by Andrew Grice on Sat Mar 6th, 2004
This much is undeniable. After doing absolutely nothing to prevent the coup in Haiti, both France and the United States called on Aristide to resign. Soon after, well armed U.S. personal flew him to....the Central African Republic. Aristide called it a modern kidnapping, part and parcel of the modern coup against the only democratically elected President Haiti has ever had.
Why CAR? Why not Trinidad or Jamaica, or Venezuela or any number of nearby countries? If Aristide was as free a man as Colin Powell and a half dozen other senior Bush administration officials insist, why the hell would he have wanted to go to CAR? There's no answer to that question.
Instead, why would the United States and France, whose leaders have cooed over their newfound spirit of "successful" cooperation, want to force Aristide to go to CAR? For starters, there's nothing like a 20 hour plane flight surrounded by heavily armed guards to keep a deposed President kinda quiet for a while.
But Aristide wouldn't shut up once he got to CAR. He told CNN he'd been kidnapped by the United States and that France had been out to get him ever since he demanded that France repay the 21 billion it extorted from Haiti following the revolution.
Haiti was impoverished by that debt when it was "only" 150 million francs. They were still paying it off over 100 years later when the United States invaded in 1915. I'm hard pressed to think of a more cut and dried case for historical reparations. Unlike crimes of war and slavery, it's easy to set a dollar figure on the damages. France could well afford to pay it. But the last thing France, or any of the colonial powers want is to set an example for paying reparations to a former colony.
The Central African Republic was also a French colony. And, like Haiti, it too suffered long under a cruel dictator propped up by massive western subsidies. Subsidies which were stolen before they could do the people of CAR much good. Subsidies from France, as it were.
And, like Haiti, Central African Republic is now ruled by coup leaders who, with much violence, overthrew a democratically elected President. Only their coup happened 50 weeks earlier. Officially, France joined the United States and many other governments the March 2003 coup that brought Francois Bozize to power. Yet, like in Haiti, France showed nothing but some hollow words to prevent this coup from happening, and wasted little time in making good relations with new junta.
Aristide himself foiled an earlier coup plot in 2000, led by Guy "I am the Chief/I love Pinochet" Phillipe. And like Haiti, the Central African Republic suffered a failed coup just two years before one was successful. And who was accused of being behind that 2001 coup attempt? France. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/1394392.stm
"The Central African Republic's President, Ange-Felix Patasse, has accused France of "complicity" in last month's failed coup attempt but said without help from Libya, the bloodshed would have continued longer."
President Patasse even showed the press crates of military gear marked with French flags that they'd taken from coup attempters.
So what did France do? Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine complained about Libya sending two planes of gear and soldiers to help defeat the coup. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2001/jun2001/car-j19.shtml
Kind of strange behavior, unless you were hoping Patasse would be overthrown. Just as it was "strange" that the United States blocked reinforcements to Aristide's presidential security force. Strange, unless they wanted him to have no security.
Kind of strange too that after France's seeming disappointment with the 2001 CAR coup, that the leader of the 2003 coup should have come straight from exile in Paris to lead the coup. And that troops from Paris would come so quickly in 2003 AFTER the coup to "restore order," and so conveniently for the new regime to consolidate power. Just as French troops have so quickly returned to Haiti, AFTER the coup.
Obviously both France and the United States want to keep Aristide silenced. So, are they hiding the witness to this year's crime at the scene of last years crime? Reproduced from: