Haiti: Telling our own stories despite the media blackout on Aristide’s historic and triumphant return to a celebrity welcome
In this essay, I post six videos from the alternative news media – four from Democracy Now!, one from Aljazeera dealing with the huge and celebrity welcome for Aristide. The last video is by a young Haitian on the March 20th fantasy the US is calling an “election” in Haiti. (See, Haiti Abstains).
The purpose of this post, complete with Ezili HLLN’s on-the-ground-report of Aristide’s historic return to a celebrity welcome, is to tell our stories and honest vignettes of the historic return. Stories the mainstream media will not deign to record. (See, Why Aristide Shouldn’t Be Allowed Into Haiti By Tim Padgett, Time.com, March 21,2011 ).
At HLLN, we witness to ourselves like the sun. When I first sent this piece to the Ezili Network, a longtime supporter from California, wrote:
Why would they want to highlight the US/UN shame, embarrassment, and rejection, by African countries no less? And he returned on my birthday!!! What a great present. “
Another HLLN member from England, wrote:
“Sister, no surprise to those who believe in openness and understand the media but so many believe what they read and hear – prepared for it by their experiences of school, too…Exclusion has always been a tool of oppression and exploitation. The USA is extremely skilful at it. “
This writing is a libation poured for the Haitian ancestor’s legacy so maligned by the bi-centennial coup detat and dedicated to former president Jean Bertrand Aristide, now Doctor Aristide and his family, for his lion-hearted courage in always denouncing social and economic injustice in Haiti, his perseverance, love for the people of Haiti and for speaking truth to power.
It’s good to see the people’s happiness for once. But the change that’s needed in this world cannot take place with a person. Only structural change in the military-industrial complex that vies for Haiti’s soul, only change that puts people before profit has the potential for making a global and sustainable difference.
Without that fundamental change, at the end of the day, like with Obama in the U.S., no hope will translate into sustainable progress. Like Obama, the “change” will simply be reduced to a new window-dressing and re-branding of the same old monopolistic East and West India (trade and colonizing) Company and their pirates and mercenaries – all, of course, in sheep (Anderson Cooper/Bill Gates/Bono) clothing to obfuscate the despotic nature of the system, make it more consumable for these current times. The world Oligarchs or Nazi slave-traders, no longer up front, merely work behind these consumable curtains.
The profit-over-people system must be annihilated before any “leader” may be effective for the world’s people. At HLLN we believe, the world needs a new narrative, where certain universal access to basic health care, clean water/non-GMO foods, safe shelter, relevant education, human dignity/self-reliance, clean air/waterways and a healthy environment are deemed HUMAN RIGHTS of every human being in the world and governments are charged with making sure everyone has access to these basics ahead of corporate profits. The “free market” can haggle over all else with their manufactured supply and demand games. Of course, we dream… But it’s a dream worthy of our life force and talents.
In terms of this idea that the traders are “waiting” for a better and more competent native Haiti president, or are worried they Aristide’s return will further delay earthquake recover, this ruse is too old for sane people to still be buying it. It’s plain laughable. That old dog shouldn’t be able to hunt. Fact is, Haiti’s “recovery” would put 16,000 charities and the NGO industry in Haiti out of a job! So, there will be no recovery by US donor funds. Period, no comma. That the traders are “waiting” for “stability” in Haiti before they disburse back, for the “benefit” of NGO-colonized- and-UN occupied-Haiti the donor monies (profits) they’ve collected on the head of Haiti’s colonized misery/enslaved peoples, is too old a bait and switch trick. Since when do capitalists disburse their profits made on the misery of poor people back to said same poor people out of the goodness of their hearts? (Vision of Plantation #Haiti – A White Pearl, Again! ; The Plantation called Haiti: Feudal Pillage Masking as humanitarian Aid ; Colonization of Haiti’s food and seeds is not earthquake relief ; and Tell The Truth About Haiti Forum with Ezili Dantò of HLLN ).
On March 18, 2011, former president Aristide, in defiance of the United States, France, Canada and the UN, who each exerted tremendous power to stop his returned from their deportation to Africa, returned in a South African plane back to Haiti to a huge and historic celebrity welcome. We again thank president Zuma of South Africa and his government for refusing to keep former president Aristide a hostage any further and for not giving in to the pressure. Thank you.
