Feb 23, 2004 Haiti: Urgent Actions!!!
Haiti Needs Your Help!!!
We've seen this one before..
Chile 1973 - US-backed coup overthrows popularly elected government: Pres. Allende killed.
Haiti 1991 - US-backed coup overthrows popularly elected government: Pres. Aristide exiled.
Haiti 2001 - Attempted coup d'etat: A million people loyal to Pres. Aristide rise up to stop it!
Venezuela 2003 - US-backed coup d'etat fails: Millions loyal to Pres. Chavez rise up to stop it!
Now a new coup d'etat is brewing in Haiti
Who are the 'rebels'? -- These death squads -- led by veterans of the Ton Ton Macoutes terror gangs (from the time of the Duvalier family dictatorship) and the CIA-supported FRAPH (from the 1991-94 coup years) -- are terrorizing the country, seizing towns and police stations, killing people from the popular organizations, vowing to overthrow Aristide by force of arms.
Who's behind it? -- Sweatshop owners and other
members of Haiti's business and landowning elite, who fear the "people
power" program of President Aristide -- and behind them, the United
States government, unhappy with Aristide's refusal to toe Washington's
* Last year the US shipped tons of weapons to the neighboring
Dominican Republic, many of which are now turning up in Haiti in the
hands of the death squads.
* For a decade the US has run a destabilization and disinformation
campaign in Haiti to undermine and demonize the Aristide government
-- funneling money to opposition groups, financing captive media outlets,
"salting" the Haitian police with CIA-trained operatives.
*Since Aristide's second overwhelming election victory
in 2000 -- angered by his policies like doubling of the minimum wage
and refusing to privatize state enterprises -- the US has enforced an
embargo on financial aid to Haiti. Once again the US has thrown a roadblock
to the fulfillment of Aristide's program of:
This is an outrage! -- On Feb. 13th, 1,000 Haitians and
supporters demonstrated in New York to say "NO to the 'death' coup
d'etat" and demand "respect for the 5-year mandate of President
Aristide respect for the vote of the people respect for the will of
the people." This is no time for us to sit quiet.
- From: "Carolyn S. Scarr" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
We urgently need your support and telephone calls on the growing
The self proclaimed uprising has been extremely violent and people
When we remember that FRAPH and many other military human rights
Why are we suggesting that he leave office or accept U.S.- dictated
The opposition demonstrators have seized the town of Gonaives, killing
Two of the opposition leaders reported to have engaged in killings
Jean Pierre, alias Tatoune, was a local FRAPH leader and was serving
Since so many of the more brutal members of the "opposition"
in fact have
Haiti really does not need the FRAPH or other death squads, let alone
Miraculously Aristide survived, became President, survived a violent
The people of Haiti have spoken clearly enough about their choice
PLEASE CALL OR WRITE THE STATE DEPARTMENT, HAITI DESK: TEL. 202-736-4628.
1.. The United States should fully support any legally and popularly
If you wish to make additional calls, please give your support and
Thank you everyone. Your calls do make a difference, and always have.
2) Congresswoman Maxine Waters Condemns Violence in Haiti; Calls for State Department to Support the Democratically-elected government of Haiti and denounce Andre Apaid
For Immediate Release
CONGRESSWOMAN WATERS CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN HAITI;CALLS FOR STATE DEPARTMENT TO SUPPORT THE DEMOCRATICALLY-ELECTED GOVERNMENT OF HAITI AND DENOUNCE ANDRE APAID
Washington, D.C. -- Today, at a press conference on Capitol Hill, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) called for the State Department to support the democratically-elected government of Haiti and denounce Andre Apaid. She made the following statement:
Yesterday, I returned from a trip to Haiti, where I observed the escalation of political violence that occurred over the weekend. This was my second trip to Haiti so far this year. I am deeply concerned about the growing violence organized by the so-called opposition and what now appears to be gangs in the northern part of the country being supported in their violent activities by this so-called opposition.
Unfortunately, the opposition, led by Andre Apaid, under the banner of the Group of 184, is not simply a peaceful group trying to correct the problems of the government. Andre Apaid is a Duvalier-supporter, who allegedly holds an American passport and obtained permanent resident status in Haiti through deceptive means. Andre Apaid is ferociously adamant about forcing Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically-elected President in the history of Haiti, out of office.
