Haiti Archives 1995-1996
01/02/96 HAITI: UPDATE February 1, 1996 International Liaison Office for President Aristide

CONTENTS:

I. JUSTICE — Haitian Government Refuses To Negotiate Partial Return of FRAPH and FAd'H Seized Material — US Congressional Hearing on FBI Investigation — New Haitian Police Force —New Tribunal for Children —Truth and Justice Commission

II. ECONOMY

—International Financial Contributions Still Withheld as Debate over Privatization Continues — USAID PR Campaign on Privatization — In Haiti's Assembly Zones, Pocahontas Symbolizes Abuse

III. UNITED NATIONS

— UN Mandate in Haiti Extended for Six More Months

IV. NEWS BRIEFS

— Historic Democratic Transition of Power — IDB Education Program Suspended — Political Problems Due to "Racial" Factor — "Arrogance Under the Hospitality of the Poor" — Haitian Legislator Shot Twice — Insult Upon Injury for Captain Rockwood — President Exchanges Wedding Vows

International Liaison Office for President Aristide, P.O. Box 25535, Washington, DC 20007. Tel: (202) 965-0830; Fax: (202) 965-0831; E-mail: ilophaiti@igc.apc.org

I. JUSTICE Haitian Government Refuses To Negotiate Partial Return of FRAPH and FAd'H Seized Material

"I am writing to reiterate the position of the Haitian government regarding the FRAPH and FAd'H materials which were removed from Haiti by the United States military. These materials are the property of the Government of Haiti. They were removed from Haiti without the consent or knowledge of the Government of Haiti. We have requested their return, and anticipate that they will be turned over in the conditions which they were taken at the earliest possible date.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, I repeat what I have said on many occasions both in private meetings and to the press. As the documents are the property of the Government of Haiti, there is nothing to negotiate regarding the conditions of their return. My Foreign Minister and Minister of Justice have also shared this position with you on numerous occasions. The materials are the property of the Government of Haiti and we await their return in their entirety." Letter from President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Ambassador Swing, January 29, 1996.

On January 30, the US government sent approximately 500 pounds of material confiscated from the terrorist group FRAPH to Haiti. This first shipment of material is not believed to contain any sensitive information. The government of Haiti notified the American Embassy that it is awaiting the return of all FRAPH and FAd'H material seized and declined to take possession until all materials are produced.

Some 150,000 pages of documents and materials were seized and improperly removed from Haiti by U.S. troops during the Fall of 1994. These documents, photographs, videotapes, audiotapes and other material are property of the Government of Haiti, yet remain in U.S. government hands. The documents are essential to consolidating the rule of law in Haiti, through the investigation and prosecution of crimes, and are vital to the work of the Truth and Justice Commission and to the follow-up of its recommendations.

The Haitian Government's position has been that no "negotiations" are necessary to obtain its own property. For over a year, the U.S. Government has not responded to a Haitian Government request to return the documents. Journalists and policymakers have reasoned that the United States may seek to avoid the release of further information which might connect U.S. agencies to the Haitian coup regime and its paramilitary forces. Numerous press reports have detailed the close relations of the U.S. military and intelligence agencies with FRAPH and the members of Haitian Armed Forces, both during the coup regime and after the restoration of Haiti's democratic government.

On January 30, a group of about 30 members of the US Congress requested an urgent meeting with President Bill Clinton to discuss the immediate release of the material seized in Haiti. Representative John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus concluded in a January 2, 1996 statement that "(i)f we've accepted that the documents belong to Haiti and should be returned, it's a little absurd and totally inappropriate for the US to be setting these kinds of conditions on a friendly government. We should be doing everything in our power to facilitate the disarmament process and the restoration of human rights. Instead, we've had an international obstruction of justice." [emphasis added]

A study of this issue prepared by the US Congressional Research Service on December 12, 1995 states that "under international law as interpreted by the US government, these government documents did not belong to the former military rulers but rather belonged all along to the Haitian state, and their retention by the US government violates Haiti's ownership rights. Moreover, in seizing the documents the American military may have violated the terms of the Agreement of December 22, 1994 (the Agreement) between the US government and the government of the Republic of Haiti setting forth the terms of the American military's mission in Haiti," [see Paragraph 5 of the Agreement].

