Monday, 10 January 1994

The Real Bertrand Aristide

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Have American passions subsided enough since last October to allow President Clinton to press onward again in his ill-fated campaign to "restore democracy" in Haiti? Will he get public and congressional support for putting the lives of American soldiers on the line and risking U.S. entrapment in another Third World quagmire? Will he be able to sell the American people on the idea of deploying U.S.-UN military forces in a crusade to install Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president of that pitiful land? Will we buy the incredible gimmicks of the Saint Aristide marketing blitz? Will the brazen disinformation campaign succeed in transforming the psychopathic, Marxist, renegade priest who advocates the most brutal terrorism into the Mother Theresa of Haiti?

Perhaps — to all of the above. Perhaps, that is, if the amazing propaganda organs of the establishment media can sufficiently synchronize their clamorous advocacy that passes for "news" to orchestrate an overwhelming compassion-and-outrage symphony: compassion for the suffering masses of Haiti; outrage over the brutality of the ruling regime and its defiance of U.S. (i.e. Clinton) and UN mandates. We are already well into the second movement of this sickeningly familiar tune, which faded briefly into the background so that other themes dear to the hearts of the new world order crowd (NAFTA, GATT, Brady bill, nationalizing the police, etc.) could come to the fore. But now we appear to be building toward a Haitian crescendo. Expect a dramatic surge of heart-rending photos of starving Haitian children and horrifying stories of torture and murder in Port-au-Prince to accompany the Clinton crusade for Aristide's "restoration."

Insider Admission
Does it sound like we are suggesting some kind of connivance among the media elites and the Clinton Administration to promote a secret agenda? A conspiracy of sorts? Well, don't take our word for it; take the Washington Post's. You cannot get much more establishment than that. For too many years "paranoid right-wingers" have complained about the cozy, conspiratorial relationship between key members of the major media and top government officials centering around the private Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Now comes the Post's Richard Harwood to verify what we "kooks" have known all along. In his Post column for October 30th [1993], entitled "Ruling Class Journalists," Harwood admits that CFR "members are the nearest thing we have to a ruling establishment in the United States."

"The president is a member," Harwood notes. "So is his secretary of state, the deputy secretary of state, all five of the undersecretaries...." And on and on he goes, through a litany of the CFR membership roster in the Clinton Administration. Not much new there for readers of this magazine; we've been pointing out for years the CFR's clean sweep of the major slots in every Administration (Republican and Democratic) over the past half century. But Harwood continues: "What is distinctively modern about the council these days is the considerable involvement of journalists and other media figures, who account for more than 10 percent of the membership." He mentions the CFR's new president, Leslie Gelb, who "for many years was a reporter and columnist for the New York Times," and "Strobe Talbott of Time magazine, who is now President Clinton's ambassador at large in the Slavic world."

"The editorial page editor, deputy editorial page editor, executive editor, managing editor, foreign editor, national affairs editor, business and financial editor and various writers as well as Katherine Graham, the paper's principal owner, represent The Washington Post in the council's membership," observes Harwood. Ditto for the other media giants: the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, NBC, CBS, ABC, et al. Most revealing was this admission: "They do not merely analyze and interpret foreign policy for the United States; they help make it" (emphasis added).

Harwood then quotes an article by Jon Vanden Heuvel in the Media Studies Journal on this influence. Vanden Heuvel says, "By focusing on particular crises around the world [the media are in a better position] to pressure government to act .... Humanitarianism has taken on new dimensions as a component of American foreign policy, and the media are largely responsible." The CFR-orchestrated, globalist, one-world-view media, that is. Harwood sees no ethical problems in these "relationships" and no "conflict of interest" danger "when journalists get cheek and jowl with the establishment."

Unless many more Americans get wise to this cheek and jowl relationship, however, the "ruling class journalists" will once again stampede public support (or the appearance of public support) for U.S. intervention in a "humanitarian crisis" -- this time in Haiti. This incestuous CFR-media-Administration affair has been plainly evident in the concerted disinformation campaign these Insider forces have mounted concerning all aspects of the Haiti situation.