Andre Apaid is the owner of fifteen factories in Haiti. He has been accused of tax evasion, operating sweatshops and being a President Aristide-hater. The so-called peaceful protests led by Andre Apaid and his Group of 184 are responsible for defying the rule of law as it relates to parade routes, notification of protest actions, and other laws that are normally respected in any democratic society. The protests he organizes have become increasingly violent. Police officers are confronted, property is damaged, and roads are blocked. It is my belief that Andre Apaid is attempting to instigate a bloodbath in Haiti and then blame the government for the resulting disaster in the belief that the United States will aid the so-called protestors against President Aristide and his government.
Andre Apaid refuses to negotiate despite the fact that the State Department, the Organization of American States and many other organizations are now supporting a proposal put forth by CARICOM. Andre Apaid continues to use inflammatory language, denounce President Aristide, refuse to negotiate and demand that President Aristide leave his democratically-elected presidency. His so-called opposition group has accused President Aristide of everything from corruption and drug trafficking to support for paramilitary activity. When asked for documentation, they have not been able to produce anything more than rumors, innuendos and allegations.
President Aristide disbanded the military when he returned to office and has a police force of only 5,000 for a country of 8 million people. The United States aborted its efforts to support and train the new police force and currently has a ban on selling guns and equipment to Haiti. This policy effectively denies Haitian law enforcement officers the essential equipment that they so desperately need to maintain order and enforce the rule of law.
President Aristide has given the United States special authority to assist with drug interdiction efforts by allowing the United States to interdict drugs in Haitian waters. The government of Haiti does not have the resources needed to wage a tough and consistent war against drugs, and the President of Haiti is begging the United States for assistance to eliminate drug trafficking.
President Aristide is pursuing a progressive economic agenda in Haiti. Under his leadership, the Haitian government has made major investments in agriculture, public transportation and infrastructure. On February 7, 2003, the government doubled the minimum wage from 36 to 70 gourdes per day, despite strong opposition from the business community. There have also been a number of reforms to prohibit trafficking in persons and protect the estimated 400,000 children from rural villages who work as domestic servants in households in the cities.
President Aristide has also made health care and education national priorities. More schools were built in Haiti between 1994 and 2000 than between 1804 and 1994. The government expanded school lunch and school bus programs and provides a 70% subsidy for schoolbooks and uniforms. The maternity wards of eight public hospitals have been renovated, and hundreds of Haitians are being trained as physicians. Twenty new HIV testing centers will open around the country during the next two years. All of this is being accomplished despite a continuing embargo by the IMF and the World Bank.
The so-called opposition is supported by many of the same people who were content with the brutal dictators of Haiti's past. These are the same people who enriched themselves on the backs of the poor in Haiti for so many years with the support of the United States government. These people do not want a strong president like Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who will force them to pay their taxes and provide decent wages to their workers.
Last Thursday, armed gangs took control of the Gonaives police station during a five-hour gunfight and set the mayor's house on fire. Since then, these gangs have set fire to the police stations of Gonaives, St. Marc and Trou du Nord. In St. Marc, they sealed off the city by dragging tires, debris and logs across the main roads and setting them on fire. The armed gangs have seized nearly a dozen towns in the past week, and at least 40 people have been killed.
Unfortunately, these gangs appear to be obtaining support from the so-called opposition in the hope that their attacks will help to fuel other attacks in other parts of the country and eventually a coup d'etat in Port-au Prince. This is clearly an attempt at a power-grab. Unfortunately, the same forces that fashion themselves as the opposition also have control over the broadcast media in Haiti. They have used the power of the press to discredit President Aristide and disseminate false information to the international press about the situation in Haiti.
The nations of CARICOM are trying to assist the people of Haiti to end the violence and resolve this crisis peacefully. The CARICOM proposal includes an outright rejection of a coup d'etat in any form and requires that any change in Haiti must be done in accordance with the Constitution of Haiti. CARICOM calls upon the opposition in Haiti to ensure representation on the Provisional Electoral Council so that the Council can begin to prepare for the holding of elections. CARICOM also calls upon the international community to provide economic support to Haiti. Economic assistance, including assistance from the United States, is essential to alleviate the suffering of the people of Haiti and build a foundation for political stability and economic growth.
The State Department must denounce Andre Apaid and the Group of 184 and must answer this question: How can the State Department remain silent while Andre Apaid, who allegedly holds an American passport, creates so much dissension, disruption and violence in this small, impoverished country?
The State Department must use its influence to help stabilize Haiti, provide assistance for health, education and infrastructure development, and discourage Haitians from building boats and rafts to get to American shores.
