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Aristide, Jean-Bertrand & Goodman, Amy (2005)  Aristide Interviewed by Amy Goodman. Zmag : -.

Aristide Interviewed by Amy Goodman

Haiti's former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune remains near death. He has been on a hunger strike for over three weeks. He was imprisoned in June and has yet to see a judge in his case.

Meanwhile, the convictions of 38 Haitian former military leaders convicted of atrocities in 1994 have been annulled. Among them could be Louis Jodel Chamblain, the death squad leader who helped lead last year's coup.

Today, in a Democracy Now national broadcast exclusive, we spend the hour with ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Fourteen months ago, Aristide was flown to the Central African Republic in what he called a modern-day kidnapping in the service of a coup d'etat backed by the United States.

Aristide was ousted by some of the same forces involved in the coup against him over a decade earlier. At that time, the leader of the FRAPH paramilitary death squad was on the payroll of U.S. intelligence agencies. The number two man - Louis Jodel Chamblain - was one of the leaders of this current coup.

Two weeks after this latest ouster, President Aristide defied Washington and returned to the Caribbean accompanied by a delegation of U.S. and Jamaican lawmakers. Aristide was eventually granted asylum in South Africa, where he now lives.

I reached him yesterday for the first extended broadcast interview in this country since moving to South Africa. I began by asking him about the condition of Yvon Neptune.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, speaking from South Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: Aristide was eventually granted asylum in South Africa, where he now lives. I reached him yesterday for the first extended national broadcast interview in this country since he moved to South Africa. I began by asking him about the condition of the ousted Prime Minister Yvon Neptune.

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: It is very sad what we have as information about our Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune. He is still in hunger strike. How long he will be able to survive, we don't know. That's why we grasp this opportunity to ask everybody who can do something to not hesitate, because it is a matter of life and death. We need to save his life.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us what you believe needs to be done?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: I think it's -- mobilization throughout the world, if I can put it this way, in the sense that we need many, many voices to equal the voices of Haiti. The people of Haiti want life and not death. They want peace and not violence. They want democracy and not repression. So Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and So Ann and hundreds of others who are in jail, they all need that mobilization. Whoever can say something, whoever can do something, please do it, because the Haitian people right now are waiting for your help.

AMY GOODMAN: Last week the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission human rights division, Thierry Fagart, said that Neptune's treatment is illegal. The acting Secretary General of the Organization of American States said the case has serious moral and political implications for the Haitian government and for the international community, and yet the Haitian government has charged Neptune with masterminding an alleged massacre of opposition members during the final weeks of your presidency. Can you respond?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: It's clear that it's illegal what they're trying to sell. When we hear voices saying, as I just said, that it's illegal, when they stand that maybe those who refuse to free him would start to do something, but we don't see them moving, that's why I call for a general mobilization, a peaceful mobilization for them finally to start paying attention to that situation. You arrest someone, as they did with Minister Pivert, So Ann and so many others -- there are hundreds who are in jail -- there is no basis, no legal basis for that. But they just put them in jail because they have power with them, weapons with them, support of the United States, France, Canada, some others. And they continue moving their way, the same way when last year they kidnapped me, it was illegal. The same way they keep our prime minister in jail, although he is close to death, it's illegal. But they don't pay attention to that. So I really think it's a matter of life and death. We n! eed many voices to put that truth out and see finally if they can pay attention to that and save his life.

