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#1646: US Puppets Hang on in Haiti : Goff comments

From: Stan Goff <stangoff@all4democracy.org>

US puppets cling on in Haiti
Recently Ben Dupuy, leader of the National Popular Assembly, one of Haiti's
largest popular organisations and co-director of the newspaper Haiti
Progres, visited London and spoke to Mike Phipps.

In September 1994 a US military intervention in Haiti restored to power
Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the country's first democratically elected
president, who had earlier been overthrown in a coup. Over four years later,
US and UN troops are still there. The new government of Rene Preval endorses
neo-liberal policies and structural adjustment, and the Lavalas party has
split into two, with the government on one side and on the other supporters
of the still highly popular Aristide.

Meanwhile the former dictatorship's death squads continue their
intimidation, robbery and murder across Haiti with impunity - in the last
year alone six of Aristide's security guards were assassinated. US and UN
officials have repeatedly blocked attempts to bring to justice leaders of
the 1991 coup or people who raped, tortured and murdered in its name.
Instead there is clear evidence of an FBI campaign to smear Aristide and
intimidate his supporters into implicating him into criminal activities.

It's been said that Haiti has not had a proper government for the last 18
months. Can you clarify this?

Looking at the situation from the perspective of western parliamentary
democracy and the 1987 constitution, there is no government. But there are
ministers dealing with "current affairs". In reality, Haiti has
traditionally been a presidential system and effectively Preval is
fulfilling the functions of both president and prime minister. The publicity
around this issue is a pretext for the "donors" not to come up with the aid
packages they promised when the re-establishment of democracy was completed.
The real reason for this apparent crisis is the split in the Lavalas
leadership under pressure from the US. This was originally Aristide's party
and in 1995 it won a relative majority in Parliament. Soon after, it
defected and was willing to implement a neo-liberal policy dictated by the

After the betrayal of the party leadership, Aristide formed his own party,
the Lavalas Family. This new party doesn't have any representatives in the
executive or the present Parliament. The governing party is concerned it may
lose any future election. They are therefore demanding a new provisional
Electoral Council be chosen from among supporters of the ruling elite. Yet
the 1987 constitution calls for a permanent Electoral Council comprising
delegates appointed by the Territorial Assemblies - decentralised bodies in
different localities. The members of these were elected in April 1997 and a
majority are members of ex-President Aristide's Lavalas Family. As any
future election is likely to be won by Aristide's supporters, the government
is trying to get hold of the administrative apparatus that would supervise
such elections. They want to adopt the model of the Mexican PRI, thus
becoming the permanent party of government.

What is happening about the US and UN forces in the country?

At the end of November the UN Security Council reviewed for the sixth
consecutive time the mandate of the UN mission. The terms of the first
mandate were a clear violation of the UN Charter, which stipulates that the
UN has no authority to interfere in the internal affairs of its members. The
coup of September 1991 was essentially an internal problem and the US,
feeling compelled to retake control of the political situation in Haiti,
pressurised the Security Council to adopt its resolution. The first phase of
the UN intervention in Haiti was spearheaded by 20,000 US troops. Presently
the occupation forces have been reduced to 300 civilian police, supposedly
to train the new Haitian national police.

But in reality the recruitment of the 7,000 members of this police force has
been done by a subdivision of the US FBI. Meanwhile the US have signed a
bilateral agreement with the Preval government to station in Haiti 500 US
Special Forces, supposedly to carry out humanitarian works. This deal has
not been approved by Parliament.

This illustrates that the "international community", when it's convenient,
isn't so concerned about legality. Another example of their hypocrisy is
that recently a special rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Commission, in his
report to the General Assembly, acknowledged that a new law entitled
"Judiciary Reform" had called for the withdrawal of all UN forces in Haiti.
After holding discussions with Parliament, the law was amended to calling
simply for the removal of all foreign armed forces. Following discussions
with President Preval and other high officials, the UN rapporteur then
announced that this reference to "all foreign armed forces" would not be
interpreted as the UN police monitoring mission. Soon after he stated that
the challenge for Haiti continues to be the establishment of a state ruled
by law! This demonstrates both the UN's meddling in Haiti's political
process and their hypocrisy about it.

The Haiti Support Group is demanding the US return to Haitian human rights
organisations documentation taken from the Haitian army in 1994 that would
help prosecute criminals from the time of the coup. For more information on
this and the devastating effect of Hurricane Georges which made 177,000
people homeless and caused $200 million of damage, contact the HSG, Trinity
Church, Hodford Road, London NW11 8NG, tel and fax 0181-201 9878.