The Nation | Lookout | Aristide in Exile | Naomi Klein: "A few weeks ago I visited Aristide in Pretoria, South Africa, where he lives in forced exile. I asked him what was really behind his dramatic falling-out with Washington. He offered an explanation rarely heard in discussions of Haitian politics--actually, he offered three: 'privatization, privatization and privatization.'
The dispute dates back to a series of meetings in early 1994, a pivotal moment in Haiti's history that Aristide has rarely discussed. Haitians were living under the barbaric rule of Raoul Cedras, who overthrew Aristide in a 1991 US-backed coup. Aristide was in Washington and despite popular calls for his return, there was no way he could face down the junta without military back-up. Increasingly embarrassed by Cedras's abuses, the Clinton Administration offered Aristide a deal: US troops would take him back to Haiti--but only after he agreed to a sweeping economic program with the stated goal to 'substantially transform the nature of the Haitian state.'
Aristide agreed to pay the debts accumulated under the kleptocratic Duvalier dictatorships, slash the civil service, open up Haiti to 'free trade' and cut import tariffs on rice and corn in half. It was a lousy deal but, Aristide says, he had little choice. 'I was out of my country and my country was the poorest in the Western hemisphere, so what kind of power did I have at that time?'
But Washington's negotiators made one demand that Aristide could not accept: the immediate sell-off of Haiti's state-owned enterprises, including phones and electricity. Aristide argued that unregulated privatization would transform state monopolies into private oligarchies, increasing the riches of Haiti's elite and stripping the poor of their national wealth. He says the proposal simply didn't add up: 'Being honest means saying two plus two equals four. They wanted us to sing two plus two equals five.'"
Unfortunately, the poor in the world don't get a better break even with New Democrats, like Bill Clinton!