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Posted at 12:45 a.m., April 30, 2002                                                                                                                                                  Judge flees Haiti, fearful for his life, saying he was pressured to sign arrest warrant for former military dictator

By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Apr. 29 - Fearing for his life, investigating judge Henri Kesner Noel fled Haiti and said Monday that Haitian authorities pressured him to sign an arrest warrant for former military dictator Prosper Avril.

"I didn't write" the arrest warrant, Noel told the Miami-based Haitian community Radio Carnaval. "I was forced to sign it."

Police arrested Avril at the gate of the National Penitentiary on April 15, just minutes after he was released from prison.

Noel, who was an investigating judge in west-coast St. Marc, said he had been summoned April 15 to the Port-au-Prince office of National Security Undersecretary Jean-Gerard Dubreuil and presented with a fait accompli.

"It was suggested the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide wanted to revive the Avril case," Noel said, adding that he was pressured to sign the warrant.

The arrest "was purely political," he said.

The presidential spokesman, Jacques Maurice, said Monday that Noel's allegations were false.

"Noel's insinuation that President Aristide gave orders to have Avril re-arrested is a lie," Maurice said.

Noel, his pregnant wife, four children, and mother flew to Miami on April 26, where he said he intended to ask for political asylum.

"My security is in jeopardy," he told the private Radio Kiskeya.

Avril was released on April 11, after the Port-au-Prince Appeals Court ruled that his arrest last year for plotting to overthrow the government was arbitrary and illegal.

Within minutes of the release, Avril was imprisoned again and charged with complicity in the murder of about a dozen peasants killed by soldiers in Piate, in the St. Marc jurisdiction and about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of the capital.

The massacre took place March 13, 1990, three days after a popular uprising forced Avril to resign and one day after Avril went into exile in the United States. Avril was chief of presidential security under dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, until Duvalier's ouster in 1986.

He seized power in September 1988, ousting then-dictator Lt. Gen. Henry Namphy. He pledged to hold elections, but never followed through.

It is unclear when Avril returned to Haiti, but last year he reappeared at a meeting of the Convergence opposition alliance and was arrested shortly after.

In January, investigating judge Claudy Gassant fled Haiti, also saying he feared for his life. He had been investigating the April 2000 assassination of Haiti's most prominent journalist Jean Dominique.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.                                                                                                                                       

French soccer star latest luminary to line up against far-right presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen

By Jamey Keaten, Associated Press Writer

PARIS, Apr. 29 - Wildly popular soccer champion Zinedine Zidane is the latest French luminary to speak out against ultra-right presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Zidane, a son of Algerian immigrants who became a national hero after leading France to the World Cup, urged voters to go to the polls, suggesting that the high abstention rate in the first round helped catapult Le Pen into the May 5 runoff.

"What I want to simply say, what must be said to the people, is that they must vote — it's very important," he told France-Info radio, adding that Le Pen's anti-immigration party "does not at all correspond to the values of France."

Zidane joins singer Charles Aznavour, actress Annie Girardot, philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, filmmaker Claude Lanzmann and many others who have used their star power to help mobilize the French electorate against Le Pen.

On Monday, at least 40,000 students demonstrated in Paris, just hours after the main employers' federation sharply criticized the far-right leader's economic platform.

A wave of high school students marched through the city center in a two-hour demonstration with dozens of police officers watching. Organizers said 80,000 students took part in the march, but police said the number was half that.

Meanwhile, the Movement of French Enterprises, the country's main employers' federation, said Le Pen's economic program would cause "an unprecedented financial crisis" in France.

"The economic and social program presented to voters by the National Front candidate would provoke profound economic regression," Medef President Ernest-Antoine Seilliere said at a news conference.

Le Pen's program would spark "a sharp rise in unemployment, an unprecedented financial crisis, a spike in inflation, an impoverishment of all and explosive social tensions," he said.

Le Pen wants to scrap the income tax, pull France out of the euro currency zone and erect trade barriers to protect French jobs.

Leader of the ultra-right National Front party, Le Pen has been the object of massive, daily protests since he stunned France by placing second in the April 21 primary and advancing to the final round.

Le Pen suggested Monday that the uproar was misdirected and that he was being made a scapegoat.

"It's everybody against Le Pen. We've finally found the reason for France's stagnation," Le Pen told Associated Press Television News. "All of it is the fault of Le Pen — and if we eliminate him, everything will be just fine."

Le Pen finished just a few percentage points behind conservative President Jacques Chirac in the first round, and a poll in the daily Le Figaro newspaper indicated that Le Pen could garner as much as a quarter of the national vote May 5.

The poll, conducted by the Ipsos polling agency, showed Chirac was likely to get 78 percent of the vote and Le Pen 22 percent. However, the scores could range from 74 to 81 percent for Chirac and between 19 and 26 percent for Le Pen. No margin of error was given.

Le Pen's No. 2 finish prompted heavy scrutiny of polling agencies and their methods. Before the first-round vote, all polls indicated Chirac would face off against Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in the runoff.

The widespread popular movement to defeat Le Pen has led to a political oddity: many leftists say they will support Chirac in the second round of the elections, but still bitterly oppose him and his policies if, as seems certain, he's returned to office.

Francois Hollande, head of the Socialist party, said on French radio Monday that Chirac "will be elected on a simple mandate: to block any drift toward the far-right."

But Arlette Laguiller — a radical leftist who finished fifth in the primary — has told supporters she wants them to cast blank votes, not to vote for Chirac.

"My voters know that Le Pen is a dangerous but Chirac is also a danger for workers," she said Monday.

Former conservative Prime Minister Alain Juppe, in an interview published Monday, said the result of the first round — Le Pen garnered about 17 percent of the vote — indicates that France is in the midst of a political crisis.

France "is confronted with the question of how to fight the ideas of the National Front without giving the impression that 17 to 20 percent of French people are jerks," Juppe told Le Monde newspaper.

Le Pen says that if elected, he would move to cut France's ties with the European Union (news - web sites) and restore border controls to halt the flow of immigrants. He opposes abortion, supports the death penalty and has been accused of being both racist and anti-Semitic.

The far-right leader, in another interview published Monday, said he's taking "all possible precautions" as far as his personal security is concerned.

"My long experience in this domain causes me to worry about everything," Le Pen told France-Soir newspaper. "In the current debate, the assassination of Le Pen has started to be discussed."

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.  

                                                                                                                                                 Labor Tensions Rising in Haitian Orange Industry  

Apr. 29, 2002

By Jim Lobe, OneWorld US Writer

A sharp rise in tensions between the owners of a large orange plantation in northern Haiti and workers who have tried to organize a union has caused widespread insecurity in the area, according to a British-based solidarity group.

The union, Batay Ouvriye, says that local police, landowners, and the processing company, Produits Agricole Guacimal, are trying to eliminate the union's organizers and members from among the workers at the St. Raphael plantation, which produces orange extract, mainly for European beverage and liquor companies.

Two workers have been imprisoned without trial over the past month, while another was arrested just last week, according to the British-based Haiti Support Group, which charged in a press release last week that both the local authorities and the courts have sided with the company despite provisions in the Haitian constitution that guarantee the right of all workers to join a union.

The arrests mark the latest in the long-running dispute between Batay Ouvriye and Guacimal at St. Raphael, located about 30 miles south of Cap-Haitien. Guacimal is run by Nonce Zephir, a powerful businessman who, with his brother, Daniel, runs the tree plantation and a processing plant in the village of Madeline in northern Haiti.

The St. Raphael workers, who grow, harvest, and process the oranges, began organizing two years ago in hopes of negotiating improvements in pay and work conditions. According to the Multinational Monitor, the company pays less than the minimum wage (US$1.50 a day) to its harvesters and processors, while working conditions are described as "primitive."

But Nonce Zephir refused to recognize the union's existence, claiming that the fruit-pickers on the plantation are casual laborers and do not have the right to organize.

Last May, unionized workers occupied the orange plantation to stop what they said was an increasingly violent anti-union campaign by Zephir. Reportedly at his behest, the entire executive committee of the local union was jailed by authorities in June, according to the Haiti Support Group.

At the same time, the Support Group and other international union and solidarity organizers launched a campaign to press Remy Cointreau, the Paris-based beverages corporation which reportedly owned a minority interest in Guacimal and bought extract from it, to use its influence to bring the Haitian company to the negotiating table.

Despite having insisted that it was urging the two Zephir brothers to do precisely that, Remy Cointreau's international director, Olivier Charriaud, informed Batay Ouvriye last January that it had decided to stop buying extract from Guacimal.

The announcement itself has generated confusion among the parties involved. Nonce Zephir told a reporter from the British newspaper The Observer in February that he had not been informed of any changes in the Guacimal's relationship with Remy Cointreau. Nor was it clear whether the French company would sell its shares in Guacimal, described only last year by Remy Cointreau's chief executive officer, Dominique Herard Dubreuil, as a "minority, although significant" holding. The company did not respond to an email query sent to it for clarification by OneWorld.

Meanwhile, workers have reportedly grown increasingly angry with Guacimal both for its failure to recognize the union and its efforts to prevent those associated with the union from cultivating plots of land between the orange trees, an accepted practice in the area.

Workers began cutting down orange trees to protest the company's actions early last month.

Shortly after, the department delegate of President Jean Bertrand Aristide visited the plantation and declared his opposition to tree-cutting. His apparent backing for Guacimal was taken as a green light for a new crackdown against the union, according to the Support Group.

Copyright © 2002

                                                                                                                                                       A six-member panel of U.S. drug experts arrived Monday in Haiti to help this impoverished Caribbean country coordinates its fight against drug trafficking and money laundering  

By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Apr. 29 - A six-member panel of U.S. drug experts arrived Monday in Haiti to help this impoverished Caribbean country coordinate its fight against drug trafficking and money laundering.

The United States last year determined Haiti had "failed demonstrably" to meet international drug control standards — for which it normally would halt much of its aid funds.

However, U.S. President George W. Bush in February took steps to ensure that Haiti be entitled to the full range of U.S. assistance.

Invited by the Haitian government for a two-day fact-finding visit, the panel of drug experts will meet with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, judicial and police officials and workers at a drug rehabilitation facility, panel Chairman Irwin Stotzky said.

"We hope to help Haitian authorities allocate their limited resources better and attract international funds to supplement them," said Stotzky, the 55-year-old law professor and director of the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Miami University, Florida.

The U.S. State Department has called Haiti one of the major transshipment countries for U.S.-bound cocaine from Colombia. Stotzky estimated that last year Haiti accounted for 5 to 8 percent of the total shipment.

Several follow-up visits will enable the panel to make recommendations to the Haitian government, Stotzky said.

The panel includes Houston, Texas, Mayor Lee Brown, who was U.S. drug czar in the early 90s; New York City Police Chief Ray Kelly; New York City Deputy Police Chief Paul Browne; Edouardo Gamarra, law professor at the International University of Florida; and Bruce Ziegler, former vice president of the Center City, Minnesota-based Hazelden Foundation, the world's largest drug rehabilitation center.

Although Haitian authorities have established an anti-drug task force and seized several large drug shipments, Bush found that Haiti had "failed demonstrably" to fight drug trafficking last year.

This year, U.S. Ambassador Brian Dean Curran criticized Haitian authorities for releasing 26 people arrested last year in connection with a drug clampdown, and also for releasing two Colombians suspected of drug trafficking this year from the National Penitentiary before any trial.

Nevertheless, Haiti was given a national-interest waiver.

U.S. aid to Haiti is funneled through humanitarian agencies. This year, it totaled dlrs 55 million, compared to last year's dlrs 70 million.

After Aristide's Lavalas Family party swept legislative elections in 2000, international organizations demanded the results be revised.

The Inter-American Development Bank is holding up some dlrs 146 million in long-term, low-interest loans, and the European Union has frozen some dlrs 45 million in grants until the government and opposition reach an agreement on new elections.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                              Condolezza Rice says Chavez weakened democracy in Venezuela before coup

By Tom Raum, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON, Apr. 29 - Hugo Chavez, the populist Venezuelan president who survived a coup attempt this month, did as much to undermine democracy in that country as those who tried to oust him, U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) said Monday.

"The threat to democracy in Venezuela didn't begin with those people in the streets," Rice told a foreign-policy forum. "We have to remember that Chavez also, in shutting down the press, for instance, was doing things to harm Venezuela democracy long before that fateful outcome."

Chavez was ousted on April 12 by dissident generals. But the government headed by Pedro Carmona, the businessman who replaced Chavez, crumbled after Carmona dissolved Venezuela's Congress and other democratic institutions, and Chavez was back in power two days after the coup. U.S. officials have been criticized across Latin America for failing to condemn the plot strongly.

Just because Chavez was elected doesn't mean he exhibited democratic values, Rice said. "We cannot fall into that trap," she said.

The White House official said she hopes Chavez will reflect on the upheaval and follow through on promises to make Venezuela more democratic.

In wide-ranging remarks to international policy students at Johns Hopkins University, Rice also:

Opposed moves toward normal ties with Iran, saying its recent behavior keeps it "squarely in the axis of evil," the term used by President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address to characterize Iran, Iraq and North Korea. "The behavior speaks for itself," she said.

Said some elements of the land-for-peace plan being pushed by Saudi Arabia to resolve the conflict in the Middle East "may not be workable" and would require negotiation. Still, she said it represented an important step — and a signal that Saudi Arabia wants to be actively involved in Middle East peacemaking.

Promised that the Bush administration would help Argentina get more aid from the International Monetary Fund (news - web sites) but only if that crisis-wracked government acted to get its economic house in order. "Argentina has, and should know that it has, no better friend than the United States," she said.

Said the U.S. ability or patience to reform or change certain governments is limited. "We must recognize that truly evil regimes will never be reformed," Rice said. "And we must recognize that such regimes must be confronted, not coddled." Rice's comments on the brief coup in Venezuela were in response to a student's question on whether the United States was practicing hypocrisy in extolling democracy everywhere else but failing to denounce a coup against a leftist leader in its own backyard.

"In fact, the United States did speak out, ... both publicly and privately. We did make very clear that we believe that democratically elected governments could not be overthrown by extraconstitutional means," Rice said.

Still, she said, "It is a complex world. It is a hard world. The complexities bring you into different kinds of situations in which different tactics are important."

She said she hoped the coup experience would lead Chavez "to recognize the importance of democratic values for real — not just claiming that, because you're elected, you are exercising democratic values."

"When people are elected, they especially have a responsibility to talk about the importance of respecting democratic processes."

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Posted at 3:01 p.m., Monday, April 30, 2002  

Thousands of hungry and angry Haitians took to the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding jobs  

By Yves A. Isidor,, executive editor

Slightly more than one year after Haiti's brutal dictator and radical leftist, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, on behalf of his de facto government promised to create 500,000 new jobs or more over the next five years, but only to months later caused the country's then estimated 85 percent unemployment rate to significantly go up, as state-sponsored corruption and drug trafficking became the norms, thousands of hungry and angry Haitians took to the streets of Port-au-Prince today demanding that dictator Aristide lives up to his promise.  

