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Date: Sat, 13 May 1995 09:47:37 -0400
From: RGosser@aol.com
To: bcorbett@crl.com
Subject: Haiti News: Toto Constant arrested

Toto Constant arrested

By Rich Gosser. 13 May 1995


The wire services are reporting today that the founder of FRAPH has been arrested. His story provides an interesting subplot to the US intervention in Haiti.

It was widely reported that Constant was recruited by the CIA and encouraged to found FRAPH. After US troops took control of Haiti the US embassy arranged a press conference for him with US soldiers providing security. If memory serves his remarks at that conference implied a change of heart for FRAPH. I found it interesting that he spoke in English (at least during part of the press conference.)

Unfortunately the implied conversion didn't seem to take and FRAPH was eventually completely discredited. There had been at least speculation, however, that the US would recognize it as a legitimate political party. It didn't take long before the US embassy spokesperson was issuing strong denials.

Constant's slipping into the US through Puerto Rico on a still-valid tourist visa again caused a lot of speculation about possible continuing CIA support.

Is this a fair summary?

What do you think will happen to Constant if he is returned to Haiti now? The justice system remains largely non-functional and apparently many of the accused human rights abusers that have been turned over to the interim police have been allowed to escape or have simply been released. Do you think Constant will be made to stand trial, as it were, for all the abuses and crimes of his organization so that there will be at least a symbolic case to appease the hunger for justice that continues to gnaw at the Haitian people?


WASHINGTON, May 12 (Reuter) - U.S. authorities plan to deport a Haitian politician who led a paramilitary group that allegedly committed human rights violations in his country, officials said on Friday.

The Immigration and Naturalisation Service said its agents arrested Emanuel Constant on Wednesday evening outside a house in Queens, New York, and plan to send him back to Haiti. He is now being held without bond in a jail used by the agency in Wicomoco, Maryland.

The State Department said Constant was arrested at the request of Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who had ruled that his presence in the country damaged U.S. interests.

Constant is founder and president of a group called FRAPH -- the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti.

He entered the country legally on December 24, 1994 on a tourist visa that was revoked by the State Department in February on indications Constant may have been involved in terrorist activity. He had been sought since then.

Constant, who was arrested on immigration charges by special agents on a tip from confidential sources, had an invalid tourist visa and faces a deportation hearing before an immigration judge in Maryland. The date has not been set yet. He did not resist arrest, the INS said.

Constant is said to have committed human rights violations in Haiti, the INS said.

State Department spokesman David Johnson said Christopher has determined that his presence in the United States compromised compelling United States foreign policy interests.

Constant's presence could erroneously lead Haitians to believe that we had tolerated or endorsed FRAPH's activities, something which was clearly not the case, Johnson said.

It is our intention to return Mr. Constant after due process of law to Haiti, he said, but added that he did not know if Haiti had submitted a formal extradition request.

Johnson said the United States considered FRAPH to be an illegitimate paramilitary organisation.

The grouping was created in 1993 and was closely linked to the military leaders who ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991. The United States sent a military force to Haiti last September to restored Aristide to power.

(FRAPH's) members often acted violently in supporting the repressive activities of the de facto government and are believed to have been involved in several political killings and rapes, Johnson said. There is also evidence of FRAPH involvement in a number of unsolved disappearances.