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Haiti, Aristide, and U.S.-Backed Coups - Pt 1

As part of our series on the modern history of Haiti, Jafrikayiti analyses the rise of Aristide and the American-backed coups against him. He is also part of a group organizing a rally on August 6th, 2021, calling on Canada to stop interfering in the internal affairs in Haiti.

TRANSCRIPT

Paul Jay

Hi, welcome to theAnalysis.news, I’m Paul Jay and we’ll be back in just a few seconds to discuss Haiti and Jean-Bertrand Aristide. You may not see this video on YouTube, at least for some time, but we’ve been banned this week from uploading on YouTube, accused of spreading false information about the 2020 elections. Of course, we did no such thing and we’re going to have a fight with YouTube about all this and if you take a look on our site, you’ll find a video that digs into why YouTube is trying to cancel theAnalysis.news. At any rate, we have other ways to get us up on our website and this is one of them. So we’ll be back in a second. 

Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a Haitian former priest and politician who became Haiti’s first democratically elected president in 1990. I don’t think it’s possible to understand today’s events in Haiti without understanding the role of Aristide and the 2004 coup against him. So, now joining us again to continue our series on the modern history of Haiti is Jafrikayiti, or Jean, as he’s known to his friends. He’s an author, a radio show host, a public speaker, activist, artist, Canadian civil servant and he works with the Canada Haiti Action Network and Solidarité Québec-Haiti . Thanks again very much for joining us, Jean.

Jafrikayiti

Thanks for having me, Paul.

Paul Jay

So, tell us, I guess from the beginning, how did Aristide rise to become sort of the focal point or at least one of the major personalities of the democracy movement against the Duvalier dictatorship, and then why does it end up in a coup against him?

Jafrikayiti

Well, I’ll start by centering it on what I know about Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is now in his mid-60s, is someone who I didn’t know about until late in the 1980s. I was doing my studies at the University of Waterloo and on a regular basis, I would come to Montreal to meet with family members.

So while visiting family members in Montreal, we were discussing the situation in Haiti and one of my cousins popped up the name, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, that there is this priest who is becoming very popular in Haiti, but honestly, at the time, I didn’t really quite understand it. A couple of years later, I was about to finish my studies and I decided to take a course in liberation theology and it so happens that this is the same year of the election where Aristide was going to become the central person in Haitian politics and he’s dominated Haitian politics ever since. But how it happened is very strange because those elections in 1990 were happening as the first democratic elections, since the departure of ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier for France, which happened in 1986.

So, there were different attempts to have elections before that ended up in massacres, notably in 1987, and the efforts were becoming very fragile. For instance, the military that have inherited the power was really dominated by Tonton Macoutes and one of them became a candidate. Although, the Haitian constitution, which was rewritten in 1987, adopted by the vast majority of the population, included an article, Article 291, which specifically excluded former Tonton Macoutes.

Paul Jay

Okay, just for younger people, others that may not know, Tonton Macoutes were essentially the thugs of the Duvalier dictatorship.

Jafrikayiti

Exactly. So, the Duvalier dictatorship really relied on a personal militia that he created called the Tonton Macoutes, which basically, was responsible for repression against any forces that would be attempting to overthrow the president for life. So, when the election was taking place in 1990, the population was not interested because they saw that the military still had control over the whole apparatus. So, it was seen as some sort of massacre in the preparation, especially when some other cases have happened in the past where there were massacres, I mentioned 1987, but, the specific entry of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in the election happened and that, there is this political Leftist group called FNCD [National Front for Change and Democracy],— they had already identified their candidate, Victor Benoit, but there was still no motivation. People were not going to register to make their electoral card, and without the electoral card, you cannot vote, and so there was no enthusiasm for the election. So FNCD, at the last minute, announced that they changed their candidate for president, and now it’s going to be Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

