Aristide and the Endless Revolution

On February 29, 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped by U.S. Marines from Haiti in a coup that was orchestrated by the United States. Aristide was kidnapped by U.S. Marines and flown to Central African Republic. Aristide has been in South Africa since the coup and has not been allowed to go back to Haiti. The coup on 2004 was the 2nd coup on Aristide (the 1st one in 1991), who became the first democratically elected President of Haiti in 1990.

To understand Aristide and why the U.S. twice overthrew his government is to understand Aristide’s background. Jean Bertrand Aristide comes from a poor background and was ordained a Salesian priest in 1982. Aristide became the pastor of St. Jean Bosco Church in 1985; a church located in a poor neighborhood of Haiti’s capitol, Port-au-Prince. By 1986 he founded, Lafanmi Selavi (Family is Life), an orphanage shelter for street children.

Aristide was not just a Salesian priest, he preached Liberation Theology. Aristide used his priest role to speak the truth about the situation that Haiti was living in under the Baby Doc dictatorship. By taking the courage to speak out in favor of Haitians poor, he became a threat to the government. In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter in January of 1988, Aristide said, “American Imperialism has supported the Haitian government. Elections aren’t the answer, elections are a way for those in power to control people. The solution is revolution, first in the spirit of the Gospel; Jesus could not accept people going hungry. It is a conflict between classes, rich and poor. My role is to preach and organize. They can kill a thousand people but they can’t kill everybody. Only with a conversion of the heart will come a change in social structure. The important thing is not to stay quiet, to use active non-violence.”

On September 11, 1988, when Aristide was getting ready to start Sunday Mass, a group of paramilitary force (Tonton Macoute) open fired at the members inside  the church. 13 people died while over 70 were wounded in what became known as the St. Jean Bosco Massacre. The church was burned to the ground and Aristide was able to go unharm as parishioners protected him. Later that year in December of 1988, he was forced out of the Salesian order. The Salesians stated that Aristide’s political activism was “incitement to hatred and violence.” Aristide countered by saying, “the crime of which I stand accused is the crime of preaching food for all men and women.”

Given this background it is no coincidence why he was forced out of the Salesian priesthood and why Aristide became the first democratically elected president of Haiti in 1990. The Fanmi Lavalas (Lavalas Family), the political group that Aristide formed has been banned from participating in the presidential elections since the 2004 coup. To give people an idea on how Haiti was with Aristide and how the U.S. Marines allowed Haitians to kill each other during the 2004 coup, here is an article by a former street youth reporter from Radyo Timoun (Children’s Radio). Click on the link to read this great article.

Geographically speaking there is a reason why the U.S. has continued to put pressure on Aristide. It is not just because of his progressive policies (some call it progressive for all Haitians to be treated with Respect and Dignity and to have access to clean water, education, jobs and food). It is not because Aristide refuses to turn his back on the poorest of the poor but one of the main reasons is because Haiti is situated in the perfect place for the U.S. to settle a military base. The coup of 2004 was done because it would serve them the opportunity to install U.S. Marines in Haiti with the purpose of keeping their eye on Cuba. If something were to happen in Cuba rather than making it obvious to the world of invading Cuba, the U.S. Marines stationed in Haiti would be flown to Guantanamo Bay and from there “provide assistance to the Cuban people.” The pentagon is not stupid. Knowing that intellectuals probably sense their strategy on Cuba, the U.S. imposed the United Nations peace keeping force (blue helmets), with Brazil being in charge of the blue helmets. This is one of Lula’s biggest setbacks in my eyes. Allowing himself and Brazil to be used at the expense of continuing the occupation of Haiti. The blue helmets cannot fool the Haitian people. They will continue to feel that Haiti is being occupied by the U.S. and their supporters until President Aristide is allowed to come back to his country. There is a reason why the U.S. won’t allow the Lavalas party to participate in Haitian politics. Not only are Haitians asking for Aristide to be brought back to Haiti but for the Lavalas party to participate in Haitian politics. Recently there has been news that Aristide has been granted his passport to go back to Haiti but the U.S. is pressuring the Haitian government from not allowing him to return before the March 20th presidential elections. They feel that if allowed before March 20th, it will complicate the two puppet candidates that they have installed to run Haiti. The Haitians have been asking for his return since he was kidnapped in 2004. Haitians state why was Baby Doc, a dictator allowed to come back and not Aristide, who was voted by the people. It is important that Aristide be allowed to return to Haiti and let him contribute to the rebuilding of the country. Aristide has mentioned that if allowed to return, he would serve his fellow Haitians in the area of education.

To learn more about Aristide and the 2004 coup, here is the amazing documentary, Aristide and the Endless Revolution. This documentary is very powerful. I highly encourage people to see it. One can see speeches of Aristide when he is preaching to his congregation before he became president of Haiti, interviews with Noam Chomsky, Danny Glover, and interview clips on U.S. officials like Roger Noriega straight out lying and trying to portray Aristide as a man not able to govern Haiti and accusing Aristide of allowing corruption and other baseless lies. One can then see Aristide preaching love, unity, anti-corruption, etc. The documentary also touches on the Aristide supporters that have been killed by paramilitary forces and documents how members of the Lavalas party have been in prison since his coup without any real charges. To better understand Haiti one definately has to check out this documentary.

VIV ARISTIDE GOUVÈNEMAN (Long Live the Aristide Government)
ABA OKIPASYON (Down with the Occupation)

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