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
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.