As political violence appears to be growing in Haiti in the midst of outrageous calls to overthrow of a democratically-elected government; As a Bush administration denies being, once again, involved in efforts to overthrow Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide; As many Haitians feel powerless in front of the barrage of pre-coup lies which currently permeates the international press coverage of Haiti, I invite those wishing to understand what is really going on down there to do a little reading. It just might help put all this craziness in proper context.
First, here are the basic FACTS OF THE DAY:
1) President Aristide was duly elected by the people of Haiti on November 26, 2000—he obtained his 5 year term fair and square.
2) George W. Bush and many of his allies have tried and are continuing to try covert (illegal) as well as overt (diplomatic) actions to destabilize, then overthrow President Aristide’s government.
3) President Aristide has lost a lot of support in Haiti because of his government’s mismanagement of public affairs.
4) Progressive (majority of) Haitians feel trapped as many of them would like to punish or reward Aristide and his party with their electoral ballots. But powerful coup-plotting foreign and national forces have successfully hijacked the country from its people, offering fratricidal violence as a sole path out of the dangerous stalemate they have created in the impoverished nation.
5) There is racial as well as class solidarity between members of the coup-plotting elites of Haiti, the U.S., Dominican Republic and Europe who are hell bent on deposing Aristide before his full term expires, normally, on February 7, 2006.
Now, to understand these basic facts of the day, one must take a look at Haiti’s history (SANKOFA: Go back and fetch it!).
Haiti’s is a history which can be accurately described as a tale of two-way resistance. On the one hand, the (majority of) people of Haiti are resisting White Supremacy. On the other hand, white supremacy, supported by peoples of all color and class, both consciously and unconsciously, is resisting the people of Haiti’s stubborn determination to self-govern by black majority rule.
This incredible, and seemingly never-ending saga of resistance, can be summarized by the following FACTS:
The Republic of Haiti was created on January 1, 1804, following a revolt of enslaved Africans who prevailed against the three dominant European militaries of the time: France, England and Spain.
This shattered the myth of white supremacy… As punishment, Haiti has been attacked, exploited, and vilified ever since.
Stan Goff, former U.S. soldier, author of HIDEOUS DREAM
1492- early 1500’s: Original Taino population of island (over 1 million) completely wiped out by Spanish invaders (Fouchard, Les Marrons de la liberté (LML), 1972)
1499-1791: Africans brought to the island and subjugated to legalized, state-sponsored racial slavery by Europeans (French Code Noir promulgated in 1685). Europeans used torture, religion and murder to maintain the white supremacist system. “Je fis attacher le sorcier et lui fis distribuer environ 300 coups de fouet qui l’écorchèrent depuis les épaules jusque aux genoux Je fis mettre le sorcier aux fers après l’avoir fait laver avec une pimentade” (I had the sorcerer held by a post and flogged with 300 lashes that scorched him from his shoulder to his knees then I had him fixed to the irons after being washed with a mix of peppers) Father Labbat, quoted in Les Marrons de la liberté (1972), Jean Fouchard, page 112.
1776: Africans of Haiti used in French Army (among them, 12 year-old Henry Christophe – later to become King of Haiti) to fight British forces at Savannah, Georgia; thus, helping White Americans gain their independence from England.
1791-1803: On November 18,1803, Battle of Vertières won by Africans against Napoléon Bonaparte’s large expedition to Haiti. The 12 year uprising of Africans enslaved on the island culminates in successive and definitive victories of the Africans over the armed forces of Britain, Spain and France.
1804 (January 1): Haiti declares its independence and becomes the very first nation on the continent to banish slavery. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s liberator, offers Haitian citizenship to any freedom seeker who lands on Haitian shores, including hundreds of white Polish men who were brought to the island by Napoleon Bonaparte’s army.
