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Petition Filed Against US as Haiti Approaches Elections
As Haiti’s long-postponed Presidential election is slated to take place February 7, the mainstream media is covering ongoing violence in the Caribbean nation with a characteristic lack of attention to context and essential history.
Wire service coverage especially has had a tendency to discuss violence in Haiti as if it exists in a vacuum, with little insight into why people in the poorest neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince are defending themselves against incursions by the police and UN troops.
Almost no analysis touches on why UN “peacekeepers” were sent to provide legitimacy for a coup regime that seized power on Feb. 29, 2004, nor has there been much mention of the crucial role the Bush Administration played in backing a motley collection of sweatshop owners, death squad veterans and assorted rightists who forced the democratically-elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office.
A good example is a February 5 AP piece which quotes US Ambassador Tim Carey saying, “The future of Haiti is at stake. It's long past time that Haiti move into the modern world.” The article says that Aristide “fled amid an uprising in February 2004,” but nowhere mentions the US role in his ouster.
Partly in order to inject some of that crucial history into the limited media discussion of Haiti’s elections, the US-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Port-au-Prince, Yale Law School and Transafrica Forum this week filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights against the U.S., Haiti, and the Dominican Republic on behalf of Haitians victimized by the current coup regime[http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_iachr_BAI_IJDH_Yale.htm].
This legal initiative has garnered little mainstream attention, with the Miami Herald dismissively describing it as “Largely repeating allegations made by Aristide supporters in the past.” But it is an important step in keeping alive the awful truth of the Bush Administration’s “other regime change” (actually, since the ousted government was elected by an overwhelming majority, it was much more of a representative democracy than the regime in Washington). The petition is also a well-sourced, thorough resource for more independent-minded journalists and activists.
As Maxine Waters said in a statement supporting the petition, “two years later, the tragic results of regime change in Haiti are clear. Haiti is in total chaos. The unelected interim government, which was put in power by the United States and has received unprecedented support from our government, is both oppressive and incompetent. Violence is widespread, and security is non-existent. The Haitian police have been implicated in extrajudicial executions, and the interim government has imprisoned hundreds of political prisoners without trial. Haitian elections, which are now scheduled for next Tuesday, have been postponed several times, are fraught with technical problems, and are unlikely to be free and fair.”
Waters called on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights “to investigate the coup d’etat that occurred on February 29, 2004, and determine the role of the Bush Administration in this travesty of justice, which denied the democratic rights of the people of Haiti.”