‘intense pressure’ on the general, ‘demanding that he intervene brutally in Cité Soleil,’ according to AHP. This coincided with a pressure campaign by Chamber of Commerce head Reginald Boulos and sweatshop kingpin Andy Apaid, leader of Group 184 [the civic front that took part in the 2004 coup against Aristide]. Last week, Boulos and Apaid made strident calls in the media for a new UN crackdown on Cité Soleil.”

    On 6 January 2006, Minustah’s then civilian chief, Chilean Juan Gabriel Valdès, said that UN troops would “occupy” Cité Soleil, which UN troops already surrounded.

    “We are going to intervene in the coming days,” Valdès said. “I think there’ll be collateral damage but we have to impose our force, there is no other way.”

    But some UN officials said that Bacellar “had opposed Valdès’ plan”, according to Reuters. “The general had insisted that his job was to defend the Haitian constitution, but not to fight crime,” the Independent of 9 January reported.

    Then, on 7 January 2006, General Bacellar was found dead in his suite at Pétionville’s deluxe Montana Hotel, a bullet through his head…

    From Medialens {http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/msg/1295691851.html}

  2. mary said on January 22nd, 2011 at 4:31am #

    CMIU Couldn’t make it up.

    Duvalier calls for reconciliation

    Former Haitian leader Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier tells reporters he returned home to work for national reconciliation and apologises to the victims of his 15-year rule
    {http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12257420}