History will record that the first Black U.S. Secretary of State personally engineered the theft of the national sovereignty of Haiti, the worldâ€™s first Black republic and the second nation in the western hemisphere to free itself from European rule. Such is Colin Powellâ€™s horrific legacy â€“ an historic shame and blight on the collective honor of Black America.
Powell returned to the scene of his crime last week to assure Gerard Latortue, the evilly buffoonish U.S.-installed interim Prime Minister, â€œWe are with you all the way” â€“ words of encouragement to a man who is said to have estimated it will be necessary to kill 25,000 people in the capital alone to stop calls for the return of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (see , â€œA Clandestine Interview from Haiti: Resistance in the Slums of Port-au-Prince,â€ October 14, 2004).
As if to honor the Secretary, Haitian police killed four men from Aristideâ€™s Lavalas party who they claimed started a gun battle while Powell visited the National Palace. But who knows the real circumstances? Haiti is drenched in blood. “The background is that they’re massacring Lavalas supporters on a daily basis now in most of the Port-au-Prince port areas. People are afraid to come out of their homes,” said Ira Kurzban, an Aristide attorney. “What’s happening in Haiti is what’s happening in Iraq: It’s just total chaos, except there are no U.S. troops on the ground.”
Brazilian-led United Nations troops provide a veneer of legitimacy to Latortueâ€™s gangster regime, operating joint patrols with ski mask-wearing â€œpolicemenâ€ who carry out summary executions in the capitalâ€™s sprawling slums. Mass murder is official policy in Haiti. “Shoot them and ask questions later,” Jean Philippe Sassine, the assistant mayor of Port-au-Prince told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Right now, our country needs security. Unless you clean up the bad people, the gangs, there will be no progress. Let us do it, or it will be worse.”
Perhaps thousands have been killed or â€œdisappearedâ€ â€“ no one can provide even a ballpark figure â€“ since February 28, when U.S. troops sent President Aristide on an odyssey to the Central African Republic, Jamaica and, now, South Africa, a crime against nationhood endorsed after the fact by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Yet even the timid international civil servant recoils at the sheer lawlessness into which Haiti has descended. “I should like to remind the transitional government that the arbitrary detention of people solely for their political affiliation is in contravention of fundamental human rights principles,” said Annan, last month, calling on Latortue to release Lavalas and former Aristide government officials, or put them on trial. “Armed groups have made arbitrary arrests and run illegal detention centers in some localities. The justice system remained dysfunctional and the National Police continued to operate outside the purview of the rule of law.â€
Then, true to form, Annan duly requested that the Security Council extend the UNâ€™s â€œpeacekeepingâ€ mandate for another 18 months.
For some political prisoners, jail is a way-station to a secret grave, according to Marguerite Laurent, chairperson of Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network. â€œHaitian â€˜policeâ€™ simply assassinated at least 10 of the helpless and unarmed prisoners they are holding as hostages in the National Penitentiary,â€ said the New York-based attorney. â€œReports also indicate bodies are taken from the jail and dumped in mass graves at night so that the world would not know how many are being murdered.â€
Godfather to Thugs
In a December 3 letter soaked in sarcasm and timed to coincide with Powellâ€™s trip to Haiti, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) urged the lame duck Secretary, â€œas your last official acts of mercy and compassion for the Haitian people, to call for the immediate release of all remaining political prisoners and other Haitians who are being illegally detained in Haitian prisons, and to do whatever is required to expedite desperately needed humanitarian assistance.â€
Waters was among the Congressional Black Caucus members who virtually stormed the White House last February 26 demanding the administration defend constitutional democracy in Haiti, two days before the U.S. kidnapped President Aristide. Knowing full well that Aristide would be either deposed or dead that weekend, Powell, Condoleezza Rice and George Bush assured the alarmed lawmakers that the U.S. would respect Haitiâ€™s sovereignty and the rule of law. As it turned out, less than 48 hours later Powell committed the predicate criminal act in the abduction and ouster of a foreign head of state, as reported in our March 4, 2004 Cover Story, â€œGodfather Colin Powell, the Gangster of Haitiâ€:
â€Ron Dellums, the distinguished former Congressman from the San Francisco Bay area who worked as a lobbyist for Aristideâ€™s government, got a call from the Head-Negro-In-Charge [Powell] on Saturday, warning in no uncertain terms that gunmen were coming to kill Aristide on Sunday morning. The U.S., said Powell, would not lift a finger to stop them. When the Americans come to call, Aristide must leave with them.
â€It is a mind-boggling measure of the Bush Piratesâ€™ ferocious lawlessness that Powell would personally initiate the overt, criminally culpable act in the kidnapping of a head of state. This aspect of the crime alone should send him to The Hague.â€
Rep. Waters remembers well those events. Her December 3 letter lays the current chaos in Haiti directly on the U.S. â€“ and Powellâ€™s â€“ doorstep:
â€History will record that this crisis is a direct result of the failed policies of the United States, France and Canada, which worked with the Group of 184, the former members of the Haitian Army and known thugs to carry out last February’s coup d’etat. While I am certain that you would be the last to agree, I believe that the only way to stabilize Haiti is to do so with the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the democratically-elected President of Haiti, until the end of his term in office, with a restoration of assistance for the rebuilding of Haiti’s infrastructure and, at the end of his term, assistance for free and fair elections.
