As many as nine peaceful demonstrators were killed in Haiti on May 18th, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets despite the risk [and reality] of violent repression by international forces and a militarized Haitian police force. These demonstrators were calling for and end to the illegal occupation by US, Canadian and French forces, and for the return of overthrown leader, President Jean Bertrand Aristide. [see: http://www.haitiaction.net]
The mainstream media has already done its best to cover this up, which isn’t difficult considering that most corporations no longer have “journalists” covering Haiti, save for AP, Reuters, and the Miami Herald, and that their readership has not been privy to scarcely any of the realities in Haiti for eons.
The AP’s Amy Bracken has a virtual monopoly on the information that is allowed out of Haiti in the mainstream these days. As such, her summary of the Flag Day demonstrations is the one that will stick in peoples minds. Her description is sterile, seemingly objective reporting:
“Thousands of demonstrators called for the return of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide during a Flag Day rally Tuesday that turned violent, leaving at least one man dead.”
Where Bracken cannot not lie about the fact that Tuesday’s demonstrators were in fact Aristide supporters, she is denying the actual numbers of people in attendance, she is denying the level of repression by US Marines and Haitian police, and she is denying that the demonstrators were also calling for an end to the illegal occupation and all that it stands for, including the presence of a US Puppet Regime, and a US trained and financed military that is executing much of the terror on Lavalas/Aristide supporters.
On Flashpoints Radio [http://www.flashpoints.net], “authentic” journalist Kevin Pina recounted his eyewitness experience of the demonstrations, explaining how he was threatened with arrest by a US Marine [despite showing his credentials] and was subsequently shot at by the new Haitian Special Forces as he denounced the Marines for promoting the violence. Prior to this, one demonstrator standing next to him was slain [photos at http://www.haitiaction.net]. This was the result of “indiscriminate” firing upon the demonstrators by the Haitian police. Anywhere between 30,000 to 60,000 people demonstrated at various times and places throughout the day.
That this many people were courageous enough to demonstrate – after two and a half months of severe repression that has seen thousands killed, beaten, or disappeared – is telling, and might serve to inspire the “progressives” who have mostly suffered from a strange and silent paralysis toward Haiti in terms of movement building. The main thing that these demonstrations do is put the lie to all of those who claim that Haiti is “on the right track” or “moving forward”, or that the “interim” government is “doing a good job” with the full support of the US and its vassal States.
Speaking of vassal States, the consensus in Canada is that “people were unanimously calling for Aristide’s departure” [see the recent goings on in the Foreign Affairs Committee, http://www.parl.gc.ca]. Where in the United States there is existing political opposition to the role of the government in manufacturing the “Haitian crisis” [however marginal this is], no such opposition can be said to exist in Canada.
Across the board of governmental and non-governmental agencies, a firm position of “official denial” has set in. This owes largely to the seamless transition the Canadian government has made – since the installation of Paul Martin as Prime Minister – to a climate of militarism, jingoism, fearmongering, empty rhetoric, and an ever-more obedient media machine.
Paul Martin and his fellow Liberal coup-backers seized the Haiti opportunity to show their imperial masters that they could be relied upon to mercilessly help carry out a systematic program of destabilization. Canada also showed that it can help navigate the waters of a post-coup environment, as the government lies over and over until the lie becomes the truth. Haiti is just a warm up, as Canada is frantically beefing up its armed forces [$8 billion spent since December 2003] in order to get up to speed with the United States and to face the greatest threat of the 21st century, which, according to Martin, “is centred on terror cells”. [Speech at Gagetown, NB, April 14, 2004]
Where the AP’s Bracken could not lie about the fact that yesterdays demonstrators were in fact Aristide supporters, she is denying the actual numbers of people in attendance, she is denying the level of repression by US Marines and Haitian police, and she is denying that the demonstrators were also calling for an end to the illegal occupation and all that it stands for. At this point, the layperson who happens to read page 35 of the corporate media daily that prints Haiti’s latest news, is in no position to be moved to support this call for Aristide’s return.
The impact of the corporate media’s own “official denial” deepens the pervasiveness of the more general denial, as it dovetails with that of the gopvernment and NGOs. The burden of responsibility therefore lies on the alternative media and the activists who support or rely on it, to respond to the appeal for solidarity with the Haitian masses.
As new facts emerge about the systematic nature of the destabilization campaign in Haiti, – dating back, as can be determined concretely, to 2000 – the task for solidarity activists is much clearer. Consider the findings of International Action Committee-led investigative team to the Dominican Republic: 200 Special Forces trained the Haitian “rebels” in the DR, preparing them for their invasion of Haiti. These “rebels” were funded and trained by the International Republican Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy – the CIA front group that was established by Reagan in 1983. [See Democracy Now! Interviews with Fr. Luis Barrios and Brian Concannon, http://www.democracynow.org].
