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, July 17, 2011

INITE’s Deadlock a Last Ditch Effort to Undermine Change in Haiti by Stanley Lucas

For the past 31 years former Presidents Duvalier, Aristide and Preval squandered Haiti’s opportunities leaving behind a legacy of corruption, human rights violations and drug trafficking – not to mention crushing poverty. Now, eighteen months after the devastating January 12 earthquake with little progress on reconstruction, Haitians are becoming more and more frustrated with the political deadlock in Port-au-Prince. Last November, the Haitian people registered their frustration with corruption and voted for change. They resoundingly voted for Michel Martelly as the candidate for change. But change has been under heavy fire by those who want to keep Haiti mired in the corrupt politics of the past. Their ranks include drug dealers, kidnappers and corrupt business leaders in the Groupe de Bourdon and politicians who squandered public resources for their personal enrichment.
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The crux of the deadlock is INITE’s refusal to ratify a Prime Minister in an effort to ensure that they maintain a hold on that office with one of their handpicked candidates. President Martelly has selected two honest and experienced men to become Prime Minister, Daniel Rouzier and Bernard Gousse. INITE’s parliamentarians rejected Rouzier, a successful businessman known for his integrity, in a complete violation of the Haitian Constitution. According to Article 157 the Prime Minister is required to submit certain documents for ratification, such as birth certificates for himself and his parents and financial disclosures.  If he or she is able to provide all of those documents and the documents can be verified, the Parliament is required to accept the document and then move to a political vote. The Parliament could not find any issues or irregularities with Rouzier’s documents, but refused to approve him. Many speculate that if the people would never tolerate it if the Parliament officially approved all of the documents and then rejected Rouzier in the political vote.

The latest nominee, Gousse, is also known for his integrity particularly for his efforts to take on the corrupt system using the rule of law and an iron fist during his tenure as Minister of Justice under former Prime Minister Gerard Latortue in 2005. He is also facing deadlock and opposition in the Parliament because five senators in the INITE leadership, who have been publicly linked to drug trafficking, kidnappings, human right violations and corruption, have launched a high profile smear campaign to impugn his character linking him to human rights violations for his crackdown on the violent kidnapping campaign. Gousse was never publicly perceived as being anything other than tough on crime, but nonetheless has been thoroughly vetted by human rights organizations who have found him to be nothing but upstanding and forthright in his political and private dealing, see:  Gousse will submit his documents within the next two weeks.

This is a tired, old story of the corrupt old guard fighting against the popular new guard promising change. INITE is the legislative wing of that corrupt old guard, and they have been surprisingly effective in blocking change in the face of overwhelming popular support for change. So, what is INITE and how have they been able to block change against public will? How is INITE getting control of parliament and trying to force continuity? What’s next?

What is INITE? Who are its Leaders?
INITE is not a political party per se; rather, it is a coalition of deputies and senators in parliament pulled together by former President Preval. The coalition has secured 16 of the 30 seats in the Senate and 42 seats in the Chamber of Deputies almost exclusively by manipulating electoral results in the 2009 and 2010 elections. Their favorability rating among the general public is a mere 2% because they are widely viewed as the perpetrators of political instability and intimidation, but more importantly because over the past 10 years, they have completely failed to deliver any results or progress for the people. Under their watch, nothing has improved in Haiti. It remains the second poorest country in the world and ranks among the most corrupt. The coalition is controlled by political operatives and business leaders who have been involved in violence, see: 1.  2.  drug trafficking see:  kidnappings and various financial scandals in which state funds have been diverted for their personal enrichment.

The head of the INITE coalition in the Senate, Senator Joseph Lambert, is publicly perceived as corrupt, violent and linked to drug trafficking, money laundering and political assassination. When the Haitian National Police captured a boat carrying tons of cocaine in Tiburon, Southern Haiti, the press managed to uncover that Senator Lambert in fact owned the boat. The Haitian National Police linked him to the assassination of Monique Pierre, also a known drug trafficker, when it was discovered that the car that was driven by the assassins was owned by Lambert. The Senator is also rumored to be one of three senators who took 200 million gourdes (about $5 million) from the Office of Pension Workers (ONA) to build lavish homes. The manner and method he used to steal the money remains a matter of national debate, however.

