From the Archives

HAITI: The Next Cuba?
Part 2

(The Inside Story: World Report v1:2, August 1994)

by Joel Schwartz and Bryan Ellison
– Continued from Part 1 –

Authorized by the United Nations Security Council, but not by the Congress of the United States, President Bill Clinton is now preparing to invade Haiti. The attack will not protect the US from danger; rather, it is explicitly designed to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. Indeed, as revealed in last month’s World Report, Aristide’s resurrection will play directly into the hands of the Communist Party of Haiti (PUCH) and the rest of the Communist Bloc, as directed from Moscow.

As General Secretary of the PUCH, Rene Theodore is the Communist lieutenant who orchestrates the war on Haiti. Utilizing the vast network of labor unions and other institutions infiltrated by the Party, Theodore has spent the last eight years destabilizing the Haitian government while maneuvering his puppets into position to seize power.

By 1990, Aristide was emerging as the newest strongman for such a takeover. He officially maintains a certain distance from the PUCH, but otherwise does little to hide his Communist affiliations. Since the 1960s, for example, Roman Catholics in Haiti and elsewhere have issued warnings about “Father” Aristide of the Salesian Order, who openly endorses Liberation Theology — the new doctrine advocating Marxist revolution from within churches. By 1989, the Catholic Church had no choice but to expel Aristide from the Order.

Not particularly inclined toward the democratic process, Aristide proclaimed the slogan, “revolution, not elections,” during his 1990 campaign for the Haitian presidency.1 This was, of course, coupled with fiery anti-American and pro-Communist rhetoric:

[D]uring Reagan’s campaign… there were certain individuals… who were working on a special project, which resulted in attracting 600,000 individuals who were against the Cuban Revolution. It was done to stop the good work that the revolution was doing in Cuba…. Can they dare come to Cuba?… Can they touch the ground of Cuba?… Cuba draws the line and dares America to cross it.2

Aristide’s admiration for other Communist revolutionaries and dictators showed in his autobiography, though couched in tender rhetoric:

I prefer to welcome those ideas that rest on the values of beauty, dignity, respect, and love. Che Guevara… a doctor, an internationalist, certainly incorporated some of those values, as did Allende.3

Aristide’s collection of speeches, entitled Capitalism is a Mortal Sin, also speaks for itself.

But after winning the presidency [in elections that were hardly democratic, as reviewed in the July, 1994 issue of World Report], Aristide dropped all pretenses and immediately established official ties with the Communist Bloc. For example, Fidel Castro honored Aristide by sending a 23-man delegation to his inauguration ceremony. Not long thereafter, Aristide dispatched a cabinet minister to establish ties with Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. And Aristide could soon be heard shouting “Down with American imperialism!” while his mobs burned the US flag in front of the American embassy.4

These mobs played a major role in bringing Aristide to power, and were central to his consolidation of dictatorship. Known as Lavalas, meaning “avalanche” in Creole, these loyal gangs were quietly sent by Aristide to Cuba for training in the methods of terrorism and the police state — “including block watch groups patterned after Fidel Castro’s ‘Committees of the Defense of the Revolution.’” Shocked Haitians learned of this constitutional violation only later, once Aristide had already added his networks to the existing Communist infrastructure of neighborhood committees [see our July, 1994, issue — Eds.].5

In June of 1991, the Lavalas attended a Mexico conference of 68 Communist Parties and revolutionary groups from 22 nations throughout the Western hemisphere. Among the terrorists represented were the FMLN of El Salvador, the URNG of Guatemala, the Sandinistas of Nicaragua, and the Colombian M19. The meeting declared solidarity with Communist revolutionary forces in their struggles to overthrow various Latin American governments, and decided “to support the significant democratic gains made by the Haitian people” — a reference to the Aristide government.6

Aristide was meanwhile forming his own private paramilitary force, known as Special Intelligence for the President (SIP). This elite corps was also trained by foreign military advisors, and was armed with weapons superior to those of the Haitian military.7

