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WikiLeaks reveals new details of U.S. intervention in Haiti

Published Jul 31, 2011 11:23 PM

The transparency-advocacy group WikiLeaks has released secret cables dating from 2003 to 2010 that reveal details of Washington’s intervention in Haiti. Published in the weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté, the cables are having a powerful impact on Haitian politics.

But U.S. intervention didn’t start in 2003. Ever since Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson gave the slave owners in Haiti $700,000 in an abortive attempt to put down the slave revolution that ultimately crushed them — the U.S.’s first foreign aid and a major amount of money at the time — the U.S. government has been engaged in Haiti.

From 1804 to 1862 the U.S. enforced a diplomatic and trade embargo against Haiti. From 1915 to 1934 a U.S. military occupation tried to mold Haiti into a profitable neo-colony.

As popular resistance to occupation grew stronger, the U.S. withdrew and shifted its support from 1957 to 1986 to the fascist Duvaliers, father and son, and their Tonton Macoutes paramilitaries, although it distanced itself from their harsh, unprofitable repression toward the end.

After suffering from years of bloody military coups, massacres of protesters — hundreds of peasants demanding land were killed at Jean-Rabel in 1987 — and elections drowned in blood, the Haitian people elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide by a landslide in 1990. Aristide called the mass movement that put him into power Lavalas, the Creole word for “torrent.”

In 1991 a U.S.-backed military coup deposed Aristide as president. Later he returned to Haiti after a 1994 U.S. invasion. Washington then let the United Nations take responsibility for the occupation. René Préval replaced Aristide in 1996, and Aristide was re-elected president in 2000, replacing Préval in 2001.

Because Aristide disbanded the army in 1995, it took until Feb. 29, 2004, for U.S. imperialism and its allies in the reactionary Haitian bourgeoisie to organize a coup. That day U.S. Special Forces kidnapped Aristide and his spouse, Mildred Trouillot Aristide, putting them on a U.S. Air Force jet and flying them to the Central African Republic.

A delegation, which included Johnnie Stevens from the Peoples Video Network and Sara Flounders from the International Action Center; Kim Ives, now an editor with Haïti Liberté; plus Aristide’s attorney Brian Concannon and filmmaker Katherine Kean, was the first to visit Aristide in the Central African Republic on March 9, 2004, and reveal to the world the nature of the U.S. kidnapping.

U.N. armed forces called Minustah took over from the U.S. and French troops occupying Haiti in June 2004 and are still there.

WikiLeaks supplies the details

While what Washington has done in Haiti is in the historical record, as well as some of its deliberations and the political analysis of its diplomats and soldiers, a lot occurred behind closed doors, and the details had not been publicly accessible until now.

WikiLeaks has 1,918 secret diplomatic cables about Haiti from U.S. embassies, covering from April 17, 2003, 10 months before the Feb. 29 coup d’état, to Feb. 28, 2010, just after the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the capital of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area. WikiLeaks asked Haïti Liberté to publish selections from them in French and Creole and to cooperate with The Nation on the English versions.

“Haïti Liberté is publishing these cables because they offer unparalleled insight into how the United States government has tried to manipulate Haitian affairs in its own interests, not in the interests of the Haitian people,” said Berthony Dupont, Haïti Liberté’s director. “We hope that the release of the cables will help bring about some transparency and accountability for the Haitian people.”

The revelations from WikiLeaks broke through in even the most right-wing media in Haiti like Le Nouvelliste. In a signed editorial in the July 13-19 issue of Haïti Liberté, Dupont makes the following point: “Recently, the striking impact of WikiLeaks has made the Haitian bourgeoisie tremble in their boots, and revealed its disgraceful, hidden character: its scornful cowardice and its shameful lack of courage.”

This class has done everything the imperialists told it to do and showed no concern for the development of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Workers World asked Ives, a writer of many of the Haïti Liberté articles and a member of its editorial board, why the United States devoted so much effort to controlling and manipulating such a small, poor country.

Ives said Haiti is “the second most populous nation in the Caribbean. It is one of the principal battle lines in the struggle Washington is waging against the ALBA nations, led by Cuba and Venezuela, and also in the struggle between China and Taiwan. So North-South and East-West geopolitics all converge there, especially because Haiti is the only militarily occupied nation in the Americas.”

Haiti also has a 200-year history of resistance and success against great odds. For all that the United States and its allies did to keep President Aristide in exile — detailed in one of the Haïti Liberté articles — after seven years of struggle, he is back in Haiti.