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#926: This Week in Haiti 17:34 11/10/99 (fwd)

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                           HAITI PROGRES

              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                      November 10 - 16, 1999

                            Vol. 17, No. 34


</bold>Washington is goading the Dominican Republic to militarily invade its
neighbor in order to provide the pretext for a new full-scale United
States/United Nations occupation of Haiti and to derail the likely re-
election of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in November 2000.

This was the analysis put forward by the National Popular Party (PPN) in
a Nov. 8 press conference in Port-au-Prince following a week of
unprecedented violence, threats, and expulsions directed against
Haitians and Haitian-ancestry Dominicans in the Dominican Republic.

“<italic>It is a very grave situation,</italic>” said Ben Dupuy, secretary general of the
PPN. “<italic>But the Haitian government is pursuing an ostrich policy by
presenting this as a simple problem of immigration and of Haitian
workers without papers.</italic>”

Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis has asked the Dominican
Republic to respect the accords signed when Dominican President Lionel
Fernandez visited Haiti in June 1998 (see <italic>Haïti Progrès</italic>, Vol. 16, No. 14,
6/24/98). Otherwise there could be a deterioration in relations between
the two countries, Alexis said. Whether they are respected or not, the
accords remain legally questionable, since they were never presented for
ratification by the Haitian parliament.

The PPN reminded Alexis that the law of force is much stronger than the
supposed force of law, as was expressed well by Haitian President Sténio
Vincent when he was faced with Dominican president Rafael Trujillo’s
1937 massacre of between 20,000 and 35,000 Haitians: “<italic>We are a China
pot against an iron pot.</italic>” The Dominican Republic today has close to
100,000 troops versus only 6,000 Haitian police officers. The PPN also
questioned how seriously one could take the pious bluster of men like
Alexis, who flagrantly violate their own domestic accords. For example,
Haitian teachers are now striking because Alexis has trampled a 1997
agreement he signed with them.

The situation today is reminiscent of that before the coup d’état in 1991,
when Lavalas government officials tried to reassure the people, as the
coup was unfolding, that the situation was not serious and would be
worked out. Of course, the people’s worst fears were realized.

Last week, Father Yves Edmond came from the Dominican Republic to
alert Haitian public opinion about the dark turn of events there. “<italic>This
time, I think that it is the honor, the dignity of Haiti that [the
Dominican authorities] need to destroy and eliminate, and thus there is
all this aggressivity in the streets, on television, on the radio, and in the
newspapers. This gives one pause... It is like a hurricane, a volcano
which is rising up against the Haitians there and which will break like
a wave on Haiti,</italic>” said Father Edmond.

In fact, the Dominican authorities are trying to psychologically prepare
Dominican and international public opinion for an armed aggression
against Haiti, the PPN said. The players in this campaign are the
conservative elite, the army, and the Catholic Church hierarchy as
represented by Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez.

According to Sonia Pierre of the Santo Domingo-based Movement of
Haitian-Dominican Women (MUDHA), Rodriguez asked the government
and the Dominican people to address the “<italic>invasion</italic>” of the DR by poor
Haitians looking for work because Dominican nationality was “<italic>not a
prize won in a lottery but in a bitter struggle.</italic>” He added that one
cannot throw all the problems of Haiti onto the Dominican Republic
which is also a poor country. In conclusion, Cardinal Rodriguez formally
asked the “great countries” which are friends of Haiti and the Dominican
Republic to occupy Haiti until it gets under way economically.

In line with Rodriguez’s analysis, a demonstration is being organized for
Nov. 20 to protest the Haitian “<italic>invasion.</italic>” Victor Gomez, the former
foreign minister of the notoriously anti-Haitian and racist president
Joaquin Balaguer, is organizing the march and has received the support
of the Dominican ruling classes. They have all railed against a recent
report published by the Human Rights Commission of the OAS which
denounces the unjust treatment of Haitian agricultural workers and the
hypocrisy of the Dominican government, which refuses to give
Dominican nationality to children between the ages of 10 and 15 born in
the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents, as is required under the
Dominican constitution. (Meanwhile, in New York, progressive Haitian
and Dominican groups are organizing a counter-demonstration in front of
the UN on Nov. 18 to condemn the campaign against Haitians and their
Dominican children).

