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Patrick Bellegarde-Smith.

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith was born in the United States forty-seven years ago. His father--the Smith part of his name--was, he says, "a cowboy from Idaho." But his mother--the Bellegarde part of his name--was a member of one of Haiti's prominent families, the tiny aristocracy that has held sway there for two centuries, and Bellegarde-Smith, an American citizen, regards himself as "culturally a Haitian." He spent his childhood and young adulthood in Haiti, and since then has returned to Haiti for visits almost every year.

Bellegarde-Smith's apartment, where I spoke with him on a recent Friday afternoon, is crammed with his fine collection of African, African-American, and Haitian folk art--masks, carvings, sculptures, paintings. He lives within easy walking distance--"I've never owned a car," he told me--of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus, where he has taught for the last eight years and now chairs the Department of Africology, formerly the Department of Afro-American Studies.

Why the name change?

"To understand African-Americans, one cannot start with 1619, when the first slave ship arrived," Bellegarde-Smith explained. "It's arbitrary and artificial. It explains very little. From 1619 to the present is what I would call the boundaries of bondage. One has to look beyond that narrow framework. For example, 100 years before the arrival of the first Africans in the United States, there were Africans in the Caribbean area. In 1521, Haiti saw the arrival of the first enslaved Africans.

"The seven members of our department teach courses on all parts of the world. We even have a course called 'Capitalism, Fascism, Socialism, and Nationalism,' in relation to the Afro world. I have taught a course on foreign policies of African states. I now teach a course on traditional African religions and social organization."

Bellegarde-Smith holds a master's degree in Latin American studies and a Ph.D. in international studies from American University in Washington, D.C., but he never earned a high-school diploma. "One of these days," he says, "I think I'll get a GED."

His first book, In the Shadow of Powers: Dantes Bellegarde in Haitian Social Thought, was about his grandfather, who served as Haiti's ambassador to the League of Nations. His 1990 book, Haiti: The Breached Citadel (Westview Press), will be issued in a revised edition next year.

In recent months, as Haiti has come to dominate newspaper headlines and television newscasts, Bellegarde-Smith has been much in demand as an "expert" on local and national news media, including the Cable News Network and National Public Radio. As we talked a few days after the U.S. military occupation of Haiti, the telephone in his apartment rang every few minutes. He ignored it and responded to my questions volubly, in animated, lightly accented English.

Q: Tell me about your Haitian family.

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith: The Bellegardes have been prominent in Haiti from the beginning. The name recurs on a regular basis from the first year of Haitian independence--1804--all the way to 1957, when Francois Duvalier came to power, At that time, my grandfather retired, at the age of eighty, from the diplomatic service.

My grandfather was invited by W.E.B. Du Bois to chair the Second Pan-African Congress in Paris in 1921. He carried the resolutions of that Congress--you can tell from the language that they were written by Du Bois--to the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations.

I have a beautiful snapshot of my grandfather, my mother, and Du Bois, taken in Port-au-Prince--one of the things I hold most precious. The two men were very close, but they subsequently diverged. Du Bois became increasingly more radical, and my grandfather remained where he was in 1907--a liberal in classical terms. But since the people of Haiti were moving steadily to the left, by standing perfectly still my grandfather came to be seen as a fascist. He never was a fascist, but he was liberal in the traditional sense of the word. I wrote my first book to explain that.

Q: Your own views, I surmise, are closer to Du Bois's than to your grandfather's. Having been born into the Haitian elite--the 0.8 per cent who rule the country--how did you come to your political perspective?

Bellegarde-Smith: My political consciousness developed fairly early. I went to parochial school, as most Haitians of my class did, and when I was about eleven years old, I befriended two members of the middle class--"middle-class elements," as we referred to them--and my family told me this could not be. They were actually thrown out of my home because we did not know who they were, who their parents were, where they came from, what kind of name they had, and so forth.

These were middle-class children. Of course, the working class did not compute at all, it was not even on our radar screen.

I rebelled against all that. I decided at that point that I would not have any friends. The people I grew up with, the people who were in my classes when I was a young boy, have become very prominent in Haitian politics. We were classmates together, but they were of no interest to me even then.

I left Haiti after the tenth grade. I announced to my parents I was not going back to high school; I was quite sick and tired of it. They were able, somehow, to get me an appointment with the dean of students at the College of the Virgin Islands. On the strength of the fact that I had published little things in French in Haiti, and had studied Latin and Greek, and, of course, had all those years of French, she said she was sure I could do well. I spoke no English at the time, so I became a political-science major.

