It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light

Mwen se echantiyon yon ras kap boujonnen men ki poko donnen

Si vous voulez vous faire des ennemis essayer de changer les choses

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Visit of the U.S. Secretary of State to Haiti: Recommendations by Stanley Lucas

The U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, will travel to Port-au-Prince Thursday for a very brief visit (only several hours). This visit offers an opportunity for Haiti to reinforce the cooperation between Haiti, the United States and its Haitian Diaspora. Mrs. Clinton knows Haiti well as a result of her personal and political experiences with the country. Indeed after her marriage to former President Bill Clinton, the couple honeymooned in Haiti thanks to a gift of a friend from Citibank. The young couple had the occasion, and the time, to discover – in anonymity – tap taps and the way of life in our country. At that time, they did not know that politics would bring back Haiti during the course of their careers. ------------------------------------

In 1994 after an official request by Jean-Bertrand Aristide for military intervention, the President Clinton made the decision to deploy U.S. military forces to the country to restore democratic order. The histories of each country will judge that intervention respectively and in the context of their own political framework. After this military intervention, Hillary Clinton visited Haiti several times as First Lady. -----------------------

Since his retirement, the former U.S. President has traveled to Haiti with his foundation, the William J. Clinton Foundation. The Foundation has stated an interest in supporting and aiding Haiti. Recently, he returned to Haiti with a business delegation and met with President Rene Preval and representatives of other sectors of Haitian society. Following the damage caused by significant storms during the summer of 2008, Preval put out an urgent call for an economic aid for Haiti in order to guarantee political stability. -------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Clintons – Hillary through the State Department and Bill through the Foundation – have mobilized to help Haiti. The former President and his wife played a key role in mobilizing the communitment of IADB and international community during a donor meeting held on April 14, 2009. Hillary announced this yesterday during her speech at the opening ceremony of the donor conference at the IADB where her husband was the keynote speaker. It is in this context that Secretary Clinton will make her visit to Haiti tomorrow. As a country, how should Haiti engage Mrs. Clinton? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Two issue areas are important for us, Haitians:----------------------------------

At the domestic level: -------------------------------------------------------------------
The Haitian government should redefinethe framework of its external cooperation with the United States to fit within its priorities. This is also the hope of President Barack Obama. The operation and performance of the programs of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Haiti are a duplication of Haitian government institutions and obstruct the reinforcement of state capacity. If there is something that the world financial crisis teaches us it is that reinforcement of state capacity is essential to guarantee economic development through the private sector under regulation. ------------------------------------------------------
American assistance priorities in Haiti should concentrate on: -------------
  1. Reinforcement of security Reinforcement of democratic institutions
  2. Economic development, particularly the creation of employment, foreign investment and the immediate increase in agricultural production Rapid financial technical assistance for: 1. filling in the budget deficit; and 2. preparation of an emergency plan for disaster relief resulting from hurricanes and earthquakes.
  3. Recuperate funds stolen by corrupt officials, specifically the Haitian General Accounting Office estimates that former President Aristide stole $350 million in state assets over nine years.
  4. The Secretary of State should also meet the various sectors of Haitian society to listen to their perception of American assistance to Haiti.
  5. An unambiguous signal of support for free and fair democratic elections on Sunday, April 19 is also critical. Haiti cannot survive another electoral crisis -- and historically the elections have been manipulated by the government. -----------------------------------------------

At the international level The US government should concentrate on the following issues: --------------------------------------------------------------------------

  1. TPS for the illegal Haitians in the United States through the passage of HR 522
  2. Creating an economic solidarity fund where the Haitians in the United States would contribute US$750 per month tax deductible through the end of the year. This could be managed through a partnership between the US and Haitian govenments with participation from Diaspora and the corporate community in Haiti (excluding the corrupt monopolies - Group de Bourdon).
  3. To study and avoid the negative impact of the reduction of financial transfers from Haitian Diaspora in the US to Haiti.
  4. The question of the deportees
  5. The creation of a human resources mechanism that allows Haitian Diaspora to contribute to economic and political development of Haiti
  6. The creation of a US Democracy and Development Support Group formed of political and economic personalities such as former President Clinton, former Senator Bob Graham, former Governor Jeb Bush, and Congressmen Benjamin Gilman and Walter Fauntroy
  7. The Haitian G10 should create a permanent work group formed of experts charged with following up on the speeches, promises and decisions made at the financial donor conference
  8. The US should work with the Haitian National Police to more aggressively combat drug trafficking and help freeze their bank accounts and assets in the US and in Haiti


