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8525: This Week in Haiti 19:15 6/27/2001 (fwd)

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                           HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                     June 27 - July 3, 2001
                          Vol. 19, No. 15


Deadlines have generally proven to be pretty ephemeral over the
past decade of political crises in Haiti, and that of June 25,
2001 was no exception to the rule.

It was the date by which President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
promised the Organization of American States (OAS) he would
appoint a new Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to organize
elections for 7 Senate seats voluntarily vacated earlier this
month by Aristide's party, the Lavalas Family (FL) (see Haïti
Progrès, Vol. 19, No. 12, 6/6/2001). The gesture was part of a
package of concessions Aristide proposed to the OAS to unblock
Haiti's political deadlock and frozen aid.

On June 25, the government claimed that it had all candidates for
the 9-member council lined up except for one, which was of course
the most important: that of the Democratic Convergence (CD)
opposition front.

The CD objected among other things to the formula allowing the
executive, judiciary, and the legislature to each name members to
the new CEP. Since all three government branches are FL
controlled, this would allow the body to be stacked with pro-
Aristide members, the CD argued.

The CD, in truth, was never favorably disposed towards the OAS
deal. Ever since the OAS General Assembly in San José, Costa Rica
passed a resolution Jun. 5 supporting Aristide's concessions of
forming a new CEP and holding new elections, the CD has denounced
the plan as "a snake we will not swallow."

In an attempt to get the CD on board before the deadline, OAS
Secretary General César Gaviria arrived in Haiti on Jun. 24 with
his deputy SG, Luigi Einaudi, and new OAS Haiti specialist,
Sergio Romero Cuevas, as well as Albert Ramdin from CARICOM. But
the delegation failed to budge the CD, which refused to name
their representative to the new CEP.

At the last minute on Jun. 25, Gaviria produced a letter asking
Aristide to extend the deadline to Jul. 1. "This short delay
should facilitate fuller consultations in which the OAS/CARICOM
mission will continue to act as mediator," the letter read.

Despite the delay, there are growing signs of dissension among
the 15 tiny groups which make up the CD. The neo-Duvalierist
components, such as the MRN of Hubert Deronceray, the RDNP of
Leslie Manigat, and ALAH of Reynold Georges, favor the hard-line
"zero option," whereby the entire Lavalas government, from
Aristide on down to the lowliest rural councilperson, would be
removed and new elections held by a "provisional government." In
fact, they are holding out for another coup d'état, which could
only be accomplished with foreign support, of which they have
plenty, and possibly another foreign military intervention.

The CD's social democratic currents, however, like the KONAKOM of
Micha Gaillard and Victor Benoit and the OPL of Gérard Pierre-
Charles and Paul Denis, appear to be ready to abandon the "zero
option," which they previously espoused, in favor of trying to
carry out an "electoral coup d'état," meaning elections under
complete foreign control.

An "electoral coup d'état" attempted on May 21, 2000 was
unsuccessful when the Haitian people defeated attempts to
marginalize their vote. That is why Washington and the OAS have
been making a fuss about those elections ever since they were
swept by the FL. More than likely, in the coming week the OAS
will try to give guarantees to the CD, and wring more concessions
from the FL, so that a new "electoral coup d'état" can be
attempted and, this time, successfully carried out.

"Mr. Gaviria has come, and we are going to discuss with him,"
Pierre-Charles explained, despite the protests of Manigat's RDNP,
which pulled out of negotiations. "As we have said before, we
were not agreed with the San José resolution, but since it is
already done..."

Pierre-Charles also clearly hopes that there will be more
concessions, saying "the accord is not made of marble."

The question remains: where does Washington stand? Does it back
the OAS/CARICOM initiative? Clearly, some Washington Republicans
are more partial to the "zero option" than the "electoral coup
d'état." But one does not preclude the other, and they may be
giving Aristide plenty of rope to hang himself. Although he is
clamoring to do their bidding, it is unlikely Washington
strategists will ever fully trust him because he has double-
crossed them in the past and has a strong base in the Haitian
masses. But, already, the former firebrand priest has lost much
of his political credibility by integrating Duvalierists into key
government posts and preparing to embrace Washington's neoliberal
economic plan.

