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***This country just does whatever it wants to with other countries in the world...but handle the countries that do not take schit from the U.S. with kid gloves...it is amazing how that works....

From His First Day in Office, Bush Was Ousting Aristide:
Where were the media when Haiti's leader was railroaded and rousted?
By Jeffrey D. Sachs

March 4, 2004

If the circumstances were not so calamitous, the American-orchestrated removal of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from Haiti would be farcical.

According to Aristide, American 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 United States 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, according to Aristide's lawyer, the U.S. blocked reinforcement of Aristide's own security detail. At the airport, Aristide said, U.S. officials refused him entry to the airplane until he handed over a signed letter of resignation.

After being hustled aboard, Aristide was denied access to a phone for nearly 24 hours, and he knew nothing of his destination until he and his family were summarily deposited in the Central African Republic. He has since been kept hidden from view. Yet this Keystone Kops coup has apparently not worked entirely according to plan: Aristide has used a cellphone to notify the world that he was forcibly removed from Haiti at risk of death and to describe the way his resignation was staged by American forces.

The U.S. government dismisses Aristide's charges as ridiculous. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has offered an official version of the events, a blanket denial based on the government's word alone. In essence, Washington is telling us not to look back, only forward. The U.S. government's stonewalling brings to mind Groucho Marx's old line, "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"

There are several tragedies in this surrealistic episode. The first is the apparent incapacity of the U.S. government to speak honestly about such matters as toppling governments. Instead, it brushes aside crucial questions: Did the U.S. summarily deny military protection to Aristide, and if so, why and when? Did the U.S. supply weapons to the rebels, who showed up in Haiti last month with sophisticated equipment that last year reportedly had been taken by the U.S. military to the Dominican Republic, next door to Haiti? Why did the U.S. cynically abandon the call of European and Caribbean leaders for a political compromise, a compromise that Aristide had already accepted? Most important, did the U.S. in fact bankroll a coup in Haiti, a scenario that seems likely based on present evidence?

Only someone ignorant of U.S. history and of the administrations of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush would dismiss these questions. The United States has repeatedly sponsored coups and uprisings in Haiti and in neighboring Caribbean countries.

Ominously, before this week, the most recent such episode in Haiti came in 1991, during the first Bush administration, when thugs on the CIA payroll were among the leaders of paramilitary groups that toppled Aristide after his 1990 election.

Some of the players in this round are familiar from the previous Bush administration, including of course Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney. Also key is U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega "” a longtime aide to Jesse Helms and a notorious Aristide-hater "” widely thought to have been central to the departure of Aristide. He is going to find it much harder to engineer the departure of gun-toting rebels who entered Port-au-Prince on Wednesday.

Rarely has an episode so brilliantly exposed Santayana's famous aphorism that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

In 1991, when Congressional Black Caucus members demanded an investigation into the U.S. role in Aristide's overthrow, the first Bush administration laughed them off, just as this administration is doing today in facing new queries from Congressional Black Caucus members.

Indeed, those who are questioning the administration about Haiti are being smeared as naive and unpatriotic. Aristide himself is being smeared with ludicrous propaganda and, most cynically of all, is being accused of dereliction in the failure to lift his country out of poverty.

In point of fact, this U.S. administration froze all multilateral development assistance to Haiti from the day that George W. Bush came into office, squeezing Haiti's economy dry and causing untold suffering for its citizens. U.S. officials surely knew that the aid embargo would mean a balance-of-payments crisis, a rise in inflation and a collapse of living standards, all of which fed the rebellion.

Another tragedy in this episode is the silence of the media when it comes to asking all the questions that need answers. Just as in the war on Iraq's phony WMD, wherein the mainstream media initially failed to ask questions about the administration's claims, major news organizations have refused to go to the mat over the administration's accounts on Haiti. The media haven't had the gumption to find Aristide and, in failing to do so, to point out that he is being held away from such contact.

With a violence-prone U.S. government operating with impunity in many parts of the world, only the public's perseverance in getting at the truth can save us, and others, from our own worst behavior.


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Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is a former economic advisor to governments in Latin America and around

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In Aristide's Wake, a Land Long Divided by Class, Color Explodes
Looting and attacks on businesses and the rich could lead to deepening of the nation's poverty.
By Carol J. Williams
Times Staff Writer

March 5, 2004

PETIONVILLE, Haiti "” From the palm-shaded swimming pools and marble terraces of this wealthy suburb's hillside villas, the distant squalor of Port-au-Prince looks like a tranquil, opalescent coastal setting.

The lavish comforts enjoyed here by Haiti's small class of industrial kingpins inspired former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to label them "rocks washed by cooling waters," while his people, the impoverished masses in the slums below, were "the rocks in the sun, taking the heat."

In a populist drive to show the rich how poverty feels, Aristide once urged his followers to drag the rocks from the river into the inferno "” a metaphorical appeal that lives on after his departure as armed supporters continue to loot and burn the businesses of the upper class in a frenzy of revenge.

"Aristide sold people that image, that we were the rocks in the water," said Michael Madsen, an industrialist of Danish descent who is the embodiment of the light-skinned elite whom Aristide demonized as Haiti's economic vampires.

"He told his people to take us out, to show us what it was like on the outside. Why didn't he encourage them to come themselves into the water? Because he was incapable of building anything. He only knew how to destroy."

Two days before Aristide stepped down, gunmen armed by his Lavalas Party broke into Madsen's Haiti Terminal port freight yard, he said, ransacking the offices to punish him for supporting the political opposition. It wasn't long before desperate slum dwellers began looting the shipping containers in the yard, which were filled with food, clothing and electronics.

