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Earthquake (IV of IV)

Government under tutelage, business under control

lunes 16 de enero de 2012 Haiti has a long history of tutelage. Military tutelage, economic blackmail, financial control ... The earthquake did not change the status quo, in fact it worsened the situation. The plans of President Martelly and Prime Minister Conille seem to be dictated from outside and / or by Duvalier´s followers.

Martelly, along with former dictator Duvalier. Behind, the Baby Doc's son and current adviser to the president.

Martelly, along with former dictator Duvalier. Behind, the Baby Doc's son and current adviser to the president.

Por Paco Gómez Nadal

In this article we will not be delving once more into the difficult recent history in Haiti, instead we will focus on the picture at this precise moment in time. The international community is celebrating "democratic stability" in the country. It is one of the achievements of their cooperation aid. This celebration is based on two facts: there has been a "democratically elected" president since May 2011 who did not have control over parliament and, in October after some five months waiting, a prime minister and a government were formed.

Are these people governing on behalf of the Haitian people? Who is making the decisions and who is determining what happens in the country? Let's start with the elections. The first round of voting was held in November 2010, amongst the rubble and amidst the arrival of cholera and its unstoppable wave of killings. A fortune (45 million) was spent on the elections, however only 22.7% of the electorate voted. This was not surprising. Most people were struggling to survive and the corrupt state apparatus did nothing to encourage voting. Also, the party with the most supporters was not allowed to stand for election, that of Jean Bertrand Aristide, the former President who was ousted by the United States in 2004. The country was occupied by foreign troops; decisions were being made by the international community.

"Martelly left school after his final exams, tried unsuccessfully to study various subjects and was expelled from the Haitian Army for getting a general's daughter pregnant, he then learned to play keyboards by ear and became the king of kompa"

The results reported by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) were not received well by the 'protectors' or by some of the electorate, especially fans of pop singer Michel Martelly. The OAS rearranged the results, citing allegedly fraudulent acts during the electoral process, and excluding the incumbent candidate from the second round and thereby practically handing over the presidency to Martelly, whose résumé according to Francisco Peregil from El País could be summarized in the following way: "Martelly left school after his final exams, tried unsuccessfully to study various subjects and was expelled from the Haitian Army for getting a general's daughter pregnant, he then learned to play keyboards by ear and became the king of kompa rhythm in the country."

Martelly took up office as President in May 2011 and, because he did not have the support of the House of Representatives or the Senate, which were controlled by the party of former President Préval, he took five months to build a government. In the end, the Prime Minister of Haiti was named as Garry Conille, a doctor who was an adviser to Bill Clinton, the UN special envoy for Haiti and the coordinator until now of the whole reconstruction program. Senator Andrew Riche described the appointment as "indecent" while his colleague William Jeanty stated that it was a convenient way that to validate the continuity of foreign tutelage of the impoverished country. Aside from this strong influence exerted by the U.S. over Martelly, one of his chief political advisers is the Spaniard Antonio Sola, elections expert linked to the Spanish Popular Party and very close to the new right-wing president of Spain, Mariano Rajoy. Maybe that's why, during his visit to Spain in July 2001, Martelly said: "It is true that in Haiti there are garbage piles, and debris from houses. But it is a rich country. We have some great beaches. We could create a major tourist destination. You might tell me that there is no energy. And that's true. But that´s not a problem, it´s an opportunity. We could create a great district and call it Spain. And then the French will come and want to build another called France, and then the United States. And Spain will own the energy. "

"The government applies the same methods as Duvalier, namely force and dictatorship. For example, in the countryside, Duvalier supporters are returning to reclaim their lands. MINUSTAH is supporting the eviction of farmers from their land"

Who exactly are these people?

Didier Dominique, director of the Haitian Batay Ouvriye Trades Union Congress makes much more serious charges. He reminds us that Garry Conille is the son of a Duvalier paramilitary or macout, and that one of Duvalier's children is working in Martelly´s cabinet [Nicolas Duvalier, 28, is personal adviser to Martelly] as well as several former officials who served under the Baby Doc dictatorship. According to the trade unionist Martelly "applies the same methods as Duvalier, namely force and dictatorship. For example, in the countryside, Duvalier supporters are returning to reclaim their lands. And now, with the police and MINUSTAH, former landowners are returning to carry out an agrarian counter-reform. MINUSTAH is supporting the eviction of farmers from their land"

The truth is that, as detailed by the Associated Press in November, "A former minister and ambassador under the Duvalier regime is a close adviser to Martelly and is now a member of the nation's new Cabinet. In addition, at least five high-ranking members of the administration, including the new prime minister, are the children of officials who were members of Duvalier's regime”.