U.S. Foreign Policy in the Americas - A Report of the Sol M. Linowitz Forum ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Inter-American Dialogue 2009 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The electoral triumph of Barack Obama was enthusiastically welcomed throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The new president starts out with a deep reservoir of good will in the region, reflecting the appeal of both his persona and his political ideals. The choice of an African American leader committed to upholding universal values revealed the vitality and resilience of U.S. democracy, which many in Latin America had come to doubt. With their spirited reaction to Obama’s election, Latin Americans have made clear that they want a new and better relationship with the United States, but that they also want the United States to pursue a different approach to the region. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No U.S. president since John F. Kennedy has had a greater opportunity to build constructive relations in the hemisphere and reenergize cooperation with the region’s countries. But the Obama administration faces powerful constraints. By necessity, U.S. priorities are directed elsewhere, and the nation’s resources are stretched thin. The country now confronts its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s and, at the same time, is fighting two overseas wars. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Opportunities are also circumscribed by Latin America’s ambivalence about the role the United States should play in hemispheric affairs, notwithstanding the high regard for President Obama in the region. Latin American governments are today far more independent and assertive than ever before in their relations with Washington. Brazil has become an alternative pole of power in the hemisphere, with a steadily increasing regional and global profile. A few countries, led by Venezuela, have become adversaries of the United States. Most Latin American nations have developed a diversity of international ties, and many advocate new hemispheric arrangements that would diminish Washington’s influence in the region. There are increasing strains among the countries of Latin America, often stemming from their differing views about how the region should manage its relations with the United States. These are all elements of continuing, longer term trends in inter-American affairs that the United States cannot reverse—and nor should it want to. American interests will be best served by adjusting U.S. policy approaches to the growing independence, confidence, and competence of Latin American and Caribbean nations. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the past couple of years, polls in Latin America have reported that the upsurge in anti-American sentiment, which followed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the early conduct of the war, has moderated. For several years, though, many Latin Americans viewed the United States largely through the lens of Iraq and Guantanamo, and resented what they perceived as Washington’s unilateralism, excessive reliance on military force, and disregard for international rules and institutions. U.S. credibility was badly damaged as well by several regrettable policy choices in the region—Washington’s inattention to Argentina’s impending economic collapse in 2001; its uncompromising and ineffective approaches to Cuba; the Bush administration’s quick praise for the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez, which was reversed a day later; the rigidity of U.S. anti-drug policies in the region; and the decision in 2007 to construct a “wall” on the U.S.-Mexican border to curb illegal migration. The U.S. financial meltdown, which has put Latin America’s impressive social and economic progress over the past five years at risk, is now a fresh source of resentment. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Washington today has a new chance in the Americas. But Latin Americans will need to be convinced that the United States can be counted on as a dependable partner and responsible neighbor. The new administration has to change the tone and texture of U.S. diplomacy and, more importantly, the substance of U.S. policies and actions. This report discusses 10 critical challenges in hemispheric affairs and suggests how Washington should address each of them. Our proposals seek to align U.S. policies with the changed conditions of Latin America and put hemispheric relations on a new, more cooperative, and promising course. All of them, we believe, would advance the national interests and values of both the United States and the countries of the region. Aside from the first challenge—the global economic crisis—which is overwhelmingly the highest priority for all countries, we have not tried to order the issues and recommendations by their relative importance or likely success. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Every Latin American and Caribbean nation will have to cope with the consequences of the “made in the USA” financial crisis. With shrinking export markets, falling commodity prices, declining tourism and remittances, and sharply diminished capital flows, all the countries in the region will experience slower economic growth, higher unemployment, and rising poverty. Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is right in asserting that the best way for the United States to help Latin America is by swiftly reviving its own economy. That is what will do the most to mitigate the damage of the global financial crisis and speed the region’s economic recovery. But the United States must also avoid protectionist measures that would reduce Latin American access to U.S. markets and investments—and use its influence to increase the resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and multilateral banks to help ensure that Latin America and other developing regions can secure the capital they need for their own stimulus packages. Regular consultation with Latin American ministries of finance and central banks will be vital. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Washington’s 50-year-old policy of isolating and sanctioning Cuba has never accomplished much. Today, it is an anachronism that serves mainly to isolate the United States from the rest of the hemisphere. Although Cuba itself is no longer a central concern of Washington, recasting U.S. policy should be a high priority because it will open the way to cooperation with Latin America on many other issues. In fact, nothing will do more to convince the region’s governments that the Obama administration is committed to changing its approach to hemispheric affairs.
More than any other country in Latin America—perhaps in the world—the United States needs the continuing cooperation of Mexico on myriad bilateral, regional, and global issues. However, Mexico may emerge as the new administration’s most difficult foreign policy test in the Western Hemisphere if criminal violence continues to escalate and threaten the country’s security. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The prospect of a prolonged economic downturn in Mexico will compound the problem. The United States should substantially expand its security cooperation with the Mexican government, which stands ready to work with Washington on this front more than ever before. It may be time for the two governments to develop a joint border authority to better coordinate security activities. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Many other Latin American and Caribbean countries are seeking U.S. support to deal with the worsening criminal violence that is now a pervasive threat to security and the rule of law across the region. Because the problems have become so ominous and directly affect U.S. interests, Washington should join with Latin American and Caribbean governments to review the issues and policy choices, and to reinforce anti-crime strategies in the hemisphere. Initiatives in this area will require that the United States step up its assistance programs and extend them to more countries. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Washington should also do more to control the smuggling of weapons to Latin America and reconsider its policies regarding the deportation of convicted felons: Both are contributing to the violence in the region. A thorough rethinking and revision of U.S. anti-drug strategy, conducted jointly with key regional governments, would be particularly helpful. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A new U.S. immigration policy is a critical priority for Mexico and more than a dozen other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Comprehensive immigration reform should be high on the new president’s agenda—including attention to developing workers' programs that meet U.S. labor market demands, giving legal status to some 12 million undocumented migrants living in the United States, and designing more effective incentives and enforcement mechanisms to curb illegal immigration. Quick action should be taken to suspend construction of the wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and better protect the rights of illegal migrants in the United States. These measures would be widely applauded across the region and would better align U.S. immigration law with the country’s interests and values. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

