President Bush Behind Haitian
By Kevin Pina
The second week of February 2004 President Aristide made a public pronouncement that he would never resign his elected authority, invoking the image of the fallen democrat Salvador Allende of Chile by announcing he was "willing to die in office." The following week it appeared Washington had all the pieces in place to take him out, including the final gambit of a "rebel" paramilitary army surrounding Port au Prince.
In Washington it was thought this was more than enough to pressure Aristide into voluntarily resigning his office and fleeing Haiti. More important was that all of Washington's window dressing would give the impression of yet another embattled dictator of Haiti falling upon his own sword. The State Department needed just a little more time to close the noose around Aristide's neck. The plan was to allow Phillipe and Chamblain's forces to move closer to the capital and clash with defending Lavalas partisans, thus making the scenario complete for the gullible international press.
Unfortunately, this calculation depended upon a weakened and docile president of Haiti, paralyzed and incapable of defending himself. Reality caught US planners by surprise and led to what history will recall as one of the greatest scandals of US-sponsored democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the days preceding Aristide's overthrow a press report surfaces that causes panic in the US State Department. An undisclosed Venezuelan diplomat is quoted as saying his government is prepared to provide unilateral assistance to the Haitian government under the terms of the Rio Treaty and the Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States.
At about the same time a credible source working in the US Embassy in Port au Prince leaks word of intercepted phone calls of advisors close to Aristide who are "actively procuring additional arms and ammunition to re-supply the Haitian National Police. These same advisors discussed releasing existing stockpiles of arms to local auxiliary forces aligned with Lavalas." This new information means that Aristide and his advisors were actively pursuing means to defend his government by force of arms, and that the image the US State Department promulgated of a defeated president reconciled to his fate would no longer play with the media. It was determined that they had to act fast before Aristide regrouped for the final showdown.
While the United States watches Venezuela closely for any move on the part of the Chavez government to aid Aristide, CARICOM quietly negotiates with a second friendly nation to provide arms, ammunition and riot control gear for the Haitian police. The Republic of South Africa, whose President Thabo Mbeki was one of the highest-ranking international dignitaries to attend Haiti's bicentennial celebrations, agrees to send 150 R1 rifles, 5000 bullets, 200 smoke grenades, and 200 bullet-proof vests to re-supply Haiti's embattled police. The US Marines enter Aristide's residence with overwhelming force and put him on a plane the very moment a Boeing 747 filled with this equipment is refueling on a tarmac in Kingston, Jamaica, less than 300 miles away.
Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson later admits the plane was refueling in Jamaica before heading on to Haiti, but that it had been stopped after Aristide's departure. A far cry from the image presented by the governments of Washington, Paris and Ottawa of a defeated leader resigned to his fate, it is now clear that Aristide was prepared to fight to the end to continue his democratic mandate and the right of Haitians to run Haiti. The US Marines intervened to insure this would never happen.
These are the concluding paragraphs of a long piece on Haiti available at http://www.blackcommentator.com/105/105_pina.html and also posted at globalresearch.ca.