Issue 82 - March 18, 2004


Cover Story
Time for Kerry to Step Up on Haiti
by Stan Goff

Printer Friendly Version

Note: The size of the type may be changed by clicking on view at the top of your browser and selecting "text size". The document will print in the size you select.

Perhaps the only thing more depressing about Haiti than the still-unconsolidated coup there is the refusal of the US press to even investigate the circumstances of it.  I mean, said investigation would require more effort than walking a dog but less effort than mating a hamper full of socks.  Google search “Haiti coup,” and you’ll get about a million hits.  And I know a few journalists.  They are driven, ambitious work-aholics.  So laziness cannot account for their abject failure to represent this as a coup d’etat, which it clearly is, engineered by the United States government, which it just as clearly is.  If it’s not laziness, then it’s either complicity with the government or plain, racist apathy – or a combination of both.

But I’m taking up the pen today not merely to lament what we all know, that the white, male capitalist press represents, well… white, male capitalists.  I’m going to suggest an action, aimed not at the white, state-corporate perception managers of the press, but at a rich white man who is a candidate for President of the United States, and who cannot possibly hope to win that position without the support of the majority of the nation’s politically engaged African Americans.

It’s been some time since the appearance of a clean-cut polarization in Congress between African American representatives and Euro-Americans, but thanks to the unflinching leadership of Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel, Haiti has forced the Congressional Black Caucus to behave like a Black Caucus and confront white Republicans and Democrats with their constant rhetorical genuflections before “democracy,” when a Black democracy in Haiti has just been overthrown, again, by the white “democracy” to the north.

It has not been long since the Democratic Party has taken Black voters for granted by being the sole, marginal, institutional vehicle for what Black political power still exists in the United States political duopoly.  The Democratic Party takes on the defensive, lesser-evil role against the more-openly white supremacist Republicans with gloomy regularity.  And there has been an abundance of jackleg colonial surrogates within the Black semi-bourgeoisie prepared to enthusiastically embrace the task of containment and pacification.  This is always the case in colonial situations – like Haiti, like African America.  This is the reality of the Diaspora, and white supremacy is not an aberration held within it, but part of the genetic code of capitalism.

In the near term, there may not be a way to break decisively with this Black dependency on Democrats, but there may be a way to raise the issue as a first, next step, and that’s by not letting the Democratic Party deliberately aim its radar away from Haiti.  And all eyes are on John Kerry.  While it is certainly an exercise of the latent political power of African America to ensure Kerry a victory in November – even at the cost of once again swallowing all critiques of him – a far more significant exercise of that power, and one that would signal a break with making deals for scraps and the intention to pursue self-determination, would be forcing John Kerry, as the most visible member of the Democratic Party, to tell the truth on Haiti… and damn the consequences.  The real exercise of real power entails real risks.

Black voters and white allies need to start right now confronting John Kerry at every turn with questions and demands on Haiti.  Rather than suggest what those might be, I’ll just describe a little history and let people form their own conclusions about what those questions and demands might be.

In 1994, six months before the US invasion of Haiti in which I participated [see Hideous Dream – A Soldier’s Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti (Soft Skull Press, 2000)], there was a massacre in the Haitian city of Gonaives, against the desperately poor residents of a slum called Raboteau.  The massacre killed dozens of people during a rampage directed by Captain Senafis Castra of the Casernes Dessalines, the local detachment of the Haitian armed forces (FAdH).  Participating in the massacre were several soldiers and several members of a right-wing death-squad network called the FRAPH.  Two senior FRAPH members were named Jean Pierre Baptiste and Carl Dorélien.  Baptiste went by an alias, a kind of nom de guerre, Jean Tatoune.

I met Jean Tatoune in 1994 when I and three members of my Special Forces detachment arrested him in Gonaives in an armed confrontation.  He subsequently stood trial under the Aristide government, and was imprisoned for his part in the Raboteau massacre.

Carl Dorélien, on the other hand, was spirited away to the United States, where he was given refuge, unlike tens of thousands of poor Haitians who were instead placed in a concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Dorélien even won the lottery in Florida in 1997.  Lucky, lucky Carl.

