A February 5, 2004 New York Times editorial declared Jean-Bertrand Aristide's second presidency "is declining into despotism." Reporting from the land of Supreme Court-decided elections, the Times (fresh off suggesting Sharpton and Kucinich go away quietly) laughingly offered this solution to the people of Haiti: "make sure that the next presidential election, due late next year, is fair and on time."
At the core of this helpful advice are "student" protests. Much like US-backed Venezuelan opposition commandeering the label of "unions," those seeking to oust Aristede are cleverly calling themselves "students." Haitian opposition, says Richard Dufour of the World Socialist Website, "comprises most of the business establishment, remnants of the political machine of the Duvalier dictatorship, and disgruntled Aristide supporters." Misinformation reigns.
"The Haitian press, most notably Radio Metropole, Radio Vision 2000, Radio Kiskeya, Radio Caraibe and Tele-Haiti, have shown themselves to be wanton whores in the campaign to sow confusion and panic among the people," says Kevin Pina, associate editor of Black Commentator. "The Washington-forged opposition grows lighter in color and more brazen with each passing day, while former Haitian military leaders prance hand in hand with Haiti's traditional economic elite, intellectuals and artists. The poor black majority, who cannot read or write and continue to support the constitutional government of President Aristide, has been deliberately made indescribably poorer in an effort to force them to turn against their own interests."
(Here in America, we can read and write but still put up little resistance against tactics designed to turn us against our own interests.)
Black Commentator (http:///www.blackcommentator.com), along with Haiti Progres (http://www.haitiprogres.com), have effectively documented the ties between the US and the so-called student protests...and I recommend you take a look for yourself. This is not to say Aristide is beyond criticism or even innocent of all charges. At the very, very least, he's chosen the path of Mandela or Lula: talk about justice but accept IMF "reforms" rather than be smashed.
"It is no secret that the Bush administration and the Republican right are hostile toward Aristide, a former priest who came to political prominence in the 1980s as an exponent of liberation theology and as a critic of US imperialism," says Dufour. "The administration of George Bush Sr. all but publicly supported the 1991 military coup that deposed Aristide just eight months after he first won election, and much of the Republican Party openly opposed the US military intervention that resulted in Aristide being returned to power in 1994."
In a statement last month Colin Powell said he was "very concerned by the situation in Haiti."
As for the Times, well, the newspaper of record explains that Washington "seems to feel a kind of 'Haiti fatigue,' but still must look for ways to "energize" diplomatic efforts.
I guess such fatigue is understandable when one considers the relentless US effort that's been put into controlling Haiti for the past two centuries. For example, when the US invaded Haiti in 1915, one reporter described seeing Marines opening fire "with machine guns from airplanes on defenseless Haitian villages, killing men, women, and children in the open market places for sport." That's tiring work.
The Times editorial ends, however, on an ominous-almost Bushingly preemptive-note: "A decade ago, after Mr. Aristide's first term had been cut short by a military coup, American troops helped restore him to power for the sake of Haitian democracy. Preserving what remains of that democracy now depends on ensuring a free presidential election in 2005."
This calls to mind another New York Times editorial on Haiti. This one, on July 28, 1915, justified the mission described above: "It was almost hopeless to expect an orderly government to be established without [US military intervention] on the part of the United States." Marine Captain John Houston Craige served as chief of police in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince in the early 20th century. "I believe that the white man of Europe is the most able and progressive of earth's types," Craige explained, "and that the men of the United States are the most able group of the European stock. I believe that the yellow man and the red man are less able, and the black man least of all." I guess if the Haitians were simply more able, those Marines never would've had to kill so many of them in 1915...and today's military planners and media propagandists would never have to fatigue themselves by staging "student" protests and calling for the end of Aristide (through "fair and on time" elections, of course).
Mickey Z. is the author of two new books: "A Gigantic Mistake: Articles and Essays for Your Intellectual Self-Defense" (Prime Books) and "Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda" (Common Courage Press). He can be reached at email@example.com.