Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register



Cablegate: Preval Home Alone

DE RUEHPU #1661/01 2501740
O 071740Z SEP 06





E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/17/2011

REF: PAUP 1597

Classified By: Classified by Charge D'Affaires Thomas T. Tighe for reas
on 1.4(d).

1. Summary. Over four months into Preval's presidency, he
has yet to form a staff allowing him to carry through policy
initiatives. Preval confidante and advisor Robert Manuel
serves as chief counselor. Gabriel Verret, who appears to
have grown in influence advises Preval on economic matters.
Preval has no chief of staff and no spokesperson. His
administrative staff consists of his sister, a former
minister, and an intimate friend. He recently appointed his
close advisor Fritz Longchamp to the newly created position
of secretary general of the presidency to coordinate project
assistance among international donors. Preval contacted
former presidential candidate Marc Bazin to help form a
kitchen cabinet, though it is questionable if Preval could
effectively utilize Bazin without further bolstering his
personal staff. Bazin notes that Preval will have to
overcome his penchant for informality in order to have any
hope of improving his government's efficiency. End Summary.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

All the President's Men and Women

2. (C) With Preval having completed his fourth month in
office, he is effectively operating with a staff of two
advisors and three administrators, with no chief of staff.
Former campaign manager and confidante Robert Manuel
continues to function as Preval's right hand man and proxy.
Manuel is at the center of Preval's efforts to deal with the
security, though his title and his precise responsibilities
remain undefined. Manuel's Guatemalan wife and two young
children continue to reside in Guatemala, necessitating
Manuel's frequent absence from Haiti and complicating further
definition of his formal role . (Note Manuel has been on
vacation in Central America for the past two weeks. He had
earlier complained to the Ambassador that Preval had called
him back from the airport and forced him to cancel an earlier
trip. End Note.)

3. (C) Preval's other counselor, Gabriel Verret, a former
USAID employee, continues to serve as Preval's advisor on
economic matters and appears to have gained increasing
authority and influence with Preval since joining him during
the transitions period. Verret has been at the center of
formulating Haiti's response to the Venezuela's PetroCaribe
initiative and most recently worked closely with the
ministries of finance and planning to draft the GoH budget
and forward it to parliament (septel). Varret told Econoff
that he relies on a U.S. trained financial specialist in the
ministry of planning for accounting and budget expertise; he
otherwise operates with no other staff support of his own.

4. (C) For administrative support, Preval appointed his
sister, Jean-Marie Calvin, as his personal secretary.
Preval's presumed former and perhaps current mistress
Elizabeth Delatour (and sister in-law of Minister of Tourism
Patrick Delatour, through her deceased husband). Former
Minister for Tourism Martine Duverson (in the first Aristide
administration), reportedly serves as Preval's scheduler and
chief administrator, though Embassy staff note that Mrs.
Calvin is a more reliable point of contact. According to
visitors to the palace, all three are at the palace only
intermittently. Duverson reportedly still works out of the
government-provided presidential residence Ashton house,
rather than the palace. Embassy staff normally contact Mrs.
Calvin on matters relating to the president. A number of
palace visitors, including the Ambassador, note that aside
from security personnel Preval is most often remarkably alone
in the expansive palace.

New Secretary General

5. (C) Preval announced in early August his appointment of
former foreign minister and campaign and transition advisor
Fritz Longchamps to the newly created position of secretary
general of the presidency. Though the government has not yet
published the decree formally establishing the position, the
deputy secretary general, Raymond Genty, told post's pol
specialist on August 31 that he and Longchamps had received
notification of formal approval of their appoinmtent by the
cabinet and were prepared to begin work. The creation of the
position follows recommendations from the UN Development
Program to appoint a government official to coordinate
presidential initiatives with the donor community.
Longchamps, who was foreign minister during Preval's first
term, had been one of Preval's key advisors during the
campaing and transition period, and reportedly earlier
turned down a position in the cabinet.

Call to Marc Bazin

6. (C) Former presidential candidate and perennial
government official Marc Bazin informed Polcouns that Preval
requested a meeting on August 24 and asked that Bazin help
him form a "kitchen cabinet" for support and counsel. (Note:
Bazin expressed concern that he would be asked to become
governor of the central bank, a job he did not want, and was
relieved that Preval had another task for him. Rumors about
the central bank governor's imminent firing continue to
circulate, and Gabriel Verret recently confirmed to Econoff
that the GoH was unhappy with the director's performance. End
Note.) Bazin and Preval discussed a group that included
Bazin himself, former Jean Claude Duvalier-era ministers Jean
Robert Estime and Frantz Lambert, and former Lavalas Minister
of Interior Jocelerme Privert. (Comment. Recently released
from jail on his own recognizance, Privert, along with former
Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and 26 other defendants, still
await trial for their involvement in the alleged massacre of
Aristide opponents in the town of La Scyrie prior to former
President Aristide's resignation in February 2004. Polcouns
expressed amazement to Bazin that Privert would be included
in a kitchen cabinet, in light of Preval's exclusion of
high-level Aristide supporters from the government. Bazin
professed to be equally amazed, but explained that Preval had
heard Privert, who is also a former director of the Haitian
revenue service, recently expound on tax policy on the radio
and was impressed with his presentation. End Comment.)

