Friday, January 15, 2010

Aristide and the Battle for Haiti's Political-Economic Future

In 2004, President Jean Bertrand Aristide was removed from executive power in a U.S.-supported coup d'tat. Aristide was kidnapped by U.S. special- forces then flown to a neighbouring location. (Exactly like the coup in Honduras last summer). Since the 2004 coup Lavalas, a mass political party which Aristide created, has been subject to violent repression and censorship at the hands of the Haitian government. Aristide, now living in South Africa, has announced his intention to return back to the country for the on going recovery effort.

"The spirit of Ubuntu that once led Haiti to emerge as the first independent
Black nation in 1804; helped Venezuela, Columbia and Ecuador attain liberty and
inspired our forefathers to shed their blood for the United States independence
cannot die. Today this spirit of solidarity must and will empower all of us to
rebuild Haiti."
The return of Aristide to Haiti will be opposed by Haitian elites and the U.S. government. Haiti is a sovereign nation-state but for decades the U.S. has interfered in its internal economic and political affairs, often relying on violence. Immediately following the earthquake, U.S. right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation, began planning a political and economic future for Haiti that could effectively defend U.S. interests there. These interests include new “free” trade deals, economic liberalization and countering the influence of Venezuela, Cuba and other Latin American countries aligned with the Bolivarian Revolution.
President Obama has already implemented many of the ideas coming out of the Heritage Foundation including sending in an overwhelming amount of military, civilian, and government forces to the island and tapping George W. Bush to help Bill Clinton in a "bi-partisan" aid effort. Bush has strong ties to the Heritage Foundation and their ideas will no doubt be represented in U.S. foreign policy in Haiti. Both Bush and the Heritage Foundation were supporters of the 2004 coup. The return of Aristide and a resurgence of popular participation during the political and economic phases of recovery would complicate their agenda.

Perhaps, it is inappropriate to start thinking about long-term political and economic transformation in Haiti given the amount of suffering taking place. But that has not stopped the U.S. State Department, Pentagon or Heritage Foundation. When the media cameras leave in the months ahead that is when the real battle for Haiti's future will begin.


  1. I do agree with you, it won't be until the world's eye is gone that the true rebuilding will take place. However, with the current trend of gentrification in the air, it seems as if the people of Haiti are at an even greater risk of being taken advantage of through the guise of being helped. Being that the neighboring country wants to close its borders and America is quite glad to announce that they are not deporting any Haitians that have come there illegally (although they don't publicize the continuous patrol for boats and rafts being made), other African-descended nations and peoples(islands, South America, Africa, etc) should open their arms to one of the slivers of hope that the African-descended community has - which is our Haiti. As you said, it was the first independent Black nation and we can obviously see that it still is that way [through the poverty and low level of living due to the ostracization (is that a word?) inflicted by the imperial forces of the world).

    In other thoughts, I like your blog. You're very thoughtful. I think I may continue to read more. Keep it up.

  2. Thanks for the encourgement. It really means a lot. I agree with you. I think that Latin America and Africa need to play a much bigger role in supporting the Haitian people and their development. Ironically, the story or Haiti is really the story of black people period no matter where we are around the world. Most of us are poor, dependent on aid, and vulnerable to natural disasters. The Katrina nightmare in the U.S. was a core example. Something has to change.