Reactions to Aristide's Impending Return - by Stephen Lendman
After receiving his diplomatic passport to return, Haitians eagerly await his arrival. For them and millions of global supporters, it can't come a moment too soon. Reactions express varying views.
On February 18, AP headlined "Aristide backers march amid talk of Haiti return," saying:
In Port-au-Prince, thousands rallied in support "as people close to the former leader say he plans to return soon from (US-forced) exile in South Africa."
Marchers "seemed largely festive, with loudspeakers blaring music and young men drinking beer in the hot sun." Eugene Mirthil, an unemployed worker, spoke for others saying:
"We must have the return of Dr. President Aristide as a simple citizen to help us get better as a country as a people."
Washington calls his return disruptive ahead of March 20 runoff elections. Maryse Narcisse, Aristide's spokeswoman, said:
"I cannot say when exactly but he will be back before the March 20 elections."
On February 17, AFP headlined, "South Africa to help Aristide return to Haiti," saying:
It affirmed its "facilitating the return of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to his home country after years in exile."
International Relations Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane confirmed his request to leave, saying, "We are consulting with all interested parties to facilitate his return back home at the appropriate time," noticeably avoiding a specific date.
On Febuary 17, Reuters headlined, "Aristide to return, but as Haiti spoiler or savior?" saying:
"A month before Haiti's decisive presidential election run-off, the political figure getting all the attention is not a candidate, and he is not even in the country."
Aristide's planned return "is making waves in this volatile, earthquake-ravaged country," a man beloved by Haiti's poor "but loathed by business leaders and the wealthy," so his plans "triggered alarm bells in Washington and elsewhere."
According to Mark Schneider, senior vice president of the right wing International Crisis Group:
Knowing powerful forces oppose him, "it would seem that if he truly wanted to help Haiti, he would remain away at least until after a new government is sworn into office" - ignoring his two impressive electoral victories, his 90% or more popular support, his forcible 2004 exile at gunpoint by US marines, and as a citizen, international and Haitian law affirm his right to return any time, irrespective of other events past or upcoming.