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2004-04-07

Witnesses: U.S. Special Forces Trained and Armed Haitian Anti-Aristide Paramilitaries in D.R.

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As Colin Powell returns from his one-day visit to Haiti, we speak with criminal justice professor Dr. Luis Barrios about his trip to the Dominican Republic where he says lawyers, journalists, and Dominican soldiers all claim 200 U.S. Special Forces were in the country to train the so-called Haitian rebel forces before going into Haiti to depose Aristide. [includes rush transcript]

Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected calls Monday by Caribbean nations for a United Nations inquiry into the ouster of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

Aristide has maintained he was overthrown in a U.S.-led coup when he was flown to the Central African Republic at the end of February.

Powell, who traveled to Haiti to meet with the new U.S.-installed government, said, "I don’t think any purpose would be served by such an inquiry. Haiti was on the verge of a total security collapse."

Powell’s one-day mission to Haiti today is the first such visit by a U.S. secretary of state since Madeleine Albright went to Haiti in 1998.

Human Rights Watch said Powell should press the interim Haitian government to pursue justice for abusive rebel leaders as well as members of the deposed government.

Haitian justice officials have promised to prosecute abusive former members of the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but have showed little interest in pursuing abusive leaders of the rebel forces.

Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s interior minister was arrested and charged Tuesday with conspiring to kill Aristide opponents in February.

In contrast, last week Justice Minister Bernard Gousse raised the possibility of pardoning Jean Tatoune, a gang leader who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000 for his role in a 1994 Raboteau massacre.

  • Dr. Luis Barrios, professor of criminal justice at John Jay College in New York City. He is also a prominent community leader in New York’s Puerto Rican and Dominican communities as well as a priest in the Episcopal Church. He recently returned from the Dominican Republic.

Transcript

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

AMY GOODMAN: We’ll go to Tom Griffin in just a minute. Dr. Luis Barrios. You were looking at who the rebel forces were and where they came from?

DR. LUIS BARRIOS: Yes. We were running interviews at the Dominican Republic and also field trips trying to get the information on what was going on in the Dominican Republic for the last two years. And preliminary reports from the report that we put together on the commission is that at least for two years, the group of rebels were living in the Dominican Republic. They were training different settings, military settings that belongs to the Dominican government. Also in San Cristobar. Also that they were receiving technical training every month through the so-called International Republican Institute at Santo Domingo hotel every month. That was also the day for payment.

AMY GOODMAN: The I.R.I.

DR. LUIS BARRIOS: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Was training the Haitian rebel forces?

DR. LUIS BARRIOS: Yes. They are behind this training. Not only the technical but also the money, and they were also some of the people who facilitate the so-called 20,000 M-16 rifles that were supposed to go into the Dominican armed forces and in some way most of them went into the houses of the rebels in the Dominican Republic. In addition to that, also, we identified through information for lawyers, journalists and also ex-militaries and militaries from the Dominican Republic that 200 members of the special forces of the United States were there in the area training these so-called rebels, Haitian rebels before going into Haiti.

AMY GOODMAN: And who were some of these rebels?

DR. LUIS BARRIOS: Well, we have Philippe, we have Chamblain, which is very interesting, one of the reporters in the Dominican Republic, Ortega, interviewed Jodel Chamblain. At the same time that he was running the interview, he was wearing a national police Dominican Republic uniform. They became aware later when the program was on the air, he was not supposed to do the interview with the uniform. That was one of the information that we got from people.

AMY GOODMAN: Jodel Chamblain, number two man in FRAP, ten years ago when Aristide was forced out in the 1991, 1994 coup, investigative journalist, Allan Narin was able to prove that FRAP and Emmanuel Constant, head of the payroll on the intelligence agencies of this country, known for being responsible for the —- deaths of hundreds and perhaps thousands. Jodel Chamblain found guilty in absentia of the killing of the justice minister, Guy Mallory in 1993, of Antoine Ismaili—- the Haitian businessman, Jodel Chamblain has returned wearing an official uniform of the Dominican Republic.

DR. LUIS BARRIOS: Dominican Republic, yes. National police.

AMY GOODMAN: Doing an interview.

