Friday, July 15, 2005

Why do We hate Haitians? Got a CLUE?

“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.

The Big Foot of Corporate America

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“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 Fields

The corporate media are in no danger from Guy Philippe, having acted as international public relations agents for the “opposition” during the entire coup-building process. But such immunities do not apply to Kevin Pina – a people’s reporter – who filed this dispatch, Wednesday.

Every night I get frantic calls from friends and contacts I have met and interviewed in the past. In the background I hear the thunder of heavy automatic weapons and the screams of terror as they describe to me the carnage being met upon them. The calls come from places like Bel Air, Cite Soleil, La Saline and Martissaint. The poorest of the poor who supported President Aristide and democracy are being slaughtered by the former military and FRAPH. There is a 6 p.m. curfew imposed by the international forces but it does not seem to apply to these killers.

Naturally, the Haitian press remains silent along with their buddies in the corporate media who are more enamored of the romantic notion of the former killers returning than of the killing itself. I can't blame them though, as the groundwork had already been laid by the Haitian and Washington elites. Haiti’s poor had already been dehumanized in the eyes of the international audience. They are just "chimeres" or violent gangs allied with the president, so we can ignore when they are killed en mass. They deserve it, after all, as payback for having thought they had a place in Haiti's political life. They are only good for two things now, to make money off of or to kill – and who will really know the difference?

No one in these poor neighborhoods believes that President Aristide resigned of his own freewill. The very first day of the coup (let's call it what it really is) they had already begun spreading the rumor that he had been kidnapped. Poor they may be, but stupid they ain't. Now they must suffer for that same intelligence as the world stands by, ignoring their screams of terror.
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:

“I have just received word that the SOPUDEP school, which provides a free education and hot lunch program for over 400 of the poorest children in the community, is being threatened. Opposition thugs and former military have spread word through the neighborhood that they are planning to attack and burn the school very soon. The administration and staff take this threat very seriously and many of them have already gone into hiding until the situation changes. My own ability to help protect the school is very limited given the current situation.”
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 constitution is the guarantee for life and peace. The constitution should not sink in the blood of the Haitian people. That's why, if tonight my resignation is the decision that can avoid a bloodbath, I consent to leave with hope there will be life, not death." – President Aristide’s purported letter of resignation, alleged to have been written sometime Saturday night, February 28.
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.

“It’s like in jail, he said. He said that he was kidnapped; he said that he was forced to leave Haiti. He said that the American embassy sent the diplomats; he referred to them as, to his home where they was lead by Mr. Moreno. And I believe that Mr. Moreno is a deputy chief of staff at the embassy in Haiti and other diplomats, and they ordered him to leave. They said you must go NOW….

“You have no choice, you must go and if you don’t you will be killed and many Haitians will be killed. We are planning with Mr. De filliped to come into Puerto Rico. He will not be alone he will come with American military and you will not survive, you will be killed. You’ve got to go now!”
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.

”He was kidnapped and all of the circumstances seem to support his assertion. Had he resigned, we wouldn't need blacked out windows and blocked communications and military taking him away at gunpoint. Had he resigned, he would have been happy to leave the country. He was not.”

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!)

“So, you see the State Department is telling an interested public, including members of the congress, that South Africa refused asylum. The State Department knows better. They know that President Aristide was not allowed to request asylum from South Africa or anybody else because he was not allowed to make any phone calls before they left Haiti, during the flight, and beyond.”
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 past year we have seen consciousness-shaking evidence of the corporate media’s implacable hostility to any manifestation of resistance to the current order. Media rushed to embed themselves in the US war machine’s Iraq invasion, and collaborated to actively suppress public awareness of a full-blown movement against the war. Hundreds of thousands of protestors were made to disappear in plain sight. Corporate media conspired – which is what businessmen in boardrooms do as a matter of daily routine – not only to shield the public from dissenting opinions (their usual assignment), but to drastically diminish, distort and even erase huge gatherings that were profoundly newsworthy by any rational standard.
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.

Through the bloodiest years of the occupation, the media were silent or supportive. The New York Times index has no entries for Haiti for 1917-1918. In a press survey, John Blassingame found "widespread editorial support" for the repeated interventions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic from 1904 to 1919, until major atrocity stories surfaced in 1920, setting off congressional inquiry. Haitians and Dominicans were described as "coons," "mongrels," "unwholesome," "a horde of naked niggers," the Haitians even more "retrograde" than the Dominicans. They needed "energetic Anglo-Saxon influence." "We are simply going in help our black brother put his disorderly house in order," one journal wrote. Furthermore, The US had a right to intervene to protect "our peace and safety" (New York Times).

Times editors lauded the "unselfish and helpful" attitude that the US had always shown, now once again as it responded "in a fatherly way" as Haiti "sought help here." Our "unselfish intervention has been moved almost exclusively by a desire to give the benefits of peace to people tormented by repeated revolutions," with no thought of "preferential advantages, commercial or otherwise," for ourselves. "The people of the island should realize that [the US government] is their best friend." The US sought only to ensure that "the people were cured of the habit of insurrection and taught how to work and live"; they "would have to be reformed, guided and educated," and this "duty was undertaken by the United States." There is a further benefit for our "black brother": "To wean these peoples away from their shot-gun habit of government is to safeguard them against our own exasperation," which might lead to further intervention. "The good-will and unselfish purposes of our own government" are demonstrated by the consequences, the editors wrote in 1922, when they were all too apparent and the Marine atrocities had already aroused a storm of protest.
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.

‘Disappeared’ facts

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.”

A May 10 Associated Press report tends to confirm that Haiti's armed opposition operates with near-impunity in the Dominican Republic. Under pressure from the Haitian government, authorities on the Dominican side of the border arrested and then released five men in connection with the attack on the hydroelectric plant:

The man Haitian authorities have accused of plotting to overthrow Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government says he supports a coup but isn't planning one.

Guy Philippe told The Associated Press that he wasn't plotting Aristide's ouster but that the time for a peaceful solution has passed. He wouldn't say, however, whether he would take up arms in the future. Dominican authorities released Philippe, a 35-year-old former Haitian police chief known for his flashy cars, expensive taste and strong-armed tactics to battle crime in the impoverished Caribbean nation, Thursday after finding no evidence he and four others were conspiring against the Haitian government. Haitian authorities told their Dominican counterparts Philippe and others were plotting against the Haitian government from neighboring Dominican Republic.

"I would support a coup," Philippe said in Spanish during an interview in a Santo Domingo hotel. "We have to get rid of the dictator." ...

Declining to say how he makes a living or what he does to spend his time in the Dominican Republic, Philippe said the international community needed to do more to push Aristide from power, but he said he would not support an armed invasion.
On the day Philippe was detained on the Dominican side of the border, police raided the house of Port-au-Prince mayoral candidate Judith Roy of the Convergence opposition. They claimed to have "found assault weapons, ammunitions, and plans to attack the National Palace and Aristide's suburban residence," said the Associated Press. Haitian authorities say Roy is close to Philippe, the former police chief of Cap Haitian.
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:

Haitian rebels seeking to topple the president brought in reinforcements from the neighboring Dominican Republic, including the exiled former leader of 1980s death squads and a former police chief accused of fomenting a coup, witnesses said, as police fled two more northern towns.