New trade initiatives will not be a priority for either the United States or most Latin American nations in the coming period. The Obama administration has, however, inherited an unfinished agenda on trade that should be completed. Specifically, it should take prompt action to gain congressional ratification of the already negotiated and signed free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, restore trade preferences to Bolivia and consider new preferences for Paraguay, and seek agreements with Brazil on a common approach to global and regional trade negotiations. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brazil’s influence in regional and global affairs has risen considerably in recent years. Neither Brazil nor the United States appears ready for a longer-term strategic partnership, but there are many critical international and regional matters on which the United States should be vigorously seeking Brazil’s cooperation. Areas of particular opportunity are climate change, energy development, and world trade negotiations—all of which could produce major payoffs for both countries. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The most brazen challenge to the United States comes from Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez, who has insistently sought to curtail Washington’s influence in Latin America. The current low price of oil and Chávez’s diminished regional leverage has reduced the urgency for action by Washington. It may be possible to ease bilateral tensions by offering to reinstate ambassadors (withdrawn last September) and to renew formal diplomatic ties. But Washington should keep its expectations modest—and recognize that the best way to offset Venezuela’s activities in the hemisphere is to enhance U.S. cooperation with other Latin American countries. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In recent years, the United States has not been an effective advocate for democracy. To play an enhanced political role in the region, the United States must rebuild its diminished credibility on democracy and human rights issues. On this score, President Obama’s election has itself made a difference. His early decisions to close the Guantanamo detention center and to end the use of torture in interrogations have also been helpful. It is essential that all U.S. international security policies respect civil and human rights, and that Washington not waver in its support for democratic institutions and practice in Latin America. The new administration should also work with the governments of Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America to strengthen the role of the Organization of American States (OAS) in safeguarding democracy. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Washington should build on recent inter-American cooperation on Haiti—the most destitute and precarious nation in the Americas—to promote the establishment of a long-term, multilateral approach to the country’s needs. The coming year will be a period of extreme economic hardship for Haiti. The United States could be immediately helpful by suspending the deportation of undocumented Haitian migrants, expanding aid, and encouraging the multilateral banks to forgive Haiti’s debt obligations. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

