Wall Street Journal: "Aristide Leaves Haiti Amid Chaos"
- (Washington encouraged the rightist and
thug-led opposition to refuse to find a
peaceful resolution to the Haiti crisis.
But they held back from assaulting the
capital city while Aristede remained in
his office. Washington reportedly armed
and encouraged the opposition elements in
their opposition to a peaceful settlement.
(Below is the Official Story, but the real
story is now already starting to come out.
It's evident that Aristede has been taken
by force, by US soldiers, and that the US
occupation of Haiti has already begun. At
present Aristede's whereabouts are as yet
unknown, or even if he remains alive.)
March 1, 2004
Aristide Leaves Haiti Amid Chaos
Hundreds of U.S. Marines To Depart for the Country,
Joining Peacekeeping Force
By JOSE DE CORDOBA and GREG JAFFE Staff
Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The fiery former priest who once represented the hopes of
Haiti's desperate poor for a better life resigned his
presidency and fled into exile for a second time as several
hundred U.S. Marines prepared to depart for the country.
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, under pressure from both
the U.S. and France, left behind a chaotic situation, with
armed rebels in control of half the country, angry
partisans firing wildly in the streets and a foreign
peacekeeping force on the way to restore order.
President Bush told reporters that the U.S. troops would
form "the leading element of an interim international force
to help bring order and stability to Haiti." Military
officials said the Marines, who began leaving by plane
Sunday night, would likely number fewer than 500. They will
be joined by an international civilian force made up of
several hundred French gendarme, as well as law-enforcement
troops from Caribbean nations. The U.N. Security Council
voted unanimously Sunday night to authorize sending the
international military force to Haiti for three months.
The initial draft resolution would have authorized an
international military force to remain in Haiti for two
months. It said the council would then be prepared to
establish a U.N. stabilization force to stay for a longer,
But U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said two months
wasn't a "realistic" timetable to assemble and deploy a
U.N. force, insisting that "three to four months' would be
needed. The United Nations has no standing army and must
ask the 191 U.N. member states to contribute troops or
civilian police to a force.
In a news conference, Prime Minister Yvon Neptune appealed
urgently for calm, and said President Aristide had resigned
to avoid further violence.
"He did it to avoid a bloodbath," said the prime minister,
who will continue temporarily in office. At least 100
people have been killed in political violence here in
political violence in the last few months.
U.S. ambassador James Foley said Mr. Aristide, escorted by
U.S. security agents, left around 6.15 a.m. He wouldn't say
where Mr. Aristide would seek refuge.
Boniface Alexandre, chief justice of Haiti's supreme court,
was sworn in as interim president. Standing to the side of
the newly named president, Mr. Foley said a seven-member
council, including members of the current government and
the civic opposition, would be formed soon to name a new
prime minister. The Haitian constitution calls for a new
presidential election to be held within three months, but
there was no mention of an election at the news conference.
Despite lingering tension between the U.S. and France over
the war in Iraq, the two nations worked closely to ensure
that Haiti, a former French colony, wasn't subsumed by
civil war. The French Foreign Affairs Ministry said it
consulted intensely with the U.S., South Africa and Canada
over the last week. The dialogue led to coordinated calls
from both France and the U.S. for Mr. Aristide to resign.
"We played a big role in making it clear that he was the
problem and not the solution to Haiti's problems," said one
The former priest enjoyed widespread international support
as Haiti's first popularly elected president more than a
decade ago, but he later came under heavy criticism at home
and abroad for tolerating human rights abuses of political
opponents and for the widespread corruption in his
administration. Still, the call for Mr. Aristide to step
down drew criticism from some in Congress who say he might
have been more successful with more help from the U.S.
"We are just as much a part of this coup d'etat as the
rebels, as the looters or anyone else," said Rep. Charles
Rangel (D., N.Y.). "One thing is clear -- if you're elected
as president ... of a country, don't depend on the United
States to respect the rule of law."
Mr. Foley said a multinational peacekeeping force would
arrive quickly to help restore order in Haiti. While Mr.
Foley gave no details of the force's structure, U.S. and
European officials said initially that it would remain
small but would include police, including a strong
contingent of French troops based in France's Caribbean
departments of Guadalupe and Martinique, as well as
Canadian, Bahamian, Jamaican and U.S. personnel. The U.S.
is expected to play a major logistical role. U.S. officials
said the multinational force would be nowhere near as large
as the 22,000 soldiers sent by the U.S. in 1994 to restore
Mr. Aristide to power.
One U.S. official said the international peacekeeping
force, which was still being assembled, likely would grow
over the next week. The total force, including U.S. and
foreign troops, likely would be slightly more than 1,000,
this official said, adding that commitments were still
being negotiated with several nations.
In the capital of Port-au-Prince, angry Aristide supporters
roamed the streets armed with old rifles, pistols, machetes
and sticks. Some fired wildly into crowds on the Champs de
Mars, the main square in front of the National Palace.
Looters pillaged supermarkets and pharmacies.
