What follows is just about everything you would ever want to know, and everything I know, about Haiti.
In particular, I've tried to tie the recent events with Aristide leaving his office and answer all the who/what/when/where questions. Or at least as many as possible. Links will be provided as much as possible.
I realize most people are focused on the US Presidential elections right now but if you're curious about Haiti click below. Be warned: it's long.
p.s. Senator John Kerry played a role in some of this.
Note: This is a repeat from yesterday, slightly modified and updated
My brief synopsis of what we've covered so far:
- Haiti has had crippling debt since Day 1
- 1915-1934 - US directly controlled Haiti
- Legacy of US-trained guards becomes murderous Haitian military
- Brutal US-supported dictatorships rule until 1990, esp the Duvaliers from 57-86
- Aristide is democratically elected in 90. Overthrown in 91.
- From 90-94, CIA sponsors brutal paramilitary organization FRAPH
- 1994 Aristide disbands military - only new police (HNP) force left
- 2001 Aristide returns to power democratically
While the Presidential election was "fair", somehow the parliamentary elections were NOT. At least the "international community" felt they were unfair. I don't know, I wasn't there. There is a very critical article of Aristide's second administration in the New York Review of Books (I don't have the link here).
The critical issue of the "disputed" elections were that most international aid was suspended. Most of this was done with either the approval of or directly at the request of the United States. Some of this frozen aid included 512.9 million dollars from the INTER-AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (IDB). Just so you know, 54 of that was to fund portable water projects. Haiti at this time owed 20 million to the IDB.
Haiti is also almost entirely dependant on imported food. Cutting off international aid means that Haiti becomes poorer and hungrier.
Realizing how desperate the situation was, in 2002 the OAS (Organization of American States) passed a resolution stating, basically, that Haiti should not be cut off from international aid and loans. US doesn't care and won't change its position.
Despite the embargo from 2000-present, Aristide's government managed to:
- Ministry of Women's Affairs and Rights created.
- Ministry of Tourism created.
- The Government of Haiti has been accepted as a full member of CARICOM (Caribbean community).
- Haiti has established good trade relations with Venezuela, Japan, Cuba, Belgium, Canada and all of the Caribbean countries.
- Decrease in drug transshipping from 13% to 8% in 2000 according to U.S. State Department.
- An aggressive campaign to collect unpaid tax and utility bills has generated new revenues for the struggling government.
- An extensive land reform program has distributed 2.47 acres of land to each of 1500 peasant families in the fertile Artibonite River Valley.
- The government has aggressively pursued an open market approach that has resulted in the development of a competitive and vibrant telecommunication sector.
- Government Universal Schooling programs seek to enroll every child in school and build a school in each of Haiti's 565 rural sections; provided for 160,000 more children to enter school fall 2001. Over the last 7 years literacy campaigns have reduced the illiteracy rate from 85% to 55. 20.8% of national budget (2001-2006) devoted to education.
- The number of public high schools has doubled since 1994.
- A government-led nationwide child immunization program for polio and measles was successfully conducted.
- The current legislature has passed laws including Haiti's first money laundering regulations and unprecedented protections for children's rights.
- Port-au-Prince international airport and access roadways renovated; road construction underway to connect rural areas.
- Jacmel: Installed electrical plant that provides 24-hr. electricity, renovated port and wharf, paved road to nearby beaches.
- Successful prosecution of coup regime's military leadership for their role in the Raboteau massacre during the coup period.
- For the first time in Haiti's history the rights of the accused are generally respected. Warrants are issued in French and Creole and those arrested are generally brought before a judge within 48 hours.
- Two recent landmark trials prove that the Haitian justice system is capable of effectively prosecuting human rights cases: the trial of the Carrefour Feuilles Massacre in May 1999 and the trial of the Raboteau massacre in April 1994 have both resulted in successful prosecution, sentencing and sending the perpetrators to prison.
- There is unprecedented freedom to organize, debate, associate, and expression guaranteed; the Constitution in Creole, the language of the people, is widely distributed.
While not everything was perfect, clearly some improvements were being made. However, the lack of foreign aid continue to put a stranglehold on the country. Compare this report about how much medical aid flowed to the Duvalier regime and what it's like to run a hospital in Haiti today. It's written by Paul Farmer, a Harvard trained doctor who runs just such a place.
I have worked for almost 20 years in Haiti and have seen U.S. aid flow smoothly and generously during the years of Duvalier dictatorship and the
military juntas that followed. As a U.S. physician, I believe it shameful that the current embargo has been enforced during the tenure of a democratically elected government. Such policies are both unjust and a cause of great harm to the Haitian population, particularly to those living in poverty.
The odd thing about this "embargo" against aid was supposed to be based on fraudulent elections. But Aristide and his ministers kept trying to hold a fresh round of elections. The US government however refused to recognize them, including a State Dept. employee named Luis Moreno.
The quote from the above article is from Ben Dupuy, the secretary general of the pro-Aristide political party NPP. He's certainly worth watching and he's not timid about calling a spade a spade.
Did I mention the economic embargo from 1994 is still in effect today? Surprise!
The best timeline for the events of the past month can be found here and I may reference it throughout this segment without mentioning it again.
