Friday, July 29, 2005

A Short List of Aristide's Wrondoings

I found the following on the Web while doing some research for an upcoming post. It is a wonderful review - written in 2002 apparently - of the many things that went wrong during Aristide III; little did anyone know that the worst was yet to come. The author was quite prescient in what would ultimately happen if Lavalas continued in its criminal ways.

I submit this to your appreciation ... pour l'histoire:
The idea that Aristide would be overthrown is a repulsive one - especially as Haiti strives to become a democracy - and Ms. Kathy Grey is absolutely correct in attacking anyone who would condone such an outcome to the current crisis. The opposition parties had their chances to rally popular support before the elections, and they blew it. So they will have to suck it up until the next elections.

However, let's review the accomplishments of the Aritisde administration - in no particular order - since February 2001:

1) allowing Amiot Metayer to escape and operate freely in Gonaives - illegal

2) never arresting Paul Raymond and Rene Civil when an arrest warrant had been issued against them - illegal

3) naming Patrick Joseph, the son of the Chairman of the Central Bank, Venel Joseph, as the DG of Teleco - unethical (remember that, technically, the Central Bank owns Teleco)

4) intervening to take away the autonomy of the State University system - probably illegal. Going back on the government decisions to placate the university students is testimony to the stupidity and futility of the initial attempt. By agreeing to be yet another human Kleenex used by Aristide, Myrtho Saurel Celestin paid the price. At least, she is now free to go enjoy "les lumières de Paris" with her husband, newly named ambassador of Haiti to France

5) not releasing prisoners who have been cleared by the justice system - illegal. Don't think that Prosper Avril is the only one in that situation

6) using Central Bank reserves to post collateral on transactions that benefit mainly private foreign companies - illegal

7) allowing Teleco to be gutted by private deals which do not benefit its owners (and ultimately the Haitian people) - illegal and unethical

8) using public funds to pay the opposition parties that were attacked on December 17 - illegal. The Lavalas Party, not the government, should have paid the damages

9) using government vehicles to transport the "chimè" who paralyzed Port-au-Prince on November 22 - illegal. The same thing happened on December 17, 2001

10) asking several administrations to contribute 100,000+ gourdes on a monthly basis to a "special slush fund" set up at the Palace for political activities - illegal and unethical

11) financing OP activities from the budget of the Ministère de l'Intérieur (with Jocelerme privert directly participating in strategy meetings on organized protests, down to the number of tires needed to set up burning barricades in Port-au-Prince) - illegal

12) "bribing" judges by offering them automobiles and other perks - illegal and unethical. A clear case of the Executive trying to influence the Judiciary

13) naming a well-known criminal as Minister of Justice - definitely immoral and irresponsible. 1) Calixte Delatour assassinated senator Hudicourt in cold blood under the Dumarsais Estimé régime and was never tried for that crime. He, Victor Nevers-Constant and Seliman Lassègue also murdered young Viau and got away with this crime. 2) He then became one of Duvalier's strategists and is the moral author of several political assassinations during the Duvalier era. 3) Calixte Delatour was very vocal during the coup years in his opposition to Aristide's return. That Yvon Neptune would describe him as a "man of integrity" is simply unconscionable. That appointment is an extraordinary slap in the face of all Haitians who fought to get rid of Duvalier

14a) allowing a number of senators and congressmen to set up an unregistered cooperative (the famous Tout Pou Nou cooperative) - illegal

14b) allowing said cooperative to sell staples at below market rates thanks to duty exemptions and waiver of all sales taxes - unethical and illegal

14c) allowing said cooperative to further harm local rice producers through unfair competition - definitely unethical and immoral

