Monday, January 30, 2006

Haiti: Democracy Undone

A documentary on the U.S. Haiti Coup may be shown on tv tonight.

When I saw that the NYT was running a piece on our overthrow of the Haiti government, I thought, "Why bother?" - but lots of people on the net have been jonesing to get more details - to get video coverage. The NYT article is entitled "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos" - I guess that's the polite way to say "U.S. Overthrew Democratically-Elected Government of Haiti - Now What The Fuck Did We Have To Go And Do That Shit For?". Because I didn't initially read the article, I didn't see that they mentioned the fact that their investigation led to the production of a documentary.

There are quite a few interesting tidbits of info in the article - most of which point to the fact the U.S. did, in fact, knowingly overthrow the government of Haiti. That's pretty consistent with U.S. foreign policy for the last fifty years or so.

I love the tone of the article, though - 'but, but...Mr. Bush said democracy, not banana republic?" The feigned confusion of the NYT staff is all too typical of their coverage of U.S. invasions of the past few decades. Just playing dumb. And when they're finally forced to to tell the truth, they just use some racist bullshit - like, 'the blacks couldn't handle running things' - or throw out some anti-commy fear-mongering - like, 'first Haiti falls to the Commies, then Texas! We have to stop them now!!!'

The documentary was supposed to show in Canada last night (Sunday, the 29th), I believe. First time to show here in the U.S. is supposed to be tonight, but I heard Bush already had it canceled. We'll see. I can't imagine he'll want anything else detracting from his speechifying.

Check the wiki to learn more about the coup, involvement by the IRI and that lovely, potent destroyer of democracies, the USAID (which has recently been trying to make its presence felt in other parts of the world, too).

UPDATE: My layman's overview of the NYT's article on the U.S.-Haiti Coup (also linked above):

First, why did Aristide have to go? (Hint: he wanted to help poor people)

Seven months later, an accused death squad leader helped armed rebels topple the president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Haiti, never a model of stability, soon dissolved into a state so lawless it stunned even those who had pushed for the removal of Mr. Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest who rose to power as the champion and hero of Haiti's poor.

Current state of affairs? (Hint: fucked up)

Today, the capital, Port-au-Prince, is virtually paralyzed by kidnappings, spreading panic among rich and poor alike. Corrupt police officers in uniform have assassinated people on the streets in the light of day. The chaos is so extreme and the interim government so dysfunctional that voting to elect a new one has already been delayed four times. The latest date is Feb. 7.

Which U.S. organization is actually responsible for doing the overthrowing? (Hint: a very evil one)

The International Republican Institute is one of several prominent nonprofit groups that receive federal funds to help countries develop the mechanisms of democracy, like campaigning and election monitoring. Of all the groups, though, the I.R.I. is closest to the administration. President Bush picked its president, Lorne W. Craner, to run his administration's democracy-building efforts. The institute, which works in more than 60 countries, has seen its federal financing nearly triple in three years, from $26 million in 2003 to $75 million in 2005. Last spring, at an I.R.I. fund-raiser, Mr. Bush called democracy-building "a growth industry."

Where did these Bush anti-democracy kooks get their money and what did they do with it? (Hints: where most government money comes from; lots of bad stuff)

With Washington's approval, Mr. Lucas used taxpayer money to fly hundreds of opposition members — but no one from Mr. Aristide's Lavalas party — to a hotel in the Dominican Republic for political training that began in late 2002. Two leaders of the armed rebellion told The Times that they were in the same hotel during some of those meetings, but did not attend.

So, what's so bad about Aristide being concerned for the poor? Is that bad? (hint: more for the poor means less for the rich; yes - very - nothing worse - that is the only thing that matters)

"He was espousing change in Haiti, fundamental populist change," said Robert Maguire, a Haiti scholar who has criticized American policy as insufficiently concerned with Haiti's poor. "Right away, he was viewed as a threat by very powerful forces in Haiti."

