Originally: The case for Aristide
On Feb. 29, 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide for the second time became the exiled president of Haiti. The question that lies at the heart of the documentary “Aristide and the Endless Revolution” is whether his exile was his own idea or whether he was pressured, even kidnapped, by the United States.
Director Nicolas Rossier wears his pro-Aristide stance openly, detailing the clergyman’s rise to prominence as a champion of Haiti’s oppressed poor, the majority of the populace. In 1990 the fiery, sometimes blunt orator became the first democratically elected leader of the nation. His exhortations against Haiti’s wealthy elite led to a coup the following year, during the presidency of George H.W. Bush. Aristide was restored to power by the Clinton administration and handed over power to an elected successor (also a first in Haitian history) in 1994.
Re-elected in 2000, Aristide ran afoul of such groups as the Haiti Democracy Project, backed by American business interests, and, allegedly, the CIA. Deprived of international aid, the country descended again into lawlessness and misery, culminating in a runway showdown, where, Aristide says, he was given the choice between boarding an American aircraft or being abandoned, defenseless, on the tarmac.
Despite his clear sympathies, Rossier makes some effort to address allegations by his opponents of corruption and even political murder by Aristide’s forces. The director includes anti-Aristide voices such as former Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega and former ambassador to Haiti Timothy Carney (both during the George W. Bush administration).