February 7, 2004 - huge pro-Aristide rally in New York surprises many
February 8, 2004 - Prime Minister Yvon Neptune calls on Haitian people to beat back "armed branch of opposition"
February 16, 2004 - first reports that ex-FRAPH take over northern city of Gonaives and later St. Marc
Hundreds of Haitians have died as a result of this made-in-the-USA coup. In cities that fell to the gunmen--Gonaives and Cap Haitien--they have reportedly carried out a house-to-house manhunt for government supporters, executing those who failed to escape.
February 16, 2004 - town of Hinche on DR border is taken by approx. 25 heavily armed rebels. Leader is identified as Louis-Jodel Chamblain, formerly a leader of FRAPH.
February 17, 2004 - France says it's "considering" sending troops to Haiti
February 18, 2004 - Haitian National Police (HNP) flee from five towns before ex-FRAPH group led by Chamblain can reach their towns
February 18, 2004 - News reports that Guy Philippe, ex-FRAPH, is part of the same group as Chamblain's men.
February 19, 2004 - Armed rebels now agree they have one leader, Guy Philippe, and will be called "National Resistance Front to Liberate Haiti" from now on.
February 19, 2004 - Cap-Haitien and Gonaives, two larger towns in the north, now controlled by Philippe's men
February 21, 2004 - I'll quote it because it's so heinous.
International mediators have given embattled President Aristide and the political opposition three days to accept a peace plan aimed at ending the country's increasingly violent political crisis, diplomatic sources said Saturday.The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said diplomats from the United States, Canada, France, Caricom and the OAS delivered the ultimatum to Aristide and opposition leader Andre Apaid in meetings here Friday.
"They have until Monday to respond and, give or take a little slippage, we expect them to respond by Monday," said one source familiar with the talks. Higher-level diplomats from the plan's sponsors were to arrive to reinforce the urgency of that message amid growing fears the western hemisphere's poorest country might succumb to anarchy.
In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan confirmed Aristide could stay under the plan but declined to offer more details. The diplomatic sources said a three-person panel - one Aristide representative, an opposition member and an international official - would select advisers who would name a prime minister and a new government. The plan pointedly excludes members of the armed insurgency. That prime minister would have direct authority over an internationally trained and supervised police force, they said.
Both Aristide and the opposition must name their representatives by Monday if they intend to accept the deal, the sources said. The sources could not say what would happen if both, or either side, refused to agree. Aristide has thus far rejected giving his opponents a say in choosing a prime minister, but one source said the president had given diplomats "no reason to believe he won't accept the plan."
Of greater concern, the source said, is the possibility the opposition may reject a proposal that keeps Aristide in office. "This is what we consider to be a difficult exercise," the source said. Opposition demands for Aristide's ouster have become more strident since the president dissolved the legislature and began ruling by decree in January amid a bitter fight over disputed parliamentary elections two years ago.
Apaid, the leader of the so-called "Group of 184" opposition movement, was expected to announce his intentions shortly after meeting with the visiting delegation and just before the leader of the team, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, speaks, officials said.
One of the opposition's chief concerns is the disarming of pro-Aristide gangs such as the one that opened fire on about 1,000 student demonstrators Friday in Port-au-Prince, wounding 14, including two journalists -- one foreign, one Haitian. Also complicating the situation is the presence of the armed insurgents -- many of them ex-soldiers in Haiti's army, which Aristide disbanded in 1995 after a coup -- who have been mounting hit-and-run raids on Haitian cities since February 5, when they captured Gonaives.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell and others have vowed not to deal with the rebels and warned Aristide's political opponents not to associate with them simply because they share the goal of ousting him. "This is the time for the opposition to recognize that whatever their legitimate complaints may or may not be, they will not be dealt with if they fall in league or get under the same umbrella with thugs, murderers," Powell told the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain. (AFP)
February 21, 2004 - Representative Maxine Waters returns from Haiti and warns Colin Powell that a bloodbath is "imminent" if nothing is done.
February 22, 2004 - Unarmed Aristide supporters try to barricade Cap Haitien but to no avail. 200 of Philippe's mercenaries take the city. Looting takes place. ex-FRAPH Jean-Baptist Joseph declares "It's the army that's in charge here. It's the army that will free Haiti." (Reuters) Haitian Police (HNP) fled before fighting took place.
February 23, 2004 - Looting and destruction in Cap Haitien continues. Aristide supporters arrested.
In Cap-Haitien, a rampage of looting continued Monday as supposed Aristide militants were detained. "I am a brick mason, I didn't do anything wrong!" Jean-Bernard Prevalis, 33, pleaded as he was dragged away, his head bleeding. Residents alleged he was an Aristide activist and a drug trafficker. "We're going to clean the city of all 'chimere,'" said rebel Dieusauver Magustin, 26, using the Creole word "ghost" to describe pro-government militants. It was not clear what would happen to those who were detained. One rebel said they were saving them from lynching. Another, Claudy Philippe, said: "The people show us the (chimere) houses. If they are there, we execute them." (AP)
February 24, 2004 - US Marines arrive in Port-au-Prince to guard American embassy. This is where American perfidy really shines through.