Establishment Darling
The fix was in long before Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide was invited to the heart of the American Establishment, CFR headquarters in New York, on September 25, 1991, to deliver a speech entitled "Haiti: The New Approach to Democracy." As we shall see, that "new approach" bears striking resemblance to approaches we have witnessed elsewhere. When Aristide's seven-month-old regime was overthrown just four days after his speech to the CFR, the entire globalist-leftist Establishment came rushing to his aid. He is the darling, for example, of the Socialist International (SI) and enjoys the active support of Socialist French President Francois Mitterrand and his activist wife, Danielle. Michael Barnes (CFR), the former Democratic congressman from Maryland, who as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Western Hemispheric Affairs did so much to aid the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the FMLN terrorists in El Salvador, came on board as Aristide's attorney and chief image doctor. The politically correct literati and the Hollywood gliterati shower him with money and affection.

Aristide's cause has not been hurt, of course, by the fact that Haiti's history since independence in 1804 has been one of continuous upheaval and a long series of corrupt, oppressive regimes. The (U.S.) overthrow in 1986 of the 30-year-old Duvalier dynasty initiated a succession of coups and counter-coups which culminated in the current military government under Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras. No one claims the general is a choirboy, but the effort to paint his admittedly brutal regime even blacker than it is serves principally to provide a pretext for the forcible return of Aristide to power by "the international community."

To this noble end, nowhere has the Haiti disinformation been more blatant than in the media's sanctification of "Father" Aristide. Although smaller in magnitude and intensity than the massive, adulatory media orgy accorded Nelson Mandela, the Aristide campaign was torn from the same handbook: "How to Deify a Communist Terrorist in One Easy Lesson." It is a well-worn manual that has been used time and again by the CFR "ruling class journalists" to elevate murderous, revolutionary thugs (Mao, Ho, Fidel, Che, Ben Bella, Tito, Stalin, Lumumba, Machel, Bosch, Jagan, Arafat, Gorbachev come readily to mind) to the divine pantheon.

New York Times reporter Elaine Sciolino (CFR) writes, "Among Haitians who elected [Aristide] ... he is a beatific visionary, a brave leader who knows eight languages, writes poetry and composes hymns on his guitar and is willing to risk his life for his people." Which is pretty much the way Ms. Sciolino's CFR colleagues have presented him to us.

The Dark Side
That same elite fraternity recoiled in collective horror and derision when Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) challenged their carefully nurtured fraud by calling Aristide a "psychopath." Speaking on the floor of the Senate on October 20th [1993], the senator declared: "I do not think we have any business whatsoever ... risking the life of one soldier or one sailor or any other American to put Aristide back into office."

How did the senator arrive at his decidedly contrarian view of the Haitian demigod? By simply taking a look at the objective evidence concerning Aristide — evidence that Harwood's "ruling class journalists" have consciously suppressed. The real Aristide is not a pretty picture. He has borrowed heavily from his mentors, Nelson and Winnie Mandela and their ANC (African National Congress) terrorist thugs. Aristide has proven himself a quick study in ANC-style mob violence and has adopted as his trademark the ANC's "necklace," which he calls Pere Lebrun.

The necklace, of course, is a terrifying instrument of torture and murder that members of the ANC have used on thousands of fellow black Africans. For those unfamiliar with this "beautiful tool" (Aristide's words), it is an automobile tire filled with gasoline or diesel that is put around the neck of a helpless victim and set aflame. Unfortunately for Aristide and his image doctors, he was caught on television cameras in a murderous harangue inciting his followers to necklace the opposition. Embarrassing (and damning) video footage of Aristide's speech to his tire-and-gasoline-toting supporters in Port-au-Prince on September 27, 1991 is a little tough to reconcile with the saintly image. Here's a sample of the gospel according to Jean-Bertrand:

A faker who pretends to be one of our supporters, just grab him; make sure he gets what he deserves with the tool you now have in your hands [referring to the tire "necklaces"]. The burning tire -- what a beautiful tool! What a beautiful instrument! It's fashionable. It smells good. And wherever you go, you want to smell it.

But this damning video footage is just one straw in a whole haystack of terribly unflattering evidence against this "man of God" that keeps surfacing despite the best efforts of the "news" managers to cover it up. Like, for example, Aristide's prized painting depicting him in his Pere Lebrun glory. Senator Helms described it in his October 20th Senate speech:

President Aristide kept this painting on the wall of his presidential office. It depicts Aristide smiling down on a crowd brandishing the automobile tires. On the other side is another pile of tires and a bottle of gasoline and a book of matches. And on the painting are these words [in Creole] which translated read: "If our power is threatened, Little Aristide, if you have a problem, command us to march and solve them with necklacing."