"All Aristide has been doing is lying to us, and enough is enough. All we want are jobs so we can take care our families and ourselves," said the protesters.

The protesters, who shouted "Down with Aristide" and burned a multitude of used car tires, blocking several major roads, vowed to continue with their protest until their demand for employment opportunities is met.

The protest, which took tyrant Aristide by surprise, came after the French Ambassador, stationed in Haiti, said on April 18 "I am not convinced that members of Artistide's government are capable of managing French foreign aid to Haiti," and days after the French consular cultural counselor, M. Alfred Ham, visited a multitude of grade schools in the worst and biggest slum, Cite Soleil, of Port-au-Prince. On behalf of the French government, Ham promised to donate $10 million worth of school supplies to the visibly destitute schools in the month to come. 

There were no injuries, and not event one of the participants in the protest was taken out of the circulation by the national police

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 2:45 p.m., Monday, April 29, 2002

Four migrants from Haiti land in Florida's Jupiter Island  

By the Associated Press

JUPITER ISLAND, Florida, Apr. 29-- Police found a woman and three teen-age boys from Haiti walking on the beach in this affluent city.

Authorities discovered the migrants Saturday. The woman was taken to the Palm Beach County Jail, and the boys were taken to the Krome Detention Center in southwest Miami-Dade County, said U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Art Bullock.

No boat was found, and Bullock said he did not know how many others may have arrived.

It was not immediately known if the migrants would be repatriated. The border patrol did not immediately return a phone call Sunday.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard's Web site, 319 Haitians had been found at sea or ashore as of April 17.  

                                                                                                                                             Questions linger over '97 kilings

By Tanya Weinberg, Vicky Agnew, Sun-Sentinel Writers

MIRAMAR, Apr. 28 · For the first time since two babies, their mother and grandmother were beaten, shot, and stabbed to death five years ago, relatives will not mark the April 30 anniversary with a prayer service outside the house where the family lived and died.

The vicious crimes in The Knolls development have not been solved, nor have relatives stopped their prayers for the dead and for justice. But this year the priest and relative who led the services will be in Haiti, and other family members will stay scattered around the United States.

The only South Florida resident, Carline Pierre, will take flowers to the North Miami-Dade cemetery where her sister, Marie Carmel Altidor, 29, and nieces, infant Sabrina Altidor and toddler Samantha Altidor, are buried. Her mother, Theresia Laverne, 68, is buried in Haiti, where she lived before coming to help care for newborn Sabrina. Police say George Altidor, 38, the father, husband, and son-in-law to the victims, remains the only suspect.

Police have never gathered enough evidence to make an arrest, and recently an anonymous donor withdrew a $15,000 reward offer.

Copyright © 2002 South Florida Sun-Sentinel.                                                                                                                                                                                    

Posted at 2:59 p.m., Sunday, April 28, 2002  

FIFA vice president inaugurates soccer training center in Haiti

By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

CROIX-DES-BOUQUETS, Haiti, Apr. 27 - FIFA Vice President Jack Warner inaugurated a soccer center Saturday on a piece of property that the Haitian government confiscated after dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier's ouster in 1986.

The center includes an administration building, auditorium, 16-room dormitory, workout and locker-room and training field. It cost dlrs 542,000 and is part of FIFA's Goal Project, a program designed to help small countries develop their soccer potential.

"Our aim is to take the focus of international soccer off Europe, and put it on other promising regions," said Warner, the CONCACAF president, in Croix-des-Bouquets, a small town about 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of the capital of Port-au-Prince. "Just look at the progress Haiti has made!"

Haiti has not competed in a World Cup competition since 1974, when it stunned fans by scoring against Italy.

It lost 3-1, and since then political turmoil and deepening poverty have hampered the development of the game. Still, it was that match that has kept Haitian hopes alive for a comeback.

The hiring of Argentine coach Jorge Castelli in August 2001 has borne fruit. In January, Haiti upset Ecuador 2-0 in the first round of the Gold Cup. Although it lost the quarterfinal to Costa Rica, its first-round victory fanned the belief that Haiti could again be a contender.

Warner, a Trinidadian, was elected this month to a fourth four-year term as president of the North and Central America and Caribbean soccer region at the CONCACAF's Ordinary Congress.

He praised "the vision" of Sepp Blatter, a Swiss national, who is running for a second four-year term as president of FIFA, the world soccer's governing body on May 29 in Seoul, South Korea (news - web sites).

Blatter's bid against African soccer federation president Issa Hayatou has been surrounded by controversy.

In recent media interviews, FIFA general-secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen made a series of potentially damaging allegations about mismanagement and impropriety, including voter fraud and theft of documents.

Another accusation concerns the 1998 battle for the FIFA presidency, that Blatter won against Lennart Johansson, president of the European soccer governing body UEFA.

In an interview with the Zurich, Switzerland-based SonntagsZeitung newspaper, Zen-Ruffinen said that at the 1998 elections, Haiti's representative did not vote. Another man claiming to be a Haitian delegate took his place, and he was Warner's brother-in-law, he alleged.

The Haitian representative, Kyss Jean-Mary, was president of the Haitian Soccer Federation in 1998. He admitted having been prevented from traveling to Paris and that he had not mandated his vote.

"I have no idea whether or not somebody voted in my place. But I respect Blatter and I don't want my statement misconstrued to insinuate I believe Blatter was elected irregularly," Jean-Mary said.

CONCACAF representatives met in Antigua before the 1998 election and decided to vote en bloc for Blatter, Jean-Mary said.

The executive-secretary of the Haitian Soccer Federation Guerrier Fenelus told The Associated Press the federation legally mandated Trinidadian Neville Ferguson to vote for Haiti.

"The timing of the accusations, four years later, shows they are a deliberate attempt to smear Blatter," said Warner, who denied Ferguson was a relative.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Posted at 2:01 p.m., Saturday, April 27, 2002

Uneasy Caribbean neighbors, Haiti and Dominican Republic, sign cooperation agreement

By Doug Mellgren, Associated Press Writer

OSLO, Norway, Apr. 26 - Representatives of Haiti and the Dominican Republic signed a cooperation agreement on Friday in another step toward normal relations between the tense neighbors on a shared Caribbean Island, according to a humanitarian aid group.

The agreement, which requires the approval of the governments of the two countries, covers areas like human rights, economic cooperation, borders and immigration. More details and the text were not immediately released.

The announcement came from Norwegian Church Aid, a humanitarian aid group that arranged a series of very low-key meetings between government officials and church and business leaders from both sides in the Norwegian capital, including a week of talks that just ended.

The agreement is "intended to start a dialogue to prevent conflicts between two countries with a relationship marred by hatred and mistrust," said Petter Skaugen, a special adviser for Norwegian Church Aid. A statement from the group said the agreement will be presented to the presidents of both nations for review.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, have a history of strained relations.

However, there have been moves toward a rapprochement under Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in recent years, with officials from both countries meeting to discuss borders, illegal migration and treatment of Haitians in the Dominican Republic.

The church aid group and the Norwegian Foreign Ministry have assembled foreign ministry officials, church leaders, humanitarian groups and industry from both nations for three rounds of talks, which started three years ago.

Skaugen said 12 representatives from each side, including foreign ministry officials, signed the cooperation agreement on Friday.

The delegations also discussed corruption, violence and contagious diseases, with special concern for the latter after an outbreak of polio (news - web sites) on the island afflicted people on both sides of the border.

In the late 1930s, troops taking orders from Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo massacred at least 20,000 Haitians along the border. Now, at least 600,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent live in the Dominican Republic.

Even though Dominicans depend on the Haitians for cheap labor, authorities deport about 2,000 people to Haiti every month and refuse birth certificates to an estimated 280,000 children of Haitian descent.

Norway, a nation of 4.5 million that is home of the Nobel Peace Prize, has been an active global peacebroker. The foreign ministry and Norwegian Church Aid also have cooperated on other peace drives, including a 1996 accord to end a 36-year civil war in Guatemala that had cost 140,000 lives.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press

                                                                                                                                                                                           Amid a hailstorm of pressures, the governing body of the Global Fund to fight AIDS  

April 26, 2002  

By Alison Raphael, OneWorld US

Following a meeting in New York this week, the Fund's board announced that US$378 million would be given to 40 projects in 31 countries to support a wide range of prevention and treatment programs aimed at combating the diseases that kill six million people each year.

The projects were selected from a pool of over 300, with just over half the grants going to Africa. Other regions, including the Americas, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific, were each allocated between 12 and 14 percent of the funds, according to a press briefing held Thursday morning.

Sixty percent of the grants are for projects to combat HIV/AIDS, including programs in 21 countries that will use the funds to purchase and distribute antiretroviral treatments for people living with the virus. Argentina was awarded $6.4 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and Haiti, one of the first countries to be affected by the epidemic, will receive $10.2 million.

The remainder of the grants were divided between TB and malaria projects and those tackling more than one of the three diseases. China was selected for a grant of $13.4 million to fight a tuberculosis epidemic, while Tanzania will receive $4.1 million to buy and distribute insecticide-treated bed nets to protect against mosquitoes, which carry the parasite that causes malaria.

AIDS activists and others have criticized the relatively small amount of funds available for disbursement. Despite requests by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for $7 to $10 billion a year from the international community, only $1.9 billion has been pledged, and less is actually in hand.

"It's simply shocking that this highly effective initiative is still so under-financed," said Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, a campaigning organization that is calling on the United States Congress to increase support for the Fund both this year and in 2003.

During Thursday's briefing, Fund board members said they hoped donor governments would increase their contributions once the effectiveness of the grant-giving body was shown.

The Fund has also been accused of not giving countries adequate time to develop their proposals. According to scientists and government officials cited in an article published by Nature magazine this week, the Fund has been slow to provide grant applicants with a list of guidelines that would be used to assess proposals, leaving interested groups only two months to prepare.

"There has been enormous pressure for us to move fast and show that this can work," said interim Global Fund director Dr. Anders Nordstrom in response to this accusation.

An additional 18 projects are likely to be approved, raising the total funds allocated to $616 million, explained Nordstrom, who added that a second round of projects will be considered in November.

Copyright © 2002

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 5:12 a.m., Friday, April 26, 2002

Artist-archittect Albert Mangones dies, sculpted renowned Unknown Fugitive Slave

By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Apr. 25 - Artist and architect Albert Mangones, the man whose monumental sculpture the Unknown Fugitive Slave became a symbol of Haiti, died Thursday at 85 of pernicious anemia, a family friend said.

Mangones died at his family home in suburban Martissant, said human rights advocate and longtime friend Sylvie Bajeux.

"We have lost a great man, an enormous part of our living memory," said Haitian Culture Minister Leila Desquiron.

Mangones studied architecture in Belgium and at Cornell University in the United States.

In the 1940s, he co-founded the Center of Arts, which promoted the early work of many famous peasant and worker primitive painters.

In 1948, he was the director-general of the seaside boulevard project in the capital, Port-au-Prince. The boulevard — with its promenades, pavilions, and colorfully lit, musical fountains — became a model for similar seaside projects throughout the Caribbean.

After decades of dictatorship, the Bicentennial Boulevard, also known as Harry Truman Boulevard, fell into ruins.

In 1968, Mangones designed the bronze Unknown Fugitive Slave, depicting a runaway slave holding a conch-shell to his lips in a reminder of the call to rebellion against slave-holding France in 1791, which led to Haitian independence in 1804. It stands on the Champs de Mars, the central plaza in front of the National Palace.

In 1989, the United Nations chose the statue for a series of stamps illustrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Mangones founded the National Institute for the Preservation of the National Heritage in 1971 and directed it until 1991. The Institute played an important role in the restoration of the early 19th-century Citadelle, the mountaintop fortress erected in northern Haiti by King Henry Christophe.

Mangones is survived by his wife, Vonik, two sons, a daughter and a stepdaughter. A date for funeral services has not yet been set.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press

U.S.-funded school builds future of hope in Haiti
By Michael Deibert, Reuters Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters), Apr. 25 - In the dusty Haitian village of Sano, nearly 200 high school studentsgather in the early morning light to sing Haiti's anthem, "The Dessalinienne," as they hoist the Haitian and American flags in front of their ochre three-story classroom building.

The two flags are symbolic of the dual nature of the Louverture-Cleary School and the vision at its heart.

The charter school is funded by American donations and dedicated to providing a first-class education for disadvantaged children from the nearby capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.

After languishing for years, it has been re-energized by the partnership of a group of American and Haitian employees and volunteers.

School director Patrick Moynihan is a 36-year-old American who left a high-paying job as a trader with Louis Dreyfus five years ago to work full time improving the school after what he called a "spiritual awakening."

"How does someone in the States 'earn' a car and someone here 'earns' dying of tuberculosis on an island in the Caribbean at seven years old?" Moynihan asks, a baseball cap shading his eyes from the bright Caribbean sun.

He approaches his work with a near-religious zeal about what he sees as a powerful mission in a poor nation where schooling is often cut short. According to a 1998 World Bank (news - web sites) report, 53 percent of Haiti's children aged 6 through 12 were enrolled in school but only 14 percent of those 13 to 18.

"Yeah, most of these kids come from a fiscally disadvantaged backgrounds, but my dream is to have an alumni meeting with 10 doctors, three senators and a couple of lawyers, people who have benefited from the education they got here and stayed to do something for the county," he said.

Around the school courtyard, same-sex dormitories rise three stories amid royal palms, the classroom building and a cafeteria. A short distance away, two buildings under construction rise from the brown earth. Students and teachers take turns during the school day helping paid laborers with the less dangerous parts of building new classrooms and dorms.


The school is Catholic-affiliated though open to all and is free except for a nominal meal fee that can be paid through a work-study program if the student's family cannot afford it.

Louverture-Cleary's mission is to select the top students from the poorest neighborhoods around the capital, provide them with an American-level education and encourage them to remain in Haiti after their studies instead of traveling abroad to find work as many of their countrymen have been forced to do.

"School, education, it gave me the chance to win back my life," said Simon Samuel, a 25-year-old Louverture-Cleary graduate who works as an administrative assistant at Xerox's Haiti headquarters in Port-au-Prince.

"I want to work and eventually make my own business and go back and help the poor," said Samuel.

Louverture-Cleary students often go on to administrative or office jobs with placement help from the school while pursuing higher education at one of the capital's universities.

One former student, Admaricarte Jean Baptiste, a multilingual 26-year-old university graduate now studying law, opted to return and coordinate Louverture-Cleary's language department.

The school library features volumes in several languages, as well as a poster of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and a gallery of Haitian presidents.

