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Hayti Net, 31 August 2005, [read it in full at http://www.hayti.net/tribune/index.php? ... res&id=277] presents a statement, allegedly from President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Pretoria, South Africa. I take note of these three steps the elected President says are necessary for credible elections to take place.
1. The thousands of Lavalas who are in jail and in exile must be free to return home.
2. The repression that has already killed over 10,000 people must end immediately.
3. Then, there must be national dialogue.
Those three calls receive my very strong approval.
The first condition is primarily a human rights issue, not one of political partisanship. Unless someone has been charged with a specific crime and i
s waiting for due legal process within the limits prescribed by the law, that person should be released. Of course, people who are known criminals (regardless of party affiliation) should be kept in jail, but they too deserve their day in court. Mission impossible? No way. It has not even been attempted. There has been no demonstration of political will from the Latortue government to even begin to address this problem, and in fact it has from its inception to the present day compounded it. In so doing, the Latortue government, with the support of the United Nations and the governments of the U.S. and Canada in particular, cannot make the case for handling Justice better than any of the governments that have preceded it, including those of Prosper Avril and François Duvalier.
If the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide was lax with judicial matters, as it has been justifiably criticized, then one could have expected that the de facto gover
nment selected and installed by the Friends of Haiti would have done a much better job of it than the deposed president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, if for no other reason than to create a facade for their justification of the coup d'état. If you are going to replace the bad, by interventionist force, it would at least make sense to replace it with something better. Such has not been the case. In fact, since the coup, we have witnessed a carnival of horrors, for which the crocodile tears of U.S. Ambassador James Foley (a habit lately, from departing ambassadors to Haiti, trying to cover up their guilt and incompetence) offer no reasonable explanation. Well-known criminals, at the top of their game, have been able to simply walk out, with flowers strewn in their paths. Glorified members of what was widely considered before A TERROR ORGANIZATION, like FRAPH. And this, from a government wholly supported by a U.S. government who is spending billions of dollars and sac
rificing thousands and thousands of its youth to supposedly fight terrorism half a world away. Could George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice be that myopic? I don't think so. Let's call what we are witnessing in today's Haiti by its real name: unfettered cynicism. They know what they have wrought: the administration of justice in Haiti was truly bad under President Aristide, but they have replaced it with something that is much worse. The justice system is so rotten that it led agents of Law and Order to organize in broad daylight A MASSACRE, Rwanda-style, at half time of a soccer match financed by USAID. That massacre will likely not receive the notoriety of the so-called "La Scierie Genocide", which strictly in terms of numbers (though none is justified) may have counted fewer victims. Where is the tumultuous cavalry from the best known human rights groups in Haiti and abroad? Here it comes...any day now.
Which Prime Minister or Cabinet members will have
to answer for the repeated massacres at Cité Soleil, Solino, Belair? In due time, their residents will receive the sympathy of yet another departing U.S. ambassador, though likely not from a member of the U.S. Embassy supported de facto government. Imagine, a Haitian official saying sorry to a poor Haitian? Sa se zafè blan. Ayisyen pa kriye tankou kayiman!
So Louis Jodel Chamblain walks. His partner in crime, Toto Constant, having left the country incognito back in 1994 [with the U.S. Marines in charge and in full control of the international airport... remember that joke?] lives freely and safely in New York City, under the protection of the U.S. government. In the meantime, Prime Minister Yvon Neptune languishes in jail, with no formal charges filed against him. Annette Auguste is arrested in the dead of the night by a U.S. Marine squad, and has been similarly kept in jail with no judicial explanation. Father Jean-Juste was arrested by "public clamor" for the temerity he displayed in atten
ding the funeral of a well-liked poet/activist/journalist in Haiti, the cowardly assassinated Jacques Roche. Some claim today, without offering a shred of evidence that Father Jean-Juste was impicated in that murder. This seems at best a preposterous charge. But the de facto government of Haiti is happily dancing along to the tune of this "crève les yeux" injustice.
Yes, all the political prisoners must be freed. Elections or no elections. They should have been freed yesterday. We should not have to wait another day. If Louis Jodel Chamblain can walk away scot-free, then it follows that there cannot be any conceivable excuse not to free Neptune, Privert, Auguste, Jean-Juste and all other political prisoners. Haiti does not need the admonitions of a departing U.S. ambassador. We have practiced universal human rights before the United States of America. We should demonstrate to the world today that we can at last begin to live up to the
ideals of our independence. As illegitimate as it can be, the Latortue government had the opportunity to show that it had at least a certain measure of human decency. Such opportunity is nearly extinct at this point.
The second condition is clear and imperative. The Haitian government should not continue to be a party to the wholesale repression of a large segment of the Haitian people. The United Nations should re-evaluate its participation and complicity in this sad state of affairs.
The third condition, for a national dialogue, is essential for the conduct of free and fair elections, but is is also much more difficult to frame in practical terms and in setting standards for evaluation of progress in that direction. Also, it should be noted that the national dialogue involves the full and honest participation and unambiguous leadership from all political and civic sectors of the population. It cannot be the responsibility of the de
facto government alone. The Lavalas factions have an equal responsibility in that regard. Moreover, I think that it is counterproductive to insist that there be NO elections until we arrive at all the conditions required for "free and fair elections". If that were the case, we might be condemned to the imposition of an interim de facto government indefinitely. In reality, things must change along a path to greater justice and greater legitimity, even while less than perfect conditions are prevalent. We cannot continue to wallow in illegitimacy and repression, until all the conditions for "free and fair" elections are realized. "NONE WHATSOEVER" is not a viable alternative to "FREE AND FAIR". This is not the way of the world. National dialogue, yes, but every party should demonstrate a commitment to the process and communicate their vision for the future, including the problematic short term.