The violent overthrow of Haiti’s President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991 and 2004 coups has ripped aside the democratic pretensions of US and the other major powers. In 1990, Haiti -the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere- brought to power Aristide, its first elected president. In September 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed in a bloody military coup orchestrated by the US. He was eventually returned to power by US intervention, only to be overthrown yet again in 2004. This Press TV production is a chronicle of US destabilization campaign in Haiti and brings us up to today, 11 years on from the coup. It reveals how behind the scenes the world’s imperial powers still use cunning mechanisms to keep Haiti in their pockets and impede its national sovereignty and democracy.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
Narration:On 19 February 2004, a popular President of a Caribbean nation came face to face with powerful forces.
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense:“When the US designed it’s model of democracy for us, the thing that it feared the most, was a popular leader. This is an absolute ‘No No!’.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Mario Joseph, Haitian Human Rights Lawyer: “There was a real will to implement democracy in Haiti but unfortunately the US and the Haitian bourgeois didn’t want us to succeed.”
Narration:In the early hours of the morning, President Aristide was flown out of Haiti aboard a United States jet.
SOUNDBITE [English] Colin Powell, US Secretary of State:“He was not kidnapped, we did not force him onto the airplane, he went onto the airplane willingly, and that’s the truth.”
Narration:But what really happened that night? A decade on from the President’s exile, this series tells the little-known story of the 2004 coup. It also looks at how foreign power has been making its presence felt in Haiti, ever since.
Haiti: the poorest country in the Americas, a nation divided where the top 1% own most of the country's wealth, but where the poor majority live on less than $2 a day. However, for many years, Haitian's have been working for change, organising around a popular movement known as Lavalas.
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense:“Lavalas is a flash flood. Something that happens suddenly because the water or the frustration has been accumulating for so long that it explodes.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Mario Joseph, Haitian Human Rights Lawyer: “It’s an image of this descent to the voting booths to vote for one man: President Aristide.”
Narration:In 2000 Haiti held presidential elections. Amongst the candidates was Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a man well known to Haitians... Back in 1990 Aristide had won Haiti’s first ever democratic election.
SOUNDBITE [French] Luckmane Saintolien, Lavalas Activist:“When Aristide was first elected, Haiti’s popular neihgbourhoods like Cité Soleil, La Saline, Bel Air really woke up.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Local Citizen of Haiti: “Aristide started a literacy campaign. We were illiterate before - we didn't know how to read or write. But Aristide was there to help Haiti.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “The poor people of Haiti kind of identified with him and felt that despite the dire economic situation, he was giving them dignity.”
Narration:But just months into his mandate, Aristide was overthrown by a military coup. In the years that followed thousands of Lavalas supporters were massacred, as the army dealt with the movement that had propelled Aristide to power. In 1994, after three years in exile, Aristide negotiated a return to his country, and went on to decommission Haiti's much reviled army. The most popular move of his presidency… In the 2000 elections, Aristide won again, marking a huge victory for Lavalas.
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“They win a landslide election, they win on average 70-75% of the vote they have they control most of the seats in parliament, they control virtually every seat in the senate, they win the Presidency, and they're in a position now to implement their political program and to do it in line with their longstanding priorities of popular empowerment. They weren't proposing radical change they were proposing gradual, progressive, but nevertheless far-reaching and important change and there was no extra-political mechanism; no army in place to dispatch it to get rid of it if necessary. So you have there in 2000 a really unprecedented situation in Haiti. And it's at that point then that you have a very serious campaign that's launched in different ways to destabilize this government and box it into a corner.”
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “From the get-go, just like in 1991, the US government was hostile to Aristide being President. So, he found himself, right from the start, in a low-intensity warfare with these very powerful enemies. Including of course, their cronies within Haiti.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“What is the Haitian elite going to do in this situation? The first thing they have to do is to discredit the government, by casting doubt on the victory, by showing that the election that seemed so clear, was in fact flawed. So they cast doubt on a couple of the seats, particularly in the senate, which would have had absolutely no impact on the outcome of those seats or of the election as a whole, and they used that to say well the elections were contested, or problematic or they were fraudulent. Which again is ridiculous, it was an unequivocal victory and there was no serious debate about that whatsoever. But once it starts getting into the media, into the news and you have a quick summary and you can say something like “Aristide was elected after contested elections in 2000”, something like that, it helps to undermine his legitimacy.”
Narration:For the most part, the international press ran with the claims of flawed elections.
Still on screen: “Flawed legislative elections in 2000” “… gross electoral fraud by the ruling party.” “Elections marred by fraud in 2000” “his tained second election was called fraudulent by independent international observers.” “Mr Aristide won a second term in office four years ago in a manner that suggested fraud on a substantial scale” “Haiti’s Disappearing Democracy”
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“The US government commissioned Gallup polls both before the elections that Aristide's party won in a landslide and after and those polls confirmed almost to the exact number the official electoral results. Those polls were classified so that not even members of the US Congress were able to look at them. And then the US went out and did a very effective propaganda campaign. By continuing to repeat that the elections were problematic that became part of the catch phrase; anytime anybody talked about Haiti they talked about troubled elections.”
Narration:The Bush administration used this excuse to cut of United States’ aid to the Haitian government, part of a broader campaign to bankrupt Aristide’s administration.
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“The principle initiative of the destabilization campaign was a development assistance embargo. The embargo was designed to bring the Haitian government and its people to its knees. And it's an embargo because it wasn't just the US government saying 'we're not going to give any assistance to Haiti', it was the US government saying the World Bank couldn't or the Inter-American Development Bank couldn't, and really using, impermissibly using its power to illegally prevent these organization from fulfilling their contractual obligations to Haiti.”
Narration:In April 2001, Washington blocked the release of a $145 million loan that Haiti was due to receive from the Inter-American Development Bank. Over the following years, another 470 million would be cut off.
