Haiti Report for May 8, 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.

- International Labor/Religious/Community Delegation Reports on Haiti
- Fanmi Lavalas and the electoral commission
- Terror Campaign
- Desperation in Haiti
- Provisional Prime Minister Latortue visits Washington
- Refugees in Jamaica
- Criminals still free, crime on the rise
- UN Mission
- CARICOM calls for OAS investigation
- Curfew lifted
- Batay Ouvriye on current situation
- Haitian Army
- Detainees in US launch hunger strike
- US statements

International Labor/Religious/Community Delegation Reports on Haiti:
A nine-member international labor/religious/community fact-finding delegation has just returned from a week spent in Haiti. Its objective was to assess and report on the current situation of Haitian workers, the Haitian labor movement, and the state of human rights in that country. Within this mandate, particular attention was given to understanding the new realities following the coup d'etat that deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on 29 February 2004.

The brief statement, which follows, is an initial report on our findings.
The delegation's work focused on interviews with Haitian trade unionists and workers, as well as political leaders and activists. Part of this time was spent attending the National Congress of the CTH (the Confederation of Haitian Workers), the largest labor federation in Haiti composed of 11 different union federations. Based on these interviews and discussions, we can report that in the labor movement is in significant crisis, brought on in large part by the decade-long economic and political destabilization campaign orchestrated in Washington. The crisis has become much worse since 29 February, with the campaign of violence by the US-backed opposition that preceded and followed the coup. Facing a massive problem of unemployment (estimated at some 70% in the formal economy), the turmoil and economic difficulties of recent years has only been worsened with the change of government.

The coup regime was formed by a coalition of the unelected political opposition; the governments of France and the United States; former Haitian military and paramilitary death squads (FRAPH); and the Haitian business elite - particularly the "Group 184", led by Andre Apaid. Mr. Apaid, a US citizen who is known by Haitian workers as the single most notorious owner of Haitian sweatshop factories, has been a virulent opponent of unions organizing in his factories. The delegation heard reports of extremely dire working conditions in the Apaid-owned sweatshops, with little or no access to safe drinking water, and wages at the legal minimum of 70 Haitian gourdes (approximately US$1.80) per day - or less. Those workers courageous enough to attempt the organization of trade unions face dismissal. Clearly, Mr. Apaid and his clique are no supporters of Haiti's workers or their labor movement.

The coup also led to serious attacks on Haiti's trade unions. The delegation heard reports from one union, the FTPH (Federation of Public Transport Workers of Haiti), of criminal attacks on over 100 of the buses that they had purchased for use in the bus cooperative operated by the union. These attacks involved the torching and destruction of the union co-op's buses, yet went unreported in the North American media, despite having taken place in the days immediately following the 29 February coup d'etat (the peak period of international media presence).

Given their timing, and the fact that the union bus cooperative's success had been viewed as a positive symbol of social advances under the Aristide government, such attacks were seen by the union as acts of political reprisal by supporters of the coup. No arrests have been made in association with these attacks. The general living conditions of Haitian workers and the general population have drastically worsened since the coup of 29 February. The delegation heard that the price of rice has jumped dramatically, as much as doubling. Other vital foodstuffs have seen even more serious price inflation. Several witnesses testified that whereas before the coup, Haitians were able to eat at least once per day, the cost of food has reduced this to as little as 3 meals per week. Even those Haitians fortunate enough to have a job are barely subsisting.

As for human rights, things are even more serious. The coup which deposed President Aristide has led to a serious wave of attacks and persecutions of supporters of President Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas Party. The delegation heard testimony from an elected member of Parliament for the Fanmi Lavalas who is living in hiding, having been driven out of his town under gunfire. Other political leaders and known activists have also been forced into hiding, living underground, fearing the death threats and violence directed at supporters of the ousted government. Despite its obvious popularity, the Fanmi Lavalas movement is not currently able to have political demonstrations or otherwise take open political action due to the threat of attack.

