Drawing from a trove of 1,918 Haiti-related diplomatic cables obtained by the pro-transparency group WikiLeaks, The Nation is collaborating with the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté on a series of articles about US and UN policy toward the Caribbean nation. Haïti Liberté, published largely in French and Creole, is working with WikiLeaks to release and analyze the Haiti-related cables, which will also be featured in Nation articles, posted each Wednesday beginning June 1 on TheNation.com. Some of the reports will be published in the magazine as well.
The cables that form the basis of the articles in this series will be published in their entirety on the WikiLeaks site (wikileaks.ch). However, in some cases, names will be redacted for safety reasons.
The cables from US Embassies around the world cover an almost seven-year period, from April 17, 2003—ten months before the February 29, 2004, coup d’état, which ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide—to February 28, 2010, just after the January 12 earthquake, which devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other cities. The cables offer a penetrating look into US strategies and maneuvering in Haiti during the brutal coup years (2004–06) and the period after President René Préval’s election (2006–10). We see Washington’s obsession with keeping Aristide out of Haiti and the hemisphere; the microscope it trained on rebellious neighborhoods like Bel Air and Cité Soleil; and its tight supervision of Haiti’s police and of the United Nations’ 9,000-person military occupation known as the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Embassy officials offer candid assessments of other ambassadors and of Haitian politicians, UN officials and other public figures. What emerges is an extraordinary portrait of Washington’s aggressive management of Latin America’s first sovereign nation—and its bare-knuckled tactics on behalf of US corporate interests there. But the cables also show how Washington’s designs have been met with fierce resistance from the Haitian people.
The cables reveal Haiti as perhaps the Western Hemisphere’s pre-eminent arena for North-South struggle and East-West intrigue. Washington squares off against Caracas and Havana, particularly over oil, while Beijing and Taipei engage in fierce diplomatic arm-wrestling that threatens to derail the UN military mission in Haiti.
This release is part of the latest phase of WikiLeaks activity, in which the group has selected media outlets in the developing world—well more than fifty now—and provided them with the leaked US Embassy cables relevant to their country or region. Typically, the disclosures have generated major headlines where they are published but scant attention in the United States. By partnering with Haïti Liberté and placing the cables in context for a US audience, The Nation hopes to heighten the impact of the WikiLeaks Haiti releases in the United States and internationally—and to advance the group’s mission to promote transparency in government, which we regard as critical to democracy.