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“The annual budget of Haiti at the time, of the government, was around $300 million. Which is a tiny sum, it’s a third of the operating budget of a big hospital in the United States for the entire country. But the effect of these policies, of the aid embargo, was essentially to cut its spending power in half. That meant that the government was under serious pressure from the beginning and that they weren't able to follow through on many of the things they'd been planning to do.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“It stopped social programs and that led to people dying because in Haiti where the safety net is so light and so low, it is a life and death issue to have one more government clinic open, or one more feeding program, and those were stopped. The sanctions were very well implemented and very effective at bringing the government to its knees and targeting the governments' constituency, which was the majority of Haitians who were poor.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “It was an adapted strategy of strangling him and keeping him from implementing his political program.”
TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“There's another very important dimension to this campaign to destabilize the government and drive Aristide into a corner, which was to reactivate the military option. So Aristide had disbanded the army in 1995 and in doing so had taken a really unprecedented step; had removed the bulwark of the status quo, had removed the protective mechanism that guaranteed the position of the elite basically. And that had never happened before and it posed a very serious problem. And the immediate solution was to replace it, basically. And you couldn't do that all at once of course, but you could activate some former soldiers some disbanded soldiers who had been trained, typically by the Americans or by their allies, and reactivate them as a paramilitary force, and use them to perform little hit and run operations.”
Narration:Paramilitary groups would kill hundreds in the following years, sporadically attacking police stations, government buildings and in 2001 even storming the presidential palace to make an attempt on Aristide's life.
SOUNDBITE [English] Guy Philippe:“Our aim at that time was to give Haiti back its sovereignty. We should be masters of our own destiny. That's what I think, that's what we were fighting for. To take back our dignity, to take back our sovereignty, and to work to develop this country.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“They do cause a certain amount of mayhem and they keep people edgy. You know, the government without an army of its own is not well equipped to defend itself against this kind of thing, so even several dozen or, you know, forty-fifty guys with the right kind of equipment, with good communications and so on, do pose a serious threat.”
Narration:The paramilitaries based themselves in the Dominican Republic, on the border with Haiti.
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “I have been only for a short while in the DR, and I can tell you man, it's a very much policed state. So of course, it would have been impossible for Mr. Guy Philippe and his band of mercenaries to organize, train, be armed without the DR authorities knowing about it. And the Dominican Republic army and police, do the bidding of the US. And that's why I say in the first coup as in the second the hand of the US can be clearly exposed.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Host: “A lot of people have written about the fact that the US gave you diplomatic support…”
SOUNDBITE [English] Guy Philippe, Former Paramilitary Leader:“Let me tell you. The United States didn't kill Ghadafi, but did they help the rebels to seize power in Libya? Did they help the army to overthrow Morsi. Are they helping the rebels in Syria against the President of Syria? In this sense, if you say yes, I can say yes. Maybe in this sense.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“Arguably the most important part of this whole destabilization effort was the propaganda effort - the propaganda drive to disguise it and to present it as something else. And this involved, really an extraordinary amount of falsification where the truth is literally just turned on its head. So you have a government that's elected with a huge majority, massive popular support, incomparably more than the governments that were elected in the United States or France at the same time had, that is nevertheless presented as somehow authoritarian and illegitimate.”
SOUNDBITE [English] US government spokesperson: “What the United States will not do is simply prop up the status quo of Mr. Aristide despite the fact that he refuses to act as a democrat.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Haitian Politician:“His capacity is only to destroy. He knows how to kill, how to put fire, how to put violence, how to arm young people, he is the symbol of violence. He believes in that.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“There's a kind of general ideological campaign, run in particular through NGOs, that would try to present the government as authoritarian, as corrupt, as violent, and so on, even though these things are so far from the truth that it's laughable. The go to the great lengths to show that Aristide's government is violent, and if you were to look at rates of political violence, the number of political killings for example in Haiti since Duvalier took power, François”
TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“Duvalier in the late 1950s, and just kind of chart them on a graph from that period to the present, there would be this dip during Aristide's regimes that would basically put them off the chart, you wouldn't be able to see them. Thousands of people killed under Duvalier, hundreds killed by the military regimes that took over from Jean Claude Duvalier in the late 1980s, thousands more killed under the first coup, and under Aristide, you know, people have different ways of estimating it but it's somewhere between a dozen and several dozen, something like that. So to represent the government as a totalitarian military dictatorship, to compare it, as some French academics did, to Pol Pot, and so on, is just psychotic.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Mario Joseph, Haitian Human Rights Lawyer: “What they do is set up a machine; a propaganda machine to make out those popular elected leaders are, in fact, dictators. Unfortunately they have the means, a lot of money, to repeat these claims. And they repeat the same lies so many times that they come to take on a reality.”
Narration:Throughout this period, a lot of the aid money that had been cut off from the Haitian government was simply rechanneled to this propaganda campaign.
US Federal funds made their way into Haiti via three main organisations and were used to finance anti-Lavalas media, human rights groups, and political opposition.Between 2000 and 2003, USAID alone funnelled well over $100 million into Haiti.
Other countries also made big investments: The Canadian government channelled 10s of millions of dollars to student associations, feminist groups, and human rights organisations all ideologically opposed to Haiti's government. In France, the governing Socialist Party was a key financial backer of the Democratic Convergence, the Haitian elite's main political alliance at the time...and money also came in from the European Commission, which in the 2002/2003 financial year funnelled just short of a million dollars from its ´human rights and democracy programme´ funds to a range of on-side political groups. Before long, the fruits of these investments started to appear in the international media.
Still on screen: "Aristide has become a despot... depending on his armed gangs a reign of terror to hunt down the opposition”"Aristide has become widely reviled as a corrupt autocrat.""his increasingly despotic and erratic rule and the wholesale collapse of the local economy inspired the rebellion against him"“a pariah confronting total rejection by his country”“a dangerous anarchist, supported by drug barons and their money”“'The little priest who became a bloody dictator like the one he once despised'
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“The gap between the reporting on human rights in Haiti and the reality of human rights in Haiti, I think is explained by a couple of things. One of them is the very strong and effective propaganda campaign, but also the convergence of class interests with the international interests. So you had Haitian elites who controlled the media, who controlled public discussion, they were almost unanimous in opposing Haiti's elected government, and I think the combination of the Haitian elites coming together and the international community, which was funding media, which was funding human rights groups, which was funding NGOs, and that money I think had a big role in influencing how things were discussed on the ground in Haiti.”
