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#5143: Elections/resistance: Simidor responds to Chamberlain (fwd)
Chamberlain has raised what has been my "ranting and raving" to the level of
"eloquence." I am flattered but must quickly heighten the contradiction with
him, lest my worthy Haiti-Progrès friends start sputtering again about "the
extreme left meeting the extreme right." But wait, my lord Chamberlain is
not really about to put down his sword. Naively, as the native armchair
reformer I suppose he is, he wonders what I would have had 7 million Haitians
do other than wait for Aristide to come down from the sky, on the wings of a
20,000-strong US invasion, to deliver them from evil.
When things happen a certain way, people are inclined to believe this was the
only way they could have happened. That's the power of metaphysics. The
coup years, in reality, were pregnant with possibilities. As late as the
summer of 1993, there were organized forces inside Haiti clamoring for
material aid to confront the putschists. Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, once a
coordinator of grassroots resistance inside Haiti, traveled to New York that
summer to raise funds "pou mete gaz nan motè mobilizasyon an" (to fuel the
resistance). In one weekend, Haitians in NYC contributed over $40,000 for a
campaign of mass mobilization and armed self-defense inside Haiti. I can say
this publicly because it is a matter of record. (It's also a matter of
record that Ben Dupuy and his newspaper boycotted the Emergency Fund drive
because no one would put them in charge of it.)
Inside OPL, there were people like Chavannes Jean-Baptiste who were against
US intervention. And then you had people like Gerard Pierre-Charles who
traveled to Washington that summer to make the case for US intervention.
Unfortunately Aristide sided with the pro-intervention group, and the $40,000
were diverted to other things.
It may come as a shock, but Chamberlain doesn't really know everything.
That's why he negates the drive and the readiness to confront the military on
the ground in Haiti. His answer to this has always been that the "foreign
armchair" Simidor is much too eager to have other people bleed for him, and
that if resistance was so desirable I should have gone to Haiti to lead it.
Of course it's a silly argument. The grassroots movement was quite capable
and quite ready to confront the putschists; and the person who had the moral
authority to lead them into battle was Aristide himself, even from exile.
Resistance after all is like an attitude you develop. The people's attitude
was: there are 7 million of us and seven thousand of them. We know where
some of them live. We know who their mistresses are. From their hiding
places, grassroots organizers were working hard to rebuild the popular
movement. Some had begun to hoard the weapons taken from the military and
the FRAPH "attaches." I know it is common wisdom on this list to tie the
invasion to the flow of refugees leaving Haiti. But perhaps more than
anything, it is this hardening of the resistance that got Uncle Sam worried.
Allowing the unruly Haitian masses to arm themselves anew would undo what it
took another invasion 80 years ago to accomplish: crush the Haitian fervor
for revolution. The bright boys in Washington couldn't live with the specter
of another Mogadishu in their backyard. They told Titid to tell his
followers to renounce violence and Titid, perhaps weakened by all the
ass-kissers around him, did everything to disarm his followers and render
In Chamberlain's own words: "Aristide kept saying he was coming back, the OAS
said it would restore constitutional government, that the embargo would bring
the generals down. So people overwhelmingly just waited."
P.S. The line that anybody critical of Lavalas is a Macoute is the kind of
manichean attitude that fascism thrives on (we are good, those who oppose us