DR. LUIS BARRIOS: Yes. Because the way they were doing this was to hire them in military settings in the Dominican Republic, and allowing them to wear the Dominican uniforms as a way of masking that they were from another country. But then when they were running this interview that was a serious mistake. So, that interview went into air and everybody saw the insignias of the Policia Nationale, the national police that Chamblain was wearing.

AMY GOODMAN: So that was Chamblain, we are now hearing latest news that the current government of Haiti is talking about pardoning Jean Tatoune? LUIS BARRIOS Yes. Also you have to understand that most of these people that were active in the 1991 coup, so what they did was that they reactivated all of these people. They got together in the Dominican Republic. That included running most of the meeting in Santo Domingo with the International Institute for Democracy and also all of the ex-militaries that were suspended under the Aristide government. So, they got together in the Dominican Republic. The so-called training was more to actualize the techniques through the Special Forces that came from the United States, and then prepared to go into Haiti. And by the way, this was going on for two years. Similar to what the Contras were doing against the Nicaraguan government, the Sandanistas. Chamblain, Philippe were doing it also. They were in the Dominican Republic for two years and going into Haiti territories, doing all of these kind of actions, military actions and running back into the Dominican Republic for at least two years. President Aristide was requesting president Mahia, to arrest them and give it to the Haitian government and Mahia never arrested them. Only on two occasions the Dominican military arrested Philippe on two locations in the border and he was in prison for 24 hours and they let him go. This was going on for more than two years.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your assessment of general Colin Powell, Secretary of State, going to Haiti and saying that he believes that there should not be a U.N. inquiry, responding to calls from Caribbean nations saying that there should be into the ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide what Jean-Bertrand Aristide calls a "U.S. backed coup." It’s the same pattern we have been following for years.

DR. LUIS BARRIOS: Well, it’s the same pattern we have been following for years. It happened with Panama. It happened with Chile. It happened with all of the atrocities they have been running against Cuba and also Venezuela. It happened in my country, Puerto Rico, with all of the situations of being a colony. Going there, saying that we underestimate this kind of investigation. We understand it’s not necessary. We have already run the investigation. Please believe in what we’re saying is this kind of blind faith that makes people stupid, is they want to assess what Colin Powell is trying to get us to believe. We understand it’s a lot of illegal actions here, violations of the Haiti constitution, but also a violation of international laws. He knows that, but he’s trying to go there as a puppet and mask all of these crimes on behalf of the U.S.A. government. He knows he’s guilty. He knows this government is guilty of overthrowing a democratic government. This is the third one, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and now they’re looking at Cuba and Venezuela. This is how they do this.

AMY GOODMAN: We are talking about the situation in Haiti right now. And we spoke with Randall Robinson, Democracy now! Traveling to the Central African Republic with U.S. Congress member Maxine Waters. Randall Robinson, founder of Trans Africa. They went to C.A.R. to escort the Aristides back to the Caribbean, calling the U.S.’s bluff. He is a free man or a prisoner. Now Aristide is in the Caribbean but in Jamaica. Tomorrow, Condoleezza Rice will be testifying before the 9-11 commission. Randall Robinson a few days ago came on the air and said that the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice was pressuring the prime minister of Jamaica to expel Aristide once again from the hemisphere.

DR. LUIS BARRIOS: Well, you know, one of the things that I hate most from these process is that first they use him to representation of human exclusion, that has been so powerful here in the Snited States, that for some black people and women, and they use these characters, Colin Powell and Condi Rice to do these dirty jobs on behalf of George w. Bush. She’s going to go there and lie. They have a way to lie regarding these kinds of issues. But she’s going to go into underestimating what’s going on in Haiti. She’s going to go into highlighting that Aristide was dealing with drugs, that people were tired of Aristide’s government. They were looking for a change. I’m not saying that all of this is wrong. But I’m saying that we have legal institutions to deal with so-called complaints that people are raising in Haiti. So, Condoleezza Rice is going to say the same thing as what Colin Powell said at the United Nations.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Luis Barrios, professor of criminal justice at John Jay College in New York returned from the Dominican Republic investigating the training of the rebel forces that have taken place in Dominican Republic.

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