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October 3, 2005

What Happened in Haiti?
Or, "Does George Bush care about Black People?"

Bill Przylucki

      On July 6, 2005 something very important happened in Cite Soleil, an impoverished area of the Haitian capital city of Port-au-Prince. What we know is that the French and U.S. sponsored U.N. mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, carried out a military action, and a man named Dread Wilme was killed, along with some other number of Haitian citizens (between 5 and 80). Beyond this the facts become very cloudy, and that is a very big problem. The U.N. claims it was ridding the city of gangs. Many pro-Aristide sources report that it was a political attack on unarmed civilians, designed to intimidate a pro-Aristide support base.

      To fully understand the situation we have to rewind to February 2004. That is when democratically elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted by an armed coup that was supported by both France and the U.S. The "Interim Government" is still in power, backed by MINUSTAH, while the date for elections continues to be pushed back in the face of enduring popular support for Aristide.

      Nowadays Haiti is a war zone where MINSUSTAH and the Haitian Police carry out raids, like the one on July 6; and illegally imprison Aristide supporters, like Catholic priest Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste. At the same time, armed factions battle in the city of Port-au-Prince against the police in the name of returning Aristide's party to power. One of these armed leaders was Dread Wilme, the man killed in the Cite Soleil raid. Some claim he was a popular leader fighting for democracy in Haiti. The U.N. calls him a gangster.

      It is in this culture of violence, confusion, and strife that the MINUSTAH raid occurred on July 6, 2005. It is not just Dread Wilme that we can not figure out about. As far as I can tell, based on a LexisNexis search from July 6-July 18, no major American print publication gave the story any attention (I searched simply "Cite Soleil OR MINUSTAH" for those dates, major publications, and world news). The only news sources I got on the incident came from the U.N. website (obviously not a neutral source in this case), Left-wing blogs and listservs, and the Doctors Without Borders report that civilian gunshot wounds were significantly higher in Port-au-Prince that day than usual. In my frustrated attempts to find out what happened in Haiti I even submitted an article stub to Wikipedia, hoping someone would expand on it and provide some sources that I hadn't found. Nobody did. There was a PBS Wide Angle special on Haiti since then, but it didn't mention July 6, or any sort of Aristide-U.N. conflict at all.

      In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Kanye West claimed that George Bush does not care about Black People. Apparently, nobody really does, at least not about the world's First Black Republic (which, historically, has enfranchised people of all races). In a world where France and the U.N. lock horns with the U.S. over how to appropriately "spread democracy," they can all agree that Haiti should be kept in economic and political slavery to the Whiter world. The mainstream "liberal" media's refusal to cover a story that could blow Bush's credibility in Iraq leads me to believe that Black Haiti really does not matter to them. If the victims weren't Black, this would be great news! This complicit silence can only lead me to one conclusion: Haiti is still a neo-colony of the U.S. and France; and the U.N. funds the whole operation.

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