Finally, the international press must discontinue the practice of
repeating rumors and innuendos and begin to spend quality time learning
the truth and writing the truth about what is really going on in Haiti.
3) Rebels Plan to Attack Haitian Capital
By PAISLEY DODDS
.c The Associated Press
CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (AP) - Rebels overran Haiti's second-largest city in their biggest victory of a bloody uprising and said soon they will attack the capital in their campaign to oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
As thousands of looters rampaged through Cap-Haitien Sunday, rebel leader Guy Philippe predicted a quick victory over Aristide's partisans, who sought to block any advance by erecting flaming barricades on the highway into the capital, Port-au-Prince, from the north.
``I think that in less than 15 days we will control all of Haiti,'' Philippe said at a Cap-Haitien hotel as he swigged from a bottle of beer.
Sources close to the government said several Cabinet ministers in Port-au-Prince were asking friends for places to hide in case the capital is attacked.
After rebels drove government troops from Cap-Haitien, a city of some 500,000 on Haiti's north coast, thousands of people went on a looting spree.
The takeover of Cap-Haitien by some 200 fighters was the most significant advance by Aristide opponents since the uprising began on Feb 5. At least 15 people died in Sunday's fighting.
The two-pronged rebel assault quickly engulfed key points in the city. The police station was burned, then looted, as was a pro-Aristide radio station. Thousands of people rushed to the port and carted off goods.
``We're all hungry,'' said Jean Luc, 11, who strapped four 110-pound sacks of rice to a bicycle and was precariously trying to pedal it home.
Residents also defaced posters of Aristide, who was wildly popular when he became Haiti's first freely elected leader in 1990 but lost support since flawed legislative elections in 2000 led international donors to freeze millions of dollars in aid.
Opponents accuse him of failing to help those in need in the Western hemisphere's poorest country, allowing corruption and masterminding attacks on opponents by armed gangs. Aristide denies the charges.
The rebels say they have no political agenda beyond ousting Aristide, but the man who started the rebellion, Gonaives gang leader Buteur Metayer, on Thursday declared himself the president of liberated Haiti.
Rebels have now driven government forces from half the country. As
Cap-Haitien stood on the brink of falling, police stayed barricaded
in their posts, saying they lacked the personnel and firepower to
fend off the insurgents.
``The people are happy. Finally we're free from terror,'' said Fifi Jean, 30, as she stood in front of the blazing police headquarters, which was burned after the police fled amid the rebel assault. As night fell, fires broke out in the homes of some Aristide supporters in Cap-Haitien.
As the rebel leader predicted victory, his fighters, clad in camouflage uniforms and black flak jackets, sat by the hotel pool in lounge chairs, drinking beer and eating plates of goat, chicken, rice and beans.
Philippe said he wanted to see Aristide thrown in jail and put on trial, although he did not know what charges the country's leader would face, saying it would be up to Haitian judges to try him.
The rebel leader was an officer in the army when it ousted Aristide in 1991 and instigated a reign of terror that ended in 1994 when the United States sent 20,000 troops to end the military dictatorship and restore the president to power.
In taking Cap-Haitien, rebels said their force only met resistance at the city's airport, where Philippe said eight militant civilians loyal to Aristide were killed in a gunbattle.
In addition, seven other bodies were seen for the known total death toll Sunday to 15 in Cap-Haitien. At least one rebel was wounded.
Aristide supporters commandeered a plane from the airport, and witnesses said those who fled on it included seven police officers and former Aristide lawmaker Nawoum Marcellus, whose Radio Africa had been inciting violence against opponents.
``We came in today and we took Cap-Haitien; tomorrow we take Port-au-Prince'' the capital, boasted Lucien Estime, a 19-year-old who joined the popular rebellion from the hamlet of Saint Raphael, south of Cap-Haitien.
``Our mission is to liberate Haiti,'' he said.
More than 70 people have died in the uprising so far.
The United States blames Aristide for the crisis and has made clear it does not want to send troops to restore order in Haiti.
The political opposition in Haiti has said it will respond formally
by 5 p.m. Monday to a U.S.-backed peace plan that calls for Aristide
to remain president while sharing some power with rivals until new
elections could be organized.
Aristide accepted the plan, but indicated he would not negotiate with the soldiers who had ousted him in 1991.