â€I remain deeply disappointed by the lack of leadership from the international community, including the United States, France, Canada and the United Nations peacekeeping forces. While international officials claim to be committed to democracy in Haiti, they have made no serious effort to disarm the thugs and killers who were involved in the coup d’etat or to demand that the interim government respect the human rights of the Haitian people.â€
Of course, Latortue and the rampaging ex-military thugs, drug dealers and criminals tormenting Haiti are creatures of the countryâ€™s tiny elite (formerly arrayed under the banner of Group 184), the International Republican Institute â€“ which provided finances, legitimacy and political cover to the â€œrebelsâ€ in their Dominican Republic sanctuaries â€“ and Colin Powell, himself.
Invitation to Murder
The pace of police raids, executions and disappearances has increased markedly since September 30, when police fired on Lavalas supporters calling for President Aristideâ€™s return. Latortueâ€™s project to kill 25,000 citizens of the capital is in motion. “If the government doesn’t take responsibility, we will take it,” former Army Sgt. Remissainthe Ravix declared to an American reporter. “If they give us the order, in three days we’ll clear Bel Air (a Port-au-Prince slum) and Cite Soleil of bandits.”
When it is understood that, in Latortueâ€™s Haiti, â€œbanditsâ€ refers to Aristide supporters defending their lives from death squads, Colin Powellâ€™s words become invitations to murder:
â€œThe UN stabilization mission ably led by South American soldiers demonstrate that the international community’s strong commitment for restoration of order and democracy in Haiti. The political violence and corruption cannot be tolerated. To build a strong vibrant democracy and to advance the rule of law, we have got to get the other weapons off the street. Without security, Haiti’s democracy will remain at risk.â€
What double-speak! The Bush administration, with Colin Powell on point, destroyed Haitian democracy and sovereignty, employing death squads and criminals as its favored instruments. Far from exerting pressure to stop the massacres, the U.S. has leaned heavily on the UN forceâ€™s Brazilian commanders to act more aggressively against the population. “We are under extreme pressure from the international community to use violence,” said General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, speaking to a congressional commission in Brazil. “I command a peacekeeping force, not an occupation force … we are not there to carry out violence, this will not happen for as long as I’m in charge of the force.”
The general specifically cited the U.S., France and Canada as the countries demanding greater use of violence by the UN force. “To do this would require a force of 100,000 men prepared to seek and kill in large numbers and this is not our role, nor do we want it,” he said.
Apparently, the Brazilian general is unwillingly to help meet Latortueâ€™s 25,000-body quota â€“ although, in an interview with a Haitian radio station, he sought to clarify his mission: “We must kill the bandits, but it will have to be the bandits only, not everybody.” Clearly, somebody with superpower clout is pressuring UN soldiers to get with the program to kill â€œeverybodyâ€ associated with Lavalas. No one fits that description better than Colin Powell, the man who threatened President Aristideâ€™s life on the Saturday before his ouster â€“ a gangster playing soldier-diplomat.
Brazil is especially sensitive to American â€œdiplomacyâ€ as it maneuvers to gain a permanent seat on a reorganized UN Security Council, an ambition that may have led South Americaâ€™s largest nation to volunteer so eagerly to replace American occupation forces in Haiti. An analysis by the Council On Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) speculates that leftist President Lula da Silvaâ€™s â€œgreatest goal is not necessarily the salvation of Haiti, but the advancement of Brazil.â€ When speaking to domestic audiences, da Silva attempts to give the impression that Brazil took on the Haiti mission in order to get the Americans out. â€œIf we weren’t there (in Haiti), U.S. troops would be doing what we would never do,â€ said the Brazilian President, presumably meaning, killing â€œeverybody.â€
Whatever Brazilâ€™s motives might be, Haitian sovereignty is nowhere in the equation, having been erased, first and foremost, by Colin Powell.
Brazilâ€™s own domestic nightmare â€“ death squads that exterminate children â€“ is now being replicated on the streets of Port-au-Prince. An American named Michael Brewer, who runs a home for â€œstreet kids and runaway â€˜restavekâ€™ slave childrenâ€ says carloads of men
â€œâ€¦who are actually members of the now disbanded military, have began patrolling the streets of Port-au-Prince and are indiscriminately murdering street children for no reason other than sport. These men prowl the streets of the city in groups of 6 to 10 with high-powered military assault rifles, shotguns and 9mm pistols, wearing all-black uniforms with black ski masks over their heads to conceal their identities. They justify the murders of these boys by referring to them as â€˜vagabondsâ€™ and say that they are â€˜cleaning the streets.â€™â€
In one instance, â€œa nine-year-old named Emmanuel was running from a group of these men after he refused to come to them when they called him,â€ Brewer reports. â€œThey shot him in the leg with an assault rifle to stop him. Three of the men casually walked up to where the child was lying on the ground and crying. They ridiculed him, then shot him again with pistols and a shotgun, for a total of 4 more times.â€ There are â€œdump zones,â€ said Brewer, â€œwhere the decomposing bodies of little boys can be found any day of the week. I have found many. This is blatant genocide. The merciless atrocities committed on these defenseless, harmless and innocent street children go completely unnoticed, unreported, and uninvestigated.â€
This is also part of Colin Powellâ€™s legacy.
