CPUSA: Restore democracy in Haiti!

The National Board of the Communist Party USA released the following statement on March 10.

In its latest blow for “regime change,” the Bush administration – acting together with some of the world’s most bloodthirsty thugs – has toppled the democratically elected, working people-oriented government of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The term coup d’etat surely applies to the scenario Aristide described, in which an elected president was taken from home in the middle of the night by heavily armed U.S. forces, spirited onto a plane, whisked to an isolated country thousands of miles away, and held incommunicado except for a smuggled cell phone.

U.S. interference in Haiti’s affairs is an old story. The current intervention is the 33rd time the U.S. military has entered Haiti since it was founded. The U.S. occupied Haiti from 1915-1934.

The coup against Haiti is part of a Bush administration drive to replace democratic governments in this hemisphere that strive to fulfill ordinary people’s needs with governments completely subservient to the corporate rulers of the United States. The heroic people of Cuba have withstood intense pressure from the Bush administration and its predecessors for decades, the Venezuelan people are currently engaged in a sharp struggle to uphold their fledgling popular democracy, and other such struggles loom on the horizon.

In 2000, Jean-Bertrand Aristide won Haiti’s presidential election with 92 percent of the vote. President George W. Bush (“selected,” we recall) began immediately to plan Aristide’s ouster, with the help of such key administration staffers as Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega – a former aide to extreme right Sen. Jesse Helms and a fervent opponent not only of Aristide, but also of the choices made by the people of Cuba and Venezuela.

At the same time the Bush administration was channeling tens of millions to a political opposition largely based in Haiti’s wealthy elite that has never polled more than 12 percent support, it withheld over half a billion dollars in direct economic aid to Haiti. It also blocked previously approved loans of nearly $150 million by the Interamerican Development Bank and World Bank – funds slated for health care, education, transportation and safe drinking water. (Incredibly, Haiti was required to pay interest on the loan package anyway.)

Despite all this, the Aristide government built more schools since 1994 than had previously been built since independence, launched a broad literacy program, and focused health care efforts on prenatal and maternal health as well as anti-HIV measures.

It is highly revealing that the Bush administration continued to back a “political opposition” that rejected proposals for a political solution, including new national elections, put forward by the Caribbean nations and others, at the same time the Aristide government was accepting them. In doing so, the “political opposition” paved the way for the return of the same armed thugs whose crimes have made Haiti a killing ground for decades.

The mainstream media’s intense bias against the Haitian people is shown by its consistent highlighting of alleged violence by Aristide supporters, while covering up the murders, assaults and other violence committed against the government’s backers.

The Communist Party USA wholeheartedly backs the calls by Congressmembers Barbara Lee, John Conyers and others, as well as the Caribbean nations, for an immediate, thorough investigation of the Bush administration’s coup against Haiti, including who supplied money, arms, logistics and training for the return of former army and death squad criminals.

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide must be returned at once to his rightful position as the country’s only legitimate president. His physical safety and freedom to speak and act – and that of officials and supporters of his government – must be guaranteed. The economic and humanitarian aid to Haiti that has been so cruelly denied by the U.S. should be released at once.

Finally, the Bush administration’s overt and covert attacks on the peoples and governments of such countries as Cuba and Venezuela must stop.

A prime goal of forces for democracy in our country is a resounding defeat for Bush and the Bush doctrine in November, and the building of a people’s foreign policy based not on “regime change” and preemptive strikes, but on peace and solidarity.