Haiti’s Democracy in Flames

Larry Birns, through In These Times, brings to light how Powell’s dirty-dealing in Haiti has demolished the tattered remnants of his credibility. In the article headlined Haiti’s Democracy in Flames, Birns writes:

In the fall of 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide officially left his position as a parish priest to embark on an unanticipated political career. Within weeks he became the most popular president in Haiti’s 200-year history. Aristide’s Lavelas Party, meaning “flood,” referred both to the near-universal applause of Aristide’s fundamental tenets and the presumed cleansing effects it would have on remnants of the Duvalier dictatorship. Despite the country’s Provisional Electoral Council’s (CEP) approval of 11 presidential candidates for the 1990 elections, Aristide’s surge in polls was overwhelming. He won the first free and fair election in the country’s history with 67 percent of the vote.

[…] U.S. Embassy authorities were able to thrust a resignation letter into an understandably-befuddled Aristide’s hands for him to sign. This was done under the implicit threat that only then could he and his family be flown out of the country to safety. Once airborne, Aristide was told that his ultimate destination would be the Central African Republic only a half-hour before his scheduled landing. He was denied any ability to communicate with the outside world. Nor was he told where he would be going during a four-hour layover. Such behavior exemplifies the utter contempt in which he was held by U.S. officials. Powell’s defense of this scenario was based on his now revised line that Aristide was a “flawed” president who brought on his own downfall.

Today Haiti is a horrific mess, but it can’t entirely be attributed to President Aristide’s “flawed performance.” If Aristide was flawed, it was largely due to the impossible conditions laid down by Washington for him to rule. […]