Haiti-A Call For Global Action
by Randall Robinson
January 07, 2004
Part I - January 1, 1804 – January 1, 2004:
Haiti, Jessica, and WMD
America's foreign policy officials have perpetrated horrific untruths recently. Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction," Jessica Lynch's "battlefield heroism" and "abuse," and Aristide's "failure to deliver" in Haiti are cases in point.
Iraq's oil, the fear of war-triggered terrorism, and Iraq's antiquity have made us more aware, and less susceptible – though not immune – to media manipulation regarding Iraq. Similarly, American soldiers who have served in Iraq have American defenders who will not allow these soldiers' contributions to be overlooked while, for example, Jessica Lynch's truth is trampled and twisted to whip up "patriotism" and animus for "the bad guys."
Who, however, knows or cares anything about Haiti? How many Americans know that – in our names – American policy-makers have used our country's enormous power to block 8 million Haitians' access to approved loans for safe drinking water, literacy programs, and health services? How many know, when we read about "Haiti's steady slide," that powerful American policy-makers are massively responsible? These officials are holding the Haitian people, who desperately want to own their democracy, in a brutal economic death-grip. Is this the face that America intends to continue showing to the black and brown peoples of the world? Ordinary Americans can no longer afford indifference.
Our president says that we are terrorism targets because "they are jealous of us"; because "we love liberty and they do not"; because we represent "truth and justice."
Is it really our compassion and magnanimity that cause the rage in distant hearts to reduce Bali tourist spots to embers, Manhattan towers to dust, and our Nairobi embassy to rubble? If so, the Dali Lama is in great danger.
In these times, Americans must assess what our policies are doing to human beings beyond our shores. And we must realize that the same "information" machine that lied about WMD and Jessica Lynch lies about much more – including Aristide and Haiti.
The United States has had Haitian blood on its hands for a long time. Today, they are dripping.
In 2000, the year of our electoral meltdown, election observers in Haiti recommended that seven senate seats (out of a total of 7,500 positions filled nation-wide) go to a run-off. Haiti's electoral commission disagreed, creating the only international concern about the election. To avoid "the wrath of the mighty," these senators resigned. However, American officials who had vehemently opposed the restoration of Haiti's elected government in 1994, now seized on the run-off controversy to further demonize Aristide, break the Haitian people's spirit, and "prove" the Haitian Revolution a failure.
Powerful Americans are crushing the Haitian people's dream of building their own democracy in their own image, and these officials blocking Haitians' access to safe drinking water tells us all we need to know. They loathe Aristide because he represents the poorer, blacker masses of Haitian society, whereas America's traditional allies have always been Haiti's moneyed, white or mulatto "elite." The parallels between America's policies toward Haiti and our policies towards apartheid South Africa have never been lost on me.
During my colleagues' and my battle to end America's long-standing collusion with South Africa's white supremacist government, highly respected U.S. government officials publicly asserted that Mandela and the African National Congress were terrorist and that the anti-apartheid movement was antithetical to U.S. interests. Aristide's government was restored in 1994 following a coup in which Haiti's US-allied army killed 5,000 civilians. And those American officials who had defended apartheid South Africa lost no time in turning their policy venom full bore on today's descendents of the most spectacular slave revolt in the history of all the Americas – and the man Haitians chose to lead them.
Aristide has not "failed to deliver." Powerful individuals from the most powerful nation on earth have placed a financial embargo on his country and made the strangulation of his government – and therefore his people – a priority. They are determined to render him incapable of delivering so that his people will, in time, tire of the excruciating hardships and tire of him.
At the dawn of this New Year, perhaps we should reflect on what we have done to Aristide, what we have done to the Haitian people, and on Thomas Jefferson's lament: "When I consider that God is just, I shudder for my country." The way we continue to treat weaker peoples and nations around the world will determine, for years to come, whether justice is something Americans have reason to welcome or something we have reason to dread.
Randall Robinson is founder and former president of TransAfrica. He is an author and lives in the Caribbean. This article was published in the Black Commentator and reproduced on this site by consent of the author.