Aristide’s Outa There


The Associated Press reports that Aristide has resigned and left the country.

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned and fled the country Sunday, bowing to pressure from a bloody rebellion at home and governments abroad. Gunfire rang out through the capital and black smoke billowed from the city center.Supreme Court Justice Boniface Alexandre declared three hours later he was taking charge of the country under the constitution. He urged calm after more than three weeks of violence.

“The task will not be an easy one,” Alexandre, who is in his 60s, said at a news conference. “Haiti is in crisis. … It needs all its sons and daughters. No one should take justice into their own hands.”

Well, the Bush Admin said they preferred the thugs and murderers who fomented the rebellion to the freely-elected Aristide, and now they’ve got what they wanted. These are the same people who made Haiti a living hell of murder squads and torture chambers the last time Aristide got booted. Here’s the NYT on the personalities involved:

They are “the new Haitian army,” said one of their commanders, Remissainthe Ravix. They are also “thugs,” said Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.They are men like Louis-Jodel Chamblain and Jean-Pierre Baptiste — two leaders of Fraph, the Haitian Front for Advancement and Progress. Fraph was an instrument of terror wielded by the military junta that overthrew Haiti’s embattled president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 1991. It killed thousands over the next three years.

Mr. Chamblain, a former Haitian Army officer, was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for the 1993 murder of Antoine Izméry, an important Aristide supporter. Before the trial, he fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic, returning to Haiti in recent months to seek power.

Mr. Baptiste, also known as Jean Tatoune, was serving a life sentence for murder, in connection with a 1994 massacre of Aristide supporters, when he was freed in a jailbreak in August.

“Fraph is back,” President Aristide said….

Although the question of American intervention is being bruited about the halls of power in DC, including State, Junior has so far given every indication that he has no intention of interfering. He ignored the crisis as it was building over the last couple of months, and the only public statement from his Administration was a suggestion that Aristide stepping down “would be the best hope for democracy” in Haiti. Exactly how turning the country over to the same death squads that killed thousands and all but destroyed the country’s economy and govt structure qualifies as Haiti’s “best hope for democracy” remains unexplained. I think it’s just something they say, like an advertising slogan. “New and Improved” when it isn’t either. I don’t know how else to explain it.

In any case, we once again have a full-blown humanitarian crisis bubbling on our doorstep thanks to BA inaction. What, you might ask, does Bush have against Aristide? In Thursday’s debate, Kerry suggested it was theological differences.

KERRY: Here’s what I’m telling you. Here’s what I’m telling you. This administration set up an equation. They have a theological and a ideological hatred for Aristide. They always have.And they approach this so that the insurgents were given — empowered by this administration, because they said to the insurgents, “If you…

(APPLAUSE)

“… Until you reach an agreement with Aristide and the government about sharing power, we’re not going to provide aid and assistance.”

So we empowered them to simply veto any agreement, which is what they’re still doing with respect to a power-sharing in another government.

Jeanne at Body and Soul finds the reference to theology intriguing.

The Bush administration obviously has no love for a leftist government in Haiti, but is Kerry onto something in suggesting that a liberation theology priest is threatening to Bush’s concept of faith, which, we are constantly reminded, is a central part of who he is? I never thought of it that way before, but it rings true.

Indeed. Aristide’s theology preaches tolerance and expansion of the soul; Bush’s fundamentalism is aimed in exactly the opposite direction–intolerance of non-believers and a soul restricted to Biblical literalism on pain of eternal damnation. It’s a thought.

Jeanne goes on to note a rather remakable statement by Republican Sen Mike DeWine of Ohio to the effect that the trouble is all Aristide’s fault for fighting back when he was attacked.

‘If Aristide’s gangs fight, you’re going to have a bloodbath, with innocents killed in the crossfire, and it’s going to be live on CNN,” said Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, Friday at a forum on Haiti.DeWine, who has made 14 trips to Haiti, called for the quick intervention of a military force with U.S. participation to stop spiraling violence.

Jeanne replies:

Do I have this right? The “bloodbath” will be the result of people loyal to the elected government fighting back. Therefore we nee a “quick intervention,” not, presumably, to protect the elected government, but to prevent it from fighting back?So when thugs attack you, you’re supposed to give up? You’re supposed to say, fine, you be charge now?

If you’re on the wrong side of the Bushian theological divide, the answer appears to be “Yes.”

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