Issue 80 - March 4, 2004
Printer Friendly Version
“The deed is done. Haiti has been raped. The act was sanctioned by the United States, Canada and France.” – Editorial, Jamaica Observer
Colin Powell is “the most powerful and damaging black to rise to influence in the world in my lifetime.” – TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson
''All the people that supported [Aristide] will be dead in three months.'' – Haiti government attorney Ira Kurzban
The new order congeals like blood on the streets of Port-au-Prince. Haiti’s dance of death begins anew, a convergence of low-life assassins, high-living compradors, preening French imperialists and global American pirates – an unspeakable bacchanal.
“I am the chief,” declares Guy Philippe, the 36-year-old, Green Beret-trained, three-time coup-meister and sometime police chief. “The country is in my hands.”
Not really. Haiti is in the same American and French hands that snatched President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the Central African Republic – an involuntary destination on its face, where a French-approved military dictator sits in a palace that he seized from an elected President precisely one year ago. Pleased with the finesse of the "perfect coordination" between Paris and Washington, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin no doubt savors the grotesque, near-symmetric poetry of this joint venture in international piracy, in which Aristide is transported from the site of one coup to another.
“The niceties of democracy were thrown out the window, and the matters of principle so vigorously defended by President Chirac and Foreign Minister de Villepin over Iraq were quickly shunted aside,” said the Jamaica Observer in a March 1 editorial. “And new Canadians went with the flow.” The Caribbean Community must understand, “if they thought otherwise,” that “democratically-elected leaders are easily expendable if they, at a particular time, do not fit the profile in favor with those who are strong and powerful.”
In the shadow of death
Mini-megalomaniac Guy Philippe’s assignment is to liquidate Aristide’s grassroots supporters. In that sense, he is “the chief.” Even so, Philippe overreached on Tuesday when his troops were prevented by U.S. Marines from arresting Prime Minister Yvon Neptune. Earlier that day, Associate Editor Kevin Pina and Andrea Nicastro of the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, interviewed Neptune in his office. With Philippe’s troops massed nearby, Pina and Nicastro worked in haste to elicit the following responses from the Prime Minister:
1. "Even though I am the legal Prime Minister I am a prisoner in my office. That's a fact."
2. "The President called me a few hours before he was taken out of the country and told me, 'Where I am now, I am like a prisoner.'
3. "Whoever has allowed those armed bandits in the opposition to get into Haiti and to sow violence and death, they should be in the position to control them." Asked whether he was referring to the Bush administration the Prime Minister answered: "Statements were made asking the Haitian government to meet certain requirements so that the armed gangs would not be allowed to come into the capital. That statement was made. They wanted us to quiet the demonstrators asking for President Aristide to finish his term. They wanted us to force the to stand down and stop demanding new elections. They wanted that vast majority to remain quiet. They wanted us to tell them to sit down quietly and allow the coup machine to crush them."
4. "Some in the international community don't want Haiti to become a democracy where the majority of the poor have a voice."
5. "The coup machine is in motion because the opposition knows they cannot win elections with President Aristide in the country."
6. "The resignation of the president is not constitutional because he did that under duress and threat."
7. "The chief of the Supreme Court [Boniface Alexander] was brought here into my office by representatives of the international community. I was not invited or present when he was sworn in [as President]."
Notes from Haiti's Killing
Philippe’s men chased former Aristide officials to the airport on Wednesday, but were blocked from entering the terminal by U.S. Marines who say their orders now include protecting Haitians from “reprisal” attacks. However, these are the lucky notables with money for a ticket out. The Marines will not protect “Bel Air, Cite Soleil, La Saline and Martissaint.”
The mad dogs unleashed by (the even madder) George Bush and Colin Powell have methodically burned buildings erected to serve the poor. Kevin Pina is a supporter of a school for poor children in Petionville, a relatively rich Port-au-Prince neighborhood – but the poor are everywhere in Haiti. On March 1 Pina wrote:
The SOPUDEP school was organized under Aristide’s National Literacy Project, one of hundreds erected since Aristide’s return from exile in 1994. Like the Haitian folk art gleefully cast into bonfires by Philippe’s men, every vestige of popular initiative and grassroots political expression is marked for destruction. Every man and woman who stands up will be cut down. "Pinochet made Chile what it is,'' Philippe “gushed” when asked his favorite historical figure. “Number 2 on Philippe's list is former US President Ronald Reagan,” the Miami Herald reported.
