During a recent mass meeting for Maryse Nar cisse’s electoral cam paign, Jean-Bertrand Aristide made threatening remarks caus ing outrage in several sectors. It’s a reminder of what should be expected from a presidency of the Lavalas Family candidate. Too many people have short memory in Haiti. They forget the trauma and violence that the nation experienced after the return of the defrocked priest from exile in Washington, as well as his wrecking of the economy through all sorts of shenanigans, including embezzlement. In the upcoming elections voters must ask themselves if they want to spend four more years under the iron rule of a politician who has made violence his prerogative.

As the proverb says, “One can’t teach new tricks to an old dog.” After three decades of advocating political violence, Aristide can‘t be expected to change overnight. He preached violence throughout his electoral campaign in 1990, before endorsing the concept of“up rooting”during the Trouillot-Aristide inter regnum. After he returned to Haiti in 1994 under the protection of some 20,000 U.S. soldiers to complete his initial mandate, he was responsible for several political assassinations and misdeeds detrimental to the citizenry. Even under the first presidency of René Préval, when Aristide was the power behind the scene, the assassinations and attempted assassinations continued. Those with short memory and who want a return of Aristide to power would do well checking into his more recent past, instead of being nostalgic about the political activist and humble priest of the Saint Jean Bosco church.

Indeed, even before his swearingin on February 7, 1991, he had shown his true colors. In reaction to Roger Lafontant’s failed coup d’état on the evening of January 6, Aristide had unleashed his Lavalassian hordes against sectors and personalities perceived to be his political enemies. More than 75 people purported to be partisans of Duvalier were summarily killed, many with the flaming tire around their necks. No mercy was shown for those considered accomplices of Lafontant. For example, in their search of the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, François Wolf Ligondé, the Lavalasians invaded the residence of the Apostolic Nuncio (the Vatican’s ambassador) at Morne Calvaire in Pétionville. Aristide did nothing to restrain the fury of his supporters. Not finding Archbishop Ligondé, the Lavalassians captured the Nuncio who was stripped down to his underwear, and seriously wounded his Zairean secretary. That didn’t move the priest who was then President-elect. Mr. Aristide didn’t even respond to foreign diplomats who had asked him to restore order among his supporters.

Clearly, the bloody events precedpreceding the official swearing-in of Aristide, on February 7, 1991, as President of the Republic, were a prelude to the atmosphere of violence that was to dominate the sociopolitical landscape during Aristide’s presidency. Before he was president, “uprooting“ was the instrument of repression and the favorite tool of reprisal of the boss of Lafanmi Selavi. Once he became president, “the Baron of Tabarre” turned to assassination as his weapon of choice to intimidate his ideological enemies. Thus, the statements of Aristide warning against any theft of victory of the candidate of Fanmi Lavalas raises the specter of dechoukage, reminding all that the monster sleeping in him is not dead. Those who have forgotten who Aristide is and his ability to commit violence should refer to his acts when he was in power.

As a reminder, ponder on these : While in and out of power, Jean-Bertrand Aristide is reputed of having ordered several assassinations, the most famous of which remain those of lawyer Mireille Durocher Bertain and her client Eugène Baillergeau on March 28, 1995. Both were shot, execution style, in broad daylight while driving on Poupelard Avenue (in Port-au-Prince) by the Arbrouet brothers. Another spectacular execution on April 3, 2000 was that of journalist Jean Léopold Dominique and the security guard of his radio station, Jean-Claude Louissaint. People shouldn’t forget how Pastor Emmanuel Leroy and Jean Dorival were also gunned down on order of the chief. Recently, during the administration of President Martelly, a former security chief at the National Palace under Aristide, Oriel Jean, was gunned down March 2, 2015 by men on a motorcycle. Since Oriel Jean was a potential witness in a drug case in Miami that would have implicated Aristide, it is concluded that this rubout only benefits the defrocked priest. The list of murders perpetrated under the Lavalas regimes, including during the first presidency of René Préval and Aristide’s two terms, contains more than fifty. Yet, the executioners are still roaming about freely.

When referring to Aristide’s plunder of Haiti’s economy, people usually focus on the diversion of funds orchestrated at Teleco,the State’s telephone company. But there are the so-called “little projects of the presidency” whose financing cost was never budgeted, and still remains a secret. In sworn testimony in Federal court in Miami, drug dealer Jacques Kétant said that as the sponsor of drug trafficking during his time, Jean-Bertrand Aristide ransomed the traffickers. There was a price to pay to have their cocaine shipments transit through Haiti, on the way to North America.

Moreover, there was the so-called “cooperatives” movement that the former priest invented to carry out a major swindle. Via operators of certain savings banks, he set up a Ponzi scheme to swindle thousands of Haitian families of their life savings. He encouraged the victims, both in Haiti and in the Diaspora, to invest their economies in those institutions, promising interest of 20% or more. After initial payments, they couldn’t recover a penny from their investments. To this day, none of the perpetrators of this financial crime and of other crimes committed under Aristide and Préval have been punished. Nothing is said about the operators of the savings banks, who were close friends of Aristide. And none of the leaders who succeeded the defrocked priest have bothered to prosecute the murderers, or demand restitution for the victims of the “cooperatives”.

Undeniably, as the “lifetime leader of Lavalas,” Jean-Bertrand Aristide has chosen Maryse Narcisse as a
front, while he intends to rule behind the scene and make major political decisions. It’s obvious that Dr. Narcisse is an apathetic character, laborious in speech. Aristide would like to do exactly what he did during the first version of Préval‘s government, when Préval couldn’t order even an investigation into the attempted assassination of his own sister in broad daylight, only a block away from his Palace. The Haitian people must not be seduced by the eloquent speeches of the priest of Saint John Bosco, who is only waiting for his candidate to win at the ballot box for him to show his claws. There’s no question that Jean-Bertrand Aristide will remain true to himself and will not behave differently if Lavalas were to regain power. Thus, the upcoming elections offer Haitian citizens a golden opportunity to send a clear message to “the Baron of Tabarre:” Your political career is over…

Cet article est publié par Haïti Observateur; VOL. XXXXVI, no. 42 New York, P.11 / 16 nov. 2016