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Cablegate: Response to Inr/B Requirements On President Preval

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INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 1434
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 07 PORT AU PRINCE 000408

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR
DRL
S/CRS
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
INR/IAA (BEN-YEHUDA)
TREASURY FOR JEFFREY LEVINE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/26/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL SNAR KCRM HA
SUBJECT: RESPONSE TO INR/B REQUIREMENTS ON PRESIDENT PREVAL

REF: STATE 5107

Classified By: Classified by Ambassador Janet A. Sanderson for reasons
1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C) Introduction: Reftel asks for a comprehensive
assessment of President Preval's decision-making process and
leadership style. As noted in reftel, post has reported on
many of the specific topics inquired about over the course of
Preval's re-election campaign and the first year of his
second term. We welcome the opportunity to reiterate key
judgments that we believe will become increasingly important
as the Preval administration approaches completion of its
first year in office. In sum, we believe Preval's commitment
to building democratic institutions, promoting political
stability, and developing the economy corresponds with our
own interests. However, Preval's weaknesses as an executive,
his reflexive nationalism, and his disinterest in managing
bilateral relations in a broad diplomatic sense, will lead to
periodic frictions as we move forward our bilateral agenda.
Case in point, we believe that in terms of foreign policy,
Preval is most interested in gaining increased assistance
from any available resource. He is likely to be tempted to
frame his relationship with Venezuela and Chavez-allies in
the hemisphere in a way that he hopes will create a
competitive atmosphere as far as who can provide the most to
Haiti. Additionally, Preval has displayed a tendency to
fixate on a particular issue at the exclusion of all others
and then to move on to other issues without leaving much to
show for his efforts. Since taking office in May 2006,
Preval has been the education president, the roads president,
and now the anti-narcotics president. All of these issues
are worthy of his time and attention, but require a coherent
approach to policy implementation in addition to rhetoric.
End Introduction.

2. (U) The answers below are keyed to the questions in
reftel:

Question A
----------

3. (C) How Does Preval make policy decisions? What sources
of information does Preval draw from when making decisions
and how does he process that information, e.g. is he
receptive new information, does he seek advice or rely on his
own intuition? Does Preval tend to see policy issues in
black and white or in shades of grey?

4. (C) We judge that Preval largely relies on his own
intuition and experience in formulating policy. We see that
experiences from his first presidential term are nearly
always a touchstone on key bilateral issues, even when
circumstances have significantly changed or the conclusion he
is drawing is not directly applicable to the issue at hand.
Preval's recent insistence that the U.S. does not do enough
to combat narcotics traffic through Haiti is a clear example
of an attitude carried over from his first term. Likewise,
Preval's current resistance to making a placating gesture to
China after the GoH voiced support for Taiwan at the UN is
based in part on Preval's belief that China behaved
unreasonably when renewing UN mission mandates during his
first term.

5. (C) On balance, we see that issues where Preval has a
fixed view, for example relations with China, he is
remarkably resistant to policy advice. On other issues,
where Preval is not so engaged either because of lack of
personal interest or lack of experience, Preval seems readily
open to new information and flexible in his approach. This
seems most apparent in issues relating to economic policy.
Rather than separating Preval's thinking into black and white
or shades of gray, we believe it is more useful to bear in
mind that Preval often appears not to fully think through the
implications or consequences of a particular issue. He
neglects to carry out the kind of study or put in place the
administrative structure required to turn an idea into
workable policy. This was most obvious in his approach to
negotiations with gang leaders, his focus throughout the

PORT AU PR 00000408 002 OF 007


summer of 2006. Due to a lack of results however, he
abandoned the effort. Preval's entire policy seemed to be
encapsulated in the formulation, ''disarm or die.'' He
never appears to have coherently addressed the issue central
to the negotiations -- the future of the most violent
gang-leaders.

Question B
----------

6. (C) Does Preval seek advice from a wide array of sources
or only look to certain people, if so, whom and on what
issues? Does he trust any of his advisers or ministers to
make key decisions in his stead? How does he deal with
dissension or criticism from his advisors? What tone does he
set when he meets with his advisers - e.g., does he encourage
them to work collegially, competitively, or within the formal
bureaucratic structure? Has Bob Manuel's influence with
Preval diminished, and if so, why? Does Manuel continue to
informally oversee the security portfolio? If not, who does,
is there another adviser poised to succeed Manuel as Preval's
''right-hand man.''?

