President Jean-Bertrand Aristide left Haiti at dawn today, resigning under intense pressure from the United States, according to Haitian and American officials.
Mr. Aristide was the first democratically elected president in Haiti's 200 years of independence, following a long line of dictators, despots and military men. His presidency crumbled as armed rebels seized Haiti's north this month and Bush administration officials announced an "Aristide must go" stance this weekend.
Aristide must go, that is, to save the rebels who have been rampaging through the country the trouble of actually overthrowing him.
Of course, that rebel movement was completely spontaneous, and rumors to the contrary are irresponsible and should be disregarded. The rebels are, after all, veterans of the former dictator's goon squads, who are capable of a certain degree of organization on their own. Maybe they were just keeping weapons and ammo in their basements until the right moment. Colin Powell says they're bad men, and would surely use all the influence he has at his disposal to keep the US from dealing with them. And the swift arrival of American troops surely reflects the nimbleness of our armed forces, not prearrangement.
Cripes. Next, they'll be accusing us of trying to stage coups in Latin America again. This particular accusation shows the tendentious nature of our critics, presenting the people on a videotape as CIA operatives when, in fact, they had credentials that showed them as employees as a private security firm -- surely proof positive that they had nothing to do with the CIA. There was no overt presence of the US government at the meeting. What more could you ask for?
Update: via Atrios, this AFP report of eyewitness accounts that Aristide was forced from his home by US troops. Haitian eyewitnesses don't have a completely impeccable reputation for telling the truth though, so you can still, if you like, be happy and believe our government...
Yet more: The current story is that the U.S. was providing assistance at Aristide's request...
And still more: Here's an activists' broadsheet reporting claims by U.S. representatives of the Aristide government that the "opposition" was armed by the U.S., and is headed by a man who was born in New York.
CNN has now picked up reports from American activists that Aristide was indeed hustled out of the country, and is now being held incommunicado, getting messages out through smuggled cell phones. But hey, can you really believe that US-backed coup plotters would try a stunt like that after similar shenanigans blew up in the faces of the guys in Venezuela?