The people in Haiti were so very happy they walked with president Aristide’s car the many miles from the airport to his residence in Tabarre.
Ezili HLLN’s on-the-ground report of Aristide’s historic return to a celebrity welcome
At HLLN we are just beginning to get the stories of the return. It’s such a miraculous Haiti achievement that not many of us, who have fought for this insult and injury to our African Ancestors, metered out in the year of our Bicentennial independence by the former slave-holding countries, have yet been able to properly process it.
The US and UN with a vested interests in portraying Haitians as violent, remain quiet now, with no violence to highlight to their readers. The media that has been telling readers that president Aristide had no popular backing, was corrupt and ousted in a “popular rebellion” have turned their heads the other way now, the shame of being exposed will soon turn to attack. Haiti’s poor expect their unscrupulousness. Batay la fèk kòmanse – the battle has only just begun.
But for now, we share a few of the happy stories.
When Aristide’s car got to his home, the dancing and singing crowd was so huge it took 45 minutes before he and his lovely wife, Mildred Trouillot Aristide and two precious girls, 14 and 12 years old – were able to get out and into the house. People just wanted to touch him, to hug him, to cherish the moment when Haiti beat back the elite’s rabid rage. (See the videos below).
An HLLN executive member, friend and my elder, who was inside the yard, explains that the return was supposed to happen on Wednesday. But because of the phone calls from France, from the UN and from Obama urging Zuma, South Africa’s president not to allow Aristide to return, Aristide didn’t arrive to Haiti until Friday.
“On Thursday,” he reports for HLLN to share with the Ezili Network, “we were told the plane would land at noon. So Friday morning we got up and started for the airport at 8 o”clock thinking we’ll beat the crowd. It seems the crowd had the same idea.
The roads to the airport were so back up, we couldn’t travel but a few blocks. So after an hour of trying, our group turned around deciding it was best to go wait for president Aristide and his family at his residence in Tabarre. But the road in front of the house was blocked, traffic was being diverted, they told us we couldn’t go that way. We turned around. Our driver knew another way to the residence and took us there.
When we got to the residence, we went through normal security, got patted down and allowed in by security. It was very professionally done. The house was newly painted, everything looked ready. The mango trees, the citrus trees, the pool, everything was ready for the president. I don’t know how they did it so fast because on Thursday when I was there, there was still a lot to do.
Within an hour after we got to the house, we started hearing noises from the outer courtyard. The house has two yards, an inner and an outer courtyard. We were standing in the inner courtyard right in front of the house when we heard security say ‘hey, you can’t come in here. You have to go back. You have to go back.’
And I saw security holding this one young person who had jumped over the tall walls from the now thousands of folks who stood outside the house gates. The security that had barely in hour before patted us down so formally, ran over and began to send him back out. And I heard other similar commands from security regarding others who had gone over the walls. But as soon as that happen another had jumped over the walls, another had scaled the mango trees to catch a glimpse. Within a minute a whole wave of human beings were climbing over walls and getting into the president’s yard, shouting:
‘Aristide’s house is our house. He won’t mind that we’re here.’
Bal kay li, se kay li. Li vin pran kay li. Viv Titid, bay Titid kay li. – Give him his house, that’s his house. He’s come back to claim his house. Long live Aristide, Give him his house.’
After the first three or four, it was people upon people coming over the walls, just a tsunami of people vaulting the walls, scaling the trees to catch a glimpse of Aristide and be with him at his house. They just wanted to be there, to touch him.
Soon everyone, right in front of the house broke into song, clapping and joyously singing: “Se pou tout ansanm fè youn. Se sa Aristide mande. Nou pa ka trayi san nou. San nou, se san Aristide. Li menm ki rasanble nou tout. Fò nou tout ansanm fè youn.”
Ezili Dantò: (English translation of song) – “We all must come together as one. That’s what Aristide has requested. We cannot betray our blood. Our blood is the blood of Aristide. He’s the one who has brought us together. All of us we must come together as one. All of us we must come together as one…”
“I was told this is an old Christian song about the blood of Jesus making us one which the Haitian people flipped around and adopted for the Lavalas movement song about Aristide.”
