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Home Publications Blogs Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch Washington Can’t Block Aristide’s Return or Deny Haiti’s Sovereignty - Mark Weisbrot in The Guardian

Washington Can’t Block Aristide’s Return or Deny Haiti’s Sovereignty - Mark Weisbrot in The Guardian

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Friday, 11 February 2011 11:32
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot has an op-ed in The Guardian (UK) today, that appears both online and in the print edition.

Please note the figures listed here on political violence, as there has been a lot of misreporting on this in the press. He writes, in the longer, online version:

In 1915, the US Marines invaded Haiti, occupying the country until 1934. US officials rewrote the Haitian constitution, and when the Haitian national assembly refused to ratify it, they dissolved the assembly. They then held a "referendum" in which about 5% of the electorate voted and approved the new constitution – which conveniently changed Haitian law to allow foreigners to own land – with 99.9% voting for approval.

The situation today is remarkably similar. The country is occupied, and although the occupying troops wear blue helmets, everyone knows that Washington calls the shots. On 28 November an election was held in which the country's most popular political party was excluded; but still the results of the first round of the election were not quite right. The OAS – under direction from Washington – then changed the results to eliminate the government's candidate from the second round. To force the government to accept the OAS rewrite of the results, Haiti was threatened with a cutoff of aid flows – and, according to multiple sources, President Préval was threatened with being forcibly flown out of the country – as happened to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

Now, Aristide has been issued a diplomatic passport by the government, and is preparing to return. But Washington does not agree, as US state department spokesman PJ Crowley made clear this week. He was also asked if the US government had pressured either the Haitian or South African governments to prevent Aristide's return. He refused to answer; I take that as a "yes".

The United States has been the prime cause of instability in Haiti, not only over the last two centuries, but the last two decades. Although Haiti is a small and poor country, Washington still cares very much about who is running it – and as leaked WikiLeaks cables recently demonstrated, they want a government that is in line with their overall foreign policy for the region. In 1991, Aristide Haiti's first democratically elected president was overthrown after just seven months in office. The officers who carried out the coup and established the military government, killing thousands of innocent Haitians, were subsequently found by the New York Times to be in the pay of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Read the rest here.

Tags: aristide | elections | minustah | oas | UN

 

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