Former President Jean Bertrand Aristide Returning to Haiti
I knew it; if right-wing Baby Doc Duvalier could sneak back in again, then populist Jean Bertrand Aristide could return home as well. I hope that he has lots of protection, because there are people (and more reactionary elements of the State Department) who would want to
waste him assassinate him before he took three steps in Port-au-Prince. Or find some way to clap him in jail, which would cause even more upheaval (he’s said to have taken drug money, some legitimate Haitian millions, and killed political opponents, as has Duvalier). In fact, it is inferred that there has been pressure on the South African government and from other countries, including former colonizer France, to keep him from returning. But his return is imminent, as reported by the Associated Press.
Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide will return within days to his homeland, ending seven years in exile, a South African official said Friday. The former slum priest remains hugely popular and his return could disrupt an election this month in his earthquake-ravaged country.
In Haiti, an official with Aristide’s Lavalas Party confirmed that his “return is imminent,” but declined to say how or when he’s coming back.
“It’s an important event for the people in Haiti because they have waited so long for this,” said Maryse Narcisse, the head of Lavalas’ executive council. “He will not be traveling incognito. People will know he is coming.”
The party has been barred from taking part in the vote, and thousands of his supporters marched last month, threatening to disrupt the election if he is not allowed to return. Many said they would boycott the March 20 runoff to a disputed presidential vote because any election excluding Lavalas is not valid.
The U.S. has said Aristide’s presence “would prove to be an unfortunate distraction to the people of Haiti,” amid fears it could change the course of the race by causing unrest.
On Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told The Associated Press “this is a matter for the government of Haiti.”
I think that “the unrest” could be easily fomented by those elements favorable to the United States and the two other countries that help run Haiti, namely France and Canada.
This was from Haiti Libre, a website that seems allied with pro-Aristide activism:
The political organization Fanmi Lavalas, said it is preparing to give today, Friday, a political response to the “political declaration” of the ambassador of France in Haiti, Didier Lebret, who said that the return of former President Aristide before March 20 was “not a good idea”, even if the ambassador had attempted thereafter to minimize his remarks, recalling that it was a Haitian question.
Ansyto Felix, member of the permanent commission of mobilization, which believes the return of Aristide imminent, reiterated that the former president had no other objectives that contribute to the rebuilding of Haiti.
Many voices have been raised in recent months to denounce the interference of the international community within Haitian affairs, including that aimed to force the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to implement the recommendations of the Verification Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) to organize the second round of the presidential election with the candidates Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat.
But the U.S. – which really runs the country in a troika with France and Canada – is unalterably opposed to an Aristide comeback. After last year’s devastating earthquake, the Americans said Aristide would be a distraction from the job of national reconstruction. Very little in the way of reconstruction has gotten done since then, but the Americans now claim that Aristide would distract from the runoff elections scheduled for March 20.
Three out of four Haitians were already distracted from taking part in the first round of elections in November, without Aristide’s presence. That was undoubtedly because Aristide’s party, Fanmi Lavalas, by far the most popular political grouping in the country, was prohibited from participating – also at the insistence of the Americans and the tiny Haitian elite with which they are allied.
Brazil acts as rent-a-cop for the United Nations mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, but WikiLeaks documents show the United States has pressured Brazil to use its influence with South Africa to keep Aristide’s feet planted firmly on African soil.
Brazil dearly wants to get a seat on the United Nations Security Council, and feels it cannot afford to make the Yankees angry.
South Africa claims it’s under no pressure from anybody, but then claims it has an obligation to consult “all the role-players to work out the ideal conditions for him to go back.” Clearly, those “role-players” are the Americans and their French and Canadian co-conspirators.
Aristide’s lawyer says he will not attempt to leave South Africa without permission. Of course, if South Africa gave its blessing to an Aristide flight to Haiti, the U.S. would be forced to abandon the charade and give Aristide a yes or a no, in its own voice – which would expose Washington as the occupying power in Haiti. Gone would be all pretensions that the Americans favor Haitian democracy.
Yeah, what does our government, Canada and France have in store for Haitians, if they don’t want Aristide to return? Especially since Haiti has a lot of untapped resources that the United States would dearly love to untap, without someone insisting on a living wage for Haiti’s citizens, and being a rallying point for Haitians to unite around. A disunited Haiti, with a puppet ruler sympathetic to business as usual, would allow multinational corporations and companies to rob the country blind, and Haitians would be little more than the slaves that they were in the 18th century when they rose against France. That’s why Aristide’s return is disparaged from Washington to Paris; they fear him because he would stand up for and with his people.
Aristide himself says that he does not wish to pursue a political career and wishes to return to private life and become an educator. But even as an educator, one cannot help but become an advocate. He could conceivably become an adviser to Fanmi Lavalas and groom others to run for higher office, working behind the scenes to put his politics across to the next generation. That would be an interesting development: grooming successors rather than just gaining followers.
What was Aristide doing while in exile?
In South Africa, Aristide has lived a quiet life with his wife Mildred and two daughters in a government-guarded mansion in the capital, Pretoria. Along with a chauffeured Mercedes Benz limousines, it all was paid for by South African taxpayers.
Aristide was offered a position as researcher at the human sciences faculty while his wife studied at the same university’s Center for African Renaissance Studies. Neither drew a salary.
Aristide, who speaks several languages, studied Zulu and wrote a comparative study of Haitian Creole and Zulu called Umoya Wamagama, or The Spirit of the Word.
In January, an ad appeared in the New York Times with 190 signatures from eminent statesmen, activists, artists and writers, asking that Aristide be allowed to return to Haiti. “[The Reverend Jesse] Jackson, [actor Danny] Glover and nine others also wrote a letter to South African President Jacob Zuma urging him to “assist the Aristides in making their transition as soon as possible” since “all the last remaining obstacles to the Aristides’ return have been removed.””
Aristide already has a passport, a last gift from former President Rene Preval. All he needs is a green light, blue skies, and time.