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8692: Ira Kurzban, Esq. (GOH's counsel) responds to Canadian policy , paper (fwd)

From: MKarshan@aol.com

GOH's counsel, Ira Kurzban, addresses the Canadian Foundation for the 
Americas regarding the inaccuracies contained in their recent policy paper on 

Mr. Jose Zaragoza
Policy Analyst
Canadian Foundation for the Americas
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 720
Ottawa, Ontario
KIN 7B& Canada

    Re: Your Analysis Regarding Haiti After the 2000 Elections

Dear Mr. Zaragoza:

        For over a decade, I have represented the Republic of Haiti in the 
United States. As Counsel for the Government, I have worked closely with 
Presidents Aristide and Preval as well as many United States government 
officials. In the course of my representation, I have tried to discuss issues 
concerning Haiti on a factual basis and to parse truth from fiction. 
Unfortunately, truth seems to be a fleeting concept in the reporting or 
analysis of Haiti. Misinformation or more appropriately disinformation rules 
the day. Sadly, your analysis is simply more of the same. I often wonder, 
quite frankly, if people can simply repeat untruths with impunity because 
Haiti is a nation of Black people or because it is a nation of poor and on an 
international scale powerless people. In any event, I will once again try to 
rationally discuss the numerous errors in your article. They are as follows:

1.  Your claim that drug trafficking has increased in Haiti is simply false. 
most recent reports (none of which are particularly sympathetic to Haiti) 
from the DEA indicate that drug trafficking has substantially decreased  in 
Haiti over the past year. The rate of cocaine reaching the US the last year 
according to the DEA decreased from 13% to 8%. 
2.  Your claim that 1/3 of the 43% of drugs going through the Caribbean to 
America goes through Haiti is also false. This would mean that 14+% would go 
through Haiti. No organization has ever suggested this number and you do not 
cite to any source. 

3.  You state that President Preval dissolved the Parliament. Although this
statement is often repeated in the press even United States government 
officials will candidly acknowledge that the terms of the parliamentarians 
ended on January 11, 1999 and that under Haiti's constitution the President 
did not have the right to tell them to continue in office. I strongly advise 
you to consult the Haitian constitution before making such accusations. 

4.  You state in your article that the CEP reported that there was over a 60% 
turnout in the Presidential election but that "foreign journalists and 
diplomats estimated a participation rate of no more than 10%" and  
"opposition groups" claim it was between 20% and 5%.  It may be one thing for 
journalists to repeat these wild claims, but you are putting yourself forth 
as an analyst. In your analysis we are never told who these foreign 
diplomats, journalists or opposition groups are, what they observed, where 
they observed it, whether they were in the countryside or went to two polling 
places in Port au Prince.  Unfortunately, your analysis ignores three very 
important pieces of data. First, there were independent Haitian observers 
throughout Haiti that agreed with the CEP. The national peasant organization 
KOZEPEP deployed 5,842 observers nationwide on November 26, 2000. They 
reported that voter participation was between 60% and 65%. Second, there was 
an international team of observers, the International Coalition of 
Independent Observers, that wrote a detailed report based on their 
observations in all nine departments within Haiti. Their report found that 
the average voter turnout was approximately 60%.  Third, you ignored the 
Gallup Poll data taken by US AID that indicates that three weeks before the 
Presidential election over 80% of the voting public in Haiti said they were 
likely or very likely to vote in the Presidential election. I am attaching to 
this letter some parts of the US AID sponsored Gallup Poll that US officials 
have sought to bury because it contradicts many of the notions that they and 
you advance here.

5.  Your analysis also provides a distorted and highly biased view of the May 
2000 elections. Those elections were not about 10 senate seats. You article 
fails to mention that there were approximately 30,000 candidates running for 
7,500 positions in the May 21, 2000 election. No one (except Convergence) 
seriously contests the accuracy and validity of 7,492 of those elections. 
Don't you think that your analysis would have been more complete had you 
given the reader a better understanding of what occurred in the May elections?
6.  Perhaps the greatest disservice your article performs is the inaccurate 
way in
which you present the Democratic Convergence.  I have known some members of 
the Democratic Convergence for many years. Indeed, I represented most of the 
leadership of the Convergence in their lawsuit against Prosper Avril for 
torturing them. Thus, my comments are not directed toward any Convergence 
members because of my personal dislike for them. Your article starts and ends 
on the false premise that Democratic Convergence is a serious opposition in 
Haiti. To reach this claim you make the following "factual" assertions: (1) 
Democractic Convergence "includes 15 of the principal opposition parties in 
Haiti;" (2) that it arose because "the lack of flexibility of the Lavalas 
Family inspired a number of opposition groups to unite under the banner of 
Democratic Convergence;" (3) that it has "new found strength and structure" 
and (4) that an end to the political crisis can only come when "these two 
forces (Lavalas and Convergence) reach an agreement."  The facts are these: 
(1) Convergence has virtually no support within Haiti. The Gallup Poll 
accurately describes the members of Convergence. When asked the question as 
to what leader the Haitian people trust no member of Democratic Convergence 
received more than 3.8% of the vote.  The Gallup Poll further indicates that 
over 75% of the Haitian people support and would join Fanmi Lavalas. The 
simple fact is that Democractic Convergence did not arise because of Lavalas 
inflexibility.  Rather, Democractic Convergence was created  through 
financial assistance by the United States government given to the 
International Republican Institute. The United States Congress during 
President Preval's term passed legislation that granted USAID $3,000,000 to 
"create" (not simply help) political parties in Haiti. This money was 
primarily funneled through IRI which was the major sponsor of Convergence.  
The problem with this strategy was that it was a dismal failure. In the May 
2000 elections Lavalas sweep into power in all the local, departmental and 
national elections that you failed to discuss. Having lost at the ballot box, 
Convergence with the assistance of the U.S. and its considerable pressure on 
the international community is now trying to force the current government to 
"share power" with the "opposition."  The violent demonstrations that you 
mention in your article are not random. They are the response of people in 
Haiti who know that the democratic process is being stolen from them. They 
went to the polls. They voted overwhelmingly for Lavalas and now they are 
told that a group of people who have virtually no support in the country but 
are financially supported by the IRI and others have a veto over the 
government and their lives. You recognize that Convergence has held up the 
process yet you ignore the terrible human consequences of their actions that 
include blocking a $22.5 million dollar health project that should have gone 
into effect to lower infant mortality and juvenile deaths in Haiti. You also 
fall into the same trap of most journalists by posing  Lavalas on one side 
and Convergence on the other as if they were the Democrat and Republic 
parties in the US or the Liberal and Conservative parties in Canada. 
Convergence is the equivalent of the Libertarian Party or the Communist Party 
in the U.S. telling the Bush administration that it has to share power and 
redo all the elections or they will veto the federal budget. No sane 
government would accept such conditions from people who represent such a 
small minority. Indeed, no US President has ever agreed to share power with 
the opposition that he beat at the polls. 

    In the end, the current Haitian government may be forced by the 
International community, led by the United States, to abandon democratic 
elections because the U.S. did not like the result. But as an analyst you 
should at least have a clear picture of what is really going on in Haiti. The 
Haitian people understand and they are angry. 


Ira J. Kurzban, Esq.

Cc: Gerd Schonwalder
       Donald R. Mackey