During our recent interview, Sam Goff recounted the testimony of retired Dominican Army General Noble Espejo:
“According to Espejo.a military base not too far from the border, called Constanza, was normally home to a battalion of what they call Castasdores, which is like “Rangers” or “Shock Infantry”. One battalion was stationed here. At one point in the year 2000, they amplified that; they transferred two additional battalions of Castadores over to Constanza.
They did this because the people of the town of Constanza already knew the people that were assigned there. Any new faces would stand out but by bringing in two additional battalions from, other bases into Constanza, they overwhelmed the community with a bunch of new soldiers and mixed in with those soldiers were the Haitian paramilitaries, who were wearing Dominican uniforms, integrated into the Dominican units, and receiving training with the Dominican military.”
This was done, according to Goff, with the knowledge of the US Embassy, as is generally the case:
“[I]t’s important to understand that the Dominican government does not do anything militarily that the United States does not allow it to do. The Dominican government is a colonial government, and nothing else, because they would suffer incredible and punitive economic sanctions if they bucked the Washington Consensus.”
Chris Searle’s seminal 1983 book in the “field” of US destabilization campaigns, “Grenada: The Struggle Against Destabilization”, explored these still relevant issues:
“The first reaction to any revolutionary process by the enemies of the revolution has always been destabilization and intervention.’Destabilization’ is not just a word and a new addition to the Caribbean vocabulary. It means definite things. It means murder, arson, bombs, lies, slander, threats, intimidation, mercenary menace and attempts to snatch away all the concrete and popular benefits won through the revolution .”
Grenada’s Maurice Bishop, Guyana’s Cheddi Jagan, and Jamaica’s Michael Manley all got to know destabilization intimately, along with dozens of other Latin American revolutionaries. In a 1980 speech, Maurice Bishop described this familiarity:
“We think of the history of US Imperialism.Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Dominican Republic in 1965 and dozens of other examples.We think of the assassinations of Sandino the patriot of Nicaragua, of Allende the hero of Chile, of so many other martyrs of this region who had to die at the hands of imperialism. We think of the scientific way in which they have evolved a new concept which they have called ‘destabilization’: a concept aimed at creating political violence, economic sabotage; a concept which when it fails, eventually leads to terrorism. We think of the attempts to use local opportunists and counterrevolutionaries – people who try to build a popular base, people who fail in building that popular base, and people who as a result of having failed to fool the masses then turn to the last weapon they have in desperation: the weapons of open, naked, brutal and vulgar terror.”
One of Haiti’s current leading terrorists, Guy Philippe, who was part of the group of Haitian paramilitaries incorporated into the Dominican Army, has recently “transformed his rebel army into a political party that plans to campaign in next year’s general elections.” This should come as no surprise to those familiar with the history of FRAPH and Duvalierist Macoutes, or with the history of US-led destabilization campaigns. [See The Jamaica Observer, Thursday, May. 20, 2004] Given that a return of military rule to Haiti is what the Haitian masses fear the most, this is probably what is being planned for by the United States, who need the billions of dollars in cocaine flowing through a “secure” Haiti that is run by whomever is most friendly to US interests.
The second overthrow of Haiti’s democratically elected government was the direct result of “a carefully staged military-intelligence operation.” [see Chossudovsky's "Destabilization of Haiti, February 29th, 2004 heep://www.globalresearch.ca] This was also the case in the CIA-sponsored 1991 overthrow of Aristide by the again-terrorizing-with-impunity FRAPH. The circumstances were different then, as the United States joined the OAS and the United Nations in condemning the coup [an example of the insanity of Empire, both condemning and causing a coup.]. This time around, the OAS and the UN appear to have been brought on board with the foreknowledge of the coup, so as to guarantee [through their complicity] their steadfast denial in the aftermath.
As CARICOM has been forced to take their demand for an investigation into Aristide’s departure to the OAS, the outlook for this is grim. Already, the US Ambassador to the OAS has declared that CARICOM’s request should be rejected. Additionally, arch-racist Luigi Einaudi, who helped plan regime change in Haiti with Otto Reich and Canada’s Denis Paradis, is the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS. Another well-known racist Roger Noriega worked at the OAS before his role at the State Department, and will undoubtedly seek to influence them. As Ricky Singh recently opined:
“The USA, France and their allies who had influenced an emergency session of the UN Security Council to rush troops to Haiti on the very day Aristide lost power.remain in an official denial mode that he was ousted from power.” ["Caricom's challenge to OAS on Haiti, Wednesday, May 19th 2004 http://www.trinidadexpress.com]
Across the globe, denial is all that the US Empire and its vassal states have to rely on. This posture of denial is fuelled by the criminal propaganda that passes as “news” and “journalism” as churned out by gigantic [but increasingly fewer] media corporations. How long can this denial hold up? As long as we allow it to, I suppose, and as long as there is virtually no social cost to be attributed to the perpetuation of this insanity. Haitians can only endure the deadly realities of a US, Canadian, French and Chilean military occupation, while death squads hunt them down with impunity in the North. At any given time, mass mobilizations of solidarity by the citizens of these occupying countries will be welcomed by Haitians.