Tuesday, May 13, 2014
After decades of stealing from the Haitian people, Aristide has orchestrated an investigation into the Clinton’s deployment of earthquake aid and reconstruction funds. On April 12, 2014, one of Jean Bertrand Aristide’s proxies, Newton St. Juste, a Haitian lawyer, filed corruption charges with Haiti’s General Accounting Office (Cour Superieure des Comptes) against former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary Hillary Clinton. Based on press reports, the corruption filing alleges that Secretary Clinton and former President Clinton diverted Haitian relief funds. St. Juste stated that they intend to also investigate Cheryl Mills, Secretary Clinton’s former Chief of Staff, who served as the principal manager of Haiti projects. Aristide’s lawyers wrote to Secretary John Kerry to inform him of the process. This action has generated a firestorm of interest on social media outlets among Haitians around the world.
Given St. Juste’s links to Aristide it is widely believed that Aristide is behind this action. There is informed speculation that Aristide is positioning his American wife, Mildred Aristide, to run for the presidency in 2015 – a position for which she is not eligible due to her dual citizenship. This filing then serves three strategic goals: 1. Blackmail the Clintons and others in the U.S. who received the bulk of the aid and relief funds (i.e. threaten the suit and offer to withdraw it for their support for his wife); 2. Garner favor with the Haitian public whose frustration with the lack of demonstrable progress in the wake of the 2010 earthquake is palpable; and, 3. Appear “tough on the US” in order to whitewash his 1994 and 2004 requests for military support in Haiti to bolster his ailing regime. These requests were tremendously unpopular and have not been forgiven or forgotten by Haitian voters. Further, Aristide needs support from Washington to alleviate the pressure that he is getting from the Jean Dominique Judicial proceedings, where he is being called in to answer questions about the 2000 murder of the popular reporter.
Aristide has a proven track record manipulating U.S. policy toward Haiti in his favor. When he wanted to return to power after the 1991-94 coup, he used a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and couple of well paid lobbyists, including Randall Robinson and his wife, to drive President Clinton’s Haiti policy. He first obtained sanctions that destroyed Haiti’s economy and the environment and later, organized a wave of boat people that forced the White House into a US military intervention in 1994 to reinstate his presidency. As part of that deal, he made a series of commitments to Washington to institutionalize democracy and modernize the economy. He reneged on all of those promises.
A few months after his return in 1994, Aristide began a violent spree of retribution having his political opponents in parliament, political parties, human rights activists, the press and civil society murdered. He rigged elections and presided over the country being named one of the three most corrupt countries on earth – for the first time in its 200-year history.
Meanwhile in Washington he used Haitian taxpayer funds to lavishly compensate lobbyists and well-positioned political allies. He used corrupt business deals in Haiti’s telecommunications sector, namely with the FUSION and IDT companies, to enrich US politicians. Facing legislative and municipal elections in 1995, Aristide tried to blackmail the Clinton administration by saying in a well-publicized speech, “for things to go well in Washington things have to go well in Haiti” meaning if Washington did not support his actions to preserve his party during those elections, he was in a position to create trouble for the Clinton Administration in a US election year. Aristide has created in Haiti the popular belief that he has enough evidence in hand to blackmail some politicians in the US who did business with him. No one knows if this is truth or fiction.
After his electoral coup in November 2000, an agreement of eight points for the return of constitutional order signed between Aristide and President Clinton’s National Security Advisor Anthony Lake created an air of legitimacy despite the fact that the country was opposed to the coup. Amidst protests around the country, after his February 2001 swearing in, Aristide went after his political opponents again, burning headquarters of political parties, private residences of political party leaders, killing and repressing journalists and various sectors of civil society including youth, peasants, women organizations and the private sector. All this while his Administration plunged the country into deeper corruption and poverty.
As a result, another popular uprising started in 2003-04 demanding his resignation. Members of his own Fanmi Lavalas party saw him as a threat to their political future. To prop up his undemocratic and unpopular regime, Aristide responded by requesting US military intervention from a reticent Bush Administration. To force their hands, he returned to the familiar tactic of attempting to orchestrate another massive wave of boat people to Florida by destroying Haiti’s newly formed coast guard. He failed. Without external military support he had to face the Haitian people -- and even his own supporters.
Contrary to Aristide’s propaganda machine, national figures from Fanmi Lavalas, including Moise Jean Charles, reached out to Guy Philippe, a former police commissioner, living in the Dominican Republic. Moise Jean Charles brought Guy Philippe to Haiti to lead the effort to oust Aristide. That fact was confirmed years later during a contentious interview between Jean Charles and Lavalas Senators Gerald Gilles on Radio Galaxie in Haiti. This revelation contradicted all previous statements made by Aristide allies and lobbyist in the US.
Facing a popular uprising, Aristide was saved by the US and France -- just like Duvalier before him. Aristide resigned in 2004 and went into exile in South Africa. Upon his arrival, he fabricated a story that the US kidnapped him. His allies, namely Kim Ives dutifully broadcast this storyline. That storyline, however, was only for international consumption. In Haiti everyone knew that he suffered the same fate as Duvalier because of the way he ruled the country.
After his 2010 return to Haiti, his US political allies and lobbyists have revived his anti-Americanism strategy to return him to power through his wife. This strategy will again include creating chaos in country and weakening democratic institutions, blackmailing US politicians and removing Martelly’s constitutional government by blocking the electoral process. Already, Aristide has effectively worked with Senate President Simon Dieuseul Desras to prevent the vote on the electoral law necessary to organize the October 2014 elections – the law has already passed the lower house.
Aristide again is banking on the fact the US foreign affairs bureaucracy favors stability and peace above all else, and therefore, always responds to threats of violence. He has secured the support of one member of the Congressional Black Caucus and is banking on support from one or two sympathizers in the US bureaucracy who serve on the Haiti Desk at the US State Department in 1994. He is further banking on extra political sensitivity given the 2016 US presidential campaign and the speculation that Mrs. Clinton will be a frontrunner.
What Aristide forgets – as usual – is that in Haiti all politics are local. Haitians have already rejected him for his undemocratic practices and corruption. They will see right through this deception as business as usual and flatly reject him again. The silver lining in this “business as usual” story, is that there will be a much needed – and long overdue -- investigation into where the aid funds actually went. There are still 150,000 people living under tents and only modest improvement in the country as the allocation of aid funds has not been strategic or effective despite the Haitian government’s efforts to help shape the overall aid deployment. The Haitian Government – mainly using Canadian aid – relocated 1.35 million people but lack the aid to finish the job. It should be noted that the Haitian Government itself only receive 1 percent of the aid funds with the remainder going mainly to international NGOs and politically connected contractors.