What plans did Aristide have in mind for such deadly units? In one speech, he told his Lavalas, “If someone has three meals a day and you only have one, take one from him.”8 In another speech, he spelled out further the plan for total war against Haiti’s “reactionary” bourgeoisie: “…What we need to destroy these people we do not yet have. The day will come when we will have it. Nicaragua had it in 1979. Cuba had it in 1958 and 1959.”9

Since being overthrown in late 1991, Aristide’s work with open Communists has continued in the United States. When he was sued for the murder of a former Haitian official, Aristide enlisted the law firm of Rabinowitz, Boudin, and Standard for his defense.10 This firm represents the Cuban government in this country, and is a part of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the legal arm of the Communist Party, USA. The NLG has long supported such terrorists as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Iranian revolution of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the African National Congress, the German Red Army Fraction, the Irish Republican Army, and various terrorists in America. The principal partners of Rabinowitz, Boudin, and Standard are members of the Communist Party, USA; they also work with the Cuban secret police and participate in typical NLG activities.11

Aristide the terrorist

As with his predecessors in Liberation Theology, “Father” Aristide’s sermons of revolution became so violent that the Salesians were forced to have the Vatican expel him by 1989. In a communiqué issued from Rome, the Salesians explained that “[Aristide] exalted violence and class struggle [which were] in contrast with his Salesian and priestly vocation,” and accused him of deliberately promoting the “destabilization” of the Catholic Church in Haiti.12

According to Father Edward Cappelletti, head of the Salesian Missions in New York, Aristide “was using the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a vehicle for violence… At the Offertory of the Mass, for instance, he would have his followers come up and ‘offer’ their machetes, lay their machetes on the altar. Then he would name the enemies who were to be killed and send his people out with their machetes and ‘necklaces’ to kill them.”13

What is a “necklace”?

During the past ten years in South Africa, revolutionary terror against the civilian population has taken the form of the “necklace.” Used primarily against moderate blacks as a means of intimidating others, the “necklace” is an automobile tire, soaked in gasoline, that is placed around the victim’s neck by the Communist-inspired mob. The tire is lit on fire, slowly burning the victim to death over a period of minutes. The African National Congress has used this method of torture-execution against hundreds of South Africans — with the blessing of Liberation Theologists in that country.

Borrowing from his South African comrades, Aristide has imported the “necklace” into Haiti. Naming it after Pere Lebrun, a well-known Haitian tire businessman, Aristide has commissioned his Lavalas to use the grotesque method in an expanded campaign of terror.14

Religious leaders have topped the list of targets. Archbishop Francois Wolff Ligonde, speaking on New Year’s day in 1991, denounced Aristide for installing a “Bolshevik government” in Haiti. As documented in the Congressional Record and by the Puebla Institute, a liberal human rights organization, Aristide’s Lavala terrorists responded by destroying the Vatican’s embassy in Port-au-Prince, along with one of the city’s oldest cathedrals.15 But the mobs were not finished: “The Papal nuncio (ambassador) was stripped to his shorts and paraded through the streets; his assistant, a priest from Zaire, was gravely wounded by a machete blow. Ligonde fled Haiti to save his life.”16 The Vatican’s ambassador was spared a lynching only by the intervention of a neighbor, “who pretended to be with the marauders and have orders from Aristide for them to halt their violence.”17

Soon Aristide was giving public speeches advocating the Pere Lebrun for all political opponents. In one speech, captured on video, Aristide’s Lavalas can be seen holding burning tires and machetes in the background while Aristide himself had this to say:

…if I catch fake Lavalas… If you catch someone… who does not deserve to be where he is, do not fail to give him what he deserves. Do not fail to give him what he deserves!