These 10 challenges should be the new administration’s core agenda for the Americas. Working closely with Latin American and Caribbean nations and with Canada, the United States should seek to address all of them pragmatically and energetically, drawing on the progress made in the past few years where appropriate. This is a time to solve problems, reduce discord and friction, and take advantage of opportunities for joint action. Success in these efforts will reinvigorate U.S. relations in the hemisphere and set the stage for an approach to regional affairs that emphasizes consultation, cooperation, and multilateral initiative.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Jacqueline Charles' Spinning in the Miami Herald on behalf of Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas by Stanley Lucas

In a recent article in the Miami Herald Jacqueline Charles described Aristide as a potent force in Haiti and his party Fanmi Lavalas as the most popular political party in Haiti This assertion is not based on facts but rather conjecture and spin. If Lavalas is so popular, the 2006 election results do not reflect it. If it is so popular, why does it resort so often to violence and manipulations to rigging elections? I was wondering how Jacqueline Charles arrived at such a statement. -----------------------------------

In Haiti's last national elections Fanmi Lavalas won four of 30 senate seats -- the same amount as the Social Democrats FUSION. Preval's Lespwa party won 11 seats. In the lower house, Fanmi Lavalas picked up only six seats of the 99 seats up for election failing to win elections in seven of the ten departments. Lespwa won 19 seats, OPL won 10, Fusion 14, and Alyans 13. Can anyone explain to me why Jacqueline Charles is referring to Fanmi Lavalas as Haiti's most popular party? One analyst answered, Aristide's-Kurzban's money -- what do you think? ---------------------------

