Jean Bertrand Aristide was the elected President of Haiti. He was a supporter of a doctrine known as Liberation Theology, which was embraced by some Catholics throughout the world. The Liberation Theology basically was that the Catholic church was called upon to help the citizens of the world gain their basic human rights and dignity, to support policies and programs that would guarantee all people food, shelter, education, medical care, and equal opportunity to earn a living. It was not sufficient for church members to direct the poor to pray. The church was called upon to actively get out in the streets and demand decent opportunity and lives for all people.
Of course the Liberation Theology was opposed by the multinational corporations who own and rule the U.S. and much of the world. They believe in slave labor, in people having no rights whatsoever, and corporations have control of everything.
Jean Bertrand Aristide had been the president of Haiti in the early 1990s, then was overthrown by some gang of thugs. President Bill Clinton (how ironic that he will now be in charge of the "charitable" efforts) told Aristide that the U.S. would put him back into the presidency, but only if Aristide would agree to privatize Haiti's resources. Turn over, sell off to corporations, control of all the state-run utilities, sell off all the assets to multinational corporations. Aristide made a partial agreement, but never carried through with the whole privatization of assets.
Instead, by the time of the Baby-Doc Bush regime, Aristide was promoting the Liberation Theology and advocating for an end to the poverty of his country. Among other things, he was publicly demanding that France pay reparations to Haiti for all the assets that France stole while Haiti was a colony, and thereafter. Finally, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney decided to stage a phony coup in Haiti, overthrow Aristide, and put in a U.S.-supported puppet to take his place.
In 2004, the U.S. Government formed a mercenary squad, trained and armed them, and set about creating chaos throughout Haiti by having these mercenaries roam through poor neighborhoods which supported Aristide, the stronghold of the Aristide-supporting political party named Lavalas, and murdering the Aristide supporters.
Soon Haiti descended into chaos, and the U.S. used that as an opportunity to send in the marines, kidnap Aristide and forcibly remove him from office and from the country. After that, U.N. Security forces remained in control of the country and, among other things, attempted to arrest and/or murdered the major leaders of the Lavalas political party, the supporters of Aristide.
The coup was directed by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The "new" president was approved by them. The "new" president did not support liberation theology. The Haitian supporters of Aristide have continued to demand that he be allowed to return to his rightful position as president of Haiti. This kidnapping in the night and forcible removal from the country is exactly the same thing that the U.S. recently did to the president of Honduras.
Here are some excerpts from a 2005 article at HaitiAction.net:
"March 8, 2004 - US marines occupy the National Palace after kidnapping the democratically elected President of Haiti — Jean Betrand Aristide — February 29, 2004 from his residence in the middle of the night. The following week the same US Marines provided the example by raiding the peaceful neighborhood of Bel Air in the middle of the night killing unarmed Lavalas supporters in a massacre. This pattern has been followed over the last year by the UN occupation forces and the murderous Coup Government."
by Anthony Fenton
from Left Turn
" Outside of Aristide, who immediately claimed that he was overthrown in a "modern-day" coup d'etat, and lives as the exiled President of Haiti in South Africa, many others oppose the new circumstances. Those who continue to defy the new imperial reality are, not surprisingly, those countries who would have the most at stake were this sort of intervention to become the international norm. 'If they get away with this in Haiti, who's to say that we're not next?' asks the 14-nation Caribbean Community, the 53-member African Union (representing approximately 1 billion people), Cuba, and most vocally perhaps, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez."
"At the recent World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, [Hugo] Chavez [President of Venezuela] was vocal about his position on Haiti. According to a Workers' World report, he said ...that Jean-Bertrand Aristide is the legitimate president, kidnapped by the U.S. in the same way he was during the April 2002 coup in Venezuela. He mentioned that in the last meeting of the region presidents, he stated that any solution to the crisis in Haiti will have to incorporate Aristide, that the solution could not be in the hands of the United Nations or any group of presidents - who should not interfere in other nations' problems - but in the hands of the Haitian people."
"One of the primary purposes of the initial military occupation was to snuff out as many supporters of the constitution as possible under the guise of bringing "stability" through "disarmament." It only took a month or so to learn about massacres that had been carried out in poor neighborhoods, with many rumors and eyewitness reports implicating foreign soldiers in the targeted killings, creating the very bloodbath that Colin Powell insists that Aristide was avoiding by resigning."
" Only three weeks before Aristide was overthrown (February 7, 2004), over 100,000 Haitians took to the streets and gathered at the National Palace in support of his 5-year constitutional mandate. Here is where the real popular uprising took place. But there weren't any mainstream cameras there to report it, as they were virtually all in Gonaives covering the invasion of U.S. trained paramilitaries who had entered from the Dominican Republic."
"The National Lawyers Guild (NLG, see www.nlg.org) released two reports based on investigations that took place March 29-April 12, 2004. In short, 'the delegation found overwhelming evidence that the victims of the threats and violence have been supporters of the elected government of President Aristide and the Fanmi Lavalas party' and that '[T]he threats have been carried out by former militaries and FRAPH members as well as other supporters of the opposition.'"
