News 2/24-3/2 L’Agence Haitienne de Presse: Haitian politics-Customs refutes charges-Haiti IDB Rep rejects “protectorate”-Storm damage- French Amb. criticizes crisis mgmt-Lula promises $100 million–US Geological Survey seismic study

Posted on March 8, 2010

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AHP News – Feb. 25, to March 2, 2010 – Eng. Translation (Unofficial)

(Note: Some dispatches have been slightly abridged)

Please see the official site of AHP/Radio Solidarité at www.ahphaiti.org

Haitian politics update- Customs director refutes charges – Sonia Pierre to receive DOS award – Haiti’s IDB rep speaks – Michaelle Jean to visit – Update on storm damage – French Ambassador criticizes crisis management – Lula promises $100 million – US Geological Survey sends team to do seismic study – Kidnap victims released after ransom payment – Official speaks on aftershocks – 

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Haitian politics: How the country should be governed until elections are held – a failed attempt to present the Senate Political Affairs Committee report.

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Port-au-Prince, March 2, 2010- (AHP) – The report of the Political Affairs Commissions of the

Haitian Senate concerning various points of view gathered from diverse sectors of the country could

not be presented this Tuesday due to the absence of a large number of Senators. Several Senators

were meeting at that moment with the Education Minister regarding the resumption of classes and

what measures need to be taken.

At a meeting Monday between the Commission and representatives from civil society, student groups,

the business communityand other sectors, several called for the departure of the government and its

replacement by a government of consensus, because in their view the present government is not

capable of handling the crisis resulting from the earthquake. Some others said the president should

step down.

However a majority of views preferred to shore up and strengthen the current government team to

enhance its credibility. These representatives felt it would be risky and dangerous to

start from square one to form a new government.

It was this more moderate point of view that the Commission’s president, Youry Latortue, promised

to advocate before the entire Senate as well as at a meting with President René Préval. However

that viewpoint was rejected by several political party leaders such as Déjean Belizaire and Edgard

Leblanc, Jr. along with the head of the group named Civil Society Initiative, Rosny Desroches, who

feel that the moderate view does not adequately reflect the debate that took place at Monday’s

meeting.

However, the Commission’s vice-president, Jean Hector Anacacis, said that there is no place for a

government of consensus in the present context because there is a sitting constitutionally-elected

president whose government has been ratified by the Parliament.

“I understand that one might look for a compromise given that the term of the members of the House

of Deputies ends in May, but there are no grounds for calling for the dismissal of the

constitutional government”, said Senator Anacacis.

And yet, several heads of state and government have been forced out of office in Haiti with the

acquiescence of diverse sectors even though these leaders had been elected by public ballot.  And,

as was he case for example after February 2004, these de facto governments often obtained economic

support from the international community more easily and had greater maneuvering room than the

democratically elected governments.

This Tuesday’s aborted Senate session was intending to officially take note of the work of the

parliamentarians and not to ratify the report of the Commission. act upon the recommendation of the

Senate Commission, according to Senator Anacacis.

Senator Evalières Beauplan characterized the absence of a group of Senators as politically heading

for the hills. The contents of the report that would have been debated concerns the entire nation,

the future of the country, and particularly the task of reconstruction, said the Senator from the

Northwest, calling for public condemnation of these practices of making oneself scarce.

Senator Anacacis insisted on the need to organize elections to install President Préval’s successor

 in mid-May 2011.  A constitutional vacuum could create a catastrophe, given the way in which political sectors are reacting, Senator Anacacis warned.  

But many Senators insist on the need for a profound reshuffling of the existing Provisional Electoral Council which is widely seen as lacking credibility.  

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Haiti’s Customs director insists that there is no delay in clearing humanitarian aid through

customs, but warns that contraband disguised as humanitarian aid will not be tolerated

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Port-au-Prince, March 2, 2010- (AHP) – The Director General of the Customs Administration, Jean

Jacques Valentin, spoke out Tuesday against the attitude of some individuals and foreign media who

say that Haiti’s customs officials are imposing fees on humanitarian aid entering the country since

the earthquake.

He described these allegations as irresponsible propaganda, and claimed that even before the

earthquake, there were no taxes on humanitarian aid coming to Haiti.

