As if to erase January’s bicentennial celebrations from Haitian and world memory, the fat man from Boca Raton superimposed himself on history. “From today on we will be celebrating our 200th anniversary of independence,” said Gerard Latortue, until only a few weeks ago a talk show host in Florida, before that, an international business consultant, now the U.S.-picked Prime Minister of Haiti. “I ask you for a moment of silence for all the people who fell fighting against the dictatorship, and especially for Amiot Metayer,” said Latortue, referring to the slain commander of the drug-dealing Cannibal Army. "(In the United States) they thought the people in Gonaives were thugs and bandits,” said the puppet, pretending to be a Haitian Ronald Reagan. “But they are freedom fighters."
Amiot’s brother, Butteur, wore a suit to signify his newfound respectability and to dispel the memory of his followers’ mutilations of policemen’s bodies after the seizure of Gonaives in early February. Lending further dignity to the occasion was Jean Tatun, the mass murderer who escaped from a life term in prison to join his fellow U.S.-financed “rebels” at their Dominican Republic bases, last August. Guy Philippe, the Green Beret-trained, former police chief who fled to the Dominican Republic in 2000 to avoid drug and coup charges, met the visiting dignitaries at the helicopter landing zone. Philippe is a hit with the New York Times, which called him “personable” and “media-smart,” and reported that the “rebel leader” promised to “put his forces under the prime minister's orders.”
Tatun, Mateyar and Philippe rubbed elbows with Bernard Gousse, Latortue’s new Justice Minister. Literally surrounded by criminals, Gousse is nevertheless intent on building a criminal case against Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Defense Minister and retired General Herard Abraham represented the rapidly reconstituting Haitian Army, whose sole purpose in modern times has been to repress the Haitian people. After a meeting with Abraham last week, Guy Philippe “boasted that Abraham had made no mention of the need for the rebels to disarm, let alone quizzed him about the modalities of any rebel disarmament.”
Diplomat David Lee hobnobbed with the criminals on behalf of the Organization of American States. Lee attempted to justify his presence, saying, “We're trying to encourage reconciliation” – but succeeded only in further confirming that the OAS is an instrument of U.S. policy. The actual meaning of reconciliation is that French troops, who are nominally responsible for northern Haiti, follow a laissez faire policy regarding the gunmen of Guy Philippe, Butteur Metayer, Jean Tatun and their ilk.
The Gonaives ceremony signals that the gangsters are the “good guys,” not to be interfered with. That puts them off-limits to the 450-man Canadian contingent. “Any weapons that could potentially pose a threat to the multinational force will be confiscated,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Davis. “We will disarm the bad guys, but those people entitled to have weapons for any number of reasons yet to be defined will have an opportunity to carry them.”
The American commander on the ground has no intention of disarming Latortue’s “freedom fighters.”
General Coleman’s helicopters provided limo service for the Gonaives ghoul-fest – a macabre exercise in nation-building that could only have been hatched by minds utterly consumed by racism. This is what Black government looks like to George Bush.
The gangster life
The rogues gallery summit in Gonaives horrified even some members of the anti-Aristide Haitian elite. "We strongly condemn this unholy alliance which the interim government has struck with the Gonaives rebels,” said the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), which is closely tied to anti-Aristide politicians and their American allies (see BC, December 4, 2003). “We note that such unholy alliances, in place since 1994 when President Aristide returned from exile, have weakened rather than strengthened law enforcement and governmental authority..." Latortue is "fanning the flames of lawlessness," said the New York-based group.
The NCHR told The Guardian that “five police officers have been detained on suspicion of killing five young men believed to be supporters of Aristide's Lavalas Family party” in Port-au-Prince.
Vast stretches of the country are either wholly without law, or worse, under the control of the most dangerous elements of society. Fort Liberte, in the north, “is in the hands of escaped convicts,” according to United Nations spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs. "The town is virtually deserted. There is no market. Many houses have been burned. Prisoners control most parts of the city," said Byrs.
Convict-rule may be preferable to the tender mercies of Latortue’s friends. “In the seaside town of Les Cayes, armed rebels who helped oust Haiti's first democratically elected leader carry out public executions, unchallenged by police or foreign troops,” said news reports.
Throughout Haiti, mere suspicion of Aristide association may mark citizens for death – “reconciliation,” gangster style. The Associated Press reports that Senator Yvon Feuille has “charged Lavalas members were being hounded across the country and even being killed.”
The repression is general in scope, yet sometimes maddening in its pettiness, as in the case of the 12-year-old Cap Haitian girl targeted for political retaliation because a death squad found a photograph of her giving flowers to President Aristide (see San Francisco Bay View, March 17). Death brings a shallow grave in places like the field of bones near Titanyen on the coast road north of the capital. There, a Miami Herald reporter found scattered on the ground “two skulls, three pelvic bones, dozens of femurs and tibias, fragments of a jaw with good teeth. Hundreds in all” – the overflow from Port-au-Prince’s morgues. No one knows who they are, or how they died.
Haiti Information Project
Journalists associated with the deposed Aristide government or the mass organizations of Lavalas enjoy none of the immunities accorded the corporate media in Haiti. They are fair game for the death squads – who since last Saturday are acknowledged partners in the U.S.-installed government. There is, literally, no safe place for real journalism in Haiti, thanks to the Bush regime.
But “Truth, crushed to earth shall rise, again.” The Haitian Information Project (HIP), begun in the months before the coup in cooperation with the Marin Interfaith Taskforce, in northern California, has fielded teams of young journalists from the ranks of the oppressed. (BC renders every assistance possible to HIP.) The Project’s reporters must operate in what one of them calls “a witch-hunt environment, where the term ‘chimere’ is used as a code word to justify slaughter.”