When I came to the United States, I realized that all my classmates were "middle-class elements," and my professors were "middle-class elements." That troubled me, and unbeknownst to me, my classmates had trouble with me because I was black. Encountering the U.S. brand of racism taught me quite a few things, and the longer I stayed in the United States, the more radical I became.

Q: As a Haitian living in the United States, how do you assess the image of Haiti that is held by most Americans, and their understanding of what is happening there today?

Bellegarde-Smith: The U.S. images of Haiti were created in the course of two centuries, and they have not changed. One is simply amazed to see how closely descriptions that were written about 200 years ago compare, for example, to what was published in The New York Times at the time of the first U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934. Obviously, people are a bit more cautious about the way they express themselves today, but the analysis remains the same.

Q: What is that analysis?

Bellegarde-Smith: That Haitians are, to be perfectly blunt about it, congenitally incapable of having a democratic system; that Haiti has never been democratic, and therefore it never will be. The analysis I hear over and over again when I'm being interviewed by the mainstream media is that Haiti can't be democratic, so we're wasting our time.

Senator John McCain of Arizona said recently, "We tried to impose democracy on these people in 1915 and it didn't work. What makes us think that it will work this time?" Talk about "imposing democracy" tells me something about the way we define democracy in the United States, because if it can be imposed, it's something that comes from the top down.

I've always felt that democracy has to come from the grass roots up, but the United States has never felt comfortable about grass-roots movements--in this country, let alone elsewhere in the world.

The idea of universal suffrage, as presented in the United States and in Haiti over the last 200 years, tells us what each country has meant by democracy. In Haitian terms, universal suffrage meant 5 per cent of the population. You had to be literate, you could not be mentally incapacitated, you could not be a female, and there were many other restraints. But then again, you find the same restraints in the United States.

My students say that the United States is democratic, so I ask them at what point it became so. Was it always democratic? What is the date? They say, 1776. But in 1776, were Native Americans able to vote? No. Did we have slavery? Yes. What about women, who didn't achieve the right to vote until 1920? What about blacks, who in effect weren't able to vote down in much of the South until 1964-1965? So was the United States a little bit democratic in 1776, and more democratic after these events transpired?

It's interesting to me that members of the U.S. House and Senate have always held a top-down definition of democracy, one that was tied to mechanistic kinds of things--things we do for a few moments every four years, for instance, in a voting booth. That has never made any sense to me, because I see democracy as a continuous process, a process that is constantly rolling.

Q: Do you believe U.S. military intervention was the way to cope with the crisis in Haiti?

Bellegarde-Smith: I think it was a disastrous idea, because I don't believe the United States has changed its foreign policy that much over the past century. If one looks at U.S. history, especially its foreign policy, one realizes that there's never been an armed intervention on the side of the people. The Haitian people know that, too. They understand that in the short run, the military occupation might solve some problems, but in the long term it will increase problems for Haiti.

Q: So what are the prospects for democracy in Haiti?

Bellegarde-Smith: If Haiti were to hold free and fair elections every five years, men or women like Jean-Baptiste Aristide would keep being elected. In order to avoid that, the Haitian upper class may dream of withdrawing universal suffrage, but it is not possible to do so because we are, after all, at the beginning of the Twenty-first Century, and we would be the laughing stock of the world. So fraudulent elections will have to come about, and that will be done on a regular basis.

Q: Are you predicting that the next presidential election in Haiti, when Aristide's term expires at the end of 1995, will be a fraudulent election?

Bellegarde-Smith: Very possibly so. But it appears that some of the men the United States is looking at as potential presidential candidates next year who are fairly popular and populist might, indeed, give the United States what it wants. So we still could have a fairly open election.

Q: What is it that the United States wants?

Bellegarde-Smith: What it has always wanted: To keep Haiti quiet under a government that will protect U.S. interests and be dependent on the United States. Between 1838 and 1914, there were twenty-four armed interventions on the part of the United States in Haiti. Starting in 1903, the United States wanted to get the Germans and the French out of Haiti, so that it--the United States--could monopolize trade. From that point, there has been interference from the private sector of the United States and from the Government in Haitian commerce as well as in Haitian politics.

