Interim Haitian prime minister relieved to leave office

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Interim Haitian prime minister relieved to leave office

Post by admin » Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:33 am

Interim Haitian prime minister relieved to leave office

BY JAMES GORDON MEEK

New York Daily News

BOCA RATON, Fla. - On his last day as Haiti's interim prime minister, Gerard Latortue gently rocked in a hand-carved chair in his modest home and whooped happily at a big-screen TV as Ecuador trounced Poland in the World Cup.

Unlike most former Haitian leaders, Latortue left Port-au-Prince last month on two feet and without an armed gang in hot pursuit.

The New York Daily News joined Latortue, 71, on Friday as his turbulent, 26-month term as Haiti's leader ended quietly.

"I'm proud to say my mission was completed," he said.

After getting word that Jacques Edouard Alexis had been sworn in as Haiti's new prime minister, the Secret Service detail that guarded Latortue in the U.S. packed up its guns, radios, anti-toxin kits and panic buttons and bade him adieu.

Left to watch TV in his alabaster living room, the man tapped by a U.S.-backed council of Haitian elder statesmen in 2004 to lead the tiny Caribbean nation after the U.S.-backed ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide seemed glad to be relieved of power.

"I am finally free!" he exclaimed giddily, relishing his first night out to a restaurant in more than two years without bodyguards.

Though Latortue has been criticized for failing to stop Haiti's bloodshed or curb rampant corruption, U.S. experts credit the retired UN economist with something unheard of in 202 years since Haiti's independence: He oversaw an election that peacefully brought to power a man from the opposite political extreme, President Rene Preval.

His tenure also was remarkable by Haitian political standards for his personal honesty, his refusal to sanction violence and his simply walking away from power after creating the machinery for an open election.

Latortue recalled waking at 3 a.m. on Feb. 7 to find his countrymen standing in long lines to vote - without a shot fired.

"I almost cried. I did not expect that to happen at all," Latortue said softly.

Among the accomplishments Latortue cites were firing corrupt customs officers and police and taking steps to help free the civil service of political cronyism. He claimed unequaled cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on counternarcotics efforts, got $1.3 billion in foreign aid and enlisted European Union support to rebuild roads.

He eliminated the discretionary spending - once a key source of bribery and embezzlement funds - that was more than half the Haitian budget two years ago.

But though even Latortue's detractors praise his economic policies, they point to a rash of kidnappings and a Justice Ministry "witch hunt" against Aristide supporters during his tenure.

"On some issues, Latortue cooperated with the international community, but on other issues he was an obstacle," said Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group, an independent organization based in Belgium.

Latortue admitted the Justice Ministry was "the worst," and said he's "embarrassed" that Yvon Neptune, Aristide's former prime minister, is still in jail.

The greatest blow to Latortue's credibility was his security chief, a "distant cousin" and reputed drug runner named Youri Latortue.

U.S. and French diplomats advised him to dump Youri Latortue, known to some as "Mr. 30 percent" for the kickbacks he allegedly pocketed. But the leader refused. He argued that in a nation of political assassinations he could trust only kin.

Latortue now concedes he was shady and "distanced" himself from his cousin when he ran and won a Senate seat in February.

"He did provide me first-class security," Latortue said. "Everybody feared him. The people who wanted to kill me confessed that, if he was not here, it would have been easy to kill me."

U.S. officials agree he probably would be dead if not for his cousin, said to be a CIA informant.

Despite the criticism, Latortue is at peace with the end of his turn in power. And venturing out to a Cuban restaurant in Boca Raton on Friday night, he was greeted as a returning hero by Haitian kitchen workers.

"You have to be a real man to do such a great job," one said.

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Post by admin » Mon Jun 12, 2006 5:54 am

You are so right, Apharion. The fact that you appreciate the irony, half-assed reporting, double standard, and irreconcilable contradictions of this "news article" is some kind of reward because it reflects the fact that you have learned much about Haiti in the past few months.

Otherwise, I might as well close this board or keep it only for the archives. The Windows on Haiti board started in March 1999, under a different name and a different format, and has never ceased to evolve, requiring daily attention and subjected to constant attacks, both verbal and technical. Some have tried to subvert the board into their own political platforms, berating (in the worst way) all who would not join in total agreement with their ideas (which were often kooky). All the successive challenges, technical and non-technical have been met though, due in no small part to a certain camaraderie that existed on this board and the deep-seated solidarity of some key players who doubled as forum moderators by the force of their view points and genuine understanding of the mechanics of dialoguing. At its best, this board truly reflected some sort of popular university and the archives (moderately searchable, though admittedly not organized in an ideal manner which may just be beyond the limits of my ability) do reflect that to a considerable extent. But lately, we have seen rigidity and intolerance raised to the level of virtue and the sheer fun of interacting go out the window. Perhaps as a result, we are now facing our greatest challenge ever: boredom, induced by a noticeable and prolonged lack of participation.

Will we overcome that too?

Those who never liked this board in the first place may be grinning in anticipation of its demise. Ironically, we have received only recently some high praise from the respected Haiti Tribune bimonthly from Paris. We also participated in a successful, though highly spontaneous in nature, face to face encounter of a few virtual contributors to this board. But all the accolades in the world cannot make up for the dreadful lack of participation (or when it happens, the uncommunicative nature of it). What we do see at times is the mere stating and restating of positions, hardcore and already well known. But no give and take. Rigidity sets in. Everything remarkable about Haiti and Haitian life has already been written, one would surmise.

Through it all, I pledge to continue my efforts on a daily basis, until I become fossilized too or until something better comes along.

Michel Nau_

Post by Michel Nau_ » Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:04 am

This article is more likely deceiving, a publicity scam. [quote]Yvon Neptune, Aristide's former prime minister, is still in jail. [/quote]
Other guy finishes last!! Yes indeed!! Life is not fair. This is a guy who could have run for his life and go back to NY. But instead, we know the rest.
[quote]Latortue is at peace with the end of his turn in power. And venturing out to a Cuban restaurant in Boca Raton on Friday night, he was greeted as a returning hero by Haitian kitchen workers. [/quote]
Other guy finishes first!!

[quote]"You have to be a real man to do such a great job," one said"[/quote] Some people praise him and some don't. Everyone has right to its opinion.

But life goes on and tomorrow is another day.

Michel

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Mon Jun 12, 2006 9:10 am

[quote]...we are now facing our greatest challenge ever: boredom, induced by a noticeable and prolonged lack of participation. Will we overcome that too?[/quote]
There are seasons when some of us are busier than usual, and that certainly plays a role in the perceived lack of participation. Also, with regards to recent events in Haiti, I guess we all have to be quiet for a while and see how things are going to unfold. But, make no mistake about it, this forum has become part of us for reasons mentioned by many including Haiti Tribune.

As you know, Guy, when people fall in love and have grown to know each other well, sometimes their 'silence' says more than words could ever say. But I don't know if that's true for same-sex couples... :lol:

gelin

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:39 am

[quote]...I grew up reading all the idealistic propaganda about the foundation of the state of Israel and believed it all for an embarrassingly long time...[/quote]
Could you say a bit more on that one for me?

gelin

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