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#4967: Fwd: News Summary - August 28 (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>

>From: HaitiNewsSummary@aol.com
>Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 16:46:58 EDT
>Subject: News Summary - August 28
>Haiti News Summary
>August 28, 2000
>The Following is a brief summary of news from Haiti.  Individual sources,
>mostly from within Haiti, are cited at the end of each item.  If you do not
>wish to continue to receive this news summary please e-mail us at
>HaitiNewsSummary@AOL.com and we will remove you from the distribution list.
>Also feel free to send the addresses of anyone else you know who would like
>to be added to this list.
>Election News
>All the newly elected members of Haiti's parliament registered at the
>parliament offices last week.  The nineteen Senators and 82 deputies are
>expected to be sworn in and to begin holding sessions of parliament this
>The date for Haiti's Presidential election has been set for November 26, 2000
>as per the Haitian constitution which calls for Presidential election on the
>last Sunday of November every five years.  The elections will be organized by
>the current Provisional Electoral Council which is expected to publish an
>electoral calendar, which includes the re opening of voter registration in
>near future.
>International Community Reactions to Haiti's Elections
>In recent days the position of the international community vis-Ã -vis Haiti's
>elections has taken a more subdued tone.  An OAS mission regarding the
>international conflict over the results in 8 Senate races led by OAS
>Secretary General Caesar Gaviria visited Haiti in mid August.  At the close
>of the mission after meetings with the President Preval, with former
>President Aristide, and with leaders of some of the parties who are
>contesting the elections, Gaviria re affirmed the position that the conflict
>needs to be resolved before the Presidential elections in November.  He
>emphasized, however, that it was up to Haitian actors to do this. Gaviria
>stated that it was not the role of the OAS to intervene, and that there was
>no question of asking Haiti to annul its elections. When asked about the OAS
>'s earlier position threatening to isolate Haiti he said it was not up to the
>OAS to either recognize or not recognize Haiti's new parliament, but pointed
>out that what is at stake is assistance from countries and institutions who
>may block aid to Haiti if the issue is not resolved. Having such aid blocked
>was not in the interests of any group in Haiti Gaviria stated.
>According to AHP, diplomatic sources are now emphasizing not so much the
>problems with the recent election as their desire to see opposition
>politicians present in the 47th parliament.  A rumor circulated in Haiti
>inrecent weeks that a deal was being made whereby Fanmi Lavalas would field
>no candidates for the 8 Senate seats that will be up for election in
>November, allowing other parties to win.  Senator Yvon Neptune speaking for
>Fanmi Lavalas after the meetings with the OAS said there was no such a deal,
>that this subject did not come up in meetings with the OAS, and that the
>meetings had focused primarily on the upcoming presidential elections.  (AHP)
>On August 16 a group of former candidates who lost in parliamentary elections
>on May 21 and July 9 declared their approval of the results.  The candidates
>grouped under the name "Citizen Action" participated in the last election as
>candidates for the Group of Convergence, MOCHRENA, MPSN and MRN.  "We have
>freely adopted this position to show our dismay in re3gard to certain old
>political practices which prevent the population from making their choice at
>the polls." the group said. They acknowledged their own defeat in the
>elections and called for the new legislature to be seated as soon as
>possible. (AHP)
>The head of the Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast Jacques Khawly called on
>political parties to work together to reach a solution to political crisis.
>He called some parties' positions too rigid and their calls for the
>resignation of the President too extreme.  According to Khawly Fanmi Lavalas
>is with out contest the most popular political party in Haiti as it won the
>vast majority of posts.  "If one has no serious argument for criticizing
>these elections or annulling them then it is necessary to move on to allow
>the country to advance" said Khawly.  (AHP)
>Trial in the Carrefour Feuilles Massacre in Process
>The trial of six former police officers accused of executing 11 young men in
>the Carrefour Feuilles neighborhood on May 28, 1999 began on Monday August 20
>and is continuing this week.  The case, which is a major human rights test
>for the country is being broadcast live on Haitian National Television and
>has attracted tremendous attention in Haiti.   The judge has insisted
>throughout the proceedings that the trial be conducted entirely in Creole.
