Is Pretoria blocking ousted president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return to Haiti? Speculation is rife amongst civil society groups that influenced by US interests; this may indeed be the case.
The Haitian government has issued a passport for Aristide’s return to his home country, but Pretoria appears to be stalling on releasing the exiled president, claiming that they are waiting for “ideal conditions” to arrange his departure from South Africa.
The American government, accused of meddling in the electoral process in Haiti, is not keen to have Aristide return home any time soon. Their assistant secretary of state, Philip Crowley has argued that Aristide would be an “unfortunate distraction” in the country’s forthcoming March 20th election run off between two presidential candidates (who seemingly have the US’ approval).
So it appears that Aristide’s fate hangs in limbo until after the election run off when the powers that be might deem it less harmful to their agendas for him to return to Haiti.
In the meantime, prominent American anti-apartheid activists such as Danny Glover and the Reverend Jesse Jackson have also added their voices to calls for Aristide’s homecoming and joined others in writing an open letter to President Jacob Zuma urging his assistance in Aristide’s speedy return to Haiti.
Meanwhile ordinary Haitians, the majority of who are grindingly poor and who only ever received some relief under Aristide’s administration, have also been appealing to the international community for the return of their exiled former president. Watch the short film above (made by Paul Burke) to hear their heartfelt pleas.