Anthony Fenton fentona at shaw.ca
Sat Nov 3 19:37:59 MDT 2007

From: K M Ives <kives at toast.net>

This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI LIBERTE  
newsweekly. For
the complete edition with other news in French and Creole, please  
the paper at (tel) 718-421-0162, (fax) 718-421-3471 or e-mail at
editor at haitiliberte.com. Also visit our website at  

                             HAITI LIBERTE
                   "Justice. Verite. Independance."

                    * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                        October 31 to November 6, 2007
                              Vol. 1, No. 15



On Sunday, October 28, shortly after 7 p.m., armed gunmen abducted  
Dr. Maryse Narcisse as she exited her car in front of her home in the  
Delmas 83 section of Haiti. The gunmen also kidnapped her driver,  
Delano Morel, the brother of well-known Haitian photographer Daniel  

Narcisse is part of the five-member Political Commission which heads  
the Lavalas Family party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  
Her abduction marks the second kidnapping of a prominent Lavalas  
Family leader, prompting speculation that it may be part of a  
campaign of political violence against the party, which is planning  
an important congress in December.

On Monday, the kidnappers contacted Narcisse's family to demand a  
ransom of $300,000 US. They demanded that the entire ransom be paid  
on Tuesday, October 30. According to sources close to the family,  
negotiations are continuing.

Maryse Narcisse lived with her sister in Haiti but often travels  
abroad representing the party. Last April, she made a trip to South  
Africa to attend the ceremonies awarding Aristide a doctorate in  
literature and philosophy.

This is the second kidnapping of a prominent Lavalas Family (FL)  
party leader in the past two months. On August 12, kidnappers  
abducted a anticipated FL Senate candidate, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine  
(see Ha ti Liberté, Vol. 1, No. 4, Aug. 15, 2007). Lovinsky is also  
the national coordinator of the September 30th Foundation, which  
calls for justice for the victims of political repression during the  
1991 and 2004 coups d'état in Haiti. His kidnappers made a one-time  
request for $300,000 US, the same ransom demanded for Narcisse.  
Lovinsky has not been seen or heard from since.

A phone conversation that a journalist from Haiti Liberté had with  
Lovinsky's kidnappers last August suggests that the act could be  
politically motivated.

On the afternoon of August 14, about 36 hours after Lovinsky's  
abduction, journalist Kim Ives of Haiti Liberté called Lovinsky's  
cell phone in Haiti. At that time, it was not known that Lovinsky was  
kidnapped, just that he had disappeared. The man who answered the  
cell phone told Ives that Lovinsky had indeed been kidnapped. "I am  
responsible for this affair [the kidnapping]," the man told Ives.

"Why have you kidnapped him?" Ives asked.

"For money," the kidnapper responded.

But remarks later in the conversation belie that response.

The kidnapper asked Ives to call to Lovinsky's sister, Aurore, in  
Queens, NY to have her call the cell phone and speak to him.

Later in the conversation, which spanned two phone calls, Ives asked  
the kidnapper if he understood who Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine was. The  
kidnapper replied that he knew Lovinsky very well and saw him as a  
threat, which suggests that the kidnapping was political.

"Why have you kidnapped Lovinsky?" Ives asked the kidnappers. "He  
doesn't have a penny, and he has devoted his life to fighting for the  
cause of the Haitian people, seeking justice and defending Haiti's  

"I know Lovinsky better than you do," the kidnapper responded. "I  
know him much better than you. I know him better than my toe-nail  
that I wash every morning. I know him better than my eyeball that I  
wash every morning... He is a guy who has tried to put people like me  
in prison."

Since 1994, Lovinsky's September 30th Foundation has been at the  
forefront of those calling for justice for victims of political  
violence during Haiti's coup d'états. The kidnapper's comments would  
suggest that he was an enforcer during one of the recent coups,  
perhaps a member of the death-squad FRAPH (Revolutionary Front for  
the Advancement and Progress of Haiti), a former soldier, or a former  
member of Duvalier's paramilitary corps the Tonton Macoutes.

The thugs belonging to these organizations have worked in close  
collaboration with U.S. military and intelligence services in recent  
years. For example, Emmanuel "Toto" Constant, now facing trial in New  
York State for mortgage fraud, had close ties with the CIA and the  
Pentagon while he directed the FRAPH during the 1991-1994 coup in  
Haiti. Putschist Haitian Army officers such as Gen. Raoul Cédras and  
Col. Michel François enjoy golden exiles in Panama and Honduras  
respectively, thanks to Washington's help and protection. Former  
soldier and police chief Guy Philippe, the leader of the "rebels" who  
helped overthrow Aristide in 2004, has had close dealings with the  
CIA and Pentagon in recent years.