1805: Calling for Western [white supremacist] solidarity, French Foreign Minister Prince Charles Talleyrand wrote to U.S Secretary of State James Madison: “The existence of a Negro people in arms, occupying a country it has soiled by the most criminal acts, is a horrible spectacle for all white nations”. The United States responds by banning trade with Haiti in 1806 and renewing its embargo in 1807 and 1809. (Bellegarde-Smith, Haiti: The Breached Citadel (HBC), p 49)
1815-1816: Simon Bolivar visits Haiti twice and receives military assistance for South American Liberation. In March 1816 Bolivar left Haiti with men, money, munitions, weapons, and a small press for printing South American revolutionary literature and the proclamation abolishing slavery. Bolivar began by freeing his own 1500 slaves, Haiti’s only demand. Yet, Haiti’s invitation to attend the Panama Congress of 1826 was withdrawn under U.S. Pressure, despite the assistance Haiti had given to Latin American independence movements (HBC, p50).
(Please see also: Why a Haitian flag at Ottawa’s pro-Maduro March?, Jafrikayiti 2019)
1825: French king Charles X crippled the young Black Republic of Haiti with an outrageous ransom for recognition of 150 million Francs-or, which he justified as indemnity to former slave owners for loss of their “property”.
[1830: Abolition of racial slavery in Canada]
1838: France recognizes Haitian independence with initial payments on multi-million Gold Francs ransom. In 1922, the last payment was made on the 60 million Gold Francs eventually extorted from the Haitians by France. (In May 2001, France finally acknowledged the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Racial Slavery to be crimes which it committed against humanity but still refuses to return the ransom collected from Haiti, let alone pay reparations to the descendants of Africans it enslaved).
[1848: France abolishes slavery on its claimed territories]
1853: French Admiral Duquesne threatens to bombard Port-au-Prince to restart payments on the French ransom which had been stopped in 1852 by Haitian Emperor Faustin Soulouque. The latter replied: Je repousserai la force par la force (I will meet force with force), and Duquesne let the matter rest. (Written in Blood, Heiln p199)
1857-1900: U.S.A. intervenes 19 times in Haitian affairs, often with “gunboat diplomacy”.
July 1861: Spanish gunboat aggression against Haiti – At issue: Haitian support to Dominican generals Cabral and Sanchez who were resisting attempted Spanish annexation of Dominican Republic. Spanish Admiral Rubalcava collects $200,000 ransom and 21-gun salute from Haitian President Fabre Nicholas Géffrard.
1861-1865: Spain annexes neighboring Dominican Republic by invitation of its white and mulatto minority: Fearing a return of slavery on the island, Haiti helps anti-Spanish forces to regain Dominican Republic’s independence. (HBC, p183)
[1862: End of legalized racial slavery in the United States of America and formal diplomatic recognition by that nation of the Republic of Haiti].
1870: U.S. gunboat aggression against Haiti using flagship U.S.S. Dictator (This same year, the 15th Amendment is adopted, finally giving Black males the right to vote in the U.S.A) .
1872: German gunboat aggression against Haiti. Commodore Basch collects 3000 Sterling Pounds from the Haitian government and defames Haitian flag with German excrement.
1877: March – French gunboat aggression against Haiti. At issue: resumption of payments on the 1825 ransom – balance then re-estimated at 20 million Francs-or.
December – Repeat of Spanish gunboat aggression against Haiti. At issue: Suspected Haitian assistance to rebels fighting to abolish slavery in Cuba.
Sept. 1883: In the midst of popular riots in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, diplomatic representatives of France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Holland, Norway and Sweden sign an ultimatum threatening Haitian President Lysius Féllicité Salomon of bombarding Haiti’s National Palace.
1884: Spenser St-John, former British Consul-General in Haiti publishes Hayti: Or the Black Republic, in which Haiti is deemed an island of «Vaudoux» practicing cannibals. His will be followed by a host of other anti-Haiti, white supremacist publications like Where Black Rules White (Prichard, 1910), in which the American author says of Haitians and of their religion « the perpetuation of a cult so degrading must have its source deep in the character of the race. Yet you find that these undoubted cannibals can on occasion be both kind-hearted and hospitable. Perhaps the root of it all lies in their squalid ignorance». Hollywood would pick-up the theme with a string of Zombie pictures, starting in the 1930s.
