[News] Haiti's achievements under Aristide and Lavalas now lost

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 20 08:48:35 EST 2005


From: zili danto <erzilidanto at yahoo.com>
Subject: Haiti's achievements under Aristide and Lavalas now lost by 
US-led coup by Stephen Lendman



HAITI'S ACHIEVEMENTS UNDER ARISTIDE AND LAVALAS - NOW
LOST SINCE THE U.S. LED COUP OUSTING HIM - BY STEPHEN
LENDMAN

The long-suffering people of Haiti suffered a
catastrophic blow in February, 2004 when U.S. Marines
kidnapped and deposed democratically elected President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  The U.S., supported by Canada
and France, forced him into exile, forbade him from
even returning to the hemisphere, and reestablished a
despotic interim puppet government backed and enforced
by so-called UN peacekeepers and a brutal Haitian
National Police.  U.S. officials also threatened
Aristide with a second abduction followed by a trial
and imprisonment in the U.S. [on totally fraudulent
charges of looting the Haitian treasury, money
laundering and taking payoffs from drug traffickers]
if he dared act or speak out forcefully against his
ousting, forced exile and the deplorable situation now
in Haiti. These charges are currently included in a
baseless lawsuit the so-called Interim Government of
Haiti has filed against President Aristide even as
they carry out a reign of terror against the Haitian
people. And as they do it, conditions in the country
continue to deterioriate as the occupying forces clamp
down on the people ahead of so-called Presidential and
legislative elections in January.  With Haiti an
occupied country, the freedom and democracy they had
is now lost and along with it a decade of impressive
social, economic and political gains they never had
before.

Why did the U.S. plan and carry out this act of savage
banditry against a leader beloved by his people and
last reelected in 2000 with 92% of the vote?  It was
because he cared about the 80% or more desperately
poor and disadvantaged Haitians and was committed to
improving their lives.  He was determined to serve
their interests rather than those of his dominant
northern neighbor.  That policy of any nation,
especially less developed ones, is always unacceptable
to the predatory neoliberal agenda of all U.S.
administrations, the giant transnational corporations
whose interests they serve, and in Haiti, their elite
junior business partners.  The Bush administration, in
league with these dominant business interests, intends
to return this nation of 8.5 million people, the
poorest in the Americas, to its pre-Aristide status of
virtual serfdom.  To do it they destroyed Haiti's
freedom and first ever democracy in its history and
turned the country into a killing field.  And to
justify what they did, they conducted a shameless
disinformation campaign, aided by a complicit and
corrupted corporate media, falsely claiming the
Aristide government was rife with corruption,
trafficked drugs and violated human rights.  They also
claimed Haiti was poorly governed by inherently inept
people [shameless racism].  They called it a failed
state needing "reform" and "humanitarian
intervention."

  For U.S. corporations and the Haitian business elite,
Haiti has always been a paradise for some of the
cheapest labor on the planet. It's also had a
long-term endemic problem of men, women and children
being victims of human trafficking for sexual
exploitation, debt bondage and chattel labor.  No one
leader or party, no matter how well-intentioned, could
solve all these problems easily or quickly.  But
Aristide tried.  He wanted something better and for
ten years accomplished impressive achievements with
little outside financial support and against great
odds.  What Lavalas administrations accomplished is
explained below.

SOCIAL GAINS UNDER LAVALAS

1.  HEALTH CARE

The Aristide government renovated and built health
clinics, hospitals and dispensaries and added improved
medical services.  It greatly increased the number of
health care workers including doctors.  It spent a
larger percentage of its budget on health care than
any previous Haitian government.  It began a
meaningful AIDS prevention and treatment program
praised by international experts that reduced the HIV
prevalence rate from 6.1% to 5% and the mother to
child transmission rate from 30% to 9%.  In a
cooperative effort with Cuba it sent hundreds of
Haitian medical students to that country to study to
become doctors and were aided by many more hundreds of
Cuban health care workers coming to Haiti to work in
rural areas.  It established a new medical school in
Tabarre which provided free medical education for
hundreds of Haitian students and planned to open a
nursing school which the 2004 coup prevented.

