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An Interview with Ben Dupuy by Peter Hallward, Haitian Perspectives, Feb 16, 2007

An Interview with Jean-Bertrand Aristide by Peter Hallward, London Review of Books|HLLN's News, Views Essays and Reflections. 2007

Ezili Dantò Comment to Ben Dupuy on "An Interview with Jean-Bertrand Aristide by Peter Halward

Napoleon was no Toussaint: Spare us the insult! by Jean Saint-Vil (Jafrikayiti), Haitian Perspectives, Feb 27, 2007

Hochschild's Neo-Colonial Journalism. Response to Adam Hochschild article in SF Chronicle by Marguerite Laurent, May 30, 2004


What White People Feed on: A Response to two racists articles on Haiti
Conclusion of Peter Hallward's Book: Damming the Flood | HLLN's News, Views Essays and Reflections

Toussaint L'Ouverture: A lecture delivered by Wendell Phillips December 1861, in New York and Boston
Insurgency and Betrayal: An Interview with Guy Philippe

HLLN media campaign and campaign denouncing UN occupation and slaughter of Site Soley civilians, dissenters and UN complicity in the wholesale incarceration of only political opponents to the bicentennial coup detat and foreign occupation under the usual neocolonial masks of "policing/peacethankeeping" and "securing democracy"


Dessalines Is Rising!!
Ayisyen: You Are Not Alone!





Black Napoleon by Adam Hochschild, New York Times

At least 10 people died and 20 were wounded Friday in a Un peace-keeping operation in Haiti's capita, Port-au-Prince, a UN official said

"They came here to terrorise the population," said Rose Martel, a slum
dweller, referring to the police and UN troops. "I don't think they really killed the bandits, unless they consider all of us as bandits."
(regarding UN assault on Dec. 22, 2006 on Site Soley residents)- Reuters
















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"...Members of the elite are now contemplating a sort of 'final solution' that amounts to little less a strategy of open warfare - the use of foreign and domestic troops to kill off the poorest of the poor, pure and simple"

"The poverty in places like Citè Soleil is a direct result of the neo-liberal reconfiguration of the Haitian economy that began in the late 1970s - the result of what many Haitians call the "death plan". The US and the Haitian elite believe that they can manage the consequences of this plan by sending foreign troops to police the neighbourhoods populated by those that suffer the worst of its effects. They think they can control rising levels of poverty by shooting at the poor. The US and the Haitian elite believe that they can manage the consequences of this plan by sending foreign troops to police the neighbourhoods populated by those that suffer the worst of its effects. They think they can control rising levels of poverty by shooting at the poor. In Haiti as in various other parts of the world ( Darfur , Sierra Leone , Somalia ...) they use the UN to put out the fire, without considering who started it. They do everything possible to avoid the obvious conclusion - that this poverty, and the violence that accompanies it, is a direct consequence of the neo-liberal plan itself. The only way to reverse it is to put a stop to the plan and undo its effects.

"In places like Haiti and much of Africa, the great imperial powers use the UN as humanitarian fire-fighters, but they never identify, let alone prosecute, the neo-liberal arsonists. They never ask why social divisions have become so intense, why the levels of poverty are now so extreme, why people are so desperate that they prefer to fight, rather than starve."..."
(Excerpted from Interview with Ben Dupuy by Peter Hallward,
Feb. 16, 2007)


"...These poor people are being punished because they have the audacity to hold a huge MIRROR to the face of hypocrites who come to lecture them about democracy with machine guns in their hands....It is a KNOWN FACT that the POLICE IS A CORNESTONE OF THE KIDNAPPING INDUSTRY." Jean (Jafrikayiti) St. Vil speaking out on the December 22nd Massacre in Site Soley, Dec. 30, 2006


La Bourgeoisie Haitienne: Une Bourgeoisie Mediocre


Interview with Ben Dupuy by Peter Hallward, Haitian Perspectives, | Source: Haiti Progres online mailing, Feb. 20, 2007

"They came here to terrorise the population," said Rose Martel, a (slum dweller) Site Soley resident, referring to the police and UN troops. "I don't think they really killed the bandits, unless they consider all of us as bandits." (regarding UN assault on Dec. 22, 2006 on Site Soley residents)- Reuters

Double standards, racism and imperialism: Haiti, only place in the world where the main job of soldiers of war from the UN is to "police" local, city criminals to get their paycheck and endless UN extensions of that war check. When will it be acceptable to pay these "proud, UN warriors" killing Haitians over $70 million per month, as in Haiti, to come rid LA, NY, Paris, London, Italy, Germany of its local city gangs?

"They came here to terrorise the population," said Rose Martel, a (slum dweller) Site Soley resident, referring to the police and UN troops. "I don't think they really killed the bandits, unless they consider all of us as bandits." (regarding UN assault on Dec. 22, 2006 on Site Soley residents)- Reuters

Interview with Ben Dupuy, General Secretary of the Parti Populaire National (PPN), Feb. 16, 2007

The following is an extract of an interview with the Secretary General of the Parti Populaire National (PPN) Ben Dupuy. The interview was conducted by Peter Hallward, a philosophy teacher at Middlesex University in England.
Hallward who also interviewed President Jean Bertrand Aristide in Pretoria, South Africa in July 2006 is finishing his next book - Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment. The book aims to be an examination of recent Haitian politics and will come out from the London-based publisher Verso this summer.

During the next few weeks Haiti Progres will publish the French translation of President Aristide's interview with Peter Hallward.

Interview with Ben Dupuy, 16 February 2007. ( By Peter Hallward ).

"With friends like the US", Ben Dupuy told Aristide soon after the first coup, "we don't need enemies." He looked first to Venezuela and then to China and Cuba for alternative sources of support.

In the first months after the coup, Ben Dupuy held out some hope that Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Pèrez might stand by his promise to help train and arm a Haitian resistance force to overcome Cèdras, but he acknowledges that it was never likely that Pèrez would have gone against the wishes of his patron George Bush.

"It is standard US policy to distinguish between good drug-dealers and bad drug-dealers. Good ones do what they're told, and are allowed to pursue their interests undisturbed."

"The so-called 'war on drugs' is an instrument of political blackmail pure and simple."

"In 1991, the bourgeoisie tried to co-opt Aristide and the Lavalas movement, since Aristide was very popular and had proved how easily he could win an election. But when he didn't go along with them entirely they quickly turned against him. The new party [the OPL] that Pierre-Charles, Antoine Adrien and other 'enlightened' members of the political class formed apparently to support Lavalas soon turned into an anti-Lavalas opposition party, in 1995, once its leaders discovered that they wouldn't be able to dominate the movement."

"During his second administration there were some opportunists in Aristide's security apparatus who started operating on their own, in pursuit of their own interests. People like Oriel Jean and Dany Toussaint had their own agenda, but it's clear that they acted without Aristide's knowledge or approval. When US intelligence began to accuse these people of drug smuggling and corruption Aristide was initially reluctant to believe it, thinking that it was another attempt to isolate him. With good reason, he saw these accusations as an attempt to drive a wedge between him and his allies in the security forces. Who was he supposed to trust? Unlike the US itself, Aristide had no secret police, no force with which he could 'police the police'. Given their history and the material conditions in which they work it is virtually impossible for any Haitian government, on its own, to root out corruption in the security forces. But the US blamed Aristide for this anyway, for failing to accomplish an impossible task."

"I'm convinced that the laboratory engineered the murder of Amiot Mètayer, so as then to pin it on Aristide; Mètayer was the perfect target, and the consequences of his death were expertly and instantly manipulated, with devastating effect."

"The PPN criticised Aristide's willingness to create free trade zones and to accept the main thrust of neo-liberal structural adjustment. "Aristide thought he could walk down the middle of the road", remembers Ben Dupuy: "I used to tell him that that's where accidents happen. I told him that sooner or later he would have to choose the left sidewalk, or the right sidewalk. It seemed to me that he never really made up his mind, and he paid a high price for his hesitation."

"The great symbol of Lavalas was the table. Aristide used to say that he wanted the masses who were living under the table to rise up and join the elite who were already sitting at the table; it was a project of social reconciliation. But in my opinion this was never feasible. The contradictions are too intense. The small handful of people sitting around the table owe their place to the fact they continue, very deliberately, to keep the great majority of Haitians under the table; the poverty in places like Citè Soleil is a necessary condition of their wealth. In the end, the only way forward will be to overthrow this table and to pursue a programme of truly revolutionary change. Our class polarisation is now so intense that it's reached a point of no return. I see no possibility of compromise. Members of the elite are now contemplating a sort of 'final solution' that amounts to little less than a strategy of open warfare - the use of foreign and domestic troops to kill off the poorest of the poor, pure and simple"

"The poverty in places like Citè Soleil is a direct result of the neo-liberal reconfiguration of the Haitian economy that began in the late 1970s - the result of what many Haitians call the "death plan". The US and the Haitian elite believe that they can manage the consequences of this plan by sending foreign troops to police the neighbourhoods populated by those that suffer the worst of its effects. They think they can control rising levels of poverty by shooting at the poor. In Haiti as in various other parts of the world ( Darfur , Sierra Leone , Somalia ...) they use the UN to put out the fire, without considering who started it. They do everything possible to avoid the obvious conclusion - that this poverty, and the violence that accompanies it, is a direct consequence of the neo-liberal plan itself. The only way to reverse it is to put a stop to the plan and undo its effects."

"In places like Haiti and much of Africa, the great imperial powers use the UN as humanitarian fire-fighters, but they never identify, let alone prosecute, the neo-liberal arsonists. They never ask why social divisions have become so intense, why the levels of poverty are now so extreme, why people are so desperate that they prefer to fight, rather than starve."

"Perhaps the most important factor behind the recent rise in violent crime in Haiti is the increase over the last couple of years in the number of offenders deported from the US. These are young Haitian-Americans who grew up in the US , usually in poor black neighbourhoods, and who were 'educated', so to speak, in the American underworld. The US cannot cope with its own catastrophic levels of criminality; its prisons are already stretched to the breaking point. So now they started to export these casualties of their own social system back to Haiti , a country that doesn't have anything like the police or judicial resources needed to handle them. By the end of 2006, the US was shipping around 100 convicts to Haiti every month. Most of these people arrive in the country with nothing, with no skills or family ties. What can they do to survive? Of course they do what they know: they turn to drugs and kidnapping, they create or join armed gangs. In the space of two years they have driven Haitian street crime to an entirely new level. But the people that the US and the elite blames for this rise in insecurity are not these criminals but the "bandits" of the Lavalas baz."

"It's clear that the great majority of Haiti's poor still perceive Aristide as a symbol of their struggle. Aristide still has a very important role to play in the liberation of our country, though I hope that when he comes back he will adopt a different, less conciliatory, less 'middle-of-the-road' approach."

"Preval has benefited from his old alliance with Aristide, and he owes his election victory in 2006 to the support of the Lavalas baz. But his own agenda is different. He mainly represents the interests of the oligarchy, and this puts his government in constant tension with its own political base."