He was not the only FRAPH member given refuge from prosecution.  The two top members of the FRAPH, Emmanuel “Toto” Constant and Louis-Jodel Chamblian were also tucked away:  Constant in Queens, New York, where he resided peacefully to this day with the full cooperation of the United States government, and Chamblain in the Dominican Republic, whose government does basically whatever the Untied States government tells it to do.  Chamblain participated in the assassinations of both Aristide's Justice Minister Guy Mallary and Aristide financier Antoine Izmery.  As this is written, Chamblain is lounging comfortably in the Mont Joli Hotel in Cap Haitien, the second biggest city in Haiti, now having his two life sentences “commuted” by the February-March coup d’etat in Haiti.  Just as Chamblain and Constant were ably assisted by the US and its allies, the coup d’etat was assisted by the US government that is having President Aristide held under house arrest in the compliant Central African Republic.

One reason that Constant is being harbored safely in Queens is that he has threatened to spill the beans on his old employer if he is given up to the tender mercies of the Haitian people, who saw the FRAPH murder over 5,000 people between 1991-1994, when Aristide was deposed the first time by a US supported coup d’etat.  His old employer, of course, is the United States Central Intelligence Agency, the same people who brought you the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the regimes of Pinochet, Palahvi, Mobutu, Lucas-Garcia, et al, and the crack epidemic.

The crack epidemic is particularly important here, because that was the last issue brought up exclusively by the Congressional Black Caucus and completely ignored by white Democratic and Republican officials.

For those who remember the “Freeway Rick” Ross saga that introduced rock cocaine to South Central Los Angeles and has since devastated Black communities throughout the US, let me remind you that this was a CIA operation.  Gary Webb’s excellent book, Dark Alliance, details the CIA-crack connection that grew directly out of the Reagan administration’s illegal war against Nicaragua.  The reason this story is important to Haiti is that all the main actors from the Iran-Contra-Cocaine adventure are behind the current coup in Haiti.

Roger Noriega is the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and the lead plotter in the recent coup against the democratically elected government of Haiti.  Before that, he was the United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS).  During Iran-Contra, he was an aide in the Bureau of Latin American Affairs of the US State Department.  The other felonious characters in the Contra-Crack scandal were Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte, John Poindexter, and Otto Reich.  The Vice President during this episode was George Herbert Walker Bush, former Director of Central Intelligence. 

These guys are all now re-employed by the administration of George W. Bush.  Otto Reich was in Noriega’s current position in 2001 and now is the US representative to the US-dominated Organization of American States (OAS).  Reagan had Reich resign to protect his king when the story of the Cocaine-Contra connection broke, because Reich was easily connected by any journalist with five minutes to spare to CIA assassin Felix Rodriguez and terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.  Reich specialized in disinformation, planting fake stories in the press about Nicaraguan MIG’s and Sandinista “atrocities” against Miskito Indians.  Reich was also the US Ambassador to Venezuela, when he tried to secure the release of Orlando Bosch, a Miami-Cuban mafiosi who bombed a civilian airliner.  That downing of a civilian passenger airline from Cuba was the same attack in which Posada Carriles had also been implicated.

Reich’s current disinformation campaign is the one being directed against another democratically elected government with an Afro-Caribbean leader, the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez.

One of the very architects of Iran-Contra was John Poindexter, a retired Navy admiral who specialized in spying on American citizens.  Poindexter, along with Oliver North, was the primary planner for Iran-Contra.  They supervised and coordinated weapons sales to Iran, the shipment of cocaine to the US via Central America, and the use of that cocaine-cash to buy weapons for the 1980’s terrorist army launched against Nicaragua in contravention of a Congressional prohibition. 

Poindexter was convicted of several felonies that were dropped in an immunity deal.  He also tried to destroy over 5,000 White House emails (and got caught), as well as planting fake press stories about Libya's Col. Muammar Qaddafi to justify the Reagan-directed air strikes against Libya.

