Eyewitness account of the abduction of President and First Lady Aristide of Haiti by the United States Special Forces


Randall Robinson on Haiti's Tortured Past, Troubling Present
By Theola Labbé,
a Washington Post Metro reporter of Haitian descent, October 18, 2007


Randall Robinson on " An Unbroken Agony: Haiti: From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President

Democracy Now!, July 23, 2007

Charlie Rose - A Conversation with Randall Robinson


U.S. and Haiti to continue Joint Offensive,
AP, July 20, 2007


Haiti's Desperate Women

Dessalines Is Rising!!
Ayisyen: You Are Not Alone!



From Thug to Freedom Fighters
COHA, Larry Birns and Seth DeLong, December 14, 2004


Prime Minister Yvon Neptune's explosive and condemning August 23, 2004 letter from Prison to US Ambassador James Foley

The Revolutionary Potential of Haiti, its creeds, values and struggle

Media Lies and Real Haiti News

Bwa Kayiman 2007 and the case of Lovinsky Pierre Antoine

To subscribe, write to erzilidanto@yahoo.com
zilibuttonCarnegie Hall
Video Clip
No other national
group in the world
sends more money
than Haitians living
in the Diaspora
Red Sea- audio

The Red Sea

Ezili Dantò's master Haitian dance class (Video clip)

zilibuttonEzili's Dantò's
Haitian & West African Dance Troop
Clip one - Clip two

So Much Like Here- Jazzoetry CD audio clip

Ezili Danto's

to Self

Update on
Site Soley

RBM Video Reel

Angry with
Boat sinking
A group of Haitian migrants arrive in a bus after being repatriated from the nearby Turks and Caicos Islands, in Cap-Haitien, northern Haiti, Thursday, May 10, 2007. They were part of the survivors of a sailing vessel crowded with Haitian migrants that overturned Friday, May 4 in moonlit waters a half-mile from shore in shark-infested waters. Haitian migrants claim a Turks and Caicos naval vessel rammed their crowded sailboat twice before it capsized. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Dessalines' Law
and Ideals

Breaking Sea Chains

Little Girl
in the Yellow
Sunday Dress

Anba Dlo, Nan Ginen
Ezili Danto's Art-With-The-Ancestors Workshops - See, Red, Black & Moonlight series or Haitian-West African

Clip one -Clip two
ance performance
zilibutton In a series of articles written for the October 17, 2006 bicentennial commemoration of the life and works of Dessalines, I wrote for HLLN that: "Haiti's liberator and founding father, General Jean Jacques Dessalines, said, "I Want the Assets of the Country to be Equitably Divided" and for that he was assassinated by the Mullato sons of France. That was the first coup d'etat, the Haitian holocaust - organized exclusion of the masses, misery, poverty and the impunity of the economic elite - continues (with Feb. 29, 2004 marking the 33rd coup d'etat). Haiti's peoples continue to resist the return of despots, tyrants and enslavers who wage war on the poor majority and Black, contain-them-in poverty through neocolonialism' debts, "free trade" and foreign "investments." These neocolonial tyrants refuse to allow an equitable division of wealth, excluding the majority in Haiti from sharing in the country's wealth and assets." (See also, Kanga Mundele: Our mission to live free or die trying, Another Haitian Independence Day under occupation; The Legacy of Impunity of One Sector-Who killed Dessalines?; The Legacy of Impunity:The Neoconlonialist inciting political instability is the problem. Haiti is underdeveloped in crime, corruption, violence, compared to other nations, all, by Marguerite 'Ezili Dantò' Laurent
No other national group in the world sends more money than Haitians living in the Diaspora


Eyewitness account of the abduction of the Aristides - Statement of Frantz Gabriel, Haitian pilot, on the events of Feb. 29, 2004 (From Randall Robinson's "An Unbroken Agoney: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President, pg. 196, 197, 198-20)

(Click on this link

then click on "Watch 128k stream" or "Watch 256k stream" to view Democracy Now! video footage showing tens of thousands of Haitians demonstrating recently (July 16, 2007) in Haiti for return of Aristide and release of the political prisoners; footages of Aristide after the US kidnapping on a plane back from Central African Republic on a plane chartered by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Randall Robinson, et al to return Aristide and his Haiti's first lady to Jamaica for temporary asylum, and footages of interview with Randall Robinson on his new book on Haiti, et al....(Democracy Now!, July 23, 2007

Democracy Now! Interview with Randall Robinson on Haiti (Audio)

Eyewitness Account of the abduction of President Jean Bertrand Aristide and First Lady Mildred Aristide of Haiti and the ouster of Haiti’s democratically elected government by the United States

From An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President, by Randall Robinson, pg. 196, 197, 198-203 (http://randallrobinson.com/ ).

Reproduced by Ezili’s HLLN, October 27, 2007

“…Port au Prince is A TWO HOUR drive south from Gonaives along a coastal road. When President Aristide and his wife disappeared during the early hours of Sunday, February 29, 2004, Guy Philippe, Luis-Jodel Chamblain, and their American-armed paramilitary force were in the vicinity of Gonaives, one hundred kilometers north of the capital, presumably awaiting further instructions...." pg. 196 (emphasis added).

