Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Aristide
(Aired 25 March 2004)

   I have always been a big supporter of the United States, I consider it to be the best country to live in on the planet where all citizens enjoy equal opportunities, regardless of race, colour or creed. I supported them in the Iraq war much to the disgust of many of my close friends, since I perceived Saddam Hussein to be an evil man.

   But my admiration for the country cannot make me blind to its shortcomings. The people of the US are by and large a very caring, moral people and would report you and have you locked up if they see you beating your dog.

   But there are elements in their Government's State Department that destroy whole countries for no other reason than they will not accept to be told, by them, what to do.

  This brings me to Mr. Jean-Pierre Aristide, the President of Haiti.

   The US has claimed that Aristide was an evil President and that they were forced to help him by removing him from Haiti to save his life.

   Now ladies and gentlemen people can and do accuse me of all sorts of things, but no one has yet to accuse me of being a cowardly reporter or one who does not research his subject with much care.

    The US's side of this story is that Aristide rigged fraudulent elections in 2000, that he unleashed violent militias against his political opponents, that he brought Haiti's economy to the point of collapse and that he has brought his people to the point of humanitarian collapse.

   This commentator has studied every aspect of this matter for over three weeks and has come to the conclusion, that, this is all a pack of lies.

  First lets look at the elections, the British Guardian newspaper reported that after the 2000 elections an exhaustive and convincing report by the Coalition of Independent Observers concluded that "fair and peaceful elections were held in Haiti" and by the standards of the Presidential elections held in the US that same year, with Bush and Gore, the Haitian election was positively exemplary. So why did the OAS judge the elections unfair? Was it because Aristide won 16 out of the 17 seats in the election. It is noteworthy that the OAS and the US had agreed to the methodology of the way the votes would be counted before the elections; incredibly however after the elections when Aristide won they found problems with it.

   So notwithstanding fair elections which the US hoped Aristide would lose, Bill Clinton using the OAS's claims of flawed elections declared the elections fraudulent and set up an embargo on aid to Haiti, which has persisted to this day. In other words it became the stated position of the US to drive this poor HIPC country to economic collapse and deprive it of foreign aid totalling 500 million US in International funding during the period 2000 to 2004. Now remember that this is the same holier than thou America who would lock you up if you beat your dog for peeing on your carpet.

   Apparently the most serious indictment against Aristide was not that he was the perpetrator of creating phantom gangs killing people, the reason for his vilification by the US and French media is that he never learned to pander unreservedly to foreign commercial interests, he reluctantly accepted a series of severe IMF structural adjustment plans, but he refused to agree to the indiscriminate privatisation of state resources, and stuck to his guns over wages, education and Health.

   Apparently unlike Guyana, Haiti even though a very poor country is, according to Bill Fletcher of the Washington based Trans-Afri Forum and many other labour activists in the US, who tell us that the anti Aristide lobby in the US is fuelled by the interests of some of the largest and successful US corporations, mostly in the business to exploit Haiti's already poor workers.  

   In a 1997 book "Democracy Undermined and Economic Justice Denied in Haiti" writer Liz Mc Gowan tells us that Aristide's attempt to raise the minimum wage has been cited as one of the principle factors for the 1991 coup against his administration. The US's own Congressmember Barbara Lee claims in an interview with ‘Democracy Now' that Aristide  and his democratic government have been systemically destabilised by the US.

   Aristide is not a violent man, he in fact disbanded the Haitian military and its Militia which including the Ton Ton which were set up by Pa Pa Doc Duvalier to oppress the Haitian people and instead established a police force which proved in the end, to be too small to protect him from less than 200 rebels. Another question which remains unanswered is who armed and financed these rebels, if it was not the US itself, then it must have been the huge companies which were getting fat using cheap Haitian labour.

   In view of all of this, Prime Minister of Jamaica Patterson's call for an in-depth investigation into this matter is an absolute necessity.

   Aristide's downfall could signal that the US may be actively involved in keeping the door open to yet more ruthless exploitation of Latin American labour by US companies and that includes Guyana and all of Caricom. We have to say NO now, or we will regret it later.

   I am not a big fan of Mr. Hugo Chavez but the Haitian situation is being played out right next door to us, Chavez's problem is that he is giving fuel to the fire against him by aligning himself to Cuba, but Venezuela is a country of 24 million people, it is the fifth largest exporter of oil in the world but an incredible 78% of its people live below the poverty line, the fight going on in Venezuela now is the 22% rich population financing an economic revolution against Chavez, but there had to be trouble, there always is when 22% is keeping all the spoils and are letting nothing pass through to the poor below, and it is the American and other translationals that will be the most affected, if Chavez raises the living standard of the poor people in Venezuela, since labour and benefits will become more expensive and that means less profits for the huge companies operating there. By going so far to the left Chavez has damaged his credibility, but essentially his cause is just. I have no doubt that if there was a referendum or an election in Venezuela tomorrow Chavez would win.

  Both of these cases Haiti and Venezuela may just be examples of the biggest hypocrisy of all, i.e. the leaders of the world have joined together to crush democracies in the name of democracy.  

   I am all for the business class every one knows that, but I draw the line when the business class allows nothing to pass through that impervious layer at the top, to the people below in the name of capitalism and democracy, when that happens then it is time to look at the situation more carefully. And there is no necessity for it ladies and gentlemen, in fact it is stupid and short sighted, not allowing anything to trickle down is a recipe for disaster and 78% of the poor population in Venezuela are looking to people like Chavez for help. It is inevitable. I see it with such clarity that it is incredible to me that the rich people in Venezuela do not. That the US does not.