[Marxism] Moment of candor in the NY Times
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 28 09:58:46 MST 2004
NY Times, February 29, 2004
Veterans of Past Murderous Campaigns Are Leading Haiti's New Rebellion
By TIM WEINER and LYDIA POLGREEN
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb. 28 The armed men trying to seize power in
Haiti are led by death-squad veterans and convicted murderers, according to
American officials and human-rights groups.
They are "the new Haitian army," said one of their commanders, Remissainthe
Ravix. They are also "thugs," said Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
They are men like Louis-Jodel Chamblain and Jean-Pierre Baptiste two
leaders of Fraph, the Haitian Front for Advancement and Progress. Fraph was
an instrument of terror wielded by the military junta that overthrew
Haiti's embattled president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 1991. It killed
thousands over the next three years.
Mr. Chamblain, a former Haitian Army officer, was sentenced in absentia to
life in prison for the 1993 murder of Antoine Izméry, an important Aristide
supporter. Before the trial, he fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic,
returning to Haiti in recent months to seek power.
Mr. Baptiste, also known as Jean Tatoune, was serving a life sentence for
murder, in connection with a 1994 massacre of Aristide supporters, when he
was freed in a jailbreak in August.
"Fraph is back," President Aristide said in an interview with The New York
Times last week. The question now is whether these men will take power once
again, and whether American military force, in the form of a naval
deployment, may be necessary to stop them. Pentagon officials have said
Marines could be called upon to evacuate Americans and other foreigners and
provide other assistance if the crisis here worsened.
"The Fraph and the Haitian Army are institutions with a long and very dark
history," said James Dobbins, President Bill Clinton's special envoy to
Haiti from 1994 to 1996.
That past is entwined with American history. United States forces occupied
Haiti from 1915 to 1934. They created the modern Haitian Army, dissolved
Parliament and imposed martial law in those years. In the 1980's and early
1990's, the United States Central Intelligence Agency had important senior
Haitian Army officers and Fraph members on its payroll, according to
A decade ago, in 1994, the United States sent in 20,000 soldiers to
reinstate Mr. Aristide after the Haitian Army overthrew him. Mr. Aristide
disbanded the army upon his return to power. But he created nothing in its
place beyond a small, American-trained national police force a force now
filled with no-show officers, commanded by the president's cronies and
corrupted by cocaine, according to a recent State Department report.
Now Mr. Aristide has little with which to defend himself. His power base
has crumbled, leaving only the dissolute national police and a rabble of
street gangs. On Thursday, he was accused in an American courtroom by a
convicted cocaine trafficker of taking drug payoffs.
"Aristide has been criticized, and with some justice, of allying himself
with forces that may be criminal or corrupt," Mr. Dobbins said. "But in a
society which has no institutions, where all power derives from the use or
the threat of force, it's impossible to govern without those alliances.
It's the Haitian dilemma."
Broad-based alliances across Haitian society have lost faith in President
Aristide. The political opposition includes victims of army power, like
Evans Paul, a former mayor of Port-au-Prince, and once Mr. Aristide's
campaign manager, who was arrested and tortured by Haitian military
officers in 1989.
Mr. Paul now says the president has two choices: to leave "by the front
door or the back door."
The political opposition in Haiti is united by its desire to depose Mr.
Aristide, and the armed opposition by its hate for him.
Veterans despise him because he dissolved the army. Street gangs detest him
because they think he betrayed their leaders. Guy Philippe, a former police
chief leading the rebels, says Mr. Aristide broke his promise to lift up
the Haitian people.
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