Haiti: Myths and Realities

Let Haiti Live: Coalition for a Just US Policy

MYTH: Elections in Haiti in 2000 were marred by widespread fraud.
REALITY: Local and legislative elections in May 2000 were praised as free and fair by all international and domestic observers. Weeks later the Organization of American States (OAS) questioned the methodology used to determine the winners in the first round of eight senate races. All eight incumbents resigned their posts to make way for new elections before the year ended.

MYTH: The election of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2000 has been the source of controversy.
REALITY: There is no doubt that Aristide won the 2000 elections. The other candidates lacked a national following; Aristide won 60% of the popular vote.

MYTH: The Haitian Government prolonged a political standoff with the political opposition, Democratic Convergence (now a member of the Democratic Platform), because it refused to share power.
REALITY: Throughout the three years of OAS-sponsored negotiations, the Haitian Government took steps to implement the required reforms. The Democratic Convergence refused to compromise and consistently changed the conditions of their participation in negotiations to leverage more compromise from the Haitian Government.

MYTH: The political opposition in Haiti has the support of the population, and their efforts to overthrow Aristide are linked to their loyalty to the poor.
REALITY: The Democratic Convergence received only 8% of the popular support in a 2002 US-commissioned Gallup poll.

MYTH: The leaders of the military forces should be included in any future government, as they represent part of Haiti’s population.
REALITY: Tens of thousands of Haitians have signed a petition for a Constitutional amendment which would permanently outlaw the Haitian Army. The leaders of today’s military opposition have links to the United States and histories of massacre and human rights abuse.

MYTH: The Bush Administration offered its support to President Aristide and then granted him safe passage, at his request.
REALITY: The truth of President Aristide’s departure from Haiti is being hidden behind the stories and political maneuvering of the Bush Administration. President Aristide claims he was kidnapped and forced, against his will, to sign a false resignation letter and leave the country. A full Congressional investigation is necessary to determine the truth of the events of February 29, 2004.

MYTH: The Bush Administration is supporting democracy in Haiti, just as the first Bush Administration did.
REALITY: The role of the Bush Administration in the 1991 coup d’etat in Haiti has been well established. Now those same terrorists who occupied the palace in 1991 are walking the streets of Haiti as free men. Is this the second Bush coup in Haiti? Some of the players in the Administration are the same.

MYTH: President Aristide was a bad leader who did nothing to advance the situation in Haiti, leading to the popular uprising we recently witnessed.
REALITY: The recent events in Haiti were not a popular uprising, but a well-planned and systematic resurfacing of the hated and feared Haitian army. As has often been the case in Haitian history, the bourgeoisie made their alliance with the military and used it to oust Haiti’s democratically elected government.

MYTH: The Council of Wise Men, constituted on March 7, 2004, represents the Haitian population and can be trusted to ensure a fair and democratic process.
REALITY: The members of the Council hardly represent the Haitian people. They do not reflect the make up of the population, as all (or nearly all) come from Haiti’s upper class and most Haitians are poor. The Council lacks peasant or worker representation. The Prime Minister chosen by this council must be watched closely to be sure he adequately represents the majority of Haitian people.

MYTH: We can count on the State Department and the Bush Administration to restore democracy in Haiti.
REALITY: We must be vigilant and firm in our demands to the Bush Administration:
§ There must be a full Congressional investigation into the US role in the ouster of democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
§ The documents revealing the precise links between the violent former military and paramilitary soldiers in Haiti and the United States must be released.
§ Democratic elections must be held in Haiti as soon as possible.
§ As the incumbent and the head of Haiti’s largest political party, Aristide must be free to return to Haiti at his will. Any future democratic process must include the Fanmi Lavalas political party.

The international community must respond immediately to the crushing humanitarian disaster in Haiti. Too many have died already.