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Cablegate: Haiti Monthly: February, 2008

VZCZCXRO8505
OO RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #0374/01 0671314
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071314Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7826
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 1827
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 1632
RUEHQU/AMCONSUL QUEBEC PRIORITY 1055
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1454
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PORT AU PRINCE 000374

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/EX AND WHA/CAR
S/CRS
INL FOR KEVIN BROWN AND ANGELIC YOUNG
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
INR/IAA
WHA/EX PLEASE PASS USOAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: HA PREL PGOV PHUM ECON EFIN
SUBJECT: HAITI MONTHLY: FEBRUARY, 2008

PORT AU PR 00000374 001.2 OF 003

1. (U) This message is sensitive but unclassified -- please
protect accordingly.

2. (U) Summary: This is a monthly report on various topics of
interest which do not merit a full reporting cable. End
summary.

3. (SBU) LAVALAS PARTISANS MARCH ON 4TH ANNIVERSARY OF
ARISTIDE DEPARTURE

A crowd of several thousand supporters of the pro-Aristide
party Fanmis Lavalas marched peacefully in Port au Prince on
February 29, the fourth anniversary of Aristide's departure
from Haiti. Led by leading party figures such as Annette
Auguste (So Anne), Rene Civil, and parliamentary deputy Jonas
Coffy, the crowd paraded past the U.S. Embassy, the French
Embassy, and the presidential palace. The size of the crowd
was far lower than the 30,000 figure party figures had
earlier predicted. The main demand was the immediate return
to Haiti of the former president, who Lavalas partisans
continue to claim was ''kidnapped'' in 2004. Even Lavalas
elected officials who in private say they do not support
Aristide's return dutifully chanted the required slogan
during the demonstration.

4. (SBU) CNDDR HEAD FILS-AIME IGNORES SUMMONS BY
PORT-AU-PRINCE PROSECUTOR

Director of the National Committee on Dismantlement,
Disarmament and Reinsertion (CNDDR) Alex Fils-Aime, refused a
summons for questioning from Port au Prince Chief Prosecutor
Claudy Gassant the week of February 18. Claiming that his
position as a high level state official exempts him from such
summons, Fils-Aime publicly accused Gassant of repeatedly
abusing his authority, thereby becoming a factor
''destabilizing the state, particularly the Haitian National
Police (HNP).'' Gassant thus far has failed to reply in
public or to mention the reason for the summons. The press
speculates that Gassant wants to question Fils-Aime for his
opposition to the release of scores of inmates held for long
periods without formal indictment or trial -- some of whom
have committed violent crimes, including kidnapping,
following their release. This is the latest incident in the
ongoing conflict between Gassant and HNP Director Mario
Andresol.

5. (U) HAITIAN AGREEMENT TO INCREASE POULTRY AND EGG
PRODUCTION

The Ministries of Agriculture and Women Conditions, the
International Development Bank (IDB) and FAES (Economic and
Social Assistance Foundation) on February 23 signed an
agreement for USD 51 million to increase national production
of poultry and eggs. The program will debut in six communes
in the West Department and three communes in the North-East
Department. This program is a product of the recent ban in
imports of poultry and egg s from the Dominican Republic
imposed due to the H5N2 avian flue outbreak there. Secretary
of State for Agriculture Joanas Gue, a Haitian delegation and
experts from the International Organization of Animal Health
(OIE) are traveling to the DR on March 3 to conduct an
assessment. Gue also announced that there is no trace of the
H5N2 virus in Haiti.

6. (U) POROUS BORDERS

The Support Group for Repatriates and Refugees (GARR)
reported that more than 5,000 Haitians either crossed or
attempted to cross the Haitian-Dominican border in January.
According to GARR, men, women and children were crossing at
points in the Northeast, Center, and West departments.
GARR's press statement implied that many of the crossings
were illegal, with smugglers charging about 1,500 Haitian
gourdes ($41) per person. Whereas organizers of the border
crossings in Thomassique, located in the Center department,
earnestly attempted to smuggle their paying clients across
the border, organizers in the West department (where
Port-au-Prince is located) often misled their paying clients
by depositing them in Fonds Verrettes, Haiti, announcing that
they were in the Dominican Republic. (Note: GARR correctly
noted that the GOH's fight against corruption must include
the land borders because corrupt officials on both sides of
the Haitian-Dominican border are implicated, either turning a
blind eye to illegal border crossings or profiting directly
from such crossings. End note.)

