Crisis in the Caribbean - A Miasma Foretold


The Caribbean has now proven that it is even more hopeless at diplomacy

than it is at cricket. And, as in cricket, those who are considered

guilty are not those at the top but the foot-soldiers.


Our gutless leaders--unable to look a principle in the face--are, as I

write on Friday, busy selling the Haitian people down the river...again.


Meanwhile, the bombastic Latortue, fresh from embracing a choice

assemblage of bloody-handed murderers, desires to sit at the table with

people who consider themselves upright, law abiding and above all,

respectable. The Bahamas put our position best: We simply have no choice

but to deal with whatever Haitian regime is there. Of course, if we

don't, the US might just find it necessary to issue a travel advisory

about Bubonic Plague or Ebola fever in Nassau or Negril. Condoleezza

Rice has apparently threatened Jamaica directly, telling Patterson to

get rid of Aristide or face unspecified consequences.


But, even as we speak, the Bush Administration is beginning to unravel,

unconscionable lie by unconscionable lie. But we do not understand that

the slavemaster is in deep trouble and that we need not follow illegal

orders. I have been re-reading some of the columns I wrote 10 years ago

and what surprises me is that some of them might have been written last



        "We know that a corrupt army, representing a corrupt ruling

        class, has for 80 years enslaved the people of Haiti, shot them

        down in cold blood, tortured and beaten them, burnt them alive,

        raped them, flogged them to death, and tried by every means to

        reduce a once proud and defiant and independent people to the

        status of zombies, lesser than animals, things without souls .

        We know that there are many Americans who are ashamed of their

        government's complicity in these high and stinking crimes, we

        know that there are many others of all races in this world, who,

        if they knew, would be in the struggle to restore Haiti to its

        peace and dignity." ('Accomplices to Murder'--Jamaica Herald,

        June 5, 1994).


Now, listen to someone else, a man who is now a judge at the

International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. He too is a Jamaican;

his name is Patrick Robinson. In 1994, he was a member of the

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. On the very day my words

above were published, Robinson was in Belem, Brazil, presenting a report

by the Commission. I quoted him in a later column ('The New Slave

Trade'--Ja Herald, June 26, 1994)


Rape as an instrument of policy


        "The people in Haiti have the same emotions and aspirations as

        the citizens of any other state in the organisation. They have

        within themselves an enormous capacity for warmth and love and

        friendship and endurance and a great yearning for peace, justice

        and democracy. But a people do not endure the hardships, the

        deprivation, the violence, the victimisation and the enormous

        disappointments that the Haitians have experienced over the past

        32 months without their faith in humanity and their expectations

        of decency and justice being challenged in a serious way ."


Mr Robinson then goes on to detail just how seriously the Haitians were

challenged. As you read his words, please remember that Mr Robinson is

speaking about some of the same people embraced last week by Mr



        "[We] received information of severely mutilated bodies

        deposited on the streets, and a member of the delegation

        actually saw one such body . the purpose of these acts is to

        terrorise the population . human corpses are being eaten by

        animals . numerous reports of arbitrary detentions routinely

        accompanied by torture and brutal beatings . 55 cases of

        political kidnapping and disappearances during February and

        March ."


Robinson's report told of the actions of the so-called Haitian army and

its assistants, the 'attaches' or tontons in their campaign of terror

against ordinary people who supported Aristide. Rape, he reported, was

used as an instrument of policy. "The Commission received reports of

rape and sexual abuse of the wives and relatives of men who are active

supporters of President Aristide .women are also raped, not only because

of their relationship to men who support President Aristide, but because

they also support President Aristide; thus, sexual abuse is used as an

instrument of repression and political persecution."


Patrick Robinson is now doing in The Hague what he and his fellows

should have been asked to do in Haiti. In the court across the Atlantic,

they are trying people accused of very serious crimes, but few as

noisome and depraved as those committed against the men, women and

children of Haiti. The world thinks it necessary to punish those in

Yugoslavia who warred like savages against their own people for two and

three years, but they forgot about those who had oppressed, murdered,

maimed, raped, tortured and otherwise terrorised millions in 'peacetime'

in Haiti for more than 30 years.


I don't believe that people were killed in Bosnia simply for trying to

escape the country. As I reported in 1994, "the Haitian Goonocracy

obviously regard escaping from their island prison as a capital offence.

Yet the American authorities, operating from Jamaican territory,

continue to send back to Haiti, men, women, children and babies who have

committed this 'offence' and are therefore likely in President Clinton's

words, "to have their faces chopped off".


