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Five years ago, after the catastrophic Haiti earthquake, the international community – a self-defined “Core Group” under the leadership of former President Bill Clinton – took over Haiti recovery and reconstruction and announced they would “build Haiti back better.” But this was a euphemism for land grabbing, privatization, occupation and imperial plunder. Black lives don’t matter in the United States, much less in Haiti.
Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, responsible for the death of thousands and the theft of millions, who moved openly in the society of Haitian elites protected by the government, died on Oct. 4 a free man. He reportedly suffered a heart attack at the home of an associate in a wealthy enclave above Port-au-Prince. Baby Doc may be dead, but Duvalierism is embedded in this upside down Haiti of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their presidential puppet, Michel Martelly.
In March of 2011, I accompanied Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on his trip home to Haiti following years of forced exile in South Africa. I did so in support of Haitian democracy and Aristide’s civil rights, and in protest against my country’s role in illegally removing him from power in 2004 and then preventing him from returning to his native land for seven long years. Today, Haitian democracy and the rights of Aristide are again under threat.
At great personal risk, Haitians demonstrated massively in cities throughout the country on Sept. 30 and Oct. 17, calling for President Michel Martelly to step down. By choosing historically significant dates marking past coups, the Haitian grassroots majority is clearly saying they want an end to 10 years of military occupation. Martelly’s police force brutally broke up some demonstrations with tear gas and beatings.
Haitian President Michel Martelly has managed to inspire popular opposition to his regime almost since his election in May 2011. Martelly, who came to office in a grossly unrepresentative process which excluded Lavalas, the country’s most popular party, has been closely linked with figures around former dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.