John Poindexter is now the Vice President of Syntek Technologies, a very scary spy-defense contractor.  George W. Bush appointed this felon to organize the Information Awareness Office (IAO), a subset of the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA, a favorite of Donald Rumsfeld), to again spy on American citizens.

In Poindexter’s case, the public got wind of his appointment and his past, and the Bushites withdrew him from the spotlight.

John Negroponte is now the US Ambassador to the United Nations.  In 1981, US Ambassador to Honduras Jack Binns, reported to his boss, Ronald Reagan, that Honduran units were engaged in massive human rights violations.  Binns was fired.  John Negroponte took his place from 1981-1985, wherein he systematically and deliberately covered up while those human rights abuses escalated, especially by one specially US-trained “intelligence” unit called Battalion 3-16.  As a reward for abusing human rights, and for allowing US-trained and financed Contra terrorists to launch operations into Nicaragua from Honduran soil, the US hiked military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million. 

During this Reagan Rogue State Era, and later to be pardoned by George H. W. Bush for convictions associated with Iran-Contra, was Eliott Abrams, the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs.

In what seems a sick joke, George W. Bush named Abrams senior director of the National Security Council's office for democracy, human rights and international operations, and Abrams is now part of the larger coup-team working on Venezuela and Haiti.

Last December, Peter Kornbluh of the National Archives told a Newsday reporter:  "The resurfacing of the Iran-Contra culprits has been nothing short of Orwellian in this administration.  These are not 21st-century appointments. They are retrograde appointments, a throwback to an era of interventionism when the U.S. was the big bully on the block."

These guys actually go back further in their collaboration, all of them tight with the Miami-Cuban right-wing and mafia.  One motivation for appointing them, aside from their willingness to topple the government of a democratic Black nation, is to pay the Miami gusanos off for their invaluable assistance with the Florida-based judicial coup that ripped off the votes of tens of thousands of Black voters to appoint George W. Bush the President of the United States.

Roger Noriega coordinated the details of President Aristide’s ouster and kidnapping, while Otto Reich used the PR machine of the OAS to run the very disinformation campaign that the white press has lapped up like trained kittens.

During the Reagan administration, the CIA’s covert operators were pretty effective at training death squads, but they screwed up everything they touched politically.  So Reagan established something called the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The NED channels money and training to support US-friendly political formations in other nations, like the fake opposition in Haiti that has been destabilizing Haiti politically ever since Aristide won the 2000 election.  (see , February 19, 2004.)

Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, was quite candid when he said in 1991: "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA." In effect, the CIA has been laundering money through NED.

- Third World Traveler

The National Endowment for Democracy was invented by the Reagan administration as a specialized outgrowth of the CIA’s covert operations apparatus to engineer “desirable” political/electoral outcomes in other countries.

Old racist reactionaries seem to live forever.  Strom Thurmond lasted until he was a living fossil, and ex-Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina stubbornly resists the Reaper to this day.

US policy right now is in the hands of the ideologues.  You cannot overestimate the relevance of these people in shaping US policy. In a sense the Helms school of Haitian strategy is at work here.

- Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Roger Noriega’s hatred for Aristide began while Aristide was in office before the first US-supported coup in 1991.  Noriega was a senior advisor to the OAS then.  His consistent anti-Aristide venom and connections with the Miami-mafia led to a juicy, well-paid appointment on Helms’ staff. 

Helms openly supported Salvadoran death-squad comandante Roberto D’Abuisson, believed to have planned the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero – another priest, like Aristide, who took sides with the poor.  And Helms and Noriega were opposed to Aristide from the moment of Aristide’s surprise election victory in 1990, which was reversed by the 1991 coup.  Helms regards any form of independence or any policy that makes inroads against the power of the rich, to be “communist.”  Helms frequently referred to Aristide as a “Haitian Castro.”  And Jesse Helms just plain doesn’t like Black people.  Foreign, Black, Catholic, and populist – the only thing missing for the pure embodiment of evil according to Helms would be if Aristide were gay.  (Helms is also a notorious homophobe!)