US Congressional Hearings on FBI Investigation

The US House Committee on International Relations convened a hearing on January 4, 1996 on Haiti. They focused on the 10-month FBI investigation of the double assassination of lawyer Mireille Durocher Bertin and airline pilot Eugene Baillergeau.

The Republican members of the Committee accused Clinton administration officials of lying or withholding information concerning this investigation. Despite an acknowledged lack of evidence, they accused certain Haitian officials were accused of involvement in the killings. Efforts by the government of Haiti to insure the protection of the rights of its employees were labeled "an obstruction of the FBI investigation".

US Attorney General Janet Reno, through US Ambassador in Haiti William Swing, offered the services of the FBI to President Aristide after the killings of Bertin and Baillergeau. President Aristide accepted the offer and repeatedly requested that the FBI presence in Haiti concentrate not only on the Bertin murder, but also on other high profile political assassinations that occurred over the last three years, "…(T)he assistance offered by the FBI should extend to all victims of violent crime in Haiti. Since the coup of 1991, Haiti has lost 5,000 citizens. As the President of each and every Haitian citizen, I do not and cannot place a higher value on the life of one citizen above any other," said President Aristide in his answer to Ambassador Swing on July 13. The FBI refused to assist in any other investigation.

The President's letter also stated that "the role of the FBI in Haiti is to provide assistance to the Haitian government under the authority of the Haitian Ministry of Justice… I must once again emphasize that the FBI must work with the Minister of Justice and not attempt to bypass him." Yet, the agency repeatedly refused to brief the Ministry of Justice on the progress of the investigation.

According to the testimony of FBI Deputy Assistant Director William E. Perry before the House International Relations Committee on January 4, the Ministry of Justice and the FBI agreed that the FBI and the Interim Police Security Force, headed by Danny Toussaint, would conduct parallel investigations and exchange information on the Bertin killing. Instead, "once its own investigation began, the FBI did not pursue any evidence exchange with the IPSF and provided it no information," Perry said.

At the beginning of January, FBI allegations leaked to US media suggested that the FBI found evidence indicating the possible complicity of key officers of the Aristide government. However, under close questioning from Democrats, William E. Perry told the US Congress that his agency had no evidence linking any member of the Aristide government to the killings. Representatives of the FBI also said that they did not know whether those alleging such a connection were telling the truth or had motives to lie. He also stressed that the Bureau encountered numerous problems in Haiti, such as language and cultural barriers, the fact that the agency had no official status in the country, and the Haitian government's failure to cooperate.

However, Haitian officials say that their government set up a special investigative unit within the Haitian Ministry of Justice to carry out its own probe. A statement issued by Foreign Minister Fritz Longchamp on January 4, 1996 points out that the government of Haiti fully cooperated with the FBI investigation and provided independent counsels for potential witnesses. "All of the GOH employees were willing to be interviewed and the lawyers and witnesses made themselves available for such interviews. However, one point never resolved between the independent counsel and the FBI is the review of transcripts. Given the highly politicized nature of this investigation the employees justifiably feared that without the safeguard of a reliable record, which can only be determined through review, their statements could be misinterpreted, misconstrued, or distorted. These concerns are valid given the cross-cultural nature of the interviews, where language used by the interviewer cannot be reviewed by the intervieees. The FBI has not pursued the interviews." This revision of transcripts is standard procedure in the US.

In sum, the Haitian government invited the FBI's assistance due to its profound desire to see justice done on a broad range of cases; the government of Haiti was extremely cooperative with the FBI, to a degree perhaps unprecedented internationally; the FBI would not agree to a lawyer's request to provide transcripts to those it interviewed; the FBI's final report found no substantiation that Haitian government employees were involved in the assassinations; the Haitian government is continuing its investigation of this and other crimes.

New Haitian Police Force

As the new Haitian National Police takes on increasing responsibilities throughout the country, their performance since its inception is receiving both praise and criticism.

Some Haitian citizens and human rights groups have raised complaints against some members of the new Haitian National Police. In several disturbing incidents, members of the police have reportedly been involved in using excessive force, in illegal shootings, and poor response to crowd control situations. Two members have been suspended and turned over to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution in response to two incidents. A number of other investigations are underway.

To prevent abuses of power, the Ministry of Justice is seeking to consolidate newly established monitoring and oversight mechanisms, pursuant to the Police Law enacted by Parliament in November 1994, through the following institutions:

1) Superior Council of the National Police – This body consists of five members: the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Interior, the Police Commissioner, and the Inspector General.