15) paying millions of dollars a year to an American security firm - the Steele Foundation - with deep ties to the Pentagon and the CIA for the security of the President and his family - deeply immoral and incredibly ironic. Where is the Aristide who used to greet the Haitian people "charlemagneperaltement"? He is now hiding behind a group of battle-hardened "blans" who have been involved in a bunch of undercover, off-the-books operations for American intelligence agencies around the world. (You can hear some of their stories if you hang out long enough at
Le Petit Saint-Pierre restaurant in Pétion-Ville.) In the meantime, 1) Aristide's Haitian security officers are frustrated about the incredibly unfair double-standard (especially since their daily allocations have been cut in a new wave of austerity, and they are no longer given the same amount of ammunitions), 2) thousands of government employees have not been paid for several months; 3) the average Haitian is eating less than before, and cases of malnutrition are on the rise. George Orwell was right: some animals are more equal than others.

16a) allowing and encouraging the unchecked growth of flimsy, fly-by-night finance cooperatives which were not regulated - irresponsible

16b) allowing said cooperatives to collapse in the manner they did, taking with them in their collapse millions of gourdes belonging to primarily blue-collar and poor Haitian families and making the managers of these cooperatives millionaires in the process - immoral and irresponsible

16c) promising to reimburse those who lost money in the cooperatives collapse - irresponsible and foolish

16d) failing to abide by the promise to reimburse the sociétaires - irresponsible and dishonest

16e) jailing Rosemond Jean for fighting for the rights of the sociétaires - immoral and criminal. The official reason for Rosemond Jean's arrest is too laughable to be taken seriously. Rosemong became a serious threat the day he adopted the cause of university students

17) granting a Dominican company a concession for a free-trade zone BEFORE the law regulating such zones was even passed and WITHOUT the approval of the Senate - illegal. When one reviews the actual agreement that was signed by Capellan & Company, on the one hand, and the Haitian government in the person of Faubert Gustave, on the other hand, it is EXTRAORDINARILY illegal. A number of simple legal precepts were brazenly ignored, and many of the "entorses à la loi" are now coming back to haunt the Dominican company. Has anyone heard much about this project lately? I wonder why

18a) Using public funds to buy weapons for the OP's - immoral and illegal

18b) Using the Police Nationale d'Haiti, in the person of DDO Chief Hermione Leonard, 1) to distribute the weapons to a bunch of OPs and criminal organizations in Site Soley , 2) to ply these OPs with fresh ammunitions on a regular basis, and 3) to provide them with money and occasional logistical support before "big operations" - downright criminal

19) allowing the Board of Directors of the Central Bank to grant themselves a 15% salary increase last week - immoral. At a time when the government has no funds and things are extremely tight, austerity should be "de rigueur". But then again, this is the same Central Bank that paid for one of its board members (Gladys Péan), to go on a two-week crash course to learn English, all expenses paid plus a $1,000 a day per diem, a couple of months ago. (Actually, I shouldn't be too harsh on these clowns. The last Board actually rented cars at BRH's expense so that directors' wives could go shopping without putting kilometers on their cars. One member even charged sexy lingerie for his mistress on a BRH-issued credit card.)

20) making so many political mistakes - and violating the basic rights of so many - that a feeble, repugnant and corrupt opposition, which would not exist without foreign support, is now viewed as "decent" by an increasing number of Haitians - unbelievably stupid

The list goes on, but I will stop here. This partial list speaks for itself, even though the spin doctors from the Palace will no doubt provide us with a more positive list very soon to counter-balance the one above.

Clearly the Haitian people is screwed once again. It is caught in a nasty Catch-22: It would be unconstitutional to overthrow Aristide, yet his administration is doing everything it can to prevent democracy, accountability, legitimacy and transparency from taking hold, ideals that Haitians fought so hard to obtain.

Ms Grey: you are 100% correct in that we ought to follow the 1987 Constitution. However, it would behoove Lavalas to show the way by respecting basic legal Haitian principles, something they apparently are not able or willing to do. Can others be blamed for trying to emulate Lavalas? This is a negative spiral that can only lead to disaster.

"What is logical to the oppressor is not logical to the oppressed."

-Malcolm X