Starting in 1843, there had been constant rural uprisings in the south of the country against the Haitian power structure. The demands of these peasants were for land redistribution to the people who worked the land, and more access to power in the politics of the country, including the election of black presidents, not just light-skinned presidents.

Q: Let's clarify that. Are members of the Haitian elite invariably light-skinned?

Bellegarde-Smith: Put it this way: Among light-skinned Haitians, nine out of ten are members of the elite, most of whom could pass for white and do pass for white in the United States...

Q: As you could...

Bellegarde-Smith: People think I'm a Jewish rabbi. In fact, two Christmases ago, two blocks from here I was assaulted by three young skinheads who thought I was jewish. It would not have helped my case if I had told them, "By the way, you're mistaken, I'm black."

Q: I interrupted you by asking about the light-skinned Haitian elite...

Bellegarde-Smith:...but not only light-skinned. There is a segment of the Haitian elite that was always dark, and that comes especially from the north of Haiti. Indeed, about one fourth of all plantations and about a fourth of all slaves belonged to black Haitians. The father of the country, the Emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines, was the son of the slave of a black owner who was absolutely brutal. So there is that, also.

Two years after independence, the emperor, Dessalines, was murdered by the burgeoning upper class who felt he was giving too much away to the former slaves. He said, for instance, in the first constitution written in 1805, that all Haitians would be known generically as noir--black--because the father of the nation was black, so the children of the father had to be the same. This did not please those of mixed background, because they did not consider themselves black or African. My great great great great grandfather was a white Frenchman, Jacques Ignace Fresnel, ostensibly the father of Haitian Freemasonry, who had married a woman of color. He was named a judge by Dessalines, who supposedly was anti-white, and he became, under the government of Jean Pierre Voyer, the first minister of justice of Haiti.

All such people became officially black, and Haiti officially became a black country.

Q: Back to U.S. intervention...

Bellegarde-Smith: Yes. In 1915, one of the proteges of the United States, Vilburn Guillaume Sam, was murdered, and the Marines came down on July 28. The paperwork for that invasion had been prepared one year in advance. It had been typed, with the date left blank. In 1914, a U.S. vessel had come into Port-au-Prince and dispatched members of the crew to the central Haitian bank. They drew out all of the gold reserves and carried them off to New York City, where they remained throughout the U.S. occupation.

The U.S. interest during the occupation was to do several things. First of all, they immediately sent the parliament packing, because it would not approve of the president the United States had selected. The occupation forces engineered the election of that man, he came to power, the constitution was abrogated.

The United States immediately put back into power, without the pretense of ruling through an octogenarian black general, as had long been the custom, people who were as light-skinned as can be. In the 1920s, under U.S. occupation, Haiti had the closest brush with what could be described as a fascist administration. It governed through the United States or with the United States until 1934, when the U.S. troops left, and was able to maintain itself in power until 1946, when the first black middle-class government came into being.

Of course, the most powerful legacy of the disastrous nineteen-year occupation was the creation of the present-day Haitian army--an action that was ratified by the U.S. Congress in 1916. It was not created as an army but was called the Gendarmerie--a police force. It became a national guard, just like the one the United States established in the Dominican Republic (which was under U.S. occupation from 1916 to 1924). In Nicaragua, the United States established a national guard as well.

We know what national guards do in U.S. terms: They have largely police functions. They are at the disposal of the governors of the states. Except for natural cataclysms--floods, earthquakes--I know of no national-guard interventions in behalf of the people. The national guard is called out to deal with strikers or protesters.

After the United States left in 1934, the Haitians, out of pride, removed the names Gendarmerie and Garde d'Haiti, and they became the Armed Forces of Haiti, with a small air force component and a small coast guard component. But the army's functions remained police functions; it has never done anything but that.

The metropolitan police department is a component of the Haitian army, always controlled by a colonel in the Haitian army. It's only fairly recently that blue police uniforms, distinct from the army's olive uniforms, have come to be worn.

Haitians have realized for a very long time that their military is a branch of the U.S. Army. It is trained exclusively in U.S. methods and uses U.S. arms. Many of the top leaders have been trained at the U.S. Army's School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. All of the top officers are fluent in English, though they pretend not to be. You also have to remember that for the past twenty years, General Raoul Cedras and other Haitian military leaders have been paid by the CIA to essentially spy on Haiti.

Q: Some people say it's inappropriate to cite the experience from 1915 to 1934; that the situation now is wholly different both in Washington and in Port-au-Prince. You don't share that view?

