[R-G] NEW TERROR CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE LAVALAS FAMILY PARTY?
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
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"Justice. Verite. Independance."
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
October 31 to November 6, 2007
Vol. 1, No. 15
THE KIDNAPPING OF MARYSE NARCISSE:
NEW TERROR CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE LAVALAS FAMILY PARTY?
NEWLY REVEALED HA TI LIBERTE PHONE CONVERSATION WITH LOVINSKY PIERRE-
ANTOINE'S KIDNAPPERS SUGGESTS LINKS
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
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
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.
DID HE JUMP OR WAS HE PUSHED?
ARISTIDE AND THE 2004 COUP IN HAITI
by Peter Hallward
(Fifth article in a series)
> From the government's perspective, then, the security situation in
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
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),
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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