- Stop the genocide in Haiti
Sign Petition demanding UN leave Haiti

- See Expose the lies

- The Legacy of Impunity
(The Neocolonialist inciting political instability is the problem. Haiti is
underdeveloped in crime, corruption, violence, compared to other nations)

"Political security is Haiti biggest problem. It is this political instability that is primarily responsible for the legacy of impunity, endemic poverty and violence in Haiti. This political instability is due to what HLLN calls neocolonialism - the diplomatic, military and economic efforts of the former colonists and enslavers, who with their black opportunists in Haiti, work feverishly to limit Haitian independence and sovereignty, binding Haiti to endless foreign debt, dependency and domination....

- Write your Congressional representatives ask they Support Congresswoman Barbara Lee's H.R. 351: To establish the Independent Commission on the 2004 Coup d'Etat in the Republic of Haiti

An Interview with Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Peter Hallward | London Review of Books

In the mid-1980s, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was a parish priest working in an impoverished and embattled district of Port-au-Prince. He became the spokesman of a growing popular movement against the series of military regimes that ruled Haiti after the collapse in 1986 of the Duvalier dictatorship. In 1990 he won the country’s first democratic presidential election, with 67 per cent of the vote. He was overthrown by a military coup in September 1991 and returned to power in 1994, after the US intervened to restore democratic government. In 1996 he was succeeded by his ally René Préval. Aristide won another landslide election victory in 2000, but the resistance of Haiti’s small ruling elite eventually culminated in a second
coup against him, on the night of 28 February 2004. Since then, he has been
living in exile in South Africa.

According to the best available estimates, around five thousand of Aristide’s supporters have died at the hands of the regime that replaced the constitutional government. Although the situation remains tense and UN troops still occupy the country, the worst of the violence came to an end in February 2006, when after an extraordinary electoral campaign, René Préval was himself re-elected in a landslide victory. Calls for Aristide’s immediate and unconditional return continue to polarise Haitian politics. Many commentators, including several prominent members of the current government, believe that if Aristide was free to stand for re-election he would win easily.

This interview was conducted in French, in Pretoria, on 20 July 2006.

Peter Hallward: Haiti is a profoundly divided country, and you have always been a profoundly divisive figure. For most of the 1990s many sympathetic observers found it easy to make sense of this division more or less along class lines: you were demonised by the rich, and idolised by the poor. But your second administration was dogged by accusations of violence and corruption. Although you remained the most popular politician among the electorate, you appeared to have lost much of the support you once enjoyed among aid-workers, activists, intellectuals and so on, both at home and abroad.

I’d like to ask about the process that first brought you to power. How do you account for the fact that, against the odds, and certainly against the wishes
of the US, the military and the ruling establishment in Haiti, you were able
to win the election of 1990?

Jean-Bertrand Aristide:
Much of the work had already been done by people who
came before me, people like Father Antoine Adrien and his co-workers, and Father Jean-Marie Vincent, who was assassinated in 1994. They had developed a progressive theological vision that resonated with the hopes and expectations
of the Haitian people. Already in 1979 I was working in the context of liberation theology, and there is one phrase in particular that may help summarise my understanding of how things stood. The Conferencia de Puebla took place in Mexico in 1979, and several liberation theologians were threatened and barred from attending. The slogan I’m thinking of ran something like this: si el pueblo no va a Puebla, Puebla se quedará sin pueblo. ‘If the people cannot go to Puebla, Puebla will remain cut off from the people.’ In other words, it isn’t a matter of struggling for the people, on behalf of the people, at a distance from the people; it’s a matter of
struggling with and in the midst of the people.

This ties in with a second principle: liberation theology can itself only be a phase in a broader process. The phase in which we may have to speak on behalf of the impoverished and the oppressed comes to an end as they start to speak in their own voice and with their own words. The whole process carries us a long way from paternalism, from any notion of a ‘saviour’ who might come to guide the people and solve their problems.

The emergence of the people as an organised public force was already taking place in Haiti in the 1980s, and by 1986 this force was strong enough to push the Duvalier dictatorship from power. It was a grass-roots movement, not a top-down project driven by a single leader or a single organisation. It wasn’t exclusively political, either. It took shape above all through the constitution, all over the country, of many small church communities or ti legliz. When I was elected president it wasn’t the election of a politician, or a conventional political party; it was an expression of the mobilisation of the people as a whole. For the first time, the national palace became a place not just for professional politicians but for the people. Welcoming people from the poorest sections of Haitian society within the centre of traditional power – this was a profoundly transformative gesture.

PH: The coup of September 1991 took place even though the policies you pursued once in office were quite moderate, quite cautious. So was a coup inevitable? Was the simple presence of someone like you in the presidential palace intolerable for the Haitian elite? And in that case, could more have been done to anticipate and try to withstand the backlash?

JBA: What happened in September 1991 happened again in February 2004, and could easily happen again soon, so long as the oligarchy who control the means of repression use them to preserve a hollow version of democracy. This
is their obsession: to maintain a situation that might be called ‘democratic’, but which consists in fact of a superficial, imported democracy imposed and controlled from above. They’ve been able to keep things this way for a long time. Haiti has been independent for two hundred years, but we now live in a country in which just 1 per cent of the people control more than half of the wealth.

PH: For all its strength, the popular movement that carried you to the presidency wasn’t strong enough to keep you there. People sometimes compare you to Toussaint L’Ouverture, who won extraordinary victories under extraordinary constraints – but Toussaint is also often criticised for failing to go far enough. It was Dessalines who led the final fight for independence. How do you answer those who say you were too moderate, that you acted like Toussaint in a situation that really called for Dessalines? What do you say to those who claim you put too much faith in the US and its allies?

JBA: ‘Too much faith in the US’: that makes me smile. Toussaint L’Ouverture, as a man, had his limitations. But he did his best, and in reality he did not fail. He was captured, imprisoned and killed; but his example and his spirit still guide us now. These last two years, from 2004 to 2006, the Haitian people have continued to stand up for their dignity and refused to capitulate. On 6 July 2005, Cité Soleil was attacked and bombarded, but this, and many similar attacks, didn’t discourage people from insisting that their voices be heard. They spoke out against injustice. They voted for their president this past February; they won’t accept the imposition of another president from abroad or above.

This doesn’t mean that success is inevitable or easy, that powerful vested interests won’t try to do all they can to turn the clock back. Nevertheless, something irreversible has been achieved, something that works its way through the collective consciousness. This is the meaning of Toussaint’s famous claim, after he had been captured by the French, that they had cut down the trunk of the tree of liberty but that its roots remained deep.

As for Dessalines, the struggle that he led was armed, and necessarily so, since he had to break the bonds of slavery once and for all. But our struggle is different. It is Toussaint, rather than Dessalines, who can accompany the popular movement today. It’s this inspiration that was at work in the election victory of February 2006, which allowed the people to outmanoeuvre their opponents, to choose their own leader in the face of the powers that be.

Did we place too much trust in the Americans? Were we too dependent on external forces? No. It would be mere demagoguery for a Haitian president to pretend to be stronger than the Americans, or to engage them in a constant war of words, or to oppose them for opposing’s sake. The only rational course is to weigh up the relative balance of interests, to figure out what the Americans want, to remember what we want, and to make the most of the available points of convergence. In 1994, Clinton needed a foreign policy victory, and a return to democracy in Haiti offered him that opportunity; we needed an instrument to overcome the resistance of the murderous Haitian army, and Clinton offered us that instrument. We never had any illusions that
the Americans shared our deeper objectives. But without them we couldn’t have
restored democracy.

PH: There was no alternative to reliance on American troops?

JBA: No. The Haitian people are not armed. There are criminals and vagabonds, drug dealers, gangs who have weapons, but the people have no weapons. You’re kidding yourself if you think that the people can wage an armed struggle. It’s pointless to wage a struggle on your enemies’ terrain, or to play by their rules. You will lose.

PH: Did you pay too high a price for American support? They forced you to make all kinds of compromise, to accept many of the things you’d always opposed – a severe structural adjustment plan, neoliberal economic policies, the privatisation of state enterprises etc. The Haitian people suffered a great deal under these constraints. It must have been very difficult to swallow these things, during the negotiations of 1993.

JBA: In 1993, the Americans were perfectly happy to agree to a negotiated economic plan. When they insisted, via the IMF and other international financial institutions, on the privatisation of state enterprises, I was prepared to agree in principle – but I refused simply to sell them off, unconditionally, to private investors. That there was corruption in the state sector was undeniable, but there were several different ways of engaging with it. Rather than untrammelled privatisation, I was prepared to agree to a democratisation of these enterprises, so that some of the profits of a factory or firm should go to the people who worked for it, be invested in nearby schools or health clinics, so that the workers’ children could derive
some benefit. The Americans said fine, no problem.

But when I was back in office, they went back on our agreement, and then relied on a disinformation campaign to make it look as if I had broken my word. It’s not true. The accords we signed are there, people can judge for themselves. Unfortunately we didn’t have the means to win the public relations fight.

PH: What about your battle with the Haitian army, the army that overthrew you in 1991? The Americans remade this army in 1915 in line with their own priorities, and it had acted as a force for the protection of those priorities ever since. You were able to disband it just months after your return in 1994, but the way it was handled remains controversial, and you were never able fully to demobilise and disarm the soldiers.

JBA: We had an army of some 7000 soldiers, and it absorbed 40 per cent of the
national budget. Since 1915, it had served as an army of internal occupation.
It never fought an external enemy. It murdered thousands of our people. Why
did we need such an army, rather than a suitably trained police force?

We organised a social programme for the reintegration of disbanded soldiers.

They too have the right to work, and the state has a responsibility to respect that right – all the more so when you know that if they don’t find work, they will be more easily tempted to turn to violence, or theft, as the Tontons Macoutes did. We did the best we could. The problem lay with the resentment of those who were determined to preserve the status quo. They had plenty of money and weapons, and they work hand in hand with the most powerful military machine on the planet. It was easy for them to win over some former soldiers, to train and equip them in the Dominican Republic and then use them to destabilise the country. But it wasn’t a mistake to disband the army. It’s not as if we might have avoided the second coup, in 2004, if we’d hung on to it. On the contrary, if the army had remained in place, René Préval would never have finished his first term in office, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to hold out for three years, from 2001 to 2004.

Unlike the previous coups, the coup of 2004 wasn’t undertaken by the ‘Haitian’ army, acting on the orders of our little oligarchy, in line with the interests of foreign powers. No, this time these all-powerful interests had to carry out the job themselves, with their own troops and in their own name.

PH: Did the creation of the Fanmi Lavalas party in 1996 serve a similar function, by helping to clarify the lines of internal conflict that had already fractured the loose coalition of forces that first brought you to power?[*] Almost the whole of Préval’s first administration was hampered by infighting. Did you set out, then, to create a unified, disciplined party, one that could deliver a coherent political programme?

JBA: No, that’s not the way it happened. In the first place, by training and by inclination I was a teacher, not a politician. I had no experience of party politics, and was happy to leave to others the task of developing a party organisation, of training party members, and so on. I was happy to leave this to career politicians, to people like Gérard Pierre-Charles, and along with others, he began working along these lines as soon as democracy was restored. He helped found the Organisation Politique Lavalas (OPL) and I encouraged people to join it. This party won the 1995 elections, and by the time I finished my term in office, in February 1996, it had a majority in
parliament. But after the elections the OPL started to fall into the traditional patterns and practices of Haitian politics. It became more closed in on itself, more distant from the people, more willing to make empty promises. I was out of office, and stayed on the sidelines. But a group of priests who were active in the Lavalas movement became frustrated, and wanted to restore a more meaningful link with the people. At this point, in 1996, the group of those who felt this way, who were unhappy with the OPL, were known as la nébuleuse – they were in an uncertain and confusing position. Over time, more and more people became more and more dissatisfied with the situation.