Jacqueline Charles' article completely neglects the criminal infestation of this party. Since 1995, 99% of those arrested in drug trafficking by the DEA and the Haitian National Police, kidnappings, political violence and corruption are members of Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party. This is easy to verify. It seems that Fanmi Lavalas practices are closer to organized crime than a political party. So how are they so popular? --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jean-Bertrand Aristide remains potent force in Haiti ---
Posted on Mon, Mar. 02, 2009, -------------
Five years after he fled into exile amid a bloody revolt, former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is continuing to cast a long shadow over Haiti's political landscape.
His reemergence as a central figure in Haiti's political future comes as the once all-powerful Fanmi Lavalas political party seems to be imploding amid an internal power struggle over which competing faction has the right to lead in Aristide's absence.
The internal dispute boiled over into Haiti's larger political debate last month when Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council -- presented with two competing slates of Lavalas candidates for the upcoming April 19 parliamentary elections -- disqualified all 16 office-seekers from across the country who had registered for the 12 senate seats under the Lavalas banner.
The electoral council's explanation for the disqualifications: According to Lavalas bylaws, the party's national representative -- Aristide -- must sanction candidates.
Others, including some Lavalas leaders, disagree. They say the council's ruling is a pretext to keep the party, which boycotted the 2006 presidential and legislative elections, from getting a foothold in President René Préval's government.
The matter has confused and confounded even loyal Lavalas supporters, who have publicly criticized each other.
The election exclusion has placed Aristide at the crux of the debate, and stirred concerns within the international community that banning Haiti's most popular and biggest political party from the vote could lead to contested elections and provoke a repeat of the political crisis that led to the 2004 rebellion and Aristide's ultimate departure to South Africa.
''Throughout Haiti's history, Haiti has had leaders who have either fled or been placed in exile. It seems to me that Aristide's shelf life is surprising everybody, compared to what has happened with other leaders,'' said Robert Maguire, U.S. Institute of Peace Jennings Randolph senior fellow and director of the Haiti Study Program at Trinity University.
''In part it's because under René Préval, you've had improvements in security and kind of less-overt political conflicts. But you haven't had improvements in people's personal and economic well-being,'' Maguire said. ``For some in Haiti, Aristide apparently still holds promise.''
On Saturday, several thousand Aristide supporters blanketed the streets of Port-au-Prince to commemorate the five-year anniversary of his ouster.
As they chanted and waved signs demanding his return from exile in Pretoria, South Africa, 7,393 miles away, they also for the first time added a new request: the inclusion of Fanmi Lavalas in the April elections to fill 12 seats in the 30-member Senate.
The credibility of the elections is of such importance that it is expected to top the agenda of several planned high-profile visits to Haiti in the coming weeks. Among those expected to visit: former President Bill Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and members of the U.N. Security Council.
The fear, say Haiti observers, is that contested elections or those that erupt into violence could negatively affect storm-battered Haiti's efforts to maintain strong and increasing international support for reconstruction, development and governance.
''That is why it's important for this issue to be resolved in a way that most people in Haiti and most observers are comfortable there is going to be an inclusive election,'' said Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit that analyzes conflict in Haiti and elsewhere around the world.
And as the international community pushes for the inclusion of Lavalas, in Haiti, the talk turns to Aristide.
Some have seized on the exclusion explanation offered by the electoral council, known by the French acronym CEP, to demand Aristide's return -- so that he can formally sanction those seeking office under the Lavalas banner.
''It's clear there is more discussion now about Aristide because of the CEP's need to require Aristide to take some action to validate one or another set of candidates,'' said Schneider. ``Were the CEP to recognize the [Fanmi Lavalas] candidates it registered in December, or some other slate, immediately the issue of Aristide would diminish.''
So far, few here know what to make of the squabbling, including whether the elections, which is expected to cost $16 million, will be postponed. Some are hoping that the electoral council, which has yet to order the ballots or come up with a final budget, will reverse itself and allow Lavalas to participate.
But then the question becomes: Which Lavalas?
The party today is being led by at least two factions: One is led by Lavalas Senator Rudy Hériveaux and Aristide spokeswoman Dr. Maryse Narcisse of the Fanmi Lavalas Executive Committee. The other involves a 27-member coalition whose most high-profile supporter is former Aristide Prime Minister Yvon Neptune.
Narcisse, who is reportedly in South Africa meeting with Aristide, has insisted that she has the right to nominate the 12 candidates she registered on behalf of Lavalas.
She also points out she was the first to register her slate and the registration was recognized by the CEP in December. Neptune disagrees, and his group turned in its own list of candidates weeks later. A third faction, led by several Lavalas senators, also handed in a list of candidates.
''This is a very tricky situation,'' Neptune told The Miami Herald.
``On the one hand, the electoral council, and I would even say the government, hasn't been doing what they are supposed to do to accommodate Fanmi Lavalas. At the same time, Fanmi Lavalas has a lot of problems on its own.''
In a wide-ranging interview at his home overlooking the hills of Port-au-Prince, Neptune downplayed his role in the faction, saying he's there as a founding member to help reorganize the splintered party; dismissed the executive committee Aristide reportedly left in charge of Fanmi Lavalas as ''illegal;'' and questioned the motives of Narcisse and others.
But Neptune's critics question his motives and loyalty, viewing him as a traitor to Aristide who helped Canada, France and the U.S. governments put in place an interim government in the wake of Aristide's Feb. 29, 2004, departure.
''I did not stay in office to please anybody or to be utilized by anybody,'' he said, dismissing claims that he was pressured to do the international community's bidding. ``I did what I believed was the proper thing to do so that indiscriminate killings would not happen because that was in the planning. Indiscriminate killings. Indiscriminate burnings.''