AMY GOODMAN: I am Amy Goodman from the radio/TV program Democracy Now! around the
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Thank you. First of all, I didn’t leave
AMY GOODMAN: It was a kidnapping under the cover of coup d’etat?
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Who forced you out of the country?
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE:I saw
Mr. Moreno, [inaudible...] at the U.S. Embassy in
AMY GOODMAN: So, you say that they kidnapped you from the country. Secretary of State Powell said that that is ridiculous. Donald Rumsfeld said that is nonsense. Your response?
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Well, I understand they try to justify what they cannot justify. Their own ambassador, ambassador Foley said we were going to talk to the media, to the press, and I can talk to the Haitian people calling for peace like I did one night before. And unfortunately, once they put me in their car, from my residence, a couple of days later, they put me in their planes full with military, because they already had all of the control of the Haitian airport in
AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, did you resign the Presidency?
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: No, I did not resign. I exchanged words through conversations, we exchanged notes. I gave a written note before I went to the press at the time. And instead of taking me where they said they were taking me in front of the Haitian press, the foreign press, to talk to the people, to explain what is going on, to call for peace. They used that note as a letter of resignation, and I say, they are lying.
AMY GOODMAN: When you went into the car from your house, did you understand you were going to the airport and being flown out?
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Not at all. Because this is not what they told me. This was our best way to avoid bloodshed. We talked with them somehow in a nice, diplomatic way to avoid bloodshed, we played the best we could in a respectful way, in a legal and diplomatic way. Because they that told me that they were going to have bloodshed. Thousands of people were going to be killed, including myself. As I said, it was not for me, because I never cared about me, my life, my security. First of all, I care about the security and lives of other people. I was elected to protect the life of every single citizen. So, that night I did my best to avoid bloodshed and when they took me, putting me in their plane, that was their plan. My strategy was then all I could [do] to avoid bloodshed.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you being held in the
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Actually, against my will, exactly. Let me tell you, this past twenty hours on the American plane with American soldiers, including nineteen American agents who had an agreement with the Haitian government to provide security to us. They were also in that plane, maybe, to keep the truth in the plane, instead of having one of them telling the truth out of the plane. Because one of them had a baby, one year and-a-half in the plane – he was an American guy – and they wouldn’t give him a chance to get out of the plane with the baby. My wife, the first lady, who was born in the
AMY GOODMAN: What do you want to happen now?
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: I always call for peace. Those who realize their kidnapping cannot bring peace to the violence in my country. CARICOM, which means all of the heads of the
AMY GOODMAN: This is president Jean-Bertrand Aristide speaking from the
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: If it’s possible now, yes, now. Whenever it’s possible, I am ready because this is what my people voted for.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you being held — do you see yourself as being held as a prisoner in the
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Here I say it again, the people and government and the President, President Bozize, they are gracious, the way they treat us. I just paid public tribute to them, and if you have citizens of
AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, at least five people were killed in
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: First of all, I wasn’t there, and I don’t have many pieces of this information to comment, but the respect that I have for the truth, I will make some comments but I say it again, I wasn’t there. I don’t have yet any information so, I cannot go too far in my way to analyze the situation. I do believe because for the past years, each time drug dealers like Guy Philippe, people already convicted like Chamblain kill people, we heard exactly what I just heard. They blame the non-violent people and they blame the poor. When are poor, they are violated in their eyes, like the way they did. When you are already convicted, you are not violating human rights. So, I think or I suspect they are lying when they talk like that, accusing my followers.
AMY GOODMAN: What message do you think the
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: I think the citizens of the United States supporting democracy in Haiti, the Haitian People, and Haitians in Washington, Brooklyn and Milano, in Boston and elsewhere, calling for my return to Haiti and the constitutional order, I think all the citizens of the United States [inaudible] are a sending a very strong, critical signal to all of the countries in the world willing to work in a peaceful way for democracy. But those who [inaudible] me are sending a very wrong signal because if we don’t reach the result of democratic elections and then we cannot be elected and then you do that here and elsewhere, the signal you are sending is “No to democracy,” while you are talking about democracy. So, that’s why I wish they would connect – they did realize that they are wrong and they have a new approach, which will be protecting the rights of humans in the world. Because in the world, what do we mean, meaning peace. What do we mean, meaning democracy. What do we mean, we need to invest in human beings. Therefore, to go back, we should not send wrong signals as they did. They went to
AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, Vice President Dick Cheney said you wore out your welcome in
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: How can someone, after the kind of elections they had, now talk like that regarding
AMY GOODMAN: Do you still consider yourself President of Haiti?
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Yes, because the people voted for me. They are still fighting in a peaceful way for their elected President. I cannot betray them. That’s why I do my best to respect their will.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, how would you describe the situation in
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Yes. I called for them before they forced me to leave the country. Now, unfortunately, they are in
AMY GOODMAN: Vice President Cheney said, ‘I have dealt with Aristide before when I was Secretary of Defense. We had a crisis involving
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Well, as I said before, he has the right to talk, and I respect his right, as I have the right to say the truth, and I will be saying the truth. I disagree with him, and I will continue to believe that the Haitian people will continue to fight in a peaceful way to restore democracy, and when the day will come to have elections, of course, they will have the ability to vote. Unfortunately, they didn’t want a coup d’etat, and they never wanted the Haitian people to keep moving from election to election. They preferred the Haitian people to move from coup d’etat, to coup d’etat. We celebrated 200 years of independence. We had a [inaudible] coup d’etat. We know, usually, who can choose to be behind the coup d’etat. So, now that we just had a kidnapping which they call a resignation, which others call coup d’etat, it’s clear that some people will be do their best to justify, but they may not be able to justify, and I will continue to be on the side of the truth, on the side of the human rights, on the side of all of those who knew about what happened, and stand firm with the Haitian people. The heads of the
AMY GOODMAN: Why do you think that the
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Maybe, if you could just one single example, it can tell the world a lot. I know I have already told you that, but I will go through it again. In 200 years of independence, making
AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide in your news conference, did you say that your country is now in the midst of an unacceptable occupation?
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: It’s an occupation, and the last example I just gave says it is an occupation. How you can imagine that you come to me, you want to be in peace, and you close my university and you send out 247 students of medicine in the country where you don’t have hospitals and you don’t have enough doctors. God, this is an occupation. When you protect killers, when you protect drug dealers like Guy Philippe, like Chamblain, when you protect the citizens of the United States in violating the law of the United States, Mr. Andy Apaid is a citizen of the United States, violating the Neutral Act, the way with this act will destroying our Democracy, and once we do that, then this is an occupation.
AMY GOODMAN: Is true that — did you say that your security force around — that protected you in
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Yes. As a matter of fact they blocked them, to stop providing security, and twenty-five [inaudible] did come the day after, they were prevented to come. So it was a clear strategy did to move their way according to their plan. Now, time is gone. Unfortunately I need to stop because they just asked me to leave.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that you will ever see
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: I will. I will once the Haitian people and the international community continue to work hard. It’s not impossible.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think people can do in the
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: I think they can continue to mobilize human resources to help bring peace for
AMY GOODMAN: Will you be leaving the
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: No, no, no, no. They are not asking me to leave the country, they are asking me to end the…
AMY GOODMAN: I understand. I understand. I understand, but do you want to leave the country? Do you want to return immediately to
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: If I can go today, I would go today. If it’s tomorrow, tomorrow. Whenever time comes, I will say yes, because my people, they elected me.
AMY GOODMAN: What is stopping you from returning today?
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Because it means to clear the way, and that’s what we are doing now.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you very much for joining us, President Aristide.
PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: Thank you so much for you and wishing that we can meet again in