From the Archives

HAITI: The Next Cuba?
Part 1

(The Inside Story: World Report v1:1, July 1994)

On May 21, darkness began to descend on Haiti.

“We’re all going to die now,” said Francois De Ravine, 28, who stood with other truckers in the rain Friday at the entrance to the American Airlines freight terminal as the last boxes were unloaded from their trucks. “We’re all going to die hungry. I have five people I have to feed,” he said. “Now the only thing I can do is cry.”1

That was the day President Clinton ordered the United States to join the United Nations in a drastic trade embargo against Haiti. Within weeks, the squeeze was already affecting that impoverished nation:

Thousands of people have lost jobs over the past month as factories closed for lack of supplies and fuel. Port traffic has dropped 75 percent since the sanctions were tightened May 21, according to the newspaper Le Nouvelliste.

The cost of food and medicine is soaring, and gasoline smuggled illegally into the country is priced out of reach of most people.2

Eight months earlier, in October of 1993, Clinton had sent an initial landing force of some 200 American and Canadian troops to Haiti, but crowds of armed and angry civilians had prevented the ship from docking. A total of 1,300 UN troops were to have occupied Haiti. Angered by the Haitian resistance, Clinton threatened invasion by the US navy, imposed new economic sanctions, and then sent six warships to blockade Haiti.

Despite a strong backlash from Republicans, Congress failed to restrict Clinton’s powers in moving against Haiti. By May, Clinton was tightening sanctions while openly planning a military invasion. On June 10, he banned commercial airline flights and financial transfers between Haiti and the US. As it stands right now, Haiti is bracing for a bloody conflict.

Clinton has not stood alone. In Washington, DC, prominent lobbyist Randall Robinson has gone on a hunger strike in protest against Haiti. Robinson is the ultra-left executive director of TransAfrica, for years the central organization in the movement for sanctions against South Africa. TransAfrica’s board of directors includes Carlton Goodlett, a long-time official of the World Peace Council — a European-based KGB front through which the Soviets coordinate terrorist groups worldwide [see “The shadow behind the Middle East peace conference,” this issue — Eds.]. TransAfrica itself supports Communist revolutionary groups. In 1981, Robinson’s organization joined with the Communist Party, USA, to sponsor a Washington, DC, meeting with the African National Congress of South Africa. Michael Manley, the Marxist, pro-Castro former primer minister of Jamaica, gave the keynote speech at a 1982 TransAfrica forum. Also in 1982, TransAfrica’s Dr. Ronald Walters co-signed a declaration by a a front group for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), calling for sanctions against Israel. Robinson and TransAfrica have also supported such Communist revolutionary movements as the South-West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) in Namibia and the Polisario Front of Western Morocco, while supporting the Communist regimes in Cuba, Grenada (now overthrown), Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Nicaragua.3

Congressman Ronald Dellums (Democrat-California) has backed Clinton by introducing legislation for total sanctions against Haiti. Based in the Berkeley area, Dellums has been so radical that his 1970 campaign to enter Congress received full backing by Communist Party newspapers. Shortly after winning that election, he traveled to Sweden for a conference of the World Peace Council. Attending with Dellums were such personalities as Herbert Aptheker, Gil Green, and Sylvia Krushner — all top officials of the Communist Party, USA. The 1970 meeting expressed support for Communist North Vietnam in its war against the United States.4

The focus of the astonishing campaign against Haiti is its former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Haiti’s crime, blares the media, is that its military overthrew the democratically-elected Aristide in September, 1991. For the sake of democracy, that nation must be punished, or even invaded, to force it to take back Aristide.

Why all the fuss over tiny Haiti? The country has a population slightly over six million (less than New York City), mostly impoverished and illiterate. The economy depends heavily on tourism, having no oil or precious metals and little industry. And Haiti is hardly the least democratic nation in the Third World.

In reality, Haiti is now a major strategic target of the “former” Soviet Bloc, which is exploiting the Western belief that Communism is “dead” to establish a key military base in the Caribbean.

Aristide and Liberation Theology

The press often refers to the former president as “Father” Aristide, because of his past status as a priest in the Salesian Order of the Roman Catholic Church. But in 1989 the Catholic Church expelled him from the Order for his radical politics and distinctly un-Catholic theology.

