From Thu Jan 23 19:00:24 2003
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 16:46:22 -0600 (CST)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Haiti mailing list <>
Subject: 14589: This Week in Haiti 20:45 1/22/2003 (fwd)

184 Institutions: The Macouto-bourgeosie's new offensive

This Week in Haiti, Haiti Progres, Vol.20 no.45, 22–28 January 2003

There is a striking similarity between the destabilization campaigns taking place today in Haiti and Venezuela. This is not altogether surprising since both Haiti's Democratic Convergence opposition front and its Venezuelan counterpart, the Democratic Coordination, have Washington as a coach.

Last April, Venezuela's bourgeoisie, with thinly-veiled support from the Bush administration, attempted a coup d'état against President Hugo Chavez, but it was thwarted by a mass mobilization and a cunning maneuver by the Presidential Guard (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 20, No. 5, 4/17/2002).

In response, the bourgeoisie increased its economic sabotage of the Venezuelan economy, particularly in the vital petroleum-producing sector, broadening hardship and thereby recruiting confederates from labor hierarchy and the middle-class calling for Chavez's overthrow.

In Haiti, the bourgeoisie, in alliance with former soldiers represented by ex-Col. Himmler Rébu and the partisans of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, suffered a similar setback in early December when a mass march and a general strike both failed miserably (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 20, No. 39, 12/11/2002).

The leaders of this Macouto-bourgeois alliance (the Tonton Macoutes were Duvalier's infamous henchmen), probably with input from their handlers in Washington's International Republican Instituted (IRI) with whom they met for three days in mid-December in the Dominican Republic, went back to the drawing board. On Dec. 26, a new enlarged front was unveiled, claiming to have 184 institutions representing 12 key sectors of Haitian society: the private sector, unions, socio-professionals, teachers, students, media, writers and artists, the peasantry, the urban popular sector, women's associations, human rights, and medicine.

The 184 institutions include the bourgeoisie's trade associations like the National Association of Petroleum Product Distributors (ANADIPP) and the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce (HAMCHAM); yellow unions like the Federation of Unionized Workers (FOS) and the Confederation of Haitian Workers (CTH); Convergence-affiliated organizations and their spin-offs such as Chavannes Jean-Baptiste's Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP), Suzy Castor's Center for Economic and Social Research and Development Training (CRESFED), and Rosny Desroches' Civil Society Initiative (ISC); and dozens of obscure popular organizations whose authenticity merits investigation.

The 184 front outlined seven demands such as: the dismantling and disarming of various well-known armed criminal gangs, a reference to pro-government popular organizations active in Haiti's shanty towns; the firing and the prosecution of policemen and other authorities implicated in sowing terror around the country,although most policemen are being terrorized by deadly attacks against their stations by roving commando units of former Haitian soldiers; and the immediate implementation of international cooperation in security matters, code for the deployment of foreign troops in Haiti.

These 184 institutions warned ominously that if the government did not meet their demands by Jan. 15, they would draw, with the Haitian people, the necessary conclusions.

In response, Secretary of State for Communications Mario Dupuy said: «I personally think that their position would have had a lot more weight if they had also demanded the lifting of economic sanctions imposed unfairly against Haïti,» a reference to $500 million in international assistance whose release is being blocked by the Bush Administration.

Needless to say, the new reinforced front, like the Convergence over the past two years, was not satisfied, despite the government's relentless concessions, and on Jan. 20 issued Communique #2.

It called the current situation unacceptable and deemed it impossible, at this juncture, to put in place the structures and mechanism that are necessary for free, transparent and credible elections, the path out of the crisis which President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has proposed repeatedly. The 184 promised to present soon a proposal for solving the on-going crisis, together with a Plan of Action and the main elements for the implementation of a new social pact.

The front called for a general strike on Friday, Jan. 24, which will test this new configuration of the macouto-bourgeois alliance. Two transport strikes earlier this month protesting soaring fuel costs were successful, as transport strikes usually are (few Haitians own cars).

Meanwhile, Washington has thrown its weight behind the new formation. The Government of Haiti continues to show little substantive progress in meeting its commitments under Resolution 822, said Carol Fuller, the new U.S. representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), at a Jan. 16 Permanent Council meeting on Haiti. (Roger Noriega, her predecessor, was promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, the post previously held for a 3-month interim by Otto Reich.) OAS Res. 822, passed last September, sets impossible conditions for the Haitian government to meet while laying the groundwork for foreign intervention in Haiti under the newly-minted Inter-American Democratic Charter (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 20, No. 26, 9/11/2002). There is one way, and one way only, to break out of this impasse—President Aristide and his government must find the courage and political will to lead Haiti toward free and fair elections under the process laid out in Resolution 822, Fuller said.

However, all progress towards elections has been stymied by the Washington-backed Convergence and its civil society allies which have refused to participate in any Provisional Electoral Council until there is a foreign military supervision of the process.

We have been encouraged by the position put forward recently by a broad-based group of 184 civil society groups which urged the government to take short-term steps to begin the process of fully implementing Resolution 822, Fuller continued. Virtually all the measures the 184 organizations are seeking reflect in whole or in part actions to which the Government of Haiti is already committed under Resolution 822.

As Fuller makes clear, the 184 institutions are merely a new internal front battling for the directives laid down by the OAS, which Cuba aptly dubs Washington's Ministry of Colonial Affairs.