Remember Haiti? Our Government Would Like Us to
One of the most striking features of the mainstream U.S. media is its ability to 'disappear' certain issues and stories irrespective of their importance.
Case in point: Haiti. For all intents and purposes, Haiti has vanished from public view. With the notable exception of Randall Robinson's new and well-received book, "An Unbroken Agony: Haiti from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President," there is almost nothing out there that would give one any sense of what has been happening in Haiti since the 2006 electoral victory of Rene Preval, let alone the developments that transpired during and after the Feb. 29, 2004 U.S.-assisted coup which overthrew democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Unless one is studying the actual situation in Haiti, the most that the casual — and even interested — U.S. observer would gather is that Haiti is in near continuous chaos. The information provided to us here in the United States is so weak and partial that one is inclined to throw one's hands up in the air and proclaim that it is all too messy to understand.
Yet the situation is far more complicated than we have been led to believe. Most recently, a story broke with the assistance of the Haiti Information Project (www.teledyol.net/HIP/about.html). Guy Philippe, one of the principal leaders of the coup against President Aristide, appears to have begun a new career singing. And he has been 'singing' about the individuals and organizations that helped to back the 2004 coup against Aristide.
Philippe, and his former aid Wilfort Ferdinand, alleged that they were currently being pressured to take up arms and overthrow the Preval administration. For whatever reason, Philippe went on to name names, including many prominent individuals from within the historic ruling elite of Haiti, as well as additional forces that had been involved in the supposed 'peaceful' opposition to President Aristide pre-February 2004.
Interestingly enough, shortly after Philippe began to 'sing,' Haitian police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration apparently decided that Philippe was part of an illegal narcotics operation. They then moved to have him arrested. It appears that Philippe has been on the run ever since.
There are several interesting things about this story. The first is that is starts to sound a lot like that of Panama's former President Manual Noriega who, after being a very loyal U.S.-funded operative, was turned upon by his former sponsors and illegally snatched from office in 1989. History definitely seems to repeat itself.
The second piece of interest is that Philippe confirmed what many of us thought all along, i.e., that much of the alleged 'peaceful opposition' to President Aristide was nothing of the sort, but was rather one wing of a combined U.S.-backed destabilization operation aimed at the ouster of the democratically elected chief of state.
Once again, the mainstream U.S. media served the interests of the dominant forces in American foreign policy who seek the removal of any leader deemed to be the slightest bit independent and prone towards policies that the United States finds objectionable. Rather than taking a critical eye towards events, the mainstream U.S. media, when it came to Haiti, largely served as the mouthpiece of the Bush administration as it ratcheted up the pressure on Aristide, ultimately swooping him up and into a brief forced exile in the Central African Republic (Note: President and Mrs. Aristide currently reside in exile in South Africa, conditions far different — for the better — than those they encountered in the Central African Republic).
The third piece takes us full circle. When U.S. policy has been discredited, it is often easier for the mainstream U.S. media to completely ignore the 'facts on the ground.' Thus, we get this "cone of silence" over Haiti which only the most dedicated observers (particularly within the Haitian exile community in the United States) are able to penetrate. Even then, with facts in hand, these voices are largely ignored.
It is for these and other reasons that African American media outlets, whether printed, radio, television or Internet, become so vital in revealing the truth.
Haiti has not faded away. Rather the crimes that have been perpetrated against the people of Haiti, in our name, continue only with a veil of secrecy and indifference. The time has certainly come to rip away that veil.
Bill Fletcher Jr. is an international and labor writer and activist.