>Despite the fact that only 10-15% of the population speaks French this is
>still not standard practice in Haitian courts.
>While the police had originally claimed that the murder victims were members
>of a criminal gang that they were pursuing, two area residents testified this
>week that the young men killed were not criminals and were not a threat to
>the neighborhood.  Pierre Denize the chief of Haiti's police force qualified
>the killings as deplorable.  He testified on Thursday that Coles Rameau the
>former commissar for Port-au-Prince who is the highest-ranking officer
>accused did not act on orders from the police hierarchy.  Other evidence
>suggested that an internal police investigation had revealed that an
>unidentified voice over the radio did order Rameau to kill the victims.  The
>defense has posed the theory that Bob Manuel, the then head of Public Safety,
>who fled the country last November, ordered the killings.  The judge has
>attempted to limit this line of defense, in that Manuel is not on trial, and
>that following an illegal order of this kind is still murder.    (Tele
>National d'Haiti)
>The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights visited Haiti last week and
>reported a general improvement in the human rights situation of the country.
>In their statement they pointed to the poverty of the country as the major
>block to justice.  They noted improvements in the prisons, and the fact the
>Carrefour Feuilles trial is proceeding as signs of progress.  (AHP)
>Opening of the School Year - Steep Rise in the Cost of Living
>Food and transportation costs have risen steeply in the past few weeks.  The
>gourde is now selling at 22 to the US dollar up from 18 or 19 gourdes to the
>dollar in the spring.  The exchange rate spiked as high as 25 gourdes to the
>dollar on Friday.
>Prices, particularly for food are rising even more steeply than the exchange
>The government has also announced that it will not be able to continue to
>subsidize the price of gasoline as it has been doing since world oil prices
>jumped last year.
>The Prime Minister announced that the school year would begin on September 4
>this year about one month earlier than usual.  This has thrown many families
>into a panic as they struggle to get the funds together in time.  On the
>whole, despite the hardships, the move is seen as a step forward in improving
>the educational system.  Bishop Willy Romulus lauded the change in calendar
>saying it will give students more days in school.  (AHP)
>Dominican Republic
>The new President of the Dominican Republic, Hypolito Mejia of the PRD, was
>inaugurated on August 16.  President Preval attended the ceremony.  Mejia has
>made improved relations with Haiti one of the priorities of his first 90 days
>in office.  A case against the Dominican Republic on behalf of Haitians
>living in the DR was brought to the InterAmerican Court this week.  The human
>rights groups who brought the case were asking the court to order the DR to
>stop the forced expulsions of Haitians and to grant Dominican citizenship to
>the children of Haitian parents born in the DR.  The Court ruled that it did
>not have sufficient evidence to make a judgment.  The new Dominican
>ambassador to Haiti, appointed by the Mejia government, struck a positive
>note, however, stating that it is a reality that the DR needs Haitian workers
>and the whole immigration process must be examined and reformed.  (AHP)
>Haitian Protest Continued Presence of Toto Constant in New York:
>Haitian-American leaders, outraged by the increasingly visible presence
>of Toto Constant in Queens are renewing a call to send the man back there for
>trial. For more than five years, Emmanuel Constant, 43, the leader of a
>Haitian paramilitary group in the early 1990's, has lived intermittently with
>an aunt on a quiet street in southeast Queens since 1994, popping up at
>restaurants, coffee shops and
>nightclubs. He has taken a job as a real estate broker, selling houses
>in Cambia Heights, the heart of the Haitian-American neighborhood in
>Queens. Last week, after watching a discussion on public access about a
>rally planned against him, he called the station and asked to be
>interviewed. Constant emerged in 1993 as the head of the right-wing
>paramilitary group FRAPH (the Front for the Advancement and Progress of
>Haiti), which has been accused of torturing and killing thousands of
>supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The Haitian government has
>repeatedly called for Constant's extradition. Federal agents have argued
>that Constant return to Haiti would further destabilize the government
>there, and they have also argued that the Haitian justice system is not
>equipped to give him a fair trial. But many say they suspect that
>Constant, who had been a paid informer for the CIA, struck a deal with
>the federal government, winning his release in exchange for his silence
>about the CIA. (New York Times)
>Drug trafficker is expelled to the US:
>For the first time, the Haitian government has expelled a Colombian
>trafficker wanted on drug-related charges in the US. Instead of going
>through a lengthy extradition, Haitian officials placed Carlos Botero
>Asprilla on a plane to Miami, where agents from the US Marshal's Service
>picked him up on August 9 for violating parole from a previous drug
>trafficking conviction in this country. The US DEA has seven anti-drug
>officials in Haiti who support the Unified Caribbean On-Line Regional
>Network, set up to share intelligence with Caribbean nations regarding drug
>targets and money laundering.
