[R-G] Granma: Aristide is constitutional president -- Cuban doctors to stay
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Sat Mar 6 10:05:12 MST 2004
Date: 3/3/2004 6:45:50 PM Subject: Granma on the Coup & Cuban Doctors in
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Granma International Online - March 3, 2004 http://www.granma.cu
ANOTHER MILITARY INTERVENTION IN HAITI
President Aristide affirms he was removed from power by the US
by Lidice Valenzuela Special for Granma International
Haiti is once again facing foreign military intervention, after Jean
Bertrand Aristide, the constitutional president, a former Catholic
priest who assumed government in 2001 with wide popular backing, was
forced by the United States and France to abandon the country.
Aristide stated that he was kidnapped and the victim of a coup
undertaken with the complicity of Washington, whose authorities took him
to the Central African Republic, where he is in the custody of French
In a telephone interview with CNN, Aristide said that a group of U.S.
soldiers came to his residence and forced him to sign a document
resigning from his position.
Meanwhile the CARICOM member countries were called to an urgent meeting
by that regional organizations president, Jamaican Prime Minister
Percival Patterson, to discuss the crisis in Haiti. Patterson expressed
his reservations over the circumstances that resulted in Aristides
departure from the Port-au-Prince National Palace.
This is the second time that Aristide, aged 50, has been forced to
abandon his small nation considered the poorest in Latin America and
the Caribbean and precisely in the year of the bicentenary of the
Haitian Revolution and the constitution of the Republic.
Initially under French colonial rule and subsequently looted by
continuous military dictatorships, Haiti shares its island territory
with the Dominican Republic, where Aristide traveled prior to arriving
in the Central African Republic.
Analysts believe that the origin of the current crisis goes back to the
violent murder last December of opposition leader Amoiot Metayer, one of
those in charge of the paramilitary groups that have now brought chaos
and death to various cities.
The government of the former Salesian priest was accused of Metayers
murder by the opposition, after which the violence began to escalate
that had its climax on February 5 with 80 deaths, hundreds of injuries
and incalculable material losses.
Diplomatic sources state that generations of Haitians have lived in fear
of the military and their murderous gangs, and are consigned to inferior
roles by a minority sector of individuals who make up just one per cent
of the population but control and dominate the national wealth.
At this juncture, despite his conciliation attempts towards the
opposition, Aristide was forced to abandon his post, in a repetition of
his own political history. Elected in 1990 in the first free elections
after more than
20 years of the Duvalier dictatorship (father and son), he was toppled
one year later by a bloody military coup led by General Raoul Cedrás,
but returned to the country to popular acclaim in 1994 despite
international pressure, and thanks to a secret agreement negotiated with
Cedrás by former U.S. President James Carter.
The return of the former priest was backed up by 20,000 soldiers sent in
by Carter with UN consent.
René Preval replaced Aristide in the 1995 elections as the Haitian
constitution prohibits a second consecutive mandate. Five years later,
Aristide once again stood for election and won the current mandate, due
to conclude in
On the two occasions that he found himself Haitian head of state, the
former priest who was ordained in 1982 and expelled from his order in
1988 for his defense of Liberation Theology was the great hope of the
Haitian people. He had a key role in the popular uprising that brought
decades of dictatorship to an end during the 1980s.
But his second government was tainted by allegations of irregularities
during the election process, pressure from ex-military personnel who
wanted to occupy positions of power at all costs and even, according to
many analysts, not meeting the commitments given to Washington when it
helped him return to the presidency.
In September 2002, the Organization of American States (OAS) passed a
resolution in support of lifting the economic sanctions imposed on Haiti
in exchange for creating an Electoral Council within two months in order
to organize elections in 2003, but the time period expired without
anything happening. At the end of the year, the opposition called the
first general strike demanding Aristides resignation from government.
Right-wing media channels launched a series of campaigns directed at
creating chaos and confusion and, according to official spokespersons,
making libelous claims in an attempt to discredit the president and his
It was his former protector the United States that eventually pressured
Aristide into resigning at the end of last week, subsequently
acknowledging that it had facilitated his departure under top security
in order to save his life.
FRUITLESS ATTEMPTS TO AVOID CRISIS
Over the last few weeks, the advance of armed gangs led by former
military leaders and members of the coup faction placed President
Aristide in a compromising situation, despite the fact he insisted on
several occasions that he would not resign. He attempted to hold talks
with the opposition and requested aid from international organizations.
He never closed the door to conciliation efforts, as was seen on
21 when he accepted a plan of action from the Caribbean Community
(CARICOM) presented by an international mediation delegation, made up of
representatives from the United States, Canada, France, the OAS and
The project, which never progressed because of the oppositions stance,
contained a compromise formula though which a new prime minister with
certain constitutional powers would be named. Although it appeared that
the United States was supporting the president, in private that nation
had continued to distance itself from him.