All of a sudden, a lot of people went to register because they thought this guy could beat the Tonton Macoute candidate who was Roger Lafontant, because it was clear, although the Constitution, said that he was supposed to be banned because he was a major player in the Duvalier dictatorship, but they saw him walking around with the higher-ups in the military who were in charge of the elections. So people knew that they were not going to remove him from this lead. That’s actually what made Aristide more popular because not only was Jean-Bertrand Aristide the force they saw that was going to be able to stop the Tonton Macoute advance, but he also brought a level of hope that we haven’t seen in the country for years. Of course, people who are familiar with the liberation theology movement were, at the time, the folks who were more popular about it. It just so happens that I was taking that liberation theology course in Waterloo, learning about Leonardo Boff in Brazil and Father [Oscar] Romero in El Salvador, who was actually killed; Aristide became the first liberation theologian to actually become a president. When that happened in 1990, and I remember this so vividly, because, at the end of 1990, I went to visit my family in Haiti. My parents were living in Port-Au-Prince at the time, and we went by the Dominican Republic, and at that time, the Dominican Republic was being ruled by Joaquin Balaguer, one of the dictators that lasted a long time on the other side of the island.

I remember, Dominicans coming to us because that was a few days after the election in Haiti when Aristide won with such an overwhelming majority, that the population went to the streets, proclaiming him president. Well, Dominicans would come to us and say very quietly congratulations. We can only hope we would be doing the same thing here and at the time, there was no possibility you could see that Joaquin Balaguer was going to lose power in the Dominican Republic because dictatorships, in the region, was basically the mode of governance.

So, when I arrived in Haiti, at the end of 1990 and the first few days of 1991, I was witness to a very strange thing. I think that’s the first time this happened in our history, before I was — because the president is supposed to swear in on February 7th of the year following the election, according to the Constitution and so he was to swear in on February 7th, 1991. Well, on January 6th, 1991, the Tonton Macoute, Roger Lafontant, who lost the election to him, staged a coup.

So, at 2:00 in the morning, we woke up and young people are knocking at the light posts and saying, wake up and you see peasants, people coming from all over the mountains, carrying whatever they could find, tree branches, rocks, whatever and they’re walking towards the national palace. I had my little eight-millimeter video (camera) at the time and I took some pictures and arguing with my parents how far I can go in the neighborhood because, of course, as a Haitian living abroad, you don’t really understand the dangers and what’s happening and so people are very careful with regards to what’s happening on the ground but it was amazing.

By 9:00 a.m., the Army had to arrest Roger Lafontant and put him in jail and the coup was over. The overwhelming presence of people in the streets was such that they could not see how this coup could be sustained. As people who know the history of coups in Haiti, you don’t achieve a coup, without getting the blessing of the United States and it seems that some branches of the U.S. government agreed with the coup, but not all.

So, it was — and the reason why this is significant and important is that I mentioned in the last interview, the name of Antoine Izméry, the Haitian of Palestinian origin, who was one of the supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, financed his campaign. He gave a very bold interview to the New York Times, a few days before Aristide was sworn in, saying that Jimmy Carter, the former U.S. president who was sent to Haiti as a U.S. Envoy, observing the elections, apparently had gone to Aristide, before the votes were counted and tried to convince him to declare defeat so that the favored of the Americans, Marc Bazin, would be named president.

When Izméry said that, a lot of people did not trust him, did not believe him but he insisted that (such were the words of) the American ambassador to Haiti at the time — his name was Alvin P. Adams and the Haitians nicknamed him “Bourik Chaje” and I’ll explain why. He went on to say, it’s really sad that it’s the U.S. Ambassador who was backing Roger Lafontant’s coup and he says those two things in the same interview. It is still online in the New York Times archives (https://www.nytimes.com/1991/01/31/world/haitian-victor-s-backer-is-harsh-toward-us.html). I mean, this is very important for people to understand because Jimmy Carter had this reputation of being a progressive, a mild former American president who supports democracy, Habitat for Humanity, and helps the poor.

Well, to us Haitians, this and some of us took that lesson, but others didn’t, that really it doesn’t matter whether the American president is white, black, Democrat or Republican, their policy towards Haiti remains the same imperialist approach, that they must decide, the outcome of anything like an election in a place like Haiti. People should not be able to choose their own president and that goes even for people like Jimmy Carter.

So,  apparently, the response that Aristide did give to Jimmy Carter was that, well, listen, people are here. Here’s the microphone. If you really want to go and tell the people that Lafontant’s your president, you go ahead and do it yourself. So it was obvious that — and I think also another lesson that we should have taken from that incident is that unless a progressive candidate in Haiti wins in a landslide, there’s no way the U.S. embassy is going to let it happen, unless there is some kind of major shift in the paradigm of U.S. foreign policy and of course, when I say U.S.foreign policy, I can add Canadian foreign policy or I can add European foreign policy towards Haiti, because, for all intent and purpose, they function as a gang, in the region.