Twenty commandos arrived Saturday, led by Louis-Jodel Chamblain, a former Haitian soldier who headed army death squads in 1987 and a militia known as the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, or FRAPH, which killed and maimed scores of people in the early 1990s.
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.”

‘Crazy’ Aristide

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.”

March 4 2004
Issue 80

is published every Thursday.

Cover Story: Godfather Colin Powell - The Gangster of Haiti Cover Story: Godfather Colin Powell - The Gangster of Haiti Cartoon: The Big Foot of Corporate America Cartoon: The Big Foot of Corporate America NCBL Blasts Kidnapping of Aristide NCBL Blasts Kidnapping of Aristide e-Mailbox: The Rape of Haiti and more... e-Mailbox: The Rape of Haiti and more... Freedom Rider: The Attack on Social Security Freedom Rider: The Attack on Social Security Art Forms: ERZULIE - The Goddess of Love in the Haitian religion, VouDou. Art Forms: ERZULIE - The Goddess of Love in the Haitian religion, VouDou. Race, Racism and the Law Race, Racism and the Law National Black Agenda Convention in Boston National Black Agenda Convention in Boston

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July 13, 2005
Colin Powell Joins Venture Capital Firm
SAN FRANCISCO, July 12 - Most everyone you meet in Silicon Valley, or so it sometimes seems, dreams of joining a top venture capital firm, a job that brings prestige and the power to finance promising start-ups - and, not incidentally, typically pays in the millions of dollars.

Apparently even former secretaries of state sometimes harbor those dreams.

On Wednesday, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, perhaps Silicon Valley's most famous venture firm, will announce that former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is joining the firm as a part-time partner. Mr. Powell acknowledged in an interview Tuesday that he has had any number of tempting job offers since leaving the State Department in January, but that the chance to work as a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins seemed too enticing to turn down.

"I'm fascinated by what the company has done and is doing now," Mr. Powell said of Kleiner Perkins. "It's on the forefront of bringing along new technologies and bringing along entrepreneurs who are changing the world as we know it."

That the partnership turned to someone who has cut so large a figure on the world's stage underscores the increasingly global nature of venture investing.

Yet, the looming question is what the 68-year-old Mr. Powell, who served in the military for 35 years and rose to the rank of four-star general, can offer a venture capital firm that specializes in the financing of biotechnology start-ups and technology companies like Google and Netscape Communications, to name two of its more successful investments.

The answer, several Kleiner Perkins partners said, is that he will serve as a coach to its entrepreneurs and an in-house expert on international affairs, a valuable skill when even fledgling technology companies are increasingly international, employing programmers abroad and sell into overseas markets. Kleiner Perkins, based in Menlo Park, Calif., also anticipates more investments outside the United States.

"General Powell has a global perspective," said Ray Lane, a Kleiner Perkins partner and former president of the giant database company Oracle. "So we think he will be very helpful in helping us figure out what we should do overseas, and how we do it, and what we should eventually invest in."

Including Mr. Powell, Kleiner Perkins has added five new partners since the start of the year, pointing to a resurgence in venture investing, which serves as the lifeblood for technology-oriented start-ups in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

"The pace is really picking up in the venture industry," said John Doerr, also a Kleiner Perkins partner.

Venture capitalists typically spend most of their days listening to entrepreneurs seeking to raise millions of dollars or helping companies in which they have already invested.

Mr. Powell, who will maintain his residence in McLean, Va., and work out of a nearby office in Alexandria, will not devote much time to either of those activities, Mr. Doerr said. Nor will he regularly take part when partners gather for their weekly meeting, though attendance is considered mandatory inside most firms.

Instead, Mr. Powell and his new partners said he will contribute by meeting periodically with companies that are part of the Kleiner portfolio, to help their executives work through things like organizational issues.

"This man, I think more than any other," Mr. Doerr said, "has deep insights and offers strategic advice into leadership. And building and developing teams. And winning even you're up against formidable opponents or challenges."

Neither Kleiner Perkins nor Mr. Powell would provide details about his financial arrangement with the firm, though it is common knowledge in the venture capital world that Kleiner Perkins partners divide 30 percent of profits before passing on the rest to investors.

Mr. Powell will meet with his partners once every three months - and be available by phone and e-mail message when necessary - to offer advice on prospective investments.

"They're interested in me giving them a sense of the kind of world in which we'll be doing business in the years ahead and to help them assess the potential of various companies that have come to their attention and how they fit in this world," Mr. Powell said.

Though he has spent most of his work life in a military uniform, Mr. Powell stressed that he was "not a total rookie in this business." He served for four years on the board of America Online, starting in the mid-1990's, he noted, and also oversaw the modernization of an outdated State Department computer system. "I also intend to weigh in with technology advice from time to time," he said.

One thing he will not do, both Mr. Powell and his partners said, is lobby on behalf of any of the Kleiner-financed firms. But Paul S. Kedrosky, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, who studies venture capital, said Mr. Powell's network of relationships at home and abroad is the most plausible explanation for Kleiner's decision to enlist him.

"There are any number of coaches who would happily sign up with Kleiner in a limited role given the payoff," Mr. Kedrosky said. "But it sure helps if you've got a coach who can pick up a phone and get Donald Rumsfield on the line." Security is currently a hot area for venture investing, Mr. Kedrosky noted - and one in which Kleiner Perkins "has been underinvested in relative to other large venture firms."

Mr. Powell acknowledged that money played a role in his decision to work at Kleiner, a firm that over the years has made its partners rich by financing companies like Sun Microsystems,, Genentech, Compaq Computer and America Online.

"Any time you can align yourself with a company with that kind of track record, that's good," Mr. Powell said. "But I also had seven good years out of government, where I did succeed in amassing enough of a personal estate that I'm not at the mercy of government pensions. So money wasn't the principal motivator."Between 1993, when he stepped down as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and 2001, when President Bush named him secretary of state, Mr. Powell was a sought-after lecturer, routinely making tens of thousands of dollars for a speech.

Kleiner Perkins is not the only commercial venture that Mr. Powell has joined since stepping down as secretary of state. He is also an investor and board member of Revolution, a health care holding company started by Stephen M. Case, a founder of America Online.

Mr. Powell is also part of a group trying to purchase the Washington Nationals baseball team and is involved with a number of nonprofit groups. "The nice thing about this arrangement with Kleiner Perkins is it allows me time for these other activities," he said.