Then, referring to the burning tires held up by the Lavala mobs, Aristide reached even greater intensity:

What a nice tool! What a nice instrument! What a nice device! It is a pretty one. It is elegant, attractive, splendorous, graceful and dazzling. It smells good. Wherever you go, you feel like smelling it.18

According to a 1991 report put out by the same US State Department that now supports Aristide, the Lavalas also began terrorizing Protestant Christian missions, forcing several pastors to flee their congregations.19 Intimidation then turned to murder. Several weeks after the Reverend Sylvio Claude, leader of the Christian Democratic Party, reported to the Hatian Center for Human Rights that he feared persecution,20 Lavala mobs attacked him with the “necklace”:

In September of 1991, the same night that the army moved against Aristide, a mob of the president’s supporters set upon Claude and beat him senseless. Claude died an agonizing death. According to eyewitness accounts, an Aristide henchman then severed the penis from Claude’s corpse, put it in his mouth, and danced derisively around his body… an automobile tire filled with gasoline was draped around his neck and set ablaze. Confident that Aristide had survived the military’s move against him, the henchman had a photographer record the moment of triumph.21

Aristide’s personal role in ordering the murder was confirmed by the presence of Jean-Claude Jean Baptiste, one of Aristide’s top Lavala delegates, in the lynch mob.22

Aristide the dictator

Surrounded by his Cuban-trained Lavalas and his SIP paramilitary forces, Aristide began consolidating his position as president-for-life. He banned hundreds of former government officials from foreign tavel, trapping them inside Haiti. Even former president Ertha Pascal Trouillot was placed under this ban for six months, until a magistrate overturned the order.23

But Haiti’s magistrates, judges, legislators, and military personnel quickly learned that President Aristide did not wish to be bothered by constitutional procedures. Anyone not agreeing with the new agenda found himself subject to illegal political maneuvers, or even violent attacks and imprisonment.

Aristide stacked the Haitian Supreme Court by appointing five henchmen, none of whom was submitted to the Senate for approval.24 Despite the conflict-of-interest ban on bringing election officials into the government, Aristide also “appointed several members of the electoral commission as ambassadors, to the United States and Canada and elsewhere” — suggesting the commission’s secret alliance with Aristide during the previous election. Aristide then began systematically replacing elected mayors with his own Lavala appointees, using the threat of mob violence to keep them in office. Fed up with the brazen constitutional violations, the Senate finally resigned en mass in protest.25

Meanwhile, the terror was escalating. On July 29, 1991, former cabinet minister Roger Lafontant was tried in court for having tried to stop Aristide from assuming power. Under the Haitian constitution, such a crime carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years. But Aristide wanted a much heavier punishment. Once again, hundreds of Lavalas were sent in with their tires and cans of gasoline, threatening to kill the judge unless Lafontant received a life sentence at hard labor. Not surprisingly, Aristide got his wish.26

After the Lafontant conviction, Aristide ralled his Lavalas, saying, “For 24 hours in front of the courthouse, Pere Lebrun [necklacing] became a good firm bed… The Justice Ministry inside the courthouse had the law in its hands, the people had their cushion outside. They [had] their little matches in their hands. They [had] gas nearby.”27 In another public speech, taped on video, Aristide boasted of his growing power: “[One] could also ask if the use of necklacing is in the Constitution. You might answer, ‘If the pressure of necklacing in front of the Courthouse… was not there, then he would not have received the life sentence. Instead, he would have only received 15 years!’”28

As his arbitrary powers grew, Aristide plunged Haiti into chaos. When two members of an opposition political party demonstrated against Aristide, his SIP units arrested them without a proper court order. A court order, in fact, was issued for their immediate release, to which the SIP responded by transferring the protesters from the local prison to the national prison, where they were held “incommunicado and denied access to legal counsel,” according to the US State Department.

So many abuses piled up that even our State Department documented credible reports of “extra-judicial killings by security forces and partisan mobs, disappearances, torture and other mistreatment of detainees and prisoners.” Political prisoners who had the misfortune of being transferred to the national prison were personally interrogated by Rene Preval, Aristide’s appointed Prime Minister. According to the State Department, this shadowy character interrogated “politically sensitive cases,” and “the detainees did not have access to legal counsel during these interrogations.”29

Members of the press were also targeted for violence and intimidation. In January, 1991, Lavala mobs attacked, burned, and looted radio stations and newspaper offices critical of Aristide. Many Haitian journalists all but ceased criticizing the regime. Aristide encouraged the spreading fear by publicly threatening a reporter from the Haiti Observateur for being critical of his policies.30