1886-88: Legalised racial slavery finally abolished in Spanish and Portuguese colonies (Cuba, Brazil)]
1890: First, using the diplomatic skills of Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, then using gunboat diplomacy with as many as 7 warships, the U.S. attempts to force Haiti to lease away Môle St. Nicholas as a naval base. Haitian President Florvil Hyppolite citing his people’s Constitution, responds negatively to all U.S. demands.
1897: (Affaire Luders) Repeated acts of German gunboat aggression against Haiti using warships S.M.S. Charlotte and Stein. (HBC, p184)
1915-1934: United States invades Haiti, seizes and expatriates its national treasury and gold reserves, imposes a new constitution allowing property ownership by Americans and dismissing the Haitian legislature from 1917 to 1930. Haiti-U.S accord on reestablishing Haitian Freedom signed in 1933 and, on August 15, 1934 all U.S. Marines left Haiti. (HBC, p184). As part of U.S. legacy, the reins of political powers are strongly secured for the anti-black, pro-American mulatto minorities on both sides of the island (Haiti and Dominican Republic).
During that period, as William Jennings Bryan of the U.S. State Department could hardly control his surprise at Haitians: Dear me, think of it. Niggers speaking French!, the National Geographic Magazine described life in Haiti with such words:
“while the peasants thus took to the bush, the middle and upper class Haitians gravitated to the seacoast towns, where they learned the art of living by the expert exploitation, political and commercial, of the unthinking black animals of the interior“, National Geographic Magazine, 1920: 497).
1937 (October): White Supremacist Dictator Raphaël Trujillo of neighbouring Dominican Republic, benefiting of full support from his great friends U.S. president F. D. Roosevelt and Haiti’s mulatto president Sténio Vincent, orders the massacre of as many as 30,000 Black Haitians in a fit of anti-Haitian sentiment which also left countless Black Dominicans dead.
1957: US Helps François Duvalier win fraudulent elections.
1958-1963: U.S. Marine Corps mission trains Duvalier’s armed forces. Thousands of Haitians are murdered by Duvalier. During the 60s, lucky few seek exile in newly liberated African states.
1960s: In U.S., Black freedom fighter Dr. Martin Luther King gunned down by CIA. Several others who stand to denounce white supremacist policies like racial segregation are murdered by the KKK, CIA or other U.S. government forces. Civil right struggles in the U.S. coincide with continued and ever increasing migration of Haitian exiles (fleeing Duvalier dictatorship) towards the U.S.A., Canada, Africa and Europe.
1971: François Duvalier dies. U.S. Administration supervises transfer of power to his son, 19 year-old Jean-Claude Duvalier and trains new military unit: the Leopards.
1970s-1980s: American and Canadian sex tourists carry AIDS to Haiti (Farmer, 1994). In 1981, Haitian refugee tragedies and Florida landings reach noticeable levels.
1983: U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) contributes to worldwide anti-Haitian propaganda with the infamous four H (4H) theory about AIDS; namely that homosexuals as well as heroin addicts, hemophiliacs, and Haitians were the most likely to have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Haiti’s tourism industry takes fatal plunge and U.S. applies ever more stringent anti-Haitian immigration policies. Finally, in 1985, following widespread protest, the CDC admits it was absurd to make nationality a biological or medical determinant and took Haitians off their outrageous list.
1986: Dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier is deposed by popular uprisings. He flees to Paris with millions of dollars in a U.S. Air Force transport plane. French government pretends to accept him for a week only, on temporary visa (in 2002, he still lives and spends his stolen fortune there). In Haiti, power is assumed by Haitian Army but the people continue to demand democratic elections.
1987: Haitian student hunger strike is organized to protest Vatican’s decision to transfer popular liberation theologian Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Rome.
