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Protest US Coup in Haiti, kidnapping of President Aristide

In this posting:
1. PRESS RELEASE: Protest US Coup in Haiti, kidnapping of President Aristide in Portland
2. List of Liberation News demands on Haiti
3. U.S. Pulls Off a Coup D'état in Haiti from the Freedom Socialist Party

For Immediate Release
Portland Peaceful Response Coalition and Liberation News

Event: Liberation News and the PPRC join with Portland Central America Solidarity Committee to Protest US Coup in Haiti, kidnapping of President Aristide.
Date: Friday, March 6th, 2004
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Place: Pioneer Courthouse Square


At this Friday's 5:00 p.m. rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Liberation News and the Portland Peaceful Response Coalition will be joined by the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC) and other local peace & social action organizations to protest the US-engineered and supported coup in Haiti.

"As the sordid details of this coup emerge, it looks more and more like another example of America crushing nascent democracy in the hemisphere, just as we saw in Guatemala under Arbenz and Chile under Allende," said William Seaman, a spokesperson for the PPRC. "We even have the spectacle of one of these terrorist thugs, Guy Philippe, telling us that that the man he most admires is former Chilean dictator, the butcher Augusto Pinochet."2 Seaman said that protests of the US-backed coup had already taken place in Washington,
DC, and that members of the Congressional Black Caucus had called for
protest messages to be sent to the State Department to demand that
Aristide be released and that democracy be re-established in Haiti.

"We are calling on US citizens to speak out and to join with us Friday to protest this latest outrage against democracy and against the Haitian people," said Seaman. "The Bush Administration is continuing the long, tragic and criminal history of US interventions in Haiti, suppressing democracy and coming to the aid of business elites whose number one complaint is that they risk losing the slave-labor wages that have been the basis for their wealth and privilege."

Seaman said that a grave threat has now emerged as news of the 'rebels' releasing prisoners has been reported from Haiti. "It has been reported that hundreds of former death squad killers of the previous Duvalier and military dictatorship regimes have been broken out of Haiti's prisons," said Seaman. "These are bands of ruthless murderers, responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Haitians during the struggle to topple the legacy of dictatorship and repression, dictatorships that long enjoyed the support of both the US and France."

For more information about this Friday's protest, please write to
 pprcnews@yahoo.com. News reporters may call (503) 888-7455.

Liberation News demands:

Open U.S. borders to all Haitian refugees who are fleeing the bloodbath of the U.S. backed death squads!

Prosecute President Bush and members of his administration for their role in this coup d'état and mass murder!

Cancel all foreign debts and end IMF intervention in Haitian affairs!

Freedom for President Aristide!

End the U.S. embargo against Haiti!

For recognition of the right of the Haitian workers and peasants to defend themselves from death squads and defeat this imperialist intervention by any means necessary:

U.S. and French Troops Out of Haiti Now!

U.S. Pulls Off a Coup D'état in Haiti

Article issued by:
Freedom Socialist Party, U.S. Section www.socialism.com
4710 University Way NE, Suite #100
Seattle, WA 98105 USA
E-mail:  fspnatl@igc.org
Fax: 206-985-8965Phone: 206-985-4621

The Bush coup d'état machine, in alliance with a wing of the Haitian bourgeoisie, succeeded Sunday in doing in Haiti what it has failed to do so far in Venezuela--overthrow a reform-minded president who initiated changes benefiting some of the poorest people on the planet.

Sunday, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, accompanied by his wife, was forced to abandon the country saying he preferred to go into exile than to cause a "bloodbath" by defending his government against well-armed fighters led by former Haitian military figures. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Boniface Alexandre, was hurriedly sworn in as the head of a U.S.-approved transitional government that will last until the regularly scheduled elections in 2005.

Scenario for a coup

Behind the anti-government rebellion are a cabal of coup plotters, death squad murderers and former soldiers whose grab for power was at the very least assisted (and perhaps planned) by the CIA, the Bush administration and the French government.

Aristide had already survived several recent coup attempts. But this time the powers arrayed against him were too powerful and well-coordinated.

First, Butteur Metayer, a former supporter of Aristide's party, staged an insurrection on February 5 in the northwestern city of Gonaives. Metayer leads what is called the Cannibal Army.

The Cannibal Army uprising was used as a pretext for former soldiers living in the Dominican Republic to cross over into Haiti. These men served in the military dictatorship of Raoul Cedras who overthrew Aristide in 1990.

Their leader is Louis Jodel Chamblain, co-founder of the misnamed death squad, Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH). FRAPH killed thousands of Aristide supporters in the 1990s. Chamblain has also been accused of taking part in a 1987 election massacre in which 34 voters were killed. Working with Chamblain is Guy Philippe, a former Haitian military man who served as a senior security official in the government of the last president, Rene Preval. Philippe was trained in the U.S. and Ecuador.

On February 16, Chamblain's forces attacked the central plateau city of Hinche. Poorly armed Haitian police were no match for Chamblain and his so-called New Army. Police abandoned their posts in a number of cities following this assault.

Simultaneously with these events, in the southern part of the country, a coalition led by businessmen staged a series of demonstrations against Aristide. Calling themselves the
Democratic Platform and the Group of 184, they counted Maurice Lafortune, head of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce, and Andy Apaid, a U.S. citizen and owner of 15 factories, as their leaders. The coalition also allegedly included unions, students, other political parties and community organizations.

