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21155: Esser: Witch Hunt in Haiti (fwd)

From: D. Esser torx@joimail.com

The Dominion

April 07, 2004

Witch Hunt in Haiti
by Anthony Fenton

“Right now there is a political climate in Haiti where anyone can get
on the radio stations and accuse anyone else of a crime or with being
associated with violent Lavalas gangs. It means that without proof
they can say this about you and immediately you have to go into
hiding, and immediately you have to be concerned with your own
welfare; and immediately the death threats begin. That’s the
political climate that you have in Haiti today.”

These chilling comments come from a conversation that took place on
the tail end of my recent trip to Haiti with the first large
post-coup ‘fact-finding’ delegation. [1] During this trip - which
lasted ten intense days - twenty-two of us met with numerous groups
and individuals representing all sides of the socio-political
spectrum in Haiti.

We interacted with representatives of many of Haiti's stakeholders,
and also met with those outsiders who feel it is their place to
determine how Haiti is governed. In this respect, the US, Canada,
France, through their various institutional bodies have made
themselves "de facto" stakeholders in Haiti. Such a framework becomes
all the more clearer when we consider such comments as those made by
OAS representative Luigi Einaudi at the Hotel Olaffson, December 31,
2003, on the eve of Haiti's bicentennial:

"The real problem with Haiti is that the international community is
so screwed up that they're actually letting Haitians run the

This is the same Luigi Einaudi, who, according to sources at the
Canadian Embassy, was part of the "Ottawa Initiative on Haiti" at
which, it was leaked by Denis Paradis, "regime change" was planned in
Haiti, and there was discussion of the "need" for a military presence.

It is doubtful that Einaudi differs greatly in perspective from the
likes of John Negroponte, Otto Reich, or Jesse Helms's accolyte Roger
Noriega. All of these individuals have specialized in carrying out
crimes against humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean over the
years. As I learned these past 10 days, despite the silence of the
mainstream media, atrocities *are* taking place in Haiti on a scale
that is all too well-known, especially when we frame recent events
against the most horrendous of the 1980's. The tactics employed in
Haiti also warrant comparison to the destabilization campaign against
Jamaica's Michael Manley.

Along these lines, our first meeting set a certain tone for the
remaining days. This was a group of Lavalas leaders, none of which
had seen their families in days, and one of which had recently been
abducted, beaten, and held captive for fifteen days with several
other people.[3] When he was released he was told to immediately take
his family and leave his home, never to return.

During this same meeting we were also told that the US Marines had
recently slaughtered, in one night, 78 people in the Belair
neighborhood of Port au Prince. Reportedly, the US [and “other
foreign occupiers”] had brought ambulances with them in anticipation
of a bloodbath. All but two of the people murdered were carried away
in these ambulances. “Now no one will know the identities of those
killed.” We were told that the interim government, led by the US has
the “intent to destroy popular organizations.”

One popular organization in particular is under attack. Since they -
Lavalas - represent the majority of the population, according to the
most credible sources, they are the primary target for destruction.
The US-spawned idea being that once the fear of a militarized Haitian
police and a “trigger-happy” US military are instilled in these
people, they will think twice about disrupting the new political
process that is being imposed on them.

Followers of the news might ask themselves why demonstrations against
the occupation abruptly stopped after March 11th. The 'alleged'
massacre in Belair should be considered against this, since it
occurred around this time. It is safe to say that there have been no
demonstrations in Port au Prince since the Belair massacre.

Importantly, two anti-Aristide groups - PAPDA and the National
Coalition for Haitian Rights [NCHR] - corroborated the story of the
massacre. Camille Chalmers of PAPDA, perhaps in a move that
demonstrates his guilt over having helped create the conditions for
the illegal occupation, ackowledged hearing people "talking about 60
people dying in one day in Belair.” Where Chalmers denounces such
human rights abuses as well as the US occupation, his group [in a
preemptively contradictory manner] did contribute greatly to the
demonization of Aristide, which culminated in his removal and the
eventual presence of the imperial forces. PAPDA has been 'rewarded'
by the illegitimate regime with a Ministry position [Environment] for
one of its members. At this point the reader should be asked to
reconsider Tom Reeves' "double games".[4]

This applies equally to NCHR who claim on the one hand to be a
legitimate Human Rights watchdog, but on the other refuse to
investigate reported crimes such as the atrocities in Belair. The
NCHR did not deny knowledge of these murders, and would only say that
"it is too dangerous to enter Belair" to investigate. Too dangerous,
for American allies perhaps.

