[News] Haiti's President in Miami: Aristide praised
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 29 12:17:40 EDT 2006
Haiti's President in Miami: The interim Ambassador scorned, Aristide praised
HIP - Miami - The presence of Haiti's ousted
president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, loomed large
in a Miami auditorium last Sunday night as the
newly elected Chief of State, René Garcia Préval,
took the podium. About 1000 Haitians crowded the
Joseph Caleb Auditorium in Liberty City and began
chanting "Aristide... Préval! Aristide...
Préval!" for nearly two minutes as President
Préval was introduced and rose to the stage.
Haiti's new president patiently waited till the
chants died down, smiled and reminded the
audience, "There was an election on February 7th
and the Haitian people choose me to be president" amid thunderous applause.
Preval is the Haitian leader to emerge through
democratic elections since President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced out of office
on February 29, 2004 in a coup backed by the
United States, France and Canada. The U.S.
Embassy announced the invocation of Article 149
of the Haitian Constitution within hours of
Aristide's flight into exile and oversaw the
swearing into office of Boniface Alexander, the
senior member of Haiti's Supreme Court.
With all of the sitting members of Parliament
forced into hiding and unable approve Boniface's
appointment, the U.S. selected an
extra-constitutional body modeled after the Iraqi
Governing Council (IGC) that was established in
that country following their invasion in 2003. It
was called the "Council of the Wise" and its
seven members selected Gerard Latortue, a former
U.N. employee and talk show host from Boca Raton,
Florida as the new Prime Minister of Haiti.
Latortue's government was marked by gross
violations of human rights and corruption before
the election of Preval earlier this year.
Aristide continues to live in exile in South
Africa as pressure mounts for Preval's government
to pave the way for his return to Haiti.
Last Sunday was President Preval's first address
to the Haitian community in Miami since his
election victory earlier this year. Several
western diplomats have surreptitiously deemed his
election on February 7 a "negotiated settlement"
to assume the presidency rather than a clear
electoral mandate. Haiti's Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP), which orchestrated the tainted
elections, was forced to declare Preval the
winner in the first round of balloting after
of protesters took the streets and paralyzed the
capital of Port au Prince for several days. This
came on the heels of reports of gross
irregularities on the part of the U.N-sponsored
CEP in counting the ballots and charges of fraud
after thousands of uncounted ballots were found
in several garbage dumps throughout the capital.
In an obscure agreement dubbed the "Belgium
option," the international community brokered an
arrangement with the CEP where thousands of blank
ballots were distributed evenly among the
candidates giving Preval the votes he needed to
rise above the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff.
The arrangement also helped to mask the failure
of the international community to sponsor clean
and fair elections in Haiti after investing an
estimated 76 million dollars as well as providing
a U.N. army for security and logistical support to the process.
The Haitian people thwarted the plans of the CEP
to defeat Preval through manipulation and fraud,
yet the international community still managed to
blame the victim in a twisting of reality that
would have made Machiavelli blush with shame.
Turning the issue of electoral fraud to their
advantage, the international community used -
then acting U.S. Chargé d'Affaires - Timothy
Carney to remind the new president that a
veritable Sword of Damocles hangs over his head.
In an Associated Press article written by
Stevenson Jacobs on February 19, 2006 - titled
"American: Haiti Leader Must Perform" - Carney
stated, "If he [Preval] doesn't perform, yes it
[the electoral settlement] could weaken him."
Carney then added the caveat, "If he does
perform, nobody will remember it." Carney had
already made it clear that part of the expected
performance from Preval included not allowing
Aristide to return to Haiti. In a statement the
day after the elections Carney said, "Aristide is
on his way to becoming as irrelevant to Haiti as
Jean-Claude [Duvalier], and with no future.
Aristide is now demonstrated to be a man of the
past." Apparently Carney and the international
community were oblivious to the most popular
chant heard in the streets throughout the
electoral campaign and on inauguration day,
"Preval for president so Aristide can return."
Although Haitians in Miami clearly embraced the
new president as their legitimate leader, it was
equally clear that the sympathies of most in the
auditorium remain with Aristide and his Lavalas
Family political party whose electoral base was
responsible for Preval's victory. This was made
apparent when Preval's introduction of Lavalas
grassroots leaders traveling with his official
entourage was met with wild applause. Counted
among them was Moise Jean-Charles (former Lavalas
mayor of Milot and founder of MPM, the Milot
Peasant's Movement), Sanba Boukman (who served as
Lavalas spokesman in Bel Air during the bloody
two-year period following Aristide's ouster) and
Jean Joseph-Joel (he served as one of the leaders
in Cite Soleil for the Lavalas National Base of
Cells of Reflection the past two years).
Haitians in the Miami audience also viewed
Preval's visit as a symbol of the end of the
reign of terror and repression carried out by the
U.S.-installed regime of Gerard Latortue following Aristide's ouster.
The introduction of the Latortue regime's
appointed ambassador to Washington, Raymond
Joseph, was met with nearly unanimous booing and
hissing from the crowd. Joseph is the uncle of
rapper Wyclef Jean and is a co-publisher of the
reactionary newspaper Haiti Observateur.
Ambassador is known for making preposterous
claims of Aristide supporters crushing babies -
mortar and pestle style - to bathe President
Aristide in their blood to assure his re-election victory.
An ardent supporter of the 1991 military coup
against Aristide, Joseph also claimed that
Aristide lent - then president - Bill Clinton a
vodou medium who advised him not to change his
underwear as part of ritual designed to win him re-election.
In his recent post representing the coup
government, Joseph was a vocal supporter of the
crudely named anti-Aristide movement known as the
GNB (literally translated GNB means "balls up
your ass movement"). Ambassador Joseph was
clearly embarrassed by the response from the
crowd and sources close to the new Foreign
Minister Renald Clerisme, speculate that his
reception on Sunday all but sealed his imminent departure from that position.
The following day Preval held a press conference
at Miami's Inter-Continental Hotel where a few
journalists appeared to remain confused by the
continued depth of support shown the night before
for ousted president Aristide. In one
Charles of the Miami Herald and Knight Ridder
Newspapers, addressed President Preval as
President Aristide twice during her questions
before realizing her error and correcting herself.
During the same press conference, HIP Founding
Editor Kevin Pina asked President Preval about
progress towards reforming the country's corrupt
and highly politicized judicial system and the
release of political prisoners jailed by the
Latortue regime. President Preval responded, "The
government prosecutor has asked that former Prime
Minister Yvon Neptune be released, and the
dossier of So Ann should be resolved soon." Prime
Minister Neptune and Annette Auguste (aka Só Ann)
were arrested and jailed following
unsubstantiated allegations by an organization
Coalition of Haitian Rights (NCHR). The
organization is accused by many of participating
in the political persecution of Aristide
supporters following his ouster and was forced to
change it name to
of Human Rights National Network or RNDDH. The
organization's director, Pierre Esperance, served
as a primary source of information for other
human rights organizations such as Amnesty
International until he was finally discredited
and exposed for his record of collaboration in
political persecution against Lavalas supporters
early last year. Sources close to Haiti's
president stated that the release of Neptune and
Auguste could come as early as Friday but
encouraged international solidarity and human
rights organizations to "turn up the pressure on Haiti's judicial system."
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