[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
7278: This Week in Haiti 18:51 3/7/2001 (fwd)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Haiti Progrès" <email@example.com>
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French
and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100,
(fax) 718-434-5551 or e-mail at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Also visit our website at <www.haitiprogres.com>.
"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
March 7 - 13, 2001
Vol. 18, No. 51
IS ARISTIDE HOSTAGE OF THE "INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY" ?
Last week, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide shocked many of his
supporters and allies when he rolled out his new government and a
new electoral council, both filled with former Duvalierist
ministers, coup d'état participants and supporters, neoliberal
champions, and consummate opportunists.
Already there had been signs that Aristide might be backtracking
from nationalist and anti-neoliberal positions he had espoused
over the past four years.
On Dec. 27, 2000, he agreed to an eight-point plan formulated
with outgoing U.S. President Bill Clinton. Among other things,
the accord called for "rapid rectification" of the run-off vote
calculation methods used in May 21 Senate elections, to which
Washington objects; "creation of a credible new provisional
electoral council (CEP)," as if they old one were not, a move
which effectively neutralizes local assemblies elected to choose
a permanent electoral council; "allow access to U.S. Coast Guard
anti-drug operation in Haitian waters" and other sovereignty
trampling measures to supposedly fight drug trafficking;
"nominate capable and respected officials for senior security
positions, including within the PNH," the Haitian National
Police, a force over which the U.S. wants to assert more control,
having lost its long-time instrument, the Haitian Army; "the
establishment of a semi-permanent OAS commission to facilitate
dialogue among Haitian political, civic, and business leaders and
through international monitoring of the protection of human
rights," more blunt tools for meddling; and "install a
broad-based government including 'technocrats' and members of the
opposition," a dumbfounding demand, posed as if the Haitian
people's votes were irrelevant. There was also the usual demand
for "economic reforms to enhance free markets and promote private
investment," in other words remove what little protection you
offer Haitian farmers and artisans, and provide U.S. businessmen
with cheap labor, reliable infrastructure, but no taxes.
These are "pretty demanding conditions," admitted new Republican
Secretary of State Colin Powell during his confirmation hearings.
He termed the Aristide/Clinton deal "an acceptable road-map," but
added that the Bush administration would likely add new demands
(see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 18, No. 45, 1/24/01).
Perhaps trying to prevent these new demands, Aristide has been
rushing to implement the eight points and please the Bush
Administration. Three weeks ago, six senators elected in the
first round of the May 21 elections "voluntarily" withdrew from
parliamentary activities. And even before the Feb. 7 presidential
inauguration, the 47th Legislature, dominated by Aristide's
Lavalas Family party, ratified the 1997 accord signed between
former President René Préval and former Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright, which would allow U.S. warships and jets to
freely penetrate Haitian waters and airspace in "hot pursuit" of
Then two weeks ago, Aristide forced Haiti's CEP to resign "in the
interests of the nation," although, according to the
Constitution, the council should have remained in place until
local assemblies around Haiti elected a new permanent council.
"If the reshaping of the council is mishandled, it will cause a
domino effect," said CEP president Ernst Mirville in a radio
interview two days before his resignation. "Everything could be
reshuffled from the CASECs [local assemblies] up to the
President. Playing with fire is a dangerous game." Mirville also
questioned the authority of the executive branch to transform the
electoral council, which is an independent power under the
Constitution. He said he would not resign.
But resign he did on Feb. 22, along with the other remaining CEP
members, after they held a Feb. 21 meeting with Aristide at the
Palace. "Basically nobody wanted to be accused of standing in the
way of things," Mirville told Haïti Progrès last week. "The local
assemblies will probably not be able to choose a new permanent
council due to the political pressure of internal forces and
forces outside the country," Mirville said.
Despite all these alarming signs, Haitians were still waiting to
see what Aristide's new government would look like. They got
their answer Feb. 28, five days after the Parliament ratified
Aristide's nominee for Prime Minister, his trusted aide Jean
Three key ministries went to men who had served as officials
under former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who fell
from power in 1986. Marc L. Bazin, briefly Duvalier's Finance
Minister in 1982, as well as a de facto prime minister for a year
for the Haitian military during the 1991-1994 coup d'état, was
named Minister of Planning and External Cooperation. Stanley
Théard, presently member of the Association of Haitian
Industrialists (ADIH), was named to the same post he held under
Duvalier: Commerce Minister. Meanwhile, lawyer Garry Lissade, a
well-known adherent to Duvalier's "Jean-Claudist" movement in the
early 1980s, was named as Justice Minister.
