|Haiti Archives 1995-1996|
|08/11/95||HAITI: UPDATE November 8, 1995|
In this issue:
I. ONE YEAR AFTER THE RETURN…
International Liaison Office for President Aristide
I. ONE YEAR AFTER THE RETURN
OPENINGS AND CONSTRAINTS
One year after the restoration of the constitutional government, Haitians point to the achievement of several concrete successes in the democratization of the country: 1) the return of the government elected by the people and of the rule of law; 2) th e end of the brutal assassinations of the military regime and the opportunity to live in security; 3) the dissolution of the historically repressive Armed Forces of Haiti; 4) the creation of a National Police under civilian authority; 5) the opening of n ew political space so that millions of people can organize, debate, associate, and express themselves.
Nevertheless, Haitians express grave frustrations in the realms of political and economic justice. Peasant, popular, student and labor organizations throughout the country are actively demanding that the Haitian government take strong action to: 1) put an end to impunity and corruption and assure that those guilty of the massive human rights abuses during the three years of the military dictatorship are brought to trial; 2) foster a concensus, through democratic debate, around the design and impl ementation of programs for economic development appropriate to Haiti, aimed at benefiting the poor who constitute the vast majority of the population, and focusing on such key issues as the need to break down the traditional monopoly economy.
The vast majority of Haitians appear to accept President Aristide’s appeals for national reconciliation with justice. However, they increasingly express concerns about “one-sided reconciliation”, characterized by impunity for those responsible for human rights violations and unequal access to national economic assets and resources. They feel that true reconciliation is incompatible with impunity, non-payment of taxes, and monopolistic expansionism. These concerns have emerged at all levels of civil so ciety: in the Parliament, on radio programs, and newspapers, and in demonstrations throughout the country.
Another concern of Haitians, that threatens the country’s democratic future, is that the arms belonging to the military and illegal paramilitary forces in Haiti have not been fully confiscated, despite continuous requests by the Haitian government and Haitian and international human rights organizations that the UN and United States multinational forces act to impound them. v
CONTROVERSY OVER PRIVATIZATION
During the first week of October, the Government of Haiti declined to sign a letter of intent which was required for the release of $100 million from the international financial institutions to the Government.
Immediately after the Government of Haiti refused to sign the letter, the U.S. Agency for International Development suspended $4.6 million in balance of payments support. The Government is now functioning without any budgetary support from the internat ional community and has been relying solely on limited domestic revenues.
A principal concern of the Government is that privatization needs to be decided through a democratic process. New Prime Minister Claudette Werleigh stated the need for “a national debate to find a solution [regarding the future of the state-owned enterp rises] acceptable to the interests of the nation.” Another concern is that property ownership be “democratized” not further concentrated. This was part of the understanding upon which the Government of Haiti received commitments for assistance from the international community in Paris in August of 1994 and January of 1995. Plans included provisions that: pThe privatization law be debated by the new parliament; pPrivatization occur within the context of anti-trust regulations to be passed by the new parliament; pA special effort be made to ensure that the state enterprises not fall into the hands of Haiti’s small and historically anti-democratic circle of elite families which currently monopolize much of the economy — a major fear expressed by the Haitian peopl e. Instead, ownership is to be “diversified” and “democratized.”
Popular organizations in Haiti as well as the newly elected parliament have been critical of both the Government and the international financial institutions for the lack of transparency in the debate about privatization. They have been outspoken in the ir concern over the loss of control of key national economic assets just as the Haitian people have gained democratic control of their country for the first time.
Seated only on October 18, the Parliament has not yet had the opportunity to debate and pass a privatization law, anti-trust legislation, or debate specific proposals for the various state-owned enterprises. With a new Parliament and Cabinet, and with a population determined to be part of the decision-making process, time will be needed to make a sound and democratic decision on such vital national issues as privatization and economic reform. v
NEW PARLIAMENT OPENS SESSION
The new Haitian Parliament, composed of 27 Senators and 79 Representatives, was convened for a National Assembly on October 18, 1995 by the President of the Republic, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Among the first issues considered by the new Parliament were the ratification of the Prime Minister and a vote of confidence for her new government and its plans, including issues of economic reform and privatization. Other priority matters to be considered for this session are: the ratification of the acts taken by the Executive during the absence of the Legislature; decentralization of central administration via the establishment of territorial collectives (see page 4); the creation of a Reconciliation Commission (charged with resolving disputes between the Ex ecutive and Legislative branches); the agreement on a National Budget; the preparation of the organizational laws for the Ministries; and the official dissolution of the armed forces.
