Haiti Report for May 31, 2004

Prepared by Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center

The Haiti Report is a compilation and summary of events as described in Haitian and international media. It does not reflect the opinions of Haiti Reborn. This service is intended to give a better understanding of the situation in Haiti by presenting the reader with reports that provide a variety of perspectives on the situation.


  • Floods in Haiti and the Dominican Republic
  • President Aristide Leaves Jamaica for South Africa
  • U.S. Travel Warning
  • Royal Caribbean Restores Haiti Stop
  • Police Reformer from Albany
  • Ex-Police Chief and Former Aristide Security Chief
  • UN Peacekeeping Mission
  • Lavalas CEP Seat Filled by Protestant Federation
  • Teleco Dismissals
  • Pressure to Restore the Army
  • Home Searches
  • Aid to Haiti
  • FRAPH Arrests

Floods in Haiti and the Dominican Republic:
Rescue workers rushed beans and rice, drinking water, chlorine tablets and first-aid kits to a remote Haitian town submerged by floods that killed an estimated 2,000 people on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Across the border in the Dominican Republic, authorities prepared for an aerial fumigation to prevent disease in hard-hit Jimani, a town where flood waters crashed through in the night and killed hundreds of men, women and children, dumping some of their bodies into a lake full of crocodiles. An official reported 1,000 deaths in Mapou, a village southeast of Haitiís capital, dramatically raising the death toll from flash floods and mudslides triggered by torrential rains in Haiti and the DR. The toll in Haiti stood at about 1,660, while 350 bodies had been recovered in the DR, mostly near Jimani. Foreign troops turned to relief efforts, providing helicopter flights to aid agencies trying to reach survivors isolated when floods washed out roads across southeastern Haiti. (Reuters, 5/27)

The European Union is preparing a package worth $2.43 million for victims of floods in the Dominican Republic and Haiti this week, the European Commission said. The EU executive will before the end of the week endorse a package most likely directed at providing water, sanitation, shelter and food aid. This could be followed with additional aid later, he said. "We will continue to monitor the situation closely to assess whether further assistance is needed," Jean-Charles Ellerman-Kingombe said. (Reuters, 5/26)

News of the death of former Deputy from Fond Verrette, Lyonel Bouzi, due to the torrential rains, was confirmed by people in the region. The former Deputy, his father and a young girl from the family were swept away by flood waters, a local radio official told A(AHP, 5/26)

The Federal Republic of Germany Embassy expresses its sympathies to the population of the regions seriously affected these last few days by the flood. The losses are important, as much in human lives as in material losses. Following this difficult situation lived by these regions, the Federal Republic of Germany Embassy gets together with local and national organizations concerned by this disaster, and with the international community show its solidarity to the victim families. Through the Lutheran World Federation, Germany will release 30,000 EURO for the families whose homes have been destroyed or seriously damaged. The Lutheran World Federation will give food, clothes and medication by helicopter, to the population in the affected regions. (AHP, 5/27)

Rescuers raced against time and weather to reach stranded survivors who scratched for water in the dirt of villages ravaged by floods that killed more than 2000 people. The World Food Program rushed 20 tons of rice, cereal and vegetables aboard military helicopters destined for 4000 people in Mapou, a remote valley village submerged by flood waters that triggered mudslides this week in Haiti and the DR. "Mapou is a completely devastated village. It is under some feet of water," said Inigo Alvarez, a WFP official who traveled to the town. "The villagers are in a desperate situation. They were asking for food." In Mapou and surrounded villages isolated when mountain roads were washed out by floods, an estimated 10,000 people were in immediate need of help, international aid groups said. (Reuters, 5/28)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies said they are aiming to raise 592,446 EUROS to support operations to help 10,000 people affected by the floods. The drinking water distribution network suffered heavy damage, thus drinking water supplies are a priority to avoid spreading infectious diseases. (AHP, 5/28)

Jamaica offered to assist flood-ravaged Haiti, pending an assessment of conditions on the ground by a multi-sector committee. However, the government is hoping to work alongside international agencies already stationed in Haiti in the disaster relief efforts. Opposition Senator Bruce Golding said he was not aware of a diplomatic response to the Haitian disaster and argued that on sheer humanitarian grounds, Jamaica had an obligation to assist Haiti, which unlike the DR did not have an effective disaster response capability. (Jamaica Observer, 5/29)

