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Wall Street Journal: "Aristide Leaves Haiti Amid Chaos"

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  • Walter Lippmann
    (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
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 29, 2004
      (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
      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,
      unspecified period.

      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
      U.S. official.

      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,
      told reporters.

      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
      Jean-Bertrand Aristide:

      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
      Salesian priests.

      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
      to power.

      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
      government opponents.

      Feb. 5, 2004 -- Rebels seize Gonaives, Haiti's
      fourth-largest city, starting popular uprising against
      Aristide government.

      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.
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