A different language -- English, Haitian Creole, French or Spanish -- is chosen for any given day and all requests and commands are given in that tongue. Students gain fluency in various languages as the result of the daily, unscripted use.

The school has some decidedly nontraditional elements, such as Catholic mass celebrated in a mixture of English and Creole and hymns sung to the accompaniment of a student playing the rada drum, a traditional voodoo instrument.


Despite administrators' attempts to create a learning-friendly environment, some harsh realities of life in Haiti occasionally intrude.

Students from some of the capital's rougher neighborhoods, such as the gang haven of Cite Soleil, spend some weekends at the school if violence flares up and school officials and parents deem it unsafe for them to try to return home.

"If they had to stay in places like Cite Soleil, they might never get the chance to help other people," said Garry Delice, the school's Haitian principal and a former teacher "They are too busy scrambling to take care of themselves.

"Here, though, we try and encourage a feeling of community and service, whether it's helping to clean the school every day or helping to build a new dorm."

Given Haiti's problems -- political violence, endemic poverty and an electoral impasse that has prompted donor nations to suspend $500 million in desperately needed aid -- the efforts of the Louverture-Cleary school may seem a drop in the bucket.

Moynihan, though, never doubts the value of what he and his staff are doing.

"Elements of Haitian society are very riven, very split apart at the moment, but there's hope that maybe these young people will be the glue that holds society together," Moynihan said. "They're going to lead this country into a different time, and it's going to be amazing.

Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Posted at 10:49 p.m., Monday, April 22, 2002

Survey finds modest progress for global press freedom in 2001

By Stephanie Gaskell, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK, Apr. 22 - Despite initial fears that restrictions would be placed on media covering the war in Afghanistan, a study released has found that there were no "major setbacks" in press freedom in 2001.

The Freedom House, a nonprofit organization which monitors political rights and civil liberties across the globe, released the survey Sunday.

"Press reporting of the war in Afghanistan has been robust, from battlefield accounts to analyses of future strategy," said Leonard Sussman, Freedom House's senior scholar in international communications. "Some laws adopted by democratic states have restricted access to information, but not press freedom, per se."

Of 186 countries reviewed, the organization found that 75 were considered "free," with no significant restrictions on the news media; 50 were "partly free," with some media restrictions; and 61 were rated "not free" for being under state control or having other obstacles to a free press.

Out of 187 countries surveyed in 2000, 72 were "free," 53 were "partly free," and 62 were "not free."

The survey did not include Afghanistan this year because there was not enough information to evaluate, Sussman said.

That was the first time since Freedom House began conducting the surveys in 1977 that a country was not rated. The group still rated Iraq during the Gulf War (news - web sites) because "there was still radio, they was still publishing," Sussman said.

In 2001, Ghana, Peru and Vanuatu moved from "partly free" to "free;" Mongolia from "free" to "partly free;" and Bangladesh and Haiti from "partly free" to "not free."

The United States remained in the "free" category, but the survey noted press freedom had been restricted slightly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

A report issued in February by a press watchdog group reached a much different conclusion.

The International Press Institute found press freedom was under attack in several countries, including Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and the United States.

The Austrian-based organization of editors, reporters and media executives said press freedom is endangered across the world — notably in countries where governments used security needs as an excuse to pressure journalists.

But Sussman argued that "limiting access to certain kinds of information does not mean a reduction in press freedoms." He said that there are times, such as wartime, when a country must limit information to protect national security.

"But it's simply an emergency arrangement and it will be undone when that emergency passes," he said.

The Freedom House survey was dedicated to Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter murdered in Pakistan in January.        

On the Net: http://www.freemedia

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Power struggle for FIFA presidency turns uglier, muddier

By the Associated Press

ZURICH, Switzerland, Apr. 22 - Struggling to contain a new round of accusations in the increasingly ugly power struggle for control of world soccer, FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Monday moved to silence his newest critic — his No. 2, Michel Zen-Ruffinen.

In weekend media interviews Zen-Ruffinen, FIFA's general-secretary, made a series of potentially damaging allegations about mismanagement and impropriety — including voter fraud and theft of documents — within the organization. Blatter asked Zen-Ruffinen to withdraw his comments in writing by Tuesday evening or back them up with evidence.

"What has happened here at FIFA in the last few days is intolerable," Blatter told a news conference one day after returning from a congress in Miami and meeting Zen-Ruffinen at FIFA's Zurich headquarters.

"I don't want him to resign but I do want him to do his job," he said, adding that — after 27 years at FIFA he was "saddened" by the developments.

The criticism from his one-time protege and friend — who comes from the same mountainous region of Switzerland — added to Blatter's woes as he wages his battle for re-election to another four-year term as president May 29.

UEFA President Lennart Johansson wrote to the European body's 51 member associations, urging them to vote for Issa Hayatou, Blatter's challenger and the head of the African soccer confederation.

"The President acts as if FIFA was his private property," Johansson wrote. "He announces new measures and makes promises left and right without any consultation with the Executive Committee."

"Throughout his term of office, Mr. Blatter has adopted an increasingly hostile and confrontational approach to Europe and provoked conflicts which are neither necessary nor in the best interests of FIFA," the letter said.

"In addition, he has pursued policies and initiatives which have damaged the reputation of FIFA and exposed the organization to commercial and financial uncertainty."

The letter was dated April 19. A copy was obtained by The Associated Press on Monday.

Blatter, a Swiss, has been president of the world soccer body since 1998 and before that was its long-standing general secretary. He has been accused by his critics of trying to cover up FIFA's financial losses after the dlrs 300 million collapse of ISL/ISMM, the company that held the marketing rights for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

Johansson said that even before the collapse of ISL there was serious overspending in 2000 — perhaps to the tune of 900 million Swiss francs (dlrs 545 million). But executive committee members remained in the dark about the exact state of FIFA finances.

Blatter was forced by FIFA's executive committee — of which the Swede Johansson is a member — to accept an audit last month. He suspended the investigation two weeks ago, citing a "breach of confidentiality" by an unnamed member.

He met Monday with Scotland's David Will, chairman of the audit committee to discuss how it could continue.

"Will disagrees partially with me, but not totally," said Blatter of the meeting, which will continue Tuesday.

"But we have nothing to hide here."

Much of the rivalry between Johansson and Blatter stems from the 1998 battle for the FIFA presidency, which Johansson lost in a closely fought contest.

Old accusations have resurfaced that Blatter's Arab supporters paid out bribes on the eve of the election to help him defeat Johansson. Blatter claims the attacks against him are part of a dirty presidential campaign.

In an interview with Sunday's SonntagsZeitung newspaper, Zen-Ruffinen said that at the 1998 elections, Haiti's representative was prevented from traveling to Paris for the vote. Another man claiming to be a Haitian delegate took his place — it subsequently turned out he was the brother-in-law of Jack Warner, the head of the and was from Trinidad.

"According to the FIFA rules, as a national of Trinidad, he shouldn't have been allowed to vote on behalf of Haiti. That is a clear case of deceptive voting," he said.

In another interview with the paper SonntagsBlick, Zen-Ruffinen said he got on "extremely well" with Blatter on a personal level, but had increasing problems with the way he ran FIFA.

He said rumors were circulating within FIFA that Blatter ordered the suspension of the audit investigation because it was uncovering evidence damaging to Blatter. Zen-Ruffinen and FIFA's finance director were unable to testify because of the suspension.

Zen-Ruffinen also said that documents from 1989 and 1990 relating to CONCACAF's Warner had been stolen from the FIFA archives.

Warner was, at the time, the subject of a criminal investigation and his own confederation was trying to remove him from power, but FIFA intervened in Warner's favor, said Zen-Ruffinen. Zen-Ruffinen described CONCACAF as "an association which has lurched from one scandal to the next for the past ten years, where one pays and threatens. It's unbelievable."

Zen-Ruffinen has threatened legal action against Warner for defamation of character after Warner demanded his resignation, accusing him of soliciting support for Hayatou. He didn't travel to the CONCACAF meeting in Miami at the weekend, saying he had been threatened by Warner.

The findings of the audit committee — if it is allowed to resume its work — would likely determine the outcome of the election, forecast Zen-Ruffinen.

Zen-Ruffinen was not at the news conference. Calls to his office and home telephone went unanswered.

"The title general-secretary has got two parts," said Blatter. "General means someone who leads and the word secretary includes the word secret."

"Our mutual trust is broken, but broken doesn't mean broken for ever," continued Blatter. "But the ball is in his court."

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 1:51 p.m., Monday, April 22, 2002

Herve Denis, Haiti's most prominent man of theater, died April 21, aged 62

By Yves A. Isidor, executive editor

A few days ago had you ask a Haitian theatergoer who was the most prominent man of theater in the Caribbean Republic of Haiti, the name suggested would probably has been Hervé Denis.

The burly, gravel-voiced Denis, who had been active as actor and director in avant-garde theater production since the 1970s, succumbed to cancer Sunday at his home in suburban Petionville, months after his stomach was removed to prevent cancer from spreading to his bones, a family friend said Monday.  

His production of Aimé Césaire's The Tragedy of King Christophe in the 1990s, which brought in the crowds, was in fact his greatest success, said many often called him as "the voice of Haitian theater."

Politics, especially the struggle for a democratic Haiti, and theater were seen to belong together. Mr.Denis, from 1993 to 1995, was culture and communication minister under Haiti's tyrant, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, only to after Aristide's return to Haiti in 1995, from nearly three years exile, mainly in the United States, fell out with him, denouncing his pronounced dictatorial tendencies.

"A wonderful, vibrant actor, whose struggle against death was as heroic as his struggle for life," said close friend, democracy advocate colleague and filmmaker Arnold Anthonin, with whom Denis, also an economist by profession, had collaborated on several documentaries, lending his voice to the scripts.

Many Haitians, too poor to pay for the cost (economic) of going to the theater, may had never been among Mr. Denis' theater audiences. But sure will they remember him, and for a longtime, for his opposition to the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier - an opposition that first lent him in jail for several days, then forcibly subjecting himself to the rigors of exile, after he was arrested and severely beaten by Duvalier's secret police.

So, too, will they remember that in 1996 Mr. Denis, who contemplated running against brutal dictator and radical leftist Aristide in the November 2000 presidential vote boycotted by the democratic opposition, better known as the Convergence Democratique, was twice nominated by then sitting leftist dictator-president, René Préval, to be premier of Haiti.  

For many, Mr. Denis' plays, which were competently made, will be memorable.  

The date for Mr. Denis's funeral, who had earned his place in the history of Haitian theater and struggle for a democratic Haiti, has yet been set.

We convey our expressions of condolences to Mr. Denis's family.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Haitian woman seeking asylum

By Jody A. Benjamin, Black Voices Writer

Mon. Apr 22 - Six months ago, she lay crying on a filthy street in Gonäives, Haiti, fending off kicks and punches from machete-wielding men screaming political slogans.

After arriving in Florida after nine days aboard a rickety, overcrowded boat without food or water, Jeanne Noel is safe from her country’s political violence. But because she is Haitian, the mother of three is now detained at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, following rules designed for criminals — though she is not one.

“Our days are not good at all,” Noel, 40, said through an interpreter, her dark brown eyes welling with tears. “You don’t sleep. You don’t eat. I don’t know why I am in jail.”

Noel is one of 60 Haitian women seeking asylum who have been at the maximum-security jail near Miami International Airport since Dec. 3.

As a Haitian, Noel is subject to rules instituted that month requiring her detention even if asylum officers think she has a credible claim that returning to Haiti would mean death or imprisonment.

Because she is a woman, Noel must be housed at the county jail, which the Immigration and Naturalization Service says is the only safe place to detain her. The less-restrictive Krome detention camp is not an option since December 2000, when INS began to move all women to the jail in response to allegations that guards were sexually abusing them.

“This is outrageous. It is unspeakable,” said Marleine Bastien, founder and director of Haitian Women of Miami. “It is a travesty of justice. I wish the eyes of the world will open to what’s going on in the U.S., which is supposed to be a protector of human rights.”

INS says the change in detention policy was meant to discourage Haitians from making dangerous sea crossings. U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard is weighing a lawsuit filed in March by immigrant advocates alleging that the federal government actively discriminates against Haitians because of their nationality and race. Last week, the INS allowed the first media access to some of the Haitian women of TGK who are at the center of the legal and political controversy. The interviews come at a time when the INS is under close scrutiny by Congress that could result in the agency’s reorganization. In interviews with the Sun-Sentinel, the Haitian women said they felt humiliated by conditions at the jail. They complained of strip searches and constant body counts, inedible and monotonous food, lack of money to call relatives living nearby, insults and occasional mistreatment by some of the correctional officers.

“They say we smell,” said detainee Laurence St. Pierre, 27, a named plaintiff in the discrimination lawsuit.

Last week, the United Nations (news - web sites) High Commissioner for Refugees criticized INS handling of the Haitian refugees in Miami as “contrary to... international refugee law.”

Likewise, the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP complained about the plight of the detained Haitians in an April 16 letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites).

“Using the threat of detention to deter the arrival of asylum-seekers is neither legally nor morally acceptable,” wrote branch President Brad Brown. “These Haitians know full well the risks when they take to the high seas in flimsy boats, yet they do so because their fear of remaining in Haiti is so grave.”

Life at TGK

At TGK, noncriminal asylum-seekers such as the Haitian women are housed in unit K-46, a two-story open room segregated from the rest of the jail by two heavy doors of metal and glass. Adorning its pale yellow walls are faded, construction-paper flags — South Africa, Kiribati, Vietnam, Haiti. Two large, round security mirrors hang from the ceiling.

Detainees are housed one or two to a room. In one corner of the unit is a small kitchen and shower area.

An outdoor recreation area, covered in mesh fencing, is separated from the main living area by glass walls and locked doors. It contains a basketball court, a sagging volleyball net and plastic chairs. Pushed into a corner, a banged-up ping-pong table sits unused, its warped surface covered in fine dust.

On a recent day, a small group of women watched Spanish-language television under a stairwell. Others braided hair in front of a mirror on the wall. Still more wandered about in orange uniforms and rubber slippers.

Unlike at Krome, where male detainees play soccer on open fields and walk around an open campus, the women at TGK spend most of each day in unit K-46. That is especially true since February, when jail officials began limiting detainee access to the recreation yard to one hour every other day and requiring detainees to sign up in advance, rules instituted after a county inmate escaped.

“It’s for security reasons,” said Janelle Hall, Miami-Dade County Corrections Department spokeswoman. “Everybody has to be treated the same way.”

Several Haitian detainees said they avoid the unit’s nearby recreation area because they are patted down by officers wearing rubber gloves when they come back inside.

