Originally: In response to Representatives Barbara Lee and John Conyers Avert Constitutional Crisis publised in the Miami Herald on Monday, October 27, 2003
Originally: Ignorance . . . Or Ignomy?
It matters little what the reason, when the Congressional Black Caucus persists in its scandalous support for the most egregious dictator to emerge in this hemisphere since the turn of the century; and does so, shamelessly, in the name of the Haitian people! Representatives Barbara Lee and John Conyers? October 27 op-ed piece on Haitian democracy, Avert constitutional crisis, reads as though it were penned by one of Jean-Bertrand Aristide?s own overpaid lobbyists inside the Washington beltway.
There is no constitutional crisis pending in Haiti, as the distinguished Representatives would have it; nor could there be. President Aristide himself has certainly seen to that over the past eight years?as he, his cronies and his henchmen have purposefully trampled every basic constitutional precept protecting this long-suffering nation from the re-emergence of one-man rule, kleptocracy and repression.
As of this writing, all forms of peaceful protest in Haiti have been effectively stifled by Aristide?s armed thugs, whose operations chillingly reproduce those of the dreaded Tonton Macoutes, and the whole succession of paramilitary forces who have mercilessly supported Haitian dictators both before and after François Duvalier. Journalists are being harassed, forced into exile, or assassinated. Numerous jurists and other officials have fled the country, rather than execute Aristide?s heinous personal directives. Political and civic leaders who have had the temerity to oppose this man?s seemingly inexorable march to absolute supremacy are targeted for elimination?along with their families?in plots well known to the United States Embassy in Port-au-Prince. Even the President?s own minions are starting to defect, unwilling to follow him any further down the primrose path to national damnation, and eager?finally?for the cleansing balm of truth and reconciliation.
By making an example of one of them little more than a month ago?a provincial gang leader assassinated with two bullets to the eyes, presumably for having seen too much?Aristide may have finally overstepped the notoriously fluid bounds of what is politically acceptable behavior in Haiti. The nation is erupting in protest; violence, with deniability, is the regime?s response.
And it is under these conditions that the gentle congresswoman and -man counsel Haitian democrats to ?put their political interests aside,? and to move expeditiously towards ?successful? elections; and under Aristide?s unchallenged stewardship? Disingenuous? Perhaps. Dishonest? There are certainly many in Haiti who charge as much, given the financial ties that reputedly bind more than one member of the CBC to the President?s vast holdings. Self-serving? Surely. For there is nothing more alluring to the august members of the Caucus, apparently, than the prospect of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Haitian president on January 1, 2004?the 200th anniversary of Haitian Independence, which brought forth the first free nation of free men in the modern world.
Nonetheless, Haiti?s leading artists, intellectuals, writers and artists have recently circulated a petition calling upon the entire world to boycott the official commemoration of this signal achievement in the annals of freedom, so that it not be desecrated by the venal self-interest of those who currently rule the country with an iron fist. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide?returned to Haiti by a U.S.-led international military force in 1994, in the name of democracy?flanked by the pious members of the Congressional Black Caucus on January 1, 2004, in honor of the triumph of humanity over indignity, of liberty over servitude. What is wrong with this picture?
Ira P. Lowenthal