Disarmament must go hand-in-hand with social programs

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Ezili Danto
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Joined: Sat May 31, 2003 11:57 pm

Disarmament must go hand-in-hand with social programs

Post by Ezili Danto » Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:21 pm

President Rene Preval speaks in reference to DDR - Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration

"...it is necessary that disarmament goes hand-in-hand with social programs...the Solution cannot be a military one..." Radio Solidarite interview, Feb. 3, 2006
**********


The Solution Cannot Be a Military One,
(This is an excerpt from a radio interview, translated from Kreyol into English, by the Ezili Danto Witness Project.

This is an excerpt of a Radio Solidarite interview given by Rene Preval on the last day of campaigning. It was re-broadcast, as part of a report on Monday morning (Feb 6, 2006), on Radyo Levekanpe by Anne-Marguerite, a field reporter for Leve Kanpe.)

Excerpt:
[quote]
Interviewer: President
Preval, while answering a previous question about the private sector you said that once you become President Preval, you will offer the guarantee that you will do all within your power to end kidnapping and insecurity. As a matter of fact, the private sector that must invest in the country, since the state cannot do it all, often the private sector complains about the violence and claims that their reluctance to invest stems from the fact that armed gangs make for an environment that is not conducive to investment. What could you say to reassure this private sector?

Rene Preval: Well, effectively gangs are a problem. I have firsthand knowledge of the situation since people close to me have been kidnapped. And… When we become President, we must analyze the problem with the police, with the judicial system, with MINUSTHA, and it is necessary that disarmament goes hand-in-hand with social programs.


Interviewer: Well indeed you will say
so, however there are many approaches. Some favor an invasion of poor neighborhoods aiming at eradicating the violent elements. Others say that the problem must be dealt with through dialogue. You say that there must be accompanying programs.

Rene Preval Well, the military solution is not possible. Had it been possible, upon the departure of President Aristide, you had the US Marines on the ground, you had the French, you had the Canadians, they did not solve the problem. Today you have MINUSTHA with armored vehicles and military soldiers, yet they cannot solve the problem. The solution cannot be a military one because too many people will die, on both sides by the way. Therefore, we must reflect and find a formula to implement disarmament, reinsertion and you will see that once faced with the problem I guarantee that it will be dealt with in the briefest of delays, because this situation can, is inadmissible.

Interviewer: President Pre
val, while talking to you I noticed that it is as if you are already President. Where does this confidence come from?

Rene Preval: Well I don't say that I am already elected. If I claim to be “already elected”, it is as if I say to the people that they do not need to vote. In reality, our current message to the people is: go and vote, because it is at the ballot box that one votes. However, you are asking me what I would do as President, I must answer you in the context of my presidency.

I think that if you ask any candidate the same question, they will tell you that if elected they would do this or that… But I am not letting my head swell and claim that I am already President, no…."

(End of radio excerpt)[/quote]

Ezili Danto
Posts: 197
Joined: Sat May 31, 2003 11:57 pm

DDR - Disarmament mission beleaguered by arrests in Haiti

Post by Ezili Danto » Thu Feb 09, 2006 1:38 pm

HLLN continues to request equal application of DDR, equal application of Haitian laws and the institutionalization of the rule of law, the rule by the ballot box, not the gun, force, or might-makes-right. Release of the political prisoners, stop to the fleecing of Haitian resources by foreign companies enjoying the defacto governments unchecked reign and a stop to the arrest of the poor and disenfranchised - only those who fought against or are presumed to be against the bi-centennial coup d'etat.

Below is recent article with respect to the application of DDR by the UN and "interim?" government in Haiti.

[quote] Disarmament mission beleaguered by arrests in Haiti

The U.N. mission to disarm and retrain members of the armed factions in Haiti appeared to be set back by the arrest of former Aristide supporters. The mission
chief said the lack of amnesty for the men is a major impediment to its success.
BY REED LINDSAY
Special to The Miami Herald

PORT-AU-PRINCE - After more than a year in one of the armed groups based in this city's Bel Air slum, Emmanuel Aristide gave up his gun in the hopes of becoming a plumber.