Overall, health care availability and improvement made
impressive gains from its formerly dismal state.  One
measure was the decline in infant mortality from 125
to 110 per 1000 and a drop in the percentage of
underweight births from 28% to 19%.

2. EDUCATION

Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas implemented a Universal
Schooling Program intending to include all Haitian
children.  20% of Haiti's budget was devoted to
education, and between 2001 - 2004 school enrollment
rates rose from 68% to 72%.  Under Lavalas
administrations, 195 new primary schools and 104 new
public high schools were built including in rural
areas where no schools ever before existed.  To
supplement further, Fanmi Lavalas provided thousands
of scholarships for children to attend private
schools.  It subsidized schoolbooks and uniforms and
expanded school lunch programs to serve 700,000 hot
meals a day to children who otherwise might have had
no meal.

The Aristide government also began a national literacy
campaign, printed 2 million literacy manuals, and
trained thousands of students as literacy workers.  It
opened 20,000 adult literacy centers many of which
combined a literacy center with a community kitchen to
provide low cost meals to communities in need.
Between 2001 - 2003 this program taught 100,000 people
to read, and from 1996 - 2003 reduced the illiteracy
rate from 85% to 55%.

3. JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Contrary to the demonization and disinformation
campaign against Aristide and Lavalas, human rights
and conflict resolution achieved significant gains
under Lavalas administrations.  For the first time
ever in Haiti, the rights of the accused were
respected. Those arrested had a formal hearing before
a judge usually within 2 days.  Court proceedings were
conducted in Creole, the French derivative language
all Haitians understand.  Since the 2004 coup, Lavalas
supporters have been routinely murdered or jailed for
months without charge and without recourse to a fair
trial in court.

In 1995 the Lavalas government opened a school for
magistrates.  It graduated 100 new judges and
prosecutors between 1996 - 2003.  Also, courthouses
and police stations were constructed and refurbished
throughout the country.  Special courts for children
were established, and a special child protection unit
was created within the Haitian National Police.  Laws
were also passed prohibiting all forms of corporal
punishment against children.  And in 2003 a new law
was passed repealing a labor code provision allowing
child domestic service [mostly unpaid and thus chattel
labor], and additional legislation passed prohibiting
all trafficking in persons [a long-term endemic abuse
in Haiti affecting adults and children].

Aristide removed the main instrument of state
repression and dozens of previous coups by disbanding
the hated Haitian military - trained by the U.S. to be
an instrument of civilian control and to use brutal
and abusive tactics to do it. This allowed the Haitian
people an unprecedented level of freedom of speech,
assembly and personal safety unknown before.  He also
created the National Commission for Truth and Justice
to investigate and report on the crimes committed
during the 1991-1994 coup period.  It made its
recommendations for a measure of justice in 1996.  As
a result, former soldiers and paramilitaries  were
tried for their crimes and convicted when found guilty
in fair trials.

POLITICAL GAINS UNDER LAVALAS

Until Aristide's election in 1990 Haiti had never
before had a democratically elected President.
Aristide took office in 1991, but his administration
was short-lived because of a military coup that
deposed him later in the year.  But in a deal struck
with the Clinton administration Aristide was restored
to office in 1994 and served out the remainder of his
term until 1996.  Then, prohibited from succeeding
himself by Haitian law, Aristide ally and Prime
Minister in 1991, Rene Preval, was elected President
with 88% of the vote.  Aristide was then reelected in
November, 2000 [representing the Fanmi Lavalas party
he formed in 1996] and served until the February, 2004
coup deposing him.

