10. Haiti: Drugs, Thugs, the CIA, and the Deterrence of Democracy

Published: Updated:

Sources: THE NEW YORK TIMES, Date: 11/1/93, Title: “Key Haiti Leaders Said To Have Been In The C.I.A.’s Pay,” Author: Tim Weiner; PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE, Dates: 10/20/93; 11/2/93, Titles: “What’s Behind Washington’s Silence on Haiti Drug Connection?;” “A Haitian Call to Arms,” Author: Dennis Bernstein; SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN, Date: 11/3/93, Title: “The CIA’s Haitian Connection,” Authors: Dennis Bernstein and Howard Levine; LOS ANGELES TIMES, Date: 10/31/93, Title: “CIA’s Aid Plan Would Have Undercut Aristide in `87-88,” Author: Jim Mann

SYNOPSIS: After the October 30, 1993 deadline to restore duly ­elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide passed unrealized, ob­servers reported an increasing sense of fear and despair. More than 4,000 civilians have been killed since the 1991 bloody military coup which ousted Aristide. Few Americans are aware of our secret involvement in Haitian politics, nor the impact those policies have had on the U.S.

Some of the high military offi­cials involved in the coup have been on the CIA’s payroll from “the mid-1980s at least until the 1991 coup….” According to one govern­ment official, “Several of the prin­cipal players of the current situation were compensated by the U.S. government.”

Further, the CIA “tried to inter­vene in Haiti’s election with a covert-action program that would have undercut the political strength” of Aristide. The aborted attempt to influence the 1988 elec­tion was authorized by then President Ronald Reagan and the National Security Council. The program was blocked by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in a rare move.

Next, a confidential Drug En­forcement Agency (DEA) report revealed that Haiti is “a major transshipment point for cocaine traffickers” who are funneling drugs from Colombia and the Dominican

Republic into the United States. The DEA report also revealed that the drug trafficking, which is bringing one to four tons of cocaine per month into the U.S., worth $300-$500 million annually, is taking place with “the knowledge and active involvement of high mil­itary officials and business elites,”

According to Patrick Elie, who was Aristide’s anti-drug czar, Haitian police chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois is at the center of the drug trade. Francois’ “attaches” reportedly have been responsible for a large number of murders and violence since the coup.

The revelations offer a disturbing look into CIA and State Department policy toward Haiti. Elie stated that he was constantly rebuffed by the CIA when he tried to alert it to the military’s drug traf­ficking: “All we were met with was stonewalling, and in fact we were told there was going to be no more cooperation between the U.S. and Haiti, but at the same time… the CIA continued to cooperate with the Haitian military.” Elie reported how the CIA-created Haitian National Intelligence Service (NIS)-supposedly created to combat drugs-was actually involved with narcotics-trafficking, and “functioned as a political intim­idation and assassination squad.”

The Clinton administration’s silence on the Haitian drug flow has led some congressional critics, such as John Conyers (D-MI), to suggest that this silence reflects de facto support for the drug-traf­ficking Haitian military and a reluc­tance to substantively support the democratically-elected Aristide.

SSU Censored Researcher: Sunil Sharma

COMMENTS: Investigative author Dennis Bernstein charges that the U.S. government’s ongoing relationship with drug-trafficking dictators and their associated henchmen is perhaps one of the most important and under-reported stories of our time.

“President Clinton’s continuing silence on the Haitian military’s involvement in a one-billion-dollar a year illegal cocaine operation ­and the mainstream media’s accep­tance of this silence-is causing untold suffering in Haiti and the U.S.,” Bernstein said. “In fact,” he continued, “it is this silence about the drugs that allows the military to continue to skirt the embargo with massive amounts of drug-money, to torture and assassinate thousands of Haitians, and to wreak havoc in this country by continuing to import tons of cocaine onto U.S. soil. The U.S. created, funded, and trained Haiti’s drug-dealing death-­squad — the National Intelligence Service — which apparently was conceived to destabilize President Aristide.

“Democracy doesn’t exist without a free and unfettered press that isn’t afraid to ask the difficult questions and then to publish the answers to those questions without checking informally with the state department and the CIA. The press’s continuing failure to report adequately on illegal intelligence operations and CIA-sponsored drug-running and assassination coup teams may ultimately lead to the death of democracy, not only in Haiti but in the U.S.

“The only people to gain from the press’s limited reporting of the Haiti drug story and related U.S. complicit silence are drug-traf­fickers and their supporting death-­squads and dictators, as well as collaborating smugglers and related criminals involved in a billion­ dollar drug operation.”

Bernstein concludes that “The soaring number of crack addicts in the U.S. and Haiti-and their fami­lies-and the victims of addict rob­beries and murders will definitely not benefit from the silence … and lack of good reporting.”

PBS’s “Frontline,” one of the nation’s most acclaimed investiga­tive television programs, produced a well-documented, hour-long special, on November 9, titled “Showdown in Haiti,” which examined President Clinton’s foreign-policy initiative in Haiti. Ironically, the otherwise hard-­hitting documentary didn’t mention drugs or the CIA.