Haiti Archives 1995-1996
14/12/95 Haiti Not “Pacified”: U.S. Troops to Stay Longer By G. Dunkel
  Copyright 1995 InterPress Service, all rights reserved. Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

*** 05-Dec-95 ***

Title: U.S.-HAITI: U.S. Speaks With Forked Tongue

by Yvette Collymore

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (IPS) – A glaring divide among U.S. government officials over the fate of tens of thousands of Haitian documents raises key questions: just who is driving U.S. policy on Haiti? And is Washington in fact speaking with a forked tongue?

The State Department has made it clear the United States should return the documents that the government of President Jean- Bertrand Aristide says may provide vital intelligence on abuses committed by para-military units and future threats to democratic rule.

But the Department of Defence has other ideas.

A Pentagon source told IPS the department is concerned that ‘’the information contained in the material could be used to generate hit lists in Haiti and contribute to instability’’.

The assessment is one the State Department appears to want to distance itself from: ‘’That (position) does not reflect U.S. government policy,’’ James Dobbins, Secretary of State Warren Christopher’s special coordinator for Haiti, told IPS.

The Haitian government sent an Oct. 31 request to the Clinton administration asking for the papers — at least 60,000 pages — hich U.S. forces of the 10th Mountain Division nabbed in Sep. 1994 as they rode into Haiti to reinstate an exiled Aristide.

The documents belong to FRAPH (Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress), the group blamed for thousands of killings under the former military regime which ousted Aristide in 1991 and ruled until his return in Oct. 1994. With U.N. troops set to leave Haiti Feb. 7, the Aristide government is worried that FRAPH and its associates remain heavily armed.

But the split in Washington over whether or not to return the documents points to larger issues and an apparent ideological split within the administration. The spat recalls the kind of Communist witch-hunting that drove the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the intelligence wing of the Pentagon during the Cold War era, say veteran observers.

In its anti-communist fervour, the CIA cast its net wide, collaborating with hired guns and hit-men. This year, for example, the disclosure that a Guatemalan army officer on the CIA payroll was implicated in the torture-murder of a U.S. innkeeper and a guerrilla commander resulted in a major scandal which has so far claimed the careers of two senior spies.

Now, increasing evidence points to CIA links to FRAPH. And observers say the dispute over the fate of the group’s documents highlights the fact that the CIA and parts of the Pentagon have preferred to collaborate with the right-wing para-military group.

These disfference pose potential problems for the State Department and White House.

Just last weekend, FRAPH’s founder Emmanuel Constant confirmed from a detention centre just outside Washington that he was indeed a paid CIA agent.

Constant’s father was an army commander under Haitian Francois ‘’Papa Doc’’ Duvalier, Haiti’s self-acclaimed ‘president for life’ who ruled from 1957 until his death in 1971. From the Maryland detention centre where he is appealing a deportation order, Constant told the CBS television programme ‘60 Minutes’ that he had met regularly with the CIA station chief in Haiti.

Constant’s intelligence ties were first revealed by the Nation magazine last year. Writer Allan Nairn quoted a U.S. intelligence official as describing Constant as a ‘’young, pro-Western intellectual…no further right than a young Republican.’’ Nairn documented extensive ties between Constant and the Pentagon’s Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), as well.

Published reports a year ago also suggest that U.S. special forces were working with FRAPH elements in the Haitian countryside to counter-balance the pro-Aristide Lavalas movement.

In addition, an underground publication of ultra-right-wing elements associated with the U.S. special forces suggests that some of the troops who reinstated Aristide had serious problems with the Haitian leader’s politics — so serious that some U.S. soldiers may have worked to undermine his return.

A newsletter published about a year ago has as its insignia, a coiled snake with a forked tongue. Called ‘The Resister’, it describes itself as ‘’the official publication of the special forces underground’’ and outlines six ways in which members of U.S. special forces cooperated with FRAPH.

One Dec. 1994 article titled, ‘Field Report: The Truth About Haiti’, describes FRAPH as ‘’nothing more than a community watch organisation’’ originally founded as an anti-Communist resistance movement.

Another article — a ‘’synthesis of several reports forwarded by our members currently deployed in Haiti’’ — claims that special forces members identified the most active anti-Communists within FRAPH and the Haitian armed forces.

The ‘’members’’ reportedly advised FRAPH and others on how to deal with a half-hearted disarmament drive carried out by the U.S.- led Multi-National Force which restored Aristide.

‘’We informed them about the plans and timetables for weapons confiscation and told them how to disappear their functional firearms while keeping broken and otherwise useless weapons available to sell during the weapons buy-back programme,’’ says the article.

A senior U.S. government official serving with the military command told IPS the Resister was ‘’a sort of underground militia…a shadowy organisation of anti-Communists’’ of the type that sprung up during the war in El Salvador.

‘’We don’t really know what they’re talking about. I think probably some of the people are on active duty,’’ said this official. He estimated that the publication’s total mailing list may be less than 100.

In the meantime, thousands of Haitian documents which could disclose where the government can find thousands of illegally held arms remain in the possession of the Pentagon because of its fears that ‘’hit lists’’ will be developed.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns can only say repeatedly, ‘’We owe them a response.’’ (END/IPS/YJC/JL/95)

Origin: Washington/U.S.-HAITI/ ----

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