Mr. Foley called on armed rebels who in the last three
weeks have seized half the country, including Cap Haitien,
Haiti's second-largest city, to put down their weapons. The
rebels, whose main leader is Guy Philippe, a former soldier
and police chief suspected by U.S. and Haitian authorities
of drug trafficking, had been threatening to attack
Port-au-Prince if Mr. Aristide didn't resign. (Mr. Philippe
in the past has denied the drug trafficking accusations.)
With Mr. Aristide's resignation, "their [the rebels']
credibility is on the line. That demand has been met," Mr.
Foley said. "I make a solemn appeal to the people of Haiti
to stop the violence, to know with certainty that an
international military force, including forces of the U.S.
will rapidly be in Haiti."
Mr. Foley said the U.S. had learned from the mistakes made
during its 1994 intervention and was determined to get
things right this time around. Among other things, Mr.
Foley promised a major effort by the international
community to train, support and develop Haiti's demoralized
police force. "There is hope for tomorrow," Mr. Foley said.
Reports from rebel territory in Cap Haitien said that
crowds danced and sang in the street, while a rebel
commander said his fighters were ready to lay down their
guns. "We're going to put our weapons down when we've got a
new government," Winter Etienne, another rebel commander,
The rebels, a sinister if rag-tag lot whose chiefs include
disgruntled former members of the Cannibal Army, once
pro-Aristide toughs, turned on the president and started
the revolt last month after accusing Mr. Aristide of the
murder of their leader last September. Mr. Aristide has
denied he had anything to do with the murder. Another
leader of the rebels, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, was the head
of a former paramilitary group blamed for the murder of
hundreds of Haitians during the early 1990s, when the
military ruled Haiti. Mr. Chamblain was convicted in
absentia for the murder of a leading pro-Aristide activist.
Mr. Aristide's departure was welcomed by his political
foes, who accused him of human-rights violations and
corruption and turned down a U.S.-led international peace
proposal last week that would have left Aristide in office
but given them a role in a power-sharing arrangement. That
refusal piled pressure on the president.
"It's great for the country. That's what we've been waiting
for," Charles Baker, a leader of a coalition of opposition
civic and political groups, told reporters. "Now we're
partying. Then we'll get back to work."
Key events in the life of ousted Haitian President
July 15, 1953 -- Born to landowning family on Haiti's
southwestern coast. Father lynched on suspicion of
practicing black magic. Aristide sent to study with
1982 -- Ordained Catholic priest in Dominican Republic.
Preaches against dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier,
urging "active nonviolence" for political change.
Jan. 1985 -- Returns to Haiti. Emerges as prominent priest
in growing movement preaching to Haiti's poor masses.
Spreads message on radio.
Feb. 7, 1986 -- Duvalier flees into exile.
August 1987 -- Aristide escapes assassination attempt,
blamed on Duvalierist private militia. Preaches that
Haitian people should take up arms in self defense.
Sept. 11, 1988 -- Attackers with guns, machetes burst into
Aristide's church, attacking 800 worshippers. At least 13
killed; 70 wounded, church burned.
December 1988 -- Salesians expel Aristide from order,
accusing him of inciting violence and "exalting" class
Dec. 16, 1990 -- Aristide wins landslide democratic
Feb. 7, 1991 -- Inaugurated after people quash coup
attempt. Fires army generals, shrinks state bureaucracy,
backs limited privatization of state enterprises, oversees
start of modest economic recovery, new international aid
projects. Rhetoric frightens military, some members of
Sept. 30, 1991 -- Army overthrows Aristide government,
forcing him into exile in United States.
Sept. 19, 1994 -- U.S. troops intervene to restore Aristide
Feb. 6, 1995 -- Aristide disbands army, replaces it with
civilian police force.
Dec. 23, 1995 -- Aristide protege Rene Preval elected
president. Term limit prohibits Aristide from running.
May 21, 2000 -- Aristide's party sweeps legislative
elections. Observers say voting flawed. International
community freezes millions in foreign aid until results
Nov. 26, 2000 -- Aristide wins second presidential term.
Voting boycotted by major opposition parties.
Dec. 17, 2001 -- Gunmen raid National Palace in what
government calls coup attempt. Opponents say government
staged attack to distract attention from its shortcomings.
Oct. 29, 2002 -- More than 200 illegal Haitian migrants
rush onto Miami highway, bringing attention to people
desperate to escape Haiti's violence and poverty.
September 2003 -- Protests against Aristide across country.
Dozens killed, injured in clashes between police and
Feb. 5, 2004 -- Rebels seize Gonaives, Haiti's
fourth-largest city, starting popular uprising against
Feb. 21, 2004 -- International delegation visits to press
for a truce. Aristide agrees to share power; political
opponents insist he step down. Diplomats leave without
Feb. 22, 2004 -- Rebels seize Cap-Haitien, Haiti's
second-largest city, vow to press on to the capital,
Feb. 29, 2004 -- Aristide flees the country, pressured by
U.S. and French governments to resign.