Haiti Occupation

International Action Center
Founded by Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark
39 W. 14th St., NY, NY, 10011 212-633-6646,

A Message from Ramsey Clark
March 1, 2004

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS worked towards the removal of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office for three years. It has enforced a unilateral embargo and cut off humanitarian aid to the poorest country in the hemisphere. It has sought to undermine support for President Aristide while supporting his opposition. It has waged a relentless propaganda campaign to force him out of office. It has supported calls for elections in violation of the constitution and laws of Haiti.

Most recently the U.S. has forced regime change by armed aggression supporting former Haitian military officers, FRAPH leaders and criminal elements who entered Haiti with heavy firepower. Though only hundreds in number they easily captured Cap Haitien, Gonaives, Hinche and Les Cayes, killing the police who were untrained in warfare, or in defending against commando units, armed only with pistols.

This small force could never have entered Haiti if President Aristide, a man of peace, had not abolished the Haitian army, a praiseworthy act. Unfortunately, this left the country defenseless against armed aggression.

The international organizations, CARICOM, OAS and the UN should have acted to protect the democratically elected government of Haiti. After Costa Rica abolished its army, President Somoza (who U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt called "our SOB") of Nicaragua, twice threatened invasions of Costa Rica, only to be stopped, once by the OAS and once by Venezuela.

The U.S. consistently acted to force President Aristide to leave Haiti, abandon his constitutional duties, repudiate democratic processes and desert his people to the tender mercies of the Old Regime. The army, the paramilitary FRAPH, criminal gangs and the old oligarchy that supported Duvalier terrorism against the Haitian people with U.S. support for 30 years. When in 1986 Baby Doc Duvalier was forced to leave, his repressive forces no longer able to contain the anger of the people, it was in a U.S. Air Force plane to the French Riviera with millions of dollars wrung from the sweat of the poor people of Haiti.

President Aristide consistently refused to leave his people, to resign, to subvert Haitian democracy and constitutional government under enormous pressure from the Bush Administration. He was under that enormous pressure for months as violence was again threatening his presidency as it did in 1991, nine months into his first term as the first democratically elected president of Haiti, the first and only country in which a successful slave rebellion took place. That revolution was begun by Toussaint Louverteur in 1791 and ended under Jean-Jacques Dessalines and others who defeated Napoleon's legions, 20,000 strong, and win independence for Haiti in 1804.

In his autobiography published in exile in 1992 first in France, Aristide wrote, "In Haiti, we are watching the ascent of a rebellious people who are revolting against slavery. I am only the reflection, an echo of that movement?they are the principal actors. I simply try to exist in their dimension, to show love and non-violence, through and beyond all the difficulties of life, as the only thing that will enable us to go forward."

President Aristide listed in the final chapter of his autobiography, "The Ten Commandments of Democracy in Haiti," first spoken by him before the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 1991. The commandments of President Aristide, the political faith of a priest, scholar and person of, by and for the poor, included: liberty; democracy; fidelity to human rights; the right to eat and to work; defense of the Haitian diaspora; no to violence; fidelity to the human being ― and the highest form of wealth ― fidelity to Haitian culture; everyone around the same table.

This is the man President Bush has deposed.

If the Bush administration policy of unilateral wars of aggression, violations of international law and the U.S. Constitution and regime change is to be stopped before the U.S. loses its last friend and creates a wave of terrorism that will engulf the planet for years, the U.S. Congress must investigate:
1. The role of the U.S. in forcing President Aristide from Haiti
2. The support the Bush administration gave in training, financing and arming the aggression against Haiti
3. The acts the Bush administration took to destabilize social order in Haiti, to support the old army, the FRAPH and the wealthy oligarchies
4. The role the U.S. played in President Aristide's sudden departure from Haiti, contrary to all his public statements, and his transport to a distant country
5. Any explanation the Bush administration has for its failure to demand the former military, FRAPH and other violent groups lay down their arms, arms the U.S. provided, until the eve of the president's coerced departure
6. Why Washington placed every pressure at its disposal to force the democratically elected President of Haiti to surrender his constitutional powers
7. Why President Aristide was kidnapped in fact, even as Toussaint Louverture was kidnapped to imprisonment in France in 1803 and Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo was kidnapped by U.S. soldiers to end the Philippine-American War in 1901?

The Western Hemisphere cannot be a safe or happy place until U.S. military and economic intervention and regime change end, justice for all is assured, reparations for past offenses to Haiti are paid and until President Aristide returns for Haiti to serve his people.

Ramsey Clark

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