We provide every facility and there is no delay in clearing international aid intended for the

Haitian people, the suctoms director asserted, however he indicated that the customs agency will

not tolerate any smuggling under the cover of humanitarian aid. It would be wrong, he said, for any

one to exploit the situation by disguising their smuggled goods as humanitarian aid. Mr. Valentin

pointed out tha in the first days of the catastrophic earthquake the sea and land borders were for

all practical purposes unregulated.

 In Les Cayes, Jacmel and Jérémie, airplanes were arriving freely.

Today, because we are in the process of restoring order to the sector, they are distributing

propaganda saying that we are taxing humanitarian aid; this is wrong, totaly wrong, Mr. Valentin

insisted, recalling that the situation of the country since the January 12th catastrophe doesn’t

mean that the customs agency has in any way abandoned its mission.

“My administration is determined to combat fraud, fight against illicittrafficking, protect the

nations customs receipts and the fruits of national production while playing its role in enhancing

the country’s public security, said the customs director.

A vehicle transporting computer materials hidden under cartons of water was seized in Malpasse. The

driver, a Dominican citizen, managed to escapeécemment, un v but customs officials confiscated the

equipment and intends to prosecute, he said.

Attempts to smuggle flower were also aborted thanks to the vigilance of customs officials, said Mr.

Valentin.

However, he said, the agency’s efforts will be in vain if the other state institutions don’t

support it in the fight against contraband. “There is a 380 km land border with the Dominican

Republic and a 1,500 km maritime border which the customs agency cannot possibly manage to control

all by itself, he warned.

Mr. Valentin also urged a reorganization of food aid to prevent a substantial loss of income to the

Haitian government, observing that a good portion of customs receipts comes from food products.

Customs took in only 417 million gourdes in January and six million in Februar, while receipts for

December 2009 totaled two billion gourdes, according to the customs director.

Customs receipts amount to 65% of Haiti’s State income.

AHP 2:25 PM, March 2, 2010

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Port-au-Prince, March 2, 2010- (AHP)Sonia Pierre, the Dominican-Haitian human rights activist, has been named one of the winners of the U.S. State Department’s 2010 International Women of Courage

Award. Ms. Pierre, who has been widely recognized for her role in the struggle for social justice

and in support of the rights of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic was selected because

of her work to end “discrimination based on country of origin and the human rights abuses of

statelessness”. The awards will be presented by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 10

to at the State Department in Washington to ten women who have shown “exceptional courage and

leadership in advocating for women’s rights and advancement”, according to a State Department news

release.

Sonia Pierre is the founder of MUDHA, the Movement of Dominican-Haitian Women, which defends the rights of descendants of Haitians in the Dominican Republic to have access to health care,

education, housing and decent work.

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Port-au-Prince, March 1st, 2010- (AHP)- Haiti’s representative to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB),  Erick Pierre, on Monday rejected what he called the minority view that Haiti should be made an international protectorate in the aftermath of the deadly January 12th earthquake and outlines his views on reconstruction.

It is certainly true that several scenarios have been presented to attempt to convince people that

Haiti is not capable of governing itself. There have even been some Haitian groups who have written

to the UN to ask the international community to take control of Haiti, said Mr. Pierre.

“I myself believe there are very few Haitians who would like to see their country placed under

international tutelage”, declared Erick Pierre. In his view, however, any Haitian who becomes

president or minister should have vision and a capacity for action along with the leadership to

identify the problems and make it possible to develop approaches for their resolution.

Having said this, he added, when there is a crisis of this magnitude it is beyond the limitations

of any government and its advisors.

Haiti’s IDB representative praised the solidarity demonstrated by the Haitian people following the

tragedy. “Despite the hard work by foreign experts, it was the Haitians who virtually with their

bare hands were the first to rescue their brothers and sisters buried beneath the rubble.

“This proves that it is the Haitians who understand the problems of Haitians and who can be the

first to overcome Haiti’s challenges”, said Erick Pierre.

