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7478: Haiti Report for March 22, 2001 (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>

Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001
From: Haiti Reborn <haiti@quixote.org>
Subject: Haiti Report for March 22, 2001

Haiti Report for March 22, 2001
Prepared by Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center

The Haiti Report is a compilation and summary of events as described in
Haitian and international media. It does not reflect the opinions of
Haiti Reborn. This service is intended to give a better understanding of
the situation in Haiti by presenting the reader with reports that
provide a variety of perspectives on the situation.

- New CEP (Electoral Council)
- Prime Minister Cherestal and the new cabinet
- Deaths in Milot
- Former Soldiers' rally in Port-au-Prince
- Haiti's Foreign Minister at OAS
- Protests in Port-au-Prince

The New CEP:
In a concession to the Haitian opposition, President Aristide on March 2
appointed a new electoral council to replace the one accused of rigging
legislative elections last May. Aristide said the new electoral council
would organize runoffs for 10 senate seats won by candidates of his
Lavalas Family Party, but gave no date for the voting. "The opposition
and Lavalas need each other, so that democracy can flourish and bear
fruit," said Aristide. The new nine-member council includes two Aristide
supporters and no members of the 15-party opposition alliance,
Convergence. It includes former bureaucrats and four former supporters
of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. There include Volvick Remy
Joseph, a Duvalier health minister, and Duvalier's former chief of
protocol, Yves Massillon. (AP, 3/2/01)

Prime Minister Cherestal and the new Cabinet:
Legislators gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to Cherestal's
policy plan on Thursday. In the Senate, 17 voted in favor and one
abstained. In the Chamber of Deputies, the vote was unanimous. Cherestal
pledged to reduce unemployment, promote investment and bring greater
stability to Haiti. Cherestal said patching relations with foreign
donors was a priority: "We will speak to the international community and
help them understand the political situation better." (Times of India,
Haiti's new Prime Minister Jean-Marie Cherestal and his cabinet were
sworn in on Friday, March 2 and Cherestal made an immediate overture to
opposition parties to end a long-running political crisis. Cherestal,
54, who served as planning and finance minister in the 1990s and has
been Haiti's chief trade negotiator since 1998, also requested the
release of millions of dollars in foreign aid to Haiti. "I call for a
dialogue with all political sectors to definitively resolve the
political crisis," said Cherestal, who also said he would "engage in a
dialogue with foreign donors to release the frozen international
assistance." (Reuters, 3/2/01)
The new cabinet is: Foreign Affairs and Religion, Joseph Antonio;
Economy and Finances, Faubert Gustave; Interior, Henri-Claude Menard;
Justice - Gary Lissade; Trade and Industry - Stanley Theard; Plan and
External Cooperation, Marc Bazin; Public Works, Transport and
Communications, Ernst Laraque; Culture and Communication, Guy Paul;
Education, Youth and Sports, George Merisier; Haitians Living Abroad,
Lesly Voltaire; Public Health and Population, Henri-Claude Voltaire;
Social Affairs, Eudes Saint-Preux; Agriculture, Natural Resources and
Rural Development, Sebastien Hilaire; Female Condition, Ginette Lubin;
Fonciton Publique, Webster Pierre; Tourism, Martine Deverson; and Four
Secretaries of State: Literacy, Maryse Guiteau; Finance, Jocelerme
Privert; Youth and Sports, Hermann Nau; and Social Affairs, Pierre
Richard Pierre. (HPN)
The Democratic Convergence, in a statement to the press, said that
Cherestal was a de facto minister, and that he was flanked by a cabinet
of Aristidiens and some sparse representatives of Duvalierism. They also
proclaimed the formation of the new electoral council to be
anti-constitutional, illegal and illegitimate. The Convergence called
for March to be the "Month of Mobilization." (Democratic Convergence,
According to Ernst Colon, a spokesperson for the Convergence, said that
a protest march was planned in Port-au-Prince for March 15 with the
departmental representatives of the Convergence. (AHP, 3/13/01)

Deaths in Milot:
At least 38 people, most of them children, died at the end of February
in Haiti's northern province after prematurely consuming an otherwise
edible fruit. Their death was caused by eating unripened ackee, said
Health Minister Michaelle Amedee Gedeon, who expected the number would
swell when the ministry finishes its investigation. The fruit is
consumed widely in other parts of the Caribbean, but the meat that
envelopes the seeds is only edible when the 3-4 inch pods are allowed to
open naturally. Eaten prematurely it causes a drop in the level of blood
sugar that may be fatal. The victims probably ate the fruit on empty
stomachs, Gedeon said. Most of the fatalities lived in Milot, and a
similar outbreak occurred about ten years ago. (AP, 3/1/01)

Former Soldiers Rally in Port-au-Prince:
Former soldiers in Haiti have marched through the capital to demand the
restoration of the army, which was disbanded after the end of military
rule in 1994. To chants of "Long live the army," the ex-soldiers handed
in petitions at the American and French embassies, demanded the
resignation of the president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. (BBC World
Service, 3/7/01)
On Wednesday March 7, the police arrested a former corporal of the army
for having pressured a journalist at Radio Carib. The corporal,
Rockfeller maxi, threatened Obed Celine. The former soldier was upset
with the journalist reports that only a couple of hundred former
soldiers took place in the demonstration. According to AHP, between
200-300 persons had participated Tuesday in the demonstration. (AHP,

