[Promoted by susanhu — As rough as we’ve got it in our own country’s political struggle, seemingly crawling up Denali without support equipment or oxygen, there is a country so near us whose people are falling into a horrible abyss.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! never forgets Haiti’s horrific conditions, and it was good to finally see the NYT do a major story on the crisis in this country that no one in D.C. — except a few like Rep. Maxine Waters, who Amy interviews regularly on Haiti — pays any attention to. Here are the search results for Amy’s shows about Haiti, including her interview yesterday for the hour of Harry Belafonte, in which he said the U.S. has undermined “a legitimate democracy.” We worry about the fate of many countries, but Haiti is rarely on our radar. Sybil has written an excellent diary on Haiti. Per usual, the Canadians — ironically, further away geographically and and not as implicated politically — are much more aware than we:]

The Bush/Cheney administration is causing untold harm in the world “spreading democracy” while keeping its people so busy with a multitude of domestic scandals, heads are spinning. Here’s a summary from an excellent CBC documentary (that US audiences are unlikely to see) on how the US changed regimes in Haiti. It’s eerily similar to US regime change in Iraq where the leadership of a small country is destroyed with no plan in place for the resulting chaos and human suffering.

Bush/Cheney did not like this man:

Jean-Bertrand Aristide


President Aristide promised not only to give voice to the poor in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but also to raise the minimum wage and force businesses to pay taxes. NYT

Why Haiti is in the news recently.
From the CBC Documentary, Haiti: Democracy Undone:

After four postponements, voters in Haiti are once again scheduled to go to the polls. The February 7 vote follows a coup almost two years ago.

In early 2004, when the government of Haiti faced a serious threat from armed rebels who had crossed the border from the Dominican Republic, the US government made it clear they supported the elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. “The policy of this Administration is not regime change,” Colin Powell, then US Secretary of State, said in testimony before a Congressional committee. A fews weeks later Aristide was overthrown.

Haiti: Democracy Undone presents new evidence that in fact the US played a role in the coup that overthrew Aristide; that it had one foreign policy on Haiti but secretly carried out a very different policy.

From the New York Times, January 29, 2006.

Mixed U.S. messages helped send Haiti over the edge

[…] Curran accused the democracy-building group, the International Republican Institute, of trying to undermine the reconciliation process after disputed 2000 Senate elections threw Haiti into a violent political crisis. The group’s leader in Haiti, Stanley Lucas, an avowed Aristide opponent from the Haitian elite, counseled the opposition to stand firm, and not work with Aristide, as a way to cripple his government and drive him from power, said Curran, whose account is supported in crucial parts by other diplomats and opposition figures. Many of these people spoke publicly about the events for the first time.

[Former Ambassador Brian Dean] Curran, a 30-year Foreign Service veteran and a Clinton appointee retained by President Bush, also accused Lucas of telling the opposition that he, not the ambassador, represented the Bush administration’s true intentions.

In the documentary, Curran explains his farewell statement to the Haitians where he blamed the chaos in Haiti on a “Chimere from Washington.” A chimere “is a shadow — illusive, impossible to pin down” who comes in the night and commits crimes and atrocities against the people. It is quite a condemnation, especially from a diplomat. The Ambassador asked Washington for tighter controls on the IRI because it was working against him.

The International Republican Institute is one of several prominent nonprofit groups that receive federal funds to help countries develop the mechanisms of democracy, like campaigning and election monitoring. Of all the groups, though, the I.R.I. is closest to the administration. President Bush picked its president, Lorne W. Craner, to run his administration’s democracy-building efforts. The institute, which works in more than 60 countries, has seen its federal financing nearly triple in three years, from $26 million in 2003 to $75 million in 2005. Last spring, at an I.R.I. fund-raiser, Bush called democracy-building “a growth industry.”

These groups walk a fine line. Under federal guidelines, they are supposed to nurture democracy in a nonpartisan way, lest they be accused of meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations. But in Haiti, according to diplomats, Lucas actively worked against President Aristide.

Several months later, the rebels marched on Port-au-Prince and Aristide left Haiti on a plane provided by the American government. Since then, Haiti has become even more chaotic, said Marc L. Bazin, an elder statesman of Haitian politics.
As the rebels took more towns and cities in February 2004, Aristide turned to the international community for help. The US sent in the Marines — to protect the US embassy. By the end of the month Aristide had fled Haiti on an airplane chartered by the US government. An interim government backed by Canada, the US and France took over in Haiti. In the months since, life has been marked by widespread violence, chaos and economic collapse.

Bush/Cheney like this man:

Louis Jodel Chamblain, [former death squad leader]

For your entertainment, IRI has posted a response to the New York Times article on their website in a PDF file.

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