He called for the enactment of strict measures to prevent anarchic construction techniques that

were the main cause of the deaths of hundreds of thousands on January 12th. The road to Haiti’s

reconstruction must include the rehabilitation of provincial cities through good schools,

universities, hospitals, ports, airports… said Mr. Pierre. Cap-Haitien, Les Cayes, Gonaïves, and

Jeremie will only begin to be rebuilt, he said, once it is understood that these cities cannot

remain as they are but must be provided adequate infrastructure so that Haiti can stop having

everything revolve around one city and Haitians can stop migrating toward that one city.

Mr. Pierre also called for an significant increase in national production and urged that some

regions be designated as protected areas.

As opposed to the view of President Préval, Erick Pierre is not entirely in favor of building

shelters in the neighborhoods where the quake survivors were previously living. A decision like

that only makes sense for property owners, said Mr. Pierre.

” If the home where you were living before the earthquake didn’t belong to you, then you are no

longer a resident of that neighborhood, asserted Mr. Pierre. The property owner is free to do

whatever he wants with his property, he added. This is thus a question that needs to be fleshed out

more thoroughly, in his view.

Haiti’s IDB representative also urged respect for private property. People are askingthat the

schools be reopened, for example, while many schools are still occupied by quake survivors, said

Mr. Pierre.

He also believes the authorities should take steps to clear out some of the public spaces such as

the vicinity of the National Palace and the Office of the Prime Minister.

Many others feel that the staff of the president and the government should have moved out of the

Directorate of the Judicial Police (DCPJ) a long time ago, to maintain the government’s dignity and

prestige.

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Rising casualties from last weekend’s floods in the South: 17 dead and 10 disappeared

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Les Cayes, March 1st 2010- (AHP)- The death toll from the floods is rising. Six people died in the

district of Cavaillon, five in Saint-Louis du sud, two in Cayes,  two in Aquin and two in Saint-

Jean du Sud.

At least one death was reported in the Nippes area.

Three people are reported disappeared in the city of Cavaillon, four in Saint-Louis du Sud, two in

Aquin, and onein Saint-Jean du Sud.

Extensive damage was reported in the croplands in the plain of Les Cayes as well as   Cavaillon and

Saint-Louis du Sud, where landslides have occurred.

These losses of human life and property are occurring as the country struggles to bind its wounds

nearly 50 days after the terrible earthquake of January 12th that caused up to 300,000 deaths.

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Michaëlle Jean is expected in Haiti on March 8 and 9

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OTTAWA, March 1st, 2010 – Canada’s Governer General, Michaëlle Jean, is scheduled to visit Haiti

March 8th and 9th to assess the situation after the catastrophic January 12th earthquake.

Michaëlle Jean, who is of Haitian origin, plans to visit the regions worst affected by the quake,

including the cities of Port-au-Prince, Leogâne and Jacmel before carrying out an official visit to

the Dominican Republic.

Canada’s Prime Minister made a two day visit to Haiti in mid-February.

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Natural disasters continue in Haiti and elsewehere: very serious flooding in Haiti’s South leave at

least 11 dead and five disappeared, more than 700 are killed by an earthquake in Chile and at least

51 die in storms in France.

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Les Cayes,  February 28, 2010- (AHP)- The torrential rains paused Sunday morning in the village of Les Cayes and acros the region, but the weather remains threatening. The population remains on the alert following the widespread damage caused the previous day by the extremely heavy downpours that left at least 11 people dead and flooded a large part of the city of Les Cayes.

The office of Civil Protection reports two people were killed and two other reported disappeared in

Les Cayes, four dead and two disappeared in Cavaillon, four dead in Saint Louis du Sud, one killed

in Aquin and one disappearedin Nippes.

 Other reports indicated that five people were killed when a vehicle overturned not far from the

public beach at  Gelée, and Deputy Guy Gerard Georges has said he is aware of three deaths in

Torbeck (15kms from Les Cayes)

In Les Cayes, many homes and public buildings including the Gabions police station and the general

hospital were flooded from the rains and from rivers, including the Islet and Madame Samedi,

overflowing their banks.

Losses were enormous in the agricultural sector and much livestock and property was carried off

from hamlets in the floods, such as the two Grands-Rues, la savane, 4 chemins, Charpentier and

Bergeaud.