AMY GOODMAN: The acting Secretary General of the Organization of American States has proposed the formation of a commission including a Haitian jurist, an international jurist and an international forensics expert to break the impasse in Neptune's case. Would you support this?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: I do, because we are looking for people paying attention to the case and bringing the help to save his life. But how long? How long? That's the question. How long? By the time we are talking right now, who knows how long he will be alive? So all we can do, we should do it, not waiting for this initiative, which we don't reject, but adding what we can bring. I think it's really crucial.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. investigator, Louis Joinet, told Reuters that he believed the alleged massacre that Yvon Neptune is charged with was actually a confrontation between pro- and anti-Aristide forces. Your response, this alleged massacre in St. Marc?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Well, as I already said, they're just lying, trying to put the focus on that so-called massacre which we cannot see anywhere because it doesn't exist. And they continue to keep him in jail, and now he's close to death, so to understand what is going on with Yvon Neptune, I think it's also necessary to put it within the global context. The global context is clear. The Haitian people voted for democracy, and then last year they removed the elected president, illegally done, clearly. They never had the investigation to prove what they did was legal, because they cannot prove it. It is illegal. And they continue violating our rules, the international law, to have the U.N. in Haiti. Even the U.N. in Haiti is somehow involved in violation of human rights when they support the police killing people or when they don't protect the life of every single citizen, although we know clearly what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, but we don't see everyb! ody through the U.N. moving this way. So hundreds of people are in jail. They already killed more than 10,000 people. We have so many others in hiding and in exile. That's why I said putting Yvon Neptune's situation in the global context help people understanding that what is going on right now, this is a matter of using weapons, imposing violence against democracy, against principle, against law, so we need many people to put their voices together and have that mobilization, a peaceful one, to see finally if those who have to do something will do it, for instance, by releasing our prime minister, So Ann, hundreds of innocent who are in jail, and so and so.

AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, you held a rare news conference in South Africa. What was the message you were putting out to the world?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: The message was very simple and very clear from my point of view. We said that we need to return to constitutional order, and for that we have four steps. The first one is thousands of Lavalas who are in jail and in exile must be free to return home. Second, the repression that has already killed over 10,000 people must end immediately. Third one, then there must be national dialogue. And the last one, free, fair and democratic elections must be organized in an environment where the huge majority of Haitian people is neither excluded nor repressed, as they have been up until today. That was the message.

AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, you also said that political violence in Haiti is a black holocaust. Are these your words, and who do you think is perpetrating it?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Yes, as I said, the continued peaceful demonstrations calling for my return and the restoration of constitutional order must be heard, and racism should not maintain a black holocaust in Haiti, where African descendents proclaimed their independence 200 years ago. It's clear. When we had the trans-Atlantic trade slaves, it was millions of people we lost. For some people it's close to 12 to 13, even 15 million people they transported from Africa to America, Caribbean, etc. For others, like [inaudible] it's more than 100 people they transported as slaves, but in any case, we know more than 13% of those people died in transit. That means we lost millions of people. If from that day to today we continue to lose people, clearly it's a black holocaust. Today, those who kidnapped me and continue to support those criminals while they're killing innocent people, while they keep Yvon Neptune the way he is, clearly they maintain the black holocaust. The United S! tates, France, Canada and so many others should do something to repair, if they can, what they did. Because what they did is a crime. The same way slavery is a crime against humanity, the same way what they're doing against the Haitian people, it's also a crime. And all of that we can put it in this process of maintaining a black holocaust in Haiti.

AMY GOODMAN: Ousted Haitian President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, speaking to us in exile in South Africa. We'll come back, as we continue the hour with Jean-Bertrand Aristide.


AMY GOODMAN: We continue our conversation with exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, speaking to us from South Africa. I asked him to talk about what took place in last year's coup and the role of the United States.

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: They were the strongest force in the coup. As today, if they want to reverse this decision, they will. They are the super power in the world, we know it. On our side, we always said no to violence, yes to peace; no to violence, yes to democracy. We voted for democracy. We had a democratic process in place. They stopped that democratic process using violence. And today it's a failure. It's a failure because after one year if you spend so much money, if you arm drug dealers, if you armed criminals, if you arm convicted people, former soldiers at the border of Santa Domingo and Haiti, and there those people move towards Haiti, where they created so many problems, they killed so many people, and up to today they continue to do their work as if they were not already convicted by the judicial system, and so and so. Clearly the United States has a major responsibility in moving from that violence to peace, from that violence to a democratic process. And I th! ink, as I said, once they want, they will, because they have the possibility to do it. It's a failure, their coup.

AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, you have referred to your ouster, February 29, as a modern kidnapping in the service of a U.S.-backed coup. Can you tell us what happened on that day? Can you tell us if you still stand by that statement?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: What I said I meant it, because this is the truth. The details, I already wrote them in a book. The date of the publication is not something that I can tell you, because it doesn't depend on me. But the book is already written and when it is published, people will have the opportunity to see those details in the books.

