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6489: This Week in Haiti 18:41 12/27/2000 (fwd)
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
November 29 - December 5, 2000
Vol. 18, No. 37
NEW ACCORD BRINGS DISACCORD IN LAVALAS RANKS
On Dec. 19, the Haitian Parliament ratified an international
accord allowing U.S. military forces to unilaterally enter
Haitian airspace and waters, supposedly to better combat drug
trafficking through Haiti.
But fifteen parliamentarians of the Lavalas Family party (FL) of
president-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide bucked party line and
voted against ratification, saying the accord infringed on
In a Dec. 22 statement, the National Popular Party (PPN), which
has been an FL ally, applauded the dissident parliamentarians,
calling the accord a "pretext" to "justify trampling Haiti's
The accord not only permits the Pentagon to enter Haitian
territory at will, but allows U.S. agents to carry out arrests in
Haiti. The U.S. has forced this treaty on many other small or
compliant nations in the Caribbean and Latin America. Countries
like Cuba and Venezuela have refused, however.
President René Préval signed the accord when U.S. Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright visited Haiti on Oct. 17, 1997. But due
to a drawn-out political crisis, the 46th Haitian legislature
never ratified the accord before its mandate expired in January
Now, in an apparent forced march, the FL-dominated 47th
legislature has been recklessly ratifying financial and political
accords this past month in an effort to reopen international aid
spigots and blunt the political assault from right-wing
opposition parties, which have announced they will launch a
"parallel government" on Feb. 7, Aristide's inauguration day (see
Haïti Progrès, Vol. 18, Nº. 40, Dec. 20, 2000).
In the weeks ahead, the FL will demonstrate whether it is
committed to the nationalist and anti-neoliberal positions it has
espoused since its founding in early 1997 and for which it was
overwhelmingly elected by the Haitian people in this year's
municipal, parliamentary, and presidential elections. Last week's
split over the bill allowing U.S. incursions may just be the
first portent of a shift in the FL's ideological direction.
"For me, this accord will undercut our sovereignty," said Nawoom
Marcellus, an influential FL deputy from the northern town of
Grande Rivière du Nord, after the vote. "Unfortunately, it has
already passed but we will fight on another level for the
government to take accompanying measures to reinforce a national
policy... and to do all possible to limit territorial
encroachment and violation of our airspace."
In response, Justice Minister Camille Leblanc argued that the
accord in fact strengthened Haiti's sovereignty. "The fact that
criminals are using Haitian territory for trafficking is what
puts the country's sovereignty in danger," Leblanc argued,
because it discourages investment, creates "instability by
criminal organizations" and "corruption in all state
But history belies Leblanc's argument. With the dissolution of
the Soviet Union a decade ago, U.S. president George Bush
launched the "war on drugs" as a substitute for the "war on
communism" which had previously cloaked U.S. aggression around
the world, argued Ted Galen Carpenter and R. Channing Rouse of
the Cato Institute ("Perilous Panacea: the Military in the Drug
War," Policy Analysis, Feb. 15, 1990). "The war on drugs in Latin
America provides an alternate justification for maintaining an
extensive U.S. capability for low-intensity warfare" against non-
compliant governments, the authors write. "Several observers see
the drug war fast emerging as a substitute for the communist
threat. Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland was perhaps the
most perceptive in noting that transition. 'Instead of beginning
his presidency by dispatching military advisers to Vietnam to
contain communism, as John F. Kennedy did more than two decades
ago, Bush has dispatched military trainers to Colombia to fight
drug traffickers. History may come to record Bush's decision as a
symbolic turning point in America's world role.'"
Now a decade later, George Bush's son, George W. Bush, is poised
to assume the presidency with, as his vice-president, Dick
Cheney, who was the senior Bush's Defense Secretary and the first
champion of "drug war." Already the U.S. government is stepping
up its wars against Marxist guerrillas in Colombia and the
nationalist Chavez administration in Venezuela. Most likely,
Republicans will continue to paint Haiti as a "narco-state,"
especially after Aristide comes in, since "certification" as a
drug-fighting state is primarily determined by that nation's
obedience to U.S. dictates, not by its drug-fighting.
"We have a proverb which says 'Say good morning to the Devil or
not, he is still going to eat you,'" said the PPN's Ben Dupuy.
"No amount of concessions on Aristide's part is going to appease
Washington. The accord will just make it easier for the U.S. to
go after its political adversaries in Haiti on the grounds that
they are drug-dealers. "
In other recent conciliatory gestures, Aristide has studded his
transition team with representatives from the Haitian bourgeoisie
while eschewing any representatives from the popular
organizations whose mobilizations made his party's electoral
Such defensive posturing has worried the popular sector that the
FL, to appease the gods of world finance, could sacrifice a key
popular demand: No privatization of Haitian state enterprises.
All these concerns are addressed in the Dec. 22 PPN's statement,
of which we now present large extracts.
"The National People's Party (PPN) applauds the 15
parliamentarians who refused to bow before foreign countries
which want to impose their wishes on the Haitian people. The
leaders of the Lavalas Family just rammed down the throat of the
47th legislature one after another a bunch of conventions,
accords, and treaties which the legislature didn't even have time
to read and analyze and which will tie the country to the table-
leg of the big countries.
"That is how the accord which President Préval signed with U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 1997 was ratified in a
rushed way on Tuesday Dec. 19. It gives the United States the
right to enter the waters and skies of Haiti as if it was their
father's garden. They come with the pretext of fighting drug-
trafficking to justify trampling Haiti's national sovereignty. In
fact, the U.S. is not fighting drug trafficking; it is just a
political weapon to demonize their political enemies.
"We cannot act as the border patrol for other countries. If they
have a drug problem, fight it at home because that is where the
drug dealers are.... It is not because the Lavalas Family leaders
want to appease the reactionaries in the [opposition's coalition,
the Democratic] Convergence that they should give away the
country of [Haitian revolution leader Jean-Jacques] Dessalines
and [U.S. military occupation resister] Charlemagne Péralte to
"We also say that it is time for horses to stop prancing while
the donkey works. The election is over. The transition team is
formed with the private sector while the popular sector, which is
the chef who cooked the food, can't sit at the table. [Haitian
businessman Fritz] Mevs bought [the state sugar mill] HASCO then
he closed it. He imports sugar and sells it for an arm and a leg.
They illegally privatized [the state cement plant] Ciment d'Haïti
and now they import cement from other countries, put it in the
bag, and just like Mevs, sell it for an arm and a leg. The
Haitian people did not vote in parliamentarians to become
rubberstamp deputies or peddlers of the nation who would sell out
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