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Conversation with Former Haitian President Aristide

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Ever since more than 20,000 US troops swept into Haiti in September 1994, removing Haiti’s military dictatorship and restoring priest turned president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the question of justice for the thousands of Haitians tortured and killed during the coup has dominated the political life of the Caribbean country.

Indeed, not one major coup figure has been arrested and convicted of a crime committed during the military regime of Gen. Raoul Cedras. Haitian human rights groups say that this has been largely due to the extensive protection provided by US and UN troops to the former dictators, including death squad leader Emmanuel Constant, who now lives and works freely in New York City.

The Haitian government this week officially asked the governments of Panama, Honduras and the U.S. to extradite 10 leaders of the 1991 military coup and face charges of murder and torture back in Haiti.

At the center of the justice battle has been former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who remains the most popular political figure in Haiti. After handing over the reigns of power to his successor, Rene Preval, two years ago, Aristide has remained politically active, speaking out on behalf of Haiti’s poor majority and building support for an expected presidential run in the year 2000. He has also repeatedly slammed the IMF Structural Adjustment Program for Haiti and the privatization of state owned companies.


  • Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the former president of Haiti.

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