Monday, March 01, 2004
Deja Vu All Over Again
Earlier today, an AFP report asserted that Aristide did not resign but was ousted in an America-backed coup:
A man who said he was a caretaker for the now exiled president told France's RTL radio station the troops forced Aristide out.
"The American army came to take him away at two in the morning," the man said.
"The Americans forced him out with weapons.
"It was American soldiers. They came with a helicopter and they took the security guards.
"(Aristide) was not happy. He did not want to be taken away. He did not want to leave. He was not able to fight against the Americans."
The caretaker in the above excerpt was the only source mentioned. Now, via Democracy Now!, we get multiple sources, including US congresswoman Maxine Waters, supporting the story:
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. Congressmember Waters, can you tell us about the conversation you just had with Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide?
MAXINE WATERS: I most certainly can and he’s anxious for me to get the message out so people will understand. He is in the Central Republic of Africa at a place called the Palace of the Renaissance, and he’s not sure if that’s a house or a hotel or what it is and he is surrounded by military. It’s like in jail, he said. He said that he was kidnapped; he said that he was forced to leave Haiti. He said that the American embassy sent the diplomats; he referred to them as, to his home where they was lead by Mr. Moreno. And I believe that Mr. Moreno is a deputy chief of staff at the embassy in Haiti and other diplomats, and they ordered him to leave. They said you must go NOW. He said that they said that Guy Phillipe and U.S. Marines were coming to Port Au Prince; he will be killed, many Haitians will be killed, that they would not stop until they did what they wanted to do. [ ... ] But one thing that was very clear and he said it over and over again, that he was kidnapped, that the coup was completed by the Americans that they forced him out. They had also disabled his American security force that he had around him for months now; they did not allow them to extend their numbers. To begin with they wanted them to bring in more people to provide security they prevented them from doing that and then they finally forced them out of the country. So that’s where this is and I said to him that I would do everything I could to get the word out. ... that I heard it directly from him I heard it directly from his wife that they were kidnapped, they were forced to leave, they did not want to leave, their lives were threatened and the lives of many Haitians were threatened. And I said that we would be in touch with the State Department, with the President today and if at all possible we would try to get to him. We don’t know whether or not he is going to be moved. We will try and find that information out today.
The Miami Herald ran a story backing up the Democracy Now! version of events.
As Narco News notes, if it comes out that the claim that Aristide resigned is false, then the press is following the exact script of its coverage of the Venzeulan coup attempt two years ago. In a related story, Chavez has spoken out about his own situation and what's going on in Haiti leading to the Best Reuters Headline Ever: (from "Chavez Calls Bush 'Asshole' as Foes Fight Troops", Reuters, 2/29/04):
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called President Bush an "asshole" on Sunday for meddling, and vowed never to quit office like his Haitian counterpart as troops battled with opposition protesters demanding a recall referendum against him.
Chavez, who often says the U.S. is backing opposition efforts to topple his leftist government, accused Bush of heeding advice from "imperialist" aides to support a brief 2002 coup against him.
"He was an asshole to believe them," Chavez roared at a huge rally of supporters in Caracas.
The Venezuelan leader's comments came as fresh violence broke out on the streets of the capital, where National Guard troops clashed with opposition protesters pressing for a vote to end his five-year rule.
We'll have to wait and see what happens... but it doesn't look pretty.