Haiti: Bush Administration and IRI Lies of Democracy Uncovered
As February 7th elections in Haiti gear up (with important candidates in jail on BS charges and now no voting stations in Port Au Prince''s largest neighborhood - Cite Soleil) the New York Times comes through with an 11 page expose on the Bush Administration's blame for the chaos unleashed so close to our shores - "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos" Turns out the Ambassador to Haiti wasn't even getting the truth from DC, it was the coup-plotting "pro-democracy" International Republican Institute (IRI) who was really running things. Some choice exerpts of the piece:
The chaos: Today, the capital, Port-au-Prince, is virtually paralyzed by kidnappings, spreading panic among rich and poor alike. Corrupt police officers in uniform have assassinated people on the streets in the light of day. The chaos is so extreme and the interim government so dysfunctional that voting to elect a new one has already been delayed four times. The latest date is Feb. 7.
The lie: The Bush administration has said that while Mr. Aristide was deeply flawed, its policy was always to work with him as Haiti's democratically elected leader.
The reality: Interviews and a review of government documents show that a democracy-building group close to the White House, and financed by American taxpayers, undercut the official United States policy and the ambassador assigned to carry it out.
The culprit: The International Republican Institute, a supposed pro-democracy group, undermined the reconciliation process after disputed 2000 elections (where Aristide's Lavalas Pary won 27 or 28 areas according to everyone) threw Haiti into a violent political crisis. The group's leader in Haiti, Stanley Lucas, an avowed Aristide opponent from the Haitian elite, counseled the opposition to stand firm, and not work with Mr. Aristide, as a way to cripple his government and drive him from power (a tactic we amazingly saw aped in Venezuela's December Partimentary).
These (democracy) groups walk a fine line. Under federal guidelines, they are supposed to nurture democracy in a nonpartisan way, lest they be accused of meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations. But in Haiti, according to diplomats, Mr. Lucas actively worked against (democratically elected) President Aristide (as they do in Venezuela).
...in a recent interview, (the notorious) Otto J. Reich, who served under Mr. Powell as the State Department's top official on Latin America, said that a subtle shift in policy away from Mr. Aristide had taken place after Mr. Bush became president — as Mr. Curran and others had suspected. "There was a change in policy that was perhaps not well perceived by some people in the embassy," Mr. Reich said, referring to Mr. Curran. "We wanted to change, to give the Haitians an opportunity to choose a democratic leader."
The out of the loop Ambassador for Haiti, Mr. Curran said in response, "That Reich would admit that a different policy was in effect totally vindicates my suspicions, as well as confirms what an amateur crowd was in charge in Washington."
In response, the IRI has said that it never encouraged the opposition not to negotiate, but "In Haiti, (IRI rep) Stanley Lucas's partisan activities were well known. Evans Paul, a leader of the anti-Aristide movement and now a presidential candidate, said Mr. Lucas's stand against negotiating was "a bit too harsh" even for some in the opposition.
Jean-Max Bellerive, an official in three Haitian administrations, including Mr. Aristide's, added, "He (Lucas) said there was a big plan for Haiti that came from Washington, that Aristide would not finish his mandate." As for the ambassador, Mr. Bellerive said, "he told me that Curran was of no importance, that he did not fit in the big picture."