7. (C) Preval seems open to a wide array of sources -- he
reportedly reads and pays attention to the media on a wide
variety of subjects and maintains a broad circle of friends
-- but appears to limit the number of people from whom he
actively seeks advice. Some, most notably Robert Manuel,
have complained that the number is growing smaller and that
his fiancee, Elizabeth Delatour, is the only advisor with
whom he has meaningful discussions. Fritz Longchamp,
Secretary General of the Presidency, appears to have gained

SIPDIS
access and influence to Preval regarding the dispute with
China. As a former foreign minister, Longchamp may also be
advising on broader foreign policy issues. Gabriel Verret
remains Preval's closest advisor on economic issues. Lionel
Delatour, Elizabeth Delatour's brother-in-law, maintains
somewhat regular access due to his family ties and his direct
involvement with the effort to promote HOPE legislation,
however Delatour himself has complained that Preval often
ignores his advice. With a few exceptions, Preval appears
not to trust his advisers or ministers to make key decisions,
or even to implement key decisions. The most recent account
of the council of ministers meetings provided by Gabriel
Verret to the Ambassador describes Preval going through the
action items of each ministry and demanding status reports.

8. (C) With the Embassy and USG representatives, ministers as
a group are deferential and mostly subdued in Preval's
presence. There is little air of give-and-take or
willingness among ministers to extemporize. In meetings with
USG officials Preval has abruptly cut off Prime Minister
Alexis on two occasions, disagreeing with his views. On
another occasion he cut off Minister of Public Works Frantz
Varella, who had offered an observation regarding security,
telling him that security was not his responsibility. We
hear of very little, if any, substantive criticism or
dissension among the cabinet in private. The most visible
intra-cabinet dissension, so far, has been between the
judiciary and security officials; most recently, a rift
between the justice minister and chief prosecutor Claudy
Gassant. Preval has pointedly refused to intervene. Many
among Haiti's chattering classes attribute this to a strategy
on Preval's part to keep members of his government divided
and weak. We judge rather that his attitude is more in line
with his overall passivity as an executive.

9. (C) Having observed the Preval-Manuel relationship over
the past two years since Manuel's return to Haiti to join the
Preval campaign, we judge that Manuel's role is most
accurately described as Best Friend. Manuel remains Preval's
closest confidante, and Preval still uses him as his personal
emissary, but the influence of Manuel's own views on any
given subject appear limited. For example, against Manuel's
advice and own wishes, Preval involved Manuel in his first
negotiations with gang leaders in the summer of 2006. With
Manuel's displeasure with this policy unabated, Preval simply
cut him out of the process. Manuel appears still to be
charged with the management of Preval's personal security,

PORT AU PR 00000408 003 OF 007


overseeing the Presidential Protection Unit (USPN) in the
palace, but Preval himself appears to have taken complete
charge of security policy. Manuel, along with the justice
minister, is charged with preparing President Preval for the
upcoming drug trafficking summit in the Dominican Republic on
March 16, but our contacts with Manuel on narcotics issues so
far indicate that he does no more than to restate Preval's
own views, often with more passion. Manuel confided to the
Ambassador that he is frustrated with Preval's unwillingness
to listen to him and heed advice and that he wants to leave
Haiti, preferably as Ambassador to Mexico, but that Preval
has been non-committal about the timing of his appointment.
Whatever the state of their relationship on policy issues,
Preval clearly values Manuel's friendship and may be
reluctant to let him go.

Question C
----------

10. (C) What is the nature of Preval's relationship with
Director General of the Haitian National Police Mario
Andresol, Foreign Minister Jean Reynald Clerisme, Secretary
of State for Public Security Luc Eucher Joseph, Secretary
General of the Presidency Fritz Longchamp, and economic
advisor Gabriel Verret.

