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Haiti Background: Guy Philippe
The feared Haitian army, disbanded by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is making a comeback. We take an in-depth look at the paramilitary leader who now claims to be in control of the Haitian police and military: Guy Philippe, a former Haitian police chief who was trained by US Special Forces in Ecuador in the early 1990s.
For many Haitians, it is like a real life nightmare is once again becoming a reality. The feared Haitian army, disbanded by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is making a comeback. And what is particularly disturbing to veteran Haiti observers and human rights organizations is the man who now claims to be in control of the Haitian police and military.
He says the man he most admires is former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. He praises the former dictator as the man who "made Chile what it is.'" Next to Pinochet, his second greatest hero is Ronald Reagan. The man is paramilitary leader Guy Philippe, a former Haitian police chief who was trained by US Special Forces in Ecuador in the early 1990s.
The Haitian government and the private US security firm hired in 1998 by Haiti to protect the president accuse Philippe of master-minding a deadly attack on the Police Academy in July 2001 and of an attempted coup in December 2001. When he is discussed in the corporate media, he is almost always referred to simply as a rebel leader, a former police chief.
But human rights groups paint a different picture.
Human Rights Watch reported Friday that during Philippe's term as police chief of the Port-au-Prince suburb of Delmas from 1997 to 1999, international monitors "learned that dozens of suspected gang members were summarily executed, mainly by police under the command of Inspector Berthony Bazile, Philippe's deputy."
Yesterday, Philippe and his paramilitaries retook control of the former Haitian Army headquarters across from the National palace. Philippe declared to the international press that he himself is now in control of 90% of Haiti's armed forces. In an address on Haitian Radio, Philippe declared, "The country is in my hands." He summoned 20 police commanders to meet with him yesterday and warned that if they failed to appear he would arrest them.
Also yesterday, Philippe announced he would arrest Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, who is a top official of Aristide's Lavalas party. Democracy Now! heard from sources in Haiti that Neptune's home was burned and looted and that he was being pursued by armed gangs. People close to Neptune told us he fears for his life. Local radio reported that Neptune was evacuated from his office by helicopter as Guy Philippe led a mob in a march to the office. Meanwhile, there are reports of regular execution-style killings on the Haitian seaside.
More Text and Audio:
Guy Philippe is a former member of the FAD'H (Haitian Army). During the 1991-94 military regime, he and a number of other officers received training from the US Special Forces in Equador, and when the FAD'H was dissolved by Aristide in early 1995, Philippe was incorporated into the new National Police Force. He served as police chief in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Delmas and in the second city, Cap-Haitien, before he fled Haiti in October 2000 when Haitian authorities discovered him plotting what they described as a coup, together with a clique of other police chiefs. Since that time, the Haitian government has accused Philippe of master-minding deadly attacks on the Haitian Police Academy and the National Palace in July and December 2001, as well as hit-and-run raids against police stations on Haiti's Central Plateau over last two years.
Guy Philippe, former police chief of Cap-Hatien and Duvalier death squad leader in the 1980s, was named l'Arbonite's chief of armed forces. Philippe fled Haiti in 2002 to the Dominican Republic after it was discovered that he was plotting a coup. Philippe returned to Haiti with former death squad leader Louis Jodel Chamblain, and had up to 50 armed supporters with him. Jean Pierre Baptiste, who calls himself General Tatoune, lead the march into the city. He was one of the leaders of the uprising that overthrew Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier in 1986. Under the military regime of the early 1990's, he joined the paramilitary outfit FRAPH (Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti) and was serving life in prison in Gonaves for his role in a 1994 massacre. A close associate of Chamblain, Emmanueal 'Toto' Constant, who lead the coup against Aristide in 1991, has admitted CIA financing for the movement. It has also been claimed that these paramilitaries received "some form" of training while in the Dominican Republic. These paramilitary thugs now control most of Haiti's north, and the rebels are today threatening an attempt to take Port-au-Prince.
Mr Philippe, 36, says he has a law degree from Ecuador and studied medicine in Mexico for a year.
His critics allege a questionable human rights record and point to rumoured involvement with military dictator Jean-Claude ("Baby Doc") Duvalier's regime in the 1980s.
In 1990, Mr Aristide was first elected president, but within a year had been overthrown in a coup and was exiled to the United States.
Mr Philippe, who was by then in the army, escaped to Ecuador, where he allegedly received training from US Special Forces as part of the US campaign to reinstate Mr Aristide.
He returned to Haiti in 1994, after Mr Aristide had been restored to power. In 1995 - fearing another coup attempt - Mr Aristide disbanded the army.
Mr Philippe was incorporated into the new National Police Force, eventually serving as police chief in Cap-Haitien.
Under Rene Preval, the new president elected in 1995, Mr Philippe helped hunt down members of the ousted military junta - including former members of the now-disbanded army, with some of whom he now claims a common cause.
But Mr Philippe's career in the police came to an abrupt end in 2000, when the authorities accused him of plotting a coup with other police chiefs.
He fled - first to Ecuador, then to the neighbouring Dominican Republic.
In December 2001, when armed men tried to seize the presidential National Palace, a year after disputed elections returned Mr Aristide to office for a second term, authorities accused Mr Philippe of masterminding the operation.
But extradition negotiations failed, and Mr Philippe remained at large.