We engaged in long discussions about what to do, and Fanmi Lavalas grew out of these discussions. It emerged from the people themselves. It never conceived of itself as a conventional political party. If you look through the organisation’s constitution, you’ll see that the word ‘party’ never comes up. In Haiti we don’t have a positive experience of political parties; parties have always been instruments of manipulation and betrayal. On the other hand, we have a long and positive experience of popular organisations – the ti legliz, for instance.

By 1997, Fanmi Lavalas had emerged as a functional organisation, with a clear constitution. In spite of the aid embargo we managed to accomplish certain things. We were able to invest in education, for instance. In 1990, there were only 34 secondary schools in Haiti; by 2001 there were 138. We built a new university at Tabarre, a new medical school. Although it had to run on a shoestring, the literacy programme we launched in 2001 was also working well; Cuban experts who helped us manage it were confident that by December 2004 we’d have reduced the rate of adult illiteracy to just 15 per cent, a small fraction of what it was a decade earlier. Previous governments had never seriously tried to invest in education, and it’s clear that our programme was always going to be a threat to the status quo. The elite want nothing to do with popular education, for obvious reasons.

PH: Fanmi Lavalas duly won an overwhelming victory in the legislative elections of May 2000, with around 75 per cent of the vote. But your enemies in the US and at home soon drew attention to the fact that the method used to calculate the number of votes needed to win some senate seats in a single round of voting (i.e. without the need for a run-off election between the two most popular candidates) was at least controversial, if not illegitimate. They jumped on this in order to cast doubt on the validity of the election victory itself, and used it to justify an immediate suspension of international loans and aid, which effectively cut your government’s budget in half. Soon after your own second term in office began in February 2001, the winners of these seats were persuaded to stand down, pending a further round of elections. Wouldn’t it have been better to resolve the matter more quickly, to avoid giving the Americans a pretext to undermine your administration before it even began?

JBA: You say that we ‘gave’ the Americans a pretext. In reality the Americans created their own pretext, and if it hadn’t been this it would have been something else. It took the US 58 years to recognise Haiti’s independence. Their priorities haven’t changed, and today’s American policy is more or less consistent with the way it’s always been. The coup of September 1991 was undertaken with the support of the US administration, and in February 2004 it happened again, thanks to many of the same people.

The US was having trouble persuading the other leaders in Caricom [the Caribbean Community and Common Market] to turn against us (they were never able to persuade many of them), and they needed a pretext that was easy to understand. ‘Tainted elections’ was the perfect card to play. But when they came to observe the elections, they said ‘very good, no problem’: the process was judged peaceful and fair. And then as the results came in, in order to undermine our victory, they asked questions about the way the votes were counted. But I had nothing to do with this. I wasn’t a member of the government, and I had no influence over the Provisional Electoral Council, which alone has the authority to decide on these matters. The CEP is a sovereign, independent body. Then, once I had been re-elected, and the Americans demanded that I dismiss these senators, what was I supposed to do? The constitution doesn’t give the president the power to dismiss senators who were elected in keeping with the protocol decided by the CEP. Can you imagine a situation like this in the US? What would happen if a foreign government insisted that the president dismiss an elected senator? It’s absurd. The whole situation is simply racist; they impose conditions on us that they would never contemplate imposing on a ‘properly’ independent country, on a white country.

The Americans wanted to use the legislature against the executive. They hoped that I would be stupid enough to insist on the dismissal of the senators. I refused. In 2001, as a gesture of goodwill, the senators chose to resign on the assumption that they would contest new elections as soon as the opposition was prepared to participate in them. But the Americans failed to turn the senate and the parliament against the presidency, and it soon became clear that the opposition had no interest in new elections. Once this tactic failed, however, the US recruited or bought off a few hotheads, including Dany Toussaint and company, and used them, a little later, against the presidency.

PH: In the press, meanwhile, you came to be presented not as the unequivocal winner of legitimate elections, but as an increasingly tyrannical autocrat.

JBA: Exactly. A lot of the $200 million or so in aid and development money that was suspended when we won the elections in 2000 was diverted to a propaganda and destabilisation campaign waged against our government and against Fanmi Lavalas.

Soon after the results were declared in May 2000, the head of the CEP, Leon Manus, fled the country, claiming that the results were invalid and that you and Préval had put pressure on him to calculate the votes in a particular way. Why did he come to embrace the American line?

Well, I don’t want to judge Leon Manus. I don’t know what happened exactly. But I think he acted in the same way as some of the leaders of the Group of 184.[†] They are beholden to a patrón, a boss. The boss is American, a white American; and you are black. Don’t underestimate the inferiority complex that still so often conditions these relationships. You are black, but sometimes you get to feel whiter than white, if you’re willing to get down on your knees in front of the whites. This is a psychological legacy of slavery: to lie for the white man isn’t really lying at all, since white men don’t lie [laughs]. If I lie for the whites I’m not really lying, I’m just
repeating what they say. So I imagine Leon Manus felt like this when he repeated the lie that they wanted him to repeat. Don’t forget, his journey out of the country began in a car with diplomatic plates, and he arrived in Santo Domingo on an American helicopter.

PH: Why were these people so aggressively hostile to you and your government?
There’s something hysterical about the positions taken by the so-called Convergence Démocratique, and later by the Group of 184, by people like Gérard Pierre-Charles. They refused all compromise, they insisted on all sorts of conditions before they would even consider participating in another round of elections. The Americans seemed exasperated with them, but made no real effort to rein them in.

It was never really about me, it’s got nothing to do with me as an individual. They detest and despise the people. They refuse absolutely to acknowledge that everyone is equal. So when they behave in this way, part of the reason is to reassure themselves that they are different. It’s essential that they see themselves as better than others. I’m convinced it’s bound up with the legacy of slavery, with an inherited contempt for the common people, for the petits nègres. It’s the psychology of apartheid: it’s better to get down on your knees with whites than to stand shoulder to shoulder with blacks. Don’t underestimate the depth of this contempt. One of the first things we did in 1991 was abolish the classification, on birth certificates, of people who were born outside Port-au-Prince as ‘peasants’. This kind of classification, and all sorts of things that went along with it, served to maintain a system of rigid exclusion. It served to keep people out, to treat them as moun andeyo – ‘people from outside’. People under the table. This is what I mean by the mentality of apartheid, and it runs very deep.

PH: What about your own willingness to work alongside people compromised by their past, for instance your inclusion of former Duvalierists in your second administration? Was that an easy decision to take?

No it wasn’t easy, but I saw it as a necessary evil. Take Marc Bazin, for instance. He was minister of finance under Duvalier. I only turned to Bazin because my opponents in Convergence Démocratique, in the OPL and so on, refused to participate in the government.

Their objective was to scupper the entire process, and they said no straightaway. I wanted a democratic government, and so I set out to make it as inclusive as I could, under the circumstances. Since the Convergence wasn’t willing to participate, I invited people from sectors that had little or no representation in parliament to have a voice in the administration, to occupy some ministerial positions and to keep a balance between the legislative and executive branches of government.

This must have been very controversial. Bazin not only worked for Duvalier, he was your opponent back in 1990.

JBA: Yes, it was controversial, and I didn’t take the decision alone. We talked about it at length, we held meetings, looking for a compromise. Some were for, some were against, and in the end there was a majority who accepted that we couldn’t afford to work alone, that we needed to demonstrate we were willing and able to work with people who clearly weren’t pro-Lavalas. We had already published a well-defined political programme, and if they were willing to co-operate on this or that aspect, then we were willing to work with them.

You were often accused of being intolerant of dissent, too determined to get your own way. But what do you say to those who argue instead that the real problem was just the opposite, that you were too tolerant? You allowed ex-soldiers to call openly and repeatedly for the reconstitution of the army. You allowed self-appointed leaders of ‘civil society’ to do everything in their power to disrupt your government. You allowed radio stations to sustain a relentless campaign of disinformation. You allowed demonstrations to go on day after day, calling for you to be overthrown, and many of the demonstrators were directly funded and organised by your enemies in the US.

Well, this is what democracy requires. Either you allow for the free expression of diverse opinions or you don’t. If people aren’t free to demonstrate and to give voice to their demands there is no democracy. I knew our position was strong in parliament, and that the great majority of the people were behind us. A small minority opposed us. Their foreign connections, their business interests, and so on, make them powerful. Nevertheless they have the right to protest, to articulate their demands, just like anyone else.

The most serious and frequent accusation that was made by the demonstrators, and repeated by your critics abroad, is that you resorted to violence in order to hang on to power, that, as the pressure on your government grew, you started to rely on armed gangs from the slums, so-called chimères, and used them to intimidate and in some cases murder your opponents.

JBA: As soon as you look rationally at what was going on, these accusation don’t even begin to stand up. Several things have to be kept in mind. First of all, the police had been working under an embargo for several years. We weren’t able to buy bullet-proof vests or tear-gas canisters. The police were severely underequipped, and were often simply unable to control a demonstration or confrontation. Some of our opponents, some of the demonstrators who sought to provoke violent confrontations, knew this perfectly well. It was common knowledge that while the police were running out of ammunition and supplies, heavy weapons were being smuggled to our opponents through the Dominican Republic. The people knew this, and didn’t like it. They started getting nervous, with good reason. The provocations didn’t let up, and there were isolated acts of violence. Was this violence
justified? No. I condemned it. I condemned it consistently. But with the limited means at our disposal, how could we prevent every outbreak of violence? There was a lot of provocation, a lot of anger, and there was no way that we could ensure that each and every citizen would refuse violence.

But there was never any deliberate encouragement of violence. As for the chimères, this is clearly another expression of our apartheid mentality, the word says it all. Chimères are people who are impoverished, who live in a state of profound insecurity and chronic unemployment. They are the victims of structural injustice, of systematic social violence. And they are among the people who voted for this government, who appreciated what the government was doing and had done, in spite of the embargo. It’s not surprising that they should confront those who have always benefited from this same social violence, once those people had started actively seeking to undermine their government.

Again, this doesn’t justify occasional acts of violence, but where does the real responsibility lie? Who are the real victims of violence here? How many members of the elite, how many members of the opposition’s many political parties, were killed by chimères? How many? Who are they? Meanwhile, powerful economic interests were quite happy to fund criminal gangs, to put weapons in the hands of vagabonds, in Cité Soleil and elsewhere, in order to create disorder and blame it on Fanmi Lavalas. These same people also paid journalists to present the situation in a certain way, and among other things promised them visas – recently, some of them who are now living in France admitted having been told what to say in order to get their visas. So you have people who were financing misinformation, on the one hand, and
destabilisation, on the other, and who encouraged small groups of hoodlums to sow panic on the streets, to create the impression of a government losing control.