The Crucifixion of Haiti

ZNet Haiti

June 2, 2005

The Crucifixion of Haiti
by Nikolas Barry-Shaw

Part I: Historical Background & Political Struggles - December 1990 to February 2004


Today, like so many other times since its birth as a nation in 1804, Haiti bleeds. It bleeds because the powerful nations of the world are once again making an example of Haiti, forcing Haiti spend its time on the cross. Understanding this unfolding tragedy requires a critical examination of Haiti´s past, a task scrupulously avoided by the mainstream press. Rather, the corporate media offer up nothing more than decontextualized snapshots of the undifferentiated “chaos’ and “turmoil’ that wrack Haiti today. As a consequence of this ahistoric perspective, commentary and analysis frequently consist of shallow (and not so subtly racist) references to Haiti´s deficient political culture (Voodoo, corruption, sectarianism, etc.), which may well thwart our benevolent intentions once again.(1)

Contrary to the depictions of the corporate media, however, Haiti´s so-called chaos is far from undifferentiated, and “our’ intentions far from benevolent. Rather, the killings and violence, which have intensified since September 30, are part of a systematic effort by the interim government and the former military to silence and subdue the supporters of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his party, Fanmi Lavalas. Furthermore, the U.S., France, and Canada played a pivotal role in creating the conditions for Aristide´s removal (ultimately accomplished by U.S. Marines) and have resolutely supported the new government in its brutal endeavours since. These events are not a break from the norm: Even the most cursory look at Haiti´s history reveals the preponderant influence of external powers on the development of this impoverished Caribbean nation. In particular, the Haitian military and the United States government have figured prominently in the political struggles of Haiti throughout the 20th century.

Haiti´s history is a history of foreign exploitation and domestic class struggle, of gut wrenching violence and debilitating corruption; above all, however, Haiti´s history is a history of resistance. As such, the pattern of American intervention in Haiti must be viewed in the larger context of post-WWII U.S. imperialism directed against progressive movements and in support of oligarchies throughout Latin America.(2) While space constraints preclude a full review of the history of U.S.-Haiti relations in such a perspective, it is informative to note here the origin of the Haitian Army and review some of the outrageous claims made against Father Aristide during his first presidency by the U.S. media before looking at the most recent coup d´état and the state of affairs in Haiti today.


Born of the only successful slave rebellion in history, American (and French) antipathy to Haiti goes back to the country´s very beginning. The invasion and occupation by the U.S. Marines from 1915 to 1934 is significant, however, for two reasons: 1) it reveals the motives that guided U.S. involvement in Haiti prior to the Cold War, broadly the same concerns that guide U.S. policy today, and 2) it left deep scars on Haiti and created the military, an institution that would dominate Haiti´s political life long after the end of the occupation. According to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, the goals of the occupation were to “pacify’ the peasants, control the customs houses, and diminish European influence in Haiti. Noam Chomsky describes the many “successes’ of the mission: “[T]he acceleration of Haiti´s economic, military, and political centralization, its economic dependence and sharp class divisions, the vicious exploitation of the peasantry, the internal conflicts much intensified by the extreme racism of the occupying forces, and perhaps worst of all, the establishment of ‘an army to fight the people.´’(3) Other achievements of the occupation included reinstituting virtual slavery and dissolving the National Assembly in order to impose a U.S.-designed constitution allowing foreign ownership of Haitian land. Such was the political and institutional legacy of “Wilsonian idealism’ and American efforts to “bring democracy’ to Haiti (scarcely different from today´s noble venture), a legacy whose firm grip on the country would loosen only by 1986, with the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship.(4)


Following the flight of “Baby Doc’ Duvalier from the country in 1986, Haitians endured a period of “Duvalierism without Duvalier’, punctuated by coup d´états, voting day massacres, and military governments, until the elections of December 1990, when a diverse array of grassroots organizations called Lavalas (“flash flood’) swept Jean-Bertrand Aristide into the presidency. The rich in Haiti and the U.S. government had expected their candidate, former World Bank economist Marc Bazin, to win easily and were stunned by the victory of Aristide, a priest and advocate of the poor. Seven months of Aristide as president yielded a virtual halt in human rights violations, an accompanying reduction in “boat people’ fleeing Haiti, a successful anti-corruption campaign, a higher minimum wage, and on September 30, 1991, a military coup. The brutality with which the military and their allies dealt with the Lavalas movement is well documented: Massacres, political assassinations, rapes, beatings and arbitrary arrests were all commonplace. The army, aided by the paramilitary group FRAPH (Front Révolutionnaire pour l´Avancement et le Progrès Haitiens), killed some 5,000 people from 1991 to 1994. The coup followed the familiar script whereby the wealthy Haitian elite organized and financed the operation while the military did the dirty work. The U.S. government was also deeply implicated in the coup: The leader of the coup, General Raoul Cedras, and other high-ranking Haitian military figures, had been on CIA payroll prior to and during the coup, and the FRAPH had been organized and funded by the CIA, according to leader Emmanuel “Toto’ Constant, in order to act as a “vital counterweight’ to the Lavalas movement.(5)

As long as the U.S. government has opposed revolutionary, nationalist or even reformist regimes in Latin America (1954: Arbenz in Guatemala, 1964: Goulart in Brazil, 1973: Allende in Chile, 2002 to the present: Chavez in Venezuela), the U.S. press has sought to justify this opposition. Most commonly, the media have resorted to the venerable practice of demonizing the leaders of “enemy’ governments: The leader is labelled “authoritarian’ or “heavy-handed’, and a fomenter of “violence’ and “class warfare’; Subsequently, when the U.S.-trained military overthrows the elected government and replaces it with a bloody military junta, commentators in the press blandly lament that the government was the cause of its own demise, while the more reactionary elements laud the initiative of the military for having come just in time to “save democracy’ from “Communist totalitarianism’. In this connection, the outlandish accusations levelled against President Aristide stuck to the script quite closely, blaming the President for his overthrow while obscuring the role of U.S. in the coup. For instance, Newsweek described Aristide as "an anti-American demagogue, an unsteady left-wing populist who threatened private enterprise and condoned violence against his political opponents." Other media repeated opposition claims that he was building a new “fascism’, that he was “worse than Duvalier’ or that he was a drug trafficker.(6) All these claims were totally baseless: Human rights abuses reached their lowest level in Haiti´s history and Aristide initiated a successful crackdown on drug transhipment. While Aristide would occasionally condemn the massive inequality in Haiti, he would just as frequently exhort business to cooperate and help the poor. More generally, Aristide could hardly be blamed for the tensions and conflicts created by a society where the top 1% of the population receive 46% of national income whilst the vast majority live in squalor.


While the U.S. nominally joined the international community in applying sanctions against the military junta, the real pressure was being applied on Aristide. The U.S. embargo was extremely porous and neither Bush I nor Clinton was inclined to close any of the gaps.(7) Meanwhile, at U.S.-initiated negotiations between Aristide and the military, the former priest was frequently pushed to make concessions to his adversaries, even as they slaughtered his supporters in Haiti. The rationale was that Aristide was a “divisive’ leader who had “polarized’ the country (again, familiar rhetoric when it comes to Latin American leaders who don´t sit well with the bourgeoisie), thus making it necessary to form a more “inclusive’ government before Aristide could return. Yet gathering 67% of the votes can hardly be said to indicate polarization, unless we dismiss the opinions of the “illiterates who voted for Aristide’ as the Haitian elite would have it. Indeed, the U.S., by forcing Aristide to negotiate with the military and their elite allies, was implicitly recognizing each party´s demands as equally valid. When the flood of Florida-bound refugees escaping from Haiti finally forced Clinton to act, Aristide was restored to power by U.S. Marines in October 1994; His return, however, exacted a heavy price in terms of justice and democracy: amnesty for the military; “broadening’ of the government to include opposition members who had supported the coup; implementation of “structural adjustment’, the economic plan favoured by opponent Marc Bazin; and an end to Aristide´s five year term in 1995, effectively treating his three years in exile as time spent in office.

