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8851: Fwd: Haitian Connections (fwd)

From: Dotie Joseph <dotiej@hotmail.com>

>Haitian Connections
>How Clinton's cronies cashed in on foreign policy.
>Tuesday, May 29, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDT
>One of the famous foreign policy interventions of the Clinton Presidency 
>was the controversial decision to return Jean Bertrand Aristide to power in 
>Haiti in 1994. This newspaper supported Mr. Clinton, arguing that with U.S. 
>prestige committed and with the restoration of democratic government in the 
>impoverished island as a goal, the President deserved support.
>So it is worth revisiting the status of Haiti today, especially to ask how 
>it came to pass that in the wake of this intervention, President Clinton's 
>political associates--including a former Democratic Party finance chair, a 
>former White House counselor and Joseph P. Kennedy II--ended up in 
>commercial relationships with the Aristide government's monopoly-owned 
>telephone company.
>Since 1994, both as president and later as the power broker behind the 
>presidency of René Prreview and the Lavalas Party, Mr. Aristide has ruled 
>Haiti like a mob don. He has extorted the business community, trampled on 
>the 1987 constitution and terrorized his political and economic opponents. 
>Just this past week the Coast Guard sent a ship of 121 Haitian refugees 
>back to the island. Nearly 700 have tried to escape by sea this year.
>Haiti's November 26 Presidential election, in which less than 5% of 
>Haitians voted, was a sham. Five international human rights organizations 
>released a joint statement in January denouncing the election's violent 
>political climate. Amnesty International called upon the Lavalas Party to 
>condemn acts of intimidation and violence committed in the party's name. 
>The European Union voted to withhold aid.
>In response, the Clinton Administration in January sent Anthony Lake, a 
>former Clinton national security adviser, to Port-au-Prince. He came back 
>with an eight-point agreement in which Mr. Aristide promised better 
>behavior in the future.
>The Lake agreement was one free pass too many for Mr. Aristide's battered 
>opponents (just this past Monday, a house was shot up where opposition 
>leaders were meeting, wounding three). They have grown increasingly eager 
>to tell what they know about Mr. Aristide's business activities--both now 
>and in Washington during the 1991-94 exile that followed his overthrow by 
>General Raul Cedras.
>Regarded as Haiti's legitimate president at that time, U.S. authorities 
>granted Mr. Aristide access to the country's frozen assets, most notably 
>the long distance telephone royalties due to Haitian Teleco. According to 
>Christopher Caldwell, writing in the July 1994 American Spectator, Mr. 
>Aristide "raised hackles at the Latin America division of AT&T by ordering 
>the proceeds from Haiti's international phone traffic moved to a numbered 
>Panamanian account."
>In November 1993, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Aristide was 
>paying Democratic Party operative Michael Barnes $55,000 a month to lobby 
>for U.S. action to reinstate him. With the help of U.S. troops, he returned 
>to Haiti. After regaining Haiti's presidency, the telephone monopoly 
>continued to be useful. Because Haiti is one of the top three markets in 
>the region for long distance calls from the U.S., the monopoly is a cash 
>cow. Mr. Aristide placed loyal Lavalas followers in charge of it, keeping 
>it under his control.
>According to the Federal Communications Commission, the most recent 
>officially negotiated settlement rate--the cost Teleco charges U.S. 
>carriers for handling a long distance call in Haiti--is 46 cents a minute. 
>But digital switching allows the company to charge what it wishes and to 
>terminate calls in favor of any long distance carrier that it chooses. 
>Moreover, if long distance carriers use Internet protocols to "bypass" 
>official lines, the FCC cannot count the traffic. Two different long 
>distance suppliers shopping the Haitian market have reported to us that 
>Teleco officials offered them access to the local network at rates well 
>below the official settlement rate in exchange for payment made to 
>specially designated accounts.
>Based on telecom settlement processes, a company with privileged access to 
>the network would also receive a high proportion of return traffic from 
>Haiti, also a big money maker. Says one U.S. telecom expert with knowledge 
>of Haiti's system: "The real sweetheart deals are the ones that have a 
>connection inside Teleco. Those are the deals that make people filthy 
>rich." A U.S. official specializing in international telecom says, "This is 
>exactly what we've been seeing in Haiti for years. The money doesn't go 
>anywhere that leads to a network build-out. Calls get through and someone 
>gets very rich." Despite high rates justified for the purposes of expanding 
>service, the number of phone lines serving the country remains paltry; most 
>Haitians are relegated to the use of "call centers" to make phone calls. 
>Those centers are now in the hands of Lavalas.
>The wide recognition in Haiti that such deals are available has made the 
>presence of independent U.S. long distance provider Fusion 
>Telecommunications International a topic of much discussion among the 
>Haitian business community. Fusion's board of directors reads like a who's 
>who of Democratic Party heavyweights.