While in the Dominican Republic, Mr Philippe's reputed taste for luxury hotels fuelled speculation he was involved in drugs trafficking - a charge that he vehemently denied in a recent interview.
A family man and a fan of Bush
Friday February 27, 2004
The rebel leader Guy Philippe is a former army officer who admires President George Bush.
Mr Philippe, the son of coffee farmers who turns 36 on Sunday, trained at a military academy in Ecuador after Mr Aristide disbanded the army, where he received instruction from French troops and the US secret service.
When he returned to Haiti the president named him assistant police chief in Cap Haitien, the city where rebels under his command now hold sway.
After being accused of plotting a coup in 2000, Mr Philippe fled into exile in the Dominican Republic, which shares an island with Haiti. Mr Aristide also accused him of being a drug trafficker, a charge the rebel leader denies.
He likes Mr Bush because: "I like tough guys, guys who protect their country."
The soldier-turned-rebel with an easy smile paints himself as a family man and says when his rebellion is over he would like to go back to his father's coffee farm and lead a tranquil life.
He met his wife, an American, in Ecuador. He refuses to reveal if they have any children.
Guy Philippe, 35. Trained in the United States and Ecuador, he was a senior security official under President Rene Preval, a civilian elected in 1995
Another figure to recently reemerge is Guy Philippe, a former Haitian police chief who fled Haiti in October 2000 after authorities discovered him plotting a coup with a group of other police chiefs. All of the men were trained in Ecuador by US Special Forces during the 1991-1994 coup. Since that time, the Haitian government has accused Philippe of master-minding deadly attacks on the Police Academy and the National Palace in July and December 2001, as well as hit-and-run raids against police stations on Haiti's Central Plateau over the following two years.
Rebel leader Guy Philippe told The Associated Press on Tuesday he wants to restore the army but does not want another military dictatorship.
"Guy Philippe can put up to 400 so-called "soldiers" in the field - or in Port-au-Prince, whenever he wants to," Macklin said. "He has the capabilities, its just a matter of time before he does it. His henchmen are paid by drug traffickers . . . they have always been on the Colombian Cartel's payroll. They have the capability to topple the government, no matter what you hear."
Richardson revealed that at the meeting in Santo Domingo, former Cap-Haitien police chief, Guy Philippe, "told us that former Colonel Guy François would organise a backup for us in Haiti." But when the group began the attack, no backup force materialised, he said. His account appears to confirm Haitian police officials' claim to have intercepted radio transmissions in which the attackers identified their leader as Philippe.
Philippe, who is also an ex-soldier who had been assigned to the police force that replaced the army, sought refuge in Dominican Republic in October 2000 along with seven others accused of plotting a coup. (Details of the October 2000 plot appeared in the weekly newspaper, Haiti Progres, at that time. Apparently, Philippe, Nau, and other former police chiefs who had been fired from the force, together with former soldiers and civilians, had two meetings at the private residence of a US military attaché in Haiti, a certain Major Douyon, on October 8 and October 11 2000. Also present or at least expected, according to an unconfirmed report by Radio Kiskeya on October 24 2000, was the US chargé d'affaires, Leslie Alexander. When the Haitian government found out about the meetings, Philippe, Nau and six other police chiefs fled to the Dominican Republic, where they applied for political asylum.)
Philippe later moved to Ecuador, but he flew back to Dominican Republic two weeks before last Monday's assault, Dominican officials said. After the attack, he returned to Ecuador, where on Thursday he was being held by immigration police in Quito while he appealed a government decision to deport him to Panama, the country from which his flight had arrived. Haitian government officials have asked Ecuador to extradite him. Philippe, who had phoned Radio Carnival in Miami from the Dominican Republic to deny involvement, meanwhile told reporters in Quito, "How am I going to mobilise troops? By remote control?"
Many of the men leading the armed insurrection in Haiti right now are well known to veteran Haiti observers and, for that matter, the US intelligence agencies that worked closely with the paramilitary death squads which terrorized Haiti in the early 1990s. People like Louis Jodel Chamblain, the former number 2 man in FRAPH, Guy Philippe, a former police chief who was trained by US Special forces in Ecuador and Jean Tatun, another leader of FRAPH.
In an hour-long interview with the Washington Post, published today Guy Philippe vowed a bloody assault on Port-au-Prince "very soon" if Aristide refuses to leave office. Philippe and Chamblain told the paper that Aristide's departure and his replacement by an interim leader who would call new elections was the only possible peaceful solution to their three-week-old insurgency. Chamblain said "Aristide has two choices: prison or execution by firing squad."
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Guy Philippe (4.00 / 1) (#2)
by Andrew Grice on Sun Feb 29th, 2004 at 05:09:42 PM EST
(User Info) http://www.authenticjournalism.org
Susanna Nesmith wrote a puffish piece on "rebel" leader Guy Philippe for Knight Ridder. He loves old movies and such. Strange, but she doesn't bother to mention how Philippe was alleged to be involved in an earlier coup attempt. But there is an interesting line if anyone still has doubt over what kind of people these "rebels" are:
"He said the man he most admires, however, is former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who was known for concentrating, not separating, power. "Pinochet made Chile what it is." No. 2 on his list is former U.S. President Ronald Reagan."