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Fareed Zakaria catches a bad case of selective memory concerning Haiti/US history

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NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:45 PM
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Fareed Zakaria catches a bad case of selective memory concerning Haiti/US history
Compare his shortened and very inaccurate version of Haiti/US relations to the truth. He leaves out about 50 years. 50 very important years. I used to have some respect for this guy. Not no more.

Here is Zakarias version:

<snip>Furthermore, the world was wary of this nation of half-a-million newly freed blacks. The United States, for example, didn't recognize Haiti for the first 58 years of its existence until 1862, a year after the U.S. Civil War began. And that was the official beginning of what continues to this day to be a difficult relationship.

In 1915, the U.S. sent in a landing force to occupy the island nation. The Haitian president had just been assassinated. The country was in a state of chaos. And some say that America simply wanted to protect its investments there.

Whatever the reasons for coming, the Americans stayed for almost 20 years. And it was an often brutal occupation. The Americans under Franklin Delano Roosevelt withdrew, but essentially of their own volition, in 1934. Haiti remained a troubled and deeply chaotic place.

Sixty years later, the Yanks were back. In 1994, under the Clinton administration, the American military went in again. This time they came to restore democracy. And two years later, Haiti saw for the first time in its then-almost 200-year history, a peaceful transition of power from one democratically elected president to another.

But then, the earthquake. And late Wednesday afternoon, of course, America returned again -- this time, not just with military might, but with aid workers, search and rescue teams, doctors, nurses and much more.


Here is the actual version:

<snip>Despite having been bled dry by American bankers and generals, civil disorder prevailed until 1957, when the CIA installed President-for-Life Franois "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Duvalier's brutal Tonton Macoutes paramilitary goon squads murdered at least 30,000 Haitians and drove educated people to flee into exile. But think of the cup as half-full: fewer people in the population means fewer people competing for the same jobs!

Upon Papa Doc's death in 1971, the torch passed to his even more dissolute 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. The U.S., cool to Papa Doc in his later years, quickly warmed back up to his kleptomaniacal playboy heir. As the U.S. poured in arms and trained his army as a supposed anti-communist bulwark against Castro's Cuba, Baby Doc stole an estimated $300 to $800 million from the national treasury, according to Transparency International. The money was placed in personal accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere.

Under U.S. influence, Baby Doc virtually eliminated import tariffs for U.S. goods. Soon Haiti was awash predatory agricultural imports dumped by American firms. Domestic rice farmers went bankrupt. A nation that had been agriculturally self-sustaining collapsed. Farms were abandoned. Hundreds of thousands of farmers migrated to the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince.

The Duvalier era, 29 years in all, came to an end in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. forces to whisk Baby Doc to exile in France, saving him from a popular uprising.

Once again, Haitians should thank Americans. Duvalierism was "tough love." Forcing Haitians to make do without their national treasury was our nice way or encouraging them to work harder, to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. Or, in this case, flipflops.


The U.S. has been all about tough love ever since. We twice deposed the populist and popular democratically-elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The second time, in 2004, we even gave him a free flight to the Central African Republic! (He says the CIA kidnapped him, but whatever.) Hey, he needed a rest. And it was kind of us to support a new government formed by former Tonton Macoutes.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:47 PM
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1. What an idiot he turned out to be. That's too bad.
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