President Aristide promised not only to give voice to the poor in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but also to raise the minimum wage and force businesses to pay taxes. He rallied supporters with heated attacks on the United States, a tacit supporter of past dictatorships and a major influence in Haitian affairs since the Marines occupied the country from 1915 to 1934.

"He wasn't going to be beholden to the United States, and so he was going to be trouble," said Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, a Democratic critic of Bush administration policy on Latin America. "We had interests and ties with some of the very strong financial interests in the country, and Aristide was threatening them." Those interests, mostly in the textile and electronic assembly businesses, sold many of their products cheap to the United States.

How, exactly, did all this happen? Did it just, like, happen as soon as Bush got into office? (Hint: it is a U.S. tradition and involved knowing how to foment a coup, which the U.S. has had lots of practice in; yes)

It was in these months that two ingredients were added to the roiling Haitian stew: a new American ambassador, Brian Dean Curran, arrived in Port-au-Prince and a Republican administration was inaugurated in Washington.

Who the heck are these IRI people? And what do they have to do with anything? And that 'Republican' in the name - does that mean 'Republican', as in the Republican Party? And please don't even tell me some crazy, wack, off-the-wall-drive-me-batty-type shit like, some mad-ass conspiracy theory-type bullshit - that Halliburton or some shit was involved in this. They were not involved, were they? Were they? (Hints: the IRI are 'Republicans Gone Wild Abroad'; they were created to foment coups and keep foreign governments in check - compliant with business interests in Washington; yes - the 'Republican' in IRI essentially means 'Republican' as in 'the Republican Party'; yes, Hallicheney was involved; yes, Hallicheney was involved)

Mr. Curran was supposed to have help from the I.R.I., which had been active in Haiti since 1990. Along with the National Democratic Institute, the I.R.I. was formed in the early 1980's after President Ronald Reagan called on Americans to fight totalitarianism.

Its board includes Republican foreign-policy heavyweights and lobbyists, and its chairman is Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, who did not answer requests for an interview. The group's financing comes from the Agency for International Development, as well as the State Department, foundations and corporations like Halliburton and Chevron.

So, you're saying the IRI is associated with the Republican Party - in reality, if not officially - and the people of Haiti hated the Republican Party, too? (Hint: yes)

The I.R.I.'s Republican affiliations did not go unnoticed on the streets of Port-au-Prince. Graffiti condemning the I.R.I. had been showing up for some time, the work of Aristide supporters. "I think they distrusted I.R.I. as an organization because they were affiliated with the Republican Party, and Lavalas just felt the Republican Party was out to get them," said David Adams, a former A.I.D. mission director in Haiti.

So, you're basically saying what Chomsky always says, that it was a combination of the Haitian elite - the business community - and the U.S. elite, that helped get rid of Aristide? (Hint: yes)

The anti-Aristide message had currency around Washington. Mr. Einaudi, the veteran diplomat, recalled attending the I.R.I.'s 2001 fund-raising dinner and being surrounded by a half-dozen Haitian businessmen sounding a common cry: "We were foolish to think that we could do anything with Aristide. That it was impossible to negotiate with him. That it was necessary to get rid of him."

These IRI guys - what's their repuation for 'building democracy'? (Hint: shit)

A year later, the I.R.I. created a stir when it issued a press release praising the attempted overthrow of Hugo Chávez, the elected president of Venezuela and a confrontational populist, who, like Mr. Aristide, was seen as a threat by some in Washington. The institute has since told The Times that praising the attempted coup was wrong.

So, the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti was actually trying to get rid of this crook, Stanley Lucas, who was trying to overthrow Aristide with U.S. taxpayer money, and the Bush Administration said 'Fuck you'? (Hint: yes)

He asked that the institute's program be canceled or Mr. Lucas dismissed. Neither happened.

So, the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Brian Dean Curren, was actually trying to stop the criminal, Stanley Lucas, from overthrowing Aristide, so Curren was fired? Are you fuckin shittin me? (Hint: yes; no - I wish I was)

The seminars were still under way in September 2003 when the Bush administration sent a new ambassador to Haiti. Mr. Curran wanted to stay longer, Mr. Reich said. But he said Mr. Curran was replaced because "we did not think the ambassador was carrying out the new policy in the way we wanted it carried out."

