Bush Administration Veterans Have Plans for Haiti
|Thursday, 18 February 2010 15:37|
Aid agencies are intensely preoccupied with providing essential humanitarian assistance in Haiti. Haitians, however, cannot wait for traditional development assistance experts to conceive and implement public and private-sector capacity-building, policy reform, educational initiatives and other long-term programs.What Haiti needs, Noriega argues, is to take advantage of the earthquake:
If the experience in the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe is any guide, the earthquake in Haiti, like the seismic collapse of the Soviet regimes, presents a unique opportunity to set the country on the right track.The mechanism that should be used, argues Noriega is an “enterprise fund” modeled on those the US funded in Poland and Hungary. Noriega writes that:
Appropriate laws and institutions are crucial in the long term, but effective systemic change can take considerable time to implement. Jump-starting business creation and empowering an entrepreneurial class now would immediately enable Haitians to support themselves, create lasting jobs and push for sound policies under which they can prosper.Anyone reading Noriega’s recommendations should also keep in mind his extremely checkered past in Haiti. Previously, Noriega had been a staffer for Republican Senator Jesse Helms, a staunch conservative and extremely influential in determining Latin American policy.
The New York Times reports that Helms “had once called Mr. Aristide a "psychopath," based on a C.I.A. report about his mental condition that turned out to be false.” In 1999, while Noriega was on Helm’s staff, Helms wrote a letter to Secretary of State Madeline Albright criticizing US aid money going to AIDS prevention in Haiti. The Miami Herald reported that:
He cited in particular some population control efforts of which, he said, it's ``no secret that these programs are far too often wrongheaded and wasteful.'' Still, he added, ``if the administration insists on funding these programs I shall not stand in the way so long as you agree to the following conditions'':Noriega was then named to be the US representative to the OAS in 2001 under Bush and then Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs in 2003.
The US ambassador to Haiti, Brian Dean Curran, sounded alarm bells over the role of the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Haiti, specifically the head of IRI’s activities in Haiti, Stanley Lucas, and his connections with Noriega. Joshua Kurlantzick, writing in Mother Jones, reported in 2004 that:
According to an internal report by the USAID inspector general obtained by Mother Jones, in July 2002 the U.S. Embassy in Haiti protested that IRI's actions were undermining the official U.S. policy of working with all sides in Haiti and that Lucas was spreading unsubstantiated rumors about the U.S. ambassador. In response, USAID barred Lucas from running the IRI program for 120 days. Lucas, according to several observers, threatened to use Bush administration connections to have embassy officials fired. He continued to essentially run the IRI Haiti program while serving as a "translator," in what IRI officials acknowledged was a violation of USAID's ban, according to the inspector general's report.Kurlantzick continues, explaining the role of Noriega:
The former U.S. diplomat in Haiti says Lucas was in constant contact with Roger Noriega, the administration's top Latin America official, who had previously worked for Senator Jesse Helms and had long sought to oust Aristide. Noriega and conservative Republican congressional staffers kept in close touch with IRI-trained opposition leaders and pushed for additional funding for IRI's Haiti activities.Even more troubling were the connections between Lucas and leaders of the violent opposition such as Guy Philippe. The IRI was holding training sessions for opposition leaders in the Dominican Republic. The sessions took place at Hotel Santo Domingo. Philippe told the New York Times:
"I was living in the hotel, sleeping in the hotel," Mr. Philippe said. "So I've seen him and his friends and those guys in the opposition, but we didn't talk politics." He said he had not attended any I.R.I. meetings.Lucas denies the account. As does Noriega, as the Times reports:
At a Senate hearing in 2004, Mr. Noriega was asked if he knew of any ties between Mr. Philippe and the I.R.I. — specifically Mr. Lucas — during the training meetings in the Dominican Republic. He said he did not.Noriega also told the Times that “he had seen no evidence of misconduct by the I.R.I.”
Fed up, Curran resigned from his post in 2003. By February of 2004 the groundwork had been laid and as the Washington Post reported:
By the time Bush's foreign policy principals -- including Powell, Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney -- held a teleconference Saturday morning, they agreed to press harder for Aristide's departure. They worked out a statement largely blaming him for the crisis. It went out under the White House seal.Aristide was put on a US Military plane and flown to the Central African Republic. Asked if he had resigned, Aristide told Democracy NOW!’s Amy Goodman that:
No, I didn’t resign. What some people call “resignation” is a “new coup d’etat,” or “modern kidnapping.”Washington had also implemented a devastating aid cut off, crippling the economy and forcing Aristide’s hand. The renowned medical journal, the Lancet, has estimated that the dictatorship installed after the 2004 coup murdered around 4000 people in the greater Port-au-Prince area alone. It also jailed officials and supporters of the constitutional government.