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Cablegate: Tfha01: Embassy Port Au Prince Earthquake Sitrep As of 1800,

VZCZCXYZ0008
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPU #0106/01 0300054
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 300052Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0287
INFO HAITI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHPU/AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE

UNCLAS PORT AU PRINCE 000106

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AEMR ASEC CASC KFLO MARR PREL PINR AMGT HA PGOV AID
EAID
SUBJECT: TFHA01: EMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE EARTHQUAKE SITREP as of 1800,
January 29, 2010

1. (SBU) Summary: As a sign of confidence in Haiti's
recovery, the Vietnamese phone company Vietel reaffirmed its offer
to purchase Teleco, Haiti's national telephone company. The
Haitian Chamber of Commerce recommended establishment of a Building
and Housing Reconstruction Fund to build low income housing for
homeless quake victims. Parliament is organizing quickly in an
attempt to gain credibility. PNH is now at 70 percent strength,
but it is still not paid because GOH cannot process the checks.
Street kids rewarded paratroopers with oranges.

VIETEL OFFER TO PURCHASE TELECO IS STILL ON

2. (SBU) In a letter sent to Haiti's national telephone
company Teleco on January 13, the Vietnamese telephone company
Vietel reaffirmed its earlier offer to purchase 70 percent of the
company. According to Yves Armand, Deputy Director General of
Teleco, the letter stated that Veitel's offer was firm and still
standing. Mr. Armand said that Vietel plans to expand the existing
110,000 land lines to 750,000. They also plan to build a cell
phone network and exploit Teleco's existing fiber optic cable (for
phones, cable TV and Internet). Mr. Armand said that Vietel's
record is excellent in South East Asia (Vietnam, Laos and
Cambodia), and it supports social and charitable programs in every
country in which it operates.

3. (SBU) Armand requested help from the U.S. military to
secure the Teleco site on Avenue Jean-Jacques Dessalines, where the
GOH is helping to clear the rubble from its collapsed building.
The problem is with pedestrian onlookers, traffic, and looters
trying to steal equipment, cables and deep cycle batteries, all of
which are slowing down workers. According to Armand, the PNH
showed up for one day and have not returned.

PRIVATE SECTOR PERSPECTIVES ON BUILDING RECONSTRUCTION

4. (SBU) According to the Haitian Chamber of Commerce (CCIH),
the earthquake destroyed approximately 25,000 public and commercial
buildings. The vast majority of those structures were uninsured or
under-insured. The CCIH told us they believe that as part of the
disaster response, buildings should be inspected and certified to
enable business premises to re-open safely. CCIH member Mireille
Merove-Pierre cited the example of the prominent Digicel building
in Pacot, which engineers certified as structurally sound and now
has many interested tenants.

5. (SBU) CCIH President Reginald Boulos suggested that,
instead of dispersing aid that will go to many geographic areas and
sectors without reaching critical mass and achieving measurable
results, the disbursement of aid for building construction,
especially to the GOH, should be used to establish a Building and
Housing Reconstruction Fund to provide "mass social housing" to the
homeless and displaced.

PARLIAMENT HOPES TO GAIN CREDIBILITY

6. (SBU) Eighteen Senators met on January 28 to elect two
commissions, one to monitor aid and the other to manage agreements
with aid organizations. Of the 30 seats in the Senate, 29 were
filled before the quake. Of those 29, two were killed and one
remains hospitalized.

7. (SBU) Also on January 29, the Lower Chamber decided to
reach out to the Taiwanese Government (whose embassy was destroyed
in the earthquake) concerning a previous commitment from Taiwan to
fund a new Haitian parliament building. Between 50 and 65 deputies
have attended the Lower Chamber's sessions in recent days. Of the
99 members of the Chamber, none were killed though several were
injured.

8. (SBU) Comment: The Parliament is attempting to
re-establish itself quickly by recovering documents from the
rubble, holding sessions, organizing payroll, and by a renewed
focus on its government watchdog role. The body is also trying to
legitimize itself before the public in light of a growing
perception that the Executive has been unresponsive to the public's
needs after the earthquake. Given the low esteem in which citizens
have historically held Parliament, this may be hard to accomplish.
End comment.

PNH STILL NOT AT FULL STRENGTH, AND STILL NOT PAID

9. (SBU) According to PNH leadership, up to 30 percent of
policemen have not shown up for work because they or their families
were victims of the earthquake or because their homes were damaged
or destroyed. The General Directorate of the PNH issued an order
directing all policemen to report to work, but many are still
unaccounted for.

10. (SBU) According to the PNH sources, escaped prisoners are
seeking refuge in rural areas or near provincial capitals. They
also report that officers and Departmental Directors have not
received their pay since January 12, which is the case for most
civil servants. The Ministry of Economy and Finance, which
disburses the payroll for civil servants, was destroyed in the
quake. NAS reported that it offered to pay PNH salaries for
January, but the GOH rejected the offer. The GOH said that it had
the funds and was still struggling to disburse the checks.

KIDS DISTRIBUTE ORANGES TO SOLDIERS, IF THEY BEHAVE

11. (SBU) Most Haitians are happy to see the U.S. military
presence and are even cheerful they are here. The 82nd Airborne
Division, bivouacked in several locations downtown, has assisted in
a number of food distribution operations, instructing people what
they must do and how to behave in order to receive their rations.
Last night at one 82nd camp downtown, a group of children came to
the gate with a box of oranges and asked to see the commander.
They explained to the soldiers that they were there to distribute
food, and if the soldiers all lined up, each would receive an
orange. However, if they were unruly and did not behave, the kids
said they would pack up their box and leave. The kids were invited
in to the camp and fed, and the oranges were distributed.

MINIMIZE CONSIDERED
MERTEN

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