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Haiti Update 2/5
by AHP
Friday Feb 6th, 2004 9:57 AM
1. President Aristide: Meeting with union sector/Meeting with Caricom
2. Haiti's Descent, New York Times Editorial
3. Women's Group Denounces Degradation of Women by Opposition Marchers
Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison
National Palace, Haiti
Tel: (011509) 228-2058
Fax: (011509) 228-2171
Email: mkarshan [at]

Haiti: Foreign Press Liaison Update - February 5, 2004

1. President Aristide: Meeting with union sector/Meeting with Caricom
2. Haiti's Descent, New York Times Editorial
3. Women's Group Denounces Degradation of Women by Opposition Marchers
4. Lift sanctions to help Haiti solve problems, Letter published in Chicago
5. As Caricom Meddles: Haiti's Opposition Seeks Victims, Haiti Progres
6. National Palace photo album from Bicentennial (see page 6!)
7. Slideshow of photos taken during Bicentennial by Jean Saint-Vil,
8. Websites from the Government of Haiti
9. Recent articles of interest on the web (new item included)

1. President Aristide's activites: In an ongoing effort to reinforce social
dialogue, President Aristide continues to meet with all sectors. On February
4, 2000, President Aristide met with various representatives of the union
movement at the National Palace and praised the union movement and its importance
in society, recalling all those who, in the past, lost their lives in the labor
struggle. Paul Loulou Chery of the Confederation of Haitian Workers reported
on the Haitian union sector meeting held January 29 and 30th at which a
resolution was adopted calling on all sectors to use dialogue to resolve the
current problems. This meeting was a follow-up to an earlier meeting with unions
held by the President on April 11, 2002. (Based on National Palace press release)

On February 4, 2004, President Aristide met with a delegation from Caricom in
a continuing dialogue to resolve the political crisis, once again stating his
will and determination to use constructive dialogue, as well as deliver on
commitments made, to resolve the crisis. These discussions are a continuation
of the talks that President Aristide participated in last weekend in Jamaica as
Caricom has taken a lead in resolving the political impasse together with the
US, Canada, the Organization of American States (OAS).  Commitments
agreed to are largely within the framework of the OAS Resolution 822 and its Terms
of Reference. Since the meeting in the Bahamas between Caricom and
opposition representatives, the opposition has continued to openly state that they
not participate in a solution that includes President Aristide. In a press
conference following the  President's meeting with the Caricom delegation
he again stated he would serve out his constitutional mandate which provides
for a five-year term. The meeting was attended by the Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Bahamas, Fred Mitchell and the Assistant Secretary of Caricom, Colin
Granderson and the Ambassador of the Bahamas in Haiti, Newry Glenwood. (Based on
a National Palace press release)

2. Haiti's Descent, New York Times Editorial, February 5, 2004

Jean-Bertrand Aristide was once hailed as Haiti's democratic champion. Now,
his second presidency is declining into despotism. Last year's legislative
elections, faced with a threatened opposition boycott, never took place. The
legislature has been dissolved, leaving Mr. Aristide free to rule by decree. Almost
daily, street protesters demand the president's resignation and are met by
armed pro-Aristide gangs and a thoroughly politicized police force. Over the
past few months, some 50 people have been killed in the resulting street clashes.

Many of Mr. Aristide's opponents insist that no solutions are possible until
he leaves office. That may be. But he was democratically elected to a
five-year term, which does not run out until early 2006. Cutting short that term by
unconstitutional means would only perpetuate Haiti's unhappy 200-year history of
dictatorships, punctuated by revolutionary upheavals and military coups. A
better solution would be to make sure that the next presidential election, due
late next year, is fair and on time.

That will probably require international as well as domestic pressure. The
15-nation Caribbean Community is already trying to mediate between Mr. Aristide
and opposition leaders. It is pressing a package of desirable reforms that
could calm political violence in the streets. The Organization of American States
also wants to help.

