US Imperialism in Haiti
2004 US Military Coup in Haiti
Just beginning with the 1990 election of Aristide (far too narrow a time frame), Washington was appalled by the election of a populist candidate with a grass-roots constituency just as it had been appalled by the prospect of the hemisphere's first free country on its doorstep two centuries earlier. Washington 's traditional allies in Haiti naturally agreed.
The fear of democracy exists, by definitional necessity, in elite groups who monopolize economic and political power.
-Africology professor and renowned Haitian scholar Bellegarde-Smith observes in his perceptive history of Haiti ; whether in Haiti or the US or anywhere else.
The threat of democracy in Haiti in 1991 was even more ominous because of the favorable reaction of the international financial institutions (World Bank, IADB) to Aristide's programs, which awakened traditional concerns over the "virus" effect of successful independent development. These are familiar themes in international affairs: American independence aroused similar concerns among European leaders. The dangers are commonly perceived to be particularly grave in a country like Haiti , which had been ravaged by France and then reduced to utter misery by a century of US intervention. If even people in such dire circumstances can take their fate into their own hands, who knows what might happen elsewhere as the "contagion spreads."
The Bush I and Clinton administrations reacted to the disaster of democracy by shifting aid from the democratically elected government to what are called "democratic forces": the wealthy elites, and the business sectors, who, along with the murderers and torturers of the military and paramilitaries, had been lauded by the Bush II administration, in their Reaganite phase, for their progress in "democratic development," justifying lavish new aid. "The praise came in response to ratification by the Haitian people of a law granting Washington 's client killer and torturer Baby Doc Duvalier the authority to suspend the rights of any political party without reasons. The referendum passed by a majority of 99.98%." The New York Times reports:
The former leader of Haiti's most feared right-wing paramilitary group has confirmed that he was a paid agent of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1991 to 1994. His relationship with the C.I.A., he said, started shortly after a right-wing military junta overthrew Mr. Aristide in September 1991 .
It has already been reported that leaders of the junta were on the C.I.A.'s payroll from the mid-1980's until at least the early 1990's. It also has been reported that the agency had set up a Haitian intelligence service whose members attacked Mr. Aristide's supporters, as did Mr. Constant's paramilitary organization, the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti.
In an article entiteled, "HAITI: Rights Groups Disclose U.S. Support for Extremists", Inter Press Service reports:
The United States’ role in Haiti became the focus of controversy again this week with the release of classified documents showing U.S. ties to extremist right-wing groups during the 1991-94 reign of the military junta there.
Thousands of pages of newly declassified U.S. documents, received by the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), depict a U.S. government that understood the brutal nature of Haiti’s rightist opposition — but denied it in public.
‘’Obviously, they were talking out of both sides of their mouth,’’ CCR lawyer Michael Ratner said of the U.S. government.
‘’They were talking about restoring democracy to Haiti, but at the same time, they were undermining democracy in the coup period— at times supporting a group that committed terrorist acts against the Haitian people,’’ Ratner told IPS.
He contended that U.S. suspicions of Aristide’s leftist populism prodded them to seek support from even the most brutal anti-Aristide elements.
human rights groups blame FRAPH for the bulk of some 4,000 murders committed from Aristide’s ouster in a September, 1991, coup until his return with U.S. support in October, 1994.
Refugees fleeing to the US from the terror of the US-backed dictatorships were forcefully returned, in gross violation of international humanitarian law. The policy was reversed when a democratically elected government took office. Though the flow of refugees reduced to a trickle, they were mostly granted political asylum. Policy returned to normal when a military junta overthrew the Aristide government after seven months, and state terrorist atrocities rose to new heights.
It therefore marked a positive step towards democracy as compared with the 99% approval of a 1918 law granting US corporations the right to turn the country into a US plantation, passed by 5% of the population after the Haitian Parliament was disbanded at gunpoint by Wilson's Marines when it refused to accept this "progressive measure," essential for "economic development."
Their reaction to Baby Doc's encouraging progress towards democracy was characteristic - worldwide -- on the part of the visionaries who are now entrancing educated opinion with their dedication to bringing democracy to a suffering world - although, to be sure, their actual exploits are being tastefully rewritten to satisfy current needs.