Yet Aristide proved himself to be no political pushover: “[I]n September 1995 Aristide dismissed his prime minister for preparing to sell the state-owned flour and cement mills without insisting on any of the progressive terms the imf had promised to honour’(8) and before the end of his truncated term, Aristide disbanded the murderous army. This was probably the greatest contribution Aristide ever made to the cause of democracy in Haiti. After Rene Préval took over the presidency in 1996, Aristide split with those in Organization Politique Lavalas (OPL) comfortable with implementing the neoliberal policy package (i.e. the “sweatshop model of development’: liberalization of trade, deregulation of the private sector and privatization of state-owned enterprises) and formed Fanmi Lavalas (FL). From this vantage point, Aristide was free to criticize the reforms forced upon him, while his opponents carried them out, putting him on solid political footing for the upcoming elections.(9)


The current crisis in Haiti began in May 2000, with the notoriously “flawed’ legislative elections. A plethora of national and local positions were voted upon, and Aristide´s FL emerged with a crushing victory, taking 89 of 115 mayoral positions, 72 of 83 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 18 of the 19 Senate seats contested (There are 27 seats in the senate). The OAS (Organization of American States) and other observers estimated the turnout at over 60% with “very few’ incidents of either violence or fraud. The impact, as Peter Hallward remarked in New Left Review, was tremendous:

The 1995 elections had already ‘completely discredited the so-called traditional political parties-especially those that collaborated with the military regime between 1991 and 1994´, effectively eliminating them from any further role in electoral politics. In May 2000, members of the original Lavalas coalition who had turned against Aristide suffered the same fate. For the anti-Aristide opposition, the elections proved that there was no chance of defeating the fl at the polls for the foreseeable future.(10)

Faced with a massive defeat in the May elections and the imminent prospect of another loss in the upcoming presidential election, the opposition and their imperialist allies did the only thing they could: they cried foul. The propaganda effort to discredit the elections and, by extension, FL began with the OAS (commonly regarded as a tool of U.S. foreign policy in the Americas) reversing its earlier assessment of the elections on the basis of a technicality, claiming that the counting method used for 8 Senate seats by the CEP (Coalition d´Election Provisional) was “flawed’. The Constitution of Haiti stipulates that the winner must get 50% plus one vote at the polls; the CEP determined this by calculating the percentages from the votes for the top four candidates, while the OAS contended that the count should include all candidates.(11) These concerns about the validity of the elections were disingenuous on many fronts: Firstly, the OAS had been working with the CEP to prepare the elections since 1999, and thus was fully aware of what counting method was going to be used beforehand, yet failed to voice any concerns at the time. Secondly, using the OAS´s method would hardly have changed the outcome of the elections. Taking an example given by James Morrell, an anti-Aristide policy hack, in the North-East department where two Senate seats were being contested, gives an idea of just how “flawed’ the elections were. In this riding, to get the 50% plus one vote demanded by the OAS, 33,154 votes were needed, while the two FL candidates had won with 32,969 and 30,736 votes respectively, with their closest rival getting about 16,000 votes. Thus, were this election to have gone to a second round as called for by the OAS, the two FL candidates would have needed 185 and 2,418 votes respectively, while their opponent would have needed some 17,000 votes.(12) Finally, the results of the disputed legislative elections were consistent with the returns obtained for the mayoral elections and Chamber of Deputies, about which the OAS raised no objections.

The aspersions cast on the elections by the OAS would be the rallying point for all efforts by the opposition and their imperialist allies to overturn the Fanmi Lavalas government. The opposition denounced the elections as fraudulent and their representatives on the CEP resigned in protest. The disparate strands of the opposition--OPL and other “left’ dissidents formerly associated with Lavalas, along with business leaders, ex-Duvalierists and other elements of the right--united in the summer of 2000 under the banner of the Convergence Democratique (CD) and announced they would boycott the upcoming November presidential elections. This proved to be an empty gesture; over 50% of the electorate turned out despite the boycott to deliver Aristide the presidency with over 92% of the votes. While the CD and allied embassies in Haiti would claim the turnout was much lower, between 10% and 20%, an October 2000 USAID-commissioned poll taken by Gallup just before the election supported the official returns, showing that more than 3 out of 4 people were “very likely’ or “somewhat likely’ to vote; in the same poll, over 50% named Aristide as the political figure they “most trusted’ in Haiti, with the next closest, CD member Evans Paul, receiving only 3.8%.(13)


For their part, the U.S., Canada, and the EU (at the behest of France), along with multilateral lending institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, cut off all aid and loans to Haiti, plunging its fragile economy into crisis. The end of the aid embargo was contingent on a political solution, the U.S. declared, yet the opposition had no intentions of resolving the matter (democratically, at least). “From the start, the cd´s main objective was Option Zéro: the total annulment of the 2000 elections and a refusal to allow Aristide to participate in any subsequent vote.’(14) After Aristide was inaugurated, he persuaded 7 of the 8 Senators to resign and offered to hold new elections for the disputed seats, but the CD refused, knowing full well that they would lose new elections just as they had the previous ones. In each subsequent negotiation, Aristide and FL would offer more and more concessions to the CD, and each time, the CD would reject them. The opposition´s intransigent stance was steadfastly supported by the U.S., which funded the CD, as well as various other anti-Aristide organizations, through USAID and the NED (National Endowment for Democracy). One such outfit was the staunchly neoliberal Group of 184, an association of various “civil society’ groups, led by sweatshop owner Andy Apaid. This manufactured “political deadlock’ was the pretext used by the U.S. and the other imperialist countries for their economic strangulation of Haiti, right up until Aristide´s overthrow.

During the post-WWII era, economic strangulation and political destabilization, combined with increased aid and training programs to the military, have been the standard U.S. strategy for overthrowing errant Latin American governments. Since the 1960s, according to declassified internal documents, U.S. military aid and training has served to reorient Latin American militaries to “internal security’ and other “U.S. objectives’, namely “to protect and promote American investment and trade’, thus producing an indigenous force ready to intervene on the behalf of “U.S. interests’ once the target government begins to weaken.(15) When implementing this third and crucial element of the strategy has proven impossible, the U.S. has funded and organized proxy forces in a bordering client state to “liberate’ the country. This alternative was used against Nicaragua in the 1980s, with the Contras launching attacks from their staging post in neighbouring Honduras, and has been resorted to again in Haiti.