The executioners plotted for ten years at their U.S.-furnished bases in the Dominican Republic in anticipation of the day when the Haitian nation would be wiped clean of Aristide and his Lavalas movement. History will be rewritten, they vowed; the Gangster-in-Chief will make it so. And he did.
"It's the beginning of a new chapter in” in Haiti’s history, said Bush, as Aristide sat on the plane to Bangui.
French Foreign Minister de Villepin once again exhibited "perfect coordination" with his imperial partner: "Everyone sees quite well that a new page must be opened in Haiti's history."
Powell: Hands-on gangster
African Americans in particular must now face squarely the horrific nature of the current regime in Washington. For reasons of race, proximity, culture and common history, the Haiti atrocity wounds Black America directly. African American leadership has been grievously and cavalierly insulted at every stage of the rolling conspiracy against Haitian democracy.
The administration has given its finger and simultaneously showed its ass to the Black nations of the Caribbean, whom the Bush men hold in no higher regard than bellhops. Colin Powell pretended to embrace a Caricom plan that envisioned President Aristide remaining in power until the end of his constitutional term in 2006; replacement of the prime minister, to be selected by the Haitian government, opposition and the international community; new elections for parliament, whose members’ mandates have expired. Nothing remains of this plan, because it was a monstrous scam from the beginning – Colin Powell’s personal deceit.
Aristide’s response was unequivocal: "I accept the plan, publicly and entirely... In one word, yes." It was the right answer; but Powell wasn’t asking an honest question. He is a professional prevaricator – please, let us no longer call him a diplomat.
Unlike Donald Rumsfeld’s closely held Iraq operation, the rape of Haiti was Powell’s hands-on criminal enterprise. On Monday, February 23, Powell caused his spokesman to assure concerned Black lawmakers and world opinion that the Secretary was standing firm against opposition demands for Aristide’s physical removal; that the U.S. supported the Caricom agreement. "We went back at them,” said Gonzalo Gallegos. Powell “emphasized how good this was. He made clear to them that this was the best thing they had going." What is now perfectly clear is that there was never any U.S. intention for Aristide to remain on Haitian soil. Powell assured the Haitian elite of this fact, and prepped them to reject the Caricom plan, thus presenting the planet with the farce that a gaggle of Third World businessmen were thwarting the will of the United States.
Bush and his confederates lied in the faces of massed Black congressional representatives in the days leading up to Aristide’s departure (see “US House Members to Bush, Powell: Don’t Usurp Aristide’s Power,” February 26), with assurances from the President that, "We still hope to be able to achieve a political settlement between the current government and the rebels." We now know that the Bush men and France were even then seeking "perfect coordination" in removing Aristide. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice sat like bookmarks at Bush’s side as he lied to nineteen Black members of Congress.
Are these two conspirators fit to speak at any Black gathering, ever again in life? Who in the Black community will debase their organizations with the presence of such “role models?” An invitation to Powell or Rice should be viewed as proof of a moral deficit on the part of the inviter.
‘Nonsense’ and ‘conspiracy theories’
The multi-racial Bush lie-machine and its agents in mass media had only just begun to heap vicious calumnies on Black leadership. The world’s most famous liars – the fantasists of phantom Weapons of Mass Destruction – would call into question the veracity of Black America’s most outspoken and respected voices. Dutifully, the corporate media took their cues from the liars and embellished on these signals, in a brazen effort to make it appear that African Americans had gone crazy.
On the Monday morning following Aristide’s purported voluntary exile, Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters called Democracy Now! to report that the Haitian leader had not resigned, but had been kidnapped. “He is in the Central Republic of Africa at a place called the Palace of the Renaissance, and he’s not sure if that’s a house or a hotel or what it is and he is surrounded by military,” Waters told host Amy Goodman.
TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, now living in the Caribbean British Commonwealth nation of St. Kitts, is a familiar voice to the Aristide household. Robinson spoke with the Aristides as often as ten times a day as the U.S.-backed bands tightened their noose on the capital. However, Robinson was unable to reach the President or his wife, Mildred, on Saturday evening and night. Something was amiss, he thought. Then Robinson got the call from Bangui. “He did not resign. He did not resign,” Robinson told Amy Goodman, confirming Rep. Water’s earlier account.
Robinson reported that he had worked the phones to find out the State Department’s story and been told that South Africa had refused Aristide asylum. Robinson spoke with South Africa’s foreign minister, who said that Aristide had not asked for asylum. (Of course he hadn’t – he had not planned to be leaving the country!)
Colin Powell’s Big Lie was unraveling – and now it emerged that the Secretary of State had taken upon himself the role of Godfather. Ron Dellums, the distinguished former Congressman from the San Francisco Bay area who worked as a lobbyist for Aristide’s government, got a call from the Head-Negro-In-Charge on Saturday, warning in no uncertain terms that gunmen were coming to kill Aristide on Sunday morning. The U.S., said Powell, would not lift a finger to stop them. When the Americans come to call, Aristide must leave with them.
It is a mind-boggling measure of the Bush Pirates’ ferocious lawlessness that Powell would personally initiate the overt, criminally culpable act in the kidnapping of a head of state. This aspect of the crime alone should send him to The Hague.
The news had a disorienting effect on corporate newsrooms. How could they bury such accusations, now circling the globe via the Internet? Just as Maxine Waters was telling CNN of another call from the Central African Republic, this time from the Haitian First Lady, Donald Rumsfeld stepped to the microphone at the Pentagon. The Defense Secretary feigned surprise, actually chuckling at the very idea of a presidential kidnapping. "I don't believe that's true that he is claiming that. I just don't know that that's the case. I'd be absolutely amazed if that were the case."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan derided Waters and Robinson: "That's nonsense. Conspiracy theories do nothing to help the Haitian people move forward to a better, more free and more prosperous future."
That’s all the corporate newsreaders and wisecrackers needed to hear. A CNN anchor speculated that Aristide was “fabricating revisionist history on the fly,” with the transparent inference that Rep. Waters was a dupe or liar, herself. “Do you think we would make that up?” the Congresswoman asked, shocked and offended.
The same trained corporate seal then presented clumsily leading questions to one of the usual “security experts” that bounce around branded newsrooms spouting nonsense all day. Waters’ tale of diplomats accompanying U.S. troops to take Aristide away was – ludicrous on its face. “You wouldn’t have diplomats side by side with the military, right?” said the faux newsperson. It couldn’t have happened that way, the “expert” assured her.
Once the White House and Rumsfeld had spoken, the conversations with Aristide became “alleged phone calls,” and remained so until Aristide confirmed the events in his own voice. Aristide had asked Waters and Robinson to “tell the world it was a coup!” Corporate media tried their best to discredit the messengers and the victim.
Agents of corporate consensus
The Bush men’s incessant rampages against reality are bringing their corporate media partners into disrepute right along with them. As we wrote in ’s January 29 Cover Story, “The Awesome Destructive Power of the Corporate Media”:
In the case of Aristide’s kidnapping – and that is the objective name of the crime, since he left in the coercive custody of the U.S. under threat of death from none other than the Secretary of State – the media collaborated with the perpetrators to justify the “disappearing” of a head of state. What shall we call such media? “Lackey” and “stooge” don’t work. The terms connote subservient status, and a kind of haplessness. But there is nothing hapless or subservient about Big Media, who are, through their interlocking ownerships and financial and directorship ties “full members of the presiding corporate pantheon.”
“Agents” is the most accurate term we can think of, although we invite other suggestions. The corporate media act as agents for the corporate consensus on the way the world should work. Far from being “stooges” or “lackeys,” corporate media frame reality in ways that leave the people few options but to accept the corporate consensus. Like an army, they dominate and overwhelm the national conversation. In addition, as a social force – possibly the most important social force in the American cultural “bubble” – corporate media are profoundly racist, upholding collective white privilege as well as corporate dominance.