Haiti's independent electoral commission oversaw the
1996 and 2000 presidential elections and 3
parliamentary and local elections.  In May, 2000,
29,500 candidates ran for 7,500 posts.  Four million
Haitians registered for the election and 60% of them
voted.  Many women and peasant leaders were elected to
the House of Deputies, formed a caucus and worked in
Parliament to improve the lives of rural farmers.  For
the first time ever Haitian women held the posts of
Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister
of Finance and Chief of Police.  Also, in 1995
President Aristide established a cabinet level
Ministry of Women's Affairs to work for women's
welfare.  Its purpose was multifold and included help
for rape victims, improving literacy and access to
education, vital health services like pre-natal care
and inclusion of women to benefit from increases in
the minimum wage.

During this period, the Haitian people enjoyed
unprecedented freedom to organize, speak out freely
and assemble.  The number of radio stations in
Port-au-Prince expanded to 44 and another 100 outside
the capitol.  16 TV stations were registered in the
capitol and 35 more nationwide.  Also, the Haitian
Constitution of 1987 was printed in Creole and was
widely distributed so Haitians were aware of their
rights which, for the first time, they really had.

  For nearly 10 years the Haitian people had its only
democracy in its 500 year history and a government and
leaders it chose who for the first time cared about
the welfare of ordinary Haitians and established
policies to improve their lives.  All that was lost in
February, 2004.  The Haitian people want it restored
and resistance is growing to try and achieve it.

ECONOMIC GAINS UNDER LAVALAS

Aristide raised the minimum wage in 1995 and doubled
it in 2003.  He instituted an extensive land reform
program distributing 2.47 acres of land to each of
1500 peasant families in the Artibonite River Valley.
His government provided tools, credit, technical
assistance, fertilizers and heavy equipment to
farmers. Irrigation systems were repaired bringing
water to 7000 farmers.  As a result, rice yields [from
Haiti's main staple crop] rose from 2.7 tons per
hectare to between 3 - 3.5 tons.

The government distributed tens of thousands of
reintroduced Creole pigs to Haitian farmers.  This
reversed a 1980 U.S. International Development Agency
[USAID] extermination policy done for fraudulent
reasons to prevent Haitian farmers from competing with
pig farmers in the U.S.  This act cost Haitian farmers
hundreds of millions of dollars for which they
received no compensation.

The Aristide administration campaigned aggressively to
collect unpaid tax and utility bills owed the
government by wealthy and powerful elite businessmen.
Through this effort they generated new revenues which
were used for health care and education.

The government repaired and reopened the state owned
sugar mill in Dabonne that enabled Haiti to process
its own sugar.  Also, 30,000 fishermen received
technical aid and training to build boats, Haiti's
lakes were planted with fish stocks and 50 new lakes
were built.

The Lavalas administrations created hundreds of
community stores and restaurants which sold food at
discount prices forcing the wealthy elites' import
monopolies to reduce their prices and make them more
affordable to poor Haitians.  As a result, by 2003
malnutrition dropped from 63% to 51%.

In 2002 and 2003 more than 1000 low cost housing units
were built, and low interest loans enabled ordinary
working-class Haitians to buy them.

In 1994 the Haitian government established a program
to help refugees who fled the country after the 1991
coup to return.  Programs included carpentry and
sewing workshops and help in setting up agricultural
cooperatives.  This initiative helped 100,000 refugees
return to their homes.  The government also
established an Office for Civil Protection to support
the Haitian Red Cross send out early warnings of
impending natural disasters and help those affected
they they occurred.

All of these vital gains are now being reversed or
adversely affected by the current interim U.S.
installed puppet government.

OTHER NOTABLE LAVALAS ACHIEVEMENTS

Despite misinformation to the contrary,  Lavalas
administrations passed legislation to combat drug
trafficking and money laundering and worked
cooperatively with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency
[DEA] to inderdict drugs and deport drug dealers
wanted by U.S. authorities.  In addition, the National
Committee Against Money Laundering, the National
Committee to Combat Drug Trafficking and Substance
Abuse and a Financial Intelligence Unit were created
to enforce the laws passed.

The government also campaigned against public
corruption by producing public service announcements
and instituting new procedures to combat this abuse.
Investigations of government officials and other
employees involved in improper or illegal activities
were conducted, and those found guilty were fired or
prosecuted.