On July 28, 2001, former members of the army and/or FRAPH death squad led by former police officer Guy Philippe, mounted attacks against police stations located along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border, killing at least five officers. Guy Philippe had received US military training in Ecuador during the 1991-1994 coup, and was incorporated into the Haitian National Police (HNP) in 1995. His tenure at the HNP was marked by reports of summary executions by police under his command and accusations of drug trafficking.(16) In October 2000, Philippe fled to the Dominican Republic after being discovered plotting a coup against the Préval government with fellow police chiefs. From exile, Philippe, along with FRAPH second-in-command Louis Jodel Chamblain, would lead attacks on the Presidential Palace, on December 17, 2001, and against a hydroelectric dam in Peligre on May 6, 2003. These and numerous other cross-border attacks left dozens of police and Fanmi Lavalas members dead.(17) The Dominican government, meanwhile, did nothing to halt these attacks and ignored repeated extradition requests by the Haitian authorities for various human rights abusers hiding out there. Stan Goff was part of a delegation organized by the International Action Centre in March 2004 that visited the Dominican Republic and discovered, through interviews with a former general in the Dominican army, customs agents, and other sources, that former Haitian military and paramilitary men had been discreetly integrated into the Dominican army and had trained at a base close to the Haitian border. Moreover, according to Goff, “The Dominican government is a colonial government, and nothing else . . . [n]one of this could have happened without the complicity of the United States, without the facilitation by the United States, without the funding and support of the United States.’ Indeed, Goff indicates that the U.S. embassy in the Dominican Republic was aware of the paramilitaries´ presence and even trained and armed them. He quotes retired Dominican general Nobel Espejo as saying that 20,000 M-16 sent by the U.S. in February 2003 were never received by the army, weapons of the type used by Philippe´s men;(18) the M-16s were part of a military assistance program called “Operation Jaded Task’, ostensibly intended to train the Dominican military in counterinsurgency.(19)


The Western media played an integral part in the campaign against the Lavalas government, raising spurious questions about Aristide´s democratic credentials as the imperialists´ and their various “international’ bodies´ strove to overturn him. To this end, the media resorted to the same libellous rhetoric used prior to and during the 1991-1994 coup: Aristide was portrayed as a corrupt, power hungry leader who had taken power in “flawed’ or “fraudulent’ elections and used violence to suppress political opposition to his rule. While Aristide´s opponents revived and embellished many timeworn accusations about his authoritarian tendencies, his extreme corruption, his involvement in “narco-trafficking’ and so on that were uncritically reported as fact by the mainstream press, perhaps the most serious claim made was that Lavalas had provided arms to gangs and used these “Chimères’ to attacks its opponents and quell dissent. Now, like most good lies, there was a kernel of truth to these accusations: Supporters of Aristide had used violence against opposition demonstrations and some were members of criminal gangs. Robert Fatton, a bitter critic of Aristide and his supposed authoritarian tendencies, gives an interesting interpretation the gangs´ motivations: "Lavalas's Chimères and followers are threatening the opposition because they believe that it is purposefully exacerbating the crisis to generate a chaos that would nurture the return of the military. They fear that CD's ultimate objective is to overthrow Aristide, and they are committed to using violence to prevent such an outcome.’(20) In light of recent events in Haiti, their fears seem to have been well founded. As for Aristide´s alleged support for the Chimères, not a shred of evidence has ever been produced. Indeed, Haiti´s current interim Ministry of Justice has settled for working with the U.S. Justice Department to find proof that Aristide siphoned money from the state coffers into offshore personal bank accounts, apparently abandoning efforts to link the deposed President to the violence that occurred under his rule.

The media gave a grossly one-sided account of what was happening in Haiti, consistently emphasizing violence against the opposition while ignoring attacks against Lavalas from the Dominican Republic and from within Haiti. Thus, the story of Haiti was cast as a “crisis of human rights’ rather than a political struggle between the former military and the Haitian elite on one side and the Lavalas government and their supporters on the other. Shrill cries from the CD and “civil society’ frequently equated Aristide and the “Chimères’ with the Duvalier dictatorship and their Tonton Macoutes. As Peter Hallward observes:

In a comparative perspective, however, political violence during the Lavalas administrations was far less than under previous Haitian regimes. Amnesty International´s reports covering the years 2000-03 attribute a total of around 20 to 30 killings to the police and supporters of the FL--a far cry from the 5,000 committed by the junta and its supporters in 1991-94, let alone the 50,000 usually attributed to the Duvalier dictatorships. Examination of Lavalas violence would also suggest that it was, indeed, largely a matter of gang violence. There are armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, as there are in São Paulo, Lagos or Los Angeles; their numbers have swelled in recent years with the deportation to the island of over a thousand Haitian and Haitian-American convicts from the American prison system.(21)


As the screws tightened on Haiti, the Canadian government, in the person of then-Minister of La Francophonie Denis Paradis, organized a "high-level roundtable meeting on Haiti" to discuss "the current political situation in Haiti." Tellingly, the “Ottawa Initiative’, held January 31-February 1, included no Haitian officials, who only learned of the meeting after Paradis leaked the details of it to L'Actualité reporter Michel Vastel in March 2003. According to Vastel, Paradis told him that the themes discussed included Aristide's possible removal, the potential return of Haiti's disbanded military, and the option of imposing a Kosovo-like trusteeship on Haiti. The furor this reportage caused in Haiti led to Paradis being stripped of his position as Secretary of State for Latin America, and replaced as Minister of La Francophonie. Paradis would later claim the actual topic of the meeting was the “responsibility to protect’ doctrine espoused by Paul Martin, whereby the international community has an obligation to militarily intervene in “failed states’, for the good of the people, of course. In hindsight, as independent journalist Anthony Fenton notes, the distinction is rather slight: “Whether or not military intervention was discussed explicitly, as Vastel contends, or implicitly, as Paradis insists, the important fact is that military intervention did take place, Aristide was removed, the Haitian army has effectively returned, and a de facto trusteeship is being imposed on the Haitian people.’(22)

The intense pressure on Haiti from the aid embargo, the imperialist-funded opposition, and the former military and paramilitaries came to a head in February 2004. The CD and the Group of 184 held a series of anti-government rallies, and a coalition of gangs led by Butter Metayer and former FRAPH leader Jean Tatoune mounted a “rebellion’ in Gonaives, later reinforced by Guy Philippe´s invasion. The media depicted the situation as a popular revolt against an authoritarian and corrupt regime, showing little compunction about the fact that notorious human rights abusers were leading the attacks, if even bothering to note the leadership´s sordid past at all. The media also frequently exaggerated the size of opposition rallies while ignoring often larger counter-demonstrations by Lavalas supporters; civil society opposition was said to be “broad-based’ including people from across the political spectrum, while it was virtually never mentioned that Aristide still retained support from likely the majority of the population. In a USAID poll from March 2002, 60% of those responding named Aristide as the politician they most trusted and 61.6% said they sympathized or were members of FL, while only 13% indicated the Convergence or any of its constituent parties.(23) Since the coup, members of the U.S. and Canadian embassies in Haiti have confirmed this result, telling journalist Anthony Fenton in July 2004 that if elections had been held then, Lavalas would have won them.(24)

The “rebels’ rampaged across Haiti, going town by town, slaughtering police and burning down public buildings, rapidly closing in on the capital city, Port-au-Prince. Aristide´s request for “a couple dozen peacekeepers’ from the international community to help restore order and prevent the former military from once again taking over the country fell on deaf ears. Jeffrey Sachs recounts the events of the night of February 29, 2004, with Guy Philippe´s men waiting on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince:

According to Mr. Aristide, US officials in Port-au- Prince told him that rebels were on the way to the presidential residence and that he and his family were unlikely to survive unless they immediately boarded an American-chartered plane standing by to take them to exile. The US made it clear, he said, that it would provide no protection for him at the official residence, despite the ease with which this could have been arranged.