"…as things turned out, [Philippe, Chamblain and their American-armed paramilitary force, were] DECOYS whose roles in a murderous plot ended hours, if not days before the coup and Aristide’s disappearance." pg. 196 (emphasis added)

"….In the late afternoon of Saturday, February 28, the president’s helicopter pilot, Frantz Gabriel, reported for the last time to the government on the pattern of movement and exact whereabouts of the American-armed paramilitary force that had ground to a FULL STOP somewhere in the neighborhood of Gonaives on the north west cost of the country. (emphasis added)

Gabriel believed that the “thugs were afraid to come into Port-au-Prince” and said as much to his superiors in the government." (From, An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President, by Randall Robinson, pg. 196, 197, http://randallrobinson.com/)


Statement of Frantz Gabriel by Randall Robinson
(From, An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President, pg. 198-203, http://randallrobinson.com/)

“…The telephone rang in Gabriel’s home at 3:15 in the morning. The call was made by one of the president’s Haitian security guards who said to Gabriel in Kreyol that “there is something happening that I don’t understand. I think you’d better come here.” The voice on the phone had been colored with alarm. Gabriel dressed quickly and went out, positioning on the front seat at his car beside him an M3, the equivalent of a small M16 automatic rifle. The streets would be deserted at this time of night, and Gabriel expected to reach the president’s home at Tabarre in twenty minutes.


"Besides the president, his wife, and the few Haitian security personnel present at the president’s home in the early hours of February 29, Frantz Gabriel would be the only eyewitness to the coup d’etat and abduction of the president and his wife that was carried out between 3:45 and 4:00 A.M. by American Special Forces soldiers.

On October 25, 2005, I took this statement from Gabriel in Pretoria, South Africa, where he was living in exile.


'I got to the house at 3:30 A.M. on Sunday morning. The gate is usually opened by a member of the CAT team (Haitian Counter Ambush Team). That morning it was opened by the Steele people. This never happened before. (I later thought that the Steele people had gotten a call to play the game, to play along.)

The gate closed behind me. I parked in my usual space in the parking lot on the right between the two walls. I left the M3 on the seat of my car. I walked through the second gate and into the command post. No one said anything to me. I then walked through the office and then into the president's living room.

The president was standing alone in the room dressed in a suit with a white shirt and a dark tie. The First Lady was somewhere else. She was not in the living room.

I then asked, "Is there a problem, Mr. President?"

The president said, "There has been a lot of pressure coming from all different directions."

I said, "What do you mean, sir?"

He said, "The way things are looking – I am under intense pressure."

The phone rang and the president went to answer it. I heard him talk. No American forces were there at that time. While he was on the phone, I said to myself that I should go out and see what was going on in the yard where Haitian security and the Steele people [US private security hired by Haiti to protect Haiti’s president] were.

As I walked out [the front door], pulling up to the walk to the front door was a big white Suburban with diplomatic plates. I was standing by the steps to the door. [Luis] Moreno got out of the Suburban with two American soldiers. I turned and went back into the living room to be closer to the president. The president was putting the phone down.

Moreno said, "Mr. President, I'm from the U.S. Embassy. Ten years ago, I was there when you came in. I was there to greet you. It's too bad that ten years later, I'm the one that has to announce to you that you've got to go."

I looked at the president and then at Moreno. By then the First Lady had come downstairs. The president went into the dining room to speak with her. They came out together. The First Lady was carrying a small bag. She was wearing a suit.

Outside there were twenty to thirty American soldiers on the walls that surrounded the house. They had lasers on their guns that made red dots. The red dots filled the yard. They were crisscrossing and coming from all directions.

The two soldiers with Moreno were Special Forces. I knew this because they had beards. They carried M16's and wore full battle dress with steel helmets and bulletproof vests. They were white and said nothing.

We got into the Suburban. The president sat in the second row by the window. The First lady sat in the middle and Moreno sat by the sliding door. The two solders sat up front with one of them driving. I sat in the back row.

We went through the main gate and made the right toward the airport. Outside the gate, we were joined by a convoy of ten U.S. embassy vehicles. There were all white Suburbans. We made a right into the airport in the direction of the general aviation area. There were two hangers there. The old Huey helicopter was there. There was s white Airbus there. It had a huge American flag on the tail. There was no tail number and no other markings.

Moreno opened the door and got out of the Suburban. He said to the president and the First Lady, "Okay, let's go."

That's all he said. He didn't say anything to me. He stood at the foot of the plane and sort of motioned to the president, the First Lady, and me to board the plane. The three of us went up the stairs into the plane. The two American soldiers who were in the Suburban boarded the plane and changed into civilian clothes (polo shirts and sneakers) while the door was still open.

Moreno never boarded the plane. The [American] ambassador was not there.

All this happened very quickly. Everything was timed so well. The Suburban came into the yard at about 4:00 A.M. We got to the plane at about 4:30 A.M. The Suburban went right to the bottom of the stairs. We sat in the Suburban about five minutes before Moreno opened the door and said, "Okay, let's go."

The plane looked like it would seat about 365 people. All the window shades were pulled down. Behind the first seating section was a big operations centre with telephone, a fax machine, and a computer. The machines were on one side of the plane and there were seats on the other side.

The president and the First lady were told to sit in the front section. I sat ten rows behind a bulkhead that was behind the American soldiers who were behind the operations centre. I could not see the president and the First lady from where I was sitting, but I went to talk to them several times. He was quiet. She was crying silently. I said to myself, This is incredible. This is a kidnapping. They just came and kidnapped the president in his home and took him away. I'm in the middle of a fucking kidnapping. This is the first thing that hit my mind.

There were about thirty American soldiers on the plane. They came from the house in the ten Suburbans. They all had beards. They boarded the plane with their gear and then changed into civilian clothes. One of them, who seems to be in charge, said to me, "Are you going back with us?" like he thinks I am one of his men. Maybe it was just because of my beard.

The American soldiers sat on the plane between me and the president and the First Lady. All the way in the back behind me were the Steele men with their wives and children. They were all wearing casual clothes. The pilots wore regular pilot's uniforms. We waited on the plane about thirty minutes before we took off.

There were five black people on the plane. Besides the president, the First Lady, and me, there was a Haitian woman who was with one of the Steele men. They had a baby. After we landed the first time, I asked somebody where we were but nobody would tell me.

Everybody was quiet. I heard the fuel nozzle attach. Once in a while the baby would cry. After the baby was fed, everything was quiet again. They offered the president and the First lady some sandwiches, but they did not take them.