Bellegarde-Smith: No. There is a very strong parallel with the occupation of 1915. Internationally, we have a situation that is quite similar. Now, as then, the United States is top dog, able to pursue its interests without hindrance. The Soviet Union has disappeared as a great power, just as Germany was in decline then. And internally, in Haiti, the old armed forces were unable to cope with the revolutionary movement, just as they are today.

Q: What has been the nature of more recent U.S. interventions in Haiti?

Bellegarde-Smith: In 1957, after a series of coups engineered by the military forces created by the U.S. occupation, Francois Duvalier--Papa Doc--came to power in a fraudulent election after tremendous political upheavals. It's obvious to anyone who has ever looked at the record that Duvalier was favored by the United States. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, the United States had seen middle-class leaders come to power who seemed fairly progressive but not, in fact, dangerous to U.S. interests. The United States assumed that Duvalier was of that kind.

Between 1986, when Jean-Claude Duvalier--Baby Doc--was ordered to leave Haiti by the United States, up to the present there have been a number of U.S. interventions. U.S. policy still works on the assumption that the Haitian middle class and some working-class elements can be brought into leadership positions to ensure the political stability of the country. Indeed, this is where Aristide comes in, because his economic policies are conservative, and always have been.

Q: Why, then, did the United States oppose him when he sought the presidency?

Bellegarde-Smith: This is a man who never dreamed he could become president. He was quite content to remain a small-parish priest. He was caught up in a political moment, and people had to convince him to run for president, which he did with just a few days to spare in terms of the formal deadline for filing one's candidacy.

Of course, he did expect to win, because he had incarnated himself as a representative of the Haitian masses. He finds himself in the role of being a little bit of Gandhi, a little bit of Martin Luther King Jr., a little bit of Lech Walesa. He might have been more successful, I think, as the conscience of the nation than as president, because of the kinds of compromises that inevitably accompany that job.

Aristide comes from liberation theology and is familiar with that discourse. He analyzed quite appropriately the political system in Haiti and the economic structure of the country, and he bandied about words that are forbidden in the United States, such as "imperialism." That's not a word one says in polite company in this country, unless one wants to immediately shut down conversation.

But in retrospect, when one looks at Aristide's seven months in office, one recognizes immediately how conservative his economic policies were. In fact, they were approved by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which allocated to the Aristide government more than $500 million for the five-year period of his presidency.

Still, his populist appeal disturbed the United States. But more to the point, his public statements created an environment that disturbed specific sectors of the ruling circles in Haiti and abroad. He talked, for instance, about raising the minimum wage from $3 to $5 a day, and he did so without consultation with his cabinet. The idea just came to him, and he said it on the air. The business sector went immediately against him.

He correctly assessed the role of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to be anti-people, anti-masses, in the sense that the Church had always been very closely allied with the Haitian aristocracy. So the Church went against him.

He decided--and I think this was partly under pressure from the World Bank--that a great many public servants should be fired because they hadn't done any work in thirty years, and had never even showed up for work. That turned the middle class solidly against him.

In his few months in power, he was able to accumulate tax revenues for the very first time. That turned people who had never paid taxes in two centuries against him.

He also shut down, quite effectively, the drug traffic from Colombia through Haiti to the United States. And as a result, the army moved against him. NOt only were the officers of the Haitian army making money from that traffic, they were directing it.

So all of the influential sectors of the society moved against Aristide, and the few families of enormous wealth collected about $40 million--and everybody knew that weeks before the actual coup d'etat--to pay the army to do it. I think they could have gotten off a lot cheaper, because the army was dissatisfied with him anyway.

Q: To what extent was the United States implicated in Aristide's ouster?

Bellegarde-Smith: Well, we will know for sure when the documents are declassified at some point in the next several decades. Let me backtrack and answer your question this way:

Six months into the Aristide administration, the U.S. ambassador, Alvin Adams, summoned the Haitian prime minister, Rene Preval, who under our parliamentary system has more power than the president. In all other societies, ambassadors are summoned by the government, but not in this case. (I got this story from Preval himself.)

At dinner, the ambassador said--I'm paraphrasing, of course--"You know, I really am impressed by what you guys have been able to do. I thought for sure that you would never succeed." Then he went on to say, "There's something I want you to do. I want you to incorporate into your government...," and he mentioned several names--people who had been roundly defeated in the presidential election in December of the previous year, such as Marc Bazin, a World Bank official who had achieved about 13 per cent of the vote, while Aristide had 67.5 per cent of the vote in a field of eleven.

