Thursday, February 04, 2010

Jean-Bertrand Aristide should return to Haiti

There are calls in Haiti for John-Bertrand Aristide to be recalled from exile in South Africa to help with reconstruction. He is popular with the poor, and they arguably need a (Pause to reflect on the Green Party's doubts about leaders. But who are we to impose our culture on others?)

There is a confusing slew of accusations and counter accusations.

  • J-BA was President of Haiti for a short while in 1991, then ousted by a military coup, then President again 1994-96, and again 2001-4.
  • He resisted demands in 1994 to privatise his state-owned phones and electricity.
  • There are allegations of voting irregularities by his party in 2000.
  • He justifiably demanded reparations from France.
  • International financial assistance was denied to Haiti.
  • The Ottawa Initiative was a 2-day conference in Montreal in 2003, to decide the future of Haiti's government, though no Haitian government officials were invited.
  • A rebellion led by a death squad leader in 2003 was backed by the USA.
  • J-BA says he was kidnapped by US forces in 2004 and flown out of Haiti.
  • USA Today alleges that he supported necklacing.
  • The UN Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) found that Human Rights improved after he came back in 2004.
  • Amnesty International found that HR became worse after his removal in 2004.
  • He denies allegations of involvement in drug trafficking, and has not been prosecuted for it.
  • He denies allegations of involvement in corruption, and a prosecution for this was suspended.

What are we to make of all this?

It seems that Aristide offended US free-marketeers with his opposition to privatisation and globalisation. The allegations of corruption may or may not have some factual basis - the US Republican Swift Boat narrative against John Kerry shows that right-wing allegations should be taken with a grain of salt.

On balance, I believe that the Global Greens should call for the return of Aristide to Haiti to help and inspire the people to rebuild their economy and society from the grassroots up.

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