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Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (O.E.C.D.

Posted at 8:10 p.m., Wednesday, July 30, 2002

Prominent members of U.S. Congress write Ambassador Noriega
about troubled Haiti
Ambassador Roger Noriega
Chairman of the OAS's Permanent Council
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States
July 26, 2002
Dear Amb. Noriega:

We understand that the Gov't. of Haiti has presented a draft resolution to the Permanent Council of the Org. of American States (OAS). The Gov't. of Haiti believes that it has done all that has been asked of it by the OAS. Accordingly, the Gov't. of Haiti (GoH) & its paid registered foreign agents seek the support of the US to release loans to the GoH that are now pending at the Inter-American Development Bank.

It is, in our view, not in the interests of the US or of democracy in Haiti to accept such a resolution. The GoH has not, in fact, done all that was asked of it by the OAS. On Jan. 5, '02, the OAS Permanent Council, on which Haiti sits, adopted Resolution 806 in response to violence against opposition leaders orchestrated by the Gov't & the ruling Lavalas Family party. The GoH has yet to fully comply w/ the provisions of Resolution 806.

The GoH is apparently being credited w/ cooperating w/ the OAS team that drafted the July 1 "Report of the Commission of inquiry into the events of Dec. 17, '01, in Haiti." This report concludes, however, that the GoH was not truthful in its assertations to the OAS that the Dec. 17 attack on the Nat'l Palace was an attempted coup d'etat. Furthermore, the OAS report concludes that, the persons who subsequently launched attacks: ..."on the headquarters of the Opposition political parties & the residences of the leaders of Convergence Democratique acted w/ impunity. These individuals continue to enjoy immunity from the judicial & investigative institutions of Haiti. The ransacking & burning of houses was premeditated. Arms were distributed by some (Haitian) Gov't. & (Lavalas) party officials. The attackers were transported in official vehicles & threatened to kill leaders of the poltical Opposition parties, all w/ the participation of members of Popular Organizations."

Just as the US & the OAS did not turn a blind eye to violent repression by the military regime led by Gen. Raoul Cedras, the US & the OAS cannot turn a blind eye to these & other gross abuses by the current GoH. Moreover, there is little incentive for the US to reward a gov't that tolerates - if not actively encourages - official complicity in narcotics trafficking into the US.

We understand that the Asst. Sec'y Gen. of the OAS has labored very long & hard to secure an accord between the GoH & the opposition Convergence Democratique. We hear, however, that there is a growing chorus w/i the OAS that wants to blame the democratic opposition for the continuing impasse in Haiti. There is little logic in blaming the victims of the vote fraud & the gross violations of human rights perpetrated against Haiti's democratic opposition, which have been amply documented by the OAS itself. It appears that the OAS has yet to secure sufficient concessions from the GoH, so as to ensure that an election process to correct that Government's manipulation of the May '00 parliamentary elections would have a chance of actually occurring in a free & fair manner. We urge you to ask the OAS's negotiators to re-examine their strategy to determine if there are additional steps that the GoH should take to redress its documented abuses.

Sincerely yours, -Benjamin A. Gilman Chair Emeritus, Hs. Cmte. on Int'l. Relations -Porter J. Goss Chair, Hs. Permanent Select Cmte. on Intelligence -Cass Ballenger Chair, Subcmte. on the Western Hemisphere Hs. Cmte. on Int'l. Relations.

Haitian orphans win reprieve as charity reconsiders closing orphanages
By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

TABARRE, Haiti, July 30 - For dozens of Haitian orphans, the S.O.S. Children's Village is a sanctuary where they are fed, housed and kept safe from street violence in a peaceful compound shaded by acacia and almond trees.

But for weeks, some 45 teenagers have been living in the dormitories without water or electricity, protesting a decision by the charity's managers in the Caribbean country to close three orphanages.

On Tuesday, they won a reprieve when the charity's regional representative, Walter Cadima, said the orphanages would remain open. The three compounds together normally house and provide schooling to more than 500 children and teenagers.

"What is important to us is the future, to save the institution," Cadima said. S.O.S. Children's Villages, based in Vienna, Austria, runs about 380 "villages" for orphans in 131 countries.

The orphans in Haiti, however, have complained for months of mismanagement and accused managers of siphoning off funds from donors, who sponsor individual children.

"We are going to look into the accusations," Cadima said. "We are going to take them seriously."

On July 8, the charity's board in Haiti announced the orphanages would close Wednesday after more than 22 years because of some "juvenile delinquents" among the orphans and "the anarchic situation due to acts of vandalism and physical aggression."

At the same time, managers halted meals and turned off water and electricity at the orphanages. The three compounds in the impoverished country are located in the northern town of Cap-Haitien and the Port-au-Prince suburbs of Tabarre and Santos.

"These kids aren't criminals. They may have been noisy, but they never were violent," said Sonya Severe, 57, one of 14 house mothers in Tabarre.

Following the board's announcement, many children and teenagers found shelter with distant relatives. Others remained, eating food brought by those who sympathized.

Haiti's government urged the charity to keep the orphanages open.

"This is my home," said l7-year-old Maudeline Macermond, who has been living in the orphanage since infancy. "We love the place."

Some youths, angry they would be forced out, spray-painted insults on the walls against managers.