Ezili Dantò: “But it’s also from Vodun,” I point out to our friend, that some biblical terms were “originally used and adopted from the world’s original spirituality and Haiti’s spiritual way of life – Vodun. In Vodun, you need Haitian flesh and blood for spirit to live, for the Ancestors to live. Nou se Ginen depi lè marasa, lè mò e lè mistè. San yo se san nou. Pouvwa yo se pouvwa nou. Nou fè yon sèl kò. Inyon fè fòs nou. – We’re Africans, one with the Ancestors, their blood is our blood, their power our power. “We’re one body” was the cry at Bwa Kayiman that began the Haiti revolution. He agrees that’s true.”
I then ask, “did you see any UN soldiers while waiting for Aristide to arrive from the airport?”
“There was only the Haitian police there. Remember the UN head, Ban Ki-Moon called Zuma, South African’s president, to try and stop president Aristide from returning, so naturally they weren’t around to give him security. Escort him from the airport as they did with the bloody dictator Jean Claude “baby Doc” Duvalier on January 16 when he suddenly returned to Haiti after 25-years of luxurious exile in France without any objections from the former slave-holding powers who objected to Aristide’s return.”
Ezili Dantò: The US, Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, France and the United Nations’ Ban Ki-Moon had warned that Aristide return would destabilize Haiti as if Haiti wasn’t already destabilized by their Bush regime change and bicentennial coup d’etat, lack of reconstruction after the earthquake, UN-imported cholera, NGO feudal pillage and fleecing of earthquake donor funds and these forced US-supported sham and fraudulent elections that denied the largest political party in Haiti the right to participate. (See Haiti Elections and UN Cholera , Haiti’s case against the UN for importing cholera epidemic , and Haiti message to US Embassy in Haiti: The Will of the People. Also, according to newly released U.S report 800,000 Haitians will be infected with the UN-imported cholera).
On Monday, before the return, Obama’s people told the media his return would put their farcical elections in jeopardy. Was it just an overblown ruse as usual to promote their interests in Haiti and keep the narrative going that Haiti’s people are innately violent, corrupt and without discipline or did you, with all that massive crowd of people milling around, see a need for the U.N. to be there in Haiti to keep order?
“I’ll tell you a few things I saw that belied this narrative of ‘violent Haiti,'” our HLLN collaborator who was on the ground, at the house waiting for Aristide’s to arrive from the airport, says.
“The crowd at the residence was amazing and peaceful. Some things were just simply hilarious. I saw someone had dropped a bottle of juice and one of the young women who had come over the wall, picked it up. So they were conscious about leaving the courtyard clean. There were lots of lighthearted moments.
Thousands upon thousands of people were in the yard, moving up to the house, pressing their faces on the glass, staring into the windows. Many climbed the trees and after a while some managed to get to the top of the roof.
At one point when president Aristide’s car finally got pass the crowd and into his own yard, someone yelled to a guy on the roof who sat with danglying his foot over the top of the roof. ‘Get your foot out of the president face. How would it look when he comes out of the car to see the bottom of your foot, that’s not right. Show some respect.‘ Something like that.”
At the Aristides” home, thousands of Haitians, who had waited seven long tortured years for the return of their beloved president and his family, waited a little longer to welcome them. – Photo: Jean Ristil Jean Baptiste*
“It was surreal. Imagine thousand of people chanting, saying the slogan and singing and a little thing like that was noticed and folks were complying. A few others started saying the same thing and the perpetrator quickly tucked in his foot. It was hilarious. Then someone said, you people are damaging the trees, get out of those trees. Misye nap kase pye bwa yo, desan. But the response was, n a plante li ankò – we’ll just come back and plant some more.
It was a celebration. It was a thousand Christmases. A million presents for a poor people bullied and terrorized by Bush regime change shock and awe in Haiti. People were happy, smiling, smiling. Hugging each other. Slapping each other on the back. Just elated. Some, for the first time in seven years. A leader who speaks for them was back in Haiti. When they finally left as Tidid didn’t come out to speak to the crowd, some took the unripe, the green mangoes from the trees.
