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#945: This Week in Haiti 17:34 11/10/99 (corrected) (fwd)
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
November 10 - 16, 1999
Vol. 17, No. 34
A DOMINICAN INVASION OF HAITI?
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
"It is a very grave situation," said Ben Dupuy, secretary general
of the PPN. "But the Haitian government is pursuing an ostrich
policy by presenting this as a simple problem of immigration and
of Haitian workers without papers."
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 Haïti
Progrès, 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: "We are a China pot against an iron pot." 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.
"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," 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 "invasion" of the DR by
poor Haitians looking for work because Dominican nationality was
"not a prize won in a lottery but in a bitter struggle." 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 "invasion." 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
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 "invasion" 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. "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," 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
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
"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."
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: "It's
nothing. It is just a peasant uprising on the frontier."
RETURN OUR DOCUMENTS, HAITIANS DEMAND
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
"privacy rights" the U.S. officials claim to be protecting.
"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," said Ray Laforest of the
Haiti Support Network (HSN), one of the sponsors of the Nov. 4
action. "They are abetting criminals and terrorists, just as they
did during the coup years, which is why Haiti remains gripped by
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. "without the Haitian Government's knowledge or
consent," Dieng notes in his report. "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."
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.
"The documents are a rich source of evidence," said Brian
Concannon, one of the lawyers working on the Raboteau case. "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
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. "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," he said.
Human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch (HRW) have also pushed for the documents' return. "These
thugs terrorized Haiti for three years, murdering, torturing and
raping," said Reed Brody, HRW's Advocacy Director. "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."
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. "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," Brody said.
The Nov. 4 protestors would agree, and they made no secret of
their suspicions. "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?" said Yvon
Kernizan, a leader of the Lavalas Family party (FL) in New York.
"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."
Key Martin of the International Action Center noted that "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."
The same approach was used against Haiti and other countries,
Martin said. "It is unacceptable to have a foreign policy based
on death squads!"
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 "the
United States should be invited to return the documents, intact
and without delay." 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. "Venezuela will be the key,"
Brody said, "since they usually have a hand in writing the
resolutions on Haiti."
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