11. (C) Preval's relationship with Andresol does not appear
to extend beyond their formal association as president and
the chief of police. Preval and Andresol had no personal
connection to speak of before Preval inherited and then
re-appointed Andresol director general of the HNP. For his
part, Andresol has, on several occasions, expressed
frustration that he has not been able to gain more trust from
Preval. Likewise, Preval's relationship with Eucher seems
limited to their formal roles: Eucher is not otherwise a
close of advisor from whom Preval seeks counsel. Preval and
Clerisme have a large number of mutual acquaintances from the
rural/populist movements, however they do not have a close
personal bond. Preval has reportedly taken personal charge of
all important foreign policy issues, leaving Clerisme with
little influence. Longchamp is both a trusted advisor and
personal friend. With Preval limiting PM Alexis' direction
of the cabinet, and not having named a chief of staff, the
importance of Longchamp's position has steadily increased.
Finally, Gabriel Verret, perhaps even more than either Robert
Manuel or Longchamp, is the other advisor in the palace who
can claim to be both a trusted confidante and influential
policy advisor, as Preval remains open to advice on economic
matters. In the same way, Elizabeth Delatour, who is also
formally charged with providing economic advice, might be the
single most important influence on Preval.

Question D
----------

12. (C) What are Alexis and Foreign Minister Clerisme's
perceptions of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide?

13. (C) Based on Alexis' long-standing personal association
with Preval from his previous administration through his
active role in the most recent presidential campaign, we
surmise that Alexis' views on Aristide hew closely to
Preval's own (i.e. that Aristide betrayed the Haitian
people). If Alexis believes otherwise, he gives no hint of
disagreement with Preval. We are less familiar with
Clerisme, but note that Clerisme's political engagement began
with his involvement as a liberation theology priest working
in the rural, peasant movement in Haiti's northeast. Most of
this movement's leaders became disillusioned with Aristide
during the mid-1990's. Whatever Clerisme's views, as with
Alexis, to the extent they do not correspond to Preval's, he
keeps them to himself.

Question E
----------

14. (C) Is Preval influenced by ideology, and if so, what are
the major influences? What motivated him to return to
politics? What role do Catholicism, voodoo, and

PORT AU PR 00000408 004 OF 007


liberation-theology play in his worldview? What is his full
educational history and experience working in private
industry?

15. (C) Preval seems profoundly uninfluenced and uninterested
in ideology at this stage in his life. Despite his
involvement in radical/communist circles as a student in
Belgium and his entrance into Haitian politics through a
populist movement deeply influenced by liberation theology,
Preval's public and private discourse is practically devoid
of any notions reflecting that background. In the context of
the developing world, we would most accurately describe him
as a neo-liberal, particularly in that he has embraced free
markets and foreign investment.

16. (C) At the same time, Preval's discourse regarding
Haitian politics remains framed in the context of his past.
He still refers broadly to ''the people'' and ''the
bourgeois'' in referring to Haitian society. His leftist
views reportedly caused a deep rift between himself and his
family, particularly his father, who although opposed to
Duvalier held traditional Haitian upper-class views. This is
as close to an insight as we may venture into his motivation
to return to politics, which is something of a puzzle. While
a canny politician and an effective campaigner Preval evinces
little of the ambition or overt drive typical of most
politicians. It may be simply that he rightly recognized
that he was the only leader in Haiti who legitimately
represented the broad-based popular movement that toppled
Duvalier and first brought Aristide to power.

17. (C) Like most Haitians, Preval was raised Catholic with
an exposure to voodoo practices. He is a non-observant
Catholic but maintains a cordial and respectful relationship
with Haiti's Catholic hierarchy. He is particularly close to
Haiti's Archbishop, who was a life-long friend of his
parents. Likewise, he maintains a respectful and cordial
relationship with Voodoo leaders. There are unconfirmed
reports that Robert Manuel, who is a born-again Christian,
influences Preval's religious views and that the two
regularly pray together. However, Preval has been jocular
and once dismissive of Manuel's praying in conversations with
ambassadors.

