Who will come to the support of the
Haitian people under siege, in this, Haiti's 200th anniversary from
European enslavement? Where are the voices for human rights and Haitian
democracy in the U.S? Every Hip-Hop artist must make this his or her
cause. Haiti's very dignity as a Black-ruled, democratic and independent
nation is under attack right now, not far from U.S. shores.
One form of the "debt" for Haitian independence is that Haiti has suffered consistently from negative images put forth by the international mass media with seeming impunity. Today, in general, if you pick up a mainstream newspaper, the unfair, unbalanced and negative images of Haiti have gone nuclear.
What I've noticed most is that it's not just mere misinformation and misstatements of facts or just outright lies, but the reporting about Haiti is blatantly and palpably RACIST.
There has been a deluge of mainstream press reports the last few months to the effect that Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has lost popular support, won't allow dissent, demonstrations and protests, has armed "thugs" and allows corruption to flourish in Haiti.
There has been no calibration or modulation or historic context given for any of these charges. These little more than opinions are handed out as TRUTH. Few, if any, investigative reports have shown the Opposition's role in this or the combined role of the tiny Eurocentric/Haitian economic elite and the U.S. State Department, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency in, for instance, financing, training, arming and providing war machinery to Guy Phillip, Louis Jodel Chamblain and their other, as Collin Powell has said, FRAPH/FAHD "criminals and thugs." Nor, has the Amiot/Butler Metayer cover used to undermine democracy with the Gonaive connection between Jean Tatoune, a former FRAPH death squad leader and convicted murderer, who was in the Gonaive prison with Metayer, ever been exposed. No press has investigated the fact that Amiot Metayer's testimony against the Raboteau victims may show he played both sides. We only hear the late Amiot Metayer and his brother, Butler Metayer (who just announced he is the President of a liberated Haiti!) were pro-Lavalas "thugs" who turned against Aristide. No mainstream press ever mentions Danny Toussaint any more, or his position these days with the so-called Opposition, or that he may have been a paid infiltrator, a provocateur within the Aristide government. No, it seems that if certain facts don't serve the purpose of undermining Aristide, they are not "news" worth reporting.
Why? Because many journalists, including major and otherwise credible US-Euro media outlets and newspapers, seem to give more value to the position of the unelected, wealthy and Eurocentric Haitian few, whom they call the "opposition" than they do to the desires and social-economic needs of the overwhelming Black majority in Haiti. Also because these journalists lie about Haiti and its people and about Black behavior as if Haitian lives and Haiti's historical struggle for civil rights and democracy amidst US-Euro obstruction, embargo, dollar diplomacy and divide-and-conquer shenanigans is negligible. As if they may break EVERY recognized journalistic principle and ethic since they are only talking about lives that are not valuable, souls animated by just poor defenseless Black Haitians. Shall this go unchallenged by decent peoples everywhere? I think not.
Aristide still has popular support and the majority of his supporters cannot be criminalized as "thugs." That would mean something in the neighborhood of a little less than 8 million Blacks in Haiti are "thugs." That is racist and baseless. Period. No Comma.
Moreover, criticizing Aristide on the question of demilitarization and government corruption should always be put in perspective. There is an element of self-defense in not demilitarizing pro-Lavalas supporters, as his opponents have charged. If we are to speculate, perhaps Aristide didn't want to suffer another Coup D'etat because the Haitian army and FRAPH members in Haiti where not demilitarized and his poor supporters where already very defenseless. Perhaps we should consider his defense that the new civilian police force was ill trained and that, even as President, he did not have the means to further professionalize and properly face armed criminals, so he negotiated. Perhaps Haiti was not properly demilitarized, as the weight of the evidence shows, because people in Haiti who have money, guns and means, no matter their party affiliations, including certain people who call themselves Lavalas militants, have always, historically, felt they were above Haitian law and could not be subject to it, no matter who was in charge.
