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

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPU #0110/01 0322041
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 012039Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0292
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 000110

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,
February 1, 2010

1. (SBU) Summary: Criticisms of President Preval continue,
including from within the government, and various rumors of a
pro-US rally are yet to materialize. Meanwhile, some
parliamentarians are asking for an extension of their mandate by
two years. Their request is unconstitutional and unlikely to gain
traction unless a broader political consensus emerges for long-term
political stability. On a positive note, private port owners are
cooperating with the Port-au-Prince port authority to maximize
offloading capacity. End Summary.

INCREASING CRITICISMS

2. (SBU) Several political figures, including the current
Minister of Interior, Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, called for the
resignation of President Preval's government on a local radio show,
amidst increasing criticism of the government's unresponsiveness
following the January 12 earthquake. Myrlande Manigat, Charles
Baker (both leaders of opposition political parties), Deputy
Stephen Benoit (formerly close the President Preval's political
party), Daniel Supplice (a well-know sociologist), and Paul
Bien-Aime (Minister of Interior) were interviewed on a panel,
deploring the Government's inability to meet the basic needs of the
population post-disaster. All also spoke of the risk of mass
protests, should the perceived void in leadership continue.

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3. (SBU) Meanwhile, rumors of a major pro-US rally abound,
picked up US military personnel on the ground. However, there has
not been any large pro-US or anti-Preval demonstration yet. The
Embassy is not aware of any planned protests backed by political
players at this time.

PARLIAMENTARIANS' DREAMS

4. (SBU) Some parliamentarians are proposing to ask President
Preval to postpone upcoming elections and extend the parliament's
term by two years. The initiative has yet to be considered by the
legislative body, and would be unconstitutional. Key
parliamentarians, including Deputy Stephen Benoit, are opposed to
it. Parliament's mandate ends in May 2010 (already a contested
extension from its January mandate according to the 1987
Constitution), and any continuation in its activities would need to
be part of a broad political consensus aimed at political stability
and perhaps the re-writing of a new Constitution.

PORT UPDATE

5. (SBU) The Port-au-Prince Port Authority (APN) and owners of
private piers are cooperating (with USG involvement) to maximize
port loading and cargo distribution opportunities by sharing out
pier space for relief cargo. This would allow for increased
efficiency until the government port infrastructure is
reconstituted, a requirement for sustaining the current volume of
operations. Several ships are in the three available ports
unloading. As three ships (Mexican naval vessel, Colombian naval
vessel and a Puerto Rican barge) brought in break-bulk cargo that
is being unloaded by hand, movement of ships in those piers has
been blocked as the vessels spend days in port. This underlines
the importance of bringing in containerized cargo. The AMERICAN
TRADER is scheduled to arrive 2/1; this will be the first
commercial traffic since reopening of South pier at APN. She will
offload 366 containers and load 500 empties. The military
logistics personnel intend to surge to around the clock operations
until the offload is complete.

THE GOLD RUSH IS ON!

6. (SBU) As Haiti digs out from the earthquake, different
companies are moving in to sell their concepts, products and
services. President Preval met with Gen Wesley Clark Saturday and
received a sales presentation on a hurricane/earthquake resistant
foam core house designed for low income residents. AshBritt has
been talking to various institutions about a national plan for
rebuilding all government buildings. Other companies are proposing
their housing solutions or their land use planning ideas, or other
construction concepts. Each is vying for the ear of President in a
veritable free-for-all. Presidential advisor Leslie Voltaire and
Minister of Tourism Patrick Delatour, working with the NGO and the
UN shelter "cluster" have a systematic approach, but the attention
of the President is on impressive new (expensive) designs.
MERTEN

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