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From editor@haiti-progres.com Sun Mar 11 12:03:32 2001
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2001 22:33:34 -0600 (CST)
From: =?iso-8859-1?Q?Haiti_Progr=E8s?= <editor@haiti-progres.com>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 18:51 3/7/2001
Article: 116490
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Is Aristide hostage of the international community?

Haiti Progres, This Week in Haiti,
Vol. 18, no. 51, 7-13 March 2001

Last week, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide shocked many of his supporters and allies when he rolled out his new government and a new electoral council, both filled with former Duvalierist ministers, coup d'état participants and supporters, neoliberal champions, and consummate opportunists.

Already there had been signs that Aristide might be backtracking from nationalist and anti-neoliberal positions he had espoused over the past four years.

On Dec. 27, 2000, he agreed to an eight-point plan formulated with outgoing U.S. President Bill Clinton. Among other things, the accord called for rapid rectification of the run-off vote calculation methods used in May 21 Senate elections, to which Washington objects; creation of a credible new provisional electoral council (CEP), as if they old one were not, a move which effectively neutralizes local assemblies elected to choose a permanent electoral council; allow access to U.S. Coast Guard anti-drug operation in Haitian waters and other sovereignty trampling measures to supposedly fight drug trafficking; nominate capable and respected officials for senior security positions, including within the PNH, the Haitian National Police, a force over which the U.S. wants to assert more control, having lost its long-time instrument, the Haitian Army; the establishment of a semi-permanent OAS commission to facilitate dialogue among Haitian political, civic, and business leaders and through international monitoring of the protection of human rights, more blunt tools for meddling; and install a broad-based government including 'technocrats' and members of the opposition, a dumbfounding demand, posed as if the Haitian people's votes were irrelevant. There was also the usual demand for economic reforms to enhance free markets and promote private investment, in other words remove what little protection you offer Haitian farmers and artisans, and provide U.S. businessmen with cheap labor, reliable infrastructure, but no taxes.

These are pretty demanding conditions, admitted new Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell during his confirmation hearings. He termed the Aristide/Clinton deal an acceptable road-map, but added that the Bush administration would likely add new demands (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 18, No. 45, 1/24/01).

Perhaps trying to prevent these new demands, Aristide has been rushing to implement the eight points and please the Bush Administration. Three weeks ago, six senators elected in the first round of the May 21 elections voluntarily withdrew from parliamentary activities. And even before the Feb. 7 presidential inauguration, the 47th Legislature, dominated by Aristide's Lavalas Family party, ratified the 1997 accord signed between former President René Préval and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, which would allow U.S. warships and jets to freely penetrate Haitian waters and airspace in hot pursuit of supposed drug-traffickers.

Then two weeks ago, Aristide forced Haiti's CEP to resign in the interests of the nation, although, according to the Constitution, the council should have remained in place until local assemblies around Haiti elected a new permanent council. If the reshaping of the council is mishandled, it will cause a domino effect, said CEP president Ernst Mirville in a radio interview two days before his resignation. Everything could be reshuffled from the CASECs [local assemblies] up to the President. Playing with fire is a dangerous game. Mirville also questioned the authority of the executive branch to transform the electoral council, which is an independent power under the Constitution. He said he would not resign.

But resign he did on Feb. 22, along with the other remaining CEP members, after they held a Feb. 21 meeting with Aristide at the Palace. Basically nobody wanted to be accused of standing in the way of things, Mirville told Haïti Progrès last week. The local assemblies will probably not be able to choose a new permanent council due to the political pressure of internal forces and forces outside the country, Mirville said.

Despite all these alarming signs, Haitians were still waiting to see what Aristide's new government would look like. They got their answer Feb. 28, five days after the Parliament ratified Aristide's nominee for Prime Minister, his trusted aide Jean Marie Chérestal.

Three key ministries went to men who had served as officials under former dictator Jean-Claude Baby Doc Duvalier, who fell from power in 1986. Marc L. Bazin, briefly Duvalier's Finance Minister in 1982, as well as a de facto prime minister for a year for the Haitian military during the 1991-1994 coup d'état, was named Minister of Planning and External Cooperation. Stanley Théard, presently member of the Association of Haitian Industrialists (ADIH), was named to the same post he held under Duvalier: Commerce Minister. Meanwhile, lawyer Garry Lissade, a well-known adherent to Duvalier's Jean-Claudist movement in the early 1980s, was named as Justice Minister.

The government is filled with Macoutes! exclaimed one man as he heard the line-up announced over the radio last Wednesday. Tonton Macoutes were the henchmen of the Duvalier dictatorships.

But more alarming were the Macoutes in the new CEP. They include Domingo Théronier, formerly one of Duvalier's police commissioners and leader of the Duvalierist party PRAN, which dissolved in 1987 in the face of popular outcry; Yves Massillon, formerly Duvalier's chief of protocol; Volvick Rémy Joseph, Baby Doc's Health minister and leader of the neo-Duvalierist party MKN; and Pierre André Anélas, another former prominent Duvalierist.

