With the madness going on in Japan and now Libya many of us have forgotten that neighboring Haiti is still in shambles. First there’s an election run off for President. The last election was marred with accusations of fraud which resulted in widespread violence. The emerging candidates is Wyclef Jean‘s former rival Michel Martelly, 50, is a singer and entertainer known to his fans as “Sweet Micky“. He’s running against a 70 year old former first lady Mirlande Manigat.
Second, the election has become even more complicated because former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti over the weekend after a 7 year exile. Why is this important? Because it marks the return of man who headed Haiti’s largest political party the Lavalas. That party has not been allowed to partake in Haiti elections primarily because they were not deemed favorable by US corporations and then George W Bush when help orchestrate a coup in 2004 which resulted in Aristide being ousted.
Aristide has already denounced the elections as a sham.
As for Wyclef, He’s been back in Haiti stomping for his former rival Michael Martelly. He was shot in his guitar playing hand. He was released from the hospital and is doing well.. There’s been no word on the assailants.
For those who want more indepth understanding on Aristide’s turbulent relationship with the US particularly under Bush and Clinton.. read the following article from investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill
In September 1991, the US backed the violent overthrow of the government of Haiti’s democratically-elected leftist priest President Jean Bertrand Aristide after he was in power less than a year. Aristide had defeated a US-backed candidate in the 1990 Haitian presidential election. The military coup leaders and their paramilitary gangs of CIA-backed murderous thugs, including the notorious FRAPH paramilitary units, were known for hacking the limbs off of Aristide supporters (and others) along with an unending slew of other horrifying crimes.
When Clinton came to power, he played a vicious game with Haiti that allowed the coup regime to continue rampaging Haiti and further destabilized the country. What’s more, in the 1992 election campaign, Bill Clinton campaigned on a pledge to reverse what he called then-President George HW Bush’s “cruel policy” of holding Haitian refugees at Guantanamo with no legal rights in US courts. Upon his election, however, Clinton reversed his position and sided with the Bush administration in denying the Haitians legal rights. the Haitians were held in atrocious conditions and the new Democratic president was sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights (sound familiar?).
While Clinton and his advisers publicly expressed their dismay with the coup, they simultaneously refused to support the swift reinstatement of the country’s democratically elected leader and would, in fact, not allow Aristide’s return until Washington received guarantees that: 1. Aristide would not lay claim to the years of his presidency lost in forced exile and; 2. US neoliberal economic plans were solidified as the law of the land in Haiti.
“The Clinton administration was credited for working for the return to power of Jean Bertrand Aristide after he was overthrown in a military coup,” says author William Blum. “But, in fact, Clinton had stalled the return for as long as he could, and had instead tried his best to return anti-Aristide conservatives to a leading power role in a mixed government, because Aristide was too leftist for Washington’s tastes.” Blum’s book “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” includes a chapter on the history of the US role in Haiti.
The fact that the coup against the democratically-elected president of Haiti was allowed to continue unabated for three full years seemed to be less offensive to Clinton than Aristide’s progressive vision for Haiti. As Blum observed in his book, “[Clinton] was not actually repulsed by [coup leader Raoul] Cédras and company, for they posed no ideological barrier to the United States continuing the economic and strategic control of Haiti it’s maintained for most of the century. Unlike Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a man who only a year earlier had declared: ‘I still think capitalism is a mortal sin.’”
Blum added: “Faced ultimately with Aristide returning to power, Clinton demanded and received — and then made sure to publicly announce — the Haitian president’s guarantee that he would not try to remain in office to make up for the time lost in exile. Clinton of course called this ‘democracy,’ although it represented a partial legitimization of the coup.” Indeed, Haiti experts say that Clinton could have restored Aristide to power under an almost identical arrangement years earlier than he did.