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17627: Esser: The Bush Administration's Endgame for Haiti (fwd)

From: D. E s s e r <torx@joimail.com>

From: Dominique Esser <torx@joimail.com>

The Bush Administration's Endgame for Haiti
from The Black Commentator
Issue 67 by Kevin Pina

In the last three months Haiti has seen a spate of political
assassinations of Lavalas militants, charges of government complicity
in the killings by the opposition, and the corporate media’s constant
trumpeting of the evils of “Aristide’s Lavalas regime.” These
intrigues finally climax into a media circus on November 14th with the
opposition Group 184 holding an anti-Aristide demonstration in front
of the national palace with a heavy contingent of international press
in tow. The much smaller opposition Group 184 is overwhelmed and
outflanked by over ten thousand angry Lavalas supporters. Group 184 is
forced to withdraw as the Haitian police fire teargas and give orders
to disperse in an effort to keep the two groups from clashing.
Furthermore, two members of Group 184 are arrested for possession of
weapons and are immediately pronounced to be “political prisoners” by
the opposition group. Condemnation of the government by the new U.S.
Ambassador and the international community is swift as greased
lightning. A new round of propaganda begins against Lavalas hammering
the theme that freedom of expression is now impossible in Haiti. This
media-ready event is touted as further evidence that Aristide is
actually a dictator in democrat’s clothing.

Whose Democracy is it anyway?

So who is Group 184 and how have they managed to garner so much media
savvy in such a short period of time? How has their leader Andre Apaid
been transformed from a reactionary businessman, who forces union
organizers off his property at gunpoint, into “Andy” the democratic
leader of the opposition? The answer to these questions, as is so
often the case, lies in Washington D.C. not in Port au Prince.

Let’s start from the beginning with a Washington D.C. based
organization called the Haiti Democracy Project (HDP) that has
fashioned itself into the arbiter of Bush administration policy
towards Haiti. According to Tom Reeves, in an article published last
October in Dollars and Sense magazine, “This July, even the departing
U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Brian Curran, lashed out against some U.S.
political operatives, calling them the "Chimeres of Washington" (a
Haitian term for political criminals). The most recent of these
Chimeres have been associated with the Haiti Democracy Project (HDP),
headed by James Morrell and funded by the right-wing Haitian Boulos
family. In December 2002, the HDP literally created from whole cloth a
new public relations face for the official opposition, the "Coalition
of 184 Civic Institutions," a laundry list of Haitian NGOs funded by
USAID and/or the IRI (International Republican Institute), as well as
by the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce and other groups.” So who
is this mysterious Haiti Democracy Project (HDP) that created the
Group 184 and believes it is qualified to intervene in Haiti’s
internal political affairs and thereby represent the hopes and
aspirations of 8 million Haitian citizens?

Novelist cum journalist, Herb Gold, knows the HDP well.  Gold recently
joined the negative hit-piece parade against the Haitian government
and wrote in the SF Chronicle last October 19, “Of course, there are
still folks who love Aristide; Mussolini also has his loyalists. The
variety-pack of current issues in Haiti includes fraudulent elections,
street violence, an entrenched drug distribution apparatus, and
state-implicated murders and disappearances.” What Mr. Gold doesn’t
mention is that his presence in Haiti had been conjured by a notable
HDP founding board member eleven months earlier to the day. On
November 19, 2002 at the opening of the HDP in Washington, D.C.,
former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Timothy Carney pleads, “There needs to
be something done to begin to get this process under way. I think that
the seminars that the Haiti Democracy Project has in mind doing in an
effort to spark a debate are probably the only thing that can be done
given the fact that there aren’t any journalists worth their salt to
go down and write about Haiti. Where’s Herb Gold? I hope he is still
alive. Yes, he is still in San Francisco.”

“Who else is writing on Haiti in anything other than desultory
fashion?  We need a lot more focus in America on what’s going on in
Haiti today. And I would hope that the Haiti Democracy Project is
going to do that…”

“Herb Gold could write when he was there in the early 1950s about how
worried everyone was that there were four hundred thousand people in
Port-au-Prince. You just have to go to that town today and you will be
appalled of what has become of the facilities, the infrastructure, and
the future of the children of Haiti. So what do you do?” The real
question should be what hasn’t this Washington suit, and his
right-wing Haitian allies, done to destabilize Haiti? And again, just
who is the HDP anyway?