As Aristide quietly built his SIP forces, he chipped away at potential military opposition. Soldiers were routinely assassinated, and several military installations were burned. Asked to denounce these attacks, Aristide instead “backed them up by his… demagogic tirades.”31

By August, 1991, nervous members of the Legislature convened to investigate Aristide’s moves toward dictatorship. However, “When the parliament met, its members found themselves surrounded by about 2,000 demonstrators, many carrying burning tires. Under the threat of the mob, the legislators decided to recess.”32 In many cases, legislators were literally dragged out of their chambers by the Lavala mobs and beaten for voting against him.33

Even Roger Lafontant’s life sentence was not enough to satisfy Aristide, who illegally ordered Lafontant’s execution. According to Captain Stagne Doura, commandant of the prison camp holding Lafontant, Aristide called him on the telephone with the shocking order. Doura pretended not to hear, and asked Aristide to repeat it. “At that very moment, a death threat was clearly expressed to [me] in these words: ‘you or him.’”34 This testimony has been corroborated by the man who actually executed Lafontant, Private First Class Sincere Leus.35 And according to General Raoul Cedras, Aristide ordered the execution of at least twenty more political prisoners.

However, that very night the military finally moved into action, forcibly overthrowing Aristide and his allies. His final orders to execute other political prisoners were never carried out. The crisis was finished — at least, so it seemed.

Who is the real Cedras?

The Haitian military placed Aristide under arrest on September 30, 1991, ending seven months of chaotic rule. They had intended to bring Aristide to trial, facing nine charges of constitutional violations.36

But Aristide was unexpectedly rescued by the very man who now leads Haiti, General Raoul Cedras. By interceding to give Aristide a choice whether to leave the country or stand trial, he allowed Aristide to go to the United States — where he now runs a high-profile publicity campaign for a US invasion of Haiti!37

Though painted as a sort of “right-wing dictator,” Cedras has disturbing ties to Aristide. As one recent article put it, “Cedras is described as having been a good friend of Aristide’s, and he is married to the sister of leading Aristide adviser (and Preval’s best friend) Rene Prosper.” When Aristide came to power, he fired key military officers and named Cedras his Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces; Cedras himself did not participate in the overthrow of Aristide, but he did step in to prevent angry soldiers from killing Aristide. Cedras also negotiated the Governor’s Island accord that agreed to allow Aristide to return and seize power again.38

Most shockingly of all, Cedras allowed Rene Theodore — General Secretary of the Communist Party of Haiti — to become the temporary but unapproved Prime Minister of Haiti after Aristide’s departure.39 In other words, the Communists were able to snatch partial victory from the jaws of defeat, with the help of Cedras. Could Cedras be secretly allied with the Haitian Communists, preparing to surrender easily to Aristide? We cannot yet know.

Certainly the Haitian people are hostile to Aristide and his Communist gangs. Even Lawrence Harrison, the former US AID representative who supports Aristide, admitted the strength of this opposition right after the coup:

The crowd at the parliament building had been waiting for many hours… and its mood was hostile… When I finally entered the chamber… many more senators and deputies were present than I had expected — a majority of both houses, I would guess… most of the parliamentarians were unified in their support for Aristide’s overthrow, and cool if not antagonistic to our delegation.40

Nor do any of the estimated 3,500 Americans in Haiti seem to want an invasion to restore Aristide, including those who support the fallen president.41

In the face of all this, both the George Bush and Bill Clinton administrations have nevertheless pushed hard to reinstall Aristide in Haiti. Bush first imposed economic sanctions on that impoverished country, then froze tens of millions of dollars in Haitian assets in the United States and turned over the money to Aristide. The money is now being used to finance Aristide’s massive campaign for an invasion, and he has been allowed to take over the Haitian embassy in Washington, DC.42 Clinton, of course, has merely accelerated the Bush sanctions, and has now received United Nations support for an invasion.