The coup regime, supported by an international military coalition led by the US, France and Canada, has not provided security for those currently most at risk. The names of Lavalas supporters - and even those suspected of being Lavalas supporters - are being read off on right-wing radio stations as an implicit threat. Neither the coup regime nor its international backers have taken action to contain what many Haitians refer to as an anti-Lavalas "witch hunt" that continues to this day. Based on six days of interviews, meetings, recorded testimony, and on-site examinations, the International Labor/Religious/Community

Fact-Finding Delegation has collected extensive material to compile and report. We wanted to provide this brief summary as soon as possible for immediate use. A more detailed written report will soon be published and circulated which will contain a more detailed overview of our findings. (5/4)

Fanmi Lavalas and the electoral commission:
American Ambassador James Foley invited Fanmi Lavalas (FL) to join the new CEP. During a HAMCHAM meeting at the Karibe Convention Center, Foley declared that the US is waiting for an answer from FL but he pointed out that they don't have a deadline. "We cannot be held hostage by a party that doesn't want to play the democratic game." He underlined that the CEP has to start working soon if we want to have elections in 2005. The diplomat praised the head of the interim government for trying to reach a compromise with FL. Foley invited FL to play its part, otherwise it is putting its future in jeopardy because the country cannot wait forever. (AHP, 4/28)

In a letter to Latortue, the FL executive committee said the party is ready to give the name of its official if some conditions are met. They've asked for the government to disarm all the armed groups which control a good portion of the country, and free police stations controlled by armed gangs in more than seven departments. The party's officials asked for an end of the Latortue government's defamation campaign and the creation of a commission made of officials from the premature, FL and the OAS to rule on the legality of the arrests and orders to not leave the country on members of the party. Even though they are convinced that only fair elections regrouping all political sectors can help build a free and socially just Haiti, the members of FL's executive committee condemn the signature of the April 6 political agreement, which was made without the party, and the nomination of general managers, department delegates and communal commissions. These decisions show that the current authorities wish to reinforce and consolidate the machine against FL. (AHP, 4/29)

The Democratic Convergence criticized FL officials for giving conditions before unveiling the name of their official to the new CEP. A spokesman of this political coalition Victor Benoit said FL's conditions were political maneuvers to try to block the democratic process. The Lavalas leaders are trying to compromise the new authorities by saying they are persecuted without bringing any proof, Benoit felt. (AHP, 4/29)

Former President Aristide's political party has not nominated anybody for a panel that will organize elections next year in Haiti, citing abuses against the party since Aristide fled the country. The government issued an executive order on May 3 naming eight members of what should be a nine-member panel that will run the voting in Haiti. "After the brutal interruption of the democratic process in Haiti, the Lavalas Family party cannot name a representative under such conditions," said Jonas Petit, a spokesman for Lavalas. "We won't do so until the government puts an end to the killing, persecutions, illegal arrests, and destruction of personal property of our members and supporters," he told reporters. Prime Minister Latortue said that a place on the panel would remain open for a short time for Lavalas if the party decided to nominate somebody, but did not say if he would agree to Lavalas demands. (Reuters, 5/3)

The interim authorities published the names of
eight of the members of the CEP. They are:

Rosmond Pradel, Democratic Convergence
Patrick Frequiere, unaligned parties
Maurice Jean Baptiste, Protestant Federation
Max Mathurin, Episcopal Church
Laure Julien, Catholic Church<br> Louis Jerson Richeme, supreme court of appeal
Francois Benoit, the business world
Jreud Jean, human rights organizations

Latortue said he left a vacant place for an FL representative, but it won't be there for long. "We will fill that void, like mentioned in the initial agreement, if FL does not show interest," Latortue said. He already feels he has given FL too much time to name their official to the CEP. (AHP, 5/3)

Gerard Latortue declared that as soon as he returns from the US he will replace FL's representative if the party of Aristide hasn't joined the council then. (AHP, 5/4)

Leader of the ALLAH party, Reynold Georges, protested the formation of the new CEP, which is made of only one political family, he said. Georges says he regrets that FL is not represented at the new electoral organization. The new governmental team is ready to organize official elections in favor of a political sector, he denounced. ALLAH's leader pleaded for the presence of many international observers to supervise the work of the CEP in order to avoid, he said, the organization of false elections in the country. (AHP, 5/4)

Terror Campaign:
At least 4 people were killed and many more were injured by individuals armed with machetes and helped by a group of around 10 former military men in the Paul Communcal Section of St Michel de l'Attalye. The violence started when the citizens of this communal section refused to acknowledge the new head of section the former military men wanted to install to replace the former members of the Administrative Council of communal sections (CASEC). About 20 houses were burnt and many animals killed with machetes. (AHP, 4/29)