Senator Edgar Leblanc (OPL) was elected President of the Upper House; Senator Samuel Madistin (OPL), Vice President; Senator Elie Plancher (OPL), treasurer; and Senators Jean Robert Martinez (FNCD) and Jean Claude Daniel (PLB), Secretaries. In the Lower House, Representative Fritz Robert Saint Paul (OPL) was elected President; Representative Kelly Bastien (OPL), Vice President; Representative Ricard Pierre (OPL), Treasurer; and Representatives Garry Guiteau (OPL) and Martiel Pierre (GMRN), Secretaries. v
NEW PRIME MINISTER RATIFIED
Claudette Werleigh, the former Foreign Relations Minister, presented her policy plan and her cabinet to the Senate on November 5 and to the Lower House on November 6. After ratification by both Houses, she and her cabinet were inaugurated on November 7. Werleigh, Haiti’s first woman Prime Minister, has a long and active history in the country’s democratic movement as well as a distinguished career in both governmental and non- governmental sectors.
Werleigh identified several concrete goals for her government for the 100 days leading to February 7, 1995. They include: p Organizing presidential elections; p Full deployment of the National Police; p Reinvigorating the literacy campaign; p Reforming public administration, including expanded hours, retraining, and replacing unqualified persons; p Collecting tax arrears; p Increasing state revenues; p Making reparation to victims of the coup with special attention to children orphaned those three years; p Invigorating national dialogue; p Accelerating land reform; and p Passing anti-monopoly legislation.
The new Cabinet includes Jean-Marie Cherestal (former Minister of Planning) for Finance; Myrtho Celestin Saurel (Minister of Social Affairs in the Aristide/Preval government) for Education; Reni Magloire (member of the Truth Commission) for Justice; T herese Guilloteau (former Director General of the Ministry) for Women’s Affairs; Fritz Longchamp (Haiti’s Ambassador at the UN) for Foreign Affairs; David Nicola for Agriculture; Dr. Gerard Blot (former Director General of Health) for Public Administrat ion; Farah Juste for 10th Department; Fred Joseph (former Vice President of Central Bank) for Planning; Dr. Rudolphe Malbranche for Health; and Jacques Dorcean for Public Works.
Remaining members from the original Michel Cabinet include Jean-Claude Bajeaux for Culture, Wilthan Lherrison for Interior and Defense (the two ministries have been combined), Roger Perodin (former Governor of Central Bank, appointed in August 1995) for Commerce and Industry, Yves Andre Wainwright (appointed in August 1995) for Environment, Mathilde Flambert (appointed in August 1995) for Social Affairs, Maryse Penette for the Secretary of State for Tourism, Carolle Denerville for the Secretary of Justic e, and Paul Dejean for the Secretary of Literacy.
Former Prime Minister Smarck Michel presented his resignation on October 16, as it was doubtful that he could gain a vote of confidence from the new Parliament. v
NEW NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
As was predicted throughout the electoral process, the Lavalas political coalition or platform, which includes three political parties (OPL, MOP, PLB) and various popular organizations, obtained a majority in both Houses. In addition to the parties and groupings of the Lavalas coalition, eight other political parties were voted into the parliament in the elections of June-September 1995 (FNCD, PANPRA, KONAKOM, PNT, UPDC, GMRN, PROP, and MKN), as were several independent candidates. In addition, there a re three more parties represented among the nine members of the Senate whose terms carry over from the prior legislature (RDNP, PADEMN and the Alliance).
The two Senators of the Parliamentary Alliance, Bernard Sansaricq and Eddy Dupiton, elected in 1990 for 6 years, publicly supported the coup d’etat of September 30, 1991 and voted for the installation of every de facto government that issued from the cou p. They deserted the Parliament upon the restoration of the constitutional order. The Senate set a deadline for these Senators to present themselves to the Parliament, after which it will suspend their salaries and consider further steps to expel them f rom public office.
