The Acts of the Democracies

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2004

Regime Change in Haiti

USA forces kidnap the elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide after destabilising the country and strangling the economy with sanctions and supporting an insurgency. When asked by Eliott C. McLaughlin of Associated Press, if he left Haiti voluntarily, Aristade's reply was:

"No. I was forced to leave. Agents were telling me that if I don't leave they would start shooting and killing in a matter of time."

The USA says it escorted the president out of the country. At the airport he handed a letter of resignation to Luis Moreno, the deputy chief of the USA embassy.

Father Michael Graves, a USA born preacher who has worked in Haiti for 18 years contradicted this account, saying that the president was escorted out of the country at gunpoint after being forced to sign his resignation: "I am outraged that the US has stepped into a sovereign country, a fledgling democracy, and forced out a leader who was elected."

Aristide's concierge, Joseph Pierre, confirmed that: "White Americans came by helicopter to get him. They also took his bodyguards. It was around two o'clock in the morning. He didn't want to leave. The American soldiers forced him to. Because they were pointing guns at him, he had to follow them. The Americans are second only to God in terms of strength".

The USA ensured that $ 500 million in emergency humanitarian aid from the USA, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund was suspended.

Several of the paramilitary leaders of the insurgency are men who were behind the previous USA-backed coup and its aftermath (1991 to 1994). Louis Jodel Chamblain is a former member of the paramilitary death squads from that period.

The USA controlled the president's security until USA Secretary of State, Colin Powell informed Aristide that the USA would not protect him. In other words, resign and leave or be killed. After a 20 hour flight Aristide found himself in a French military base in the Central African Republic.

The coup occurs after the USA had been destabilising the country and strangling the economy with sanctions and supporting a rebel insurgency since 2001. The new government is recognised by the USA and France. The USA and its media describes Aristide's exile as "a voluntary departure" which allowed the "restoration of democracy". In 2002, the USA had commissioned a report into the elections in the country which had verified them. The report was supressed by the USA government.

The USA ensured that $ 500 million in emergency humanitarian aid from the USA, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund was suspended.

Since 2001, human rights activists and humanitarian workers in Haiti had documented numerous killings of government officials and bystanders in attacks on health clinics, police stations and government vehicles. None of these killings had been condemned by the USA government. The rebel gangs responsible are linked to two groups financed by the USA: the Convergence for Democracy (supported by George W Bush and his party) and the pro-business Group of 184 (represented by Andy Apaid, a supporter of the former Duvalier dictatorship and now a USA citizen).

France backed USA calls for the president to resign. Aristide was accused by the USA of becoming dictatorial even though he had abolished the (USA created) army in 1995. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Union call for a formal investigation into Aristide's removal. This is unreported by the Western media which barely covers the events in the country.

Haiti is the poorest country in the "Western Hemisphere" and the fourth poorest country in the world. 50% of the country's wealth is owned by 1% of the population. Life expectancy is 52 years for women and 48 for men. Unemployment is about 70%. About 85% of the population live on less than $1 per day.

60% of the country's trade is with the USA. The manufacture of baseballs, textiles, cheap electronics, and toys, the country's sugar, bauxite and sisal are all controlled by USA companies. As an example, the USA entertainment company, Disney, has used sweatshops in Haiti to produce Pocahontas pajamas, among other items, at the rate of $0.11 per hour. Aristide had attempted to raise the minimum wage.

The country has a debt of $1,134,000 million. About 40% of this debt stems from loans from the USA to the brutal Duvalier dictators who had been backed by the USA. Little of this money had actually benefited the population. In July 2003, Haiti had to send over 90% of its foreign reserves to the USA to pay off some of the debt.

Foreign companies receive vast incentives to set up plants in Haiti but returns to the Haitian economy are minimal. Working and living standards of the local people have steadily declined.

Tom Driver, a frequent visitor to Haiti describes the country after the exile of the president:

"the National Palace ... the building is mostly occupied by U.S. Marines, who also patrol the streets and the airport, and fly helicopters almost constantly over the poorer parts of Port-au-Prince night and day. U.S. forces have made many night-time raids into some of the poorest quarters, particularly the one called Belair. In these raids they have killed an uncertain number of people, estimates going as high as 70. Occasionally the foreign soldiers venture into middle class neighborhoods, but never threaten the houses on the hills where the wealthy live."