Narration:By the end of 2003, the Haitian elite were demanding that Aristide resign and that the army be brought back to guarantee order and stability.
Anti-Aristide demonstrations drawing hundreds of protestors were lavished with media attention, creating the impression that Haiti was on the brink...But what the mainstream media concealed, was that a majority of Haitians still supported the government. In the urban sprawl of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, Lavalas organised mass counter-demonstrations drawing tens of thousands protestors, who demanded that Aristide serve out his term.
SOUNDBITE [French] Local Citizen: “We voted for Aristide to be president for five years, in accordance with the constitution. So we insist that he serve out his mandate.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Jean Bertrand Aristide, Haitian President: “Once we say no to coup-d’état, then we say yes to life. And we have the responsibility of protecting the life of every single citizen in Haiti.”
Narration:The government was still holding out. The campaign to destabilise it would have to enter a new phase.In early February 2004, the paramilitaries switched tactics, shifting from low-intensity hit and run operations, to an all out insurgency. Within 3 weeks they were in control of much of rural Haiti and had taken the country's second city, Cap Haitienne.
SOUNDBITE [English] Host: “By late February 2004, how much of the country did you and your men control?”
SOUNDBITE [English] Guy Philippe, Former Paramilitary Leader:“More than half. We controlled Artibonite, Plateau central, northeast; northwest there were pockets of resistance, south. I think we had more than half. The plan was to surround Aristide, force him to leave, and make a real revolution.”
TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00
Still on Screen:"The United States would not object if Aristide agreed to leave office early." Colin Powell, US Secretary of State. 20 February, 2004
'This long-simmering crisis is largely of Mr Aristide's making... His own actions have called into question his fitness to continue to govern Haiti. We urge him to examine his position carefully". Scott McClellen, White House Press Secretary 28 Feb, 2004.
“Aristide is toast. He’s gone. The only question is whether he goes out in a pin box or in an airplane.” Tim Carney, Former US Ambassador to Haiti. February 2004.
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“What was the end game in late February, how to finish the job, basically. Well you back the government into a corner, you create a lot of media hype around this so-called 'popular insurgency' which is in fact just a few dozen people, but you generate a certain amount of momentum and you push Aristide into a corner so that his back's against the wall and the prospect of a bloodbath is becoming very real. And in that context you can plausibly represent an intervention as a kind of rescue attempt. You can basically say 'well we went in to save Aristide from certain death, or to save what could be saved of Haitian democracy in the face of the prospect of civil war, or a cycle of violence, or the failure of the state' or something like that.”
Still on Screen: President Aristide's House. 29 February 2004. 4:00 am.
SOUNDBITE [French] Franz Gabriel, Aristide’s Pilot and Security Advisor: “The Americans invaded his residence. There were cars with blacked out windows inside the courtyard. There's a knock at the door. I open it. Louis Moreno, who worked for the American Embassy said to President Aristide, who was standing behind me: "Mr. President. Ten years ago, I'm the one that went to greet you at the airport, from your return from exile. It's unfortunate that now I'm the one that has the obligation to tell you that you're going to be departing".”
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“American troops go to Aristide's house in the middle of the night and essentially put a gun to his head and say "if you don't leave now on the plane that we're bringing in this very night, in a couple of hours, then we are basically going to open the gates of hell. We will launch…" in fact this is their own term "there will be a bloodbath. And it will be on your head."”
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“The plane that fetched Aristide was sent from Guantánamo Bay. It filed a false flight plan, no one was allowed to do any communications and it did a twenty-two hour odyssey.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “President Aristide, not even knowing where he was going, was flown to the Central African Republic.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defence:“The idea that someone was abducted is just totally inconsistent with everything I heard and saw and that I’m aware of.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Colin Powell, US Secretary of State:“He was not kidnapped, we did not force him onto their airplane, he went onto the airplane willingly, and that’s the truth.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:“As I said it’s nonsense, and conspiracy theories like that do nothing to help the Haitian people aspire to which is a better future, a more free future, and a more prosperous future.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“But what is extraordinary is that this story, that the government was unpopular, that it was illegitimate, that it was violent, that it was corrupt, that it has lost popular support and so on, this gross propaganda effort was presented in terms that were broadly successful, and succeeded in characterizing the coup then and ever since as not a coup but as a kind of intervention by benevolent humanitarian powers for the benefit of the Haitian people in order to stabilize the country.”
SOUNDBITE [English] George W. Bush, US President: “How are you all? Good! Hold on for a second. Hold on for a second please. President Aristide resigned and he has left his country. I have ordered the deployment of marines as the leading element of an interim international force. It’s the beginning of a new chapter in the country’s history, and the United States is preparted to help.”
TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00
Narration:In the next programme, we see the arrival of an international stability force in Haiti following the 2004 kidnapping. On the 29 February 2004, the powers that be turned against Haiti's elected President.
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “When the US designed it’s model of democracy for us, the thing that it feared the most, was a popular leader. This is an absolute ‘No No!’.”
Narration:A campaign was launched to destabilise Jean Bertrand Aristide's administration.
SOUNDBITE [French] Mario Joseph, Haitian Human Rights Lawyer: “It wasn't the Haitian people who said that President Aristide was no good, that he was a dictator. It was Mr Bush, it was the Haitian elite.”
Narration:In the early hours of the morning, in February 2004, the great powers made their final move...
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“American troops, go to Aristide’s house in the middle of the night, and essentially put a gun to his head and say if you don’t leave now on the plane that we are bringing in this very night there will be a bloodbath and it will be on your head.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “President Aristide, not even knowing where he was going, was flown to the Central African Republic.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Jean Bertrand Aristide, Haitian President: “When you have militaries surrounding your house, taking control of the airport, surrounding the national palace, being in the streets, and take you from your house and put you in a plane where you have to spend 20 hours not knowing where they are going to go with you, it was using force to take an elected President out of his country.”
Narration:In this program, we explore how the international community sought to secure its coup following the 2004 kidnapping, We also look at the war they waged against Haiti's democratic forces...
