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Defeat for Democracy: Haiti and the US
PRESIDENT Jean-Bertrand Aristide's exile from Haiti represents a defeat for democracy and a victory for the island's brutal elite, supported by the US Republican right.
This coup d'etat was also facilitated by the world's mass media services which took their lead from the local media that is owned and operated by the wealthy, pro-imperialist opposition.
Little attention was focused calls for international support for Haiti's besieged elected government from Amnesty International, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) or the US Congressional Black Caucus.
In Britain, scarcely a TV news programme has passed without pictures of unrest from Haiti and an earnest reporter delivering a diatribe against the "armed thugs" of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The president has been consistently portrayed as the main obstacle to a peaceful settlement, in line with ultimatums issued to him by US, French and Canadian officials whose demands for him to step down have finally borne fruit.
US Republicans opposed former president Bill Clinton's decision in 1994 to reverse a previous coup in 1991 and to return President Aristide to office.
The Clinton administration made his return conditional on his carrying out a neoliberal economic agenda and Haitian rice farmers were ruined, for example, by Mr Aristide's acceptance of Washington's demands to reduce tariffs on US rice imports.
However, he fought against Haiti's plutocracy - 1 per cent of the population owns 50 per cent of its wealth - to double the national minimum wage of about £1 a day.
His government prioritised education, building new schools, subsidising school books and uniforms and developing school meals and transport services. It tackled the problem of 50 per cent illiteracy through a radio-based literacy programme designed by Cuban specialists.
Cuba also contributed a 535-member medical brigade to Haiti, 332 of them doctors, who operate in every area of the island and have 75 per cent of its 8.3 million people under their care.
Haiti has fewer than 2,000 of its own doctors and almost 90 per cent of them practise in the country's capital.
In contrast to blockade-buffeted Cuba's solidarity with Haiti's poor and dispossessed, one of the first actions taken by the George W Bush administration was to press the Inter-American Development Bank to cancel more than $650 million in development assistance and approved loans to Haiti that had been lined up to pay for safe drinking water, literacy programmes and health services.
Economic pressure that built up in response to lack of funds and neoliberal policies created fertile ground in some areas for the opposition forces, who were better armed than the government's impoverished and poorly trained police.
The opposition, which was routed in democratic elections, is composed of the remnants of the former dictatorship's death squads and the rich elite.
Their success in Haiti is likely to excite further efforts by their counterparts in Venezuela to oust President Hugo Chavez and heightened US attempts to isolate and subvert Cuba.