Jan 27, 2011
Ezili Danto’s Note:
Re: Amy Wilenz’s article on the Nation.
Folks, I doubt, the Nation will publish the entirety of our comments, if at all, on Amy Wilenz’s article “Haiti Not for Amateurs” published by the Nation today.
It’s simply annoying to keep hearing this mainstream chorus that half of the Haiti population don’t remember the Duvalier horrors because they were not alive then. How do they know this? Did they poll half the Haiti population to find this out? I didn’t live under Duvalier’s tyranny, but I got it, just from the fear I grew up with on the tone of voice, the fear I grew up with on the faces of my cherished aunts, my cousins, my mother, my father, my grandparents who DID live under a Haiti where there was no freedom of expression or assembly. No human rights one could count on. I still can reach in and feel their fear, their terror since a child. They’re fear for me, even now, that, as a lawyer I step up to authority figures comes from their lives under Papa and Baby Doc. And what about the other half of Haitians in Haiti that do remember or the almost four million Haitians in the Haiti Diaspora that have NO PROBLEM remembering because, back then, their choice was to get killed or go into exile?. These clueless media folks repeating these facile statements add to the screams I hear, add to the lies that Haitians lack humanity, for who could not remember the horrors inherited as our legacy – the narrative we live everyday to replace? These so-call “Haiti expert” so destroy my nerves, I wrote to comment for those of us who didn’t live under Duvalier but who bore the repercussions anyway in the image of Haiti the Duvalier dynasty promulgated, that lives on in our cultural and even genetic memory by the fear and terror many Haitians still have for authority figures, the bottomless fear and bitterness some of our parents transmitted to us every day of our childhood. In RBM – Memoir of a Poet,, I wrote: “Father had left Haiti, but Haiti had cast a shadow and locked him inside.” That shadow affected, affects our lives as Haitians wherever we are in the world, ale wè si nou te leve an Ayiti …
It is critically important that those fake progressives who help sell-out our people’s struggle do not suddenly start to rehabilitate themselves over our heads when they see the tide turning to further co-op the long Haiti movement for freedom, social justice and self-determination, while our dead remain without justice, our living deeply traumatize, wounded and without human rights, basic services, dignity and Haiti sovereignty.
For the Ezili Network, here are the comments made about the Amy Wilenz article on the Nation:
Comment # 2 by Ezili Dantò of HLLN
I managed to finish this Wilenz dribble (“Haiti Not for Amateurs” ) and sufficed to say this opinion of Wilenz that “Duvalier’s return caused a teeny little dust devil to twirl along the streets of Port-au-Prince, stirring up memories of detention, torture, starvation and death, but arousing little in terms of popular support.” is just another huge Wilenz disconnect. Haitians are in SHOCK. How many more times must we die?
How evil is the evil that would not see the horror Haitians feel about the return of Duvalier, but would write that Haiti need someone strong who would go against privatization, the NGOs and the foreigners destroying local employment and domestic production. Say it and then opine that Preval is not strong enough to take on the NGO and international community, say it and then say if Aristide returned he would “raise a political whirlwind so strong that UN forces, constrained by international opinion, would hesitate to try to beat it back.” Isn’t that what Haiti’s poor, wounded, sick, excluded and abandoned majority needs Ms. Wilenz? Someone like President Aristide, strong enough to stand up to the international community, their sweatshop development, NGO false aid and resource/mine/environmental pillages? Or, is your personal problems with President Aristide who gave you access that allowed you to write the Rainy Season, so huge they overshadow you reading your own text here?
Comment # 1 by Ezili Dantò of HLLN
Indeed, Haiti is not for amateurs and Ms. Amy Wilenz, who created her Haiti resume on the strength of one book and her past personal relationship with President Aristide is nothing if not a rank amateur with an ax to grind. And she has used ink to do so in major US papers – expounding in great detail about the “the personal and political flaws” of President Aristide, whom she is now just remembering is a symbol, or as she puts it here in this article the “stand-in for the Haitian people.”
