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#5207: Fwd: Haiti News Summary September 30, 2000 (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>
>Haiti News Summary September 30, 2000
>Raboteau Trial Begins
>On Friday September 29, 2000,  the nineth anniversary of the coup d'etat of
>1991, the Haitian government began its biggest human rights case to date, the
>Raboteau Massacre.  There are 58 defendants in the case, ranging from
>low-level soldiers and paramilitaires, up through the military and
>paramilitary leadership.  The latter group includes the coup leaders Raoul
>Cedras, Michel Francois and Philippe Biamby, the military high command, and
>Emmanuel Constant, the head of the paramilitary organization FRAPH.
>Twenty-two defendants are in custody, the highest ranked Captain Cenafils
>Castera, the commander of the Gonaives military district.
>The trial is expected to last about six weeks taking place in Gonaives
>approximately 3 hours north of Port-au-Prince.  The case is based primarily
>on eyewitness testimony.  Forty-five people have filed formal complaints, and
>dozens more have come forward with first-hand reports.  These witnesses will
>be buttressed by testimony from international experts in forensic
>anthropology, genetics, military organization, and human rights, as well as
>documents from the Haitian army archives.  The prosecution did not have
>access to the "FRAPH/FADH Documents", 160,000 pages of materials seized by
>U.S. forces from military and paramilitary facilities in 1994.  The U.S.
>government has refused to return the documents, despite repeated requests
>from the Haitian government, joined by members of the U.S. Congress, the
>United Nations, and human rights groups throughout the world.
>Background: In the early hours of  April 22, 1994, soldiers and
>paramilitaries raided Raboteau, a seaside neighborhood of Gonaives, attacking
>the area's resistant, but unarmed, population.
>The attackers forcibly entered dozens of homes, beating and arresting those
>found within, including the elderly and small children.  Many people were
>arrested and tortured, others were tortured or humiliated on site.  Some were
>forced to lie in open sewers, or out in the hot sun for hours, some were
>forced to tear down a house with their bare hands.  Those who fled to the
>sea, Raboteau's traditional refuge, were shot at, some were killed.
>Although six murders are sufficiently documented to be part of the
>prosecution, it is likely that many more were killed.  The military
>authorities prevented the victims' families from retrieving bodies from the
>sea or burying them, so some bodies may have floated away, while others were
>reportedly eaten by animals on the beach.
>The Raboteau massacre took place during a particularly harsh period of
>Haiti's brutal 1991-94 military dictatorship.  As the international community
>tightened sanctions against Haiti in the first half of 1994, the army
>responded with attacks on areas of non-violent resistance throughout the
>country.  Gonaives, especially Raboteau, had always prided itself on refusing
>to accept the dictatorship, and in calling for the return of democratically
>elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  The Massacre was intended to
>terrorize the area's residents into abandoning their democratic hopes.
>Political Situation
>Another OAS delegation spent the week in Port-au-Prince with the stated
>purpose of facilitating a dialogue between various actors in Haiti to resolve
>the continuing conflict over the electoral process.  No real dialogue was
>possible because the opposition parties conditioned their participation on
>the resignation of the current electoral council and the cessation of the
>functioning of the 47th parliament.  Opposition groups did not show up for
>two scheduled sessions of talks with Fanmi Lavalas.  This week's delegation
>follows on the heels of a White House mission, which included Anthony Lake
>and members of the National Security Council, which was in Haiti over the
>weekend of Sept 15-16. At that time opposition parties such as OPL continued
>to call for "option zero" the anulation of the May 21 elections the
>resignation of the CEP, the President and Prime Minister.  AHP reported that
>the discussions with the White House delegation did not focus on the
>annulation of the elections but simply on a resolution to the issue of the 9
>Senate seats that the OAS continues to contest, they have also focused on the
>make up of the CEP.  The tone of the meetings seemed to be to reach a
>solution before the presidential elections in November so that the OAS and
>international community can still observe and participate in the process.
>Contradictory statements about the cutting off of aid to Haiti continue.
>After the September 6 meeting of the OAS the US representative to the OAS
>indicated that the US would not provide funds for the presidential elections
>and that all aid to Haiti will be channeled though non-governmental
>organizations in Haiti rather than the government.  (It should be noted that
>the vast majority of aid to Haiti is already channeled to non-governmental US
>AID contractors - including the US support for the parliamentary elections in
>the Spring which was paid directly to IFES for the much criticized voter
>registration process)
>The day after the OAS meeting the Canadian Ambassador to Haiti again
>reiterated that his government is not considering taking "sanctions" against
>Haiti.  And will continue its bilateral programs.  A US embassy source was
>also quick to point out that no aid had been planned for the presidential
>elections - so nothing was being cut.
>Meanwhile USAID announced this week that it would continue to spend some 70
>million dollars this year on programs already on going in Haiti and that
>these will as always be channeled through non-governmental organizations.