Gray storm clouds gathered again over Haitiís flood-ravaged mountains as tens of thousands of homeless survivors huddled for shelter, a small earthquake struck the region and estimates of the dead and missing remained near 2,000. International aid workers said that people fleeing the flood had walked for hours or days seeking safety in the mountains of the Massif de la Salle, whose summits rise up to 8,793 feet, and some had walked over the mountains down to the sea. The aid workers, assisted by American, Canadian and Chilean soldiers, are still burying the dead and searching for the missing, while trying to keep the living alive. They say they confront a crisis far worse than they imagined in a country ill-equipped too manage daily life, much less a disaster of such scale. "The government is doing the best it can," said Henri Bazin, Haitiís finance minister since March. "It is obvious that we do not have sufficient means to face this crisis." He said the government was able to dedicate $250,000 to flood response. The US said it was providing $50,000 for flood relief in Haiti; the OAS $25,000. UN agencies have about $380,000 available, officials said. About 75,000 people are believed to have been affected by the flood, according to UN workers still trying to reach small villages cut off by mudslides. (NYT, 5/30)

The Caribbean Community (Caricom) will provide disaster relief to storm-ravaged Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where at least 958 people were killed in flash floods, the organisation said Saturday. "Caricom, for its part, will work through the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Relief Agency (CDERA) to contribute to the relief effort," the regional bloc said in a statement. Caricom and CDERA said the region's refusal to recognize the interim Haitian administration that took power after Jean Bertrand Aristide fled into exile would not affect Caricom's provision of disaster relief. "Humanitarian assistance knows no political boundaries," said CDERA spokesman Terry Ally. (Agence France de Presse, 5/29)

Jamaica will be providing drinking water along with medical and other relief supplies to flood-ravaged Haiti, Prime Minister P J Patterson said over the weekend. In addition, Jamaica will be sending medical and technical personnel to assist with the flood relief efforts. Jamaica flood relief effort is being spearheaded by the Office of the Prime Minister, with the assistance of the foreign, security and health ministries, and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. The Port Authority will ship the medical supplies and drinking water. (Jamaica Observer, 5/31)

President Aristide Leaves Jamaica for South Africa:
Excerpts from President Jean-Bertand Aristideís statement: "As my family and I prepare to leave Jamaica for South Africa, I once again thank Prime Minister Patterson, the people of Jamaica and the entire Caribbean family for hosting us during this very special time. We extend this heartfelt appreciation on behalf of the Haitian refugees as well. For them too itís a special time. When have we ever seen a democratically elected president leave his rightful place against his will as it happened on February 29, 2004? Itís a special time. When did we ever see powerful hands set fire to a house then prevent the people inside from leaving? Itís a special time. Since February 29, 20004, the level of suffering has dramatically increased in Haiti. While on one side thousands are being killed for supporting their elected government, on the other side, more than 2,000 people lost their lives because of the ecological disaster we all recently witnessedÖ As we prepare this return to the mother continent, we thank President Mbeki, the people of South Africa, the member nations of the Organization of African Union. After two visits to South Africa, it will now be our temporary home until we are back in Haiti. Of course the Haitian situation must be normalized; peace must be restored through democratic order. The solidarity shared by South Africa, CARICOM and the Organization of African Union to promote peace and democracy in Haiti crystallizes the world-wide African unity that will continue to flourish. Wherever we are, always united, we will continue to promote peace. This, more than ever, is what the world needs today. We must all work for peace, not war. We must all work for a better life in a world where four-fifths of the population consumes only one-fifth of the worldís resources. And we must all work for the full respect of this democratic principle: one person one vote. Peace is linked to freedom. May the spirit of our 200 years of independence guide us in this special time. Thank you." (5/30)

Ending two and a half months of exile in the Caribbean, ousted President Aristide left for South Africa saying it will be his "temporary home" until he can return to Haiti. Aristide boarded a South African government jet along with his wife, Mildred, and two young daughters and their bodyguards. (NYT, 5/30)

