The Company They Keep
I had the luxury of listening to an entire BBC World programme by direct telephone link from London last week. The programme was Talking Point, and I had phoned the BBC in answer to their invitation to ask questions of Mark Malloch Brown, the chief of staff of the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The BBC kindly phoned me back and enquired what was my question? It was about Haiti, I said. I was put on to somebody else, who, like everyone else in this tale, was charming to a fault. I explained that I wanted to ask Malloch Brown about human rights in Haiti.
Well, they weren't sure that they would get round to that subject since the programme was really about UN reform. Some of it was, but there were several questions, from questioners who had obviously joined after me, about subjects like human rights in Darfur, the Congo and so on.
As I suspected, I never got to speak to Malloch Brown, although various people from time to time enquired whether I was 'still there'. I must say that I most unworthily had suspected, soon after the charade began, that I was never going to be allowed to ask Mr Malloch Brown my question. I kept on waiting, however, until the end of the programme.
The Haitian people have been waiting for justice for 200 YEARS. Last week, the UN Security Council paid a visit to Haiti, ostensibly to see what was going on down there, to "review progress achieved in areas such as security, development, the political transition, human rights, institution-building and the humanitarian situation".
In a statement issued a month ago, the council said the following, inter alia:
"Assistant Secretary-General Hédi Annabi on major developments in Haiti since 18 November, 2004.As I write, I have heard not a word of the results of the Security Council's mission to Haiti. I presume that they had a good time - good food is available in French restaurants, the beaches are beautiful and uncrowded, and the thugs who rule Haiti tolerate no barking dogs or any other kind of dissent.
Mr Annabi stressed that since the outbreak of violence last year much has been achieved in Haiti, thanks to the Haitian people and the support provided by the international community.
The fact that the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has almost reached its fully authorised strength level has substantially enhanced its capacity to respond to security threats, producing noticeable results and thus contributing to the improvement of the security situation in the country, including through joint operations with the Haitian National Police."
The UN Security Council and its boss, Mr Bush, must be well pleased. I wonder which PR agency can be credited for this coup?
The people of Haiti, on the other hand, are not satisfied. They allege that the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSTAH) has simply provided reinforcements and legitimacy for the thugs who rule Haiti.
The Haitian Lawyers Leadership (HLL), for instance, suspects that the current MINUSTAH campaign to pacify the slums is really aimed at targeting Lavalas supporters, Aristide supporters and in particular, a resistance leader called Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme.
The HLL believes that what will happen is a replay of the US Marines' murder of the Caco resistance leader, Charlemagne Peralte, in the first full-scale occupation in 1919.
Dread Wilme is described by HLL as "the armed suspect accused of defending pro-Lavalas people in Cite Soleil against paid police enforcers like Labanye, the ex-military, renegade police and paramilitary.
Defending pro-Lavalas against systematic and state-sponsored terror is the alleged crime and logic for the current UN offensive and cordoning off of Cité Soleil residents to hunt for Emmanuel Wilme".
"Like Charlemagne Peralte, Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme, may be summarily executed by foreign troops and dragged, as a trophy, through the streets of Haiti to cow the peaceful demonstrators who are demanding return of the constitutional government; to demoralise, to "shock and awe" the Haitian poor with the overwhelming, unjust and illegal power of foreign troops in Haiti."
The Haitian people have been through purgatory, courtesy of the US, several times. Since the occupation, they have endured the Duvaliers, Cedras and other criminal puppets who brutalised their way to power and wealth.
So, what else is new?
Here in Jamaica, the Government of this sovereign sister to Haiti, the Government which owes some of its genesis to Dessalines and the Haitian people, is now preparing to send back to their Haitian murderers, the people who have fled from the thugs who now govern regnant and rampant Haiti.
The excuse is that the UN Human Rights Commission has run out of money for this humanitarian project. So, while we can lose billions of dollars in crazy make-wealth-for-capitalist schemes, we cannot spare half-a-million Jamaican dollars a month to prevent a few hundred people from being raped, scalped, beaten to death and otherwise forced to end their support for the lawfully elected president of Haiti.
It has not occurred to our Government of the formerly 'young, gifted and black' to seek help from South Africa or the African Union. As in 1994, we are simply consigning the refugees to their fates - whatever that may be.