Secretary of State Colin Powell sought to head off a bloody clash for control of the capital, urging opposition politicians to accept a power-sharing deal with President Aristide. Early Monday, the Haitian opposition was poised to announce its rejection of the plan. But in a conference call with about 20 opposition leaders, Powell asked them to take an additional 24 hours to consider a proposal from U.S. and international diplomats to end a violent insurrection sweeping this impoverished Caribbean nation.
Powell made it clear that "it was important that they accept the plan, and that we cannot support a government that comes to power through violence," said Adam Ereli, a State Department spokesman. Opposition leaders said they would wait another day before publicly rejecting the deal. They warned that to accept the diplomats' proposal would embolden the armed rebels controlling half of Haiti and the violent gangs that Aristide maintains to harass political opponents.
Powell's appeal was cast as giving opposition leaders more time to reevaluate an ultimatum presented to the mainstream political opposition Saturday by a delegation of diplomats from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean Community and the Organization of American States. But the opposition leaders speculated that Washington wanted the extra day to reassess its position of including Aristide in a future power-sharing agreement.
The diplomats' plan calls for appointing a new prime minister acceptable to Aristide's Lavalas Party and the opposition coalition as a first step toward organizing elections that should have taken place last year.
US officials emphasized that if the proposal was accepted, the international community would make sure the deal's terms were observed by all parties, including Aristide, Ereli said. He added that once the deal was accepted, international police could enter the country to help bring order. Asked what would happen if the opposition rejected the offer, Ereli said he could not say specifically, but he warned that "the consequences would be serious for Haiti."
Ereli acknowledged that opposition leaders who have been meeting in Port-au-Prince were not affiliated with the rebels and former army officers who have been fighting the government in the northern section of the country. But he said US diplomats hoped that a deal would calm the population and end the insurrection. Many groups in the opposition Democratic Platform have said from the outset they would take part in negotiating new institutions of power only after Aristide resigned. They blame him for corruption, poverty and repression in the country.
Although Powell's intervention served to postpone collapse of the diplomatic initiative, other signs pointed to an impending confrontation in Port-au-Prince. The armed militants who on Sunday seized control of Cap-Haitien - the second-largest city - promised to march on the capital in the next few days. Prime Minister Yvon Neptune urged Port-au-Prince residents - many of them armed - to "mobilize" and repel any attack. In urging residents to help defend the capital, Neptune conceded that the police were fearful because insurgents had targeted law enforcement officers. At least 40 of those killed have been police officers. The rebels, who include a prominent death-squad leader from the country's 30-year dictatorship and several exiled figures of the junta that deposed Aristide in 1991, have looted and burned police stations and government offices in the towns they have seized.
"We are asking the population to stay mobilized, to continue building a state of law," Neptune said. When asked whether that meant civilians taking up arms, he added: "We said this should be nonviolent, but we can't deny the population the right to defend themselves."
The standoff here over the Western diplomats' peace plan was unlikely to affect the course of the bloody rebellion. The diplomatic initiative, which was presented to Aristide and the opposition groups but not to the armed rebels, contains no plan to disarm Aristide's gangs or a proposal to get the rebels to halt their insurrection, said Evans Paul, a former mayor here and a prominent opposition leader. Opposition leaders have argued that they would be able to influence the rebels only if they delivered the one aim shared by Aristide's armed and unarmed rivals: his ouster.
"Our position at the Democratic Platform is clear: We need Mr. Aristide's departure as the first element of a resolution of the crisis," said Hanns Tippenhauer, an investment analyst and activist with the opposition alliance. "We feel crushed between two armed movements - the armed movement holding the north and the one terrorizing us here - the criminal government in the national palace," said Andre Apaid, an industrialist and leader of the Group of 184 civil society movement. Of Aristide, he said: "One man cannot keep hostage a nation. He must resign."
Other opposition leaders said they needed to remain independent of Aristide and the rebels to foster national reconciliation once the president left office. Jean Herold Buteau, a doctor and one of the activists who spoke with Powell, said the opposition would stand firm on its call for Aristide's resignation. Powell has said that Aristide remains the elected leader of Haiti and that he must be allowed to serve out the two years left in the five-year term he won in November 2000.
Faced with an approaching confrontation that could unleash widespread bloodshed here, the Democratic Platform leaders proposed a timetable that would force Aristide to resign by March 18. But some believe that their proposal, which foreign mediators have so far rejected, could be overtaken by events if rebels deposed Aristide. (Los Angeles Times)
Note: The "Democratic Platform" is anything but. More on that elsewhere. Now you can see the US is pushing for Aristide's to accept some of the "Group of 184" and "Democratic Platform" in his government - despite the fact they are the wealthy minority elite. Andre Apaid, for the record, doesn't even live in Haiti. He's just a wealthy expatriate Haitian who owns sweatshops there.
Continue to remember that Aristide was fairly and squarely elected. It was only the parliamentary elections which were "tainted". Now the US wants him to agree to a "power sharing agreement" despite this.
February 25 - the "Democratic Platform" refuses to agree to the power-sharing plan. Aristide accepts the plan. Again, Aristide said "ok" to power-sharing plan. Opposition says no.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell made telephone calls yesterday to opposition leaders seeking support for a plan to appoint an independent prime minister, a State Department spokesman, who wouldn't be identified, said late yesterday in Washington. The plan would allow President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to remain in office until his term ends in 2006.
