Friday, February 27, 2004
ON HAITI, ARISTIDE, AND ELECTIONS

The best coverage on Haiti over the last 48 hours has far and away been on Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now and Davey D and Weyland Southon's Hard Knock Radio.

I don't share the same love for Aristide that the good folks at Democracy Now and Hard Knock do. This is not the same leftist hero swept into office by the people in 1990 and was toppled by a rightist military coup. There are many Haitian pro-democracy activists not repped on either show who have become disillusioned with Aristide over his suppression of free speech and his lack of commitment to improving human rights.

Aristide has continuously squelched student protest and his Lavalas thugs are believed responsible for the death of pioneering journalist Jean Dominique. These are facts that don't fit a conception of Aristide as a Haitian black Moses, an image that most Haitians long ago rejected.

But progressives are absolutely correct to point out what we all conveniently forget: the U.S.'s active neo-colonial role in fostering destabilization in Haiti.

Haiti would not be now standing on the verge of another military coup without a devastating 11-year embargo and an explicit position on Haiti that it's OK to overturn democratic elections (even contested ones) if the winner is not a rightist. Anyone remember Florida?

Bottom line is that Aristide needs to go, not by violent coup, but by democratic elections.

If the U.S. was serious about maintaining democracy in Haiti--which it manifestly is not--it would not be starving one of the poorest countries in the world while tsk-tsking it on human rights and slamming the doors to the country's refugees. It would not be arming the paramilitary opposition, it would be encouraging the development of peaceful, democratic opposition.

As long as the U.S. maintains a hypocritical stance towards Haiti, the first black independent republic in our hemisphere, we will continue to see starvation, poverty, and unrest there.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:55 AM   0 comments links to this post

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