Latortue blasts black power for supporting "liar"
Posted: Tue May 11, 2004 11:44 am
New York Newsday
May 10, 2004
Haitian prime minister blasts opposition
By Ron Howell
Haiti's interim prime minister said Monday that opposition to his U.S.-backed government is being fomented by black Americans more interested in "black power" than in the plight of the Haitian people.
Speaking to reporters at the Harvard Club in Manhattan, Gerard Latortue also called exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide an inveterate "liar."
Latortue charged that African-American politicians organizing protests against his government are making the question of who should rule Haiti "a racial issue that doesn't correspond with the aspirations of the Haitian population today."
"This has been promoted more by Afro-Americans than by Haitians, in the name of black power," La
tortue said, referring to a Brooklyn rally last month attended by 1,500 Aristide supporters, who see him as Haiti's only legitimate ruler.
Ron Daniels, an African-American who has organized protests in support of Aristide, replied that Latortue's comments show "he is really out of touch with reality."
"The fact is that many African-Americans simply believe his government came to power in an illegitimate manner," said Daniels, executive director of the Manhattan-based Center for Constitutional Rights.
On Feb. 29, Aristide, viewed as a pro-poor leftist by his supporters but as an unstable demagogue by opponents, signed a letter of resignation and went into exile on a U.S. chartered plane to the Central African Republic.
Soon after his arrival there he began telling associates he had been "kidnapped" by U.S. soldiers and diplomats, a charge repeated by U.S. supporters.
Latortue said Aristide is a "liar" capable of asking U.S. officials to help him escape Haiti's spreading vi
olence and then deciding to accuse them of kidnapping him.
"The man really has a double personality, and sometimes one personality will say yes, then the other personality says no," Latortue said.
Latortue, a business consultant in Boca Raton, Fla., before being tapped two months ago to be interim prime minister, said American presidential politics play a role in the U.S.-based opposition to his government. "It is a fight against President Bush and the Republican Party," he said.
The protesters "hope that if the present administration loses the election and Democrats come back, there will be a chance for the Democrats to return Aristide."
Outside the Harvard Club on West 44th Street, several dozen protesters carried signs saying, "Down With Gerard Latortue" and "End the U.S. Occupation of Haiti."
"He's taking his orders from the United States embassy," shouted Haitian-born Jean Kernizan, 50.
Latortue visited U.S. officials in Washington last week and was expected to
travel last night to France, where he will continue efforts to get international financial aid for his troubled nation.
Latortue maintains Aristide was corrupt and that he orchestrated violent repression of political opponents. Aristide's supporters say he was loved by most poor Haitians but was opposed by wealthy, lighter-complexioned Haitians and by the United States because of his leftist policies.
Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.