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17232: This Week in Haiti 21:35 11/12/2003 (fwd)

"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,
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                           HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                      November 12 - 18, 2003
                         Vol. 21, No. 35


The U.S. government is engaged in a systematic campaign to vilify
and overthrow Haiti's elected government. Millions of North
Americans are either unaware of this assault or have swallowed a
host of lies and distortions about Haiti being repeated regularly
by the mainstream media.

This is the point of departure of Hidden from the Headlines: The
U.S. War Against Haiti, a booklet recently published by the
California-based Haiti Action Committee (HAC).

"Since the election of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2000,
the United States has moved to sabotage Haiti's fledgling
democracy through an economic aid embargo, massive funding of
elite opposition groups, support for paramilitary coup attempts,
and a propaganda offensive against the Aristide government," the
authors write, noting that U.S. offensives against Iraq,
Venezuela and Cuba are more well known. "Hidden from the
headlines for years, this campaign has now become an open effort
to destroy a progressive, popularly elected government."

Smartly produced with graphics and photographs, the 16-page
publication offers a concise riposte to the principal falsehoods
that the mainstream media bandies about: that Haiti's press is
silenced, that the opposition is repressed, and that human rights
are systematically violated. "The reality is that Haiti has
largely eliminated the human rights violations of the
dictatorship period and is now struggling with the human rights
problems of a fledgling democracy," the booklet states. "While
political violence continues   egged on by the United States'
attempts to destabilize the Haitian government   there is no
pattern of systematic state repression."

Authors Laura Flynn, Pierre Labossière and Robert Roth outline
how Washington has targeted the Haitian people through an
economic aid embargo, which has contributed to less clean water,
paved roads, and stocked clinics, more disease outbreaks, road
accidents, and illiteracy.  "Since December 2001, the Haitian
gourde has lost 69% of its value and Haiti's foreign reserves
have shrunk by 50%, largely due to the embargo," they write.

They also lay out why and how "the U.S. has spent millions to
fund the 'Democratic Convergence,' an opposition group conceived
and orchestrated by the International Republican Institute,"
which is an arm of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
The "Contra war against Haiti" by the opposition's "armed wing,"
a guerilla force made up largely of former Haitian soldiers based
in the neighboring Dominican Republic, is also detailed.

Hidden from the Headlines sums up many of the Haitian
government's worthy accomplishments, which the U.S. corporate
press effectively whites-out. "More schools were built in Haiti
from 1994-2000 than between 1804 and 1994," the authors point
out, "many in rural areas where no schools existed previously."
They also cite progress made in agriculture, public
transportation, infrastructure, health care, AIDS prevention and
treatment, and defending children's rights. "Clearly, these
programs represent a progressive agenda, initiated under the most
trying conditions," the booklet says.

Perfectly designed as a publication you can stick in someone's
hand at a demonstration or the water cooler to clear up multi-
faceted mystification, the booklet often speaks directly to
misguided maximalists and progressives distracted by secondary
issues, such as Aristide's inevitable mistakes or shortcomings.
"The United States is attacking Haiti's government and popular
organizations not because Haiti is a compliant partner, but
precisely because it represents an alternative to globalization
and corporate domination," the HAC responds to doctrinaire

"So much disinformation has been given to the broad American
public, and also to solidarity organizations, that we felt we had
to set the record straight," said co-author Labossière, an
agronomist and trade unionist. "In the corporate media, you don't
see the realities of Haiti reflected. Basically they give the
right-wing's version of events. But the public and solidarity
community need the real story about what's going on in Haiti."

Individual copies or bulk orders of Hidden from the Headlines can
be ordered for $1 apiece from the Haiti Action Committee at P.O.
Box 2218, Berkeley, CA 94702. For more information, visit their
website at www.haitiaction.net.


Last December, after a powwow with the International Republican
Institute in Santo Domingo, the Haitian opposition returned to
Port-au-Prince to establish the "Group of 184," a supposedly
broad front of "civil society" organizations modeled on similar
anti-government coalitions in Chavez's Venezuela and Allende's

The head of the "184" today is André "Andy" Apaid, Jr., also head
of Alpha Industries, one of the oldest and largest assembly
factories in Haiti.

On Nov. 11, Haiti's Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert confirmed
that Apaid is indeed a U.S. citizen, a rumor which had been
circulating since the industrialist's emergence on the political
scene. According to Privert, Apaid was born to Haitian parents in
the U.S. and came to Haiti in 1976 as a foreign businessman on a
visitor's visa.

After five years, any foreigner can obtain Haitian nationality by
naturalization under the Constitution's Article 12, but "Andy"
Apaid has never done this, according to the government.

Andy is following in the political footsteps of his father. As
founder of Alpha Sewing in the 1970s, André senior was  close to
dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier and remains "a notorious
Duvalierist," according to Eric Verhoogen in the Multinational
Monitor (April 1996). Apaid senior headed up the "civil society"
(read: bourgeoisie) campaign to support the 1991-1994 military
coup against President Aristide, which successfully eased U.S.
sanctions on the export of goods from Haiti's assembly sweat-

"When asked at a business conference in Miami soon after the coup
in 1991 what he would do if President Aristide returned to Haiti,
Apaid [senior] replied vehemently, 'I'd strangle him!'" Verhoogen
wrote. "At the time, Apaid was heading up the United States
Agency for International Development's (USAID's) PROMINEX
business promotion project, a $12.7 million program to encourage
U.S. and Canadian firms to move their businesses to Haiti."

Andy seems as prone to gaffes as his dad. In a recent interview
broadcast by the BBC Caribbean Service, he voiced support for
rioters in Gonaïves who had torched government buildings. He also
pulled a gun on demonstrators organized by the Batay Ouvriye
union who tried to picket in front of his plant.

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Please credit Haiti Progres.