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9269: This Week in Haiti 19:30 10/10/01 (fwd)

From: "K. M. Ives" <kives@gateway.net>

[PLEASE NOTE;  This is an edited version of Haiti Progres'
news by Bob Corbett.  I am sticking with a stict policy to
have nothing to do with the U.S. current -- whatever it is,
war, situation, whatever.  I have edited out parts of Haiti
Progres which were not essential to the news of Haiti and will
continue to do that with any post coming into the list.

Bob Corbett]

"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,
(fax) 718-434-5551 or e-mail at <editor@haitiprogres.com>.
Also visit our website at <www.haitiprogres.com>.

                           HAITI PROGRES
                 "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                         October 10 - 16, 2001
                               Vol. 19, No. 30


According to an Oct. 2 OAS press release, the Group of Friends is
"an informal advisory group" to OAS Secretary General César
Gaviria and will "will also help to represent views and issues to
the political authorities in Haiti and to the Haitian people,"
which both, one can only deduce, need assistance in understanding
what they must do. The Group of Friends is composed of Argentina,
Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Guatemala,
Mexico, the United States and Venezuela, as well as France,
Germany, Norway and Spain in their role of Permanent Observers.

More precisely, the Group of Friends has been set in place just
as negotiations, which have been stalled for three months, are
set resume around Oct. 15 between the Democratic Convergence
(CD), a tiny U.S.-backed opposition front, and President Jean-
Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family party (FL). In the words of
U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Brian Dean Curran, the Group of Friends
will "accompany the protagonists, urge them on, and assist them
in finding a compromise to the present crisis," which stems from
Washington's disapproval of the FL's sweep of last year's
municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections.

Following the usual timing and script, the State Department's
Richard Boucher issued an Oct. 4 statement welcoming the "Group
of Friends on Haiti"  -- he probably intended no pun. He said the
U.S. "strongly supports the mediation role of the [OAS] in
Haiti," even though OAS by-laws explicitly prohibit the body from
meddling in the internal affairs of member states. Although
Washington has repeatedly derailed Haiti's democracy movement
with coups and dictators, Boucher asserted that the U.S. and the
Group of Friends were interested in "putting Haiti back on track
in its quest for democracy, economic development, and respect for
human rights," as if they, rather than the Haitian people, were
deciding where Haiti is going and how. Boucher then issued a far-
from-diplomatic command: "Now is the time to reach a compromise
that will make it possible for Haiti to move forward."

Understandably, the CD was delighted with the Group of Friends'
formation and Boucher's remarks, and the FL was not. For example,
the CD's Serge Gilles, speaking on Radio Metropole, found the
U.S. position "completely normal" and reminded the listeners that
"the U.S. Congress voted a law on [Haiti's] May 21st
[parliamentary] elections and  we are obliged to respect that
law."  Gilles has apparently become such a servant of Washington
that he has forgotten that he lives in Haiti under Haitian laws
and legislatures. Anyway, the "U.S. Congress" did not pass a
"law" but a non-binding Concurrent Resolution, sponsored by the
arch-conservative Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), which merely expressed
the Senate's dismay at the FL's electoral victory (see Haïti
Progrès, Vol. 18, No. 17, 7/12/00).

Meanwhile, Culture and Communication Minister Guy Paul backhanded
Boucher's statement. "I don't think a State Department note is
going to put any pressure on us to sit down and find an
agreement," he said. "This is purely an agreement among Haitians,
and it is something which we have been pursuing for a year and
which we will continue to pursue."

FL spokesman Jonas Petit was even more direct. "Those threats are
not going to make us do what is important for us, for our lives,"
he said.

But that is not exactly true. Aristide and the FL have become
ensnared in endless debilitating negotiations by succumbing to
Washington's pressure, "inviting" the OAS to mediate, and
entertaining the illusion that the U.S. will one day release
millions of dollars of blocked aid and loans for "good behavior."

"This whole false crisis started when the Haitian government
allowed OAS observers to meddle and overrule the Provisional
Electoral Council [CEP], which was the supreme judge of last
year's elections," said Ben Dupuy, secretary general of the
National Popular Party (PPN) in a large Haitian community meeting
in Miami on Sept. 30, the tenth anniversary of the 1991 coup
d'état. "Five U.S. Supreme Court judges decided that George W.
Bush won last year's U.S. presidential election, which was filled
with irregularities. The OAS didn't cry fraud and intervene. What
makes them think they can override the constitutional final
arbiter of Haiti's elections?"

Indeed, many popular organizations have become fed up and see
that the negotiations are just a tool to erode the Haitian
people's will to resist U.S. neoliberal dictates. "The
negotiations cannot go on indefinitely because it is the people
who pay the price," said Calire Jean-Jacques of the Majority
Civil Society, an FL-aligned mediating group formed as a
counterweight to the CD-aligned Civil Society Initiative (ISC).
"We think that after three months, if the negotiations have not
resolved the so-called crisis, then the government should do what
it has to and we will rely on our own resources... This crisis is
a planned crisis."

Washington may also want to end the game. Luigi Einaudi, the OAS
assistant secretary general and veteran State Department
official, is scheduled to arrive in Haiti on Oct. 10. Asked how
he interpreted Einaudi's arrival and the upcoming round of
negotiations, Paul Edouard of the ISC said: "I think, in fact,
this is the last chance."