7. (C) At Preval's request, Bazin followed up their meeting
with a written proposal outlining in much more detail the
tasks to be performed by an expanded group of roughly 40
advisors divided among eight areas of public policy. Bazin's
proposed advisors include current members of the government
and an array of outside business and political figures.
Tasks in Bazin's proposal include drafting policy white
papers for the president, coordinating public outreach, and
drafting the president's speeches. After presenting the
proposal August 28, Bazin reported that Preval had called him
the following day to tell him how pleased he was with Bazin's
ideas, and that he had shared the proposal with Prime
Minister Alexis, and that he would contact Bazin to follow-up
shortly. Bazin had no further feedback as of September 6.


8. (C) Bazin is positively giddy at the prospect of
re-entering the inner-circle of power without having to take
a job that he regards as beneath him. Bazin's renewed
enthusiasm aside, he offered useful insights into Preval's
state of mind. Foremost, he asserted, is that Preval craves
informality and loathes structure. Consequently, Bazin
summed up, Preval lacks the ability to "formulate,
articulate, delegate and follow up." He recounted that
during their initial meeting Bazin asked how he could help,
only to have Preval counter by asking Bazin what help he
thought Preval needed. Nonplused, Bazin suggested he start
by naming a chief of staff, an idea which Preval was
unenthusiastic about. Additionally, according to Bazin,
Preval said that though he had all kinds of foreign advice
from "Jeffrey Sachs, Chileans, and Argentines...foreigners
don't understand Haiti. I need Haitians I can talk to."

Last -- and reflecting the Ambassador's most recent
conversation with Preval that took place the following day
(reftel) -- Preval seemed preoccupied with Aristide, asking
Bazin for his advice. (Bazin suggested that Preval travel to
South Africa to tell Aristide personally that the political
situation was too delicate for his return. Preval responded
that "the foreigners" would never stand for his visiting
Aristide. This was, we trust, Preval's way of discounting a
monumentally bad piece of advice from Bazin.)

9. (C) Comment continued. Prospects for any formalizing of
Bazin's proposal appear questionable. It is hard to imagine
that the small disparate group that Bazin and Preval
discussed -- Estime and Lambert do not even reside in Haiti
-- could be of additional use with the paucity of staff
resources currently in the palace. Bazin's proposal for a
larger group of advisors amounts to the formation of a
parallel cabinet. Alexis is by many accounts already
unhappy with the current short leash on which he finds
himself (and the corresponding broad, undefined authority of
Manuel). We doubt he would have much enthusiasm for setting
up a structure that would further diminish his authority.
Preval needs to expand the expertise available to him, and
his appointment of Longchamps and outreach to Bazin are
promising signals. It is equally important, however, that
Preval create a staff structure and corresponding working
relationships with the cabinet that allow him to develop
policy, explain it to the public, and see to its

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines

UN News: Aid Access Is Key Priority

Among the key issues facing diplomats is securing the release of a reported 199 Israeli hostages, seized during the Hamas raid. “History is watching,” says Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. “This war was started by taking those hostages. Of course, there's a history between Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and I'm not denying any of that. But that act alone lit a fire, which can only be put out with the release of those hostages.” More

Save The Children: Four Earthquakes In a Week Leave Thousands Homeless

Families in western Afghanistan are reeling after a fourth earthquake hit Herat Province, crumbling buildings and forcing people to flee once again, with thousands now living in tents exposed to fierce winds and dust storms. The latest 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 30 km outside of Herat on Sunday, shattering communities still reeling from strong and shallow aftershocks. More

UN News: Nowhere To Go In Gaza

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said some 1.1M people would be expected to leave northern Gaza and that such a movement would be “impossible” without devastating humanitarian consequences and appeals for the order to be rescinded. The WHO joined the call for Israel to rescind the relocation order, which amounted to a “death sentence” for many. More

Access Now: Telecom Blackout In Gaza An Attack On Human Rights

By October 10, reports indicated that fixed-line internet, mobile data, SMS, telephone, and TV networks are all seriously compromised. With significant and increasing damage to the electrical grid, orders by the Israeli Ministry of Energy to stop supplying electricity and the last remaining power station now out of fuel, many are no longer able to charge devices that are essential to communicate and access information. More


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.