SOUNDBITE [English] George W. Bush, US President: “How are you all? Good! Hold on for a second. Hold on for a second please. President Aristide resigned and he has left his country. I have ordered the deployment of marines as the leading element of an interim international force to help bring order and stability to Haiti. I have done so working with the international community. The government believes it is essential that Haiti have a hopeful future. It’s the beginning of a new chapter in the country’s history. I would urge the people of Haiti to reject violence, to give this break from the past a chance to work, and the United States is prepared to help.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Jean-Marc De La Sabliere, French Ambassador to the UN: “The Security Council has organized the immediate deployment of a multinational force in Haiti. I think it’s an important and timely decision taken by the council. This force will continue to enforce and secure a stable environment in Haiti.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“The United Nations Security Council which for months had been refusing to respond to Haitian government's request for help, within a few hours of President Aristide's departure, and without hearing from him, they authorized a multinational force led by the US to come in. And that force did come in and it re-enforced the coup-d'etat by preventing the democratic forces from rallying and trying to retake the state power.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Colonel David Berger, Head of US Marine Contingent: “The US forces are here to secure key sights in the Haitian capital around Port-au-Prince with the purpose of contributing to a more secure and stable environment, and to promote the constitutional, political process. We are to facilitate as may be needed, the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”
Narration:As the Canadian Special Forces, French troops and the US Marines arrived in Port –au-Prince, the international community installed Gerald LaTortue to lead a new government. That same day, Guy Philippe and his paramilitaries rolled into capital.
SOUNDBITE [English] Guy Philippe, Former Paramilitary Leader:“It’s a liberation. We were living under a dictatorship, so it’s a real liberation.”
Narration:Paramilitaries told journalists that they intended to kill gang members loyal to Aristide.
SOUNDBITE [French] Mario Joseph, Haitian Human Rights Lawyer: “We woke up without a President, without a guide, without anything at all. So it was total mayhem, nobody knew what to do, where to hide, what to do. It was already too late.”
Narration:In the violent weeks that followed, foreign troops began heavily armoured patrols to soften up Lavalas neighbourhoods. Paramilitaries and vigilante groups followed up with punitive incursions.
SOUNDBITE [French] Luckmane Saintolien, Lavalas Activist: “They knew that with Aristide out of the country they could make the most of it and get to work killing us because they are the one with the weapons. When they arrived in pro-Lavalas neighbourhoods like Cité Soleil, LaSaline, Bel Air, a huge amount of people were killed. A huge number of Lavalas militants were killed there.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Ronald Fareau, Videographer and Lavalas Militant: “The pressure on us comes from arbitrary arrests, intimidation, summary executions, kidnappings…”
TIME CODE: 30:00_35:00
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“The sharp degradation in the human rights situation was felt across the spectrum. The most evident was just the massive political killing. The morgue in just the month of March, the first month after the coup, the morgue had about a thousand people brought to it that were killed by political violence. So those were just the bodies that were unclaimed and were just in Port-au-Prince. That was probably the tip of the iceberg. Across other sectors if you look at Parliament, Parliament was basically dissolved a few months after the coup d’état, the police force was filled with people from the former military who had no police training and no police vetting, good judges were forced off the bench and replaced by people who were appointed illegally, and there was massive pressure on the justice system from the executive branch to actually carry out repression. I mean they very quickly transformed the justice system from a system that was struggling to be used as a tool of justice into one that was openly used as a tool of injustice and persecution.”
Narration:Three months into the coup, in July 2004, French, Canadian and US troops were replaced with a United Nations force, made up of 7000 soldiers, drawn from over 40 countries.
SOUNDBITE [English] Carl Alexandre, Deputy Head at UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti: “Prior to the departure of President Aristide into exile there was a lot of violence around the country, a lot of gun fights among different parties, and at some point he felt that he had to leave the country and it was facilitated. The Security Council decided to send a mission here and contributing countries with troops and police capacity came and assisted with the task that needed to be performed.”
Narration:The UN force is known by its French initials: MINUSTAH.
SOUNDBITE [French] Camille Chalmers, President of PAPDA: “MINUSTAH is a totally illegal force that which respects neither the spirit nor the letter of the UN Charter which states that peace keeping forces may only be deployed in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, or civil war. Three things which have never happened in Haiti even at the peak of the 2003 / 2004 political crisis. So there's a manipulation of the UN Charter in order to justify a military presence in Haiti which plays into the wider imperial project of remilitarising the Caribbean Basin. Don’t forget that Cuba and Venezuela are in the Caribbean, anti-imperialist countries which represent a threat to US power so it’s very important to have military and geopolitical control of the Caribbean and Haiti is in the center of the Caribbean, so there’s a big interest in having imperial-controlled troops such as MINUSTAH here.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“US troops especially were needed elsewhere, this was 2004 and the US was engaged in both Afghanistan and Iraq very actively and so MINUSTAH was brought in basically as a way of relieving US troops so they could fight battles elsewhere. MINUSTAH was deeply flawed in its inception. It is technical a Chapter 7 mission which means it was deployed in response to a grave threat to international peace. Now Haiti has not had a recognized internal or external war in my lifetime, it’s clear there was no grave threat to international peace. So you have a mission that by its theoretical justification and also by its composition is established to fight a problem that doesn’t exist.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Mario Joseph, Haitian Human Rights Lawyer: “The problem is that they are using the United Nations. But the UN wasn't created to wreak havoc on other countries; it was created to prevent war. But the five countries who have the veto have used the UN as a weapon to help them control other countries.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “MINUSTAH's here as the boy of the US, the domestic of the US. It looks cleaner to have a bunch of countries occupying Haiti rather than have the Marines once more in Haiti. But they're pursuing the same objectives.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“In terms of its practical effect, what MINUSTAH was implemented to do, and what it has in fact done, is to very successfully keep popular democracy from returning to Haiti.”
Narration:Of course, having spent decades fighting for democracy, Haitian's didn't just accept the coup lying down.
SOUNDBITE [French] Mario Joseph, Haitian Human Rights Lawyer: “The Haitian people weren’t just passive: They resist. Even during the first hours people started to resist and there was an arduous resistance every day.”