When Martelly used to go by the stage name Sweet Micky, he sang that the followers of Aristide smelled "like shit", but he also ran the Le Garage nightclub and was a good friend of senior soldiers and paramilitaries from Baby Doc´s regime. Now he holds meetings with Aristide and Baby Doc Duvalier, after the return of both men to the country, the first from South Africa (a democratically elected president who was ousted by a U.S. military invasion) and the second from France (where he fled in 1986 after the United States withdrew its financial and military support). Martelly´s spokespeople say that "it is time for reconciliation." Some say that now is the time for the "repositioning" of the old rulers.

National and international Human Rights organisations do not feel the same way. They are demanding that Jean Claude Duvalier, Baby Doc, be tried for crimes against humanity. Eighteen different legal proceedings have been opened against him in Haiti, yet he is under a strange kind of house arrest in a luxury mansion which he leaves whenever he wants to meet with supporters or to give university lectures. "The political arena is full of Duvalier´s supporters," reports economist Camille Chalmers.

Clinton is head of the Haitian Presidential Council for Economic Growth (which includes foreign businessmen such as Denis O'Brien, CEO of Digicel Group)

Business plans

Martelly´s decisions seem to please two of the big players in particular. On the one hand, Baby Doc and his followers are happy with the proposal to form a new army (abolished by Aristide in 1995) and to compensate soldiers who were dismissed when the armed forces were abolished. On the other hand, Bill Clinton and U.S. plans for Haiti, are also pleased with his obsession with opening industrial parks that host clothing sweat shop companies (maquilas) exporting to the United States. Clinton has not only directed the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti, but leads the Haitian Presidential Council for Economic Growth (which includes foreign businessmen such as Denis O'Brien, CEO of the Digicel Group).

In fact, last November, Clinton, Martelly and the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Colombian Luis Alberto Moreno, posed together smiling at the opening of the Caracol Industrial Park, a location housing sweat shops that have taken over land from 300 farming families, and funded with money from international cooperation aid. In fact, one of the first sections of road restored after the earthquake was the 80 kilometre stretch linking Port-au-Prince with the northern area where the park Caracol is located.

Timberland workers earn $5 a day (about $ 120 per month) for stitching the 2011 range of boots that cost $220 on average

In 2009, two years before the earthquake and its victims, Clinton, who does not conceal his plans, proposed a solution for Haiti: sweatshops and call centres. He visited, holding the hand of Prime Minister Conille, the new U.S. company Timberland factory where, according to company executive Garet J. Brooks, the 150 workers earn $ 5 a day (about $ 120 a month), but have the right to weekly visits to see a doctor or nurse (the 2011 range of Timberland boots cost $220 on average, about twice the monthly salary of Haitian seamstresses).

 Why an army? 

Martelly has failed to solve the problems in housing and healthcare suffered by hundreds of thousands of Haitians, he controls only 1% of the international cooperation aid donated for reconstruction and is obsessed with attracting foreign investment at all costs, as has been demonstrated in this article. By doing this he has managed to please both the investors and Duvalier´s supporters.

"Employers want to feel safe, and their buildings must be protected. In order to feel safe, they need personnel to protect them"

Laurent Lamothe, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Haiti, explained in late November the reasons behind the need for the new army that would begin operating with 3,500 troops and a budget of $95 million: "Employers want to feel safe, and their buildings must be protected. In order to feel safe, they need personnel to protect them." "Nobody will invest in this country if they can´t drive through the streets. We want to keep the Haitian people safe from all types of destabilizing factors. We are working to find the right formula to provide a military when MINUSTAH leave the country. "

Martelly´s critics see the military project as the president's reaction to the lack of control he has over the Police, a response to complaints from former soldiers who periodically threaten to revolt if they do not have their salaries recognized since 1995, and a reassuring message, as explained by his foreign minister, to the foreign investors.

So now we know a little more about who rules in Haiti ... and also on whose behalf. The bad karma of the Haitian people never seems to come to an end.

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