Whatever the reason, it's a combination of all the above. But this seemingly Haitian and now U.S. State Department idea that only one man, one "messiah" (pwoblem Ayiti se pwoblem yon sel grenn kretyen vivan), or one government, or that only one Haitian generation would bring and have all the solutions for all that plagues Haiti is unrealistic to the point of being felony-stupid. These observations are not a justification of the corruptions within the Aristide government, only facts of Haitian life to be considered in the mix of considerations.
Haitians had only just begun, in 1994, after almost 200 years of institutionalized cronyism, corruption and dictatorships, to have an authentic democratic say in the way their public institutions where run. Just started to de-centralize power and allow for local town meetings, local governments. But those who have always ruled Haiti through the tiny undemocratic agents of imperial power, along with the former Haitian military and paramilitary forces saw their privileges diminishing. The sole purpose of this current "Get Aristide Out" campaign is to help bring back the old brutal Haitian army so that these un-democratic privileges will, once again, be maintained against the people's will.
The Haitian people's ten-year effort in de-centralizing power was a threat. I contend it is due to Haiti's successes with democracy ‚ the fact that Haitians were slowly moving forward with the democracy experiment ‚ that there are these US-sponsored Coup D'etat attacks today.
Lies of the corporate press
Not long ago I read an article where a journalist wrote, "Haiti celebrated its bicentennial amidst tear gas...."!!!???
I was there at said January 1, 2004, celebration. I can personally witness that I did not need a gas mask and that this is one of the many outright lies of the corporate press. Other recent fabrications have been the consistently erroneous characterization of the opposition protesters against the duly elected President Aristide as "student" protesters. Both Renel Victor and Maxime DÈsalmour where identified as opposition "students" who died as a result of the recent wave of demonstrations in Haiti. Neither Renel Victor nor Maxime DÈsalmour where students. In fact Renel Victor was a Lavalas supporter according to his wife. Louvoi Petit was a pro-Lavalas demonstrator who was stoned by the Apaid-led opposition. Yet this was not widely reported as the deaths of opposition demonstrators were reported.
Why does it seem that Reuters/AP and the major press, based on their reports on the Renel Victor, Maxime DÈsalmour and Louvoi Petit cases alone, seem primarily concerned about the rights and freedom of speech of the anti-Aristide opposition people in Haiti?
In order to counter these media slants and sometimes outright fabrications, I urge the spoken word warriors and Hip hop generations and every Haitian who went down to Haiti for the Bicentennial to stand up and respond to these lies. Without question the forces against the advancement of the Haitian people have manufactured a bloody catastrophe. It is clear that what's happening in Haiti was well planned. The U.S. started warning its U.S. citizens and Embassy folks to leave Haiti and started preparing Guantanamo Bay for the expected influx of fleeing Haitians weeks before Louis Jodel Chamblain and Guy Phillip and their 21 armed commandos got to Gonaive.
Also, it appears from all indications, including the boasting by the opposition, that said violent Coup D'etat/overthrow was to occur on or before January 1, 2004. The so-called opposition lost much credibility with patriotic Haitians when even the sacred day to commemorate the African Ancestors' 200-year-old, 1804 great achievement, was boycotted by the opposition and its radical right wing white cohorts in the U.S. Their divide and conquer blueprint and manufactured conflicts unforgivably obstructed the celebration of Haiti's greatest feat.
Yet, Haitian blood did not pour into the Atlantic Ocean. Bombs did not drop on Gonaive on January 1, 2004. In fact, their RACIST maneuverings did not come to fruition as the powerful opposition radio station, Radio Metropole, reported on January 1, 2001Öyet.
It is well documented (See the COHA report referenced below) that the so-called Haitian opposition has no real program, platform or constituency, other than less than 4% of the population in Haiti and the stated desire to overthrow Aristide and bring back the old Haitian army.
This opposition we are hearing so much about today is made up of the remnants of the Convergence and something called Group 184, led by sweatshop owner Andre Apaid, Jr., and made up of 14 Haitian organizations and NGOS funded by USAID, the European Union, France and the International Republican Institute.