The Players

It all begins with HDP's director James Morrell, who was asked to
leave the Center for International Policy (CIP), a "liberal"
think-tank founded by former US Ambassador to El Salvador Robert
White. The rumor on the Hill was that Morrell was forced out because
of his open flirtations with Haitian right-wingers. This seems to be
supported by HDP’s partnering with the right-wing Boulos family and
the most reactionary elements of Haiti’s Chamber of Commerce. The
pedigree of this pack of interventionists can be gleaned from its
guest list the night it was founded in Washington D.C.

There were notable Haitians in attendance at the Haiti Democracy
Project’s grand opening held in the Brookings Institute on November
19, 2002. Among them was founding member Rudolph Boulos. Boulos is
infamous for once being summoned for questioning in February 2002
concerning the assassination of one of Haiti’s most popular
journalists, Jean Dominique. Dominique publicly lambasted Boulos for
having sold poisoned children’s cough syrup through his company
Pharval Pharmaceuticals. Over sixty children died from diethyl alcohol
contamination of "Afrebril and Valodon" syrups, the deadly concoction
brewed in Boulos private laboratories.

Among the other right-wing notables at the founding of the HDP was
Stanley Lucas of the International Republican Institute, whose
relations in Jean Rabel, Haiti were implicated in a 1987 massacre of
peasants. Also in attendance was Olivier Nadal, the former president
of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce, who is implicated in a peasant
massacre in the Haitian township of Piatre in 1990. Ears close to
Haiti’s courts say an indictment and arrest warrant, in connection
with the Piatre massacre, are due to be issued for Mr. Nadal soon. To
round it off and give the semblance of a Haitian center-right
coalition, James Morrell chose as a co-founder Clotilde Charlot who is
a Social Development Specialist who works for the Women in Development
Unit of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). Jocelyn McCalla,
founder and former executive director of the National Coalition for
Haitian Rights (NCHR), was also in attendance. Creole language radio
stations in New York and Miami as well as officers in Haiti’s police
force recently accused NCHR of taking sides with the opposition in
Haiti. It must have been a lonely night for Dr. Joseph Baptiste of the
National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians (NOAH) whose
website states “NOAH's active participation in the democratization of
Haiti continues, and was most recently evidenced when the organization
was invited to witness the inauguration of the newly elected,
President Jean Bertrand Aristide."

Even more interesting is the cadre of Washington suits who attended
the HDP’s grand opening. Many in this elite group are also founding
members or advisory board members of HDP. The list includes:

• Founding board member of HDP, Timothy Carney – U.S. ambassador to
Haiti, 1998–99.

• Founding board member of HDP Vicki Carney – Consultant,
CRInternational, Washington, D.C.; served in U.S. Embassy in Haiti

• Clinton L. Doggett – Head of Haiti desk, U.S. Agency for
International Development

• Sukhi Dosanje – Agency for International Development

• Amb. Luigi Einaudi – Assistant secretary-general of the Organization
of American States. (For over two decades, Einaudi has been a career
U.S. diplomat and defender of Washington's interventionist policies
through both Republican and Democratic administrations).

• Founding board member of HDP, Ira Lowenthal, in-country director,
Associates in Rural Development, 1998–2000. (The Haitian opposition
was first forged under Mr. Lowenthal’s tutelage as former guru of the
Democracy Enhancement Project).

• Founding board member of HDP, Amb. Orlando Marville – Chief of OAS
electoral mission in Haiti, May-July 2000. (It was Marville’s office
that leaked allegations to the press of incorrect ballot counting
methods in the May 2000 parliamentary elections.

• Roger Noriega – U.S. ambassador to the OAS. (Noriega is Jesse Helms’
protégé and a vociferous opponent of popular democratic movements in
the region.

• Dan Whitman – Former chief public-affairs officer, U.S. embassy,
Port-au-Prince. (Whitman was accused of manipulating a witness,
Phillip Markington, in the investigation of the Jean Dominique

This impressive list is the crème de la crème of Washington’s “big
thinkers” on Haiti and they are out for nothing short of regime
change. Former Ambassador Carney summed up their position in a Reuters
interview November 27, 2002, “The big question is whether Aristide is
going to understand that he has no future,” said Timothy Carney, a
former U.S. ambassador to Haiti. "Without massive reform, Haiti is
once again headed for the kind of chaos that has intermittently dogged
its history.” It is now clear that HDP’s version of “massive reform”
is predicated upon the removal from office of a constitutionally
elected president, and the Lavalas movement of the majority of the
poor that supports him, whose reputation they have systematically
sought to destroy.

