[Marxism] Militant stand on Aristide as "elected head of government"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Mar 17 23:12:06 MST 2004

I think this registers progress.  I don't insist on "kidnapped."
"Shanghaied" is fine with me.  (Although does anyone know what
"shanghaied" means anymore? Just a copy editor's point.
Fred Feldman

The Militant 

Washington threatens Jamaica
and elected head of Haiti gov’t 
(front page)
With U.S. and other imperialist troops patrolling the streets of
Port-au-Prince and other Haitian cities, Washington has cobbled together
an “interim” regime to replace the elected government of President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The Haitian leader was shanghaied by U.S. armed
forces and flown out of the country to the Central African Republic on
February 29 as ultrarightist forces took over much of the country. 

When Aristide denounced his forced exile by Washington and announced his
plans to travel to Jamaica, a neighbor of Haiti, U.S. officials issued
warnings against both the Haitian leader and the Jamaican government,
implying that they should be blamed for any “instability” in Haiti
caused by imperialist occupation troops or the rightist groups. Aristide
was under armed guard throughout his exile in the Central African
Republic. Speaking out from that country, he condemned his treatment at
the hands of U.S. officials and soldiers, and called for “peaceful
resistance” to the U.S.-led occupation. 

In a March 13 phone interview with New York Times reporter Michael
Wines—the authorities did not allow an interview in person—the deposed
president spoke about the February 29 events. 

As rightist forces advanced on the capital, Aristide said, U.S.
ambassador James Foley and other officials had told him “it was a matter
of hours—either I leave, or there will be bloodshed.” The Haitian
president was then taken to the airport, where he was “surrounded by
military well armed
. It wasn’t necessary for them to say a word.” He
said he felt he had no choice but to get on the U.S.-chartered plane. 

“They put you on the plane, they left with you, and they flew 20 hours
without telling you where you were going,” he said. That day, the U.S.
Marines began arriving in Haiti. 

According to the Times, Foley asserted that Aristide’s trip to Jamaica
and his “return to the Caribbean would risk further destabilizing Haiti
by emboldening his followers to resist the transition to a new

Foley then added, “It must be said that Jamaican authorities are taking
a certain risk and a certain responsibility.” The Haitian leader’s
presence, he said, risked “destabiliz[ing] a very fragile and suffering
country at the very moment when the international community is just
beginning to lay the foundation and the new Haitian government is just
beginning to be formed.”  
U.S.-led patrols target working people 
Aristide’s supporters in Port-au-Prince have been the main target of the
occupying forces’ patrols. According to a March 13 Reuters report, the
Marines “have fought half-a-dozen gun battles with suspected Aristide
militants since they landed here hours after the former president left
the country on Feb. 29.” In the first two weeks of March they shot dead
several people in Port-au-Prince, including a taxi driver who failed to
stop at a roadblock. The Haitian police have killed a number of people
as well. 

Reuters reported that on March 7 up to 10,000 people, mostly residents
of the slums and other Aristide backers, demonstrated in Port-au-Prince
to denounce the occupation and demand the restoration of the elected

Although the occupying forces are “multinational,” it is the U.S.
Marines that are heading most of the probes into the working-class areas
of Port-au-Prince. 

Army Gen. James Hill, head of the U.S. Southern Command, told reporters
March 10 that more than 2,400 troops are on the ground as part of the
so-called Multinational Interim Force commanded by U.S. officers. They
include 1,600 U.S. Marines, along with 516 French, 328 Chilean, and 52
Canadian soldiers, with 400 more arriving within the week.” 

The foreign troops, said Hill, are conducting “presence patrols” with
the Haitian national police to begin disarming anyone without a weapons

Hill said the troops are “establishing the required conditions for the
arrival of a more robust UN-led multinational force.” 

U.S. officials have kept the military leaders who toppled the elected
government at arm’s length. In a March 6 visit to Port-au-Prince,
General Hill said that Guy Phillipe, the most prominent coup plotter,
“is still in the city and we are still looking for him to lay down his

In the capital city the rightist forces that carried out the coup have
stepped aside for the U.S.-led forces. The rightists remain in control
of a number of other cities. 

