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9188: This Week in Haiti 19-29 10/03/01 (fwd)

From: "[iso-8859-1] Haiti Progrès" <editor@haiti-progres.com>

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French
and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100,
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                         HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                 * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                        Oktob 3 - 9, 2001
                         Vol. 19, No. 29


The city of Gonaïves, where Haiti's declaration of independence
was signed in 1804,  is considered a symbol of resistance, and it
was there that President Jean Bertrand Aristide celebrated the
anniversary of the Sept. 30 coup d'état which overthrew him ten
years ago.

In a festive ambiance, thousands of people greeted him at the
southern entrance to the city, in the Descahos neighborhood. From
there Aristide walked, escorted by the large crowd, to the city's
Toussaint L'Ouverture police headquarters. The day's activities
continued on Arms Square, where Aristide delivered his speech for
the occasion.

Capitalizing on Washington's declared "war on terrorism" after
the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,
he noted how the coup leaders which toppled him for three years -
- Gen. Raoul Cédras, Gen. Philippe Biamby and Col. Joseph Michel
François among others -- were political terrorists. His not-so-
subtle insinuation was that the powers which backed the
putschists were too.

"It is time that these modern terrorists stop squeezing the
country," Aristide declared.

Even before this year, Sept. 11 already was a date identified
with terror in Haiti. On that date in 1988, a mob of armed men
linked to the military dictatorship burned down St. Jean Bosco,
the church of then Father Aristide, murdering and wounding dozens
of parishoners. Aristide barely escaped with his life.

During the coup in 1993, in the middle of a Sept. 11 mass
commemorating the 1988 massacre, assassins dragged Antoine
Izmery, a democracy activist, out of another church and executed
him in the middle of a street with a bullet through the head.

Referring to these events and the Sept. 30 coup, Aristide
condemned terrorist acts in any form. He then said he considered
the blockage of international aid to Haiti since last year, due
to a contrived electoral crisis, as an act of "economic
terrorism." He charged the "modern terrorists" as being
responsible for the current dilapidated state of Haiti. After his
first election on Dec. 16, 1990, "we worked peacefully and
democratically to climb out of poverty but they organized the
Sept. 30, 1991 coup d'état," Aristide said. "If we hadn't had the
Sept. 30th coup, today how many people would be better in the
country? How many people would have already escaped poverty? How
many people would have escaped unemployment? How many would
already be literate?... The 1991 coup was a crisis which should
never happen again on Haitian soil, never, never, never again."

Then, in even more pointed remarks, he referred to the
"laboratory," code in Haiti for Washington's media-military-
intelligence complex. "We carried out the May 21 elections,"
Aristide said, referring to parliamentary and municipal contests
swept by his party, the Lavalas Family (FL), last year. "The same
old colonialist mentality in the laboratory fabricated a false
crisis [to undermine the overwhelmingly fraud-free and well-
attended election], which is holding us as a people, as a nation,
by the throat."

Noting that the people's misery is growing, he recalled that
Haiti has already paid $8 million in interest on loans which the
Inter-American Development Bank has not yet released due to the
so-called crisis.

Aristide established a parallel between the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks in the U.S. and the fate of the Haitian people. "The
United States is victim of terrorism," he said. "We too are
victims of terrorism... All those who are hungry, who are poor
and suffer now because of the coup d'état are victims of the
terrorism of the army," which he dissolved in 1995.

The Haitian government has also used the historical moment to
renew its calls for the return of Emmanuel "Toto" Constant, the
leader of the CIA-paid paramilitary death squad FRAPH during the
coup, who now lives and works in Queens, New York with
Washington's protection.

"The United States wants bin Laden," said FL Sen. Gérald Gilles.
"We demand Emmanuel "Toto" Constant."hrthrthrthrt

President Aristide is right to characterize the authors and
agents of the 1991 coup as "political terrorists" and the
unjustified economic sanctions of the "international community"
as "economic terrorism." But when he complains of the lack of
justice like a mere demonstrator, one is justified in wondering
why he doesn't act, being, after all, the head of state.