The South has exercised political hegemony in the US ever since the Nixon presidency.  In that same South, the conflation of unions, race-mixing, and communism is the powerful ideological elixir that led the Klan to lay claim to being a bulwark against communism – which they opposed because communists promoted “racial mongrelization.” This may be Noriega’s view.  White Cuban racism is legendary.  More likely, however, Noriega’s views are based on his perceived role as a guardian of the empire in Latin America.

Former Ambassador to El Salvador, (also fired by Reagan for speaking out on human rights violations) Robert White, said just days before the coup culminated with the American military removal and detention of Aristide, “Roger Noriega has been dedicated to ousting Aristide for many, many years, and now he's in a singularly powerful position to accomplish it."

Let’s drop back to Richard Nixon for a moment.

In 1968, the Nixon campaign fell upon its “Southern Strategy.” Democrats Kennedy and Johnson, before the juggernaut of the Civil Rights movement, signed the legislation that erased the legal foundation of Southern US apartheid and created the phenomenon called “white backlash” by the press.  Until World War II and in the South even after WWII, the Democratic Party proudly claimed to be “the Party of White Supremacy.”

The Nixon Southern Strategy aimed to claim that title for itself, albeit in a coded form.  “States rights” became the battle cry of Republicans, understood by every white southerner as an apology for slavery and apartheid, and Civil Rights legislation was spun by Republicans as an assault on the individual rights of whites.

Lee Hubbard writes about the Republican strategy and how it has led to consistent and overwhelming support for the Republican Party among southern white voters (and ever more white voters generally):

"Substantial Negro support is not necessary to national Republican victory," said Kevin Phillips, the mastermind behind Nixon's Southern Strategy, at the time. "The GOP can build a winning coalition without Negro Votes. Indeed, Negro-Democratic mutual identification was a major source of Democratic loss, and Republican Party or (George Wallace's) American Independent Party profit, in many sections of the country."

Since then, some Republicans have played to these fears to gather white votes. Their game has ranged from the kickoff of Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign when he declared he "believed in states rights," in Philadelphia, Mississippi – the site of the deaths of civil rights martyrs of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman – to Vice President Bush's 1988 Willie Horton ad campaign, which basically depicted all blacks as being criminals. Some of the GOP's race-baiting has been, perhaps, unintentional, and other times it has been blatant, but it has happened, and black people are familiar with this list of racial baggage.

The unspoken centrality of white supremacy for the Republican Party since Nixon cannot be overstated.  Foreign policy is not solely determined by foreign priorities, either economic or strategic.  It is also significantly influenced by its impact on popular domestic political bases; in this case the racist white majority in the United States.

This matters for the issue of Haiti.  The Haitian Revolution that culminated in the first Black Republic on January 1, 1804, was led against three imperial powers, including Napoleon’s armed forces, by rebel slaves.  These slaves out-generaled, out-administered, and out-fought the European giants, smashing the myth of white supremacy.  This struck terror into the American South, where the fear of Black rebellion was a constant.

The turmoil in Haiti is always portrayed by the white American press in ways that explain nothing and convey the impression of irrational chaos.  Haiti has been consistently debilitated from the outside since its inception for several reasons, one of which has been the ideological need in the US to support white notions of Black irrational deviance and incapacity for self-governance.

Ever since Nixon managed the Republican Party’s displacement of the Democrats as the party of white supremacy, Republicans have taken a special responsibility for putting Haiti in its place.  Just after Aristide’s kidnapping, Florida Republican Mark Foley, in a CNN exchange with Maxine Waters, said the US will help Haitians learn how to run a government and “how to grow crops.”  A rich, white man from Florida is talking about teaching Haitians how to grow crops!

White supremacy has been and remains a pillar of Euro-American power, and not in some merely discursive way that “divides and conquers” workers, though that’s certainly part of it.  Imperialism, to this day, is rationalized through notions of the “white man’s burden.”  I would simply point to how many Americans who opposed the war in Iraq now say that the US has to stay there to “rebuild” Iraq.  This is racism, pure and simple.