So, Aristide manages to swear in on February 7th, 1991 and he went with a speech saying that he welcomes foreign investment with open arms because, of course, his fiery speeches on the pulpit were all very anti-American, anti-imperialist and he denounced the crimes of the colonial powers on Haiti, et cetera.

So, when he went on and said that he is welcoming foreign investment, clearly that was an overture towards the Americans, the French, and he actually traveled to France but came back, apparently, there was no appetite for the French to send any signal that they were willing to have a positive relationship with the new government, that he was going to lead and on the American side, it was worse. The American ambassador to Haiti, that the Haitians named “Bourik Chaje” (“loaded donkey” ), made this statement before Aristide was sworn in and he said, ‘apre dans tanbou lou‘, which means  ‘after the dance, the drums are heavy to carry.’

So, that was his response to Aristide’s overture and it was evident to the Haitians that you guys are on your own. You opted to go a socialist way.

Paul Jay

Well, that’s my question. What was Aristide campaigning on advocating that would have caused the French, the Canadians, the Americans to be opposed to him?

Jafrikayiti

Well, of course, the inequalities in Haiti are equivalent to what we have on the planet. Okay, so if you think about humanity in terms of the one percent of us who have access to all kinds of resources and the vast majority of people who don’t have anything, that’s what you have in Haiti and so any president who’s going to be popular in Haiti, any decent person who becomes president of Haiti, will be socialist, because the extremes are such that drinking water has to be a priority, food has to be a priority and so in — because he was also a priest and his early books, one of them is titled In the Parish of the Poor.

As a liberation theologian, his whole training and all of his writings, Tout Moun Se Moun (Every human is human), one of his books, it’s all about the necessity to redistribute wealth on the island so that as Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the founder of Haiti, had asked: “what about those whose fathers are in Africa, will they have nothing?”

This has been the cry since the creation of Haiti that, you cannot establish a country after a racial war, where the Africans were victorious and then they end up being exploited for hundreds of years afterward by some of the very people, who had promised that their lives are going to be better now.  Aristide’s mandate or campaign came directly from his sermons on the pulpit but it’s also part of a larger movement. I mean, of course, to simplify, people always talk about him, but it’s actually a number of priests because really the Catholic Church played a key role in that and, as you saw it in El Salvador, the church was divided into two. That’s why they call this group of priests, Ti Legiz or the lower church because in that same church you had, for instance, the bishop of Port-Au-Prince, who was a gun-carrying Tonton Macoute, François Wolf Ligondé and he also made a speech, before Aristide was sworn in, warning the nation that there are grave dangers of dictatorship. At the same time the Vatican, of course, took a very adversarial position, when a Catholic priest became president of Haiti.

I mean, you would think that they would celebrate that? Of course not, because the church in Latin America is an agent of imperialism. So, for instance, when they are plotting coups, oftentimes they go to the Catholic nuncio’s office to plot the coup. So, it’s a weird thing and it’s —

Paul Jay

Probably — I guess it’s a better cover than going to the basement of the U.S. embassy, which is the other place they would plan such a thing.

Jafrikayiti

Exactly. So, perhaps now with cell phones, they might have conversations but the Catholic nuncio is some — like we’ve known, and Haitians have lived that, many times when there are political crises in Haiti, the extreme right-wing forces always align themselves with the church and so that’s why it was such an odd thing that the movement for liberation in Haiti came out of that church but it was clearly like you saw Father Oscar Romero in El Salvador, once he started to side with the population, well, the bishops turned against him. When he was assassinated, of course, the church did not cry long for his death. Neither did they cry for the six nuns who were assassinated as well.

So, liberation theology played a key role, but it was also a movement that was embraced by a lot of naive young people. People who were so thirsty for democracy, for liberation, that we were willing to put our faith in people who gave us no signs, that they could be in favor of democracy, namely the army because Aristide went out there with no force. I mean, the guy was a priest, so he has other than the backing of the Izméry and the support of the population, he has no force. He has no military force and he had no money. So, one millionaire, of course, Izméry had lots of money. I don’t know how much but in a field where you have these other 15 families on the ground, this is definitely not sufficient if they really want to remove you.

