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The Indefinite Article.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Morning Notes: Haiti

What a strange world we live in. I've been following the Haiti/Aristide thing through the lense of Pacifica Radio (KPFT) and last night caught some mainstream TV. In some ways, the situation in Haiti leads me to believe that NPR/BBC is remarkably limited in their world-view, neither's coverage seems very strong to me. The Charlie Rose show last night was excellent, mostly because Rose had someone who was actually from Haiti, partly because he had a broad range of viewpoints:

  • a Republican congressperson (representing the administration),
  • a former state department official (representing US government history),
  • a professor from Columbia University (representing US opposition), and
  • a radio journalist from Haiti (representing a knowledgable and intelligible Haitian).

One of the conversational gyres was the Columbia prof saying that the current administration was undermining Aristide by withdrawing aid as soon as it came in office. The congressman affirmed this and stated that the US stopped monetary aid because Aristide was embezzling it; however, other forms of aid to Haitians, like food aid, have never stopped. Rose asks the Haitian journalist if this was the case, and she basically confirms it.

The prof then went on about how the stopping of monetary aid was more than just that because it caused a financial payment crisis as the government couldn't pay debt without the cash aid. I missed the response to this, but the point seemed pedantic. Ultimately, if the point about Aristide's aid abuse was correct, then shutting it off would suck, but would be a more preferable method of affecting positive change than sending in the Marines guns-a-blazing.

The Pacifica coverage of the evening took a pretty hard-line stance that the US is supporting the opposition and basically abducted Aristide. One of the more interesting points of coverage is that Aristide's bodyguard was an American company, paid for by the US State Department. I'm thinking, what the hell? If the US is anti-Haiti and anti-Aristinde, why would they spend money on his bodyguards and why would he accept that kind of aid? It doesn't seem to make any sense.

In some ways I wonder if this is a sideshow for other things happening. Maybe it is a sideshow because it has been a pretty slow-news month. Maybe it is a less confusing alternative to attention paid to Venezuela, which is pretty confusing (Caracas Chronicles). Who are the bad guys? What is democracy? What is the purpose of government other than an alternative to anarchy?

Oh, and is there anything about the story of US Special Forces coming in to get Aristide at the Presidential residence that reminds anyone of Ghost Recon scenarios?


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