“I haven’t been out there since February,” said detainee Claudia Casseus, 36, who was once too afraid to sleep in her home in Gonäives because of threats. “Why do they have to search me if I am in prison already? It is very humiliating.” Besides recreation, visitation rules at TGK are also more restrictive than those at Krome, according to the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, the group pursuing the discrimination lawsuit.

“The treatment of female detainees at TGK is the result of a pervasive pattern of discrimination and neglect,” said Cheryl Little, the agency’s executive director.

While male detainees at Krome are entitled to two contact visits per week, the women at the county jail are allowed one per month. Family members must lean down to speak through a small opening in the Plexiglas that separates them.

Each time they are taken to Krome in southwest Miami-Dade for court, the detainees are strip-searched when they return to the correctional center.

“We have to remove our clothes every time,” said detainee Josline St. Amand. She said she has been strip-searched four times since December. “I don’t like it.”

About a week ago, St. Amand and St. Pierre said, a female officer became angry that the detainees had used a trash can without a liner and accused the group of lacking respect for her. St. Pierre said the officer screamed curses at the women, then dumped the can’s contents onto the floor. A detainee mopped up the mess. “

After that incident I was so mad, I went to my room,” St. Pierre said. Asked about the allegation, INS and jail officials said it was the first time they heard of it. The detainees have been told in Creole that they have a right to file grievances about such claims, INS spokesman Rodney Germain said.

“These things need to be brought to our attention,” Germain said. None of the unit’s officers speaks Creole, according to both jail officials and detainees. When officers need to communicate something important, they usually call a Creole-speaking officer who works on another floor of the jail, said Hall, the county jail spokeswoman.  

On a recent day, a county nurse unable to communicate with some of the detainees turned to a visiting reporter for assistance. “Do you speak Creole?” she asked.  

Worried about future

Many of the Haitian detainees are Pentecostal Christians from the north-central coastal city of Gonäives. Active in a Haitian opposition party called Mochrena, the Creole acronym for Christian Movement for National Reconciliation, they fled by boat on Nov. 25 after a series of confrontations with pro-government groups turned violent. St. Amand said pro-government supporters attacked her when she tried to cast a vote for an opposition candidate in October. “They were beating up on everybody,” said St. Amand, 28. She was knocked to the ground. “When I tried to get up and run away, a man wearing a ring punched me in the nose.”

St. Pierre said she was raped and beaten by a local leader of the pro-government Lavalas party after she helped campaign for the opposition. In a statement to INS, St. Pierre, a named party in the discrimination lawsuit, said Lavalas members also forced her to roll in filth on the street.

After going into hiding for a few weeks, St. Pierre said she fled Haiti for her life, paying $30 in Haitian dollars (about $6 U.S.) to board an overcrowded refugee boat.

“I would prefer for them to get me a coffin than to send me back there,” St. Pierre said “There is no security in Haiti. There is no doubt Lavalas will kill me.”

But the women at TGK worry less about living conditions than their ultimate fate: Will they be returned to Haiti, or allowed to stay? Most are hoping for a miracle similar to the one that helped them survive the nine-day boat trip that brought them here.

“Soon it’s going to be five months that we are in this place, but I still don’t know what is going to happen,” said Noel, who prays every day, alone and with other detainees. “It’s in God’s hands.”                                                                                                                                                                                           Jody A. Benjamin can be reached at or 954-356-4530.

Copyright © 2002 Black Voices.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 4:29 p.m., Sunday, April 21, 2002

1 town, 16 languages

Inside Boston's tower of babble, the AM melting pot (and why there's so little FM time)

By Ron Fletcher, Globe Correspondent, 4/21/2002

`Does this household have a radio?''

For Boston's ethnic communities, there is nothing dated about that 1930 US Census question to which 12 million Americans responded yes.

''Radio is the tool that Haitians use to get their news,'' says Lesly Jacques, director and host of the Radio Haiti Amerique International Network. ''We're talking about a group of people who do not have time to watch a lot of television. With radio, they can listen while they work.''

Not just Haitians. Every week, Greater Boston DJs build bridges to Ethiopia, Somalia, India, Israel, Greece, Italy, Poland, Ireland, China, Russia, and Armenia. Though Haitian and Spanish shows dominate the schedules of stations such as WUNR (1600), WRCA (1330), and WNTN (1550), myriad cultures take to the airwaves to celebrate and husband a hyphenated identity.

The expansion of Boston's ethnic mosaic, which led to 24/7 Spanish-language programming on AM in 2000, has also increased pressure to get more ethnic programming onto smoother, less-staticky FM, as in most major American cities.

The pumped-up Spanish-language AM programming doesn't compare with the commercial sounds on FM in cities such as New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, or Chicago, says Jose Masso, host of Con Salsa, a midnight-5 a.m. Sunday show on public radio station WBUR (90.9 FM). ''We've gone from the typewriter to the electric typewriter, but everybody else is on a computer. We're still behind.''

Even the well-established African-American community finds just a few commercial spots on the FM dial, such as WJMN 94.5 or WBOT 97.7.

But the relegation to AM is a boon to AM operators here.

''I get calls all the time from people looking to broadcast Brazilian, Greek, Haitian, or Indian shows - to name a few,'' says Stu Fink, WRCA station manager. ''If I had three more stations, I could fill them with ethnic programming. There's a great need for unity among neighborhoods today.''

Blending news and entertainment of homelands left behind, ethnic programming covers both the Arabic ''Arabiyat'' and ''The Yiddish Voice.''

''Radio has an immediacy and relevance for ethnic groups that is unrivaled elsewhere,'' says Tom Lewis, author of ''Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio.'' ''One moment they're hearing the songs of their grandparents, the next, news of governments in transition, then, maybe, information on where to purchase a particular spice for a traditional meal.''

Ron Rudnick, who owns and manages WNTN, sees ethnic programming as a welcome anomaly to the vanilla fare being served around the rest of the dial. ''Radio in general has lost its local flavor,'' he says. ''Everything is studied down to the finest detail and marketed accordingly. Songs are pre-chosen and talk is kept to a minimum. Hosts no longer have a true connection to their listeners.''

Lewis agrees, comparing AM radio stations to microbreweries. ''By catering to particular tastes and concerns,'' he explains, ''they provide an alternative to all the Bud and Miller offered elsewhere.''

Though specialty programming such as Irish, Italian, or Greek shows date back to the years following World War II, the establishment of AM stations dedicated to foreign language broadcasting did not take root until the 1970s. Thank FM, rock 'n'roll, and the explosion of youth culture. The higher highs and lower lows that Frequency Modulation delivered led many in the industry to see it as the ideal medium for classical music. The profits and popularity of rock formats, however, retooled that intention. With music programs abandoning the narrow range of Amplitude Modulation, AM had to hustle to fill the void.

''The once lucrative AM stations were losing listeners, thus ad revenue,'' explains Fink. ''Music headed for FM and talk seemed a good fit for AM. Meanwhile, the late '70s influx of ethnic groups into the Boston area created the need for a source of information and entertainment for various communities.''

Fink's account speaks to the genesis of ''Sounds of India,'' a weekly mix of entertainment and news in greater Boston's Indian community that has aired for almost 30 years.

''Before we started the show, in 1974, the only entertainment for our people was the occasional Indian movie at MIT,'' recalls Binite Dang, half of the husband-wife team on from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Sunday on WRCA.

The show has featured interviews with prominent Indian politicos - the Indian ambassador to the US recently stopped by their Central Square studio - and has sponsored annual cultural events at the Lowell Memorial arena. Next month ''Sounds of India'' will present Udit Narayan, whose singing is featured in the Oscar-nominated film ''Lagaan.''

''From day one we have had one thing in mind: Serve the community,'' says Harish Dang, who spends his weekdays as a senior vice-president for S alomon Smith Barney. ''We started a community minute back when the show was only a half-hour long. Now, we deliver 10 to 15 minutes of community news each week - at no cost. It doesn't matter if the information pertains to Hindus or Muslims. If [it] can help the community at large, we air it.''

Lesly Jacques cites such civic-mindedness as the impetus for his expanding Radio Haiti Amerique Internationale, a network based in Florida that last October began simulcasting 12 hours of programming on - and from - WRCA in Cambridge. Jacques divides his time between Florida and Boston, filling his days with hosting shows and hustling sponsors.

''It's a crazy, crazy life, but it's enjoyable and good,'' says Jacques, who wants to connect Haitian communities in New York and Montreal as well to the homeland he left in 1987.

His programs downplay entertainment to focus on education - a Jacques mantra. ''The only way to help the Haitian community is through education,''he says. ''With education you are able to make your own choices. That's my conviction. So, we offer news and history and book readings in French and Creole and English.

''Often I hear from people that they have made the decision to go back to school,'' says Jacques with a wide, easy smile. ''That is my greatest achievement.''

Though the chance to accomplish some social good appeals to many of those involved in ethnic programming, the bottom line, nonetheless, is the bottom line. Most stations operate on a ''brokering'' system, selling anywhere from one to 12 hours of air time to programmers, who in turn seek the sponsorship or funding to cover that cost - and then some.

''The money can come from anywhere,'' says WRCA's Fink, ''out of the pockets of enterprising businessmen, from civic organization, ads, or underwriting. No two programs are alike in that sense.''

When asked about his hopes for the fledgling program ''Rumba 1330,'' an eight-hour weekday mix of music and news that targets the Caribbean communities in Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan, Eduardo Guererro says simply ''commercials.'' A respected journalist in his native Dominican Republic and former Spanish teacher, Guererro is clear-eyed about the challenge before him. ''Our goal is to create a great show that gets the Hispanic market as well as the American market interested in us. Radio cannot survive without commercials.''

Ted Demetriades, who has shepherded his retired father's legendary ''Grecian Echoes'' radio program into its fifth decade, agrees. He lauds the 100 different sponsors - from those selling baptismal outfits to those offering funeral services - for their vital role. ''Their support has enabled me and host Peter Cakridas to keep my father's legacy alive - to keep our community in tune with the music, religion, traditions, and food of our culture,'' says Demetriades, whose show airs six days a week on WNTN.

''`Grecian Echoes' is a way for us to preserve our piece of the American pie,'' he adds.

Three months ago Demetriades launched his show on the Web, and he has received favorable responses from listeners in California, Texas, Arizona, and Maine. Yet despite the possibilities for this new medium, neither Demetriades nor others in the business are giving up on AM radio.

''We grew up listening to the radio,'' says Demetriades, ''it has been a big part of our Sundays for three generations. That experience is very much alive today.''

D o you listen to ethnic programming? E-mail us at about your favorite show - or about what is missing from Boston's airwaves.

This story ran on page 1 of the Boston Globe's City Weekly section on 4/21/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Meek, black caucus call for aid to Haiti

By Frank Davies, Miami Herald Writer,

WASHINGTON, April 19 - Rep. Carrie Meek, a Miami Democrat, and the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday renewed a plea to the State Department to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to Haiti.

U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, have said that Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide must do more to work toward electoral reform, citing 2000 parliamentary elections that critics say were rigged.

In recent months, U.S. officials have held up almost $500 million in international loans and assistance. That includes $146 million in loans approved by the Inter-American Development Bank.

''People are suffering in Haiti and we feel that our nation has an obligation to do something about it,'' said Meek at a Capitol Hill press conference.

``We'd like to see the United States end the linkage between humanitarian aid and the political process in Haiti.''

A State Department spokesman said Thursday that $50 million in U.S. aid this year is going to nongovernmental and international groups, but the United States does not want to provide aid or loans to the Haitian government until it resolves its electoral crisis and improves human rights.

Meek, who visited Haiti in February, and other members of the Black Caucus said Aristide needs to pursue reforms and respect the political opposition, but said those issues should not block aid to a country experiencing high rates of infant mortality, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

The caucus introduced a House resolution this week urging the Bush administration to remove the obstacles to aid. Meek also called on Powell to get more involved in Haiti to improve the negotiations between Aristide and his political opponents.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 8 a.m., Friday, April 19, 2002

Eventful Day Sends FiFa Reeling Into Huge Crisis ... Vote cast for Haiti at the 1998 FIFA presidential election said to be fraudulent  

By Mike Collett, Reuters Writer

PARIS (Reuters), Apr. 19 - One of the most remarkable days in FIFA's 98-year history ended in spectacular fashion on Thursday when general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen launched legal action against CONCACAF president Jack Warner and his general secretary Chuck Blazer for defamation of character.

The move is unprecedented in the annals of world soccer's governing body and was just one of four astonishing developments as the crisis at the heart of FIFA deepened.

Zen-Ruffinen's action came on the same day that Issa Hayatou of Cameroon presented his election manifesto, kicking off his campaign to wrest the FIFA presidency from beleaguered Sepp Blatter in Seoul at next month's Congress.

In the day's third development Hayatou and UEFA president Lennart Johansson both called on Blatter to open an investigation into allegations that a vote cast for Haiti at the 1998 FIFA presidential election was fraudulent.

Hayatou also launched an attack on Jerome Champagne, Blatter's presidential advisor, accusing him of interfering in the work of some confederations and undermining officials in their jobs.

Then Zen-Ruffinen, in the most candid interview he has given in his four years in his post, accused Blatter of effectively "gagging him" by suspending the work of the internal audit committee set up to examine the state of FIFA's finances because he had "delicate information" he could have given the committee.

But this civil war is really still only in its opening stages.

More revelations are likely to be made in the next few days as CONCACAF -- FIFA's fourth largest confederation representing 35 countries in north and central America and the Caribbean -- holds its Congress in Miami Saturday and European governing body UEFA holds its Congress in Stockholm next week. CIVIL WAR

One significant stage of the conflict could now be played out in the courts after Zen-Ruffinen confirmed in a statement issued by FIFA's communications division that he had instructed a firm of New York lawyers to open proceedings against CONCACAF.

Zen-Ruffinen had threatened to take action against Warner and Blazer unless comments which had appeared on the confederation's Web site were retracted.

The comments had suggested that Zen-Ruffinen had asked Warner and Blazer to support Hayatou against Blatter in the FIFA presidential elections that will take place in Seoul on May 29 -- two days before the World Cup finals open.

Zen-Ruffinen had told CONCACAF that they had until midnight Monday April 15 to retract the comments, but the federation took no action before the deadline.

The FIFA statement also said that Zen-Ruffinen had no option but to miss this weekend's CONCACAF Congress in Miami, where Warner will stand unopposed for re-election as president.

Both Warner and Blazer are members of FIFA's highest rule-making body, the 24-man executive committee, while Warner is also a FIFA vice-president.


Their comments came in the context of a row over an allegation that Zen-Ruffinen had interfered in a CONCACAF matter.

Warner is currently unopposed in the CONCACAF election on Saturday because he and Blazer refused to allow Mexico's Dr. Edgardo Codesal to stand, saying he was ineligible because he was a paid employee of the confederation.

Zen-Ruffinen said that FIFA's Bureau of Legal Matters should review the exclusion of Codesal.

