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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/17/10

Aristide Haiti Return- Clinton, Bush & Obama of One Mindset

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Multiple media outlets are reporting that Jean Bertrand Aristide, who was ousted in 2004 in what he called a, "modern-day kidnapping in the service of a coup d'etat backed by the United States" is planning to return to Haiti.

"Aristide, who has been living in exile in South Africa with his family, announced his offer to return to Haiti in Johannesburg yesterday, according to international media outlets.

'As far as we are concerned, we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time to join the people of Haiti, to share in their suffering, help rebuild the country, moving from misery to poverty with dignity,' Aristide said."

In light of these reports, I thought I would share my thoughts on an article from the BBC website entitled, "The long history of troubled ties between Haiti and the US" by Vanessa Buschschluter.

At first, the piece lays out a largely truthful history of Haiti/US relations, but later descends into half-truths and outright propaganda. I have composed rebuttals to the ones that I found especially objectionable:

"The ousting of President Aristide by a military regime in 1991 led to a new wave of Haitians headed for the US."

In her account, Buschschluter neglects to mention that in the 1991 regime change in Haiti, the US backed the military intervention--General Raoul Cedras later retired to Panama with a "golden parachute" courtesy of the US. So the "wave" of dispossed Haitians was on account of CIA support of the military junta and by proxy the death squads.

"While he enjoyed the support of the Clinton administration during his first term of office, allegations of corruption and links to the drugs trade during President Aristide's second term made for a rocky relationship with Washington.

After an uprising against President Aristide in 2004, US forces returned to Haiti, this time to airlift him out of the country."

Enjoying himself is not exactly the way most would put it, in light of the conditions that the Clinton administration imposed on Aristide for his return. Especially in light of Washington's insistence that Aristide reconcile, negotiate and empower the elements in Haiti that had ousted him--in other words, his enemies.

On a personal note, I can attest to the fact that Aristide did not have an "enjoyable" time when he was in Washington under the "protection" of the Clinton administration after the first military coup d'etat. I and another family member had lunch with Aristide at his apt/bunker, while attending a protest march by Haitians in DC in the early 90s. If he was enjoying the largess of DC so much, why did his hands start to shake uncontrollably while holding his knife during lunch? And there was no avoiding the guy who peered at us across the hall as we left Aristide's apartment. Arguably, the man was only making us aware of his presence (his headset indicated that he had been listening to our visit from across the hall) because he was charged with protecting Aristide from his invited guests.

The lies about Aristide being involved in the trafficking of drugs aren't anything but a smoke-screen for the inevitable interventions from Washington--too tiresome to defend. The "conventional wisdom" goes like this; Haiti should be controlled because it is a major avenue for drugs. The right-wing echo chamber has already started the drumbeat--see "Things to Remember While Helping Haiti."

I like F iredogLake's take on Jim Roberts' proposals for Haiti:

"An intense earthquake has devastated Haiti, the number of injured and dead, and the damage, far exceed that country's ability to cope. Millions of men women and children are likely lacking adequate food, water and shelter.

Haiti's need for assistance of all kinds is clear.

At such a time when the need to provide assistance should be first and foremost, certain crass and craven individuals have other less honorable things in mind.
It is disgusting to report this , but people who publish such things need to be exposed, so that they may be repudiated in public."

Interestingly, in his opinion piece dated January 13, Jim Roberts suggested that President Obama appoint former Presidents G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to head Haiti relief efforts. The next day, rumors circulated that Obama would be making the formal announcement that Bush Jr. and Bill Clinton would be tapped for the job, prompting David Sirota to Tweet:

"@davidsirota: Following orders from Heritage Foundation, Obama appoints George W. Bush to head Haiti relief. Unreal."

Obama's appointment of George W. Bush to head Haiti Relief is a clear indication that Candidate Obama was just mouthing a platitude when he said that he wanted to move past the "mindset that got us into Iraq." George W. Bush's political legacy is the "Bush Doctrine"-- a doctrine of pre-emptive war and war crimes. In light of Obama's escalation of the "war on terror"; the continuing violations of the Geneva Conventions, in particular, the drone and missile air strikes that amount to "collective punishment" because so many civilians are killed in relation to so-called "terrorist", evidently a corrosive mindset is also part of the "Obama Doctrine."

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Chantal Laurent is a Haitian-American who blogs about Haiti, socio-economic, environmental and political issues at thehaitianblogger
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