The centers receive some dlrs 2.5 million annually, but managers haven't been submitting required financial records to the government, said Rose-Andree Bony, of the government's Social Well-being Institute.

"We want an audit of the books," said 21-year-old Meme Selvandieu, who lived in the orphanage for years. He said he visited his sponsor in Marseilles, France, in 1999 and learned money sent for him hadn't arrived.

The management has not responded publicly to the allegations, but on Tuesday an acting director, Maryse Sterlin, left her job because of the complaints.

Youths at the Tabarre orphanage also accused its former director, Wilder Boutin, of sexually abusing girls. Boutin was fired after the abuse accusations surfaced in November. He insists he is innocent and has not been charged by police.

Cadima, a representative based in La Paz, Bolivia, said he will stay in Haiti for four months to reopen the orphanages with a "new vision.

Posted at 11:15 p.m., Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Judge denies Haitians asylum requests; 25 Haitians deported
July 30, 2002

MIAMI -- A group of Haitian refugees who made a daring trip to South Florida have been sent back to their country.

A wooden boat carrying 166 people ran aground in Biscayne National Park last December. Twenty-one of the Haitians were deported on Monday along with four others, three of whom were deported because they had criminal records in their home country.

An immigration judge turned down their request for political asylum.

Immigration and Naturalization Service didn't give specifics about why the judge denied the asylum requests. The INS said the 21 Haitians were given "every opportunity" to prove they were escaping political persecution.

Of the 187 Haitians on the grounded boat, 20 jumped overboard and tried to swim ashore. Eighteen escaped and two are presumed drowned.

About 165 Haitians since had been held at Krome Detention Center and Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami. The INS adopted a policy in December requiring Haitian asylum seekers to be detained while an immigration judge decides their status.

Miami's Haitian-American community has protested that policy and the long detention of the asylum seekers, alleging racial prejudice. Asylum seekers from other countries are generally freed to family or friends while their appeals are heard.

Haitian-Americans are "very angry" about the deportation and several demonstrated Monday night in front of INS offices in Miami, Lafortune said.

Previous Stories: December 4, 2001: Advocates Rally For Haitian Refugees                                                                       December 4, 2001: Coast Guard Searches For Missing Haitian Refugees                                                                     December 3, 2001: Refugees Recovered From Packed Boat After Ten Days At Sea                                                     December 3, 2001: Coast Guard Helps Boat Overloaded With Refugees                                                                                                                                                                                        Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted at 2:50 p.m., Tuesday, July 30, 2002
8 years after invasion, Haiti squalor worsens
By David Gonzalez, The New York Times

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti ? Sonia Jean-Pierre's life is one of apocalyptic misery. With hardly any food or work, her only refuge is a concrete cell. The searing sun is blotted out by cardboard pasted over the windows. On the wall by her bed, she has scrawled, "Jesus Christ is coming soon," like a promise of salvation to greet her every morning.

Ms. Jean-Pierre and hundreds of neighbors live as squatters inside the old Fort Dimanche Prison, once the brutally efficient killing chamber of the Duvalier dictatorships. A prison no longer, it has been renamed, hopefully, Village Democratie.

The poor cram themselves into the dingy cells and even inside the old sentry towers that look out over the surrounding shanties, where 2,000 more souls live without water, schools or electricity. Some are so desperate they eat pancakelike disks of bouillon-flavored clay. Poverty is the only jailer.

"We are free prisoners," said Ms. Jean-Pierre, who rested one recent afternoon on the cool concrete floor. "We are still living like prisoners."

Nearly eight years after the United States led an invasion of Haiti to oust a military junta and restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power, Village Democratie is just one measure of this country's despairing slide.

Increasingly exasperated with Mr. Aristide's government, which has yet to resolve a two-year-old deadlock with its opposition, the United States and European countries have blocked some $500 million in aid, hoping to encourage greater democracy. Critics say the decision has merely eroded the hopes and deepened the poverty of this country's seven million or so people.

For a nation as poor as Haiti, withholding the money has become both carrot and stick. Haiti still lingers near the bottom of the United Nations' annual survey of living conditions. Life expectancy is less than 53 years. Preventable diseases go untreated. The yearly income of the average family is less than is needed to sustain a single person.

Mr. Aristide calls the withholding of the aid an "embargo." His American supporters, including the Congressional Black Caucus and well-paid lobbyists, say it is immoral to withhold the aid and punish the Haitian people, as government agencies go without budgets, plans or projects to provide water, health care and schools. Some $150 million from the United States, they note, might not only improve roads, water and health but also create jobs.

Still, diplomats and aid officials say, Mr. Aristide's use of the term "embargo" reflects calculated rhetoric more than reality. Trade and travel continue, and relief, including contributions from the United States, flows into Haiti through nongovernmental groups.

Solving Haiti's problems, they argue, will take more than just an infusion of aid. Most important, they say, Mr. Aristide has yet to prove that his government has escaped the corruption and destructive self-interest of governments past.

Meanwhile, the political stalemate, which arose over a disputed election, and the international response to it, have stalled what little functioning government democracy might have brought.

"The situation is getting worse for the majority of the people," said the Rev. Jan Hanssens, a Roman Catholic priest who sits on the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bishops' Conference. "There is certainly no hope unless there is a drastic reassessment of Haitian society itself. If things simply go on as now, there is no chance."

