The problem with this story is that eyewitnesses
report Aristide was taken
out in handcuffs* by US Marines. He
has been held incommunicado and his whereabouts 15 hours after his
abduction is unknown. Ira Kurzban, a U.S. lawyer serving as the
General Counsel for the Government of Haiti, members of Aristide's
family, and several members of the U.S. Congress have made repeated
requests to the U.S. State Department to be put in touch with Aristide,
but have been rebuffed.
We are not talking about a bloody dictator. That
would be François "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son
Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier who maintained a reign
of terror in Haiti from 1957 to 1986, killing an estimated 30,000
people. The Duvaliers established a security force called the
who, in lieu of salary, lived by officially sanctioned extortion,
killing with impunity. The Duvaliers were occasionally criticized
by the US government, but overall had US support until Jean-Claude
was overthrown by a popular uprising in 1986, rescued by the US,
and retired into exile in France.
by contrast, was a former parish priest who worked in the poorest
neighborhoods. When in office his Lavalas movement worked to reduce
violence and poverty. He was overthrown in a CIA backed coup after
only seven months. The junta (FRAPH) that ruled in his place from
1991 to 1994 brought back the terror, resulting in more than 5000
1994 Aristide returned to Haiti but was opposed by some factions
of the US Congress, most notably Jesse Helms. Even Clinton turned
on Aristide in his last year, imposing an embargo that crippled
the Haitian economy; most likely because he refused to go along
with requirements imposed by the World Bank and IMF.
current administration has undertaken a policy of destabilization
of Haiti and vilification of Aristide from the first (
parallel strategy in Venezuela
but that is a story for
a different occasion). The
"opposition" involves recycled members of FRAPH, including
the leader Louis-Jodel Chamblain, and Guy Philippe, who was trained
by US Special Forces in Ecuador during the rule of the junta in
the early '90s.
This is a major news item. It goes to the heart
of who we are and how we operate in a world unopposed by a balancing
superpower. World empire unconstrained by law or international opinion
is the explicit
agenda of the neo-cons behind the current administration. Is
that who we want to be?
I wanted to follow what was happening today, so
I surfed through CNN and the networks on TV looking for breaking
news and found instead blanket coverage of the Oscars. There was
a one-liner on Haiti that passed along the bottom of CNN occasionally,
but that was it. I didn't watch all the news all day, so I can't
say nothing came on later. Instead I turned to Pacifica Radio (KFCF
88.1 FM), while driving to Porterville (I can't get it in Springville),
and then downloaded Pacifica's two hour special on Haiti on the
internet (kfcf.org and kpfa.org).
All of this could be clearer, or different, in the
probably a lot bloodier. It looks at this point like
we are implicated in kidnapping a democratically elected president
of a country that couldn't possibly threaten us in any way. Tune
in and stay tuned.
Visit us at ProgressiveWritersBloc.com.
[March 1--morning after update: Aristide, who
was taken to the Central
African Republic, has made contact with several people, including
congresswoman Maxine Waters, who is a member of the Congressional
Black Caucus and very involved with the Haiti situation. Aristide
denied resigning, described his abduction as a kidnapping, and the
situation as a coup. His wife, who is a U.S. citizen, and three
others were also abducted. At this time they continue to be held
in U.S. military custody.]
*The story that Aristide was taken out in handcuffs came from
independent reporter Kevin Pena quoting two eyewittness sources,
one of them an ABC cameraman who refused to identify himself out
of fear. This story has not be verified by Aristide thus far. However
Aristide continues to assert that he was taken by force by US troops
and considers this event to be a coup by the United States. One
of the first people to talk with Aristide after this incident is
US Congressmember Maxine Waters.
first address to the Haitian people from exile with details about
Here is the text of the disputed "resignation
letter" which was written in Creole and mis-translated
by the State Department. Note that in the non-state department translation
Aristide is aquiescing to leave but does not say he is resigning.
Even if he had said he was resigning it would
not be legally binding since it was a forced statement.
The US claims South Africa turned down an assylum request for
Aristide, but South
Africa denies it was ever asked, and says it would offer assylum
if asked. Meanwhile the Central
African Republic continues to keep Aristide in virtual imprisonment,
and has objected to his issuing statements that would anger the