Indeed, says Aristide's lawyer, the US blocked reinforcement of Aristide's own security detail and refused him entry to the airplane until he signed a letter of resignation.

Then Aristide was denied access to a phone for nearly 24 hours and knew nothing of his destination until he was summarily deposited in the Central African Republic.(25)

The U.S. government tersely dismissed Aristide´s claims as “ridiculous’, without evidence or a plausible counter-explanation of what happened.(26) As usual, the media, displaying their uncompromising professional rigour, quickly let the matter drop.

Canada played a lead role in the kidnapping/coup d´état: Joint Task Force 2, an elite commando squad in the Canadian Armed Forces, was on the ground in Haiti on February 29, 2004, securing the airstrip from which U.S. Marines would abduct President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Canada, along with France and Chile, also provided troops for the subsequent U.S.-led and U.N.-approved occupation, which dubbed the invaders the Multinational Interim Force (MIF).

Part II: Post-Coup Haiti - March 2004 to January 2005


The human rights situation in Haiti is dire. The February 2004 insurgency that culminated in the kidnapping of President Aristide has ushered in a wave of abuses against Aristide´s Fanmi Lavalas party and its supporters. This campaign of persecution has been waged by the rebels with the active support of the de facto authorities installed by the U.S. and with the complicity of the occupiers.

Numerous human rights groups have documented the widespread abuses that have occurred, and continue to occur, since the overthrow of Aristide. Scores of former government officials, members of popular organizations, slum dwellers, peasants and other supporters of Lavalas have been killed, and many others beaten, threatened and forced into hiding for fear of their lives. A report by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) gives a chilling insight into the scale of the violence: “The Director of the State Hospital Morgue in Port-au-Prince reported that the morgue had disposed of over 1000 bodies in the month of March alone. Although some of these may have died of natural causes, in a normal month the morgue disposes of 100 cadavers. The Director said that many of the 1000 disposed bodies arrived with hands tied behind the back and bullet holes in the back of the head.’(27)

In March 2004, the National Lawyers Guild´s (NLG) delegation to Haiti reported that 40 to 60 bodies had been dumped at the Piste d´Aviation in Delmas 2, a neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince; they found a “massive ash pile and pigs eating flesh of human bones that had not burned. The group photographed fresh skulls and other human bones, some still tangled in clothes or with shoes and sneakers nearby. The delegation observed that the fuel for the fire was misprinted Haitian currency.’ The Piste d´Aviation was a dumping ground for bodies during the military junta of 1991-1994.(28)

Amnesty International (AI) has reported: “In February and March, the Catholic Church´s Justice and Peace Commission documented some 300 cases of killings in Port-au-Prince alone, although they estimate that the true number of killings could be as high as 500.’

In accordance with findings of virtually every other human rights delegation, AI remarked that “the identity of the victims and the nature of the threats and other abuses committed were mostly consistent with a pattern of persecution, especially of those close, or perceived to have been close, to the former Fanmi Lavalas regime.’(29)

Unfortunately, the situation in the countryside, where 2/3 of Haitians live, could very well be worse. The local police forces have been decimated by the rebels, who are now acting as the de facto authorities: “[The rebels] have occupied police stations and former military barracks. On several occasions, judicial authorities issuing arrest warrants have given them to these groups to enforce, as they are the sole ‘police´ force in the area.’(30) Access to the rural areas has been restricted, especially in the rebel-dominated North, but there have been many reports (in some cases documented) of assassinations and arsons against people supportive of Lavalas.

As a result of the wave of violence against Lavalas and their supporters, massive numbers of people have become refugees in their own country, fleeing to Port-au-Prince, where they change locations each night so as to not get caught, or to the mountains, subsisting any way they can.(31)

The behaviour of the rebels is no surprise to anyone familiar with the past history of their leadership, a group of notorious human rights abusers drawn from the top ranks of FRAPH and the former military. Guy Philippe has been quoted as saying that the man he most admires is Pinochet, and Louis-Jodel Chamblain was convicted of leading the Raboteau massacre of 1994. Men such as Jean “Tatoune’ Baptiste and self-declared General Remissainthes Ravix have similar personal histories. The rank and file of the rebels are members of the former military, convicted human rights abusers freed from the jails emptied during the coup, and criminal gangs that sensed which way the political winds were blowing.


With the overthrow of Aristide, the U.S. set up a “neutral’ and “technocratic’ caretaker government to organize inclusive elections and “restore’ democracy (after the US and its proxy forces had finished dismantling it). Yet far from being a neutral political player, the de facto government of Prime Minister Gerard Latortue “is the dream team of the Haitian opposition parties . . . sweep[ing] away all vestiges of the Aristide-ism and turn[ing] the country in a more conservative, and decidedly more pro-U.S., direction’, according to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.(32) Tom Reeves describes the political history of new government´s personnel: “Latortue was a member of a previous coup-installed government in 1988. The U.S.-installed government includes far-right officials from the previous coup regime of Raoul Cedras and from the regimes of the infamous Duvaliers. The Minister of Interior is Herard Abraham, a former Haitian general who intends to re-establish the Haitian military. The bulk of the Cabinet are exiled technocrats who worked for the World Bank, IMF, USAID and the UN. They are champions of structural adjustment and other neoliberal policies.’(33)

The Latortue government has dismantled social programs directed to the poor established during the Préval and Aristide administrations. Subsidies on fertilizer for poor farmers have been cut, with a consequent doubling of fertilizer prices, increasing the hardships already faced by Haitian farmers. Latortue´s government has stopped funding to literacy programs and eliminated subsidies for schoolchildren and schoolbooks. The Haiti Accompaniment Project has reported that: “large land owners accompanied by armed paramilitaries have seized land that was given to peasant families as a part of the Land Reform projects carried out by the Préval and Aristide administrations (300 hectares had been distributed to 6000 families). These actions came immediately after de facto Prime Minister Gerard Latortue criticized the Lavalas land reform program in Jacmel.’ AI has reported similar occurrences. The public sector has also come under attack: an estimated 10,000 state employees, including 2,000 at the state telecom company, have been fired with no compensation for their perceived support of Lavalas.(34) Doctors and nurses at the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince went on strike in January because the government had not paid their salaries for three months, resulting in a severe deterioration of the already inadequate health care system.(35) The Latortue regime has, however, offered economic support to the large businesses of Haiti in the form of a three-year tax holiday.

