[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#762: This Week in Haiti 17:31 10/20/99 (fwd)

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For information on other news in French and Creole,
please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax)
718-434-5551 or e-mail at <editor@haiti-progres.com>

                           HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                      October 20 - 26, 1999
                          Vol. 17, No. 31


The debate over how to stem Haiti's criminal and political
violence -- known as "insecurity" -- has flared up once again
since the resignation last week of Secretary of State for Public
Security Robert Manuel and the assassination two days later of
former colonel Jean Eddy Lamy. Until his death, Lamy was an
advisor to the leadership of the national police and Manuel's
likely successor.

Accusations and confusion about these events -- former Interim
Police Chief Dany Toussaint has charged that Manuel orchestrated
Lamy's murder -- are widespread in Haiti due in large measure to
the complete silence of the authorities on these matters. Instead
of respecting the principle of "transparency," which was touted
as a cornerstone of the Lavalas program in 1991, President René
Préval's government has chosen to shroud its administration of
public affairs in complete secrecy. Don't the people, the
governed, those most affected by the government's decisions, have
a right to information?

Indeed, until now, the government has not give any explanation
about the departure of Robert Manuel. Did he voluntarily resign,
or was he fired against his will? In either case, what were the
reasons? Should one believe the rumors saying  that Robert Manuel
resigned under pressure from Préval? Did the former Secretary of
State, who was one of Préval's oldest and closest allies, make
some kind of grave political error? Or, did Préval judge the
moment right to finally bow to the long-standing demand of some
popular organizations that Manuel be dismissed? For months,
Préval ignored that demand, and, on the contrary, fired many of
the State administrators close to those popular organizations.
For one reason or another, Haiti's leaders seem unable to address
the nation's overriding concern: the wave of insecurity which is
engulfing the entire country and which grows in intensity
whenever foreign troops are due to be withdrawn!

The Haitian National Police (PNH) itself does not say much, even
when its own members are struck down by this violence. It seems
sometimes as if we have returned to the old days of the military-
civilian dictatorships, where the sole response to death-squad
violence was always: "the investigation continues ." No news has
filtered out about the investigations into the Jan. 12 attack
against the President's sister, Mrs. Marie-Claude Préval Calvin,
the Mar. 1 murder of Senator Jean-Yvon Toussaint, the May 28
massacre in Carrefour-Feuilles, or the murders of over a dozen
police officers in recent weeks. Should one attribute this to the
incompetence of those in charge of the Police? Are they simply
too cowardly to denounce the masters of the "laboratory" (as the
CIA/Pentagon nexus is called in Haiti)? Or do they have some
complicity in the crimes?

The former Secretary of State of Public Security always
proclaimed the neutrality and the apolitical position of the PNH.
However didn't he himself, the force's principal chief,
personally lead, at the National Palace, the political
negotiations which led to the March 6, 1999 agreement with the
opportunist politicians of the Espace de concertation (Space for
dialogue)? With this agreement, the "Lavalas" government began
carving-up of the governmental pie to share with a right-wing
front, composed of politicians long ago rejected by the people.
The same power-sharing formula was used to form the quasi-
dysfunctional Provisional Electoral Council (CEP).

It is clear. Robert Manuel was not neutral; he worked for the
strengthening of the Espace de Concertation, under the direction
of his foreign masters and to a lesser extent under that of the
local "pocket patriot" bourgeoisie. That goes without saying.

Let us not have any illusions. The electoral question (that is,
control of the CEP) and the orientation and control of the PNH
are what is truly at stake. These questions are central to the
resolution or the worsening of the crisis. In this macabre
theater, the "laboratory" and the
"international community" have already chosen their camp through
their covert efforts to keep control of these two entities: the
CEP and the PNH. Their goal is to fraudulently constitute a
parliamentary majority to the benefit of the Espace de
Concertation and detriment of former president Jean-Bertrand
Aristide's party, the Fanmi Lavalas, which is likely to win the
presidential elections in 2000. Ideally, the goal is to contain
Aristide's possible anti-neoliberal inclinations, and at the same
time to consolidate the privatization of the nation being carried
out by Préval.

The big question is: what is the position of President René
Préval in all of this? His policy of attrition, of being
secretive, and of posturing one way while doing the opposite
("woule m 2 bò") has finally arrived at a critical point. Will he
finally understand that his lack of transparency has created
havoc in the nation, which is likely to contribute further to
Haiti's woes?


Two weeks ago in this column we mistakenly asserted that U.S.
soldiers had stolen 60,000 pages of evidentiary documents from
Haiti in 1994 (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 17, No. 29, Oct. 6, 1999).
In fact, Washington still harbors an estimated 160,000 pages, a
figure which we have generally reported correctly in the past.

We also took note of U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Timothy Carney's
assertion that the U.S. was prepared to return to Haiti all but
2% of the documents unedited. That means that Washington would
return 3,200 blanked-out pages to Haiti, not the mere 1,200 we
previously calculated.

Having pointed out our slip to us, Brian Concannon, an American
lawyer working with the Haitian government to prosecute crimes
committed during the three year coup d'état, notes that
international pressure and momentum for the return of the 160,000
pages is greater than ever. He has helped spearhead the "Campaign
for the Return of the FRAPH/FAdH Documents," which has collected
thousands of signatures from supporters in over 30 countries.

Now, the Campaign has a "big chance" next month, he says. On Nov.
4, Adama Dieng, the UN Human Rights Commission Independent Expert
on Haiti, will deliver his report to the General Assembly. As he
has done before at the annual meetings of the Commission and the
General Assembly, Dieng is expected to call for the return of
Haiti's documents in their entirety. Of course, in the past the
U.S. government has used its diplomatic might to quash any U.N.
resolution calling for the documents' return.

But this year, Concannon and Campaign supporters are hoping for a
different result. Toward this end, the Center for Constitutional
Rights (CCR) is calling for a large demonstration at the U.N. in
Manhattan on Nov. 4 to demand the return of the documents and to
call attention to the continued arrogance and lawlessness of
Washington in withholding Haiti's property. The Campaign is
urging its supporters around the world to contact their
government representatives to support a UN resolution calling for
the documents' return, and for those in New York to join in the
Nov. 4 demonstration. For more information on how to take part in
the action, call Ron Daniels at the CCR at (212) 614-6464. For
more information on the Campaign, contact the website