Paul Jay

So why did this member of the oligarchy support Aristide?

Jafrikayiti

Well, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s also of Palestinian descent as opposed to the others who are from the other countries of the region, Israel, Syria, or Lebanon, et cetera. Antoine was not only a strong supporter of Haitian democracy but he was also a strong supporter of the Palestinian people.

Paul Jay

And how do they make so much money?

Jafrikayiti

Business! Haiti is a captive market. Now, the population is about 12 million on the island and I would say about three million in Port-Au-Prince. So perhaps, it was much lower than that back in the early 90s but still, most of these guys, make their money by importing food. These people have to eat every day and so, the way the families organize themselves is that they each have a monopoly on some products. Some of them are importers of rice while others are importers of tomato paste. So, with the middle class having fled Haiti during the Duvalier dictatorship — well you talk to anybody in the Haitian community, they will tell you they have family members to whom that they are sending money on a monthly basis or on a weekly basis sometimes because unemployment is so high, there is no — like we spoke about at the last interview, there’s no industry really to speak of to hire a lot of people. That’s why a lot of the people in the middle class saw the government as a sole source of income, as perhaps the only source of income, and what this means, it means corruption.

So, for instance, the guy who works at the customs office, well, the families pay you so that they don’t pay the taxes that they’re supposed to pay and you make a whole lot of money and because the country is not organized, you’re not paying taxes either. That’s why some people can make lots of money in Haiti, even if they didn’t come from a class that would guarantee them money. Someone who calls themselves a businessman in Haiti is someone who makes 700 % or 1000% profit because whatever they are selling, the population has no choice.

Paul Jay

Okay, so why does he support a socialist then, Aristide?

Jafrikayiti

Well, so Antoine is maybe — oftentimes when I think about these guys, I always think about myself. As someone who grew up in a privileged family in Haiti, you don’t choose your privileges, you’re born with them and in a place like Haiti, things are pretty static. If you are not going to get involved in crime, in corruption, and then you were born poor, you’re going to die poor. If you were born middle-class, you have to mess up pretty hard to lose your middle-class status, unless something happened and there’s a political disruption or whatever.

The same thing with people who are extremely rich. Things are stable and so when someone like Izméry — and you can see that from his speech and his actions because I used to go to his store. My father used to go and cash his paycheck in his shop and you could see something very different about this man. Whereas, when you go into those stores in Haiti — and the contrast is amazing and I know a lot of people when they discuss Haiti, and that’s why I think they always missed the boat, because they always sidestep the racial dimension, whereas it’s central to everything in Haiti. You go into those stores and to this day, you go into any market in Haiti, you will see the customers are black. The people who are serving in the aisle are black, but the person sitting on the cash is either the owner, or the wife of the owner and they’re Middle Eastern, light-skinned complexion, or white and that’s something that you will see any day if you go — and so it was different for Izmery’s shop and the difference was that when you go to those other markets, the person who is sitting on the cash has a demeanor towards the people who they are serving that you cannot escape, you just see it.

As someone who grew up, who lived in Canada and you know what customer service is, you understand that there’s something wrong here like people are buying and the people who are serving them are giving them attitude instead of being kind and welcoming to them, et cetera and that was the racial dynamics and that is the situation in Haiti, because most of these families, sometimes I feel sorry for them because the only thing I can think of is apartheid in South Africa. If you were a white person in South Africa, how were you feeling, and to me, that’s how they’re living and so, you know, they would spend their day in the shop and then they get into their car, like, barricaded, and they go into the mountains and they live in these houses that are like big walls. You cannot see their houses. They’ve got dogs and weapons and stuff like that. These Izmery’s weren’t like that and it’s a weird thing because you just walk into their store and you see it, first of all, whereas George Izmery, the younger brother would be on the cash — he was more reserved and he wasn’t outspoken in terms of politics. Antoine would be on the veranda with some merchants with her arms around his waist and he always spoke in Creole.

I mean, obviously, when you hear him talk, you know he spoke many languages, English and French, certainly, and probably Arabic but I only saw him speak Creole all the time and that’s also another marker.

Paul Jay

All right. Well, let’s get back to Aristide. So, he’s elected in 1990, but then he loses an election, he’s forced from office, and then he comes back again later? What happens?

