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8107: Background: Who is Prosper Avril? (fwd)
From: Max Blanchet <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Release: May 29, 2001
BACKGROUND: WHO IS PROSPER AVRIL?
Since the arrest on Saturday of the former dictator Prosper Avril the
Associated Press and Reuters News Service have characterized Avril as a
"former president" and activist who staged military coups to advance
democracy. However, the following sources have documented otherwise:
Silencing the Guns in Haiti, The Promise of Deliberative Democracy by Irwin
P. Stotzky; The Rainy Season by Amy Wilentz; Written in Blood, Revised and
Expanded by Michael Heinl; Haiti in the New World Order by Alex Dupuy;
States District Court judgment, and other combined sources.
An Overview of Prosper Avril
1961-1971: Graduated valedictorian from Haiti's Military Academy in the
class to graduate before Francois Duvalier closed the school because it was
hotbed of sedition. Avril took training courses sponsored by the U.S. Naval
Mission before Duvalier shut that down and Avril traveled several times to
the Marine Corps Officers School in Quanticao, Virginia. Avril joined the
Presidential Guard in 1969 and Papa Doc nicknamed Avril the "intelligent
Prosper Avril." In 1971 Avril profited from the shift of power from
to Jean-Claude Duvalier and from weapons procurement and other programs in
the 70s (he was later offered asylum by the Israeli government) and was
entrusted by the Duvaliers as their "bagman" with management of much of
overseas portfolio. He was "the only person other than the Duvaliers
themselves with signature authority over their foreign accounts."
1986: After the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier, a provisional government
called the CNG, was formed to run the country and was composed of Col.
Prosper Avril, attorney Gerard Gourgue, Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, Col. Williams
Regala, Col. Max Valles, Engineer Alix Cineas. Avril announced during the
CNG that the dreaded macoutes would be incorporated in the army. Avril was
eventually asked to resign the CNG because of popular protest but remained
Chief of Staff of the Army.
1988: President Manigat transferred Avril to the South. Avril subsequently
organized a military coup d'etat which threw out Manigat. Namphy returned as
de facto head of state with Avril promoted to general. A week after Avril
visited Washington D.C. a coup was orchestrated to put Namphy out of power.
Avril then led a military coup d'etat against Namphy putting himself in as
facto president. The New York Times wrote that Avril, "has continued to
assurances that his objectives are in line with those of the United States."
1989: De facto president Avril ordered the arrest, illegal detention and
torture of Evans Paul, Serges Gilles, Marino Etienne, Gerard Laforest,
Gerald Brun and Jean Auguste Mesyeux. Avril proudly displayed the bloodied
victims on national television. In a different matter while de facto
president, Avril once ordered that his opponents' headquarters be spread
with human waste.
1990: After receiving word from the U.S. ambassador, Avril was forced to
resign and was flown to Florida by the US government when his regime was
undermined by a rising tide of pro-democracy grassroots mobilization.
1991: The Center for Constitutional Rights, together with other attorneys,
filed a complaint on behalf of Avril's torture victims in the United States
Southern District Court. All six plaintiffs filed extensive documentary
evidence in support of their claims for damages, including affidavits and
medical records. The declarations of three experts were presented, including
the exiled Chief Justice of the Haitian Supreme Court, an expert on the
command structure of the Haitian military and police, and an expert on the
human rights situation in Haiti. Oral testimony presented at the hearing
included the testimony of plaintiff Fernand Gerard Laforest and human rights
expert William G. O'Neil of the International Lawyers Committee for Human
Rights. The court findings stated that, "As a result of the torture and
detention, plaintiffs suffered extensive physical, psychological, and
consequential damages." Guy Malary, the attorney who became Minister of
Justice for the Aristide government during the coup d'etat assisted in the
preparation of the litigation against Avril. Malary was later assassinated
during this same time period. Some of the individuals implicated in the case
held positions in the Haitian military and security forces during the
coup regime period.)
1994: A final judgment in the amount of $41 million was issued against
Prosper Avril in the suit brought on behalf of his torture victims. The
found that Avril had "personal responsibility for a systematic pattern of
egregious human rights abuses" during his tenure as dictator, as well as for
the "interrogation and torture of each of the plaintiffs in [the] case."
Meanwhile, the U.S. government, a couple of days following the judgment,
helped Avril sell his luxurious home in Boca Raton and he fled the U.S.
moving through several countries trying to find haven before returning to
1995: During President Aristide's term following his return to Haiti, the
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher sent the U.S. ambassador in
William Swing, a confidential memorandum detailing intelligence reports that
the Red Star Organization, under the leadership of former military dictator
Prosper Avril "is planning [a] harassment and assassination campaign
at the Lavalas Party and Aristide supporters. The campaign is scheduled to
commence in early December 1995." Information available suggested that
continued to meet with right-wing supporters to expand his political base.