Along the streets of Village Democratie, faith in politicians is as elusive as a decent job. Faded posters of Mr. Aristide, wearing the presidential sash and with his arms outstretched, are his only presence.

Laughing young men crouched at the entrance to the former prison and gambled a few wrinkled gourde notes, the country's currency. Inside, past corridors whose crumbled walls reveal a weed-choked courtyard, people walked home after church clutching hymnals titled "Songs of Hope."

Inside tiny rooms with cardboard walls, slim shafts of sunlight cut through the haze of charcoal smoke from braziers where pots of rice boiled. There are no sewers or running water anywhere in the neighborhood, and when the rains come, they leave fetid puddles where malaria-carrying mosquitoes breed.

"Aristide said here is the room of the people," said Dorlis Ephesans. "But he has never showed his face here."

Some of the residents had tried to leave Haiti during the 1991 coup that ousted Mr. Aristide. Some made it to Miami, some died and others, like Israel Arince, were caught at sea and returned.

The same America that sent him back to Haiti and restored Mr. Aristide to power in 1994, Mr. Arince said, now makes life impossible.

"They have blocked the country from getting aid," he said. "We are human beings and we do not like to live like this. Only animals should live here."

In La Saline slum, down a busy road near the prison that is often choked with carts and traffic, pigs waded through streams of human waste and poked their snouts into mountains of garbage in a drainage canal. Young women dropped plastic buckets into a sewer and hauled out a gray water they would use to wash their floors. Potable water is too expensive.

"There is no way to be healthy here," said Elisena Nicolas, who spends a third of her income on water. "But you have to keep the children clean."

As hard as it is to conceive, people come to La Saline to escape rural misery. In the Central Plateau town of Cange, doctors with the Zanmi Lasante clinic said children commonly died from malaria or diarrhea, while tuberculosis and AIDS killed their parents. Even polio, once thought to have been eradicated, has resurfaced recently.

Although the clinic receives no international aid, doctors said they worked with many Haitian government clinics in nearby villages where the frozen aid has left them unable to cope. In recent years, their volunteer clinic's patient load has tripled to 120,000, with patients sometimes walking five hours for free care.

Dr. Paul Farmer, an American who helped found the clinic in the 1980's, said he could not prove that the blocked aid resulted in more suffering, but the deteriorating conditions were evident. International aid, provided on an emergency basis to charitable groups, was no substitute for a working government, he said.

"One of the world's most powerful countries is taking on one of the most impoverished," he said of the United States decision to withhold aid. "I object to that on moral grounds. Anybody who presides over this blockade needs to know the impact here already."

But Haiti's record of official corruption and mismanagement, regardless of who was in power, has given pause to many international aid officials. A recent study by the World Bank concluded that 15 years of aid through 2001 had had no discernible impact in reducing poverty, since projects were carried out haphazardly and government officials did not sustain improvements.

Today, for instance, a maze of rat-infested pipes is all that is left of a potable water project after funds ran out before the pipes could be connected to the water main.

At the same time, political opponents and diplomats said, the government has money to provide cars for legislators or pay off neighborhood groups that are its foot soldiers and that, the opposition charges, have been used to intimidate government opponents.

As a result, diplomats and aid officials said Mr. Aristide must not only resolve his political crisis, he must also show that he will allow economic and administrative reforms to guarantee that any forthcoming aid will be honestly spent.

"We are saying we want to help you," said a European diplomat, who noted that the European Union was ready to provide $350 million. "But you must help us help you. You comply, I'll comply."

Absent any aid or a political pact, people scrape by as they have for years, sharing what little they have or sacrificing themselves for their children. In the neighborhood of Fort Sinclaire, a dilapidated maze of shacks, indigent teenagers with tuberculosis sleep on sheets spread out on hard concrete porches.

A soft carpet of soggy wood chips blankets the entrance to the neighborhood, as men carve wooden bowls to sell to tourists who have yet to return to Haiti. Lionel Agustain, a woodworker, sometimes earns two dollars a day, not enough to prevent him from losing his home a few years ago.

A friend lets him sleep on a rickety cot inside a gym where the weights are improvised from gears and other car parts. The walls are tauntingly decorated with wrinkled posters of bodybuilders with bulging chests and biceps. Mr. Agustain is thin, and he sometimes eats only a bowl of rice.

"We don't know when they are going to fix things," he said. "We suffer. And when you suffer enough, you die."

                                                                                                                                                                                      Posted at 1:59 p.m., Saturday, July 27, 2002

Haitian man killed over woman

By Yves A. Isidor, executive editor                                                                                                                                                                                     Cambridge, MA, July 27 - What went wrong again at the Massachusetts City of Somerville housing project, but this time early this week?                                                                                                                                                                                               Just a few weeks after Stella Narrajo, 35, a resident of the Mystic avenue housing project, as that city's vast housing project is commonly known, and more than a decade ago reputable for violent racial conflicts, attempted to kill through strangulation her neighbor, a young Haitian girl, while screaming "I hate black people," a Haitian man, Oxon Cinterlin, was stabbed to death Monday, July 23, about 12:45 p.m., by a fellow compatriot, Fequiere Exilome, both natives of Desdunes, in the Artibonite Valley, Haiti, apparently over a woman named Martine, one of the victim's family members Thursday said.                                                                                                                                                                                                The parents of the victim are said to vow revenge, perhaps in a way reminiscent to the broad daylight brutal killing of a Haitian woman by her jealous Haitian husband just a few years ago, also in the working class city of Somerville.                                                                                                                                                                                        Somerville Police did not have to forcefully take the perpetrator of the crime out of the circulation as they did when the jealous husband who weeks later at the end of a trial by a jury a guilty verdict was returned against him thereafter prompting the presiding trial magistrate to sentence him to life without the possibility of parole in a state penitentiary after revising the state criminal codes. The allege killer, who many said was a friend of the victim and who he consumed spaghetti with the night before, went straight to the nearby police station, turning himself in, we learned.