We were on the ground for five hours. The guys who spoke to me before, who seemed to be in charge, said to everyone over the PA system, "So far we don't have an official invitation yet for President Aristide. It seems like nobody wants him." The guy was on the phone the whole time behind the president who was sitting face forward. His staff was also on the phone. Some of the phones were black and some were red. They were using the fax and the laptops also.

We flew for a long time after we took off again. We landed again and waited on the ground for fuel. We didn't know where we were. When we were approaching the Central African Republic, the guy who was in charge asked me, "What are you gonna do? Are you going back with us?" I told him that I was staying with the president. Then he said, "You are going to a French military prison." This is what he said to me. I said, "I don't care. I'm going where the president goes." Then he said, "You will be greeted by a French colonel on your arrival."

No Americans got off the plane. Nobody. Only the three of us. Only the Central African Republic minister of foreign affairs came on the plane. We left the airport before the plane took off. Before that, we went into a small terminal. It was in the morning. We sat in the terminal for thirty minutes. The minister allowed journalists to ask him questions, but he was in no mood to talk. Then they drove us to President Bozize's palace. The president was out of town. They took us to two rooms in a side section of the palace. It was three days before President Bozize returned from out of town.

You asked me if the Central African Republic people where respectful to us.

The only time that they were a little disrespectful was when your plane came.' [Randall Robinson, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Jamaican parliament member, Sharon Hay-Webster, traveled to the Central African Republic and rescued the Aristides, arranging temporary asylum in Jamaica, against US-Condoleezza Rice’s strong-armed pressure for Jamaica not to provide said temporary asylum.]



(For more information and greater details, please purchase Randall Robinson’s book “ An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President - Buy the book at: http://randallrobinson.com/buy_agony.html ; and visit http://randallrobinson.com/ ) See also:


Randall Robinson on Haiti's Tortured Past, Troubling Present By Theola Labbé, a Washington Post Metro reporter of Haitian descent
Thursday, October 18, 2007; Page C03

Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President
By Randall Robinson
Basic Civitas 280 pp. $26

Randall Robinson, the founder of the social justice organization TransAfrica, has never shied from expressing his views. In "Quitting America" (2004), he declared that the United States had nothing to offer him and other native-born blacks -- a realization that drove him to move with his family to the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. In "The Debt" (2000), he argued in favor of reparations to African Americans for the legacy of slavery. In his latest work, Robinson offers a passionate retelling of the history of Haiti and the circumstances surrounding the rise and fall of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Using history, eyewitness accounts and his own role as a monitor for parliamentary elections, Robinson has created a worthy account, in his trademark incensed style, of how American and European policies have harmed, rather than helped, Haiti.

The book opens with Haiti's beginning as an island inhabited by 8 million Taino Indians when Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. Three decades later, only 200 Tainos remained. Three hundred years later, freed slave Toussaint L'Ouverture transformed fellow ex-slaves into soldiers and led "the only successful slave revolt ever mounted in the Americas." Robinson calls it "the most stunning victory won for the black world in a thousand years."

While much has been written about the slave revolt, Robinson's contribution is his focus on the revolt's reverberations throughout the rest of the Americas in an era when slavery permeated the political and social landscape. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, whose ideas were precursors to future foreign policy, were dismayed by how the slave rebellion was progressing and reached out to French political leaders to express their displeasure at seeing "such a spirit of revolution among the blacks."

Following the successful slave revolt, however, Haiti saw years of instability, with rulers replaced in coups d'etat and military generals appointing themselves leaders. The United States occupied the country for nearly 20 years at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1957, the authoritarian Francois Duvalier was elected president. Known as "Papa Doc," he would be succeeded by his son, nicknamed "Baby Doc."

The election in 1990 of Aristide, a poor, populist priest, as Haiti's president was a watershed moment. Aristide energized millions of poor black Haitians, who for the first time felt that the government might represent them rather than the interests of a coterie of wealthy Haitian families. After a coup attempt and three years in exile, Aristide was elected again in 2000.

Robinson's prose is often fiery as he lays out his indictment of the colonialists who created the country's fractured economic and social landscape. Haiti's successful slave revolt will always be an affront to Western countries, he believes, but should be an inspiration to Africans and African Americans. "Haitians have a culture that slaves once bled to defend. . . . For this, Haitians are reviled by a white world that the rest of us broken souls have long since succumbed to imitate," he writes.

But Robinson is most appalled at the way Aristide and his wife (he resigned from the priesthood in 1994) were removed from the country in 2004. By far the most gripping and enlightening sections of the book are ones in which Robinson, relying on interviews with Aristide's helicopter pilot, Frantz Gabriel, describes how U.S. troops whisked Aristide out of the country. Gabriel arrived at the president's house at 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 29, after getting a call from security guard who sensed that something strange was happening and told him to come.

When he got there, he found the president alone, but soon U.S. officials pulled into the driveway. One walked into the living room and told Aristide, "I'm the one that has to announce to you that you've got to go."

The Aristides were driven to the airport in a convoy of 10 white Suburbans; they boarded a plane and, after some uncertainty as to where they would be taken, were flown to the Central African Republic. Robinson spoke to Aristide nearly daily after the forced exit and traveled to Africa along with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to find out what had happened.

In recounting these events, Robinson often takes on a crusading tone, using words such as "abduction" and "kidnapping" to describe Aristide's departure. These are more than opinions to Robinson; they are his truth, but with his urgent tone, he risks alienating the kind of reader he may want to edify, someone ignorant of Haiti's unusual history as a rebel slave colony.

Nevertheless, with his strong eye for detail, Robinson manages to illuminate a tragedy that the rest of the world experienced only through news reports and photographs -- if it paid attention at all. Describing his visit with Waters to the Aristides in exile, he writes, "At the bottom of the stairway, we saw the president and Mrs. Aristide standing side by side in shadow waiting for us. Their faces wore small, guarded smiles. Tired and emotionally drained, they appeared, nonetheless, composed and dignified."