In the torrent of reprisals unleashed against his perceived enemies in ideology, class and color as his power vanished, Aristide succeeded in sharing the pain of the poor with some of the elite that had never felt it.

But the strategy of sacking enterprises owned by Aristide's political opponents promises to only widen the social gap between the industrial dynasties that have controlled the economy for generations and the impoverished masses that will have even fewer jobs. As U.S. Marines patrolling the capital refuse to intervene to halt the looting, the damage could spread.

Aristide, who departed early Sunday, had long promised a "cleansing flood" "” his party's translation of the Creole word lavalas, whose close French derivation more accurately means "deluge." The inundation of the last few days has wiped out the workplaces of thousands and perhaps the gains of the relatively few blacks who succeeded, under Aristide, in penetrating the so-called bourgeoisie.

How much longer the attacks on the rich will continue is uncertain, but the damage has dealt a staggering blow to an economy that was already the poorest in the Western Hemisphere and spiraling downward. At least $160 million in property has been destroyed, estimated Maurice Lafortune, head of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce.

The loss could represent half this devastated nation's private investment, said importer Sandro Masucchi, whose Honda auto dealership was looted and burned on the morning of Aristide's departure.

The roots of the mob rampage run deep in Haitian history.

The minuscule population of whites and mulattos "” as those of mixed black-and-white ancestry are called in Haiti "” thought to be no more than 1% of the populace of 8.5 million, has long occupied a disproportionate position in the equally tiny echelon of the wealthy.

That is a consequence of landownership dating to Haiti's 1804 independence, when some offspring of French colonial masters and African slaves acquired property amid the panicked exodus of the Europeans after the slave revolt triumphed. With no redistribution of land, the haves and have-nots formed along racial lines. Color was so obsessively tied to status then that Haitians put names to 64 racial mixtures and assigned each a place on the social hierarchy.

In 1884, British Ambassador Spencer St. John wrote prophetically of the young state's racial fixation. "There is a marked line drawn between the black and the mulatto, which is probably the most disastrous circumstance for the future prosperity of the country."

Those now heading family empires insist that the color issue faded at the start of the last century, when the same waves of immigration that brought Irish, Italians and Germans to work in U.S. factories also infused fresh blood into Haiti. Business deals and marriage crossed racial lines sooner than in the United States, say the racially mixed third- and fourth-generation descendants of the immigrants.

During the 30-year dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, the mulatto industrialists prospered and paid little heed to either the poverty that afflicted the masses or the repression of the Duvaliers' political opponents. The elite's protectors and political delegates were the generals of the Haitian National Army.

When Aristide rose to national prominence from his Catholic pulpit in the late 1980s, he embraced a socialist ideology equating ownership with exploitation and encouraged the homeless to build shantytowns on industrialists' land. He cast factory owners as modern-day enslavers for the paltry wages they paid, sowing discord in the workplace. Business owners were so angered that some backed the 1991 military coup that deposed Aristide.

That purported collusion with the army by a few of the most powerful families "” the Brandts, the Mevs, the Accras "” allowed Aristide to taint the entire industrial class as dictatorship's paymasters. He also dissolved the army and used jobs in the police force to reward political patronage, essentially destroying the security institutions and replacing them with armed bands of hungry street kids.

"The bourgeoisie are the reason Aristide couldn't do anything," said Katho Laguerre, a 21-year-old Cite Soleil slum dweller, gesturing toward the hills of Petionville above the capital. "The bourgeoisie have everything, and we have nothing. That's why Aristide said we could build houses here, that this was the living room of the people."

Charles Baker, whose apparel empire has been closed and sister's factory torched, said the former president, unlike his predecessors, used color to polarize the nation.

"When someone says 'bourgeoisie' in Haiti, they don't mean a rich man who is black but a rich man who is white or mulatto and belongs to the opposition," said Baker, a descendant of Europeans and American blacks who came here in the 1930s. "The opposition is 99% black and of lesser means than we are, but the image he tried to create was of a light-skinned elite."

Aristide's use of racial politics forced the business elite to descend from its splendid isolation and join a broad array of movements, from independent media to peasant groups to labor unions.

"It's the one good thing he did," author and opposition activist Yannick Lahens said of Aristide. "Everybody felt so threatened that it brought us together."

Wealthy businessmen such as Madsen and Andre Apaid, the son of a Lebanese father and mulatto mother, say the elite has learned a humbling lesson from the Aristide era, when they were blamed for every social failure.

"We have to be a society of inclusion, and we have to stay united," said Apaid, whose telecommunications businesses have proved less vulnerable to the crowbar-wielding vandals than the holdings of other industrial leaders. "We have a precious thing in this unity for the first time in our history. Where else do you see union leaders and business owners marching together?"

Some opposition leaders, however, remain skeptical of the motivation of the rich to work for better lives for all Haitians.

"The mentality of the elite hasn't changed yet," said Franckel Jeanrisca, head of the Peasant Movement of Papaye. "We can't have two classes "” one mulatto and one black."

Haiti's subsistence farmers have long occupied the bottom rung of the social ladder. Devastating environmental problems have drastically cut crop yields, leaving them poorer than ever, Jeanrisca said.

His 200,000-strong organization, which once avidly supported Aristide, entered a "tactical union" with the elite and other factions to drive the president out, he said. It remains to be seen whether the industrialists are genuinely committed to national reconciliation, he added.

Honda dealer Masucchi, whose Italian ancestors arrived after World War I, is one of many businessmen who contend that they became Aristide targets not because of their money or light skin but because of their challenge to Lavalas.

The wrecking crews targeted even small businesses owned by Aristide opponents, such as Hans Remy's Ca
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