Unfortunately, to HDP’s chagrin and angst, Aristide’s popularity among
the poor majority of Haitians remains intact. In a backhanded and
slanted acknowledgement of this fact Paisley Dodds of Reuters wrote on
November 18, “Now opponents say Aristide, who remains the country’s
most popular leader, is becoming a dictator.” What Ms. Dodds fails to
write is that the “opponents” she refers to include a large helping of
white American citizens in the HDP who work, or have worked, for the
U.S. government in Haiti.

Intellectually first among equals in the HDP is Ira Lowenthal, former
Democracy Enhancement Project guru, who wrote a OP-ED piece in the
Miami Herald on October 31 entitled; “Aristide has made a mockery of
constitutional rule in Haiti.” In it he repeats in sound bite fashion
the major themes that have been spinning in the corporate media about
Haiti for the past three months. Written as an attack against the
Congressional Black Caucus’s support for immediate elections in Haiti
Lowenthal railed, “The  Oct. 27 column by U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee and
John Conyers, Avert Constitutional Crisis, reads as though it were
penned by one of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's lobbyists. There
is no constitutional crisis pending in Haiti, nor could there be.
Aristide has seen to it that he, his cronies and henchmen have
trampled every basic constitutional precept protecting this suffering
nation from the reemergence of one-man rule, kleptocracy and

In a bizarre political twist, Lowenthal seems to play the race card
when he continues, “Yet Lee and Conyers counsel Haitian democrats to
put 'political interests aside' and move toward 'successful' elections
under Aristide's unchallenged stewardship. Disingenuous? Perhaps.
Self-serving? Surely. For there is nothing more alluring to
Congressional Black Caucus members than standing along with Aristide
on Jan. 1, 2004 – the 200th anniversary of Haitian independence.” We
can guess from this statement he means that the Congressional Black
Caucus suffers from the inability to know the difference between his
definition of democracy and the Black Caucus’s own short-sided vanity.
Is there a racial stereotype in there or does he mean that his
superior knowledge of Haiti better qualifies him to decide what is
best for the world’s first black republic? In classic fashion,
Lowenthal makes the arrogant assumption that HDP and their small band
of rightist Haitian intellectuals, are far superior and smarter than
the average poor Haitian who continues to support Aristide. This error
in analysis is easy to make when Lowenthal confuses interventionist
thinking for acceptance of the suffering and reality facing the
majority of the poor in Haiti. It is patently clear that Lowenthal’s
bloated ego has never been tempered by a day without food and money in
his life. The same can be said for the members of the HDP and their
artificial surrogates in Haiti.

The Effects of Low-Intensity Conflict

This latest cycle of political violence and negative press over the
past three months fits into a pattern of destabilization summed up by
Tom Reeves in Dollars and Sense magazine when he wrote, “Aristide was
unfortunate to be elected (for the second time) in 2000, the same year
as George W. Bush. Elitane Atelis, a member of Fanm des Martyrs
Ayibobo Brav (Women Victims of Military Violence), put it bluntly:
today, her country faces ‘what every Haitian baby knows is Bush's
game.’ The game is low-intensity warfare, a policy mix long familiar
to observers of U.S. policy toward ‘undesirable’ regimes in Latin
America and elsewhere. The mix includes disinformation campaigns in
the media; pressure on international institutions and other
governments to weaken their support of the ‘target’ government; and
overt and covert support for rightist opposition groups, including
those prepared to attempt a violent overthrow.”

The effects of this policy are clearly evident in Haiti today as
prices for basic goods continue to rise in tandem with increasing
crime and violence. The only hope of organizations like the HDP, and
their surrogates in the Group 184, is that this will lead to
increasing disillusionment with the Aristide government and its
eventual overthrow. As Reeves eloquently points out in his Dollars and
Sense article, the average poor Haitian continues to see it

Anatomy of a Failed Political Coup: A Timeline

September 2: The National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) releases
a report alleging the police have created an auxiliary force comprised
of “Lavalas gangsters.” NCHR equates this alleged paramilitary force
with Duvalier’s Ton Ton Macoutes and the former death squads or
Attachés under the Cedras dictatorship.

September 18: President Jean-Bertrand Aristide accepts the credentials
of the new US Ambassador to Haiti, James B. Foley at Haiti's National

September 19: President Jean-Bertrand Aristide holds a press
conference reiterating that local and parliamentary elections will be
held this year. The opposition responds by continuing to paralyze the
Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) by refusing to appoint its
designated members according to an agreement brokered by the
Organization of American States (OAS).