AMY GOODMAN: Why a kidnapping, and what was the U.S. role? When we flew over the Atlantic, when the delegation brought you and Mrs. Aristide back to the Western Hemisphere to Jamaica, you described the number two man in the U.S. Embassy coming to your home and then being hustled onto a plane with U.S. military and security. Can you elaborate on that?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Yeah, I think as a good journalist, you ask the same question in a different way. And I apologize for not being able to give you those details, which are already written in my book. And as I said people will have the book, so they will have the answer.

AMY GOODMAN: We have reports that have come out that say that the U.S. government, and the U.S. government has admitted this, giving weapons to Haiti this past year. Can you talk about the history of the embargo and your response to this?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Well, it's like if what we read in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It's only words, empty words for some people. For instance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article I, says, "Bonke abantu bazalwa bekhululekile belingana ngesithunzi nangamalungelo," which means everybody, we are born free, equal, with dignity, in front of law, and so and so. But for them I don't think it's the same meaning, because they do what they want because they are the super power. The same Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly says, "Sonke siyalingana phambi komthetho," we are all equal in front of law. But it seems, no, this is different for them. When you have weapons, money, when you are powerful or a super power, you do what you want. You don't care about law, because violating law, this is for those who don't have money or weapons. They did exactly what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asked to be like -- they violate the Universal D! eclaration of Human Rights. That's the point.

So when they give those weapons to these people, it was to destroy our democracy. We were building a state of law, and they give weapons to the folks to prevent Haiti to have a state of law. And it is like if they were telling us they are superior, and black people are inferior, so black people cannot have democracy, although they are preaching democracy or freedom. They were telling that black people should not have democracy. And when we put that in an historic perspective, we can clearly understand. In 1804, black people, African descendants, they fought for freedom, and they became free. From that day to today we continue to pay for nothing. We should be seen as an example, because we fought for freedom and freedom for every single human being. You are white, you are black, you are rich, you are poor. We care about you because you are a human being. So freedom for you, freedom for us, freedom for all of us. But on their side I don't think they put it this way. You are bl! ack, you should not be seeing, as a reference, your freedom. So for 200 years they did that, and in 1904 France refused Haiti to celebrate the first 100 years of independence. They did worse. While Haiti was preparing to celebrate 200 years of independence, it's a racist issue, very clear. Very clear.

AMY GOODMAN: During your term as president, there was a full-scale arms embargo imposed on you by the United States. The Graduate Institute of International Studies located in Geneva put out a small arms survey saying that thousands of rifles, a million rounds of ammunition were sent to the Haitian -- the current Haitian government. What is your knowledge of John Bolton as Under Secretary for Arms Control at the Department of State? What is your knowledge of his involvement with this, the man who is now embattled nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Well, I'm glad that Congresswoman Maxine Waters wrote a paper where she asked the Senate to investigate this issue, while Mr. Bolton had that responsibility, and violating their own embargo to send more weapons to Haiti to kill more people, it's clearly the implementation of the opposite of what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asks for. So on our side, we did our best to create a peaceful environment, to protect the rights of every single citizen while our police didn't have weapons, in a legal way to do that. But we managed to save life. On their side, clearly by sending more weapons to Haiti, it's not only a violation of their own embargo imposed on Haiti, it is also one way for the de facto government who already killed more than 10,000 people in one year to keep killing more. So clearly it's time to see people who believe in human beings; people who believe in human rights; people who believe in principle, in justice, to put their voices! together and say, "No, it's enough." How can we imagine that yesterday and today throughout the world, millions of people are celebrating the end of the Second World War which happened 65 years ago? That's great. In Zulu, we could say, yes, it's great. [inaudible] That means that you will go far if you move from peace to peace. [inaudible] But on their side I don't think they see it this way. It's a celebration, okay, but not because they care about human beings. When you care about human beings, you do your best to not repress and to not let people to repress and to not arm people to repress. You respect law. If you made a mistake, you correct it. They made a mistake one year ago through the kidnapping. Instead of correcting that mistake, we don't see them moving towards that correction. Let's wish right now, for instance, we would have voices to talk -- to address the issue, and by hearing the voices of the Haitian people, they would do something to save the life of our ! prime minister, not because he's our prime minister, but because he's a human being, illegally arrested, put in jail and almost passing towards another world.

AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, the well-known priest in Haiti, Reverend Gerard Jean-Juste, who was imprisoned himself, though recently freed, has called for the resignation of top U.S. State Department officials that he's accused of helping to arm Haiti's interim government, including the Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega. Do you join him in that call?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: I respect his call. The only elected President of my country, I couldn't imagine that a foreign president would impose his position on me to tell me what to do to fire this one or someone, that's why I prefer to say respecting the United States and respecting their authorities, I wish their authorities will start to respect Haiti, the law of Haiti, the people of Haiti, and also to do something now to save lives, for instance, the life of our prime minister because they have their own responsibility through the coup. Without the coup we would not have so many people right now close to death or in jail or in exile. Because they are concerned, because they have their own responsibility, maybe now they will understand it's time to correct the mistake they made.

AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, the media continues to report that you quit the presidency, that you left voluntarily. Your response?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: It's false. It's false. It's false, period. As you can imagine, even the U.S., after the resolution they took last year to go for that investigation, they never did it. And the United Nations neither did it, so CARICOM will ask for that, 15 countries are still waiting for that and on our side we know they cannot justify what they did, because it's totally illegal. Let's suppose now they want to make a difference. They will if they want. I really wish that they start realizing: (a) they made a mistake, (b) it's a failure, (c) too many people were killed, (d) let's sit, not to say we will not look for a success, everybody will want to have a success, so they will want to have a success. We can understand that. We are human beings. The problem is let's correct the mistake. Let's move from their failure to a collective success by bringing an end to that tragedy, because the Haitian people are waiting for that. They move from day to day to the streets in a! peaceful way. Although they accuse them as violent, they are continuing to prove that they're nonviolent calling for my return, calling for the restoration of democracy, calling for the de facto regime to free the prisoners like our prime minister, So Ann and the others. Let's wish finally they will see the light, because it's time.

AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, last year the U.S. government, General Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, said they were looking into prosecuting you for corruption. Your response?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: They are lying, and it's always their strategy, trying to lie in order to avoid the real focus. The real focus is the mistake they made, the violation of our rights, and it's a matter of moving from their failure to democracy. We refer earlier to the Second World War, World War Second, we lost about 60 million people in that world war, the second one, without forgetting what we lost as people in the First World War. In Haiti where we don't have a world war, we already lost 10,000 people. So it's not time to lie to change the focus; it's time to keep the focus where it is. The focus must be on human being, on life, on democracy, on freedom, on our 200 years of independence. We have the right to celebrate the freedom. We have the right to live in peace. We have the right to be as human being living in a free country. That's the real focus. And overall, the life of our Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. government further criticized you saying that you were supporting armed gangs, the Chimere, that were attacking your opponents and the press.

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Well, this is empty accusation, false accusation. As a matter of fact, let's compare what we had during my presence at the Haitian palace to what we have since the kidnapping happened. It's day and night as a difference. They already killed more than 10,000 people. Can you imagine Cite Soleil, where people need food, not violence; where people need work, jobs, not violence? And we have tanks surrounding Cite Soleil, as if it were a concentration camp. God, can you imagine what we have in Bel Air? Can you imagine what we have in so many popular areas, poor areas where they continue to kill people while people are asking for the respect of their votes? They voted for democracy, as our forefathers fought for our independence in 1804. We just need to recognize that they're human being. Every human being is a human being. Zulu, we said it earlier, "Sonke siyalingana phambi komthetho," which is clearly said in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That! means that we are all equal in front of law. So on that basis of being equal as human being, let's see what can we do instead of accusing people we do not consider as human being, as they do, while they are human being, they are human being. We must respect their rights. They are not violent. They are facing the violence coming from those who kidnapped me, who used weapons to kill them and to continue and continue to lie in order to change the focus.

AMY GOODMAN: Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide speaking to us from exile in South Africa. We'll return with the conclusion of the interview in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: We continue with our national broadcast exclusive interview with Haitian exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, speaking from South Africa. I asked him about the former director of Haiti's National Police, Jean Nesly, pleading guilty this week in a Miami court to drug money laundering.

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: If we talk about democracy, we talk about principles, we talk about law. If we talk about building a state of law, of course we refer to law to principles and a judicial system must assume the responsibility. I think this issue has to see with justice. Let's wish justice will be done on that side. In Haiti, let's wish we will move from their violence imposed on the Haitian people to democracy, the return of constitutional order where we will continue to build a state of law.

AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, do you see parallels between the coup of February 29 and the coup of 10 or 13 years ago that first deposed you as President in 1991?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Yes, on one side we see the same hands from 1991 when we had the first coup to the last one, which means 2004. We see the same hands behind the coup. But, unfortunately, this time we see the United Nations in Haiti. We didn't have that in 1991. When I was back in 1994 with the United Nations, of course, together we did our best to protect human rights. We did our best to improve the quality of life by providing security to the people. This time the United Nations are there alone violating their internal rules and manipulated to face the people instead of protecting the people. Sometime the United Nations try to do something in protecting the people by providing some kind of security. But very few times it happened. Usually they don't accompany the people demonstrating in a peaceful way. So they left the space open for thugs, drunks, drug dealers, convicted people, former military to come and kill people, and it happened very often or too often. I just! think that either the coup of 1991 or the coup of 2001 puts us clearly in an environment where we don't see law, but we see violence, bloodshed, people killing people, which is bad. That's not what we need.

What we need is to move from elections to elections, not coup d'etat to coup d'etat. From 1991 to 2004 we moved again, from coup d'etat to coup d'etat, which is too much, because 32 coups d'etat in 200 years of independence is clearly too many. We want to move from elections to elections. But there is clearly a small minority in Haiti with their allies in foreign countries. Together, they said no to elections, because they knew once they respect the will of the people in a democratic way through free, fair democratic elections, then they will not be able to continue to live in a country where they don't pay tax, where they still have the wall of apartheid, where they continue to consider the coup as if there were not human beings, and so and so. It's time to return to constitutional order, to continue to build a state of law in Haiti, where we have to move from elections to elections. Free, fair democratic elections to free, fair democratic elections, not from coup d'etat to! coup d'etat

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you think that the U.S. wants you out of Haiti?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Well, I think they can answer this question. I can suspect, but I would wish they answer the question. I give just one example. For people who know Haiti, they understand what I mean. For people who don't know Haiti, they may think a bit about that tragedy. Haiti, where we have actually around eight million people, is a place where for 1.5 Haitian doctor, for 11,000 Haitians, so 1.5 Haitian doctor for each 11,000 people. When we have that, it's already serious, because we would need more doctors and not less. We have an economic embargo imposed upon us. Since my predecessor, I have refuted that embargo. Despite of this economic embargo we manage such a way to spend the money of the people in education, in health care. That's why we had the most beautiful, the largest campus where we had the medical school in Haiti. We could do that because we care about human being. Investing in health care, in education, this is what we wanted. This is what we want f! or our country. Once the U.S. arrived with the soldiers in Haiti, after kidnapping me, what they did? They put their soldiers in this campus, they closed the doors, and the hundreds of medical students who were there, they could no longer be at the same place, at the same campus, studying to serve their people one day as doctors.

So I give that simple example, which is a clear one, to say maybe the U.S. has a plan and I have another one. My plan is to invest in health care, in education for my people. Their plan maybe is to prevent us to have health care, to have more doctors, more schools, more universities. So I respect their choice, but I cannot embrace that kind of choice where instead of serving people we pave the way for death, as is happening for my Prime Minister, as it already happened for hundreds of others, as it may happen for some others who are in jail. So it's time to see they made a mistake, they correct the mistake, and together go ahead. That's what happened with World War Second. They made mistake, that's why the world lost more than 60 million people. But they stopped to say, no, enough is enough. Let's move now from violence, from war to peace. And it happened. So if it could happen for the entire world, why it cannot happen for Haiti? Maybe is it because in Haiti we have black p! eople and racism prevents some people to understand that black people are really people? Let's wish it will happen.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you met with South African President Nelson Mandela?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: I missed the question. Could you repeat, please?

AMY GOODMAN: Have you the met with Nelson Mandela?


AMY GOODMAN: And what did you talk about, and what did he say to you?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Well, it's not the first time that we met. We start meeting before he became President of the country, and we continue to meet, which means when we met we have private conversation, so it's not necessary for me to say publicly what we shared in a private way. In substance I can say he is the same great human being with his heart open to embrace human being, supporting human being, as he continues in spite of the distance supporting the Haitian people.

