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6406: This Week in Haiti 18:40 12/20/2000 (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000 19:31:14 -0500
From: "[iso-8859-1] Haiti Progrès" <editor@haiti-progres.com>
To: Bob Corbett <corbetre@webster.edu>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 18:40 12/20/2000

"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>.
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                           HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                      December 20 - 26, 2000
                         Vol. 18, No. 40


A comedy in the making, or a tragedy?

This is the question one had to pose on hearing of the Haitian
opposition's project to form a "parallel government" to challenge
that of Haitian President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who takes
office Feb. 7.

Despite giant demonstrations by tens of thousands in support of
Aristide and his Lavalas Family party (FL) and Aristide's
repeated appeals for reconciliation and dialogue, the Democratic
Convergence (CD), a small consortium of neo-Duvalierist and
social democratic parties, continues to loudly and daily assert
on Haiti's airwaves that the country is in the grips of a
"Lavalas dictatorship" which the Haitian people reject.

"The Convergence is now organizing itself as an alternative
power," declared Sauveur Pierre Etienne of the CD's Struggling
People's Organization (OPL). "We won't take power by ourselves.
We will establish a provisional government with civil society
organizations and other opposition parties. So everybody should
be clear that on Feb. 7 there will be a provisional government
which will have the mission of organizing a general election in
the country... in no more than two years."

Etienne said that the CD now had a "directorate" which was
meeting with "a series of personalities from civil society" each
day to choose a president, ministers, and a "consultative
council" for the "provisional government."

"We cannot yet say exactly how we are going to set it up
concretely," clarified former Duvalierist minister Hubert De
Ronceray, the leader of the CD's ultra-rightist Patriotic
Movement for National Salavation (MPSN). The CD is now conducting
"an intersectorial forum," De Ronceray said, and people are "very
favorable" to the idea. "The 95% to 98% of the population which
followed the opposition's call to boycott the Nov. 26th
elections, they are awaiting us," De Ronceray explained. "We do
not have the right to betray them, to abandon them."

Most Haitians chuckle at the opposition's claim that less than 5%
of population voted in November's election. The Provisional
Electoral Council (CEP), an independent international observer
mission, and a Haitian observer group all assessed participation
as 60% to 65%.

"Before this opposition, this political minority, creates a
government, it better think about creating a country to put it in
and creating a people to govern," quipped Lans Fanfan, a Lavalas
Family member.

Popular support for the incoming government was underlined by
huge rallies on Dec. 16, the tenth anniversary of Aristide's
first election. Thousands rallied at Delmas 16 in the capital, in
the southern city of Cayes, and in other provincial cities.

"The opposition does not have the legitimacy to establish a
government without going through elections," declared one
demonstrator at the Delmas rally. "That's precisely what the Dec.
16 struggle was all about: to guarantee the Haitian people's
sovereignty to choose their leader. The opposition cannot come
and rule the Haitian people without the consent of the Haitian

Aristide is also internationally recognized as Haiti's legitimate
president-elect despite a bitter propaganda barrage from the
mainstream media and certain foreign officials who sought to
discredit the summer's electoral process leading up to his
November victory. Although pressed by Washington to shun or at
least scold his neighbor, new Dominican president Hipolito Mejia
said he recognized Haiti's elections "as a matter of national
sovereignty." Last week, Venezuela, the Philippines, and Taiwan
all sent new ambassadors to Haiti, another sign of support.
Multilateral lenders such as the Inter-American Development Bank
and World Bank say they are ready to activate aid packages as
soon as they are ratified by the Haitian parliament. The
Parliament ratified three of the five agreements last week.

Perhaps the biggest blow to the opposition was a Dec. 1 letter
U.S. President Bill Clinton sent to "President-elect Jean-
Bertrand Aristide," explicitly recognizing the Haitian leader.
"Now, as I prepare to leave office and you prepare to return, I
believe we have an opportunity to set the basis for a
strengthened relationship in the years to come," Clinton's letter

U.S. Embassy spokesman Daniel Whitman clumsily tried to obscure
the letter's import, claiming that "it would be going a little
far to call it a note of congratulations," even though no FL
spokesperson had called it that. Whitman said that Clinton called
on Aristide to "pursue all possible ideas for finding a solution
to the electoral impasse known since May 21, 2000" (when
nationwide parliamentary elections went overwhelmingly to the
FL), but the letter says nothing of the sort. Apparently losing
all his diplomatic senses, Whitman called the CEP's calculation
of 8 to 10 Senate seats "wrong" and said that "it is necessary
that Haitian authorities restore, with a new Electoral council
which would have credibility, its electoral process so as to
restore the trust of the Haitian people and of the international
community." Of course, in light of the U.S. election fiasco, such
admonishments are more than ever ridiculous.

But the oppositon did get some solace from a Dec. 8 statement
issued by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY),
and Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL). These three ultra-right Republicans,
who have been at the forefront of most U.S. Congressional attacks
on Haiti, called Nov. 26 a "sham election with the sole purpose
of delivering absolute control over Haiti's government to Mr.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide." They contended that Aristide "is not fit
to join the democratically elected leaders at the Summit of the
Americas in April 2001" in Quebec, Canada and called on the U.S.
to deny or rescind visas, review the green card status, and
freeze the assets of the "narco-traffickers, criminals and other
anti-democratic elements who surrounded Jean-Bertrand Aristide."
With Republican George W. Bush now set to assume the U.S.
presidency in January, such virulent language may indeed spell
trouble for the Lavalas.

Accordingly, Aristide has been extending olive branches
everywhere. He held meetings with his old nemesis Marc Bazin, the
former Duvalierist Finance minister and World Bank official who
was his chief contender in 1990. He also nominated three lawyers
-- Garry Lissade, Pierre C. Labissière and Calixte Délatour - to
a special commission to evaluate the May 21 elections. The
opposition still refuses to nominate anyone.

Meanwhile, another sector claims it wants to bridge the gap
created by the CD's rejectionist posture. Loose-cannon politician
Turneb Delpé of the PNDPH proposed yet again a "national
conference," a call he has made with astounding persistence at
every political juncture over the past decade. Delpé has joined
forces with representatives of Haiti's traditional bourgeoisie
like Gérard Gourgues and Odette Roy Fombrun to form the
Initiative Committee for Civic Action for Reconciliation of the
Nation with Itself or CIRENE. After presenting pages upon pages
of declarations, the Committee concluded, through sheer force of
rhetoric, that "reconciliation of the nation with itself imposes
itself today as an historical necessity." The CIRENE equates the
CD and the FL as two extremes, both at fault. Do they offer a
"third way"? That remains a mystery, as does their choice of name.
Apparently the CIRENE does not realize that its acronym denotes a
creature in Greek mythology which lured sailors onto rocks with
beautiful songs.

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