from the book

The CIAs Greatest Hits

by Mark Zepezauer


US troops invaded Haiti five times, once staying for almost twenty years (1915-35). At the end of that prolonged visit, during which we killed thousands of Haitians for daring to rebel, we left the country in the hands of the local National Guard, confident that they'd carry on our good work.

From this arrangement emerged the Duvalier family dynasty and their private terrorist force, the machete-wielding Tontons Macoutes. "Papa Doc" Duvalier (he was a medical doctor) also relied on voodoo incantations and, during a 1959 uprising, the timely assistance of the US military. When Papa Doc died in 1971, his 19-year-old son, called Baby Doc, became "president-for-life."

Throughout the blood-drenched rule of the Duvaliers (nearly 100,000 killed by the Tontons Macoutes alone), the US barely uttered a peep about human rights violations. In 1986, however, when it became apparent that Baby Doc's presidency could not in fact be sustained for his entire life (unless he died soon), the Reagan administration airlifted him to a retirement villa in France and started talking about the "democratic process."

Before that could begin, however, the Haitian military had to be further strengthened. CIA money began flowing to Haiti, which had already seen US aid double during the Reagan years. The CIA set up an anti-narcotics service called-appropriately-SIN ("national intelligence service"). As one CIA man admitted, SIN used its millions in CIA subsidies mainly to suppress popular movements by means of torture and assassination. Far from combating drugs, many SIN officers engage in the drug trade themselves.

In 1990, elections were finally allowed. Haitians stunned the US by rejecting the candidate we preferred in favor of a left-wing Catholic priest, Jean Bertrand Aristide. The Bush administration could scarcely conceal its joy when Haiti's US-trained military deposed Aristide eight months later.

When Bill Clinton took office, he offered lip service to the idea of returning Aristide to power. Even this hypocritical posturing was too much for the CIA, who leaked a"psychological profile" that painted the courageous, dedicated Aristide as a "psychopath."

Endless waves of refugees, and US embarrassment over more than 4,000 killings by Haitian security forces, have led to even more vigorous US lip service. But if history is any indication, the chances of a government coming to power that meets the needs of the Haitian people are slim to none.

CIAs Greatest Hits

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