Haiti's Foreign Minister at the OAS:
Haiti's foreign minister told the Organization of American States that
his government plans to find a "definitive solution" to a political
impasse dating from senatorial elections last May. Speaking Wednesday to
the OAS permanent council, Joseph Phillippe Antonio proposed advancing
election timetables for the 19 Senate seats decided in the May 21
elections, 10 of which the opposition said were rigged, and for the
Chamber of Deputies elections as well. Hours after Antonio spoke, the
OAS approved a resolution asserting that a settlement of the dispute
over last May's elections is essential to strengthening democracy in
Haiti. Members of the opposition Convergence distributed a statement at
OAS headquarters criticizing the Haitian government approach. "The
maneuvers of Mr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide to negotiate with the
international community without the participation of major political
actors of the opposition can only complicate the crisis," the statement
said. (AP, 3/14/01)

Protests in Port-au-Prince:
It appears that fighting first broke out on Wednesday, March 14, between
members of popular organizations which support Fanmi Lavalas and the
partisans of the Convergence. Convergence members were demonstrating in
front of the offices of the OAS to call for the "zero option," which
would nullify all of the elections from the year 2000. They were also
protesting the actions of Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi. He
had stated that members of the Convergence would not be asked to address
the Permanent Council of the OAS and protesters accused him of falling
into partisan politics in the Haitian crisis. According to the American
ambassador, it is more urgent each day that political parties approach
the present crisis with an attitude of conciliation that grants priority
to the needs of people above partisan interests. (AHP, 3/19/01)
On Monday, March 19, members of popular organizations which support
Fanmi Lavalas erected burning barricades on several streets in
Port-au-Prince to denounce the actions of the Convergence in the current
political crisis. Barricades were erected in Bel Air, Carrefour,
Canape-Vert, Delmas, Turgeau and Martissant. In Pont Morin, a member of
the OPL fired shots into the air to disperse a group of demonstrators
who were throwing stones at the OPL offices. These offices are
considered the palace of the virtual president of the Convergence,
Gerard Gourgue. (AHP, 3/19/01)
In their own statement to the press, the OPL claimed that the Lavalas
protesters were attempting to repress the mobilizations planned by the
Convergence. Included in the Convergence's Month of Mobilization was a
march of 10,000 peasants in Hinche, led by Chavannes Jean-Baptiste and
the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP). (OPL, 3/19/01)
Aristide supporters called for the arrest of opposition leader Gerard
Gourgue, who was proclaimed an alternative president, private Radio
Kiskeya reported. (CANA, 3/19/01)
Opposition leaders said Aristide supporters shot at their party offices
and stoned opposition members, injuring three of them with rocks.
Aristide's government has said demonstrators who engage in violence
should be arrested. Grassroots leader Rene Civil said "illegal" acts
were being encouraged by "incendiary statements of the opposition,"
referring to Gerard Gourgue's support of the reestablishment of the
army. (AP, 3/19/01)
Prime Minister Cherestal pressed for calm on Tuesday. He urged people
"not to succumb to panic" during the second consecutive day of unrest,
while the justice and interior ministers issued a joint statement
confirming that protests were breaking out at points throughout the
capital and also in provincial towns. The demonstrators were calling for
the arrest of Gourgue. (AFP, 3/20/01)
In footage of the protest at the OPL/Convergence headquarters shown on
Haitian television, it appeared that protesters were throwing rocks at
the building from a distance. Three Aristide supporters were wounded
when someone opened fire on the crowd. (Telhaiti)
Convergence spokespeople denied that they were responsible for the
shootings which left at least two people seriously injured during
protests. They also stated that they are armed and ready to defend
themselves. The Convergence claimed on Tuesday that they were being held
hostage by popular organizations, and Ernst Colon noted that they would
be confronting problems of water and food. Members of popular
organizations and others who participated in the protest have denounced
the allegations that they were throwing "fire bombs" (as reported in
international press) or molotov cocktails at the Convergence
headquarters. (AHP, 3/20-21/01)
In a speech on March 21, President Aristide stated: "Paske nou vle lape,
nou kondane san rezev tout zak vyolans yo. Because we want peace, we
condemn without reservation all acts of violence." An AP article filed
about President Aristide's statement incorrectly reported that Aristide
did not condemn the attacks. (for Aristide's complete speech in Creole,
email haiti@quixote.org) Opposition member Gourgue also made a speech,
in which he accused the "Lavalas Regime" of intending to physically
eliminate the members of the Democratic Convergence, including himself,
the "provisional president."
President Aristide condemned without reserve the acts of violence
perpetrated in the capital, and asks political parties to continue
defending their rights peacefully and without falling into verbal or
physical violence. Aristide also asked the police "to defend the rights
of all citizens without distinction and to stop all those guilty of
using firearms." Recalling that the state doesn't tolerate those that
trample the law, Aristide invited the judicial authorities to take their
responsibility in "facing those who act as if there were two governments
in the country." (HPN, 3/22/01)

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visit our website: www.quixote.org/haiti