Flash forward now to the 1992 election, when Bill Clinton excoriated George W. Bush for his incarceration of Haitian refugees in the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Playing to his Black audience, whom Clinton would betray in his later policies at every turn, Clinton also pointed quite justifiably to the hypocrisy of allowing white Cubans automatic entry into the US, while indefinitely detaining black Haitians.

The coup of a year earlier was proceeding apace with its slaughter of Aristide loyalists and grassroots organizers, and CIA complicity in the coup was becoming gradually more visible with a leak here and a whisper there.

The economy tanked after George H. W. Bush had made his famed “read my lips” remark, and Clinton was elected.

Faced with the reality of Haiti’s desperation and the volume of refugees fleeing the Cedras-Francois regime, and faced with the reality of Florida politics and the possibility of 100,000 or more penniless people crashing onto its shores, Bill Clinton’s first foreign policy embarrassment was being forced by his circumstances to treat the Haitians even more harshly than the Bush regime had.

Clinton knew very well that a US invasion would not be accepted by the people of Haiti without Aristide - who they now saw as a symbol of their aspiration for genuine independence - and he engineered the 1994 invasion to return a compliant Aristide in order to stop a nascent Haitian rebellion against the Cedras-Francois regime that might have taken on revolutionary overtones.

The hit squads for that regime were the FRAPH, the very same people who just provided the paramilitary push to complete the latest coup against Aristide.

Members of both parties have desired Aristide’s ouster ever since he won the 2000 election, and while the Democrats incline toward the comprador-technocrats of the Haitian elite, the Republicans incline toward the FRAPH-macoutes.  This is based on past CIA relations with the FRAPH, and the CIA is packed full of Republican loyalistsIn my time working around embassies and CIA spooks, I can honestly say that I have never seen a single African American CIA agent.  There are some Black folks working as secretaries at Langley, but the operations side is monolithically white.

Until we become clear that the US state is a white state, we will not become clear at all.

The Bush administration and its FRAPH allies just helped the phony Haitian “opposition” to complete its four-year coup.

Both white capitalist parties in the US are run by elites who want to see the removal of Aristide and others who have the capacity to mobilize their population.  But where Democrats would prefer something that looks like a success story – along with managed elections and other trappings of “progress” – Republicans, as the party that still employs its latter day version of the Southern Strategy, want to see Haiti in chaos.  They will put on a mask of paternalistic sympathy while they continue to impose dysfunction, because they need Haiti to continue to serve as an example of Black incapacity for self-governance – to reinforce their white supremacist appeal to the Helms wing of the party, which is still substantial.

Both parties see popular sovereignty as a threat to Washington, which rules through wealthy colonial surrogates (not altogether unlike those jackleg leaders in the US mentioned earlier), and they have no intention of letting another independent nation (besides Cuba) flourish outside the Washington Consensus in this region.  It’s a bad example that might infect the imagination of popular forces throughout the region. Another example must be made.

Right now, it’s the Republicans’ example, and so it is color-coded for all the foregoing reasons.  Color crosses these class lines in Haiti itself when it is seen as necessary, and it is mobilized against popular challenges to entrenched power when that is seen as necessary.

In the run-up to the coup against Aristide’s government, there was a persistent effort by both the press and US State Department spokespersons to imply that Aristide was somehow “autocratic.”  This charge is repeated without any factual antecedents, but that leaves the impression on the public that something specific did happen, that they, the public, merely failed to pick up – and white Americans having no deep interest in the details of anything except television series, Janet’s titty, and Oscar nominations, they merely exercise a sheep-like acceptance of the characterization of these unspecified acts, as undemocratic, autocratic, etc.  This allowed the maneuvering of the NED and whatever armed forces (the FRAPH in this case) to coordinate their actions with the press blitz to first destabilize the country, then launch the coup.

Once the coup was enacted, the US claimed Aristide resigned, setting up a situation that appeared to the American public as the (credible) US word against the (not credible) word of the irrational, autocratic Black leader.  The white US press has refused to follow up on the revelations of Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel, implying by this inaction that they too are just more paranoid brown people.