In order that more of his colleagues might become familiar with this evidence and many other discomfiting facts about the vaunted Haitian messiah, Senator Helms proposed to Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine) and Minority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) that they immediately request the Administration to send over from the CIA "a knowledgeable and candid representative to discuss the situation in Haiti." Amazingly, they did just that. Even more amazingly, the CIA also complied. That very afternoon, in the secure room on the fourth floor of the Capitol, the senators were given a classified briefing on Aristide that amply verified the North Carolina senator's concerns. Unfortunately, only 13 Senators attended the briefing: McCain, Cohen, Bennett, Helms, Kerry of Massachusetts, Exon, Nickles, Burns, Pell, Dole, Domenici, Pressler, and Murkowski.

Many of the other members of that august body decided not to be bothered with the facts, and opted instead to go to a love-in with President Aristide on the first floor of the Capitol. At that media event, Aristide denied Senator Helms' charges and the evidence Helms had presented.

But Helms was not about to let Aristide off the hook. The next day, October 21st, he exposed the Haitian's duplicity. "Aristide said yesterday that he did not know anything about the painting," Helms noted. "I just happen to have here a photograph of Aristide holding a photograph of that painting." A devastating counterpunch, but, as usual, the "ruling class journalists" were not interested in any evidence that might blemish their champion's hallowed image.

Religion of Violence
These same media mavens studiously ignore the unpleasant information on Father Aristide available from the religious order to which he once belonged, the Salesian Missions. Fr. Edward Cappelletti, director of the Salesian Missions in New Rochelle, New York, could tell them a great deal that runs counter to the popular myth. Father Aristide "was asked to leave the Salesian Society because of his continued involvement in politics," Father Cappelletti told THE NEW AMERICAN. "For two years we were after him to drop his political activism. We told him it's either one or the other. He chose politics."

Not just any politics, mind you. "He was using the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a vehicle for violence," the Salesian director explained. "At the Offertory of the Mass, for instance, he would have his followers come up and 'offer' their machetes, lay their machetes on the altar. Then he would name the enemies who were to be killed and send his people out with their machetes and 'necklaces' to kill them."

What about Aristide's much-praised commitment to the poor? Fr. Cappelletti explains that there are 40,000 Salesian priests, brothers, nuns, and lay missionaries "working with the poorest of the poor" in 114 countries, operating 365 trade schools and 200 orphanages. "But we've never confused our work or the Gospel with Marxism and liberation theology, as some others have." The only other case that Father Edward could recall remotely paralleling Aristide's was that of a Fr. Gerardi "back in the 1960s, when everything was going wild."

Moreover, says the Salesian director, "Father Aristide didn't really work with the poor, as is usually told. He did work at one of our trade schools for a while, but he stayed away from the really poor shanty town areas. His supporters claim he runs an orphanage, but it is really a front, it hasn't done anything that amounts to anything for the children."

And how about the claims that he is mentally unbalanced? "He has been described as a psychopath, and that is true, he really is one," Fr. Edward told THE NEW AMERICAN. "He's definitely had serious psychological problems. There were reports recently in the media that investigators went to Port-au-Prince and could find no psychiatrists who could verify the charges. Well, no one is going to talk now, for fear of losing his life .... Father Aristide is like a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. We sent six superior generals down there to see him. Each time he would humbly agree to change his ways, but as soon as they were gone he would go his own way again .... He is usually very disarmingly mild and softspoken, but when he gets up to deliver one of his tirades he is transformed into something entirely different."

Use of Voodoo, Gospel of Violence
Does Aristide use voodoo to further his revolutionary political agenda? Most definitely, says Fr. Edward, noting the common expression that Haiti is "85 percent illiterate, 80 percent Catholic, and 110 percent voodoo." Haitians are very superstitious and voodoo permeates their entire society and culture. "Every night, as soon as it gets dark, the voodoo drums start .... If you look at the symbol of Aristide's campaign, you'll see that it is the cock, which is a powerful symbol in voodoo. He is using voodoo to build up his own cult following just like Papa Doc [Duvalier]."

While acknowledging the sorry state of human rights under the current regime, if Aristide returns to power Fr. Edward expects things to worsen, especially for members of the clergy. "His followers claim that when they are in power they will kill all the white missionaries and rape all of the nuns." There is little reason to doubt their threats.