The PPN recalled that the “laboratory” (as Haitians call the
Pentagon/CIA axis) took many measures to destabilize the Lavalas
government during its 7 months in power in 1991. One of the most
destabilizing pressures was the massive deportation of Haitians from the
DR by Balaguer. Once again today, Republicans in the US Congress,
such as Senator Jesse Helms and Congressman Benjamin Gilman, want to
thwart the Lavalas electoral victory which is now on the horizon, just as
they were opposed to Dec. 16, 1990 election of Aristide, the PPN said.
Thus, the “laboratory” is sowing insecurity and anarchy in Haiti so as to
create a state of ungovernability.

Meanwhile, President Bill Clinton cannot ask for another military
intervention of Haiti by the US or the UN to arrange things to
Washington’s liking without admitting to his Republican adversaries
that his Haitian policy is a failure. Thus, forces in Washington seek to
block the return to power of the Lavalas by encouraging a Dominican
intervention under the pretext that Haiti has become ungovernable,
which is touted as the principal reason for the “<italic>invasion</italic>” of the DR by
desperate Haitians seeking work.

Also according to the PPN analysis, the US could go to the UN to ask for
a “peace-keeping” force to be interposed and “push back” the
Dominicans, who would accept to leave voluntarily. “<italic>The recent
decision of the United States to withdraw their 500 permanent troops is
a way to not be present when the Dominican forces invade,</italic>” Dupuy
said. In such a scenario, the “peace-keepers,” when they finally return,
might even be able organize general elections before November 2000,
thereby disqualifying Aristide as a candidate. (A president must wait 5
years to run again).

Alexis has asked for a meeting between the Haitian and Dominican
foreign ministers. But this guarantees nothing. After his “friendly”
meetings between Haitian President René Préval in 1998, Fernandez had
no qualms about almost immediately and brutally repatriating thousands
of Haitians.

There are several other economic and political factors driving the
Dominican offensive. Presently in the Dominican Republic, the
government is privatizing the famous CEA (State Sugar Council), which
will likely bring about the rapid mechanization of sugar production. Then,
they will no longer need Haitian braceros. Also, conservative
Dominicans who supported coup makers General Raoul Cédras and
Colonel Michel Francois have sworn never to accept the emergence of a
popular government in Haiti.

For all these reasons, the PPN calls on the Haitian government to “<italic>stop
minimizing the matter and present it without delay before the UN
Security Council, to make it an international concern, and to denounce
this threat of intervention before it happens.</italic>”

Once before in history, the Haitian government under-reacted in a time of
crisis. As Trujillo began his week-long massacre of Haitians in 1937,
President Sténio Vincent remarked: “<italic>It’s nothing. It is just a peasant
uprising on the frontier.</italic>”


Over 100 Haitians and their supporters held a spirited rally in front of the
United Nations General Headquarters in Manhattan on Nov. 4,
demanding the return of a vast trove of evidence against human rights
violators which the U.S. government spirited out of Haiti in 1994 and has
refused to return intact ever since.

The demonstration was timed to coincide with a presentation by Adama
Dieng, the UN Human Rights Commission Independent Expert on Haiti,
before the UN General Assembly. When Dieng delivered his report on
Nov. 5, he recommended that the General Assembly pass a resolution
calling on the US to return the 160,000 pages of documents immediately
and unconditionally. The US has said that it will only return the
documents to the Haitian government after it has edited out the
equivalent of 3,200 pages. Those pages contain, among other things, the
names of US citizens, whose “<italic>privacy rights</italic>” the U.S. officials claim to
be protecting.

“<italic>In reality they must be protecting the identity of CIA [Central
Intelligence Agency] agents and other operatives which they had
working in Haiti and still have today,</italic>” said Ray Laforest of the Haiti
Support Network (HSN), one of the sponsors of the Nov. 4 action. “<italic>They
are abetting criminals and terrorists, just as they did during the coup
years, which is why Haiti remains gripped by violence.</italic>”

U.S. soldiers took the documents from the headquarters and various
outposts of the formally disbanded Haitian Armed Forces (FadH) and the
paramilitary Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH)
in October 1994 and flew them to Washington, D.C. “<italic>without the Haitian
Government's knowledge or consent,</italic>” Dieng notes in his report.
“<italic>Despite many appeals from the independent expert and repeated
requests from the Haitian authorities, supported by MICIVIH [UN/OAS
Civilian Observer Mission in Haiti], members of the US Congress, three
Nobel Peace Prize winners, dozens of NGOs, and thousands of people
throughout the world, the Haitian people are still waiting for these
documents, which form an essential part of their history.”</italic>

For the past 18 months, the “Campaign for the Return of the
FRAPH/FAdH Documents,” an international coalition of human rights
and activist groups, has collected thousands of signatures in over 30
countries to demand the return of the evidence. In concert with the
Campaign, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
called for the Nov. 4 demonstration with the encouragement of lawyers
working with the Haitian government to prosecute coup criminals. The
lawyers say that the documents are essential for the prosecution of
cases like the 1994 Raboteau massacre in Gonaïves, for which many coup
leaders were indicted last month.