18. (C) Preval's educational and professional experiences
listed in open sources are mostly accurate. He studied
agronomy at the University of Louvain in Belgium but did not
receive a degree reportedly because he spent too much time
participating in political activities. Though he obtained a
position with the National Institute for Mineral Resources,
apparently as part of Jean-Claude Duvalier's conciliatory
gestures to his father's opponents, Embassy sources do not
believe he actually worked at his job. He went into the
bakery business with several friends in the mid-1970,
including Michele Pierre Louis, a renowned patron of Haitian
arts, and through her met Aristide. Preval's bakery was
successful, but destroyed by associates of the military after
the 1991 coup d'etat. Among the many incidents of conflict
between the right-wing and Aristide supporters, Preval
apparently holds a special grudge against those who destroyed
his business.

Question F
----------

19. (C) What is Preval's relationship to Geri Benoit? Does
his sister, Marie-Claude Calvin, play an influential role in
his administration? Does Elizabeth Delatour yield influence
over Preval's political decision-making? What is the status
of their impending nuptials? One of Preval's daughters lives
with him in Port-au-Prince. Where is the other and what does
she do?

20. (C) Though Preval and his second wife, Geri Benoit,
appeared together at times during the campaign, they have
apparently lived entirely separate lives since his
inauguration. Mrs. Calvin and Preval are very close. She
was among the family members on the payroll at his
agricultural foundation in Marmalade, which was funded by

PORT AU PR 00000408 005 OF 007


Taiwan. Calvin acts as his scheduler, keeps an office in the
palace, and one ambassador reports that Calvin kept him at
bay for several days when he had an urgent request to see
Preval. Calvin and her husband also accompanied Preval on
his second trip to Cuba for medical attention. Mrs. Calvin
does not appear to play any role in influencing government
policy.

21. (C) It is difficult to assess Elizabeth Delatour's
influence on policy. She is extremely private and reserved
and does not generally engage foreign officials in
substantive conversation. She politely resisted the
Ambassador's attempts to establish a more social
relationship. Numerous people close to Preval complain that
Preval has neglected both his work and limited the input of
other advisors in favor of Delatour. During the critical
juncture over the dispute with China regarding the renewal of
MINUSTAH's mandate, Delatour appeared to play a central role.
SRSG Mulet chose Delatour as his contact when he argued that
the GoH must provide China some kind of written apology:
Preval ultimately grudgingly signed a letter. Delatour
called the Ambassador in Washington when she was in the
Department for consultations asking for an update on the
Chinese delegation's position in New York. Preval's wedding
plans remain perhaps the best kept secret in Haiti. We have
confirmed from multiple reliable sources that they are
formally engaged, but no further reliable news regarding
wedding plans has emerged. Factors that might be
complicating their plans include Preval's health and living
arrangements for Delatour's 11-year old son.

22. (C) Preval's older daughter, Dominique, lives with her
mother in Port-au-Prince and runs a stationery store above
her mother's book store. She is close to both her parents.
Preval's younger daughter, Patricia, is currently in Sri
Lanka studying Asian art.

Question G
----------

23. (C) How much importance does Preval place on maintaining
close bilateral relations with the United States? Are there
aspects of the relationship he values more than others? Does
he view it as a mutually beneficial relationship? Does he
see Haiti as having obligations or responsibilities to the
U.S.? How does he view the U.S.' previous involvement in
Haiti? What is Preval's relationship with the Haitian
Diaspora?

24. (C) Preval recognizes that the U.S. is Haiti's most
important bilateral partner and that Haiti's closest societal
links internationally are with the U.S. His priority on the
bilateral agenda is to leverage and extract the most
assistance for Haiti on his own terms and to tap into the
wealth and resources of the Haitian-American community in the
U.S. As the president of a small, poor nation in the shadow
of the American behemoth, he clearly believes that the U.S.
has far greater obligations to Haiti than the other way
around, if, in fact, Haiti has any obligations at all.
Preval numbers a few close friends in the diaspora of whom we
know. He established a friendship with Dumarsais Simeus
during the presidential campaign, and they stay in contact by
email. For the most part, however, Preval does not seem
closely connected to or interested in Haitian communities
abroad. He has indicated on a number of occasions that he
fears that pro-Aristide extremists exert excessive influence
in diaspora communities.

Question H
----------

25. (C) Are cabinet officials involved in any illicit
activities? How does Preval handle corruption within his
administration?