The U.S. government would have no business or authority committing American blood and treasure to "restoring" Aristide to power even if he were the saintly statesman his public relations lobby swears he is. In light of the overwhelming evidence that he is clearly a vicious and murderous thug, it is not only unconscionable, but criminal, for our leaders to continue any support for this dangerous and immoral UN misadventure.

Father Aristide's Gospel of Violence
Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide's fondness for notorious dictators — the more totalitarian and anti-American the better — is well documented. One of the first regimes he initiated contact with upon taking office was that of Libyan niceguy Moammar Gadhafi. Fidel Castro is another esteemed comrade. Aristide's speeches are peppered with paeans to the bearded one. Here is a sample:

We should have discovered in the electoral campaign of this devil called Reagan, the satanic spirit was dancing in Reagan's head ....  The same spirit that Jesus chased while he was on earth ....Isn't this the same bad spirit that danced in the head of Batista whom Fidel Castro fought?... [D]uring Reagan's campaign ... there were certain individuals ... who were working on a special project, which resulted in attracting 600,000 individuals who were against the Cuban Revolution. It was done to stop the good work that the revolution was doing in Cuba .... Can they dare come to Cuba?... Can they touch the ground of Cuba?... Cuba draws the line and dares America to cross it.

The Clinton-Christopher State Department can prattle all it wants about promoting democracy and human rights in Haiti, but it knows full well that its own Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1991 and 1992 both show Aristide for the butcher he is. In the 1992 volume, we read, for instance:

In the case of the killing of former Duvalierist cabinet minister Roger Lafontant, the Haitian army officer who was the penitentiary commander at the time of Lafontant's murder claimed in a 1992 discussion with U.S. Government officials to have received a personal telephone call from President Aristide on the evening of September 29, 1991 ordering him to kill Lafontant.

Aristide has made much political hay over the human rights abuses of Raoul Cedras' military junta. "President Aristide, however," notes the State Department's 1991 report, "appeared less concerned about prosecuting members of the military accused of human rights abuses if they were supporters or appointees of his Government." The report continues:

The police on July 26 tortured and murdered five young men who were in police custody; following an investigation, the Army recommended to President Aristide that a lieutenant and the enlisted men under his command at the time be brought to trial for the killings. The President attempted publicly to exonerate the officer, believed to be a militant Aristide supporter .... The Aristide Government made no effort to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the wholesale killing, looting, and burning that occurred after the failed Lafontant coup in January.

Moreover, reports the State Department document, "The Aristide Government repeatedly attempted to interfere with the judicial process or usurp it through 'mob justice.' Shortly after assuming office, and without consultation with the Senate, the Aristide Government attempted to appoint five new justices to the Supreme Court" in violation of the Constitution. So much for the "role of law." But there is more:

On July 29 [1993], Roger Lafontant was tried after he was charged with attempting to overthrow the Government by force in January. In public comments prior to the trial, President Aristide said that he believed Lafontant should be condemned to life in prison for his crime, although Haitian law calls for a maximum sentence of 15 years. On the day of the trial, hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the courthouse, carrying tires and gasoline cans and threatening to kill the judge in the case if Lafontant were not condemned to life in prison.

It came as little surprise, then, when the judge ignored the law and promptly sentenced Lafontant to life in prison at hard labor. But, as we have already seen, Aristide dramatically shortened Lafontant's sentence a couple months later -- with a telephone call ordering his execution. Judges weren't the only ones terrorized into abandoning Aristide opponents to the will of the divine mob. "Lawyers and human rights groups were afraid to take on such cases because of Aristide's continued ambiguity about mob violence," says the State Department report. Ambiguity? The president publicly, explicitly calls on his frenzied mobs to terrorize, torture, and murder his opponents, and they enthusiastically carry out his commands.

There was nothing ambiguous about the cruel fate of Silvio Claude, head of Haiti's Christian Democratic Party, who fell victim to Aristide's "Lavalos" (mobs) in September 1991. He was beaten, necklaced, and mutilated, and his body then dragged through the streets by the Lavolos.

This article was originaly published in the January 10, 1994 issue of The New American magazine.

Photo: Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristde after a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, Jan. 15, 2010: AP Images

Related article:

Inflicting Aristide — and More Pain — on Haiti