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#2645: This Week in Haiti 17:50 3/1/2000 (fwd)

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For information on other news in French and Creole,
please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax)
718-434-5551 or e-mail at <editor@haiti-progres.com>.
Also visit our website at <www.haiti-progres.com>.

                        HAITI PROGRES
           "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                   * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                      March 1 - 7, 2000
                       Vol. 17, No. 50


Early on the morning of Feb. 28, the people of Cité Soleil awoke
to find United Nations police-men emptying out the local police
station of equipment and furniture. The gathering crowd was
bemused to see the UN personnel removing things like portable
toilets, which had been installed for prisoners.

But curiosity turned to outrage when the residents saw that the
policemen removing two other items: the Haitian flag and a
generator, which powers many light-bulbs in the area, by which
children study at night.

Rapidly, a demonstration blossomed. The crowd removed the license
plates from the five U.N. vehicles in which the cops had come,
and let the air out of their tires.

"In all these countries where they intervene, they leave stuff
behind," exclaimed one angry demonstrator to a local radio
station. "How come in Haiti they come with something and when
they are ready to leave, they come and take it. Aren't we people
too? This is not going to happen. We say 'No!' Whatever they came
with, that is staying here with us, the people of Cité Soleil."

Over the next two weeks, U.N. policemen are supposed to finish
pulling out of Haiti. Their mandate under the U.N. Civilian
Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) ends March 15. It was extended
for the final time for three and a half months by the Security
Council last November. They are to be replaced by "unarmed and
non-uniformed" U.N. technicians dubbed the International Civilian
Mission for Support in Haiti (MICAH), which answers ultimately to
the U.N. General Assembly. That body has no executive powers.

The actions of the residents of Cité Soleil persuaded the U.N.
cops to leave their generator and Haitian flag behind as a
gesture of good-will to the Haitian people, who have been patient
hosts for the past five and a half years of foreign military


Carrefour Feuilles is a chaotic hilly neighborhood in Port-au-
Prince which has endured its share of tragic mudslides over the

Tragedy struck again on the rainy night of Feb. 28, when the wall
of a house on Ruelle Rigaud, known as Impasse Eddy, collapsed on
Margareth Resil, 46, and her two children Fanfan, 14,  and
Vladimir Bresier, 12.

The cave-in occured around 10 p.m. and neighbors immediately set
to work with flashlights, picks, and shovels in an effort to save
the family. But it wasn't until the Red Cross and firemen arrived
the next morning around 9 a.m. that the lifeless bodies of
Margareth and Fanfan were retrieved. Vladimir, however, was still
breathing. He was rushed to the General Hospital, where at press
time, he was in serious condition. Most of the neighbors were
doubtful that he would survive.

"It's a shame that an accident like that occurs at 10 p.m. and
the firemen and Red Cross ambulance don't come until the next
morning," opined a Haïti Progrès creole columnist.


With less than three weeks until the Mar. 19 elections, the
electoral machine in the Southeast department is still up on

In recent weeks, the population of Bainet has closed down the
Communal Electoral Office (BEC) because there are no materials to
make electoral cards. Also a voter registration station (BI) in
Bainet had to be closed when its two directors, Désiré Milot and
Willio Pernier, were arrested on charges of making false
electoral identification cards.

The same imbroglio exists in Jacmel, where three quarters of the
people in the commune are unable to procure their electoral card.
According to peasants, there are at least three rural sections
where there are no BI and no cards at all: the Gaya section of
St. Michel, Koray Ana, and Ti Segen. Peasants there say that the
BI in other regions are too far away for them.

Marigot is also plagued with shortages of registration stations
and voting cards.

Faced with this situation, people around the entire department
have been asking if the elections are truly going to be held, and
if so, whether they are just for a small group of people.


"Seven million people die each year as a result of the debt
crisis," announces the welcoming banner of the Jubilee 2000
Coalition's website. "1,152,298 people have died since the start
of the year 2000."

Jubilee 2000 is an international movement, based in England,
calling for the cancellation of the unpayable debt of the world's
poorest countries by the year 2000 under a fair and transparent

Last week, Liana Cisneros, Jubilee 2000's coordinator for Latin
America and the Caribbean, was in Haiti for three days of
meetings to see how to push for the cancellation of Haiti's debt,
which presently stands at about $1.134 billion. Rung up mostly by
former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and the neo-Duvalierist
regimes which followed his 1986 fall, the debt now costs the
Haitian people over $4 million per month to service.

According to the Haitian Press Agency (AHP), Ms. Cisneros
condemned the fact that Haiti is not on the list of Third World
countries slated to benefit from a debt annulment announced at
the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary
Fund (IMF) last September (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 17, No. 32,
10/27/99). Ironically, the World Bank itself presents Haiti as
"the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere."

Ms. Cisneros called on the Haitian people to continue their
mobilization against the debt and noted that over 90,000 people
in Haiti had already signed an international petition demanding
the elimination of the Third World's debt.

Last week, Haïti Progrès ran an interview with well-known
intellectual Noam Chomsky in which he argued that Third World
countries would be justified in rejecting their international
obligations as "odious debt," a legal concept well-established in
international law.  "Odious debt" is incurred under
disadvantageous relations of subordination to a foreign power.
Invoking this concept, the United States cancelled Cuba's debt to
Spain when it "liberated" that island nation in 1898.

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Please credit Haiti Progres.