TIME CODE: 35:00_40:00
SOUNDBITE [French] Gérard-Jean Juste, Priest and Lavalas Activist: “What we want now is the immediate presence of Aristide!”
SOUNDBITE [English] Aristide Supporter: “No Aristide no peace! Yes Aristide, yes peace!”
SOUNDBITE [French] Asad Volcy, Investigative Journalist: “After Aristide's departure his partisans didn't want to accept the coup. They continued to protest and to organize demonstrations that practically paralyzed the activities of the transitional government headed by Gerald La Tortue. So as the people took to the street to demand the return of President Aristide, as MINUSTAH was there to support the transitional government and the interests of those who pulled of the coup d'état, MINUSTAH's objective was to crush resistance to the coup d'état.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Woman, Local Citizen:“I don't have anybody. All that I had I've lost. Why did they arrest my son? I had six children. Now I've lost one. What am I going to do now? It seems like we're slaves. Now that they've taken my son they're going to do him in; they're going to beat him to death. And I took him to the doctor and I don’t want them to take him away because they’re going to beat him. They’re going to beat him to death.
Why are you arresting them? What did they do? Why are you arresting them?”
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“If you look at the MINUSTAH's communiqués and public statements they were particularly honest in the 2004 - 2006 periods about their role of reigning in political organizing by pro-Lavalas forces. The head of MINUSTAH actually openly said "We must kill the bandits but only the bandits". At one level he was speaking about people involved in criminal activity but MINUSTAH and others in Haitian society also defined as bandits any poor young black man who was opposing the illegal Haitian government. And so MINUSTAH was pretty open that its role was to attack bastions of Lavalas power.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Local man: “Yesterday while I was asleep in my house it was four in the morning and I was asleep and my wife woke me up and told me to look out the window. There was a tank going by. So I went outside. There were loads of white guys together, smashing down the doors of different houses. They were arresting men one by one and forcing them to lie on the floor and beating them.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Asad Volcy, Investigative Journalist: “They started arbitrary arresting people. There were lots of kidnappings in the slums, and thousands were thrown into the country’s prisons.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“If you look at a lot of MINUSTAH's arrests, and MINUSTAH had no constitutional authority to make arrests, but it arrested people like Samba Boukman who was a non-violent grass-roots leader. It arrested Father Jean Just who was Haiti's most credible and outspoken proponent of non-violent social change, they helped with the arrest of Haiti's former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune who spent two years in prison almost dying from hunger strike. So it was UN both in rhetoric and also in terms of its activities was clearly and openly participating in attacks against pro-Lavalas forces.”
Still on Screen: “We are under extreme pressure from the international community to use violence” General Ribeiro, Commander, MINUSTAH (testifying at a contressioal commission in Brazil 2005)
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “They were smashing the resistance of the Haitian people against that second coup. And you know I went to Cité Soleil during that time. And when you see people using twenty millimetre canons in a shantytown with walls this thick. You can see that the objective is terror.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Local Woman: “Help me, help me, help me!!! This is what they came here for - to do us in! You don't know how I feel! I left him sitting down there, I want to die! I just went round the corner.”
TIME CODE: 40:00_45:00
SOUNDBITE [French] Local Woman: “We had to hide because they were killing so many people. And then the whites, MINUSTAH, came in and they shot that man in the wheelchair. They've split him in half. Help! Help!”
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “I think it was a terror campaign and it was waged thoroughly.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Luckmane Saintolien, Lavalas Activist: “Animals started to eat the dead. Dogs and pigs eating unclaimed bodies just lying in the street. People were saying to each other, “What on earth is going on here?””
Narration:On 1 December 2004, 9 months into the coup, US Secretary of State Colin Powell dropped through town to meet with the new government, telling Prime Minister Latortue, 'we're with you all the way'. The international media, which had been so sensitive to human rights issues under Aristide, started to lose interest after the coup...
Still on Screen: “US troops bring first signs of peace to Haiti” “With the obstacle of Mr Aristide gone, the country can begin to search for a new political consensus” The Haitian people have a new opportunity to fashion a better future and a new government that is determined to help them seize the opportunity that is before them.” “…human rights organisations… say things have improved since the Aristide days.” “The situation in Haiti is difficult but far from bleak, and progress is being made.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“There's a very stark and very illuminating contrast between the way human rights were reported in the months leading up to the 2004 coup and how they were reported afterwards. So leading up to the 2004 coup when you had a popular democratic pro-poor government, there was a crescendo of human rights criticism. And then immediately after that when a new government was coming in and people were dying by the hundreds every day in political violence mostly done by the government or its allies, all of a sudden you had extremely little reporting on the human rights situation. And that discrepancy certainly can't be explained by the data. In fact the reporting went very sharply against the grain of overwhelming data, it can only really be explained by politics and economics.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Asad Volcy, Investigative Journalist: “There were more deaths during the 2004 coup than in the 1991 coup because in 1991, as we all know, the press denounced the coup, whereas in 2004 the press didn't denounce the summary executions and slaughter in the popular neighbourhoods.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“The international media reported on human rights issues under the democratic governments in part because they could. They could get wherever they wanted to, they could talk to whoever they wanted, people felt free - as they should have - to complain about human rights issues. Then when you switch to a dictatorship where the foreign journalists were pretty much kept to their hotels and a few small safe areas, they couldn't report on human rights violations because they couldn't leave their hotels. So they basically accepted the assurances of the US government and the Haitian government and the UN that there wasn't a problem even though it was clearly out there. And there was actually a very good piece done by a BBC correspondent sitting on the balcony of the hotel Montana seeing fires burn in the poor neighbourhoods down below and acknowledging that they weren't seeing the reality down there and they expected it was a much different reality. But the reporters reported the reality that they lived which was hearing statements from the Haitian government and the US government and the United Nations, rather than the reality on the ground which was Haitians suffering terrible and systematic political persecution.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“This gross propaganda effort succeeded in characterizing the coup then and ever since as not a coup but as a kind of intervention by benevolent humanitarian powers for the benefit of the Haitian people in order to stabilize the country and then to bring in this United Nations force, this occupation force, the so-called stabilization force, to pacify the population. To impose the coup on them and then to, effectively serve as the replacement army. To return the country to something like military rule. In other words to undo Aristide's great achievement which had been to return it from military to democratic control. So the first coup in 1991, again kills thousands people, dismantles much of the organization, disrupts networks which had formed, pushes people into exile or into internal exile, it’s very difficult to re-establish those things. And the 2004 coup in many ways just finished the job.”
