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#3664: Appearance of mystery organs: Pina responds to Chamberlain (fwd)
From: kevin pina <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Thank you, Ben Mayas, for your sober post pointing out that
Kevin Pina in fact avoided addressing most of the points I made.
Instead, Pina pulled the familiar old trick of simply recounting all
kinds of dreadful incidents from the coup years so that the reader
would be emotionally swayed and forget about the specific points
by the device of nudge-nudge wink-wink."
In no way was I purposefully tempting anyone to watch the proverbial shiny
nickel while I picked their intellectuals pockets. I will leave that to the
experts. Simply put, I was trying to recount specific experiences that may
help people to understand what I see as an emerging pattern in the
demonization of Lavalas and Aristide. I addressed the point clearly by
stating that I see the current attempt to pin Aristide and Lavalas, with the
scarlet letter of violence, as the latest example of this pattern. It is not
a new point and I certainly am not the first, nor am I likely to be the
last, to offer such an analysis.
The question of who's to blame for the violence while the US is financing
client political parties in the name of plurality and exerting tremendous
influence in the political process should be viewed in context. There have
been other elections in other countries where US foreign policy has invested
in democracy and many of those have also been accompanied by violence.
As for the relevancy of the coup in relation to the current situation, do
you remember when Bill Clinton's campaign office challenged then president
Bush with a large sign that read: "IT'S THE ECONOMY STUPID!?" Aristide and
Lavalas would be justified in displaying an equally provocative banner that
reads: "IT'S THE COUP STUPID!"
I am disturbed by the current trend to sanitize, and otherwise render
impotent, the memory of the 1991 coup. While it has become fashionable for
many to speak of the coup today as though they were talking about events as
remote as WWII, families still grieve for the loss of their loved ones while
others continue to suffer from the traumatic damage left in the wake its
brutality. Any serious journalistic foray into the poor neighborhoods of
Port au Prince will confirm this. The coup has had a profound effect upon
the Haitian psyche, especially among the poor, and continues to be a major
factor as events unfold in Haiti today. It has also contributed to shaping
the political landscape.
The coup brutally suppressed the democratic will of Haiti's people and they
have been seeking redress and political rectification ever since. The
upcoming elections are the opportunity to hear their voice again and the
only thing Haitians seem to lack is confidence in the process of the
elections themselves. They already played by the rules of the game several
times and got burned. Whether thwarted by a military coup or IRI and NDI led
charges of fraud, their democratic mandate for change,as symbolized by
Aristide's election, has yet to be realized.
The stakes are high in the upcoming elections as they may well determine who
ultimately controls the destiny of Haiti. Will the democratic will of her
people be allowed to re-emerge or shall they suffer the imposition of an
"American Style" democracy to the liking of the "international community?"
If Lavalas wins a majority in the parliament can they expect a new round of
charges of fraud and the results nullified once again? Can they reasonably
expect to be punished further for attempting to reclaim their mandate? These
are serious considerations for Haiti's electorate that are inextricably tied
to their experiences of the past.
However, Pina's assertion that just after the coup, the foreign
press was dominated by accounts of Aristide's last-ditch speech
rather than all the blood is simply not true. Looks at the archives.
My papers and archives are at home but, as I remember, a look at Haiti
stories filed in the LA Times, NYT's, Washington Post, and Miami Herald
between October 4-31,1991 should clear this up quickly. I clearly remember
commenting on a NYT's piece from that period where the question of
Aristide's call for violence, including his purported implication in the
death of Sylvio Claude, permeated the follow through line of the story. I
would love it if any newshounds out there could help out on this one.
Another interesting point is that the embassy briefing, along with a
transcript of Aristide's "pe lebrun" speech, was handed out on moments
before the arrival of an OAS delegation in Port au Prince. They had come
for a meeting to discuss restoration with Haitian officials and military
leaders in the airport's conference rooms. Shortly after settling in for
talks, the military began shooting at people in front of the airport and
Evans Paul, then mayor of Port au Prince, was dragged into the street and
beat into a coma. The military then shot up the parliament building many
shouting they would "reduce the country" to ashes" before allowing Aristide
to return. In interviews of the same day, soldiers made the same reference
over and over to Aristide's speech and his support of "pe lebrun".
Everything appeared to be timed in perfect synchronization as the OAS
delegation was forced to leave ending any further discussion for the return
of the deposed president. Precious time had been bought to consolidate
I readily admit that I entered the Haitian airport on that day already
highly circumspect where my fellow journalists were concerned. A few days
earlier a fifty-dollar bribe got me into the morgue at General Hospital in
Port au Prince. While the major press was reporting that only 200 or so
people had been killed by the military, I toured two twenty-five foot by
twenty-five foot rooms packed high to the ceilings with fresh corpses. The
entire hallway just in back of these rooms had a multitude of bodies stacked
in neat rows. There were far more than 200 bodies and that was just on one
particular day. Sadly, many victims had their hands tied behind their backs
having apparently been shot or stabbed to death execution style. I could
never quite reconcile that blatant misrepresentation of the killing given
the human dimensions of the suffering being inflicted upon an unarmed
population. I felt similarly that day in the airport as word spread
throughout the press of the "special memo" touting Aristide's "pe lebrun"
speech, associating him with violence, and providing a subtle implication
that the coup may have been justified after all.
Further icing was prepared for that cake when shortly thereafter FBI
forensics experts announced that Aristide was responsible for giving the
order to assassinate Roger Lafontant in prison during the early hours of the
coup. They claimed that a physical examination of the body of the former
chief of the Ton Ton Macoutes had provided the evidence. The autopsy report
was classified and the allegation was dropped only after it was confirmed by
several prominent witnesses that Aristide did not have access to telephone
service at the time of Lafontant's death.
"I do not know whether the oddball Lynn Garrison was CIA, but
it is for sure that some people will assume any white foreigner
advising the coup leaders would be. It just doesn't follow, folks.
Those of us who knew the eccentric Garrison have a quite
different take on him."
Sorry, but I cannot buy the "just ignore him he's my crazy uncle" line when
it comes to Garrison. This man is pathological and dangerous and I remain
convinced he was the original author of the CIA psychological profile on
Aristide. He assertions to me, nearly one and a half years before its
release by the CIA, were almost verbatim to the version submitted to the
Senate. If he's not working with them the evidence suggests they have most
certainly collaborated with him on some level in the past.
As I grow older it is fascinating to watch how the past, the present, and
the future fold seamlessly into one another. Lynn Garrison has recently
resurfaced in Haiti, a cause of great concern for the Haitian National
Police who suspect him of organizing underground cells among members of the
former Haitian military. This latest weave in the furrows of history may
yet give us the opportunity to find out the truth. The Haitian police don't
dismiss Garrison as a harmless "oddball' or "eccentric", but then again,
maybe they're just a bunch of "leftists".
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