| Main |
non-profit tax exemptions and public policy...,
the restoration of haitian democracy:
elections in the hemisphere's second republic are supposed to be scheduled through January - the dates have been changed two or three times. Two Haiti-born US businessmen have been barred from running in the elections, which I suppose might somehow make up for the fact that the Lavalas party has more or less been purged from the election rolls, since if their leaders haven't been shot yet they're at least kept in jail throughout the registration period, e.g., in the highest profile legal case where charges have actually been brought:
Yvon Neptune, Haiti’s last constitutional Prime Minister, has been in prison since May 2004. U.S. Ambassador James Foley, in his last address before leaving Haiti in August, called Mr. Neptune’s detention “a violation of human rights, an injustice, and an abuse of power.” He aptly contrasted Prime Minister Neptune’s treatment with the expedited release of death squad leader and convicted murderer Jodel Chamblain at the same time. Although formal charges were finally announced against Mr. Neptune on September 19, the charges resulted from a long process packed with irregularities.
Less prominent dissidents have been imprisoned explicitly for being “close to the former regime.” All these arrests directly limit the arrestees’ political activities, but more important, each political arrest dissuades many others from participating in politics.
The Village Voice reporting on this from last April had suggested that some Lavalas politicians would be released from their unlawful detentions and allowed to run, but Neptune remains imprisoned, finally charged last September of ordering a "massacre" in St. Marc in February of 2004, i.e.:
A United Nations human rights envoy in Haiti, Louis Joinet, has concluded that about 25 people were killed in St.-Marc during February 2004 in what he characterized as a “confrontation” and not a massacre. According to an article by independent U.S. human rights investigator Anne Fuller in the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste on April 9 of this year, at least 10 and possibly 12 people were killed in La Scierie in the February 11 incident; the victims were mostly supporters of the anti-Aristide Assembly of Consistent Militants of St.-Marc (RAMICOS), and most were unarmed or lightly armed, she wrote. At least one member of the pro-Aristide group Bale Wouze (”Clean Sweep”) was reportedly killed the same day, apparently by RAMICOS supporters. Fuller found that a total of at least 27 people were killed in St.-Marc before February 29, mostly RAMICOS supporters, and that at least seven Bale Wouze supporters were killed from February 29 to March 2, after Aristide was removed from power. She said she had “no information about who may have given what orders to commit violence” and called for further investigation. (HSG 5/2/05 from Reuters; English version of Fuller article 4/9/05, supplied by Fuller, via HGS).
The evidence against Neptune appears to consist entirely of a visit to the area in which he called for "calm" and "order" and an unspecified number of minutes on the phone with Amanus Mayette, accused of leading the pro-government gang involved in the conflict. That is to say there's not really any evidence at all. The anti-government gang involved, RAMICOS, has not been charged with any illegal activities: because police abandoned their posts, apparently, RAMICOS is not guilty of illegal insurrection, et. al., for taking over said posts.
Neptune's testimony regarding his responsibility can be found here, the Chicago Trib also did a background piece on the charges that is at least he-said-she-said. So Neptune has been charged, basically, with responsibility for gang warfare that occured after government authorities fled the city after RAMICOS attacked.
These charges against Neptune are the strongest specific claims of human rights violations and thuggery against the former Aristide government. Previous to and during the coup the American press and the Haitian opposition made repeated generic, unspecific claims of a similar nature that were used to justify the insurrection against the elected government, or at the far-left liberal end of the spectrum blame the elected government for the insurrection. Now the interim government has brought forth its most serious charges against the former government, and it turns out to be an incredibly flimsy charge of ordering violence that occurred during the insurrection, in fact over a month after the insurrection began.
Nevermind the absurdity by which the leaders of the coup operating freely under the protection of the interim government and the UN, or, continuing on, running in what we're referring to losely as elections:
The announced candidates include top officials of past dictatorships, a paramilitary leader identified as a drug trafficker by the United States,
and an American citizen and Texas resident running despite bars in two independent clauses of the Constitution.
On the "restoraton of Democracy" to Haiti I find the following statistic rather revealing: "Haiti’s democratic governments provided over 10,000 voter registration offices and polling places for elections, the Interim Government plans to install only 424." By "democratic governments" they mean Haiti's scant two terms under elected Lavalas governments, of course. In this general fashion not only will the Lavalas party leaders be kept off the election lists but their supporters off the voter rolls.
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs - prior to last year's US-backed coup a level headed, non-shrill advocate of a responsible US policy towards Haiti based on thorough analysis and sourcing of factual detail - has been reduced to simple and utter shrillness by these banal violations of all that is sane in the world and their uncritical celebration by the Western press.