Monday 01 March 2004
Multiple sources that just spoke with Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide told Democracy Now! that Aristide says he was "kidnapped" and taken by force to the Central African Republic. Congressmember Maxine Waters said she received a call from Aristide at 9am EST. "He's surrounded by military. It's like he is in jail, he said. He says he was kidnapped," said Waters. She said he had been threatened by what he called US diplomats. According to Waters, the diplomats reportedly told the Haitian president that if he did not leave Haiti, paramilitary leader Guy Philippe would storm the palace and Aristide would be killed. According to Waters, Aristide was told by the US that they were withdrawing Aristide's US security.
TransAfrica founder and close Aristide family friend Randall Robinson also received a call from the Haitian president early this morning and confirmed Waters account. Robinson said that Aristide "emphatically" denied that he had resigned. "He did not resign," he said. "He was abducted by the United States in the commission of a coup." Robinson says he spoke to Aristide on a cell phone that was smuggled to the Haitian president.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. Congress member Waters, can you tell us about the conversation you just had with Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide?
MAXINE WATERS: I most certainly can and he’s anxious for me to get the message out so people will understand. He is in the Central Republic of Africa at a place called the Palace of the Renaissance, and he’s not sure if that’s a house or a hotel or what it is and he is surrounded by military. It’s like in jail, he said. He said that he was kidnapped; he said that he was forced to leave Haiti. He said that the American embassy sent the diplomats; he referred to them as, to his home where they was lead by Mr. Moreno. And I believe that Mr. Moreno is a deputy chief of staff at the embassy in Haiti and other diplomats, and they ordered him to leave. They said you must go NOW. He said that they said that Guy Phillipe and U.S. Marines were coming to Port Au Prince; he will be killed, many Haitians will be killed, that they would not stop until they did what they wanted to do. He was there with his with Mildred and his brother-in-law and two of his security people, and somebody from the Steel Foundation, and they’re all, there’s five of them that are there. They took them where they did stop in Antigua then they stopped at a military base, then they were in the air for hours and then they arrived at this place and they were met by five ministers of government. It’s a Francophone country they speak French. And they were then taken to this place called the Palace of the Renaissance where they are being held and they are surrounded by military people. They are not free to do whatever they want to do. Then the phone clicked off after we had talked for about five…we talked maybe fifteen minutes and then the phone clicked off. But he, some of it was muffled in the beginning, at times it was clear. But one thing that was very clear and he said it over and over again, that he was kidnapped that the coup was completed by the Americans that they forced him out. They had also disabled his American security force that he had around him for months now; they did not allow them to extend their numbers. To begin with they wanted them to bring in more people to provide security they prevented them from doing that and then they finally forced them out of the country. So that’s where his is and I said to him that I would do everything I could to get the word out. …that I heard it directly from him I heard it directly from his wife that they were kidnapped, they were forced to leave, they did not want to leave, their lives were threatened and the lives of many Haitians were threatened. And I said that we would be in touch with the State Department, with the President today and if at all possible we would try to get to him. We don’t know whether or not he is going to be moved. We will try and find that information out today.
AMY GOODMAN: Did President Aristide say whether or not he resigned?
MAXINE WATERS: He did not resign. He said he was forced out, that the coup was completed.
AMY GOODMAN: So again to summarize, Congress member Maxine Waters, you have just gotten off the phone with President Jean Bertrand Aristide, who said he believes he is in the Central African Republic.
MAXINE WATERS: That’s right, with French speaking officers, he’s surrounded by them and he’s in this place called the Palace of the Renaissance and he was forced to go there. They took him there.
AMY GOODMAN: What are you going to do right now?
MAXINE WATERS: I’m going to get to the State Dept to find out what do they plan on doing with him. Do they plan on leaving him there or are they planning on taking him to another country? We are going to tell them we would like to see him. We are prepared to go where he is NOW and that we are demanding that we are able to see him and go where he is. And to negotiate what will be done with him.
AMY GOODMAN: Did he describe how he was taken out? We had heard reports in Haiti that he was taken out in handcuffs. Did he…
MAXINE WATERS: No he did not say he was taken out in handcuffs. He simply said that they came led by Mr. Moreno followed by the marines and they said simply “you have to go!” You have no choice, you must go and if you don’t you will be killed and many Haitians will be killed. We are planning with Mr. De filliped to come into Puerto Rico. He will not be alone he will come with American military and you will not survive, you will be killed. You’ve got to go now!
AMY GOODMAN: How did President Aristide sound? What was the quality of his voice?
MAXINE WATERS: The quality of his voice was anxious, angry, disturbed, wanting people to know the truth.
AMY GOODMAN: Did he say why he had not made any calls since early on Sunday morning; that people had not been in touch with him for more than 36 hours. Certainly this plane was equipped with a telephone?
MAXINE WATERS: OH, I don’t think they were able to make any calls from the plane. They were only allowed to make calls once they landed. And I think the only call that they had made was to her mother who is in Florida and her brother. But they were not allowed…they had no access to telephone calls… to a telephone on the plane.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the next step…what are you going to do? What do you think the people in this country should being doing about this situation in Haiti?
MAXINE WATERS: First of all I think the people in this country should be outraged that our government led a coup de’tat against a democratically elected President. They should call, write. Fax with their outrage, not only to the State Dept. but to all of their elected officials and to the press. We have to keep the information flying in the air so people will get it and understand what is taking place. And for those of us who are elected officials we must not only get to the President, we must demand that he is returned to claim his presidency if that is what he wants. If you can recall what happened in Venezuela when Mr. Chavez was…they tried to force him out and they had someone step into the presidency and he had not resigned his presidency and he got it back. I did not have that conversation with President Aristide but we must meet with him and we must talk with him and be prepared to protect him.
AMY GOODMAN: Congress member Maxine Waters I want to thank you for being with us again. Congress member Waters has just spoken with President Aristide who she says said he was kidnapped and is now with his wife and surrounded by security in the Central African Republic.