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8033: This Week in Haiti 19:10 5/23/2001 (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 23 - 29, 2001
                          Vol. 19, No. 10


United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan lent tacit support to
Haiti's Democratic Convergence (CD) opposition front this week in
a report to the U.N. General Assembly, released May 21.

In the agnostic, innuendo-laden language so favored by U.N.
diplomats, Annan portrayed the CD as legitimate and
representative and encouraged internationally-mediated
negotiations between it and the Haitian government. But it is
evident to the vast majority of Haitians (and even the most
casual observer) that the CD is nothing more than a tool of
Washington to politically destabilize Haiti and prod President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas Family party (FL) to the

Throughout the report, Annan portrays the Haitian government's
timid responses to CD provocations as "intimidation" while
calling the CD's seditious and illegal declaration of a "parallel
government" last February merely "questionable."

Meanwhile, presidential and senate elections held on Nov. 26,
2000 "generated little public interest," according to Annan, even
though the sole monitoring bodies, the 25-member International
Coalition of Independent Observers (ICIO) and a national observer
group, concurred with the 60.5% turnout figure of Haiti's
Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). Annan favored the assessment
of a 4-member CARICOM team and "local and international news
media" (which mostly took its information from the CD) which set
participation between 10% and 20%. Annan echoes the charge of
"Haiti's main international partners" (i.e., the U.S. and France)
that last year's elections were held "without a credible,
independent electoral council."

Annan claims that then President René Préval and Prime Minister
Jacques Edouard Alexis made "implicitly threatening statements"
in the face of terrorizing and destabilizing bombing campaigns
and the CD's "parallel government," when in fact the Haitian
government was chided by those which elected it for not acting
more forcefully against terrorists and the destabilizers.

"I find it regrettable that various opportunities to reach a
political compromise that existed before the elections were not
seized and that impediments to the resumption of much-needed
international assistance remained in place," Annan concluded. The
assumption underlying Annan's whole 10-page report is that a
"political compromise" must be reached with an artificial
"opposition front" which has no popular support and remains alive
only through foreign backing. This is why Haitians think their
country is enduring a "false crisis."

Having shunned the National Palace and a state-run Museum, the CD
has now said that it will accept the University of Haiti as
"neutral ground" for negotiations with the FL. While the FL has
not officially responded, it is likely that stalled negotiations
will resume soon given the upcoming OAS general assembly in Costa
Rica on Jun. 3.

Meanwhile, faced with outrage from thousands of local elected
officials, Aristide sought to backtrack from some of his headlong
concessions of recent weeks. In a meeting with local officials
last week he said that the May 21, 2000 elections were not
negotiable. "We are all elected," Aristide told the gathering on
May 16 at the National Palace. "Everyone should remember to never
dare to change what the masses with their ballot have decided."

Then in a speech filled with his trademark elliptical poetry for
Haitian Flag Day, May 18, Aristide told the CD that "Haiti can
only have one democratic sun, of which we can all be rays of
peace." Nonetheless, Gérard Gourgue, the nominal president of the
CD's "parallel government," also issued a declaration asking
Haitians "to join the [CD's] provisional government to together
bring unity, reconciliation, security, and peace for this

While mainstream analysts have argued that Aristide is hardening
his position, Ben Dupuy of the National Popular Party (PPN), a
former FL ally, doesn't detect a new direction for the FL, just a
move by Aristide to appease his troops. "Aristide faced a
rebellion if he had sold out the thousands of officials elected
last May, so he had to take that concession off the table," Dupuy
said. "The point is that he should never have accepted the
Organization of American States' verdict challenging those
elections in the first place. The Constitution says the CEP is
the final arbiter, not the OAS."

More importantly, the FL shows no signs of removing Duvalierists
from key government posts nor disavowing the neoliberal agenda
being implemented by Planning Minister Marc Bazin, a former
Duvalierist Finance Minister and putschist Prime Minister.

On May 18, the PPN distributed thousands of flyers around Haiti
which denounced both the CD and the FL as two political currents
which increasingly resemble each other. "Both have agreed to
apply the neoliberal death plan which foreigners are ramming down
the Haitian people's throat and which will bring even more
hardship to the people," the flyer said. "Both have included in
their ranks soldiers, Macoutes, putschists, and elements from the
'pocket patriot' bourgeoisie." The PPN called on the people to
join with it in "continuing the fight for a true popular
alternative, for a true popular power."

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