Haiti & Me: In Search Of Jean Bertrand Aristide
07 February 2014
When thinking about Haiti, a lot of people think first
about that terrible earthquake disaster of 2010 -- and
also about President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. And I do
too. So on my first day in Port au Prince, I toured
most of the earthquake disaster areas. And on my third
day there, it only seemed logical that I also attempt
to meet up with the great man himself. And I actually
came THIS close to doing that too!
After recovering from wandering around the Carrefour
district's Carnival celebration the night before, I
then went over to check out Aristide's house.
"President Aristide is actually here today," said the
guard at the door, "but he's not seeing visitors right
now. However, you can always wave to him on our
closed-circuit TV camera." Great idea! So I smiled and
waved and smiled and waved at the CCTV camera like the
idiot tourist that I am.
Next I went off to visit Aristide's Foundation Pour la
Democratie and looked around there. Met some
interesting diplomats, students, professors and a
Then I visited UniFA, a medical school established by
Aristide in order to create more doctors in Haiti --
where the ratio of Haitians to doctors is 10,000 to 1
in urban areas and 20,000 to 1 in the countryside (no
wonder vodou cures are so popular here). "How many
students study here?" I asked a bright-eyed first-year
physician wannabe, sitting outside eating her lunch
between classes. (Actually all the students here are
clearly bright-eyed and diligent and idealistic -- all
young, gifted and Black. Go them.)
"About 700," the student replied.
"So can you tell me how cure my sore knees?" I asked.
"No, we haven't gotten that far in our curriculum
quite yet." Rats.
Lastly, I stopped by a large apartment building that
had been constructed during Aristide's presidency in
order to house some of Port au Prince's homeless
population, right before GWB sent in the Marines. Two
things about this apartment building were note-worthy.
First, it was the only building for blocks around that
had actually withstood the 2010 earthquake. And,
second, the apartments all had two bedrooms, a
bathroom and a kitchen.
In stark contrast, directly across the street one
could also see a hundred-odd new U.N. housing units --
such as they were. Each family had been allocated a
really really small cube-shaped one-room dwelling with
no bathroom, no bedroom, no kitchen and no running
water. And their shared port-a-potties were all way
down the street.
So just exactly who is this guy Jean-Bertrand
Aristide? And why do American neo-cons and
corporatists all hate him so much? I don't know. Maybe
because Aristide doesn't want to keep Haiti forever
"barefoot and pregnant"? Maybe because Aristide, a
former priest, actually tries to practice the
teachings of Jesus? Your guess is as good as mine.
In any case, here's a bit more about Aristide's
back-story for those of you who have never heard of
the guy. In 2001, Aristide was democratically elected
as president of Haiti, just one year after George Bush
stole the 2000 American election. But, unlike GWB,
Aristide's emphasis was on inclusion and education.
In just the few years that he was president, Aristide
built more schools in Haiti than had ever existed in
all of its long miserable history of being controlled
by U.S. interests. Aristide also devoted 20% of the
nation's budget to healthcare. Good grief! No wonder
Wall Street and War Street hated him. And overthrew
him too. Violently. In favor of deadly U.N.
"peacekeepers" and the Marines, who immediately shot
everything up and turned UniFA into a military
barracks. That was back in 2004. http://www.projectcensored.org/
And now, ten years later, Haiti has been stuck with
President Michel Martelly, aka the "Neo-Cons' Choice,"
elected in the same way that the U.S. got stuck with
Dubya -- illegally. "He is our guy!" cries Wall
Street, War Street and the Deep State. http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/
And now WalMart is once again happily running
sweatshops in Haiti, where workers get paid $4.56 a
day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =rVx2dl3Hgso
What the freak was Aristide thinking!
Surely Aristide should have known that anybody who
denies WalMart access to economic slave labor is
naturally gonna be in big trouble -- and educating a
country's children and providing its citizens with
healthcare is also a really bad idea because then
countries like Haiti will no longer have a subservient
labor force and a really dumb electorate -- and that's
just not the corporatist way. Aristide should have
known better. Most Even Americans are clear on this
concept, keeping their eyes down and their mouths
shut. Why couldn't Aristide do the same?
And if you still want even more information on
Aristide and Haiti, here's a great video to watch:
PS: I truly love being in Haiti! It's an amazing
country. You all should all come visit it sometime.
And, unlike those nasty rumors spread by neo-cons
hell-bent on colonizing Haiti for fun and profit,
Haiti is perfectly safe. And it's lovely here too.
PPS: Here's another interesting fact about Haiti: The
whole population of this country has African DNA. So
far, I'm the only white person I have met in all of
Port au Prince. For instance, there were over 2000
people at the carnival in Carrefour last night -- and
only yours truly was white. And you know what? No one
cared -- because everyone was having such an amazingly
wonderful time there, dancing in the streets, even me
(except, of course, for my sore knees).