Friday :: Feb 27, 2004

Haiti Has GOP/CIA's Fingerprints All Over It

by Steve

I’ll go ahead and ask a question with an obvious answer: why is the Bush Administration more concerned about toppling a dictator in an oil-rich nation crippled by a decade of sanctions than they are in opposing efforts to topple democratically-elected leaders in their own hemisphere?

After watching the Bush Administration assist the failed coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez several years ago in a clumsy attempt to get control of the country’s vast oil reserves, it was only a matter of time before this all-star foreign policy team bungled its way into another mess in its own hemisphere. As the White House has now told Aristide to step aside and transfer power to his constitutional successor, perhaps it is time to take a look at how we got into the mess of watching a country we helped overcome a coup ten years ago now slide back into civil war without raising a finger. Or did we want this outcome in the first place?

There are several things to stipulate from the outset. Jean-Bertrand Aristide is no one’s idea of an effective and visionary leader. And Haiti has a recent history of questionable elections. But let’s also consider several other factors at play here. And as I run through some of these, remember that the GOP has never liked Aristide because he is too leftist for them.

First, the White House has done very little recently to head off this emerging problem. Except for saying that he won’t accept boatloads of Haitian émigrés coming to our shores, Bush and his brother Jeb have shown indifference to stopping the uprising against Aristide. Colin Powell goes so far to say that our efforts to help out in Haiti have gone for naught, due to corruption and cronyism, with an implied swipe at Aristide. Yet it is important to remember that Aristide was first elected in 1990, overthrown by a coup in 1991, and restored to power by the United States in 1994. Aristide pissed off both the Duvalier crowd and the CIA by decommissioning the Haitian Army. Aristide left office in 1996, and didn’t return to power until 2001 when he was elected, albeit with serious concerns about the propriety of that election. As a result of the concerns over the 2000 elections, both the Bush Administration and the EU suspended economic aid to Haiti, making things even worse for Aristide.

During the time he was out of power, his successor Rene Preval implemented harsh IMF “reform’ measures which caused more hardship for the Haitian people. Yet Colin Powell is holding Aristide responsible for the problems in Haiti during the period he was out of power, and for the problems in the 2000 parliamentary elections that predated his own election in late 2000.

While the democratically elected Preval was trying to deal with the continuing difficulties of implementing harsh IMF austerity measures, two allegedly nonpartisan international aid organizations created by the GOP during the Reagan years began assisting the development of opposition efforts in Haiti in the 1990's. This culminated in December 2002, when the International Republican Institute, a unit of the GOP’s National Endowment for Democracy pulled together all elements of the Haitian opposition into the Group of 184 under Andy Apaid Jr., owner of several sweatshops in Haiti whose father was a supporter of the former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. Apaid is the political face on the Haitian opposition; the military muscle behind the opposition forces is being run by former Duvalier officers and death squad members Guy Philippe and Louis Jodel Chamblain, who both have CIA support and were involved in the 1991 overthrow of Aristide.

But take a look at the Board of Directors of the IRI, and you’ll get a sense of what is going on here. The IRI is a “who’s who” of the Reagan-Bush era GOP, with many corporate types thrown in for good measure. The IRI has been funding and assisting the Aristide opposition since 1998, ostensibly to “level the playing field” and create a multi-party state in Haiti. And of course the man heading up our diplomacy in Central America is Otto Reich, who not only learned his trade in the Reagan Administration working with the contras and regional death squads, but also was involved in the failed coup against Chavez in Venezuela.

When you take a look at the emerging crisis in Haiti in light of who is involved and who bankrolled the Haitian opposition over the last half-decade, you can see that what is happening in Haiti now has the GOP’s and CIA’s fingerprints, and those of the Duvalier crowd all over it.

Steve :: 3:36 PM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!