26. (C) There has been little indication that cabinet members
have been involved in illicit activities so far. At the time
of the cabinet's formation, observers noted that the
ministers had been mostly free of suspicion over the course

PORT AU PR 00000408 006 OF 007


of their careers. Indications regarding Preval's own
attitude toward corruption are mixed. During his first term,
Preval either tolerated or was forced to accept gross abuses
on the part of close associates of Aristide. In either case,
Preval has exhibited a non-confrontational approach with
passivity toward difficult issues as the hallmark of his
political career. Preval maintains a reputation for personal
honesty.

Question I
----------

27. (C) How has Preval handled domestic criticism thus far?
Does he have a public communications or publicity strategy or
manager? How does he perform under significant stress? How
does he respond to confrontation, either personally or
indirectly, e.g. mass unrest?

28. (C) Preval has been remarkably impervious and
unresponsive to domestic criticism thus far, which mostly
centers on his approach to security and the gang activity
during the fall of 2006, when kidnapping and crime spiked
upward. There have been no significant incidents of mass
unrest since his inauguration on which to judge his reaction.
Based on his intense involvement in the daily review of
security policy, we surmise that he pays close attention to
public opinion, even if remaining uncommunicative himself.
He has a palace spokesman in name, Assad Volce but hardly
uses him. Nor does he use the minister for communication,
who is traditionally the government's chief spokesperson.
Regarding his public relations strategy, he has said on
several occasions, that he wants to change the tradition of
Haiti's presidents being the center of attention who make
promises that they are unable to deliver. ''I will talk when
I have some accomplishments to talk about.''

Question J
----------

29. (C) What is the status of Preval's Lespwa coalition? Is
it a cohesive coalition or is it fractured? Do its members
regard Preval as their leader? What is Preval's relationship
to Fanmi Lavalas (FL)?

30. (C) Preval has removed himself from involvement in Lespwa
and undertakes little visible role in managing relations with
the parliament. Lespwa is directionless as a party. Though,
in the general, Lespwa's drift does not particularly stand
out in the incohesive atmosphere of Haiti's parliament.
Senate President Joseph Lambert, has emerged as a leader
among Lespwa parliamentarians, but devotes more of his energy
to cultivating his image as parliament's chief, rather than
simply a party leader. No other Lespwa parliamentarian has
demonstrated a capacity to take direction of the party.
Lespwa parliamentarians no longer regard Preval as their
party leader, but recognizing he remains the country's most
popular politician and still associated with Lespwa in the
public's mind, they do not generally criticize him in public
or in private. Preval has virtually no contact with any of
the various FL factions.

Question K
----------

31. (C) How long are Preval's workdays? How many breaks does
he take during his workday, what does he do during them and
how long do they last? Under what circumstances?

32. (C) Preval appears to be keeping an increasingly busy
schedule, working longer hours and seeing more visitors. The
Ambassador has taken phone calls from him as early as 6:30 am
and has had meetings as late as 6:30 pm. Preval told the
Ambassador recently that he has for many years taken a full,
in-pajamas 2-3 hour nap every afternoon, allowing him to
maintain his energy.

Question L
----------


PORT AU PR 00000408 007 OF 007


33. (S/NF) What family history of alcohol or substance use
does Preval have? What alcohol or drugs has he been observed
using, how much, and under what circumstances? Any related
problems? Has Preval ever been observed to be high or drunk,
disoriented, trembling or physically jittery, or had memory
lapses? How many drinks can Preval consume before he shows
signs of inebriation? Does Preval take any medications?

34. (S/NF) Preval's parents both lived well into their
eighties. His father, in particular, reportedly enjoyed
robust health. No one in his immediate family has or had a
reputation for alcohol abuse. Preval drinks whiskey and
smokes in public, including at Embassy functions, but we have
not observed him inebriated nor seen him take more than one
or two drinks. Rumors abound about his deteriorating
physical condition -- intense physical pain, high dosages of
medication, however; we have no credible first-hand reports
to confirm this. In our meetings Preval has always been
completely lucid and has never appeared to be in any great
pain. Special intelligence indicates that he began taking
medication after the most recent round of medical
examinations in Cuba that indicated a possibility of the
return of prostate cancer.
TIGHE

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