Aristide’s rift with the Catholic Church began showing in his seminary days during the mid-1960s. He complained to the prefect of studies that the traditional Latin Mass should be scrapped as a vestige of a dead language. The seminary held firm.5

Rather than leave the Catholic Church over his disagreements, Aristide chose instead to work from within to disrupt its theology. In his own words, he began reading radical South American authors who preached the “antagonism between exploiter and exploited.” From there he joined Liberation Theology, a movement propagating Marxism in the name of Christianity.6

Among Protestant churches, the main advocate of Liberation Theology since the late 1960s has been the World Council of Churches (WCC). Using donations made by Christians to their local churches, the WCC has provided millions of dollars to such Communist movements as the government of North Vietnam (during the Vietnam War!) and terrorist groups such as SWAPO and the African National Congress (ANC).7

The Catholic version of Liberation Theology was officially born at the Second General Council of Latin American Bishops, held in Colombia in 1968. Since then, priests of Liberation Theology, though in a minority, have used their positions of power to recruit youth into Communist revolution while encouraging terrorist violence. The movement has surfaced in Catholic churches throughout Latin America and Europe, as well as in the Philippines.

Liberation Theologists played a key role in the 1979 Sandinista takeover of Nicaragua. “Father” Ernesto Cardenal, who declared that “only when I converted to Marxism could I write religious poetry”8 and that “I am above all a revolutionist and as such fight for… a dictatorship of the proletariat, in which surely it cannot show itself feeble toward the enemies of its fatherland, not even in moments when one comes to the point of having to execute men for this purpose,”9 was appointed Minister of Culture in the new Marxist dictatorship. “Father” Miguel d’Escoto also backed the revolution, and was trusted enough to be named Foreign Minister of the Sandinista regime. Upon winning the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union in 1987, d’Escoto was ecstatic: “This prize makes us Nicaraguans come into even closer contact with Lenin, that great personality of your state and of all mankind who is the passionate champion of peace.”10

With these “priests” supporting the Sandinistas, the government has seized control of public and religious schools to enforce the teaching of atheism and revolution, has blocked religious access to the media, has physically attacked and destroyed many dozens of Catholic and Protestant churches, has imprisoned, mutilated, and killed priests, missionaries, and worshippers, and has driven the entire Jewish community out of Nicaragua after burning down its synagogue.11

Liberation Theology has also become a major force in the South African revolution. The South African Communist Party declared in 1989 that “South African communists must look afresh, while fully adhering to the Party’s ideology of Marxism-Leninism, at the religious factor as an element in the people’s struggle… Our immediate aim of establishing the National Democratic Revolution must, on the religious front, encompass the development of a liberation theology which supports the people’s fight for a democratic republic.”12 The Kairos Document, issued in 1986 by clergy of Liberation Theology, endorsed not only the revolution but also terrorism against blacks, including the “necklacing” practice of burning blacks to death using tires soaked in gasoline.13 Prominent Liberation Theologist Desmond Tutu, an official of the World Council of Churches (which funds the ANC and other South African terrorist groups), was quoted by the Boston Jewish Times as saying, “In terms of the New Testament, the Jews must suffer. Therefore, we will put it into practice if we will be in charge. There will be no sympathy with the Jews when the blacks take over.”14 Other Liberation Theologists have delivered agitating speeches at ANC rallies, often in front of huge Soviet flags.15

In Haiti, it is Jean-Bertrand Aristide who now holds the torch for Liberation Theology.

Communist revolution in Haiti

The Soviet Bloc has been eyeing the strategic assets of the Caribbean for some time. The region provides a back door to the United States, through which the Soviets could hope to finish surrounding their most powerful target. Most importantly, the Caribbean is the corridor of access to the Panama Canal, which saves the US navy thousands of miles in transferring ships between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In case of war, the US would depend greatly on having unhindered access to the Canal.

The Caribbean is also a valuable staging area for Communist-sponsored revolution throughout Latin America. The Soviets acquired their first base in the area when Cuba fell to Fidel Castro in 1959. Weapons, training, and other support have since moved through Cuba into the hands of revolutionaries in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and others. The fall of Guyana to the Communists in the 1970s created another outpostat the other end of the Caribbean. Nicaragua then fell to the Sandinistas in 1979, who have joined the supply line of weapons to terrorists in El Salvador and elsewhere. While revolution is accelerating in the Western Hemisphere, Cuba and its regional allies have even sponsored the terrorists of the Weather Underground Organization in the United States and the Quebec Liberation Front in Canada.

The island of Hispaniola, divided between the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, sits squarely in the middle of Atlantic access to the Caribbean. The fall of Haiti to Communism would give the Soviets an important naval base to consolidate their hold on the area.

Thus it should come as no suprise that the Haitian Communists have long plotted their seizure of power. For nearly three decades, the United Party of Haitian Communists (PUCH) stood little chance of victory against the Duvalier family, which ruled the nation as strongmen. The PUCH was officially banned, forcing it to operate underground. But the patience of Communists is such that they gradually built the infrastructure of revolution, waiting for their opportunity.