All of this suggests that the kidnappings of Maryse Narcisse and  
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine may be part of a campaign to politically  
decapitate or paralyze the Lavalas Family party as it prepares to  
hold its Congress on December 16, the anniversary of Aristide's first  
election to the presidency in 1990. The Congress will be the FL's  
first since the restoration of democratic rule in Haiti in May 2006.

It is worth noting that Lovinsky's kidnappers made hardly any effort  
to negotiate for or collect any money from his family. After the  
kidnappers telephoned Lovinsky's sister on Aug. 14 to demand the  
exorbitant ransom, she was never able to get in contact with them  
again. They did not answer the telephone when she called at the time  
arranged in their first and last conversation. Nor did they attempt  
to contact her again. It appears that the ransom request was  

Dr. Maryse Narcisse is a medical doctor who has held posts on several  
public health and vaccination campaigns in Haiti prior to the 2004  
coup. Following that coup, she became part of the FL's leadership  
Communications Commission along with former Secretary of State for  
Information Mario Dupuy, former Cap Ha tien mayor Bell Angelot, and  
former ad-interim FL secretary general, Jonas Petit. In 2005, it was  
announced that she had been appointed as spokeswoman for Aristide,  
who remains exiled in South Africa.

The FL's new leadership council is the Political Commission, on which  
she now serves. The Commission's other members are singer and  
activist Annette "So An" Auguste, Jacques Mathelier, Dr. Serge Pierre- 
Louis, and former deputy Lionel Etienne.


by Peter Hallward

(Fifth article in a series)

> From the government's perspective, then, the security situation in  
> February
2004 was indeed desperate. Rebel leader Guy Phillipe is probably  
close to the truth when he says that as far as the president's  
immediate political and police entourage was concerned, in late  
February 2004 "Aristide was totally isolated, betrayed by his  
security guards and his friends [...]. I had men everywhere,  
including people within the ministerial cabinet."1 Leading members of  
the USGPN [Unité de Sécurité Générale du Palais National] were in the  
pay of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's domestic enemies, the  
Steele Foundation was at least partly in league with his  
international enemies, and even "the USP [Unité de Sécurité  
Présidentielle] was not all that reliable," remembers Patrick Elie.  
"This is one of the reasons why Aristide had this crazy quadruple  
security system. He didn't trust Steele, he didn't trust the USP, he  
didn't trust the USGPN, and he couldn't afford to rely only on the  
street. But he felt that by combining all four he could just about  
manage. I always thought this was a chancy way to arrange your  
security."2 Aristide himself was vividly aware of the problem:

"It wasn't hard for the Americans or their proxies to infiltrate the  
government, to infiltrate the police. We weren't even able to provide  
the police with the equipment they needed, we could hardly pay them  
an adequate salary. It was easy for our opponents to stir up trouble,  
to co-opt some policemen, to infiltrate our organization. This was  
incredibly difficult to control. We were truly surrounded. I was  
surrounded by people who one way or another were in the pay of  
foreign powers, who were working actively to overthrow the  
government. A friend of mine said at the time, looking at the  
situation, 'I now understand why you believe in God, as otherwise I  
can't understand how you can still be alive, in the midst of all  

If anything, by February 2004 the presidential security forces had  
become the most likely source of an immediate threat to Aristide's  
security, rather than the reverse.

Perhaps this helps to explain several of Aristide's decisions on 28  
February. "The piecing together of what happened on 28/29 February is  
rather difficult," notes Kim Ives, "because some of Aristide's moves  
in those final days and hours are hard to understand. He was  
miscalculating his manoeuvring room and the nature of the beast he  
was dealing with."4 A senior member of Aristide's Steele detail  
agrees. "I don't know what sort of advice the President was given, or  
why he decided to go out to Tabarre that day. But in strategic terms,  
we knew that it was a bad decision to leave the Palace for Tabarre on  
the 28th. The Palace was an easier place to defend than Tabarre, and  
many people would have been killed before they could have succeeded  
in dislodging us. It would have been a slaughter. Still, we might  
have been overrun eventually, especially if some Haitian departments  
that were co-located within the Palace grounds had turned against  
us."5 The USGPN is based at the National Palace, billeted in the old  
Dessalines Barracks; the headquarters of the notorious PNH anti-gang  
unit is also close by. "I believe the President probably felt safer  
at his home in a supportive neighborhood," says Ira Kurzban, "than he  
would with the USP and the USGPN at the Palace."6 Aristide's press  
secretary Michelle Karshan remembers that some of his USP security  
guards were angry with him that night because he chose to spend it at  
his house in Tabarre rather than the Palace, and even more angry that  
he (or their commander Barthélémy) at some point "sent them away."7  
Richard Morse, owner of the Oloffson hotel in downtown Port-au-Prince  
(and a sharp critic of Aristide), confirms that some USP security  
guards "came by the Oloffson late that night. He sent them off on an  
errand, he told them 'go do something,' I don't know what exactly.  
There were two large 4x4s full of guys, maybe 8 to 12 people. They  
all came by, though only one of them spent the night at the hotel."8  
On the night of 28 February, it may be that Aristide felt safer on  
his own. By the time Frantz Gabriel arrived at Tabarre, around 2 a.m.  
or 3 a.m., there were no USGPN guards in sight. According to my  
Steele source, Aristide's "Haitian security guards [USP] started to  
drift away from around 3 a.m. or so. They were getting uneasy and  
didn't seem to know what was going on. By then I wasn't sure if the  
perimeter guards were still there or not. I had checked on them  
earlier in the evening but when things started to go sideways I kept  
our guys in close to the house."9 Only two USP guards (Barthélémy and  
Claudy) remained with Aristide when he was flown out of the country,  
along with his wife Mildred, Frantz Gabriel and all 15 or so  
remaining members of the Steele security detail.

