[News] COHA gets an "F" for their article on Haiti

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 2 13:53:00 EDT 2007

ZNet | Haiti

COHA gets an "F" for their article on Haiti
by Joe Emersberger; 
<http://www.narconews.com/Issue46/article2784.html>Narconews; October 01, 2007

COHA, The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 
recently published a piece by one of its research 
associates, Michael Glenwick, entitled 
of Haiti ­ A Provisional Report Card: Grade B+.” 
In it, Glenwick recycles the smears that 
contributed to Haitian President Aristide’s 
ouster in 2004 and, subsequently, to the worst 
human rights disaster in the Western Hemisphere. 
There can be no serious dispute about the scale 
of the bloodbath under Gerard Latortue’s coup 
installed government ­ one that was backed (quite 
predictably) by the US, Canada, France and the UN 
Security Council. Less predictable, and in some 
ways more important, was the backing Lortortue 
received from progressive and “independent” 
institutions. Glenwick’s article moves COHA 
decisively into the camp of NGOs and media 
outlets that have served Haiti’s neo-Duvalierists 
so effectively in recent years. This represents a 
significant loss. Shortly before and after the 
coup, COHA stood admirably apart from the 
corporate media herd in its analysis of events in Haiti.

The opening paragraph of Glenwick’s article says 
that Latortue’s “accomplishments were meager at 
best” and that those years were “unstable” and 
“wasted.” In the next paragraph Glenwick says 
that “hundreds ­ if not thousands ­ of opposition 
party members were murdered” under Latortue. One 
is left wondering how many Haitians would have to 
die before Glenwick would condemn Latortue rather 
than offer modest praise and mild rebukes. In 
contrast, COHA’s Jeesica Leigh wrote a piece in 
2004, coauthored by COHA director Larry Birns, 
about Latortue’s government entitled 
brutal regime shows its true colors.”

Citing no evidence, Glenwick equates Aristide to 
Latortue by writing that Aristide’s time in 
office was an “equally rocky period” but then 
goes on to assess Aristide much more harshly than 
Latortue by writing “Perhaps due to the attempted 
coup in late 2001 ­ or, just as likely, his own 
insensitivity to inclusive rule ­ Aristide seemed 
to manifest a show of lassitude to the rule of 
law as well as indifference to democratic 
institution building. He encouraged citizens to 
use violence when needed to fight the nation’s 
armed opposition, and civil liberties and 
political/human rights were in short supply.”

People who care to look for evidence to evaluate 
Aristide’s human rights record, especially 
compared to Latortue, Cedras, Duvalier, would 
come to quite a different conclusion.

survey by Athena Kolbe and Royce Hudson found 
that at least 4000 political murders were 
perpetrated during Latortue’s time in office – 
overwhelmingly by government security forces and 
their proxies. In contrast, after scouring 
Amnesty International reports, 
Hallward, a UK based researcher, wrote “Amnesty 
International’s reports covering the years 
2000-03 attribute a total of around 20 to 30 
killings to the police and supporters of the FL 
[Aristide’s party] ­ a far cry from the 5,000 
committed by the junta and its supporters in 
1991-94, let alone the 50,000 usually attributed 
to the Duvalier dictatorships.”

Pierre Esperance, one of Aristide’s most 
vehement, and dishonest, critics claimed in a 
(successful) funding request to the Canadian 
government that 100 people had been killed (not 
all Aristide opponents) during the “last several 
months” before the coup which he described as the worst period under Aristide.*

These numbers do not only reveal that Aristide’s 
track record was vastly superior to his 
opponents, they also show why it was inevitable 
that some of his partisans would conclude that 
violence was justified. Even during most of his 
second term Aristide’s supporters were more 
likely to be killed than his opponents’ 
supporters.[6] Glenwick completely disregards the 
massive amount of violence Haiti’s poor have been 
subjected to, and the threats they continually 
faced, to join the chorus of pious Western 
intellectuals who condemn Aristide for having 
said that the poor have the right to defend 
themselves. Many of those intellectuals also 
argue that the U.S. has the right to bomb 
defenseless countries thousands of miles away in 
“self defense.” The hypocrisy is as breathtaking 
as it is unnoticed by countless writers who have 
condemned Aristide for “incendiary” speeches.