02/23/04 04:53 EST
4) Haiti at brink again - US owes help
by Randall Robinson, Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 2004, (BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS)
Ten years ago, I risked my life by embarking on a hunger strike. It was a desperate attempt to change America's Haiti policy. In the 28th day of my fast, President Clinton announced that the US would pursue a more just Haiti policy. Shortly thereafter, a US-led multinational force reinstalled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been ousted in a military coup. Haiti's first democratically elected president, Mr. Aristide had won in a landslide, and I was proud to stand with the Haitian people - and him.
Today, Aristide - who stepped down at the end of his first term and was reelected to the presidency in 2000 - is under attack again. Political unrest is rocking the poverty-stricken nation - including protests both for and against the president. And a summit of Caribbean Community representatives has begun a series of meetings to resolve the crisis. This week they are meeting with Aristide opponents who accuse him of trampling on civil rights and are demanding he step down.
Again, I stand with this leader and his right to complete his five-year term. And again, I urge the US - the world's most powerful democracy - to resolutely embrace Haiti's democratically elected president.
How has Aristide - who was so loved and revered - ended up the focus of calls for his ouster?
Aristide may have failings in his ability to negotiate the vicious power divide between Haiti's economic elite and its broader masses, but US policy has created an environment in which it is impossible for him to succeed.
As in Iraq, the US has in Haiti pursued policies and formed allegiances that violate the sanctity and inviolability of the ballot box, while attempting to deliver the future of an entire nation and people into the hands of a specially selected, unelected few.
US financial, political, and military support for Haiti remained strong while the Duvalier family dictators and their successors were in power. However, the US attitude soured with the election of Aristide, who'd been an enormously popular Roman Catholic priest working among the poor and against the brutality of Haiti's dictators.
Aristide's criticism of US support for Haiti's dictators won him the eternal distrust and ire of certain US policymakers. And as president, his adherence to principles - when wealthy Haitians and the US expected greater "flexibility" - only deepened his foes' opposition to him.
Haiti's US-trained Army overthrew Aristide in 1991. Public pressure pushed the US to lead a multinational effort to restore Aristide's government in exile in 1994. But when republicans, who'd vehemently opposed the restoration, won control of Congress, they moved to isolate Aristide.
They successfully pushed legislation to finance the training of those who opposed Aristide's grass-roots Lavalas movement and to withdraw US assistance to the Haitian government. And later, the Bush administration forced the Inter-American Development Bank to deny Haiti hundreds of millions of dollars in already approved loans for safe drinking water, literacy programs, and health services. They began giving aid - that normally would go to the Haitian government - to nongovernmental organizations, some of which were run by wealthy anti-Aristide Haitians.
Most troubling, though, has been US encouragement of Haiti's opposition in its refusal to participate in elections that the government continues to call for, but which the opposition knows it will lose.
The US has actually taken the position that there can be no legitimate elections in Haiti if the opposition doesn't participate, and that if elections do go forward without the opposition, the US won't accept the results. This reflects terribly on what America stands for as a nation, particularly in these times.
It is because of the opposition's rejection of elections that Aristide has "failed to hold elections"; new parliamentarians have not been elected, leaving vacancies in the parliament; and with a nonfunctioning parliament Aristide is "ruling by decree." The suggestion being that he has "usurped the powers of government for his own dictatorial purposes."
So, yes, there are now those who demonstrate because the government has been unable to "make life better." But the broad masses of Haitians want no coups. They want democracy to work, stability for their families, and the president to complete his term.
The US must live up to the standards required of the world's most powerful democracy and support the Haitian government call for elections - whether or not some elements of the opposition participate.
The US and Haitian Constitutions provide for the stability of the state with specified terms of each president. The Constitution must be the final authority in the US, in Haiti, and in all democracies, or anarchy will prevail.
The opposition in Haiti calls for the overthrow of the democratically elected government. The US must unequivocally condemn and distance itself from these proponents of insurrection and refuse to recognize a government that seizes power.
The US must take these steps if it genuinely wants to support democracy and promote stability in Haiti. Not to do this is bad for America. The rest of the world must see the US as more than the embodiment of economic and military might, but as the embodiment of such inviolable principles as justice, equity, and consistency. These intangibles, are, in fact, key to the real and lasting security that all Americans crave.
* Randall Robinson is founder and former president of TransAfrica, a foreign policy organization. Now a writer, he lives in the Caribbean.
5) More background on the FRAPF and useful links
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Some recent commentaries on Haiti.
Thurs. Feb 26 - 3pm-5pm S.F. Federal Building