Since before the 2004 deportation of President Aristide to Africa by France, US, Canada, Ms. Wilenz had, like many bitter coup d’etat Haitians blamed the failure of President Aristide to cut through 200-years of structural violence against the masses by the Oligarchy and Western imperialist powers in the 7months he had the first term, or the 1year given in 1995 to set up elections or the 3years from 2001 to 2004 he barely survived – Ms. Wilenz was so disappointed that Aristide did not face down, like in a Lalaland 2-hour TV fairy tale, these powerful forces of the wealthy to change the effects of centuries of social and economic exclusion. So, Ms. Wilenz, as “Haiti expert” joined the State Department chorus that Aristide, in the embattled and limited time he was allowed in office, was a dictator similar to the terrorist Duvalier and that Haitians are their own worse enemies, not the Haiti Oligarchy that owns 90% of Haiti’s wealth and act as overseer for the United States and world corporatocracy.
Oh no, examine Ms. Wilenz’s articles since 2003 at the very least, and you will see the blood on her hands – the truth may have stopped the US/UN sponsored slaughters in Site Soley from 2004 to 2006 in an effort to stop the demand for the return of President Aristide. No, Ms. Wilenz was not into that truth. She was busy writing about how the Aristide “gangs” were Haiti’s most pivotal problem. That’s like saying the urban gangs in Los Angeles are America’s most pivotal problem. But that’s what Wilenz and the rest of the mainstream media did and that helped to install and entrench the bloody U.N. occupation that eventually brought Haitians cholera, infecting over 200,000 and killing 4000 innocent Haitians. The disservice Ms. Wilenz and her other mainstream media counterparts have done to the poor Haiti masses pushing against the return to dictatorship, the exclusion of the people, cannot be overstated. Today, due to their half-truths and outright lies, the US and France feel no compunction about allowing Jean Claude Duvalier back to Haiti. The ground was prepared by “Haiti experts” like Ms. Wilenz, who today still write that the US/UN sponsored Nov. 28, 2010 elections-without-an-electorate is some positive step towards Haiti democracy!
Anyways, I can’t get through Ms. Wilenz lies. I stopped reading the article when she wrote: The fighting for position in the ongoing election is mostly about who will control the valves on the stream of post-earthquake reconstruction dollars—in the billions—that are supposed to arrive once a new president is seated; not one of the major candidates is widely popular, although Michel Martelly, a compas bandleader whose music is well-known in Haiti’s urban centers, has a broad fan base there.”
Please readers, the facts are that all three of the candidates in the fraudulent elections that excluded Haiti’s masses are Duvalierists. Martelly the staunches in the pact and once a member of the Ninjas who roamed the streets with Toto Constant and Louis Jodel Chamblain, shooting President Aristide’s street children with impunity. And you better believe Ms. Wilenz already knows this. Just as she knows very well that international reconstruction dollars are not to benefit the Haiti majority but the donors themselves. Haiti is the place where the moniker of US benevolence or NGO benevolence is just that – a ruse to turn public dollars into private profit for USAID/State Department cronies. Foreign aid, NGO dollars, build up the opposition to Haiti justice and democracy, supports impunity like the return of Duvalier, not economic justice or national domestic interests of Haiti. That $10billion reconstruction funds is there – if it’s ever collected – to service not Haiti top politicians in this fraudulent election (Martelly, Manigat or Celestin) as implied by Wilenz here. But to service Bill Clinton, the UN and the country donors at the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission who have TOTALLY disenfranchised the majority of Haiti. The IHRC allows whoever becomes Haiti’s president in these fraudulent elections just a veto power. That’s it.
Haiti in under their legal protectorate. They, not the Duvalierist Haitian puppets are in line to control the earthquake reconstruction millions. Ms. Wilenz just makes more monies and get more published if she continues that colonial narrative about how more corrupt and greedy and violent and insidious Haiti leaders, not foreign leaders plundering Haiti’s misery, are.
Fact is Ms. Wilenz’s self-appointed title as “Haiti expert” has been used to get positions and funding and to garner the approval of the right-wing policymakers in the US and the middle class NGO benefactors of the trickle down funds – both Haitian and foreign – to press their poverty pimping “charity business” in Haiti for seven years now.
For years, Haitians have come to Ezili’s HLLN – a Haitian-led justice network – and asked that we respond to Ms. Wilenz misinformation and colonial narrative as expressed in her various articles, her racist and condescending “the enemy of Haiti is within Haiti” lies.
We’ve abstained until last week when one of our members requested we publish their comments arguing against Wilenz opinion (at “Haiti: Bringing Back Baby Doc” ) on how Haiti can’t get democracy right, implying that Haiti’s masses are not ready for participatory democracy.