Blazer replied with a strong statement saying Zen-Ruffinen had exceeded the powers of his position and should resign or be suspended by Blatter.

The row also has implications for the FIFA presidential race because Warner and Blazer are staunch allies of Blatter, who has become estranged from Zen-Ruffinen despite their once-close working relationship.

A huge gulf now exists between them and it would seem inconceivable that Zen-Ruffinen will hold his position after the May 29 vote if Blatter is re-elected president.

Indeed Blatter may attempt to remove him from office before then, although under the FIFA constitution Zen-Ruffinen is answerable to the executive committee and not Blatter.


The internal crisis at FIFA erupted while Blatter was on an electioneering tour of 10 African countries last week. It continued to develop Thursday when Zen-Ruffinen was quoted by Le Temps newspaper in Switzerland saying he had been prevented from giving evidence about various "dysfunctions" in FIFA's administration to the suspended audit committee.

Blatter had halted the investigation, instigated to study the effects of the collapse of FIFA's long-term marketing partners ISL-ISMM, because, he said, of alleged breaches of confidentiality.

The suspension was executed by Blatter just before the committee was due to question FIFA's finance director Urs Linzi.

"I think that these maneuvers were also aimed at stopping me giving evidence because I could reveal some delicate details," Zen-Ruffinen told Le Temps.

"The statutes state that all decisions in this area should be controlled by my department.

"However, I know that several had been taken without consulting me. It is clear that the rules were not followed, either by the president himself, or by the director of finances."  

U-TURN                                                                                                                                                                                                  Blatter, meanwhile, said he had been hurt by the manner of UEFA president Johansson's "U-turn" over his bid for re-election as FIFA president. Blatter had been counting on the support of Johansson as he bids to win a second term in office, but Johansson -- who lost out to Blatter four years ago -- is now backing Hayatou. "

At the end of last year, (Johansson) disclosed that he was in support of my candidature," Blatter told CNN in an interview screened this week.

"He had written to me twice, saying 'you can sleep, there is no problem, you will be the only candidate'.

"But all of a sudden he changed his mind...he did not warn me...I would have expected from him in a fair contest to phone and say 'I'm changing my mind, for (certain) reasons I would prefer to have another candidate'."

Meanwhile, Johansson and Hayatou called on Blatter to investigate claims made by the London Daily Mail that Haiti's vote at the 1998 presidential election was cast for Blatter by a late stand-in after the eligible official was prevented from leaving the Caribbean island when his passport was confiscated.

Blatter beat Johansson by a large margin of 111-80 votes.

Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited.

                                                                                                                                                                                       Posted at 12:41 a.m., Friday, April 19, 2002

From Bed-Study, Harlem, and the Bronx to Outer Space

By Erik Baard, Village Voice Writer

Thursday April 18 - In places like Bedford-Stuyvesant, Harlem, and the South Bronx, under a light-polluted sky cut to ribbons by grids of looming buildings, the stars still tug at young minds. "I am the ghetto child,/I am the dark baby. . . . And yet/I am my one sole self,/America seeking the stars," wrote the Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. Now the National Aeronautics and Space Administration wants a new generation of this city's African American students not only to feel the cosmos through metaphor, but to know it in physics.

Of the roughly 6400 astronomers in America, two dozen are black. Facing that and similar voids in its astronaut pool and engineering base, NASA is sponsoring the fledgling City University of New York space science program to draw bright college students into its ranks, but more surprisingly, it's reaching down into junior high and grade school to spark black kids into thinking about getting fitted for a space suit. NASA began after-school programs last week in Brooklyn for junior high school kids to study the science they'll need to be part of the space program decades down the line.

"We can't have an astrophysics program at Medgar Evers College, Queensboro Community College, Hunter College, or the College of Staten Island. But together, we can," explains astrophysicist Leon P. Johnson, chairman of the physical, environmental, and computer science department at Medgar Evers College, and project director of New York City Space Science Research Alliance, which developed the CUNY space science program.

Low expectations can be nearly as destructive as poverty and racism. The simple act of displaying the NASA logo on a classroom door opens young people's minds to careers they were once shut out of, educators point out. A cynic might add that NASA is also shoring up its Democratic base by providing pork for African American members of Congress in the form of computer laboratories and other facilities that they can name for themselves—they're a voting bloc that has often seen space exploration as diverting funds from problem-solving here on Earth.

But less obvious is that NASA's move injects life into color-blind disciplines that black scientists say have been eclipsed within their own community by more overtly Afrocentric pursuits. Some top students lifted their faces from difficult physics textbooks only to receive what amounted to a slap from a black hand.

One example: Two African American undergraduate students on the Harvard University wrestling team were walking from the gym. The younger one, a kid from the Bronx named Neil, complained that his astrophysics courses weren't leaving him time to sleep. The banter stopped as abruptly as their footfalls.

"Blacks in America do not have the luxury of your intellectual talents being spent on astrophysics," declared the elder student, waving his hand in front of Neil's chest. That indictment, recounted in Neil deGrasse Tyson's autobiography, The Sky Is Not the Limit, rings fresh in him today, though he's an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, where he also teaches classes for the CUNY program.

Other black scientists empathize with Tyson. "We hear those things and we don't buy it. You can't dictate to me how I should contribute," says William Harris, assistant professor of computer science at Medgar Evers. "We have to make our contributions wherever we are. Dr. Tyson is helping the CUNY Space Science Program so that black youngsters will get through. You can't get much blacker than that."

But a problem for working astrophysicists is how to balance community outreach with research. It's even tougher to win a Nobel Prize in physics if you're giving up days each month to visit ghetto schools or aggressively seek black interns, though more than a dozen scientists and engineers interviewed for this article say they made such efforts gladly.

Johnson, Harris, and their colleagues have pulled together rigorous NASA programs that reach from college kids down to what may eventually include preschoolers. In four sessions a year, Medgar Evers College (which boasts a new Congressman Major R. Owens Aeronautics Education Laboratory) is hosting about 60 students in a Science, Engineering, Mathematics & Aerospace Academy (SEMAA), for which Harris is program director, and 35 to 45 students in an Aeronautics & Earth Science Academy (AESA), on weekdays after school, Saturdays, and during summer vacations. Classes run three hours, and a SEMAA session runs for eight classes, while the AESA concludes after six. York College in Jamaica, Queens, is also hosting a SEMAA program. The new computer laboratories at participating colleges are equipped with virtual-reality space-shuttle flight simulators. "

Just bring in kids who don't necessarily have a background in science, and we try to change all that," says Harris.

Older students are also being courted for internships at NASA, and "Parent Cafés" will maintain the learning momentum with practical guidance on how to keep studies going in the home. Parents will even replicate some of the experiments conducted by their children to better understand their work. Teachers are also being trained by NASA in science education. At Columbia University, the Institute on Climate and Planets was created for minority students.

The CUNY Space Science Baccalaureate Program is eclectic. Computer science plays into space science because of the huge role simulations and data crunching play in astronomy and missions to other worlds. Biology and chemistry are booming, too, as the hunt for extraterrestrial life revs up. Because the Space Science Program began just last year, no students have risen through it from start to finish yet, but the sexiness of the NASA connection has already engendered greater ambitions.

"Last year I was going to be content with my B.S. degree in computer science—'OK, I'm finished. Great.' But the space program was challenging and helped inspire me to be more," says Nataki Komunyaka Richardson, a graduating senior at City College who now plans to pursue master's and doctoral degrees related to space science. At age 30, Richardson is like many enrolled at CUNY, a returning student who worked full-time through most of her studies. Fellow CCNY student Patrick Michel, an immigrant from Haiti with new Ph.D. ambitions, adds,

"The Space Science Program opened my mind to the world of science, mathematics, and computational science." The space science program motivates even marginal students. "I tell the kids, 'You can't do this without calculus,' " Harris says. " 'You can't do it at Columbia and you can't do it here.' " But that tough love works, he adds, because "you can excite them about the possibility of careers in space."

NASA is eager to tap that overlooked pool of talent. In 2001, before the recent round of expansions, the agency says, it spent $4.6 million to nurture science skills among African Americans and Latinos in New York City even as celebrated programs, like one researching ways to probe the ocean of Jupiter's moon Europa, have fallen under the budget ax.

Johnson, a Harlem native and son of a cab driver, sees the NASA push in New York and nationally as a continuation of the way federal investment in science during the Cold War's space race of the 1960s benefited minority students. "I don't think I would have gone away to college if it wasn't for the fact the government was putting a lot of money into science," he says. Still, he adds, "for minorities it's always been a struggle. I've always felt that we would be there, in space, but I was disappointed that African Americans and Hispanics were not part of the initial astronaut group."

Astronauts are among our nation's most celebrated peacetime heroes, but New York City's African American community, arguably the intellectual capital of a people, has yet to send one of its own into space. For a long time it seemed that being a white guy born in Ohio—John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, James Lovell—was your best ticket off Earth. As recently as 1995, the crew of one shuttle mission was entirely white, with four of five being Ohioans.

But it's in rigorous programs, not role models, that Johnson and NASA place faith.

"Kids only see that one person that one time," NASA spokesman Dwayne Brown says of role models. "Then they go home, and what do they see? Rappers, athletes on BET and in videos. How do you counteract that with folks in the sciences? They need constant reinforcement."

The vanguard of African Americans in space science simply had to look beyond color. "I really had the support of the white community," recalls Ronald Mallett a physics professor at the University of Connecticut specializing in classical and quantum theory of black holes, relativistic astrophysics, and quantum cosmology. "It didn't matter to me that the men and women in physics were white, just that they were good, if I were to take them as my role models. And my thesis adviser took me on because he thought I was good and could do the work. Being black—that happens to be an accident of birth that I'm very proud of, but the choice I made was I wanted to understand Einstein's work in space and time. I became a theoretical physicist. Still, it's always nice when people find I'm one more role model."

Mallett rarely draws attention to his race. But a recently updated Web page at his university displays a photo of Mallett, and that prompted an anonymous comment at the forum for discussing science and technology: "This guy is a NIGGER! Go look at his page!"

Tyson thought nothing of an invitation, when he was a doctoral candidate, to go on television to explain solar flares. But when he saw himself on-screen when he got home, he realized that until that moment he'd never seen an African American scientist teaching a huge, mixed audience about a subject wholly removed from race. Both Mallett and

Tyson found race-blind inspiration as children in the South Bronx. For Tyson, it was staring at the moon from his stoop through a pair of binoculars after his father took him to Hayden Planetarium.

"I saw the mountains and valleys and craters of the moon. It became another world, something to learn about," he remembers. "I knew I wanted to be a scientist since I was nine years old and I never wavered." Although he was a child during the moon shots, he says, "I didn't identify with those guys—not because they were white, but because apart from Armstrong they were all military guys with crew cuts. You have to remember I was a kid in the 1960s."

For Mallett, the moment he was chosen for science arrived nearly 50 years ago, when he was 10. Months after his father collapsed on the living-room floor and died of heart failure, he came upon H.G. Wells's The Time Machine. Grief melded with imagination to form a fantasy of traveling back in time to warn his father, and momentum from that early obsession propelled him through a Ph.D. in physics at Pennsylvania State University. His time-travel concepts have recently earned him renown among other astrophysicists, and he's now writing a book about time for a popular readership. But will it get noticed by black book reviewers?

"There's self-censorship within the black community. I think it's a crime," says San Diego State University librarian Robert Fikes Jr., who has written often about blacks in color-blind research. "Books by black authors that aren't specific to the black situation don't get reviewed. A change is long past due, given the fullness of the black experience, which is increasing year after year, but you wouldn't know it from reading the black periodicals." In short, a researcher's work is as invisible before a new African American-themed novel as a firefly crossing a spotlight.

Charles Whitaker, a senior editor at Ebony, counters, "It is fair to say that we would like to receive more 'color-blind' titles. But I do believe publishers push their more Afrocentric offerings on us."

Some black scientists, like Mallett, report that at least after making names for themselves, other black academics, from poets to sociologists, have gone out of their way to laud them.

But it's the early praise and rewards for disciplined students that will earn seats for African Americans on the ships carrying the first Mars colonists, say the educators working with NASA. After all, as Harris says, "Everyone shows up on this planet with a dream."

Copyright © 2002 Village Voice  

                                                                                                                                                                                       Police crackdown in Jamaica nets 51 'drug mules,' 2,502 cocaine-filled condoms and nearly dlrs 1 million in suspected drug funds  

By David Paulin, Associated Press Writer

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Apr. 18 - In a crackdown called "Operation Swallow" Jamaican police arrested 51 drug smugglers, 2,502 cocaine-filled condoms they had swallowed and nearly a million dollars in suspected drug money.

"That is what we wanted to do," Senior Superintendent Carl Williams said in an interview Thursday of the nine-day operation that ended Saturday.

"We wanted to ensure that we are playing on a level field (with the drug smugglers) because when they swallow drugs, it's too difficult for us" to intercept them, he said.

The crackdown has forced narcotics traffickers to use other, more difficult methods to smuggle drugs out of this Caribbean island, according to Williams, Jamaica's top anti-narcotics policeman.

Most of the action took place at Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport, with a few arrests at the airport of northern Montego Bay resort.

So successful were they that toward the end of the operation nearly 100 passengers did not show up for a flight to Britain, which Williams attributed to smugglers fears of being caught.

This island of 2.6 million is one of the major drug transshipment points in the Caribbean, along with Haiti. Most is smuggled by passengers on Air Jamaica and British Airways flights to London. Smugglers also use container ships, private aircraft and "go-fast" speedboats.

Jamaica's police force acted after reports that Britain was going to require visas from citizens of this former British colony, to discourage the trafficking.

In all, 59 people were arrested, Williams said. They included 51 'drug mules' who swallowed — and later excreted in the hospital — 2,502 cocaine-filled condoms, called "pellets," totaling 53 kilograms (117 pounds) of cocaine. Fifty-one kilograms (112 pounds) were destined for Britain and the remaining two for the United States.

Working alongside Colombian narcotics officers, the Jamaican police also seized dlrs 538,930 of suspected drug money from a Colombian and a Briton as they were about to board a flight to Panama.

Information Jamaica's police obtained from one arrested person led Colombian police to arrest an 18-year-old Colombian woman, carrying dlrs 389,500 in suspected drug money, as she arrived in Bogota from Jamaica.

In another case, a drug mule "ratted" on an accomplice, leading police to find 70 "pellets" of cocaine in an inmate's cell at St. Catherine District Prison, near Kingston, said Detective. Sgt. Jubert Llewellyn, a police spokesman.

In the past, drug mules have tended to be women in their early 20s, but Operation Swallow captured 34 men and 25 women, Llewellyn said. All were Jamaican except for two Americans, two Britons and two Colombians, police said

None of the suspects were identified by name.

