Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Irony and sanctuary in Bangui

I have no love for Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He maintained his grip on his unfortunate country through intimidation, assassination, and gangs of violent criminals. Haiti's descent into criminal anarchy and chaos can be traced back to Aristide's own underhanded tactics. Live by the sword, die by the sword. However, he was still the elected president of Haiti, and the US had already intervened once to restore him to power.

Worse, in helping to evict Aristide, the US was doing the bidding of France, foremost among states calling for Aristide to step down. In the last few years, France has moved to undermine or depose the democratically-elected leaders of several of its former colonies (Haiti, Cote d'Ivoire, Central African Republic, etc.). While the French decry American unilateralism and imperialism, France acts shamelessly to secure access to vital resources such as oil and diamonds, especially in Francophone Africa.

In this light, it is interesting to see that the exiled Aristide has, for now at least, come to roost in the Central African Republic. The CAR's dictator, General Francois Bozize, seized power there in a March 2003 coup with quiet help from France and French proxy Chad. I wonder what Aristide and Bozize will talk about over dinner?


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