Senator Lambert’s term in the senate is over in November, and he has set his sights on a cabinet position, Ministry of Agriculture, as a means to retain immunity against future prosecution. It should be noted that under Haiti’s constitution, if a Deputy or Senator commits a crime, he or she has judicial immunity and cannot be prosecuted unless two-thirds of the Chamber of which you are a member votes to allow the prosecution. So even if the police have an airtight case, they cannot prosecute unless Parliaments says they can. In the current political structure, INITE has enough votes to ensure that immunity is never revoked.  As a member of the cabinet, you do not officially have judicial immunity; however, in practice, no cabinet members face prosecution given the vast power they hold in their positions.

Finally, it should also be noted that Joseph Lambert does everything with his brother, Wensceslass Lambert, who he named senator during the electoral coup of 2009. For more on Senator Lambert, see the following links:

INITE’s second in command is Kelly Bastien, who has been linked to several financial scandals in parliament. He was accused of presenting and voting the resolution to use public funds to bail out and revamp SOCABANK after it was exposed that the bank’s leadership – in cooperation with some politicians – stole millions of customers’ deposits. Bastien is also linked to the ONA scandal. See: 1. 2.

Third in command within INITE is Moise Jean Charles. Nominated by Preval in 2009, he was the President’s advisor and his Ougan (vodou priest). Preval named him as a LESPWA-INITE senator also in the 2009 electoral coup to provide him judicial immunity for several open criminal matters. Charles killed two people in 2004 – Guitz Adrien Salvant and Donald Julmiste – and seriously injured Evens Lucien, in Cap Haitian, the Northern Department. These killings were politically motivated. See paragraph III: 1. 2. The judge who constituted the dossier issued an arrest warrant for him, but Preval used the power of the executive branch to prevent his arrest until he named him as senator. Charles has been linked to numerous other cases of political motivated violence.  See a copy of arrest warrant at the end of the text.

The fourth is John Joel Joseph known over Haiti’s radio stations as the one who assisted Amaral Duclona in the 2004-2006 kidnapping spree in Haiti. Amaral was the head of Operations Bagdad I & II and Pakatan’n, which were violent political campaigns that assassinated 2,500 Haitians, kidnapped 1,300, killed 112 police officers (eight of them decapitated), raped 600 women, and stole 1,200 cars. They killed students, children, priests, journalists, and women indiscriminately in order intimidate and instill fear into the public. Joseph is popularly viewed as Amaral Duclona’s puppeteer, one of the most violent assassins in Haiti. See paragraph II: Bernard Gousse was the Minister of Justice who put an end to the madness of those violent campaigns. Duclona had to flee the country and was arrested in the Dominican Republic where he was extradited to France to face charges for murdering two French Diplomats. He confessed that he executed all the violence on behalf of his close associate former President Aristide. John Joel was also an informal advisor to President Preval who named him as Senator in 2009 to prevent future political prosecution.

And finally, the fifth in command is Jocelerme Privert a former Minister of the Interior under Aristide who became an advisor to Preval. He was directly involved in the Scierie Massacre in the town of Saint Marc when he was the Minister of Interior. An arrest warrant was issued for him, and he went into hiding. When Bernard Gousse became Minister of Justice he executed the warrant and put Privert in jail. Gousse sent him to court to face justice; however, when Preval became President, he stopped the judicial proceedings and named him as his advisor. See: Later Preval used the electoral coup to name him senator so he could also avoid facing any prosecution. The press also identified Privert as the one who falsified a constitutional amendment, an offense that is considered high treason. See: The falsification was an effort by INITE and Preval to shift some of the President’s constitutional powers to Parliament after Martelly won the Presidency. On May 9 (five days before Martelly’s inauguration), INITE and Preval called a session of Parliament to pass an amendment that would strip some of the Presidential powers, but they did not have a chance to pass all the measures they had intended to get through. Therefore, after the vote, INITE parliamentarians tried to sneak additional changes to the constitutional amendment on May 13 to strengthen their position and allow them to reclaim the presidency months later. According to public discussions and declarations from his colleagues in the senate, Senator Privert directly carried out the falsification of the amendment. Their attempt was blatant and fully transparent. It is impossible to see how they thought they would get away with changing the text.