As if all this wasn’t enough, rather than allow police munitions to get through to Haiti, rather than send arms and equipment to strengthen the government, the Americans sent them to their proxies in the Dominican Republic instead. You only have to look at who these people were – people like Jodel Chamblain, a convicted criminal, who escaped justice in Haiti to be welcomed by the US, and who then armed and financed these ‘freedom fighters’ waiting over the border in the Dominican Republic. That’s what really happened. We didn’t arm the chimères, the US armed Chamblain and Philippe. The hypocrisy is extraordinary. And then when it comes to 2004-6, suddenly all this indignant talk of violence falls silent. As if nothing had happened. People were being herded into containers and dropped into the sea. That counts for nothing. The endless attacks on Cité Soleil, they count for nothing. I could go on and on. Thousands have died. But they don’t count, because they are just chimères, after all.

What about people in your entourage such as Dany Toussaint, your former chief of security, who was accused of all kinds of violence and intimidation?

JBA: He was working for them from the beginning, and we were taken in. Of course I regret this. But it wasn’t hard for the Americans or their proxies to infiltrate the government, to infiltrate the police. We weren’t able to provide the police with the equipment they needed, we could hardly pay them an adequate salary. It was easy for our opponents to stir up trouble, to co-opt some policemen. This was incredibly difficult to control.

PH: Dany Toussaint wasn’t willing to talk to me when I was in Port-au-Prince a couple of months ago. It’s intriguing that the people who were clamouring for his arrest while you were still in power were then suddenly quite happy to leave him in peace once he had come out against you in December 2003, and once they themselves were in power. But can you prove that he was working for or with them all along?

JBA: It won’t be easy to document, I accept that. There’s a proverb in Creole that says twou manti pa fon: ‘lies don’t run very deep.’ Sooner or later the truth will out. There are plenty of things that were happening at the time that only recently have started to come to light.

PH: You mean things like the eventual public admissions, made over the past year or so by the rebel leaders Remissainthe Ravix and Guy Philippe, about the extent of their long-standing collaboration with the Convergence Démocratique, with the Americans?

JBA: Exactly.

Let’s turn now to what happened in February 2004. There are wildly different versions of what happened in the run-up to your expulsion from the country. How much support did Guy Philippe’s rebels really have? And surely there was little chance that they could take the capital itself, in the face of the many thousands of people who were ready to defend it?

JBA: There had been recent attempts at a coup, one in July 2001, with an attack on the police academy, and another a few months later, in December 2001, with an incursion into the national palace. They didn’t succeed, and on both occasions the rebels were forced to flee the city. They only just managed to escape. It wasn’t the police alone who chased them away, it was a combination of the police and the people. So the rebels knew they couldn’t take Port-au-Prince. So they hesitated, on the outskirts, some 40 kilometres away. We had nothing to fear. The balance of forces was in our favour. There are occasions when large groups of people are more powerful than heavy machine-guns and automatic weapons. And Port-au-Prince, a city with so many national and international interests, was different from more isolated places like Saint-Marc or Gonaïves. There was no great insurrection: there was a small group of soldiers, heavily armed, who were able to overwhelm some police stations, kill some policemen and create a certain amount of havoc. The police had run out of ammunition, and were no match for the rebels’ M16s. But the city was a different story. The people were ready, and I wasn’t worried.

Meanwhile, on 29 February a shipment of police munitions that we had bought from South Africa, perfectly legally, was due to arrive in Port-au-Prince. This decided the matter. Already the balance of forces was against the rebels; on top of that, if the police were restored to something like their full operational capacity, then the rebels stood no chance.

PH: So at that point the Americans had no option but to go in and get you themselves, on the night of 28 February?

That’s right. They knew that in a few more hours, they would lose their opportunity to ‘resolve’ the situation. They grabbed their chance while they had it, and bundled us onto a plane in the middle of the night.

PH: The Americans – Ambassador Foley, Luis Moreno and so on – insist that you begged for their help, that they had to arrange a flight to safety at the last minute. Several reporters backed up their account. On the other hand, speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the American security guards who was on your plane that night told the Washington Post soon after the event that the US story was ‘just bogus’. Your personal security director, Frantz Gabriel, also confirms that you were kidnapped that night by US military personnel. Who are we supposed to believe?

JBA: You’re dealing with a country that was willing and able, in front of the UN and in front of the world at large, to fabricate claims about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They were willing to lie about issues of global importance. It’s hardly surprising that they were able to find a few people to say the things that needed to be said in Haiti, in a small country of no great strategic significance.

PH: They said they couldn’t send peacekeepers to help stabilise the situation, but as soon as you were gone, the troops arrived straightaway.

JBA: The plan was perfectly clear.

PH: In August and September 2005, in the run-up to the elections that finally took place in February 2006, there was a lot of discussion within Fanmi Lavalas about how to proceed. In the end, most of the rank and file threw their weight behind your old colleague, your ‘twin brother’ René Préval, but some members of the leadership opted to stand as candidates in their own right; others were even prepared to endorse Marc Bazin’s candidacy. It was a confusing situation, one that must have put great strain on the organisation, but you kept very quiet.

When we had to choose the electoral candidates for Fanmi Lavalas in 1999, the discussions at the Foundation [the Aristide Foundation for Democracy] would often run long into the night. Delegations would come from all over the country, and members of the cellules de base would argue for or against. Often it wasn’t easy to find a compromise, but this is how the process worked. So when it came to deciding on a new presidential candidate last year, I was confident that the discussion would proceed in the same way, even though by that stage many members of the organisation had been killed, and many more were in hiding, in exile or in prison. I made no declaration one way or another about what to do or who to support. I knew they would make the right decision in their own way. A lot of the things ‘I’ decided, as president, were in reality decided this way: the decision didn’t originate with me, but with them. It was with their words that I spoke.

PH: How do you envisage the future? Can there be any real change in Haiti without directly confronting the question of class privilege and power, without finding some way of overcoming the resistance of the dominant class?

JBA: We will have to confront these things, one way or another. The sine qua non for doing this is obviously the participation of the people. Once the people are genuinely able to participate in the democratic process, then they will be able to devise an acceptable way forward. In any case the process itself is irreversible. It’s irreversible at the mental level. Members of the impoverished sections of Haitian society now have an experience of democracy, and they will not allow a government or a candidate to be imposed on them.

They demonstrated this in February 2006, and I know they will keep on demonstrating it. Everything comes back, in the end, to the simple principle that tout moun se moun – every person is indeed a person, every person is capable of thinking things through for themselves. Those who don’t accept this, when they look at the nègres of Haiti – and consciously or unconsciously, that’s what they see – they see people who are too poor, too crude, too uneducated, to think for themselves. They see people who need others to make their decisions for them. It’s a colonial mentality, in fact, and still very widespread among our political class. It’s also a projection: they project onto the people a sense of their own inadequacy, their own
inequality in the eyes of the master.

February 2006 shows how much has been gained, it shows how far down the path of democracy we have come, even after the coup, even after two years of ferocious violence and repression. What remains unclear is how long it will take. We may move forward fairly quickly, if through their mobilisation the people encounter interlocutors who are willing to listen, to enter into dialogue with them. If they don’t find them, it will take longer. From 1993 to 1994, for instance, there were people in the US government who were willing to listen at least a little, and this helped the democratic process to move forward. Since 2000 we’ve had to deal with a US administration that
is diametrically opposed to its predecessor, and everything slowed down dramatically, or went into reverse. The problem isn’t simply a Haitian one. We still need to develop new ways of reducing and eventually eliminating our dependence on foreign powers.

PH: And your own next step? I know you’re still hoping to get back to Haiti as soon as possible: any progress there? What are your own priorities now?

JBA: It’s a matter of judging when the time is right, of judging the security and stability of the situation. The South African government has welcomed us here as guests, not as exiles; by helping us so generously they have made their contribution to peace and stability in Haiti. And once the conditions are right we’ll go back. As soon as René Préval judges that the time is right then I’ll go back.

PH: You have no further plans to play some sort of role in politics?

JBA: I’ve often been asked this question, and my answer hasn’t changed. There
are different ways of serving the people. Participation in the politics of the state isn’t the only way. Before 1990 I served the people, from outside the structure of the state. I will serve the people again, from outside the structure of the state. My first vocation was teaching. One of the great achievements of our second administration was the construction of the University of Tabarre, which was built entirely under embargo but in terms of its infrastructure became the largest university in Haiti (since 2004, it has been occupied by foreign troops). I would like to go back to teaching. As for politics, I never had any interest in becoming a political leader ‘for life’.

That was Duvalier: president for life. A political organisation consists of its members, it isn’t the instrument of one man. Fanmi Lavalas needs to become more professional, it needs to have more internal discipline; the democratic process needs properly functional political parties, parties in the plural. So I will not dominate or lead the organisation, that is not my role, but I will contribute what I can.

* Lavalas is a Creole word meaning ‘flood’, ‘avalanche’, a ‘mass of people’
or ‘everyone together’. Fanmi means ‘family’.

† A group of businessmen and professionals, backed and organised by the
International Republican Institute, which was founded in December 2002 more
or less explicitly to get rid of Aristide.

Peter Hallward teaches philosophy at Middlesex University. Damming the Flood:
Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment is due this summer. His interview with Aristide appears here in his translation from French.


Conclusion of Peter Hallward Book to be published in London - "DAMMING THE FLOOD: Haiti and the Politics of Contaiment"



"It is better to err with the people than to be right without them." (Jean-Bertrand Aristide).[1]

It took almost two decades for Haiti's little ruling class and its imperial patrons to devise a workable way of coping with the end of the Cold War. Like other Cold Warriors in Latin American, Haitian dictators Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier preserved the dramatic gap between rich and poor through direct military intimidation. Eventually, however, this intimidation began to provoke a movement of popular protest too powerful to control, and in 1990 the Haitian people were able for the first time to rally behind a president of their own choosing. Once this president began to interfere with the interests of the elite, its army got rid of him in the usual way. What was most unusual about Aristide, however, is that in 1995 he then found a way to get rid of this army in its turn. By the time it won the decisive elections of 2000, Aristide's party threatened to overwhelm both the military and the parliamentary mechanisms of elite resistance, and was finally in a position to push through moderate but significant political change. Deprived of its traditional instrument of repression, Haiti's elite and its foreign allies now had to a develop a more indirect, more humanitarian strategy of containment.

In many ways, the people (first-world diplomats, IFI economists, USAID consultants, IRI operators, CIA analysts, media specialists, ex-military personnel, security advisors, police trainers, aid-workers, NGO staff...) who "spontaneously" developed this strategy are entitled to be pleased with the results of their work. Over the course of a decade or so, they managed to back one of the most popular political leaders in Latin America into a corner from which he couldn't escape. They managed not only to overthrow but also to discredit the most progressive government in Haitian history, and they managed to attack this government in ways that were rarely perceived (by mainstream commentators) as aggressive at all. They managed to disguise a deliberate and elaborate political intervention as a routine contribution to the natural order of things. Ten years after his triumphant return from exile in 1994, Aristide's enemies not only drove him out of office but into an apparently definitive disgrace.[2]

It wouldn't be hard to extract a general destabilisation recipe from this most exemplary episode in imperial counter-insurgency. Confronted by a threatening attempt at popular democracy, the MRE and their friends in France and US adopted a predictable but highly effective strategy. They developed powerful if not irresistible forms of economic pressure to further impoverish and alienate its supporters. They starved the Lavalas government of funds and international credit, obliging it to cut public sector services and jobs. They cast doubt on its democratic legitimacy, equating Haiti's most popular president with the Duvalier and Cedras dictatorships.

