Saturday, March 06, 2004

The set-up and kidnapping of Aristide

Kidnapped Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected with over 90% of the vote. Although there were problems with the election, as might be expected in a country that until recently has been ruled by murderous thugs (the same thugs who have now been restored to power by the grisly American/Canadian/French triumvirate, and who have been financed and supported by two American fronts, the 'National Endowment for Democracy' and 'International Republican Institute'), Aristide's election is regarded as representing the will of the people. The poor majority in Haiti still perceive Aristide as representing them. Out of 7,500 local elections, the results of seven were regarded as questionable. Those seven resigned, and Aristide has been trying to schedule new elections. The opposition failed to cooperate. In this amazing charade, the Americans used the democracy issue to both attack Aristide as a dictator and to deny him promised access to international aid and financing (Bush froze all multilateral development assistance to Haiti from the day he came into office), which then led to his being depicted as an ineffectual leader (American misuse of the IMF was also used to break up the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, a break-up which led directly to the recent wars in the Balkans). Canada chipped in by claiming that Aristide must negotiate with the murderous thugs, all the while knowing that Aristide had been trying to negotiate, but the thugs, knowing what was going to happen, refused to negotiate with him (by the way, what happened to the principled approach supporting international law of Canada and France exemplified by their views on the war on Iraq - or was it not so principled after all?). Aristide is effectively damned as a dictator (elected with 90% of the vote), who wouldn't cooperate with the opposition (murderous thugs who wouldn't cooperate with Aristide), who failed to schedule elections (elections really scuppered by the same murderous thugs), and who was an ineffective leader (because of the complete blockade of financing and aid imposed by American-controlled international agencies, all on the excuse of the alleged problem Aristide had with democracy and cooperation with the thugs). You have to weep at the way he was set up. The American planners of this coup cleverly established a distinction in the disgusting American press between the violent 'rebels', mysteriously supplied with weapons in the Dominican Republic, and the democratic 'opposition', but these were really two parts of the same group that has been trying to return to the 'good old days' of Papa Doc. On top of all this, Aristide has been kidnapped and is being held under house arrest in the Central African Republic (a country run by a stooge leader selected by France). From an interview (or here) with Aristide's lawyer Ira Kurzban by Mark Davis of the program "Dateline" from SBS Australia:

"In fact the president was kidnapped. The United States Government, I believe, organised a coup against the democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, used force, used threats and intimidation against him, then brought in a group of marines to escort him to a plane, put him on that plane and for the next 15 hours clearly kidnapped him to the extent that they would not allow him to make a telephone call, they would not allow him to get out of the plane when the plane stopped, they would not tell him where he was, they would not tell him where they were going and they insisted that he keep the shades down in the plane so he would not know where he was landing at any time."

And from President (and still President, as a 'resignation' signed under threats of imminent violence against himself and others can hardly be a binding document) Jean-Bertrand Aristide himself:

"I have always denounced the coming of this coup d’etat, but until the 27th of February, the day before, I didn't see that the crime was going to be accompanied by kidnapping as well. The 28th of February, at night, suddenly, American military personnel who were already all over Port-au-Prince descended on my house in Tabarre to tell me first that all the American security agents who have contracts with the Haitian government only have two options. Either they leave immediately to go to the United States, or they fight to die. Secondly, they told me the remaining 25 of the American security agents hired by the Haitian government who were to come in on the 29th of February as reinforcements were under interdiction, prevented from coming. Thirdly, they told me the foreigners and Haitian terrorists alike, loaded with heavy weapons, were already in position to open fire on Port-au-Prince. And right then, the Americans precisely stated that they will kill thousands of people and it will be a bloodbath. That the attack is ready to start, and when the first bullet is fired nothing will stop them and nothing will make them wait until they take over, therefore the mission is to take me dead or alive.

At that time I told the Americans that my first preoccupation was to save the lives of those thousands of people tonight. As far as my own life is concerned, whether I am alive or whether I am dead, that is not what’s important. As much as I was trying to use diplomacy, the more the pressure was being intensified for the Americans to start the attack. In spite of that, I took the risk of slowing down the death machine to verify the degree of danger, the degree of bluff or the degree of intimidation.

It was more serious than a bluff. The National Palace was surrounded by white men armed up to their teeth. The Tabarre area - the residence - was surrounded by foreigners armed to their teeth. The airport of Port-au-Prince was already under the control of these men. After a last evaluation I made during a meeting with the person in charge of Haitian security in Port-au-Prince, and the person in charge of American security, the truth was clear. There was going to be a bloodbath because we were already under an illegal foreign occupation which was ready to drop bodies on the ground, to spill blood, and then kidnap me dead or alive.

That meeting took place at 3 a.m. Faced with this tragedy, I decided to ask, 'What guarantee do I have that there will not be a bloodbath if I decided to leave?'

In reality, all this diplomatic gymnastics did not mean anything because these military men responsible for the kidnapping operation had already assumed the success of their mission. What was said was done. This diplomacy, plus the forced signing of the letter of resignation, was not able to cover the face of the kidnapping.

From my house to the airport, everywhere there were American military men armed with heavy weapons of death. The military plane that came to get me landed while the convoy of vehicles that had come to get me was near the tarmac at the airport. When we were airborne, nobody knew where we were going. When we landed at one place nobody knew where we were. Among us on the plane was a baby of one of my American security agents who has a Haitian wife. They could not get out. We spent four hours without knowing where we were. When we got back in the air again, nobody knew where we were going.

It was not until 20 minutes before we landed in the Central African Republic that I was given the official word that this is where we would be landing. We landed at a French Air Force base but fortunately there were 5 ministers from the government who came to welcome us on behalf of the President there."

This outrage against international law, social justice and democracy cannot stand.