In Defense of Aristide

In Defense of Aristide


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




Those who suggest that he is a petty bourgeois aligned with the oligarchic forces of Haiti

seem to go over the top. That any state in the Caribbean can establish a workers’ state presently as called for by the most radical of intellectuals is to demand too much



Books on the Caribbean

Hubert Cole. Christophe: King of Haiti. New York: The Viking Press, 1967.

C.L.R. James. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938)

Edourad Gissant. Caribbean Doscourse (2004)  /  Barbara Harlow. Resistance Literature (1987)

Josaphat B. Kubayanda. The Poet’s Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire (1990)


Paul Laraque and Jack Hirschman.  Open Gate An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry (2001)

David P. Geggus, ed. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World.  University of South Carolina Press, 2001.

Jean-Bertand Aristide. Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization

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In Defense of Aristide

& the Viability of Haitian Democracy

Editorial by Rudolph Lewis


Aristide represents the most liberal and revolutionary forces in Haiti. After his US removal from the presidency, violence continues on the streets of Haiti in defense of his importance to the thwarted dreams and hopes of Haitian workers and peasants. At work in this political chaos, there are two contending forces — those who support Aristide and those who wish to oust or kill Aristide. On the sidelines are those who wish to dismiss Aristide’s significance.

Those who wish to oust or kill him are not anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist, but rather reactionary forces — former Ton-Ton Macoutes, disbanded right-wing army officials, and other criminal elements interested in supplanting democracy, supported with money and guns by the most reactionary forces in the United States. And worst, this farce is sustained by commercial media.  In such a scenario, one must stand with the supporters of Aristide or with the reactionary forces.

Those who suggest that the Haiti situation fits into some classical scenario of workers contending with the bourgeois state are guilty of wishful thinking and day-dreaming. Haitian politics has yet to reach that stage of development as it has not reached that stage in the USA. Calling for a Marxist Haitian state is armchair theorizing and doctrinaire posturing. Building and sustaining that kind of consciousness among an illiterate people and against the most reactionary forces in the hemisphere is a present impossibility.

As suggested by many, Aristide, like any politician (or any person) is/was not perfect in every decision made. (Toussaint the Great also made mistakes.) But I am convinced by what I know of events that he has the best interest of the Haitian poor and illiterate at heart and did all that was in his power to defend their interests, more than any other public figure in Haiti.

On these grounds, he is deserving of support, even now in his imposed exile by US Marines. Those who suggest that he is a petty bourgeois aligned with the oligarchic forces of Haiti seem to go over the top. That any state in the Caribbean can establish a workers’ state presently as called for by the most radical of intellectuals is to demand too much of one of the most exploited sectors of North America. We do not desire another Granada, a flash-in-the-pan socialism.

Thus it seems to me right and proper to defend what is indeed possible presently and what is supposedly the ideal even for US conservatives, a liberal democratic state apparatus that attends to the needs of the poor and the defenseless. It is Western racist hypocrisy that must be attacked.

This Haitian coup points out that right wing forces not only in Haiti but also those in the USA aligned with Bush government agents will not even allow such a moderate Caribbean state in Haiti. Clearly there is a hatred for the blackness of Haiti and Haitian history. These USA extremists now demand absolute capitulation to bestial exploitation and the meanest of repression. Aristide’s removal is symbolical of this mindset of radical right-wing politics.

A support of Aristide is thus a stance against such crass imperial politics. Despite his radical critics, Aristide is indeed a martyr for Haitian democracy, even though US agents decided against his murder, just as Toussaint was a martyr for black state independence, even though Napoleon  tactically decided against his assassination.

I will not participate in any damning of Aristide. That sort of venom should be directed at our own (American) politicians and specifically the Bush-Powell administration. For us to be attacking liberal supporters of Aristide (black or white) will gain us nothing, not for the poor of Haiti, nor even a unified phalanx against the agents who orchestrated this fiasco in Haiti.

Some of us may feel self-righteous about the purity of our politics and more caring about the welfare and destiny of the Haitian people than Aristide who worked among and for them most of his life. But that kind of stance or polemic does not move us closer to what we all desire for Haiti or our own society — the elimination of injustice in all areas of life. From any fair evaluation, Aristide exacted more social progress than in any era of Haiti’s political life and, like Toussaint, left roots that will continue to grow and develop.

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The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World 

Reviewed by Mimi Sheller

The slave revolution that two hundred years ago created the state of Haiti alarmed and excited public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. Its repercussions ranged from the world commodity markets to the imagination of poets, from the council chambers of the great powers to slave quarters in Virginia and Brazil and most points in between. Sharing attention with such tumultuous events as the French Revolution and the Napoleonic War, Haiti’s fifteen-year struggle for racial equality, slave emancipation, and colonial independence challenged notions about racial hierarchy that were gaining legitimacy in an Atlantic world dominated by Europeans and the slave trade. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World explores the multifarious influence—from economic to ideological to psychological—that a revolt on a small Caribbean island had on the continents surrounding it.

Fifteen international scholars, including eminent historians David Brion Davis, Seymour Drescher, and Robin Blackburn, explicate such diverse ramifications as the spawning of slave resistance and the stimulation of slavery’s expansion, the opening of economic frontiers, and the formation of black and white diasporas. Seeking to disentangle the effects of the Haitian Revolutionfrom those of the French Revolution, they demonstrate that its impact was ambiguous, complex, and contradictory.—Publisher, University of South Carolina Press

David P. Geggus is a professor of history at the University of Florida in Gainesville and a former Guggenheim and National Humanities Center fellow. He has published extensively on the history of slavery and the Caribbean, with a particular focus on the Haitian Revolution. He is the author of Slavery, War and Revolution: The British Occupation of Saint Domingue, 1793–1798 and an editor of A Turbulent Time: The French Revolution and the Greater Caribbean. Geggus lives in Gainesville.

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Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804

A Brief History with Documents

By Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.


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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 6 May 2010 




Home   Mosquitoes Fly Out My Head  Toussaint Table

Related files: Amnesty International on Haiti  Why They Had to Crush Aristide  Washington and Paris overthrow Aristide  Haiti’s Murderous Army Reborn 


Dialogue between Two   Haitians  In Defense of Aristide  Aristide Under Lock and Key   Freed rights abusers back in the streets  Dreams Buried in Freedom’s Coffin  Maxine Waters to Colin Powell

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