PRENOTE: There are several comments to the Valentine’s Day post.  Check them out here.


Thursday evening an organization in which I’m active, Citizens for Citizens for Global Solutions MN, presented a very informative Zoom-cast on the assassination of a human rights advocate in a country you’ve probably never heard of, Eswatini, (formerly Swaziland).

Before the talk, I watched a one hour recommended film, “The Unthinkable”, and I participated in the very informative talk and discussion with human rights attorney HADAR HARRIS,  speaking about Swaziland and the recent assassination of the human rights attorney THULANI MASEKO.  The Unthinkable film is accessible here.  Both Film and talk are very much worth your time, and thought provoking.  About two hours in all.


Political killing (violence) of all sorts is not unusual.

Killing someone’s reputation (character assassination) is as deadly as physically killing someone.  As I listened and watched I thought about two other situations I found analogous, from personal experience.

First, in December, 2003, I spent a very powerful week in Port-au-Prince,  Haiti, less than three months before the Feb. 2004 coup deposing Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  Ours was a study trip organized by those who supported Aristide and his attempts to bring democracy to that impoverished country in the wake of the Duvaliers.

Six of us saw and learned a great deal.  Ours was a peaceful and very full trip but, simply recounting from my memory, here are some happenings  before, during and after that trip.

Not long before we arrived in Haiti, a representative of a growing Microfinance organization, which we visited, a man whose name was Amos, had been kidnapped, held for ransom and killed.  It seemed a ‘message’ was being sent to the organization, which survived and is today well known and effective.

We met a literacy leader at a successful school, who was assassinated a couple of days after we met him (we probably heard the gunfire that killed him while driving near the national palace).  At the time of the coup, a charismatic Catholic Priest we met was arrested and thrown in prison, and then exiled to Florida – basically, it appeared, to get him out of the country, since he was free in Florida where I met him again two years later.  It seemed he was seen as being more dangerous just being alive in Haiti.

Another cleric, Episcopal, I met there, was allegedly killed by poison a year later.  An Aristide government official we had met with had to flee the country, and of course the Aristide’s were removed, unceremoniously, dropped off in central Africa, out of sight, out of mind….

I was back  to Haiti, this time with the same Microfinance group, in 2006.  This time the trip was into the interior.  Again, a peaceful journey.

Of course, it is impossible to connect dots officially in these kinds of situations.  But we still traveled safely that year. I wrote about both visits and my reflections are accessible here.

What has troubled me ever since 2003, is that U.S. hands, and Canadian and French, were all over the destruction of the Aristide effort at democracy.  It seemed that “power to the people” was dangerous to our capitalism.

Cleansing Haiti of democracy doesn’t seem to have worked very well for Haiti in recent years.  Haiti is not a destination  due to safety concerns.  It is a do-not-travel-to country.  This is in marked contrast to the Haiti I visited in 2003 and 2006.

Second, my final thoughts on Thursday were about ourselves, what is happening in present day United States of America.

For our entire history, our country has been blessed by, and struggled with,  the Rule of Law.  Law itself is, of course, imperfect, and it is slow if one believes in due process, innocence until proven guilty, evidence, etc.  But imperfect is much better than the alternative – lies, snap judgement, etc.

Political character assassination is the preferred killing instrument here, now, though weaponry (guns) is certainly always on the table.  Every one of us has a seat in the theatre every day; we are all participants whether we think we are or not.


At the very end of the Zoomcast I raised a comment about us for the speaker, articulating my concerns, which she found to be relevant, and she responded.  You’ll have to tune in for it.  I hope you do.


Sunday night watch the first episode of the Rudy Giuliani Story on MSNBC “When Truth Isn’t Truth“.

On State of the Union day Feb 7 I decided to focus on public education policy given the Governor of Florida’s heavy-handedness.  It is becoming even worse.  I can’t make Florida’s policy, nor even our state or local school district.  Neither can anyone else…as individuals…nonetheless we have a lot of power if we choose to exercise it.  About all I could/can do is what I did, which is here, simply a narrative of where I come from and why.  I have distributed this broadly, beyond the addressees, including here.  I encourage you to do something similar in your own words at your own place. Public Education0001 is the letter. I urge you to not sit on the sidelines on this, or any issue.

COMMENTS (more at end of post):

from long-time friend: If that notion that you commented about, shown below is troubling to you, then consider the fact that we are supportive of Israel’s attempts to exterminate the Gaza Palestinians via starvation, and our support of the British in overthrowing the Iranian Democracy that was set up after their revolution against the British that ended in 1949, and the Iran Contra where we encouraged Iraq to attack Iran, then provided arms to both sides that enhance the killings, and our unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003, resulting in an estimated 64,000 deaths during the night of “Shock and Awe”, mostly civilians, and most of which were women and children again.  That war and its aftereffects took the lives of around a half million by some estimates, and again, mostly women and children.  Unfortunately, we are not a country of good people.


“What has troubled me ever since 2003, is that U.S. hands, and Canadian and French, were all over the destruction of the Aristide effort at democracy.  It seemed that “power to the people” was dangerous to our capitalism.”


2 replies
  1. Chuck Woolery
    Chuck Woolery says:

    I visited Haiti for 5 consecutive years 4 prior to the quake in 2010…one after the quake. It also played a huge role in Haiti’s decline since then. I’m not sure the ‘rule of law’ in the US has much value given its violation of the definition of “Rule of Law” offered by Supreme Court Justice Kennedy who stated it needed three essential elements to be effective. Laws made and enforced by a democratic process, are applied equally to all adults, and laws are made solely for the protection of human rights. Domestically the US has the first…but fails in achieving the other two. Globally the US ‘rule of laws’ does none…and has helped create and sustain the horrific conditions in Haiti since its independence in 1804. And now we sit by idly not doing anything…except fearing Haitian migration.

  2. Patricia/Patsy Stahl
    Patricia/Patsy Stahl says:

    When will we learn that socialism (of which the capitalist countries seem so scared) is an organizational phase that many countries go through that have been controlled by dictators, a majority population by a minority, and/or invading capitalists? Instead of fighting against such movements out of fear, capitalists—the wise, non-invasive, non-controlling, equality-driven, non-greedy ones–would be better served by accepting and befriending such communities as they work through their efforts for equality and independence from forces that have not in their past respected their interests as of equal value. In the name of spreading democracy one must not only allow but encourage the independence of others–whether in our families or in our countries, in my humble, simplistic, and idealistic–but hopefully nonetheless worthwhile–thinking, an opinion that became stronger within me while visiting Cuba a few years ago.


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