Washington, which seems to feel a kind of "Haiti fatigue," should look for
ways to energize these diplomatic efforts. A decade ago, after Mr. Aristide's
first term had been cut short by a military coup, American troops helped restore
him to power for the sake of Haitian democracy. Preserving what remains of
that democracy now depends on ensuring a free presidential election in 2005.

3.  Women's Group Denounces Degradation of Women by Opposition Marchers.
Press Release from COFEVIH (Coordination des Femmes Victimes d'Haiti or the
Coordination of Women Victims of Haiti) Original in French.

In the last few weeks in Haiti, in the course of opposition marches calling
for the fall of President Aristide's government, grossly insulting and
degrading sexual slogans have been chanted against President Aristide's mother, wife
and daughter. These slogans were further publicized this Sunday, February 1st
after they were aired on several national radio stations.

The women in COFEVIH (Coordination des Femmes Victimes d'Haiti), an
association that regroups several women's organizations in their struggle to eliminate
all forms of discrimination and violence against women in Haiti, condemn
forcefully all those slogans used to call for sexual violence against these women.
This type of language does not concern only the President's mother, wife and
daughter but also all women who are victims of violence in Haiti.

We therefore appeal to all those concerned to stop stamping women's rights
and to stop using verbal violence against all women because this encourages the
perpetration of more violence against women. These obscene and demeaning
slogans will not change anything in the political situation the country is
currently facing. When such slogans are used against a woman, they hurt her

We believe that since we live in a democratic state it is a human right to be
able to demonstrate and to denounce what one does not agree with. However
one similarly needs to respect other persons' rights. We firmly believe that
this can be achieved without the use of degrading language against anyone
because it is not this kind of language that will solve the country's problems.

We are all Haitians and therefore should get together to make our country a
better place.

COFEVIH :  Malya Villard Marie, Coordinator, Eramithe Delva , Secretary
General, Angèle Agenor Assistant Secretary

4. Lift sanctions to help Haiti solve problems, Letter to Chicago Tribune by
Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison, National Palace, Haiti, published
February 5, 2004:

Haiti -- It is commendable that the Chicago Tribune saw fit to take a
position on the current impasse in Haiti ("Elusive democracy in Haiti," Editorial,
Jan. 24), and that your position appears to support democracy.

The notion, however, that it might be a "valid option" to pressure President
Jean Bertrand Aristide to resign if there were a "suitable successor" is
inconsistent with democratic principles and Haiti's 1987 Constitution.

The opposition has refused to participate in the formation of an electoral
council, which would oversee new elections necessary for the functioning of a
parliament. The terms have expired for a portion of the parliamentarians,
leaving Parliament not shuttered, as you said, but unable to function without the
required quorum.

Democracy has definitely taken hold in Haiti and has come far in its few
years since the restoration of democracy with Aristide's return in 1994. Aristide
laid down the brutal Haitian army and created Haiti's first civilian police

The opposition has the right to demonstrate, when in compliance with
requirements for a permit; journalists openly make commentaries against the
government; and the country has already gone through several rounds of democratic

Aristide has called upon the Haitian government to reinforce measures that
would further guarantee the liberty of people to demonstrate. Haiti's police
force was recently praised by both the U.S. ambassador and the Organization of
American States for its conduct in providing security to those demonstrating in
opposition to the government.

Aristide still enjoys enormous popularity among the Haitian people and
throughout the world. It is under Aristide that Haiti met all the requirements to
become a full member of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and it is committed to
helping Haiti strengthen its democracy. Haiti is successfully collaborating
with numerous countries and international organizations in the areas of
education, commerce, trade, medical care, etc.

Aristide has consistently invited the opposition to sit down together and
participate in the oversight of elections. The anti-Aristide camp, which
represents a small minority in Haiti, refuses to participate in any elections because
they know they cannot gain power through a participatory and democratic

Immediately following the recent Caricom meeting in Haiti, in which the
Caricom leaders who are helping mediate the crisis were seeking a peaceful and
constitutional resolution between all parties, the opposition announced their
intention to continue to paralyze the country in an effort to overthrow Haiti's

Your editorial fails to mention the vast number of violent acts committed by
the opposition, including lynchings, assassinations, terrorizing
schoolchildren, forcing schools and hospitals to close, and more.