"The government is filled with Macoutes!" exclaimed one man as he
heard the line-up announced over the radio last Wednesday. Tonton
Macoutes were the henchmen of the Duvalier dictatorships.
But more alarming were the "Macoutes" in the new CEP. They
include Domingo Théronier, formerly one of Duvalier's police
commissioners and leader of the Duvalierist party PRAN, which
dissolved in 1987 in the face of popular outcry; Yves Massillon,
formerly Duvalier's chief of protocol; Volvick Rémy Joseph, Baby
Doc's Health minister and leader of the neo-Duvalierist party
MKN; and Pierre André Anélas, another former prominent
Some popular organization leaders close to the Lavalas Family
like René Civil of the Popular Power Youth (JPP) and Paul Raymond
of the St. Jean Bosco Little Church Community (TKL) point to the
appointments as proof of the Lavalas government's goodwill to
bring a climate of peace in the country, by integrating Haitians
from all political backgrounds into public affairs. But other
popular organizations have begun to denounce the appointments as
a case of "the donkey works, while the horse prances" and are
asking where this new marriage will end. They remember a previous
marriage performed by Aristide in 1991 between the "people" and
the "Army," which ended in bitter divorce when the Army launched
the bloody coup of Sep. 30, 1991. What chance does the new
marriage have of succeeding?
Furthermore, Aristide's new "open door government" seems above
all to be opening the door to neoliberal economic policies
against which the Haitian people have protested for 15 years.
Since unveiling his economic program over a year ago, Aristide
has proposed some kind of "third way," a magic formula to somehow
please Washington and multilateral lending institutions like the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) while still defending the
people against the well-known ravages of neoliberal policies.
Ironically, Marc Bazin, against whose neoliberal prescriptions
Aristide successfully campaigned in 1990, is today telling
Aristide that his "third way" is not feasible, that you are
either with the program or not. "Let's not do the [structural]
adjustment [of the Haitian economy] with one foot in and one foot
out, one day saying yes, the next saying no," Bazin said in an
interview with Radio Metropole last week. "Because the final
result is sacrifice without benefit." Is Bazin going to implement
Aristide's vision, or is Aristide going to implement Bazin's? Is
the tail going to wag the dog? Is the Chérestal government going
to fully enter into the economic policy against which Haiti's
democratic and popular sectors have so bitterly fought since
With its emerging new posture, the Lavalas Family appears to be
entering into a rivalry with the Democratic Convergence (CD), the
opposition front made up of former Duvalierists and former
Lavalassians. Each sector wants to pass itself off as the better
servant of foreign interests. What about the Haitian people? Is
this a wise approach for the Lavalas, which still enjoys the
trust of the Haitian masses?
Whatever the case, Aristide's backpeddling has emboldened the CD
and Macoutes, which are supported by a powerful sectors of the
"international community," meaning North American and European
powers. On Mar. 6, close to 1000 former soldiers marched through
the streets of the capital chanting "Long Live the Army of
Haiti!" They were led by Gérard Dalvius, a former Army major and
secretary general of the Alternative Party for the Development of
Haiti (PADH). The Haitian Army was effectively dissolved by
Aristide in 1995 but has not been formally abolished by
"This movement is a movement to uproot the Lavalas which is
preventing people from living, which does everything which is bad
in the country, which has put a bunch of false leaders at the
head of the country, and which has created anarchy in the
country," Dalvius declared. "A part of the opposition must rise
up and say no!" Dalvius declared his support for Gérard Gourgue,
the "provisional president" of the CD's parallel government,
which, after a month, is still in formation.
Several CD leaders again called for a general uprising against
the government this week, even though their protest actions are
always pathetically small. "The demonstrations which have taken
place on the Central Plateau, in Petit Goâve, and in Gonaïves
must multiply through a growing and multifaceted mobilization,
which will have to express itself by democratic means: meetings,
demonstrations, grafittis, marches, sit-ins, pot banging, etc."
said Gerard Pierre-Charles, secretary general of the Organization
of People in Struggle (OPL), a CD component.