Meanwhile the OAS, the organization supposedly responsible for security
and peace within the region, went in for ineffective remedies and failed
to adopt a firm position in order to defend the constitutional
president. Nor did the United Nations play its part. It only responded
when Aristide had gone, by sending in a multinational force hours after
military troops from the United States, Canada, France and Brazil all
of them united in the high-sounding Friends of Haiti group, which also
includes Chile and the CARICOM states had already landed, prepared to
post their soldiers there for a three-month period. A sufficient amount
of time for restoring calm, they say.
The Haitian civil opposition, which was unwilling to enter into talks
with the president and insisted on calling for his immediate
resignation, accepted the arrival of the multinational force to be
replaced by a UN peace-keeping force, according to an agreement
contracted with that organization last Monday whilst violence was
still reigning the capital city, Port-au-Prince.
Guy Phillipe, leader of the military bands and the former police chief
who led the frustrated coup détat in December 2001, announced an end to
the war and welcomed the arrival of the U.S. Marines. We need them,
affirmed Phillipe, who stated that he was prepared to lay down arms and
support interim President Boniface Alexandre, leader of the Supreme
Court of Justice.
Various media channels are anticipating a humanitarian catastrophe with
unforeseeable consequences. The paramilitary groups accompanied their
actions with looting and setting fire to installations, thus food
supplies are virtually exhausted and the mass exodus of those trying to
abandon the island in search of refuge are continuing. The governments
of Jamaica, Venezuela and South Africa have expressed their disapproval
of the overthrow of the president.
WHATS IN STORE FOR HAITI?
On the two occasions on which he was elected president, Jean-Bertrand
Aristide represented a possibility for economic and social change for
the Haitian people, according to his partys political project.
Immersed in tremendous poverty as a result of political corruption and
international economic sanctions, Haitis history is plagued with
continuous political, social and economic crises. There have been 32
coup détats since the nation became a republic.
There is nothing to suppose that such a panorama could change. Doubtless
the parties involved in the military intervention in Haiti will advocate
a transitional government and announce general elections, in which some
of those involved in the presidents overthrow will appear as
Any prediction for this small and impoverished nation involves the
military, whose thirst for personal gain is infinite. It will bear no
relation with searching for a solution to poverty, debt, lack of
education and healthcare, low incomes or the unrest that has rocked
Haiti throughout its history.
Those who believe that a foreign military presence will constitute a
guarantee for pacifying the country are making a great error. When those
soldiers return to their bases, life will be the same in this little
nation, the first free republic in the Caribbean and a country that
today, in the 21st century, possesses levels of poverty that are
medieval. We have seen the film already.
CUBAN DOCTORS ATTENDING GUNSHOT VICTIMS
They are to continue offering their services in the Caribbean nation
THE Cuban medical brigade serving in Haiti attended to 22 gunshot
victims in just two days and are working non-stop under difficult
conditions, reported the missions director, Dr. Juan Carlos Chávez.
None of the injured died, affirmed Dr. Héctor Torres, who heads the
brigade delegation in the capital, Port-au-Prince. He explained that
they have performed operations, including removing a projectile from one
persons back, and reconstructing another persons jaw, fractured by
The doctors are staying at their posts throughout the country, and in
Port-au-Prince, the only functioning hospital is the improvised one set
up by the Cuban brigade members, according to an official statement
published in the March 3 edition of Granma daily.
The Cuban specialists remain serene and are working tirelessly in that
hospital, now joined by Pan-American Health Organization and
International Red Cross authorities, the statement reports.
The lives of men, women and children have been saved in that facility,
now flying the Cuban flag and the Red Cross banner, showing the way for
anyone needing help.
The Cuban specialists are distributed throughout all the countrys
provinces and attend to 75 percent of the countrys 8.3 million
The aid being offered by the Cuban personnel is crucial, if it is taken
into account that Haiti has less than 2,000 doctors and nearly 90
percent of them work in the capital, according to the statement.
Its members have saved the lives of more than 86,000 people, and in the
areas where they work, have reduced the infant mortality rate for babies
12 months from 80 to 28 per 1,000 live births, and in children under
five, from 159 to 39 per live births. The maternal mortality rate went
down from 523 deaths to
259 per 100,000 live births.
The Cuban specialists will continue to save lives and combat disease in
this poverty-stricken country, which is now suffering from an internal
situation that led to all the capital hospitals closing their doors, the
official statement continues.
Without making any distinction in terms of political position or the
economic resources of those who come for help, without interfering in
internal political affairs, the Cuban health personnel in Haiti are
continuing to offer their help to the population in these difficult
moments, the statement concludes.
Copyright (c) 2004 Granma International. All rights reserved.
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