By: Joe Emersberger - first published, in a slightly different version, by Telesur.
No evidence of corruption has ever been found to incriminate the former Haitian leader, who was overthrown by a U.S.-led coup.
Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is once again being hounded with bogus corruption allegations by the government of Michel Martelly – a government that owes its existence to U.S. bullying.
I don’t dismiss corruption allegations against any politician lightly – even one the U.S. despises. Reasonable, but uniformed, readers may ask why we can be sure the allegations against Aristide are baseless.
If the facts were widely known about what the U.S. has done in Haiti in recent years, nobody would ask that question. They’d be too busy working for the prosecution of U.S. officials for crimes perpetrated in Haiti. In fact, Canadian, French and United Nations officials would also be struggling to stay out of jail for aiding and abetting those crimes, as I’ve mentioned before.
On Feb. 29, 2004, the U.S. perpetrated a coup against Haiti’s democratically elected government which was headed by Aristide. That’s worth repeating. The U.S. directly perpetrated the coup. It did not simply provide decisive support for a coup carried out by local allies as it has done so many times in Latin America. In this case, U.S. troops physically removed Aristide from Haiti in the middle of the night and flew him off to the Central African Republic. Canadian troops assisted the U.S. by securing the airport in Port-Au-Prince. The U.S. government claims that Aristide begged rescue from a small group of “rebels” even though his own security team could have led him to safety, if that was his priority, in various countries within the Caribbean. The U.S. and its allies, after its alleged “rescue” of Aristide, took over Haiti and promptly set up a dictatorship under Gérard Latortue. The rebels – essentially led by the death squad leader Jodel Chamblain – were immediately made completely subordinate to the U.S. and its allies. Rebels who objected too strongly to their subordinate role were simply told to get lost and, in a few very isolated cases, hunted down. Hundreds of the more obedient “rebels” were incorporated into a revamped Haitian police force under the close direction of U.S. and UN officials. Yes, criminals were made police under the direction of even bigger criminals in Washington. That’s how our upside down world functions.
It should be stressed that even those who insist that U.S. troops “rescued” (as opposed to “kidnapped”) Aristide have absolutely no basis for denying that the Washington perpetrated a coup. The U.S. and its allies used the “rebels” as a pretext to forcibly restore its traditional far right allies to dominance in Haiti. Aside from the widely ignored murder of thousands of Aristide’s supporters that took place under Gérard Latortue’s dictatorship, Aristide’s political party (Fanmi Lavalas) has also been banned from participating in elections held since the coup. Latortue stacked the judiciary with people keen to facilitate the persecution of Aristide’s supporters – people with the same mentality as the Martelly-appointed judge who recently issued the arrest warrant against Aristide for allegedly ignoring a summons. And that examining magistrate, Lamarre Bélizaire, is disbarred from acting as a lawyer when he steps down as a judge. So a judge who has been renounced and cast out by the Haitian Bar issued the arrest warrant. That’s perfectly consistent with what the U.S. has established in Haiti.
Part of the U.S.“rescue” of Aristide in 2004 supposedly included a promise to protect his property in Haiti. Colin Powell – the man tasked with lying extravagantly to the world about Iraqi fictitious weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – claimed that the U.S. had made this promise to Aristide. Immediately after the “rescue”, Aristide’s house was ransacked for days thereby exposing Powell, yet again, as a liar.
But there is another consideration that is relevant to the allegations against Aristide. Since 2004, the U.S. and its allies had every opportunity and incentive to build a devastating case against Aristide for corruption or anything else they wanted. They had access to any number of personal and official documents combined with the ability to lean on heavily (bribe and coerce, that is) countless former Aristide associates. The Latortue dictatorship spent a lot of time and money in U.S. courts, and predictably received a great deal of help from U.S. Treasury officials trying to build some kind of case. It speaks volumes that all they’ve been able to charge Aristide with after all these years is what this disbarred judge came up with – allegedly ignoring a summons.
In 2005, Ira Kurzban, Aristides’s attorney in the U.S., has pointed out: “If you recall, a lot of the venom was spewed against President Aristide both before and following the coup - wild accusations that he had $280 million in a bank account somewhere in Europe and so forth. To my understanding, the United States sent seven people from the Treasury Department immediately after the coup to investigate financial wrongdoing, and a number of Haitians have been working day and night to find the money that President supposedly took. But, it’s now obvious, there is none. There are no Swiss bank accounts, no yachts, no Trump Tower apartments, all of which there were with Duvalier. There are none of the things that one classically identifies with the claim that a president has abused his authority and stolen money for his own benefit.”
Lack of evidence never stopped the U.S. from aggressively peddling its claims that Iraqi WMD existed. The case for war depended on it. Evidence and logic were therefore dismissed by both the U.S. government and the corporate media. Similarly in Haiti, the ongoing crushing of democracy requires the relentless demonization of the popular Haitian president whom the U.S. government deposed.