Within hours after deposed Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide arrived in exile in the Central African Republic, questions were raised about U.S. complicity in his removal from power. Speaking to reporters, Aristide stated,
"During the night of the 28th of February 2004, there was a coup d'etat. One could say that it was a geo-political kidnapping. … The 28th of February, at night, suddenly, American military personnel who were already all over Port-au-Prince descended on my house in Tabarre to tell me … the foreigners and Haitian terrorists alike, loaded with heavy weapons, were already in position to open fire on Port-au-Prince. And right then, the Americans precisely stated that [the rebels] will kill thousands of people and it will be a bloodbath. That the attack is ready to start, and when the first bullet is fired nothing will stop them and nothing will make them wait until they take over, therefore the mission is to take me dead or alive."
Based upon Aristide's statement, and the actual events that took place on the ground in Haiti, Washington was certainly involved in the coup d'etat that removed the democratically elected Haitian leader from power; the issue at hand is how involved. It is not clear what level of communication existed between Washington and the rebel leaders. What is clear, however, is that Washington tacitly approved of the rebels' actions since the United States did nothing to prevent their rapid military gains.
Throughout the conflict that would eventually remove Aristide from power, the Bush administration distanced itself from the Haitian leader. This fact alone clearly shows that the Bush administration did not consider Aristide's governmental policies to be in the interests of the United States. Had Aristide's policies coincided with U.S. interests, Washington would have no doubt intervened to help preserve his fragile rule.
Even if the United States would have been unwilling to send in a token force of troops to help buoy Aristide's government -- a deployment that would have used up minimal resources and would have had a tremendous depressing effect on the will of the rebel forces -- Washington could have at least made a public pronouncement that the United States would not accept a change of government in Port-au-Prince and that it would stand behind the country's democratically elected leader.
Instead, Washington did very little. At first, the Bush administration tried to coax the Democratic Platform -- an umbrella group of Aristide's political opponents -- and the rebel leaders into signing a proposal that would have incorporated them into the Haitian government but would have left Aristide as the country's head until the end of his constitutionally mandated term. The opposition and the rebel leaders balked at the United States' suggestion, since they knew all along that the U.S. must have been more than willing to support a change of government in Haiti as long as that change didn't create unacceptable levels of instability and violence in the country.
Debunking the Media's Lies about President Aristide