In an open letter to the Boniface/Latortue government, made public on May 3, the local branch of FL condemns what it calls treachery and partisan positions from the Latortue government. FL states that this regime, which seems to be made of technocrats with a judge from the supreme court of appeal as their leader, has put in place an authoritarian government which despises all moral values and easily forgets the truth, the constitution, the facts, and the laws so it can persecute, kill, torture, and imprison all from Lavalas. According to the Central Plateau's FL coordination, more than 300 people, members of the President's party, the civil society, women and children, were killed. FL feels this is all part of a plan to make the elections easier for the former opposition, since the party will not be able to participate under the current conditions of violence and persecutions. (AHP, 5/3)

The Justice and Peace National Commission said it had counted more than 300 bodies in the streets of Port-au-Prince during the months of Feb. and March. In a report published this week, this number could go as high as 500. Most of the victims were shot to death, especially during the political troubles that followed Aristide's departure. The Justice and Peace official, Father Jean Hansens, told the current authorities of this situation which shows the high level of criminality in the country. He thinks most of the street murders were politically motivated. Father Hansens said he was extremely preoccupied with this situation. He asks the interim authorities to act quickly to stop violence in the country. (AHP, 5/3)

Desperation in Haiti:
Difficult as it may be to believe, people here say, life in the poorest nation in the hemisphere has gotten worse in the last two months. Mounds of garbage choke the streets. Electricity in the capital has been scarce for weeks. The Police force has fallen deeper into disarray, and crime has spiked, including a rash of kidnapping aimed at wealthy businesspeople. The price of rice, the Haitian staple, has doubled in some parts of the country. A senior Western diplomat said the biggest concern was that the interim government will face mass unrest over deteriorating conditions, which could reignite violent clashes between Aristide supporters and rebels, who still occupy large swaths of the country despite the presence of 3,600 foreign troops.

Other than small, symbolic transfers, supporters of the former president and the rebels have both clung steadfastly to their weapons. If violence flares, the diplomat said, the government might not survive the next two or three months. "The international community needs to help this government, we need to get monetary support to them yesterday," the diplomat said. If this government does not survive, it is not clear what comes after." But international help has been slow to arrive. The US-led force here is to hand over the job of stabilizing Haiti to a UN mission. Skeptical Haitians view the unelected government and its foreign backers with a suspicion as brittle as the clay biscuits they now eat. "No one has ever done anything for us," said Pierre Charlestin, 24, who lives in a grim shantytown. "Why should we expect anything different now?" To many people here, Aristide remains the only legitimate leader that have. "We believe in democracy, and we have a democratically-elected leader," said Alix Jean, a Lavalas partisan, at a recent rally at the church in La Saline where Aristide used to preach. "His name is Jean-Bertrand Aristide." (New York Times, 5/5)

Interim Prime Minister Latortue invites the Haitian population to change its eating habits, by eating corn, manioc and other products that he considers are less expensive than rice. Latortue was speaking just before leaving for the US where he has been for several days trying to convince the American government and sponsors to help his government which has been unable to answer the population's basic demands almost two months after its nomination. "We do not want to intervene to make prices be respected, but we'll have to do it, if retailers insist on wanting to make enormous profits," he declared. He claimed that the high price of rice is due to the fact that it has been hard to find on the local market after February 29. Since the departure of the Aristide-Neptune government, prices have almost doubled, despite the fact that the gourde has been quite stable against the dollar. Between 37 and 39 gourdes are needed today to buy one US dollar, as not long ago, as much as 45 gourdes were needed. (AHP, 5/5)

Former Deputy of LaGonave Gilvert Angervil said that Latortue's declarations inviting the population to change their tastes in food to face the high cost of life are demagogic and discriminatory. According to Angervil, these declarations show how the head of government deeply despises the misery that is eating away at the most underprivileged people of the country. The former parliamentarian recalled that not only the price of rice went up, but also the price of all staple goods. He also wondered if some products are strictly reserved for the use of privileged people. Meanwhile, the situation continues to get worse and worse. And the populations in the different regions of the country, notably in the North, the Grand Anse, the South and the South East, urge the government in place to shorten the six months deadline fixed by the minister of commerce to stabilize prices. (AHP, 5/5)

Provisional Prime Minister Latortue visits Washington:
Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Latortue and praised him for bringing stability to Caribbean nation following the upheaval of two months ago. "Now we are in the process of rebuilding," Powell said, with Latortue at his side. "Haiti is in great need of financial support, other kinds of support," he added. (AP, 5/5)

Haiti's interim prime minister appealed for help from Caribbean leaders who have withheld support of his U.S.-backed government. Addressing members of the Organization of American States (OAS), Latortue urged countries to put aside differences to help bring stability and progress to Haiti. "Haiti is a member of CARICOM and proposes to continue being a member," Latortue said. "In this key moment of its history, my country needs all of you. May the misunderstandings be left behind." (AP, 5/6)

On Capitol Hill today, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), declared that the Bush Administration's attempts to organize meetings yesterday between Gerard Latortue, the illegally appointed prime minister of Haiti, and Members of Congress were failures.