The opposition yesterday rejected the plan, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Evans Paul, a member of the Democratic Platform, an alliance of opposition groups. The question of whether Aristide should stay in office is the main sticking point to an agreement, Paul said.
"The plan that's been presented would create an independent prime minister and government that could run the country," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at a briefing yesterday in Washington. "The parties need to seize this opportunity," Boucher said. "This is the way forward for the government and for the opposition."
French President Jacques Chirac said yesterday he didn't rule out sending police to help ease unrest and called for a resumption of negotiations between Aristide and his opponents, AFP reported. "France does not rule out contributing to a civilian peacekeeping force, which would be made up for the most part from nationals from countries from the region," Chirac said in Budapest. (Bloomberg)
So now the US/France wants an interim leader appointed despite the fact that the minority opposition refused to sign the peace deal on the table. So one gun to Aristide's head is the armed rebels in the north and the other "gun" is the international pressure to resign in favor of an appointed leader.
France continues to try to set up negotiations between Aristide and the political opposition.
At least 70 people have been killed so far by this point.
February 25, 2004 - The Dominican Republic returns 37 police officers who have fled over the border.
February 26, 2004 - France calls for the imposition of an "interim government" and troops to pacify the country.
"This international force would be responsible for guaranteeing the return to public order and supporting the international community's action on the ground," de Villepin said in a statement. "It would come to the support of a government of national unity." French diplomats at the United Nations said the idea is to assemble an international police force now to be sent to Haiti just after a transitional government is formed. (AP)
February 27, 2004 - Rebels take the town of Mirebalais in central Haiti. Prisoners are sprung from jail.
A UPI articles details that on February 27, 2004 a meeting/rally was held at the National Press Club. Among those in attendance were Dupuy and former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
Activists at a Friday press briefing outlined what they believe to be a well-crafted plan by the Bush administration to overthrow Aristide. Former Haitian military members, drug dealers and militants were armed and trained in the Dominican Republic thanks to military support from the United States. They have now crossed the border into Haiti, activists said.
The rebel insurrection that erupted three weeks ago has left roughly 80 people dead, nearly half of whom were police officers.
Some other people at the press conference presented evidence that the "rebel insurrection" was armed and trained from within the Dominican Republic (shares a land border with Haiti). They were also sporting US weapons that came into their hands via the DR.
"It is clear that the rebel forces crossed the Dominican border heavily armed with equipment that even the former Haitian military did not have, which could not have been done without the knowledge of the Dominican army," another participant said. "We also know that the Dominican government would not have allowed this to happen unless it had clearance from the United States government."
February 28, 2004 - Rebels push to within 25 miles of capital. Aristide says "I have the responsibility as an elected president to stay where I am. My life is linked to 8 million people."
US urges Aristide to transfer power to Boniface Alexander, the "next in line" so to speak according to the constitution. Pro-Aristide militants "attack" the capital's only hospital (why? I don't know). Prices of ordinary items begin to skyrocket.
February 28, 2004 - Only way to believe this is to quote it:
Opposition leader Guy Philippe will hold his forces back from attacking the capital for a day or two in response to a US appeal he saw on the Internet, he told The Associated Press on Saturday.The US Embassy, in a statement issued to reporters Friday night, appealed to the insurgents to halt their advance on Port-au-Prince. The United States also called for President Aristide to resign and in the statement urged him to command his supporters to cease bloodshed and looting in Port-au-Prince.
"I heard the United States asked our men to stop their advance to Port-au-Prince. It's on the news on the Net," said the rebel leader, who checks a computer often at the front desk of the hilltop Hotel Mont Joli. While holding off attacking, rebels would continue to assemble near the capital, Philippe told AP at his base in Cap-Haitien, a strategic port that fell to rebels last Sunday.
Asked if the United States had directly contacted the rebels, he said no, that he was acting on information he had read on the Internet. "If (US officials) ask us, it's because they have a better option, option for peace, and we always give peace a chance here, so we'll wait to see for one or two days," said Philippe. "We will keep on sending troops, but we won't attack Port-au-Prince until we understand what the US means." (AP)
Re-read that block quote again if you didn't catch all the bizarre subtle angles to that. Rampaging death squad leader "checking the Internet" for instructions from the US? Truth is surely stranger than fiction.
February 28, 2004 - UN Security Council meets for three hours. US, French and Canada deny CARICOM's request for a deployment of peacekeeping troops.
"Immediate action is needed to safeguard democracy, to avert bloodshed and a humanitarian disaster," warned Jamaica's K.D. Knight. Seconding his appeal was Bahamas Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell: "It is difficult for us in the region to sit by idly, saying we support legal constitutional authority, and yet when the call comes from a member state to support that legitimate authority, we seek to rely on legalisms which amount to inaction."
But US, French and Canadian diplomats were adamant that no force should be sent to prevent the overthrow of Haiti's internationally-recognized government till Aristide and his Lavalas Party government obtain the signature of the opposition Democratic Platform on a "power-sharing" agreement. They know full well such a signature will never be given.
February 29, 2004 - Aristide leaves Haiti. Initial news reports list him as voluntarily resigning. French and US governments officially confirm the resignation.
News reports consist of stories of anti-Aristide militants "celebrating" and pro-Aristide militants "rioting and looting". What about the transfer of power?