TIME CODE: 45:00_50:00
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense:“You see the terrible part about the 2004 coup was that it was a rerun of the 91 – 94 period. The second time around, it is worse because you think you have gotten past the nightmare and it pops up again with more violence. So that's what they did to us, you know. There was so much hope in this country, so much enthusiasm, so much willingness to sacrifice for a better tomorrow. And all of that was wiped out. And of course it's terribly difficult to start again and rebuild that hope without you know that sensation that somebody's going to come behind you and whack you across the neck. It's terrible.”
Narration:On 29 February 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, President of Haiti was kidnapped and flown out of his country, in a coup d’état.
SOUNDBITE [French] Gérard-Jean Juste, Priest and Lavalas Activist: “What we want now is the immediate presence of Aristide!”
SOUNDBITE [French] Mario Joseph, Haitian Human Rights Lawyer: “We woke up without a president, without a guide, without anything at all.”
Narration:Democracy had been undone.
SOUNDBITE [English] George W. Bush, US President: “I have ordered the deployment of marines.”
Narration:the international community then took its chance to deal with the movement that had propelled Aristide to power. The final programme brings us up to today. 10 years on from the coup, it reveals the hidden mechanisms the international community now uses to keep Haiti in its pocket.
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“That last 25 years has been all about what is the new strategy for maintaining this unstable, hierarchical, unequal situation; how to preserve the power of the rich at the expense of the poor.”
Narration:and looks at how a new model of politics and economics has been imposed on the country.
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense:“When you think about it it’s brilliant. You align the periphery of the empire on the model of the center of the empire.”
Narration: Haiti: The poorest country in the America's, and a country under military occupation. But it's not just military power that makes it felt in today's Haiti. This third and final programme in the series looks at the more hidden and subtle ways that the great powers are trying to run the Haitian political system.
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“The big political problem in Haiti is not exceptional. It's the same problem that any unequal society has which is that if society is structured around struggle between a wealthy few who own and control that society, and then the majority of the population, the problem that wealthy few has is how to control it, how to keep their position, how to maintain it. And so Haitian politics has been, certainly for decades and arguably ever since it was set up as colony, built around this question and this problem, how to contain a potentially explosive situation, how to maintain a status quo that is so unequal, so unjust. And it’s a major problem, so a huge amount of effort and energy goes into solving this problem and keeping people in their place on the one hand, keeping the elite more or less united and integrated and in control on the other, and when necessary mobilizing the international support that that elite needs to keep a grip.”
Narration:For much of the 20th century, this problem was solved very straightforwardly. Under the Duvalier dictatorships, order was maintained by the army and Duvalier's infamous militia: the Tonton Macoutes.
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “It was a time of permanent terror. A time when people would only whisper. And a time when friends and families were actually denouncing their own, because Duvalier had instituted this system whereby if one person was working against him, then he'd wipe out the whole family.”
Narration:But throughout the 1980s the population revolted and in 1986 after years of struggle, Haitians toppled the regime. In Haiti’s first democratic elections in 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide stood for President winning 67% of the vote. Aristide was committed to popular empowerment, and brought with him the prospect that rather for the domestic elite and foreign profit, Haiti's economy would be made to work for country's poor majority.
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“That old model, the dictatorial model for maintaining control, that model is no longer adequate. So you need a new strategy, and that last 20 to 25 years has been all about what is the new strategy for maintaining this very unstable, unequal, hierarchical system, how to preserve the power of the rich at the expense of the poor.”
Narration:Central to the new model has been an influx of non-governmental organisations or NGOs into Haiti, which have arrived en masse, in the democratic era.
SOUNDBITE [French] Camille Chalmers, President of PAPDA: “The question of NGOs is an important question in Haiti. Since the end of the 1980s there's been a real NGO invasion. Currently there's around 5000 NGOs operating in Haiti ach one with their own flag, with their own project, with their own agenda, and without any communication between them. So this leads to an atomization of Haiti’s social tissue and to the destruction of the country’s solidarity networks as organizations compete with each other to get their hands on the crumbs of international development budgets.”
TIME CODE: 50:00_55:00
SOUNDBITE [English] Brian Concannon, Lawyer at institute for justice and Democracy in Haiti:“Foreign NGO workers do play a very strong roll in containing democracy. They come down with the best of intentions, they could pass a lie detector test that they really do support democracy but most of their programs, by far the largest financial support of NGOs in Haiti is the US government and followed very closely by European governments. And to a large extent although it's done subtly, it's done very effectively to instrumentalise the NGOs to make them arms of US policy.”
Narration:Though many NGOs do carry out valuable work, the mass arrival of NGOs has had important effects; and has helped to transform Haitian politics into a something which might be described as 'democratic', but which in reality is imposed and controlled from above. These days Haitian ministries are brimming with international experts and technocrats while Haitian citizen's find themselves increasingly marginalised. And while many NGOs alienate Haitian's unknowingly, for others subverting democracy is an outright intent.Following Aristide's victory in 1990, US funding for political activities in Haiti sharply increased. Since then US government agencies have invested millions of dollars in political parties, trade unions and media. As one of the founders of the US National Endowment for Democracy put it, "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“The best way to understand what's happened in Haiti over the last 25 years is as a campaign to reverse the capacity of people to assemble and to deliberate and to discuss in an informed way about what they should do and about what their common objectives should be, what their national policy should be, and maybe more importantly to prevent them from gaining the power to implement them. So to reverse the process of popular empowerment. Because if you can make sure that people can't come together; if you can atomize people and divide them, if you can disrupt their organisations, fragment them, disperse them, if you can make it so it's difficult to deliberate and discuss what should be done, if you can confuse the situation by controlling and manipulating the media for example, and if you can furthermore, ensure that their politicians, their political parties and so on, loose the capacity to impose themselves, then you can retain a grip on the situation.”