A mule can earn dlrs 1,700 to dlrs 4,255, said Donovan Nelson, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Security. That's tempting in country where the yearly income averages dlrs 3,700 a year.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                       Haiti: proof of hypocrisy                                                                                                             Farmers in Haiti have their livehood destroyed by competition from subsidised American rice  

Charlotte Denny, April 11, 2002 The Guadian 

Under the dictates of the World Bank and IMF, Haiti began a programme of rapid trade liberalisation in the 1980s. The import tariff on rice, the staple crop of Haiti's largely rural population, was cut from 50% to 3%, opening the country to a flood of cheap US imports.

At the beginning of 1990, the country was nearly self-sufficient in rice. By the end of the decade, production had halved and subsidised imports from the US accounted for more than half the local rice sales.

Oxfam says that while the urban population has benefited from cheaper food, the results have been devastating for the farmers. More than half the Haitian children are malnourished and 80% of the rural population lives below the poverty line.

"In many ways it is Haiti which stands out as the star pupil of the IMF and World Bank," the report says.

"The poorest country on the UN rankings of human development, in 1986 it joined the super league of trade liberalisers.

"The transition has had appalling consequences for poor people, but the country is still praised by the World Bank as a strong reformer."

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Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002

                                                                                                                                                                                      Posted at 3:10 p.m., Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Human rights advocates, opposition protest re-arrest of former military dictator Prosper Avril

By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Apr. 16  - The government's arrest of former military dictator Prosper Avril as he was released from prison is illegal and arbitrary, human rights advocates and opposition politicians said Tuesday.

As Avril was leaving the National Penitentiary on Monday, heavily armed police handcuffed the 65-year-old ex-general, shoved him into a van and drove away.

Avril's release had been ordered by Haiti's Appeals Court, which ruled that his arrest last year for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government was arbitrary and illegal.

On Monday, government spokesman Jacques Maurice said Avril was being was being charged with complicity in the slayings of about a dozen farmers killed by soldiers in the west-coast settlement of Piate, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of the capital, while he was in power in 1990.

But the killings took place on March 13, 1990 — three days after a popular uprising ousted Avril.

"That proves nothing if he gave the order before going into exile," Maurice said Tuesday.

Human rights advocates blame the former dictator for rights violations during his 18-month military rule, but not that at Piate, and they have denounced the current government for keeping him in prison illegally.

"Arbitrary and illegal, and politically motivated, it stirs up all our bad memories of past dictatorships," said Viles Alizar, program director of the Haitian Coalition for Human Rights.

The arrest warrant was drawn up in west-coast St. Marc, outside the Port-au-Prince jurisdiction, and its execution was illegal, Alizar said.

"We are face to face with judicial madness," said Gerard Gourgue, a former law professor and head of the Convergence opposition alliance that has been at loggerheads with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide since flawed local and legislative elections two years ago.

Avril was chief of presidential security under dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, until Duvalier's ouster in 1986. He seized power in September 1988, ousting then-dictator Lt. Gen. Henry Namphy.

Police first arrested Avril on May 26, 2001, at a restaurant where he was signing copies of his newly published Black Book of Insecurity, in which he alleges Aristide's party tolerated street crime and political assassinations from 1995 to 2000. Government officials deny the accusations.                                                                                                                                                                                       Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press

                                                                                                                                                                                     Chavez ouster received U.S. backing

By George Gedda, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP), April 17 - When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez fell from power last week after a mass protest, the Bush administration said his departure was merely a matter of Venezuelans exercising their legal right to revolt. Audio/Video Diplomats Discuss Venezuelan Crisis (AP)

Hardly anyone in the hemisphere agreed with that assessment.

Virtually all Latin American governments saw Chavez's ouster as unconstitutional, which made opposition to it mandatory.

After an extraordinary series of events, Chavez was back in power a bare 36 hours later, having returned from military captivity on the wings of a popular rising against his would-be successors.

The White House's acquiescence to Chavez's removal Friday seemed to contrast sharply with the pro-democracy stance the United States has adhered to for more than two decades.

The United States used military force to restore democracy in Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989 and Haiti in 1994. It imposed sanctions against Peru in 1992 after President Alberto Fujimori stepped beyond constitutional norms. It used diplomatic muscle to ensure constitutional outcomes in Guatemala in 1993 and Ecuador in 2000; both countries had been in the throes of political crises.

Last September, Secretary of State Colin Powell flew to Peru for the signing of the OAS Inter-American Democratic Charter. It empowers the OAS to take any measures it "deems appropriate," including expulsion from the OAS, to deal with the subversion of democratic processes in any member state.

Such interruptions most often occur when outside forces, usually the military, depose an elected government. In the Venezuelan case, the Bush administration says it believed the Chavez government was far more of a threat to Venezuelan democracy than his opponents.

Through referenda and other means, Chavez had accumulated considerable powers since taking office in 1999. He pushed through a new constitution and appointed a new Supreme Court, for example.

Chavez caused uneasiness in Washington by cozying up to Cuba, Iraq and Libya. At home, economic woes contributed to a decline in his popularity, as did his attempt to replace professional managers at the state oil company with political allies.

There were mass demonstrations against his rule last week, producing the drama that began with his surprise dismissal, followed by his storybook comeback.

In effect, the State Department believed on Friday that his ouster was a reflection of the will of the people, that he was a victim of his own supposed misrule.

But few outside Washington accepted that interpretation. Hours after the State Department spoke last Friday, 19 Latin American presidents meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica, said, "We condemn the interruption of constitutional order."

Mexican President Vicente Fox said his country would not recognize the interim government appointed after Chavez's departure. Fox's stand became moot just a day later with Chavez's return to office.

After it became apparent that Chavez would be reinstated, the United States joined with its OAS colleagues Saturday night in condemning "the alteration of constitutional order in Venezuela."

It was a rather odd sequence, with the Bush administration criticizing Chavez's ouster just a day after it had offered tacit support.

For Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the administration had waited too long to get on the pro-democracy bandwagon.

"I am extremely disappointed," Dodd said, "that rather than leading the effort to reaffirm the region's commitment to the democratic principles outlined in the OAS Charter, only belatedly did the United States join with other OAS members to respond to the Venezuelan crisis." Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., the Foreign Relations Committee's top Republican, said he hopes that Chavez has learned from his ordeal.

"I personally urge Mr. Chavez to make good use of this second chance to raise a little more strongly the principles of democracy than he has in the past," Helms said.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Bush officials met with Venezuelans who ousted leader

By Christopher Marquis, The New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 15 — Senior members of the Bush administration met several times in recent months with leaders of a coalition that ousted the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, for two days last weekend, and agreed with them that he should be removed from office, administration officials said today.

But administration officials gave conflicting accounts of what the United States told those opponents of Mr. Chávez about acceptable ways of ousting him.

One senior official involved in the discussions insisted that the Venezuelans use constitutional means, like a referendum, to effect an overthrow.

"They came here to complain," the official said, referring to the anti-Chávez group. "Our message was very clear: there are constitutional processes. We did not even wink at anyone."

But a Defense Department official who is involved in the development of policy toward Venezuela said the administration's message was less categorical. "We were not discouraging people," the official said.

"We were sending informal, subtle signals that we don't like this guy. We didn't say, `No, don't you dare,' and we weren't advocates saying, `Here's some arms; we'll help you overthrow this guy.' We were not doing that."

The disclosures come as rights advocates, Latin American diplomats and others accuse the administration of having turned a blind eye to coup plotting activities, or even encouraged the people who temporarily removed Mr. Chávez. Such actions would place the United States at odds with its fellow members of the Organization of American States, whose charter condemns the overthrow of democratically elected governments.

In the immediate aftermath of the ouster, the White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer (news - web sites), suggested that the administration was pleased that Mr. Chávez was gone. "The government suppressed what was a peaceful demonstration of the people," Mr. Fleischer said, which "led very quickly to a combustible situation in which Chávez resigned."

That statement contrasted with a clear stand by other nations in the hemisphere, which all condemned the removal of a democratically elected leader.

Mr. Chávez has made himself very unpopular with the Bush administration with his pro-Cuban stance and mouthing of revolutionary slogans — and, most recently, by threatening the independence of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, the third-largest foreign supplier of American oil.

Whether or not the administration knew about the pending action against Mr. Chávez, critics note that it was slow to condemn the overthrow and that it still refuses to acknowledge that a coup even took place.

One result, according to the critics, is that in its zeal to rid itself of Mr. Chávez, the administration has damaged its credibility as a chief defender of democratically elected governments. And even though they deny having encouraged Mr. Chávez's ouster, administration officials did not hide their dismay at his restora tion.

Asked whether the administration now recognizes Mr. Chávez as Venezuela's legitimate president, one administration official replied, "He was democratically elected," then added, "Legitimacy is something that is conferred not just by a majority of the voters, however."

A senior administration official said today that the anti-Chávez group had not asked for American backing and that none had been offered. Still, one American diplomat said, Mr. Chávez was so distressed by his opponents' lobbying in Washington that he sent officials from his government to plead his case there.

Mr. Chávez returned to power on Sunday, after two days. The Bush administration swiftly laid the blame for the episode on him, pointing out that troops loyal to him had fired on unarmed civilians and wounded more than 100 demonstrators. Mr. Fleischer, the White House spokesman, stuck to that approach today, saying Mr. Chávez should heed the message of his opponents and reach out to "all the democratic forces in Venezuela."

"The people of Venezuela have sent a clear message to President Chávez that they want both democracy and reform," he said. "The Chávez administration has an opportunity to respond to this message by correcting its course and governing in a fully democratic manner."

On Sunday, President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, expressed hopes that Mr. Chávez would deal with his opponents in a less "highhanded fashion."

But to some critics, it was the Bush administration that had displayed arrogance in initially bucking the tide of international condemnation of the action against Mr. Chavez, who was democratically elected in 1998.

Arturo Valenzuela, the Latin America national security aide in the Clinton administration, accused the Bush administration of running roughshod over more than a decade of treaties and agreements for the collective defense of democracy. Since 1990, the United States has repeatedly invoked those agreements at the Organization of American States to help restore democratic rule in such countries as Haiti, Guatemala and Peru.

Mr. Valenzuela, who now heads the Latin American studies department at Georgetown University here, warned that the nations in the region might view the administration's tepid support of Venezuelan democracy as a green light to return to 1960's and 1970's, when power was transferred from coup to coup.

I think it's a very negative development for the principle of constitutional government in Latin America," Mr. Valenzuela said. "I think it's going to come back and haunt all of us."

Administration officials insist that they are firmly behind efforts at the Organization of American States to determine what happened in Venezuela and restore democratic rule. The secretary general of the O.A.S., César Gaviria, left today for Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, and the organization is scheduled to meet in Washington on Thursday. Still, critics say, there were several signs that the administration was too quick to rally around the businessman Pedro Carmona Estanga as Mr. Chávez's successor.

One Democratic foreign policy aide complained that the administration, in phone calls to Congress on Friday, reported that Mr. Chávez had resigned, even though officials now concede that they had no evidence of that.

And on Saturday, the administration supported an O.A.S. resolution condemning "the alteration of constitutional order in Venezuela" only after learning that Mr. Chávez had regained control, Latin American diplomats said.

One official said political hard-liners in the administration might have "gone overboard" in proclaiming Mr. Chávez's ouster before the dust settled.

The official said there were competing impulses within the administration, signaling a disagreement on the extent of trouble posed by Mr. Chávez, who has thumbed his nose at American officials by maintaining ties with Cuba, Libya and Iraq.

Copyright © 2002 The New York Times Company.

                                                                                                                                                                                     Posted at 11:57 p.m., Tuesday, April 16, 2002  

Haiti's Ex-Dictator Arrested Again  

By Micheal Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP), Apr.16 - Police arrested former military dictator Prosper Avril at the gate of the National Penitentiary, just minutes after he was released from prison.

Avril, who held power from 1988 to 1990, was freed by an appeals court that found the government had acted arbitrarily and illegally when it arrested him last year for plotting a coup. On Monday he was arrested again, this time charged with complicity in the 1990 slayings of about a dozen peasants killed by soldiers.  

"Why are you doing this?" the 65-year-old former lieutenant general shouted, as police handcuffed him, said his lawyer, Reynold Georges.  

The Port-au-Prince Appeals Court ordered Avril's release last Thursday, overruling a Jan. 26 decision by an investigating judge to keep him in prison. The appeals court sided with an earlier ruling that Avril's arrest last year was arbitrary and illegal. The release order was signed Monday.  

The new charge is related to slayings of civilians in the west coast settlement Piatre, about 50 miles northwest of the capital. The killings took place in 1990, when Avril was in power, said Jacques Maurice, spokesman for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  

"A cruel and nasty blow has been dealt to justice, for political reasons," Georges said. The arrest warrant was drawn up in west-coast St. Marc, outside the Port-au-Prince jurisdiction, and its execution was illegal, he said.  

Avril was chief of presidential security under dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, until Duvalier's ouster in 1986. He seized power in September 1988, ousting then-dictator Lt. Gen. Henry Namphy.

Avril pledged to hold elections, but never followed through. In March 1990, a popular uprising forced him into exile, and he fled to the United States.

It is unclear when Avril returned to Haiti, but 11 years after his departure he appeared at an opposition party meeting last year.  

Police arrested him about a month later, on May 26, at a restaurant while he was signing copies of his newly published, "Black Book of Insecurity," in which he blamed Aristide's party for tolerating street crime and political assassinations from 1995 to 2000. Government officials deny the allegations.  

Human rights activists blame the former dictator for rights violations during his rule, but also have denounced the government for keeping him in prison illegally.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. 

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 2:10 p.m., Monday, April 15, 2002

A former mass murderer was on Disney payroll

By Andy Geller

April 14, 2002 -- A former Haitian general convicted of murdering and torturing his countrymen worked for Walt Disney World for five years, a new report says. Jean-Claude Duperval was an hourly Disney World employee from 1997 until Thursday, when he got the ax after Newsweek began making inquiries about him.

Disney World spokesman Bill Warren told the magazine the company was not aware of Duperval's conviction.

The 55-year-old father of five, who lives in a one-story home in a blue-collar section of Orlando, confirmed he was a major general who served in the regime of former Haitian strongman Raoul Cedras. But he refused to say anything about his conviction.

"I want to keep my privacy and don't want to give any declaration," he told Newsweek. "All this is past for me. I have a daughter to educate and am no longer in public life."

In November 2000, Duperval and 30 other Haitian soldiers and paramilitary gunmen were convicted in absentia of crimes ranging from conspiracy to murder in the massacre of thousands of opponents of the Cedras regime in Raboteau, a slum in the port city of Gonaives, in April 1994.

After Cedras fell in September of that year, Duperval disappeared, turning up months later in Florida after entering the United States on a legal visa. An immigration judge ruled against an attempt to deport him two years ago, and he apparently has applied for political asylum to forestall other efforts to expel him.

