US and France target Haiti's elected
president for removal
by Keith Jones
World Socialist website, www.wsws.org/,
February 28, 2004
The United States and France are demanding
the political head of Haiti's elected president, Jean-Bertrand
At a special three-hour session of the
United Nations Security Council Thursday evening, US, French and
Canadian diplomats brushed aside a plea from Jamaica's foreign
minister, on behalf of the 15-member association of Caribbean
states (CARICOM), for the deployment of a multinational security
force to prevent the overthrow of Aristide's government by fascist
A small but heavily-armed rebel force,
led by former officers of Haiti's disbanded national army and
the FRAPH death squad, have overrun much of the country during
the past three weeks and are now threatening to march on the capital,
"Immediate action is needed to safeguard
democracy, to avert bloodshed and a humanitarian disaster,"
warned Jamaica's K.D. Knight. Seconding his appeal was Bahamas
Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell: "It is difficult for us in
the region to sit by idly, saying we support legal constitutional
authority, and yet when the call comes from a member state to
support that legitimate authority, we seek to rely on legalisms
which amount to inaction."
But US, French and Canadian diplomats
were adamant that no force should be sent to prevent the overthrow
of Haiti's internationally-recognized government till Aristide
and his Lavalas Party government obtain the signature of the opposition
Democratic Platform on a "power-sharing" agreement.
They know full well such a signature will never be given.
Led by members of Haiti's traditional
political and economic elite, including notorious supporters of
the Duvalier and Cédras dictatorships, the Democratic Platform
has repeatedly rejected any political settlement that would leave
Aristide with even a titular role in Haiti's government. Instead
it has insisted that Aristide, whose presidential term runs till
February 2006, must resign immediately and that the reins of power
be placed for all intents and purposes in its hands.
Having rejected the appeals of the Aristide
government and CARICOM, the Security Council gave provisional
support to a plan advanced by France that targets Aristide for
immediate removal. First advanced by French Foreign Minister Dominique
de Villepin on Wednesday, the plan calls for the UN to authorize
the deployment of a multinational "police force" to
Haiti, but only after Aristide steps down and a "national
unity" government is formed.
Although Aristide agreed only last Saturday
to a power-sharing plan sponsored by Paris and Washington-a plan
that the opposition scuttled even though it would have stripped
him of virtually all power-Villepin pinned the blame for Haiti's
political crisis on Aristide. "The regime has reached an
impasse," declared France's foreign minister, "and has
already shaken off constitutional legality."
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Colin
Powell indicated the Bush administration was of a like mind. He
publicly urged Aristide to "make a careful examination of
how best to serve the Haitian people at this time"-a statement
interpreted as a call for Aristide to step down.
Any doubt as to the Bush administration's
position was removed Friday, when a "senior US official"
told Associated Press, "the best way to prevent armed rebels
from taking over Haiti is for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
to resign ..." The official added that President Bush had
personally endorsed "the tougher line on Aristide."
At the same time, the White House revealed
that plans were in place to send to Haiti a three-ship group,
headed by the helicopter carrier USS Saipan, with 2,200 marines
from the 24th Expeditionary Unit.
Previously, senior administration officials,
from Powell to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, had poured cold
water on suggestions that the US military, which already is overstretched
in Iraq and Afghanistan, might deploy a significant force to Haiti.
That the White House has now changed its tune would appear to
be in answer to widespread media criticism that the Bush administration
has ceded too much initiative to France during the crisis in Haiti.
On Thursday the Washington Post carried a biting editorial, "Minimalist
Diplomacy," which chastized the Bush administration for "neglecting
the historical US role in responding to trouble in this hemisphere
... and leav[ing] the hard work to others."
The Bush administration has blood on its
The great powers' response to the Democratic
Platform's rejection of the power-sharing agreement underscores
their hostility to democracy and utter indifference to the plight
of the Haitian people. Like their clients in the Democratic Platform,
the US and France are more than ready to use a rebellion of fascist
gunman to realize their longstanding goal of toppling the democratically-elected
Aristide. According to French foreign ministry spokesman Herve
Lasdous, Villepin told representatives of the Haitian government
who attended a meeting in Paris Friday, "From now on, each
hour counts if we are to avert a spiral of violence."
As the World Socialist Web Site has previously
explained there are two coups currently underway in Haiti-an armed
rebellion mounted by the thugs of previous Haitian dictatorships
and an attempt on the part of the Democratic Platform to pave
the way for the direct intervention of Washington and Paris by
making the country ungovernable.
Behind these events lies the hand of Bush
administration-an administration whose personnel has a long bloody
record of supporting political terror in the Central American
and Caribbean, from the Nicaraguan contras to the death squads
of Guatemala and El Salvador.
Both the rebels and the so-called "non-violent"
opposition have intimate and longstanding ties to the Republican
Party establishment. The Republicans, under Bush Senior, backed
the 1991 military coup that toppled Aristide's first government,
opposed his restoration to power in 1994 by the Clinton administration,
and has continued to revile Aristide as a socialist firebrand,
notwithstanding his implementation of an IMF-dictated structural
Rebel leader and former Haitian army officer
Guy Philippe received special training from the US military in
Ecuador during the Cédras dictatorship, then was given
a string of senior posts in the national police force established
under the auspices of the US and Canada.
Philippe's fellow rebel leader, Jodel
Chamberlain, was the second in command of FRAPH, the death squad
of the Cédras regime. His boss Emmanuel Constant was on
the CIA payroll. Indeed, so sensitive were FRAPH's relations to
Washington, when the US military entered Haiti to restore Aristide
to power in 1994 one of the first things they did was to seize
FRAPH's files and ship them to the US.
The Democratic Platform was organized
with help from the International Republican Institute and has
been sustained by the encouragement given it by the Bush administration,
which seized on purported irregularities in the 2000 legislative
elections to organize an international embargo on aid to the Haitian
With each passing day, new evidence emerges
showing the rebels and the "non-violent" opposition
are acting in concert. As even the New York Times noted, leaders
of the Democratic Platform have been hard-pressed to contain their
glee at the rebels' advance.
André Apaid, the sweatshop owner
and US citizen, who is the opposition's principal spokesman has
been among the most insistent that there are no ties between the
rebels and the so-called political opposition. Yet he openly defends
the rebels wielding their weapons till Aristide is chased from
office, for "otherwise they would be slaughtered."
In a not-so-subtle appeal to the rebels
and other extreme right-wing elements, Apaid champions the reconstitution
of the Haitian army, claiming such a force would be good to instil
"discipline" among the youth.
Aristide, his popular support having largely
evaporated due to his right-wing economic policies and increasing
dependence on repression and corruption to remain in power, has
been reduced to pleading for intervention by the very powers,
beginning with the US and France, that have subverted his government
and now demand his resignation. But it is still conceivable that
the attempt to drive Aristide from office will encounter popular
resistance. Barricades have been set up across Port-au-Prince.
Whatever the immediate fate of Aristide
and his government, there is no question that under the pretext
of suppressing the pro-Aristide gangs, known as the chimères,
the resurgent forces of political reaction are preparing a wave
Not for the first time, the Bush administration's
leading personnel have the blood of the Haitian people on their