Only through the lifting of economic sanctions will Haiti be able to
efficiently address serious problems plaguing the nation, such as drug trans-shipping,
poverty, expanding access to potable water, education and health care.

5. As Caricom Meddles: Haiti's Opposition Seeks Victims, Haiti Progres, Feb.
4 - 10, 2004

In recent weeks, the Haitian opposition, led by a U.S.-born sweatshop owner
and financed by U.S. and European governments, has come up with two basic
formulae for creating havoc in Haiti: 1) deviate from an agreed upon march route
and provoke a battle with the police or 2) throw rocks at or beat up
pro-government counter-demonstrators and provoke a melee with them.

After such confrontations, the bourgeoisie's radio stations, relied upon and
echoed by most of the U.S. corporate press, shrilly relate the latest
crackdown of the "Lavalas dictatorship," integrating the called in, anonymous
"reports" of "listeners," which have often proved later to be inaccurate, exaggerated
or complete fabrications.

This past week, the formula exploded in the face of the opposition and its
media allies, once again discrediting them both. This is what happened.

In light of the growing aggressiveness and violence of the opposition's
marches, which regularly beat-up onlookers (one recently to death) or journalists
they perceive to be pro-government, the Higher Council of the National Police
(CSPN) issued a Jan. 27 order that "any group wanting to make known its demands
through demonstrations can do it on the Place of Italy in the Bicentennial
district." But the opposition saw this as yet another opportunity for

The next day, Jan. 28, some students of the state university, under the
banner of the opposition's "Group of 184," organized a symbolic funeral for
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide near the United States Consulate, far from the Place
of Italy, and even
burned the symbolic coffin. Following their ceremony, these demonstrators
were setting off to join other protestors when they encountered a group of
Lavalas militants calling for respect of Aristide's five year mandate.

The opposition's "students" (who often turn out to be nothing of the sort),
some of whom were inside the Law School, started to throw stones at the
government's partisans. The pro-government crowd threw stones back, and a
confrontation began.

The police's Company for Intervention and Maintenance of Order (CIMO) arrived
on the scene and fired teargas grenades to break up the skirmish. One of the
projectiles hit Lionel Victor, a 29-year-old father of two girls, in the back.

He was taken by ambulance to the Canapé Vert hospital, where he died a few
minutes after arrival.

Opposition demonstrators, always in search of fresh corpses to hold up,
insisted that he was a student at the Medical School.

One opposition leader, Hervé Saintilus, even went on the radio to say that
the victim had been seen several times taking part in meetings at the
university's rectory. Law School Professor Aviol Fleurant was trotted out to declare
that he recognized Victor as a university student.

Meanwhile, the opposition's "students" ignited burning tire barricades in
front of the Canapé Vert hospital to demand that Victor's body be turned over to
them. That was, until his wife showed up.

Islande Gélin, the mother of his Victor's children, Samantha and Cindy,
arrived at the hospital with a picture of their family to prove her relationship to
him. When questioned by journalists, she confirmed that her husband was not a
student at all, but a Lavalas militant.

Professor Fleurant quickly recanted his "testimony." Just as quickly, the
opposition's "students" left the scene, enraged.

They vented their fury on Rood Chéry, a photographer for the state newspaper
L'Union, whom they found outside. He was severely beaten, the second L'Union
photographer to be physically attacked in the past two weeks.

On January 30, President Aristide received Islande Gélin and other family
members of Lionel Victor at the National Palace to present his condolences.
During the meeting, Islande Gélin explained how "students" had badgered her at the
hospital as she sought to claim the body of her husband.

The Associated Press and Reuters also reported that Victor was "student,"
with no ensuing corrections, in stories that slyly blamed the government for the
violence and Victor's death.