1988-1990: Several U.S.-backed military dictatorships rise and fall, dodging popular demand for free elections.
1990: Democratic elections are finally organized. U.S. opposes Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s candidacy and support their own man, former World Bank employee: Marc Louis Bazin. Following Aristide’s overwhelming victory in these democratic elections, U.S. Ambassador Alvin Adams warns festive Haitians with Kreyòl proverb “apre dans tanbou lou” (After the dance, drums are heavy to carry).
1992: Shocking Murder of Prominent Aristide Supporter and Campaign Financer Antoine Izmery who revealed to the New-York Times that Jimmy Carter had tried to get Aristide to concede the election before the first votes were counted. (Written in Blood, Heinl p735) «The Bush and Clinton administrations expressed support for Aristide as Haiti’s elected president, but behind the scenes the junta had powerful allies in the CIA and in the offices of conservative US Senators Jesse Helms and Robert Dole.» (Everybody Needs Some Bodies Sometime (Haiti)—excerpted from the book Toxic Sludge Is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry The Torturers’ Lobby by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton)
Jesse Helms, a leading opponent of Aristide, brought CIA analyst Brian Latell to Capitol Hill, to brief selected senators and representatives on allegations that Aristide had been treated for mental illness. It turned out that the time during which the CIA report alleges Aristide was treated at a Canadian hospital falls within the same period that Aristide was studying and teaching in Israel.
Haiti’s Nightmare: The Cocaine Coup & The CIA Connection by Paul DeRienzo
The CIA fabricated an attack on Aristide’s character that fell apart when it came under public scrutiny. The CIA director then revealed to a congressional committee that his agency had retained on the payroll several military officers who had overthrown the elected president.
Haiti: SUCCESS UNDER FIRE, by James Morrell
In the spring of 1994, at the height of a campaign of murder and rape orchestrated by FRAPH (Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti), a terror group organized on behalf of Haiti’s military, several publications received unauthorized copies of cables originating from the US. embassy-with the im-primatur of U.S. ambassador Leslie Swing. Haiti is culturally violent, the cables declared, rape was always accepted in Haitian society and women are learning to report it now mainly for political gains. From How The Major U.S. Media Are Undermining Democracy by Jean Jean-Pierre.
Fall 1994: After 3 years of boat-people landings on Florida shores, international negotiations in the midst of world-wide protests, including hunger strike by black activist Randall Robinson, the U.S. Army invades Haiti on September 19, 1994 and, in the process, seized and expatriated 160,000 pages of sensitive documents then suspected to link the CIA with murderers in Haiti. After several broad-day assassinations of other key Aristide associates (Lawyer Guy Malary, Father Jean-Marie Vincent) by the FRAPH paramilitary, now confirmed to be linked to the CIA, a U.S. Airforce carrier finally brings President Aristide back to Haiti.
The policy of dumping refugees back into Haiti or into Guantanamo became untenable. Not only were more and more of them truly eligible for political asylum, but there was a gross and offensive racism in barring black refugees while letting in whites. Randall Robinson’s twenty-seven day hunger strike touched a chord among millions of black Americans and indeed all fair-minded Americans. James Morrell in HAITI: SUCCESS UNDER FIRE
STILL, little-known is the fact that Aristide’s return was confirmed – not until he was forced to agree that 1) his 3 years of exile be considered as part of his 5-year presidency and 2) he signs the infamous Paris Accord of August 1994, which was negotiated by the World Bank and the IMF under concerted pressures from several neo-colonial powers (U.S, France, Canada). The Paris Accord called for the drastic reduction of tariffs and import controls, an open foreign investment policy, and privatization – all, policies that ran counter to the nationalist and popular mandate of Aristide’s 1991 government. « We’ll have the banks, the national cooperative, the telephone company, the electricity company-all strategic sectors- in the hands of multinational corporations.» « Aristide was like a prisoner of war in Washington. An accord signed under such conditions could not be valid.»
