News Release

Power Struggles in Haiti and Venezuela: Interviews Available

BILL FLETCHER
Executive director of TransAfrica, Fletcher said today: “In recent weeks, the Haitian crisis has been deepening. In addition to mass protests against President Aristide, demanding his resignation, there have been military assaults in several cities and what appears to be a move toward insurrection. The alleged rebels have been described in different ways, but they appear to be the armed wing of at least a section of the opposition…. President Aristide was duly elected by the Haitian people. In fact, he was elected twice…. We believe that there are legitimate criticisms of President Aristide…. Given the association of the so-called rebels with the old regime, are we not on a slippery slope toward a Duvalier-ist future if President Aristide is driven from office? In fact, given the strong support that President Aristide continues to enjoy in much of Haiti, is not the scenario of civil war more likely than civil peace if President Aristide is compelled to step down due to extra-legal (if not illegal) pressure? … Since 1804 the USA has done what it could to undermine efforts at genuine independence, including through military interventions, threats, and the support of corrupt puppet regimes. When Haiti has attempted to stand, its legs have been cut from under it by its arrogant northern neighbor…. The multi-year restriction on the release of badly needed loans worsened the internal situation in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. Now the Bush administration is implying that it is time for President Aristide to leave, while at the same time having Secretary of State Powell state that a coup would not be acceptable. One gets the feeling of a ‘good cop/bad cop’ scenario. None of this should come as a surprise to us in light of world events as well as the policy and practice of hostility by this administration toward President Aristide since the beginning.”
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EVA GOLINGER
An attorney and executive director of the Venezuela Solidarity Committee, Golinger said today: “The certification process of the signatures obtained in the petition drive requesting a recall referendum against President Chavez has revealed massive fraud…. Recently declassified FOIA documents show that after the 2002 coup, the State Department awarded the National Endowment for Democracy with a special $1 million fund to dispense on Venezuela-related projects. One of the beneficiaries of this fund is the group Sumate, which has spearheaded the recall referendum campaign. The FOIA documents further evidence substantial U.S. financing of various opposition groups in Venezuela and may show a direct link between the groups that led the April 2002 coup against President Chavez and the U.S. government…. An opposition march on Saturday, February 14, 2004, demonstrated that they no longer have a significant base of support amongst Venezuelan people. The opposition movement is being sustained by the money from the U.S. government, evidenced through the increase in NED grants and the frequent visits made by opposition leaders to Washington, D.C. The FOIA results have clearly shown that the only Venezuelan recipients of NED funding are members of the opposition, and in many cases, the most extremist sectors. This demonstrates a clear pattern of ongoing financing and support for groups that are notoriously undemocratic in their actions and have acted on several occasions well beyond constitutional limits in Venezuela. It’s notable that as the administration cites fostering democracy around the world, it has systematically undermined the elected government of Venezuela.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167