One diplomatic source in Port-au-Prince said Aristide signed a letter of resignation before he left. His term did not expire until February 2006. That would open the way for a US-led plan to install Supreme Court Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre, the president's constitutional successor, to head a transitional government. Alexandre is honored for his honesty in a judicial system notorious for corruption. He could not immediately be reached. (AP)
Even before Aristide turns up in the CAR, not every international body was complacent though about the "resignation":
The Caribbean Community, which has been at the forefront of efforts to find a solution to Haiti's long-running political crisis, on Sunday deplored the "removal" of President Aristide. Warning that Aristide's flight sent a dangerous signal to other democratic governments, Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson questioned the constitutionality of a U.S.-backed move to name the country's chief justice to replace him.
"We are bound to question whether his resignation was truly voluntary, as it comes after the capture of sections of Haiti by armed insurgents and the failure of the international community to provide the requisite support, despite the appeals of CARICOM," Patterson said in a statement. "The removal of President Aristide in these circumstances sets a dangerous precedent for democratically elected governments anywhere and everywhere, as it promotes the removal of duly elected persons from office by the power of rebel forces." Patterson is the current chairman of CARICOM. (Reuters)
Probably the most well-known aspect of this is the allegations/denials that Aristide resigned. Let's delve into them briefly, shall we?
Representative Maxine Waters speaks to Aristide and reports he says he was forced out of Haiti against his will:
He said that he was kidnapped; he said that he was forced to leave Haiti. He said that the American embassy sent the diplomats; he referred to them as, to his home where they was lead by Mr. Moreno. And I believe that Mr. Moreno is a deputy chief of staff at the embassy in Haiti and other diplomats, and they ordered him to leave. They said you must go NOW. He said that they said that Guy Phillipe and U.S. Marines were coming to Port Au Prince; he will be killed, many Haitians will be killed, that they would not stop until they did what they wanted to do.
Activist Randall Robinson speaks to Aristide and reports he says he was forced out of Haiti against his will:
He did not resign. He did not resign. He was kidnapped and all of the circumstances seem to support his assertion. Had he resigned, we wouldn't need blacked out windows and blocked communications and military taking him away at gunpoint. Had he resigned, he would have been happy to leave the country. He was not. He resisted. Emphatically not. He did not resign. He was abducted by the United States, a democratic, a democratically elected president, abducted by the United States in the commission of an American-induced coup. This is a frightening thing to contemplate.
Sec. State Colin Powell denies kidnapping Aristide:
SECRETARY POWELL: On the first question, the allegations that somehow we kidnaped [sic] former President Aristide are absolutely baseless, absurd. And it's rather unfortunate that in this sensitive time, when we are trying to stabilize the situation in Haiti and when we're sending in a multinational interim force to help bring about that stability and we're trying to put a political process on track, I think it's very unfortunate that these kinds of absurd charges are leveled at us.
I was intimately involved in this situation all through Saturday night. The first call we received from security people of President Aristide, people who work for him who contacted our security people, and there was a question about their ability to continue protecting him. And he wanted to discuss with our Ambassador the possibility of departure and he had several questions that he put to our Ambassador.
The Ambassador consulted with me and Assistant Secretary Noriega by telephone. We told him he could take the call and see what President Aristide had in mind. And he talked about protection of property, protection of his personal property, his -- property of some of his ministers, and would he have some choice as to where he was going if he decided to leave.
We gave him answers to these questions, positive answers. And then in the course of the evening, other conversations took place. He said he wanted to think about it, he wanted to speak to his wife, which he did. And he came back to us and said that it was his decision, based on what his security people were also telling him about the deteriorating situation, that he should leave. And we made arrangements for his departure. He was -- he wrote a letter of resignation. I think he might have been in touch with other people. And a leased plane was brought in and he departed at 6:15, thereabouts on Sunday morning.
He was not kidnaped [sic]. We did not force him onto the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly. And that's the truth. And it would have been better for Members of Congress who have heard these stories to ask us about the stories before going public with them so that we don't make a difficult situation that much more difficult.
Colin Powell gets mad at Waters and Barbara Lee for not asking him before releasing their own conversations with Aristide.
Colin Powell makes a disingenuous comment concerning Aristide's security. What's not mentioned by him is that the US prevented Aristide's full security contingent from being in Port-au-Prince to defend him.
Colin Powell admits that the US gave Aristide "some choice" where he would go. Aristide apparently chooses South Africa. Surprise! You get the CAR.
Colin Powell admits the notorious Assistant Secretary Noriega was involved in the decision
Colin Powell, not in the excerpt above but in the same press conference, says the US worked "very hard" with the opposition leaders in Haiti. He concludes by saying:
It became clear last week that the kind of political solution we hoped for was not to be there, and increasingly it seemed that President Aristide would ultimately be the impediment to progress. And you know the rest.
The Black Caucus is upset and state they will demand an inquiry into the event. Representative Charles Rangel speaks to Aristide:
Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat who spoke to Aristide earlier Monday from the Central African Republic where he landed, said the Haitian president told him he signed a resignation dictated to him over the phone from the U.S. Embassy which told him "they could no longer be responsible for his safety."