Richard Krieger, a retired State Department official and former Nazi hunter, says the U.S. government should prosecute and deport Duperval - and dozens of other Haitians living on American soil. "It is disheartening to learn that at least 16 Haitian perpetrators of extrajudicial killing and torture have found their way into this country, including those connected both by deeds and orders in the Raboteau massacre," he said.

Amnesty International says the U.S. government acknowledges that up to 1,000 suspected torturers and murderers may have fled to American shores to escape justice at home.

Copyright 2002 NYP Holdings, Inc.

                                                                                                                                                                                 Fourteen dead in boat accident

By Reuters

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters), Apr. 15 - A small water taxi sank in rough seas during a trip from the Haitian mainland to the island of La Gonave, killing 14 people, local radio reported on Monday.

Two children aboard were saved by local fishermen who saw the craft listing on Friday, according to Radio Metropole.

The boat, called "Power of God," was headed from the coastal city of Archaie to the large island northwest of the capital on Friday, witnesses told the radio.

Boats in Haiti are notoriously unseaworthy but are frequently used as a means of travel between towns or from the mainland to islands. In September 1997, a ferry went down about 160 feet off the town of Montrouis, killing more than 150 people. Three months later, 40 people died when a sailboat loaded with passengers and goods sank between La Gonave and the mainland.

Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited

                                                                                                                                                                        Netherlands' crown prince opens conference on scare water resources

By Kwasikpodo, Associated Press writer

ACRA, Ghana, Mon. 15 - African and U.N. leaders opened an international conference on water and sustainable development on Monday, urging effective management across borders to solve Africa's poverty-perpetuating water shortages.

Speakers at the conference, including Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites)'s adviser on water, linked poverty in most developing countries, especially in Africa, to the water crisis.

"The 40 worst water-famished countries in the world, in many of which people live on just two gallons a day for all uses, can never escape poverty and achieve sustainable development without first addressing their water scarcity," the prince said in his opening statement.

Pointing to countries where "poverty and lack of water is inextricably linked," he cited Gambia, Djibouti, Somalia, Mali, Mozambique, Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Among countries beyond Africa, he listed Cambodia, Bhutan and Haiti.

Two hundred delegates, including several African cabinet ministers, are attending the conference — a prelude to the World Summit for Sustainable Development opening in Johannesburg, South Africa this August.

The three-day conference in Accra, the capital of Ghana, was organized by the Dutch government under sponsorship of the African Development Bank Group.

The focus of the conference is proposals by the Willem-Alexander and others in the United Nations (news - web sites) on increasing awareness on the gravity of inadequate supplies of water and on solving the problems.

Willem-Alexander set targets of halving the number of people without safe drinking water by 2015, and of making more effective use of water in agriculture without increasing the amount diverted for it.

More than 1 billion people worldwide lack safe drinking water, the crown prince said, and more than 2 million die each year from water-related diseases.

"The water crisis is especially acute in Africa, where only about 60 percent of the 680 million people have access to safe water supplies," he said.

People in the worst-off 50 countries, at least half of them in Africa, are forced to get by on 30 liters or less per day for farming, cleaning, and all other needs. That's well under than the 50 liters per day that the United Nations says constitutes the absolute minimum.

Opening the conference, Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor mourned the fact that Africans lacked adequate safe water despite the "mighty rivers" of the Nile, the Congo, the Limpopo, the Volta as well as the Great Lakes.

Kufuor encouraged partnerships to attract investment in water to reduce the burden on individual countries' economies.

Also attending the conference is the former secretary-general of the Organization of African Unity, Salim Ahmed Salim, named water ambassador for Africa.

Salim is expected to work out guidelines on protection of Africa's water resources based on suggestions from the conference.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 5:12 p.m., Saturday, April 13, 2002


Haitian agency's use for charity aid eyed

By Brian C. Mooney, Globe Staff, 4/13/2002

A social service agency funded by Catholic Charities helped pay for last month's mobilization of Boston's Haitian community in support of embattled Cardinal Bernard Law.

The Dorchester-based Haitian Multi-Service Center paid about $1,300 to rent five buses used to transport supporters to Palm Sunday Mass, celebrated by Law at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End, the center's director, Pierre Imbert, said yesterday. But he said the center agreed to pay after a prominent community leader promised to reimburse it for the cost.

Imbert was responding to a complaint made earlier in the day by Jacques Dady Jean, a local activist who operates a Mattapan Website and who asked that Catholic Charities audit the spending of the service center, which is an agency of the charitable organization. Jean complained to Catholic Charities that he was ''troubled'' that charitable donations were being used to support Law.

''We're confident in the appropriateness of the event,'' said Maureen March, spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, which was established by the archdiocese but is supposed to maintain independent fund-raising and spending. ''The center does community-building events, and that would be an appropriate use of funds, especially when it was promised to be reimbursed.''

The Haitian center, which provides adult literacy, citizenship, day care, and other services, receives $1.5 million a year from Catholic Charities, March said.

Catholic Charities had not been involved in or aware of the Palm Sunday event, she said. An estimated 800 members of Boston's large Haitian community turned out to stand behind Law, Imbert said. Law enjoys deep support in the community because he has shown ''compassion and care'' for Haitians both in Boston and in Haiti, he said. Most of those who attended traveled by private car, said Imbert, who described the event as ''purely spontaneous.'' The service center was a ''facilitator,'' not an organizer, he said, though he was among the participants.

A local physician, Roger Jean-Charles, pledged before the March 24 event to reimburse the center, but as of yesterday had not yet done so, Imbert said. Dr. Jean-Charles could not be reached last night.                                                                                                                                           

Group tells Haitian government to stop slavery

By the Associated Press

MIAMI, Apr. 13 - About one in 10 children in Haiti are used as domestic slaves and the Haitian government is not doing enough to stop the centuries-old practice, the National Coalition for Haitian Rights said.

The human rights group said the children, known as restavecs — from the French rester avec, meaning to "stay with" — are given to wealthy families by their parents.

The parents are told the children will be given a better life. Instead, they are used as domestic servants and often abused physically and sexually, the coalition said.

The group on Friday released a yearlong study on restavecs during a two-day conference of Haitian-American leaders.

The report recommends that the Haitian government criminalize the use of children as slaves and increase the minimum age for domestic help from 12 to 15.

The Haitian government said it is trying to address the problem by combating the conditions that force parents to give away their children. Minister of Social Affairs Eude Saint-Preux Craan said Haiti recently passed a law against violence against children. She also said the government is encouraging peasant cooperatives, providing literacy training and expanding school access for children in rural areas.

A 1990 study by the Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee found 240,000 restavecs in Haiti.

By making the recommended changes, the human rights group said, the Haitian government will prevent the spread of child slavery from outside of the country.

Read, too, Slavery In The Family  

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 12:07 a.m., Saturday, April 13, 2002

Haitian court releases ex-dictator

By micheal Norton, Associated Press writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP), Apr. 11 - A court ordered the release of a former military dictator on Thursday, nearly a year after he was arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government, his lawyer said. Photos

The three-member Appeals Court overruled a Jan. 26 decision by an investigating magistrate to keep Prosper Avril in prison, siding with an earlier ruling that the arrest last year was arbitrary and illegal, defense attorney Rigaud Duplan said.

It was unclear whether authorities would abide by the decision to free Avril immediately, though Duplan said the ruling was "legally binding." Avril, a 65-year-old ex-lieutenant general, once was chief of presidential security under dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, until Duvalier's ouster in 1986. He later seized power in September 1988, heading a group of soldiers who ousted then-dictator Lt. Gen. Henry Namphy.

Avril pledged to hold elections, but never followed through. In March 1990, a popular uprising forced him into exile, and he moved to Boca Raton, Fla.

It's unclear when Avril returned to Haiti, but he reappeared at a meeting of the opposition alliance Convergence last year.

Police arrested him about a month later, on May 26, at a restaurant while he was signing copies of his newly published Black Book of Insecurity. His book blames President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party for tolerating street crime and political assassinations from 1995 to 2000. Government officials deny such accusations.

Human rights activists blame the former dictator for rights violations during his rule. But human rights advocate Jean-Claude Bajeux said: "It is unacceptable that a democracy plays as fast and loose with the law as a dictatorship."

                                                                                                                                                                                       Today in entertainment history

By the Associated Press, Apr. 12

On April 12th, 1934, the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel "Tender is the Night" was first published. Related Links ·Today in History - AP

In 1954, Bill Haley and His Comets recorded "Rock Around The Clock" for Decca Records. It's considered the first rock and roll song to top the charts.

In 1966, Jan Berry of the duo Jan and Dean crashed his Corvette into a parked truck in Los Angeles. He suffered extensive brain damage and paralysis and needed several years of rehabilitation.

In 1979, Mickey Thomas became the lead singer of Jefferson Starship.

In 1989, Herbert Mills of The Mills Brothers died in Las Vegas at age 77. The group was probably best known for the song "Paper Doll."

In 1992, the Euro Disneyland theme park opened in France.

In 1993, actress Lisa Bonet (boh-NAY') filed for divorce from singer Lenny Kravitz.

In 1997, The Fugees played the first of two homecoming concerts in Haiti to raise money for Haitian refugees. The concerts ended up costing more money than they raised.

Today's Birthdays: Actress-dancer Ann Miller is 79. Jazz musician Herbie Hancock is 62. Musician John Kay of Steppenwolf is 58. Actor Ed O'Neill ("Married...With Children") is 56. Actor Dan Lauria ("The Wonder Years") is 55. Talk show host David Letterman (news - Y! TV) is 55. Singer-actor David Cassidy is 52. Actor Andy Garcia is 46. Actress Suzzanne Douglas ("The Parent 'Hood") is 45. Country singer Vince Gill is 45. Guitarist Will Sergeant of Echo and the Bunnymen is 44. Singer Art Alexakis of Everclear is 40. Country singer Deryl Dodd is 38. Singer Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls is 38. Singer Nicholas Hexum of 311 is 32. Actor Nicholas Brendon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer (news - Y! TV)") is 31. Actress Shannen Doherty is 31. Actress Claire Danes is 23.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Posted at 11:01 p.m., Monday, April 8, 2002

Haiti and Dominican Republic presidents inaugurate industrial free zone

By Michael Norton, Associated Press writer 

OUANAMINTHE, Haiti, Apr. 8 - Presidents Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti and Hipolito Mejia of the Dominican Republic on Monday inaugurated an industrial-free zone on the Haitian side of their shared border.

"It's a bright star when both our countries and both our business communities join hands to develop our countries," Aristide said outside the northeast border town of Ouanaminthe, where the free zone will be built with funds from the private sectors of the two countries.

Investors in the industrial free zone will be exempt from paying duties on imports and taxes for an indefinite period of time.

Some 1,500 workers will be employed by 2003. Eventually more than 8,000 Haitian workers will be assembling garments for the export market, and thousands of support jobs will be created, said Fernando Capellan, president of the Dominican consortium Grupo M, one of the investors.

It was not immediately known how many Dominicans would be employed or where the garments would be sold.

"To create jobs and combat poverty is the best way to consolidate democracy," Mejia said.

Economist Kesner Pharel hailed the Ouanaminthe project, made possible after the Haitian Parliament passed a law last year providing for 14 industrial free zones across the country.

Most of Haiti's 8.2 million people live in absolute poverty, and more than half of the work force is jobless or underemployed. The minimum daily wage in Haiti is about dlrs 1.35.

In the Dominican Republic, the minimum daily wage is about three times higher.

Chronic political instability has discouraged investment in Haiti, while technological backwardness has reduced the competitive advantage of low wages.

More than 100,000 workers were employed in the Haitian assembly industry before the 1991-94 period of military-backed rule, which devastated Haiti's economy. Today, the assembly industry in Haiti employs about 25,000 people, Pharel said.

On Saturday, tractors and bulldozers began leveling corn, sugar cane and banana fields. Concrete will soon cover about 100 hectares (247 acres) of fertile land.

Haiti contributed the state-owned land to the project, but peasants have been working it for generations.

About 200 peasant families will be expropriated, said Alpha Dorsainville, 39, leader of the peasant movement for the development of Ouanaminthe.

"Confiscate a peasants land and you confiscate his liberty," Dorsainville said.

Haiti should have insisted the zone be installed on their own land farther from the border, he said, "but it wouldn't have suited the Dominicans who want the zone as close to their country as possible."

Since 1990, the population of Ouanaminthe, located 125 kilometers (78 miles) northeast of the capital, has swollen from 15,000 to 80,000.

"This joint project won't end our problems, but it's taking off in the right direction to solve them," said Haitian Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Guy Alexandre.

The two countries share decades of animosity toward one another.

In the late 30s, under Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, Dominican soldiers massacred at least 20,000 Haitians along the Massacre River, which flows between Ouanaminthe and the Dominican border town of Dajabon. At least 600,000 Dominican-Haitians and French Creole-speaking Haitians now live in the Spanish-speaking country of 8.6 million.

Dominicans complain of massive illegal migration across the 275-kilometer (172-mile) border their country shares with Haiti that occupies the western one-third of Hispaniola island.

Every month Dominican authorities deport 2,000 people to Haiti, often arbitrarily.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 8:08 p.m., Friday, April 5, 2002

OAS jurists arrive to investigate December attack on National Palace

By Michael Norton, Associated Press writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Apr. 5 - A three-man team from the Organization of American States is expected in Haiti next week to investigate a December attack on the National Palace that has deepened a lingering political crisis, an OAS official said Friday.

The team includes Nicolas Liverpool, from Dominica; Roberto Flores Bermudez, from Honduras; and Alonso Gomez Robledo Verduzco, from Mexico.

The jurists will examine all aspects of the December violence and make recommendations to the Haitian authorities based on its findings. Its stay in Haiti is open-ended, said OAS representative in Haiti Sergio Romero.

The government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Convergence opposition alliance welcomed the team's arrival.

At loggerheads with Aristide since his governing Lavalas Family party swept May 2000 elections, Convergence has refused to resume talks with the government until some 20 of its imprisoned partisans are released, the perpetrators of December attacks on its offices brought to justice, and a peaceful climate has been established.

On Dec. 17, gunmen attacked the National Palace in what Aristide has called an assassination attempt even though he was sleeping at his home in a suburb of Port-au-Prince. The opposition alleges the attack was staged as a pretext to clamp down on dissent.

At least 10 were killed in the attack and subsequent violence, when rampaging Aristide partisans burned opposition headquarters and private residences of its leaders. Journalists were threatened, raising doubts about Aristide's commitment to free speech.

The attack deepened a two-year political crisis.

OAS election observers found the first-round election of seven senators in 2000 should have gone on to a runoff. The opposition alleged the races were rigged and has refused to recognize Aristide's legitimacy.