Not far from these locations, most of the homes along the main South Department Road between

Cavaillon and Saint-Louis du Sud, particularly around Solon and Laporte, were flooded.

On Saturday evening, heavy vehicles from the CNE (National Heavy Equipment Center) and the Public

Works Ministry were able to carve out a passageway to enable vehicles that had been stuck to

continue their journeys, but driving remains very difficult due to mudslides and washouts.

Along the stretch oif road running from Cayes to Camp-Perrin, the waters of the Laborde Reservoir

that had flooded the road Saturday receded enough for traffic to resume.

The local inhabitants were relieved that at least the Ravine du Sud did not flood.

Rain showers continued to fall Saturday evening in Port-au-Prince, adding to the difficulties of

tens of thousands of earthquake survivors who were camped out in public squares, without tents and

still lacking temporary housing.

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Les Cayes, Feb. 27, 2010 – (AHP)- Although it was spared the brunt of the January 12th earthquake, torrential rains pounding the Cayes region, since Friday have already flooded many homes and neighborhoods.

This is a catastrophe for the nation’s third largest city, particularly the lower part of town, and

residents reached by telephone said that all activities have come to a standstill.

Gabions field, which received many survivors fleeing Port-au-Prince, is flooded, and in the same

neighborghood the government delegate for the Department is looking for a place to house prisoners

because the police station has been flooded as well.

The neighborhoods of Idraulique, Charpentier and Bergeaud, along with 4 chemins, are completely

under water and many residents have lost their belongings.

If the heavy rains continue, there is concern that the Islet Bridge at the entrance to Les Cayes

might be flooded.

The EDH electric power station was inundated by the Madame Samedi River in the hamlet of

Bourdette. Several power lines and poles are down in the center of Les Cayes, Mersan and

Saut-Mathurine (Camp-Perrin), where a hydro-electric power station has been shut down. With two

electric generating stations offline, the population is deprived of electricity.

In the area of Sainte-Véronique, Torbeck, residents have had to evacuate their homes.

The waters of the Laborde pond breached their banks Saturday morning and cut off the Cayes to Camp

-Perrin Road, preventing any traffic from flowing along this route.

At the same time, the buses from the Cayes region that were returning from Port-au-Prince are

unable to travel any farther than Laporte (Cavaillon).

Although no loss of human life has been reported at this stage, local inhabitants are reporting

huge losses of livestock and other goods.

Torrential rains are also falling on the entire southern coastal region and the area of Nippes.

An emergency appeal has been sent out to the CNE (National Heavy Equipment Center).

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 February 24,  2010 – A four-member team from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the

University of Texas have arrived in Haiti to carry out a short- and long-term study  of the seismic

risks facing Haiti. The study is funded by USAID, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance,and the National Science Foundation.

The team intends to study the changes in elevation at the surface along the coast and the shifts in

the earth near  Léogane in order to obtain a better understanding of the January 12th earthquake.

The scientists hope to find evidence of previous similar quakes in the coral reefs that were

exposed by the earthquake.

The researchers will also study past activity along the Enriquillo Fault to improve seismic

forecasting for the region.  They hope to have some initial results by the middle of March. Team

member Rich Bragg said the study is important for Haiti’s understanding of the nature of the danger

it faces in oirder that it might prepare for possible futrure seismic events.

On Februaryb 23rd, the USGS updated its estimates of the risk of aftershocks over the next 30 to 90

days as well as the full year. The report indicated that aftershocks will continue for many months

although their frequency should diminish over time. Nevertheless, there remains a risk of

additional earthquakes that could cause damage during the period. The full report is available at

the Survey website: www.usgs.gov.

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Paris, February 25, 2010- (AHP)- France’s Ambassador to Haiti, Didier Le Bret, on Wenesday

criticized the handling of the earthquake crisis. The UN and the NGOs, he said, did not know how to manage the emergency created by the January 12th earthquake.

At a conference in Paris, Ambassador Le Bret said that “if there hadn’t been such an overabundance of small structures that collapsed,we could have been able to save many more lives and help many more people.

Coordination by the UN, he said, was very deficient; what was required was a quasi-military style

of organization and discipline.

