Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Aristide and the Endless Revolution (2005)

Jean-Bertrand Aristide was the first democratically elected president of Haiti, a nation long marked by political instability and corruption, but while the former Catholic priest was voted in as a friend of the poor and the disadvantaged, staying in office proved to be his greatest challenge. Aristide was first sworn into office on February 7, 1991, but a military coup removed him from office seven months later. Aristide went into exile in Venezuela and later the United States, but after the collapse of the military regime that staged the coup, he returned to Haiti and served as president from 1994 to 1996. Prevented by the law from succeeding himself in office, Aristide was reelected president in 2001, but another coup in 2004 ended his term in office, and the leader went into exile once again, this time in South Africa. Aristide claims that the second coup coincided with his being kidnapped by American intelligence agents, and a number of political analysts and activists, including Noam Chomsky and U.S. congresswoman Maxine Waters, contend that the United States government directly interfered with Aristide's rule in favor of the right-wing military regime. However, others have argued that Aristide's administration fell into widespread corruption, and that he was removed from office for the good of the people. Aristide and the Endless Revolution is a documentary which features extensive interviews with Jean-Bertrand Aristide as he discusses his political career in Haiti, and with others who speak out in support of the leader (Noam Chomsky, Maxine Waters, Danny Glover) as well as those who oppose his rule, including former U.S. Secretary of State Roger Noriega and Timothy Carney, an American ambassador to Haiti during Aristide's administration. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

I am not sure who said this on the film:
This is not about anything but the ideology of the far right wing that now really controls the United States Government, that does not support popular democracy.

Before this and the following quote we get to see Clinton and the Senior Bush mouthing. Huh? Clinton far right, yes maybe to some communist sympathizers. Oh look we have Chomsky-defender of all communist regimes.
Orders from on high, are that we are to concentrate on this question: just how much was Aristide responsible? But we do not have to follow the orders from on high. And if we are sensible we see that the only question how it would implode.

What a moron. Sorry but to boil down a complex issue to the "only question" is an extreme example of authoritarianism that wants to dictate the discussions as much as any good communist does. If any person on the right said that, he would be held up as an example of what not to say unless they want to be branded a totalitarianist.

And of course he makes some vague reference to some command structure telling us what to believe, but for me his wild ass assumptions do not work on me. I can decide for myself thank you. I do not need Chumsky to tell me what to question and what to think.
...the US was appalled at the outcome.

My word, does he even pay attention to what he says. The USA does not have one voice. You can not say a nation has any single emotion. It would be just as wrong for me to say Cambodia loved death during Pol Pot regime.

Dr. Paul Farmer is mentioned as for his support for Aristide.

Representative Maxine Waters has a few parts in the film. I use to work and live close to her district. Even my roommate knew of her from his security job work.

There is a nice interview of Aristide in the bonus materials worth watching. While he talks a lot about loving everyone, the main film seems to diverge and show not nearly as peaceful person as he talked in the interview. Also he talks a lot about class warfare. I wonder how much the "wealthy" are really wealthy by world wide standards. If I was rich in Haiti I would have left a long time ago, even under the previous dictators.

Farmer mentions that there is no military in the government to protect against a coup. And I do remember that some thought this was a foolish move. It seems that you leave at least leave enough to carry out the threats from any internal struggle.

But a lovely turn around to blame the USA for assisting in dismantling the army and then having an embargo on arms to Haiti.

Danny Glover also has some dialogue. But sorry when there is much "abject poverty" and massive unemployment then raising the minimum wage will not help the poor as a group. Sure some may benefit but others will more than likely stay unemployed.

Clinton returned Aristide to power after the coup. And then he handed over power peacefully in 94. They made a point that Aristide was the only elected President in the history of Haiti???

Aristide claims that what is happening in Haiti is genocide. I see the violence but if Darfur is not genocide I don't see how Haiti can be it. I do see acts of democide though. He just has not shown that it is deliberately against one group or another. Maybe he is considering a it a class struggle genocide in which he only has to imply rich/poor genocide.

Embargo over contested senate seats???
The embargo also was supported by Canada and France-starting in 2000. It seems strange that two very independent countries would side with the USA if there was not more to the story.

Maxine Waters and Jeffrey Sachs (one of the worlds leading economist) say that none of the aid went to the Aristide government. She claims that 850 million went to NGOs. But that is the reasonable approach when another government feels that the money would be diverted and not end up helping the intended beneficiaries or if the government is corrupt and would use it for controlling purposes. As several governments have done to reward loyal members and punish the opposition parties like claimed in Zimbabwe. Whether Haiti deserved this treatment is another question. Anyway, what a condescending authoritarian question by Maxine.

And what says that "you have no money for" project X, Y or Z if you do not get aid. It is a gift and not a requirement.
...drained him of foreign exchange reserves, as he continued to service the debts to the international institutions, the exchange rate collapsed, the inflation rose, and the economy collapsed, and that was the deliberate result of the strangulation of aid.

We could analyze this as a Two Gap Model problem. So in essence if foreign aid dried up on the foreign exchange gap then the savings/investment gap could have changed this around. Also foreign aid is not the only way to increase foreign exchange-trade could have expanded-although I am sure it would have been tough.

Yes that is a bold move to ask for restitutions/reparations back after 200 years. I know it is fun to blame the French but at some time you have to walk on your own two feet as a nation. This is nothing more than welfare mentality. Then Aristide goes on to advertise his demands on TV. I think doing that sort of actions shows that he wants to blame others for his own inability to govern.

Ricot Dupuy does have a good point that you pick your battles and attacking the two most influential countries as with respect to Haiti is pure foolishness.

Jeffrey Sachs was mentioned earlier when Maxine Waters asked him some questions. The most shocking aspect of his stands is that he is supportive of:
In economics, Shock Therapy refers to the sudden release of price and currency controls, withdrawal of state subsidies, and immediate trade liberalization within a country. Prominent economist Jeffrey Sachs was the foremost proponent of shock therapy for several emerging economies.

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