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rebels promise to arrest Hatian PM, and other stories...,
lyn duff attempts to deal with the media's narrative arch on Aristide:
How then to reconcile Titid the humanist with what the media calls a despot of Haiti?
I don't know, and frankly, I've been struggling with that question. When I spoke with Haitians working for a few pennies an hour sewing clothes for American companies, I was frustrated that Aristide insisted on following a democratic process to raise the minimum wage knowing that the process would be slower and result in a lower minimum than if he just unilaterally raised it himself.
I can relate.
I still haven't seen a convincing basis for the allegation that he was somehow worse than any other typical third world political boss. Limbaugh yesterday repeatedly called him a dictator, a thug, and other playground names - which is an accurate description of a lot of the countries who recieve aid every year from the US government without much debate, in this hemisphere the top recipient of US aid remains the leading human rights abuser, so a lot of this stuff, as usual, can't be taken seriously. So far the worst detail I've seen alleged is that he took too many plane-rides on the tax payer dime for trips to lobby foreign donors to unlock the aid they promised his government. Maybe he built a mansion for the office of Prime Minister too - how totally out of line. That his supporters were sometimes or often as violent as the opposition is true, but it still isn't clear exactly whether and to what degree it has been at the behest of Aristide.
Meanwhile he bowed to every concession Washington demanded while the opposition refused to budge, and made calls for his own supporters to refrain from violence while the opposition did little or nothing to call off their allies from the junta-insurgency. It just reeks of corruption, don't it?
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs has been straightforward in its analysis for months, Aristide isn't the tyrant you're looking for:
President Aristide has been shaped by his environment but he also is stunningly self-disciplined. He is a brave man, having skirted assassination on several occasions. He is stubborn and calculating, and is also self-contained and enormously intelligent. He is seized by the notion of his importance, both to his people and as a symbol to the world. Although he always calls for pacification and conflict resolution, he is not above lapsing into an Old Testament, “eye for an eye,” mode. He was the island’s most precious national democratic asset, but years of being hounded by U.S. political manipulation and a non-democratic opposition, the quality of his rule has diminished and the atmosphere in which he has been made to live, and in turn to which he has contributed, has become increasingly ugly.
But this isn't terribly important either way: with or without him Haiti is screwed, with or without him the administration has nothing but contempt for democracy. It is true when Powell says, when it's convenient for him, that elections aren't the only thing necessary for democracy: they are nevertheless a rather necessary component. There's obviously nothing there extreme enough to justify willfully overthrowing an elected and indisputably popular government, which is without question what we've done.
Plus: Hatian diaspora majority thinks Aristide should remain in office.