This so-called opposition has, for four years in Haiti, simply refused to go to elections, primarily because they could not win. But, while the Haitian government is under an economic embargo led by the U.S., in 2003 alone civil society groups such as the Haitian opposition received 3 million dollars from U.S.A.I.D., and the European Union gave a $890,374 GRANT directly to Fondation Nouvelle Haiti, led by Andre Apaid Jr., and to Rosny Desroches. Rosny Desroches heads the Fondation Haitienne de l'Enseignement Prive (FONHEP). Both Apaid and Desroches are members of Group 184.
Andre Apaid, Jr., like Amio Metayer, also thrives on ignoring Haitian law. For instance he has faced charges for illegal treatment of his sweatshop workers in Haiti and, as a Miami-born U.S. citizens, many Haitians wonder how Collin Powell and Noreiga can legally call and negotiate with this U.S. citizen as "leader" of an Opposition in Haiti when the Haitian Constitution specifically prevents non-Haitian citizens from holding elected office in Haiti! Thus, we seem to have more than Aristide's "thugs" thumbing their noses at Haitian law with seeming impunity, don't we? It goes to the highest of levels in Haitian society and even within the U.S./Euro governments.
For, in addition to the financial, military, media and political support, some observers have commented that the OAS has always been a broker for the opposition! Thus, we have the priceless marketing/promotional aid this tiny, platformless constituency in Haiti gets from the U.S. corporate media that constantly report as "news" and as "factual" opinions culled from opposition-owned news outlets in Haiti, such as the powerful Radio Metropole and others. To the U.S./Euro citizenry, I say, don't believe the hype. Don't believe most of what you hear or see about Haiti. It's not the whole picture.
Many knowledgeable Haitian observers note that the US/Euro-financed Coup D'etat, scheduled to occur on or before January 1, 2004, did not happen because hundreds of thousands of young Haitian men and women of all ages stood around the Haitian palace for days and nights during the bicentennial week, literally as body-armor to prevent the internationally-financed imperial agents from pushing Haiti back into FRAPH-like dictatorship.
It was an awesome sight to see and no Haitian, from the Diaspora or African-American, or anyone, for that matter, regardless of race and creed, blessed enough to have personally witnessed this desperate but glorious act of courage and conviction by this valiant people, can return to their homes abroad and not SPEAK UP.
Haiti's people are hungry, malnourished, skinny as hell, without jobs or passports to suburbia, but they so WANTED to celebrate and be celebrated. So much so, they dared the foreign-sponsored-special-interest-groups-representing-big-business-and-Profit-Over-People- ideas, also known as the "Opposition," to either commit mass Haitian genocide or back off!
But these anti-democratic forces in Haiti did, in fact, come back. Since Port-au-Prince could not be taken by January 1, 2004, the Dominican border was magically opened to former Haitian military and FRAPH to enter and start this bloody campaign we are now witnessing in Haiti.
But Haitians are fighting these foreign supported Black gangsters with everything they've got. Port-au-Prince will not be taken unless the U.S. and the Euros intend on returning Haiti back to the Black-ruled U.S. colony of the days before Aristide. And, are willing to commit Haitian genocide. The U.S. has backed death squads like the ones Haitian civilians are facing today in Guatemala, Chile, Venezuela and all over Africa.
I can't, right now, in words of prose, capture the energy, the vibration, the spiritual FORCE, that the teeming thousands upon thousands of Haitians in front of the Haitian Palace, and in Gonaive transmitted to the world on January 1, 2004. Nor capture the vibration of those millions upon millions of Haitians who took to the streets on February 7, 2004, to call on the world for help against the nuclear powers of the U.S. and France and the internationals and morally repugnant tiny Haitian economic elite who want that Haiti never has a reason to celebrate beating all these European nations and their Black overseers in combat back in 1804.
