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7530: Morse replies to Cooke
>From Richard Morse
Dear Ms Cooke,
I first heard of Manno Charlmagne because of a popular song he had back in
1986 ("Michelle Bennet I am sorry for you" etc). My first real contact
Manno was through an intermediary. A friend of mine had brought Ramsey
to Haiti to help negotiate Manno's departure from a foreign embassy where
was staying to avoid persecution from the Haitian military. Mr Clarke came
me and said he needed three thousand dollars, U.S., cash, to make a payoff
the airport to guarantee safe passage for Manno. I provided that money and
was later repaid.
This same friend eventually provided a room for Manno (the musician) at my
hotel after the return of Aristide and the demise of the Haitian army.
Manno became a politician, my friend no longer financed his hotel room.
responsibility had shifted to Manno. Manno's first days as Mayor of
Port-au-Prince were hectic because the Hotel de Ville had been stripped of
furnishings, phones, computers, etc., by the previous mayor. I provided a
place for Manno to get untracked in his first few weeks as mayor. Phones,
administrators, meeting rooms, a car, cash advances, etc. were provided
of charge. I did this without any consideration of payment or political
favors. Just a helping hand during a new period in Haitian history. Some
my friends were nervous about this sudden affiliation (I still didn't
know Manno very well) because Manno's idea of cleaning the streets of
Port-au-Prince was to go around with his thugs and beat up and threaten
marchands. You do remember that, don't you Ms Cooke? As his hotel room and
food bill began to mount a tension began to develop between us. Many of my
guests were concerned with all the weapons that were coming in and out of
Oloffson so indiscriminately. Eventually the real Hotel de Ville became
functional and he moved out of my hotel. I never asked him for any favors.
Didn't want any. Eventually he paid his room and food bill. He often
to have me go out for carnival ('97), sometimes he would do it over the
airwaves, but when I actually started building our carnaval float, he sent
his armed thugs and had us take it apart. In the meantime, Manno came out
publicly and said I owed over a million dollars in taxes!
The tension between us grew to the point that I felt my life was in
mediator came and brokered a settlement between me and DGI (taxation) for
considerably less than a million dollars. I kept telling the mediator over
and over that I shouldn't be paying taxes to a government that is
my life. In the meantime President Preval came over to visit with his wife
and the chief of police and told me I should perform during the upcoming
carnaval('98). I said its not a good idea. They insisted. I knew they were
putting my life in danger and I told them so. I told the mediator, after
paying half of the tax settlement, that they were going to try and kill me
during carnaval. I called the American Embassy and told them the same
Interestingly enough, after carnaval, many dead, including my chief of
security, THE MEDIATOR NEVER CAME BACK FOR THE BALANCE OF THE TAX PAYMENT.
knew what had happened.
I ran into President Aristide at the funeral of president Preval's father
('99). He shook my hand and said he was going to make sure I came to see
at Tabarre. When I went with my wife, he said I should ask him for favors
that way he could ask me for favors in return. I was offended, left, and
never asked him for anything.
I don't sing songs or do things in exchange for political favors. I do
do when I believe its the right thing to do.
I am an entrepeneur, don't get me wrong, but I didn't sing "Fey" and put
family and musicians in danger, thinking I was going to cash in when
came back from exile.
I was in Petionville one night and this dirty little street kid came up to
"Si se lwa achte ou te ginyin, ou tap mourri sou cha'a"
I employ about fifty people. I've survived coups, embargos, blackouts, no
phones, no roads, no infrastructure and all kinds of other things you
couldn't imagine. The fact that I like to go barefoot and wear ten dollar
MacCann sandals probably helps me make it through tough economic times.
get me wrong, I did buy a nice four by four for my wife, which is
for scouting trips in the provinces.
Lavalas is trying to present itself as the hope of the people, but thats
marketing. Thats not what they're about. They're trying to usurp power and
major financial dealings. They're trying to circumvent the balances of
provided by the constitution, not to build schools and provide jobs but to
amass personal wealth. Local news organizations are still concerned about
reporting the news in Haiti seven years after the return of Aristide.
is much self censorship in Haiti. An investigation into the Jean Dominique
assasination will be good for the country. Accountability.
I hope this helps you understand me a bit better, Ms Cooke,