Astonishingly, Glenwick refers to the 
presidential election that Preval won as “Haiti’s 
fairest election in decades.” In reality, as 
accurately reported at the time, the election was 
a “caricature of the real thing.” Preval won, not 
because the election was fair, but because his 
opponents were so despised that they couldn’t win an election they had rigged.

Prominent Aristide allies such as the Rev. Gerard 
Jean-Juste, So Ann, and Yvon Neptune were in jail 
on trumped up charges. Thousands of other 
Aristide supporters were also in prison, exiled 
or in hiding. Aristide strongholds were subjected 
to state sanctioned terrorism by the Haitian 
National Police (fully supported by UN troops). 
Again, much of this was documented by COHA (for 
example, in a piece entitled 
– And you call this an election?” among other articles.)

Another barrier placed in the way of 
participation by Haiti’s poor was the number of 
polling stations. About ten times more stations 
were available when Aristide was elected in 2000. 
reported “many Haitians will have to walk more 
than two hours just to reach a voting center.” 
Haitians endured huge lineups and travel time in 
order to vote. When it was clear Preval was 
headed for victory in the first round a last 
ditch attempt at fraud was attempted. A truckload 
of ballots marked for Preval was found in the 
trash. Huge, non-violent demonstrations pressured 
Latortue’s regime to honor the results.

Glenwick noted that Preval was “a close friend 
and political comrade of Aristide” but did not 
explain the significance of Preval’s victory. 
Preval was untarnished by participation in the 
coup or association with Aristide’s opponents. 
Haiti’s ambassador to the US, in 
letter to the New York Times, used Preval’s 
candidacy to imply that Aristide’s Lavalas 
movement was not being persecuted.[10] Preval 
received the endorsement of the Rev. Gerard 
Jean-Juste, who was not allowed to register from 
prison as a candidate in the election. If 
Glenwick’s characterization of Aristide’s 
government had been accurate then Preval would 
never had stood a chance in a fair election, 
never mind one designed to disenfranchise most of 
the people who would vote for him.

The Herculean efforts required to elect Preval 
were not replicated during the legislative 
elections. The turnout was much lower than in the 
presidential election. Unpopular parties 
backed by foreign democratization agencies 
obtained disproportionate power, but Glewnwick 
approvingly refers to this outcome as a necessary 
check on Preval. Glenwick’s fear is that, like 
Aristide, Preval might demonstrate “insensitivity 
to inclusive rule” (i.e. be reluctant to 
capitulate to politicians unable to win in fair elections).

Much of the material required to refute Glecnwick 
is on <http://www.coha.org/>COHA’s website. Did 
Glenwick read any of it? Did COHA’s editors? 
Should we expect a retraction of the articles 
COHA published in the past that refute Glenwick? 
Without engaging in Orwellian “doublethink” COHA 
must choose to either stand behind Glenwick’s 
analysis or their past work on Haiti. I hope 
people contact COHA director Larry Birns 
(<mailto:larry.birns at gmail.com>larry.birns at gmail.com) 
and respectfully ask him which COHA articles he stands behind.

*Documents obtained under Freedom of Information 
act by 
Fenton, a Canadian independent journalist

See also:

of Justice in Haiti: Chamblain Goes Free, 
Latortue and Gousse Cement Their Authoritarian Credentials”

Haitian Self-Rule a Bad Name”

Returns to Haiti Today to Witness Some of the 
Damage that His Policies Have Wrought”

Ship Sails on Without a Captain and With a Very Disreputable Crew”

Oppression in Haiti: Kofi Annan and General 
Heleno’s Complicity in Latortue’s Jackal Regime”

See <http://haitianalysis.com/>Haiti Analysis for more information on Haiti.

Joe Emersberger contributes to <http://haitianalysis.com/>HaitiAnalysis.com

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