But basically, our young and old came together on January 1, 2004 and, on February 7, 2004, faced the international media and the Western nuclear powers, placed their very bodies and naked souls ‚ the only real assets they own ‚ on the line and said to the International Community and anyone else willing to listen: you will push us back into maronage (hiding like we were some runaway slaves) ONLY if you are willing to murder ALL of us HERE and NOW! Black people in Haiti said to these fascists and warmongers and regime changers: "over our dead bodies."
Unfortunately, current events in Haiti illustrates clearly that the U.S./Euros have no problem whatsoever murdering or standing idly by as innocent Blacks are murdered in droves, by the hands of perhaps their imperial agents down there in Haiti, their right-wing, paid-off Black overseers ‚ the so-called "opposition" and its armed FRAPH/FAHD military wing.
It seems those committed to Haiti continuing to be a service area for U.S. multinational corporations and their assembly plants and subsidized farm goods ‚ those committed to the eternal rape of Haiti ‚ won the media war against Haitians and emboldened the so-called opposition to continue their violent protests in Port-au-Prince.
200 years from the date the Black Ancestors in Haiti broke their own chains to create the first Black nation in the Western Hemisphere, the Haitians from the worst ghettos and slums, the urban dwellers and slum dwellers and peasants got together and prevented a foreign-sponsored Coup D'etat catastrophe. The payback is now in full view as pro-Lavalas Aristide supporters and the Haitian civilian police force are out-gunned, overpowered and being summarily executed in Gonaive and Cap Haitien.
Check your local TV station as death squad leaders, led by the US Special Forces-trained Guy Phillip and former death squad leader Louis Jodel Chamblain ‚ previously given safety, asylum and perhaps even guns by a U.S. proxy, the Dominican Republic ‚ magically managed to cross said well-protected Dominican border that has, since at least a year ago, been manned by 900 U.S. soldiers. These terrorists and fugitives from Haitian law and justice just happened to cross the Dominican border into Haiti without being detected either by the US soldiers or the Dominican guards?
This, and the fact that the Haitian opposition to Aristide has always been financed by foreign powers (IRI, USAID, NED, European Union, etc.) is why many Haitians believed the turmoil in Haiti was planned at the highest of levels and that it's no coincidence, or some rag tag bunch of untrained anti-Aristide "liberators" with authentic civilian support. Many respected and veteran human rights observers also are beginning to see through the mass media fabrications and to support the allegation that these death squad leaders, terrorists, fugitives, and suspected rapists have, in fact, been unleashed on the unarmed Haitian villages, peasants and urban dwellers in order to force Aristide to step down from office, in order to achieve regime change in Haiti. But will the needed mobilization come together in time to save Port-au-Prince from a massacre?
In fact, but for the courageous reporting of papers like the San Francisco Bayview, the mainstream corporate media would have re-written what happened during the Bi-centennial celebration for their own political purposes. Fact is, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, AP/Reuters and other "majors" led in trying their hands at a media Coup D'etat. Eventually, the New York Times made a reluctant retraction on their January 2, 2004, coverage.
But today, who will stand up for the voiceless Haitian majority with its back against the wall, facing a well-trained and well-armed, US/Euro sponsored military opponent? Who will stand up for the voiceless Black Haitian majority with its back against Port-au-Prince walls braving this wealthy international media, facing the Iron Will of the former slave owners and their current dollar diplomacy policies with an embargo on the Haitian people but bottomless financing of the Opposition against Haitian liberation, against Haitian development and obstructing Haiti's institutionalization of the rule of law and democracy? Who shall counter the current media and international political attempts to force the Haitian people to submit to eternal rape by the wealthiest nations on this earth? Who must stand up for the Haitian poor and for their pioneering efforts refusing to allow themselves to be exploited in the name of "democracy" as said democracy is defined by those who insist Haiti must continue to pay for its independence? Who must counter the current, not only NEGATIVE but false and RACIST images being disseminated about the Haitian struggle which suggest that those fighting for Aristide to finish up his 5-year mandate are "thugs." Who will speak against the criminalization of an entire Black nation, if not the Haitian Diaspora, African Americans, progressive U.S. Congressional members and the peace and justice activists? Who will stand and say the majority of Haitians cannot be reduced to hooligans and chimeres if not us?