2) Inspector General's Office – The Inspector General and six general inspectors are to "receive complaints and proceed with inquiries into attacks on human rights and all other abuses that are attributed to police officers." (Police Law) The Inspector General also conducts periodic inspections of police locales and the Police Academy, and carries out studies and inquiries into the development and efficiency of the police.

3) A Disciplinary Council.

4) The Office of Citizen Protection – a human rights ombudsman to interact with the National Police.

In recent meetings between President Aristide and Cité Soleil residents complaining about police abuses, the President promised that police personnel will be held accountable for their actions through disciplinary measures. The President also noted that disarmament has not been completed and that the new police lacks the necessary tools to do its job.

On January 16, the Senate rejected President Aristide's nomination of Fourel Celestin to head the Haitian National Police. Incoming President Rene Preval is expected to nominate a new chief who will have to be approved by Parliament.

Reportedly displeased with the composition of the Police Force, US House Republicans initially held up US$ 5 million for the U.S. police training program in Haiti, but on January 11 decided to release $2.5 million of that aid.

New Tribunal for Children

The Ministry of Social Affairs has created a Tribunal for Children in Port-au-Prince. Minister Mathilde Flambert said that the Ministry was also planning to establish an education and training center at Fort National for youth convicted of crimes. In an interview, Minister Flambert said that "psychologists will work with them and help them rehabilitate… One of our priorities is to apply the convention of human rights for youth so that minors are not prosecuted and imprisoned as adults."

Truth and Justice Commission

The Truth and Justice Commission, responsible for shedding light on human rights violations under the military regime, hopes to present its final report to the Executive before the departure of the Aristide government.

The investigation phase is completed and a sophisticated data base has been created based on the thousands of individual interviews carried out by the Commission. In addition to extensive information and an analysis of the human rights abuses, the Commission has compiled a number of recommendations aimed at preventing the recurrence of such abuses. The recommendations are also expected to prioritize compensation for the victims and judicial reform. It is hoped that the release of the report will help to accelerate government efforts to end impunity for human rights violations.

The Haitian people continue to voice their demand for justice for the thousands of victims of the coup regime and their families. A December message from Tilegliz Nasyonal (National Committee of the Christian Base Communities) stated:"…1995 was the year of false reconciliation without justice. We remember the victims of the coup d'etat on the anniversary of the dates when they fell. But when will the sun of justice rise for these victims and their families? Will the Truth Commission put the spotlight on those responsible for these crimes against humanity as well as their accomplices?…" .

II. ECONOMY International Financial Contributions Still Withheld as Debate over Privatization Continues

At the end of January negotiations resumed between the government of Haiti and International Financial Institutions over the terms of structural adjustment and the resumption of international funding to Haiti. Representatives of the IMF, World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank traveled to Haiti for discussions with the government. Discussions on the next three years of the structural adjustment program, upon which over $100 million in balance of payments support is conditioned, broke down last October after the government of Haiti rejected new terms of the international financial institutions, particularly on the issue of privatization. This followed sustained protests by Haitian civil society against privatization of nine state-owned enterprises. Many women's groups, peasant associations, labor unions, church groups, development organizations and academic experts opposed the implementation of such major economic changes without open and democratic debate, eventually forcing the resignation of Smarck ichel's government. At that time, USAID cut off its last installment of $4.6 million in balance of payments support to press for faster progress in privatizing the state-owned enterprises and reducing the government payroll.

Those sectors of civil society that slowed the privatization process are now drafting their own proposals to promote the long term social and economic development of Haiti. For example, the Platform for Advocacy of Development Alternatives, a coalition of non-governmental organizations and popular groups, has been working with representatives of public enterprise unions and other popular organizations to formulate concrete proposals that they believe best protect the interests of the majority of Haitians. Their proposals include the restructuring of state-owned enterprises without selling them off to private owners.

On January 30 the Platform and the telecommunications workers union co-sponsored a press conference at which they raised their concerns and outlined alternatives. Among the concerns raised was that the government and people of Haiti stand to lose tremendously if the national telecommunications company (Teleco), which is immensely profitable and earned $71 million in foreign exchange last year, is sold to private investors. Revenue from the telephone company has amounted to 3% of Haiti's Gross Domestic Product over the last ten years. Studies by outside consultants indicate that an additional $150 million per year could be generated by expanding phone service. The new investment required could be financed primarily from Teleco revenues. The Platform and union representatives noted that it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, for the Haitian Government to replace this source of revenue if it were lost. This would greatly increase Haiti's dependence on foreign borrowing and make it much more difficult to finace national development and social needs such as education and health care.