Part of INITE’s strategy is to impose on Martelly a Prime Minister that they can control. They have put forward several candidates in an effort to negotiate a compromise candidate despite the fact that they have absolutely no political power to make demands for compromise – not to mention absolutely an absymal track record upon which to claim that they can pick an effective Prime Minister. They have recommended the current Prime Minister, Jean Max Bellerive, who, in the eyes of the Haitian people and Martelly’s base, represents a total failure for his performance as Minister of Planning and as the Prime Minister in charge of the failed reconstruction over the past 18 months. See: 1.  2. For Martelly’s base, Bellerive represents continuity of corruption and does not fulfill the mandate for change. In a last ditch effort to cling to some sort of power, INITE and Bellerive have called an IHRC meeting next week to promote him remaining in office. It is unheard of for a lame duck Prime Minister to presume to call such a meeting.

Second, they have put forward Jean Henry Ceant, a close associate of Aristide. He is a lawyer and public notary well known for corruption despite his best efforts to clean up his reputation over the past few years.  In an official corruption report issued by UCREF, Haiti’s official anti-corruption bureau, he is linked to former President Aristide’s money laundering and stealing of state funds. See:  Some people believe that he used his knowledge of the judicial system and relationships to make his case disappear; while others believe he is innocent. See:  Again because of this and his Lavalas affiliation, Martelly’s base erupts whenever they hear the name. There are a few other names being floated around as well, including Eriq Pierre who serves as Haiti’s representative to the IDB. Pierre is not linked to the corruption and scandals, but is perceived as a Preval insider. Henry Bazin, a former Minister of Finance under Gerard Latortue’s Interim government, has also been identified as a potential candidate. While he has a great reputation, he is viewed as part of the old system.

How did INITE take control of parliament?
When Preval, his INITE associates and his handpicked Provisional Electoral Council, led by Gaillot Dorsinvil, executed the November 2010 electoral coup, the people revolted. Preval knew he either had to find some public means to address the situation to quell the public, or face revolt. To keep his office, Preval quickly adapted and asked the OAS to conduct an official review of the electoral results. The OAS Electoral Mission only focused on the manipulation of the Presidential tally sheets, which was a high profile issue, but they ignored the manipulated legislative results. As a result,  INITE was able to steal 37 seats in the House and six in the Senate in an election that was widely known to be a referendum for change. The OAS, unfortunately, was seen as complicit for their failure to highlight the stolen legislative elections. See: The people are still contesting these stolen seats. Around the country many voices are calling for a commission of three members to review the tally sheets of the legislative elections with the support of national domestic observers and international experts to fix what was stolen from the Haitian people. President Martelly has not responded yet to these calls.

What’s next?
The drug dealers and the kidnappers supported by the corrupt business cartel Groupe de Bourdon are determined to maintain the ruthless and lawless status quo in Haiti. Their future and the future of justice and democracy are in the balance. The corruptors will try to once again create chaos in order to continue their predatory system of management and governance. Meanwhile the international community after spending $4 billion to assist Haiti’s democracy is paralyzed and wary of wading in with support after being burned so many times.

In spite of their best efforts to maintain status quo, the winds of change are at the back of the President. His extreme popularity (currently at 71%) gives him the political power to break through the deadlock. The people have been the only force that has been able to effectively rise up against the corruption and throw out the corruptors as they did with Duvalier and Aristide – and almost with Preval. Martelly has the political capital and support to stand up to the predators and make change. Already, their deadlock strategy is backfiring with public support strongly in favor of Martelly democratically confronting INITIE. Immediately after Rouzier was booted by INITE, 85% of the people advocated democratic confrontation. In recent polls, that number has climbed to an astounding 91% of the people in favor of democratic confrontation. In the face of such public support, INITE operatives can either face popular revolt and being completely booted out in the upcoming November elections. INITE has the option to continue with their juvenile deadlock tactics, or they can realize that change has come; they can either play ball or be left behind.
Click on arrest warrant to enlarge