The 21-year-old Aristide and 13 other young men from Bel Air in November became the first to join a program by U.N. peacekeepers offering job training, education or small-business loans to members of armed groups who surrender their weapons.

But three weeks ago, Aristide, who is no relation to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, ousted in a 2004 revolt, was arrested by Haitian police on charges of murder, kidnapping and arson related to his membership in the group.

His arrest was the latest setback for the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration program run by the U.N. mission here, a mission already widely accused of failing to quell the bloody violence spread by the arm
ed groups that include both supporters and opponents of the former president.

While similar programs have helped disband guerrilla and other armed factions in Sierra Leone, Mozambique and El Salvador, the program here so far has managed to collect only 30 weapons.

''This is not the nail in the coffin for DDR, but it clearly doesn't help,'' said Desmond Molloy, a former Irish army officer who heads the DDR program here, of Emmanuel Aristide's arrest.

BACKLASH

News of the arrest reverberated throughout Bel Air, where participants in the DDR program say they now fear for their lives. Robert Montinard, a local leader of former President Aristide's Lavalas party who endorsed the disarmament program, says he has received death threats from armed groups accusing him of betrayal.

Molloy complained that the DDR program originally envisioned for Haiti is impossible to execute in part because the current interim government, selected after President Aristide's ouster to rule the
nation until new elections, has refused amnesty for armed supporters of the former president.

''I could do my work if we had an amnesty,'' said Molloy, who ran the DDR program in Sierra Leone before coming to Haiti in 2004. ``But there is no political space for an amnesty or for national reconciliation.''

The interim government instead has gone after supporters of the former president; for example, jailing former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste on what human rights observers say are political charges.

A report published last year by the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey estimated that Haiti's myriad armed groups -- excluding the former military, abruptly disbanded in 1995 -- have some 13,000 weapons, mostly leaked from government stockpiles.

The U.N. mission's initial efforts to disarm the former military were undercut in 2004 when the interim government offered ex-soldiers some $30 million in compensation for the army's abolition, without conditio
ning the payment to the hand over of their weapons, including guns they took home when the armed forces were disbanded.

Molloy later refocused the program to target the armed groups in the slums of Port-au-Prince, many of them loyal to the populist President Aristide.

''When I say our DDR program has been blocked, I mean it has been blocked for people who want an opportunity,'' said Juan Gabriel Valdés, a Chilean diplomat who heads the U.N. mission here. ``The case of Emmanuel Aristide is . . . a typical case of a gangster who would like to go back to a normal life, who has been arrested by a state that . . . has put him in prison where he will have no possibility of recuperation.''

Molloy says Emmanuel Aristide was included in the DDR program because his name was not on a list of 83 wanted criminals given to him by the Haitian police.

In early November, Emmanuel Aristide and 13 other members of an armed group in Bel Air handed over four ancient military rifles, a grenade lau
ncher and four handguns.

They spent a month at DDR's Port-au-Prince rehabilitation center where they were given career advice and taught about conflict prevention, civic duties, human rights and HIV/AIDS, among other subjects.

But in mid-December, two members of the National Disarmament Commission, the Haitian government's counterpart to the DDR, publicly accused the DDR program of harboring criminals, citing Emmanuel Aristide's participation. Less than a week later, Haiti's judicial police arrested Aristide at his home.

Judicial Police chief Michael Lucius said Aristide was wanted since October 2004 and showed a manila folder bulging with witness testimonies implicating Aristide in crimes and a wanted poster with his photo.

In a brief interview held in Lucius's office, Aristide said he was innocent. He said he had been beaten by police and pulled up his pants to reveal a partly healed gash on each of his shins. Lucius denied Aristide was beaten.

