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#4693: Re: #4655: This Week in Haiti 18:18 7/19/00 (fwd)

> "This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
> newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French
> and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100,
> (fax) 718-434-5551 or e-mail at <editor@haitiprogres.com>.
> Also visit our website at <www.haitiprogres.com>.
>                            HAITI PROGRES
>               "Le journal qui offre une alternative"
>                       * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
>                         July 19 - 25, 2000
>                           Vol. 18, No. 18
> A front of opposition parties this week openly called for the
> violent overthrow of Haiti's elected government, demanding the
> restoration of the Haitian Army which carried out the 1991-1994
> coup d'état and the exile - once again - of former president
> Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
> Launching what it called "Operation Drain the Flood" (Operasyon
> drenaj lavalas), the Group of Convergence, a congealment of six
> small right-wing parties and "fronts," wants President René
> Préval and Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis to resign, the
> Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to be disbanded, and this
> summer's elections, largely won by Aristide's Lavalas Family (FL)
> party, to be scrapped.
> In a supposed show of force, the Convergence held a Jul. 15 rally
> in Petit Goâve with less than 300 people scraped together from
> all over Haiti. Organizers had predicted 10,000 participants.
> In his speech for the occasion, Reynold Georges, a rabid
> supporter of the 1991-1994 coup and a principal Convergence
> spokesman, asked "the foreigners" to do two things: "First: take
> Aristide and return him to Washington where you found him.
> Second: restore the Haitian Army for us... because those lumpen
> (chimè) [poor pro-Lavalas demonstrators]... I didn't see them
> around when [coup leaders Colonel] Michel François and [General]
> Raoul Cédras were there; they were all in hiding."
> During the three-year coup d'état, the Haitian Army and its
> paramilitary arm killed an estimated 5,000 Haitians. It was
> disbanded by Aristide's presidential decree in 1995.
> Another Convergence speaker even implied that the Duvalier
> dictatorship was better than the current government. "The two or
> three roads that Jean-Claude Duvalier built, the Lavalas has
> destroyed with their burning tires," said Sauveur Pierre Etienne
> of Organization of People in Struggle (OPL). Since Duvalier's
> overthrow in 1986, protestors have commonly used burning tire
> road barricades to press their demands.
> The night before the rally, Convergence partisans shot and
> wounded two FL members, Norbert Belange and Saintil Dorvil.
> According to witnesses, three unidentified men riding in the car
> of Jean Limonji, a local candidate of the Convergence's Espace de
> Concertation (EC), fired on demonstrators protesting the planned
> rally and the distribution of Convergence flyers calling on
> former Tonton Macoutes and FRAPH members to unite and launch a
> "civil war" at 10 a.m. the next day. The flyers also called for
> the Haitian Army to replace the Haitian National Police so as to
> "finish with the Lavalas regime, all policemen, and all popular
> organization members," according to a Radio Haiti correspondent.
> The EC's Evans Paul tried to make light of the shootings, saying
> the victims had shot themselves. "There are several versions of
> what happened," he said. "According to one version it was a
> question of manipulating firearms, which the men couldn't do very
> well."
> He also claimed that Lavalas partisans had "kidnapped" Limonji's
> brother, Antoine Jean, on Jul. 14 "for four hours from 9 p.m. to
> 1 a.m." and then smashed up his car. When questioned, Paul could
> not explain the precise purpose of the alleged kidnapping.
> Earlier this year, Paul claimed that another of his party members
> was kidnapped by the Lavalas, a temporary disappearance which
> later appears to have been either a personal dispute, sloppy
> theater, or a complete hoax.
> Despite the opposition's extremely poor showing in nationwide
> elections on May 21 and Jul. 9, a Convergence spokesman declared
> that the front expects a warm welcome for its "popular uprising"
> in towns across Haiti. "We have lots of invitations," said neo-
> Duvalierist politician Hubert De Ronceray. "Gonaïves is
> interested, Jacmel is interested, Les Cayes is interested. We are
> convinced that all the important towns and regions will decide to
> invite us and receive us positively."
> The FL reacted angrily to the new provocation from Haiti's highly
> unpopular opposition. "There are two or three politicians who
> have not only been threatening the Lavalas Family for a long time
> but now they are threatening to overthrow the government and to
> make President Préval leave, dissolve the CEP, and annul the
> elections," said Yvon Neptune, the FL's senator-elect for the
> West Department. "They want to create a mess, to destabilize the
> country, destabilize the government... We have heard their
> declaration planning to go all over the country creating
> confrontations and asking for the bone-breaking, repressive, coup
> d'état-making army to be restored in the country."
> Other factors might contribute to Haiti's destabilization. Prices
> are rising dramatically, only partly due to rising oil costs.
> "Due to rumors of a possible embargo against Haiti, the class
> which controls commerce has not hesitated to add a few gourdes to
> the price of their products," explained Radio Galaxie.
> "People are panicking and trying to buy more American dollars to
> prepare for difficult times," Luc Especa, national coordinator
> for the Caribbean Export Development Agency, told Reuters.
> "Inflation is getting higher and the purchasing power of the
> people is getting reduced."
> Furthermore, it cannot be discounted that the Haitian bourgeoisie
> might be hiking prices to turn up the heat on the government and
> help the opposition. Previously, the bourgeoisie bankrolled the
> 1991 coup against Aristide's government.
> Another pressure comes from foreign oil companies which have cut
> off the government's credit line and now demand cash on delivery,
> in U.S. currency.
> Meanwhile, the U.S. government has been returning to Haiti
> planeload after planeload of convicted felons which it says are
> Haitian citizens. Often the returnees are young men who left
> Haiti at an early age, have no family in the country, and don't
> speak Creole. In at least one case last year, a returnee was in
> fact a U.S. citizen.
> On Jul. 17, the government received 57 men and 3 women, whom were
> provisionally placed in jail. It was just the latest transfer of
> about 500 returnees to be made in the upcoming weeks. U.S.
> authorities told their Haitian counterparts that 38% of the group
> had committed drug related crimes. "But we don't know if they are
> traffickers or users," said Dr. Lubrène Bien Aimé, the Interior
> Ministry's general director. "When we analyze the files of the
> groups we have been receiving we realize that some of the people
> were convicted of nothing serious and some of serious crimes...
> Fifteen percent committed armed robbery but there are others who
> didn't do much and one wonders if there is any justification in
> returning those people."
> On top of all this, Washington and the European Community have
> been threatening to cut off aid to the country because they don't
> agree with recent election results. The EC said in a five-point
> declaration last week that it "could be compelled to reconsider
> its policy in Haiti, in particular in the field of cooperation
> and development, should the democratic process be called into
> question... including partial or full suspension of aid."
> International donors had promised to restore the aid flow, which
> they stopped in 1997, with the installation of a new parliament.
> "Our government has been living through a difficult situation
> over the past three years, since all aid money was blocked by
> parliament," Préval said Jul. 14. "We all know what kind of
> pirouettes we have been doing."
> All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
> Please credit Haiti Progres.
>                                -30-