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7032: Re:The Call (fwd)

From: OLOFFSONRAM@aol.com

Dear Phillipe,
People often ask me for my opinions on matters concerning Haiti. It could be 
because I have spent a great deal of time in both countries(US and Haiti) and 
it could be my bi-culturalism(American Dad, Haitian Mom). Once I even asked 
someone at the embassy about eight years ago why he was so interested in what 
I thought and he said that when the embassy thought Mark Bazin might get 
Aristide into a runoff election(1990) I refuted and said Aristide would get 
seventy five percent of the vote. I was off by eight percent (Aristide only 
got 67%, Bazin got 12 or 13%) but I guess I was nevertheless close enough.
   In a way I'm a bit surpised that Joe Kennedy, John Sununu and Colin 
Powell's relative are so gung ho to invest in Haiti. If you ask me there are 
a few things that have to be addressed before anyone can move foward with 
investment. #1 I know of an American businessman whose life was threatened on 
the radio by a Lavalas government official and there was no response, only 
silence, from the heads of the party. #2 Containers full of product get 
blocked at customs for months at a time. #3 Mob violence, with a nod from 
party leaders, unpredictably closes airports and businesses. Not good if you 
have a deadline. 4# Club Med can't even stay open. #5 Businessmen's lives 
have been endangered with no response from the government. #6 Within the last 
year at least a half dozen political opposition members have been killed. #7 
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are in question here with high 
profile attacks on Radio Haiti Inter, Vision 2000 and Radio Kiskeya, and self 
censorship by the rest of the media is common. #8 Members of the new 
parliament are refusing to testify on what 26% of the population consider to 
be the most hard hitting event of the last year; the killing of Jean 
Dominique. #9 The American financed police force has been politicized and 
cannot be trusted to uphold the law for people who are not ardent supporters 
of a particular political party.
   I am all for investment, job creation, Carnaval and the 2004 bicentennial, 
but I would hate to start and then go tumbling backwards, again. Why don't we 
address a few of these issues so that we can move foward for good.

Richard Morse