>Fusion's CEO is Marvin Rosen, who was the finance chairman of the 
>Democratic National Committee during the 1996 Clinton fund-raising 
>scandals. Fusion's board of directors includes Joseph P. Kennedy II, former 
>Mississippi Governor Raymond Mabus and Bill Clinton's White House chief of 
>staff and Arkansas confidant Thomas "Mack" McLarty, now with Kissinger 
>McLarty Associates. Mr. McLarty traveled the region as the White House's 
>Special Envoy to the Americas. The Fusion board also includes Joseph R. 
>Wright, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under 
>President Reagan. Listed as chairman of the Fusion Advisory Board is former 
>President Bush's White House Chief of Staff John Sununu. Click here to view 
>a complete listing.
>Last fall, when we began to inquire about Fusion's long distance service to 
>Haiti, the company's in-house counsel refused to either confirm or deny 
>that it even offered service in that market. Numerous follow-up calls since 
>to her and other members of management were never returned. Mr. McLarty 
>denied any knowledge altogether about Fusion's involvement in Haiti. Mr. 
>Kennedy did not return our query.
>It was only after our Mary O'Grady independently confirmed Fusion's 
>activity in Haiti and wrote about it for the Americas column that Mr. 
>Kennedy's office gave us a statement: "Joe has no joint venture, 
>partnership or business arrangement with the president of Haiti or for that 
>matter, anyone in Haiti." The statement also says that Mr. Kennedy is not 
>involved in running Fusion. Mr. Kennedy's denial is interesting given his 
>February 7 op-ed in the Boston Globe where he wrote on the occasion of Mr. 
>Aristide's inauguration: "I was proud to help bring more than $1 million in 
>private investment from Fusion into Haiti."
>We are not suggesting that Fusion's business in Haiti is illegal. And we 
>are not so naive as to be shocked at the spectacle of prominent political 
>figures exploiting their former lives as public officials. We are saying 
>that Fusion's Haiti deal is sleazy. For people connected with the Clinton 
>Presidency-cum-political machine to attach themselves like pilot fish to 
>the bleeding ruin of Haiti under Jean Bertrand Aristide, in the wake of an 
>enormous commitment of American prestige and money on behalf of Haiti's 
>people, doesn't survive any conceivable smell test.
>It also smells that it is so hard for Fusion's Clintonites to acknowledge 
>secret business deals with Mr. Aristide, the sole owner and operator of the 
>Haitian economy, who is in power thanks to a U.S. intervention. And yes, we 
>do wonder if this is the tip of yet another Clinton iceberg. The Bush 
>Administration, particularly Colin Powell at State, should be alert to this 
>phenomenon as it revisits the venues of the Clinton foreign policy legacy.
>Con Fusion?
>Clinton's Haiti policy deserves prompt scrutiny.
>Tuesday, May 29, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDT
>(Editor's note: This column originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal, 
>Jan. 26. ).
>Marvin Rosen (finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee from 
>September 1995 until January 1997), former Democratic Rep. Joseph P. 
>Kennedy II and Bill Clinton confidante Thomas (Mack) McClarty III are all 
>on the board of Fusion Telecommunications International, according to that 
>company's Web site. Mr. Rosen, who was active in the DNC at the height of 
>the Clinton fund-raising scandals, is also the company's chief executive 
>Fusion may not be well known in the U.S., but it is a well-known name in 
>the Haitian business community. Although Haiti has never privatized Teleco, 
>the state-owned monopoly, or officially deregulated the country's 
>telecommunications sector, the government, which has been run by former 
>president Jean Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Party since 1994, has granted 
>Fusion a concession in the long-distance market. The terms of the deal are 
>a secret, but sources say Fusion has an office inside Teleco.
>Of course there's nothing illegal about a few heavyweights from the 
>Democratic Party cutting a deal with a foreign government. Nor is it 
>illegal to keep the deal hush-hush. But considering the Clinton 
>administration's remarkable passivity toward Mr. Aristide's political 
>terror and corruption over the past seven years, Fusion's concession is, at 
>the very least, interesting.
>It's not surprising that many Haiti watchers are asking how deep the 
>connections between the Aristide and Clinton political machines really go. 
>There are also hopes among Haiti's battered democratic opposition that 
>President Bush will have a look at these connections and perhaps reverse a 
>longstanding U.S. policy of not responding effectively to Mr. Aristide's 
>Moreover, it should be remembered that American fighting men were employed 
>on Mr. Aristide's behalf. He was reinstalled as president in 1994 after a 
>U.S. invasion overthrew military coup leader Raoul Cedras. Ever since his 
>return, first as president and then as the power behind the throne during 
>the current presidency of Rene Prreview, the Clinton protégé has piled up a 
>dubious record. Economic deterioration, drug trafficking and political 
>assassinations of Lavalas critics have defined Mr. Aristide's Haiti. Every 
>national election since 1997, including the one last Nov. 7 in which Mr. 
