The ex-Haitian dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide has become an embarrassment to practically everyone in the world since his abrupt resignation from office a couple of weeks ago. Last week, the Washington Times reported that the government of the Central African Republic, where Aristide has been living since his departure, took away his telephone, which he had been using to complain to the media that he had been kidnaped at gunpoint by the U.S. government. This Sunday in Port-au-Prince, Aristide’s handpicked thugs, known as chimeres or Lavalas, fired into a crowd of peaceful Haitian demonstrators who were celebrating his leaving the country. At least four of those demonstrators were killed. And now Aristide is talking about suing the American government over his ouster.
Aristide does have one rock-solid U.S. supporter, however, Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry. Kerry is also one of the few U.S. politician who takes seriously Aristide’s claim that he was kidnaped. Kerry, for example, told NBC’s Today show (as the Times reported): I think there ought to be some investigation of it….I have a very close friend in Massachusetts who talked directly to people who have made that allegation. I don’t know the truth of it. I really don’t. But I think it needs to be explored, and we need to know the truth of what happened.”
The Massachusetts senator’s daughter Vanessa also got into the act, announcing that President G.W. Bush’s admnistration “just helped overthrow, basically overthrow a democratically elected president.” Aristide was indeed democratically elected–back in 1990 under what some pundits have called the “one man, one vote, one election rule.” He won again in 2000 in an election that was condemned as corrupt by the U.S., the U.N., and the Organization of American States. Even Aristide’s American liberal sympathizers concede that he held onto power only by means of Lavalas brutality. Kerry has tried to distance himself from his daughter’s statement, but he continues to blame Bush, complaining that the administration failed to intervene in Aristide’s abrupt departure.
Kerry has been fawning over Aristide for years. In 1994 (as the American Spectator’s George Neumayr reports) he penned an op-ed article for the New York Times obsequiously referring to the dictator as “Father Aristide,” although Aristide, a former Catholic priest, had been kicked out of his religious order, the Salesian Fathers, in 1988 for injecting Marxism into his sermons, and he could not find any bishop, in Haiti or elsewhere, willing to let him function as an ordinary priest. Aristide formally resigned from the priesthood in 1994 because the Vatican does not approve of clergymen’s holding public office.
Back in 1994, Kerry, a Catholic himself, waxed theological, complaining about American hostility to Aristide’s “liberation theology” that argued that Marxist revolution is part of the Christian message. But as syndicated columnist Robert Novak pointed out today, the real reason for Kerry’s support of Aristide aren’t so much religious as personal and political. Aristide is the darling of Kerry’s Massachusetts pals, the Kennedy family (he was a guest speaker at Joseph P. Kennedy II’s second wedding) and also of the ultra-liberal ncongressional Black Caucus, whose members seem to be the only other Americans who actually believe the Aristide kidnaping story. The Black Caucus held a five-hour Bush-bashing fest on the House floor last week in which the absent Aristide played chief victim.