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7859: This Week in Haiti 19:8 5/9/2001 (fwd)

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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                           HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                         May 9 - 15, 2001
                          Vol. 19, No. 8


In this week's episode: President Jean-Bertrand Aristide invites
Haiti's opposition front, the Democratic Convergence (CD), and
others to meet at the National Palace on May 3. Although non-CD
right-wing politicians and businessmen show up, the CD does not,
saying that the Palace is not "neutral." So Aristide proposes to
meet across the street from the state-run Palace at the Museum of
the National Pantheon (MUPANAH) at 8 a.m. on May 9, the very day
that Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General
César Gaviria is scheduled to arrive in Haiti to broker a deal
between the two antagonists. But at the last minute on May 8, the
CD says that the MUPANAH is not "neutral" enough. Also Gaviria
cancels his delegation's visit and sets no new date.

Hear Evans Paul, one of the CD's leaders say: "Neutral ground
can't be chosen by just one of the parties... Mr. Aristide
together with the facilitators, meaning the civil society and the
OAS, along with the Convergence must all agree on what is neutral

Hear Paul Antoine, coordinator of the Presidential Press Office,
respond: "To the great surprise of all sectors, the Convergence
has categorically refused to participate in this [May 9] meeting.
This refusal shows once again the Convergence's intransigence and
this sector's absence of will to have Haiti escape from this
crisis which has already lasted too long."

Hear Aristide's Lavalas Family party (FL) spokesman Jonas Petit
quip: "The Convergence lives off the crisis. Asking it to leave
it is like asking a fish to leave water."

Stay tuned for next week's episode...

In a May 8 press conference, Ben Dupuy of the National Popular
Party (PPN) said that Haiti's "so-called crisis, which many
people including ourselves call a false crisis, a synthetic
crisis, seems more like a soap opera or what we might call a
television series."

First Dupuy questioned what representatives of "civil society,"
the supposedly "impartial" mediators, are doing on the set. "We
don't know who gave these so-called representatives of the 'civil
society' their mandate," Dupuy said. "Was it in an election? Were
they democratically chosen to represent what they call the 'civil
society'? Or is it people who have parachuted themselves in as
representatives of the so-called 'civil society'"?

He went on to point out that these representatives are mostly
businessmen led by the U.S. State Department-supported business
association CLED (Center for Free Enterprise and Democracy). The
essence of CLED's proposal is to annul the results of May 21
nationwide parliamentary and municipal elections in which 7,633
posts were filled mostly by FL candidates.

Dupuy called the proposed annullment ridiculous, noting that even
the head of the OAS election observation mission, Orlando
Marville, had pronounced the May 21 elections "acceptable" and
"credible" the day after they were held. (Not until a week later
did Marville raise a beef: the calculation method used to
determine the winners of 10 Senate seats.)

In essence, Dupuy said, the "crisis" is just a power struggle
between the Convergence and Lavalas Family, which increasingly
resemble each other. "Both have the same boss," Dupuy said
referring to Washington. "Both are agreed to apply the death
plan, the neoliberal plan."

As for the power struggle,  "it is not just for political power,"
Dupuy said. "As we know in Haiti's case, political power means
enrichment. We see a lot of people come into politics without a
penny and then - presto - they are building big houses, they have
big institutions."

Dupuy pointed out that corruption was being tolerated if not
embraced. Haïti Progrès recently revealed that Commerce Minister
Stanley Théard, who held the same post under Duvalier, was
indicted in 1986 for embezzling $4.5 million from the Haitian
treasury in the early 1980s. Aristide's government, which once
touted "justice" as one of its principles, has not even commented
on the scandal.

"In the Philippines, a president recently lost his job because he
embezzled $6 million," Dupuy said. "It seems that if those
Philippino politicians want to make money, they would be better
off doing politics in Haiti."

While many sincere local elected officials are seeing their posts
about to be bargained away, others are being pushed aside as the
old regime elbows its way into the new. "We see that more and
more those who struggled for the ideals of [Aristide's first
election on] Dec. 16, 1990 - Justice, Transparency, and
Participation - are increasingly sidelined and replaced by
Duvalierists and Tonton Macoutes," Dupuy said.

Dupuy also noted the rise in recent days of the "kagoula" -
masked criminals. This week some kagoula kidnapped Senegalese
journalist Abdoulay Gedewenge, who was following the
investigation of the murder of journalist Jean Dominique last
year. Claudy Gassant, the investigating judge in the Dominique
case, has also been abandoned by the police who were guarding
him. On May 8, he announced the news on the airwaves of  Radio
Haiti, the station Dominique founded, and threatened to quit the

"We think that the real crisis in Haiti is a social crisis,"
Dupuy said, "a structural crisis which has been with us for about
200 years where there is a small elite which exploits the vast
majority of the people and is leading the country into a
veritable catastrophe today." Unfortunately, "the fundamental
problems facing the country are not on the table," Dupuy said.
"They are all just focussed on dividing up the cake."

Dupuy assured the Haitian people that the PPN "did not struggle
to make Dec. 16, 1990 a reality so that we could return to the
same nonsense." The PPN "has always remained true to its word,
has always stood by principle, and has never mixed in the
disgusting business of back-stabbing." Dupuy assured the people
that the PPN would "continue to march with the masses" to mount a
true alternative and opposition to this "scuffle to divvy up
power, to put their hands in the state coffers, and to fix their
business on the backs of the people."

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