U.S. Travel Warning:
The State Department reminded Americans that the security situation in Haiti remains "unpredictable and potentially dangerous." A department travel warning said American citizens should defer travel to the Caribbean nation even though its political situation is more stable than during an upheaval three months ago. US citizens who remain in Haiti should take precautions to avoid the uncertain security situation in public areas, the department said. (AP, 5/25)

Royal Caribbean Restores Haiti Stop:
Haitian vacation over: After three months of bypassing Haiti, Royal Caribbean has deemed the companyís beach property there safe and has resumed port calls. Royal Caribbean announced earlier this month that an independent security assures that Labadee, on Haitiís northern coast, is safe from the sporadic turmoil that caused the cruise line to suspend stops there in February. (SF Chronicle, 5/30)

Police Reformer from Albany:
John C. Nielsen, the Albanyís top cop for the past five years, has accepted a civilian police contractor job helping guide US reform efforts ongoing in Haiti. Nielsen will work for a private contract with the US Dept of State. "In the last week Iíve been all over the world, but Haiti is the one that interests me the most," Nielsen said. "I think the appropriate State Department language is ëstanding upí of the Haitian National Police, which basically means getting them back on their feet. Haiti has no army, so the police are expected to handle most of their internal defense issues." Department sources said Nielsen will be paid a mid-six-figure salary and have a personal security force, driver and residence in Haiti. "Iím very excited," Nielsen said. (Times Union, 5/21)

Ex-Police Chief and Former Aristide Security Chief:
A federal magistrate ordered the one-time commander of the Haitian National Police jailed without bail while he awaits trial for allegedly taking money to protect cocaine shipments passing through Haiti on the way to the US. US Magistrate Chris McAliley ruled that Rudy Therassan, 39, should stay behind bars because he might flee or pose a danger to the community. During the hearing, a prosecutor disclosed that Therassan had amassed a fortune that could not be explained by his police work, a defense attorney named two Haitians he suspects are US government informants, and a Drug Enforcement Administration agent acknowledged the existence of a grand jury investigation of the case. During a search May 14 of Therassanís apartment in the Doral section of Miami, federal agents uncovered documents indicating Therassan held large amounts of cash in several bank accounts in the US, Haiti and elsewhere, Assistant US Attorney Lynn Kirkpatrick said. Agents also found almost $1 million in other materials assets, including two homes in Palm Beach County and about $100,000 worth of watches and jewels, DEA agent Noble Harrison testified. (Sun Sentinel, 5/22)

Two more former Haitian police officials were charged in Miami with federal drug offenses in the growing investigation of cocaine trafficking and corruption under President Aristide. Both were identified in court documents as high-ranking officers in the PNH. Jean Nesly Lucien was the PNH director general in 2000 and 2001. Evintz Brillant was chief of narcotics from the summer of 2002 until the Aristide government fell this year. They were the third and fourth top Haitians officials in the US since Aristide was forced out on Feb. 29. The others are Oriel Jean, former head of Aristideís palace security detail, and Rudy Therassan, one-time national police commander of investigations. All four have been accused of conspiring to import cocaine into the US. Lucien and Brillant were taken into federal custody in Miami. They appeared briefly before US Magistrate Barry L. Garber but did not enter pleas. Affadavits unsealed shed more light on the depth of official corruption cocaine money allegedly brought to the impoverished island nation. They document that Haitiís police took hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect Colombian cocaine shipments that passed through the country on the way to the US. (Sun Sentinel, 5/28)

The former security chief for President Aristide has been identified in court as a US government informant in its investigation of alleged drug trafficking by members of Aristideís administration. No evidence has been presented in open court linking Aristide to a suspected narcotics conspiracy in the widening federal probe of high-ranking officials in his toppled government. But an attorney said in court that former Aristide security chief Oriel Jean ‚ extradited in early March from Canada on a drug smuggling conspiracy charge ‚ was cooperating with the federal government. Lawyer Lawrence Besser, representing a former commander in the PNH, said Jean "was seeking favors from the government" such as a reduced sentence in exchange for info about Aristideís inner circle. Federal prosecutors objected to Besserís identifying Jean as a confidential source. Besser said his client, Rudy Therassan, also provided info to the US DEA until last year. At Therassanís detention hearing, Besser also identified another government informant, Beaudoin "Jacques" Ketant, as the drug trafficker who paid Therassan $150,000 for each plane load allowed to land on a major highway in Haiti. Assistant US Attorney Lynn Kirkpatrick again objected but did not say whether Ketant or Jean were informants. (Miami Herald, 5/25)