>All of this seems to have left both the population and the Haitian government
>somewhat non-plused wondering what if anything has actually been cut off.
>President Preval has indicated that the Haitian government will make $300
>million gourdes available for the November 26 Presidential elections (about
>$13.5 million US).
>Candidate registration is now going on in Haiti from September 20 - October
>2, with the official list of candidates to be published by the electoral
>council on October 5.  Voter registration materials are being prepared and
>the registration is supposed to re open for a period of time to allow for the
>registration of an additional 800,000 people - including those who have
>turned eighteen this year.  (AHP)
>One candidate Calixte Dorisca of the CDQ has so far registered for the
>presidential race.   Bonivert Claude the former governor of the central bank
>under the coup government had earlier announced his intention to run as well.
>  (AHP)
>Aristide's Candidacy Announced by Groups throughout the Country.
>On September 11 at St. Jean Bosco on the 12th anniversary of the massacre
>that took place there in 1988 - popular organization that make up the
>community of St. Jean Bosco announced the opening Aristide's campaign for the
>presidency.  Groups of popular organizations in Jacmel and in several other
>provincial towns have followed with large demonstrations announcing the start
>of Aristide's campaign in those areas.  (AHP)
>A letter signed by 320 University students was issued this week supporting
>the May 21st elections and criticizing a group of intellectuals who recently
>published a letter against the elections.  The students criticized those who
>claim to be on the left, but who are now calling upon Uncle Sam to help them
>in the face of their own weak organizations and after being rejected by the
>Haitian people at the polls. (AHP)
>Kozepep a large peasant organization and national electoral observation group
>indicated its readiness to participate in the November 26th presidential and
>senatorial elections.  Kozepep criticized the actions of some opposition
>groups who they claim are working with a sector of the international
>community to increase the suffering of the Haitian people.  They cited the
>devaluation of the gourde, and the spectacular rise in prices of primary
>necessities as examples.  (AHP)
>As the gourd hit 28.4 to the dollar this week one foreigner living in Haiti
>was reminded of Richard Nixon's statements after the election of Salvador
>Allende that he would make the Chilean people yell because he did not like
>who they elected.
>Parliament in Session
>Since being seated in mid-August the 47th parliament has been in session.
>The newly elected members of the Senate were joined by two PLB Senators who
>stated that despite some of their problems with the May 21 elections they
>were prepared to work with their new colleagues.
>For the sake of continuity the Prime Minister Jacques Eduard Alexis and most
>of the ministers in place will remain in office until February of 2001.  The
>new parliament has added its approval of the confirmation of the Prime
>Minister by the 46 parliament and the PM is expected appear before the
>parliament with his government to present his current plan of government to
>the Senate for their approval as required by the Haitian constitution.
>Among the laws that have been submitted to the parliament are legislation
>regarding the functioning of NGO's in Haiti, a law on that would make the
>General Hospital more autonomous from the Ministry of Health and legislation
>to make car theft, which is now consider a misdemeanor, a more serious crime.
>Trial in the Carrefour Feuilles Massacre
>The trial in the Carrefour Feuilles massacre came to a close on Sept 11 after
>15 days of trial.  The sometimes theatrical proceedings were broadcast live
>on Haitian National Television and closely followed throughout the country on
>radio.  Four of the police officers including Coles Rameau were convicted and
>sentenced to three years in jail, with time already served they will get out
>in less than two years.  The other two defendants were aquited.
>The case was remarkable at many levels: it is the first case against the new
>police and tests the ability of the government to prosecute its own, and of
>the institution to withstand this kind of crisis.  It was one of the longest
>trials in Haitian history.  The defendants were being given their day in
>court and were quite ably defended. Reaction to the light sentences was
>generally negative, but on the whole people were pleased that there were
>convictions.  (TNH, Radio National)
>Gas and Transportation Price Hikes
>In mid-September the price of a gallon of gas went from 33.5 gourdes to 46
>gourdes. The twenty five percent increase was also felt in public
>transportation costs which rose accordingly.  The full effect on the economy
>is only now being felt.  The price hike spawned two different strikes.  One,
>a three day closing of gas stations from September 11- 13 by the Association
>of Petroleum Distributors (whose members own the vast majority of gas station
>owners in Haiti), was called to protest that the new price lessened their
>percentage of profit from 10% to 7%. They are currently negotiating with the
>Haitian government.
>Bus and taxi driver unions held a one-day strike calling for the government
>to lower the price of gas and are currently threatening a second strike.
>There is little chance that the Haitian government, which spent over a
>billion gourdes subsidizing the price of gas last year will be able to act. A
>more likely source of relief may come from Venezuela.  Chavez had announced
>policies to aid poorer nations in getting gas.  Contact between the two
>governments towards this end is in process.  (AHP)