3. We've now anticipated the third point: although by every reliable  
measure Aristide still seems to have enjoyed the support of a  
majority of Haiti's people, in February 2004 his government was  
poorly equipped to cope with even a small military challenge. By the  
middle of the month, Philippe's rebels already controlled a number of  
provincial towns. Writing in CounterPunch on 14 February from a  
perspective close to that of Ben Dupuy and militants of Haiti's PPN,  
Stan Goff understood that if Aristide was to defeat his enemies

"he needs to wage a ruthless fight to retake each of those towns in  
turn, to acknowledge that the macouto-bourgeoisie is waging a civil  
war, and to state that this is war, openly, in order to do what is  
necessary. If not, then the right-wing paramilitaries will maintain  
the initiative, they will operate within the logic of war, and they  
will topple Aristide's government and clamp down yet again on popular  
sovereignty, with assistance from the hegemon to the north [...]. The  
question has been called in Haiti. Sovereignty or subjugation. This  
is the stark choice, and the time for conciliation is past. Now it is  
time for Dessalines."10

On 26 February an old ally of Aristide's gave him similar advice, in  
person. "I told him that you should close the ANMH radio stations,  
arrest the opposition leaders and rally your supporters to defeat the  
insurgency; then after winning that fight, you can enter into  
negotiations for a peaceful settlement. The opposition leaders were  
openly seditious, they were in full insurrection mode, yet they were  
free to move around, to spread all kinds of rumors on the radio, etc.  
Some of the radio stations were even describing, in detail, the  
movements of the CIMO and the police force, as they travelled to  
confront rebel groups in the Central Plateau - this was completely  
crazy, even in the most lenient of democracies. They were acting as  
public intelligence agents for Guy Philippe! Aristide had to close  
them down."11

But as Aristide is himself the first to admit, he was never prepared  
to follow Dessalines' example. Aristide was no warrior, and nor did  
he surround himself with warriors. There is no denying that by the  
end of February 2004, Aristide's own inner circle was not up to the  
military challenge that faced the country. For whatever reason, when  
the storm broke Aristide lacked a committed team of militant  
advisors. His chief security consultant, Jean-Claude Jean-Baptiste,  
left the country on 25 February in mysterious circumstances. In his  
last meetings with the president that month, Milot mayor Mo se Jean- 
Charles (who certainly did organise a forceful resistance to Guy  
Philippe's troops on 22 February, and who quickly became a leading  
figure in the underground resistance that followed Aristide's  
departure) told him in no uncertain terms that he was surrounded by  
traitors and opportunists, people like his chief of staff Jean-Claude  
Desgranges and senator Louis Gérald Gilles.12 "In late February,"  
asks Elie, "who could Aristide trust? Many of the people in his inner  
circle were either unreliable or inept: it was a serious problem.  
Take Desgranges, his chief of staff. Desgranges was symptomatic of  
the kind of inner circle that Aristide eventually developed. The man  
was never, never a comrade of Aristide! He was never Lavalas! He was  
with Manigat, previously. To have such a person as your chief of  
staff was a serious mistake."13

Faced with a genuine state of emergency, rather than confront it head- 
on, rather than assemble some sort of war cabinet and put the country  
on a war footing, it seems as if Aristide hoped that a mixture of his  
charisma and readiness to compromise might magic a way out of the  
impasse. Confronted with a military opposition, Aristide hoped that  
he could overpower them by non-military means. "I cannot impress upon  
you enough," insists Ira Kurzban, "that despite the disinformation  
campaign, President Aristide always believed that non-violence was  
the way to solve Haiti's problems - not more violence. Perhaps he  
thought that he could to the very end find a peaceful way to avoid  
the situation, and when that didn't happen it may have already been  
too late."14 Patrick Elie again puts his finger on the central issue:

