Cablegate: The Political Basis for Violence in Gonaives -
DE RUEHPU #1080/01 1711245
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201245Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6338
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 1559
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 1378
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RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 001080
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WHA/EX PLEASE PASS USOAS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/13/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL HA
SUBJECT: THE POLITICAL BASIS FOR VIOLENCE IN GONAIVES -
PART 1 OF 3
PORT AU PR 00001080 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JANET A. SANDERSON, REASONS 1.4(B) AND (D).
1. (C) Summary. All interviewees concurred that the basis for the violence in Gonaives is political: specifically, the political rivalry between Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis and Senator Youri Latortue, both of whom are from Gonaives and are positioning themselves for the next presidential election. Some residents, who view the GoH as pro-Lavalas, believe that the GoH has abandoned them while the gangs, who are anti-Aristide and have the political support of Latortue, prey on them in their attempts to demonstrate their control of the region. Non-politically affiliated bandits are taking advantage of the situation to commit crimes under the cover of the politically connected gangs. Given this political prism, politicians, who are constantly re-evaluating their strategies and alliances, do not expect the political tension to ease with the eradication of the gangs. End summary.
2. (C) Poloff on May 30-31 conducted nine interviews in Gonaives, of which two were with politicians, two with law enforcement, and five with civil society. This cable reports on the interviews with XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX does not currently hold an elective office.
3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX, framed the violence in Gonaives as the result of unresolved political tensions between two groups, which he declined to identify directly. XXXXXXXXXXXX believes that someone, whom he declined to name, is providing weapons to a faction/gang of former Aristide supporters who turned against the former President. XXXXXXXXXXXX believes that this faction/gang is in a difficult situation because: President Rene Preval refuses to deal with it; MINUSTAH and the HNP refuse to be intimidated by it; and ''Latortue does not share his money with the Raboteau group.'' (Note: Raboteau is a gang infested, Gonaives slum to which, claimed XXXXXXXXXXXX, Latortue still maintained strong relationships. End note.) XXXXXXXXXXXX also noted that the gang members who threw stones during the funeral of reporter Alix Joseph were from the Raboteau neighborhood. He believes that they were paid by an unknown source. To the best of his knowledge, XXXXXXXXXXXX believes that 30-35 well armed men constituted the hard core of the Raboteau gang.
4. (C) When asked about his relationship with Latortue, XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that Latortue did not talk to him since the XXXXXXXXXXXX lost the XXXXXXXXXXXX election. Latortue is upset because XXXXXXXXXXXX has more access to financial and aid resources than Latortue. Gonaives is a political prize for Latortue because the city relies on NGOs, and not the GoH, for programmatic and infrastructure support and because he was born and grew up there. Consequently, Latortue is making the most of his position in the Senate to become a national figure.
5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX began his comments by noting that the reasons for the tension and insecurity in Gonaives are ''always tied to politics,'' which is why ''it is difficult to eradicate insecurity in Gonaives.'' According to him, the group that was causing the insecurty was the same group that brought down Aristide After Aristide fled the country, the group thatcaused his downfall splintered into two factions the stronger faction is allied with Latortue whil the weaker and inactive faction is allied with the executive branch. The non-political bandits profited from Gonaives' insecurity as long as the HNP did not ''receive the order'' to crack down on gangs. In Dieudonne's view, the breathtaking speed and ferocity with which the HNP is going after the gangs means that it received the order from Port-au-Prince. The change in leadership of Gonaives' HNP and the arrival of an HNP SWAT team from Port-au-Prince reinforce his view that the GoH has political motives for the crackdown, namely to improve Alexis' low standing with the population. When asked, he responded that XXXXXXXXXXXX believes that the HNP are independent.
6. (C) Reforming the justice system is one of XXXXXXXXXXXX main political objectives. For this reason, he noted that XXXXXXXXXXXX participated in the extra-parliamentary commission that investigated the circumstances surrounding Judge Hugues St. Pierre's death. When Poloff reminded XXXXXXXXXXXX that some parliamentarians believed that the investigatory commission was illegal, he replied that XXXXXXXXXXXX did not share that view. In response to Poloff's question, XXXXXXXXXXXX reported that ''XXXXXXXXXXXX does not collaborate directly'' with Latortue and that ''XXXXXXXXXXXX does not have the same form of fight as Latortue''. ''XXXXXXXXXXXX is on its own side. XXXXXXXXXXXX supports whoever is doing good.''
7. (C) Comment. XXXXXXXXXXXX, who appears to be in a tough political spot, may have few politically powerful friends. He believes that the GoH and Latortue do little to help him. XXXXXXXXXXXX belongs to a party sympathetic to Latortue. He also contends with the every day demands of local politics. For example, the group that met XXXXXXXXXXXX after Poloff's interview threatened XXXXXXXXXXXX with student protests if XXXXXXXXXXXX allowed a Cuban-staffed hospital to be built on land designated for a public university.
8. (C) Comment continued. In spite of the elections and democracy, politics is still viewed through the prism of gang warfare in Gonaives. While XXXXXXXXXXXX implied that Latortue supported the Raboteau gangs politically, if not financially, he directly indicated that XXXXXXXXXXXX did not support ''Aristide's allies.'' XXXXXXXXXXXX did not specify who ''Aristide's allies'' were, but XXXXXXXXXXXX said nothing to temper XXXXXXXXXXXX's hostility towards the current GoH. XXXXXXXXXXXX avowed that XXXXXXXXXXXX non-violent political party committed to obtaining its goals through politics. Yet he also did not exhibit any reservations about collaborating with Latortue, who is suspected of supporting, if not participating, in criminal activity.