Jafrikayiti

He never got a chance to lose an election. Remember, the U.S. ambassador said, ‘apre dans tanbou lou’. After the dance, the drums are heavy — and the drums got heavy very quickly. The only reason that Aristide lasted seven months is, because, throughout the summer of 1991 — I was there, I lived it. I spent the whole summer going to the airport, picking up cousins who were coming from Africa, from the United States, from Europe, people who hadn’t been back to Haiti for 17 years were coming home.

Haitians, who were illegal in the Dominican Republic or in the Bahamas, were leaving to go back to Haiti because people believed that everything was possible and people were volunteering to clean the streets and stuff like that and small shops were opening. Although the government was boycotted by the IMF [International Monetary Fund], the World Bank, and all of these major money lenders, because of the outpouring of support, even the civil servants were willing to work without receiving their first paycheck. There was no money. The only money that was coming was the money coming from the Diaspora, Haitians who were coming in, and that wasn’t sustainable and so the military took advantage of some, I guess, political dynamics between Aristide and the Leftist political party that put him in power, FNCD, because they didn’t approve of his choice of prime minister to continue to push for destabilization of the country but they realized there was a problem because this is a popular president.

How do you conduct a coup against a popular president and they saw what happened before he swore in with the coup that Lafontant did, which lasted only a few hours and they had to undo it. Well, I unfortunately also lived that experience. I was in Haiti the night of September 29th, 1991 and the military staged the coup and just as it happened on January 6th, the people came down from the mountains and went in front of the national palace, except that this time they didn’t go back home.

Some people estimate that 400 people were killed just in front of the area of the National Palace. Aristide himself was rescued by some elements of the army who didn’t want to kill him. Others actually were trying to kill him. Some of the soldiers who protected him got killed and he was flown out of the country. First, he stopped in Venezuela — he was close to the former Venezuelan president, Carlos Andrés Pérez, at the time who welcomed him and after a brief stay there he went to the United States and there, with a good number of his ministers who had left with him, thinking that they’re going to be able to come back and all of the countries in the UN condemned the coup. Only the Vatican recognized the coup regime that was being led by General Raoul Cédras. What we found out later on, is that in reality, you had double speeches by the United States.

This coup happened while there was a transition of power in the United States and George Bush, the father, became president of the United States. When Bush welcomed Aristide to the White House and said you are the president that we recognize, etc. Meanwhile, inside of Haiti, the U.S. ambassador was telling a delegation of the OAS [Organization of American States] that went to negotiate with the coup plotters a return to democracy. The U.S. Ambassador was telling them, listen, you guys don’t understand what’s going on here. Aristide is not the ‘good guy’ and now people can read this in some of the articles that talk about that. Alvin P. Adams is the name. If you Google him, you’ll see some of the statements attributed to him. So, he was telling the OAS mission, listen, don’t get it crooked. You can see my president is welcoming Aristide, but this is Haiti. The real deal here is that Aristide is the bad guy and we need to find a way to have democracy without Aristide and that was the plan.

Paul Jay

But I mean, democracy without any form of socialism.

Jafrikayiti

Yeah, any form of socialism, and even without an elected president — it’s a military regime. So what they were planning to do was to find some people within Lavalas, to put in there as a puppet and keep Aristide outside because —

Paul Jay

Lavalas being the party that was formed around Aristide?

Jafrikayiti

Exactly and of course, they understood that the party was fragile and had not had any experience of governance. I mean, they only lasted seven months but what happened is that there was a regime change in the United States. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton was in the running and he made promises to the Haitians who were landing in Florida, that they weren’t going to be sent back to Haiti and I participated in some demonstrations in Miami. Jesse Jackson and all of these folks were out there, the Congressional Black Caucus, everybody was demonstrating, saying that, if you want to solve the Haitian refugee crisis, well, it’s simple, return their president because people were going the other way when he was there.

So, Bill Clinton went out in the campaign saying that if he’s elected, he’s going to return President Aristide back and he’s not going to return refugees, et cetera but of course, he didn’t really mean that once he was president he continued to send Haitians back but you had activists like Randall Robinson, Katherine Dunham, the famed dancer who went on a hunger strike, and all of this started to embarrass the Democrats.