Army Maj. Richard Crusan told reporters that “Special Forces from the
U.S. Southern Command in Florida arrived at rebel bases of Cap-Haitien,
on Haiti’s north coast; the western city of Gonaives; and possibly other
locations across the country.” 

Washington organized a seven-person “council of wise men” as a fig leaf
to give the appearance that Haitian forces were organizing a new
government. The council, made up in its majority of opponents of
Aristide, announced in early March that it had “chosen” Gérard Latortue
as prime minister to replace Yvon Neptune of Aristide’s Lavalas Family
Party, who stayed on to help with the transition. 

“I come with all my impartiality, with no political party,” Latortue
told reporters on his arrival in Port-au-Prince. Echoing U.S. officials,
he said disarmament of the conflicting forces would be a priority.  
Flew in from Florida 
Latortue, a businessman, left Haiti in the 1960s during the U.S.-backed
dictatorship of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. He returned to serve as
foreign minister in the civilian government of Leslie Manigat,
established in 1988 in the aftermath of a popular uprising that ousted
Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. After just four months in office
Manigat was overthrown by a right-wing military coup. 

The new prime minister said he would appoint Herard Abraham, a former
general, as head of Haiti’s security operations. “The move is “likely to
placate armed rebels, many of whom were members of the Haitian army
before it was disbanded by Mr. Aristide,” the New York Times reported. 

Abraham has called for the reconstitution of the Haitian armed forces,
disbanded by Aristide in 1995 as a favor to Washington. U.S. officials
have stated that they oppose reestablishing the army, and that
Washington will instead build up the national police and coast guard,
which collaborates with U.S. Coast Guard efforts to detain Haitian
refugees at sea who are trying to reach U.S. territory. 

According to media reports, the former Haitian army officers who played
a prominent part in the revolt released a number of their henchmen in
the hours following Aristide’s departure. Among those released, reported
the Chicago Tribune, were former military officers Hebert Valmond,
Jean-Claude Duperval, and Carl Dorelien. All had been jailed for their
part in the reign of terror under the generals’ regime imposed after a
1991 coup against the first Aristide government. In 1994 some 20,000
U.S. troops intervened and reinstalled Aristide on Washington’s terms. 

Guy Philippe and Louis-Jodel Chamblain, the most prominent military
leaders of the recent coup, had been convicted of crimes by Haitian
courts under Aristide’s administration. Philippe was exiled after the
exposure of his role in several attempted coups against President René
Preval, an Aristide supporter who governed from 1996 to 2000. Chamblain
was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for the 1993 murder of a
Haitian businessman. A Haitian court also found him responsible for the
1994 killings of about 25 Aristide supporters in a seaside slum in
Gonaives, Haiti’s fourth-largest city. John Kerry, the all-but-official
Democratic Party candidate in the 2004 presidential race, has tried to
score points against his Republican opponent on the Haiti situation,
saying that unlike President Bush he would have “sent an international
force to protect” Aristide, according to the March 7 New York Times.“I
would have been prepared to send troops immediately, period,” said
Kerry, criticizing U.S. president George Bush for withholding aid from
Aristide and then pressuring him to leave. 

“Look, Aristide was no picnic, and he did a lot of things wrong,” said
Kerry, echoing the White House. However, he said, not backing the regime
with U.S. troops sends “a terrible message to the region, democracies,
and it’s shortsighted.” 

General Hill stated March 10 that the role of the U.S. troops is to
secure key sites in Port-au-Prince, assist with the delivery of
“humanitarian assistance,” and participate in “the repatriation of any
Haitian migrants interdicted at sea.” 

A February 29 Associated Press dispatch from Miami stated that 336
Haitians had been taken into custody the day before, “bringing to 867
the number of Haitians returned in the past week to the strife-torn
Caribbean nation.” The report added, “the Coast Guard is patrolling the
waters around Haiti with ships and aircraft.”  

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