They secured and supported sympathetic assets within the security forces, and bought off opportunistic elements within the popular movement. They obliged the
government's supporters to take defensive measures in the face of paramilitary attack, and then characterised these measures as intolerant of dissent. They presented opposition to the government as diverse and inclusive, and valorised these opponents as the embattled victims of government repression. Taking special care to ensure that the government was attacked from both right (business groups, professional associations, civil society organisations) and left (humanitarian NGOs, human rights groups), they sustained a relentless media campaign to present the government as intractable and authoritarian. After a few years of such coercion, even a tiny military insurgency led by notorious criminals and organised by the most reactionary interests in the country was welcomed by most mainstream commentators as a "popular insurrection" against a despotic regime.

If in the end even such insurrection wasn't enough to get rid of the despot, who then could blame the great powers when they eventually went in to finish the job on their own?

There is no denying that, under the pressure of such aggression, Aristide and the Lavalas organisation made a number of damaging compromises and mistakes. Nevertheless, claims that Aristide was too messianic, or that he encouraged violence, or that he was authoritarian or intolerant of dissent are not just far-fetched, they are almost a literal inversion of the truth. If his government deserves to be blamed for anything, it is for being too tolerant of an opposition that sought to replace it, too conciliatory in its relations with foreign powers that sought to overthrow it, too complacent in the face of a media that criticised it, too hesitant in relation to soldiers who attacked it, too lenient with the opportunists who sought to abuse it.

"Even the best of our political leaders, regrets Patrick Elie, have underestimated the resilience of the Haitian people and their will to hang tough, even under immense pressure. Our politicians need to know that if they pursue a courageous and independent course, a course that risk foreign retribution, then a sizeable minority of powerful individuals will indeed scream in protest and demand that the government back down. But not the majority of the people. The Haitian people are used to enduring enormous hardships, and if they know that they are being asked to endure hardship for the sake of their dignity and autonomy then they will readily endure it. Our leaders need to be more assertive, to be more in tune with the profound feeling of independence that animates the majority of Haitians. If has only ever been the elite who have been willing to cave in to foreign pressure. We need to trust the people's determination to fight for their rights."

If Aristide's government shares some of the responsibility for the debacle of 2004 it is because it occasionally failed to act with the sort of vigour and determination its vulnerable supporters were entitled to expect. Aristide was right to stand for the presidency in 1990, he was right to engineer the US invasion that allowed for the demobilisation of the army in 1995, and he was right to consolidate his supporters through the development of Fanmi Lavalas.

But after rapidly emerging as Haiti's most popular political organisation, Fanmi Lavalas became too inclusive, too moderate, too indecisive, too undisciplined. After gaining an overwhelming popular mandate for radical change, Aristide's government was too often willing to negotiate with its enemies and too rarely willing to mobilise its friends. Aristide tried to placate opponents that he needed to confront. He may never have drawn the full implications of elite hostility, both in Haiti and abroad: drawn from the beginning into a political war, he tried till the end to govern with the strategies of peace.

How much of this responsibility can be fairly attributed to a government that was unavoidably dependent on foreign aid, that remained profoundly vulnerable to foreign intervention, that presided over a precarious and unstable political system, that had little practical control over its economy or bureaucracy and virtually no control over its own security - these are questions that are likely to divide analysts of the Aristide era for the foreseeable future.

What is more important is the fact that this era, in spite of the astonishing levels of repression it aroused, has indeed opened to the door to a new political future. There is little to be gained from judging this opening by the standards of either armed national liberation movements on the one hand or entrenched parliamentary democracies on the other. Over the last twenty years, Lavalas has developed as an experiment at the limits of contemporary political possibility: its history sheds light on some of the ways that political mobilisation can proceed under the pressure of
exceptionally powerful constraints.

Aristide was obliged to govern Haiti in the absence of international sympathy, military support, institutional stability or economic independence: he presided over the inauguration of a process of collective empowerment, not its realisation. With an absolute minimum of resources, his governments were able to take significant strides in the fields of education, justice and health. These governments helped to initiate a profound political transition, and in the process encountered the obstacles that any such transition must face. Aristide dealt with some of these obstacles (the army, the closure of the traditional political system, the public exclusion of the
poor) more effectively than others (the economic, bureaucratic and cultural hegemony of the transnational elite). The task that falls to today's Lavalassians is immense. But in spite of all they have suffered, the circumstances in which they will engage with it are in some ways less adverse today than they were back in 2000, or even in 1994.

In the first place, the election of the marassa-Aristide in 2006 confirmed, in the face of intense coercion, an extraordinary continuity of political purpose. In 1990, 1995, 2000 and now again in 2006, the Haitian people have voted consistently and overwhelmingly for much the same principles and much the same people. Although prosecuted with unprecedented resources and undertaken with the full backing of the UN, the US and the rest of the international community, the attempt to break this continuity during the catastrophic interlude of 2004-2005 has failed. In the long run the second coup against Lavalas may prove no more successful than the first.

Although there is much to rebuild, popular fidelity to the Lavalas project remains durable and strong, and whatever institutional form it takes its momentum will continue to shape Haiti's political future.

Lavalas militants have strengthened their position in that future, moreover, by helping to inspire the collective mobilisations that in recent years have brought left-wing governments to power all across Latin American. Back in 1816, Haiti's first independence leaders provided crucial logistical support to Simon Bolivar; the leaders of Haiti's second independence struggle presided over one of the hemisphere's only popular political mobilisations in the run-up to its new Bolivarian revolution.

People like Patrick Elie and Ramilus Bolivar (Aristide's Commissioner of Peasant Affairs) have been helping to forge links between the Haitian and Venezuelan mobilisations for years. After years of crippling international isolation, it is now possible to imagine a more assertively progressive government in Haiti working in direct collaboration with supportive governments in Cuba , Venezuela , Bolivia , Ecuador ... For many years an empty slogan of the far-left, calls for international cooperation at both the grassroots and governmental levels may start to mean something rather different in 2007 than they did a decade or two ago. Members of Lavalas organisations populaires have for many years worked alongside representatives of the revolutionary PPN; in spite of many obstacles, a stronger version of such a collaboration may well manage to mount and win an anti-imperialist campaign for the presidency in 2010. Damaged by its reckless forays into Afghanistan and Iraq, the capacity of the US to deter such collaboration is perhaps weaker today than at any time over the preceding century. Just as importantly, the capacity of the US or its collaborators France and Canada to pose as allies of the Haitian people is for the foreseeable future damaged beyond repair.

Over the last couple of years the Lavalas organisation has also begun to confront some of its own internal limitations, by becoming less dependent on Aristide's personal charisma and influence, and by purging itself of many of the opportunists who manipulated this influence in the late 1990s. Although it will take several more years to work through the consequences of the 2004 coup, FL leaders who compromised with the interim government have lost most of their power, and younger grassroots leaders are more prominent now than when their organisation was in office. They have learned from Aristide's mistakes. The combination of disciplined resilience and strategic flexibility that won the election of 2006 suggests that parts of this organisation may have emerged from the crucible of repression stronger than before. The fact that Lavalas also remains bitterly divisive is a consequence above all of the fact that it was the only large-scale popular mobilisation ever to address the massive inequalities of power, influence and wealth which have always divided Haitian society; that Lavalas has so far managed to do little to reduce these inequalities says less about the weakness of the organisation than it does about the extraordinary strength, today, of the forces that preserve inequality.

Two centuries ago, it took Haiti's armies several years and immeasurable effort to wrest its first independence from the slave economy by the great colonial powers of the day. The ongoing struggle to win Haiti's independence from the contemporary equivalent of slavery has aroused less spectacular but no less implacable opposition from our postcolonial empires. Now as then, Haiti's liberation struggle has confronted the full range of imperial coercion in its most undiluted and illuminating forms. The first victory was achieved through force of arms over the course of little more than a decade, and it was won by Haitians alone. The second victory will not depend on weapons, it will take longer, and in addition to the remobilisation of Lavalas, it will require the renewal of emancipatory politics within the imperial nations themselves.
[1] Cited in Slavin, "Elite's Revenge" (1991), 6.

[2] A trivial but telling symptom of Aristide's current status in the world
media is indicated by the fact that none of the several mainstream newspapers
I contacted in 2006 (the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian,
Independent) were interested in publishing even a short extract of the July
interview with Aristide which follows as an appendix to this book.


Ezili Danto's Comment that Jean-Bertrand-Aristide-Was-Too-Tolerant and-Compromising to Ben Dupuy on his and Jean-Bertrand Aristide's interview by Peter Hallward

"Really good interview Ben Dupuy. Especially informative. It puts our struggle within the greater global perspective, outlining the ravages of neoliberalism in creating a Site Soley. This normally gets lost in the mainstream media's constant propaganda blaming only the victims and the resisters of the Neocolonialist' s death plan. Kout Chapo. Congratulation also on making our on-line journal Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
(HLLN)'s Haitian Perspective. Circulating this interview will help give voice to the voiceless and defenseless. Go to: An Interview with Ben Dupuy by Peter Hallward, Haitian Perspectives, Feb 16, 2007
. http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/dupuy.html#dupuy

Ben, years ago HLLN made a strategic decision not to join the imperialist pounding of Aristide's rule as it seemed to us like only chumps would keep hitting a fairly defenseless man, being attacked from all sides and one sincerely attempting something historical and without precedent. Also, it is one of HLLN's staunches principles not to add to Haitian fratricide but to go directly after the imperialist powers (Category One), who feed on our divisions, strumming chaos, instability, underdevelopment and the impunity in Haiti. However, circumstances are different today, and although we are still very concerned about Haitian fratricide, the very worst we had fought against happened and Haiti is under occupation. Moreover, we can make this statement with little risk to our people because president Jean Bertrand Aristide is no longer in office and his warranted and/or personal fears of continued retaliation/isolation from the Internationals (economic elites and imperialist powers) are not greater interests than Haiti's dignity and current struggle towards Dessalines' Law. We believe when he was president, Aristide maneuvered as best as he was capable. And, it's not our intention to ever disrespect the office of the Haitian presidency and/or the Haitian people's mandate to a duly elected Haitian president. But as HLLN - which has been maligned and accused, by the coup d'etat folks, of "being Lavalas chimeres," for not openly criticizing Aristide enough - now fights towards Haiti's sovereignty and Dessalines' ideals/law, we are concerned about setting the record straight.

Ben Bupuy, know that HLLN agree with your analysis that Aristide's ambivalence and "middle of the road approach" was devastating to the struggle. We do not join the chorus of folks who say Aristide is corrupt because there were corrupt folks in his Administration, or because there were constituents in Lavalas who defended themselves with arms against the still armed coup d'etat paramilitaries and demobilized macoute army left with their arms by the 20 thousand US troops sent to disarm the military and uphold electoral democracy. No. HLLN would, of course, like a peaceful, non-violent world but believes in the right to self-defense, self-reliance. Poverty is the greatest of violences. Overall, we appreciated the Aristide interview and look forward to the Hallward's book. But we at HLLN take exception to the section in the Peter Hallward interview where Aristide seems to deny responsibility for empowering and emboldening MORE, Haiti's enemies by giving positions for example, to the likes of Marc Bazin, et al, and to other macoute/bourgeois enemies of the people; folding, folding, folding to the imperialist’s constant demands. He seems to deny the middle-of-the-road choices and indecisions of his 2000 administration, their projection of helplessness and dependency by the constant emphasis and BEGGING for the withheld foreign dollars that marked Aristide's second administration. HLLN agrees with the final analysis in the conclusion of Peter Hallward’s book that appears to conclude, as you do Ben, that Aristide did not “go far enough” and was “too middle of the road.”