September 21: Amiot Metayer is slain and the opposition blames
Aristide for the killing. Jean Tatoune, a former commander of the CIA
inspired Front for Advancement and Progress in Haiti (FRAPH), leads
violent demonstrations against the government.

October 7: Transparency International (TI) releases its Corruption
index, which labels Haiti the third most corrupt country in the world.
Several British organizations on the left describe TI as “a tool to
destabilize Governments for corporate interests under the guise of
exposing corruption.” Last January 11th Beth Aub, founding member and
Secretary General of the TI-Jamaica chapter, resigns alleging “corrupt
practices among others.”

October 12: Novelist Amy Wilentz, former Aristide biographer and
confidant, writes an article entitled “HAITI; A Savior Short on
Miracles” for the Los Angeles Times. In it she gives credence to the
opposition charge that Aristide had Meteyer killed in order to silence

October 16: Jane Regan publishes “Former Haitian allies become
enemies: Weeks of protest have followed the killing of a government
opponent” in The Christian Science Monitor. Reagan echoes Wilentz and
the opposition’s accusation that Aristide had a hand in Metayer’s

October 19: Novelist Herb Gold, follows with an article in the San
Francisco Chronicle entitled, “Haiti is the tragedy you can dance to:
Iraq and Afghanistan should take note of the Caribbean's failed
experiment in nation-building.” In it he describes Metayer as a
“megathug” and reinforces the notion of Lavalas cast as armed gangs.
He also echoes NCHR in comparing them to Ton Ton Macoutes and

October 26: Jean Tatoune leads “anti-government protesters” to attack
the Gonaives police station and gunfire kills a 17 year-old girl on
her bicycle. The police chief and two officers are wounded.

October 27: The Haitian police enter the Raboteau neighborhood in
Gonaives and arrest a dozen people in response to the police station
attack the day before. A female bystander is shot and killed and two
people are wounded in the raid.

October 31: Ira P. Lowenthal, a founding member of the Washington
think-tank the Haiti Democracy Project, publishes an OP-ED piece in
the Miami Herald entitled “Aristide has made a mockery of
constitutional rule in Haiti.” In it he repeats NCHR’s assertions of
“Aristide's armed thugs, whose operations recall those of the dreaded
Tonton Macoutes and paramilitary forces that supported Haitian
dictators.” Lowenthal directly accuses Aristide of Metayer’s murder.
He then attacks the Congressional Black Caucus’s support for new
parliamentary elections in Haiti by accusing them of being
“self-serving” and wanting to stand next to Aristide during the
upcoming bicentennial celebrations. He announces that Haiti’s “leading
artists, intellectuals and writers” have begun circulating a petition
to boycott the January 1, 2004 celebrations.

November 1: The Front of Youth for Saving Haiti, a group close to the
opposition in the Port au Prince neighborhood of Carrefour, announces
it is armed and intends to overthrow the government through “civil

November 4: Wilson Lemaire, described by AP as a Lavalas gang leader
from the Port au Prince slum of Cite Soleil, is assassinated and his
alleged followers demonstrate calling on President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide to resign. Opposition party spokesman and former Sen. Paul
Denis claims “Aristide uses them and then disposes of them when they
become an inconvenience.” The government denies the accusations.

November 5: Newly appointed Ambassador James Foley announces ''the
government has not assumed its responsibilities'' in preparing for the
tentatively scheduled parliamentary elections.  Foley says the
international community will not accept the results “if the government
organizes unilateral elections.”

November 10: Group 184 calls for a demonstration against the Haitian
government to take place in front of the National Palace on November

November 13: The Group 184 attempts a trial run for their
demonstration scheduled for the next day. AP first reports “over a
thousand” demonstrators participate but photos taken by independent
observers forces them to lower the number to “hundreds” by the end of
the day.

November 14: The Group 184 attempts to organize a demonstration
calling on President Aristide to resign. While several hundred of the
opposition attempt to rally, over 10,000 government supporters control
the main road in front of the National Palace. Several members of the
Group 184 are arrested on possession of weapons charges and the
opposition declares them “prisoners of war.” The Group 184 is forced
to withdraw as it becomes clear they are greatly outnumbered and
police fire teargas into the crowd in an effort to keep the two
factions from clashing.

November 17: The Group 184 calls for a national strike that is a near
repeat of the strike they called last January 24. Businesses that
largely cater to Haiti’s small upper and middle classes shutter their
doors while the majority of small marketplace women, known as ti
machann, remain open for business.

© The Black Commentator 2003