Peck is no Spike.....so what!?
The article below by Haitian Lawyers Leadership's, Jafrikayiti (Jean
Saint-Vil), responds to points made in an article written by Raoul
Peck entitled "Aristide is no Mandela" and sent to South African
newspapers.The Peck article is posted at Windowsonhaiti.com
Raoul Peck is no Spike Lee… so what!?
In 1997, at the height of his political career as Haitian Minister of
Culture welcoming hip-hop megastars the Fugees, I interviewed Raoul
Port-au-Prince. The subject of our brief exchange was the co-production
major motion picture about the Haitian revolution. I asked Minister
his thoughts on the idea floating around at the time that, following
model of Spike Lee’s « Malcom X », a major effort
be undertaken to raise
funds to produce a film on the Haitian Revolution. I took the license
suggesting that the venture be a «Peck-Lee joint ». Although
acknowledged the merit of the proposal, Minister Peck was quick to dismiss
it as a "good idea but…not likely to happen anytime soon”
. “We are not
there yet" he also offered.
This was my first encounter with Raoul Peck, the politician. Over the
few years, I would come across many other statements from politician
Peck whom I consider to be a radically different character than the
respected film-maker whose work I so appreciate.
In as much as his Director’s skills can be awe inspiring in Man
by the Shore
or Lumumba, Peck’s tenure as Minister of Culture as well as the
subsequently adopted as merciless critic of his former political colleagues
have been huge disappointments; starting with his book “Monsieur
Ministre”, in which Peck appears to shamelessly blame everyone
for the dismal failure of the government he served in 1997 and up to
first half of 1998. I found Peck’s endless rambling in that book
disappointing since I can remember how saddened I was when Wyclef Jean,
in 1997, let wild rumours run unchecked that Minister Peck himself had
somehow participated in embezzlement of the Fugees’ concert profits.
be told, I suspect that such profits in all likelihood never existed.
“Raoul Peck, the Minister of Culture, announced that the vast
concert had been a break-even venture; actually, on second thought,
money-loser, a bit of accounting that seems as ridiculous to the Fugees
it does to the Haitian people, some of whom are calling for Peck's
Sadly, Peck was to later emulate the same irresponsible behaviour as
and, by his own erratic accusations against his former political associates,
prove that Haiti’s spoiled “elite” does indeed have
an over-appetite for
public smearing of their compatriots. A habit that has certainly contributed
to the dire situation the nation finds itself in this our bicentennial
Peck’s latest attacks have targeted African and Afro-Caribbean
forces which, over the past few years, courageously stood up to the
in Europe and North-America that have masterminded the bicentennial
coup-kidnapping against Haiti. In November 2003, Peck published a text
which he blasted “the Congressional Black Caucus, TransAfrica
other groups” for their continued support of Haiti’s constitutional
government led by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Peck’s latest
dated December 16, 2004, went straight after South-African President
In essence Raoul Peck argues that President Aristide was “forced
out as a
result of his errors of judgment in making decisions as a chief of state”.
To support this argument, Peck feels not the least bit compelled to
substantial evidence of Aristide’ supposedly unforgivable sins.
graces us with hyperbolae like “his closest collaborators have
on drug trafficking charges in Florida”. As if Peck ignores that
trafficking has been and remains an integral part of the CIA’s
throughout Latin America. As if Peck isn’t aware that, in Haiti,
repeatedly uses and protects convicted murderers like Jean Pierre Baptiste
(Tatoune), Jodel Chamblain, drug dealers like Prosper Avril and Guy
to conduct coup after coup…while claiming to be waging a “war
on drugs”? How
many times has this so-called ‘war on drugs’ been used around
the world to
topple or shape down regimes considered to have become too hostile or
sufficiently compliant to Uncle Sam’s desiderata?
It is indeed disturbing to note Peck’s nonchalant “he had
response to the fact that, in 2004, the duly-elected Black president
native country had been, in the dead of night, surrounded by white U.S.
Marines and other co-conspiring foreign forces, shoved into an unmarked
plane and flown “back to Africa” – The abducted president
and his spouse
were kept without knowledge of their own whereabouts for over 20 hours,
until they were to land in a hostile Central African Republic (CAR).
see Democracy Now’s coverage of this amazing story at www.democracynow.org.
Raoul Peck claiming that President Aristide is somehow the culprit of
own forced removal from Haiti is not unlike throwing blame at a rape
for having probably enticed her assailant with skirts worn too high
her knee. Of course, it is a ridiculous proposition Mr. Peck ! Especially,
in view of the fact that the historical record clearly shows that President
Aristide’s second overthrow by a Bush administration was planned
advance of his return to power in 2000. In fact, a full five days before
President Aristide even delivered his swearing-in speech, the Washington
post published these prophetic lines: « The most determined of
with a promise of anonymity, freely express their desire to see the
military intervene once again, this time to get rid of Aristide and
the disbanded Haitian army. "That would be the cleanest solution,"
opposition party leader. Failing that, they say, the CIA should train
equip Haitian officers exiled in the neighboring Dominican Republic
could stage a comeback themselves.» Haiti Torn by Hope and Hatred
Aristide Returns to Power by Edward Cody (Washington Post, February
Peck claims in his “Aristide is no Mandela” that it is his
“hope with this
article to help bring the truth about Aristide to South Africans”.
a few lines after presenting himself as the ultimate revealer of “truth”,
quite disingenuously, Peck speaks of President Aristide’s 13 years
Unfortunately, this type of blatant exaggeration has become the hallmark
Anti-Aristidism masquerading as “ideologically-based opposition”
This blatant lack of intellectual honesty has caused Peck’s camp
much of the respect they once enjoyed in the eyes of average Haitians.
it is not surprising if, a full 10 months after the coup, Peck’s
party remains a marginal element on the Haitian political landscape.
