From Sun Mar 7 17:00:05 2004
Date: Sun, 7 Mar 2004 15:22:22 -0600 (CST)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Haiti mailing list <>
Subject: 19995: radtimes: Granma on the Coup & Cuban Doctors in Haiti (fwd)

From: radtimes <>

Another military intervention in Haiti

By Lidice Valenzuela, Granma International Online, 3 March 2004

President Aristide affirms he was removed from power by the US

Haiti is once again facing foreign military intervention, after Jean Bertrand Aristide, the constitutional president, a former Catholic priest who assumed government in 2001 with wide popular backing, was forced by the United States and France to abandon the country.

Aristide stated that he was kidnapped and the victim of a coup undertaken with the complicity of Washington, whose authorities took him to the Central African Republic, where he is in the custody of French soldiers.

In a telephone interview with CNN, Aristide said that a group of U.S. soldiers came to his residence and forced him to sign a document resigning from his position.

Meanwhile the CARICOM member countries were called to an urgent meeting by that regional organization's president, Jamaican Prime Minister Percival Patterson, to discuss the crisis in Haiti. Patterson expressed his reservations over the circumstances that resulted in Aristide's departure from the Port-au-Prince National Palace.

This is the second time that Aristide, aged 50, has been forced to abandon his small nation é considered the poorest in Latin America and the Caribbean é and precisely in the year of the bicentenary of the Haitian Revolution and the constitution of the Republic.

Initially under French colonial rule and subsequently looted by continuous military dictatorships, Haiti shares its island territory with the Dominican Republic, where Aristide traveled prior to arriving in the Central African Republic.

Analysts believe that the origin of the current crisis goes back to the violent murder last December of opposition leader Amoiot Metayer, one of those in charge of the paramilitary groups that have now brought chaos and death to various cities.

The government of the former Salesian priest was accused of Metayer's murder by the opposition, after which the violence began to escalate that had its climax on February 5 with 80 deaths, hundreds of injuries and incalculable material losses.

Diplomatic sources state that generations of Haitians have lived in fear of the military and their murderous gangs, and are consigned to inferior roles by a minority sector of individuals who make up just one per cent of the population but control and dominate the national wealth.

At this juncture, despite his conciliation attempts towards the opposition, Aristide was forced to abandon his post, in a repetition of his own political history. Elected in 1990 in the first free elections after more than 20 years of the Duvalier dictatorship (father and son), he was toppled one year later by a bloody military coup led by General Raoul Cedrés, but returned to the country to popular acclaim in 1994 despite international pressure, and thanks to a secret agreement negotiated with Cedrés by former U.S. President James Carter.

The return of the former priest was backed up by 20,000 soldiers sent in by Carter with UN consent.

René Preval replaced Aristide in the 1995 elections as the Haitian constitution prohibits a second consecutive mandate. Five years later, Aristide once again stood for election and won the current mandate, due to conclude in 2006.

On the two occasions that he found himself Haitian head of state, the former priest é who was ordained in 1982 and expelled from his order in 1988 for his defense of Liberation Theology é was the great hope of the Haitian people. He had a key role in the popular uprising that brought decades of dictatorship to an end during the 1980s.

But his second government was tainted by allegations of irregularities during the election process, pressure from ex-military personnel who wanted to occupy positions of power at all costs and even, according to many analysts, not meeting the commitments given to Washington when it helped him return to the presidency.

In September 2002, the Organization of American States (OAS) passed a resolution in support of lifting the economic sanctions imposed on Haiti in exchange for creating an Electoral Council within two months in order to organize elections in 2003, but the time period expired without anything happening. At the end of the year, the opposition called the first general strike demanding Aristide's resignation from government. Right-wing media channels launched a series of campaigns directed at creating chaos and confusion and, according to official spokespersons, making libelous claims in an attempt to discredit the president and his followers.

It was his former protector the United States that eventually pressured Aristide into resigning at the end of last week, subsequently acknowledging that it had facilitated his departure under top security in order to save his life.