I heard one guy saying “that is Titid’s mango, so it’s my mango!” But then one of the people in our group commented later on that some of them were taking the mangoes to show their families they were at Titid’s house on this historic and miraculous return.” [End of HLLN on-the-ground-report, on Aristide’s historic return to a celebrity welcome, March 18, 2011.]
You won’t see this sort of Haiti media coverage anywhere except at a few outlets but especially on Aljazeera, Democracy Now, or posts by Jean Saint-Vil (Jafrikayiti), Ansel Herz, Kevin Pina, Denis Bernstein, Georgianne Nienaber, Znet, the Dominion, Haiti radio and newspapers and with our own Ezili HLLN coverage that is always graciously picked up or quoted by Chris Cook at Pacific Free Press, Mary and Willie Ratcliff at SF BayView, Rob Kall at Op Ed news, Matt Rothschild at The Progressive, Said Shabazz at Final Call and Dick and Sharon at LA Progressive.
As I wrote in Beating back the elite’s rabid rage: Against all odds Aristide returns to Haiti :
This historic moment belongs to all of you who stood with the indigenous Haitians at HLLN who work to make a space for Haiti’s authentic voices without officialdom’s approval. It’s a harsh journey.The return could have been a six-hour trip to Brazil and then just a few hours to Haiti. But it took 18 hours because the “benevolent internationals” interested in our “democracy and stability” wouldn”t allow former President Aristide, the symbol of the poor’s empowerment in Black Haiti, to travel through their territories.
Etched on the older people’s faces is the truth of this woman’s sign, “We suffered greatly, (but) we had faith you would return home.” Thousands of Haitians died during the past seven years at the hands of the U.S. and U.N. forces occupying Haiti, compounded by the over 300,000 who were killed in the earthquake and over 4,600 killed so far in the cholera epidemic. – Photo: Etant Dupain, brikourinouvelgaye.com
It took 18 hours for Aristide to reach Haiti. Going from South Africa to Northern Africa in Senegal took 10 hours, while from Senegal to Haiti took another eight hours. I hear England wouldn”t allow a landing either. That long, long road is symbolic of the Haitian struggle. That long road Ezili’s HLLN has shared with you and with your support and forbearance. Unlike colonial celebritism with Sean Penn, no one will give us accolades for a mere six months journey in Haiti. Ours is a centuries-long journey. We overstand. The struggle continues… (Beating back the elite’s rabid rage: Against all odds Aristide returns to Haiti.)
Lack of media coverage of Aristide’s return as opposed to dictator Duvaliers return is highlighted by Democracy Now! special video coverage, part 1 and part 2 of huge celebrity welcome for Aristide
It’s very telling how little mainstream media coverage and attention there is to Aristide’s return and the huge celebrity welcome he received from the people of Haiti. In contrast to the almost complete news blackout about Aristide’s force and power in Haiti, the bloody dictator, Baby Doc Duvalier, got much coverage and massive print and spin, misleading readers to think Haiti’s poor majority want bygones to be bygones because they’re “too young and don’t remember Duvalier’s atrocities”!
It’s also telling to know that the presidents of the U.S. and France and the secretary general of the U.N. made phone calls to South Africa in an attempt to block Aristide’s return to Haiti, despite the welcome you see and that they knew he would receive. In contrast, France allowed bloody dictator, Baby Doc Duvalier, to return to Haiti without any problems. Obama and Ban Ki-moon made no phone calls to stop it. In fact, the U.N. provided security for the brutal Duvalier from the airport to his luxurious Haiti hotel.
You will see in the videos, the U.N. soldiers are nowhere visible on the trip home from the airport with Haiti’s first democratically elected president! These powerful but brutally warmongering forces are only exposing their own indefensibility as representatives of civilized peoples of the world. The world’s eyes are wide open. (See, Don’t be distracted by Aristide in Haiti by Ezili Dantò and Avatar Haiti.)