Three years later, unanswered questions still haunt Robinson. Why has no one in the U.S. media investigated Aristide's claims that he was wrongfully removed and forced to resign? Why was he spirited out of his country and never told where he would be taken? Robinson has written this book because he wants to invite more people to search for the answers.



Randall Robinson on "An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President"
| Monday, July 23rd, 2007 | Democracy Now!

Listen to Segment || Download Show mp3
Watch 128k stream Watch 256k stream Read Transcript


TransAfrica Founder Randall Robinson chronicles the 2004 U.S.-backed coup that ousted Haiti's democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Robinson challenges the Bush administration's claim that the Aristides voluntarily left Haiti and recalls his trip to the Central African Republic to bring the Aristides back to the Caribbean. He also reveals new details on the U.S.-backed coup militants armed and trained in neighboring Dominican Republic, including the accused drug smuggler Guy Philippe. As the Aristides remain in exile, Randall Robinson joins us in the Firehouse studio for the hour to talk about the coup, the history of Haiti and the state of affairs there since the 2004 coup. [includes rush transcript] Over 10,000 people marched in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince last Sunday. They were calling for the return of the exiled president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It was his fifty-fourth birthday. A number of people spoke, we begin with the folksinger Annette Auguste, popularly known as "So An."

* Annette Auguste
On February 29th, 2004, the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was removed from office by the United States and flown to the Central African Republic. Two weeks later, in defiance of the United States, a delegation led by California Congressmember Maxine Waters and TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson chartered a plane and headed off to Central African Republic themselves to bring President Aristide and his wife back to the Caribbean. I accompanied them on that trip. After hours of negotiating with the dictator in the capital Bangui they freed the Aristides. As we flew back over the Atlantic, President Aristide said that he had been kidnapped in a US-backed coup d'etat.

* Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Its now more than three years later. The Aristides remain in exile in South Africa and Randall Robinson has just written a book called "An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President."

He flew in from the Carribean island of St. Kitts last night and joins us in our firehouse studio today.

* Randall Robinson, author of "An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President." He is founder and past president of TransAfrica and the author of the bestsellers "The Debt", "The Reckoning", and "Defending the Spirit." His website is RandallRobinson.com.


10,000 people marched in the Haitian capital of Port Au-Prince last Sunday. They were calling for the return of the exiled president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It was his fifty-fourth birthday. This is Haitian folksinger and Lavalas leader Annette Auguste, more well known as “So An,” speaking at the rally.

ANNETTE AUGUSTE: [translated] It is a nice way to say happy birthday to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is in exile in South Africa today. There are people watching the final between Brazil and Argentina. Still, it is good to see so many of the population who took to the streets for a good cause. I always say that since December of 1991. nothing has changed for the population.

[translated] Today’s rally shows that the majority of the Haitian people are asking for the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. If there is a state of right existing in Haiti today, it is just for the government of President Rene Preval to do the right thing. It is unjust to have this politician in exile.

[translated] President Aristide will come back, and when he does, we will all cry for victory, because the real hope is with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, not with Preval.

AMY GOODMAN: On February 29th, 2004, three years ago, the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was removed from office by the United States and flown to the Central African Republic. Two weeks later, in defiance of the United States, a delegation led by California Congressmember Maxine Waters and TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson chartered a plane and headed off to the Central African Republic themselves to bring President Aristide and his wife Mildred back to the Caribbean. I accompanied them on that trip.

After hours of negotiating with the dictator in the capital Bangui, they freed the Aristides. As we flew back over the Atlantic President Aristide said he had been kidnapped in a US-backed coup d'etat.

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: I will not go into details, maybe next time. But as I said, they used force. When you have militaries coming from abroad, surrounding your house, taking control of the airport, surrounding the national palace, being in the streets, and taking you from your house to put you in a plane where you have to spend twenty hours without knowing where they were going to go with you, without talking about details, which I already did somehow on other occasions, it was using force to take an elected president out of his country.

AMY GOODMAN: And was that US military that took you out?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: There were US military, and I suspect it could be also completed with the presence of other militaries from other countries.

AMY GOODMAN: When they came to your house, in the early morning of February 29th, was it US military that came?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: There were diplomats. There were US military. There were US people.

The Bush administration said that when you -- after you got on the plane, when you were leaving, you spoke with CARICOM leaders. Is this true?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: They lied. I never had any opportunity from February 28 at night, when they started, to the minute I arrived in car, I never had any conversation with anyone from CARICOM within that frame of time.

AMY GOODMAN: How many US military were on the plane with you?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: I cannot know how many were there, but I know it’s the plane with fifty-five seats. Among them we had nineteen American agents […] The rest, they were American militaries.

AMY GOODMAN: Were they dressed in military uniform?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: They were not only dressed in -- with their uniform, it was like if they were going to war. For the first period of time on the ground, when we went to the plane, after the plane took off, that's the way they were. Then they changed, moving from the uniform to other kind of clothes.

AMY GOODMAN: Civilian clothing?


AMY GOODMAN: And did they go with you all the way to the Central African Republic?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: They did, without telling me where they were taking me, without telling me how long it would take us to be there.

AMY GOODMAN: Exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a plane heading back to the Caribbean. Then it was to Jamaica. It’s now more than three years later.

The Aristides remain in exile in South Africa. And Randall Robinson has just written a book called An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President. He flew in from the Caribbean island of St. Kitts last night and joins us in our firehouse studio today. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Randall Robinson.


AMY GOODMAN: Well, it’s been three years since you and Congressmember Maxine Waters, Sharon Hay-Webster, the member of parliament from Jamaica, led that delegation on this small plane to the Central African Republic, actually won the release of the Aristides and brought them to Jamaica. Talk about that, as you watched President Aristide three years ago in the plane that you were in, as well, what you have learned since?

RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, we talked to -- I talked to a number of witnesses, eyewitnesses to the abduction itself, witnesses in Antigua who saw the plane on the ground, airport officials, and, of course, witnesses to the whole operation and things that have gone on in Haiti.

AMY GOODMAN: Why don't you flesh out that entire experience that President Aristide was just talking about, as you understand it today? What happened February 29, 2004?

RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, Franz Gabriel was the president’s helicopter pilot. Franz Gabriel was a sergeant in the US military and a Haitian citizen who had gone home to serve in the government and to helicopter the president around. At about 3:00 on the morning of the 29th, he was called by one of the Haitian security people at the president's home in Tabar and told that something wrong was developing in the president's house.

I had placed a call to the president earlier that evening on the 28th, and a voice that didn’t belong to the house answered the phone. It was an American voice, a male American voice. And I said, “May I speak to President Aristide?” “He’s not here.” “May I speak to Madame Aristide?” His American-born wife, Mildred Trouillot Aristide. And, “She’s not here.” “When will they be?” And I’m cut off. I became concerned. I had never heard a strange voice answer their private phones before.

We had -- my wife Hazel had worked to arrange a visit of Tavis Smiley to Haiti on the 29th. He was to interview the president downtown in central Port-au-Prince at the palace about this turmoil that was unfolding in the north of the country. The rebels, armed by the United States, had entered the country early in February, moved north and away from the capital and never showed, never demonstrated any inclination to attack Port-au-Prince. And so, we were concerned in the United States, because most of us didn’t know that they posed no threat to the democratic government, and so Tavis was going there to interview the president, and George Stephanopoulos was to interview him, as well.

And so, after I was unable to reach the president, Tavis Smiley called me, or called my wife, because my wife was the one who was organizing his visit. He said, “The visit’s off.” And my wife said, “Oh, no! Has something happened to them?” And Tavis said, “No. I just got a call from Secretary of State Colin Powell. And Secretary of State Powell said to me that” --

AMY GOODMAN: This is Tavis?

RANDALL ROBINSON: Tavis, no -- well, yes, no. Tavis said that he got a call from Ron Dellums. And Ron Dellums also worked with my wife on the Haiti team. And Ron Dellums reported to Tavis that he had just gotten a call from Secretary of State Colin Powell and that the secretary said that Guy Philippe, the leader of the paramilitaries, the American-armed and -trained paramilitaries, was coming to Port-au-Prince on Sunday to kill the president. “And I want you, Ron Dellums, to let the president know that this is going to happen, and let him know that the United States will do nothing to protect him.” And so, Tavis said, of course, the trip is off.

And then my wife called Ron Dellums, and Ron said, “Yes, I’ve just heard from the secretary, and Guy Philippe is in Port-au-Prince and will kill Aristide tomorrow, according to Secretary of State Powell,” who had to have known that Guy Philippe was nowhere near Port-au-Prince. President Aristide, of course, knew, because he had gotten reports from Franz Gabriel. The idea was to frighten Aristide into abdicating his office and fleeing the country on a plane provided by the United States. And Aristide refused.

Later that morning, about thirty American Special Forces troops in full combat gear, in twelve or thirteen white Chevy Suburbans of the American embassy, surrounded the Aristide home, took positions on the wall around the home. And you could see the red tracer pattern crisscrossing, crosshatching in the yard of the home. And into the yard came one Chevy Suburban with one of the Special Forces people fully armed, who was attending Luis Moreno of the American embassy, who walked into the house and told the president, “I was here when you came back in ’94, and I’m here tonight to tell you it’s time for you to leave.”

They removed the president -- Moreno and the American Special Forces -- from his home, took them to the airport -- the president, Mrs. Aristide and Franz Gabriel -- took them from their home, boarded them on this large wide-bodied aircraft with no markings, no tail number, only the sort of large flag, American flag, on the vertical tail assembly, and flew off, making their first refueling stop in the eastern Caribbean in Antigua.

Friends of ours at the airport in Antigua, airport officials, were not allowed to board the plane, as is the custom for customs purposes. All of the windows were drawn. The plane sat on the tarmac for five hours or so. Secretary Rumsfeld said that when President Aristide was in Antigua, he had met with members of the Caribbean leadership community. President Aristide, as he said on the tapes -- quite right, and this is borne out by witnesses in Antigua -- couldn’t have known where he was. He was not allowed to see out of the plane, and no one on the outside was allowed access to anyone who was on the plane.

And as I’ve published in the book -- I’ve published copies of the American customs declarations -- and one of the declarations has been altered from fifty present on the plane to no people on the plane by the Americans who submitted the customs declarations to the Antiguan authorities.

And then they flew off to the Ascension Island. And only when they were approaching the Central African Republic were the Aristides told where they were. And after they landed, no American official deplaned, no soldiers, no one else. The Aristides were simply put off the plane, as if they were parcels, along with Franz Gabriel. They weren’t even told or treated or given any medication for the sometimes lethal malaria strand that affects the Central African Republic and were kept there in a small room for two weeks until our delegation arrived to try and negotiate their release.

We’ll find out what happened after. This is Randall Robinson. He’s just written a book called An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President. Stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Randall Robinson. He has just flown up from St. Kitts in the Caribbean where he has lived for the past six years. He has written a new book. It’s called An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President. Randall Robinson is founder and past president of TransAfrica, also author of The Debt, The Reckoning, and Defending the Spirit. Randall Robinson, you just described that day, February 29, into March 1, as the Aristides were taken by the US military and security from their home in Haiti to the Central African Republic. Why CAR, the Central African Republic?

RANDALL ROBINSON: Any number of Caribbean countries would have welcomed the Aristides, but the United States wanted to get him out of the hemisphere, as far away from Haiti as they possibly could. And they wanted to send him to a country over which either the United States or France had great sway.

