it me or are events in Haiti
taking a bizarre turn?
arrival of Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier defied the expectations
of probably every observer of Haitian politics and history.
notorious monster who, along with his father “Papa Doc”
Duvalier, presided over the rape of Haiti and the murder of thousands, returned to
Haiti allegedly to help the
people in their time of need.
are many things about this turn of events that make it Twilight
Zone-ish but one thing in particular
struck me. How is it possible that an undisputed despot
who was overthrown by the Haitian people has been permitted
to return to Haiti
from exile whereas the democratically elected president
overthrown in a coup that had the blessing of the USA - but not the blessing of the Haitian people
- has been refused reentry?
answer to this question rests in the USA
rather than Haiti. The answer,
also, presents a challenge, if not embarrassment, for the
Obama administration. The evidence revealed this week demonstrates
that Duvalier did not just appear unannounced in Haiti.
He had the permission of France.
This is of critical importance, given the collaboration
between France and the USA in 2003/2004 in the overthrow Aristide. French
antipathy to Aristide reached a crescendo when, in 2003,
Aristide demanded that France
for the millions extorted by France
between the late 1820s and 1947. US antipathy towards Aristide went back to when
he was first elected in 1990 under a progressive populist
never has been any French or US
antipathy towards Duvalier. He was a good ally for both
countries, irrespective of his crimes against the Haitian
while Duvalier was able, with French and, apparently US
permission, to return to Haiti, President Aristide remains stuck in South Africa. He
has no passport and no one can or will explain why he has
been unable to return to his homeland. This past week Aristide
issued a statement - printed in BlackCommentator.com - clarifying
his explicit desire to return to Haiti. There has,
as yet, been no official response.
of democracy and national sovereignty for Haiti
were not surprised when President George W. Bush permitted
- or encouraged - the overthrow of President Jean Bertrand
Aristide. What has been perplexing for many is why President
Obama has done absolutely nothing to return President Aristide
to his homeland.
Obama administration’s attitude and actions toward Haiti are reminiscent of its approach towards
the Honduran coup in 2009. When the democratically elected
president of Honduras was overthrown, the Obama administration
mouthed opposition to the coup, yet took no steps to frustrate,
if not oust the “coup people.” In fact, the Obama administration
permitted the “coup people” to solidify their control over
the country. It has wanted everyone to forget that there
was a democratically elected president of Honduras named Manual Zelaya.
the inaction of the Obama administration in the face of
the Duvalier embarrassment should remind us that what has
been unfolding in Washington,
DC has nothing to do with the personal
feelings of President Obama. His feelings actually do not
matter. What matters are his actions.
His administration, instead of breaking with the past practice
of the USA
continues the subordination of Haiti
and the undermining of its efforts towards genuine democracy.
The holding of a fraudulent election without the participation
of the largest political party in Haiti
- Aristide’s Famni Lavalas
- is directly linked with the continued, silent exiling
of President Aristide.
is the time to speak up in the face of this travesty. There
are actually two demands. The first is that Duvalier should
be jailed. In fact, he should never see the light of day
again. His crimes are nearly indescribable. The notion that
he has any popular support should be analogized with the
popular support that Hitler and Mussolini had at the end
of their lives: the support should not count and should
not be counted.
the other hand, the democratically elected president of
must be permitted to return to Haiti
immediately and with dignity. The Congressional Black Caucus
and the Congressional Progressive Caucus should demand that
the Obama administration take immediate steps to make this
so, and Black America should insist that
both caucuses not remain silent or neutral on this matter.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with
the Institute for
Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfricaForum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path
toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized
labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.