Narration:Another pillar of the new model has been the implementation of far reaching economic changes in Haiti; a restructuring of the country's social fabric that started under Duvalier, and has been steadily imposed ever since...
SOUNDBITE [French] Camille Chalmers, President of PAPDA: “Since the 1980s the US State Department and USAID have produced a document, which we call the ‘Plan for Haiti’, which summarises the key elements of the “Washington Consensus” i.e. cutting back the state, privatization, free trade, financial liberalization, etc. and since the 1980s they’ve repeated these kinds of recommendations in all their official documents about the Haitian economy.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “Very early on I think many Haitians were aware of it and they called it the American plan. That was if you want the counter-plan to the one the Haitian people were trying devise and to lay out. And I must say that reading a lot even before I came back to Haiti in 1980 I was aware of a work I think done by the RAND Corporation which advocated, if you want, destroying food production in countries of the third world so they would become dependent on food production in the US and then you wouldn’t have to send in the marines, you’d just have to retain the food.”
Narration:When Aristide first came to power he had opposed this plan. Before deciding to run for office, he’d observed: "Of course, the US has its own agenda... But it is monstrous to come down here and impose your will on another people... I cannot accept that Haiti should be whatever the United States wants it to be."
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“People in Haiti found a way to impose themselves as the primary actors in politics and to pose the threat then that they would indeed take control of the country and that there would be a democratic movement that would force policy into line with the interests of the great majority of the people. And those would not coincide with the interests of the rice few, and that was obvious to everybody. And that threat was a very real threat, and it was countered in the predictable way, in the first instance, by a military coup. Faced with a big popular mobilization, the easiest way to do it is to rely on an army to simply squash it, overcome it.”
TIME CODE: 55:00_01:00:00
Narration:The coup was executed ruthlessly and over the next three years an estimated 4000 people were murdered, as the army dealt with the movement that had carried Aristide to power...
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense: “After the first coup it was revealed that almost all Haitian officers were paid informants and mercenaries of the CIA.”
Narration:Three years into the coup, in 1994, Aristide managed to broker a deal to return to Haiti, to finish out what remained of his presidential term, but at an extremely high price: in return for allowing him back, the US insisted that Aristide sign up to the American Plan. The Haitian economy was thus opened up to multinationals, and two decades on, the results are clear...) The example of rice illustrates just how far: 30 years ago Haiti grew all the rice it needed. But under the American plan import taxes protecting Haiti rice farmers have been cut from 60% in the 1980s to just 3% today, flooding Haiti with highly-subsidized US rice and wiping out domestic production. Once self-sufficient in rice, Haiti now has to import over 300 000 tons of it every year.
SOUNDBITE [English] Patrick Elie, Fmr. Haitain Secretary of State for National Defense:“You can see the results now. Our peasantry has no choice but to move into the shantytowns in the city where they will serve as slaves or quasi-slaves for the industries, the businesses that very often belong to American and other multi-national interests.”
Narration:In 1970, the population of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince was 300 000, today it stands at three million. But this swell of an urban destitute population brings obvious benefits for multinationals operating throughout Latin America...
SOUNDBITE [English] Peter Hallward, Author, Damming the Flood:“It is the place that sets the minimum wage, so to speak, for the entire hemisphere, and that is important. So the minimum wage is a couple of dollars a day, for places where there is a minimum wage at which is a very small part of the economy, but for people making t-shirts and jeans and you know, clothes and other light-assembly type manufacturing, having a place like Haiti where you can threaten local workers to move you plant to where it's cheaper, you know you can always threaten people who are trying to form a union or something like that in Honduras or Mexico that you will simply move your operation over to Haiti where people are more compliant and where the wage is a quarter or a tenth of what it is in other countries [so that is important], it's important to maintain it in other words, as a place that can be used as a kind of club against attempts to organise for higher wages all through the sector.”
Narration:The more subtle instrument of 'aid' has also been used as a bargaining chip. Since the 1990s, the US has donated millions of dollars every year to help keep the Haitian government afloat. However, it's well understood the receipt of this aid is conditional on implementing the required economic changes. The 2010 earthquake meant a bigger influx of aid than ever into Haiti, and the international community has since poured some $6 billion dollars into the country.
SOUNDBITE [French] Jean-Max Bellerive, Haitian Prime Minster:“In purely budgetary terms, that is to say, for me it is the symbol of our dependence in inverted commas, because it's a real economic dependence. The investment budget [of the Haitian state] is around 70 - 75% finance by external aid. When you have 75% of our budget that depends on external aid, when you have, as we do in Haiti, a foreign military force to help you maintain the responsibility of national sovereignty, when you have within the national territory so many obligations to the population, health, education, drinking water, such an important presence of the international community, for me it would be a little naive to say that you are totally independent.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Camille Chalmers, President of PAPDA: “The 12 January 2010 earthquake taught people a lesson; the people have seen what international aid means, all the hypocrisy of international aid, all the cynicism. And the fact that when one looks at cities like Port-au-Prince one can't fail to see that nothing has been done to launch a real recovery effort. International is a form of domination which not only doesn't help the population, but that is also a form of exploitation that generates a flow of wealth and resources from the poor world towards the rich world.”
TIME CODE: 01:00:00_01:05:00
Narration:MINUSTAH the United Nations force brought in the wake of the 2004 coup, remains in Haiti to this day... some 7000 soldiers help maintain order...
SOUNDBITE [French] Moies Jean Charles, Haitian Senator:You know very well that it's the international community that planned this destabilisation. That same international community sent troops to Haiti, under the guise of the United Nations. And on top of this, the international community said "we're going to send troops to Haiti for six months. Today, it's been ten years".