Worse still, Aristide used the Gonaïves rally to portray a
surrender as a victory. He claimed that the Haitian government
had finally taken possession of the FRAPH documents, a trove of
some 160,000 documents which U.S. soldiers stole from the offices
of FRAPH and the Haitian Armed Forces (FAdH)  in 1994 and
spirited off to Washington. The documents include "the 'trophy'
photographs of torture victims, audio and videotapes of torture
sessions, membership applications for FRAPH, passports,
identification cards, and business records," as a Sept. 29 press
release of the London-based Haiti Support Group (HSG) reminded.
"Despite subsequent requests by the Haitian government, by
international human rights organisations, and by the United
Nations, for this evidence to be returned to Haiti in its
entirety, it remains in US possession." Washington has insisted
that it would only return the documents with the names of U.S.
citizens deleted, which a U.S. ambassador said was 2% of the
collection, equivalent to about 3,200 pages. This is just what it

The documents which the Aristide's present government accepted
are the censored collection, it seems, which previously had been
refused by Haitian authorities. What's more, these documents were
accepted by the Haitian government back in March, according to
Sen. Gilles. Why is this giant concession only being announced

Furthermore, Aristide has chosen to welcome "terrorists," both
"economic" and "political," into his government. Or at least
their accomplices.

Planning Minister Marc Bazin acted as Prime Minister of Cédras's
"terrorist" military regime, and Justice Minister Garry Lissade
was legal counsel to both Cédras and Michel François, advising
them during the 1993 Governors Island negotiations.

Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Stanley Théard is more of an
"economic terrorist," having held the same post under President
for Life Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier and having embezzled
$4.5 million from public coffers, according to an official 1986
Haitian government investigation. He bilked the Haitian treasury
with the connivance of Frantz Merceron, one of Duvalier's most
notorious and corrupt super-ministers, who himself stole about
$60 million in public funds from 1983-85 when he was Finance
Minister, according to the Haitian government's own legal

Ironically, Frantz Merceron visited Haiti for the second time on
Oct. 1 despite voluminous government dossiers detailing his
corruption. Why was he not arrested and charged for "economic
terrorism"? The same for Théard. If Haiti had the millions they
stole, surely thousands of Haitians from  "would already be

There are many other signs of hypocrisy. The government recently
forked out $1.734 million for a luxurious villa for Prime
Minister Jean-Marie Chérestal, which, after a stink was made, was
hastily declared the official residence of the Prime Minister.
Could this sum -- or a portion of it -- not have better served
the launching of the new literacy campaign in the Artibonite
Valley, which Aristide touted in his Gonaïves speech? The real
estate purchase makes Chérestal's gesture to donate a month's
salary --  $2,800 (70,000 gourdes) -- to launch the literacy
campaign look rather demagogic.

In another possible example of Lavalas impunity, Stanley Théard
has been accused of transferring two openly Lavalas employees
from Commerce to the Post Office and of rehiring a former FRAPH
member chased out of the ministry on Aristide's return in 1994.

As usual, the coup anniversary was an occasion for human rights
groups and popular organizations to make their pronouncements.
The September 30 Foundation, the Platform of Haitian Human Rights
Organizations, the Valiant Women of Marigot, and other
countryside-based organizations all issued statements.

"Doesn't the state have the duty to lead investigations, prevent
criminal action and avoid the second offense?" asked the National
Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) about the climate of
insecurity which even last year's famous Raboteau trial has not
stamped out.

The World March of Women 2000 presented a somber assessment of
the past 10 years: impunity, deception, humiliation, poverty,
unemployment, worsened by corruption and waste of the states
meager resources on projects which are far from being priorities,
like the acquisition for millions of dollars of sumptuous
residences for Prime Ministers and former presidents.

Meanwhile, Jean Robert Pierre Louis of the St. Jean Bosco Small
Church Community took the official line: "We would ask what the
nations which are friends of Haiti want. Is it to fight only
against terrorists which sow grief in their countries, or is it
to fight terrorism around the world in all its forms?"

As for Amnesty International, after having noted the degradation
of the human rights situation in Haiti, it conceded that: "From
all evidence, the situation in human rights matters is not as
dramatic as it was during the years following the coup d'état...
But the country has not completely solved the serious problems
inherited from the years of military rule."

Every group makes an observation, each more dramatic than the
next, and then waits for Sept. 30... 2002.  Meanwhile, the
Haitian people continue to endure the violence of free-roaming
criminals encouraged by impunity and the excuses of those they
elected to work on their behalf and to struggle for the ideals of
justice, participation and transparency.

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