For reasons that remain unclear, the United States did not share this
information with the Haitian government. During the same time frame
President Aristide's cousin, Deputy Jean-Hubert Feuille, was assassinated in
a well orchestrated daytime attack after leaving the inauguration of the new
prime minister. Intelligence information led to Avril and his arrest was
The National Police with judicial order in hand went to search Avril's
President Aristide ordered the execution of the warrant but the US Embassy
intercepted his short wave radio communications to the police to argue
against executing the order for Avril's arrest. During the delay, Avril fled
taking refuge in the Colombian Embassy having been apparently tipped off in
advance. It was established that a U.S. Embassy political officer had gone
to Avril's home just hours before the National Police were to arrive. The
U.S. official later claimed that his visit was in line with U.S. policy to
maintain "contact with a broad spectrum of Haitian society." In the course
of searching his home police did find arms and ammunition.
The irony is that at this time Avril was a fugitive of justice from the U.S.
Avril remained in the Colombian Embassy until he could slip out of the
country (he is known to have prospered in illicit drug trade and have strong
personal contacts with Colombian drug lords).
August 1996: Under President Preval there was strong evidence of plots by
disgruntled, right-wing military Duvalierists to assassinate Preval and
Aristide. The US eventually sent back troops and placed them in close
proximity to the president to prevent any assassination attempts. After
several new police were assassinated along with numerous acts of
destabilization, the police arrested a group of former military members of
the right wing party of Hubert de Ronceray, who is an ally of Prosper Avril.
Carloads of heavily armed men wearing military fatigues attacked the
Port-au-Prince police headquarters, fired a grenade into the legislative
building, shot at the residence of the UN peace-keeping mission in Petit
Goave, shot at the National Palace and shot at a police substation in Petit
Goave. Later gunmen attacked the national television station and
received death threats, including Jean Dominique.
2001: The Washington Post reveals that the Convergence was formed as a broad
group with help from the International Republican Institute, an organization
that promotes democracy that is closely identified with the U.S. Republican
Party. It explained that the Convergence "...also includes former backers
Duvalier family dictatorship and of the military officers who overthrew
Aristide in 1991 and terrorized the country for three years." The
Post wrote that one of the members of the Convergence freely expressed their
desire to see the U.S. military intervene once again, this time to get rid
Aristide and rebuild the disbanded Haitian army. 'That would be the cleanest
solution,' said one opposition party leader. Failing that, they say, the CIA
should train and equip Haitian officers exiled in the neighboring Dominican
Republic so they could stage a comeback themselves." On Feb. 7th, the same
day as the inauguration of Haiti's new president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
Convergence "inaugurates" their "provisional president," Gerald Gourgue, who
calls for the return of the army in his inaugural speech.
In March conflict between protesters and those in the Convergence
headquarters results in shots being fired from the Convergence house out
the crowd of police and protesters resulting in the fatal wounding of a
activist. Television cameras capture the entire incident which reveals
dozens of former army soldiers in the Convergence house who are holding
shotguns and can be seen shooting at the unarmed protesters and police in
In May Prosper Avril, who heads the CREDO political party, appears at a
highly publicized meeting of the Convergence to demonstrate his support for
their "option zero" strategy, which using paralysis and destabilization to
block the government of President Aristide with the goal of overthrowing
Avril's presence at the meeting reinforced the Convergence's call for the
return of the brutal military. Evans Paul and Serge Gilles, both of the
Convergence, and who were the plaintiffs in the suit against Avril for
torture are now publicly seen working in collaboration with Avril. Evens
Paul was awarded $2.5 million in the judgment against Avril and Serge Gilles
was awarded $3 million, both of which have not been collected on to date.
However, the union between the Convergence and Avril creates speculation
they may have been privately compensated.
On May 26 the National Police execute an arrest warrant for Avril during a
public event placing him in a cell at the Petionville Police station. Avril
is brought to court within the proscribed time frame as mandated by Haitian
law to be formally charged by a judge. The Convergence conditions any
negotiations to resolve the political crisis on the release of Avril from
jail. The OAS/CARICOM delegation arrives in Haiti to once again face the
intransigency of the Convergence in the negotiation process. In a letter
published in the Nouvelliste the family of Prosper Avril protest his arrest
and ironically categorize the conditions of his detention as "revolting and
In this present time period none of the truths documented in these respected
historical academic and human rights writings have been reflected in the
coverage of the mainstream media.
This chronology only reflects highlights of Avril's background and is in no
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