SOUNDBITE [English] Carl Alexandre, Deputy Head at UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti: “The mission is to maintain a stable environment to allow democracy to flourish in the country. As a consequence of that mission, building the Haitian National Police which is the only entity responsible for law and order in the country became a very important task.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Moies Jean Charles, Haitian Senator:“What's the goal exactly? It's that the international community believe that if they control the police and the judiciary - the repressive apparatus - he who controls the repressive apparatus is he who has the real power in the country.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Camille Chalmers, President of PAPDA: “MINUSTAH intervene systematically against popular mobilisations. In 2008 during the hunger riots here MINUSTAH was the main repressive force. People were killed. In 2009, when the population rose up to demand an increase in the minimum wage, MINUSTAH intervened systematically to break the mobilization. And MINUSTAH facilitated the mass redundancies at TELECO, Haiti’s public telephone company that was privatized, and during the privatization some 3000 workers were illegally fired with almost no compensation, and MINUSTAH were there to ensure that these workers were fired smoothly. So the application of the structural adjustment plan and the transformation of the Haitian economy into an appendix of the US economy requires an externally-controlled military presence such as MINUSTAH.”
Narration:Since their arrival MINUSTAH have become involved in Haitian elections.
SOUNDBITE [English] Carl Alexandre, Deputy Head at UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti: “We provide logistical support. We secure the ballots after they are printed. We transport the ballots to various parts of the country so the citizens can exercise their right to vote. We provide security so that things stay calm in the voting places. And then we transport the ballots back at the end of the day so they can be counted.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Camille Chalmers, President of PAPDA: “Within MINUSTAH there's a so-called 'democracy promotion programme' which is, in actual fact, a democracy sabotage program. And there's a big set up to, from a technical point of view, that the space be controlled from the outside. For example, the voting cards are transported by MINUSTAH troops, the calculation that establishes the results are done in a tabulation centre which is directed by a Canadian army official. And even the members of the Haitian Electoral Commission, which represents Haitian society cannot enter into the tabulation centre to verify the calculation. Furthermore, there are American NGOs which are directly linked to the Pentagon and US strategic decision making centres, which, while ostensibly provide support and advice to the Haitian Electoral Commission, in actual fact take control of Haitian elections.”
Narration:For the last Presidential elections in 2010 the Haitian Electoral Commission arbitrarily excluded the Lavalas Party, which has won every election it's been allowed to participate in, from running. Outside interference in these elections would be so extensive, it would prove impossible to hide...
SOUNDBITE [French] Edmond Mulet, Head of UN Stabilization Mission in Hait: “Since 6 am I see that everything’s going normally and tranquilly. Last night especially, throughout the country it was very peaceful.”
Narration:Amongst the candidates were former first lady, Mirlande Manigat, as well as Jude Celestin: a centre-left candidate, who the international community were moving against. And the popular singer, Michelle Martelly, a former member of the Tonton Macoute militia back in the Duvalier days.
SOUNDBITE [French] Freud Jean, Member of Provisional Electoral Council: “Before the first round of results were announced, while the votes were still being counted, the level of fraud was so obvious that great number of presidential candidates, together criticised the elections and demanded that they be cancelled.”
TIME CODE: 01:05:00_01:10:58
Narration:Official first round results put Maginat in first position, Celestin in 2nd, closely followed by Martely who came in third. But with the majority of candidates now calling for the elections to be annulled, crisis was in the air, and the international community switched gear.
SOUNDBITE [French] Jean-Max Bellerive, Haitian Prime Minster:“We had the infamous meeting at the head of MINUSTAH's house. All the international community was present. I, accompanied by my cabinet director at the time, was the only Haitian present at the meeting. It was a relatively difficult meeting since it was necessary to decide 'on the spot'. To make a long story short, in the end the international community took a position regarding how the calculations should be done and it was done with the clear intention of eliminating one of the candidates, or in any case, to put him in third position.”
Narration:The international community had the Organisation of American States send an “Expert Verification Mission” to Haiti examine the results. Six of the seven experts were from the US, France and Canada - the three countries that had led the effort to overthrow Haiti’s government back in 2004
SOUNDBITE [English] Host: “What happened?”
SOUNDBITE [French] Freud Jean, Member of Provisional Electoral Council: “What happened? They simply decided to eliminate Jude Celestin and to move Martelly into second position. That's it! That's what happened.”
Narration: The results were duly reversed, Celestin duly eliminated, and the second round became a run off between two pro-US, right-wing candidates. Martelly went on to win the second round and become president. But less than a fifth of the electorate voted in the 2nd round - the lowest participation rate of ANY Latin American presidential election in the last 60 years.
SOUNDBITE [English] Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State in US:“Well good afternoon everyone it is a great pleasure and an honour for me to welcome President Martelly to the State Department on behalf of the United States Government and to formally congratulate President elect Martelly on his victory in the election. We want to do everything we can to be a good partner for Haiti.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Camille Chalmers, President of PAPDA: “The imperialists run election to reinforce the system and to put a “democratic face” on things. But they haven’t achieved this. The elections are also a terrain of exclusion, a terrain that unmasks imperialism and the fact that it’s a game that is completely opposed to democracy.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Host: “What right does the international community have to be making these decisions?”
SOUNDBITE [French] Jean-Max Bellerive, Haitian Prime Minster:“Bon… the right of money!”
SOUNDBITE [French] Demonstrator:“OK I'm here today because most of the population in the street has no food, they have nothing. A group of the people try to keep everything we've got in this country. That's the mother-fucking reason I'm fucking in the street today.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Demonstrator:“Haiti is under occupation by foreigners. We demand that MINUSTAH, Martelly and his team leave. with them.”
SOUNDBITE [French] Demonstrator:“Haiti is the best country in the world. Why do you treat us like this? Why do you want to treat us like this? That's the point. We're not bad people. Look how many people are in the street. They throw water on us, they shoot us, what are you, what we need?”
SOUNDBITE [French] Demonstrator:“Every protest is about MINUSTAH. Every time there's a protest people come out in the streets to demand their rights then MINUSTAH shows up and they fire rubber bullets – sometimes they use live ammunition and they stop democracy. You know, this is what democracy looks like, it's people in the streets, it's messy but this is democracy so we should be celebrating it, not trying to stop it.”
Narration:Haitians have had their democracy stolen from them, and have been locked into poverty by the international community. If they're to win back a real democracy, it seems they have a long fight ahead.