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28053: Haiti-Progres (News) This Week In Haiti 23 : 51 03/01/2006 (fwd)

From: Haïti Progrès <editor@haiti-progres.com>

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French
and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100,
(fax) 718-434-5551 or e-mail at editor@haitiprogres.com.
Also visit our website at <www.haitiprogres.com>.

                   HAITI PROGRES
         "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

              * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                March 1 - 8, 2006
                 Vol. 23, No. 51


In his first public statement since Haiti's Feb. 7 elections, former
Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide last week hailed the victory of
president-elect René Préval, his former prime minister.

"I congratulate the Haitian people and president-elect Préval because
what happened on February 7 was very clear," Aristide told the British
daily The Times on Feb. 22. "The people went to vote because they wanted
to organize a referendum against my removal in 2004. They said no to the
coup d'etat, no to kidnapping. They voted for my return by choosing
Préval... The Haitian people saw in this vote a form of nonviolence to
have me return to the country. Now, the result should be respected."

Although he declined to fix a date for his return to Haiti, Aristide
assured that "I will be back." He has been living in exile - first in
the Central African Republic, then Jamaica, and now South Africa - since
U.S. Special Forces kidnapped him from his home in Tabarre on Feb. 29,
2004, bundled him, his wife Mildred and their security corps into an
unmarked U.S. government jet, and flew them to Africa.

"The date will emerge," he added. "It is a process of negotiation."

Aristide said he will devote himself to "education" on his return to
Haiti. He has been teaching at a South African university for the past
20 months.

In response to Aristide's statements, U.S. State Department deputy
spokesman Adam Ereli reiterated previous Bush administration warnings to
Préval that it would not welcome Aristide's return to Haiti. "They've
got a democracy to build . . . and the future is not the past," Ereli
said. "Aristide is from the past. We're looking to the future." Ereli
called Aristide's return "not a good idea" which would result in
"nothing useful."

Aristide rejected Washington's impertinent meddling and threats. "The
United States claim that they are for democracy, for freedom," he told
the BBC. "Freedom and democracy are linked to respect... We need to
develop a relationship with the United States and that relationship must
be rooted in mutual respect. If we don't respect them, we should not
expect them to respect us; because we respect them, we expect them to
respect us. And respecting the Haitian people means respecting the
rights and the Constitution of the Haitian people. Article 41 of the
Constitution does not accept exile. So my wish is that mutual respect
will finally become light."

Indeed, when asked about Aristide's return, Préval also constantly
refers to the Haitian Constitution's Article 41. "My position is
simple," Préval said at a Feb. 22 news conference. "The Constitution
stipulates that no Haitian needs a visa to leave Haiti or return. For
the rest, whether Mr. Aristide will enter politics or work in education,
you'll have to ask Aristide, not me."

The question of Aristide's return will likely become one of the first
major tests for the Préval administration. Haiti's masses will watch
closely whether the new government facilitates or obstructs Aristide's
return. And so will Washington, Paris and Ottawa, the powers which
orchestrated the 2004 coup.

Aristide told The Times that his return would help return stability to
Haiti. "It is a matter of dignity," he said. "A citizen has the right to
go back to his own country, especially when he has been the victim of a
coup d'état."


As Haiti enters a new chapter with the Feb. 7 election of René Préval as
president, the question of justice for the thousands killed and wounded
by Haitian police, paramilitaries and foreign occupation troops before
and after the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d'état is coming to the fore.

In this context, on Saturday, March 11, the third session of the
International Tribunal on Haiti will be held in Miami, Florida at the
southern campus of Florida International University (FIU).

Among the witnesses to testify will be Father Gérard Jean-Juste, who was
a political prisoner of the de facto government for over six months
until his provisional release at the end of January (see HaVti ProgrPs,
Vol. 23, No. 47, 2/1/2006).

Members of a Commission of Inquiry, who carried out a fact-finding
mission to Haiti last October, will present their findings and video
testimony of coup victims. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark
heads the Commission of Inquiry and will submit the final report from
its October visit.

The Tribunal held sessions in Washington, DC on Sep. 23 and in Boston on
Nov. 19, during which 15-member juries convicted five of the 22
officials and officers indicted by the Tribunal. They are: U.S. Marine
Brigadier General Ronald Coleman, Haitian Police Inspector Yves Gaspard,
former Haitian National Police Chief Léon Charles, former UN Mission to
Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) military commander Brazilian Lt. General
Augusto Heleno Ribiero Pereira, and the Chilean MINUSTAH chief Juan
Gabriel Valdes.

The Tribunal will ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague to
prosecute those convicted during its sessions for crimes against
humanity. After Miami, the Tribunal plans at least two more sessions, in
Montreal and New York.

On the strength of evidence presented at the Tribunal's second session
in Boston, chief prosecutor Desiree Wayne said that she may indict two
or three more officials.

The third session will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Margaret E.
Anliker Auditorium (GC140) of the Graham Center on FIU's University Park
Campus, 11200 S.W. 8th Street in Miami. It is hosted by the Bolivarian
Youth of FIU, from which many students are expected to attend.

Meanwhile, the Haitian community of Miami is also mobilizing. Free
round-trip bus transportation to the Tribunal will leave from the
community organization Veye Yo at 28 N.E. 54th Street, in the heart of
Miami's Little Haiti, at 4:30 p.m.

Over 15 massacres are outlined in the indictment before the Tribunal, to
which Chief Prosecutor Wayne may add the Feb. 13 incident where UN
troops fired on protestors demonstrating against election fraud, killing
two and wounding many more.

"It is imperative that the truth of these matters come out and be
known," Ramsey Clark said in his address to the second session. "We have
the power of the mind and the spirit to seek the truth, to find the
truth, where it is among those who have suffered directly and saw it and
know it... To define it in the most credible way possible, to reinforce
it in every way we can, to show that this is what happened, that these
are the facts: that's the challenge of this Tribunal and that's what it'
s trying to do."

In Miami, those who would like more information should contact: Veye Yo
(305) 756-1205, Haiti Solidarity (305) 582 4846, or Bolivarian Youth
(305) 576-1961.

A delegation from New York is also being organized. The cost for a plane
ticket and one night at a hotel is between $200 and $300. For more
information, contact HaVti ProgrPs (718) 434-8100 or KAKOLA (718)

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Please credit Haiti Progres.