The Haiti Information Project filed this report to BC from somewhere in Port-au-Prince:
The Haiti Information Project correspondent pointed to the harsh police measures against the last large Lavalas demonstration, March 11, as proof that “this ‘Boca Raton government’ is very afraid because they have no base of support. The last thing they want is Lavalas supporters throwing up five fingers in front of the Marines. [The gesture signifies the five full years of Aristide’s elected term in office.] The last thing they want is for the movement of the poor to reassert itself. If they had elections today, Aristide would win.”
Retaliation by rape
The last time Aristide was overthrown, in 1991, an estimated 5,000 of his supporters were murdered and an untold number of women subjected to “political rape.” Many women fear the curtain is descending again, reports DeNeen L. Brown of the Washington Post:
The cell connection
One thing is clear: during this period of repression, Haitians will not be so isolated as a decade ago. The cell phone is their link to the outside world, and to news organizations like Pacifica Radio KPFA-FM’s Flashpoints. Program executive producer Dennis Bernstein spoke with Andralese Lafortune, a 49-year-old high school teacher from Gonaives who is in hiding.
Digital technology means the killers cannot operate in total darkness, even under the cloak of the superpower. Haiti activists in the U.S. have been able to respond to the crisis in “real time,” eroding the corporate media’s information monopoly and thus undercutting their ability to act as a megaphone for the Bush men.
However, fascist-minded Haitian Americans are cyber-wise, too. Emboldened by the gangster’s return to power, U.S.-based thugsters have issued threats to Aristide supporters on American soil. According to Marguerite Laurent, Chairperson of Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, pro-gangster e-mailers are circulating detailed information on potential targets.
Well said, since the “Boca Raton government” is a wholly Bush-owned property.
Solid African American support
The Bush-Powell-Rice deceit and assault on Haiti was received as a slap in the face of Black America. Seldom in modern history has a foreign policy issue so galvanized African American opinion, from the grassroots to Capitol Hill. Although corporate media attempts to declare the Haiti issue settled, the American Urban Radio Networks has joined with Black World Today On-Line Newspapers and other Black media to publicize a 30-day “Lend a Helping Hand to Haiti” campaign.
The campaign’s reach is deep and wide. “We come seeking ways to restore stability and wholesomeness to the people affected by the political unrest,” said Rev. Justus Reeves, Minister of Missions for the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC). “Our dedication is to serve as a bridge of hope to those whose lives have been destroyed.”
Kerry: Another ugly American
Florida Governor Jeb Bush this week gave backhanded credit to the Congressional Black Caucus for standing up to brother George’s Haiti atrocity. In the process, the Governor displayed naked contempt for democracy in Black hands.
George Bush didn’t invent U.S. aggression against Haiti; that’s been U.S. policy toward the Black republic since 1804. As we wrote in our March 11 Cover Story, “American foreign policy structures are designed to undermine popular movements and governments at every point of contact… These U.S. foreign policy ‘structures of subversion’ are institutionally connected to the Democratic Party and organized labor, and must be dismantled, root and branch.”
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a principal American tool of subversion, the “Trojan Horse” that guided and financed the coup-makers in Haiti and the 2002 attempted overthrow of Hugo Chavez’s popularly elected government in Venezuela. Unless the Democratic Party and organized labor sever their ties to the NED – and thereby delegitimize it – U.S. subversion will continue under the guise of “spreading democratic values.”
John Kerry this week signaled that he’s a coup-maker, too. His bald bid for the Cuban Florida vote – while simultaneously chastising Bush for the Haiti coup and the attempted coup against Chavez! – puts Kerry in a doublespeak class of his own. We submit the full text of Kerry’s statement as a sordid example of unprincipled – and incompetently executed – deception:
Here’s the switch-up, the point at which Kerry tries to scramble back to the sane side of the table.
Thus, Kerry methodically lays out the rationale for a U.S. overthrow of Chavez, then blames Bush for actually trying to do it. This man is dangerous. If elected, he will fight tooth and nail to preserve the NED and the entire apparatus of U.S. subversion around the globe. He is no friend to the people of Haiti, Venezuela, or anywhere else in the developing world.
Hugo Chavez has offered President Aristide an unqualified welcome, once his sojourn in Jamaica is over. As BC went to press, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) was under unimaginable pressures from the United States to give the “Boca Raton government” of Gerard Latortue an audience at Caricom’s Intercessional Meeting in St. Kitts – despite the puppet’s previous, pretentious threat to sever Caricom ties over Aristide’s visit to Jamaica.
The Bush men pressured Nigeria to offer asylum to Aristide, not only because it is an ocean away but also, no doubt, because Nigeria is home to Liberia’s Charles Taylor and other fallen “despots” – great propaganda value for Administration spin-makers.
In an interview with Democracy Now! on Tuesday, TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, a close confidant of Aristide and resident of St. Kitts, ventured that Bush’s campaign to drive Aristide out of the Western Hemisphere “will collapse of its own weight, and it should, upon the idiots in the State Department and the White House who tried to implement such a fool hearty, callous plan.” Robinson praised Jamaican Prime Minister and current Caricom leader P.J. Patterson for distinguishing “himself in making a place for President Aristide in Jamaica, and he has met for that with threats by this administration directly from the White House.”
For all their bombast, said Robinson, it is fear that motivates Gerard Latortue – the “new president from Boca Raton…something of a buffoon” – and the thugs in Washington and Haiti who support him:
* BC encourages donations to the Haiti Information Project, whose reporters risk their lives daily to tell the truth about life in Haiti under the rule of criminals and foreigners.
To fund this project make checks payable to: MITF/Haiti Info.
Glen Ford and Peter Gamble are the editors of The Black Commentator, where this article first appeared.
Other Articles by Glen Ford and Peter Gamble