"Unlike the reports coming out of the (U.S.) State Department, Aristide feels that it was a coup. That he felt he was kidnapped. That he was told by United States authority that they could no longer protect his life. That for 20 hours, he was placed on a plane and taken to an unknown country," Rangel said.
US continues to deny Aristide being forced out of power. McClellan calls any accusations of forced resignation/kidnapping "nonsense and conspiracy theories".
Aristide manages to phone the office of Jesse Jackson and continues to allege he was forced out of office:
When asked if he left Haiti on his own, Mr Aristide quickly answered: "No. I was forced to leave.
"They were telling me that if I don't leave they would start shooting, and be killing in a matter of time," he said during the brief interview via speaker phone. He spoke English with a thick accent, his voice obscured at times by a bad connection.
When asked who the agents were, he responded: "White American, white military. They came at night. ... There were too many. I couldn't count them."
Mr Aristide told reporters that he signed documents relinquishing power out of fear that violence would erupt in Haiti if he refused to comply with the demands of "American security agents".
He said he was in his palace in the capital Port-au-Prince when the military force arrived. He said he thought he was being taken to the Caribbean island of Antigua, but instead he has been exiled to the Central African Republic.
He described the agents as "good, warm, nice", but added that he had no rights during his 20-hour flight to Africa.
Mr Aristide's wife, Mildred, initiated yesterday's telephone call, said Shelley Davis, a special assistant to Mr Jackson. She said the reverend and the president's family have been close for about a decade.
Aristide calls CNN and again states he was forced out against his will:
Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Monday accused the United States of forcing him out of office in a "coup d'etat."
Aristide told CNN in an interview from the Central African Republic, where he is in exile, that the United States "forced" him to leave the country after a bloody rebellion.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, flatly denied Aristide had been forced to leave. White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the charge "complete nonsense."
But Aristide insisted, "I am telling you the truth."
"They lied to me," he added.
State Dept. employee Luis Moreno goes on record to deny any wrongdoing vis-a-vis Aristide:
Moreno said he showed up at Aristide's home in the Tabarre section of the capital between 4 and 4:30 a.m. Sunday, accompanied by six embassy security officers -- not Marines -- to escort the president to the airport.
Aristide already had told Washington that he would resign and had his bags packed. ''He knew why I was there,'' said Moreno, adding that they spoke in Spanish.
Aristide told Moreno he would give him his letter of resignation when they arrived at the airport. Aristide got in his car with his wife and their own security forces, and Moreno followed in another car with the U.S. detail.
It was a convoy of seven cars -- four belonging to Aristide and three with Moreno. ''He had quite a few security guys,'' Moreno said.
About 20 minutes before the plane arrived, Moreno tapped on Aristide's window and asked for the letter of resignation, Moreno said. Aristide reached into his wife's purse and handed him the letter.
Moreno said he told Aristide that it was too bad he had to abandon his presidency. He said Aristide responded in English: Sometimes, life goes like that.
CAR "Foreign Minister" Charles Wenezoui declares Aristide is not a prisoner, that he can't leave for his own protection:
Aristide is not a prisoner," said Foreign Minister Charles Wenezoui, who greeted the ousted leader at Bangui's airport. "He is a free man, and the heavy security measures around the presidential palace are for his own security."
March 1, 2004 - Bush convenes his Security Council and decides to send up to 2000 Marines to Haiti. New York Times begins questioning Bush administration:
One difficulty faced by the administration was explaining how it moved so quickly from its declarations a week ago that Mr. Aristide was the legitimately elected leader, to a determination that he had to go.
A week after the current uprising began, Mr. Powell said the administration did not favor changing Haiti's government. In the following days, as he and others sought unsuccessfully to cobble together a peace deal, administration remarks became increasingly more pointed, with a strong suggestion on Thursday that Mr. Aristide should leave, in the best interests of the Haitians.
By Friday, France and other nations had called for him to go, and a White House statement on Saturday night -- after a meeting of Mr. Bush's top foreign policy advisers -- questioned his fitness to govern.
Guy Philippe takes over Port-au-Prince and is surrounded at all times by armed supporters.
US Marines, French foreign legion and Canadian special forces begin to arrive but do not interfere or hinder Philipe and company.
March 1, 2004 - US pushes for a Council of Elders to run Haiti led by Boniface Alexander.
March 2, 2004 - Guy Philippe declares himself to be the new chief. Threatens PM Neptune and US Marines have to protect his house.
Flanked by other rebel leaders and senior officers of Haiti's police force, Philippe told a news conference earlier: "I am the chief," then clarified "the military chief."
Asst. Secretary Noriega testifies to the US Senate that Phillipe " is not in control of anything but a ragtag band of people".
The buildup of the international presence will make Philippe's role "less and less central in Haitian life. And I think he will probably want to make himself scarce," Noriega said.
"We have sent that message to him. He obviously hasn't received it," Noriega said.
March 3, 2004 - US and French now best buddies over the Haiti situation.
Bush telephoned Chirac on Tuesday to praise "the excellent French-American cooperation in Haiti" and to "thank France for its action," said Chirac's spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna. It was the leaders' first phone conversation since Dec. 10.
Chirac echoed Bush, saying he was "delighted by the quality of the cooperation" and expressing hope for a return to peace in Haiti.
