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This Week in Haiti 18:3 4/5/00 (fwd)

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"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 *

                        April 5 - 11, 2000
                          Vol. 18, No. 3


At 6:15 a.m. on Apr. 3, a gunman entered the courtyard of Radio
Haiti Inter and shot to death pioneering radio journalist Jean
Dominique, 69, as well as the station's caretaker, Jean-Claude
Louissaint. Dominique, who was just arriving by car to prepare
for his hugely popular 7:00 a.m. daily news roundup, was struck
by seven bullets in the head, neck, and chest. He was loaded with
Louissaint into an ambulance, but both men were pronounced dead
on arrival at the nearby Haitian Community Hospital in

In recent weeks, Dominique had been sharply critical of the U.S.
government's heavy-handed meddling in Haitian elections and
bullying of Haitian President Reni Prival, to whom Dominique was
a close friend and advisor.

Are agents of Washington behind Jean Dominique's brutal murder?
Is this just the opening salvo of a more violent stage in the
wide-ranging campaign to intimidate the Haitian government and
people into following Washington's directives?

That is the suspicion voiced by Haitians on radio call-in shows
and street corners since the killing. For them, this is just the
latest act of aggression in an escalating war which Washington is
waging to see that its neoliberal agenda eventually goes through
in Haiti. Vilifying articles in the mainstream press, warnings
from diplomats, hold-backs of international assistance, and
killings by the "forces of darkness" have all been part of a
growing offensive to block the return to power of former
president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his party in what has become
known as the "electoral coup d'itat."

Let's briefly review the various elements of this offensive.

The media offensive

There are four things which Washington wants you to know about
Haiti: 1) President Prival dissolved parliament in Jan. 1999; 2)
a new Parliament must be elected and seated by Jun. 12, according
to the Constitution; 3) Prival is former president Jean-Bertrand
Aristide's puppet; and 4) Prival is a dictator or close to
becoming one.

Unfortunately, every one of these assertions is untrue.

1) The term of most parliamentians expired in Jan. 1999 and
Prival refused to violate the constitutional ban on extending
mandates; 2) Jun. 12 is merely the date a sitting Parliament is
supposed to return from vacation; there is no sitting Parliament;
3) Prival remains in touch with Aristide, but Aristide and his
party have often differed with and criticized Prival's policies
and decisions; 4) Prival's administration bears no comparison to
the regimes of his predecessors like Duvalier, Namphy, Avril, or

Nonetheless, U.S. and Canadian mainstream newspapers, as
Washington's handmaidens, have been blaring the four lies far and
wide in recent weeks. This is their way of preparing the North
American public for aggressive U.S. actions.

Take for example, the Mar. 20 Miami Herald editorial "Haiti's
Elections in Peril: President Prival to Blame for Latest Holdup."
It says that "Mr. Prival is validating suspicions that he's
delaying the parliamentary elections to help his party, Fanmi
Lavalas." First, Prival is not a member of Fanmi Lavalas,
Aristide's party. Second, he has often repeated that he just
wants elections which are fair and inclusive. With probably half
the estimated 4.5 million-member electorate without electoral
cards (nobody knows for sure how many have been issued), it is
obvious that elections cannot be held. But the editorial never
once refers to the lack of electoral cards. Instead, it calls
Prival "contemptuous of democracy" and a "despot."

One week later on Mar. 27, the Herald published the article "U.S.
presses Haiti over elections," by Don Bohning. The author is not
embarrased to write that both the Democratic Clinton
administration and the Republican Congress have their "patience
growing shorter... over continued delays by Haitian officials in
holding critical legislative and local elections." Why are they
impatient? Are Haitian elections being held in the U.S.?

The article contains all the usual untruths (Prival "effectively
dissolved Parliament" and "June 12 [is] when Parliament is
constitutionally mandated to begin its second session of the
year"). Like the Herald editorial, the article never mentions the
lack of electoral cards, nor the fact that the shortage can be
traced back to the U.S. State Department (which funded the
cards), the U.S. State Department-spawned International
Foundation for Electoral Systems or IFES (which chose the
contractor), and the Canadian firm, Code, Inc (which produced the
card materials).

Instead, the main purpose of Bohning's article is to deliver the
threats that the U.S. will undertake "economic and diplomatic
isolation and the denial of U.S. visas to those seen as
obstructing the democratic process." Ironically, the real
obstructionists are all in Washington.