And the men who were doing the chopping were, last weekend, on a

platform in Gonaives glorying in the embrace of the newly anointed prime

minister of Haiti. Latortue was brought to the scene in US Army

helicopters and accompanied by the resident representative of the

Organisation of American States.


A Miasma foretold


That the assassins are still there was foreseen by me in 1994. I had

listened to the words of two top US policymakers and drew my

conclusions. James Woolsey, then head of the CIA, said that the

political problem in the Haitian military was that it was the rank and

file hooligans who were the engine of change in the military. "It

presents a very difficult situation for the policymakers."


Defence Secretary William Perry told the Canadian defence minister that

opposition to Aristide extended deep into the lower ranks of the Haitian

military. Yet, Mr Perry told Meet The Press that the United States

"would want to use as much of the existing military and military police

as is capable". I said at the time: "This would seem to suggest that the

Pentagon, and by extension the CIA and the State Department), wish to

preserve their assets in Haiti and to build into any new Aristide

government an American capacity for subversion and destabilisation on

demand." ('Imagine That!'--Ja Herald, July 24, 1994).


I said at the time that the interests of the Haitian Bourbons clearly

coincided with the interests of the American right. I wrote then :

"Aristide and his people agreed to allow an amnesty to the murdering

hoodlums in the military and the private sector who had supported the

Duvaliers and the Generals who had followed them. Aristide and his

people could have made government impossible in Haiti, army or no army.

They tried, instead, to work within the system." ('When You Sup with the

Devil'--Ja Herald Sept 25, 1994.)


Liberating the Vampire


In 1994, the Americans were intervening for the 29th time in Haiti. It

was my opinion that their latest mission had "liberated the vampire from

its coffin and made it an officer and a gentleman. They have legitimised

the illegitimate and promised impunity to the raging lumpen who feast on

blood, pain and the physical and sexual abuse of women and children.

They have sanctified the fanatical band of nigger-hating mulattos who

prey parasitically on the Haitian body politic and call themselves the

elite. The American white power structure is making its peace with its

natural allies, and as in 1915-1934, when Jim Crow reigned in Haiti,

hell is going to break loose". (Sept 25, 1994).


When Aristide was at last restored, in October 1994, I watched the

proceedings on television and I wrote about them in a column entitled "A

Love Song for Haiti". It began by reporting Jean-Bertrand Aristide's

words to his people: 'Look at us; We are a great people, we are a grand

people .don't be surprised that I am in love with you . I love all of

you.' Against all odds, Jean-Bertrand Aristide is back in Haiti and as

far as his people are concerned, everything is going to be beautiful,

'Isolated we are weak,' he told his people, 'Together we are strong'.


I commented: "They need to be both optimistic and cautious. Shortly

before Aristide and his entourage landed in Haiti, CNN interviewed a

pretty young mulatto woman, a member of the Haitian elite. In her looks

and her attitudes she seemed almost Jamaican. "It is the Aristide

supporters who need to reconciliate," she said, and she did not say that

she and her ilk are the 'civilised'--the masters--at least in their own

minds. She had no intention, it was clear, of admitting any fault, any

responsibility for the thousands of Haitians, slaughtered, raped, beaten

and driven into exile by the elite and their myrmidons over the

generations." 'It is people like Meyrelle Bertin with whom Aristide's

supporters will have to walk hand in hand . In South Africa there is a

Mandela and there is a de Klerk. In Haiti there is only Aristide.'


Sadly, Meyrelle Bertin was herself assassinated a year later, and her

murder was blamed on Aristide. Everything was blamed on Aristide. As I

reported in 1994: "Aristide was generous in his gratitude to the

Americans and all the others who helped him get where he is. He did not

worry about the political and journalistic wars which brought his cause

to the brink of disaster. His message was acceptance and discipline. He

was generous to his enemies, to those who want to kill him. He offered

them love, reconciliation. To his people he said: 'Be patient once

again; you will find your dignity and your pride once again.'"


As I commented: "The Haitian people's indomitable courage won them their

independence, and their pride and their dignity are about all that kept

them alive through generations of oppression; [Now] they are counselled

by 'Titide' to be patient once again." I urged our Caribbean people to

come to the assistance of Haiti. "We cannot provide economic

assistance--that anyway, is the responsibility of those who have

profited from Haiti's misfortunes for so long. We can provide trained

manpower to patch some of the holes in the Haitian body politic ...Our

debt to Haiti cannot be defined in material terms. It is a debt of

honour and of love, among other things. We may not be able to define it

at all, but it is immense and past due." ('A Love Song for

Haiti'--Jamaica Herald Oct 16, 1994)


But that was 10 years ago.

[John Maxwell, Jamaica Observer]