Monday, February 28, 2005

The fall of Aristide redux


Democracy Now (thanks to Eli at LeftI for the heads-up) has been covering the anniversary of the ouster of Aristide. Here’s a transcript of their interview with Aristide a couple of weeks later, in which he described his removal from Haiti by American troops as a kidnapping. Some of the details of that day are still murky to me -- was he told by Americans that he would not be rescued from murder at the hands of the death squads unless he resigned the presidency? how did he wind up in the Central African Republic? When I wrote last night that the US had collaborated “tacitly or otherwise” with those death squads, I meant that I don’t know if there was direct contact and coordination. It really doesn’t matter, because even without direct contact, a green light was given by American officials, quite openly. From my own archives:

2/12/04. While former death squad types were reentering the country and violence growing, a State Department official briefed the press that Aristide should step down before the end of his term.

2/17/04. Colin Powell talked of a “political solution,” presumably meaning negotiations between the elected government and the scum trying to overthrow it, and says “there is frankly no enthusiasm right now for sending in military or police forces to put down the violence,” a green light if ever I heard one. I wrote, “Boy, when even the Bushies have ‘no enthusiasm’ for invading a country, you know all the joy has gone out of this administration. Evidently it didn’t pass the ‘Little Rummy’ Test, by which all foreign policy decisions are now made: if Secretary of War Rumsfeld gets an erection just thinkin’ about it, we invade.”

2/28/04. Colin Powell refers to the death squads as “the resistance.”

3/1/04. With Aristide on a plane, Bush says, “The constitution of Haiti is working. There is an interim president, as per the constitution, in place.” I wrote, “Well, maybe the Haitian constitution does actually establish a process involving death squads, coups and US Marines in order to select a new president, something like the electoral college. I mean have you ever read the Haitian constitution?”

3/2/04. I wrote -- I won’t repeat the whole thing here -- that while the Bushies were trying to refute the kidnapping charge by reducing it to a single moment, and if Marines didn’t actually have guns pointed at Aristide’s head when he boarded the plane, it wasn’t kidnapping, the US had shaped the circumstances that led up to that moment.

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