Teleco workers and consumers have also raised concerns about internal sabotage and corruption directed toward increasing the influence of foreign telecommunications companies. MCI currently receives 50% of all long distance revenues billed through them, and employees say they fear that the share of revenue lost to foreign companies might increase.

The state-owned Electricité d'Haiti (EdH) is currently neither profitable nor capable of meeting existing demand. However, EdH workers note that most of its problems are due to the fact that only about half of the electricity produced is actually billed for, and of this amount, only about 25% is paid. Much of the unpaid electricity goes to established businesses and residences, and not just to illegal connections in poor neighborhoods. Metering and enforcement of collections, as well as other management changes, are seen as essential but not related to a change of ownership. EdH workers and representatives of development organizations indicate that most of the capital required for the necessary investment has already been allocated, including credit from the central bank and funds from the Inter-American Development Bank and the European Union.

Another point of contention expressed by the large and vocal movement against structural adjustment is that privatization of EdH would leave Haiti with a powerful private monopoly able to exploit its market power through unreasonably high prices, especially in the absence of a developed regulatory structure. Electricity is also essential to any overall development strategy. For example, rural electrification could play a vital role in developing agro-processing industries and employment in the countryside. And, EdH workers insist, electrification must be part of an overall energy policy, which among other things would reduce charcoal consumption which is responsible for 60% of Haiti's deforestation. A privately owned company would have no reason to take any of these needs into account in formulating its investment, pricing, or other policies.

The Platform has raised similar questions about the proposed privatization of the cement factory which, according to a World Bank study, is capable of producing 200,000 tons of cement per year, at competitive costs, with very minimal investment. The plant has been closed since 1993 and the IMF, World Bank, and USAID are insisting that it be reopened only if it is privatized. Employees and representatives of development organizations express concerns that Haiti's national development interest in cheap, domestically produced cement, might not be met if an unregulated private company were able to capture the entire market— which, according to the World Bank's study, seems likely. Since the closure of the cement factory, all cement in Haiti is imported and prices have remained high.

The broad-based opposition points to other factors it feels must be satisfactorily addressed before privatization can even be considered. For instance, Haiti's agreements with the international financial institutions explicitly state that state-owned enterprises will be "democratized," and that privatization should not further concentrate wealth and power in the hands of anti-democratic elements of the elite. At the Paris meetings with international donors (August 1994 and January 1995), the government of Haiti and the international financial institutions agreed that careful analysis of all available options, and extensive national debate would accompany each proposed component of privatization. The Platform is considering employee ownership plans as one way to guarantee true democratization of ownership, should a democratic decision to privatize be made.

Many other aspects of the privatization process remain to be addressed. Some have questioned the IMF's requirement, as a condition of its lending, that no central bank credit be extended to the parastatals. "This condition continues the deterioration the state-owned companies suffered under the coup regime, increases the public's perception that the government cannot run the enterprises, and ensures that they will be sold at less than their value," said Camille Chalmers, Executive Secretary of the Platform.

The public debate over privatization is clearly just beginning, and Haiti's newly formed representative institutions, such as the Parliament, have yet to have their say. As opposed to the typical process whereby institutions such as USAID, the World Bank, and the IMF mandate dramatic economic changes without democratic input, a new type of process is unfolding as the Haitian people seek to use their democratic institutions to shape national economic strategy in their interests.

USAID PR Campaign on Privatization

The US Agency for International Development is financing a "public awareness" campaign on privatization. Administered through the Canadian firm Gervais Gagnon Covington Associates, the US$ 900,000 campaign will include radio and television announcements, street banners, conferences, and trainings. Among the targets of the US-sponsored campaign are Haitian Parliamentarians, trade unionists, and local elected officials.

The original USAID plan was to focus on privatization "success stories." The Government of Haiti challenged this as imbalanced, pointing out that both sides of the question need to be presented. The final plan, signed in December with the Government of Haiti, is neutrally worded though, as one Haitian economic justice advocate put it, "Given how USAID has been pressing for privatization, can it possibly run a fair information campaign? Or will this simply be pro-privatization propaganda?"