AMY GOODMAN: Will you return to Haiti?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Yes, I have to. It's a matter of time.

AMY GOODMAN: In the first coup, you returned and continued as President and served out your term. Do you plan to do the same now?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Yes, at any moment it may happen. Let's suppose right now those who made the mistake realize that, well, if we correct the mistake we will not project the image of being weak, but of being big instead of small, good instead of bad. Let's suppose they decide today to correct the mistake, what will happen? We will have a dialogue. We will have a discussion. We will have a compromise where everybody will not try to blame the others, but where everybody will find a kind of normal, acceptable solution in order to save life. And I do believe as long as we are human being, it's still possible to move from darkness to light. When we move from darkness to light, that doesn't mean we are less than we were before. That means that we are more than we were before in terms of growth, human growth. So all doesn't depend on me, on my side I was always open for dialogue, respectfully open for dialogue. I am respectfully still open for dialogue, wishing that once those! who are concerned decide, Haiti will have a better tomorrow, we will have light instead of darkness, peace instead of violence, future instead of deadlock, how it is right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you plan to run for President again?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: My Constitution prevents me to have a third mandate and I respect my Constitution.

AMY GOODMAN: But you could come back during this term to serve it out, as you did after the first coup?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Well, as I just said, if we talk about human beings, we can wish that they may realize it is better to correct the mistake they made instead of keeping it as it is because it is a failure. So I just wish it will happen in the sense that they will realize that it is time to correct it. And I didn't mention it maybe too explicitly, but the United Nations, that means also our common organization, and they're losing so much credibility there, so even for the United Nations' credibility it would be a good thing to have the correction of that failure, because they, too, are losing too much credibility in that issue.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you having communication with the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Not in a direct way.

AMY GOODMAN: In an indirect way?


AMY GOODMAN: And who are you talking to, and what are these conversations about?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Those conversations are private.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you communicating with the U.S. government?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Not to the President.

AMY GOODMAN: Who then?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: It's a matter of privacy, diplomacy, and I should not talk like anyone would want me to do in a public way.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you communicating with the Haitian Prime Minister now, Gerard Latortue?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: I don't know that there is a Haitian prime minister. I know there is a de facto government with someone they consider as the Prime Minister, and I am open to talk with whoever from them wishing to put an end to their failure. So once they decide it will happen because I was open, I am open and I have the responsibility to be open on behalf of my people who elected me. They're dying in the streets, they're dying at home, innocent people are dying. So the elected President must be always open, free to talk to people willing to bring a solution to that failure, which is a failure of those who led the coup.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think President Bush should do?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: I think -- I don't have that desire to think for someone. I think it is better for him, if he wants, to say what he wants, but not me to guess what he wants and to talk on behalf of him.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you want the U.S. to stop sending arms to Haiti?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Of course. Because it is a matter of violation of rights and also more weapons which will be used to kill more people. So I care about life. Of course, I don't wish they will be sending more weapons to killers to kill more people. I don't wish that.

AMY GOODMAN: Final comments, President Aristide, for the people who are watching and listening to this broadcast today, as you speak from your place of exile in South Africa.

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: My last comment can emerge through those words. Thank you to you, dear Amy Goodman, and to all those who help you for creating that opportunity for me to answer your questions and also echo the voices of the Haitian people over all today when we are so sad while we think about the life of our Prime Minister. Secondly, I wish all the mothers all the best, because yesterday we celebrated the Mother's Day. And I know many of those mothers are sad, they are suffering when they think about So Ann, who is also a mother, and their sons and daughters, they are sad when they are thinking about their friends, relatives who are in jail, who are in exile or in hiding. So I wish them courage, because the more we have courage, the more we share courage, the more we'll continue to struggle, struggle for freedom, struggle for democracy, struggle for human rights. This is what we have to do, and it's a must. Once we keep the line of peace, of nonviolence, we will win,! because peace must be the way to go towards the victory. And love from my heart to all our friends, because we have many friends who love Haiti, who are trying to do their best to help the people of Haiti. Of course, sharing that love, this is one way for me to express deep respect to them and also renewing my commitment to move with all of them in order to build, slowly but surely, a civilization of love.

AMY GOODMAN: Exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, speaking to us from South Africa. His Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune, remains near death, imprisoned in Haiti.


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