We are imbued with brotherly love but, it seems, we can't find any brothers to love. We are part of the wealth-seeking consensus, the globalisation-seeking consensus, and because of this, we will soon be subsidising American universities with millions of Jamaican dollars because of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), as predicted nearly a decade ago.
The US universities have awoken to the easy pickings available in Jamaica, and their sole ventures and joint ventures with Jamaican 'sucker institutions' are going to do their little bit toward cutting the US trade imbalance.
Two cheers for Progress!!
President Aristide has recently been appointed by President Mbeki of South Africa to be that country's ambassador to the African Diaspora, in addition to his job as president of Haiti. A few days ago, President Aristide appealed to the world to help his country out of its misery.
As he pointed out: "In 1994, who could have expected free, fair and democratic elections in South Africa with Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Oliver Tambo and other leaders and members of the African National Congress in jail, exile and hiding?"
In a direct challenge to the misbegotten Security Council position on Haiti, President Aristide asked: "Today in 2005, who can expect free, fair and democratic elections in Haiti with thousands of Lavalas in jail, exile and hiding?"
"To repair the tragic mistake of the February 2004 kidnapping and coup d'etat and reverse the disastrous events that it unleashed, the following steps must be taken:
- Thousands of Lavalas supporters who are in jail and in exile must be free to return home.
- The repression that has already killed over 10,000 people must end immediately.
- There must be national dialogue.
- Free, fair and democratic elections must be organised in an environment where the huge majority of Haitian people are neither excluded nor repressed as they have been up until today.
An Author Of The Black Holocaust
One of the architects of the Bush policy towards lesser breeds without the law, such as Haiti, Cuba and ourselves, is Mr John Bolton. He was the lawyer who infamously walked into a Florida counting office in 2000 and announced that he was there to stop the recount.
He and others such as our recently departed ambassador, were part of the legal phalanx which won Florida, the United States and the World, for Mr G W Bush, as he was then. For such important work, he has to be properly rewarded, but he had to wait for his desserts until the dust apparently died down. But John Bolton has never been a man to lie low.
It was he who decided, all on his own, that if Cuba was not producing chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, she was on the point of doing so to supply them to terrorists around the world.
It took a delegation led by former President Jimmy Carter to nail that lie, but it was disproved eventually, unlike some other whoppers told by Bolton's elders and betters.
Bolton is notorious for his denigration of the United Nations, so when President Bush, as he now is, decided to reward his loyal henchman, where more appropriate (in the Bushian sense) to send him than to the United Nations.
The move has the same kind of lunatic logic as would putting a convicted child molester in charge of an orphanage, or a pyromaniac in charge of the fire brigade.
Perhaps fortunately for the rest of us, some of the people Mr Bolton has dissed on his way up are beginning to speak out about the character of the man. He turns out to be a bully of extraordinary vengefulness, chasing one USAID contractor halfway across former Soviet East Asia because she wouldn't do what he wanted her to do.
He tried to get various civil servants fired because they disagreed with his idiosyncratic view of America's enemies. To put it mildly, he is a thoroughly noxious specimen and a danger to world peace.
He is a former sidekick of the notorious Otto Reich, himself formerly the gauleiter (or perhaps Tetrarch) of our part of the Third World. Both are the intellectual spawn of that dedicated racist, Jesse Helms, the former senator from South Carolina.
No one knows how Otto Reich's pet terrorist, Jose Posada Carriles, made his way back into the United States where he is now seeking political asylum. But in my perhaps prejudiced mind, Reich and Bolton and other members of the Florida vigilantes must somehow be responsible for the return of this convicted murderer and terrorist.
Whatever happens to Mr Bolton's nomination, and it now seems doomed to implode, we can, I am sure, expect more action in these parts designed to prove that we do not deserve to be counted as people with commonly recognised human rights.
Clearly, regimes which can tolerate the impunity of Posada Carriles, the imminent trial of Haiti's former minister of justice, the forced return of refugees and the hunting down of people for their politics cannot believe that Haitians, Jamaicans and Cubans deserve to be treated according to the Conventions of Geneva or The Hague or, for that matter, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.