Then today we read this “Haiti is not for amateurs” Wilenz article in the Nation, where the worst amateur on Haiti, continues her obfuscation of the truth with double-speak like: “Many parties were kept out, including the popular party of Haiti’s first freely and fairly elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who has been living in exile in South Africa since a coup backed by the international community forced him from power in 2004. Many see post-Duvalier Haitian politics as a back-and-forth between the forces who support Duvalier, a prototypical right-wing strongman, and those who support Aristide, theoretically a leftist prodemocracy leader. Although this analysis is grossly simplistic, it is also partly true.”
Partly true, Ms. Wilenz? Pray tell which part is not true. The one where you and the mainstream media painted President Aristide as a violent, corrupt politician who had lost the support of the Haitian population in 2004 and was taken out of office by a “popular uprising.” Isn’t that what you and the rest of the fake progressives impatient with the slow pace of uhmm US-style “democracy” and justice-for-the-poor-in-Haiti, have been writing for seven years since the 2004 Bush-the- lesser Haiti regime change? Why throw the truth in there, uhmm, partly, NOW?
Ezili Dantò of HLLN
Jan 27, 2011
For Ezili HLLN’s position of the return of the terrorist Baby Doc Duvalier, see also:
Interview Ezili Dantò, Ron Daniels on WBAI with Felipe J. Luciano, Jan. 21, 2011 (31:58).
Interview Ezili Dantò on WBAI with Esther Armah, Jan. 19, 2011
Ezili Dantò on Return of Dictatorship (Jean Claude Duvalier) to Haiti – Interview with Mark Bebawi on kpft.org, Jan. 17, 2011
Ezili Dantò on Haiti History – Interview with Martine Zhenga Volcy on Wrfg, Jan. 14, 2011 – Tribute to Haiti on one year anniversary of Haiti earthquake (35:14)
Jan 22, 2011
Amy Wilenz is Wrong Haiti’s masses do want participatory democracy
by Olivier Jarda
I have been subscribed to your (Ezili/HLLN) Listserve for a few years now and I would like to thank you for all of the great work you have done to advance Haiti’s cause.
After reading Amy Wilentz’ article “Haiti: Bringing Back Baby Doc” in yesterday’s Politico I felt the need to respond and have contacted the publication….Here is the (comment – see below).
Baby Doc Doesn’t Matter
by Olivier Jarda, Jan 20 , 2011, | Source: Via e-mail | posted by HLLN, Jan 22, 2011 @ 2:23pm
Amy Wilentz’ article titled “Haiti: Bringing Back Baby Doc” published today in Politico uses former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier’s return to remind us that Haiti can’t get democracy right. But the article, like much of the mainstream American reporting on Haiti, ignores the following question: what have democratic elections done for Haiti lately?
Speculating on why Duvalier returned and what it might mean for his fate and Haiti’s may be entertaining but I am skeptical that it’s useful. I believe that Duvalier should be brought to justice for the grave crimes he committed, but his return has served as a distraction that is overshadowing a more important ongoing political crisis that periodically sends Haiti into chaos: the country’s inability to democratically legitimate political power. During Haiti’s two-decade struggle with democracy it has yet to elect a president that has maintained the support of both the poor majority and of the wealthy elite. This has resulted in two coups, the reinstatement of a president and several popular uprisings in the wake of electoral fraud and political corruption.
Wilentz parallels the former Duvalier regime with the current electoral crisis and asserts that a successful presidential election would have meant a win for President René Préval’s chosen successor Jude Célestin, yet it’s clear that an electoral first round free of corruption would have gone to Michel Martelly, who doubtless had more popular support than either of the runoff candidates. As usual, none of the candidates were able to secure the support of the rich and poor. An ideal presidential candidate for the Haitian elite would protect their interests while pacifying Haiti’s poor with hope for change, but the poor majority has been spotting such candidates from miles away and ostracizing them for two decades.
The dominant narrative in the US media paints electoral corruption in Haiti as a question of cronyism, disorganization, and of a lack of resources, while it ignores a more fundamental cause, the fact that Haiti’s poor will not support a leader who plans to protect the institutional elitism that hangs their country by a noose. As long as the poor continue to value and fight for their democratic right to choose a leader that will promote their interests, democracy stands a chance in Haiti, inching ever further from Duvalier.