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Randall Robinson: The U.S Role in Haiti; and a Reflection on Aristide

March 24, 2010
Randal Robinson, a clear supporter of ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide discusses the U.S. role in Haiti over its 200 year history.
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As I’ve stated before, I am neither a supporter nor detractor of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide. I do believe the method of his ouster as President was beyond unfortunate and that the U.S. under the Bush administration had a clear role in orchestrating his departure. However, I am not one of those on the left who lionize Aristide as the solution
for all of Haiti’s problems either.
I believe that parties on both the Left and the Right do a great deal to either romanticize Aristide as some mass savior of the poor and disenfranchised, or demonize him as radical left wing mad man. Both extremes fail to acknowledge the reality that Aristide was simply at his a core a Haitian Politician. And for those familiar with the nature of Haitian Politicians, even the most benevolent among them, we know that along with that benevolence comes its share of corruption, intimidation, and sometimes worse. This is not an indictment of Jean Bertrand Aristide. This is an indictment of the whole Haitian political atmosphere. It is an atmosphere that is toxic to any notion of honest political discourse or sophisticated and enlightened political leadership devoid of rhetoric and demagoguery.
In my opinion Aristide was neither a solution to the Haitian problem, nor its cause, but was in reality an adequate representation of the nations fractured 200 year old class and color divisions compounded with all the horrid aspects of international intrigue one could imagine. Nonetheless, Aristide was truly the first legitimate democratically elected President Haiti had seen, perhaps in its 200 year history. But in a country where over 60% of the population lives in crippling poverty and illiteracy, combined with a social environment poisoned by the most horrific class divisions, should we applaud that fact considering the ease by which flaming rhetoric and class resentment can be used to sweep Presidents into elected office?
At this time what Haiti needs is for its sons and daughters from abroad who have not been poisoned by its traditional political climate to participate in the decision of who will govern that country. This is the only way to ensure that the same vicious cycle of incompetence, corruption, and oppression do not engulf  Haiti’s political future. I suggest not only should the Haitian Diaspora be able to vote in the coming elections, but those Haitians born in Haiti, even if living abroad as residents, should be encouraged to run for political office in their homeland. I see no other solution to Haiti’s political problems.
A fresh perspective needs to brought by Haitians who have lived in countries where the rule of law is given credence, as opposed to graft, and political intimidation.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Marie-Claude Rigaud MD, MPH permalink
    March 24, 2010 3:34 pm

    My memories of Mr Robinson’s actions and statements on behalf of Haiti are rather negative. His actions ans statements were ill conceived and actions he suported eneded up to be disastrous for the country. They also refelct a lack of knowledge and sensitivity for the culture of Haiti. First, he engaged in a period of fast to get the US Military to repeat the 1915 invasion of the Republic, just to arrange for Mr Aristide ‘s return. Then in an interview with Brian Gumbel, 2 days after the invasion, Mr Robinson declare that his vision for Haiti was that that country would “regain its rightful place among the ENGLISH (?) speaking nations of the Caribean.” Mr Robinson did not know that Haiti is a French and creole speaking country? or maybe heis desire was to completely transform Haiti to his liking?

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