The Convergence Democratique (now the political arm of the coup d’etat) and its US-sponsor, the National Endowment for Democracy, are about anything but democracy.  Convergence has been trying to overturn the result of a legitimate election ever since Aristide was elected again in 2000 with 92% of the vote.

In the United States, and more and more in other societies, the population has been trained to see politics as a combination of personality and policy.  This focus on the personalities of individual leaders exposes only part of the reality, and it renders a key dimension of political reality invisible: the historically developed social forces that underwrite their power.  This socially-constructed intellectual astigmatism makes it possible to successfully portray entire societies as reflections of certain individuals, be they Khaddafi or Bush or Chavez or Saddam or Aristide.  What is rendered invisible in this process is the fact that these leaders are more the reflection and product of their history and society than their society is a reflection of them.  That’s not to say these leaders don’t have individual agency, but that a huge dimension of politics is concealed by this way of knowing and therefore its distortion of social reality.

This is very important in the United States as a mechanism for gaining the acquiescence of the public for various foreign conspiracies and adventures.  The class interests of these ruling elites represented by these conspiracies and adventures are concealed by the politics of personality.  People don’t talk about the connection between Wall Street and the CIA because they don’t understand the connection.  People don’t know about the social revolution that brought Khaddafi to power, or the relation of the Bush administration to the Southern Strategy, or the history of Ba’athism, or the origins of the Lavalas movement in Haiti.  They don’t understand that there is a connection between levels of technological development and the ability to command accountability within governments.  They don’t recognize the international “division of labor” within the American Imperium.  So they are reduced to making judgments – very simplistic judgments – about individual leaders based on faulty and incomplete information and moral criteria that are intellectually undemanding. 

The ability, then, to use disinformation to simply portray Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the individual, as a bad man and a bad leader, translates into the ability to shape the American majority’s perception to suit the agenda of the political establishment – of which the corporate media is an integral part.

This perception management capacity is a force multiplier in the effort to economically, politically, and militarily destabilize a nation.  I detailed some of the mechanisms for this perception management in my Counterpunch article of October, 2003, Piss on My Leg – Perception Control and the Stage Management of War.

That said, let me return to the economic dimension of the coup in Haiti.

Schematic leftists are trying to see Haiti through the lens of economics.  They want to believe that Haiti re-conquest is a prelude to developing massive sweatshops or some other form of profit-taking in Haiti.  But it is a mistake to believe that only one reason ever exists for a foreign policy. Haiti has very few assembly platforms in operation, and the infrastructure is a shambles.  Moreover, the amount of arable land is declining at an alarming rate. In short, there is only marginal space for foreign economic exploitation.  

US foreign policy is determined for multiple reasons, and economics is not always the first concern for a specific policy, even if keeping the overall system stable for capital accumulation remains the overarching determinant.  Venezuela is a key country in a key region, where there is already rebellion afoot.  In play are Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia, all of which are experiencing serious social upheavals that include strong opposition to the Washington Consensus.  Again, the imperial obligation to make an example of the “rebellious child” is a factor.  And US international power no longer comes primarily from exploitative economic production, but from a monetary regime that extracts interest from the external debts of other nations based on rules it enforces, at the end of the day, with the power of the dollar backed by the military.  Any attempt to develop any form of national self-sufficiency that could add weight to a regional or global default movement is a very real threat – perhaps the most real of all threats – to US global power.

Haiti is under attack for geo-political reasons, but there is an economic component to the attack – to destroy the Haitian economy.

Any time an economic crisis is provoked, tempers get shorter, jobs are lost, social services collapse, and the people become discontented with whomever they perceive to be their leaders.  This is the first step in the agitation process of a coup.  In Haiti, the Bush administration merely held back over $500 million in approved disbursements and loans to the Haitian government to break it, and – less widely known – embargoed certain products to Haiti, significantly new equipment, weapons, and ammunition to keep the police up to date. (See , “When Major Powers Stage a Coup,” Randall Robinson, April 24, 2003.) 

These economic attacks are combined with a media blitz designed to “explain” the economic crisis in a way that places the blame on the seated government.  This happened in Haiti.