Unfortunately, the de facto government´s hostility to Lavalas and the poor goes beyond these economic attacks. “In his first public statement, [Latortue] announced that Aristide's order to replace the military with a civilian police force violated Haiti's constitution; he promised to name a commission to examine the issues surrounding its restoration,’ reports Paul Farmer, an American doctor working in Haiti.(36) In a revealing speech made in Gonaives on March 19, the de facto PM praised the rebels as “freedom fighters’ and called for a moment of silence for all those who “fell fighting against the dictatorship’. Latortue´s Justice Minister Bernard Gousse, a right wing anti-Aristide campaigner, has blithely stated that he does not intend to disarm rebels or recapture the escaped convicts and has been single-mindedly pursuing Lavalas and its supporters. Indeed, the US-installed government has already staffed the top posts in the HNP with former military men(37) and incorporated 500 members of the former military into the HNP, with 500-1000 expected to be hired within the next year.(38)

Under the passive gaze of the interim government, the former army has illegally reconstituted itself, establishing bases across the country, including one in the upscale district of Petionville in Port-au-Prince. The soldiers in Petionville are supported by its wealthy residents and routinely assist HNP operations in the poor neighbourhoods, as well as carry out their own. In addition, the soldiers have demanded payment in back wages for the 1995-2004 period and occupied public buildings and threatened the government to this end. The Latortue government, ever obliging, has since offered $30 million from the public purse in compensation.(39)


With the resurgence of the brutal Haitian army and the hostility of the interim authorities to Lavalas, the largest mass-based political movement in the country, political freedom in Haiti has been severely curtailed.

At least four pro-Lavalas radio stations have been burned and ransacked in Cap-Haitian and St. Marc, and journalists perceived as supportive of Lavalas or critical of the de facto government have been threatened, kidnapped or beaten by the former rebels. Fearing for their safety, a number of journalists in Haiti's northern and central regions have gone into hiding, according to the Haitian Journalists Association. The de facto government has also constrained press freedom by illegally shutting down Radio TiMoun and Tele-TiMoun, two media outlets established by the Aristide Foundation for Democracy, and arresting one of Tele-TiMoun´s cameramen.(40) The Haitian media, meanwhile, no longer defend freedom of the press with the same vigour. According to Joseph Guy Delva, the head of the Haitian Journalists Association and Reuters correspondent, and an Aristide critic, if a journalist was arrested during Aristide´s government, there would be a public uproar from print and radio journalists. Now, says Delva, when a journalist is arrested, “the newspapers and radio stations applaud.’ The reason for this sudden change of heart is pathetically transparent: Approximately 20 of the 25 radio and print outlets in Haiti are owned by members of the Group of 184 and uncritically disseminate the anti-Lavalas propaganda of the government.(41)

Political opponents of the Latortue government and supporters of Lavalas are routinely arrested in violation of their civil liberties: On September 16, “police officers raided the offices of the Confederation of Haitian Workers labour union and arrested nine union members, all without a warrant. The official justification for the arrest was that the defendants were ‘close to the Lavalas authorities.´ Hours later, masked men in military attire attacked the office of the Committee for the Protection of the Rights of the Haitian People.’(42) Numerous Famni Lavalas leaders and activists have been arrested without a warrant and left to languish in jail, denied their right to see a judge within 48 hours to contest their detention. Police “weapons sweeps’ into pro-Lavalas neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince have yielded few weapons but many arbitrary arrests. As IJDH reports: “The prisons are dangerously overcrowded and unsanitary. Many prisons were destroyed by the insurgents, especially in Cap Haitian, Gonaives, Les Cayes and Jeremie. The large influx of prisoners, including many political prisoners, are crowded into the remaining areas. There is not adequate food, potable water or healthcare, and many prisoners have become seriously ill.’(43) Beatings and other forms of abuse by prison guards are commonplace. While backlogs in the justice system were a problem that existed under Aristide as well, and thus cannot be blamed entirely on the de facto regime, the Latortue government is knowingly exacerbating conditions in the prisons by illegally arresting their political opponents en masse in order to silence them.

The “justice’ system, on the other hand, has been exceedingly kind to friends of the new government. Louis-Jodel Chamblain, previously convicted in absentia for the 1993 assassination of businessman Antoine Izmery, as well as involvement in the Raboteau massacre, tearfully surrendered to the authorities on April 22 (Under Haitian law, those convicted in absentia are entitled to a new trial upon their return to the country). Chamblain stated that he would sacrifice his freedom so that “Haiti can have a chance at the real democracy I have been fighting for.’ Even before the start of the trial, the hope for an impartial judgement was slim: Minister of Justice Bernard Gousse admitted that the surrender had been negotiated, and declared that Chamblain “had nothing to hide.’ Gousse went on to praise Chamblaim´s decision to surrender as “a good and noble one’ and suggested that he might be pardoned “for his great service to the nation.’ Intimidation was also an important factor: In March 2004, the judge who had convicted Chamblain of the massacre in 2000 was beaten by the former FRAPH commander´s thugs in retaliation. Of the five witnesses called by the prosecution, only one appeared at Chamblain´s hasty overnight trial, and he admitted to not being an eyewitness to the crime. Chamblain was thus acquitted in a trial Amnesty International denounced as “an insult to justice’ and a “mockery.’(44)


The poor masses of Haiti have not been passive victims of violence and repression. On the contrary, “[o]ne of the most striking findings from [the Haiti Accompaniment Project´s] trip was that despite stepped up repression, many groups in Port-au-Prince and in other parts of the country were preparing for ongoing long-term mobilizations to call for the return of democracy to Haiti.’ On May 18 a pro-democracy demonstration in Port-au-Prince was fired upon by police and broken up with the help of US Marines, killing at least one person. Police initially claimed that they had not been given proper notice for the demonstration, but subsequently admitted that the demonstration had been announced well in advance and they had in fact been given proper notice by the organizers.

A large demonstration on September 30 marking the anniversary of first coup that ousted President Aristide in 1991 was similarly met with police violence, this time complemented by a vast propaganda effort on the part of the government and the elite-owned media. More than 10,000 residents of Port-au-Prince´s sprawling slums were marching towards the National Palace to demand an end to the persecution and the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide when police opened fire on the unarmed demonstrators. Gerard Latortue, in a radio interview on October 1, was unrepentant: "We fired on them. Some died, others were wounded, and others fled." Latortue also indicated that the authorities would take action against further protests.(45)

Later, grasping at straws for a cover, government officials would claim that three police officers had been killed and beheaded by Lavalas supporters during the September 30 demonstration. When journalists and human rights groups asked the names of the officers killed and demanded to see the bodies, the government refused. The beheadings were described as the beginning of “Operation Baghdad’, a Lavalas-organized insurgency against the interim government, by Democratic Platform member Jean-Claude Bajeux in a sensational yet totally unfounded account soon after picked up and repeated ad nauseam by Latortue and the Haitian and international press.(46) Lavalas spokespersons´ denials of the existence of any “Operation Baghdad’ and their condemnation of the violence, meanwhile, have been studiously ignored in mainstream media accounts. Meanwhile, an investigation into the reported “Operation Baghdad’ by the Haitian human rights group CARLI (Comité des Avocats pour le Respect des Libertés Individuelles) led it to conclude that no such operation exists. CARLI´s investigation did confirm that two officers had been decapitated, but by former soldiers on September 29, and noted that it was only until after the September 30 demonstrations that the government and the media began to blame Lavalas supporters. The media further stirred anti-Lavalas sentiment when it reported on a funeral service held for five HNP officers. Although only two had died in actual violence, the government/media portrayed it as a funeral of five heroic officers who died at the hands of pro-Aristide militants.(47)

The September 30 shooting of unarmed demonstrators by the police sparked a wave of unrest in the capital, with more protest marches, clashes with police and armed resistance by slum residents to the deadly police incursions into their neighbourhoods. Rather than the result of a mythical Lavalas effort to destabilize the new government, the violence since September 30 in Haiti has overwhelmingly been the product of the de facto government´s brutal efforts to stifle popular protest in the capital.