The Central African Republic is de facto still a colony of France. And it was under military dictatorship at the time that President Aristide was taken there. And so, when we arrived, we saw cheek-by-jaw to the airport was a French military establishment. It was no common civilian-use airport. There were no planes. It was a very frightening affair. Troops were all about. Obviously, the president was very nervous about threats to his one-year-old military coup. And so, that’s how he was sent there, and that’s how the country was chosen.

And President Bozize made plain to us that he had done this at the request of the United States. Prime Minister Patterson of Jamaica demonstrated enormous courage in giving to his parliamentarian Sharon Hay-Webster, who went with us, a letter saying that he would welcome to -- providing temporary refuge, asylum to President Aristide in Jamaica. And it was with the presentation of that letter that we were able to prevail, but not before President Bozize had to call France and the United States to seek permission to release the Aristides to us. It was clear that the United States was in control and that President Bozize was doing this at the request of the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: We were reporting back to Pacifica and to Reuters, following these hours of negotiations. As you negotiated with the president, went to the presidential palace, the decision was being made, are the Aristides going to be released. But the US had an unusual situation here. They said that the Aristides had chosen to go there, were free to leave. And yet, here you were negotiating, not with them, but with the dictator for their release.

Oh, it was absolutely clear that they weren’t free to go anywhere. And Bozize made that clear. The Aristides had never been to that country before, knew no one in that country and certainly wouldn’t have gone to a country that was a virtual colony of France, because France was implicated in the coup with the United States. I think Secretary Powell confesses much of his role in a recent statement that he made. He said on April the 18th, says -- “If there are people who don’t want American troops there, should they be there?” was the question. “It depends. They’re there because they serve our interest, American troops, and they also hopefully serve the interest of the country. In the case of Haiti, Haiti is an example where we were not invited in, but there was a civil war.” There was no civil war, and the secretary knew that.

On March 1, 2004, Democracy Now! broke the story, because you, Randall Robinson, and Congressmember Maxine Waters called us right after President Aristide called you, saying he was trapped in the Central African Republic. We broke the story that Aristide was directly accusing the United States of overthrowing him in a coup, kidnapping him and taking him and his wife Mildred by force to the Central African Republic. So that day, after we broadcast your and the Congressmember Maxine Waters’s descriptions of that scratchy phone call that the President Aristide had made to you from the CAR, our transcripts went online. Reporters took those transcripts and questioned US officials both at the Pentagon and the White House about Aristide’s accusations. Then Secretaries of Defense and State Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell responded.

The idea that someone was abducted is just totally inconsistent with everything I heard or saw or am aware of. So I think that, that -- I do not believe he is saying what you say -- are saying he is saying.
COLIN POWELL: He was not kidnapped. We did not force him onto the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly. And that’s the truth.

“And thats the truth,” says then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. Your response, Randall Robinson?

Well, several things. Number one, a cursory investigation would demonstrate the factual accuracy of what I have described here. The Caribbean countries asked for an investigation, and they were told by the United States that were they to press for an investigation at the UN Security Council level, that either France or the United States, or both, would veto such a resolution. And so, the US was prepared to block any investigation into what they had done that night.

Of course, the president didn’t go on the plane voluntarily. All of the previous coups that have occurred in Haiti of dictators that were there with the support of the United States, when they were chased out of the country, all of the cameras were there to record that. Then they were taken to nearby places like Panama to live comfortably, the US even renting the house of Cedras in Haiti, taking care of these American client dictators. When Aristide left the country, there was no camera, not one, not one reporter at the airport. And I -- you did what no other American journalist, save Eisner of the Washington Post, was willing to do. The New York Times suggested in their description that President Aristide left Haiti and went to South Africa, never even reported that they were taken to the Central African Republic.

AMY GOODMAN: You also point out in An Unbroken Agony the video clips that the media was showing after Aristide left. I mean, here you had -- they were not at the airport, yet they did show video of President Aristide shaking hands with dignitaries, I think, at the airport.

RANDALL ROBINSON: He was making his way along a long line of government ministers in daytime clips, making his way along a line, leaving the country. And that was represented to the American public to be film of his departure from the country. He left the country at 4:00 a.m., boarding a plane at the airport with absolutely nobody there.

Randall Robinson, I interviewed Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, on Haiti, about Haiti, November 2005. He defended the US role in the removal of President Aristide from power.

AMY GOODMAN: He said it was the US that pressed him to leave, that pushed him out, that put him onto this plane with US military and security. He had no idea where he was going until he was dumped in the Central African Republic.
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: I can’t imagine a man like Aristide, whose will to power is excessive, even obsessive, saying anything differently. Colin Powell, as you said, did know the situation in Haiti, probably as well as anyone in America. Colin Powell made the decision based on our ambassador in Haiti's very clear presentation of the circumstances, and the President made the decision ultimately, and it was a good decision, and I would stand by that decision.
Haiti is a situation that picks at all our hearts all the time. Haiti is right next to being a failed state. And because of its proximity to the United States, we know what that failure means. And Haiti is not apparently capable of coming out of that situation. It's a situation that, as I said, drags at all our hearts, but in this particular instance, I think a good decision was made, a decision that prevented further bloodshed that would have been widespread had it not been made.

AMY GOODMAN: Why say that the president, Aristide, had an obsession with power? This was a man who was the democratically elected president of Haiti, certainly got a higher percentage of the vote than President Bush got in this country.

COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Please, don't refer to the percentage of vote as equatable to democracy, as equatable to the kinds of institutions we have reflecting democracy in America. Hitler was elected by popular vote.

