Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Haiti: Revisiting the Aristide debate - To Our Readers

There has been an intense dispute on the part of outside critics regarding COHA's piece on Haiti - which was issued on September 14, 2007. Its author, Michael Glenwick stands behind his article and the sharp criticism of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, which has now been moved from COHA's website and can be found in COHA's Forum. After closely reviewing the Glenwick piece, COHA's senior officials regretfully concluded that much of the criticism of it – notably the September 21, 2007 critique of COHA's Haiti piece by Joe Emersberger for the Narco News Bulletin – was well-founded. It should also be noted that most of the contributions we received on the subject were opposed to our point of view; this is why we decided to submit the Glenwick article to a protracted review. Today we are replacing the Glenwick piece with a substantially revised version which was authored by COHA Director Larry Birns. This is now COHA's official position on the relative roles of Presidents Aristide and Préval and contains some glimpses of the former president's strengths and weaknesses, including his invaluable contribution to Haitian democracy.

Ever since he came into prominence in 1989, COHA has devoted much of its effort to spotlighting the life and times of President Aristide, stressing Washington's persistently radical and hostile rightwing attitude towards him under both the Clinton and Bush Administrations. From 2002-2004, COHA issued scores of analytical pieces on U.S.-Haitian relations written by Larry Birns, often in conjunction with COHA Research Fellow Jessica Leight. This included a co-authored contribution to Dr. Paul Farmer's "The Uses of Haiti" written in 2003: Mr. Emersberger was good enough to take note and praise this long association.

Please feel free to to read Glenwick's original article, and Emersberger's hard-hitting analysis of Glenwick's piece.

1 comment:

C James said...

We are acting as ignorant (1.lacking knowledge or education in general or in a specific subject, 2. caused by a lack of knowledge, understanding, or experience) to the world’s realities as we are claiming that the writer of the article is to Dominica. The angry responses are very similar in tone and temperament to those of Americans who are now convincing themselves that Dem. Presidential Candidate Barack Obama’s Pastor has made comments which are completely new to the American landscape and bears no truth. This I believe is primarily because much as is the case with Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments. Snippets, emotion and pre-conceived notions rather that context and honest judgment prevail. Note I did not say good judgment as I believe that good judgment is in fact in abundance here. The headline which includes word “terror” seems to be the primary issue, followed by the use of the remark “grinding poverty”. The catchy headline was just that, a catchy headline, which many of us cannot get passed and realize that the article makes no other suggestions that Dominica is in any way associated with terrorist actions. It does however acknowledge that Hugo Chavez, our closest donor of present is a noted detractor of the US Government and is quickly becoming one of the most watched and scrutinized individuals in the world BY the United States. What on earth is not factual about that position?
As hypocrite and heavy handed as we may want to paint the USA, these are facts. It does not make the US position correct but that is exactly what the “controversial” article states. Basically it states that as unwarranted as the US position may be it does not change the fact that recent history as well as ongoing events proves that if need be America can and will act in its perceived best interest.
Many of the comments lamenting the article are so obviously emotional that they actually tackle issues not even dealt with in the article AT ALL. Such as the fact that Dominica is so beautiful and peaceful. Who said otherwise? Also we have decided that since no one in Dominica is “starving to death” the poverty situation is in fact in check. Speak to ANY farmer on island and they will tell you how often locals come to ask for free provisions, bananas that have fallen in the field, breadfruit that has started to spoil, oranges and grapefruit, limes and old coconuts. Ask ANY farmer and they will tell you of this daily occurrence. But maybe we are right, this is just as a result of regular poverty not “grinding”. Point taken!
I would beg that we read the article and after every completed sentence make an exacting assertion as to why we agree or disagree with that point. At the end of this exercise I would like us to look over our honestly constructed notes, free of emotion and the blinding patriotism which we criticize many US citizens for and then make an informed and definite argument as to why the very LEFT leaning CAHO organization put out an article which some here have described as RIGHT-WINGED. The entire tone of the article is everything that the “Right” is not. And that is another reason why I believe that this article should be revisited without deciding our reaction before we get passed the headline.
I have heard it (the article) describes as a cloak and dagger affair designed to appear friendly and informative while pushing a far right agenda. This I must say is highly unlikely as this would have been a very, very well concealed agenda seeing that CAHO for years has had an almost anti-Washington imperialism stance. Just to further place CAHO in a realistic context, here is an exert of how CAHO has spent its recent years, according to their own website; “COHA has directed a good deal of its research energies to such issues as unproductive U.S. pressure on President Aristide which eventually led to his ouster and Washington’s replacement with a hapless interim regime. COHA also has condemned Washington’s unexamined and reflexive policy towards Cuba and Venezuela, and the negative impact of neo-liberal reforms on the average Latin American”.