Meanwhile, at Washington's behest, CARICOM has taken the lead in meddling in
Haiti's internal affairs, supplanting for the moment the long-stymied
Organization of American States (OAS). A gaggle of Haitian businessmen, who
increasingly speak on behalf of the opposition instead of long-discredited
met with CARICOM "mediators" in Nassau, Bahamas on Jan. 20 and 21.

(Arch-reactionary Miami-based Haitian businessman Olivier Nadal, an eccentric
precursor to the more successful factory-owner-cum- \opposition-leader André
Apaid, revealed the bourgeoisie's rage at two renegade businessmen, F. Carl
Braun and Edouard Baussan of Unibank. In a public email polemic, he castigated
the two for
independently meeting with CARICOM officials, where they reportedly gave a
more balanced account of events in the country).

Refusing any participation or even observation by the Haitian government, the
opposition representatives claimed they wanted only to present their
grievances and update CARICOM leaders Prime Ministers Perry Christie of the Bahamas,
P.J. Patterson of Jamaica, Patrick Manning of Trinidad & Tobago on the
situation in Haiti (as if Haiti were not a part of CARICOM and as if CARICOM did
not have representatives on the ground in Haiti) in meetings held under the
watchful eyes of delegations from the U.S. State Department and the European
Union. The OAS's assistant secretary general Luigi Einaudi was also on hand.

On Jan. 31, President Aristide then went to Kingston, Jamaica to engage in
one day of talks with the same set of CARICOM leaders and "observers" from
Washington and Europe.

Aristide once again agreed to enforce within the next two months the same set
of unenforceable and unrealistic demands that he had agreed to in previous
OAS Resolutions 806 and 822. These include "dismantling all armed groups," most
of which are opposition-aligned and more heavily armed than the police;
creating a
"neutral and impartial" police force, as if the opposition will ever accept
any corps which thwarts their push for Aristide's overthrow; and "solving"
murky episodes like the Dec. 5 clash between demonstrators at the State University
(see ) or the Jan. 13
attack on radio station transmitters (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 21, No. 45, Jan.
21, 2004). Following the meeting, Aristide overruled the CSPN's Jan. 27 order
circumscribing demonstrations, opening the gates for renewed, escalating

In short, CARICOM, like the OAS before it, called on the Haitian government
to "establish a climate of security," which Washington is actively involved in
frustrating. As the Council on Hemispheric Affairs recently wrote, "Some
foreign journalists and
the [U.S.] administration's leading group of radicalized regional
policymakers accuse the Aristide government of prolonging a political stalemate and
failing to establish a climate of "security," neglecting to acknowledge that it is
the intransigence of the U.S.-sponsored opposition that has crippled
democratic processes in Haiti" (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 21, Nos. 45 & 46,
Jan. 21 &
amp; 28, 2004).

Finally there was the all-important call for "international supervision" of
upcoming elections, in which the opposition has openly declared it has no
intention of ever participating.

6. Go to Page 6 of the National Palace photo album of some of the
Bicentennial events at National Palace and Gonaives to see the "small crowd" the New
Times referred to or the "10,000" (the figure most mainstream press used!).
Page 17 has photo of President Aristide delivering his speech in Gonaives that
day, which contrary to local press reports, the speech was delivered in its

7. Slideshow of photos taken during and around the Bicentennial celebration
in Haiti by Jean Saint-Vil, Haitian journalist/activist based in Canada

8. Websites from the Government of Haiti:
National Palace
L'Union Newspaper
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Haiti's Embassy to US
Haiti's National Television (watch the daily news!)

9. Recent articles of interest on the web:

Haiti: Aristide regime shaken by mass protests by By Richard Dufour, Feb. 6,
2004, World Socialist Website

La CIA déstabilise Haïti, Reseau Voltaire, Jan. 27, 2004

Analysis by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA)
Unfair and Indecent Diplomacy: Washington's Vendetta against President

Haiti and the US Game by Tom Reeves, Z Magazine, March 27, 2003
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