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Haiti Dispelling Lies and Deception: The Truth Behind the Mainstream Headlines
by Jennifer Fletcher
Friday Apr 30th, 2004 7:32 AM
An event was held in Santa Rosa, California by the North Bay Progressive Newspaper featuring two individuals dedicated to the movement as well as providing correct information about what really happened and is happening in Haiti now.
Haiti: Dispelling Lies and Deception
The Truth behind the Mainstream Headlines

On Thursday evening, April 22nd, the North Bay Progressive hosted Haiti: Dipelling Lies and Deception an event featuring Pierre LaBossiere, co-founder of the Haiti Action Network, and Dennis Bernstein, co host of KPFA’s Flashpoints News Magazine, to discuss the kidnapping and overthrow of democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti in February at the Odd Fellows Temple in Santa Rosa. There were approximately forty people in attendance, mainly middle aged men and women. There was a brief introduction by Peter Philips, Professor of Sociology and the head of Project Censored from Sonoma State University.

The discussion began with a historical overview on the economic and political system in Haiti over the last three hundred years. The economic system in Haiti, like many other oppressed countries that that have been controlled by colonialism, faced a massive gap in wealth distribution. With the majority of the people in the country being very poor, the wealthy upper class came to control the economic system as well as the political system in the country. Under French colonial rule in the eighteen hundreds slavery reached high levels due to increased interest in sugar cane plantations and the farming of indigo. By the late seventeen hundreds, Africans were brought to Haiti as slave labor after the indigenous population had been decimated. Shortly after there was the first general uprising of the people to abolish slavery and gain independence. In 1804 the country gained its’ independence from colonial rule, 2004 would have been the bicentennial celebration for Haiti independence. As the United States began to grow into the economic and political power force in the world and from 1915 to 1934 the United Sates created the Haitian military and occupied Haiti as well as controlling the economy.

Throughout the 1900’s true democracy was unheard of in Haiti. Dictators ruled the country; the democratic voting process was unheard of as well as massive killings or mysterious disappearances of activists, labor leaders or other individuals who resisted the oppression of the government. By 1986, as resistance was building, there was an uprising of the people and the Dictator in power was overthrown. With hopes of democracy in the country, the first free and open democratic election was held. Aristide, a priest and activist against the formally dictated and colonial government, was one of eleven candidates in that election and won by a 67% vote by the people. Aristide was backed by massive support because he was concerned with the people of Haiti and to try to solve the roots of the problems that the people in the country were and had been facing for hundreds of years. As a theologist Aristide wanted to look at the root causes and the reasons for the problems that the country was facing. By focusing on eliminating causes of injustice, Aristide became a threat to the elite, which ruled the Haitian government. On February 7, 1991 Jean-Bertrand Aristide became the first democratically elected, chosen by the people, president of Haiti. Three years after being in office, democracy was pushed backwards as Aristide was removed from office in a military attack. During this time approximately five to ten thousand people were killed as well as farms and livestock destroyed. By 1994 the people began to join together again and fight for democracy. In 2000, Aristide was drafted to be a candidate in the election and won office yet again. After winning office, attempts to remove Aristide began. Low interest loans to Haiti for the construction of schools, hospitals and projects to aid food construction were cut-off by the United States. Bossiere states, “It was an economic and media campaign to demonize Aristide as the country was strangled economically”. Throughout these blocks from the United States the people remained in favor of Aristide and his belief in investing money in the country for the people in his country. The country was demilitarized, which accounted for forty percent of the national budget, schools were built in rural areas of the country as in 1994 there were only thirty-two high schools in only the big cities, as well as an increase in the minimum wage from eighty cents to a dollar-dollar sixty per day. Aristide strived to democratize the economy and allow more people access to the economy in the country.

Currently Jean-Bertrand Aristide is in Jamaica under the safety of the Jamaican government despite threats by United States government. The United States government as well as the mainstream media is dedicated to destroy his reputation with current accusations of drug trafficking and misinformation. Bossiere states, “they are trying to destroy the people’s movement by destroying the main symbol of the movement” and explains that the people of Haiti are now living in fear of their lives if they had supported Aristide or active in movements that were beneficial to the country.

Dennis Bernstein states, “ you are responsible for your own silence...it is time for those of us who know more to do more”.

For more information on the events occurring in Haiti go to http://www.haitiaction.net or http://www.flashpoints.net
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