Aristide himself does not want to go back alone; he knows he will never survive unless US forces protect him while he crushes his opposition. To this end, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has called for over 15,000 troops, an overwhelming landing force.43 The UN, just as the Clinton administration, knows full well it is backing a violent Communist that Americans would never support, if they knew. Thus the recent and growing debate over Aristide has profoundly angered the UN. “‘The U.S. debate has been incredibly destructive,’ said one U.N. official. ‘It served to undermine everything we had worked for.’”44

It remains to be seen whether the United States will help deliver Haiti, and ultimately the Caribbean Sea, into the hands of Moscow.


1. “Uncle Sam, meet ‘Pere Lebrun,’” AIM Report, Aug. 1993, p. 3.

2. Jasper, W.F., “Father Aristide’s gospel of violence,” The New American, 1-10-94, p. 7.

3. Aristide, J-B., Aristide: An Autobiography, Orbis Books, New York, 1993, p. 126.

4. James, D., “Aristide won’t wipe out Haiti’s despotic heritage,” Insight, 8-9-93, p. 30.

5. AIM Report, Aug. 1993, Op cit., p. 3.

6. “Uniting the Latin Left,” The African Communist, 2nd quarter, 1991, pp. 59-60.

7. AIM Report, Aug. 1993, Op cit., p. 3.

8. Daughin, M., “US foists a dangerous man on Haiti,” The Washington Times, 9-6-93.

9. Pressler, Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 1994, Congressional Record — Senate, 10-20-93, p. S 14031.

10. Krinsky, M., Viles, T., and Kurzban, I.J., Suggestion of immunity and notice of motion, filed in US District Court, Eastern District of New York, 10-20-93.

11. Outlaws of Amerika, Western Goals, Alexandria, VA, 1982, pp. 51-53, 58, 63-64, and passim.

12. Wilentz, A., The Rainy Season, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1989, p. 401.

13. Jasper, W.F., “The real Bertrand Aristide,” The New American, 1-10-94, p. 8.

14. AIM Report, Op cit., Aug. 1993, p. 2.

15. Congressional Record — Senate, 10-20-93, p. S 14035.

16. AIM Report, Op cit., Aug. 1993, p. 5.

17. Shea, N., “Prepared statement of Nina Shea, President of the Puebla Institute, before the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, Committee on Foreign Affairs, US House of Representatives,” Puebla Institute, 7-21-93, p. 8.

18. Ibid., p. 13.

19. Country reports on human rights practices for 1991, Department of State, Feb. 1992, p. 639.

20. Shea, N., Op cit., p. 13.

21. AIM Report, Aug. 1993, Op cit., p. 2.

22. Shea, N., Op cit., p. 13.

23. Country reports, Op cit., p. 639.

24. Shea, N., Op cit., p. 12.

25. AIM Report, Aug. 1993, Op cit., p. 3.

26. Country reports, Op cit., p. 637.

27. Shea, N., Op cit., p. 11.

28. “Aristide on Aristide,” compiled by the staff of Senator Jesse Helms, undated.

29. Country reports, Op cit., p. 636.

30. Ibid., pp. 634, 638.

31. Weymouth, L., “Haiti’s suspect savior,” Washington Post, 1-24-93.

32. Ibid.

33. Shea, N., Op cit., p. 12.

34. Doura, S., Sworn deposition to Commander-in-Chief, Haiti armed forces, 10-20-91. Obtained by US embassy, 4-14-93.

35. Leus, S., Sworn deposition to Venezuela embassy. Obtained by US embassy, 4-14-93.

36. AIM Report, Aug. 1993, Op cit., pp. 1, 3.

37. Weymouth, Op cit.

38. Harrison, L.E., “Voodoo politics,” Atlantic Monthly, June 1993, p. 102; Caldwell, C., “Aristide development,” American Spectator, July 1994, p. 75.

39. Harrison, Op cit., p. 102.

40. Ibid., p. 102.

41. Beard, D., “Yankees in Haiti reject U.S. help,” N.Y. Times Magazine, 7-10-94.

42. Caldwell, Op cit., pp. 34-36.

43. Los Angeles Times, “15,000 peacekeepers needed in Haiti,” S.F. Chronicle, 7-16-94, p. A14.

44. Farah, D. and Booth, W., “Efforts to restore Aristide tottering,” Washington Post, 10-28-93.