"There were two attempts to arrange meetings yesterday between Gerard Latortue, the illegitimate Prime Minister of Haiti, and Members of Congress," said Congresswoman Waters. "Both of these attempts by the Bush Administration and a few misguided Members of Congress were complete failures." The first meeting was supposed to occur yesterday at 10:30 a.m. between Gerard Latortue and members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). This meeting was boycotted by Congresswoman Waters and a majority of the members of the CBC. Only about six members of the 39-member CBC actually attended the meeting. "Members of the CBC support the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and their refusal to recognize Gerard Latortue as a legitimate representative of Haiti," said Congresswoman Waters.

The second meeting was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. between Gerard Latortue and members of the House International Relations Committee. However, only six of the 49 members of this committee actually showed up for this meeting. At a separate meeting yesterday between Secretary of State Colin Powell and CBC members, Congresswoman Waters and other CBC members expressed their views that Gerard Latortue is presiding over a violent and crumbling country, and he has done nothing to contain the violence or provide security to the Haitian people. "Gerard Latortue embraced the thugs and killers who are terrorizing the Haitian people," explained Congresswoman Waters. Gerard Latortue held a rally in the Haitian city of Gonaives, at which he declared Guy Philippe, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, and Jean Tatoune to be "freedom fighters." Guy Philippe is a known drug dealer who returned from exile, occupied Gonaives, spearheaded burnings and killings and threatened to kill President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Louis-Jodel Chamblain and Jean Tatoune are both former death squad leaders who were convicted in abstentia for the killing of thousands of Haitians in the 1994 Raboteau massacre. "Gerard Latortue is presiding over widespread human rights violations since the removal of the elected government of President Aristide on February 29, 2004," said the Congresswoman.

There have been over 1,000 killings in Haiti since Gerard Latortue took office. Members of Lavalas, President Aristide's political party, have been found shot in the head with their hands tied behind their backs. There are reports of Lavalas members being placed in a container and drowned at sea. Delegations from Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild and Let Haiti Live have documented the repression and killing of Lavalas party members. Many of President Aristide's supporters are now in hiding in Haiti. Others have tried to flee Haiti as refugees and have been forcibly repatriated to the island, where they continue to fear for their lives. "Gerard Latortue has done nothing to obtain the support and trust of the people of Haiti," said Congresswoman Waters. "He has not denounced the on-going killings of Lavalas party members, and he has not opposed the forced repatriation of refugees. He has not provided a credible road map for Haiti's future, and he does not deserve to be called prime minister." (5/6)

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) held a meeting with Latortue and afterward they met with Powell. CBC chairman Elijah Cummings told Powell that caucus members "are concerned about the humanitarian problems and efforts currently ongoing in Haiti," said Paul Braithwaite, CBC executive director. The prime minister shared with members of the caucus that if they don't get money in 30 to 60 days, Haiti will be on the brink of catastrophe. "CBC members also asked for Secretary Powell's support of an effort spearheaded by Congress to get $50 million for Haiti in this year's foreign operations budget. And they wanted the secretary's and the administration's support on that," Brathwaite continued. Bill Fletcher, Jr, president of the TransAfrica Forum, said Latortue's administration is "an illegal puppet regime. It has no international credibility. It's completely illegitimate. According to the Haitian Constitution, you have to have been living in Haiti to have an office of that level. Aristide supporters and members of Lavalas are being murdered. The National Lawyers Guild and the Ecumenical Program in Central American and the Caribbean (EPICA) released almost identical reports talking about the murders, brutal tortures and assassinations, putting Aristide supporters in oil drums and setting those oil drums out in the sun for people to roast to death," Fletcher said. Brathwaite said the CBC is concerned about continuing violence in Haiti. "Our government and members of the caucus are not going to tolerate situations where retribution is being had against certain individuals and certain people," said Brathwaite. (BlackAmericanWeb.com, 5/6)