UN Peacekeeping Mission:
Excerpts from an interview with the commander of the Brazilian peacekeeping contingent in Haiti. Question: What will be the scope of action of the Brazilian contingent? Brigadier General America Salvador de Oliveira: "We will not engage in drug enforcement operations. One of our missions will be to disarm groups that espouse political ideologies and the actions we take will depend on the situation, because in Haiti there are many weapons in the hands of the people and no one will hand them over willingly. The United Nations is developing a disarmament strategy." Q: Are you saying that drug enforcement will be left in the hands of the police? A: "Yes. The situation in Haiti is similar to that of our country. Drug enforcement will be left to the police. The UN has asked for 6,700 military personnel and 1,622 policemen. We must emphasize this point so as to avoid the misconception that armed forces personnel are being sent abroad to fight organized crime and drug trafficking in Haiti instead of Rio de Janeiro, right? These are two separate issues." Q: Isnít Brazil legitimizing US intervention and the ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide? A: "As far as the UN and participants in the MINUSTAH are concerned, Aristide tendered his resignation. I agree that there were some doubts concerning this matter at one point, but an Itamaraty (Brazilian Foreign Ministry) delegation has toured several Caribbean countries and ascertains that they endorse Brazilís participation in this UN force. Furthermore, the current situation in Haiti is more stable than art the time of Aristideís resignation. Schools, hotels and banks are operating normally. Life is returning to normal for the Haitian people." (BBC Monitoring, Correio Braziliense website, 5/21)

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he will consider Chilean President Ricardo Lagosí suggestion on contributing Spanish troops to the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti. "We will consider very seriously the opinion expressed today by President Lagos," Zapatero told a joint press conference with Lagos at La Moncloa Palace in Madrid, responding to the question if troops could possibly be sent to Haiti after the full withdrawal of Spanish forces from Iraq. (Xinhuanet, 5/25)

The US plans to remove all of its 1900 troops in Haiti by the end of June as UN peacekeepers assume their duties, the Pentagon said. The multinational interim force will being a month-long handover at the beginning of June. (Reuters, 5/26)

Brazil is prepared to keep its troops in Haiti in command of a UN peacekeeping force for longer than the six months approved by the UN to restore stability, but not indefinitely, its defense minister said. As the 1200 troops prepared to depart on Brazilís largest peacekeeping mission ever, Brazilian Defense Minister Jose Viegas urged the international community to make a "serious effort" to help the poorest nation in the Americas rebuild after an armed revolt. (Reuters, 5/27)

Haiti is counting on UN troops to disarm thousands of militiamen who kept their weapons following a February rebellion, the islandís prime minister said. Haitian police and the US-led peacekeeping force have struggled to disarm the fighters since the 2/29 ouster of President Aristide. Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said at a news conference at the Latin America-EU Summit here there currently are about 15,000 armed pro-Aristide forces and about 800 ex-rebels. (AP, 5/28)

The official American handover to a UN force is set for June 1, but only a fraction of the planned 8,000 troops and police for the UN force have arrived, and none have brought helicopters needed to help flood victims. So most US troops will stay until the end of June. After that, fewer than a dozen will participate in the UN force. (AP, 5/30)

Lavalas CEP Seat Filled by Protestant Federation:
The doors of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) are definitely closed to the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. After several hesitations, the Haitian government, referring to the clauses of the initial agreement, has decided to set the electoral machine in motion without the FL representative. On that issue, Prime Minister Latortue has written a letter to the Protestant Federation in Haiti to ask it to fill the vacuum that has been created by the FL within the electoral institution. The president of the Protestant Federation says he has received this letter. However, he did not want to disclose the name of the second representative of the Protestant sector to the electoral organization. (Signal FM Radio, 5/25)

