CONGRESSWOMAN WATERS URGES THE GOVERNMENTS
Washington, D.C. -- Today, at a press conference on Capitol Hill, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), urged the governments of the United States, France and Canada to take whatever action is necessary to disarm the thugs and killers who overthrew the democratically-elected government of Haiti last February and are now threatening the interim government of Haiti. The Congresswoman made the following statement:
"I am here today to urge the governments of the United States, France and Canada to take whatever action is necessary to disarm the thugs and killers who overthrew the democratically-elected government of Haiti last February and are now threatening the current puppet government of Haiti, which was installed by the United States."Groups of heavily-armed thugs have recently set up bases in several Haitian towns, including Petit-Goave, Grand-Goave, Jacmel, Belladere and Gonaives. The thugs are former members of the dreaded Haitian Army, which was disbanded by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1995. On August 28, they attacked a police station in Petit-Goave, chased away the police officers, and proclaimed themselves in charge of security. They also painted the police station yellow, the traditional color of Haitian Army barracks and outposts. The thugs are demanding the reestablishment of the Haitian Army, and they even had the gall to claim that the Haitian government owes them more than 10 years of back pay.
"These former members of the Haitian Army are the same thugs and killers that carried out the coup d'etat that overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the democratically-elected President of Haiti, on February 29, 2004, with the cooperation of the United States, France, Canada and the Haitian opposition's Group of 184. They are the same heavily-armed thugs that took over Haitian cities throughout the month of February, freeing criminals from prison, setting fire to police stations and terrorizing impoverished Haitians."
"Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said that the interim government of Haiti does not have the mandate nor the means to reestablish the army. He urged the rebels to negotiate, and the interim government set a deadline of September 15 for all groups holding illegal weapons to disarm. However, a spokesman for the thugs, himself a former army colonel, insisted that the Haitian authorities have no moral or legal authority to disarm them.
"It has been alleged that the thugs are now threatening the life of Interim Prime Minister Latortue in the same fashion that they threatened to come into Port-au-Prince and kill President Aristide last February.
"When President Aristide pleaded with the United States, France and Canada for assistance in stopping the violence and protecting the Haitian people, his pleas fell on deaf ears. However, once President Aristide was forced to leave Haiti, the United States, France and Canada established a multinational force to stabilize Haiti, and the United States installed an interim government, which is now led by Interim Prime Minister Latortue. Neither the U.S.-led multinational force nor the interim government took any action to disarm the thugs.
"Louis-Jodel Chamblain was one of the key organizers of the violence that preceded the February coup d'etat. Chamblain is notorious for his role as the second-in-command of FRAPH (the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti), the death squad that carried out numerous human rights violations during the three years following the 1991 coup d'etat. He was convicted in absentia for his role in the 1994 massacre of Haitians in the Raboteau neighborhood and the 1993 assassination of Antoine Izmery.
"The interim government of Haiti has actually encouraged Louis-Jodel Chamblain and other thugs who were involved in the February violence in Haiti to hold on to their weapons and consider themselves immune from justice. Less than a month after the coup d'etat, the interim government held a rally in Gonaives to commend the thugs, and Interim Prime Minister Latortue praised them and called them "freedom fighters."
"On August 16, 2004, the interim government held a sham trial, claiming to retry Louis-Jodel Chamblain for the Izmery assassination. The trial was completed by 6:00 the next morning, and a verdict was announced acquitting Chamblain of the charges. Several major newspapers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, published editorials denouncing this sham trial."Last February, several members of the Congressional Black Caucus tried to convince the governments of the United States, France and Canada to stop the impending coup d'etat in Haiti. We warned them that they were becoming involved in an unholy alliance with thugs, killers and drug dealers. We warned them that these thugs, killers and drug dealers could not be contained once they were allowed to overthrow the democratically-elected government.
"Our warnings have come true.
"The United States, France and Canada created this mess, and they have an obligation to clean it up. There can be no democracy in Haiti until these thugs and killers are disarmed."