In Haiti's Assembly Zones, Pocahontas Symbolizes Abuse

More than half of the approximately fifty US assembly firms now operating in Haiti are violating the minimum wage law of 36 gourdes (US$ 2.40) per day, according to a report just published by the National Labor Committee (NLC). The NLC investigation found that Haitian contractors producing "Mickey Mouse" and "Pocahontas" pajamas for US companies under license with the Walt Disney Corporation are in some cases paying workers as little as 15 gourdes (US$ 1) per day —12 cents per hour — in clear violation of Haitian law. The pajamas and other clothes manufactured in Haiti are sold at Wal-Mart, Sears, and J.C. Penney.

In March 1995, President Aristide increased the minimum wage from 15 gourdes (US$ 1) per day to 36 gourdes (US$ 2.40) per 8-hour day. In response, many companies have simply increased the production quota, extracting more intensive labor from the workers before they can receive the minimum wage. Under the law, the wage is guaranteed and not tied to a quota.

Lawrence Crandall, chief of the USAID mission in Haiti, told the NLC that USAID "had no position" or responsibility on minimum wage enforcement. In fact, 1991 position papers by USAID strongly counseled against the Aristide Administration's raising the minimum wage. Moreover, in the last sixteen months alone, U.S. taxpayers have spent at least $8 million on a USAID-run program to attract and assist U.S. business in Haiti, leading the NLC to conclude that "the U.S. government has shown an aggressive commitment to court U.S. business to invest in Haiti, but it has shown no commitment to the workers who produce for those U.S. companies."

According to the NLC study, even the new minimum wage salary provides less than 60% of the bare minimum needs for a family of five. According to President Aristide, because of inflation, the minimum wage would need to be at least 45 gourdes just to bring it to parity with l99l minimum wage. However, a wage of 25 gourdes (US$ 1.67), which the NLC's investigation found to be common, provides less than 25% of the minimum needs of a family of five.

The NLC also found evidence of other serious violations by U.S. companies. One group of Haitian workers showed the investigators "Made in USA" labels, which they sew onto sports team jerseys apparently bound for Wal-Mart. Some companies pay straight time on Sundays, not time-and-a-half as Haitian law requires for more than a full six-day week. This is especially significant given that companies sometimes force workers to work seven days a week. At one U.S. company visited by the NLC, workers had worked more than fifty days straight, for as much as seventy hours per week. A significant percentage of women workers are forced to have sex with the bosses in order to get or keep their jobs.

(To order "The U.S. in Haiti: How to Get Rich on 11 Cents an Hour", contact the National Labor Committee, 15 Union Square West, New York, NY, 10003, 212-242-0700.)

III. UNITED NATIONS

UN Mandate in Haiti Extended for Six more Months

President-elect Rene Preval is expected to formally ask the United Nations Mission in Haiti to extend its mandate for six months as soon as he takes office. The size and makeup of the extended mission has not been determined yet but could include about 2000 military troops and a few hundred police monitors. The current mandate of the 6000 member mission officially ends on February 29, 1996, and the UN has already started to gradually withdraw its members. The number of U.S. troops has been reduced from 2,400 to 2,000, with the overall number of U.N. reduced from 6,000 to 5,400. The Multinational Police contingent has been reduced from its original 900 members to 400. The contingents from Guatemala, Honduras, India, and Philippines have already departed. The next contingent to leave the island is CARICOM's 266 members.

US government officials say that no American troops will be part of the force, in keeping with President Clinton's promise to Congress that all American troops would leave Haiti when a new government is officially installed there. However, there are indications that the US would keep some soldiers in Haiti, including engineers, under a bi-lateral arrangement.

Canada has offered to take the lead in the extended UN Mission with 1,500 troops and 300 civilian police trainers, but it still needs to win Cabinet approval and public support.

IV. NEWS BRIEFS

Historic Democratic Transition of Power

On February 7, 1996 President Aristide will turn power over to President-elect Rene Preval. This will be the first time in Haiti that a transition of power between two elected presidents will take place. Both have transition teams working together to facilitate the process. While some vital steps have been taken, such as the dismantling of the Haitian Army, much remains to be done by the new government to consolidate Haitian democracy.

