This article is from the March/April 2004 issue of Dollars and Sense: The Magazine of Economic Justice available at http://www.dollarsandsense.org

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This article is from the March/April 2004 issue of Dollars & Sense magazine.

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To the Editor:

Retired professor Tom Reeves ("Still Up Against the Death Plan in Haiti," September/October 2003) made three serious misstatements about the Haiti Democracy Project, which I direct:

1. That I am a former State Department official. (I have never worked for the State Department for a day in my life.)
2. That the project created the public image of a Haitian organization called the Group of 184. (We are a small think tank in Washington with a budget of $13,000 a year. Although we have covered the Group of 184 on our website and at conferences, the idea that we could create the public image of the major opposition grouping in a foreign country is preposterous.)
3. That a financial supporter of the project is right-wing. (The family member in question holds centrist views on politics.)

Finally, what is a magazine like yours, founded on the humanitarian ideals of the left, doing publishing a piece extolling a U.S.-installed authoritarian ruler?

James R. Morrell, Washington D.C.

Tom Reeves replies:

James Morrell may or may not have worked directly for the U.S. State Department-there are many informed Haiti observers and Haitian activists who believe he did, and the Haiti Democracy Project (HDP), which he founded and directs, is clearly dominated by former U.S. State Department officials. (See "Washington Elites Hint at New Haiti Game Plan," Haiti Progres, July 9, 2003, and three recent articles in the Black Commentator by Kevin Pina, www.blackcommentator.com.) Included among HDP leaders are two former U.S. ambassadors to Haiti and one special envoy to Haiti, all of whom are HDP board -members.

Former ambassador Timothy Carney, who is prominently featured in articles and speeches by HDP, has been tied to the CIA and was a -"political officer" in Cambodia and the Sudan during periods of U.S. manipulation in local politics. Carney was also busy recently working for the United States in Iraq. Featured at the founding conference of HDP, according to the HDP's own account, was Roger Noriega, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) and former staffer for U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, who has been prominent among those insisting on an embargo of aid to Haiti. Noriega was previously a State Department officer associated with right-wing agents within the U.S. government who carried out the "dirty war" in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas. (See "Multifront Strategy Seeks to Oust Aristide," Haiti Progres, March 19, 2003.) Other board members include Ira Lowenthal, who has been connected to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) since at least the 1980s.

I stand by my statement that HDP is responsible for shaping the public image of the so-called "Coalition of 184 Institutions" in the United States, and that this group is little more than a list of well-known pro-elite and pro-business apologists in Haiti, most of whom have virtually no public following. Every public event or press release about the 184 in the United States, and many in Haiti, have been sponsored or orchestrated by HDP. A search of the HDP website shows 143 supportive and often fawning references to the 184.

Dr. Rudolph Boulos and his family have funded HDP, and are known for their ties to Duvalierists and other right-wing elements in Haiti and in the United States-a fact publicized in Haitian media across the political spectrum. Boulos has received substantial USAID funding-as have many of the 184 groups, prominently CLED (the Center for Free Enterprise and Democracy), a right-wing pro-free market group.

Morrell's statement that Aristide was "installed" by the United States is insulting to the Haitian people who elected him by an overwhelming majority. The United States, under President Clinton and with public pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus and other U.S. progressives, assisted the return of Aristide long after his brutal overthrow by military goons trained and funded by U.S. agencies and rightist groups.

Very much like his HDP patron, the Brookings Institution, HDP and Morell like to portray themselves as "liberal," attempting to co-opt any genuinely progressive approach to U.S. policy on Haiti. Nothing could be further from the truth.