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2004-02-18

Haitian Prime Minister: "Coup D’Etat Machine in Motion"

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Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune said international assistance was needed after nearly two weeks of violence in Haiti orchestrated by opponents of the government has left dozens of people dead. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is considering taking some role in the country and France said it would consider sending peacekeepers. [includes transcript]

Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune said yesterday "We are witnessing the coup d’état machine in motion." Neptune said international assistance was needed after nearly two weeks of violence orchestrated by opponents of the government had left dozens of people dead.

Agence France Presse reports that United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is considering taking some role in the country and France said it would consider sending peacekeepers. Meanwhile the White House publicly urged President Aristide to take, "Essential steps" to change how he governs the nation.

  • Kim Ives, editor of the Haitian newspaper, Haiti Progres.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We are on the line with Kim Ives editor of Haiti Progres, on the line. What’s happening in the country right now?

KIM IVES: Amy, it’s looking like Congo, 1960. You know, it’s a former colonial and slave-owning power fomenting a rebellion against President Aristide just as they did back then. And we see in fact wealthy businessmen leading the rebellion against the government much like the Congo. And we see Aristide on the verge of requesting peacekeepers; again as Lamumba did, but we know in the case of the Congo, that U.N. Peacekeepers that came in disarmed Lamumba’s troops helping the rebellion against them and in the end result there was a coup by Mobutu, which turned him over to his killers. We’re hoping that scenario is not reproducing. We see France, Haiti’s colonial mater, saying it’s ready to act to come in. Sending an intervention force. This is the same country that has been fomenting the rebellion over the past months. Its French diplomats who have been funding the principle opposition radio station in Haiti, who have been chaperoning and supporting the opposition leaders in trips around the country, and marches. Now they’re claiming they’re coming to help resolve the situation. It’s a little unclear whether France is working independently or is a surrogate for the U.S. We know that between these two powers, the Caribbean is seen as the U.S.'s backyard. This is something Washington has done often. It pushes Canada and France, the two other principle powers with influence in Haiti and economic interests to the fore, while they hang back. I don't think people should take the declarations of secretary of state Colin Powell, who says there’s "no enthusiasm for an intervention." On the contrary, we feel that the U.S. has had the heaviest hand in the affairs of Haiti. I have been trying to bring it precisely to this point where they can point to anarchy in the country and say, clearly, these are people who cannot govern themselves, and they need foreign intervention.

AMY GOODMAN: Kim, what about the former coup leaders, people like Earl Cedras, people like Emmanuel Constance, who was on the head of the U.S. Intelligence agency payroll, fomenting the coup from 1991 to 1994.

KIM IVES: Now, we see Toto Constance, who is presently, we believe, at least, enjoying a golden political asylum here in Queens, New York.

AMY GOODMAN: Is there any sign that any of them are returning to Haiti?

KIM IVES: Yes. Indeed. The number two of the FRAP organization, Louis Jordel who showed up last week at the head of a column of all terrain vehicles and guys dressed in camouflage gear with rifles. He led the assault on the town of Heche, where the police chief and his bodyguard were killed in the assaults. They emptied the prison. As they do in each case when they take a town. Often recruiting troops from the convicts. And then they burn down the police station. So, now Chambleir is in it. And if you want prove that terrorists are involved in the uprising, you have it right there.

AMY GOODMAN: I thank you for being with us. We will continue to follow the story in Haiti very closely. This is Democracy Now!

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