As the barricades burned in the capital city around him, and with a rebel army on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Jean-Bertrand Aristide fought for his political life as Haitian president right until the end. Alone, he negotiated with senior US officials until the early hours of this morning, insisting that he should remain until the end of his elected term in 2006. According to one source, he resisted even while going up the stairs to the aircraft alongside his wife and some 40 aides.
Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has gone into exile after a three-week rebellion against him, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed....In a statement, Mr Aristide said: "The constitution should not drown in the blood of the Haitian people...If my resignation is to prevent bloodshed, I accept to leave."
THE ARISTIDE YEARS
1990: Haiti's first democratically elected president
1991: Overthrown in military coup; exiled to US
1994: Reinstated; forbidden from standing for second consecutive term
2000: Wins contested elections
2004 - Jan: Haiti celebrates 200 years of independence, amid growing political protests
Feb 10: (approx) Exiled rebel leaders cross back into Haiti; capture north of country
Feb 29: Aristide leaves Haiti
Democracy Now! aired a special show Friday afternoon on the latest from Haiti where opposition groups with ties to the U.S. are preparing to invade the capital city of Port Au Prince. We spoke with Haitian First Lady Mildred Aristide, independent reporter Kevin Pina in Haiti, U.S. Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) and attorney Michael Ratner.
To listen to this special broadcast, you can download the show in MP3 format here or in OGG format here.
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AMY GOODMAN: From Pacifica Radio, this is a special report: “Haiti in Crisis.” I’m Amy Goodman, host of “Democracy Now!” At this hour the streets of Port-au-Prince are barricaded, President Aristide and his wife, Mildred Aristide, are inside the palace. Armed gangs, paramilitaries are moving closer towards the capital of Port-au-Prince. Reports are that they have seized the town of Mirebalais, only 30 miles away, after taking the southern port of Les Cayes, Haiti’s third largest city; but it is difficult to determine the accuracy of all this because there is a major disinformation that is going on. US Secretary of State Colin Powell has come very close to telling President Aristide that he should bow out as President before his term expires, February 2006. He told reporters whether or not he is able to effectively continue as President is something he will have to examine carefully in the interests of the Haitian people. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, visiting Libya, urged the United States to protect Aristide. Jackson said, “Unless something happens immediately, the President could be killed.” He said, “We must not allow that to happen to that democracy. We must give the best troops to Haiti to protect the President’s compound.” In this hour we turn to the palace where I just got off the phone with the first lady of Haiti, Mildred Aristide. This is the full tape of what she had to say.
MILDRED ARISTIDE: Amy, it’s Mildred Aristide.
AMY GOODMAN: Hi. I thank you very much for calling. Why don’t we just speak right away, and, that is, are you afraid for your life and for your husband’s life?
MILDRED ARISTIDE: OK. The situation is quite critical. The thugs and the FRAPH and the military, who are heavily armed in the north, are sending messages repeatedly on the airways in Haiti, that they stand ready at any moment to storm Port-au-Prince. And here in Port-au-Prince, the population has erected - I am looking out the window – lots of barricades along the streets to prevent an attack. Security is at a heightened situation, but the president’s resolve is very strong, as he indicated yesterday and through to this morning that what is important in this moment for Haiti, in terms of the future of Haiti, is to establish the stability and the political stability that Haiti has never had, and for there to be a continuity of governance from one president to the next. ( Read more...Collapse )
Profiles of Guy Philippe: The rebelling soldier. Guy Philippe, who is emerging as the leader of the armed rebellion against President Aristide's rule, had promised to celebrate his 36th birthday in the Haitian capital on Sunday....His critics allege a questionable human rights record and point to rumoured involvement with military dictator Jean-Claude ("Baby Doc") Duvalier's regime in the 1980s.
In 1990, Mr Aristide was first elected president, but within a year had been overthrown in a coup and was exiled to the United States. Mr Philippe, who was by then in the army, escaped to Ecuador, where he allegedly received training from US Special Forces as part of the US campaign to reinstate Mr Aristide. He returned to Haiti in 1994, after Mr Aristide had been restored to power. In 1995 - fearing another coup attempt - Mr Aristide disbanded the army. Mr Philippe was incorporated into the new National Police Force, eventually serving as police chief in Cap-Haitien.