Congressional Black Caucus's Ties to Aristide Questioned

July 7, 2008 - 8:30 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A conservative black pastor says the White House and the State Department should investigate the Congressional Black Caucus's relationship with exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

What do Congressional Black Caucus members have to gain by keeping Aristide in power? asked the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson. Do CBC members, their family, or friends have business interests in Haiti, he wondered.

"These questions must be answered. We need to get to the truth about what has been going on," said Peterson, who heads a group called Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny. (Peterson, who supports various conservative causes, is out with a new book called SCAM: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America.)

Peterson said he finds it "disturbing" that the Congressional Black Caucus is backing "a corrupt and brutal man like Aristide."

For example, he notes, the CBC is demanding that the Bush administration offer proof that Aristide was not forced out of office or kidnapped by U.S. forces -- a claim the White House has called "absurd."

According to Peterson, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has called the assistant secretary of state a "Haiti hater." "She also said she trusted Aristide more than she trusted her own government," Peterson said.

He said Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.) characterized Aristide's ouster as 'a terrorist takeover,' while Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) complained last week that the Bush administration had a "bunch of white men" running its Haiti policy.

Peterson noted that over the past decade, the U.S. has sent nearly $1 billion in aid to Haiti, which remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. About 65 percent of Haitians cannot read, Peterson said. And Aristide made voodoo an officially recognized religion.

"So why are black lawmakers and Jesse Jackson up in arms over the removal of this dictator?" he asked.

In a press release dated March 3, Rep. Maxine Waters complained that the Bush administration pressured Aristide to leave after doing nothing to support his government.

"Why would we not commit U.S. forces to stabilize the democratically elected government of Haiti when we had no reluctance to commit those same forces once president Aristide was removed?" she asked.

Waters accused Roger Noriega, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, of pursing a policy of undermining President Aristide's government for many years.

"I am especially concerned by the possibility that the U.S. government may have armed and trained the former military officers and death squad leaders who carried out last Sunday's coup," Waters said.

"I demand that this administration explain how they allowed a democratically-elected government to be overthrown by a group of heavily-armed thugs," she concluded.