Tuesday, February 10, 2004
UpdateSince writing the post below, I just read today's edition of the Los Angeles Times. The headline reads "Haiti is Urged to End Revolt". Apparently, our government has been doing some posturing, saying to the folks in Haiti "Can't we all just get along?" Later in the article, however, Los Angeles Times staff writer Carol J. Williams is kind enough to the rebels to tell them where and when to meet, and also the size and weaknesses of their opponents. Here, let me quote directly: "Mainstream political opposition groups in Part-au-Prince, the capital, plan a massive demonstration Thursday with the apparent expectation that the momentum to drive out Aristide will have built throughout the country and the government will be too overwhelmed by the myriad challenges to contain them. (New Paragraph) The government is believed to have no more than 5,000 poorly equipped police officers." The article then explains that there is no army. Exactly what is going on here? The LA times prints a posturing headline asking for peace, and then basically draws a map for the rebels on how to overthrow the Haitian government. "Hey everyone, grab your weapons and come to Port-au-Prince on Thursday. All we need is 5,001 people and we'll have them outnumbered!" Has the U.S. media become so powerful that is has unwittingly invoked a new sort of Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, wherein no event can go unreported without influencing that event's outcome? Maybe the rebels didn't need the L.A. Times' help. If Aristide will find help anywhere, it better come before Thursday ...
Haitian Coup d'etatOne of the more remarkable moments in history happened in 1804, when an uprising of black slaves actually defeated its oppressors and became the first independent black nation outside of Africa: Haiti. Haiti’s history began with a bang, and continued banging into this week, when it is suffering from it’s 30th coup d’etat attempt. I was an English major, but I think that rounds out to about one coup every seven years or so, give or take a few months. One might think that political insurrections have become part of Haiti’s natural process. So commonplace have they become, in fact, that the incumbents are actually spinning the press to encourage the coup, possibly hoping for a slot in whatever new regime emerges. At least that’s how it seems to this non-expert when Prime Minister Yvon Neptune told The Associated Press "The national police force alone cannot re-establish order in St. Marc”. Why the hell would he say that, unless he wanted to infuse the rebels with vigor? Do you think he was requesting outside assistance? Maybe ... it's not arriving however. The press naturally managed to squeeze in the fact that the rebels looted various appliances. This always seems a rather ham-fisted insinuation at the rebels’ motive, which it very probably wasn’t. Haiti’s recent politics are pretty interesting, and recounted here. The US helped Aristide regain power in Haiti in 1994, after the coup du jour ousted him. Since then, however, it would seem that he has fallen out of our graces, since in 2000, we blocked our humanitarian aid to the country. Then in 2001 President Bush decided to put all Haitian boat people in jail. This limited the choices of the coup-happy Haitians, and in effect we were writing “Lynch me” on Aristide’s forehead. Even Kofi Annan seems to be playing along, since his promise of U.N. intervention will happen “soon” … but “not yet”. I am no fan of Aristide. The violence being suffered by his police—dragging through the streets, beheadings, pulverizing of corpses—hints to me that his police have not been seen as nice guys. In fact, the rebel were allegedly Aristide supporters who were turned sour by Aristide’s political machinations. Aristide’s police are scrambling to regain control of the country. My crystal ball says that the battle is over already, and that he has lost. My blog’s point is, I suppose, that this tragedy is yet another small indicator that the U.S. is extremely consistent with its foreign policy: our interest in a country is in direct proportion to its influence over our economy. Human Rights and its abuses are not a factor in our foreign policy; they are only used in the spin. We're not offering aid to Aristide, another man whom we placed into power. Instead we are allowing his regime to topple amid horrid violence.