The Lavalas administrations made major investments in
projects  to help the Haitian people.  They included
important improvements in infrastructure, public
transportation and agriculture.  Thousands of miles of
drainage canals were constructed, repaired or dredged.
  In Jacmel a new electric power plant was built, and
the port and wharf were renovated.  In Port-au-Prince
the international airport and national stadium were
renovated.  Dozens of open-air markets [an important
Haitian institution] were built or renovated in cities
around the country.

CONDITIONS IN HAITI TODAY SINCE THE 2004 COUP

All the achievements discussed above were impressive
and remarkable considering Haiti's long and tragic
history as a brutally exploited state - first by Spain
and France and then by the U.S.  However, since the
2004 coup ousting President Aristide, all of them have
been adversely affected or reversed.

   Most serious has been the destruction of real
democracy and freedom in Haiti and the tragic and
horrific fallout from it.  To serve the interests of
U.S. corporations and the elite Haitian rich, the
Haitian National Police [PNH] and so-called UN
peacekeepers [MINUSTAH] have unleashed a reign of
terror against the Haitian people. President
Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party has been destroyed and
its officials jailed, murdered or forced to flee to
avoid either fate.  In addition, thousands of Lavalas
supporters [the great majority of Haitians] and
community and labor activists have been killed,
jailed, disappeared or forced into hiding.  Also,
thousands of small businesses have been burned and
destroyed as have the homes of large numbers of the
poor.  Jobs have been lost as well, including those of
4000 public sector workers hired under President
Aristide immediately eliminated after the coup.  As a
result, the already very high level of unemployment
has risen further.

The brutal and hated former Haitian military has also
been reinstituted and now controls large areas of the
country in an environment of martial law.  In the
cities the PNH operates as a de facto paramilitary
force with a license to terrorize and kill with
impunity.  Along with MINUSTAH [led by contingents
from Brazil and Chile, with a long history of
repressing their home populations], the PNH conducts
frequent violent sweeps through poor communities and
neighborhoods, like Cite Soleil and Bel Air,
attacking, arresting and murdering community leaders,
activists and other Lavalas supporters.

In rural areas, absentee landlords along with armed
paramilitaries have seized peasant farmer land given
them as part of the Land Reform projects by Lavalas
administrations. The new interim U.S. installed
government headed by Prime Minister Gerard Latortue
[imported from Florida for the job] ended subsidies on
fertilizer vital to peasant rice farmers.  As a
result, the cost of fertilizer has more than doubled,
and the price of rice [Haiti's main staple crop] has
risen sharply, adversely affecting the poor majority
[80% or more of the population]. The interim
government also cancelled school subsidies for
children and textbooks and stopped funding literacy
programs. Many poor families have thus been unable to
keep their children in school.

U.S. agencies like the U.S. International Development
Agency [USAID] and the Washington based and nominally
independent Haiti Democracy Project are also deeply
involved in making Haiti policy. The latter is funded
by the wealthy right-wing Haitian Boulos family, USAID
funded Radio Vision 2000 and other Haitian business
interests. Its board of directors includes former U.S.
ambassadors to Haiti, others close to the U.S. State
Department and Haitian business leaders. This
organization [or independent think tank as they call
themselves] along with U.S. acting ambassador Timothy
Carney are likely making day-to-day policy decisions
in Haiti while USAID is serving overall U.S. Haiti
policy objectives by attempting to "pacify" the
country.  It's doing it through a sham and grossly
inadequate fig leaf program of establishing a few
nongovernmental organization [NGO] type operations to
provide some essential services like "primary care"
and "child survival services," in place of Lavalas,
while at the same time administering with an iron
fist. It started the first prison for children with
others for children and adults likely to follow. The
overall aim is to turn Haiti into a tranquil combined
open air and enclosed "prison colony" to create a
favorable climate for business.

