And they all pledged to support Haiti get her
back on her feet. But the Elite, citing Aristide's supposedly
divisive populism and
dictatorial tendencies, convinced anyone who could help to put
their investments somewhere else. The Elite despised “the ghetto
priest” – as poor and black as his parishioners. Aristide nevertheless
went ahead. Haiti wanted doctors; with the help of the Cubans
he established a medical school for the children of the poor.
Haiti wanted teachers; Aristide built more schools in his short
time than had been built in Haiti in 200 years. Yet, to the
foreign NGOs busy building “civil society” the man was a menace.
They could not and would not work with him. They “knew” that
in a fair fight they would not defeat him, so they refused to
contest elections, because they would be stolen.
This time round the ground was better-prepared.
Dozens of convicted rapists, torturers and murderers were let
loose when the Marines took over. The Marines drove out the
students and took the medical school for their barracks; their
accomplices in “civil society” burned the new Museum of Haitian
Folkloric history. They shut down the children's television
station. It was clearly subversive of good government and capitalism.
Press freedom became a memory with journalists
tortured and murdered. Leaders of the Lavalas popular movement
were sometimes murdered, sometime simply imprisoned without
charge. The Prime Minister was jailed, as was the country's
leading folklorist, a 69 year old woman named Anne August who
was arrested at midnight on Mothers Day 2004 by Marines using
stun grenades to shatter her front door. They shot her dog and
carried away her young grandchildren in handcuffs. She is still
Convicted terrorists were freed by a compromised
judicial system and one of the most notorious and dangerous
even ran for the presidency. The work of years in bringing the
torturers and murders to Justice was undone overnight. The US
installed “President” acclaimed the murderers as "Freedom
Fighters". He was in good company; the Canadian representative
of the OAS was on his bandwagon as he hailed the criminal resurgence.
And Condoleezza Rice, with more doctorates than common sense,
was ecstatic about the prospects of an election. After all,
Lavalas had been silenced, the chimeres (Lavalas “terrorists”)
had been murdered, the people were leaderless. When a leader
stepped forward in the person of Father Gerard Jean Juste, a
Roman Catholic priest like Aristide, he too was thrown into
jail, prevented from becoming a candidate for President and
only released two weeks before the election because he had been
examined in prison by the internationally known Professor Paul
Farmer and found to be suffering from leukemia. Not even the
State Department could challenge that diagnosis.
All was set fair for democracy to sprout. In a
country of 8 million people with 4 million voters spread over
28,000 sq. km ( about the size of the US state of Maryland and
nearly three times the size of Jamaica) there were 800 designated
polling stations, about as many as would serve in the
city of Kingston, Jamaica. There were three polling stations
outside of the main slum cities adjacent to Port au Prince –
to serve nearly 300,000 voters. There were none inside.
Condoleezza Rice had a message for the Haitian people.
In an interview last September, before the election was postponed
three times, her "message for the Haitian people is don't
miss this chance to go out and vote and to decide your own future.
There is nothing more important to a human being than to control
his own future and the vote is the way to begin to control your
“Nou lèd, Men Nou La!”
The election was expected to be a shambles
in which anything could happen to frustrate the popular will:
widespread violence, too few polling stations, too many
voters convinced that the rich would get many chances to vote
while they waited, shoeless and voteless, in mile-long lines
under the hot Haitian sun.
Yet, suspecting the worst, the Haitians were disciplined
and resolute. There was one violent incident in the whole
People fainted as they waited for hours to vote,
were revived, waited again and no doubt fainted again. All were
hungry, I am sure. But they were hungrier for their rights than
for food. Despite all the odds, they made the election work.
Despite the intimidation, the confusion, the bad faith and the
UN peacekeeping forces, they made the election work. If ever
there were a people deserving autonomy, it is the Haitians.
They proved it 200 years ago, when the Enlightenment made a
soft landing in Haiti, when in advance of France and the United
States and the world, the Haitians abolished slavery and promulgated
the inalienable Rights of Man.
They proved it again on Tuesday when they cocked
a snook at their “benefactors” “Nou lèd, Men Nou La!” as they
say in Haiti – "We may be ugly, but we are here!” or as
we say in Jamaica "You a-go tired fi see mi face"!!
Preval won even in upscale Petionville.
And of course, we need to remember that despite
this “election”, there is no vacancy in the office of President
of Haiti. The President of Haiti is alive and well. He has been
prevented from discharging his duties by the illegal machinations
of the United States, Canada and France, aided and abetted by
Kofi Annan. Those characters are simply attempting to legitimize
The Haitian people
know this and have used the election to explain to the world,
as best they can under the circumstances, that they want their
democracy and their President back. Of course, the American
viceroy in Haiti, Timothy Carney, doesn't buy that. Carney
said he was not concerned about Préval's former alliance with
Aristide and dismissed speculation that Préval would bring Aristide
back to Haiti.
''Aristide is as much a man of the past as Jean-Claude
'Baby Doc' Duvalier is," Carney said in an interview. ''I
believe the electorate has absolutely understood that."
And of course, Mr. Carney, like Dr. Rice and Mr.
Bush, know what the Haitians want – much better than the Haitians
Colin Powell was fond of speaking about what he
said were "the Pottery Barn rules":
“You break it; you've bought it."
The United States, Canada and France broke Haiti
on behalf of a thoroughly toxic Elite. The French already owed
Haiti $25 billion in blood money extracted by blackmail in the
nineteenth century and the Americans, who financed that extortion
at usurious rates, owe them even more, having destroyed Haitian
governance, killed and exiled their leaders and depraved their
landscape as well as their politics.
Will they do the honorable thing and pay for their
They say revenge is a dish that men of taste prefer
In his position as
Foreign Minister of Canada Mr. Pierre Pettigrew was one of the
leading conspirators and mobilizers against President Aristide
and Haitian democracy. So, it is with some satisfaction that
I record that Mr. Pettigrew, a rising star in the Liberal party,
lost his seat in the Canadian Parliament in the recent elections.
Pettigrew was defending a seat which had been safe for the Liberals
for nearly 80 years – since 1917. He was defeated handsomely
by – WAIT FOR IT… (DRUMROLL
… A Haitian woman.
I am sure that you, too, will feel that somehow,
somewhere, there is, occasionally, some Justice.
John Maxwell of the University of the West
Indies (UWI) is the veteran Jamaican journalist who in 1999
single-handedly thwarted the Jamaican government's efforts to
build houses at Hope, the nation's oldest and best-known botanical
gardens. His campaigning earned him first prize in the 2000
Sandals Resort's annual Environmental Journalism Competition,
the region's richest journalism prize. He is also the author
of How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalists
and Journalists (Jamaica, 2000). Mr. Maxwell can be reached
Copyright ©2006 John Maxwell