Back in the early 1970s, Chicago's Mayor Daley-- the last of a breed of urban Bosses-- reacted angrily to the (quite accurate) suggestion that he was imposing his will on the city's government. Said Daley: "We run a democracy here!"
Jean-Bertrand Aristide tried to "run a democracy" in Haiti. When the voters supported him, he served them. When they didn't support him, he ignored them. Mostly he ignored them.
When US forces brought Aristide back to power after a coup, the Clinton White House told us that we were ousting a group of thugs. That's only partially true. We did oust one group of thugs, and replaced them with another group of thugs loyal to Aristide. The form of Haitian government did not change.
Previous Haitian thugs-in-chief ignored the needs of their wretchedly poor people, and ignored their neighbors in Washington. Aristide was a bit brighter. He ignored the tens of thousands of starving children in Citi Soleil, but curried favor with the Kennedy family and Jesse Jackson. He appeared occasionally at Georgetown cocktail parties. His book-- a mishmash of platitude, fiction, and plain nonsense-- was published by the Maryknoll's Orbis Press. He didn't look like a thug.
The White House is denying rumors that American pressure forced Aristide out of Haiti. As a US citizen, I hope the rumors are true.
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