The economic attack is also combined with the organization of a political opposition.  I alluded to this being the role of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Reagan-era break-off from CIA covert operations, whose sole function is to interfere in the elections of other governments.  The NED has funded and organized political “opposition” groups to destabilize Nicaragua, the Balkans, Haiti, and Venezuela.  In the latter two cases, they did not have elections after they destabilized them, because in both cases it was rightly feared that the electoral outcomes would not result in their targeted leader being unseated.  Both Chavez and Aristide would win today if elections were held in those nations.  The NED mobilized these “oppositions” as fake popular fronts against the governments for the purpose of overthrowing them.  In the case of Haiti, the opposition refused to hold elections because they knew they’d lose – badly.

Once the economic and political crises are created, a security crisis is fomented.  In Haiti, they even resorted to setting up attacks against other “opposition” members in an attempt to lay the charge against the government that it had attacked them.  This is the juncture at which the military is required, and that was the ex-FRAPH paramilitary.

After his return to the Haitian presidency in 1994, Aristide rightly feared and distrusted the standing Haitian military.  So he disbanded them and replaced them with a 6,000-person constabulary, trained in very basic police skills.  To understand what this means, one has to understand the actual physical condition of Haiti.

The majority of the country is inaccessible by road, and the existing roads are all in ill repair.  Some are passable year-round but take a terrible toll on vehicles, and some are impassable when it rains.  Cell phones work in some places and don’t work in others, and the police were equipped with land lines and FM radios, the latter having very limited range in mountainous Haiti.  Police, like everyone else, spend a great deal of time with plain day-today activities, that we take for granted, but which are very time consuming there – hauling water, cooking, laundering, shopping for bare necessities in a plethora of markets where supplies of every commodity are iffy, etc.  There is often little to no electricity.  There is certainly not a great deal of close oversight and supervision, and there is little wherewithal to ensure the kind of professional development we might expect of law enforcement officers here.

They were making do, some better than others, many only marginally literate, often with mixed loyalties and personal problems, and some were certainly involved in corruption.  The actually existing option was not between a perfect police force and this one, but between this one or no police force at all.  It had one helicopter in the capital.

They were not trained to engage in military actions.  In Port-au-Prince, there was a riot control group called CIMO and a SWAT contingent, the latter of which having some semblance of military capacity.  When the February attacks came, they were against plain police, who couldn’t withstand a dedicated attack using large supplies of military weapons to include rocket-propelled grenades and machineguns.  The roads and the communications prevented any timely reinforcements, and the command structure as well as the political leadership – shocked at the ease with which these attacks succeeded – wrung their hands until it was over.

Given that Louis-Jodel Chamblain – the paramilitary leader of this phase – is a convicted criminal, an unconvicted one was used to give the “rebels” a public face: Guy Philippe.  The Guardian ran a background piece on March 7th that pointed out:

“While in the military in the early 1990s, rebel leader Guy Philippe received training from US Special Forces in Ecuador. He later became police chief in Cap-Haitien, where he was accused of drug-trafficking and plotting a coup. Another rebel leader, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, was second in command of the murderous FRAPH paramilitary group, suspected of killing thousands during the 1991-1994 military regime. Former FRAPH leader Emmanuel 'Toto' Constant, who lives in New York, has acknowledged working for CIA agents while FRAPH was massacring dissidents.

”For the second time in less than two years, the Bush administration is fighting accusations that it backed the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government in Latin America.  Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has charged the US with forcing him from power at gunpoint. US Secretary of State Colin Powell dismissed that as 'absurd'. But there is growing international disquiet. As with the unsuccessful US-endorsed coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in April 2002, Washington faces charges that it is reverting to Cold War tactics to dispose of leaders it does not fancy…

“…While in the military in the early 1990s, rebel leader Guy Philippe received training from US Special Forces in Ecuador. He later became police chief in Cap-Haitien, where he was accused of drug-trafficking and plotting a coup. Another rebel leader, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, was second in command of the murderous FRAPH paramilitary group, suspected of killing thousands during the 1991-1994 military regime. Former FRAPH leader Emmanuel 'Toto' Constant, who lives in New York, has acknowledged working for CIA agents while FRAPH was massacring dissidents…

“…Aristide, like Chavez, has been accused of a gamut of abuses, including corruption and arming slum militias.  But both were freely elected and continued to count on fervent support from their nation's poor majorities.