Despite all these concessions, the U.S. and European Union, the
key players in the consortium of Haiti's "friends," have not let
up on the economic pressure. The government is still forced to
pay interest  -- over $4 million monthly -- on some loans which
have been "granted" but not "released." Meanwhile food and
housing costs are soaring, as an already dire economic scenario

"The governor of the Central Bank, Fritz Jean, confirmed on
Monday that the persistence of the political crisis is
accelerating the aggravation of the country's economic
situation," the Haitian Press Association reported.

"The Central Bank is putting the entire financial system in
danger," cried Radio Metropole's resident economist Kesner
Pharel. "It is asphyxiating the Haitian economy" by maintaining
too lax a monetary policy which is fueling inflation. The
government is engaged in wholesale deficit spending, Pharel said,
having already spent 1.4 billon gourdes ($56 million) financing
the deficit in the first six months of the Oct. 2000 to Sep. 2001
fiscal year, while only 1.2 billion gourdes ($48 million) was
budgeted for the entire year.

The economic crunch has of course brought its usual hand-maiden:
increased crime. The population has long called for more
effective police action and speedier court judgements against
zenglendos (violent criminals). But in a move which might make a
bad situation worse, Aristide appeared this week to endorse
summary executions of zenglendos caught red-handed. "If it's a
zenglendo, zero tolerance," Aristide said in a speech at Haitian
National Police (PNH) headquarters. "If a zenglendo stops a car
in the street, puts his hand on the key to make the driver get
out so he can take the car, he is guilty, because the car is not
his. You do not need to lead him to the court to have him judged
because the car is not his... he is guilty. If a criminal grabs
someone in the street by the collar and puts him on the ground to
beat him or shoot him, [the police] do not need to wait to go to
court with him to prevent him from doing that."

Human rights groups reacted to the statement with dismay. "We
can't believe that such a declaration was made by a chief of
state, who should measure everything he says," said Serge
Bordenave of the Human Rights Platform, "because we don't think
that summary executions are going to fix things in our society."
Crime is rooted in problems of continuing impunity, unemployment,
and political intrigue, he said.

Pierre Esperance of the National Coalition of Haitian Rights also
warned that the directive could spawn not just summary executions
but also "acts of personal vengeance" and "political

"How will you know when they execute somebody during an arrest as
a  zenglendo if that person really was a zenglendo?" Esperance

A host of FL deputies and spin-masters undertook damage control
after the statement, arguing, like spokesman Jacques Ambroise,
that Aristide meant that the police did not need to wait for a
"juge de paix" (justice of the peace) to get an arrest warrant.
"He was saying that if you catch someone in the act of committing
a crime, you don't have to go get a warrant before arresting him,
you can arrest him on the spot," Ambroise deadpanned.

Despite the tough talk about zenglendos, impunity remains
entrenched. For example, Commerce Minister Stanley Théard remains
in his post despite revelations last month that he was indicted
in 1986 for embezzling $4.5 million from the Haitian treasury.
The association of parents of over 200 children killed by
poisonous medicine distributed by the Pharval Laboratories of
businessman Reginald Boulos called on the government to be
consistent in its application of "zero tolerance."

"If there is going to be zero tolerance for street thieves,
that's fine," said one parent, "but there also has to be zero
tolerance to uproot thieves in the state apparatus, to find
justice for the victims of Pharval, and to condemn those
responsible for the killing of Jean Dominique."

Indeed the case surrounding the Apr. 3, 2000 murder of Radio
Haïti Inter director Jean Dominique has become one of Haiti's
most explosive issues, embroiling the prominent FL Senator Dany
Toussaint and spotlighting the strange conduct of Justice
Minister Gary Lissade. We will return to for a look at this
dossier next week.

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