                                                                                                                                                           A get-rich scheme collapses, leaving Haiti even poorer                                                                                                                                                                                               By David Gonzalez, The New York Times

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, July 20 - Intoxicated by the promise of easy money, thousands of Haitians here and abroad sold their cars, mortgaged their homes and emptied their savings accounts in recent months to invest in cooperatives that promised astonishing monthly returns of 10 percent.

Economists and bankers long warned government officials and the public that the unregulated cooperatives were little more than a pyramid scheme and possible money-laundering operation. But when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide hailed cooperatives as "the people's capitalism" that would drive economic development, many investors said their skepticism vanished.

Soon, too, did their money. More than $200 million has been lost in unsound or illegal cooperatives that took their investors' money and bought luxurious properties, fleets of buses or just spirited it abroad. Police officers have shown up in riot gear at some cooperatives, holding managers at gunpoint until they were repaid.

But with thousands of other people having lost their homes or savings and unsure how they will pay their rent or send their children to school in September, the collapse has presented Mr. Aristide with what could be the most serious challenge to his already bumpy tenure.

"I sold my house because the president encouraged us to do so," said Serge Décime, a bus driver from the southern coastal town of Jacmel who said he had invested $6,500 in a cooperative that failed. "Now, we live, but only a little bit. We cannot afford to live anymore."

Last Friday, the government promised a bailout, although no reputable economist can see how Mr. Aristide can hope to do so without giving rise to runaway inflation.

Apparently, the president hopes to avoid the kind of disorder that engulfed Albania, Europe's poorest country, after a similar, more costly pyramid scheme collapsed there in 1997. "He says everybody will be repaid," said Jacques Durocher, the director of Desjardins International Development, which advises legitimate cooperatives. "Everybody knows it is an old strategy to keep people quiet. Time will do the job."

Diplomats are especially galled by the promised bailout, considering that the government of the Western Hemisphere's poorest country has blamed its social and economic deterioration on the international community, which has frozen $500 million in aid until a political impasse over the legislative elections of May 2000 is resolved.

"It is an absurdity," said one diplomat who has tracked the cooperatives. "This is a government that doesn't have any money. That's bad enough, but there are schools, hospitals and 20,000 other priorities that would be more important than this from an economic and social standpoint. You're already broke and going to get even broker."

In an interview, Mr. Aristide said he had told people to be careful about investing, and that his government was placing all financial cooperatives under supervision of the banking authorities. "If I went too fast and too far, I would be creating and increasing the panic," he said.

Traditional cooperatives have long existed in Haiti, allowing farmers or small business owners who were unable to borrow from banks to pool their savings into revolving loan accounts. Savings accounts in the traditional cooperatives offered at most a 4 percent annual interest rate, similar to commercial banks.

The 10 percenters, as they are widely known, emerged about three years ago, mushrooming in the last year to more than 250. They competed for customers by offering cellphones and compact disk players to new depositors and an up-front payout of three months interest. Rates shot up to as high as 13 and 15 percent.

Guernélia Jeudi sold her home for $16,000 and invested it in a cooperative offering 12 percent a month, hoping to pay off her debts and build a nicer home for her and her five children. A few weeks ago, the cooperative disappeared overnight. "Now I work with my hands, begging for the charity of God," she said in the courtyard of a house she is renting. "We will have to move in December when the rent is due again. My son is sick with a cough, and I cannot even take him to the doctor. I have no money for anything."

The managers of the 10 percenters were vague about how they were able to offer such high rates. Many said the government had allowed them to import rice, sugar and consumer goods duty-free. Others also said they had invested heavily in profitable bus fleets.

Reputable financial experts noted that the numbers did not add up, but figured that the 10 percenters were pyramid schemes that would quickly implode as the pool of new depositors shrank. "Mathematically, it should have self-destructed earlier," one banker said. "Drug money definitely allowed them to last much longer."

Such rumors swirl around Coeurs-Unis, a new 10 percenter said to have close ties to Mr. Aristide's Lavalas Family political party. Coming from seemingly nowhere, it opened up across the country with large bus fleets before accepting a single deposit. The firm recently purchased a near-vacant resort hotel in Jacmel for nearly $4 million, about four times its actual value, bankers said.

Armed guards at Coeurs-Unis offices in Port-au-Prince rebuffed several attempts to interview David Chery, its head.

The crisis began in February when commercial banks feared they would be cut off from their United States counterparts if they were found to have accepted drug profits.

