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Context Haiti: 04/10/04 7:44PM EST Tuesday, 4/13/2004 [link to this item]

Haiti crisis news update

The Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) has refused to recognize the transition government of Haiti and has called upon the United Nations to undertake an investigation into the events of the recent coup of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti.  The group has gone to the General Assembly in an attempt to bypass an expected U.S. veto should the matter be presented to the Security Council.

 

The rebel forces which effected the removal of President Aristide, and their Opposition allies in-country, are in control of various areas in the north of the Haiti.  They have taken control of the operations of the city and the port terminal at Cap Hatien and have instituted a schedule of fees.  These fees are used to fund unspecified activities.  Traffic in and out of the port is at the behest of the rebel forces.

 

On April 1, Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson of the Los Angeles based Brotherhood Organization for a New Destiny (BOND) wrote a letter of Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, requesting an investigation into the activities of the Congressional Black Caucus relating to Haiti.  Mr. Peterson’s letter actively attempted to link the recent Haiti coup with 9-11:

It is especially troubling that Rep. Waters is actively lobbying for Aristide and knowingly fomenting hostility towards U.S. and Haitian officials. This is irresponsible behavior—especially post “9-11.”

 

“Over the past decade the U.S. has sent nearly $1 Billion in aid to Haiti.” wrote Mr. Peterson, apparently unaware that all aid to Haiti, since the year 2000, has been disbursed only to private organizations within the “Civil Society” program.  The Civil Society program, in Haiti, as in other third world countries whose governments the U.S. does not approve, and which it wishes to see brought to an end, was freely coopted by the Opposition.

 

“We believe it is irresponsible and offensive that CBC members,”  Mr. Peterson went on, “under the guise of representing the American public’s interest, are doing the bidding for a man whom most Haitians despise; a man with a documented history of violence.”  Mr. Peterson has previously called for a boycott of the NAACP, claiming that it is a tool of the “elite, socialist, Democratic Party.”

 

On April 5, 2004, U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, visited Haiti and consulted with the transition government of Gerard Latortue.  On April 6, 2004, the Latortue government announced that it had signed a “Consensus for Political Transition” with the main Opposition groups, the Democratic Convergence (led by Evans Paul) and the Group of 184 (led by Andy Apaid).  The majority party of Haiti — Lavalas — was neither informed of the negotiations nor invited to participate.  A considerable number of parties that had been coopted under the umbrella of the DC or the G-184, at a time when they were politically useful, also were not invited or informed.

 

The full text of the “Consensus for Political Transition” is not available but the text states that the parties will work together to “integrate” the rebels who have taken up arms in Haiti since February 5.  The rebels include numerous convicted murderers, drug dealers and members of the old FRAPH death squad, who have openly returned to perpetrating assaults, arsons, murders and violations of civil rights against Fanmil Lavalas supporters throughout the country.

 

Secretary Powell promised to use the powerful influence the U.S. wields in the Caribbean basin to gain the Latortue government recognition by the CARICOM.  An investigation of the circumstances of the removal of President Aristide from office, said Powell, would serve no useful purpose.   He also stated that Haiti needs a national police force but has no need of an army.  Secretary Powell announced that the U.S. would be donating $9 billion to the special Haiti fund, instituted and overseen by the Organization of American States (OAS), and that the U.S. was actively preparing to prosecute Aristide on charges of corruption.  Other U.S. authorities reported, during March, the intention to prosecute the President of Haiti on charges of complicity in the Haitian drug-trade.

 

Political parties which once understood themselves to be part of the Democratic Convergence and the Group of 184 stridently protested their exclusion from the negotiations over the “Consensus for Political Transition”.  Himmler Rebu, leader of the Groupe de Reflexion sur Haiti (GREH), called for elections before the end of the year.  Reynold Georges, the leader of La Parti pour Liberation et l’Avancement d’ Haiti (ALLAH), has threatened to go to the Haitian courts to prevent the implementation of the document.  Me Alexander Paul, a spokesperson for ALLAH, has called for May elections and a return to constitutional rule.  The spokesman for L’Operation du 15 Decembre 2002 deplored that the transition document “was only signed by the government and a fraction of the organizations of the Civil Society.”  Numerous other parties have announced their outrage and sense of betrayal.

 

According to the Haitian Press Agency, on April 6, the spokesman of the Latortue government also announced the pending replacement of Boniface Alexandre as transition President of Haiti.  Alexandre is a last remaining vestige of the Fanmil Lavalas party in the transition government.  No further information has been made available.

 

On April 6, French Forces stationed in Gonaives arrested the rebel leader, and ex-FRAPH member, Wilfort Ferdinand (a.k.a. Ti Will).  Ferdinand was detained for being in possession of a car loaded with M-16 and T-65 assault rifles.  He was released, after several hours of questioning, without being charged.

On April 7, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, James Foley, gave his full support to the “Consensus for Political Transition”.  The accord, he announced, would assure the realization of fair elections in 2005.

 

On April 8, Amnesty International denounced the grave violations of civil rights against the citizens of Haiti.  The consensus of legitimate civil rights groups on the ground is that Fanmil Lavalas party members and their supporters are primarily the victims.  The Amnesty International press release reads, in part:

 

Amnesty International has also received recent reports of killings and kidnappings of persons belonging to pro-Aristide grassroots organizations in poor neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince. Among those allegedly responsible were several escaped prisoners who had been jailed for rapes and other common crimes. These men have reportedly been working together with the Haitian police and MIF forces to identify people associated with the Lavalas regime.

The driver of a former Lavalas deputy was attacked on 3 April in Martissant and died the next day as a result. On 4 April, another man with Lavalas connections was shot dead outside the market in Martissant. After his killing the assailants went to his house to look for his wife, who is now in hiding, threatened to kill her and burned the house. In addition, two members of KOMIREP, a grassroots organization that included victims of the 1991 coup d'état, were kidnapped, one in Martissant and the other in Cité l'Eternel, in the street on Monday 4 April. Their whereabouts are unknown.

 

On April 9, the U.S. border patrol announced that the Coast Guard had intercepted a Haitian ship carrying 130 pounds of cocaine, with a wholesale value of $1.1 million dollars.  The ship's point of origination was Cap Hatien.

-GWP | Comments
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