The ambassador urged the UN to place itself at the service of the Haitian government to avoid a

dual command structure. And he ask the NGOs to chgannel aid through Haitian businesses and Haitian

social institutions in order to lubricate the local economy and prevent the country from becoming

dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Many sectors believe that these statements along with those recenytly made by President Sarkozy on

his visit to Haiti are part of the ongoing rhetoric between the United States and France over

Haiti.

Nicolas Sarkozy had said that France does not wish to make Haiti an international protectorate and

declared that “even if the international community is able to help you, the project itself is up to

you”.

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Port-au-Prince, February 25, 2010- (AHP)- In a visit lasting several hours, Brazilian President

Inacio Lula da Silva reaffirmed Thursday that his country is committed to helping Haiti recover

from the devastating earthquake. The president announced a gift of $100 million, part of which

shall be as budget support for the government of Haiti.

Mr. Lula da Silva asked the countries that are “friends of Haiti” to ask the IMF to cancel Haiti’s

debt. He promised that all actions by his government will follow the orientation of the Haitian

government.

The international NGOshave been receiving and managing the humanitarian aid and other gifts that

have been made to Haiti since the earthquake.

Many voices often coming from within the Haitian government have denounced the coordination of the

NGOs who apparently are not accouyntable to anyone.

Haitian President René Préval welcomed the visit of the Brazilian president, declaring that it

demonstrates Brazil’s determination to help Haiti in its time of tremendous suffering.

The Haitian people are counting heavily on Brazil’s support during the reconstruction phase, said

Mr. Préval.

At the start of his visit, Iniacio Lula da Silva flew over the capital in a helicopter to assess

the tremendous damage and destruction caused by the catastrophic earthquake. During his visit,

President Lula, whose country provides the largest number of troops to the UN force that has been

in Haiti since March 2004, also signed two agreements with the Haitian government – one on

education and the other on agriculture. Haitian Agriculture Minister,  Joanas Gué, said that the

agreement relating to his ministry, which will get underway shortly, will support the relaunching

of family scale agriculture, including the building of cisterns, which will help develop this

sector.

The $4 million education agreement due to begin shortly that was announced by Haitian Education

Minister Joel Desrosiers Jean-Pierre, seeks to enhance professional training and the reconstruction

of local universities. The Minister also announced that classes will soon open in th West and

Southeast Departments (which were severely affected by the earthquake). “If the students are not

able to remain in their schools, we will look for other suitable places to hold classes”, the

Minister promised.

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Fort-Liberté, February 25, 2010- (AHP)- The two Haitian experts kidnapped last week by members of agang operating in  Juana Mendez and Fort-Liberte (in the North Department) were released Tuesday by their kidnappers in exchange for a ransom of $50,000 (U.S.).

The Director of Caritas for the diocese of Fort-Liberte, agronomist Dieudonné Deshommes, and

chemical engineer Nènè Poisson, who lives in Santo-Domingo, were kidnapped on Saturday February 20 in  Ouanaminthe. Their kidnappers demanded a ransom of $50,000 for each of them for a total of

$100,000, otherwise they said they would murder their captives.

The $50,000 ransom was finally able to be paid thanks to a fundraising effort organized in the

Fort-Liberté/Ouanaminthe region, where the residents were deeply upset by this double kidnapping.

The place where the two men were held captive is still unknown.

The kidnapping of Dieudonné Deshommes and  Nènè Poisson comes at a time when acts of kidnapping

have been reduced to almost none in the  Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

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 The Director of the Office of Mines and Energy, engineer Dieuseul Anglade, who had unsuccessfully sought seismic monitors, advised the public Wednesday not to panic when aftershocks ocur because it is completely normal for there to be aftershocks after such a stroing earthquake.

 In recent days, aftershocks have caused panic among the population. In Les Irois, in the Grande- Anse, an aftershock registering 4.7 terrified students who were still at school. Several students were injured in the panic, leading to the suspension of classes in the community.

 Seismometers have been installed recently in three regions of Haiti, said engineer Anglade. His office only learned of their existence through the media, he explained, even though he had been asking the government for equipment to measure seismic disturbances well before the January 12th earthquake.

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