>Haiti's counter-narcotics squad has only 25 officers.  (MiamiHerald, 8/15)
>End of Summary
>The following is the text of a letter from the ICIO calling for participants
>to observe the elections in November.
>August 23, 2000
>Dear Friends of Haiti,
>  The International Coalition for Independent Observers (ICIO) invites
>you to join us in supporting the people of Haitiâ??s ongoing struggle for
>democracy by applying to participate in our upcoming election
>observation delegation.  As in past Haitian elections, Global Exchange,
>the Quixote Center, Witness for Peace and Pax Christi are working in
>collaboration to provide independent observing and reporting.  It is
>vital to the democratic process in Haiti that truly non-governmental and
>impartial observers are present for the presidential elections. Please
>consider joining our team of civic leaders, academic experts and
>experienced election monitors when we travel to Haiti for this fallâ??s
>presidential elections.
>  The ICIO observed on May 21, 2000 as millions of Haitian voters made an
>historic step toward democracy through their mass participation in
>legislative elections.  As you know, even with a 60% voter participation
>rate and very clear results, members of the international community,
>particularly the US government and the OAS, have called the legitimacy
>of this vote into question. This has created serious setbacks to the
>burgeoning democratic process in Haiti.
>  The presidential elections promise to be even more contentious for the
>international community, and questions have already been raised about
>Haiti's ability to hold these elections in an acceptably free and fair
>manner. There is an absolute necessity for independent international
>observation of the presidential elections.  Our presence is critical for
>supporting the basic rights of the Haitian people to determine their
>political leadership, and our voices will be vital in bearing witness to
>what really takes place during these elections.
>  The date for the presidential elections has been set for November 26,
>2000.  The delegation will gather in Port au Prince on Tuesday, November
>21 and depart November 30.  Hopefully the date of the elections will not
>change, however, experience tells us that anything is possible.  In the
>event of a change in dates, we will inform participants immediately and
>all work together to remain as flexible as possible.
>  The cost of the delegation will be $1400.  This includes all in-country
>transportation, lodging, 2 meals a day and translation.  In addition,
>pre-trip materials and in-country training will be provided, and
>meetings with different individuals and organizations involved in the
>electoral process in Haiti are part of the itinerary. All observers will
>be accredited with the current electoral council.
>  For an application please contact Moira Feeney, Global Exchange, (415)
>255-7296 ext. 226, or via email at moira@globalexchange.org. The
>application should be returned to Global Exchange, 2017 Mission Street,
>Suite 303, San Francisco, CA 94110.   We strongly encourage individuals
>of diverse backgrounds with Haiti or election monitoring experience to
>apply.  In addition, a limited number of partial scholarships are
>available for low-income applicants.  More information about the
>election observation can be accessed at: www.globalexchange.org or
>  Please consider taking part in this historical event, and standing in
>solidarity to bear witness to the will of the Haitian people!
>For a more just world,
>Moira Feeney, Global Exchange
>Melinda Miles, Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center