Such “reprisal killings” [as put by Chalmers and others] are a daily
occurrence in Haiti nowadays, though of course you would not know
this from reading the mainstream corporate media. A significant part
of the “big lie” in Haiti requires that the media join the Bush and
Boca Raton regimes [5] in denying the existence of any such
atrocities. An image of the interim government ‘being on the right
track’ [6] has to be contrived so as to lend legitimacy to the new
status quo that is being imposed on Haitians.

Daily around 4:00 P.M, lists of names are read over the
elite-controlled radio stations. Considering Kevin Pina's
"disinformation loop"[7], we have to interrogate why the Associated
Press and Reuters are not reporting the reading of these lists. This
interrogation might benefit from awareness of Edward Herman and Noam
Chomsky's "Propaganda Model", specifically its "Worthy and Unworthy
Victims chapter.[8]

By sundown those whose names are read on these lists [and others] are
quick to find a suitable place to hide. We witnessed this phenomenon
first hand during our recent stay. Dozens of people risked their
lives coming to see us - from hiding - in order to share their
stories. Many of these people testified to the fact that close
friends have already been ‘disappeared’ or killed. These people also
confirmed the atrocities in Belair, perpetrated by the joint Haitian
police and imperial military forces.

We were also told that the few funerals that families were able to
have [since most bodies were carried away] were attacked by Haitian
police, and several more people were subsequently killed. A Western
human rights lawyer in Haiti told us that she arrived at the location
where these latest victims were being burned. She arrived too late to
identify any of the remains, which had by then been reduced to ash.

It is in this general context of a witch-hunt that the succession of
lies on the part of the Bush Administration must be considered.
Aristide apparently left “to prevent a bloodbath”. [9] Emerging from
a recent trip to Haiti there is widespread testimony that the US is
actually carrying out bloodbaths of their own. Meanwhile, an illegal
government is being formed, democracy is being undermined,
self-determination is being deprived, refugees are being illegally
repatriated, while the corporate press obediently suppresses the
truth, and a disempowered, heavily indoctrinated society laps the
disinformation up.

While most of the dissenting views that are managing to warrant
mainstream coverage concern the investigation into Aristide’s
departure, there has been next to nothing yet concerning US
perpetrated [or condoned] atrocities. This is because the US
government, the Boca Raton Regime, and the corporate press are in
denial of them, so they have not yet been reported. It is my own view
that these issues need to be investigated urgently and all those who
claim to stand in solidarity with Haiti should act to facilitate this
process immediately.

[1] These views are solely those of the author and do not
[necessarily] reflect those of the delegation. My role during the
delegation was as political activist and journalist. The identity of
certain quoted interlocutors will for the time being remain
anonymous, as will the identity of those whom we met with that are
currently in hiding.

[2] Two parties who were present have confirmed these statements.

[3] Lavalas is President Aristide’s political party.

[4] http://www.zmag.org/weluser.htm, etc.

[5] Latortue has resided in Boca Raton for many decades. His Minister
of the Interior, Herard Abraham, who is known to advocate a return of
the military, also hails from Boca Raton.

[6] See: “U.S. expresses optimism about situation in Haiti” From the
Dept of State http://www.reliefweb.int March 30, 2004.

[7] See http://www.blackcommentator.com and zmag.org

[8] In "Manufacturing Consent" [2002], pp. 37-87.

[9] This is a paraphrase. On Powell’s recent visit to Haiti and
comments in this context see “Powell Rejects Probe of Aristide
Departure From Haiti, AP Says”