What they did is that they dragged their feet, for Aristide’s mandate to be almost over, and then they strike a deal with him. We’re going to return you to Haiti, but you have to pretend that the three years you spent in exile in the United States, you were still president and according to the Haitian constitution, a president cannot have two consecutive mandates so essentially the kidnapers return their hostage with the mandate of organizing an election for a successor to take over from him and the Haitian people, honestly, it’s not like we’re stupid. We understood, this was a raw deal, but what are you going to do with the CIA’s army that is killing people by the thousands? You don’t have a resistance force in the country and some activists were unhappy with this.

They said that Aristide should have stayed in the United States and we will have a popular resistance movement but honestly, I cannot say that I saw any evidence that we were organized enough to overthrow the military regime and so the bad deal happened and they also negotiated with Aristide some very nasty economic deals. Basically, he was returned to Haiti to —

Paul Jay

What does that mean? Nasty economic?

Jafrikayiti

Well, for instance, tariffs on rice. He had to cut taxes on rice imported from the United States.

Paul Jay

So the Americans could dump some surplus rice into Haiti more cheaply.

Jafrikayiti

It is deadly, I mean, —

Paul Jay

Because it destroys local agriculture.

Jafrikayiti

It destroys the Haitian economy, period because, by that time, we had very little in terms of industry. We used to produce sugar— one rich family, bought the sugar mill, closed it up, and started importing sugar from the United States and the rice industry that was burgeoning. Aristide was a strong supporter of rice production, Haitian rice production, because we have a whole area of the country that is dedicated to rice production and that’s another difference between Haiti and the Dominican Republic because we have the mountainous side so we don’t have a lot of valleys like the Dominican Republic. We don’t have a whole lot of places where we can produce rice and sugarcane like the Dominican Republic and so, the rice farmers in Haiti, could not survive if you cut tariffs on imported rice and that was the platform of the U.S. candidate that Aristide beat at the election.

So essentially, he was returned to apply the policy of the competitor that he beat at the election but to me, he had two choices. Either he stays in exile and watched Haitians get slaughtered by the military or he returns and tries to maneuver. One of the things he tried to negotiate with the Americans is that, given that the U.S. soldiers landed and there was no resistance to the U.S. soldiers when they arrived because the so-called Haitian army is the CIA’s army and their uniforms, their training, their guns, everything comes from the United States so it’s not a real Haitian army.

There’s one speech by Aristide, that’s available on YouTube, that people who speak French might consult to understand what I’m saying here, it’s called Je Veux, Je Peux (https://youtu.be/Wy7EtJgWjp8 ), and that’s a very angry Aristide you will see deliver a speech in front of the U.S. representatives and the Catholic nuncio. I mean, the first bench of all white men, who basically are the powers with whom he has to negotiate, his own legitimate mandate in Haiti and he was angry at them because he said he doesn’t understand how these thousands of U.S. soldiers are on the ground and they refused to conduct the disarmament program that was agreed upon because, of course, the military conducted a coup. They occupied all the neighborhoods with their gangs and of course, the popular resistance movement had also some young people who had guns and the deal was that — listen, let’s just remove all of the guns so that now we can constitute a new police force and it’s only the police that will have guns.

Paul Jay

And what year are we in now?

Jafrikayiti

We’re in 1994 or ’95 because he returned to Haiti on October 15th, 1994, with the U.S. soldiers and Bill Clinton making the big speech about the return to democracy but all of these other things are happening in the background. Bill Clinton later on, I believe, in the late ’90s or even the early 2000s, apologized to Haitians because he’s the one who pressured Aristide into cutting the tariffs on U.S. rice because the rice was coming from his state of Arkansas (https://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/11/bill_clinton_s_trade_policies_destroyed ). So, he had a direct hand in this whole thing and he recognized that this killed the Haitian economy.

Aristide returned essentially to organize an election for a successor and a few people started to argue that, listen, I mean, we cannot consider the three years you spent in exile as your mandate. That doesn’t make any sense, the military was ruling, but I think at that time it was evident that the hostage came with the U.S. soldiers, you cannot negotiate and so you can see Aristide’s mindset in a couple of decisions that he made at the last minute. One of them, and I think is the most significant and something that has been helping the Haitian people ever since, Haiti had cut diplomatic relationships with Cuba in 1964, when Francois Duvalier, ‘Papa Doc’, the U.S. supported dictator, wanted to buy U.S. sympathy and support, there was a vote in the OAS and few people know that, Haiti cast the deciding vote to exclude Cuba from the OAS.

