Haiti coup's mastermind is... a prof in Canada?

This bizarre story comes from the Montreal Gazette via the National Post via a reader, and is out of the archives -- it came out shortly after the coup in Haiti, March 9, 2004.

The guy's name is Paul Arcelin and he was a professor at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal in the 1960s. He gave an interview to a Canadian media outlet. Here's some quotes.

"Two years ago, I met Guy Philippe in Santo Domingo and we spent 10 to 15 hours a day together, plotting against Aristide," Mr. Arcelin said in an interview at the rebel headquarters at the Hibo Lele Hotel on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

"From time to time we'd cross the border through the woods to conspire against Aristide, to meet with the opposition and regional leaders to prepare for Aristide's downfall."

Nicole Roy-Arcelin, who was elected to the House of Commons as a Montreal Conservative in 1988, is married to Paul Arcelin's brother, Andre, a doctor who came to Canada in 1964.

When the rebels took over Hinche, a city in the north, soon after the Feb. 5 start of the insurrection, Mr. Arcelin said he was in Canada, sick. But he took advantage of the visit and his sister-in- law's political connections to meet with Pierre Pettigrew, the Health Minister, whose Montreal riding has a large Haitian population.

"I explained the reality of Haiti to him," Mr. Arcelin said, pulling Mr. Pettigrew's business card out of his wallet. "He promised to make a report to the Canadian government about what I had said."

The rest of the article (below) is typical mainstream media fare -- apologetics for the coup, anti-Aristide stuff, surreal and solemn proclamations of fealty to the Haitian poor, and so on. But so much of this stuff is just completely out in the open.

Author(s): Sue Montgomery Article types: News Dateline: PORT-AU-PRINCE Section: World Publication title: National Post. Don Mills, Ont.: Mar 9, 2004. pg. A.12 Copyright National Post 2004) PORT-AU-PRINCE - A former Montreal professor is taking credit for being the political mastermind of Haiti's rebellion. In an exclusive interview, Paul Arcelin, a professor at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal in the 1960s, told CanWest News Service he is the political lieutenant to Guy Philippe, leader of the rebel army that toppled Jean-Bertrand Aristide last month. "Two years ago, I met Guy Philippe in Santo Domingo and we spent 10 to 15 hours a day together, plotting against Aristide," Mr. Arcelin said in an interview at the rebel headquarters at the Hibo Lele Hotel on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. "From time to time we'd cross the border through the woods to conspire against Aristide, to meet with the opposition and regional leaders to prepare for Aristide's downfall." Nicole Roy-Arcelin, who was elected to the House of Commons as a Montreal Conservative in 1988, is married to Paul Arcelin's brother, Andre, a doctor who came to Canada in 1964. When the rebels took over Hinche, a city in the north, soon after the Feb. 5 start of the insurrection, Mr. Arcelin said he was in Canada, sick. But he took advantage of the visit and his sister-in- law's political connections to meet with Pierre Pettigrew, the Health Minister, whose Montreal riding has a large Haitian population. "I explained the reality of Haiti to him," Mr. Arcelin said, pulling Mr. Pettigrew's business card out of his wallet. "He promised to make a report to the Canadian government about what I had said." It was around that time the international community's attitude toward the rebels began to shift, with the U.S. embassy softening the rhetoric by referring to them as "armed elements of the north." Ten days ago, the Front de Liberation du Haiti, the rebel army, arrived in the capital in a convoy of SUVs and was greeted by cheering throngs of Haitians. The day before, Mr. Aristide had left the country -- he claims he was ousted by the United States in what amounted to a coup d'etat -- his regime in tatters and the nation a bankrupt, crumbling mess. "My country looks like Hiroshima -- dirty and destroyed like there was a war," Mr. Arcelin said with disgust. "But there wasn't a war. It was the destruction of the country by a president who was crazy." The rebels are now reaping the rewards of their three-week insurrection, denying they are interested in seizing power while basking in the glory heaped on them by the Haitian people. The road to the Hibo Lele Hotel is a steep, potholed, narrow, winding path. There is no light, save for that coming from the candlelit shacks along the way, the jeep's headlights and a full moon. Inside, the guests all carry guns -- either over their shoulders or tucked into their jeans. Inside a sparsely furnished room, Mr. Philippe, the self- declared military chief of the group, is sitting on a chair, naked from the waist up, a thick silver chain around his neck. He has a beer in one hand and a cellphone to his ear. As he speaks, he gazes at his image in a full-length mirror on the wall. "Hello, my sweetie," he says, after finishing the phone call. "What can I do for you?" He looks much younger than his 36 years. He's wearing brand new Docksider shoes and blue jeans. Around his right wrist is a leather strap with coloured beads that spell out the word "Gucci." Mr. Philippe is asked what he thinks about the political situation in his country -- in particular the seven-member council that has been set up to choose an independent prime minister in the hope he will lead the country toward a free and fair election. "If it's something that can help the Haitian people, then it's good," he said. "I really think the international community will help, but it won't help through military guys, but through food and education." Lurking behind Mr. Philippe is a handful of armed men, ready to use their weapons to keep the leader alive, even though he claims all eight million Haitians love him. "I get calls from people telling me to watch out, and they call my family and friends, too," he said, his boyish face breaking into an impish grin. "Everybody loved Jesus, too, but they killed him. They killed Martin Luther King; they killed Gandhi." Later, Mr. Arcelin says Mr. Philippe is, quite simply, "brilliant." "It's Guy's show; he's the star," Mr. Arcelin said. "He is the army head and I'm head of the political arm of the rebels. In less than 25 days, we took control of two-thirds of the country and part of the capital. We planned it in a way that the world was surprised." After their jubilant and peaceful arrival in the capital, the rebels announced they were laying down their arms and would respect the process put in place to lead the country to elections. When a peaceful victory demonstration turned violent on Sunday, killing six, including Spanish television reporter Ricardo Ortega, Mr. Arcelin was outraged. With such a heavily armed population, Mr. Arcelin worries his country will become another Somalia. After Sunday's bloodshed, the rebels vowed to retreat to their stronghold in the north and re-evaluate their strategy. But before leaving, Mr. Arcelin dropped by the Montana Hotel in Port-au-Prince to say goodbye, introducing himself at the front desk as the Canadian ambassador. Asked whether he will return to Canada or continue to fight, Mr. Arcelin replied: "It's difficult to say what will happen. "I would never say I'm going back to Canada, although I love Canada -- the best years of my life were there. But it's such an organized country compared to Haiti and I feel I owe my life to the poor and needy of my country. I am here for the rest of my life." (The Gazette)

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