In the December 17 elections, Rene Preval, 52, won 87.9% of the vote. About 28% of the population turned out to vote. In a recent interview with the creole weekly Libète, Preval said that his government will focus in the reduction of the high cost of living, decentralization of the public administration, the literacy campaign, agrarian reform, and enforcement of the law for all citizens.

IDB Education Program Suspended

The Haitian Parliament opposed an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) education loan, previously approved by the Executive. The US$ 17 million IDB deal, which included scholarships for about 90,000 students, a teacher training program, and a supply of textbooks, was supposed to be executed by a newly-created non-governmental organization selected exclusively by IDB. Legislators objected to the plan, arguing against its private sector orientation, the mininal role of the Education Ministry, and its management by an unknown group.

Political Problems Due To "Racial" Factor

"Haiti does not have a good track record dealing in the long term with democracy," for reasons "cultural, historic, ethnic and racial," said U.S. Representative Porter Goss (Washington Times, 1/26/96). Goss is a Republican from Florida who headed the International Republican Institute's election observer delegation to Haiti.

A press release from Voices for Haiti (1/26/96) states, "The comments of Mr. Goss are outrageous, although not surprising, considering his long-standing opposition to President Clinton's support for democracy in Haiti."

"Arrogance under the Hospitality of the Poor"

The German Ambassador in Haiti, Guenther Dahlhoff, was fired for making outrageous remarks about the Haitian people and President Aristide to a group of German legislators. Haitian Parliamentarian Winfried Wolf presented a report, "Arrogance under the Hospitality of the Poor" in which he denounces Dahloff's remarks as racist, and cites instances of political blackmailing and maneuvers intended to destabilize the Lavalas government.

Regarding Haiti's high population density, the recently fired Ambassador blamed the "Haitian women for being always willing and Haitian men always ready." In several instances he compared President Aristide with Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels.

Haitian Legislator Shot Twice

An unidentified assailant shot a member of Haiti's Parliament on January 8. Representative Ary Marsan, a member of the Lavalas party, was shot twice on a street near the Parliament building. The attacker fled in Marsan's car. The parliamentarian was taken to the hospital for surgery resulting from injuries to the face, according to the reports. It was not immediately clear whether it was a politically-motivated attack or a robbery attempt.

Insult Upon Injury For Captain Rockwood

Arson destroyed the home and belongings of Captain Lawrence Rockwood on January 19. Rockwood, who served as an intelligence officer during the U.S. invasion of Haiti last September, was court-martialled following an unauthorized visit to the National Penitentiary in an attempt to investigate human rights there. Set in the town of La Belle, Florida, where Rockwood had only moved days before, the fire took with it all of his notes and documents from Haiti and from his military trial, including the beginnings of a book he has been writing on his experience. However, he says, "I'm not going to let this slow me down" as he pursues his advocacy for human rights.

The state of Florida has confirmed that the fire was sparked by an incendiary device thrown through the window of the home, and is conducting a criminal investigation into the fire. As for whether or not the blaze was politically motivated, Rockwood says, "I hate to say that something was directed at me when it may not have been, but definitely the house was under surveillance. That makes it very, very suspicious."

This tragedy comes on the heels of a second blow to Rockwood's claim that he was simply carrying out President Clinton's orders to end human rights abuses in Haiti. In November 1995, an Army general approved an earlier court-martial finding (May 1995) against Rockwood for insubordination, disobedience, and disrespect, and upheld his dismissal from the Army. However, the general threw out two of the verdicts from the court-martial panel, those of dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer. Rockwood is currently on unpaid leave from the Army, pending review of his dismissal by the Army Court of Appeals and the Secretary of the Army. Rockwood says he intends to take his appeal all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

President Exchanges Wedding Vows

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide exchanged marriage vows with Mildred Trouillot on Saturday January 20 in a simple garden ceremony at the residence of the President. Mildred Trouillot, a Haitian-American lawyer, was instrumental in the fight for the return to constitutional order.

The couple made a point of reaffirming their commitment to forward the cause of Haiti's poor. "When you see this ring, remember me and remember that we are advocates of the people," Aristide told his bride. "When you see this ring," Trouillot responded, "remember that it is better to fail with the people rather than to succeed without them, and with the people there is no failure."

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(N.B.- These materials are distributed by the International Liaison Office for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, which is registered as an agent of the Government of Haiti with the U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The required registration statements are available for public inspection at the Department of Justice. Registration does not indicate approval of the content of these materials by the United States.)

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