In our opinion, as participants and witnesses in the Haitian struggle, Aristide’s attempt at over-conciliation with the macoutes and the imperialists cumulatively disempowered, took for granted and placed his allies, both at home and in the Diaspora, in an untenable position. We agree that the enemy is overwhelming, that Haitian resources are limited. But still, Haiti indeed needed and still needs the strength of a Dessalines and to clearly struggle against Neocolonialism and for a Black-ruled-Independent-Nation. And if, for this need and Haitian necessity, Haiti and Haitians are always going to face the guns, brutality, propaganda and inevitability of coup d’etat from the economic elites and imperialist powers, it’s far better, far more dignified to empower our own directly, instead of the blan peyi and blan kolon vagabon and struggle for Dessaline’s Law, as best we can, eye-to-eye, on our feet and without always dissembling. However, we at HLLN would not have commented on the Peter Hallward’s Aristide interview in particular, if overall, in answering the charge of being "middle of the road" or too obliging of the imperialist and their agents, Aristide did not, in a way, conceptualized his denials with the unfavorable and misleading use of our country's founder, the honorable Jean Jacques Dessalines.

Ben, your interview doesn't mention favorably or unfavorably the name of Dessalines, and we don't here imply in anyway that it does. Also, our comment here in no way means that HLLN advocates violence against an overwhelming enemy is practical. But we do advocate self-reliance, self-defense and that what Haitians struggle for is Dessalines' law and Dessalines' ideal of a Black ruled independent nation and not Toussaint's ideal of a Black ruled (French) colony. Your analysis that Aristide was too “middle of the road” in the interview says some of what we at HLLN were just preparing to point out in reference to the Aristide comments responding to Peter Hallward's questions that Haiti needed a Dessalines not a Toussaint, which to us at HLLN means the difference between Black-ruled independent nation (what Dessalines fought for) as opposed to a Black ruled French or foreign colony (what Toussaint stood and was assassinated for). We were also about to point out that part of the Aristide response about Dessalines somehow gave the impression that Toussaint didn't take up arms against the whites but Dessalines did. They both took up arms.*

We refer to this particular Aristide answer in the Peter Hallward interview that makes the faulty and inaccurate implication: "... As for Dessalines, the struggle that he led was armed, and necessarily so, since he had to break the bonds of slavery once and for all. But our struggle is different. It is Toussaint, rather than Dessalines, who can accompany the popular movement today." (An Interview with Aristide by Peter Hallward)

Today, you made HLLN's Haitian Perspectives, Ben Dupuy, not only because your observations about the non-neutrality of the UN and uses of the UN by the post-(US/European)-World-War-II allies, underlines the teachings of HLLN but primarily as it is stated in this paragraph that we at HLLN will continue to highlight more in the coming weeks:

"...Members of the elite are now contemplating a sort of 'final solution' that amounts to little less than a strategy of open warfare - the use of foreign and domestic troops to kill off the poorest of the poor, pure and simple"

"The poverty in places like Citè Soleil is a direct result of the neo-liberal reconfiguration of the Haitian economy that began in the late 1970s - the result of what many Haitians call the "death plan". The US and the Haitian elite believe that they can manage the consequences of this plan by sending foreign troops to police the neighborhoods populated by those that suffer the worst of its effects. They think they can control rising levels of poverty by shooting at the poor. In Haiti as in various other parts of the world (Darfur, Sierra Leone, Somalia ...) they use the UN to put out the fire, without considering who started it. They do everything possible to avoid the obvious conclusion - that this poverty, and the violence that accompanies it, is a direct consequence of the neo-liberal plan itself. The only way to reverse it is to put a stop to the plan and undo its effects.

"In places like Haiti and much of Africa, the great imperial powers use the UN as humanitarian fire-fighters, but they never identify, let alone prosecute, the neo-liberal arsonists. They never ask why social divisions have become so intense, why the levels of poverty are now so extreme, why people are so desperate that they prefer to fight, rather than starve."..."
(Excerpted from Interview with Ben Dupuy by Peter Hallward, Feb. 16, 2007)

The UN shooting the poor residing in Site Soley doesn't fix the poverty in Site Soley. Criminalizing and then executing the victims of empire doesn't address the failed Western globalization and neoliberal economic and sweatshop policies that created a Site Soley.

And, b
eyond the fact that the poverty in Site Soley and the violence that accompanies it are direct results of failed Western foreign and economic policies in Haiti, the UN is not qualified to lecture Haitians about democracy, justice and peace, not only because with its five veto powers, it is itself not a democratic body; not only because its history in Africa and with the developing countries has shown that its acted as a mercenary force for the Western powers to help pauperize and secure the "spheres of influence" of the five post European-World-War-II-allies, but primarily because the UN, as a non-neutral force since their landing in Haiti, has: 1. upheld unelected officials (Haitian traitors who took power through force, and continue to do so under Preval through the use of Apaid's brothers' new electoral machines - brother Apaid was awarded the contract by the Internationals to provide computerized electoral machines in a country with a high illiteracy rate and no electricity and despite Andre Apaids' role in the ouster of the duly elected government); and 2) because the UN basically lent their firepower and support to re-secure a position of impunity in Haiti for known criminals, thugs, human right abusers and drug dealers such as Guy Philippe, Louis Jodel Chamblain, Jean Tatoune, Lame Timanchet, other coup detat attaches, paramilitary death squads, the demobilized Haitian army, Prosper Avril, Carl Dorelien, et al... (See, The Legacy of Impunity: The Neocolonialist inciting political instability is the problem. Haiti is underdeveloped in crime, corruption, violence, compared to other nations). This same UN force, which brought in and legitimized the reign of thugs, traitors, kidnappers, drug dealers and criminals to Haiti starting from 2004 to today, now trumpets, to all and sundry, how they are in Haiti to remove thugs, traitors impunity, rule-by-force, drug dealers, kidnappers and bandits from Site Soley and Haiti in general.

As for President Aristide, he did the best he was capable. But, in the long run, he was too compromising and tolerant of the imperialists, economic elites and their Black overseers. Sometimes, instead of empowering decent folks who would not get the approval of the economic elites and imperialist powers, he empowered the same old mafia families and let the imperialist vagabonds keep him on the constant defensive, defensive, defensive. He stayed with the wrong people much too long after their negative intentions where revealed and gave in too quickly against imperialist pressures when he should have backed-up more loyal and honest constituents, activists and ministers. On the international level he also chose to empower more whites and white professionals instead of Haitians to represent Haiti's interests. In fact, he even insisted that some of the Haitian professionals whom he hired had to work through, and in-back of, certain chosen white folks, presumably in order pacify and not to stir the ire of empire. All this, including the hard core reality that, at times, 70% or more of Haiti's budget is financed by foreign countries and much of its meager public service functions are left in the hands of unregulated foreign NGOs, ultimately promotes endess debt and dependency instead of Haitian trust, control, advancement and empowerment. For, it came to pass, in the long run, these folks, even if with good intentions, could not have authentically and viscerally led Haiti's defense and/or counter the media-coup-d'etat-propaganda as needed because they were not Haitian and the victims of the system that vies for the soul of Black folks.

In general and unfortunately, President Aristide trusted in the humanity of Haiti's enemies too much and naively and honestly believed that if he placated the imperialists
vagabonds, fed white privilege and the Haitian Black overseers, he could make some room for the Haitian majority to move from "misery to poverty" instead of perennially moving from misery to misery. But all the capitulation wasn't enough.The whole of Haiti paid for his trust in the white man, their Steele foundation/CIA guards, his tolerantly allowing for a parallel government to exist; his governments' inability to take the offensive, counter and defend Haiti against the media propaganda and the tiny but powerful foreign-manufactured-and-built-political-opposition; for the political and commercial rewards, positions he may have been forced to give to the macoutes/bourgeoisies, former army officials, to the likes of a Danny Toussaint, Guy Philippe - for all of the compromises. Now Toussaint is gone. It's time for Dessalines.

President Aristide and his family and all the 2004-unwilling-exiles have the right to return to Haiti. HLLN shall continue to support that Constitutional and Haitian right. For that right is integral in our struggle to bringing into manifestation Dessalines' Law: "No whiteman of whatever nation he may be, shall put his foot on this territory with the title of master or proprietor" and Dessalines' ideals, especially this Dessalines stand: "I want the assets of the country to be equitably divided," said Jean Jacques Dessalines. Haitians also own the right to demand that those who deported President Aristide and brought the bicentennial coup d'etat are brought to justice, punished and required to make restitution. But let's also be very clear as between Dessalines and Toussaint: the masses of Haitians have NOT fought, since 1806, for Toussaint Louverture's idea of making Haiti a Black-ruled colony, but to bring into application Dessalines Herculean triumph. Struggling to make Haiti a Black ruled independent nation and not anyone's' colony whatsoever, is our ultimate quest.

Ezili Dantò
Founder and president of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
Feb. 20, 2007
(Last revised Feb. 27, 2007)

*Both Toussaint Louverture and Jean Jacques Dessalines took up arms against the white enslavers and colonists. But because Toussaint Louverture fought for neocolonialism, he's the one revered by the whites. The whites still fear and hate Dessalines because he beat them and declared Haiti a Black independent nation. Down the annals of history, the impression has been propagated, to the interests of the whites, that Toussaint Louverture was sort of Ghandi-like and non-violent, which is totally untrue. (See also "Napoleon was no Toussaint" by Jafrikayiti). Toussaint Louverture killed his share of white enslavers and colonists as general of Haiti's indigenous army before Dessalines. And when Toussaint Louverture was kidnapped because he was too trusting of the whites, too compromising and too tolerant, it was time for Dessalines. Today, Haiti awaits a Dessalines. Ezili Dantò said this back on the day of Aristide's kidnapping. Haiti awaits a Dessalines. Read in particular "Moun ki fe bagay sa, jodi a -yo swaf dlo lan zye!: Haitian fratricide allowed for the Empire to eat up our divisions and make this February 29, 2004 Coup D'etat comeback" by Ezili Dantò on Feb. 29, 2004.

Dessalines' Law:

Toussaint L'Ouverture

A lecture delivered by Wendell Phillips December 1861, in New York and Boston

& Toussaint Memorial

"... in this horrible dungeon you have put a man to die.” ...In this tomb Toussaint was buried, but he did not die fast enough. Finally, the commandment was told to go into Switzerland, to carry the keys of the dungeon with him, and to stay four days; when he returned, Toussaint was found starved to death. (Napoleon), that imperial assassin was taken twelve years after to his prison at St. Helena, planned for a tome, as he had planned that of Toussaint, and there he whined away his dying hours in pitiful complaints of curtains and titles, of dishes and rides. God grant that when some future Plutarch shall weigh the great men of our epoch, the whites against the blacks, he do not put that whining child of St. Helena into one scale, and into the other the negro meeting death like a Roman, without a murmur, in the solitude of his icy dungeon!