Sogebank, Haiti's largest locally owned bank, asked some 20 cooperatives that had deposits to show their books. None complied, and the bank returned $9 million.

There may be ripples through the legitimate cooperatives and commercial banks. At least one major traditional cooperative is believed to have invested its depositors' money in a 10 percenter. At some commercial banks, almost half of the employees took out unsecured loans to invest in cooperatives.

Bankers said the government repeatedly ignored their warnings about dangers to the financial system. Instead, the government continued to praise the cooperative movement, making no distinction between legitimate traditional cooperatives and the 10 percenters, who had unleashed a barrage of advertising.

Cooperative managers insist that the movement is still viable. Zachée Michel, who leads an association of cooperatives, said he had been negotiating with two financial firms in the United States to see if their assets can be purchased as part of a restructuring.

"We have consulted specialists from Wall Street, and what they offer by looking back over the last five years is 75 to 80 percent a year return," Mr. Michel said. "If they do that, we can safely offer 60 percent a year. The economy of Haiti is not good enough, but internationally it is good enough by investing in the New York stock market."

                                                                                                                                                  Suspects in gang war arrested as raiders use stun grenades

By David Green

Some North Miami residents were startled awake by a string of explosions early Thursday -- the sound of agents hurling stun grenades inside homes and rounding up suspects in a Haitian gang war.

The raiders found more than half a dozen guns believed to have been used in a 4-month-old gang war that has claimed seven young victims.

Investigators are trying to match one assault rifle that was seized to the murder earlier this month of the seventh victim: 13-year-old Gregory Delphin.

The AK-47, TEC-9 machine pistol and handguns recovered Thursday were stolen from Martin's Gun & Pawn Shop in Broward County, law enforcement sources said.

Robbers plowed a truck into the front of the store last March and made off with 33 firearms -- including a machine gun with a scope.

''We think there's a very high probability that a lot of these guns will be linked to our cases,'' said one law enforcement source.

More than 60 members of the multi-agency task force also fanned out across North Miami on Thursday morning, picking up roughly a dozen men for questioning. They are believed to have been involved in some of the shootouts.

''We're getting somewhere, questioning them,'' said a law enforcement source. ``But the detectives will probably be at it until midnight.''

The North Miami police department remained tight-lipped about the arrests.

Assistant Chief Stephen Stepp would not discuss them, saying they were part of an ongoing investigation.

The raids began just before dawn.

Dozens of North Miami police detectives and other agents tore the steel gate off the front door of a modest house in the 1400 block of Northeast 137th Street.

They tossed concussion grenades inside and then swept through the house, slapping flex-cuffs onto sleeping residents and scouring the house for contraband. Police used the surprise tactics because they believed people in the house could easily arm themselves.

''We looked outside, and there were police everywhere,'' said neighbor Marlene Wood.

``They brought all of them out under the carport. Then one of [the agents] came out from the back, carrying a rifle.''

That rifle was an AK-47, a source said. They also found the TEC-9 and pistols inside, according to the source.

Agents arrested Edwin Toussaint, 20, on federal weapons charges. He has been arrested several times on charges of possession of marijuana and cocaine, loitering and trespassing.

Dozens of agents also knocked down the door of apartment C-6 at a complex in the 13600 block of NE Third Court. Again, they tossed in flash-bang grenades.

''Everybody was sleeping,'' said manager Victor Isaac. ``Then boom, boom, boom -- everybody came outside to see what happened.''

Agents arrested brothers Max Daniel, 19, and Richard Daniel, 18. They, too, face federal weapons charges.

The brothers have been arrested in the past on charges of burglary, possession of marijuana, resisting arrest and carrying a concealed firearm, state records show.

The stolen assault rifle recovered from behind Toussaint's house is the same make and caliber as the gun detectives believe may have been used to kill 13-year-old Gregory on the Fourth of July.

That rifle and the others have been sent to the Miami-Dade police crime lab for ballistics testing, the source said.

Gregory was gunned down as he rode his bike home from a friend's house. He had been playing video games and lighting firecrackers.

His murder galvanized community outrage and helped focus attention on the growing rash of gang shootings that had erupted across northern Miami-Dade county.

Before that, a 14-year-old boy was shot on a North Miami Beach playground. Two teenagers were shot dead as they walked home from a food store.

The same night that Gregory was murdered, a barrage of gunfire from a passing car struck seven teenagers as they stood in front of a North Miami Beach apartment building. All of them survived the attack.

Gregory's relatives said they hoped that this first wave of arrests would help solve his murder -- and the others.

''We're just hoping and praying that among the people they arrested, if not the killer, at least someone there has information about who killed Gregory,'' said his older sister, Gina Cricout.

``Because we have to catch them. My mom won't rest -- we won't rest -- until that happens.''

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                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 3:16 p.m., Friday, July 26, 2002

Letter of protest to Haitian brutal and de facto president Aristide

24 July 2002

His Excellency Jean Bertrand Aristide, President of the Republic of Haiti, Palais National, Champs de Mars, Port-au-Prince, Republic of Haiti, Fax number: ++ 509 298 3772/3.

Mr. President, The Independent and Self-governing Trade Union "Solidarnosc", which represents over 1 million workers in Poland, is writing to you again to express our deep concern at the treatment of nine people, including six trade unionists (see annexe), held illegally at the National Penitentiary and Fort National.

