Latortue's House of Cards Crumbling in Haiti
Latortue's House of Cards Crumbling in Haiti
Echevarria: Straight up, what do make of this.floating up right now to the rest of the news, that the Haitian police are murdering Aristide supporters. What do you make of this actually breaking through the hard fought for silence on the part of the corporate media?
Pina: It's just that finally the killing has reached such a level that no one can continue to deny it. It's been going on relentlessly since the forced ouster of President Aristide on February 29th. The most interesting news that's most recently surfaced of course is that there are nineteen police officers who have just been implicated in a plot to assassinate Lavalas political prisoners in the capital. That would include Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert, Father Gerard Jean Juste, and a long list of hundreds who are being held in the capital. Now, whether that extends to the thousands in the countryside, we don't know how vast the plot was. You know I'm usually very critical of the corporate media - that includes Reuters - but I do have to tip my hat to Guyler Delva, who broke that story, otherwise we never would have heard about it. But of course those nineteen officers, who are now under investigation for plotting to assassinate Aristide supporters in the jails, are getting what is the equivalent of a slap on the wrist and being told to stay after school. They are only being placed under special orders to appear at the police force's general inspection office daily, from 8 A.M. to 4 P.M. until.as they say, the allegations have been resolved. Well, no one is being reprimanded, no one is being summarily fired; basically, it's a slap on the wrist, even though what has come to surface is that there are active forces within the Haitian police who have been plotting to assassinate Lavalas political prisoners in the jail cells in Port au Prince.
Echevarria: Now in fact this is very much a danger of the fox guarding the henhouse in terms of this investigation. The list that you just mentioned.of potential assassinations, if you will, has some pretty heavy names on it. What do you think that this tells [us] about the impunity with which the police have- especially with the backing of the Latortue regime - have had with respect to being able to carry out their intentions.
Pina: The Haitian police force is now almost entirely [made up of] former military. This is the same Haitian military that committed tremendous atrocities in 1991 after Aristide was forced from office in a brutal military coup. This is the same military that was heavily involved in drug trafficking. The Haitian police may not be called the Haitian military but it in fact is the Haitian military today that constitutes the Haitian police. There's also other interesting news that's recently come out, which is that Roselor Julien who was the Cathoilic Church representative, resigned yesterday from.the council that's preparing for the so-called free and fair elections that are supposed to be held next year in 2005. She resigned saying that she did so because she did not want to condone an electoral farce. So not only are we seeing a lot of killing by the police, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, but now the entire reason why the United States and France and Canada justified this intervention - which was to hold new elections - is falling apart completely.
First of all,, Lavalas has already said that they will not participate in the elections and now the electoral council, which is preparing for them, is completely in disarray. And then of course it's hilarious to hear Brazil announce yeaterday that its forces are going to extend their stay in Haiti until the next elections are held in 2005. So apparently, Brazil isn't even considering whether these elections are going to be free and fair; they really just want to get this process over because they're getting a lot of heat at home. Another interesting note about Brazil is that last October 22nd the Defense Minister of Brazil, Jose Diegas, resigned, because the Brazilian military had made a statement early in October. The military high command had said that the military cuop that the Brazilian military did in 1964 had been the result of "a popular call in response to the subversive movement which had turned down dialogue." Well who does that sound like? That sounds like Lavalas in Haiti today, so it gives the appearance that what the Brazilian military cannot get away with in its own country today, it's enjoying doing in Haiti.
Echeverria: That actually brings to me a question with respect to Brazil and Haiti's relationship with CARICOM, and it seems to be in a very uncomfortable position, because it just doesn't know what to do with respect to the Latortue regime. How do you think that that plays into it?
Pina: There is another CARICOM meeting this week; I don't think there's going to be any resolution, I don't think anything is going to change because.the countries of Guyana, St. Kitts, St. Vincent-Grenadines have said under no condition would they recognize the Latortue regime until it did everything to disarm the former military. Well, how can you say they're disarming the former military when now what they are doing is simply turning them into Haitian police and giving them guns? Of course now the United States has lifted the 13-year old arms embargo against Haiti, which started back in 1991 after the first military coup against Aristide, so you've got the former military being rehabilitated into the police, and the police being,in fact, a de facto military force, being re-armed and resupplied by the United States lifting that 13-year old embargo. I don't think there's any way that CARICOM at this point, can come to any resolution and they require a consensus, as you know, I don't believe that they'll be able to find that consensus to recognize that government given the current mayhem and disarray on the ground in Haiti today.
Echevarria: I want to jump back just a few seconds to the elections and what this resignation means. Do you think that may be a sign that, with Latortue, that the faÃ§ade may be starting to crumble a little bit?
Pina: Well, this resignation came on the heels of the business community. Andy Apaid, who is the leader of the Group of 184, which was the so-called opposition against Aristide, tried to shove down the electoral commission's throat a $112 million proposal to actually have the balloting be electronic during the next elections. Well how can you have electronic ballotting in Haiti when areas of the capital don't receive more than six hours of electricity per day? The person who resigned, Roselor Julien, also stated that [that] it was a railroading and setting up [of] the process so that Group of 184 could win the elections, to basically legitimize the coup against Aristide February 29th. Now, in essence, that's what Roselor Julien has stated.
Echevarria: Now you mentioned earlier that Lavalas has publicly stated that they are going to boycott the elections. Doesn't that present a danger that, by virtue of the fact that they don't present themselves at the polls, that, just by defualt, that Latortue's regime would just take control that way?
Pina: It's one thing to win unfair in an electoral farce, if you will. It's quite another to rule without an electoral mandate. I think that the international community; there's no way they're going to be able to legitimize those elections if, indeed what I believe will be the case is there's going to be a very low voter turnout.Lavalas is not only going to boycott the elections as an organization, but I believe their base of popular support are just simply not going to go to the polls; you're not going to see long lines, and you're not going to see a high voter turnout; you're going to see a very low voter turnout and I think its going to make it increasingly difficult for the Latortue regime or whoever comes afterwards, to claim that they have a mandate that represents the Haitian people. And if you see the disarray that's going on on the ground right now, it's only going to increase and get worse particularly after you have this electoral farce in 2005