It was an important vote at the time, and by doing so, Duvalier got guarantees from the United States that they were willing to protect him and in fact, it was the CIA that sent their agents to train the Tonton Macoutes personal militia and so diplomatic relationships have been cut between Haiti and Cuba since 1964. It means that you can see some roofs of houses in Cuba while you are in some cities in Haiti, it’s that close. 

There’s always been since the colonial time, family connections between Haitians and Cubans. So, there were none of these connections since 1964 and Aristide, I believe it was the last week of his presidency in 1995, he went to Cuba and renewed diplomatic relationships with Fidel Castro.

Paul Jay

Now, the Americans wouldn’t have been very pleased about that.

Jafrikayiti

They weren’t but his mandate was over, no matter what. They had already stolen his mandate from him and so that’s why I think it’s significant that he waited until the last minute to do so and I think he needed to also show to the Haitians that he wasn’t just a puppet who was returned and there are certain things that he could do. Also, the other things he did other than the cutting of tariffs on rice — he was supposed to also, as soon as he goes back to privatize the ports, privatize the telephone company — he said no.

So he dragged his feet and some of these things he tried to negotiate and saying, well, you haven’t disarmed the military gangs, the paramilitaries and then time was running out and the election happened, with no surprise, his former prime minister, Rene Preval, won the election under the Lavalas platform and became president.

Without any surprise, the next time there’s an election, the people are going to vote for Aristide because —

Paul Jay

He’s allowed to run again if he waits a term.

Jafrikayiti

He’s allowed to run again for one last term because the Constitution also does not allow you to have three terms.

Paul Jay

OK, let’s pick this up in the next segment and we’re going to keep going with this modern history of Haiti. I think, before we get back to Aristide, let’s talk about Rene Preval and what happened during those years and we’ll do that in the next segment that we do. We’ll call the series The Modern History of Haiti and thanks very much, Jean.

Jafrikayiti

Yes, Paul, it’s really a pleasure and I’ll let you plug in the fact that on Friday, August the 6th in Ottawa, we’re going to have a demonstration on Parliament Hill at 1:00 p.m. to essentially ask the Canadian government, once again, to let the Haitians run their country, choose their leaders, choose how they’re going to run their country, because right now, the efforts that are being deployed by what is being called the international community, which is really the Core Group, the ambassadors of Canada, France, the United States, etc., is that they want to hand-pick people who are going to run the election in Haiti so that it’s a crazy outcome and no one in Haiti right now is calling for quick elections because the system is all rigged. The PHTK political party, which they supported and they are still supporting, had made sure, that the electoral council and even the cards themselves are rigged and so nobody has confidence in the system and they want to have a transition that is independent and one of the things that is very telling is that activists came out and I’m one of the people who first proposed that, that in the next election as a condition for a party or a person to participate in the election, there cannot be any signs that you were involved in the assassination of the former president Jovenel Moise [foreign language 00:51:28]. Now, why would any decent person disagree with that? Well, I’ll tell you why, because all the signs are pointing to an inside job. That it is the party in power that organized it and all of the signs that came out this last week are people who got arrested. All of the evidence, even the president of the PHTK political party, has now been summoned, to go and answer questions about the killing of Jovenel Moise.

So, we think that it doesn’t make sense to reward the people who participated in the killing and also the wife of Moise, who was parading in the United States, giving interviews to CNN. We have no evidence that she has been questioned by the Haitian investigators. I mean, this is the prime suspect in any case like that, at least if not a suspect, she is a witness who should be questioned. Well, so we’re saying that Canada should get out of the Core Group and that they should just basically treat Haitians with the same dignity and respect that they treat other countries.

Paul Jay

I’m not so sure about the last part because there’s a lot of countries Canada does not treat with dignity and respect but at any rate, we know what you’re getting at here. It’s an ideal, at any rate.

Jafrikayiti

It’s an ideal and I appreciate the correction. You’re absolutely right.

Paul Jay

All right. So please join us for the next part, coming in a few days after this one and we’re going to keep this series going so we all get a better handle on the current situation in Haiti. Thanks very much, jean.

Jafrikayiti

Thank you, Paul.

