Sunday, March 7, 2004

Waters, Jackson Lee Speak Out About Haiti

Waters, Jackson Lee Speak Out About Haiti
by José Pérez
Exclusive to Black Voice News (CA)

Piti, piti, wazo fe nich li is a Haitian proverb that says that "little by little, the bird builds its nest".

Like the proverbial bird, Maxine Waters has built a reputation as a no-nonsense fighter, an inexhaustible advocate, a passionate champion of those vulnerable entities in a world that sometimes praises the underdog and always rewards the mighty. Her battles have taken her from the high to the low, the backsliding to the on the go.

Right now, there are few people more vulnerable than the poor Black masses of Haiti. Their ancestors made history when they became the first humans to wage a successful slave revolt when they defeated the armies of Spain, Great Britain, and France.

Two months ago, Haiti celebrated its bicentennial with a grand program in Port au Prince. In attendance was an exuberant crowd numbering well into the tens of thousands if not more. With them was United States Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

Yet the accomplishment of being the world‚s first Black republic did not earn Haiti praises and accolades. Instead, Haiti’s proud patriots were punished with two hundred years of economic embargos, egregious exploitation, and media manipulation.

Just a few days ago, the democratically-elected government of President Jean-Betrand Aristide was overthrown by a sad cast of well-equipped murderers and rapists. Reports have emerged that Aristide was kidnapped. Although the White House denies the charge, Waters believes "that there was foul play."

"I am very worried about President Aristide," said Waters in an interview with The Black Voice News.

Waters’ Congressional colleague Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas found the news of the ouster to be "devastating" and added that the entire episode was "a travesty."

The legislators‚ concerns are well-founded as Waters was able to speak to Aristide after he was forced into exile via mobile telephone.

Prior to Aristide’s hasty forced departure, Waters and human rights activist Randall Robinson each had spoken to him every day for two weeks.

By now, millions of people know that President Aristide's government was overthrown but very few know who is responsible nor why. Congresswoman Waters stated that it was the "same business class [that] does not want Aristide to share [leadership] of Haiti."

"It is the same business class that sells all of the essential resources and does not want to pay taxes," said Waters. "They will not support any government that holds them accountable."

In addition to the economic motivation, the Representative feels that the President's opponents have a related political agenda as well.

"They want[ed] Aristide out so they can control the elections they know they can't win fairly."

Aristide's foes have benefited from the aid of both the Bush administration and affiliated right-wing organizations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy. Congresswoman Waters has gone on record on numerous occasions recently blasting the White House and the State Department for what she describes as their complicity with the anti-democratic rebel forces.

Last week, the Congressional Black Caucus held an emergency meeting with President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condi Rice imploring the current administration to take decisive action to help protect a fledging democracy in America’s backyard. Instead being promised a crack team of Marines to ride in like the cavalry to help the constitutionally legitimate government of Haiti fight off would-be tyrants, the CBC was told that ships were being sent to Haiti to prevent an exodus of refugees.

"That's all the President cares about," said Waters about Bush.

Through all of the sad turn of events in Haiti that have marked the days and weeks that followed the euphoria of the bicentennial festivities, the CBC has been adamant about where it places responsibility. "We're holding the President accountable," said Waters. Jackson Lee stated that the CBC would "not let this go."

Describing the United States as a "moral compass," Representative Jackson Lee said that "we owe the world" a better example of ethical leadership. This would have been an obvious and appropriate opportunity" to support democracy in the Americas said Jackson Lee.

The Representative from California also feels that Aristide "has been a victim of the major press." Saying that "the lies [are] absolutely unbelievable," Waters boils at the constant war of misinformation she feels is being waged against Aristide's Lavalas party.

One example of the sort of information that Waters feels that the American corporate media is not sharing with the people of the United States concerns the successful efforts of the Aristide government and a local grassroots group to turn the former mansion of an infamous Duvalier stooge into a primary school for the children of a small town. This was originally reported by the online BlackCommentator after "a prominent U. S. journalist" was not able to convince his editors to print the story.