The perpetrators were the army - the inheritors of the National Guard left by Wilson 's invaders to control the population - and its paramilitary forces. The most important of these, FRAPH, was founded by CIA asset Emmanuel Constant, who now lives happily in Queens, Clinton and Bush II having dismissed extradition requests -- because he would reveal US ties to the murderous junta, it is widely assumed. Constant's contributions to state terror were, after all, meager; merely prime responsibility for the murder of 4-5000 poor blacks. Human Rights Watch letter to the New York Times:
To the Editor:
Your Nov. 10 front-page article on the United States role in Haiti does not describe the Clinton administration's role in shielding the men who ruled and terrorized Haiti from 1991 to 1994.
United States troops patrolling Haiti in 1994 allowed most of the worst criminals to flee the country, but seized numerous records from the army and death squads, as well as photographs of torture sessions. Haitian prosecutors have spent five years trying to recover these materials. The United States now says it will not return the files unless it can first delete all references to American citizens.
Moreover, 16 high-ranking Haitian military officers have reportedly been allowed to live in the United States, among them Emmanuel Constant, the leader of a paramilitary group, who has bragged about receiving regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency.
Advocacy Dir., Human Rights Watch
New York, Nov. 10, 1999
In an article entiteled "Renewed Outcry on Haitian Fugitive in Queens",The New York Times reports:
Haitian-American leaders, outraged by the increasingly visible presence in Queens of a man accused of killing thousands in Haiti, are renewing a call to send the man back there for trial. Human Rights Watch reports:
For more than five years, Emmanuel Constant, 43, the leader of a Haitian paramilitary group in the early 1990's, has lived intermittently with an aunt on a quiet street in southeast Queens since 1994, popping up at restaurants, coffee shops and nightclubs in Brooklyn and Queens and on Long Island.
His presence in the city has always angered Haitian exiles and human rights advocates who have tried to persuade the United States government to extradite him on murder charges.
Kate Doyle is right to say the release of documents showing American complicity in genocide in Guatemala should ''set a precedent.'' In Haiti, some of the best evidence about the junta that ruled from 1991 to 1994 is in 160,000 documents the United States seized during its 1994 intervention. But Washington, determined to avoid revelations on its intelligence links to the junta, refuses to give the documents back without removing all American names.
Also, Washington has given Emmanuel Constant, its paid intelligence informant and leader of Haiti's most vicious paramilitary group, refuge from Haitian prosecution, apparently on condition that he not speak about his American connection.
In an article entiteled "Haitians Cry 'Assassin' Outside Queens Home", the New York Times reports:
High-pitched wails and angry shouts pierced the damp quiet of a Queens neighborhood yesterday morning as about 30 people gathered at the home of a former paramilitary leader from Haiti to protest his presence in the United States.
A coalition of Haitian and human rights groups has tried to persuade the United States government to extradite Mr. Constant to Haiti for trial. And this is not the first such protest demanding his arrest.
Outrage at his presence in a heavily Caribbean neighborhood prompted the Immigration and Naturalization Service to detain him for a year. He was abruptly released in 1996, raising suspicions that Mr. Constant, who has said he was a paid informer for the Central Intelligence Agency, struck a deal with the United States government: his freedom for his silence.
Pierre Florestal, 64, the host of a radio show on Radio Soleil d'Haiti, said Mr. Constant's life of relative impunity symbolized the way the United States had too often treated Haiti and its people. Without accountability for those who tortured, maimed, terrorized and then fled to exile, Mr. Florestal said, the victims could not heal.
Recall the core element of the Bush doctrine, which has "already become a de facto rule of international relations," Harvard's Graham Allison writes in Foreign Affairs:
those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves.
- in the President Bush's words, and must be treated accordingly, by large-scale bombing and invasion.
When Aristide was overthrown by the 1991 coup, the Organization of American States declared an embargo. Bush I announced that the US would violate it by exempting US firms. He was thus "fine tuning" the embargo for the benefit of the suffering population.TO BE CONTINUED