RISK OF ARREST

M
olloy says he is still hopeful the DDR program will incorporate as many as 1,000 members of armed groups in the next two years. But he acknowledges that he cannot give any guarantees that other DDR participants will not be arrested.

''There are many more guys out there who would do the program, but everybody is afraid now,'' said Frantz Lafortune, 22, a Bel Air resident who entered the DDR program with Aristide and hopes to begin studying to be an auto mechanic in mid-January. ``If they're going to do this to us, how will they disarm everybody else? People have lost their trust, and everybody is saying we are sellouts to the foreigners.''[/quote]

Ezili Danto
Posts: 197
Joined: Sat May 31, 2003 11:57 pm

Gang leader offers peace in Haiti's troubled slum

Post by Ezili Danto » Fri Feb 10, 2006 1:22 pm

Reuters, Feb. 10, 2006
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N10255119.htm


[quote]Gang leader offers peace in Haiti's troubled slum
10 Feb 2006
Source: Reuters

By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The gangs that control Haiti's largest and most violent slum will give up their weapons and stop fighting a "totalitarian" government if Rene Preval becomes president, a top gang leader said.

Augudson Nicolas, known as General Toutou, said the gangs would hand over their guns to a Preval government in a public ceremony, bringing peace to the teeming Cite Soleil slum where U.N. peacekeepers have been involved in near-daily gunfights with heavily armed street toughs in recent months.

Early election returns had Preval leading with 61 percent of the vote in Tuesday's election. If the result holds, he woul
d have the majority he needs to avoid a March 19 runoff.

"We are not interested in using weapons any more. The elections have taken place. We are going to have a legitimate government," Nicolas, considered one of the most influential leaders of the gangs, told Reuters in an interview on Thursday in Cite Soleil, a teeming warren of shanties thought to be home to more than 300,000 people.

Haiti's disparate armed groups have offered to disarm but failed to carry through in the past, but the United Nations mission in Haiti -- about 9,000 soldiers and civilian police -- welcomed Nicolas' proposal.

"The whole issue is about getting the guns out of Cite Soleil," U.N. spokesman David Wimhurst said. "It would be great if they moved in that direction."

Taming Cite Soleil, beset by gunfire and kidnappings, is seen as essential to ending violence that has plagued Haiti since an armed revolt ousted Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the last elected president and a hero to
many of the poor, in 2004.

CONTROLLING VIOLENCE

A feared explosion of bloodshed around Tuesday's presidential vote failed to materialize. Police and U.N. officials believe the gangs called a cease-fire to allow a peaceful vote, knowing Preval, a former Aristide protege, had a good chance to win in the poorest country in the Americas.

Haitian business and civic leaders have criticized U.N. peacekeepers for failing to control the violence in the sprawling slum. Industrialist Charles Baker, a presidential candidate in third place in early returns, has called for the use of "overwhelming force" against the gangs.

But Preval has said he does not believe military force is the solution in Cite Soleil. Instead, he says his government would spend on schools and infrastructure.

Nicolas, 29, said the gang warfare in Cite Soleil has been a political battle against interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue's "illegal" U.S.-backed government, appointed when Aristide was
driven into exile.

"I was fighting a totalitarian government. Now it's over," said Nicolas, a slightly built man with neat sideburns who wore jeans, a blue shirt and a red cap.

Nicolas has been accused by police of murder and other crimes, including complicity in the slaying of journalist Jacques Roche last July. He has denied involvement in Roche's death.

The Cite Soleil gangs, he said, armed themselves for protection against Haitian police who he said killed children, women and the elderly in the slums.

"The de facto government (of Latortue) and its allies the bourgeoisie waged war against the poor population because they support Aristide," he said.

"The police and U.N. troops won't be allowed to come and shoot at us any more. With Preval that will end," he said. [/quote]

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Post by admin » Fri Feb 10, 2006 2:42 pm

That is hopeful news!

So far, so good. It's time they stop the siege of Cité Soleil and offer its inhabitants some avenues other than "overwhelming force". The cycle of violence must end.

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