AFRICANGLOBE – Tomorrow, January 12, 2015, Haiti will commemorate the 5th anniversary of the devastating earthquake. The country is still under occupation.
This month marks the 10th anniversary of Haiti’s military occupation by the UN’s MINUSTAH. This article was first published December 27, 2012.
A former French colony called Saint-Domingue in the Western side of the Spanish Island of Hispaniola erupted into a Slave revolt against France. The revolt cost the lives of over 100,000 Blacks and over 20,000 whites not including innocent civilians caught in the crosshairs of the revolution. The new Haitian Republic was born and won its independence from France in 1804. It became a free Republic that abolished slavery and became a center of inspiration for many enslaved Africans across the world.
But since the Haitian Revolution and it’s resistance to slavery, Western nations has managed to keep Haiti enslaved. From Internal conflicts that divided Haiti to successive dictatorships and a constant fear against a French invasion in the decades that followed, Haiti has always experienced a struggle for freedom. When President Theodore Roosevelt introduced “The Roosevelt Corollary” in a 1904 address to the US congress in relation to the Monroe Doctrine, he mentioned the fact that the US will intervene on the side of Europe who was in constant war against their former colonial possessions in Latin America if any new conflict were to arise from that point on. In 1915, the US Marines lead by Major General Smedley Butler, occupied Haiti under the orders of US President Woodrow Wilson to protect US Corporations and to prevent a people’s revolution. The occupation lasted until 1934. Then after the US occupation ended, Haitians chose a national assembly and elected Sténio Joseph Vincent as President of Haiti with US approval turned out to be an Authoritarian President.
And of course, the United States was its’ number one trading partner. Then followed President Élie Lescot who was ousted in a 1950 Coup by Army General Paul Eugene Magloire, another US approved presidency since he was anti-Communist. In 1957 Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier became President-For-Life, of course with US approval until 1971. Then his son Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier became his successor until a popular revolt of the Haitian people in 1986 removed him from power. Under the Duvalier Dynasty, over 60,000 Haitians were killed and tortured by the Tonton Macoutes, a death squad created by “Papa Doc” who routinely used machetes and guns to murder his political opponents and anyone who spoke negatively against his regime. Many people were burned alive and hung in public.
Top Members of the Tonton Macoutes were leaders of Voodoo which did earn them unlimited authority and the respect of the Haitian people. After Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was removed from power, the Tonton Macoutes were still active in other death squads for years to come, many eventually ended up in the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haïti (FRAPH), A creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Haiti’s relationship with the United States, France and Canada in the past decades is a contributing factor to the Haitian government’s failed political and economic policies that has had a negative impact on its people.
Then Jean-Bertrand Aristide came on the national stage. An educated former priest who was born into poverty, managed to inspire the people to participate in building a new democracy in Haiti. Aristide’s influence among the Haitian people concerned Western nations especially the United States. It was also a concern for the Haitian elites. As a Priest, Aristide began to recruit youths to attend church, so he organized weekly youth masses. He founded an orphanage for urban street children in 1986 called “Lafanmi Selavi” or “Family is Life”, a program that was a model of participatory democracy for children who participated. Aristide became a leading voice for Haiti’s poor majority, but he became a target for assassination as they attempted to murder him on numerous occasions. Aristide announced his candidacy for the presidency in 1990 and in a six-week campaign with his supporters formed a political party called the “Front National pour le Changement et la Démocratie” or the “National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD). Aristide was successful and was elected President with 67% of the Haitian vote defeating US-approved candidate Marc Bazin, a former World Bank official. Haiti’s first Democratic president was elected by the people. Democracy was finally becoming a reality, but the United States and its’ Western Allies were not keen on the new President’s policies concerning his politics of change, economics or his war on drugs. His ideas for Democratic change enabled him to become a leading figure among the Haitian people. This was clearly not in Washington’s best interest.
On September 29th, 1991 a Coup d’état took place under then US President George H.W. Bush that toppled Aristide by Army General Raoul Cédras, Army Chief of Staff Phillipe Biamby and Chief of the National Police Michel François with support from the CIA. He was replaced by Superior Court Justice Joseph Nérette for a short period of time until a new president took place with US approval. The coup was condemned by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the Organization of American States (OAS) in October of that same year. The new Haitian regime that replaced Aristide was only recognized by the Vatican City where the head of the Roman Catholic Church “the Pope” exercises legislative, executive, and judicial powers. Vatican City believed that Aristide’s “incitement to hatred and violence” was not in line with the principles with the Catholic Church. Talk about “truth is stranger than fiction”. The irony is that Aristide was a former Catholic priest who was appointed to St. Jean Bosco church to help the poor. It was located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince. However, with Vatican City condemning Aristide’s actions gave Washington ‘Carte Blanche’ to proceed with the Coup d’état since the church Aristide was associated with condemned him.
But what was the main reason behind the Coup against Aristide a short time after he assumed the presidency? It was evident that his strong opposition to drug smuggling on Haiti’s territory was the main reason why he was forced out of public office. General Raoul Cédras and Police Chief Michel François, a graduate of U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (SOA) now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) were accused of drug smuggling under CIA supervision.
As reported by Dennis Bernstein of the Pacific News Service October 20th, 1993 that American Representative and Democrat John Conyers of Michigan was quoted as saying “I’ve been amazed that our government has never talked about the drug trafficking…even though it is obviously one of the major reasons why these people drove their president out of the country and why they are determined not to let him back in. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal profits that are having disastrous consequences for the American people”. Aristide’s anti-drug crusade put him at odds with the Washington, the Haitian Military, and the political and business elites who opposed his policies. In an interview conducted by WBAI, 99.5 FM Radio News Program in New York City with Patrick Elie, former head of Haiti’s Anti-Narcotics Unit discussed who was behind the September 30, 1991 coup d’état against Aristide:
“You had the usual suspects – mainly the US administration through the CIA and of course part of the Haitian monied elite, which financed the coup and helped the military and the death-squads survive some of the sanctions that were applied by the OAS. The reason why I can affirm that the CIA was actually involved in the preparation of the coup is that, first of all, no coup ever takes place in Haiti without the blessing of the US – either the DIA or the CIA – but also at the time because of my position as the head of the Anti-Narcotics program. I had contact with the CIA station chief in Haiti and the questions he was posing to me regarding the security of the new government were the exact issues that were raised the very same day of the coup by the military that pulled that coup.”[/sociallocker]