March 3, 2004 - Guy Philippe is unequivocally in charge and his men patrol the capital. This despite Boniface is technically the leader.
March 3, 2004 - Former dictator Baby Doc Duvalier says he wants to come home.
March 4, 2004 - French troops arrive in larger numbers
March 4, 2004 - Troops from Chile arrive, none of them named "Allende".
March 4, 2004 - Capital on verge of outright anarchy. Nice analysis of current situation here.
As someone said on the Diaries page, America's cocaine habit directly influences the governments of many countries, including Haiti's.
Let's look at the drug trade in Haiti in recent years:
While the real economy had been driven into bankruptcy under the brunt of the IMF reforms, the narcotics transshipment trade continues to flourish. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Haiti remains "the major drug trans-shipment country for the entire Caribbean region, funneling huge shipments of cocaine from Colombia to the United States." (See US House of Representatives, Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Subcommittee, FDHC Transcripts, 12 April 2000).
It is estimated that Haiti is now responsible for 14 percent of all the cocaine entering the United States, representing billions of dollars of revenue for organized crime and US financial institutions, which launder vast amounts of dirty money. The global trade in narcotics is estimated to be of the order of 500 billion dollars.
Much of this transshipment trade goes directly to Miami, which also constitutes a haven for the recycling of dirty money into bona fide investments, e.g. in real estate and other related activities.
The evidence confirms that the CIA was protecting this trade during the Duvalier era as well as during the military dictatorship (1991-1994). In 1987, Senator John Kerry as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee was entrusted with a major investigation, which focused on the links between the CIA and the drug trade, including the laundering of drug money to finance armed insurgencies. "The Kerry Report" published in 1989, while centering its attention on the financing of the Nicaraguan Contras, also included a section on Haiti:
"Kerry had developed detailed information on drug trafficking by Haiti's military rulers that led to the indictment in Miami in 1988, of Lt. Col. Jean Paul. The indictment was a major embarrassment to the Haitian military, especially since Paul defiantly refused to surrender to U.S. authorities.. In November 1989, Col. Paul was found dead after he consumed a traditional Haitian good will gift--a bowel of pumpkin soup...
The U.S. senate also heard testimony in 1988 that then interior minister, Gen. Williams Regala, and his DEA liaison officer, protected and supervised cocaine shipments. The testimony also charged the then Haitian military commander Gen. Henry Namphy with accepting bribes from Colombian traffickers in return for landing rights in the mid 1980's.
It was in 1989 that yet another military coup brought Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril to power...According to a witness before Senator John Kerry's subcommittee, Avril is in fact a major player in Haiti's role as a transit point in the cocaine trade." ( Paul DeRienzo, Haiti's Nightmare: The Cocaine Coup & The CIA Connection, Spring 1994.
Jack Blum, who was Kerry's Special Counsel, points to the complicity of US officials in a 1996 statement to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Drug Trafficking and the Contra War:
"...In Haiti ... intelligence "sources" of ours in the Haitian military had turned their facilities over to the drug cartels. Instead of putting pressure on the rotten leadership of the military, we defended them. We held our noses and looked the other way as they and their criminal friends in the United States distributed cocaine in Miami, Philadelphia and New, York.
That last part is linked here for your benefit.
Now here's the kicker so pay attention:
Haiti not only remains at the hub of the transshipment cocaine trade, the latter has grown markedly since the 1980s. The current crisis bears a relationship to Haiti's role in the drug trade. Washington wants a compliant Haitian government which will protect the drug transshipment routes, out of Colombia through Haiti and into Florida.
The inflow of narco-dollars --which remains the major source of the country's foreign exchange earnings-- are used to service Haiti's spiraling external debt, thereby also serving the interests of the external creditors.
In this regard, the liberalization of the foreign-exchange market imposed by the IMF has provided (despite the authorities pro forma commitment to combating the drug trade) a convenient avenue for the laundering of narco-dollars in the domestic banking system. The inflow of narco-dollars alongside bona fide "remittances" from Haitians living abroad, are deposited in the commercial banking system and exchanged into local currency. The foreign exchange proceeds of these inflows can then be recycled towards the Treasury where they are used to meet debt servicing obligations.
Game, set match. Sorry people of Haiti!
Convergence of five issues, in my opinion:
Guy Philippe and his US weapon toting men broke out of the DR border area either on their own initiative or on someone else's. Possibly combination of Haitian elite and CIA.
US and France realized that crippling aid freeze was not going to oust Aristide.
Aristide would not resign in favor of Haitian wealthy elite candidate (Group 184/Democratic Platform).
Aristide was in danger of becoming a Lula da Silva or a Hugo Chavez - a working class President popular with the working class. Land reforms were also well underway, threatening the poverty driving the sweatshop economy of Haiti.
Aristide triggered the "R" word when he warned Florida of a wave of Refugees if peace couldn't be achieved. Keeping Aristide would've pissed off too many people so he had to go.
Who is this Noriega guy?
Robert Noriega, Asst. Secretary of State.
Here's a taste:
Just how did the Kansas native and scion of Mexican immigrants become poised to hold one of the U.S.'s top diplomatic posts? Judging from the record, Noriega's appointment was as much predicated on political imperatives as personal merit. A staff member from 1997 to 2001 of the very body in which he testified before on May 1, Noriega fell under the tutelage of then-committee chairman, Jesse Helms. A consummate hardliner, Helms once responded to the killings of doctors and nurses by the contras in Nicaragua by saying, "Well--they're just Communists--they deserve to die."