According to information we have received, the arrests took place in totally illegal circumstances on 27th May, following some extremely serious events in the commune of Saint-Raphaël. On the day in question, some trade unionists from the Batay Ouvriye union had come to demonstrate their support for the members of the Workers' Union of Guacimal Saint-Raphaël (SOGS) in their dispute with a plantation manager. Accordingly to our sources, the police did nothing to prevent the confrontation between the two parties to the dispute, although it had been foreseeable. This lax approach and complicity by the police effectively led to the deaths of two trade unionists (see annexe), whose bodies were brutally mutilated, and the injuries, some of which were serious, to many people. Many trade unionists, together with the public transport drivers who had driven them to the event and two journalists, were then imprisoned in various houses to which they had been forcibly moved by the police, ostensibly for their own protection. During these incidents, the houses of Sintès Estime, General Secretary of the SOGS, and Miralès Saint Fleur, a member of the union, were also set on fire.

A more detailed investigation has led the NSZZ "Solidarnosc" to make a very disturbing discovery concerning your government's role in this affair. It has transpired that the detained people were transferred totally illegally from the commune of Saint-Raphaël to Port-au-Prince, without any respect of their rights to defence. As we understand it, the transfer procedure was not respected and the authorities did not receive any detention order. The detention of the trade unionists has been prolonged with no justification, whereas the two journalists, arrested at the same time, were released following pressure from professional journalists' associations. What is more, the imprisoned people have not been allowed visitors, despite the fact that some are elderly. It would also seem that some have been ill-treated and that no medical care has been provided to the detained people, most of whom were seriously injured during the brawl. Indeed, two of the prisoners, Urbain Garçon, one of whose legs might be broken, and Jeremie Dorvil, who has continually being spitting blood after receiving blows to the chest, are in urgent need of care.

Lastly, the fact that Mario Dupuy, the Communications Minister, has labelled this group of workers as terrorists and looters, though they were simply calling for better working conditions and the honouring of oral commitments, is part of an misinformation campaign which, we are told, is aimed at showing investors that the government is determined to protect their interests at any cost, not least in the EPZs.

Mr President, NSZZ "Solidarnosc" condemns your government's attitude in this affair in the strongest possible terms. The government is not only flouting the country's own Constitution and laws but also the international conventions on human rights to which Haiti is a signatory. We must repeat that the institution of a repressive policy towards trade unionists will do nothing to improve the image of your government and attract investors. Only dialogue and respect for human rights can ensure the kind of harmonious situation that will promote sustainable and beneficial investment. Moreover, it is quite intolerable that people should be imprisoned without any charge being brought against them.

For all those reasons, we are calling for the immediate release of the imprisoned trade unionists and of the public transport drivers who are with them, and we would ask you to ensure that they receive medical care as soon as possible. We also demand that all violence by your government against trade unionists cease.

We would further ask you to provide for the safe return of the trade unionists to their homes and ensure that the trade activities provided for in ILO conventions 87 and 98 can be pursued once again in the Guacimal plantation.

We look forward to a positive reaction from your government and the immediate release of the illegally imprisoned trade unionists.

Yours sincerely, Marian Krzaklewski President

List of names of trade unionists killed and imprisoned:

Assassinated trade unionists: Francilien Exilien, Ipharès Guerrier

Imprisoned trade unionists: In National Penitentiary: Alexandre Tusson, Sénat Veruséus, Jérémie Dorvil, Urbain Garçon In Fort National: Mme Edouard Dambreville, Mme Lucienne Jean

Persons imprisoned in the National Penitentiary along with the trade unionists: Yvon Louis Jeune, driver, Destiné Décius, driver, Alix Roland, conductor of one of the vehicles

Copy: Mr. Guy Ryder, General Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Brussels

Solidarnose INDEPENDENT AND SELF-GOVERNING TRADE UNION National Commission address: ul. Waly Piiastowskie 24, 80-855 Gdansk, Poland; tel.: +48-58 308 4472 fax: 320 2688 President's Office tel.: +48-58 308 4332, 308 4353 International Department fax: +48-58 308 4482, 308 4495 International Department; e-mail:  

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 11:35 p.m., Thursday, July 25, 2002

LATAM-Caribbean: Human development backsliding, says UNPD                                                                                                                                                                                                 By Raul Pierri, Inter Press Service   

MONTEVIDEO, Jul 24 (IPS) - Nearly all countries of Latin America and the Caribbean suffered declines in the human development indicators established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), even though the agency's annual report, released Wednesday, does not include the latest data on the crisis-ridden region.

Chile, ranked 38, and Bahamas, 41, were the only countries of Latin America and the Caribbean that improved their position on the list of 173 nations ranked by the UNDP based on the human development index (HDI) of each.

The UNDP report is based on data from 2000, and an update would likely change the position of several countries on the list.

Argentina, for example, comes in at a relatively healthy 34th place, but it is currently submerged in the economic, social and political crisis that exploded in December 2001, with the resignation of president Fernando de la Rúa and the accompanying halt in foreign debt payments, devaluation of the national currency, and sharp increases in poverty and unemployment.

Barbados, the country marking the best human development performance of the Latin American-Caribbean region, held on to its position at 31. All other countries dropped in the rankings with respect to the previous UNDP annual report.