"By 28 February Aristide was still in a strong position as regards  
his popularity and the determination of the people in Port-au-Prince,  
but he wasn't in a strong position in terms of the loyalty of his  
inner circle, especially regarding security, and he had failed to  
prepare for a situation like this, despite the fact that the writing  
was on the wall. Even if in the end he had decided to fight, he would  
have had to fight in the worst possible position, without effective  
planning. This just isn't something you can improvise. With 500  
trained and motivated people we could have made mincemeat of Guy  
Philippe, and dealt with the state of emergency in an orderly and  
organised way. But when you look around you and all you see are these  
very wishy-washy and untrustworthy people, what kind of fight can you  
really wage? These are things that must be prepared and considered in  

"In my opinion, rather than devise a viable plan Aristide just tried  
to stare down the whole operation against him. That's why I have a  
slight sense of déj vu. In 1991 there was a coup in the making, and  
what he does is throw his popularity at the coup he turns out  
thousands of people when he gets back to the airport, in Cité Soleil  
and other parts of lower Port-au-Prince, and then whips them up with  
a speech at the Palace. Which is fine as far as it goes, but it  
obviously didn't go far enough. And this time, in 2004, there was  
that huge demonstration, 7 February, where the crowd stretched from  
Cité Soleil up to Pétionville and all the way back down to the  
Palace, it was truly enormous; I'd guess it could have been half a  
million people. But again it wasn't enough. When you're not prepared,  
you fall back on your old reflexes. The enemy has seen this before,  
however, and they're ready for it. By February 28th, he'd already  
played the one card he had. Even if he was trying to chart a cautious  
and non-violent course, still, given what he was up against, Aristide  
needed to have effective contingency plans for a violent confrontation.

"In any case I don't think it ever would have been an all-out  
confrontation: if we had been properly prepared, we could have dealt  
with these 'rebels' easily enough, and contained them in Gona ves,  
there and then. Given Aristide's popularity, the government should  
have been in a very strong position. That's the irony of it:  
precisely because Aristide was so concerned with democratic  
legitimacy, he hesitated to do the things that needed to be done. It  
was a state of emergency, and he needed to treat it like one. Had he  
done that, it would have been the end of Guy Philippe."15


1) Hallward, "Insurgency and Betrayal: An Interview with Guy Philippe".

2) Interview with Patrick Elie, 3 March 2007.

3) Hallward, "One Step at a Time: An Interview with Jean-Bertrand  
Aristide" (July 2006),

http://www.haitianalysis.com/2007/ 2/18/%E2%80%98one-step-at-atime%  
E2%80%99-an-interview-withjean- bertrand-aristide.

4) Kim Ives, letter of 4 March 2007.

5) Interview with a senior member of Aristide 's Steele Foundation  
security detail, 21 March 2007.

6) Ira Kurzban, letter of 2 March 2007.

7) Interview with Michelle Karshan, 2 March 2007. It 's difficult to  
confirm what exactly happened to the USP that night. ™gNormally, he  
would have less USP at his home then he would in the Palace. If they  
were ordered to leave I don 't know who gave the orders or when™h  
(Ira Kurzban, letter of 2 March 2007).

8) Interview with Richard Morse, Oloffson Hotel 23 April 2006.

9) Interview with a senior member of Aristide 's Steele Foundation  
security detail, 21 March 2007.

10) Stan Goff, 'Beloved Haiti ', 14 February 2004. Kim Ives makes the  
same point. "Aristide should have heeded the advice told him several  
times in the months leading up to the coup to 1) arm the people and  
2) train and equip a counter-insurgency force to face off with the  
rebels. Either because he was afraid of the US/French response to  
such a step or had a naive trust in the unarmed people 's power to  
resist, Aristide never made a move other than giving some money and  
maybe a few weapons to some urban popular organizations. But it was a  
disorganized, erratic response where discipline, clarity, boldness  
and decisiveness were necessary" (Kim Ives, letter of 14 December 2006).

11) Interview with a member of Aristide 's 1991 administration,  
Portau- Prince January 2007.

12) Interview with Moise Jean-Charles, Cap-Haitien 12 January 2007.

13) Interview with Patrick Elie, 3 March 2007.

14) Ira Kurzban, letter of 4 March 2007.

15) Interview with Patrick Elie, 3 March 2007.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Liberte. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Liberte.

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