Camille Chalmers, renowned Haitian economist in Haiti’s Latest Coup: Structural Adjustment and the Struggle for Democracy, Multinational Monitor, May 1997.
A jubilant former U.S Ambassador, Robert White, is inspired to declare to the Boston Globe: I think the best thing that has happened to Aristide and his administration-in-exile is that they have had a crash course in democracy and capitalism
October 15, 1994: like a subdued hostage, Jean-Bertrand Aristide is returned to organize elections to find himself a suitable successor as President of Haiti.
1994-1995: Much to the dismay of the U.S. Administration and its allies, President Aristide disbands the Haitian Army, asks support for a national disarmament program and adopts a foot-dragging attitude towards implementation of the Paris Accord. U.S. Army in Haiti helps several paramilitary killers escape Haitian justice. Most notorious among them, admitted CIA operative Emmanuel (Toto) Constant who moved to New-York (where he resides to this day !) and exhibitionist torturer Prosper Avril (now jailed in Haiti).
The history of the abuse of Haiti, which in our lifetime has become a tragedy, is also the story of Western civilization’s racism.
Eduardo Galeano in Haiti, Despised by All, December 1996
1995-96: Haitian population elects as president, Aristide’s ally and former Prime Minister René Garcia Préval. Millions of dollars of international aid promised to help rebuild Haiti at the time of the 1994 return of Democracy never materialize. With much political maneuvering, President Préval begins to implement the Structural Adjustment Program imposed by the neo-colonial powers while taking a few verbal jabs at the still hostile Port-au-Prince diplomatic corps (see January 1, 1999 independence day speech). Préval organizes legislative and presidential elections whose results are contested by a nationally-insignificant but internationally-propped-up opposition. Amid, the ensuing electoral crisis, President Préval manages to complete his full term in office.
Haiti has been plunged into one of the gravest crises of its history. The crisis began with the implementation of the Paris accord by the Aristide government. The accord, it seems, was one of the conditions imposed on the Lavalas leader by the so-called friends of Haiti, notably the United States, Canada and France, for restoring him to power.
Sony Esteus, Director of programming for SAKS, an organization which supports community-based radio in Haiti. In HAITI: THE CRISIS PERSISTS.
1997: American Christian Pastors lead Haitian counterparts to Bwa Kay Iman, site of the 1791 uprising, in an evangelical crusade to convert Boukman (leader of 1791 uprising) and Haiti to Christianity – taking them away from Satan in the name of Jesus!. President René Préval, obliged to intervene to cool down rising tensions of religious violence, declares Bwa Kay Iman, a national park. To this day, some American «Pastors» and their cronies are using the same incredibly racist tactics as their 19th century European ancestors to collect money in the name of bringing Jesus to a Satanic Black people.
2000: Once again, the Haitian population elects Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the presidency of their country, as Republican candidate George W. Bush becomes President of the United States. American right wing agencies, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which openly opposed Aristide’s election, provide assistance to Convergence Democratique (CD), a 15-party opposition coalition which declares the elections fraudulent and, in challenge of Aristide’s legitimacy, names its own alternative president while some of its members (CD) bluntly declare their intention to violently overthrow Aristide with assistance of the CIA and the disbanded Haitian Army—for a second time around.
The most determined of these men, with a promise of anonymity, freely express their desire to see the U.S. military intervene once again, this time to get rid of Aristide and rebuild the disbanded Haitian army. That would be the cleanest solution, said one opposition party leader. Failing that, they say, the CIA should train and equip Haitian officers exiled in the neighboring Dominican Republic so they could stage a comeback themselves.
Haiti Torn by Hope and Hatred As Aristide Returns to Power by Edward Cody, Washington Post, February 2, 2001.