Refugees in Jamaica:
Nearly 500 Haitians fleeing violence and turmoil in their country have made the precarious journey in small, often over-crowded boats across the 160 km of ocean separating Haiti from Jamaica since a political crisis erupted. When the boats appear off Jamaica's east coast, usually at the parish of Portland, they are often pulled to shore by local fisherman and their passengers welcomed by community members before they are turned over to the authorities. In contrast, US residents rarely see the Haitian refugees bound for their shores ‚ their worn vessels are stopped by US Coast Guard ships at sea and the asylum-seekers returned to Haiti ‚ a process known as interdiction ‚ in violation of international law. "We will turn back any refugee that attempts to reach our shore, and that message needs to be very clear to the Haitian people," Pres. George Bush announced on February 25. The US Committee for Refugees described the statement as, "the first time in more than 50 years that the US has flagrantly rejected the legal and ethical obligation to protect refugees." Accommodating refugees has stretched Jamaica's resources, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently announced it was awarding Kingston $500,000 to assist in their care. (IPS, 5/6)

Criminals still free, crime on the rise:
The rising crime rate in Haiti is restricting humanitarian aid distribution in the troubled country, the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today. The supply of water and electricity were also serious problems. The insurgency in February and March had caused enormous damage to the water supply sector, including sabotage of installations, looting of premises and theft of spare parts and vehicles. As a result, the water supply had fallen to 75% of what it was before, but the humanitarian agencies were working to improve this, she said. (UN News Centre, 5/4)

More than 3,000 escaped convicts are running amok in Haiti threatening individuals and businesses, unrestrained by a US-led multinational force meant to keep the peace, police and residents said. Now many who supported the rebels, such as businessmen, are paying the price and are being kidnapped, shot and robbed by bands of drug dealers and other criminals. "Armed bandits visited me three times in two weeks and took away all the money I had," said Josue Jeanty, a grocery store owner in the capital. Heavily armed gangs regularly seize truckloads of goods in commercial districts in Port-au-Prince, and more than a dozen people have been killed in the past two weeks, witnesses said. The situation has become so dire that the UN warmed from Geneva this week that roadside hijackings and other crimes were threatening the distribution of humanitarian aid. (Reuters, 5/6)

UN Mission:
The UN has established the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) with the unanimous adoption of resolution 1542. The Mission will consist of 6700, 1622 civilian police and additional international and local civilian staff. The new multidimensional Stabilization Mission is authorized, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, to ensure a secure and stable environment within which the constitutional and political process in Haiti could take place, to assist the comprehensive and sustainable disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs, among other things. In addition the Council requested the Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative who will have overall authority on the ground for UN activities on the ground. The Mission is for an initial period of six months with the intention to renew for further periods. (UN)

Caribbean leaders have tentatively agreed to contribute peacekeepers and police to an upcoming UN mission in Haiti. The final decision will be made by CARICOM in July. (AP, 5/5)

Canada said it would extend security duty for at least another two months to ease the arrival of the UN mission. Most of the 500 Canadian troops will be sent home from Haiti by the end of the month and replaced by a fresh contingent, said Kenneth Cook, Canadian Ambassador to Haiti. (AP, 5/4)

CARICOM calls for OAS investigation:
Caribbean countries have asked the OAS to investigate the ouster of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Trinidad's foreign minister said. CARICOM has taken the matter to the OAS permanent council "as a first step" he said. (AP, 4/6)

Curfew lifted:
An early morning curfew in place in the capital since the presidential upheaval two months ago has been lifted. The midnight to 5am curfew was part of an effort to bring order to the violence-plagued city after then-President Aristide was deposed. (AP, 5/5)

Batay Ouvriye on current situation:
Excerpts: "The state is in real crisis. This crisis is clear for all to see. There is no person legitimately in charge anywhere. A whole series of upstarts have taken advantage of this situation to set themselves up as the authorities, as chiefs, and, in the process, the people are really suffering. This situation cannot continue!" "Today, after a new style of coup d'etat, the country finds itself occupied! We can say that the ruling class, the politicians of all kinds ‚ Lavalas the same as the Opposition ‚ led us to this situation. Repression, always accompanied by corresponding terror, haunts us day and night. All our democratic rights that have not yet been trodden underfoot are heading that way. The free trade zone at Ouanaminthe is the most obvious proof. There, members of the Dominican middle class, taking advantage of the vacuum at the state level, do nothing but increase their rate of exploitation. As ever, the result is the denial of our rights and subsequent repression. It's the same at the factories run by local capitalists where these local blood suckers, again benefiting from the institutional vacuum, use violence to try to crush even the few rights that we previously enjoyed in this most unfair society: massive dismissals at the merest suspicion of union organizing, systematic repression, permanent intimidationÖ terror! All with the aim of an even greater increase in the rate of exploitation. In the framework of this offensive they have even begun, in certain cities ‚ Cap-Haitien for example, to take control of the public administration. In the countryside, the big landowners (grandons) or Duvalierists who had been long exiled, supported by the self-proclaimed "rebels" and members of the former Army of torturers, have returned to sow terror among hard working people, blatantly trying to steal the land of small farmers, just like in the ëgood old days'." "As far as the ruling class is concerned, we are clear: the occupiers only came to resolve the problems of the international and local ruling classes!" (BO, 5/4)