From the moment he was betrayed, the Negroes began to doubt the French, and rushed to arms. Soon every negro but Maurepas deserted the French. Leclerc summoned Maurepas to his side. He came, loyally bringing with him five hundred soldiers. Leclerc spiked his epaulettes to his shoulders, shot him, and flung him into the sea. He took his five hundred soldiers on shore, shot then on the edge of a pit, and tumbled then in. Dessalines from the mountain saw it, and, selecting five hundred French officers from his prisons, hung then on separate trees in sigh of Leclerc’s camp; and born, as I was, not far from Bunker Hill, I have yet found no reason to think he did wrong. They murdered Pierre Toussaint’s wife at his own door, and after such treatment that it was mercy when they killed her. The maddened husband, who had but a year before saved the lives of twelve hundred white men, carried his next thousand prisoners and sacrificed them on her grave..."

Excerpted from:Toussaint L'Ouverture: A lecture delivered by Wendell Phillips December 1861, in New York and Boston

"...Never again shall colonist or European set foot on this soil as master or landowner. This shall henceforward be the foundation of our constitution."

Jamais aucun blanc ni Europeén ne mettra pied sur ce territoire à titre de maitre ou de propriétaire. Cette résolution sera désormais la base fondamentale de notre constitution. (Liberté ou La mort, Jean Jacques Dessalines, April 28, 1804)

"...No whiteman of whatever nation he may be, shall put his foot on this territory with the title of master or proprietor, neither shall he in future acquire any property therein..." (Jean Jacques Dessalines, 1805 Haitian Constituion, Art. 12.)

"...Aucun blanc, quelle que soit sa nation, ne mettra le pied sur ce territoire à titre de maitre ou de propriétaire, et ne pourra à l'avenir acquérir aucune propriéte." (Jean Jacques Dessalines, 1805 Haitian Constituion, Art. 12.)

Napoleon was no Toussaint: spare us the insult !
by Jean Saint-Vil (Jafrikayiti), Feb 27, 2007

A February 25, 2007 article, "The Black Napoleon" in the New York Times, attracted my attention because, as a son of Haiti, I find that comparing Toussaint to Napoleon, beyond the fact that it is misleading, to be in fact a grave insult. Shall one dub a leader of resistance to Nazi Germany: "The Jewish Hitler"?

In his book "Le Crime de Napoléon", French author Claude Ribbe provides ample detail describing how Napoleon tried to accomplish a total genocide of the Africans who revolted against the lucrative system of racial slavery in the Caribbean. The very cover of Ribbe's book shows an actual photograph of Hitler paying homage to Napoleon at his mausoleum in Paris. Hitler was fascinated with the man from whom he had learned many tricks of eugenics, including the use of chemicals (sulfur dioxide) to conduct mass murder. No, Toussaint, the Grandson of the Gaou Ginou, King of the Aladas People of West Africa, was no Black Napoleon. Neither was Napoleon a white Toussaint.

I am also puzzled by this claim in the article that Toussaint "welded the rebel slaves into disciplined units, got French deserters to train them, incorporated revolution-minded whites and gens de couleur into his army...". The French army which Toussaint led at various times did have white, mulatto and black soldiers but there is no historical support for this exclusive characterization of whites in the French army led by Toussaint as being "revolution-minded". These whites were serving France, not the Haitian revolution. How many of them stood up by the side of the Africans and their revolution after Napoleon had betrayed, kidnapped, exiled and eventually murdered Toussaint?

Perhaps the authors were referring to the Polish soldiers who ended up leaving the French army that brought them to Haiti, after the French dictator Napoleon had invaded their own homeland? If so, I would agree that indeed some of the Polish men found common interest with the Africans and they joined them in the struggle against tyranny.

However, to credit the French deserters (Polish or otherwise) for the training received by the rebel slaves is to be completely oblivious to the nature of the African maroons and the fact that many of them were quite knowledgeable in the art of warfare from their very own African homeland (see Jean Fouchard's Les Marrons de la liberté and Les Marrons du Syllabaire). Toussaint joined the maroons before joining the Spanish and then the French- not the other way around. As a General he provided training to everyone under his command - black, white or mulatto. So, I don't quite get this reference to French deserters providing "training" to people fighting against their own interest. There have always been desperate efforts to find white heroes that never existed in the Haitian revolution. Some have even suggested that it is the French Revolution that inspired the Haitian revolution. As if Africans were too stupid to realize on their own the unacceptability of their condition.

Likewise, I remember going to the theatre to watch a film about Steven Biko, only to find out Cry Freedom was really yet another depiction of Tarzan saving the natives - this time in Apartheid South Africa...Biko's life was merely a backdrop. Perhaps, it is the difficulty of playing up such a theme that makes it take so long before the Haitian Revolution arrives at the big screen, right brother Danny Glover? (See also, Danny Glover's "Toussaint", in pre-production)

Also, the Africans of Haiti, who are still being punished for their bold resistance to white supremacy, did not win those victories of 1803 against the British, the Spanish and French armies, because of the work of ONE single man named Toussaint Louverture. This tendency to isolate a successful African from the people that gave birth to his genius is too often seen in Eurocentric writings. The reality is that African women and men were fighting from the shores of Africa and never stopped fighting. Among the earlier geniuses that led to the eventual abolition of racial slavery on the island, there are men like Makandal. Plimout, Makaya, Boukman; Women like Sesil Fatiman, Sanit Belè, Marijann Lamatinyè, Toya Mantou etc... And, after the French had betrayed General Toussaint Louverture who obviously credited them with much more humanity than they deserved, it was JEAN-JACQUES DESSALINES who led the Africans to victory. Dessalines who?

For those who ask why have they never heard much about Dessalines, if it is he who is the ultimate liberator of Haiti, here is how one of Dessalines' natural enemies presented the situation of the whites in Haiti right after the declaration of independence:


"Former experience of the mildness and humanity of the blacks, inspired a hope of forgiveness and good treatment, notwithstanding the remembrance of recent circumstances, which might seem to preclude all expectation of mercy from that insulted and injured people.

The astonishing forbearance Toussaint, and of all who had served under him, encouraged a persuasion that their humanity, was not to be wearied out by any provocation. All the white inhabitants who had been carried off as hostages by Christophe, on his retreat from Cape Francois, had returned in safety, when the peace was made with Leclerc: and it was known that, during the whole time of their absence, they had been well treated by Toussaint and his followers; though the French, during that period, were refusing quarter to the negroes in the field, and murdering in cold blood all whom they took prisoners. But Toussaint was now no more and Dessalines was of a very different disposition".
See: A Brief History of Dessalines from 1825 Missionary Journal, American Missionary Register, October,
1825, Vol. VI, NO. 10, p. 292-297, http://www.webster.edu/%7Ecorbetre

So, Toussaint having ultimately fallen "victim" of the white supremacist clan, he is being showcased as a model of virtue. But Dessalines, who fought the beast (white supremacist racism) with 1/10th of the savagery that it had shown towards his people, is to be buried as long as possible? This tactic is not so different from the fake admiration we see often shown towards Martin Luther King Jr. by those who make it a duty to diminish Malcolm X, or towards a weakened and trembling Nelson Mandela, in order to diminish Winnie-the Warrior-Mandela.

Let me take this opportunity to also mention that when Miranda went to Jacmel, Haiti, in February 1806, it was the Emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who gave strict orders to General Magloire Ambroise to receive him well and offer him munitions and men in order to liberate Latin America. We know that since that time, the Africans of Haiti have been betrayed over and over again by Latin Americans with the notable exceptions of Fidel and Chavez... but that's another story; Right comrade Lula?

Men like Dessalines and Toussaint do not have equals in U.S. or French history where so-called revolutions took place only to further entrench racial slavery and denial of its consequences to this day. For, unlike Napoleon, Dessalines and Toussaint weren't fighting to steal other people's resources. Unlike Thomas Jefferson, these illiterate men actually believed it to be self-evident that all men were created equal. They did not enslave their own offspring born of rape.

Dessalines and Toussaint fought to free a people that had been kidnapped, humiliated, TERRORIZED for over 300 years. If they still are not getting their right place in history books, it is because the lions are still being chased - so the hunters may continue to tell their tales while wigging their tails to erase all trails. But, as sure as Osiris is dancing today because the usurpers of the story of his son Heru, born of the virgin Auset (Isis) have been "discovered", I know Dessalines and his people will eventually receive due REPARATIONS (material, mental and spiritual), here on earth.

Ayibobo !

Hochschild's Neo-Colonial Journalism. Response to Adam Hochschild article in SF Chronicle by Marguerite Laurent, May 30, 2004


The Black Napoleon
By ADAM HOCHSCHILD, Feb. 25, 2007, New York Times

Quick, what was the second country in the New World to win full independence from its colonial masters in the Old? Mexico? Brazil? Some place liberated by Bolívar?
The answer, Madison Smartt Bell reminds us, is Haiti — which actually gave Bolívar some help.

The years of horrendous warfare that culminated in Haiti’s birth in 1804 is one of the most inspiring and tragic chapters in the story of the Americas. For one thing, it was history’s only successful large-scale slave revolt. The roughly half a million slaves who labored on the plantations of what was then the French territory of St. Domingue had made it the most lucrative colony anywhere in the world. Its rich, well irrigated soil, not yet overworked and eroded, produced more than 30 percent of the world’s sugar, more than half its coffee and a cornucopia of other crops.

When the slaves there rose up in 1791, they sent shock waves throughout the Atlantic world. But the rebels did more than win. In five years of fighting, they also inflicted a humiliating defeat on a large invasion force from Britain, which, at war with France, wanted to seize this profitable territory for itself. And later they did the same to a vast military expedition sent by Napoleon, who vainly tried to recapture the colony and restore slavery. The long years of race-based mass murder (which included a civil war between blacks and gens de couleur, as those of mixed race were known) left more than half the population dead or exiled, and Haiti lives with that legacy of violence still. Seldom have people anywhere fought so hard for their freedom.

Seldom, too, have they so much owed success to one extraordinary man. Toussaint Louverture, a short, wiry coachman skilled in veterinary medicine, had been freed some years before the upheaval. About 50 when the revolt began, he was one of those rare figures — Trotsky is the only other who comes to mind — who in midlife suddenly became a self-taught military genius. He welded the rebel slaves into disciplined units, got French deserters to train them, incorporated revolution-minded whites and gens de couleur into his army and used his legendary horsemanship to rush from one corner of the colony to another, cajoling, threatening, making and breaking alliances with a bewildering array of factions and warlords, and commanding his troops in one brilliant assault, feint or ambush after another. Finally lured into negotiations with one of Napoleon’s generals in 1802, he was captured and swiftly whisked off to France. Deliberately kept alone, cold and underfed deep inside a fortress in the Jura mountains, he died in April 1803.

Toussaint’s is an epic story, and it lies at the heart of a much praised trilogy by Bell, the prolific American novelist. Bell’s new biography, “Toussaint Louverture,” is resolutely nonfiction, however. And welcome it is, for the existing biographies, from Ralph Korngold’s 1944 effort (dated, uncritical and unsourced) to Pierre Pluchon’s 1989 book (quirky, negative and only in French) are mostly unsatisfactory. Bell knows the primary and scholarly literature well, carefully sifts fact from myth and generally maintains a sober and responsible understated tone.