AMY GOODMAN: I spoke to the head of the Steele Foundation. That was the American foundation that provided the security for the people around President Aristide, who was not allowed to send in reinforcements. Again, since we're talking about such a small group of people who are moving in on the capital, the Steele Foundation felt he could be secured, but the US government stopped Aristide's own security from being able to come in.

COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Aristide felt like he couldn't be secured. That's the only -- I was privy to the cables that came in from our ambassador. I was privy to some of the information that the secretary let me know about what was happening down there in terms of telephone calls and so forth. Aristide made the decision deep into the night that his life was in danger and that the bloodshed that would occur would probably fall at his feet, and so Aristide made a mutual decision with our ambassador to leave the country.
AMY GOODMAN: Why would --

COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Despite what he says now, that's what the record reflects.

AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff of the former secretary of state, Colin Powell. Randall Robinson?

RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, here are the facts. No one disputes that the United States provided weapons, uniforms, steel pots, recoil-less rifles, rocket-powered grenades, all of that, to some 200 paramilitary forces that were trained in the Dominican Republic. The US armed and trained them. No one disputes that they crossed the border, went north, away from the capital, and stopped at Gonaive, at least a hundred kilometers north of Port-au-Prince, which was where they were spotted, verifiably, on the evening of the 28th and the morning of the 29th. They never came near Port-au-Prince. No one in Haiti would dispute that they ever posed a threat to the government. No 200 armed men could overrun a city of a million people that were hostile to them and supportive of the president.

The president won two elections, the last with 90% of the vote. If he were in Haiti today and he ran again, he would win overwhelmingly again. The United States provided money through the International Republican Institute to form a false opposition to Aristide in the country. The rich and the elites, who were threatened because he raised the minimum wage from $1 to $2 a day, threatened because he had proposed to banish the use of the word “peasants” on the birth certificate of poor black Haitians, threatened by a man who was loved by his people because he wanted to protect the interests of the poorest among them. And the United States overthrew that democracy. And it is so simply provable. The smallest investigation would prove what the United States has done in this case.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Randall Robinson on An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President. When we come back, we’ll talk about what the US continues to do in Haiti. We’ll also talk about France’s role. And we’ll talk about Randall Robinson not living anymore in this country, as he put it in a previous book, “quitting America.” Stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest for the hour, Randall Robinson, just up from St. Kitts, where he has been living for the last six years. He has just published a new book called An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President.

Let’s talk history for a minute, something the US press doesn’t give us very much of. To understand the US role today in Haiti, can you go back in time to how Haiti was founded in 1804?

RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, Haiti was the largest piece of France's global empire. It was its great profit center, that slave colony with 465,000 enslaved Africans working there, many of whom had been soldiers in African armies before they were brought to Haiti. And in August of 1789 -- or 1791, rather, 40,000 of those slaves revolted and started a war that lasted twelve-and-a-half years under the leadership of an ex-slave and a military genius named Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines. And this army of ex-slaves defeated two French armies, first the French army before the completion of their revolution and then another army dispatched by Napoleon under the leadership of his brother-in-law, and then the armies of England and Spain. 150,000 blacks died in that twelve-and-a-half-year war. And in January of 19 -- 1804, rather, they declared Haiti the first free republic in the Americas, because the United States was then a country that held slaves.

During the revolution, Thomas Jefferson said he would like to reduce Toussaint to starvation. George Washington lamented and vilified that revolution. The US imposed an embargo, recognized a new French government, but did not recognize the new Haitian free government and imposed a comprehensive economic embargo on Haiti until the Emancipation Proclamation. In fact, France imposed reparations on Haiti in 1825, and the interest that Haiti had to pay in loans that were American and French loans to service this debt to France, absorbed virtually 80% of Haiti's available budget 111 years after the completion of their revolution until 1915. It was only in 1947 that Haiti was able to pay off its debt.

AMY GOODMAN: The debt that was incurred as a result of France not having access to the enslaved people of Haiti.

RANDALL ROBINSON: The Haitians had to pay France for no longer having the privilege of owning Haitian slaves. That revolution provoked the end of slavery in the Americas. And so, that’s why it is so important that all African people, people generally in the Americas, because Haiti funded and fought in South American revolutions. That’s why Haiti is so honored in places like Venezuela by people like Simon Bolivar. Haiti was central to all of this. And we’re in Haiti’s debt. But it is for that --

AMY GOODMAN: Simon Bolivar came to Haiti.

RANDALL ROBINSON: Haiti, and was given arms and was given men, was given a printing press, because the Haitians believed that anybody who was enslaved anywhere had a home and a refuge in Haiti. Anybody seeking freedom had a sympathetic ear in Haiti. But because of that, the United States and France and the other Western governments, even the Vatican, made them pay for so terribly long. It’s as if the anger of it never abated. I mean, you can hear Frederick Douglass talking about it in the late 1800s, about this thing in the American craw.

AMY GOODMAN: The US government didn’t recognize Haiti for decades, the Congress, going back to Thomas Jefferson, afraid that the slave uprising would inspire US slaves.

Would inspire US slaves to revolt against him in Virginia, and George Washington, and on and on and on. And so, they opposed everything that was being done in Haiti that won their freedom.

The US government invaded Haiti in 1915 under Wilson.

RANDALL ROBINSON: Woodrow Wilson invaded Haiti in 1915. And when a Haitian, Peralte, Charlemagne Peralte, organized the Cacos soldiers, these farmers, to fight against this American occupation, the Americans killed him and nailed him to a cross, crucifixion-style, and stood him up, his corpse, in a public place in Haiti to demonstrate to Haitians what would be the price of any defense against the American invasion. The US has played a terrible role in Haiti.

AMY GOODMAN: So even as the US and France were at loggerheads after the US invasion of Iraq, because France opposed the invasion -- that was 2003 -- in 2004, they were working together --

RANDALL ROBINSON: Working very much together.

AMY GOODMAN: -- in pushing out, forcing out Aristide and bringing him to the Central African Republic.