While poverty and political instability in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country have increased, the international community has blocked hundreds of millions of foreign aid dollars until a consensus is reached on new elections.

                                                                                                                                                                                          OAS names envoy to promote democracy in troubled Haiti

By George Gerda, Associated Press writer

WASHINGTON, Apr. 5 - Canadian diplomat David Lee was appointed Friday to head a special Organization of American States mission to strengthen democracy in Haiti.

The mission will establish working relationships with Haitian institutions to deal with problems related to security, justice, human rights and good governance.

It also has a mandate to solve the country's 2-year-old political crisis.

After the 2000 elections, won decisively by the ruling party, other countries blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in aid on grounds the elections were flawed.

Aid remains suspended until rulers and opposition forces in Haiti agree on new elections.

The U.S. ambassador to the OAS, Roger Noriega, said numerous outside efforts to resolve the impasse have failed.

In a statement to the OAS permanent council, Noriega said, "Haiti cannot afford to squander any more opportunities. We join with others in urging Haiti's leaders to make the most of the important, latest opportunity."

The special mission will begin work this month.

Lee is Canada's former special coordinator for Haiti. Ambassador Denneth Modeste, an adviser to OAS Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi, will be deputy chief.

Meanwhile, OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria designated a commission of inquiry to examine the circumstances surrounding the violence in Haiti on Dec. 17, 2001. The commission will travel to Haiti on Monday.

On Dec. 17, about two dozen gunmen stormed the national palace and took control for about seven hours before police drove them out. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was not in the palace.

At least 10 people were killed and nine wounded in the attack and subsequent violence. Five of those killed were attackers and two were police officers.

The government said the incident was a coup attempt. The opposition has accused the government of staging the assault as a pretext to crack down on dissenters.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 1:25 p.m., Thursday, April 4, 2002  

The Miami Herald - April 4, 2002

INS: Prison in Haiti not torture

By Alfonso Chardy

The federal immigration system's highest court has ruled that brutal jail conditions in Haiti should not prevent the deportations of Haitian criminal detainees who say they will be tortured if sent back.

The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled, 13-6, against Jeandis

Esteme, a convicted drug trafficker who was ordered deported to Haiti. He remains in Immigration and Naturalization Service custody while his lawyers decide whether to appeal to the federal courts. Esteme, citing human rights and media reports, argued that his deportation would violate an international pact that prohibits sending a person to a country where he or she would likely face torture.

The United Nations' General Assembly adopted the Convention Against Torture in 1984, and the United States subsequently signed it.

However, the appeals board ruled March 22 that there was not conclusive evidence that Haitian prison conditions amounted to torture. The opinion said that while mistreatment of prisoners occurred, torture was isolated rather than systematic. `


Substandard prison conditions in Haiti do not constitute torture within the meaning of'' U.S. federal law, the opinion stated. ``There is no evidence that the authorities intentionally create and maintain such conditions in order to inflict torture.''

Immigration and human rights advocates say the ruling will make it easier for the INS to remove Haitian criminals who cite the likelihood of torture to challenge their deportation orders. ''

The board's decision is outrageous, because it completely undermines the convention against torture and the protections it should afford,'' said Cheryl Little, executive director of Miami-based Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. ``It is extremely disingenuous to suggest that despite clear evidence that deportees to Haiti are indefinitely detained, beaten and deprived of adequate food, water and medical care, that they are not being tortured.''

Esteme entered the United States illegally in 1990 and was convicted June 22, 2000, of selling cocaine. He was ordered deported by an immigration judge July 2, 2001. But Esteme argued that he would be persecuted and tortured by Haitian authorities if returned.

As evidence, Esteme submitted State Department human rights reports and newspaper articles about Haitian prison conditions, including one published in The Herald on March 25, 2001.

The story concluded that while there is no capital punishment in Haiti, for many inmates, getting thrown in jail is a death sentence. In one month in 2001, the story said, 11 inmates died at the Penitentier National, mostly from diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS.

Three days after the appeals board decision, former Port-au-Prince police Capt. Jackson Joanis was deported March 25. He is the most prominent deportee accused of torturing political foes in their homeland since INS began detaining torture suspects in 2000.


Joanis' Fort Lauderdale immigration attorney, Carlo Jean Joseph, said the Esteme ruling was ''indirectly responsible'' for his client's deportation. But Patricia Mancha, an Immigration and Naturalization Service spokeswoman in Miami, said Joanis was deported after the same board dismissed his appeal Feb. 26.

Joanis, 42, was detained by INS and ordered deported after a Haitian court convicted him in absentia for the murder of businessman Antoine Izmery, a supporter of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Joanis is now at the Penitentier National, Haiti's national penitentiary and one of the jails often cited in human rights reports for its deplorable conditions, Joseph said.

Besides Joanis, at least another prominent Haitian national in INS custody is fighting deportation based on his fear of torture if returned to Haiti.

Carl Dorelien, a former army colonel, took part in the 1991 coup against Aristide, which prompted U.S. intervention in 1994. Dorelien remains in INS custody pending his appeal to the board.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 2:45 p.m., Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Two years after unsolved murder of influential journalist, window denounces Haitian authorities

By Micheal Norton, Associated Press writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Apr. 3  - Michele Montas has worn black since gunmen shot and killed her husband Jean Dominique, one of Haiti's most influential journalists, two years ago Wednesday.

His murder remains unsolved, and Montas holds the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide partially responsible.

"I won't stop wearing black till justice has been done," Montas, a 55-year-old graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism in New York, said Tuesday. She has been running Radio Haiti Inter since Dominique's death April 3, 2000.

An outspoken advocate for change for 40 years, the 69-year-old Radio Haiti commentator made many enemies before he and radio station guard Jean-Claude Louissaint were gunned down in the station courtyard.

Montas accuses no particular group or individual of the assassination.

But "Jean was killed under the democratic regime he had fought to establish, not under the dictatorial regimes he had fought to overthrow. This clearly indicates the complicity of the powers that be," she said, denouncing Aristide, the Senate, and the judicial system.

In January, the mandate of investigating Judge Claudy Gassant, who had been on the Dominque case for 16 months, was not renewed and he went into self-imposed exile in the United States, saying he feared for his life.

Jacques Maurice, a spokesman for Aristide's office, said Gassant's mandate was recently renewed, but it was unclear whether Gassant would be willing to return to Haiti.

"The Dominque case will be confided to Judge Gassant, and he will be given the means to continue the investigation," Maurice said. Gassant was the second investigator in the case, after predecessor Judge Jean-Senat Fleury quit for security reasons after just five months.

Montas hailed Gassant's renewed mandate as a "positive step," but remained cautious. "For two years promises have been made and broken," she said.

"But the renewal proves pressure at home and abroad works, and that it should be intensified so that justice can finally be done."

Montas said her husband never lost faith in the popular movement that first brought Aristide to power in 1990 and that resisted the army in the bloody 1991-94 period of military-backed rule.

But after U.S. troops restored Aristide to power in 1994, Dominique had second thoughts about the Lavalas Family party Aristide set up.

By the time he was killed, Dominique, who was never a party member, "had begun to openly oppose the deterioration of Lavalas," Montas said.

Dominique was killed in the turbulent period that preceded flawed May 2000 local and legislative elections that were swept by Lavalas and denounced as rigged by the opposition.

Although some 100 people have been questioned in the case, the political influence of some suspects has impeded the investigation.

In January, the Haitian Senate refused to lift the parliamentary immunity of pro-Aristide Sen. Dany Toussaint, with whom Dominique had a dispute months before he was killed. Had the immunity been lifted, Toussaint could have been indicted in the case.

Amnesty International on Tuesday criticized the Haitian government, saying the Dominique investigation "has been hampered by obstacle after obstacle, in effect denying effective remedy for the crime."

It has "become symptomatic of nearly all the human rights issues plaguing Haiti today," Amnesty said, questioning the government's commitment to the rule of law.

In December, a pro-Aristide grass-roots group allegedly hacked provincial journalist Brignol Lindor to death. No one has been brought to trial.

Later that month, commandos attacked the National Palace in what Aristide has called an attempt to assassinate him. The opposition said the event was staged for an excuse to clamp down on dissent.

After the attack, rampaging Aristide activists burned down opposition party headquarters and threatened at least a dozen journalists.

Subsequently, 15 fled Haiti fearing for their lives. This year, some 15 incidents of government harassment of journalists have been reported.

                                                                                                                                                                                           An Amnesty International's press release

April 02, 2002

No Justice for Jean Dominique

Two years after journalist Jean Dominique and radio station guard Jean Claude Louissaint were shot dead, Haitian authorities must take concrete action to bring those responsible to justice, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

"If those responsible for these killings are not identified and tried in a prompt, impartial and transparent fashion, Haiti's aspirations to the rule of law will be irreparably damaged," the organization declared.

Targeted killings of journalists, regardless of their political beliefs or personal histories, have a far-reaching detrimental impact within any society. The fact that Jean Dominique, fierce critic of successive regimes over a period of 40 years, was killed under a democratically-elected government, made the deaths all the more disturbing.

"The investigation has been hampered by obstacle after obstacle, in effect denying the families of Jean Dominique and Jean Claude Louissaint, and Haitian society as a whole, the right to know the truth, and to see those responsible held to account," Amnesty International said.

The obstacles to the investigation have included lack of independence of the police force and the judiciary; the failure of those institutions to confront ruling party activists who flout the law; violence by armed groups acting under the auspices of elected officials; repression of freedom of speech and targeted threats and attacks on journalists.

"These obstacles are symptomatic of the primary human rights concerns in Haiti today," Amnesty International stressed. "Their cumulative outcome has been total impunity for those responsible for the deaths of Jean Dominique and Jean Claude Louissaint."

"Full and impartial justice for Jean Dominique and Jean Claude Louissaint will demonstrate, not only the authorities' commitment to justice for those two individuals, but their willingness to confront head on the most problematic and entrenched hindrances to the respect for human rights in Haiti," Amnesty International continued.

"Failure to do so, on the other hand, will do irretrievable harm to the aspirations of those Haitians committed to an end to impunity and the establishment of genuine rule of law," the organization concluded.

** Today, on the eve of the anniversary of Jean Dominique's killing, Amnesty International is releasing a report on the case: Haiti -- "I have no weapon but my journalist's trade": human rights and the Jean Dominique investigation.

The report will be available on the web at: \ENDS public document **************************************** For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW web :

Amnesty International is impartial and independent of any government, political persuasion or religious creed. © Amnesty International

                                                                                                                                                                                       Tyrant Aristide playing games                                                                                                                                                            By Yves A. Isidor, executive editor

He was not reappointed after his term came to an end last December. But Claudy Gassant, the investigative Judge in the murder of prominent Haitian radio journalist and commentator Jean Leopold Dominique, brutally murdered in the early morning of April 3, 2000, in the courtyard of his radio Haiti-Inter station, was reappointed Tuesday by Haiti's radical leftist and de facto President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Mr. Gassant reappointment, as many have indicated, by tyrant Aristide became a reality after many international human rights groups, including Reporters Without Borders, intensely and consistently pressured him to do so.

The Jean Dominique affair - 13 key dates  

                                                                                                                                                    Three detained illegal migrants escape from British Virgin Islands hotel

By the Associated Press

ET ROAD TOWN, British Virgin Islands, Apr. 3 - Police were searching Wednesday for three illegal migrants who escaped from a hotel where they were being held pending repatriation.

Immigration authorities last week detained 45 illegal migrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic who were discovered approaching Virgin Gorda island in a 30-foot wooden boat.

Because the government has no detention facility, the migrants were being kept at Hotel Castle Maria in Road Town pending their repatriation.

Police said in a statement Wednesday that they believed the three men escaped from the hotel on Sunday by crawling out a bathroom window.

                                                                                                                                                                                   Janitor sues Eddie Murphy over 'The PJ' show

Susanne Ault, Reuters writer

HOLLYWOOD (Variety), Apr. 3 - A Chicago janitor is suing Eddie Murphy and other producers tied to now-defunct animated series "The PJs," alleging they stole his likeness from an amateur video for a character on the show. Photos

In a suit filed March 22 in U.S. District Court in Illinois, the plaintiff, Tally Collier, is seeking more than $75,000 in actual damages and more than $10 million in punitive damages from Murphy and other "PJs" producers, including Imagine Entertainment principals Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Tony Krantz.

Other defendants in the suit include Will Vinton Studios, which developed "The PJs"' animation format, and Fox, the first network to air the series.

Collier insists Murphy and others based the show on an amateur documentary he starred in about life in Chicago's housing projects. He believes the defendants got wind of the film after it was submitted in early 1998 to "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Apparently, the documentary's creator, Daryl Murphy (no relation to Eddie) was hoping to turn his work into a future segment on the talk show. While "Oprah" staff never contacted Murphy, Collier nevertheless claims he sees similarities between the video that Murphy made and what ultimately became "The PJs."

Running on Fox starting in January 1999, later jumping to the WB for the 2000-01 season, "The PJs" was a comic look at a family living in a housing project. Eddie Murphy was one of the executive producers as well as the voice for the central character, building superintendent Thurgoode Orenthal Stubbs.

In addition to Daryl Murphy's video taking place in the projects (of Chicago), the suit cites other similarities, including the allegation that "PJs" character Sanchez is a carbon copy of Collier. Both men use a electronic voice box to talk and a cane to get around. Collier also believes "PJs" characters Mrs. Avery, Mrs. Mambo Garcelle (Haiti Lady), Smokey and Juicy were likewise lifted from Daryl Murphy's video.

It's unclear from the suit exactly how the video allegedly moved from "Oprah" to Murphy, Howard or Grazer. None is directly tied to the show.

However, Collier claims Daryl Murphy requested that Winfrey pass the tape along for consideration to other high-profile showbiz figures, including Howard, Spike Lee, Tom Hanks, Quincy Jones and Fred Williamson.

None of the listed defendants were commenting on the case late Tuesday.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 1:15 p.m., Monday, April 1, 2002

A Grand Haitian Celebration in Miami

By Yves A. Isidor, executive editor

Barely one day after the United States Coast Guard returned to Haiti Thursday 244 Haitians migrants after their two flimsy vessels, one with 101 passengers on board and the other 143, about 30 Miami Haitians took to the streets of South Beach, a section of that city, causing police to block traffic for more than one hour, Friday evening to celebrate 'Rara Fet," a fusion between Voodoo and Catholicism.

Rara Fet is celebrated throughout Haiti on Good Friday and during quite a few other holidays.

So much that it is reflected in the Haitian culture that even Haitians residing overseas, including the United States and Canada, often travel back to Haiti to be in attendance.

Also, read our new column: Why subsidize the rampant corruption and gross incompetence of most Third World's nations totalitarian dictators?., the scholarly journal of democracy and human rights
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