>Aristide claimed victory, has been ruled fraudulent by independent outside 
>observers. Political violence in Port-au-Prince forced the 1999 closing of 
>offices of the International Republican Institute, a U.S. party-affiliated 
>agency that promotes democracy around the world.
>The Clinton nonchalance about such matters has puzzled Democrats and 
>Republicans alike. One close observer of U.S.-Haitian affairs said before 
>last fall's sham elections in Haiti: "I am a Democrat but I have had a hard 
>time understanding it. The administration can have an influence and they're 
>not doing it. The lengths to which they're going to are rather remarkable. 
>It is a policy of denying reality."
>Unsurprisingly, one theory is that it has to do with Mr. Aristide's 
>important friendships. There are rumors inside the Haitian telecom industry 
>that Fusion's concession includes a cost for long-distance minutes 
>substantially below what competitors are offered. If that is false, Fusion 
>could clear it up. But Fusion's in-house counsel refuses to answer any 
>questions about Haiti, offer the name of anyone at the company who might do 
>so, or return follow-up phone calls. Nor would Mr. McClarty discuss 
>Fusion's Haiti deal. "Mack doesn't know anything about Fusion and Haiti," a 
>McClarty spokesman told me. That doesn't seem to jibe with his listing as a 
>board member.
>People with knowledge of the matter say that Fusion in Haiti is a joint 
>venture between Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Aristide. Again, that cannot be 
>confirmed, and Mr. Kennedy was not immediately available for comment. [In a 
>letter published in The Wall Street Journal on March 6, Fusion's Carol Bain 
>wrote that "Mr. Kennedy does not have any joint venture with Haiti's 
>President Aristide."] But the Haitian despot, whose Lavalas Party was 
>recently denounced by Amnesty International for threatening in early 
>January to exterminate its opposition, was a guest at Mr. Kennedy's second 
>wedding, according to press reports. Mr. Kennedy and his mother are both on 
>the board of advisors of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy, a 
>tax-exempt foundation that raises money for Mr. Aritstide's use in Haiti.
>Other foundation board members are Reps. John Conyers (D., Mich.) and 
>Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.). In the June 26, 2000, issue of Insight magazine 
>Catherine Edwards reported that Mr. Conyers had received a letter from a 
>Haitian senator asking him to resign from the foundation. According to 
>Insight, it read: "The incumbent de facto government controls and diverts 
>all the financial resources and power of the Haitian state for the use of 
>the Lavalas political party. The Aristide Foundation is the principal 
>mechanism for diversion of public resources."
>Whatever the Fusion deal is, members of the Haitian business community 
>insist that it had to be negotiated through the ruling party and its 
>leader, Mr. Aristide. As one leading Haitian businessman told me, "The 
>telephone concessions are an arbitrary distribution of favors. Anybody who 
>got anything received it through Lavalas. They control the telephone 
>sector. There has been no privatization, no transparency and no legal 
>During Mr. Aristide's time as a president-elect in exile, he had access to 
>some $40 to $50 million in frozen Haitian government assets. He drew on 
>those assets at a rate of $900,000 a month during his first year of exile, 
>and $1.8 million a month starting in October 1992, as previously reported 
>in The Wall Street Journal. He also collected millions of dollars in 
>telephone and other royalties due the government of Haiti. This explains 
>how he was able to pay expensive lawyers, with good political connections, 
>to press his case for U.S. aid in returning him to the Haitian presidency. 
>A book written by Lynn Garrison and published in 2000 by Leprechaun 
>Publishing Group claims that Mr. Aristide holds an unpublished manuscript 
>titled "I Paid For My Return."
>The Haitian democratic opposition refuses to recognize Mr. Aristide's 
>November "victory" in the presidential elections and it's heading for a 
>showdown. This weekend it will convene in several provinces in order to 
>construct an alternative government. During George W.'s "real good 
>scrubbing" of the White House, a close look at conditions in Haiti and what 
>role the previous administration played in upholding a highly unattractive 
>regime would bear a close look.
>Ms. O'Grady edits The Americas column, which appears in The Wall Street 
>Journal on Fridays.
>Review & outlook: Haitian connections
>The Wall Street Journal - US Abstracts; May 29, 2001
>The Clinton presidency made one of its most controversial foreign policy 
>decisions when it intervened to return Jean Bertrand Aristide to power in 
>Haiti in 1994. Since his return, Aristide has run the country like a mob 
>don, terrorizing political and economic opponents, trampling on the 
>country's constitution and extorting from the business community. One of 
>Mr. Aristide's biggest source of revenue comes from his control of the 
>country's telephone monopoly. A key player in the provision of telephone 
>services between the US and Haiti is Fusion Telecommunications, whose board 
>of includes Larry McLarty, a former White House chief of staff. While it is 
>not unusual for former public servants to exploit the experience in private 
>life, the link between Clintonites in Fusion Telecommunications and the 
>Aristide regime does not smell good. The Bush administration should 
>therefore scrutinize with care other areas of Clinton's foreign policy 
>Abstracted from: The Wall St Journal
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