RANDALL ROBINSON: As a matter of fact, in 2003, late 2003, Aristide organized a reparations conference, and the result of which was a request to France that it repair Haiti by repaying Haiti the $21 billion in current money that Haiti had paid in reparations unjustly to France. Dominique de Villepin responded by sending his sister.

AMY GOODMAN: The foreign minister of France.

RANDALL ROBINSON: The foreign minister of France sending his sister to Haiti to tell Aristide that it was time for him to leave. And that’s how we have -- the Western world, France and particularly the United States -- have meddled in Haitian affairs. After the abduction of the president, Bush spoke with Chirac on the phone, congratulating each other about how smoothly the abduction of the president had been carried off by both countries.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Randall Robinson. Let’s talk about today. Rene Preval was elected president after the US installed the Gerard Latortue after Aristide was forced out. What about today in Haiti? We see this protest of thousands last week on Aristide’s fifty-fourth birthday, calling for the exiled president to return. He’s in South Africa. What’s happening today?

RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, many of the people who were trained by the United States to pretend over the president are still very much in place. They have not been apprehended. The business class that contributed money to the rebels, to the first coup they contributed money to people who would shoot into any crowd of demonstrators. This time around, they contributed money, we’re now hearing from Guy Philippe, to him, to do what he did. And so, you have this collaboration between white, mulatto, wealthy elites in Haiti with the United States and Western Europe to repress the large black majority. That continues.

Some 4,000 people have been killed by the international forces in Haiti since then. The supreme court has been replaced, in large part, by the interim government that was installed by the United States. So Preval’s government has no control over the judiciary. We don’t have an authentic democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: Randall, you talked about how when President Aristide was president, before he was forced out, he was supposed to be getting hundreds of millions of dollars from the Inter-American Development Bank, I think it was, for health issues.

RANDALL ROBINSON: The loan had been fully approved. It was for $146 million. It was for health issues, for literacy, for things associated with social programs, roads and some infrastructure projects. The United States blocked that loan. And so, on the one hand, it starved the economy of Haiti. On the other hand, it trained the opposition. On another hand, it armed the paramilitaries. And in the last analysis, American forces invaded and abducted the president.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, apparently last week, there was an attempt to arrest Guy Philippe, Guy Philippe, who was the US-supported -- in fact, you said in your book that he was trained in Ecuador.

RANDALL ROBINSON: He was, plucked by the CIA for special training by the United States when he was a police captain in the Del Mar district of Port-au-Prince.

AMY GOODMAN: So one of the coup leaders, along with Jodel Chamblain, the number two man in FRAP --

RANDALL ROBINSON: One of the coup leaders.

AMY GOODMAN: -- paramilitary death squad.

-- is now running from the DEA, apparently. He says, through his deputy, that that’s the case, because he is prepared to use information about how the elites in Haiti gave him money to destabilize the government.

AMY GOODMAN: But he wasn’t arrested, Guy Philippe.

RANDALL ROBINSON: No, he hasn’t been arrested yet, so far as we know.

AMY GOODMAN: They didn’t get him.


AMY GOODMAN: The US role, how well known is it in Haiti by Haitians?

Oh, I think it’s very well known in Haiti by Haitians. If it were so well known by Americans, our democracy would work better. The problem is with our democracy. It wasn’t ever with theirs. The problem is what our undemocratic or the behavior, undemocratic behavior, of our government means for struggling democracies across the world. We feel that we, by divine right, can go in and overthrow governments willy-nilly, when they are living under leadership of their own clear choice. It’s a shameful chapter for Americans and particularly for this administration.

AMY GOODMAN: Randall Robinson, you “quit” America, as you put it, wrote the book Quitting America. You live in St. Kitts right now in the Caribbean. What is it like to look at the United States from that perspective? You lived here for years, headed TransAfrica for a quarter of a century, spearheaded the movement to stop the support of Apartheid South Africa. You fasted almost to death, twenty-seven days, to protest President Clinton’s handling of the Haitian refugees in the first coup against Aristide.

RANDALL ROBINSON: I can give you an illustrative example. When Vieques was in the news and the American use of that area as a bombing range, and the people then becoming very upset because of high cancer rates and that sort of thing, a member of the American Congress spoke to the prime minister of St. Kitts about -- with a straight face -- about the possibility of using -- the Americans making use -- of the island nation of St. Kitts as a bombing range.

This is the thing -- one of the kinds of things that we do, and how we see the rest of the world. And I think it, in large part, is why we have come to be as a nation loathed so much. And so, when Americans look at themselves, they see an America that is very different from what the rest of the world gets to see.

AMY GOODMAN: Will you be returning to the United States to live?

I don’t think so.


RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, I love St. Kitts. I wanted to live -- I’m sixty-six years old. I wanted to live some of my life out from under the weight of racism, the weight of a sort of cauterized public empathy, or the lack thereof.
I’m not sure anymore that entire cultures cannot be sociopathic, where they refuse to see what they do to other people in other places. It wore me out. I wanted to see a different place, and we wanted our daughter to have her adolescence and her high school in a different place. And it is the country of my wife, and so we are quite at home. It is a small, intimate, wonderful democracy and very pretty to look at.

Randall Robinson, I want to thank you very much for joining us today. Randall Robinson is the founder and former president of TransAfrica, moved to St. Kitts in the Caribbean six years ago, has written a number of books, including The Debt, The Reckoning, Quitting America, Defending the Spirit. His latest is An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President.

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877.


Vodun: The Light and Beauty of Haiti

Dessalines Is Rising!!
Ayisyen: You Are Not Alone!

"When you make a choice, you mobilize vast human energies and resources which otherwise go untapped...........If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want and all that is left is a compromise." Robert Fritz

Ezilidanto | Writings | Performances | Bio | Workshops | Contact Us | Guests | Law | Merchandise