Alternatives International and the “Massacre” that Wasn’t

Alternatives International and the “Massacre” that Wasn’t: North American and European Nonprofits Promote Elitist, Revisionist Vision of 2004 Haiti Coup Aftermath
by Joe Emersberger
The Narco News Bulletin (February 29, 2008)

A report published in January 2008 by Alternatives International and FRIDE (NGOs based in Canada and Spain respectively) discusses the use of UN troops in Haiti since the coup that ousted Haiti’s democratic government under Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

The report was authored by Amélie Gauthier and Pierre Bonin and is entitled “Haiti: Voices of the Actors.”

NGOs contributed greatly to the destabilization campaign prior to the coup, leading to a human rights catastrophe in which thousands who supported Aristide’s deposed government and lived in Haiti’s poorest slums were murdered. It isn’t surprising that a report produced by Alternatives and FRIDE would depict the work of UN troops in Haiti as benevolent, but it is surprising that the report descended into flagrant bigotry and slander. It should prompt immediate calls for a retraction and an apology.

The report stated:

In a country like Haiti, in which democratic culture has never taken hold, the concept of the common good and the meaning of elections and representation are limited to the educated elites, and in particular to those who have received citizen education within the social movements. As a result, the people who have been elected to the CPVD are very often people who have a lot of influence in their neighborhoods, which they impose with their weapons. (Page 14)

In short, Gauthier and Bonin conclude that Haitians can’t understand such incredibly difficult concepts like the common good and democracy. The proof is that people the authors view as thugs win elections. The report singles out Lavalas organizer Samba Boukman as an example of one “notorious” person involved with the UN’s disarmament efforts. Lavalas is the political movement led by Aristide.

The authors wrote:

The President’s representative on the Commission was a man called Samba Boukman who was the spokesperson for Operation Baghdad, one of the most serious massacres since 2004. (Page 13)

Putting aside how anyone can be a “spokesperson” for a massacre, it has been known for years that “Operation Baghdad” never existed. On September 30 of 2004 a large demonstration in Bel Air against the Latortue dictatorship (which replaced Aristide’s elected government) ended with the police killing unarmed protesters. Latortue and his truly notorious minister of justice, Bernard Gousse, immediately moved to mitigate the damage by claiming that three policemen had also been murdered (and even decapitated) as part of an “Operation Bagdad” launched by Lavalas militants to return to power through violence. The name “Operation Bagdad” was most likely invented by Gousse and his allies in a clumsy attempt to link the brutal repression of Lavalas with the Bush administrations’s “war on terror.”

Pro-coup human rights activists like Jean Claude Bajeaux parroted the claims about “Operation Bagdad” and the police officers decapitated by Lavalas supporters to the international press. However, CARLI, a Haitian human rights group that had also covered for the coup, investigated the government’s claims and found them to be baseless. CARLI noted that the interim government refused to provide photos or even publish the names of the policemen it claimed were murdered by Lavalas militants.

These “Operation Bagdad” fabrications are exposed in Thomas Griffen’s Report “Haiti Human Rights Investigation: November 11-21, 2004,” published by University of Miami School for Human Rights. Griffin’s report also reveals that while CARLI was funded by IFES, a subcontractor of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), it gave reports to the U.S. Embassy, the OAS, Canadian authorities, and various anti-Aristide radio stations for the names of people it accused to be read on air. Soon after the coup, as its funding from IFES ended, CARLI became very critical of the U.S.-backed dictatorship.

Gauthier and Bonin slandered Samba Boukman, and the Lavalas movement, by uncritically accepting the views of the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH in its French initials), a bogus human rights group that the Canadian and US governments have generously funded. Another passage from the report stated:

The RNDDH recalls having pointed out to the government that the composition of the National Commission for Demobilising, Disarmament and Reintegration (CNDDR) that included the spokesperson for Operation Baghdad 1, Jean Baptiste Jean Philippe alias Samba Boukman, was a message of encouragement to armed Groups. (Page 19)

RNDDH was formerly known as the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR-Haiti), but changed its name at the request of its parent organization in New York, who wished to distance itself from its Haitian associates – for good reason. On March 6, 2004 the Latortue dictatorship made an agreement with RNDDH to file criminal charges against anyone it denounced. Prominent Lavalas leaders like So Ann and Yvon Neptune, among many others, became political prisoners because of allegations made by RNDDH. Amnesty International, while failing to explicitly condemn the work of RNDDH, belatedly recognized So Ann and Yvon Neptune as political prisoners.

RNDDH accusations against Yvon Neptune became so thoroughly discredited that even UN officials in Haiti rejected them. Allegations against So Ann and others whom RNDDH have targeted have also been dismissed when tested in court – even though the courts remain stacked against the accused thanks to the Latortue regime.

Griffin’s University of Miami report also shed considerable light on the close working relationship between RNDDH, the Latortue dictatorship, and officials paid by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and USAID.

Alternatives International, based in Montreal, identifies itself as a grouping of “social and political movements struggling against neoliberalism, imperialism, social injustice and war”. However its founding member, Pierre Beaudet, has written anti-Lavalas diatribes that effectively compliment Bush administration propaganda. In Canada, according to its own website, Alternatives receives 50% of its funding from the Canadian government through CIDA, the same agency that funded RNDDH. Undermining democracy in poor countries is easier when self described progressives join the destabilization campaign.’

FRIDE, a think tank based in Madrid, claims that it provides “rigorous analysis, rooted in the values of justice, equality and democracy.” It is more conspicuously linked to the powerful than Alternatives. FRIDE’s founder and current president is Diego Hidalgo, a former World Bank official, who in 2002 was granted the Gran Cruz de la Orden del Merito Civil by the government of José Maria Aznar.

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