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9331: This Week in Haiti 19:32 10/24/01 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
October 24 - 30 2001
Vol. 19, No. 32
LAVALAS VS. CONVERGENCE:
AS CRISIS DEEPENS, PPN CALLS FOR A POLITICAL ALTERNATIVE
The verbal gloves came off in Haiti last week following yet
another breakdown in talks between President Jean Bertrand
Aristide's ruling Lavalas Family party (FL) and the small U.S.-
backed opposition coalition, the Democratic Convergence (CD). In
dueling declarations, FL officials exchanged biting words with
the CD as well as with Paris and Washington.
Negotiations had resumed after a three-month hiatus on Oct. 14
but broke down only two days later, despite the imperious
presence of Organization of American States (OAS) deputy
secretary general Luigi Einaudi as a supposed last-ditch
mediator. The principal stumbling block was the CD's demand to
throw out the May 21, 2000 election results for over 7,000
municipal posts which went mostly to the FL. Already the FL had
voluntarily withdrawn from seven Senate seats, proposed immediate
run-offs for them, and agreed to new parliamentary elections next
year. But, predictably, for every concession, the CD and their
international backers made a new demand.
Haggling began last year over eight Senate seats captured in the
first-round by the FL, victories which the OAS, overstepping its
authority, claimed were correctly counted but "miscalculated,"
requiring run-offs. As for the rest of the May 2000 elections,
international observers pronounced them well-attended and "free
Following the breakdown in negotiations, Haiti's former colonial
ruler France, assuming the role of "bad cop," blamed the FL. A
spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry solemnly admonished
that "there must be concessions from the government and from the
opposition parties to arrive at national reconciliation," a
truism which obscures that, so far, the FL has made all the
concessions and the CD none.
Like the missionary who precedes the conquistador, the Vatican's
emissary to Port-au-Prince, Luigi Bonazzi, counseled Aristide to
scrub last year's vote and surrender to the CD, which has
virtually no following in Haiti. "It is vital to share power,"
Bonazzi preached. "I believe that this is also the desire of the
Haitian people. They want this power to be shared. Therefore, the
FL should create all the conditions to allow the sharing of this
power, with respect for the will of the people."
Cornered, the FL began lashing out with denunciations, both
oblique and pointed. On Oct. 17, the 195th anniversary of the
assassination of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the former-slave
general who led Haiti to independence in 1804, Aristide gave a
speech in which he compared slavery to terrorism, called for
reparations, and said "we also are struggling against
terrorism... both geopolitical terrorism and economic terrorism,"
a veiled reference to the Washington-led aid boycott against
Haiti and their relentless political machinations.
But the sharpest words came from Senate leader Yvon Neptune, the
FL's number two, who lambasted the "laboratory" (short for the
Pentagon and CIA) for carrying out the 1991 coup d'état which
exiled Aristide for three years and for trying to carry out an
"electoral coup d'état" during last year's nationwide elections.
"The intelligence of the people thwarted the laboratory and its
terrorist apprentices, the lab that controls the OAS, the lab
that invented the [current political] crisis, that lab which
created the Convergence and the Civil Society Initiative (ISC) [a
CD-aligned 'mediating' group], the lab of the coup d'état, the
lab which uses negotiations to continue the coup d'état," Neptune
CD leaders made no attempt to conceal their pro-imperialist
leanings and glee at the FL's declarations. Micha Gaillard, of
the CD affiliate Konakom, scolded Aristide for "digging up the
past" with "demagogic remarks" and adopting "a pseudo-nationalist
attitude but anti-popular interests and anti-national
development." "We are living in full globalization," Gaillard
said. "We must see how we can use foreign support."
Historically, Aristide's episodes of rebellion have been short-
lived, and unfortunately, the FL's combative words may be too
little, too late. Uprisings rocked Port-au-Prince's Cité Soleil
slum last week, protesting Lavalas government corruption,
inefficacy, and in-fighting (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 19, No. 31,
10/17/01). The riots were sparked by the police killings of a 16-
year-old boy, a 90-year-old woman, and a pregnant woman. Cops
also brutalized and threatened Radio Haiti reporter Jean-Robert
Delciné and rampaged through homes, beating dozens of people.
CD leaders are trying to capitalize on the people's deep
frustration with the rapidly degenerating Lavalas regime. "This
week there was a mobilization which we support in Cité Soleil,
Gonaïves, and Cap Haïtien," Gaillard said. "People took to the
streets to defend their rights when the police came to kill poor,
innocent people. The population stood up and defended their
legitimate rights. That is a good thing and we support it."
But in an Oct. 23 press conference, the National Popular Party
(PPN) denounced the CD's attempt to coopt the uprisings. "The
Convergence better not think that it can get a free-ride off the
disillusionment of the people with the Lavalas Family," said PPN
Secretary General Ben Dupuy.
Dupuy took note of Neptune's sudden discovery that the
"laboratory spawned the Convergence and ISC, controls the OAS,
and invented the artificial crisis. For the longest time, the PPN
has been trumpeting these truths while the FL pretended that it
didn't understand. It sat for over 11 months in negotiations with
the OAS, the Convergence, and the ISC. Then on Oct. 19 Neptune
says 'On 14 October 2001, it was the laboratory that controls the
OAS that put on the negotiating table a chain for the Haitian
people to shackle their feet and a rope for the FL to hang
itself.' Once the goat has gotten into the garden, the FL cries
'Close the gate.'"
Dupuy rebuked the FL for betraying the original Lavalas
principles of justice, transparency, and participation by, among
other things, integrating zealous collaborators of the 1991 coup
and of the 1957-1986 Duvalier dictatorship into key government
posts and ministries.
"Before the election, the Lavalas Family said they were going to
invest in people," Dupuy said. "Now the people see clearly that
the FL has invested US$1.7 million to buy a house for a Prime
Minister whom they never see nor hear from. Meanwhile, the coup
d'état victims have been marching in a circle on the Champ de
Mars for seven years, and they haven't seen a penny. The people
of Cité Soleil continue to live in mud like animals. A bucket of
water sells for 7 gourdes. How many houses and dispensaries could
that vast sum of money have bought?"
Dupuy warned that the "laboratory" and the reactionary forces
grouped in the CD were monitoring the FL's declining popularity
in the masses and surely planning military attacks from the
Dominican Republic like that of Jul. 28 (see Haïti Progrès, Vol.
19, No. 20, 8/1/01). "President Aristide, just like Toussaint
Louverture, is playing duplicitous games with the new foreign
colonists, while the Convergence is playing for time to allow its
mercenaries to polish their weapons on the other side of the
border so that they can come and get him," Dupuy said.
Faced with the danger that the FL's compromises and corruption
could soon facilitate the extreme right's return, Dupuy called
for a new political alliance of progressive forces. "The PPN
calls on all patriots, all progressive popular organizations, all
progressive intellectuals to join it in building an Alternative
Front which will stop the reactionary forces which think they can
coopt the people's disillusionment with the Lavalas Family and,
with the aid of foreign forces, reestablish the same old system
which the people rejected in Feb. 1986," when the Duvalier
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