The lack of media coverage of Aristide’s return is highlighted as we watch Democracy Now! coverage of the huge and historic celebrity welcome for Aristide
The Historic Return of the Aristide Family to Haiti. Democracy Now! Special Report: Part 2
Aljazeera: Aristide returns to Haiti
The Haitian resistance against the Western bicentennial re-colonization of Haiti lives on
Francisco Herrera sings ”Look at Haiti”
Aristide’s triumphant return to a celebrity welcome
At HLLN we make a point to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP and Miami Herald with this Aljazeera video. These mainstream papers especially, with the help of Amy Wilentz and Michael Deibert, have, these last seven years (some with more pinache and therefore more dangerous than others), demonized president Aristide, harped on the lack of popularity of Jean Bertrand Aristide and have stated outright or strongly implied that he was a criminal, he enriched himself at the people’s expense and had “little dictator” tendencies. The damage and carnage caused to Haitians by these folks is immeasurable.
We circle out of this bunch Jonathan Katz, whose AP articles did not parrot the State Department/USAID propaganda as “news.” Al Jazeera, since it came on the scene after the earthquake with its Haiti correspondent, Sebastian Walker, has led the way for Haiti’s real voice to be heard.
HLLN is most grateful to Walker, Katz and France 24 for being the first foreign news outlets to videotape the U.N. soldiers who brought cholera to Haiti. They were the first whose work forced powerful forces to acknowledge and believe the accusations made by the people of Mirebalais and who went there to film the Nepalese base oozing its cholera-stained feces into Haiti’s waterways.
The Al Jazeera and Democracy Now! videos also tell the story you won”t read in the mainstream. They show the reason why President Aristide is beloved by the poor majority in Haiti. He’s not AFRAID of his own people. He knows who they are, their hearts of hearts.
They would not scale the walls of the National Palace or of any of the current presidential candidates” residences to hear them speak. No. Only for Aristide. The day of the return, 5,000 to 10,000 Haitians scaled the walls of Aristide’s residence, while tens of thousands more gathered around outside, yearning to see and hear him speak to them and for them to the world as he did at the airport.
When Aristide did not come out, they eventually quietly left. This is the reality the U.S., U.N., France, Canada, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did not want you to see: the discipline and peacefulness of the people of Haiti when they are not being attacked and forced to defend themselves by the coup d”etat enforcers and their U.N./U.S. tanks and guns.
We post these videos of the return for the mainstream media mentioned herein, for the New York Times especially, which wrote during the bicentennial that Aristide could command only a “small crowd.” Explain, New York Times, how seven years later this scene could happen?
Haiti’s Dream Deferred
In the video below, a young Haitian talks to the Haitian Diaspora about doing more and to Barack Obama and the US population about the U.S.’s imperial and fascist policy in Haiti. He explains why these March 20, 2011 US-supported Duvalierist’s elections in Haiti, without the participation of twice exiled president Jean Bertrand Aristide’s political party, the largest political party in Haiti, are illegitimate, illegal and a sham. The elections are illegal, took place despite the fact that the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) never voted to authorize a second round.
“This was an election hi-jacked from the Haitian people before it even started. The illegal exclusion of the most popular political party in Haiti, the Fanmi Lavalas party, made the results null and void before the first ballot was cast…Lavalas, meaning “the flood” is the creation of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide. Lavalas was the fat elephant in every polling station. It was muffled but won’t go away despite every wicked attempt. It’s like a wound treated with garbage and bandaged over. It will pus over and the condition will be worst than before. Recently released Wikileaks US cables corroborates America’s obsession with violating the Haitian people’s right to choose their leader and ultimately their destiny…
But the (s)”election” so far, has been decreed (by the US, UN and the internationals) a success. The people wait for the announcement of who will be the next to speak and to shuffle in the hands of the puppeteers…”
Haiti 2011 presidential election
A Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Democracy Now! Exclusive Interview with Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Plane Returning to Haiti. 1 of 3
Former First Lady Mildred Aristide on Her Historic Return to Haiti: Democracy Now! Exclusive Report
Forwarded by Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN)
Beating back the elite’s rabid rage: Against all odds Aristide returns to Haiti
By Ezili Dantò of HLLN
Don”t be distracted by Aristide in Haiti: Demand Justice not Gestures
By Ezili DantÃ¬ of HLLN
In a way, I am shocked at the lack of coverage myself. One could argue that it could not compete with the war in Libya or the nuclear/tsunami disaster in Japan. However, absolutely nothing about Haiti, anyen, anyen, is rather suspicious. Really, is there a conspiracy out there? I don’t want to believe in conspiracy theories but this is so glaringly obvious. The corporate media really is in the hands of the global oligarchy. I use Haiti as my north star in gauging accuracy in reporting, lack of bias, presentation of the facts, etc. If what they report on Haiti is any indication, I am resigned to think that I know little of what really is going on in the rest of the world. Whatever I know about Haiti stems from my personal experience, reading, and access to alternative sites. This all takes work. Unfortunately, most of the public, even the thinking public, would not take the time nor the trouble to read up on countries like Haiti.