The diplomatic offensive

Indeed, a constant stream of diplomats bearing threats have
passed through Port-au-Prince in recent weeks. "Failure to
constitute a legitimate parliament risks isolating Haiti from the
community of democracies and jeapardizes future cooperation and
assistance," said Arturo Valenzuela, the White House's National
Security Council official for Latin America who visited Prival
with Donald Steinberg, the State Department's special Haiti
coordinator last week.

Two weeks before it was a bipartisan letter from Benjamin Gilman
(R-NY), chariman of the House International Relations Committee,
along with John Conyers (D-MI) and Charles Rangel (D-NY), who
threatened Prival in no uncertain terms. "The Clinton
administration informs us that it will use all diplomatic means
to respond to those who seek to disrupt or corrupt the electoral
process," the letter said. "The administration has our full
support to so act to protect vital American interests." So at
least they are honest. They are protecting American, not Haitian,

Also earlier last month, former National Security Advisor Anthony
Lake visited Haiti where he met separately with Prival and
Aristide to warn them of dire consequences if elections were not
held before June.

Alarm in Washington grew last Friday, Mar. 31, when Prival and
the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) met and agreed to
postpone elections unrealistically set for Apr. 9 and to take
about eight weeks to review and correct the deficiencies in the
electoral machinery: recuperate all electoral registers, compile
a definitive list of registration stations and authorized
personnel, determine the shortfall in electoral card materials,
check for duplicate registrations, verify electoral ballots with
candidates, and so on. Despite this amiable accord between the
only two instances concerned, State Department spokesman James
Rubin used the death of Jean Dominique to reiterate U.S. pressure
on Apr. 3. "From our standpoint, we believe that credible
elections can be held in April and May, in time to convene the
new parliament by the second Monday of June, consistent with
Haitian constitutional law,'' Rubin said. His "standpoint" is not
relevant in a Haitian election.

Meanwhile, Albright buttonholed Foreign Minister Fritz Longchamp
at the CARICOM meeting held in New Orleans, Louisiana on Mar. 29
to communicate U.S. displeasure over election delays.

The international assistance offensive

Then there are the dangled carrots. Whenever they want the
Haitian government to do something, U.S. and "international
community" officials inevitably announce that there are millions
in international aid in jeopardy.

So last week , it was the turn of Girard Johnson of the
Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) to announce that he would
not release $200 million earmarked for over sixty projects until
after elections were held.

The U.S. has often repeated that it has hundreds of millions more
that it is ready to "unblock" as soon as a Parliament sits and
passes legislation neoliberalizing Haiti's state and economy.

The "observer" offensive

Since early March, the U.N. began deploying about 80 election
observers throughout Haiti (see Haoti Progrhs, Vol. 17, No. 51,
Mar. 8, 2000). But more central to their plan is the "Haitian"
National Council of Electoral Observation (CNO) headed by Liopold
Berlanger, who is director of the USAID-funded Radio Vision 2000,
a frequent recipient of National Endowment for Democracy grants,
and a long-time agent of Washington (see Haoti Progrhs, Vol. 17,
No. 43, Jan. 12, 2000). Last week, Jean Dominique revealed over
the airwaves of Radio Haiti Inter that Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP) president Lion Manus signed an accord with
Berlanger on Feb. 25, without the knowledge of any other CEP
members. The deal would allow Berlanger's CNO to pick not only
the CEP's accredited election observers but also the members of
the registration stations, voting stations, and the supervisors.

Jean Dominique's last editorial was precisely to denounce
Berlanger and the secret accord which made the entirely self-
appointed CNO a final arbiter of any upcoming elections.

The "opposition" offensive

For months we have reviewed how the principal currents of the
opposition - the Espace de Concertation, the Patriotic Movement
to Save the Nation (MPSN), the Organization of People in Struggle
(OPL), the Democratic Nationalist Patriotic Assembly (RDNP), and
Mochrena - have waged their war against Aristide's party, the
Fanmi Lavalas, and the people. This week however they have upped
the ante.

Evans Paul of the Espace has virtually called for civil war,
seizing on chaotic street demonstrations, which closed downtown
Port-au-Prince from Mar. 27-29. The anti-electoral-coup-d'itat
demonstrations, which were surely infiltrated by provocateurs,
were blamed for breaking car and shop windows and the shooting of
a policeman. "The Espace is now calling for the establishment of
committees for legitimate defense," Paul said. "The Espace asks
people to identify the rioters, point out the houses where they
meet, and write down their license plates. We ask for drivers to
show solidarity. When rioters attack a driver, don't run away.
Instead, run down the rioters with your car."