“<italic>The documents are a rich source of evidence,</italic>” said Brian Concannon,
one of the lawyers working on the Raboteau case. “<italic>They are most useful
in going after the people who are most guilty. We don’t need the written
evidence to go after some low-level FRAPH member or a soldier,
because the evidence against him is that someone saw him shoot
somebody or beat somebody up. But the cases against the military and
paramilitary leaders who were giving the orders and are, to me, more
responsible, that is best done through paper.”</italic>

The documents reportedly contain dramatic evidence like video tapes of
torture sessions and “trophy photos” of victims and also seemingly
mundane but legally powerful bits of paper like vouchers and receipts,
according to Concannon. “<italic>If some military commander in Cap Haïtien
signed off to get 10 extra lunches in Gonaïves on April 22, 1994 [the
day of the Raboteau massacre], then that is very strong proof that the
guy knew what was going on</italic>,” he said.

Human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch (HRW) have also pushed for the documents’ return. “<italic>These thugs
terrorized Haiti for three years, murdering, torturing and raping,</italic>" said
Reed Brody, HRW’s Advocacy Director. “<italic>The United States has taken
away a potential gold-mine of evidence which could help bring some of
these people to justice and now won't give it back.</italic>”

Groups note that the US is also harboring in Queens, NY Emmanuel
“Toto” Constant, the head of the FRAPH death-squad and a former CIA
agent. On Nov. 8, Constant was sighted with his girlfriend meeting a
plane at New York’s Kennedy Airport. “<italic>The Clinton Administration's
refusal to hand back this evidence, its insistence on shielding the
identity of Americans involved with Haiti's criminals, and the
protection it offers to the most wanted man in Haiti [Constant] all
point to a continuing cover-up of U.S. wrongdoing in Haiti,</italic>” Brody

The Nov. 4 protestors would agree, and they made no secret of their
suspicions. “<italic>Today it is time that we asked ourselves and the people of
this country, Are they paying the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] to
be a terrorist organization?</italic>” said Yvon Kernizan, a leader of the
Lavalas Family party (FL) in New York. “<italic>We are taxpayers, and we are
entitled to answers. The FRAPH is still in Haiti. The CIA is promoting
violence. The State Department is paying for it. We have to stop that.</italic>”

Key Martin of the International Action Center noted that “<italic>the United
States government has been one of the biggest purveyors of violence
and death in the last 50 years and they even admit it. Clinton the other
day apologized to Guatemala because the death squads, hired and
organized by the CIA, killed 200,000 people.</italic>” The same approach was
used against Haiti and other countries, Martin said. “<italic>It is unacceptable
to have a foreign policy based on death squads!</italic>”

Other speakers included Michael Ratner of the CCR, Kim Ives of Haïti
Progrès, Fritznel Benoit of the FL, Dahoud André of Konbit Vijilans, and
Laura Castro of the Global Sweatshops Coalition. The demonstration was
chaired by the FL’s Alena Sixto and Ron Daniels, Executive director of
the CCR. Organizers, who had less than two weeks to build the event,
were satisfied with the action’s turn-out and spirit. Also in Haiti, the
September 30th Foundation, a group which demands justice for coup
victims, dedicated its weekly Wednesday picket in front of the National
Palace to support the New York demonstration.

The demonstrators hoped that their action would help pressure the UN
General Assembly to follow Dieng’s recommendation that “<italic>the United
States should be invited to return the documents, intact and without
delay.</italic>” Such a resolution would not be binding on the US, but it would
be highly embarrassing. Through diplomatic strong-arming, Washington
thwarted the inclusion of a call for the documents’ return in the UN
Human Rights Commission resolution on Haiti last April, according to
Brody. This week, however, he will be meeting with the ambassadors of
Canada, France and Venezuela in an effort to have them bring pressure
on the US to return the documents. “<italic>Venezuela will be the key,</italic>” Brody
said, “<italic>since they usually have a hand in writing the resolutions on

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