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

VZCZCXYZ0018
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPU #0142/01 0400051
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 090048Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0334
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 000142

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 8, 2010

1. (SBU) Summary: President Preval departed
February 8 to Ecuador for a UNASUR summit, reportedly planning to
return February 10. The Canadian Government has proposed to build
a temporary administrative complex for the GOH. Commercial air
traffic could partially resume as early as February 20. The
National Police and Ministry of Justice are working to portray a
pro-active approach to tracking down fugitives, while peaceful
protests (up to several hundred people) continue and people start
returning to Port-au-Prince. Parliament has upped its criticism of
the GOH, but is unlikely to influence President Preval's ways. End
Summary.

GOVERNMENT NEWS

2. (SBU) President Preval is expected to attend
the UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) summit in Ecuador, at
the invitation of Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa (Note: Correa
visited Port-au-Prince on January 29). During a press conference
over the weekend, Preval urged the population to remain patient and
calm despite frustrations with aid deliveries.

3. (SBU) The Canadian Government proposed to build
a temporary administrative complex to house various government
ministries destroyed during the earthquake. A site has already
been selected in the Croix-des-Bouquets area, east of
Port-au-Prince.

COMMERCIAL AIR TRAFFIC

4. (SBU) American Airlines (AA) is in the process
of finalizing its request to the Federal Aviation Administration to
resume commercial flights to Port-au-Prince. Minister of Finance,
Ronald Baudin, announced on February 6 that flights would be
resuming soon, but would not confirm a date. The initial plan
would be for up to four AA flights a day to arrive during daylight
hours, which would allow the airport to support relief and U.S.
sustainment flights during the evening. The burden is on AA to
prove that Port-au-Prince airport meets U.S. safety and security
standards. AA commercial flights could resume as early as February
19-20.

POLICE AND SECURITY

5. (SBU) The National Police announced it will
post pictures of escaped prisoners around town starting this week.
An internal government proposal was floated to form a fugitive
pursuit team, of HNP officers with international support, to begin
focusing on making arrests. The Ministry of Justice has attempted
to demonstrate its pro-active efforts by focusing on the fugitives
and pursuing the case of ten American citizens arrested for alleged
child trafficking.

6. (SBU) Peaceful protests (up to several hundred
people) continue sporadically, including in the southern city of
Jacmel, where protesters denounced the way NGOs are distributing
aid bypassing local and national government structures. Canadian
Embassy officials in Jacmel told PolOff of their doubts about the
capacity of local authorities, including the mayor, to manage the
delivery of relief.

7. (SBU) As aid delivery and cash for work
programs remain targeted in and around Port-au-Prince, people who
had initially fled to rural areas have begun returning to the
capital, adding to existing pressures on infrastructure and
humanitarian aid needs. The risk of violence springing from IDP
camps remains. For example, the spontaneous settlement in Champs
de Mars, in the National Palace area, comprises up to 20,000 people
from different neighborhoods with concerns that gang and
neighborhood rivalries could emerge if basic needs cannot be
continually met through humanitarian aid.

PARLIAMENT

8. (SBU) A preliminary report in the Chamber of
Deputies criticized the government's lack of leadership and deemed
aid delivery to be inefficient. Prime Minister Bellerive and some
key ministers are expected at the Lower Chamber on February 9, one
week after their appearance at a Senate hearing. Concurrently,
Senator Youri Latortue called for the creation of a new consensus
government on a radio show, citing the inadequacy of the
government's leadership.

9. (SBU) Comment: Parliament is increasing its
criticism of the aid delivery mechanisms, targeting the GOH and
NGOs. Parliament would have to approve an extension to the state
of emergency instituted by President Preval beyond the initial 30
days (expiring February 16). This appears unlikely, unless Preval
makes concessions to parliamentarians' demands for changes in
government or increased control of the relief delivery mechanisms.
Preval may choose to confront Parliament by pointing out its
contested legitimacy (parliamentarians' mandate expired in
mid-January, but was extended until mid-may by a Lower Chamber
vote, deemed unconstitutional by observers). Preval may be
inclined to continue conducting government affairs under a "de
facto" state of emergency without official parliamentary approval,
while making concessions only on a limited basis. End Comment.
MERTEN

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