Meanwhile, Paul's putschist-collaborator colleague, Serge Gilles,
called for all Espace partisans in the government of Prime
Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis to resign, a step toward the
"Zero Option" (i.e. removal of Prival and new presidential
elections without Aristide) proposed by the MPSN and the OPL over
these past weeks. "The Espace asks the people it has placed in
the government and which today occupy posts of minister or
secretary of state to leave the Prival/Alexis government," Gilles
said. "This appeal is also addressed to all other government
members who consider themselves democrats and who refuse to be
seen associating with the downfall of the Lavalas power."

The offensive of the "Forces of Darkness"

Historically, alongside all the above-mentioned visible
offensives, there has always been the "invisible" pressure
exerted by "forces of darkness," that is former Tonton Macoutes,
soldiers, death-squads, and assorted putschist henchmen. For
example, while the U.S. formally supported the return of Aristide
during the coup, the CIA set up and supported Toto Constant's
FRAPH as a network to pressure, spy on, and kill the population.
Many Haitians call this CIA-Pentagon-Macoute nexus the

"The assassination of Jean Dominique, it is clear, is a political
assassination," said Ben Dupuy, secretary general of the National
Popular Party (PPN) in an Apr. 3 press conference. "It was
carried out by the 'forces of darkness' and it was a warning."

Dominique's murder is very similar to that of Lavalas businessman
and activist Antoine Izmiry on Sep. 11, 1993. They were both
outspoken and progressive elements from Haiti's bourgeoisie. In
both cases, their deaths sent a chill through the entire

Whether it was "rogue" elements of Washington's shadowy reserve
army of former thugs or whether it was an ordered hit, the
killing was a "professional job." It is almost certain that, in
some way, the "laboratory" had a hand in Jean Dominique's murder.

The "forces of darkness" are also used to infiltrate genuine
demonstrations such as those last week, which were demanding the
resignation of the CEP, electoral cards for all, and a single
election in November. "Often in demonstrations, I have seen
elements who start violent acts like breaking windows and
damaging property randomly," said Leon, a long-time Lavalas
organizer. "When you question what they are doing, they won't
listen to you. They are acting under somebody else's orders."

Change of Strategy?

Finally, the U.S. and its proxies may be now changing strategy,
as outlined by Dupuy at the PPN's Apr. 3 press conference. He
noted that the Haitian people have up until now been able to
thwart the original version of the "electoral coup d'itat," which
was to hold an election for parliament with a limited electorate.

Now they may have shifted to a new and revised plan. Since
electoral technicians have estimated they will need about two
months to straighten out the current electoral mess, a new
election date could be no earlier than June. If the CEP and
government cling to having two elections, that leaves only five
months for the CEP to prepare for the November presidential
elections. Already it has taken them 15 months to prepare the
legislative and municipal elections.

"If after 15 months we still haven't had legislative elections,
we wonder how long we will have to wait for presidential
elections which are supposed to be in Nov. 2000," Dupuy said.
"That is where it seems that USAID and IFES now want to lead the
country. To arrive at a point where there is not enough time to
have a presidential election and then the Presidential mandate of
President Prival will end [on Feb. 7, 2001], and thus they will
have managed to have us arrive at a version of the 'zero option.'
Then we will see a real catastrophe. The head of the Supreme
Court, a zombie, will take control of the country, and I don't
need to tell you what kind of mess we will have. The country will
be upside down. And since the proponents of the 'zero option'
know that they can't do much without the 'international
community,' many of them will call for another occupation of the
country and in fact, several have already made declarations in
this sense."

In short, Washington and its local agents are upping the pressure
on the Haitian government and the Haitian people in every way
possible. This week, even the normally submissive Prime Minister
Alexis had to speak out. "I am sure that the 'international
community' knows better than us what is really going on here," he
said. "It is very strange that certain members of the
'international community' were at one point pressuring us in the
executive to get more involved with the CEP and today these same
people are saying that we don't want elections. That is strange."
Alexis went on to conclude that "the 'internaitonal community'...
is orienting things in a sense that is not in the general
interests of the country."

This is the essence of the problem in Haiti today. This was the
very problem Jean Dominique was denouncing in his last
broadcasts. And this may well be the reason why he was killed.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.

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