It is useful to compare Big Media’s framing of contemporary Haitian realities with their journalistic forbearer’s treatment of a previous U.S. occupation, 1915– 1934. In “The Tragedy of Haiti” chapter of Noam Chomsky’s 1993 book, The Year 501, the scholar draws upon the work of renowned historian John Blassingame, editor of the Papers of Frederick Douglass.
It is estimated that 15,000 Haitians were slaughtered during the 19-year occupation. The New York Times and its fellows blamed the carnage on the innate barbarity of the Haitians. Today, the corporate media blather about “cycles of violence” in Haiti – as if the victims were both cause and effect of the phenomenon. Not a single member of the corporate media questions the “unselfish purposes of our own government,” which could not possibly be guilty of crimes against humanity and world order.
The corporate media employ a very simple yet devastatingly effective trick when “fabricating” their own “revisionist history on the fly” – they “forget” every previously reported fact and occurrence that does not jibe with the official line. Thus, most of what we know about disbanded Haitian army and secret police activities in the Dominican Republic during the post-1994 decade is derived from the corporate media, themselves – yet these same outlets uniformly excised these facts from the record once the contra invasion began in early February.
For nearly a year there had been a steady stream of U.S. press reports of frenetic activity among exiled Haitian killers in the Dominican Republic. These reports appeared in the most influential American newspapers. For example, on May 15, 2003, soon after began its collaboration with Haiti-based reporter Kevin Pina, an AP story served as the bases for the following item in our Issues section titled, “US Plots Regime Change in Haiti.”
The pace of the Haitian contra buildup escalated as the year progressed, as did the very public meetings between the International Republican Institute, Bush administration officials and Haitian ex-military in the Dominican Republic. “Chief” Guy Philippe and his cohorts’ invasion preparations were common knowledge, and certainly well-known to the American press on both sides of the island of Hispaniola.
When armed attacks began against police stations in the north of Haiti, the U.S. press noted that the fighters were a mix of gang members and former soldiers that had relocated to the Dominican Republic after President Aristide returned in 1994. On February 15, newspapers across the U.S. carried Associated Press reports that “reinforcements” had arrived to bolster the “rebels” in Gonaives. In fact, the new guys included elements of the exile army’s high command:
The “former police chief” is Guy Philippe.
So the origins of the “rebel” army were no secret to the corporate media. Yet on Sunday, as Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s flying prison made its way across the Atlantic Ocean, the major media all ran political obituaries, “fact” pages and timelines that made no mention whatever of the Dominican roots of the month-long fighting. It was as if the “insurgency” sprang from the soil, or was a natural expression of the fratricidal proclivities of the Haitian people.
The purpose of the sudden, universal corporate media amnesia is simple: to exclude from public debate facts that would implicate the United States and its Dominican allies in the overthrow of Aristide. Reality was “disappeared.” The Americans were once again on a reluctant “rescue mission.” There was to be no questioning of the “unselfish purposes of our own government.”
The corporate media will doubtless “forget” that they acted as agents for a discredited CIA disinformation campaign against Aristide during the deposed President’s U.S. exile, 1991 – 94. Leila McDowell-Head’s Washington, D.C. public relations firm represented Aristide during that period. “They clearly launched a campaign to paint him as psychologically unbalanced,” she told . “An investigation showed the charges were specious and baseless, but not before the corporate media had a field day with it. But I think we’ll see a reprise of this disinformation campaign.”
It’s already begun. The toad-like Deputy Secretary of State, Roger Noriega, this week appeared on Ted Koppel’s ABC Nightline to slander Aristide as an “erratic and unreliable” personality who made up the kidnapping story. “He’s demonstrated within the last few hours that he’s not a responsible person,” said Jesse Helms’ former chief of staff. Having somehow failed to kill Aristide, they will assassinate his sanity.
Noreiga and Condoleezza Rice have been saying the same things for years about Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, another president whose constituency is based among the poor. Anti-government demonstrators have begun carrying signs reading, “Bye bye Aristide, Chavez you're next.” Unlike the former priest, Chavez answers his critics in kind. Commenting on the advisors that urged Bush to instigate the 2002 coup attempt against his government, Chavez told a roaring crowd: “He was an asshole to believe them.”