Who were these guys the U.S. government was funding to overthrow Aristide? (Hint: real sweethearts)

Rights groups have identified Mr. Chamblain as the leader of death squads when the military ran Haiti after Mr. Aristide's first ouster in 1991. He had twice been convicted in absentia — for his role in a massacre in Gonaïves in 1994 and in connection with the 1993 killing of an Aristide supporter.

So, what the fuck did Bush say when his plan finally worked - when Aristide was actually in the process of being physically kicked out of office by a United States-sponsored coup? (Hint: what a U.S. President always says)

In Washington, the Bush administration voiced its official policy. "We cannot buy into a proposition that says the elected president must be forced out of office by thugs and those who do not respect law and are bringing terrible violence to the Haitian people," Secretary of State Powell said.

So Bush obviously did nothing to help Aristide put down the rebellion that Bush started? (Hint: obviously)

But when Mr. Aristide asked for international troops, he did not get them.

So, what the fuck? I mean, didn't anyone say, like, what the fuck? (Hint: yes)

"It doesn't add up for the greatest country in the world to be fearful of 200 thugs, my goodness," said Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California.

So, Bushco just says, 'Fuck you' whenever someone asks why they overthrew a democratically-elected government? (Hint: yes)

The State Department said there was nothing to investigate. "I think the U.S. role was clear," a spokesman, Richard A. Boucher, said at the time, adding, "The focus needs to be on moving forward."

So, everything's back to normal now, right? Poor people are still poor and all that shit, Aristide is gone, and the U.S. government and Haitian elite are happy? (Hint: no; yes)

Several days later, in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood, uniformed riot police officers swept through a crowd at a soccer match, singling out people to kill — with guns and machetes — outside the stadium. Unable to leave, people screamed and huddled on the ground. An estimated 10 people were killed at the event, which had been financed by the United States to promote peace in the area.

Things have only deteriorated from there. Kidnapping gangs hungry for ransom money have waged an expanding war on the capital. Several months ago, the Haitian police chief, Mario Andrésol, said a quarter of his force was corrupt or tied to the kidnappers. Assassinations, mob violence, torture and arbitrary arrests have created a "catastrophic" human rights problem, a top United Nations official said in October.

So, what you're saying is, the U.S. has this penchant for invading countries and fucking them up beyond recognition - kind of like Iraq, where people are kidnapped and tortured and raped and murdered and all that, all the time, right? (Hint: right)

Yet the violence in Haiti, especially the kidnappings, is eating away at society.

A reporter for The Times was with United Nations troops in Bel Air, a Port-au-Prince slum, when they found and freed André Boujour, 41, who said he had been kidnapped two weeks earlier and held in a 10-by-10-foot hut, accessible only by a narrow path through a warren of tightly packed shacks.

Mr. Boujour said he was abducted after delivering several thousand dollars he had raised from friends and family to free his kidnapped sister.

Jesus Christmas - does anyone know what has happened? Does anyone get it? (Hint: yes; yes)

Mr. Maguire, the Haiti expert, is skeptical. "I don't see that the U.S. is exporting democracy," he said. "I think it's more exporting a kind of fear, that if we don't do the things the way the U.S. and powerful interests in our country want us to do them, then perhaps we'll be as expendable as Mr. Aristide was."

What happened to that heroic ambassador dude who tried to stop Buscho and his co-conspirators from overthrowing Aristide? (Hint: quit)

Mr. Curran has left the Foreign Service and is working for NATO. In the final analysis, Mr. Einaudi said, the former American ambassador was simply no match for the anti-Aristide lobby in Washington.

That is 'exporting democracy' American-style. Text. Book.

Well done, Bush. CIA. IRI. McCain. You're all a bunch of criminals and I hope you all rot in jail for the rest of your miserable lives, for the pain and suffering you've inflicted on millions of innocent people.

More Haiti reading from Mr. Blum.

UPDATE: added final 'hint'.

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