Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Last Sunday, a group of heavily armed gunmen went into one of Port-au-Prince’s residential suburbs, broke into a specific house, grabbed their target and shot him in the face. This execution was quick and well organized, and the Modus Operandi (MO) was the same as at least two recent political assassinations.
The gentleman who was executed was Guyto Toussaint. He was the President and CEO of one of Haiti’s public banks, Banque National de Credit (BNC). Toussaint, a public servant for 35 years, was known as one of the most honest, clean and professional officials in Haiti. The BNC was failing in 1999 when he was called in to fix it. As an honest man, he told the authorities what was needed to rehabilitate and save the bank as well as what authority was needed to do the job. The BNC is a very popular public bank that allows public employees and small, informal merchants to borrow money to finance their businesses and build their homes. Public employees can borrow up to six months of their salary if they have an emergency. BNC has permitted merchants that owned small businesses to borrow funds at very competitive rates. Additionally, this was the bank slated to implement the $200 million Haitian American Enterprise Fund introduced by Senator Richard Lugar and pending a vote in the US Congress. In less than 10 years, Guyto Toussaint turned the bank into a profitable and competitive institution.
Guyto Toussaint was working with the newly elected Martelly administration to launch a new “own your home” initiative allowing citizens to secure loans to build their homes based on a series of well-defined requirements. That initiative was going to be launched this week. Toussaint was also working on two other issues: helping the Martelly administration to modernize the central bank and cleaning past corruption while bringing accountability.
This most recent act proves that antidemocratic forces in Haiti that are against change will use violence to stop reforms and maintain the status quo. The link between corruption, money laundering, a corrupt political public servant and a corrupt business cartel that controlled the banking, financial and commercial system is fiercely opposed to reforms. They are a permanent danger for stability and a roadblock modernization of Haiti.
The assassination of Guyto Toussaint resembled two recent political executions. The first one is the murder of Robert Marcelo in January 2009. Robert Marcelo was the President of Haiti’s Government Procurement Office. He did not want to be involved in corruption and refused any attempt by the Presidency to get him involved in deals and kickbacks. He was then summoned to the National Palace and warned that he should go along with the deals, and he refused. On his way out of the National Palace he was given a rosary and few days later, a team grabbed him. Again, it was a well-organized and efficient strike. Haiti’s political analysts and bloggers attributed the killing to President Preval’s advisors, including Jude Celestin, the man that was chosen to become Preval’s handpicked successor. Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported that Marcelo’s daughter was forced to leave the country after her public calls for justice. She had received direct threats from the INITE ruling party’s Presidential candidate, Celestin, and circles around President Rene Preval. See the following link: http://www.lenouvelliste.com/articleforprint.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=82527
The second example was the political execution of Pasteur Antoine Leroy an activist of the MDN party. In August 199X the MDN party decided to participate in the demobilization of Haitian soldiers and provided them professional technical skill training and training on democratic principles to reintegrate into civilian life. Pasteur Leroy was in charge of that program which was perceived as a threat by the Aristide regime. According to many sources, President Jean Bertrand Aristide ordered his execution. The man given the task was one of Aristide’s official bodyguards at the National Palace named Milien Romage. He and his team went in heavily armed to Pasteur Antoine Leroy’s residence, grabbed him in front of his kids and wife, brought him outside of his house and shot him. At that time U.S. forces that were in Haiti to support President Clinton’s effort to reinstall Aristide, and the US forces recorded some of the radio communications between the Aristide hit team and the National Palace when the execution was taking place.
The people that executed Guyto Toussaint are believed to be the same group of people. There a few in Haiti who would have the capability and resources to carry out such a strike. They are sending a clear warning to the Martelly administration: corruption is entrenched into the public system, and any effort to reform and strengthen the public system, to bring accountability to those that have stolen Haiti’s meager resources over the past 31 years instead of serving the people will be met with violence.
Three administrations have stolen from Haiti’s coffers: Jean Claude Duvalier was President for 14 years and according to a report issued by Haiti’s Ministry of Finance he stole $600 million and is responsible for the killing of political opponents. Jean Bertrand Aristide according to two official reports issued by Haiti’s General Accounting Office and the Anti-Corruption Unit stole $350 million over nine years. Aristide is also responsible for the killing of many political opponents. And, under President Preval, more than $463 million has been stolen from the Petrocaribe initiative.
Duvalier has been charged with several crimes and is trying to use the limitations of Haitian law to avoid prosecution. According to Haitian law, the statute of limitations on his crimes is 10 years and he is well beyond those 10 years. But the Haitian Attorney General is pursuing the case and is moving in the right direction despite the limitations. Duvalier has already appeared in court three times for several hours to answer the Haitian prosecutor’s questions.
Aristide is trying to avoid prosecution by creating a political framework base on lies and political propaganda. Aristide mounted a three-step plan with his allies that alleges that he is being persecuted by imperialist forces. This week Aristide claimed that his security was drastically reduced, which was an incredible mischaracterization of the situation. Haiti has a special police team called CAT to provide security to the President and all former Presidents. This unit is under stress because of a limited number of agents and resources. All former Presidents, according to the law, must be provided security for five years at the end of his or her term. Former President Trouillot has two SUV’s provided by the state and two specially trained police officers from the CAT team. Former President Leslie Manigat (who served for four months) has one armored car with two police officers. Former President Boniface Alexandre has one armored car with four police officers. The new administration needed to strengthen security for the new President and ensure security for the outgoing President Rene Preval. Aristide has four armored cars and 44 police officers providing security to him. In order to provide security for Martelly and Preval, the Administration pulled 7 officers from Aristide’s 44 agents. Three went to Preval and four to Martelly. Aristide is clearly afraid that after Jean Claude Duvalier he is next to answer questions about his crimes. According to many sources, he is spreading this lie to prepare a political play in three acts: First by lying about a security, he’s vocalizing concerns about his safety. Second, he will fabricate an attempt on his life the same way he staged a coup in December 17, 2001 that he used to attack and destroy the democratic opposition or when he fabricated that he was kidnapped in 2004 while his own Prime Minister Yvon Neptune said that was fabricated. Act Three will be Aristide’s overseas lobbyists and propaganda networks, with people like his lawyer Ira Kurzban and propagandist in chief Kim Ives, will claim that he is being persecuted. This is widely believed to be his strategy to avoid the Haitian judicial system while giving him the pretext and political cover to relaunch his corrupt agenda. For a better understanding of Aristide’s mindset see: http://solutionshaiti.blogspot.com/2011/03/truth-about-aristide-mob-boss-or.html
Preval, in association with the corrupt Groupe de Bourdon business cartel, is attempting to cling to power. He is trying via INITE in parliament to slow down change and capture the new administration.
These violent crimes cannot go unpunished. They need to be dealt with swiftly in order to send a message that this will not be tolerated. The new Administration could seek the same type of international assistance that Peru received to prosecute former President Fujimori, and that Chile received to prosecute former President Pinochet. The new administration has inherited a country in a desperate situation with all social, economic indicators in the red, empty state coffers, and 1.3 million people still living on the street more than a year and a half after a devastating earthquake. Cholera is spreading again, and a hurricane season with 17 hurricanes and six storms forecast. And on top of that are increasing gas and food prices. There are real challenges to tackle, which will be difficult enough without the political violence and increased shenanigans of a group of people desperately clinging to the past after the people spoke clearly and definitively for the future – and change.