Opinion: Charlie Hinton          January 2004

News HaitiAction.net

Cry Contradiction

Kevin Kim stumbles all over himself trying to present a balanced viewpoint in "Cry Haiti" (ITT 1/5/04). After spending most of the article quoting Haitian opposition and U.S. State Department officials who subtly blame Aristide for how bad the situation is, he actually hits the nail on the head with his statement, "Unlike Aristide, the opposition lacks popular support and seems more bent on ousting Aristide and destabilizing Haiti than reaching any electoral compromise." 

Mr. Kim talks about "long-delayed" elections, but fails to say who is delaying them or why - the real key to understanding the situation in Haiti. Simply put, the "intransigent opposition - partly composed of former authoritarian and elitist elements with disturbing ties to the International Republican Institute, a D.C.-based advocacy group influential in Bush administration circles" (thank you again, Kevin) is preventing the elections by refusing to appoint any members to the Provisional Electoral Council, which oversees elections, BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY WILL LOSE. No electoral council, no elections.

It's disturbing to see a progressive magazine like In These Times give so much credibility to current and former State Department officials. The State Department is far from an unbiased observer in Haiti. Since the election of President Aristide in 2000, the United States government has spent millions of dollars to bankroll an opposition with little popular support and has enforced an economic aid embargo intended to starve Haiti. A signed loan from the Inter-American Development Bank has still not been distributed, and the World Bank and IMF have cut off all loans, making it even more difficult for the Haitian government to finance health, education and development projects.

In December, 2002, the International Republican Institute sponsored a 5-day meeting of Haitian opposition groups in the Dominican Republic to develop strategies to destabilize Haiti. A former ambassador to Haiti, Timothy Carney, said in a Reuters interview in November, 2002, "The big question is whether Aristide is going to understand that he has no future
. . . Without massive reform, Haiti is once again headed for the kind of chaos that has intermittently dogged it history." It is now clear that what he means by "massive reform" is the overthrow of a constitutionally elected president.

An international media campaign designed to tarnish and discredit the Aristide government forms a significant aspect of this destabilization campaign. We have seen this pattern of before - in Jamaica, in Chile, in Nicaragua, and currently in Venezuela. With "Cry Haiti" In These Times has jumped into the fray, giving credibility to the Haitian elite and the Bush administration and discounting the role of the millions of poor Haitians who support their president. Is that really where you want to be?

Sincerely yours,

Charlie Hinton
Haiti Action Committee