“Chavez himself has declared Aristide's removal 'a tragedy'. 'These are our brothers who have also been trampled by the Haitian oligarchy and their foreign allies,' he said last week.”

 Another event adds weight to the circumstantial case for US-direction of the coup – if what we’ve already seen isn’t enough.

During the last stage of the coup, when Aristide was wringing his hands and attempting to conciliate with the US and its criminal-allies, he called for additional security from the private security agency that provides his bodyguards – the Steele Foundation, which performs these functions through contracts approved by the US State Department.  The Steele Foundation called the US Embassy to determine whether they had State Department approval, which also means security backup in the event of an emergency.  The State Department explicitly told Steele that no such backup would be provided, a clear message that the US government did not want Aristide’s security detail enhanced. 


That the ex-FRAPH have been living unmolested in the Dominican Republic for ten years is not an hypothesis.  It is a fact.  That Toto Constant has been living in Queens, NY, for ten years is a fact.  That the US occupying forces stole 160,000 pages of Haitian documents left by the de facto government of Raoul Cedras and have refused to return these document to the Haitian government, papers that likely prove CIA collaboration with the 1991 coup-makers and the FRAPH, is a fact. 

So with this as a brief background, let’s return to John Kerry, wealthy white opportunist and co-member of George W. Bush’s Yale grave-robbing fraternity, Skull and Bones.

Right now, he’s thinking he can take the African American vote for granted.  And there’s no doubt that – contrary to all the nonsense uttered by the white left, still trapped in their privileged moralism and focused solely on the major party personalities with no regard for the base – there is a difference between Republicans and Democrats, precisely because of Democratic dependency on Black voters.  That doesn’t automatically translate into unqualified, uncritical support for Kerry and other supremos at the top of the Democrat hierarchy.  It’s just saying this claim that there is no difference is both white myopia and plain, undialectical, polemical dishonesty.  White people didn’t get disfranchised this year in Texas by Republican redistricting, and white people are not a mere generation away from spilling blood to win that franchise.

It’s African Americans who will have to review and respond to both the colonization of African Americans generally, and how that colonial relation is reflected in Democratic Party politics, not white leftists telling Blacks to disengage and white liberals telling Blacks to bite back resentment at Democratic cowardice and opportunism to defeat the greater-evil.  Nothing is that simple.

But this coup d’etat in Haiti is calling a lot of questions, so even if there is no immediate prospect of a decisive break from imperialist parties for African America, it certainly seems like a good time to give the chief Democrat a taste of the Black political power upon which he depends by asking some very tough questions, and not giving John Kerry any wiggle room to justify it.  The Haitian people cannot be considered separate.  The attack on their sovereignty is a direct and intentional attack on Black political power everywhere, and especially inside the United States of America.  Jean-Bertrand Aristide did not resign, and the vast majority of Haiti is demanding his return as their elected leader.

Supporting this demand is a political imperative, precisely because it was not solely an attack on Aristide, but on Africans everywhere and on popular sovereignty for all people.

Kerry and the rest of the Democratic Party have to step up and acknowledge that Haiti has been attacked to re-subjugate it, and we can follow Congresswoman Waters’ and Congressman Rangel’s lead on this.

No US vassal government in Haiti!  Return Aristide!

Are you listening, John?

Stan Goff is a freelance writer, speaker, and consultant in Raleigh, NC.  He is retired from the US Army, where he spent a career largely in Special Operations and worked in eight conflict areas.  He is the author of “Hideous Dream – A Soldier’s Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti” and “Full Spectrum Disorder – The Military in the New American Century,” both from Soft Skull Press.  His Website is

Your comments are welcome.

Visit the Contact Us page for E-mail or Feedback.