Haiti to the Dustbin of History
Canada proved that it remains â€œThe Great White Northâ€ by joining the U.S. and France in their Coalition of the Racists to overthrow Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In response to a request from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Canadian House of Commons, the Canadian Foundation for the Americas prepared a plan to establish a UN-sanctioned protectorate in Haiti, thus formally stripping the nation of sovereignty for the foreseeable future. Like Brazil, Canada hopes to promote its own interests at the expense of Haitian independence. â€œThis is an opportunity for Canada to assert the leadership, which the Prime Minister is seeking, complement multilateral measures that Canada already has supported and raise Canada’s hemispheric profile,â€ says the report.
In typical â€œWhite Manâ€™s Burdenâ€ language, the report blames Haitians for the current â€œfailed stateâ€ â€“ the Latortue state that George Bush and Colin Powell created to replace Aristideâ€™s popularly elected, besieged government! â€“ and all but concludes that Haitians do not have the capacity for self-rule: â€œWithout question, governance has been incompetent, corrupt and frequently brutal over the 200 years of independence and these adjectives can all be applied to the government of Jean Bertrand Aristide.â€
For their own good, Haitiansâ€™ independence will be revoked. However, if they are good little children, sovereignty may be dribbled back over the course of time. Under the Great White Plan, â€œgraduation of the Haitian State to independence and a return to the international communityâ€¦should be sequenced on a ministry-by-ministry basis â€“ in other words return to full Haitian authority would depend not on a fixed date for all ministries, but on case-by-case basis of the institutional maturity of each ministry.â€ Peacekeepers â€œshould remain for one to three years while [foreign] police would remain for up to 10 years.â€
U.S.-appointed interim Haitian Prime Minister Latortue this week promised there will be elections in November of 2005 â€“ but the Great White Plan will be working its way from Ottawa to the United Nations headquarters in New York, where a gaggle of prospective new Permanent Members of the Security Council will join an eager UN bureaucracy in turning Haiti into a semi-nation â€“ more like pre-liberation Namibia under white-ruled South Africa than the current Kosovo, in the Balkans. At least, thatâ€™s the plan.
Haitians will write their own plan in blood, as they did 200 years ago. We can all thank Colin Powell for his contribution to Black history, which must now repeat itself at great cost in lives.
Gruesome Role Models
As Powell passes the baton of shame to Condoleezza Rice, African Americans â€“ especially those who are acutely concerned with the Black â€œimageâ€ â€“ must contemplate how that image has been mangled and debased by two individuals from the very bottom of our moral barrel. Secretary of State-in-Waiting Rice thought the United States had succeeded in destroying Venezuelaâ€™s leftist democracy in April, 2002, when it appeared that a military/rich white elite coup had toppled the elected government of Hugo Chavez. After a popular uprising restored the proud mestizo-mulatto Chavez to power, a surly Condoleezza Rice greeted the news in the most undiplomatic way imaginable “I hope that Hugo Chavez takes the message that his people sent him, that his own policies are not working for the Venezuelan people, that he’s dealt with them in a high-handed fashion.”
Like Aristide, President Chavez had been marked for either execution or a flight into exile. Riceâ€™s churlish remarks may pass for statesmanship in Bushâ€™s America, but should have caused great revulsion in Black America, as they did throughout Latin America. This should have been particularly true among members of the NAACP, which had only months before honored Rice with its â€œImage Award.â€ Had Chavez been eliminated, the mostly non-white, poor Venezuelan majority might today be subjected to the same horrors that Colin Powell has inflicted on Haiti: death squads indistinguishable from the â€œpoliceâ€ roaming the slums, nightly â€œdisappearances,â€ constant replenishments of bodies in the â€œdump zones,â€ and jails full of political prisoners, some scheduled for secret execution.
Condoleezza Rice will soon have the opportunity to build on her own foul legacy. However, on an historical scale, it will be difficult to trump Colin Powellâ€™s abominations against Haiti. More than any other individual, Powell has defiled the honor of African-descended people everywhere. Through prodigious acts of treachery, trickery, kidnap and mass murder, Powell has attempted to reverse Haitiâ€™s glorious revolution in the year of its 200th anniversary. He spits on the graves of the hundreds of thousands of Africans who died defeating the armies of France, Spain and Britain, and whose victory in 1804 inspired the Diaspora to believe that slavery could one day be defeated and Black dignity, reclaimed.
As TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson said on learning that Powell had stabbed Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Haitian nation in the back: â€œColin Powell is the most powerful and damaging black to rise to influence in the world in my lifetime.â€
Any Black person who calls Powell a role model is a scoundrel or a fool. Most likely, both.