Maybe a little too sober and understated. I can’t help wondering whether Bell, so well known for his novels of Haiti, is bending over backward to show that as a biographer he is not making anything up. I wish he had given more rein to his novelist’s skills — not by inventing things, but by making more narrative use of the wealth of detail there is about this time and place. Part of the problem is that almost none of that detail has to do with the life of Toussaint himself, about whose first 50 years we know next to nothing. Bell points this out, and so the sources he quotes are almost entirely from after Toussaint’s sudden emergence as a leader: his letters and proclamations, and the relatively few eyewitness accounts of him.

But this largely leaves out the rich array of documentary testimony we have about life in brutal, high-living colonial St. Domingue, about people ranging from the planter Jean-Baptiste de Caradeux, who entertained his guests by seeing who could knock an orange off a slave’s head with a pistol shot at 30 paces, to the French prostitute who came to the colony looking for wealthy white clients and then complained to a newspaper that she found too much competition. And both British and French officers left diaries and memoirs about fighting the unexpectedly skilled rebel slaves — accounts as searing and vivid in their frustration as those by American soldiers blogging from Iraq.

Such things are not precisely about Toussaint, but they flesh out the world in which he lived and fought, and American readers unfamiliar with the intricacies of Haitian history need all the help they can get.

Still, this is the best biography of Toussaint yet, in large part because Bell does not shy away from the man’s contradictions. Although a former slave, he had owned slaves himself. Although he led a great slave revolt, he was desperate to trade export crops for defense supplies and so imposed a militarized forced labor system that was slavery in all but name. He was simultaneously a devout Catholic, a Freemason and a secret practitioner of voodoo. And although the monarchs of Europe regarded him with unalloyed horror, he in effect turned himself into one of them by fashioning a constitution making himself his country’s dictator for life, with the right to name his successor.

“Within Haitian culture,” Bell writes, “there are no such contradictions, but simply the actions of different spirits which may possess one’s being under different circumstances and in response to vastly different needs. There is no doubt that from time to time Toussaint Louverture made room in himself for angry, vengeful spirits, as well as the more beneficent” ones. Of such contradictions are great figures made; just think of our own Thomas Jefferson — who, incidentally, ordered money and muskets sent to his fellow slave owners to suppress Toussaint’s drive for freedom, saying of it, “Never was so deep a tragedy presented to the feelings of man.”

Adam Hochschild’s most recent book is “Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves.”


What white folks feed on is not so eye-opening, just typically parasitic, fearful, self-serving, narcissistic and delusional
By Ezili Danto, Haitian Perspectives, March 3, 2007

Responding to the assertions made in: "Haiti, the First Black Republic
An Object Lesson for White South Africans
," (dated February 28, 2007) and
"The Lesson of Haiti" by Dr. William Pierce

These two articles were sent to Ezili's HLLN and written by two white folks attempting to write the history of Haitians apparently to mobilize their white constituents against Black-rule in South Africa as well as to extend their fears of a Black planet.

Both articles assert the superiority of the "civilizing white races," the inferiority of Blacks, the implausibility of Black self-rule and the innate barbarity of Africans. This is self-serving Neocolonial tripe. For, it cannot be disputed that Haitians beat the white powers in combat to exist as a nation, as a people. Haitians survived the European holocaust of slavery, rapes, eugenics, mass murder and Napoleons intended total annihilation of our ancestors. (See, "Le Crime de Napoléon" by Claude Ribbe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crime_of_Napoleon .)

It also cannot be disputed that since before the time of Famous Haitian
anthropologist, Antenor Firmim and his book "On the Equality of Human Races"
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant%C3%A9nor_Firmin ), Haitians have been
responding to the arguments of white supremacists about the superiority of
the white race as put forward most recently in the two noted inflammatory
and racists articles, full of a litany of lies about Haiti, its people and
Vodun circulating right now, entitled "Haiti, the First Black Republic - An
Object Lesson for White South Africans", February 28, 2007 and in "the
Lessons of Haiti", Dr. William Pierce

This sort of fare is what white privilege feeds on. It nurtures the white
psyche. It's the white men's HISstory past off as truth. It's just the only
ways of the white despots and white "scholars," a-la-Adam-Hochschild!. And
their pitiful beat goes on, and on and on, centuries on. Tyrants, despots and
deprave barbarians dressing themselves in the masks of "law, order, beauty
and civilization." Dressing us as "jungle," "blood curdling." When according
to Claude Ribbe, “it was Napoleon during the Haitian Revolution, not Hitler
and the Nazis 140 years later, who first used gas chambers as a method of
mass execution using sulphur (readily collected from nearby volcanoes) to
create the extremely poisonous sulphur dioxide gas. Apparently, in his quest
to annihilate the Black revolutionaries in Haiti, Napoleon’s soldiers used
the holds of ships as makeshift gas chambers, brutally murdering up to
100,000 of the Black captives in them.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crime_of_Napoleon ) But you won’t learn of
the barbarity that Haitians have faced at the hands of whites in the two
articles below. You won’t read about the centuries of containment in poverty,
the debt, dependency - independence debt (last payment made in 1947 to the
US!) nor the foreign-sponsored destabilization, coup d’etats, massacres, et

Still, if you can stomach it, try and get through the articles "Haiti, the First Black Republic, written from a South African white perspective, (US, France and Canadian white tribes and their "scholars" to varying degrees, also own that same perspective.) It's what the world's cretin elites and mediocrities feed on.

The worst nightmare of these paternalistic and delusional parasites is that
even after centuries of these white tribes maniacal slaughters, public
executions, lynching and assassinations of Blacks, the raping of Black women
and girls, the breeding of our greatgrans; even after centuries of white fear
and barbarity unleashed upon the world, African peoples, in Haiti and
Africa, still exist.

The majority of us-Blacks still have our humanity in tack. That's the rub -
they still want what we own, spiritually, materially, artistically, humanely.
For before the white tribes landed in West African, the blood of their own
ran red, with their witch hunts - the murder and assassination of their own
mothers, daughters and children. So when they got to Africa, what they were
doing to their own mothers, daughters and grandmothers, whom they considered
EVIL, satanic witches and devils, they naturally projected onto the "Black
other." And this illogic continues today. But Blacks, who have never
wholesale burnt their own mothers, grandmothers and daughters; we who don't
own weapons of mass destruction that can destroy the planet a few million
times; and Haiti, a country that has never attacked any other country since
its independence in 1804, a people whose Vodun religion has never put anyone
in slavery for not believing in it, we are the inferior ones! How simply

Reading the two noted articles (copied below) is bothersome. There was a
time, when a rebuttal would have taken each lie apart in said articles. But
that time is no more since logic has nothing to do with the litany of lies
historically presented in white history or by white scholars on Haiti. Since
reason has nothing to do with their perspectives, the spins they spew out to
soothe the white psyche of all its historical sins, the sort of hatred, venom
and vileness expressed. But, for a glimpse of the Haitian perspective on the
Haitian reality these whites want to always explain to the world through
their own self-serving prism, re-read Anténor Firmin's book if you can get
it, "On the Equality of Human Races), which was published as a rebuttal to
French writer Count Arthur de Gobineau's work Essai sur l'inegalite des Races
Humaines (English: Essay on the Inequality of Human Races). Gobineau's book
asserted the superiority of the Aryan race and the inferiority of Blacks and
other people of color. The articles "Lessons of Haiti" by Dr. William Pierce
and "Haiti, the First Black Republic: An Object Lesson for White South
Africans," dated Feb. 28, 2007, also are asserting the superiority of the
invented "white" race.

Back in 1885, Haitian anthropologist, Antenor Firmin's book argued the
opposite, that "all men are endowed with the same qualities and the same
faults, without distinction of color or anatomical form. The races are equal"
(pp. 450)." It seems a waste to continue to argue against what science itself
has proven with the white powers dead and bankrupt history. The racists'
raison d'etre demands they coddle their own psyche in order to justify and
mask their theft, slaughters and fear of losing the material assets and
powers they've extracted through plunder, piracy, slaughter and depravity.

For the Haitian Perspectives, go to
http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/law_haiti.html ; or read
"Napoleon was no Toussaint: Spare Us The Insult (Mr. Adam Hochschild)! by
Jafrikayiti http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/dupuy.html#spareus;
or Remembering the Media Coup Detat; White media bias and white slants on the
anniversary of the 2004 Bicentennial Coup D'etat -"Adam Hochschild's
Neo-Colonial Journalism: " by Marguerite Laurent, May 30, 2004 and Answers to
media questions about Haiti by Marguerite Laurent, dated March 2, 2004 :
http://www.ishmaelreedpub.com/june_2004/art_6_04_laurent.htm and
http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/sfbayview.html .

Antenor Firmin's verity asserting the equality of the human races continues
to responds well to the current Neocolonial literature and journalism. For,
as Frederick Douglas once wrote:

"Until she spoke, no Christian nation had abolished Negro slavery.

Until she spoke, no Christian nation had given to the world an organized effort to abolish slavery.

Until she spoke, the slave ship, followed by hungry sharks, greedy to devour the dead and dying slaves flung overboard to feed them, ploughed in peace the South Atlantic, painting the sea with the Negro's blood.

Until she spoke, the slave trade was sanctioned by all the Christian nations of the world, and our land of liberty and light included. Men made fortunes by this infernal traffic, and were esteemed as good Christians, and the standing types and representations of the Savior of the World.

Until Haiti spoke, the church was silent, and the pulpit was dumb.
Slave-traders lived and slave-traders died. Funeral sermons were preached over them, and of them it was said that they died in the triumphs of the Christian faith and went to heaven among the just."
(This segment "Until She Spoke" was extracted from Lecture on Haiti, by Frederick Douglass and edited in its present form by Guy S. Antoine in July
1998. http://windowsonhaiti.com )

Ezili Dantò
March 3, 2007

Dessalines Is Rising!!
Ayisyen: You Are Not Alone!

"When you make a choice, you mobilize vast human energies and resources which otherwise go untapped...........If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want and all that is left is a compromise." Robert Fritz

HLLN's controvesy
with Marine
US occupiers
Lt. Col. Dave Lapan faces off with the Network
Solidarity Day Pictures & Articles
May 18, 2005
Pictures and Articles Witness Project
Drèd Wilme, A Hero for the 21st Century


Pèralte Speaks!

Yvon Neptune's
Letter From Jail
April 20, 2005

(Kreyol & English)
Click photo for larger image
Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme - on "Wanted poster" of suspects wanted by the Haitian police.
Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme speaks:
Radio Lakou New York, April 4, 2005 interview with Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme

Crucifiction of
Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme,
a historical

Urgent Action:
Demand a Stop
to the Killings
in Cite Soleil

Sample letters &
Contact info
Denounce Canada's role in Haiti: Canadian officials Contact Infomation

Urge the Caribbean Community to stand firm in not recognizing the illegal Latortue regime:

Selected CARICOM Contacts
zilibutton Slide Show at the July 27, 2004 Haiti Forum Press Conference during the DNC in Boston honoring those who stand firm for Haiti and democracy; those who tell the truth about Haiti; Presenting the Haiti Resolution, and; remembering Haiti's revolutionary legacy in 2004 and all those who have lost life or liberty fighting against the Feb. 29, 2004 Coup d'etat and its consequences
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