In the News: Jean Bertrand Aristide’s Triumphant Return to Haiti

“Wall of humanity” greets former president and family upon their return

by Kim Ives
Published in Socialist Worker, March 23, 2011

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has returned to the country he was kidnapped from in a U.S.-backed coup just over seven years ago. Despite massive pressure brought to bear by the U.S. government, Aristide boarded a small plane with his family in South Africa on March 17 and arrived in Haiti the next day.

The country he returned to has been ravaged by last year’s massive earthquake and the terrible aftermath, during which the U.S. and its allies broke their promises to provide desperately needed aid. Two months before, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the notorious former dictator who was driven into exile by a mass rebellion in 1986, also returned to Haiti.

Aristide arrived just ahead of a run-off election on March 20 for Haiti’s president that the U.S. hoped would ratify its plans for a country subjugated to Washington’s neoliberal agenda. Aristide’s party, Fanmi Lavalas, was excluded from the election. Results of the run-off were still being calculated on March 22.

Kim Ives, a journalist and editor with Haiti Liberté, returned to Haiti ahead of Aristide’s arrival. He provided this live report from Port-au-Prince via phone to a panel discussion on March 19–the day before the election–at the Left Forum in New York City.

I am standing near a tent camp here in Port-au-Prince. About 1,500 internally displaced people have been living here since just after the earthquake.

This place is a poster child for Haitian poverty and misery. The people here find minimal shelter under scattered tarps and tents, beneath a blazing sun and near a cesspool which floods anytime it rains, sending waste and foul water into people’s tents. It’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It’s filled with garbage and stinks to high heaven. It is truly a miserable place.

The tent camp is sandwiched between an assembly factory where many of the residents of this camp work and a food relief operation. That relief operation doesn’t provide enough food for these people. The camp’s residents are practically starving. You see children with swollen bellies mixed with the miserable adults.
Continue reading In the News: Jean Bertrand Aristide’s Triumphant Return to Haiti

In the News: Michel Martelly’s Electoral Coup d’Etat

by Roger Annis, originally posted at Haiti Liberté

Haiti finds itself today with a neo-Duvalierist as President-elect, thanks to a concerted effort by foreign powers to continue thwarting the social justice aspirations of the Haitian people.

Michel Martelly is closely associated with Haiti’s extreme right that twice overthrew elected governments (in 1991 and 2004). He told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio’s The Current on April 7 that Haiti has been “going in the wrong direction for the last 25 years,” which corresponds to the time during which the Haitian people have been trying to overcome the legacies of impunity, dependence, and underdevelopment left to them by the Duvalier tyranny.

Martelly has vowed to reconstitute the notorious Armed Forces of Haiti or FAdH, which former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide disbanded in 1995 due to its penchant for making coup d’états and committing massive human rights violations. Former and would-be soldiers are already training in camps around Haiti and waiting for their call to service.

Martelly also says that Haiti’s economic and social development depends on convincing more foreign investors to set up shop in Haiti, sweatshops in particular.

The two-round election that landed him in power was foreignfunded and inspired. The United States, Canada and Europe paid at least $29 million to finance it. The victor acknowledges his campaign costs – $1 million in the first round and $6 million in the second round – were largely covered by “friends” in the United States. He refuses to say who they are.

Continue reading In the News: Michel Martelly’s Electoral Coup d’Etat

Statement of Jean-Bertrand Aristide: ‘I am ready to return home’

Dr Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Former President of Haiti
19 January 2011

I would like to thank the government and the people of South Africa for the historic hospitality, deeply rooted in Ubuntu, extended to my family and I.

Since my forced arrival in the Mother Continent six and a half years ago, the people of Haiti have never stopped calling for my return to Haiti. Despite the enormous challenges that they face in the aftermath of the deadly January 12, 2010 earthquake, their determination to make the return happen has increased.
Continue reading Statement of Jean-Bertrand Aristide: ‘I am ready to return home’