Elections in four districts for Lower House members were annulled because of logistical problems and will be held jointly with the next presidential elections.
Given prior history in the Haitian Parliament, it is not unlikely that some candidates who won under the Lavalas banner but who do not necessarily share the convictions of the movement that brought them to power will shift allegiances. v
THE NEW MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF DECENTRALIZATION
Historically, the only formal presence of the Haitian state in the countryside were the tax office and the military post, reflecting the state’s role of repressing and draining resources from the population. Tonton Macoutes and section chiefs — respon sible to none but dictator Duvalier and local large landowners — wielded de facto control over rural Haiti and its inhabitants.
Today, Haitians and their recently elected representatives look to consolidate for the first time local representation that responds to local needs. The commune is for the first time administered by a three-member Municipal Council (CASEC) elected by un iversal suffrage every four years. The head of the CASEC is the mayor. The establishment of the CASEC system for rural administration is considered vital in establishing democracy in rural areas.
Under the Constitution ratified by the Haitians in 1987, the state is made up of four administrative entities: -The communal section, the smallest administrative organization; -The commune, composed of several communal sections; -The district, composed of several communes; and -The department, (nine in the whole country) composed of various districts.
Prior to the recent 1995 elections, two municipal elections were held: in 1988 and 1990. The 1988 elections were organized under a military government and were considered illegitimate by the electorate as well as the international community. The 1990 e lections were considered just and honest, and local officials took office in February of 1991. After the coup d’etat of September 30, 1991, many elected officials were forced to flee their communes or the country, and the military government returned to the previous authoritarian system of the section chiefs.
The new CASECS have now taken office and face enormous challenges in implementing programs which can improve conditions in the countryside and support citizen participation. There are, among many other problems, a lack of financial resources and materia ls, a lack of infrastructure, and a lack of public records. Haitian municipalities are not able to raise enough tax revenues to cover even their minimum operating costs.
The central government faces the challenge of channeling financial, technical and human resources to rural areas to meet local needs. This includes establishing mechanisms to collect tax revenues and distribute them to the municipal governments as well as providing the technical assistance necessary to ensure effective progress at the local level, and the planning, administration and implementation of agricultural extension and social services.
Another key institution created by the 1987 Constitution is the Territorial Assemblies (sectional, municipal, and departmental), whose members are elected by universal suffrage. The Municipal Assemblies are responsible for proposing to the executive bra nch the lists of candidates to fill the positions of Justice of the Peace; the Departmental Assemblies have similar powers with respect to the Judges of the Departmental Courts and the Courts of Appeal; likewise, each of the Departmental Assemblies desi gnates 3 individuals from whom the Executive, the Parliament, and the Supreme Court choose the nine members of the Permanent Electoral Council.
The new Parliament must also pass a decentralization law to regulate the organization and the operation of the Territorial Assemblies to achieve decentralization of power and public services. This law must clearly define the new relation between the cent ral government and the municipalities to guarantee regional autonomy. v
SOURCES ASSERT THAT THE US BLOCKS INVESTIGATIONS OF COUP CRIMES
Despite United States government assistance to reform the judicial system, according to various sources the United States government has failed to adequately support prosecution of those who are responsible for 5,000 assassinations and massive human righ ts abuses.
In an article in The Nation (October 9, 1995), Allan Nairn writes that a prisoner accused of the assassination of Justice Minister Guy Malary on October 14, 1993 informed investigators that he was receiving money from the United States Embassy at the tim e of the assassination. According to the article, those officials confirmed that Marcel Morisaint collaborated with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) while he worked as the attachi of the Chief of Police and coup leader, Michel Frangois. Subseq uently, US officials assisted in the prisoner’s escape. Morrisaint was going to be one of the principle witnesses of the international criminal investigating team put together by President Aristide to investigate some of the crimes committed during the c oup.