So the prime minister of Haiti said, "Well, you know we won precisely because we said we would not compromise with those people. We don't want the macoutes, we don't want Duvalierism. The Haitian people decided against this overwhelmingly, and I don't think we need to revisit this affair." But the ambassador ignored what he had just said and told the prime minister, "I will arrange for you to meet these people."

We also know, because the Los Angeles Times broke this story and The New York Times also published it, that from the early 1970s all the way to 1991, top leaders of the Haitian armed forces--and high civilian officials, as well--were paid agents of the United States. If we find any person acting that way in the United States, we send him to prison for a very long time, and in the old days we would have put him in front of a firing squad. But it's okay for us to have spies.

The Aristide government knew that a coup was being plotted. If people in the street knew that a coup was being plotted--and they did know--the U.S. Government with all of its intelligence network must have known. The Haitian power structure concluded, because the U.S. Government did not say, "Don't do it," that the U.S. Government approved, and was saying, in effect, "Go ahead!" So they went ahead.

When the U.S. Government protested the coup in a lukewarm fashion, and the Organization of American States, taking its cue from that, protested as well, and later the United Nations, the Haitian upper classes were baffled. They couldn't understand all the mixed signals.

I think the United States really wanted Aristide replaced, partly because he had popular support. He was seen as a maverick, as someone who was unreliable, a loose cannon, and even though his economic policies were okay, he had popular support and might continue to have popular support if he started doing things the United States would not want him to do.

The coup had already been signed and delivered when Aristide went to the slums and made his famous and very unfortunate speech about "necklacing," trying to rouse the population on his behalf. It backfired, of course, and he will never live down that speech. But when people use that speech as justification for the coup, that is nonsense. The coup was already well in the works.

Q: In the 1992 U.S. Presidential campaign, Bill Clinton vigorously denounced President Bush's policy of turning back the Haitian refugees who were trying to flee to this country. Then, as almost the first act of his new Administration, Clinton reversed himself and embraced Bush's policy. What should Clinton have done?

Bellegarde-Smith: My sense is that Clinton is sincere. In generous moments, he says things that he comes to regret on just about every issue. As a very bright man, he sees all the options, and as a result he feels paralyzed. When he said that haitian political-asylum seekers should get a better deal than they were getting under Bush, he soon came to realize that wasn't possible in terms of U.S. racial politics and U.S. immigration policy. I know he must have remembered that the Cuban Mariel boatlift was one of the things that got Jimmy Carter in such trouble during his one-term Presidency. Clinton was unwilling to repeat that.

Of course, if the 40,000 or 50,000 Haitians who were coming through at that time had been Swedes, it would have been a very different story--but they were not Swedes. In fact, much of the illegal immigration that comes to the United States through Boston is Irish, and through Chicago is Polish. They blend very nicely into the general population. They do not present a problem. We talk about the Haitians and now the Cubans, and we've started talking about the Chinese, but never about the Irish or Polish illegals.

So Clinton had to do something, and he got the Supreme Court to validate a course of conduct that seemed to violate U.S. and international law.

On September 15, announcing what he then expected to be an armed invasion of Haiti, Clinton buried in the middle of the speech the most important point: He talked about "the safety of our borders"--code words. He talked about the 300,000 internal exiles hiding in the mountains of Haiti who could legitimately come to the United States because they are, indeed, political refugees--black people, mostly peasants, who qualify for political asylum. That was the key element, and I think the American public was astute enough to recognize it: We have to protect our borders, so we have to invade Haiti, or haitians will invade us. On the strength of that, Clinton got a bit more room to maneuver.

Q: What now?

Bellegarde-Smith: Aristide has essentially given in on all major issues. On August 26, the Haitian delegation to the World Bank signed away the economic independence of the country. We're talking about the sale of 125 semi-private, semi-public agencies of the Haitian government--not to wealthy Haitians (and we have some of those) but to foreigners, and the lifting of import duties. In other words, the country is open for business.

At last count, the World Bank is willing to lend about $700 million to Haiti, and I think we're at the stage now where Chile was under Pinochet after Allende was overthrown.

Q: What should Clinton have done?

Bellegarde-Smith: Of course, Clinton never intended to invade. He backed himself into a corner, and the Haitian officers, knowing that, were able to get all the concessions they wanted--every last one of them. The deal they got was better than the one they got a year ago at Governor's Island.

