Magazine article The Progressive

Carter Go Home

Magazine article The Progressive

Carter Go Home

Article excerpt

Jimmy Carter's act is getting old. There he goes traipsing down to Haiti, as if he were the Pope visiting his minions.

Fact is, the Haitians weren't happy to see him. They detected--quite rightly--that Carter was there not to ensure democracy but to shore up the rightwing forces aligned against President Aristide.

Carter scolded Aristide for having the audacity to try to control his own armed forces. In mid-February, Aristide dismissed Haiti's top generals and colonels. Carter was quite blunt about his reaction to this exercise in independence. "Obviously, the firing of the generals and colonels is well recognized as not being compatible with American desires."

What are those desires? That the Haitian military that so oppressed its people be left intact?

Evidently so. When Aristide had the effrontery to hire several hundred men into the Haitian security forces without clearing their names with Washington first, the Clinton Administration was outraged. "The Haitian government proposal to include hundreds of unvetted people in the Interim Public Security Force was unacceptable," a U.S. official told The Washington Post. As a result of intense U.S. pressure, Aristide was forced to fire these new officers. The president of Haiti is powerless to form his own military; the U.S. government will simply not let him do it.

Nor will the U.S. government let him prosecute the human-rights abusers who were responsible for the torture and deaths of thousands of Haitians during the time of the generals. Take the case of Emmanuel Constant, who set up the notorious paramilitary squad FRAPH while he was on the CIA payroll. (Hats off to The Nation, for breaking and pursuing this story.) In December, Aristide's government summoned Constant to appear before a tribunal to answer a complaint about human-rights abuses he committed. Constant failed to show, so an arrest warrant was issued. …

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