2001: Two murderous armed attacks against Haiti, arriving by way of the Dominican Republic took place on July 28 and December 17. Such actions were predicted as early as February 1996, in a detailed (MUST READ) report by Andrew Reding titled: Haiti – An Agenda for Democracy, in which one can read much of the CIA’s old network, including its highest-ranking member, Michel François, remains at large on Hispaniola, possibly plotting a comeback.
Incredibly, the U.S. and the OAS declared that these attacks against the Haitian government were not coup attempts. Instead [to further frustrate the Haitian people and her government], they join the European Union in demanding that, Haiti’s government pays multi-million dollar reparations to its opposition for victims and loss of property it suffered during the popular unrest that followed the Dec 17th attack.
Furthermore, the same neo-colonial nations, members of a self-appointed conglomerate calling itself Friends of Haiti within the OAS, insist that all aid or loans to the Government of Haiti shall be suspended until a political compromise is reached between the duly elected government and its foreign-backed opponents.
As a matter of fact, they hold hostage $500 million in international aid and loans to the Haitian government, including loans from the Inter-American Development Bank earmarked for education, healthcare and infrastructure projects, such as potable water. Outrageously, Haiti is now required to pay arrears payments and credit commissions on loans that it has not received. Many legal experts believe that the IDB faces possible legal exposure for failing to honor signed contracts with the Haitian Government.
Meanwhile, the dire socio-economic conditions of a ruined country coupled with the political and psychological destabilization that the people of Haiti (which dared again to elect a government on its own) have had to endure, AND the multiple errors, faults, concessions (Structural Adjustment, Privatization, Creation of Free Zones) and outright disappointments caused by a weakened and overwhelmed Aristide government, are giving rise to sporadic outbursts of violence that are dangerously reminiscent of the days just prior to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
2002: As people, worldwide, are becoming more and more fed-up with the blatant racism of powerful neo-colonial nations towards Haiti, conflicts start to boil openly within the OAS between Black-led CARICOM nations and several Latin-American nations who are sympathetic to Haiti and White-led former colonial powers and colonies.
In the U.S, long-time allies of the Haitian people, such as the Congressional Black Caucus and several progressive Whites, denounce the illegal U.S. and European-led embargo against Haiti. To this effect, the Congressional Black Caucus tables Resolution 382 «New Partnership for Haiti» in the U.S. Congress.
They raise their voices to indicate how the racist anti-Haiti sanctions violate the Geneva Convention, the UN Charter, the World Health Organization Constitution, the Convention on the Rights of Children, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States.
“The U.S. government is blocking aid to Haiti in order to expand the influence of a single political party that is supported by less than four percent of the Haitian electorate”. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congressional Black Caucus
Haiti needs help, not unmerited manipulation!, Larry Birns and Michael Marx McCarthy, Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
A lot of the people with whom I live—they’re from central Haiti—point out the similarity between this embargo and that imposed on the Haitian people by the United States after their revolution made them, in 1804, the first independent black republic in the world. The United States refused to recognize the new Republic of Haiti for some 60 years—until 1862—in large part because of the objections from U.S. slaveholding states.
Dr. Paul Farmer In December 2001 interview with The Haiti Bulletin, A Ross-Robinson & Associates Publication.
Dr. Farmer is Professor of Medicine and Anthropology at Harvard University. This internationally-respected health expert established a clinic in Haiti in the early 1980’s and has remained an active practitioner in the health care delivery system of that country.
Meanwhile, right-wing Republicans maintain pressure on the OAS to vote one resolution after another unfavorable to the Haitian Government. Prompting the highly-respected Council on Hemispheric Affairs to conclude: The international wing of the Republican Party (IRI) and Bush’s White House appear to be conspiring against the hemisphere’s poorest nation.
Many are beginning to see in this latest page of the saga of the Haitian people, the dirty fingerprints of a powerful international network of white supremacists, fomenting civil unrest in Haiti as was the case during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Rwandan Genocide cannot be undone. Will the Haitian one be stopped on time?
This article was written on November 29, 2002
(the coup it predicted and attempted to avert took place 29 February 2004)