Q: Better in what respect?

Bellegarde-Smith: At Governor's Island, they were required to leave office and leave the country. Here, they're required to leave office but not leave the country. At Governor's Island, it was very clear which officers would have to step down--as if three men leaving a corrupt army in a corrupt government would make a difference; of course, it doesn't, though I suppose it's better than nothing. The seven-point agreement signed under Jimmy Carter's aegis is very unclear, very vague, mentions no one by name, says nothing about their leaving the country. And the officers did not sign the agreement, as Cedras did at Governor's Island.

But in a stunning overturn of U.S. foreign policy, initiated either by Jimmy Carter or by Clinton through Carter, the U.S. negotiators walked over to the presidential palace to meet twice with the de facto president of the country, who was appointed by the military and has not been recognized by the U.S. Government, and who announced in a great theatrical show that he would sign. That document would not stand up anywhere, though Carter called him "the real president of Haiti." Perhaps he misspoke; I don't know.

The Haitian people got a very bad deal. For one thing, because the invasion by force was no longer necessary, something did not happen that the overwhelming majority of Haitians had hoped would happen: They were conflicted and ambivalent about the invasion. The idea of white troops in Haiti is abhorrent to most Haitians. They remember what happened in 1915: 15,000 Haitian casualties, fourteen U.S. casualties. But most Haitians wanted the first wave of invasion to come in and obliterate the Haitian army, which now will not happen.

The United States has made it very clear that the Haitian army must be reorganized, but must remain, though the numbers may be drawn down. At present, the Haitian army of about 7,500 consumes about 45 per cent of the Haitian budget--almost half of the national budget year in and year out. But the United States has made it clear that the Haitian army must remain.

Q: Why?

Bellegarde-Smith: Because in 1995 there will be national elections that will be very much in the tradition of Aristide, and in the year 2000 another person will be invested in that office who may be a spiritual descendant of Aristide, and one doesn't trust grass-roots movements. One doesn't trust them in the United States; why should one trust them in Haiti?

Q: So you're saying that if Aristide does return, and if his successors are freely elected, it really will make no difference because they will be powerless?

Bellegarde-Smith: Exactly. Populism of the left will be replaced by populism of the right--in U.S. terms, a safe Ross Perot, perhaps, or a safe George Wallace. Someone of that ilk. The people around Aristide--not the people of the mass movement but the people who went into exile with him--have seen how hostile the international environment is to any real change in Haiti. Because the United States is unopposed as a superpower, there is no counterweight. If a country like Haiti finds itself nationally in a situation where a transformation might occur, that cannot be sustained internationally. There are no allies to be found.

Q: So how long will these miserably poor, oppressed people continue to put up with this state of affairs?

Bellegarde-Smith: I think we're coming to a point where there will be an explosion. These people have waited not just 200 years, but going on 500. You're talking about 200 years of slavery, and then 200 years of so-called independence under a series of dictators. When 1 per cent of the population controls almost half of the national wealth, you have to have a dictatorship if the status quo is to be maintained. Any country that would have such horrendous numbers would also have a dictatorship--including the United States. There is no other way.

The economic policies foreseen by the present Haitian government when Aristide returns to Haiti, the vision established by the United States and the World Bank for Haiti, that kind of an economic fate will not allow sufficient numbers of Haitians to improve their lot to stabilize the situation. Some other system might very well do that, but not this one. A dictatorship will be necessary to keep the lid on. In the next five or ten years, there will not be enough wealth created and spread around to make a difference.

When I grew up in Haiti in the 1950s, we had about five millionaires. Now we probably have more than thirty-five. Over the last few years, additional millionaires have been created by the embargo--by smuggling. We're talking about Haitians who have hundreds of millions of dollars. We're talking now about a grand alliance of the old aristocracy, the traditional upper classes, the new, politically influential middle classes, now unified to stop this lavalas, this flood coming at them. They're petrified; they fear that when Aristide returns, their lives may be in danger.

But the grass-roots movement and the organizations that have been created over the last fifteen or so years, after they had been crushed by the Americans during the occupation, may have to struggle another twenty-five years to reconstruct what was lost during these last three years.

At some point there will be an explosion. I expect it. In the long run, the masses win. But it can be a very long run.
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Title Annotation:Haitian-American leader
Author:Knoll, Erwin
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Interview
Date:Nov 1, 1994
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