[FoRK] More Bush inconsistency: Haiti
jbone at place.org
jbone at place.org
Wed Feb 25 09:50:24 PST 2004
...or maybe the message is "if they're brown and from south of the
border, we love 'em --- they cut our lawns and make wicked breakfast
tacos. But if they're black and from offshore and in real trouble,
Bush: U.S. will turn back Haitian refugees
(CNN) --President Bush on Wednesday said the United States will "turn
back any refugee" who tries to escape the violence in Haiti by sailing
to U.S. shores.
The president said he ordered the Coast Guard to maintain a "robust
presence" along the U.S. coast watching for Haitian refugees.
Bush said he encourages the international community to provide a
security presence in Haiti, and added that the first step to peace is
to obtain "a political solution" to the crisis by all parties coming to
the table immediately.
Meanwhile Wednesday, Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide has
called for urgent international help to stave off more bloodshed as
rebel forces threaten the capital Port-au-Prince.
Aristide supporters, armed with pistols and old rifles, built makeshift
barricades on the main road leading into the capital ahead of a
possible rebel onslaught on the government.
While residents and officials alike waited to see if rebels would make
good on their vows to march to Port-au-Prince and forcibly remove the
president, opposition political leaders rejected an international
power-sharing plan aimed at appeasing the rebels.
They planned to meet Wednesday to draw up a counterproposal and decide
their next steps.
Opponents of Aristide failed to respond to the international proposal
by the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline. Previously, they had voiced disapproval
for the plan because it doesn't require Aristide to step down.
They've also said they don't trust Aristide to implement the plan. The
5 p.m. deadline was an extension of a Monday deadline.
The heavily armed rebels are led by former members of Haiti's
now-disbanded army. In Cap Haitien, they seized the international
airport, torched the police station, released prisoners and broke into
an arms depot.
An undetermined number of people were killed, witnesses said.
Democratic presidential hopeful and civil rights activist Al Sharpton
said Tuesday he plans to travel to Haiti in an attempt to act as a
broker between Aristide and his political opponents.
In other diplomatic maneuvers, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
phoned French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin Tuesday to support
a French proposal to bring the parties to Paris for talks, the State
Department official said.
The official said the United States urged the parties to take advantage
of the offer, and reiterated that "nobody" was talking about military
intervention to end the violence.
World Food Program officials said looting has become widespread in the
rebel-held north, including a grain warehouse robbed of enough to feed
nearly 300,000 people.
Anticipating the bloodbath predicted if political opposition leaders
rejected the power-sharing proposal -- or if the rebels storm
Port-au-Prince under any circumstances -- the Red Cross and Doctors
Without Borders have begun to send aid workers to the tiny nation on
the western end of the island of Hispaniola.
Aristide has faced criticism since an election in 2000 that observers
called fraudulent. Opposition parties accuse his supporters of using
violence to intimidate them. He has said repeatedly that he will not
willingly step aside until his term of office expires in 2006.
Nearly 40,000 Haitians fled the country after a 1991 coup that ousted
Aristide, who was restored to power in 1994 amid the threat of U.S.
-- CNN Correspondent Lucia Newman and State Department Producer Elise
Labott contributed to this report.
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