"Based on interviews conducted at the state morgue in Port au Prince, NLG states: "[The morgue] Director admitted that 'many' bodies have come into the morgue since March 1, 2004, that are young men with their hands tied behind their backs, plastic bags over their heads, that have been shot." And further, "The Director admitted that 800 bodies were 'dumped and buried' by morgue on Sunday, March 7, 2004, and another 200 bodies dumped on Sunday, March 28, 2004. The 'usual' amount dumped is less than 100 per month." (See Griffin on Democracy Now!, April 12, 2004)"
" In December, Canada, who are overseeing the facilitation of the resulting "Haiti Interim Cooperation Framework," gave the puppet regime $43 million dollars so that they could pay off an existing World Bank debt, in order to incur a new one totaling some $70 million."
"Several governments, including the U.S., Canada, and the EU, deliberately withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the Haitian government from the late 1990s until February 2004, working instead with favored NGOs."
"Canadian mining company Placer Dome, for example, holds a 25-year concession on the Pueblo Gold Mine Project, "one of the world's largest gold reserves." On the Haitian side, St. Genevieve Resources and KWG Resources have exclusive rights to exploit Haiti's copper and gold reserves, valued at several hundred million dollars. Another of many examples finds t-shirt empire Gildan Activewear overlapping their operations across the Haiti-DR border, with new investments expected to shortly reach $160 million. Gildan's primary subcontractor in Haiti is Andy Apaid, Jr., who not only led the Group of 184 political opposition to Aristide, but is now funding anti-Lavalas gangs in Port au Prince slums. "
Haiti gained its independance from France in 1804. In response, France made a claim against Haiti for the equivalent of billions of dollars on behalf of the Frech citizens who had "lost" their slaves in Haiti because of Haiti's independece, and its people's freedom. Aristide demanded that France pay reparations to Haiti for decades of theft of its resources, and France participated in the efforts to overthrow Aristide.
For more excellent reporting about Aristide, see Jay Atkinson's website http://aristide.org/
Here are excerpts from an article written by Naomi Klein about Aristide after the coup in 2004. Aristide was living in forced exile. He had understood for some time that the multinational corporations wanted to take control of Haiti and privatize its resources, take all the wealth for themselves, and leave the citizens of Haiti in desperate poverty and with no say whatsoever in the running of their own country. Bill Clinton had told Aristide back in the early 1990s that the U.S. and multinational corporations wanted and planned to privatize every resource, every function, every asset in Haiti, and that Aristide needed to go along with the plan if he wanted to keep his position.
Aristide in exile
by Naomi Klein
July 15, 2005
"When United Nations troops kill residents of the Haitian slum Cité Soleil, friends and family often place photographs of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on their bodies. The photographs silently insist that there is a method to the madness raging in Port-au-Prince. Poor Haitians are being slaughtered not for being “violent,’ as we so often hear, but for being militant; for daring to demand the return of their elected president."
"A few weeks ago I visited Aristide in Pretoria, South Africa, where he lives in forced exile. I asked him what was really behind his dramatic falling-out with Washington. He offered an explanation rarely heard in discussions of Haitian politics — actually, he offered three: “privatization, privatization and privatization.’"
"The dispute dates back to a series of meetings in early 1994, a pivotal moment in Haiti's history that Aristide has rarely discussed. Haitians were living under the barbaric rule of Raoul Cédras, who overthrew Aristide in a 1991 U.S.-backed coup. Aristide was in Washington and despite popular calls for his return, there was no way he could face down the junta without military back-up. Increasingly embarrassed by Cédras's abuses, the Clinton Administration offered Aristide a deal: U.S. troops would take him back to Haiti — but only after he agreed to a sweeping economic program with the stated goal to “substantially transform the nature of the Haitian state.’"
"Aristide agreed to pay the debts accumulated under the kleptocratic Duvalier dictatorships, slash the civil service, open up Haiti to “free trade’ and cut import tariffs on rice and corn in half. It was a lousy deal but, Aristide says, he had little choice. “I was out of my country and my country was the poorest in the Western hemisphere, so what kind of power did I have at that time?’"
"But Washington's negotiators made one demand that Aristide could not accept: the immediate sell-off of Haiti's state-owned enterprises, including phones and electricity. Aristide argued that unregulated privatization would transform state monopolies into private oligarchies, increasing the riches of Haiti's elite and stripping the poor of their national wealth. He says the proposal simply didn't add up: “Being honest means saying two plus two equals four. They wanted us to sing two plus two equals five.’"
"Aristide's relationship with Washington has been deteriorating ever since: While more than $500 million in promised loans and aid were cut off, starving his government, USAID poured millions into the coffers of opposition groups, culminating ultimately in the February 2004 armed coup."
Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo and Fences and Windows.
Also go to Democracy Now's website for its extensive reporting about Haiti: http://www.democracynow.org/search