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#5263: The attack on Fonkoze (fwd)

From: "Tom F. Driver" <tfd3@columbia.edu>

Linda Ballard expressed here the other day the bewilderment of many
concerning the recent attack on Fonkoze:

        > I have been very upset as I read on this list the poignant
        > account of the kidnapping, the pleading and finally the
        > culmination when the tortured body of this poor man was found.
        > I do not understand the politics of this at all.

The first aim of political terrorism is to instill fear.  A close second
is to sow confusion, which increases and universalizes the fear.  You
don't know where or when or against whom the next strike will be made.
So we are dealing here, and in many other cases in Haiti of late, with a
campaign of terror, as Linda observes:

        > It appears it was a terrorist act.  What great threat are these
        > small grassroots organizations to anyone?  Who or what could
        > possibly gain much if they went away?  I am obviously missing
        > something.

Greg Chamberlain posted a bulletin from Caribbean Insight (29 Sept.)
which said, cryptically, "Rival banks are thought to be behind the
attack."  Lois Wilcken picked up on this and added another question:

        > I've been under the impression that FONKOZE's work is fairly
        > unique in Haiti.  How many competitors could it have?  How many
        > banks in Haiti deal with the very poor?

There are, in fact, a number of micro-credit programs in Haiti.  The
best known are those of The Lambi Fund, The Aristide Foundation, the
Methodist Church, and some of the peasants associations.  But it is very
unlikely that the attack came from any of these because they would stand
to gain very little from it.  A better guess, though still not the best,
would be loan sharks who do a lot of business with small merchants and
charge very high interest rates.  They might feel their style cramped by
micro-credit programs and target Fonkoze because it is so well known and
well organized.

But I think investigators should look further and higher up.  A gangster
or racketeer usually likes the victim's friends to have a pretty good
idea who made the attack and why.  That way his control is increased.
But a  political terrorist, as I said, wants to spread confusion.

Macoutism has recently raised its head again.  The Daily News, Newsday,
and Haiti Progres have all reported on a rally in Brooklyn touting the
immiment return to Haiti of Jean-Claude Duvalier.  Although I have no
evidence to say that this event is linked to the attack on
Fonkoze, it does remind one that the people who stand to gain from an
attack on a good and growing micro-credit program are those who also
stand to gain from a general condition of instability in Haiti.  And it
is they also who most hate and fear anything that promises to empower
Haiti's poor.

The attack on Fonkoze was apparently well organized and funded.  Those
investigating its perpetrators should consider where that level of
resource and expertise might originate.  They will likely find, if they
investigate courageously, that the signs point to the same elements in
Haitian society that instigated and assisted the 1991 coup d'etat.
These elements found allies in the international community. Why?
Because all the parties found it in their interest to stop the popular
movement.  They saw that it aimed at a social reorganization in Haiti,
something they always oppose by fair means or foul.

I personally think that Amos Jeannot has joined the ranks of Haiti's
martyrs in the struggle for social justice.  He was just a trusted
employee who carried money from one office to another.  I wonder if he
knew how threatening this work is to those who do not want Haiti to

Tom Driver

Tom F. Driver
Sheffield, MA