Paul Jay

Thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news. Please don’t forget, there’s a donate button. Subscribe I, have no idea what you’re going to be watching this on, youTube or just on our site. As I said, we’ve been banned this week from uploading on YouTube. It’s a crazy story and soon I’ll have a video up there, explaining all this but YouTube clearly seems to be out to get theAnalysis.news and some other progressive news sites as well.

Thanks, Jean.

Jafrikayiti

Thank you, Paul.

Paul Jay

Thank you and see you again soon. 

END

“Rally in Ottawa on August 6 at 1 PM to demand respect for Haiti’s sovereignty. Solidarity with the Haitian people’s struggle to regain control of its territory and its right to elect leaders that are truly representative without any meddling from neocolonial forces. All Canadian, US, or foreign intervention in Haiti must stop now! The only initiative Canada should take on Haiti is to get out of the Core group and let Haiti breathe !”

Solidarité Québec-Haiti event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/972266520293096?ref=newsfeed
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5 Comments

  1. Thanks Paul! Great detailed history. I was part of the US Coast Guard repatriation operations in 1991-92, and even as a young ensign knew that the USG had it in for Aristide.

  2. RastafarI love. Thanks for doing this interview with Jafrikayiti. He spoke very well about Ayiti’s predicament and his description of the Ouster and reinstatement of Former President Aristide was very good. I think that he should have been asked to include some personal memories of the period between 1991 and 1995 when Mr.Aristide was exiled and returned to Ayiti. Those 4 years were so important to Ayiti people in the diaspora, thousands chose to return to their homeland of Ayiti after decades living in other countries. JBA gave them hope that a new, improved Ayiti was in the process of being created and they wanted to contribute. Jafrikayiti must have been in his twenties then, a new College grad full of hope of making a difference. I want to know what happened to those people and did they managed to stay in Ayiti or did they fly back to their host countries?
    Finally, I feel that JBA and Fanmi Lavalas provide a really comprehensive and progressive agenda fir Ayiti’s government. But, they are still not including enough of the people from the masses or the every day folks who can make a difference. We are the downtrodden, but our concerns and our voices are muted and excluded because they seem trivial, mundane and unappealing to the privileged misleadership. For instance, I have been struggling with some serious problems these past 10 years. The Social Services took my beloved children and brought them to live with their father in Europe. I have not seen them in 10 years! I tell my story to a lot of people. Many of whom are of Ayiti descent, but, no one of them has expressed an iota of concern or sympathy. There is really no culture of “ Tout moun C Moun”! It’s a slogan that some folks say to invoke an ideal way of dealing with each other. But, it will take a long time to get there.
    Blessed love.#1804 #Ayiti

  3. It was not a coup attempt! The US should know what a coup is. They’re organized hundreds of them. This was not a coup. It was a motley rabble, incoherent, leaderless, unfocused, without a plan, a sort of Dad’s Army gathering that was barely a demonstration. There were very few weapons, and what leaders there were were satisfied with trying out the Speakers chair and shuffling some papers. At one point l even saw members of the rabble obediently walking between the rope barriers while a guard looked on.
    Compare this alleged coup with the real coup which Canada, the US, and France, organized to overthrow the democratically-elected President Aristide in Haiti. Units of Canada military show-offs JTF-2, took control of the airport, the US show-offs escorted the President and his family to a white , unmarked CIA Boeing 707 and sent them into exile in Central Africa.
    Of course it wasn’t a coup. But somebody wanted very badly for it to be a coup attempt, so they could use it for partisan purposes. In the UK it would hardly qualify as a demonstration. But who pulled the security and police. As always anything political in America is always dirty. But it was enough for everyone to cry “coup” at the top of their voices and exaggerate it’s effect. But for it’s political utility it would have faded away. Considering the deleterious, destructive and violent impact the USA has on the rest of the world, such a pusillanimous non-coup is astonishing.

  4. Why not post your videos on Odysee or Rokfin? Whitney Webb made an excellent case to boycott the major social media platforms because she claims that they exist to benefit the national security state:
    https://m.soundcloud.com/media-roots/cog-measures-the-war-on-terrorism-horseshoe-w-whitney-webb
    Robbie Martin (Abby’s bro) is the interviewer, and although I disagree with some of his criticisms of leftists and innuendo that Taibbi and Greenwald are sus ops, this interview is very good.

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