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Cablegate: Fanmi Lavalas Senator: Elections Edging Towards

VZCZCXRO2158
PP RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #0175/01 0381813
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071813Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7615
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 1784
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 1589
RUEHQU/AMCONSUL QUEBEC PRIORITY 1012
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1419

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 000175

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/07/2018
TAGS: HA KDEM PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: FANMI LAVALAS SENATOR: ELECTIONS EDGING TOWARDS
THE END OF 2008

REF: A. PORT AU PRINCE 00106
B. PORT AU PRINCE 00134
C. PORT AU PRINCE 00091

PORT AU PR 00000175 001.2 OF 002

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

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Fanmi Lavalas Senator from the West
Department Rudy Heriveaux told the Ambassador he supports
President Preval and his efforts for the political
stabilization of Haiti, wants to attract foreign investment,
supports reforming the constitution according to the
constitution's own procedures, will try to keep planned
Lavalas anti-government protests within bounds, and believes
Senate elections will be delayed possibly until the end of
the year. Heriveaux's support for the Preval administration
and political stability is not widely shared by party grass
roots. Despite this tension, Heriveaux is regarded within
the party as the foremost Fanmi Lavalas politician in Haiti.
END SUMMARY.

SENATE'S PRIORITIES
------------------

2. (SBU) Fanmi Lavalas (FL) Senator (and self-proclaimed
leader of FL in Haiti) Rudy Heriveaux, attended a January 25
breakfast hosted by the Ambassador at her residence. Senator
Heriveaux identified the Senate's highest priorities for 2008
as the Senate elections, the economy, followed by the
"Patrimony Bill" (Note: Law imposing an asset declaration
requirement on ranking government officials. End note.), the
revised budget and the revitalization of the judicial system.
Heriveaux commended the compromise reached with President
Preval allowing the ten two-year senators to remain in office
(Ref A) and cited it as proof of President Preval's
willingness to work with the legislature.

SENATE ELECTIONS
----------------

3. (SBU) Heriveaux doubted Senate elections would be held by
May 8, predicting instead they would be held as late as the
end of 2008. He claimed that discord within the CEP over the
revision of the CEP's by-laws had delayed work on the
electoral law. Heriveaux further opined that Haiti suffers
from a plethora of elections, which only a constitutional
amendment can remedy. Ambassador counseled Heriveaux to
reach out to his Senate colleagues and party Leaders to bring
home the fact that timely and successful elections were in
Haiti's national interest.

SUPPORT FOR PREVAL GOVERNMENT
-----------------------------

4. (C) Heriveaux said his party, Fanmi Lavalas, supports
Jacques Edouard Alexis as Prime Minister and recognizes the
need to support the Preval government in order to have a role
in the political process. This government's efforts to
solidify security and political stability were fundamentally
in Haiti's best interest. He lamented, however, that
President Preval had not reciprocated this support by
appointing Fanmi Lavalas members, if not to cabinet minister
posts, at least to Director General positions in one or more
ministries. He suggested the Ambassador might bring this
idea up with President Preval. Asked about announcements by
Fanmi Lavalas grass roots organizations that large
anti-government demonstrations would occur after Carnival,
Heriveaux said he would try to make sure that these remained
peaceful and did not slip into radicalism.

ECONOMY
-------

5. (SBU) Heriveaux lamented that Haiti's positive
macroeconomic performance and responsible fiscal policy had
not produced effects felt by the average citizen. He agreed
with the economic issues raised by President Preval during
his State of the Union address January 14 at the opening
session of the National Assembly (Ref C). Heriveaux said
that cost of living, unemployment, and lack of foreign
investment required immediate attention. The rising cost of
living impeded the development of an educated work force,
since newly married young couples cannot afford housing
despite being employed. Heriveaux said the Senate should
raise the minimum wage, last set five years ago at 70 Haitian
Gourdes (USD 1.93) per day. Although he agreed with
President Preval's call for an increase in the minimum wage
in the private sector, he cautioned that it should not be
raised so high as to deter investment.

6. (SBU) Heriveaux also called attention to the intricate GOH
procedures that slowed disbursal of state funds for
development projects as a significant impediment to economic
progress. Delays in disbursements, Heriveaux claimed,
accounted for part of the GoH budget funds left unspent in
fiscal year 2007. Heriveaux also stressed the continuing
importance of domestic security and stimulating "national
production."

7. (SBU) Ambassador conceded that corruption remained a huge
problem and a significant impediment to investment. It had
displaced security as the first preoccupation of potential
investors. Heriveaux applauded the GoH's customs and tax
department's progress in weeding out corruption.

AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION
-------------------------

8. (SBU) Heriveaux stated he would support amendments to the
constitution if it were the will of a parliamentary majority
and conducted according to the constitution's own procedures.
Issues requiring constitutional amendment were: 1) allowing
double nationality; 2) consolidating the electoral calendar
to eliminate Haiti's all-too-frequent elections; 3) reducing
the complexity of the current system of multi-layered local
government; and, 4) the army. (Note: Heriveaux conceded that
the need for an army would be obviated if the Haitian
National Police is reinforced. End note.) The dual
nationality has recently come into the political spotlight
because the newly-elected Vice President of the Senate, Rudy
Boulos (Fusion, Northeast) was recently revealed to hold U.S.
and Haitian nationality. Heriveaux claimed some Senators
throwing accusations at Boulos are themselves dual nationals.
(Note: On January 22, the Senate formed a Commission to
investigate the dual citizenship of members of Parliament and
other high-ranking GoH officials. End note.)

COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) Senator Heriveaux's moderation in front of the
Ambassador was no doubt in part motivated by the desire to
convince the USG that Fanmi Lavalas is a responsible
political actor that deserves inclusion in the government.
Heriveaux's moderation in private does not always square with
his public political behavior - as in the vituperation he
hurled at outgoing Senate President Lambert over the issue of
electing a new Senate President and Bureau at the beginning
of the current legislative session (Ref A). Senator
Heriveaux is undeniably the most prominent FL representative
in the legislature, which reinforces his informal claim to
the status of senior leader of the FL party in Haiti.
Despite his broad political visibility and Fanmi Lavalas'
recognition of the utility of having Heriveaux as their
national representative, Heriveaux's political moderation is
not widely shared by Fanmi Lavalas militants. Outside of
Port au Prince and the West Department, Heriveaux remains a
peripheral figure, and Fanmi Lavalas supporters there
gravitate to more militant Fanmi Lavalas representatives.
Post will monitor whether Heriveaux intervenes if FL grass
roots protests become unruly.
SANDERSON

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