Along the same line, the New York weekly The Village Voice (October 10, 1995) in an article entitled “Aristide investigates crimes that the United States would prefer left unsolved” indicates that “…surrounding Aristide’s attempts to enforce law and or der is a growing suspicion that the United States may be trying to stymie his efforts”. The article cites a memo from Major John Shissler, Information Chief of the Commander of the Multinational Forces, in which he states that to investigate the crimes o f the de facto government of Cedras could be interpreted as an act of vengeance by the present government, and therefore could alienate members of the right wing and the economic elite.
The Haitian Creole language newspaper Libhte (Liberty) in an article titled “Who is obstructing the judicial system?” (October 4-10 edition) asserts that the US government is responsible for impeding the prosecution of the principle authors of the coup s uch as Raoul Cedras, Michel Frangois, Emmanuel Constant, Louis Jodel Chamblain, Marcel Morissaint, Gros Fanfan, etc., thus preventing the events of the coup d’etat from being uncovered. Other news articles have frequently reported on the links between h igh-ranking members of the military dictatorship and members of the paramilitary organizations and the CIA (see for instance, New York Times, November 1, 1993.)
In an article from Inter Press Service (October 10, 1995), Dan Coughlin writes that the Pentagon refused to hand over some 60,000 pages of documents confiscated last year when the U.S. troops stormed FRAPH’s offices. Created in 1993, FRAPH organized and participated in a large number of assassinations, tortures, illegal detentions and rapes during the military regime. According to human rights lawyer Michel Ratner, these documents contain crucial information about FRAPH’s financing and arms supply as well as its numerous acts of torture and murder. This information would be a great help to the National Truth and Justice Commission that is examining the human rights violations committed during the military regime, responsible for the deaths of approxi mately 5,000 people. The Haitian Senate, in one of its first acts, passed a resolution expressing grave concern at the US apparent unwillingness to cooperate with efforts to shed light on human rights violations in Haiti.
Also, as the mandate of the Truth Commission runs out, and despite the public support of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, the US government refuses to respond to numerous appeals for funding. Were it not for disbursements from Europe, Canada a nd the UN, it is extremely doubtful that the Commission would be functioning at all. v
MICHEL FRANGOIS CONVICTED IN ABSENTIA
The former Chief of Police Michel Frangois, one of the leaders of the coup and a principal actor in implementing the reign of terror that took 5000 lives, was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for his participation in the killing of Antoine Izmery . Frangois is now living in the Dominican Republic, where he was given asylum. Another sixteen defendants were tried in absentia, and received sentences the same day. Justice Ministry officials said that they will make extradition requests and that th e Haiti-based assets of those convicted will be frozen. v
RABOTEAU MASSACRE INVESTIGATIONS
A trial has begun against a number of military personnel in the massacre of April 1994 at Raboteau, a poor neighborhood of Gonaives, in which soldiers and FRAPH members killed at least 27 residents.
At the time the trial commenced, the National Truth and Justice Commission was carrying out exhumations and research at the site through a collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the OAS/UN International Civilian Mi ssion. v
US REFUSES TO REMOVE PHILADELPHIA’S TOXIC ASH FROM GONAIVES
Eight years after 2,000 to 4,500 tons of toxic ash from a Philadelphia municipal incinerator were dumped in Gonaives, the U.S. government still refuses to remove the material from Haiti. Last month, the U.S. army went to Gonaives to investigate the site where the ash is now housed in an open, concrete block depot. Instead of their taking the ash away, as Haitian government officials and environmental activists had expected, the U.S. Army said that it was only studying the possibility of building a new cement home for the waste. The Army further stated that the ash contains no toxic materials.
Leaving the hazardous waste on-site is not an acceptable solution to the people of Gonaives. They have suffered its effects since the cargo ship “Khian Sea” first unloaded the U.S. garbage on the beach of Gonaives in December 1987. Although Greenpeace and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had already done tests on the ash and concluded that it was highly dangerous, the military government of Gen. Henry Namphy allowed the Khian Sea to unload its cargo. Since that time, the chemicals have killed fish and other marine life, killed goats and other animals which graze on the soil into which toxins have leaked, and adversely affected the health of the 5,000 people living near the site. Local residents are forbidden from using salt drying beds nearby , and can no longer depend on fishing for food or income.