In addition, the predatory international lending
agencies, including the IMF and World Bank, are
demanding their pound of flesh that will further
deepen Haiti's already overwhelming and crushing
poverty. In their business as usual fashion they have
actively implemented their exploitative and
destructive structural adjustment policies of forced
privatizations and downsizings of state owned
industries and elimination of Lavalas instituted
social programs in return for financial aid, adding to
Haiti's already onerous debt burden [most of it
"odious" debt].

The dominant U.S. corporate media and international
community overall have largely ignored the ongoing
tragedy and horror in Haiti since the coup.  With no
pun intended, Haiti today is literally a black hole,
out of sight and out of mind.  The U.S. now calls the
shots while their complicit and subservient in-country
proxies have turned back the clock to its ugly
despotic past of brutal repression and even more
extreme poverty, depravation and human suffering.

SCHEDULED PRESIDENTIAL AND LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS

The so-called Interim Government of Haiti [IGH] has
scheduled a first round of Presidential and
legislative elections on January 8 with a runoff to
follow on February 15 and local elections finally on
March 5.  This is the fourth reset of elections dates
in the last 5 months. That's because the planning and
preparation handled by the Provisional Electoral
Commission [CEP] has been as flawed as the notion of a
free and democratic process in a nation now led by a
U.S. appointed Prime Minister in charge of a de facto
military junta answerable to the Bush administration.
Although reportedly 3.5 million of the estimated 4.2
million eligible to vote have registered, the list of
candidates running excludes nearly all former Lavalas
members.  At present and subject to change, 32
candidates are running for President including Rene
Preval who served a full term as Lavalas'
democratically elected President from 1996 - 2000.
With Lavalas a destroyed party and out of the
political process, the fact that Preval has been
allowed to run means it's likely he's been co-opted
and has deserted his former democratic allies and
accepted or joined with those now in power.

The most beloved and popular man still in Haiti,
Father Gerard Jean-Juste, will not be allowed to run
and has been imprisoned without charge to prevent his
inclusion in the election. He currently has been
diagnosed with a serious medical condition requiring
his release to be able to be treated properly. Without
a strong outcry and intervention for him it's doubtful
he'll get it, and that may jeopardize his life. Most
other candidates are those the Bush administration
finds "acceptable" including Dumarsais Simeus, a
Haitian born Texas millionaire, Guy Philippe [a former
police chief and paramilitary thug who led the armed
coup against President Aristide in 2004] and Dany
Toussaint [a suspected murderer]. In addition, over
1100 candidates are running for parliament.

Whenever these so-called elections are finally
completed, the result will not represent the will of
the Haitian people. With Lavalas [the overwhelming
choice of the Haitian majority] mostly destroyed as a
political entity, the country under a repressive
foreign military occupation, and the entire electoral
process deeply flawed and effectively rigged, the hope
for a democratic election is nil. In addition, the
likelihood of electoral fraud is very great, and the
Elections Canada Monitoring Mission there to detect it
is unlikely to do so because of Canada's support for
the U.S. led coup and its participation in MINUSTAH.
There is also no way of knowing how many Haitians will
actually vote despite the reported number registered.
Those wanting to do so will be greatly hampered or
unable to as the number of polling stations have been
reduced from 12,000 in 2000 to 600 now, mostly in
urban areas.  The majority poor who supported
Aristide/Lavalas are in the rural areas, hours away
from where they could vote.  Distance and the threat
of electoral violence may stop them.

For now the dream of most Haitians remains unfulfilled
and unlikely to improve any time soon.  Still, in
spite of their desperation and without outside
support, the Haitian people remain resolute and
courageous.  Since the coup, they have rallied
repeatedly and protested in the streets en masse for
the release of political prisoners, the return of
President Aristide and a restoration of their brief
democracy.  And despite the daily terror and violence
against them, they have continued their resistance
bravely.  Their story needs to be told, and they
deserve the full support of caring people everywhere.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
lendmanstephen at sbcglobal.net

***********************************************
Forwarded by the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
***********************************************

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