Haiti Archives 1995-1996
16/01/96 THIS WEEK IN HAITI January 10 – 16, 1996 Vol. 13, No. 42

“This Week in Haiti” is the English section of HAITI PROGRES newsweekly. For information on other news in French and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax) 718-434-5551

HAITI PROGRES “Le journal qui offre une alternative”

PREVAL ASKS THE UN OCCUPATION TO STAY ON

Continuity. That was the buzzword of the brief campaign of President-elect Rene Preval. But what were the distinguishing features of the out-going Aristide government? A mostly docile head of state; a plethora of powerless ministries; neo-liberal and reconciliation policies dictated from the banks of the Potomac; a soaring cost of living; no justice; in short, Washington bullying and bribing a government which is bluffing. Continuity of this status quo is now assured because there will be continuity of the military occupation of Haiti.

This week, President-elect Preval formally asked the UN to extend its mandate in Haiti for six months on a “renewable” basis. Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the head of Preval’s transition team and the leader of the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP), said an extension until September 1996 would allow the UN mission to “consolidate its work in such areas as the police, justice and security.” Ironically, it is precisely because of the U.S.- controlled UN occupation that the U.S.-trained Haitian police are brutal and trigger-happy, that there is no justice, and that insecurity is growing because putchist criminals have been protected.

It is also a mild irony — but not really surprising — that Chavannes Jean-Baptiste announced the continuation of Haiti’s military occupation. Only last July, he told journalists and activists in New York that it was pointless to denounce the U.S./UN occupation of Haiti because “the reality is that they are there.” But, he said, it was “important to struggle so that [the UN] capturing them off the northwest coast of Haiti. For 1995, the U.S. Coast Guard picked up some 2,000 refugees, more than the 1990 pre-coup figure of 1,131.

In contrast, the U.S./UN occupation has provided windfall profits to the tiny pro-putschist Haitian bourgeoisie, which, having made a fortune during the coup, is making another now by renting and selling equipment, housing, storage, hangars, and land to occupation forces, both military and civilian.

The foreign troops also guarantee impunity for the coup criminals. Only one person has been tried and convicted of a crime related to the 3-year coup regime, perhaps the most dismal record in all of Latin America. Even military dictators like Gen. Prosper Avril, presently under the protection of the “international community,” and Gen. Henri Namphy, had to begin some kind of prosecution of Duvalierists. But the UN/U.S. troops, with the tacit support of the Lavalas government, continue to protect the putschists and coup criminals. The joint U.N./OAS International Civilian Mission (ICM) of “human rights observers,” who start at a base salary of US$6,000 a month, also shows no shame. Their headquarters in Port-au-Prince is rented from one of the most notorious supporters of the coup.

But the UN and U.S. are not just protecting those who do criminal acts against the Haitian people. They do the acts themselves. Last November, Nepalese troops in Gonaives fired on a crowd of demonstrators, killing capturing them off the northwest coast of Haiti. For 1995, the U.S. Coast Guard picked up some 2,000 refugees, more than the 1990 pre-coup figure of 1,131.

In contrast, the U.S./UN occupation has provided windfall profits to the tiny pro-putschist Haitian bourgeoisie, which, having made a fortune during the coup, is making another now by renting and selling equipment, housing, storage, hangars, and land to occupation forces, both military and civilian.

The foreign troops also guarantee impunity for the coup criminals. Only one person has been tried and convicted of a crime related to the 3-year coup regime, perhaps the most dismal record in all of Latin America. Even military dictators like Gen. Prosper Avril, presently under the protection of the “international community,” and Gen. Henri Namphy, had to begin some kind of prosecution of Duvalierists. But the UN/U.S. troops, with the tacit support of the Lavalas government, continue to protect the putschists and coup criminals. The joint U.N./OAS International Civilian Mission (ICM) of “human rights observers,” who start at a base salary of US$6,000 a month, also shows no shame. Their headquarters in Port-au-Prince is rented from one of the most notorious supporters of the coup.

But the UN and U.S. are not just protecting those who do criminal acts against the Haitian people. They do the acts themselves. Last November, Nepalese troops in Gonaives fired on a crowd of demonstrators, killing several, according to town residents. Now, UN troops are accused of fueling prostitution, including that of children, in Haiti. This week, two Pakistani soldiers were accused by the MPP of raping a woman in Hinche and then beating up one of the witnesses. Naturally, the UN covered up the assaults and then sent the two soldiers home, promising a court- martial.

Lavalas leaders, content with the spoils of power, are desperately seeking to integrate themselves into the “New World Order.” But they do not seem to understand, paraphrasing C.L.R. James, that you will find more decency in a cage of starving tigers than in the councils of imperialism.

Nonetheless, from time to time, the Lavalas bourgeoisie poses defiantly. A case in point this week in Haiti: the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), invited into the country by the Haitian government to help investigate the assassination last March of putschist lawyer Mireille Durocher Bertin, 38, and drug- dealing pilot Eugene Baillergeau, 46, leaked the results of its investigation to ABC News and U.S. Congressional Republicans. The Ministry of Justice, which the FBI was ostensibly in Haiti to support, never even got a copy of the document. Of course, the FBI report accuses members of the Haitian government of being involved in the Bertin murder and about 20 other “execution- style” killings of powerful coup supporters this past year. Instead of pointing to their friends at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the FBI’s special agents reportedly finger the former head of the Interim Public Security Force (IPSF) Dany Toussaint and some of his cohorts as being mixed up in the killings. Surprise, surprise. The FBI is accusing (not very indirectly) Aristide and his comrades of being killers. “There was hearsay evidence, but they always told us it was baseless, that there was no proof of the currently alleged implication,” Prime Minister Claudette Werleigh said of the FBI charges in a radio interview Jan. 8. Judging by her indignation, and that of President Aristide, you would think that they had nothing to do with asking the FBI to come to Haiti. Will the Preval government express the same kind of indignation when the continuing UN occupation begins to blow back on them?

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