How can you pretend that, being criminal in essence, the occupation is doing a fine job in Haiti?
by Francois-Marie Michel

To Lt. Col. Lapan, spokesperson for the occupying forces in Haiti:

In reference to your correspondences to SF Bay View, I am trying to figure out whether or not you understand that this occupation of Haiti has been in the making for a whole decade by U.S. policy. I concede that the United States are not the only one to blame. I certainly blame also Haitians, whether from the Lavalas Party or its opposition, for that.

However, both the conception and the execution of the plan bear the print of a dirty trick called "Low Intensity Warfare" that has been put in place by the United States policy makers. Therefore, I am simply laughing at your assertion that makes believe the occupation has even some semblance of legality.

Your reference to the United Nations simply does not add up, because you certainly know that overthrowing an elected government is simply unlawful. If you have the slightest doubt about it, please turn the situation around and try to find out who in the world would even think of correcting the selection of your commander in chief - as you call the tenant of the White House - in their wildest dreams, let alone in deed.

The colonel you are cannot either plead ignorance of the fact that your embassy played the role of a pro-consulate in Haiti, tampering with both international treaties and the very Constitution of the land. How can you, then, being "paid to be diplomatic" as you confirmed - whatever diplomatic means - pretend that, being criminal in essence, the occupation is doing a fine job in Haiti?

Who is going to swallow this pill, no matter the sugar coating on it? Can a criminal act become lawful? In what circumstances other than Machiavellan theories? Have you ever questioned or at least second-guessed - it's your right and duty, as a free human being - the passing of Resolution 1529 on Feb. 29, the same day the elected president of Haiti was kidnapped by your ambassador?

How can you reconcile the timing of such resolution and the filibustering practice - by the same Security Council the United States can veto or "unveto," blackmail or bypass - that has frustrated for so long the elected government's effort to negotiate a better plan than your attached fact sheet could ever accomplish in favor of the people of Haiti? Who would want your Marines there, anyway?

You are not going to pull up on me that the elected president was asking for help, are you? Help and occupation are two different issues, Colonel, aren't they? One pursues an indigenous objective, the other one can't care less about it; in fact, it simply undermines it, starting with a kidnapping, for example? At any rate, if you sincerely think that your Marines are doing any good to the people of Haiti, please review all the reports about the embargo against the government for forged reasons, but no reasons other than being imperialistic.

What a pity, Colonel! How cynical it is that you dare comparing the situation between the time of the chaos your embassy concocted to destabilize the elected government and this time of occupation when "plim ne gouy" (your chance to learn some Kreyòl?). Did you forget that your agents were the ones who wanted to shut down schools?

Did you know or did you simply forget about the mammoth protests by mothers and students against the same shutting of the schools you are referring to, as it was not part of the plan to reverse the will of the majority? Again by the same people your embassy was manipulating?

Or do you have in mind to confuse intelligent people while shoving the dirt of obscurantism on the same government that made a point to build more schools in a decade than have ever been built in two centuries? The blatant truth we know and want to become the law, even retroactively, is that no school should be destroyed and replaced with barracks.

Is it the rule in LAW that you don't need proof, or would you intend to make the citizens of Haiti oblivious to the fact that the elected government your embassy overthrew made it easier for children to attend school and for adults to learn how to read and write? Or oblivious that on the other hand your government had been condoning illiteracy in Haiti for ages (denpi ke denpi)? Again some Kreyòl!

What can this joke mean, then, of hiding behind the looting of a well-equipped university hospital to transform it into barracks? No excuse that your man from Boca Raton gave it to you, Colonel, because it cannot be that all of a sudden you, his master, are following his order.

I feel ashamed by this double-sworded assertion, Colonel. I am Haitian, after all, and, volens-nolens, he is also Haitian. Naturalization here is irrelevant. I cannot let myself dwell on considerations like this.

It remains that since the first U.S. occupation, we Haitians learn at school that it was a disgrace to be called "collabos," meaning those who agreed to work with the occupiers. I have to keep on questioning your argument, Colonel.

When did the looting happen, anyway? Who let the University be looted in comparison to all the protection of the likes of Cedras and Avril's mansions? Who is in charge of the circus number in Haiti? The puppet or the clown?

And who or what gave you the right to choose against Haitians who think that 250 students soon to become doctors would be useful in a country that can provide no more than seven physicians per 100,000 citizens? Aren't those some of the statistics that the so-called mainstream media never failed to pull out to show how backward Haiti is?

Isn't it the right of Haitians to choose for themselves? How is it then your business - and, incidentally, that of the man you exhumed from Boca Raton and faxed (some say emailed) to Haiti - to decide that shutting down a university is good for Haiti?

Then you pull out on us some numbers to prove your point. I can't stress enough that it's YOUR point, that of your man, maybe - who knows his real thought? - and, for sure, that of your ambassador. Should I, then, interpret all the numbers you are throwing at us as a tactic aimed at confusing us into settling for less?

You can give up on this, Colonel. The blatant truth we know and want to become the law, even retroactively, is that no school should be destroyed and replaced by barracks. Such option of yours begs for an explanation. Let alone the killing you are supervising as an occupier.

I see you also claiming innocence because "Marines have neither fired into crowds nor stood by while Haitian police did" the job. "We have not arrested or tortured anyone."

You should say, then: Neither had President Aristide at the time he was bombarded by propaganda condoned or inflamed by Ambassador Foley.

Don't you know, Colonel, that your commander-in-chief and his secretary of state, through the media they embedded, held Aristide responsible for every wrongdoing imaginable that took place in Haiti? Ask them why? They would serve you this clichè: that he was the president. Triumph of double standard, isn't it?

It's my turn, Colonel, to throw to you that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. The occupiers dictating the rules in Haiti today are responsible under the same logic they applied to President Aristide then. Unless they agree to the contrary for President Aristide, the occupiers, both French and Americans, are the ones behind every wrongdoing in Haiti.

Nevertheless, saying this, I feel corrupted by disingenuousness and no better than those who had been elevating lies and cynicism as a political virtue in Haiti. By your standard, those in charge must be held accountable for things they don't even know. As simplistic as that. Let alone when they have been turning their back to the wrongdoing.

By the way, Colonel, you cannot plead the Marines were not part of the operation of May 18. In an occupied country, who can decide to do anything with impunity, without the blessing of the occupier? If your embassy spent its time twisting the arms of an elected government, why would it be different with your own puppet?

At any rate, I am glad, Colonel, that you are aware of journalism's deontology. I read you complaining: "I have not been contacted by any journalists who claim to be eyewitnesses to what you have reported. Nor was I contacted by your organization to ask about the allegations before simply printing them." It remains for you to ask the like of Otto Reich and Noriega to be as rigorous in their notorious fabrications against elected officials they don't like.

Moreover, Colonel, you proved yourself to be excellent in casting doubt on "assumptions" or punching holes in them. Reading on: "What pictures do you have, other than those of bodies? How do you know how those people in the photos were killed or injured? In Haiti (as in San Francisco and any other population center) people die but how they died is not always knowable."

You are even defiant and sarcastic: "If you have proof of such, I would be interested in seeing it, and not simply "eyewitness" reports from those with an agenda. Talking to selected individuals, especially if all are members of the same group, may not present an accurate picture of events."

I commend you, Colonel on this way of doing your job.

All the reporter can do is to serve the public with the film of the event. And let you, Colonel, find another way of defending yourself, after you have apologized for backing up the police on this tragic day of May 18, 2004.

My regards, Colonel.

Attorney Francois-Marie Michel is a member of the Haitian bar, an HLLN supporter and a popular radio host in New York. Email him at sanba@juno.com.
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