A school of medicine established by Aristide is closed by the USA military and the building used as a barracks.

The USA military do not arrest the rebels who had taken up arms against the legitimate government as this is "not part of the mission of the U.S. forces", according to USA embassy staff. Force is used, however, against militants in the slums who are loyal to Aristide.

The new Prime Minister is Gerard Latortue, who had lived in Florida (USA) for 14 years. He had been a member of the previous government of 1988 (also installed by coup). Another minister, Herard Abraham, is a former general who intends to re-form the army. Most of the new Cabinet are exiles who have worked for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Business leaders praise the new government.

The day after the coup, 34 union members at the Ouanaminthe garment assembly factory are fired. When the workforce decides to strike, a group of armed men attack the strikers. The workers are forced back inside the factory.

The new government releases from prison the former general, Prosper Avril. He had seized power in September 1988 (until March 1990). Victims of torture under his regime were awarded $41 million in compensation. These victims included opposition politicians, union leaders, scholars, even a doctor trying to practise community medicine. Three of his torture victims were shown on television after being tortured. He suspended 37 articles of the constitution.

During March 2004, 1000 political murders take place and dozens are killed by USA marines.

In the Summer of 2004, several tropical storms kill more than 3,000 in Haiti. The large number of deaths is attributed to lack of infrastructure and deforestation. This began in 1915 when the USA invaded the country and USA corporations were given ownership of the most fertile lands. Thousands of acres were cleared for rubber production, sugar plantations, and produce for export. The clearing of the original forest has left the country with little top soil so it is susceptible to flooding.

In December a report from the human rights group, Comit� des Avocats pour le Respect des Libert�s Individuelles (CARLI), reports hundreds of cases of rape by the USA backed military, Forces Armee d'Haiti or FADH:

"In the month of August, for example, more than 50 cases of rape by former military were reported to our hot line."

"In the three months, July to September, 81 women - all under the age of 30 - were admitted to health centres run by GHESKIO (Groupe Ha�tien d'Etude du Sarcome de Kaposi et des Infections Opportunistes) for treatment and counselling following sexual assaults. The majority of assaults took place in the metropolitan region of Port-au-Prince. According to GHESKIO, 54% of rapes are committed by armed men in the victim's home."

A UNICEF team deployed to the city of Gona�ves from 20 October to 2 November reported a "problem of rape of teenage girls".

According to Michael Brewer, who runs an organization called Haitian Street Kids, street children are frequently killed by soldiers and former soldiers. He describes one such attack:

"At approximately 7pm in the evening, a carload of these ex-military members drove by the park [Place Boyer in Petionville] and stopped where 20 to 30 children were sleeping. The ones that were not asleep alerted the others, and they all began to run. Three were caught by the men: one 7-year old by the name of Linxson, one 12-year-old and a 15-year-old. The boys were first beaten severely. Black bags were then put over their heads and tied around their necks, and then they were shot and killed. The bodies were placed in the trunk of the car and taken away from the scene."

"One week earlier, a nine-year-old named Emmanuel was running from a group of these men after he refused to come to them when they called him. They shot him in the leg with an assault rifle to stop him. Three of the men casually walked up to where the child was lying on the ground and crying. They ridiculed him, then shot him again with pistols and a shotgun, for a total of 4 more times. One of my children, a 14 year old boy named Makinzi, was murdered as he was walking down the side of the road about three weeks ago..."

None of these events is reported in the Western media.

Human rights organisations report that poorer neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince continue to be targeted by death squads. Bodies are often found in an area called Titanyen long a favorite dumping spot of bodies by FADH and paramilitary killing squads. According to Melinda Miles, a USA citizen living in Haiti:

"In Haiti today we are not thankful for the pillage of our natural resources, and the sweatshops that suck the life out of young mothers in the cities. We are not thankful for the overfilled slums of Port-au-Prince and the rocky, hostile land where once there was fertile soil. We are not thankful for the violence of poverty."

© 2017, KryssTal


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