Some popular organization leaders close to the Lavalas Family like René Civil of the Popular Power Youth (JPP) and Paul Raymond of the St. Jean Bosco Little Church Community (TKL) point to the appointments as proof of the Lavalas government's goodwill to bring a climate of peace in the country, by integrating Haitians from all political backgrounds into public affairs. But other popular organizations have begun to denounce the appointments as a case of the donkey works, while the horse prances and are asking where this new marriage will end. They remember a previous marriage performed by Aristide in 1991 between the people and the Army, which ended in bitter divorce when the Army launched the bloody coup of Sep. 30, 1991. What chance does the new marriage have of succeeding?

Furthermore, Aristide's new open door government seems above all to be opening the door to neoliberal economic policies against which the Haitian people have protested for 15 years. Since unveiling his economic program over a year ago, Aristide has proposed some kind of third way, a magic formula to somehow please Washington and multilateral lending institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) while still defending the people against the well-known ravages of neoliberal policies. Ironically, Marc Bazin, against whose neoliberal prescriptions Aristide successfully campaigned in 1990, is today telling Aristide that his third way is not feasible, that you are either with the program or not. Let's not do the [structural] adjustment [of the Haitian economy] with one foot in and one foot out, one day saying yes, the next saying no, Bazin said in an interview with Radio Metropole last week. Because the final result is sacrifice without benefit. Is Bazin going to implement Aristide's vision, or is Aristide going to implement Bazin's? Is the tail going to wag the dog? Is the Chérestal government going to fully enter into the economic policy against which Haiti's democratic and popular sectors have so bitterly fought since 1986?

With its emerging new posture, the Lavalas Family appears to be entering into a rivalry with the Democratic Convergence (CD), the opposition front made up of former Duvalierists and former Lavalassians. Each sector wants to pass itself off as the better servant of foreign interests. What about the Haitian people? Is this a wise approach for the Lavalas, which still enjoys the trust of the Haitian masses?

Whatever the case, Aristide's backpeddling has emboldened the CD and Macoutes, which are supported by a powerful sectors of the international community, meaning North American and European powers. On Mar. 6, close to 1000 former soldiers marched through the streets of the capital chanting Long Live the Army of Haiti! They were led by Gérard Dalvius, a former Army major and secretary general of the Alternative Party for the Development of Haiti (PADH). The Haitian Army was effectively dissolved by Aristide in 1995 but has not been formally abolished by parliamentary vote.

This movement is a movement to uproot the Lavalas which is preventing people from living, which does everything which is bad in the country, which has put a bunch of false leaders at the head of the country, and which has created anarchy in the country, Dalvius declared. A part of the opposition must rise up and say no! Dalvius declared his support for Gérard Gourgue, the provisional president of the CD's parallel government, which, after a month, is still in formation.

Several CD leaders again called for a general uprising against the government this week, even though their protest actions are always pathetically small. The demonstrations which have taken place on the Central Plateau, in Petit Goâve, and in Gonaïves must multiply through a growing and multifaceted mobilization, which will have to express itself by democratic means: meetings, demonstrations, grafittis, marches, sit-ins, pot banging, etc. said Gerard Pierre-Charles, secretary general of the Organization of People in Struggle (OPL), a CD component.

Such traditional politicians are being encouraged by the comments and posturing of international community diplomats. For example the ambassadors of the U.S., France, and others were noticably absent during the Mar. 2 inauguration of the Chérestal government at the National Palace. Last week, French ambassador Yves Gaudeuil again said that dialogue with the opposition was the indispensable condition for the resumption of European aid, even though the CD has repeatedly rebuffed Aristide's overtures. The European Union has frozen 148 million euros of aid to Haiti. Gaudeuil also recalled that since 1994, 450 million francs earmarked for Haiti has been blocked by his government.

Parallel to this rivalry from the right, the Lavalas also faces a challenge from the left by certain of its allies and from its political base. For example, the Democratic Movement for National Liberation (MODLIN) rejected the nomination of Duvalierists to the cabinet and to the new CEP. All honest people, all the friends of justice in the country must begin to mobilize to call for justice, so that these big Duvalierist barons who have reappeared today in broad daylight can find themselves behind bars, declared MODLIN coordinator Odonel Paul.

Théodore Lolo Beaubrun, leader of the popular rasin musical group Boukman Eksperyans, warned against neoliberal moves after the new government's inauguration ceremony at the National Palace. We will be watching what policies they are going to apply, Lolo said. We are not going to accept a neoliberal policy, as it has been applied in other countries.

Meanwhile Camille Chalmers of the Haitian Platform to Defend an Alternative Development (PAPDA), an anti-neoliberal watchdog group affiliated with Jubilee 2000, has branded Aristide's third way economic formula -- Advantage for the Public Sector, Advantage for the Private Sector -- as a neoliberal plan which will not improve the population's living conditions. Chalmers was formerly Aristide's chief of protocol in 1994.

Even more judicious was the declaration of former anti-neoliberal deputy Joseph Jasmin, who today is a leader in the Korega-Escamp alliance. The Lavalas Family needs to remain in power, Jasmin explained. [Imperialism] says to you, if you want to remain in power, here is the accord you are going to apply for me. And this accord in the medium-term will bring, well, the political death of the Lavalas Family. In light of the fact that the different points of this [eight point] accord synthesize American interests, the government that [Aristide] has just formed is a government totally submissive to the interests of imperialism, to the interests of the 'international community.' As a consequence, he will not be able to defend in any way the sovereignty of the country, and he will not be able to defend in any way the interests of the popular masses who are so waiting for their problems to be solved.