A denial of beautiful dreams
1st May, 2004
Haiti is a failed state: one of those places that just can’t seem to get its act together, despite the best efforts of benevolent Western powers. Or so the mainstream media would have you believe. Yet history tells us a more complicated story.
‘Behind mountains there are more mountains’ is a popular Haitian saying that describes both Haiti’s landscape and its tortured history. The recent political upheaval in the Caribbean country represents yet another mountain for the poor majority of its population. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the 1804 declaration of independence by Haiti’s self-emancipated slaves. Two centuries after that declaration, on February 29 this year, the country’s elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was either kidnapped by US forces or fled in the face of an armed revolt, depending on whose story you believe. One truth that cannot be denied is that Haiti’s traditional power brokers have now removed the former Catholic priest Aristide from office twice.
Last autumn, after having boycotted Haiti’s presidential elections in 2000 and organising an unsuccessful coup a year later, the opposition began a concerted campaign to oust Aristide. The exact details of the 2004 coup will probably not be known for 30 years, when certain countries’ archives release pertinent material, but some things are clear even now.
The opposition, consisting primarily of the country’s...
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