The reaction of the installed government to the continuing (largely non-violent) opposition of the population has been to intensify the terror and repression, a policy continuing to this day. Raids by masked “anti-gang’ police into the slum quarters of Port-au-Prince, already frequent, have become a daily occurrence, with a concomitant increase in arbitrary arrests and summary executions. Reed Lindsay in the Observer (UK) reported on November 1 that: “policemen wearing black masks had shot and killed 12 people, then dragged their bodies away. At least three families have identified the bodies of relatives at the mortuary; others who have loved ones missing fear the worst.’(48) Amnesty International´s November 11 alert was equally gruesome: On October 26 in Fort National, “[i]ndividuals reported to be members of the police burst into a house and kill[ed] at least seven people,’ while the next day in Carrefour Pean, “[f]our young men are killed in the street in broad daylight by individuals wearing black uniforms and balaclavas. Witnesses identif[ied] their vehicles as police patrol cars.’(49) The HNP raids are frequently accompanied by ambulances that are used to carry away the bodies; those wounded by police violence often don´t seek medical attention, since the HNP arrest anyone, especially young males, found in the hospital with bullet wounds.(50)

The deadly consequences of the post-September 30 campaign are most evident in the reports from the morgue: Independent journalist Kevin Pina reported that on October 15 “[t]he General Hospital had to call the Ministry of Health today in order to demand emergency vehicles to remove the more than 600 corpses that have been stockpiled there, that have been coming in from the killing over the last two weeks alone.’(51) Since October 21, entry to the state morgue has been prohibited, except for visitors pre-approved by the General Hospital administrator, apparently due to the unwanted attention brought by journalists and human rights investigators to the large numbers of bodies coming in. Interviewing morgue employees in mid November, however, lawyer Tom Griffin discovered “that since September 30, 2004. . . the HNP rarely even bring people killed by violence to the morgue. They stated that the police simply take the bodies of those they kill directly to undisclosed dumping grounds, sometimes stopping by the morgue only to borrow the dump truck.’(52)

Forwarded by the Haitian Lawyers' Leadership Network


For My Son

THE boss, a perpetual motion machine, indulges in no downtime after the homeward leg of the 39-hour round-trip, ending a valiant but vain stint in Singapore meant to put some razzle-dazzle in New York City's bid to host the 2012 Olympics. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton functions best on an endless agenda. No stopovers for her.

But her press secretary, Philippe Reines, likes his lethargy, so here he is, black suitcase and BlackBerry in tow - his attachment to the latter is borderline pathological - in an upholstered chair at Mrs. Clinton's unfussy office suite on Third Avenue at 48th Street.

"If advocating for New York were a medal event, she would have left Singapore with the gold," ruminates Mr. Reines, a master ruminator, which he traces to growing up fatherless on the Upper West Side. Not even therapy helped. "After two years my therapist said we weren't making any progress, but she didn't say it in a bad way," he recounts, somewhat cheerfully channeling Woody Allen.

His suitcase still bears a souvenir of the useless trip: a candy-hued identification tag proclaiming him an official NYC2012 delegate. Even if he did neglect to wear his official tie to the bid presentation. Senator Clinton corrected the gaffe by cajoling one from a staff member and expertly tossing it to Mr. Reines in an elevator-to-lobby relay that impressed him immensely: "She's the most capable person I've ever been around."

This afternoon Mr. Reines, 35, single and jet-lagged, wears a clean blue shirt and a haze of stubble. The senator doesn't nag him about shaving; she is, he insists, a boss who doesn't sweat the small stuff. Come to think of it, she doesn't sweat at all. That's his job.

Consider the arrival, last month, of an aggressively unflattering biography, "The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President," by Ed Klein, which climbed the best-seller lists despite condemnatory reviews. Senator Clinton didn't read it, but Mr. Reines did.

He had to. It was up to him to provide the news media with an informed - if uppity - response from the Clinton camp: "This is a book full of blatant and vicious fabrications contrived by someone who writes trash for cash." Catchy. Mr. Reines now adds this: "His 15 minutes of fame are up. I'm looking forward to his biography: 'The Truth About Ed Klein: He Writes Trash for Cash.' "

Just how far will she go to become president? Mr. Reines has his mantra spring-loaded: "Senator Clinton remains focused on being the best senator she can be for the people of New York."

Next Friday he will celebrate three years in her employ, a personal longevity record for a direction-deprived guy who required a dozen years, and three colleges, to score a diploma.

HE was nearly 30 when Columbia University presented him his B.S. in political science and put him on a waiting list for its journalism school. He never made it. Politics intervened, including a semester as Vice President Al Gore's teaching assistant (and de facto press secretary) for his course, on covering national affairs, at Columbia in 2001, and an impromptu writing gig for "Saturday Night Live" in 2002. He supplied the outline for the "Bachelor" spoof in which Mr. Gore interviewed prospective vice presidential running mates while luxuriating in a hot tub. Writing comedy is Mr. Reines's idea of a fantasy career.

Mr. Gore is not, he says, as wooden as advertised and Mrs. Clinton is more personable. "And more receptive to fun."

He found that out his first week, after The New York Post ran a "mortifying" Page Six item on a streaking contest he had participated in while working on Peter F. Vallone's 2001 mayoral bid. Mr. Reines contends he was not actually naked. "I was wearing lawn signs from the Vallone campaign front and back," he says. He heard Mrs. Clinton's reaction secondhand: "Apparently she said something like, 'It's good to know my new press secretary has nothing to hide.' "

Mr. Reines grew up with his mother, an insurance broker, and his grandmother, with no siblings and no fatherly input "other than a void." He was, by adolescence, distressed and resentful. After a semester at the State University of New York at Albany, he returned to the city and tended bar, then moved to Boston, attended college at night, and worked at a bank before going to Columbia. After graduation, he applied to the F.B.I. and the Peace Corps, and on a whim moved to Nashville to volunteer for the Gore campaign.

"I probably saw Al Gore as an extension of the Clinton administration, which I was a big fan of," he says. After the election, George Stephanopoulos suggested that he apply for the job of Mr. Gore's assistant at Columbia; later, he was offered a position as communications director for Representative Jane Harman, Democrat of California. He left that post to join Senator Clinton's team and move to Washington. His only active vacation from politics in three years has been an uncharacteristic (for a couch potato) trek to the peak of Mount Rainier.

"My worst characteristics as a person came out on the climb: a tendency to obsess, relentlessness and a complete fear of failure. They come in handy in this profession sometimes, too, which is O.K. if I'm working toward a positive goal, but to someone on the other side, I probably just come off as grating."

Why he doesn't come off as French: he's not. But no way will he answer to Phil.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company