Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Letter to Newsday RE: Haiti

Well, the good folks at Newsday decided to publish an article about Haiti. Too bad they got all their information wrong. I wrote them a letter, but they failed to publish that as well. So, instead, I shall post the information here, where it is appreciated:

Letter to the Editor
In Reference to Sunday, January 1st Cover Story: "Haiti A Place of Fear and Havoc"

To Whom It May Concern,

I appreciate seeing information about Haiti being posed in NEWSDAY. However, what I find alarming is that you left out the most crucial piece of information. You claimed that former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted by a coup d’etat by local gangs in 2004. Yet, the truth is that the United States orchestrated this overthrow. According to Mark Weisbrott, the U.S. cut off economic aid from the Inter-American Development bank and the World Bank from 2001-2003. This created more misery and poverty in Haiti led to an increasingly intense atmosphere. Using this as an excuse, on February 29th, 2004, "U.S. officials told Aristide that they could not guarantee his safety...they told Aristide he was going to a news conference. They took him instead to the airport where he boarded a plane to an unknown location, which turned out to be the Central African Republic" (Weisbrott, page1 ).

I also heard this story first hand, as reported from Ben Dupuy, the former Haitian Ambassador at Large, at a local meeting of the Mid Hudson Valley activist group, "The Caribbean and Latin-American Support Project," on April 3rd, 2005.

My point being, the United States is not the supreme hero, guardian of freedom or humanitarian protector that it claims to be. Much of the violence in Haiti today is a direct cause of United States intervention in the removal of President Aristide.

Yet the Haitian people continue to take to the streets, demanding the return of their elected president and the release of political prisoners. According to Laura Flynn and Robert Roth, under Aristide, Haitians witnessed the increased construction of schools and literacy centers. Between 1994-2000, they built 195 primary schools and 104 high schools. The government also granted 70% government subsidies for textbooks and uniforms, and the lunch program now served more than 700,000 hot meals per day to students (p. 4-5). In the area of healthcare, Aristide increased the amount money from the national budget to 13.7%, opened 20 new centers for AIDS treatment, and had arranged with Cuba to have 800 Cuban doctors served the poor communities of Haiti, while 247 medical students of Haiti attended free medical school in Cuba(p. 6). Aristide also doubled the minimum wage and organized a land reform act that redistributed land to some of Haiti’s poorest residents (p.7).

These are just a few of the achievements of Aristide’s government. Unfortunately, many of these programs have been shut down after the coup. The people of Haiti are suffering tremendously at the hands of the United States government. I believe it is only fair and respectful to add this information to your article. Printing news that only contains one side of the story suppresses the truth and goes against the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.


Dupuy, Ben. (April 3rd, 2005). Caribbean and Latin-American Support Project Speaker: Former Haitian Ambassador. http://www.hvan.org/calendar/cal_event.php?id=2503

Flynn, Laura & Roth, Robert. (February 2005). "We will not forget: Achievements of the Lavalas in Haiti." Haiti Action Committee. http://www.haitiaction.net/News/WWNF/2_28_5.html

Weisbrott, Mark. (March, 7th 2005). "In Haiti, hunger in dark places,’ is Real." The Houston Chronicle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is nice to know that someone takes the time to care- and does something about it!