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7191: Notes of the 22/2/ 2001 New York Corbett list meeting (fwd)
From: Charles Arthur <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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:
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
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
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
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
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.
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
<email@example.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
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