Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Excellent Critique of Haiti Study

From Znet: Emersberger: "COHA" gets an 'F' for their article on Haiti"

An excellent critique of a recent "Council on Hemispheric Affairs" report on Haiti (one that it is out of keeping with their usual good work it seems), as well as an overview of the recent history in that country.

A scientific survey by Athena Kolbe and Royce Hudson found that at least 4000 political murders were perpetrated during Latortue’s time in office – overwhelmingly by government security forces and their proxies. In contrast, after scouring Amnesty International reports, Perter Hallward, a UK based researcher, wrote “Amnesty International’s reports covering the years 2000-03 attribute a total of around 20 to 30 killings to the police and supporters of the FL [Aristide’s party] — a far cry from the 5,000 committed by the junta and its supporters in 1991-94, let alone the 50,000 usually attributed to the Duvalier dictatorships.”

Pierre Esperance, one of Aristide’s most vehement, and dishonest, critics claimed in a (successful)
funding request to the Canadian government that 100 people had been killed (not all Aristide opponents) during the “last several months” before the coup which he described as the worst period under Aristide.

Emersberger also goes on to say something else that I find important:

These numbers do not only reveal that Aristide’s track record was vastly superior to his opponents, they also show why it was inevitable that some of his partisans would conclude that violence was
justified. Even during most of his second term Aristide’s supporters were more likely to be killed than his opponents’ supporters.[6] Glenwick completely disregards the massive amount of violence Haiti’s poor have been subjected to, and the threats they continually faced, to join the chorus of pious Western intellectuals who condemn Aristide for having said that the poor have the right to defend themselves. Many of those intellectuals also argue that the U.S. has the right to bomb defenseless countries thousands of miles away in “self defense.” The hypocrisy is as breathtaking as it is unnoticed by countless writers who have condemned Aristide for “incendiary” speeches.

This reminds me of the commentators and right-wing critics who can only seem to excited by the violence perpetrated by the weak. This is the part that resonates with me and makes me doubt the sincerity of the Michael Dieberts of the world. Generally speaking, when you know that people are trying to kill you (because they've already killed your loved ones in the past) you fight back. Aristide supporters had been massacred in the past, when they had done nothing but elect a leader who represented them as opposed to a tiny, corrupt oligarchy. Then it looked like they were going to be betrayed again, of course some of them got "unreasonable" and lashed out. It isn't the place of comfortable North Americans, "liberal" or otherwise, to go "tut-tut" without first relieving themselves of their ignorance on the matter.

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