Such traditional politicians are being encouraged by the comments
and posturing of "international community" diplomats. For example
the ambassadors of the U.S., France, and others were noticably
absent during the Mar. 2 inauguration of the Chérestal government
at the National Palace. Last week, French ambassador Yves
Gaudeuil again said that "dialogue with the opposition" was the
"indispensable condition" for the resumption of European aid,
even though the CD has repeatedly rebuffed Aristide's overtures.
The European Union has frozen 148 million euros of aid to Haiti.
Gaudeuil also recalled that since 1994, 450 million francs
earmarked for Haiti has been blocked by his government.
Parallel to this rivalry from the right, the Lavalas also faces a
challenge from the left by certain of its allies and from its
political base. For example, the Democratic Movement for National
Liberation (MODLIN) rejected the nomination of Duvalierists to
the cabinet and to the new CEP. "All honest people, all the
friends of justice in the country must begin to mobilize to call
for justice, so that these big Duvalierist barons who have
reappeared today in broad daylight can find themselves behind
bars," declared MODLIN coordinator Odonel Paul.
Théodore "Lolo" Beaubrun, leader of the popular rasin musical
group Boukman Eksperyans, warned against neoliberal moves after
the new government's inauguration ceremony at the National
Palace. "We will be watching what policies they are going to
apply," Lolo said. "We are not going to accept a neoliberal
policy, as it has been applied in other countries."
Meanwhile Camille Chalmers of the Haitian Platform to Defend an
Alternative Development (PAPDA), an anti-neoliberal watchdog
group affiliated with Jubilee 2000, has branded Aristide's "third
way" economic formula -- "Advantage for the Public Sector,
Advantage for the Private Sector" -- as a "neoliberal plan which
will not improve the population's living conditions." Chalmers
was formerly Aristide's chief of protocol in 1994.
Even more judicious was the declaration of former anti-neoliberal
deputy Joseph Jasmin, who today is a leader in the Korega-Escamp
alliance. "The Lavalas Family needs to remain in power," Jasmin
explained. "[Imperialism] says to you, if you want to remain in
power, here is the accord you are going to apply for me. And this
accord in the medium-term will bring, well, the political death
of the Lavalas Family. In light of the fact that the different
points of this [eight point] accord synthesize American
interests, the government that [Aristide] has just formed is a
government totally submissive to the interests of imperialism, to
the interests of the 'international community.' As a consequence,
he will not be able to defend in any way the sovereignty of the
country, and he will not be able to defend in any way the
interests of the popular masses who are so waiting for their
problems to be solved."
HAITIAN GOVERNMENT DENIES REPATRIATION ACCORD
Since the revelation of the eight-point accord between Aristide
and Clinton two months ago, right-wing opposition groups,
particularly in Miami, have been trying to sow panic in the
Haitian community by charging that Aristide has signed an
agreement to round up and ship back to Haiti all Haitians in the
U.S. without green cards.
Indeed, article eight of the accord states that the U.S. and
Haitian goverments will "[n]egotiate agreement for repatriation
of illegal migrants."
But in a Mar. 6 press release, Ira Kurzban, general counsel for
the Haitian government to the U.S., sought to allay community
"There has been substantial confusion over President Aristide's
pledge to negotiate an agreement for the repatriation of illegal
migrants," the release states. "Some members of the international
community and Haitians in the Tenth Department are under the
mistaken impression that the Government of Haiti has already
entered into an agreement for the repatriation of Haitian
citizens. This is not so. No agreement to repatriate Haitian
citizens has been made by the government of Haiti.
"Any agreement over repatriation will undoubtedly involve other
immigration issues including the treatment and manner of return
of Haitian citizens who were convicted of crimes in the United
States and the treatment of Haitians who are repatriated
generally. Because the eight point pledge calls for negotiations
over such an agreement that will likely involve other immigration
issues including the method of repatriation of persons with
criminal records, no agreement has been reached to date. In fact,
negotiations over such an agreement have not yet begun as other
issues, such as the formation of the government that will conduct
the negotiations, have been a priority."
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.