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6869: This Week in Haiti 18:46 1/31/01 (fwd)
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
January 31 - February 6, 2001
Vol. 18, No. 46
TOUGH BREAK FOR THE CONVERGENCE
With tight police protection from the very government it scorns,
the Democratic Convergence (CD), Haiti’s front of 16 tiny
opposition parties, held its much ballyhooed Jan. 27 meeting to
draw up the “parallel government” it proposes to launch on Feb.
7, President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s inauguration day.
But the meeting was a flop. No government was defined. Instead of
the 20,000 participants which CD leaders had predicted, a few
hundred showed up. Even the CD’s erstwhile international
supporters ranging from U.S. Republican congressmen to bigwigs
from the Socialist International prudently stayed away. Nor did
any members of the Haitian “private sector” choose to attend the
The CD had planned to rent the Rex Theater on the Champ de Mars,
Port-au-Prince’s main square, but theater management, fearing
popular outrage, cancelled the contract a day before the event.
The CD moved the affair to the headquarters of the CD’s
Organization of People in Struggle (OPL) in Pont Morin section of
the capital, which was probably a blessing given the puny
While the opposition leaders could not arrive at an agreement as
to who would lead whom in their small circle, they comforted
themselves with thundering pronouncements. “[The Lavalas] might
protest energetically but when we finish here the Democratic
Convergence will begin working hard, solidly, to set up a
transition government of consensus and national unity,” intoned
the OPL’s ex-senator Paul Denis.
“We must stop the demagogic and Machiavellian political practice
of the cynical chimera [Lavalas street demonstrators],” said
Evans Paul of the CD’s Democratic Unity Confederation (KID). “To
stop darkness and plant hope, history gives me the right to
choose a provisional power.”
Hope is not all the CD may have been planting. Police arrested
two men with bags of rocks and anti-CD flyers near the gathering.
“[W]hen the police wanted to take them away, it was one of the
leaders of the Democratic Convergence who intervened to request
their release,” reported the Haitian Press Agency (AHP). “For his
part, the spokesperson for the PNH, Jean Dady Siméon, confirmed
that at least five individuals had been arrested by the police.
Among these five, at least three had been identified as members
of a popular organization close to the Democratic Convergence.”
Meanwhile, Lavalas-supporting popular organizations and human
rights groups denounced the CD’s maneuvers. The September 30
Foundation, comprised of victims of the Sept. 30, 1991 coup
d’état, held its own large rally on the Champ de Mars on Jan. 27.
“We have come here to stop the Convergence’s planned coup
d’état,” said Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, the group’s leader, “to
say yes to peace, no to violence, yes to dialogue, no to
divergence, to stop the putschists, all those who have
contributed to coups d’état, who supported the Sept. 30, 1991
coup and who want to pass themselves off today as ‘civil society’
in the role of facilitator which they want to buy at a window. We
are here to say to the Convergence: step aside and let the people
LIMBÉ: TROUBLE AT GOOD SAMARITAN
The Good Samaritan hospital in Limbé is one of the oldest
hospitals in the Northern Department, after Justinien Hospital in
Cap Haïtien. The hospital was founded in 1953 by William Hodges,
a U.S. Baptist missionary who became a Haitian citizen. Most of
the commune’s towns have no medical dispensaries or clinics so
people from surrounding towns like Marmelade, Plaisance, Au
Borgne, Port Margot, and L’Acul rely on Good Samaritan.
After the death of William Hodges in 1995, his son, Paul Hodges,
took over the hospital. But Haitians in the area now complain of
First, they say, many low-level employees have been fired. Those
low-salaried workers were people, or the children or grand
children of people, who consented to give up their land to allow
the construction of the hospital and of a special thoroughfare to
it called “Doctor Road.” The people received jobs at the hospital
as compensation for the loss of their homes and land.
Furthermore, the hospital’s services have declined. For instance,
Haitian health authorities discovered that the hospital was
selling expired medications to its patients, and at a high price.
Services at the hospital have also become costly by Haitian
On Friday, Jan. 19 at 10 a.m., more than 4,000 people turned out
in response to the invitation of some popular organizations for a
demonstration in Limbé’s square. Demonstration leaders called for
Paul Hodges’ resignation and led the crowd toward the hospital.
By noon, the crowd calling for Hodges’ departure had doubled in
size. A police unit of the UDMO (Departmental Unit for the
Maintenance of Order) was dispatched from Cap Haïtien accompanied
by Limbé justice of the peace Jean Garry Désir.
At around 1 p.m., the demonstration arrived in front of the
hospital. The demonstration leaders took the opportunity to
respond to U.S. Republican Congressman Benjamin Gilman’s charges
that the Lavalas has threatened the Hodges family. “Benjamin
Gilman, this isn’t the Lavalas making this demonstration,” said
Jean Ronel Jacques Louis, leader of the KLJL (Committee to Open
the Eyes of Jacmel). “This is an entire population which the
Hodges family has squeezed and which is demanding its rights.”
The demonstrators asked for a commission composed of popular
organizations, justice officials, local elected officials, the
police, and the press to go into the hospital to take the key
from Paul Hodges and give it to the town’s Baptist Mission, a
proposal which justice of the peace Désir rejected after the
local elected officials demurred from entering the hospital.
Around 4 p.m., a parliamentary delegation from Port-au-Prince
arrived, with the president of the Lower House at its head. The
parliamentarians had already begun an inquiry the day before into
the troubles at Good Samaritan.
The parliamentarians asked the demonstrators to return home while
a commission was formed to meet with departmental health director
Myrtho Julien to work out a solution. Popular organization
leaders agreed to disperse but asked the population to remain
BELLE ANSE: STUDENTS PROTEST TEACHER’S TRANSFER
In the southeast commune of Belle Anse, of the 15,000 school-age
children, only 5,000 to 7,000 attend school, whether public or
private. Most parents can’t afford the needed uniforms or books.
Even those children who can attend school endure harsh
conditions. School supplies such as chalk, pens and pencils, and
even chairs are scarce.
This somber situation was made worse recently when local school
inspector Badio Eliphène threatened to transfer long-time teacher
Fritzner Regala to a school in another town.
Regala has taught junior high-school in the town of Belle Anse
for the past 19 years. Badio says he will transfer Regala to
another school 13 kilometers away. The proposed transfer has
stirred students in Belle-Anse to protest.
Regala says that inspector Badio’s decision is arbitrary and
stems from a personal conflict between the two men. Therefore
Regala says he will disregard the transfer and stay teaching
where he is. Badio has said that Regala is a state employee and
must be prepared to be transferred if his superiors decide so.
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