Apaid and Lafortune accused Aristide of drug trafficking, corruption and using paramilitaries against peaceful demonstrators. They claimed they had no connection to the armed uprising in northwest Haiti, but that is simply unbelievable.

On February 24, the Group of 184 delayed replying to a U.S.-brokered settlement that would have reduced Aristide's powers but allowed him to remain in office through his term. Many observers believe this move was calculated to allow the military wing of the uprising to seize more territory in the countryside.

The Bush administration tacitly approved this delay tactic by telling the Group of 184 to take more time to consider their proposal if needed.

Why Aristide was overthrown

In January, Haiti marked the 200th anniversary of its founding after the first successful slave rebellion in the hemisphere. Representatives of the French and U.S. governments were noticeably missing from official celebrations attended by other world leaders. In this way, these two powerful imperialist countries publicly signaled their dissatisfaction with Aristide's regime, paving the way for what occurred in February.

The big question is why the Haitian bourgeoisie and the U.S. were so eager to overthrow the democratically elected president at this time. The answer is to be found in Aristide's economic and social policies and his alliances in the Caribbean and South America.

On February 7, Aristide doubled the minimum wage (something he had been forbidden to do in the past by the IMF). Despite pressure from an array of international financial institutions, he has also refused to privatize state enterprises and invested in agriculture, public transportation, the infrastructure, healthcare and education. Between 1994-2000, he built more schools than had been built in Haiti in the last 180 years. He also provided 70% subsidies for schoolbooks and uniforms and passed legislation protecting child labor.

Add to this his close relations with Cuba, which is training over 400 Haitian doctors, as well as with the Chavez government of Venezuela, and it becomes clear why Aristide is at the top of the Bush hit list.

Undoubtedly, an additional factor is the Bush administration's fear of a mass exodus of immigrants from Haiti to the U.S. if civil war should break out.

Economic crisis: from bad to worse
Aristide's popularity with the poor and working people of Haiti, while still high, appears to have slipped in recent years due to several factors. The main one seems to be the economy, although the fact that he has been ruling by decree since 2000 is undoubtedly a factor.

In 1994, Aristide agreed to IMF demands that he adopt a "structural adjustment" program, a condition of the U.S.-led invasion that put Aristide back in power after he had been overthrown in a coup three years earlier. The price of U.S. assistance included opening the country to foreign investment and prioritizing debt repayment, measures which benefited the Haitian elite but not Haitian workers who are among the worst paid in our hemisphere.

Then in 2000, the U.S. froze all foreign aid to Haiti, as did other countries, citing election "irregularities" and economic corruption. This exacerbated an already poor economic picture.

The situation has steadily declined to the point that Haiti is no longer exporting coffee, rum and other agricultural products, while tourism and assembly work in maquiladoras has fallen off sharply.

Today life expectancy in Haiti is 49 years due to extreme poverty, the lack of medical services, and an AIDS epidemic. Severe conditions like these would spark dissatisfaction anywhere.

The 2000 elections and charges of fraud

The U.S. has cited the 2000 elections as proof of corruption in Aristide's government.

However, the State Department simply seems to be echoing the dissatisfaction of the Haitian elite with his regime.

The Lavalas Party of Aristide won 80% of the local and parliamentary seats they ran for in 2000. The opposition boycotted these elections and, along with international election observers, charged fraud had occurred in eight senate races. The winners of these races refused to go into run-off elections, as requested, and subsequently gave up their seats in parliament instead. This, however, did not satisfy Aristide's critics. Two coup attempts in 2001 followed and anti-government protests, which had been frequent since 2000, escalated in 2003.

Intra-capitalist rivalry and the French connection

It is Haiti's misfortune to have been a colony of France and later a neo-colony of the U.S. Slavery, military invasions, deliberate underdevelopment, millions of refugees, dictatorships and military juntas have been the price of Haiti's "special relationship" with these two imperialist powers.

Now French imperialism is interested in using developments in Haiti to get a foothold in this hemisphere. Last week, the French government was the first to demand that Aristide "respect the rule of law" and to pressure him to step down. The French also talked about sending French troops to support a government of national unity and to oversee new elections. The U.S. viewed this as the French encroaching on their interests in Latin America and the Caribbean. Now both countries have agreed to contribute troops to a U.N. multilateral "peacekeeping" force authorized by the Security Council.

Defend the Haitian people against mass murder

The U.S. has prepared the ground for a bloodbath in Haiti. Already newspapers are reporting that "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the dictator that Aristide replaced, is interested in returning from "exile" on the French Riviera. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's supporters will surely now be hunted down again and massacred as they were in 1991-94.

Whatever flaws Aristide's regime had, the U.S-backed alternative is much, much worse.

The only way to prevent mass murder in Haiti now is to open U.S. borders to any and all refugees. This is especially critical since the Dominican Republic, which already has a Haitian population of 1 million, has sent 1,200 troops to prevent more refugees from entering the country.

In the current situation, the only humanitarian act that has any meaning is to welcome those fleeing a crisis created by imperialists bent on keeping Haitian workers under their heel.

Liberation News:

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