Capitalizing on his political patron's clout and other meticulously cultivated relationships with influential government figures, Noriega was catapulted to the U.S. ambassadorial post at the OAS. An opportunity arose for further advancement in late 2002 after the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, a foreign policy appointment tantamount to a cabinet post in U.S. domestic politics, opened up. The job became vacant after the Senate twice spurned the nomination of Cuban-American Otto Reich, darling of the conservative exile community in Miami, on account of his polarizing personality and tainted background. A consummate hardliner, Reich has been linked in the past to violent, anti-Castro terrorists (in addition to peaceful dissidents) and, in the 1980's, as head of the U.S. State Department Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America, he was alleged to have composed deliberately misleading pro-Contra commentaries on Nicaragua that graced the pages of some of the U.S.'s leading broadsheets. After the Senate refused to grant permanent status to Reich's recess appointment as one of Secretary of State Colin Powell's top deputies, Reich was transferred to the White House and given the specially-created post of "Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere." While Noriega's employment record and political profile scarcely differ from the ultra-conservative Reich, the former is less polarizing than the latter, which is conducive to bipartisan legislative endorsement.
Besides placating the Senate, the appointment of Noriega serves George W. Bush's domestic agenda in other ways as well. The U.S. President can brandish the appointment of a Helms disciple as a sop to hard-line Cuban-American groups in Miami who were dejected by Senate's dismissal of Reich. Since many political pundits have already placed the states of California and New York in the win column for any presidential candidate the Democratic Party fields in 2004, Florida's 27 electoral votes become almost essential to the Bush camp.
Official State Dept. biography here.
Here's what he had to say on October 21, 2003:
Promoting democracy in Venezuela, Haiti, and Cuba is a task that we share with our neighbors. The regional consensus in favor of representative democracy has produced a strong framework for defending our democratic values. The Inter-American Democratic Charter defines the essential elements of democracy and commits all nations to promote and defend it. We have an opportunity to do so in Venezuela, Haiti, and Cuba.
What is the Group of 184?
Well the first thing to understand is it is led by Andre Apaid:
Andre Apaid is the owner of 15 factories in Haiti. He has been accused of tax evasion, operating sweatshops and being a President Aristide hater. The so-called peaceful protests led by Andre Apaid and his Group of 184 are responsible for defying the rule of law as it relates to parade routes, notification of protest actions and other laws that are normally respected in any democratic society. The protests he organizes have become increasingly violent. Police officers are confronted, property is damaged and roads are blocked.
It is my belief that Andre Apaid is attempting to instigate a bloodbath in Haiti and then blame the government for the resulting disaster in the belief that the United States will aid the so-called protestors against President Aristide and his government. Andre Apaid refuses to negotiate despite the fact that the State Department, the Organization of American States and many other organizations are now supporting a proposal put forth by CARICOM.
The 184, as far as I can tell, refers to the number of wealthy business owners who are in this group. Here's a chilling report from February 16, 2004:
During the past week, at least 50 people have been slaughtered, and probably far more, in Gonaives, Haiti's fourth-largest city - most by those whom Powell and pro-U.S. media call "rebels." The dead include three patients waiting for treatment in a hospital. Many of the 14 police killed had their bodies dragged naked through the street, ears cut off and other body parts mutilated. Gonaives and several small towns remain in the hands of a brutal gang of thugs, with direct ties to the U.S.-recognized and Republican-financed "opposition" - the Convergence and the Group of 184, whose spokesmen are sweat shop owners and former military officers. This "opposition" seeks to distance itself from the violence, yet continue to insist that the "uprising" is justified.
What is the "Democracy Project"
Official website here (yes, also in English).
Essentially, a political front for the intellectual and financial elite of Haiti. Unhappy until Aristide's ouster but could not find enough people to defeat him in elections.
Is based in Washington, DC and is essentially the anti-Aristide lobby in Washington, DC.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide was a democratically elected president of a very troubled country. He was already ousted in one coup and his opponents have funding and agitating for another since late 2003. Aristide refused to play ball with Washington, DC on accommodating strict and crippling IMF measures. He refused to play ball with France as well, especially with talk about demanding reparations. Wealthy and organized anti-Aristide lobby in Washington wanted Aristide gone.
With a combination of money, influence, slanted newspaper releases, denial of his own protection service and clandestine operations in the countryside, Aristide's opponents surrounded him on all sides until he faced insurmountable pressure to get on a plane and leave.
Was Aristide's government perfect? No. Not even close. Did awful, terrible things happen under his administration? Yes. Were they less bad than previous Haitian governments? Yes. Are the new groups running the show there worse than Aristide? Undoubtedly.
The only people who benefited from Aristide's government were the impoverished people of Haiti and those who love peace worldwide.
The people who benefit from him gone are: the drug runners, the violent thugs, the US and French governments, the wealthy Haitian elite and the IMF.
I apologize in advance for any mistakes. No Tip Jar because this is a repeat posting with only slight modifications.
Longer and more complete edition of this here at my blog.