U.S. Agency for International Development has been urging the creation of a landfill in Haiti in which to bury the waste. The new Haitian Minister of Environment, Yves-Marie Wainright, declares this unacceptable. The environmental coalition COHPEDA (Co llectif Haitien pour la Protection de l’Environnement et un Developpement Alternatif) goes further, suggesting that a landfill in Haiti might only attract future shipments of international waste.
Grassroots and national Haitian organizations have worked to get the U.S. government, together with the City of Philadelphia, to reclaim the ash. Forty Haitian organizations published a full-page ad in Le Nouvelliste last March, timed to coincide with P resident Clinton’s trip to Haiti. “We remember your statements and those of Vice-President Albert Gore expressing your commitment to protect the environment,” said the open letter to Clinton. “Thus we are asking you to issue an Executive Order directing U.S. military personnel currently present in Haiti… to clean up the dump site and return the ash to its place of origin… We have no doubt that Philadelphia possesses more resources than the Haitian people to manage that city’s wastes.”
The international organizations working alongside the Haitians on this issue urge that the waste not simply be relocated to a low-income community in the U.S. They call for prevention of future problems by promoting municipal recycling and composting wi thin the U.S., and by enforcement of the Basel Convention, which would forbid exports of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD member states. Thus far the U.S. governnent has blocked ratification of the Convention.
For more information on the campaign to return the hazardous waste to the US, contact Marcelo Furtado at Greenpeace (202-462-1177) or Ehrl LaFontant at Haiti Communications Project (617-542-1013). v
THE ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY: PLAN OF ACTION
Haiti was once among the richest and most productive colonies of the continent. Today, however, Haiti must organize an intensive campaign to overcome the devastation and deforestation caused by centuries of exploitation and neglect. What follows is the Environment Ministry’s “Plan of Action for the Environment” for the 1995/96 fiscal year.
1) Reduce the drain on wood resources by urban consumers. Develop and implement policies of promotion, such as: —Reduce the use of wood-burning stoves by promoting the use of gas stoves, and improve existing wood and coal stoves; —Research economic policies and the democratization of the market; —Study the option of importing fuel from overseas (gas, coal, etc.); —Produce and evaluate “bio-gas” in the public slaughter houses; —Organize an international meeting about public consumer energy use.
2) Support the territorial collectives in the installation of an urban sanitary system by promoting and coordinating the following: —The organization of a trash collection system in urban areas of more than 5,000 inhabitants and in regional agricultural markets, as well as the identification of means of finance; —The identification and control of waste disposal sites; —The education of the population and the regulation of the quality of the water sold by public and private institutions; —The organization of permanent intersectorial commissions to develop norms for the administration of plastic packaging, the administration of waste, and the engine emissions.
3) Develop the watersheds, promoting and coordinating in the following areas: —The definition of strategies for the protection of water sources; —The promotion and technical support for the civil society groups and solidarity networks for reforestation and environmental rehabilitation; —Aerial seeding in critical foresting zones, and the development of various regional projects; —The education of the public on the short and long term damage to the community caused by the mismanagement of mines and quarries.
4) Establish foundations for ecological tourism through measures such as: —Support of the territorial collectives in cleaning and beautifying beaches and coastal areas; —Development of a project for the rehabilitation of various marine parks; —Support for the training of professionals in ecological tourism.
5) Other essential points on environmental education are: —Applying environmental education strategies; —Promoting community action in primary and secondary schools; —Coordinating a national campaign to expand local honey markets and to decentralize production; —Organizing seminars for the police on pollution and deforestation; —Developing rules for the use and commercialization of pesticides.
6) Institutional strengthening will consist of, among other things: —Training of professionals both in the Ministries and at the local level; —Organizing conferences to study national and international environmental laws; and —Supporting scientific institutions. vvvvv
N.B. These materials are being distributed by the International Liaison Office for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The International Liaison Office is registered with the Department of Justice, Washington DC, under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as an agent of the Government of Haiti. The required registration statements are available for public inspection at the Department of Justice. Registration does not indicate approval of the contents of these materials by the United States Government.