[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

7191: Notes of the 22/2/ 2001 New York Corbett list meeting (fwd)

From: Charles Arthur <charlesarthur@hotmail.com>

Notes of the 22 February 2001 New York Corbett list meeting

Update on the current situation in Haiti by Anne Fuller and Tom F. Driver, 
both of whom visited Haiti in January 2001.

Anne Fuller has been involved with Haiti since 1986, working for, amongst 
others, the National Coalition for Haitian Rights, the United Nations 
International Civilian Mission in Haiti, and Human Rights Watch.

Tom F. Driver is Professor of Theology and Culture Emeritus at Union 
Theological Seminary in New York. He has been visiting Haiti from time to 
time since 1980, with Witness for Peace since 1993. He was the first 
Chairperson of the Witness for Peace Haiti Task Force. For more about 
Witness for Peace see:

Anne Fuller:

Setting the scene, Anne was of the opinion that the May 2000 elections in 
Haiti were concluded with significant fraud, probably because the Lavalas 
Family party wanted to gain total control of the Senate. This was, she 
believed, a tragic waste of the potential for a legitimate Lavalas Family 
majority in the new Parliament. The opposition parties did have some 
support, especially in the provinces, and if the elections had been 
conducted fairly and the results calculated correctly, she believes that the 
Lavalas Family would have won perhaps 60% of Senate and Deputy contests.

Since then, the opposition parties -- united in the Democratic Convergence - 
have refused to compromise over the question of the 2000 elections. As for 
the Lavalas Family, it did not make any concessions until the meeting 
between Clinton's emissary, Tony Lake, and Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 
December 2000.

Aristide had stood in the Presidential election held at the end of November 
which the opposition parties had boycotted. The turnout at the Presidential 
election was low, perhaps because of the spate of bomb blasts in the 
capital, perhaps because of the inevitability of the result. The Provisional 
Electoral Council's figure of a 60% participation rate was probably not 

Now the situation has worsened, with much foreign development aid cut off.  
The Democratic Convergence has named a 'provisional president,' Gerard 
Gourgue, which is not at all helpful in terms of resolving the political 
crisis.  His speech praising the army was of great concern.

In conclusion, Anne believes that it is important to retain critical 
distance, but also to recognize that a Lavalas Family government now exists. 
There is no point in contesting the legitimacy of the Aristide government. 
In Haiti, above all, people are hoping for calm and improvements in their 

Tom Driver:

In his introduction, Tom underlined his deep suspicions of the international 
community's involvement in Haiti.

He was in Haiti with a delegation during the third week of January, and 
there were two separate disturbances of the calm at that time.

The first of these were the threats made by leader of the St Jean Bosco Ti 
Legliz, Paul Raymond, against those included on a list allegedly compiled by 
the Democratic Convergence. Tom remarked that the very public rebuttal of 
Raymond's threats by both the national Ti Legliz leadership and by the 
Lavalas Family was significant. This was, he thinks, the first time that the 
Lavalas Family has rebuked a popular organization for using violence or 
threatening violence in support of the party.

The second were a number of homemade bombs that exploded in Port-au-Prince 
and Petionville on 19th January. The Petionville incident occurred at the 
time when both Aristide and Democratic Convergence leader, Evans Paul, were 
attending a funeral service.

A few days ago he had heard about disturbances in Grand Anse - the local 
media had reported violent incidents. Although unclear what exactly had 
happened, the incidents are believed to be connected to the long simmering 
dispute between rival supporters of the Lavalas Family and Espace coalition 
in Anse d"Hainault.

Tom believes that the international media reaction to the year 2000 
elections in Haiti - in particular, the suggestions that the new government 
is illegitimate - are having an extremely destabilizing effect in Haiti. He 
believes that this destabilization could cause a mortal wound to democracy 
in Haiti.

He contrasted the negative media coverage, which appeared to reflect the
views of Senator Jesse Helms and others,  an op-ed entitled, "A step in the 
right direction for democratic Haiti," written by Brian Concannon for the 
Miami Herald on 6th February. (The text of this article can be viewed on the 
Haiti Support Group web site, URL 
http://www.gn.apc.org/haitisupport/whats_new_index.html) Concannon, a 
lawyer, works for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, a group of lawyers 
assisting the Haitian justice system with human rights cases.

While in Haiti, Tom and his delegation met with leaders of the Democratic 
Convergence - Gerard Pierre-Charles (OPL), Marcel Perreira (RDNP), Ernst 
Colon (MOCHRENA), and Clark Parent (PADEMH). One delegate asked these 
leaders why, if they thought that Aristide was so bad for Haiti, did they 
not concentrate their energies on preparing to defeat him at the next 
election. They reacted as though this was an impossible concept.

Tom also met Necker Dessables, longtime human rights advocate who is
presently director of ADF/Haiti. He believes that many of the opposition 
want the return of the Haitian Army (a point to which Anne Fuller had 
already alluded).

Things are in the balance at the moment. Perhaps the United States wants to 
have the Democratic Convergence's "alternative government' available as an 
option at some future date. Clearly the CIA and the International Republican 
Institute are active in Haiti, but Tom was concerned that the US Democratic 
Party (especially those who had supported Aristide in the past) seemed to be 
giving up on democracy in Haiti.


There ensued a discussion of what the US Congressional Black Caucus and 
Democratic Party's Haiti policies are now, just how much fraud took place 
during the May 2000 elections, and how the Lavalas Family had created many 
of the current problems.


Extra note:
One of those attending the meeting, McEddy Masson, let us know that he was 
collecting unwanted secondhand computer equipment - computers, monitors, 
printers, etc. - to take to a project in Port-au-Prince (Delmas 13). The 
project is to teach young people how to use computers. McEddy asked anyone 
who has unwanted computer equipment in the NYC area to contact him by email 
<mceddy@hotmail.com> or telephone 212 568 6938

* * * * * * * * * *

The next NY Corbett list gathering will be held at the same time and 
place--the last Thursday in March (March 29)at 6pm at NCHR at 275 7th 
Avenue, near 26th street, 17th floor. The speaker will be announced in 

Notes by Charles Arthur 27/2/2001

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com.