In the past week, armed gangs have roamed through major cities in Haiti, attacking police and civilians in an increasingly violent campaign to overthrow the democratically elected government of Jean Bertrand Aristide. Describing the so-called "rebel group" leading these assaults in Gonaives, Scott Wilson of the Washington Post (no friend of the Aristide government) wrote that "at its upper echelons the group appears led by former members of the Haitian military, dissolved in 1994 when Aristide returned to power, and the paramilitary group that opposed him." These same paramilitary forces were responsible for the 1991 coup and the bloody years following. Known as FRAPH during the coup period, these paramilitary forces killed thousands and committed countless acts of torture during that time. Now they have resurfaced.
Rather than support the populace and denounce the brutal coup attempt, the United States government seized the opportunity to continue its assault on President Aristide. On February 9, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher in a briefing that was interpreted by the corporate media as a thinly vieled demand that President Aristide had to step down as President of Haiti.
This is the HAC letter sent to the U.S. State Department.
February 12, 2004
On February 9, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters in Washington, DC:
"We recognize that reaching a political settlement will require some fairly thorough changes in the way Haiti is governed... I think that could indeed involve changes in Aristide's position." Regardless of how The State Department is trying to portray these remarks, most major news organizations interpret them to mean that President Jean Betrand Aritide must step down as President of Haiti. If that is not the position of the U.S. State Department, then it must immediately and formally rescind those remarks.
In order to encourage a peaceful normalization of the situation in Haiti, the U. S. State Department must make it clear that President Aristide shall not once again be prevented from completing his term as the constitutionally elected President of Haiti while all sides must seek a political solution quickly through dialogue, negotiations and democratic elections.
The Haiti Action Committee condemns this blatant attempt by the U.S. to sabotage Haiti's constitutional government. This State Department's statement knowingly gives the green light to the opposition forces in Haiti who are trying to take through violent means what they have never been able to win through elections. In order to not repeat the genocide that occurred in Rwanda, the international community must support the constitutional mandate given by the People of Haiti to stop the possibility of civil war. Thus, as the violence continues to mount in Haiti, the U.S. government, in particular, bears a high degree of responsibility for the current situation.
Understandably, the People of Haiti will not allow their democracy to be overturned by any internal or foreign force, power or policy. They have made it clear that they are ready to die to see their vote respected. The recent actions of the U.S. State Department has pushed Haiti to the brink of civil war.
If the situation in Haiti continues along the path provided by remarks of Richard Boucher and Louis Joinet-provoking the conditions where President Aristide does not complete his five-year term-the resulting civil war will push back peace and progress in Haiti more than fifty years. Many thousand of Haitian lives are at stake in this dangerous game being played by the Bush Administration.
The Country of Haiti belongs to its people. This Friday, February 13th, in Manhattan the Haitian-American community will come together with other friends of Haiti to speak as one voice of solidarity with the HAITIAN PEOPLE AND THEIR COUNTRY.
In Haiti they have been saying:
"We will not go into hiding again in our own country!"
"ELEKSYON WI KOUDETA, LANMO NON"
Yes, to elections - No, to Coup D'etat and Death
The Haiti Action Committee supports the People of Haiti in their demand for respect. Respect for The Haitian People's right to vote, respect for their right to democracy, to self-determination, and self-rule.
Respect for President Aristide's 5-year mandate. Respect their children's right to attend school without the opposition campaign of forced school closings, violent demonstrations and daily strikes that threaten their safety. Respect for Haitian life and the rule of law in Haiti. At that demonstration and with their voices the People of Haiti will make it clear:
"Haitian people will not tolerate this interference, especially in this our bi-centennial year in which we celebrate our nation's triumph over both racial slavery and French colonial domination. "Our rights to democracy are sacred. Our right to vote for the leader of our choice is called "D E M O C R A C Y." We voted for Aristide. This time, he shall serve his full 5-year term.This times we won't have a foreign sponsored-Coup D'etat in Haiti."
The Haiti Action Committee is working for peace. Peace for all Haitians. We demand that our own U.S. government respect the rights of the Haitian People to freely and democratically chose and keep their own sovereign government.
Haiti Action Committee
P.O. Box 2218 Berkeley, CA 94702