Haitian Army:
The Ministry of the Interior and National Security invited members of the Haitian armed forces in Port-au-Prince's metropolitan area who were assigned until Jan. 6, 1995 to come to the public office national school. This is done so the liaison and evaluation commission of demobilized members of the Haitian armed forces can evaluate their cases, as stated in a notice from the Minsitry of the Interior. Military men from other areas will be heard by the commission during tours throughout the country. (AHP, 4/29)

Haiti's Latortue government will allow many former soldier who drove out its elected president to become police, but a rebel leader said his men would revive the disbanded army instead. While Guy Philippe and Louis Jodel Chamblain seem to play by the US State Department's rules, ex-army Col. Remissainthe Ravix is still stepping out of line. "We are the Haitian army and we exist," said Ravix, who fought alongside Philippe and Chamblain during an uprising in February. Ravix, who claims to command 1,681 former soldiers, told Reuters that none of his men would join the police. "We are a constitutional force just like them," he said, surrounded by heavily armed men in camouflage uniforms. He protested angrily when US Marines arrested five of his men for carrying weapons, their first direct action in a two month peace mission against the gunmen who helped overthrow Pres. Aristide. "We are the Haitian army, US Marines have no right to confiscate our weapons,"

Ravix told local radio. (Reuters, 4/30)

Detainees in US launch hunger strike:
On April 26, about 100 Haitians held at Krome immigration detention center in Miami-Dade, Florida, began a hunger strike to protest their prolonged imprisonment. Brandishing handwritten signs calling for "Freedom or Death," dozens of the detainees held a brief sit in at Krome that day. US Immigrations and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez acknowledged that about 62 detainees protested on the morning of April 26, and 25 more did so in the afternoon. Most of the detainees are asylum seekers who were arrested entering the US. Since Dec. 2000, the immigration service has denied parole to Haitian asylum seekers; since November 2002, it has refused to release them even after judges order them freed on bond. In April 2003, Atty general John Ashcroft formalized the policy, ordering that Haitians arriving by boat be denied release on bond. (S FL Sun Sentinel, 4/28)

US statements:
At a dinner of the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce, US Ambassador James Foley urged Haiti's tiny elite to abandon its class system, pay their taxes and renounce their antiquated business methods that breed corruption while keeping the majority in near-serfdom. Foley chided the Democratic Convergence and Coalition of 184 political parties and civic groups including many business people, saying their refusal to work with Aristide under an internationally agreed compromise for transition nearly caused another coup in Haiti. Foley's speech, delivered in French, drew much applause but some hostility. "I think it is time now to accept your responsibility and admit you made a mistake in making us suffer 10 years of Aristide, said businessman Philippe Velldrouin. In an equally memorable speech at the American Enterprise Institute in mid-April, Roger Noriega, US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, paved the way to put two grand prizes of privatization, Teleco and electricity company EDH on the market: "we will also encourage the government of Haiti to move forward, at the appropriate time, with restructuring and privatization of some public sector enterprises through a transparent process." Noriega added: "At previous critical junctures, the hard work and aspirations of the Haitian people were subverted from within by bad leaders and from without by indifference and cynicism in the international community, but we do not have to repeat those mistakes." (Club Haiti, 4/30)

Despite making the transition to democracy, Haiti still needs help from the world, US Sec. Of State Colin Powell said. "Haiti, however, even with a successful transition back to an elected government, will be in desperate need of resources from its neighbors within the hemisphere, but not only from its neighbors but from the entire international community," Powell said in remarks to the Councils of Americas Conference. The secretary also defended the US role in the events that led to the resignation of Haiti's president. "We were on the verge of a civil war," Powell said. "We acted. It was controversial, but nevertheless it was necessary." (UPI, 5/3)

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