Obviously, and sadly so, whatever support Aristide’s Lavalas party
after the coup was not taken up by his political opponents who only
to turn many people completely off the whole electoral democracy path.
Today, all the U.S. or French embassy- dependent parties that actively
passively collaborated with the Franco-American cabal that conducted
29th coup remain patently unpopular.
Despite Raoul Peck’s creative math, the people of Haiti know and
historical record shows that President Aristide spent – not 13
years – but
the following periods of time in power: from Feb 7, 1991 to September
1991 – until overthrown by a bloody CIA masterminded coup d’état,
7 months in office, while former CIA Director George Bush the elder
the U.S. White House. Then President Aristide, returned to power by
Clinton administration, served the last 16 months of his term (October
1994 to February 7, 1996). That’s a total of 23 months served
from a 5 year
presidential mandate. Barred from seeking a consecutive term in office,
President Aristide stood out the 1995 elections.His second mandate,
by the ballot, not by coup, began February 7, 2001. This time around
managed to resist for 3 years before being overthrown again - this time
George Bush the lesser, with logistical help from France and Canada,
February 29, 2004. Thus, the man spent a total of 5 truncated years
power. Peck’s attempt to count as Aristide’s mandate, President
Préval’s term, during which Peck himself served as Minister
of Culture is
simply ridiculous. Obviously, to arrive at the 13 years he mentions
text, Peck had to have also added for good measure the 3 years President
Aristide spent in exile as a result of Bush the Elder’s 1991 coup.
No wonder Raoul Peck is outraged that “we have been hearing loud
outrage from some of the black "elite" in the United States,
and the Caribbean about a "kidnapping". “Let's be serious!”
self-described revealer of truth to the people of South-Africa. But,
December 16, 2004, 14th anniversary of the first democratic elections
Haiti, Peck’s call sounds tragically hollow. If it ever manages
to shake the
resolve of some weak puppet leader of one of the client states that
subscribe to neo-colonial clubs such as the “franco-phony”,
certainly not deviate seasoned Statesmen and Stateswomen like brother
Mbeki, sisters Congresswomen Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee or Prime Minister
Ralph Gonsalves. Rather than trying to break the historically-rooted
pan-African solidarity with Haiti’s genuine democratic camp, Haiti’s
touch petty bourgeoisie should take a cue from the heroism and steadfastness
of one Randall Robinson, who helped smuggle that cell phone to President
Aristide while he was still being held by his Franco-American kidnappers
the CAR, thus forging a first opening for the truth about the tragic
of 2004 to flow to the world.
Brother Raoul Peck’s Aristide-Mandela comparison may be ill-inspired
serves well to remind us that elder "Madiba" was himself,
still not so long
ago, officially considered a “terrorist” by the very hypocrites
are falling all over themselves for an opportunity to be photographed
him. If a young but perhaps too tragically eurocentric Raoul Peck sadly
allows himself to be perceived as a supporter of the 2004 Franco-American
coup, our aged African elder, the beloved Madiba, had the following
wisdom to share with us, not so long ago:
“we now live in a world where powerful countries - all of
democracies - manipulate multilateral bodies to the great disadvantage
suffering of the poorer developing nations". And, specifically
President Mbeki’s warm welcome offered to President Aristide,
“I should have come to see you but I don't want to appear
to be competing
with President Mbeki. He's doing very well”.
So, instead of trying to sow division within the African family, brother
Raoul Peck, you should take a final cue from brother Danny Glover’s
5, 2004 declaration where, in sharp contrast to your inappropriate attack
against brother Mbeki, Danny declares himself “gratified to see
and President Thabo Mbeki standing steadfast beside the Haitian people”.
Frankly Mr. Peck, we can’t afford to continue playing this fratricidal
while, on the side of the imperialists, they continue to work in complete
synergy to crush the few gains Haiti has made on the path of democracy
the last decades. You need not be Spike Lee. No more than President
need to be Mandela. We each have our own path to follow in the struggle
brother. Nonetheless, if you truly wish to stand for constitutional
democracy in Haiti, if you truly wish Haitians to live safe from the
murderous CIA-dependant military which President Aristide had the wisdom
disband back in 1995, you must find the courage to admit that the
imperialist forces had taken you for a wicked ride. You need to make
full stop and boldly take the required turn to join your brothers and
sisters "doing the right thing".
Please join us as we continue to say no to unelected Uncle Tom puppet
dictatorships in Haiti! No to all foreign occupations of Haiti ! No
return of the CIA’s bloody army in Haiti !Yes to the return of
legitimate governance in Haiti, with President Aristide – until
mandate expires naturally, without coup d’état or kidnapping.
Se pa kado blan te fè nou. Se san zansèt nou yo ki te
“Depi nan Ginen bon Nèg ap ede Nèg!”
(brotherhood is as ancient as the
About CARICOM’s resistance, see Dr. Kwame Nantambu’s “CARICOM-Haiti-U.S.
Jafrikayiti (Jean Saint-Vil) is author of “LAFIMEN: Listwa
Pèp Ayisyen Depi
Nan Ginen”, 2003 and "Viv Bondye ! Aba Relijyon!",
2000. His regular column
"KozeNèfTankouZeFre" is published under the Port Haiti.com
(http://www.i-port.net/sd-in-j/ ). He is a recognized Ottawa community
host (www.chuo.fm and CKCUFM.com). A B.Sc. (Hon. Biology) graduate of
University of Waterloo (Canada), he is a senior Program Officer at the
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).