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Pieces of the Puzzle

April 2004

Was the armed rebellion that helped drive President Aristide from office a ragtag group of poorly funded freelancers who couldn’t get Washington to return their phone calls?

While many (including some of our partners in Haiti and many of our friends in the U.S.) believe that Aristide’s ouster was a carefully planned coup financed by the CIA, David Adams reports in the St. Petersburg Times that the rebel forces that swept the Haitian countryside and toppled the Lavalas government may have been “more Keystone Kops than White House-orchestrated covert operations.”

Adams also investigates allegations that last fall’s student uprisings may have been designed by the International Republican Institute, an organization with close ties to the Republican Party.

An article in the Economist looks into the possibility that the rebels received logistical support from the government of the Dominican Republic. That raises the question of how much the White House and the Pentagon knew about (or participated in) the planning for the insurgency.

These reports are interesting pieces of the puzzle that haven’t been widely reported, and they’re worth considering. It’s vital that we understand the complexities of the events that led to Aristide’s removal from office last February, and that we hold the Bush administration responsible for its role in Aristide’s ouster.

It’s also vital that we recall that there were broad-based, peaceful, democratic movements mobilizing to demand Aristide’s resignation, based not on outside agitators from inside the Beltway, but on their own understanding of the failures and abuses of the Aristide government.

Most vital of all, we must help the Haitian people find ways to move forward and to build stable democratic institutions that respect the human rights–policical, social and economic–of all Haitians.

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