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US Trained and Suppled Haitian Paramilitaries in Dominican Republic
Amy Goodman interviewed Dr. Luis Barrios on her radio program, Democracy Now (www.democracynow.org), on April 7th, 2004. Amy Goodman is co-author of the new book, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them (Hyperion, 2004). Dr. Luis Barrios is a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College in New York City. He is also a prominent community leader in New York's Puerto Rican and Dominican communities as well as a priest in the Episcopal Church. He recently returned from the Dominican Republic.
Aristide has maintained he was overthrown in a US-led coup when he was flown to the Central African Republic at the end of February. Powell, who traveled to Haiti to meet with the new US-installed government, said, "I don't think any purpose would be served by such an inquiry. Haiti was on the verge of a total security collapse." Powell's one-day mission to Haiti today is the first such visit by a US secretary of state since Madeleine Albright went to Haiti in 1998.
Human Rights Watch said Powell should press the interim Haitian government to pursue justice for abusive rebel leaders as well as members of the deposed government. Haitian justice officials have promised to prosecute abusive former members of the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but have showed little interest in pursuing abusive leaders of the rebel forces.
Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's interior minister was arrested and charged Tuesday with conspiring to kill Aristide opponents in February. In contrast, last week Justice Minister Bernard Gousse raised the possibility of pardoning Jean Tatoune, a gang leader who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000 for his role in a 1994 Raboteau massacre.
Amy Goodman (AG): Dr. Luis Barrios. You were looking at who the rebel forces were and where they came from?
Dr. Luis Barrios (LB): Yes. We were running interviews in the Dominican Republic trying to get the information about what was going on in the Dominican Republic for the last two years. Preliminary reports indicate that for the last two years at least, Haitian rebels were living in the Dominican Republic. They were training in military settings that belong to the Dominican government. They also trained in San Cristobar. They were receiving technical training every month through the so-called International Republican Institute at the Santo Domingo Hotel every month. That was also the day for payment.
AG: The I.R.I. was training the Haitian rebel forces?
LB: Yes. They are behind this training. Not only the technical training but also the money. They were also some of the people who facilitated 20,000 M-16 rifles that were supposed to go to the Dominican armed forces, and in some way, most of them went into the houses of the Haitian rebels in the Dominican Republic. In addition to that, information from lawyers, journalists, ex-military personnel, and current members of the D.R. military indicate that 200 members of the special forces of the United States were there in the area training these so-called Haitian rebels before they returned to Haiti.
AG: And who were some of these rebels?
LB: Well, we have Philippe, and we have Jodel Chamblain, One of the reporters in the Dominican Republic, Ortega, interviewed Jodel Chamblain. At the same time that he was running the interview, he was wearing a Dominican Republic national police uniform. They became aware later when the program was on the air, he was not supposed to do the interview with the uniform.
AG: Jodel Chamblain, number-two man in FRAPH, ten years ago when Aristide was forced out in the 1991-1994 coup. Investigative journalist Allan Narin was able to prove that the head of the FRAPH, Emmanuel Constant, was on the payroll of the CIA. The FRAPH is responsible for the deaths of hundreds and perhaps thousands of Haitians. Jodel Chamblain was found guilty in absentia of the 1993 killing of the justice minister, Guy Mallory, and of Antoine Ismaili, a Haitian businessman. Jodel Chamblain has returned wearing an official uniform of the Dominican Republic?
LB: Dominican Republic, yes. National police. Because the way they were doing this was to hire them in military settings in the Dominican Republic, and allow them to wear the Dominican uniforms as a way of masking that they were from another country. But then when they were running this interview that was a serious mistake. So, that interview went on the air and everybody saw the insignias of the Policia Nationale, the national police, that Chamblain was wearing.
AG: So that was Chamblain. We are now hearing news that the current government of Haiti is talking about pardoning Jean Tatoune?
LB: Yes. You have to understand that most of these people were active in the 1991 coup. What they did was that they reactivated all of these people. They got together in the Dominican Republic. That included running most of the meetings in Santo Domingo with the International Institute for Democracy [attended by] the ex-militaries that were suspended under the Aristide government . The training was to actualize the techniques through the United States Special Forces to prepare to go into Haiti. And by the way, this was going on for two years. Similar to what the Contras were doing against the Nicaraguan government, the Sandinistas. Chamblain, Philippe were doing it also. They were going into Haiti territories, doing all of these kind of actions, military actions and running back into the Dominican Republic. President Aristide requested that Dominican President Mahia arrest them and give them to the Haitian government, but Mahia didn't do so. On two occasions the Dominican military arrested Philippe along the border. He was in prison for 24 hours and they let him go. This was going on for more than two years.
AG: There are now calls from Caribbean nations and the association, CARICOM, to mount a UN inquiry into the ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, which Aristide calls a "US backed coup." What is your assessment of general Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, going to Haiti and saying that he believes that there should not be a U.N. inquiry?
LB: Well, it's the same pattern we have been following for years. It happened with Panama (1989). It happened with Chile (1973). It happened with all of the atrocities they have been running against Cuba and also Venezuela. It happened in my country, Puerto Rico, with all of the ramifications of being a colony. [Powell is just saying] please believe in what we're saying. It is this kind of blind faith that makes people stupid. We understand there were a lot of illegal actions here, violations of the Haiti constitution, but also a violation of international laws. Powell knows that, but he's trying to go there as a puppet and mask all of these crimes on behalf of the US government. He knows he's guilty. He knows the US government is guilty of overthrowing a democratic government. [There's been military intervention in] Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti, and now they're looking at Cuba and Venezuela. This is how they do this.
AG: Now Aristide is in the Caribbean but in Jamaica. Tomorrow, Condoleezza Rice will be testifying before the 9-11 commission. Randall Robinson, the founder of TransAfrica, said a few days ago on the air that US National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was pressuring the prime minister of Jamaica to expel Aristide once again from the hemisphere.
LB: But she's going to underestimate what's going on in
Haiti. She's going to highlight that Aristide was dealing with
drugs, that people were tired of Aristide's government. They were
looking for a change. I'm not saying that all of this is wrong.
But I'm saying that there were legal institutions in Haiti to
deal with the so-called complaints that people are raising in