[News] Haiti - President Aristide on Democ Now

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Wed May 11 08:36:12 EDT 2005


Tuesday, May 10th, 2005
National Broadcast Exclusive: Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide Speaks From Exile


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. Two weeks after his ouster, he 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.

In the first extended interview in this country since his exile, we speak 
with President Aristide about the ailing ousted Prime Minister Yvon 
Neptune, whether he will return to Haiti, the continuation of the "black 
holocaust" and much more.

*******

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 need 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 everybody 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 helps peoples' 
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 States, 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.

[break]

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 think, 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 Declaration 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 black, 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.

[break]

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 for 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 people 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?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Yes, we met.

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 
started 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?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Yes.

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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