As PUCH General Secretary Rene Theodore admitted in a 1986 interview, the Communists had created an invisible government among the population. “Neighbourhood committees began to spring up as an important form in organising the population,” recalled Theodore. “Mass organisations in Haiti are, first and foremost, the neighbourhood committees, the traditional focus of activities by the Communists.” Labor unions also served as vital front groups for the revolution, and thus became a prime target of infiltration. “We try to strengthen the labour organisations… Our line with regard to the trade unions is to give every possible support to those of them which take a consistent class stand. We are trying to help them in every way by assigning our activists to work in them.”

Another wing of the revolution had been organized through religious institutions. “The Catholic church has played an important role in the struggle against Duvalier,” boasted Theodore. “It still takes a progressive stand, especially on the land reform issue, where its point of view is similar to ours.… In short, the present position of the Catholics, based as it is on the theology of liberation, provides a basis for cooperation with the Communists.”

Theodore could boast at the time. Following economic troubles and diplomatic pressure from the US State Department, Jean Claude Duvalier had fled Haiti as his regime suddenly collapsed. The invisible PUCH infrastructure took advantage of the situation, mobilizing pressure from below. “The Communists were, of course, directly involved in the action in early 1986 that forced Baby Doc [Duvalier] to flee the country,” Theodore noted. The PUCH had incited revolution through radio broadcasts from outside Haiti, while sending masses of unwitting people into the streets in protest.16 The whole circus provided rich material for Western television cameras, though the media buried any hint of Communist involvement.

The overthrow of Duvalier had merely advanced the revolution to a new stage. By June of 1987, a general labor strike was crippling the economy while military and police were forced to confront increasingly violent mass demonstrations.

But it was in the election five months later that the PUCH truly demonstrated the power of its underground apparatus, by setting up a loaded contest. As the election approached, the violence and intimidation quickly boiled it down to a contest between two presidential candidates: Gerard Gourgue of the National Unification Front — and Rene Theodore of the PUCH! Theodore ran openly as a Communist, but as he later revealed, Gourgue was also under complete Communist control. “Gourgue himself could not be suspected by anyone either of anti-imperialist attitudes or sympathies for communism,” gloated Theodore, “but he was surrounded by people who held progressive views. Indeed, at one time, some of them even took part in the activity of the party of Haitian Communists.”17 By running against Gourgue, Theodore helped disguise Gourgue’s Communist ties and virtually guaranteed that, regardless of who was elected president, the Communists would win.

The whole plot died at the hands of the Haitian military. Faced with the growing economic crisis, political instability, and an obvious Communist setup, Haiti’s generals moved to restore order. The rigged elections were cancelled, replaced by more peaceful elections in 1988.

Nevertheless, the weaker governments that succeeded Duvalier were becoming ripe for Communist picking. Narciso Isa Conde, head of the Dominican Communist Party, explained the situation in 1988:

The internal situation in Haiti is highly fragile…

Haiti is now one of the weakest links in the chain of imperialist domination. Real changes will come about in the country only when the power issue is decided in the interests of the people and full-scale popular action is taken against the violence and the crisis. Success also depends on the extend to which the people [read: the Communists — Eds.] are in possession of technical means and weapons.18

To create another rigged election, the Communists had to wait until 1990 for outside help.

Aristide: a true democrat?

The George Bush administration had decided by 1990 to nullify Haitian politics, and to impose a new election according to terms laid out by the United Nations. The timing could not have been better for the Communists; Haitian anti-Communists, including members of the military, could not have been more dismayed.

For by that time a new strongman was emerging to seize power for himself, a violent man allied with the Communist movement: Jean-Bertrand Aristide. His use of terror and mob violence was already frightening part of the population into supporting him [covered in part 2, in our August issue — Eds.].

“That the Haitian military decided to go along with the 1990 election reflects sustained international pressure, chiefly from the…United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the governments of Canada and the United States,” wrote Lawrence E. Harrison, former director of the US Agency for International Development (AID — the federal agency that dispenses foreign aid).19 Many Haitians were embittered by the fact that these foreign powers went one step further and actually ran the elections themselves. In a published letter, Haitian election official Moise Samuel Josaphat vigorously protested United Nations control over Haitian elections, arguing that this “foreign influence alone should be enough to have these elections declared null and void.”20

Josaphat did not stand alone in his anger, a fact that made UN officials nervous. Moving quickly to neutralize such opposition, which included Haitian ambassador Lionel Paquin, UN “advisors” exercised their unofficial power. The UN Development Program representative, summoning top Haitian officials to his residence, ordered them to fire ambassador Paquin.21 According to Josaphat, similar maneuvers were used to purge or neutralize various Haitian opponents of the UN control.

Many of the Haitians allowed to organize the election under UN supervision turned out to be radical leftists. To avoid the appearance of fraud, these organizers drafted rules barring election officials from participating in post-election governments. However, these same leftists re-appeared in the Aristide regime, in violation of their own rules. By then it was too late.