Fanmi Lavalas activists declared their support for the party directorateís decision not to be represented on the new Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). According to Lavalas activists, "Most of the organizations represented on the new electoral body have a reputation of being hostile toward the disadvantaged masses, who are the majority in the country, and do not miss an opportunity to attach to them the pejorative nickname of ëchimeresí". Like the members of the directorate of FL, the Lavalas activists said that the interim authorities must put an end to the persecutions and arbitrary arrests targeting supporters of the party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide before they will take part in the electoral process. According to them, the political violence has only one single objective, and that is to exclude FL from the political leadership of the country. (AHP, 5/26)

Teleco Dismissals:
Many employees of Teleco, including technicians, denounced a wave of firing on May 24 that have taken place at the state-owned enterprise. According to several employees, the grounds for their dismissal was the accusation that they were "Lavalas chimeres". The fired technicians asked for their wages and legal benefits, deploying that this decision was taken at a time when several of the companyís networks were out of service due to acts of sabotage that they say were perpetrated by former rebels during the Anti-Aristide GNB campaign. The dismissed technicians said that their dismissal is not part of a plan to improve operations at Teleco because they say many supporters of the anti-Aristide campaign including former members of the Haitian army have been hired to replace them. (AHP, 5/24)

Pressure to Restore the Army:
Members of the demobilized Haitian army are pressuring the Latortue government to make a decision on the reconstitution of the FADH (Armed Forces of Haiti). The spokesperson of the former soldiers, Joseph Jean Baptiste, indicated that after a period of ten years of forced vacation, the Haitian armed forces should return to duty at their barracks. "The current government is our government, it has benefited from the armed struggle that we have waged against President Aristide; the team in power is indebted to us, it must decide the future of the military institution," declared Joseph Jean Baptiste. He also remarked that the former military will inflect a crushing defeat on all who oppose the return of the army at the next elections. (AHP, 5/24)

Home Searches:
A police patrol searched the home of president of the Haitian Senate, Yvon Feuille, in Port Salut in the South of Haiti. Feuille said the police operation was illegal and arbitrary. He indicated that the police affirmed they were looking for drugs and weapons but found none. The search was carried out with much brutality, as the police smashed almost everything in their path, indicated the president of the Senate. He considered this PNH action as squarely in line with the persecution orchestrated by the Latortue regime against Aristide supporters. (AHP, 5/24)

Search operations were conducted at the home of Senator Flourel Celestin at Freres in Port-au-Prince. Agents from the Haitian anti-narcotics police and members of the DEA were at the scene. According to reports, searches may be carried out at the homes of several known figures whose names have been mentioned in the past as possible drug traffickers. (AHP, 5/25)

Aid to Haiti:
The US is committing an additional $60 million in aid to Haiti, bringing the total for the year to $160 million, the State Department said. The additional money will be used to send US advisers to Haitiís government ministries, train the Haitian national police and help cover a budget gap that Haitiís interim government inherited. The funding will also support electricity generation, jobs programs, humanitarian assistance and economic development. Early this month, the administration announced a $40 million aid donation to Haiti. State Dept spokesman Richard Boucher said the administration hopes other countries will contribute to Haitiís development at a donors conference this summer in Ottawa. (AP, 5/24)

FRAPH Arrests:
US immigration officials have arrested two Haitian torture suspects accused of attacking supporters of former President Aristide during the military coup that sent Aristide into exile in 1991. Vital Cesar, 51, and Jones Charles, 33, were arrested at their respective homes in Orlando by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as part of the US Dept of Homeland Securityís effort to round up international human rights violators seeking safety in the US. Cesar was a member of FRAPH, a paramilitary group linked to numerous human rights violations in Haiti. He was allegedly involved in arresting more than 100 people, some of whom he severely beat. Charles served in an anti-gang unit and as a corporal under military junta leader General Raoul Cedras. Charlesí duties including serving as a guard and driving around soldiers who arrested Lavalas Family supporters during demonstrations. (Miami Herald, 5/19)

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention and Removal officers arrested 47 year old Haitian human rights violator Michael Fortuna at a Key West home where he had been hiding. An immigration judge determined April 9, 1999 that Fortuna was a human rights abuser linked to the FRAPH under the command of Emmanuel Constant. (ICE, 5/26)

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