Why are we about to invade the tiny country of Haiti? The simple answer is because Haitians are fleeing to the United States to escape the terrible conditions in which they live, made more intolerable by our blockade. Why not just send them back and lift the blockade?
We are told that these people cannot return, that they will be tortured or killed. While there has been some retribution on Aristide’s bloody henchmen, there is no evidence of any wide-spread effort to retaliate against the Haitian people who simply desire to leave for a better life. Where did the figure of 500,000 people in hiding and 100,000 dead come from? It came from Aristide’s own broadcasts on Creole radio.
The untold story is how our blockade is wiping out what was a small, but growing, middle-class. Light industry was an important part of the Haitian economy which accounted for about 15% of that country’s total wealth. There are barely 10,000 of those manufacturing jobs left. By destroying the middle class the gap between the rich and poor will be wider than it was before, and apparently that is the way Aristide likes it.
A man who spent several years in exile told Accuracy in Media recently that Aristide forces had a rule of thumb: anyone wearing a necktie is marked for violence. He said, “If I went onto the street I would be killed — maybe by ‘Pere Lebrun.’” That’s the Haitian term for the savage practice of “necklacing” — placing a tire soaked with gasoline around the neck of a political opponent and lighting it. It sticks to the body and the victim suffers a horrible death. Also, many Haitians believe that death by fire destroys the soul.
Aristide had a painting of himself on the wall of his office in Haiti. He’s smiling down on a mob carrying those tires. It contains these words. “If our power is threatened Ti Tid (Little Aristide), if you have a problem, command us to march and solve them with ‘Pa’ Lebrun.” Aristide did just that on Sept. 27, 1991. He told a huge crowd that if they saw someone pretending to be one of his supporters, or a wealthy Haitian, “give him what he deserves.” He said, “Your tool is in your hand (meaning the tires and matches).” Three days later a mob necklaced Sylvio Claude, a Baptist minister and the head of the Haitian Christian Democratic Party. That was the night the military moved in and demanded that Aristide face trial on numerous specific violations of Haitian law.
Yes, there have been some killings in retribution, but the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies estimates that at least a thousand Haitians a month are dying as a result of our blockade. Let us not compound the problem by sending in our troops to prop-up another would-be dictator.