As feared by Josaphat and others, the alliance of UN officials and Haitian leftists produced possibly the most dishonest election in recent Haitian history, one that was rigged entirely in Aristide’s favor. Many candidates for various offices were brazenly eliminated through a filing process frought with irregularities and double standards. For example, Senate candidate Charles Metellus, running in a party that competed with that of Aristide, was disqualified on the grounds that his photocopied certificate “was not sufficient proof that he was a landowner in the region and, finally, that a photocopy of his birth certificate could not replace the actual certificate.” In contrast, Aristide was allowed to present the equivalent documents for his candidacy entirely as photocopies. And on the day of the election itself, voting in several areas continued until late at night, long after the election results had already been announced.

Speaking on behalf of many fellow Haitians, an embittered Josaphat concluded that “Aristide and his gang are the ones hanging on for dear life to the posts they acquired with the help of electoral trickery and foreign interference without precedence in our history. They are guilty of the crime of high treason.”22

Aristide, needless to say, won the “election.” Nor were his US backers ignorant of his Communist connections. As admitted by USAID official Harrison, “The U.S. role was in some measure ironic. Although Aristide had been removed from the Salesian order by the Vatican, he had built his political base on liberation theology, the left wing…doctrine that promotes… redistribution of wealth, and views imperialism, above all U.S. imperialism, as the root cause of poverty in the Third World.… But whatever its preferences, the United States gave full support to Aristide following his election.”23

Aristide’s coming to power in February of 1991 signalled an acceleration of the Communist revolution in Haiti. In the rising tide of terrorism and revolution, increasingly desperate military officers decided something had to be done to restore order and democracy. The following September they acted, overthrowing the man who has since become the hero of the ultra-left in the United States. Now the Clinton administration wants to finish the job, even threatening to invade Haiti to restore the sacked president — who was never elected democratically.

The second half of this special report will expose Aristide’s direct Communist connections, his dark obsession with violence, and how he is leading the movement to establish a Soviet-backed dictatorship in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.

– Continued in Part 2 –


1. Hamm, L.M., Associated Press, “Haitians hunker down for trade embargo,” S.F. Chronicle, May 22, 1994, p. A9.

2. Snow, A., Associated Press, “Many in Haiti would prefer invasion over U.N. sanctions,” S.F. Chronicle, June 6, 1994, p. A11.

3. “TransAfrica — A Lobby of the Left,” Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Sept. 1985, excerpted in The New American, Oct. 14, 1985, pp. 27-34.

4. Gannon, F.X., Biographical Dictionary of the Left, vol. III, Western Islands, Belmont, MA, 1972, pp. 321-325.

5. Danner, M., “The Prophet,” The New York Review of Books, Nov. 18, 1993, p. 28.

6. Ibid.

7. McIlhany, W., “The WCC: A haven for Marxists?”, Family Protection Scoreboard, National Citizens Action Network, special edition, 1989, p. 21; see also p. 40.

8. Novak, M., Liberation Theology: Will It Liberate?, Paulist Press, New York, 1986, p. 22.

9. Wurmbrand, R., Marx & Satan, Crossway Books, Westchester, IL, 1986, p. 126.

10. Hill, K.R., The Puzzle of the Soviet Church, Multnomah Press, Portland, OR, 1989, p. 83.

11. Belli, H., Breaking Faith, Crossway Books, Westchester, IL, 1985, pp. 179-181, 192-196, 203-208, 217-220, 225-227, 232-233, and passim.

12. Mhlaba, J., “Communists and Christians,” The African Communist, Fourth Quarter, 1989, pp. 125-128.

13. Quoted in Family Protection Scoreboard, Op cit., p. 43.

14. Boston Jewish Times, Nov., 1984, quoted in Balsiger, D.W., “Liberation Theology Celebrities,” Family Protection Scoreboard, Op cit., p. 47.

15. Balsiger, D.W., Op cit., p. 49.

16. Theodore, R., “The dictatorship has fallen, the battle goes on,” World Marxist Review, Oct. 1986, pp. 42-45.

17. Theodore, R., “Elections without voters,” World Marxist Review, July 1988, p. 103.

18. Conde, N.I., “The decline of the Santa Fé policy,” World Marxist Review, March 1988, pp. 39-40.

19. Harrison, L.E., “Voodoo politics,” Atlantic Monthly, June 1993, p. 101.

20. Josaphat, M.S., Letter to Herold Jean-François (response to article by François on Jan. 18, 1993), translated from French and released by the Congressional Research Center, Nov. 1993.

21. Note by Jean Casimir, CEP secretary general, cited in Josaphat, Op cit.

22. Josaphat, Op cit.

23. Harrison, Op cit., pp. 101-102.