7. (SBU) PREVAL WANTS FASTER PROGRESS ON FINANCIAL CRIMES
PROSECUTIONS

President Preval called for a briefing February 22 by
Department of Treasury Office of Technical Assistance
advisors. The President asked OTA advisors to outline
impediments in the identification and prosecution of
financial crimes cases and said clear and measurable progress
is essential to respond to public concerns about corruption.
Preval pressured Minister of Justice Magloire to equip
offices of the judicial police investigators (BAFE offices),
ensure appropriate salaries were offered to BAFE
investigators, and immediately identify prosecutors and
magistrates with financial expertise who can swiftly act on
cases. OTA advisors returned March 2 and plan to work
intensively with BAFE in the review of suspicious cases.

8. (SBU) CONTROVERSY CONTINUES AT FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE UNIT

Former investigating judge Jean Ostrict Hercules was named
February 29 to replace Central Financial Information Unit
(UCREF) Director Jean-Yves Noel. Some media reports
criticized Hercules for not doing enough as a sitting judge
to ensure prosecutions in the murder of Radio Haiti
journalist Jean Dominique and bodyguard Jean Claude
Louissaint in 2000. Hercules allegedly cited personal
security concerns to justify his decision to return the cases
to the Civil Court. Noel, whose term recently expired, made
the list of candidates, but was not recommended for selection
by the National Committee against Money Laundering (CNLBA)
due to questions about management and operational
transparency. Noel has also been accused of blocking the
transfer of suspect financial crimes cases to the
investigating arm of the police -- BAFE. (Note: Minister of
Justice Rene Magloire swore in Hercules at UCREF offices
March 3. End note.)

9. (U) GOH PREPARES FOR APRIL INTERNATIONAL DONOR CONFERENCE

Prime Minister Alexis presided over a meeting with donor
country representatives February 26 to discuss preparations
for a donor conference to be held April 25 in Port-au-Prince.
The GoH plans to reach an agreement with key donors on
financing the medium-term Growth and Poverty Reduction
Strategy (GPRSP) devised by the GoH in November.
Approximately USD 4 billion will be required over a
three-year period to implement the GPRSP. GoH interlocutors
note the GPRSP is primed for success due to broad
participation by the Haitian public and civil society, as
well as consultations with the donor community. A conference
secretariat, headed by former Minister of Planning and
External Cooperation Anthony Dessources, has been established
to organize the April conference.

10. (U) COMMISSION ON SECURITY PROMOTES HAITIAN MILITARY

On February 19, poloffs met with journalist/historian Georges
Michel, member of the Presidential Commission for Reflection
on the Reinforcement of Security, a think-tank organized to
explore the feasibility of reinstituting a national army in
Haiti. Michel said the Commission supports the
reconstitution of a small national army of about 3,000
troops, underscoring that the army would specialize in
defensive warfare only. The HNP, not the army, would remain
the first line in the defense of civilians, to avoid the
military's past abuse of authority against civilians. The
commission's final report will be released in October, and
will be made available to the public.

11. (U) GOH PROPOSES TO INCREASE DAILY MINIMUM WAGE

The GOH on February 28 announced that it wanted to increase
the legal minimum wage from 70 Haitian gourdes ($1.92) per
day to 150 Haitian gourdes ($4.11) per day, or an increase of
114%. The GOH's proposed figure is a compromise between the
minimum salaries advocated by the labor unions and by the
business sector. (Note. Even though Steven Benoit, a Lespwa
parliamentary member, has been advocating an increase in the
minimum salary since the latter half of 2007, the GOH's
proposal represents just one attempt to address the growing
political pressure to initiate measures to alleviate the
increasing costs of living. The GOH has yet to present the
bill to change the minimum salary to parliament. End note.)
Private sector reaction thus far to proposal has been
negative.

12. (U) POLICE BLOTTER

On February 28, the Haitian National Police (HNP) fired
police officer Daniel Lafontant, who was accused of violently
assaulting Signal FM radio journalist Tom Dumond for taking
photos at a crime scene. Inspector Pierrot Jean-Coute, in
charge of the initial investigation, also received a letter
from the HNP criticizing him for having mishandled the
investigation.

13. (U) HNP ARREST UPDATE

Separately, the HNP announced that it made 400 arrests (two
of which were for kidnappings) between February 19 - 25.
(Note: The HNP makes periodic announcements regarding the
number of arrests for specific periods. The problem remains,
however, that the judicial system cannot process the
detainees quickly enough, resulting in overcrowded police and
prison jails. Since the HNP and the penitentiaries do not
have the facilities to house the detainees, the Chief
Prosecutor has begun to periodically release inmates.
Fort-nine inmates including 8 women, 5 children and 36 men
were released during the first weekend of March. End note.)
SANDERSON

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