However, something must be done. I am hopeful that Lavalas will now regroup. Nevertheless, Lavalas has to be strong and not dependent on just one man, however good or charismatic he might be. For Lavalas to succeed, it has to be like a hydra: Many heads, and when one is whacked off, another few appear. Can this happen? Is Lavalas up to the task or will the Haitian oligarchy with US help be able to continue to keep the poor down and the flunkeys in?
very good article… this is a long term fight and it needs another structure not depending on one person..but is it time? may=br not.
We can, should, must tell our story. CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc., shouldn’t be the sole way we measure ourselves. Okay, so they didn’t record the return of our beloved brother, we don’t need them to, rather we need to welcome him home, secure safe space, build the kind of Lavalas we need and want for our children to carry on.
Our courage must match his, challenge social, economic, political domination, speak truth and be free or die….
It’s true, we don’t need these liars dressing in fair and balance propaganda to tell our story. However, we have to continue denouncing their hypocrisy so that people can see their true colors. The so called independent media are at the service of the State Department, so don’t expect them to act otherwise; at last minute, the State Department had tried to stop President Aristide from returning hme. WE shouldn’t be surprised if the wolves dressing in sheep clothing pretend that they have compassion for Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and so forth, at the same time they want to force the Haitian people to accept the unacceptable. We have to be the master of our Universe.
As I have been following it there is no doubt the Western Media has portrayed Aristide has another deposed tyrant with his hand suddenly plunged back in the Haitian cookie jar.
The NY daily news is the “pernicious” one here. These folks are so wicked. You are right, Jack, the writer twists history to equate the brutal dictator Duvalier with the duly elected, twice US-deposed Aristide. And to make the US rigged selections out to be democracy that Aristide is interrupting! The evil of these people knows no bounds.
Reviewing the top 5 (WSJ, USA Today, NYT, LA Times and Wash. Post) media outlet’s coverage of Aristide – mostly before the March 18th return – in an essay titled “Historical Amnesia in the International Media about Haiti/Aristide myth…”, Nick Stratton speaks about – “an illusory âhistoryâ of US-Haitian relations, provides a self-affirming, self-justifying, and self-begging rhetorical tool to only further validate US intervention in Haitian democracyâthat is, obstruction and destruction thereof”. He points out, most critically, that:
“Moreover, the mass mediaâs normalization of the 1991 and 2004 coup dâÃ©tats effectively dismisses these moments of intense political instability as effects of Haitian internal politics. By âforgettingâ well-documented history of US involvement in bothâthe extent to which is beyond the scope of this article, this âjournalismâ constructs a dangerous and illusory precedent for US military intervention and external command and control. The implications of such ideology reach far beyond any question of Aristide. Invade in 1994 to restore order to the âfailing-stateâsâ democracy? No problem. Fund violent opposition groups in 2000 to execute the 2004 coup dâÃ©tat? Nature dictates we must. Kidnap the democratically-elected president and banish him into exile on a US Air Force plane while claiming to have âsavedâ him from the political violence? The universe begs of us. Occupy the country with Marines after the earthquake? âHistoryâ tells us this works. Appoint Clinton as the chief architect for the future of Haitiâs reconstruction? Why not? Silence always is a more effective polemical tool of propaganda than is speech…”