Monday, March 01, 2004

The latest on Haiti 

This is a pretty big story out there in the Big Wide World, kids.


Multiple sources that just spoke with Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide told Democracy Now! that Aristide says he was "kidnapped" and taken by force to the Central African Republic. Congressmember Maxine Waters said she received a call from Aristide at 9am EST. "He's surrounded by military. It's like he is in jail, he said. He says he was kidnapped," said Waters. She said he had been threatened by what he called US diplomats.

According to Waters, the diplomats reportedly told the Haitian president that if he did not leave Haiti, paramilitary leader Guy Philippe would storm the palace and Aristide would be killed. According to Waters, Aristide was told by the US that they were withdrawing Aristide's US security.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters is claiming this. Why is this not on the front pages of every journalistic source in the country?

Even if it IS bogus--and it's far from certain that it ISN'T, until we hear from Aristide HIMSELF--it's a sad statement about the Bush administration that it is completely untrustworthy in this and most other matters, excepting only tax breaks. More:

U.S. Arranging 'Elders Council' to Run Haiti

Mar 1, 9:59 AM (ET)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States scrambled on Monday to create a "council of elders" to run Haiti, organize early elections and disarm rebels after Washington pressured President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to quit in the face of a deadly revolt, a U.S. official said.

"There's going to be a tripartite commission, made up of the opposition, the government and the international community, who will form a sort of 'council of elders,"' said a State Department official, who asked not to be named.

A "council of elders"? Another hand-picked group chosen to run a sovereign nation, exclusively by Bush?

As atrios said, whatever happened to the constitutional rule of law? Haiti HAS one. The Supreme Court Chief Justice of Haiti was sworn in as soon as he left. HE'S the President now, and they should follow their own laws, and not what Bush TELLS them to do. This is ridiculous, and it smells to high heaven, y'all. Yet even MORE:

U.S. political maneuvering behind the ouster

The departure of Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a victory for a Bush administration hard-liner who has been long dedicated to Aristide's ouster, U.S. foreign policy analysts say.

That official is Roger Noriega, assistant U.S. secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, whose influence over U.S. policy toward Haiti has increased during the past decade as he climbed the diplomatic ladder in Washington...

Noriega's ascent largely has been attributed to his ties to North Carolina Republican Jesse Helms, an arch-conservative foe of Aristide who had behind-the-scenes influence over policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean before retiring from the Senate two years ago.

"Helms didn't just dislike Aristide, Helms loathed Aristide because he saw in Aristide another Castro," said Larry Birns...

Working hand in hand with Noriega on Haiti has been National Security Council envoy Otto Reich, who, like Noriega, is ardently opposed to Cuban leader Fidel Castro, say analysts such as Birns. Washington diplomats have seen Aristide as a leftist who is often fierce in his denunciations of the business class and slow to make recommended changes such as privatizing state-run industries. [!]

"On a day-to-day basis, Roger Noriega [has been] making policy, but with a very strong role played by Otto Reich," Birns said.

Reich is a controversial Cuban-American criticized by some who have lingering concerns about his contacts with opposition figures who plotted a short-lived coup against Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chávez, two years ago. Reich also is linked to the Iran-contra scandal of two decades ago that was part of President Ronald Reagan's policy of defeating Marxists in Central America.

We're in a time warp. It's the 1980s again. No wonder my hair looks like A Flock Of Seagulls'...

As atrios said, again, how many Haitians died last week for Otto Reich's wet dreams?

Of course, we're getting absolutely no help from Scott McClellan. I wonder how much longer Scotty can hold out before HE retires. The smartest man I can think of: Ari Fleischer.

Administration Denies Forcing Aristide Out

The long and short of the above article: Everybody who spoke to Aristide directly claims he told them he was KIDNAPPED by U.S. MILITARY. And everybody in the Bush administration DENIES this. But whether or not this is the case, one fact remains: The Bush administration REFUSED TO GUARANTEE ARISTIDE'S SAFETY until he left the country.

Aristide apparently reconsidered his initial decision not to step down after learning over the weekend that the United States would not protect him, a Bush administration official said on condition of anonymity.

Guards from Aristide's security team, employed by the San Francisco-based Steele Foundation, asked the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince on Saturday whether they could count on American protection in the event of rebel hostilities at the presidential palace, the official said. Aristide's guards were told that no such protection would be provided, the official said.

Powell called former Rep. Ron Dellums, D-Calif., whom Aristide hired as a Washington lobbyist, the official said, and told him that the United States had no plans to protect Aristide.

Remember: This is a country with NO STANDING ARMY. The government of Haiti is at the mercy of U.S. or U.N. intervention.

How 'bout THEM apples? Bush to Aristide: Tough luck. Leave or die. We'll send in the Marines to calm the crowds ONLY if you LEAVE.

Nothing about that scenario suggests to me that Aristide left VOLUNTARILY.


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