What? Does the State Department and the Bush administration really want to give out the message that only the rights of the opposition to Aristide ‚ of less than 4% of the 8 million in Haiti ‚ are worth protecting and funding? That the rest of the Blacks in Haiti are "thugs" to be left to these terrorist executions simply because they elected a leader Washington doesn't like? That Black life and livelihood in Haiti is unworthy of US/Euro protection. Yet, on the other hand, Haitian-American and African-American soldiers in the US military may proudly lose their lives to end terrorism and help bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq? Is that it?
Doesn't the fact that Haitians and Haitian-Americans of the Diaspora, living in the U.S., send more than $850 million dollars, per year, to Haiti, deserve the same U.S-State Department protection as the interests of big-businesses in Haiti, like Disney (made a profit of $1.1 billion in 1994 in Haiti) or Wal-Mart (made a profit of $2.681 billion in Haiti in 1994 at the height of the ë91-94 bloody Coup D'etat)? Why aren't African-American, Haitian-American investments in Haiti part of USAID's,IRI, NED, or the European Union's development and democracy enhancement programs, to be protected in Haiti? Is Black American livelihood and property interests in Haiti less worthy than those of white people and businesses in Haiti ‚ i.e., U.S. Embassy folks, Disney, Wal-Mart, etc.? Is it because Haitian-Americans are not as wealthy as these big-businesses that their more than $850 million investment, per year, in Haiti, are unworthy of note to Colin Powell, Roger Noreiga and the U.S. State Department policymakers negotiating Haiti's future with an unelected-by-the-Haitian-people, non-Haitian citizen, Andre Apaid, Jr., and, sponsoring violent groups who are burning down these immigrant Black, U.S. citizen's vested interests and investments in their relatives' and parents' lives, livelihoods, houses and businesses in Haiti?
Such devaluation of Black humanity; such disregard and devaluing of Haiti's efforts at building democracy; such disregard for the lives of the overwhelming Black majority of Haitians, who have actually been the most victimized by this murderous, undemocratic opposition's head-long foreign-sponsored grab for power in Haiti, at all cost, is nothing if not reprehensible and un-American.
A stand must be taken, for the principles of the rule of law, for the Haitian Constitution, against Coup D'etat or obstruction of the Haitian struggle for participatory and transparent democracy and for a domestic Haitian economy. Who, if not the hip hop generation in the U.S.; who, if not African-Americans in general; who, if not the peace and justice activists worldwide; who, if not the progressive US/Euro U.N. and the African republic's leaders and government members charged with upholding civil, democratic and international human rights; who, if not Haitians in the Diaspora, must tell any legitimate opposition in Haiti that if it wants to rule it must go to elections, that it cannot legally force a duly elected President to appoint any of its members to power simply because it has radical, right wing imperialist backing. Who, but the Hip Hop generation, globally, must stand up, remembering Malcolm X and say to the anti-democratic Black bourgeoisie in Haiti, and the right wing "regime changers" worldwide, that grabbing for power by rule of force and violence is over. That the Hip-Hop generations stand for rule by the ballot not by a bullet to gain power in Haiti, as elsewhere.
To that end, I would strongly recommend that anyone concerned about getting more informed read ìUnfair and Indecent Diplomacy: Washington's Vendetta,î issued by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. The press release can also be accessed at Windows on Haiti, the most updated FORUM on the Internet covering Haitian affairs.
Kenbe fem, pa lage. Linyon fe la fos. Marguerite Laurent, Esq. is an award winning playwright and performance poet, a Hip Hop attorney who has represented many top Hip Hop artists over the last 15 years including members of Public Enemy and the Last Poets, and, a pro-democracy Haitian-American activist. She once, from 1994-1995, was a legal advisor to President Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti and is Chair of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network.