March 14, 2004
Patterson, Powell and the Haitian crisis
by Ian Boyne, Contributor
[quote]In a February 19 interview on radio with Sam Donaldson, Powell strongly defended Jean-Bertrand Aristide against the rebel attacks he was coming under. In a report prepared by the US State Department itself , Powell is quoted as telling Donaldson that "Since he (Aristide) is the elected leader, we should not be putting forward a plan that would require him to step down. Right now President Aristide is the elected president of Haiti and that is what we are standing behind".
The State Department writer noted that "Armed gangs - have vowed to attack the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince within a week if Aristide does not step down. Powell insisted that these threats must not succeed." Note that very ca
refully. Now here's the direct quote from Powell: "We cannot allow these thugs to come out of the hills or even an opposition to simply rise up and say "we want you to leave" in an undemocratic, non-constitutional manner. We want this situation to play out in a constitutional manner". That was February 19-not 2002 or 2003, but 2004. By February 29 he had changed his tune completely and was in the media saying what an awful fellow Aristide was.
[quote]While on February 19 he rightly attacked the thugs, vowing that they should not be allowed to force out a democratically elected Government and while he had said plainly that "Aristide is the elected president of Haiti and that is what we are standing behind", a few days later he was saying that Aristide had corrupted democracy and was unsupportable. Did his knowledge of the Haitian situation change so dramatically in a few days?
The Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs said in its st
atement on Monday that "While Powell's rhetoric at the time appeared to represent the high road on the issue, he continuously was being undermined by Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega and White House Aide Otto Reich in their off-the-record briefings to journalists and other interested parties. In contrast to Powell's line, these Press sessions implied that regime change was very much an option and that Aristide could be muscled aside in any negotiation process".
The Council noted that despite Powell's pledge to seek a constitutional solution to Haiti's crisis, "he reversed himself by ignoring Haiti's constitution which stipulates that a president can only convey his resignation to the country's legislature."
[quote]If Powell had been consistent in his denunciation of Aristide, he would not come out of the Haitian crisis with so much egg on his face. It is a source of embarrassment to people of African descent that Colin Powell
is made to seem so contradictory and confused. At least the Caucasian hawks in the Bush Administration have never hidden their aversion to Aristide.
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