The UN agency's HDI is based in a series of social indicators, including life expectancy at birth, literacy rates among adults, school attendance at all levels, and per capita income.

The top 10 in the UNDP's ranking this year are Norway, Sweden, Canada, Belgium, Australia, United States, Iceland, Netherlands, Japan and Finland. The last 10, the ones with the worst human development performance, are all African nations: Mali, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, Burkina Fasso, Mozambique, Burundi, Niger and Sierra Leone.

The UNDP Human Development Report, drawn up every year since 1990, divides the countries studied into three categories.

Countries of "high human development" include those of Western Europe and North America, the "medium human development" category covers nearly all Latin America and the Caribbean, while the countries of Africa and western Asia predominate in "low human development".

Although still included among the countries of high human development, Uruguay, fell three points with respect to 2001, to 40, while Costa Rica fell to 43 after having reached 41 last year, and Trinidad and Tobago slid one position to 50.

The region's countries in the medium category include Mexico, which worsened from 51 to 54 in the ranking, Panama (from 52 to 57), Belize (54 to 58), Colombia (62 to 68), Brazil (69 to 73), Suriname (64 to 74), Peru (73 to 82), Jamaica (78 to 86), Paraguay (80 to 90) and Ecuador (from 84 to 93).

Further down in the HDI ranking are the Dominican Republic (which dropped from 86 to 94), Guyana (93 to 103), El Salvador ( news - web sites) (95 to 104), Bolivia (104 to 114) and Nicaragua (106 to 118).

Guatemala returned to the 120 spot it held in 2000, falling from the 108 ranking it reached last year. Haiti, the country with the worst human development performance in the region, fell from 134 to 146.

Six Caribbean countries that were not included in the 2001 ranking because they did not provide the UNDP with the relevant data are found on this year's list: St. Kitts and Nevis (44), Antigua and Barbuda (52), Cuba (55), Dominica (61), Santa Lucia (66) and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (91).

The UNDP report also evaluates the possibilities that the countries -- based on the current trends in each -- will meet the goals set for 2015 at the Millennium Summit, held in September 2000 at the United Nations headquarters.

At the Millennium Summit, the world's leaders made a commitment to cut hunger and extreme poverty in half, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce infant and maternal mortality, fight HIV/AIDS and defend the environment.

Only Chile, Uruguay and Peru are likely to meet the goal of halving the portion of the population suffering hunger, 10 countries will maintain similar levels, and Cuba, Venezuela, Guatemala will see their hungry populations grow, the UNDP estimates.

The report states that the portion of people living on less than a dollar a day in Latin America and the Caribbean remained practically unchanged between 1990 and 1999 - around 16 percent of the total population.

Argentina and Chile are poised to achieve universal education at the primary level, while Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua could reach gender equality in primary school attendance by 2015.

The UNDP underscores the importance of increasing international aid so that developing countries might achieve their Millennium Summit targets.

"A key responsibility is finance. Aid from official and new sources is essential to kickstart the performance of countries failing to achieve the goals -- as well as to keep on track those doing well," states the annual report.

Official aid for development, which last year totaled 56 billion dollars, must reach 96 billion to 116 billion dollars in order to achieve the goals established at the Millennium Summit, says the UNDP.

Copyright © 2002                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 3:49 p.m., Thursday, July 18, 2002                                                                                                                                                  Retired diplomat says U.S. finds post-Sept. 11 cooperation                                                                                                                                                                                                 By B.J. Reyes, Associated Press Writer

HONOLULU, July 17 - Improved relations between the United States and countries including Russia and China are just one example of newfound cooperation forged in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a retired U.S. ambassador said.

"I think maybe September 11th provided an opportunity ... for China and the U.S. both to think beyond the Straits of Taiwan issue into that which we share in common, and it put a more positive light on our relations," said Alvin P. Adams, former ambassador to Peru, Haiti and Djibouti. "The same would be true of Russia." Improved cooperation among nations, including the sharing of intelligence, will be key to wiping out global terrorism, Adams said.

The diplomat was among speakers at Tuesday's opening of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies' biennial regional security conference.

Three days of meetings bring together more than 200 senior policy makers, academics, government officials, diplomats and military representatives from 40 countries throughout Asia and the Pacific to discuss such topics as weapons of mass destruction and information warfare

"The theme basically is enhanced regional security and the focus is on terrorism — that is one transnational issue," Adams said in an interview.

Although the conference focuses on the Asia-Pacific region, the conflict between Israel and Pakistan also is likely to be a hot topic of discussion, Adams said.

Chiang Sen, an officer from Taiwan's Foreign Ministry attending the conference, said he is looking forward to hearing other viewpoints on international security and the war on terrorism. "Some people say it's a clash of different civilizations because we have Islam and we have Christianity.

"Some people argue that, 'No, it's about U.S. policy toward someone else.' Some people say, 'No, it's an internal problem because some minorities in some countries are so frustrated they think that nobody represents them and they have no voice ... so they want to do something very radical to express their views.'

"So you have all kinds of reasons to explain why we have this kind of global terrorism," Chiang added. "I think it's good for us to understand (each other.)"

The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, established in 1995, is a regional study and research facility that reports directly to the U.S. military's Pacific Command of. Its non-warfighting academic focus addresses regional security issues and concerns.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Guilty verdict in perjury count in Louima case                                                                                                                                                                                                 By William Glaberson, The New York Times

New York City, July 17 - The partial verdict left open many questions in a case that revisited a chapter in the city's past that many had thought was closed.

The jury in Federal District Court in Brooklyn convicted Mr. Schwarz of lying when he said he did not lead Mr. Louima to the police station bathroom where he was attacked, but deadlocked on another perjury charge and on two civil rights charges after deliberating for six days.

Prosecutors said they were prepared to bring Mr. Schwarz back to court on the unresolved charges in what would be his fourth trial. Mr. Schwarz's two previous convictions were overturned in February, setting the stage for this trial.

Yesterday's verdict assured that the bitterness of the case would continue, with prosecutors committed to pursuing Mr. Schwarz, whom they see as a renegade former police officer who has largely eluded them, and Schwarz partisans claiming that the case against him is a miscarriage of justice.

In the days after the first reports of the assault of Mr. Louima on Aug. 9, 1997, police officers were accused not only of sodomizing a man with a broken broomstick, but also of closing in around the alleged attackers and protecting them with a wall of deceptions. Prosecutors said much of that deception was aimed at protecting Mr. Schwarz.

After what appeared to be sometimes agonizing deliberations, the jurors convicted Mr. Schwarz of lying when he denied leading Mr. Louima away from the front desk of the 70th Precinct station house in Flatbush and toward the station's bathroom, where Officer Justin A. Volpe committed the assault. Mr. Volpe pleaded guilty in 1999 and is serving a 30-year sentence.

But the jurors said they could not reach a unanimous verdict on charges that Mr. Schwarz also lied about being present in the station house bathroom, or on charges alleging that Mr. Schwarz conspired to deprive Mr. Louima of his civil rights and violated those rights by assaulting him.

Supporters of each side have long viewed the other as sinister, and yesterday's murky verdict, which expressly failed to resolve the prosecution's charges that Mr. Schwarz took part in the assault, gave each enough to claim victory and to pledge that the battle would continue.

"Today a federal jury has for the third time found Charles Schwarz guilty of serious federal crimes arising out of the horrific assault of Abner Louima," said the interim United States attorney in Brooklyn, Alan Vinegrad. He asserted that the jurors had seen through what he called "an extraordinary media campaign to promote a one-sided and slanted view" of the case by the defense.

In a telephone interview last night, Mr. Louima said: "Obviously, the jury realized Schwarz was not telling the truth about what he was doing when he led me away from the front desk, so I don't understand why they couldn't reach a verdict on the other counts. There has never been any doubt in my mind. I believe he's guilty."

Mr. Louima, who said he would cooperate if Mr. Schwarz is retried, declined to speculate on the jury's reasoning. But some of Mr. Louima's supporters blamed the racial makeup of the jury, which included two blacks, nine whites and one man of Middle Eastern descent.

Mr. Schwarz said he would fight through any new trial and was convinced he would prevail.

"I am innocent," he said, with an edge of anger in his voice. "They have used every resource they could, and they haven't convicted me yet."

Mr. Schwarz was convicted in 1999 on a charge of helping Mr. Volpe commit the assault. The next year, he and two other officers, Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder, were convicted of obstruction of justice.

All of those convictions were overturned in February by the federal appeals court in Manhattan, which ruled that Mr. Schwarz had been denied a fair trial because his lawyer, Stephen C. Worth, had conflicts of interest representing him, and because the jury was exposed to prejudicial information during deliberations.

At the time, Mr. Schwarz had served 33 months of a 15-year sentence. The perjury count on which he was convicted yesterday carries a possible prison term of five years. Judge Reena Raggi allowed Mr. Schwarz, now 36, to remain free on the $1 million bail she had set this spring after the appeals court ruling.

She set a sentencing date of Sept. 20. Mr. Schwarz's chief defense lawyer, Ronald P. Fischetti, said he would argue that Mr. Schwarz should receive credit for the prison time he had served.

But it is not clear whether the judge will agree, because Mr. Schwarz's prior sentence, imposed by a different judge, was for different crimes civil rights violations and obstruction of justice not for the perjury charge on which he was convicted yesterday.

Back in the early hours of that August morning in 1997, prosecutors say, Officer Schwarz and Officer Volpe were both under the mistaken belief that Mr. Louima had hit them during a melee outside a Flatbush nightclub, Club Rendez-Vous. Eventually, they say, Officer Schwarz led Mr. Louima away from the front desk of the station house and into the bathroom, then restrained him while Officer Volpe assaulted him.

But the web of accounts given by Mr. Louima himself, and by various officers who were in the precinct station house that morning, has made it difficult for prosecutors to incontrovertibly establish that sequence of events.

Mr. Louima has always said he was certain the officer who assisted Officer Volpe was "the driver" of the patrol car that took him to the station house from Club Rendez-Vous. Officer Schwarz was the driver. But Mr. Louima has not been able to identify Mr. Schwarz in court. That, together with the varied testimony of police officers, has helped foster something of a subculture surrounding the case among supporters of Mr. Schwarz who say they are convinced that he was not in the bathroom.

The jury verdict gave added vitality to that view. The jurors would have had to conclude that prosecutors proved Mr. Schwarz was in the bathroom during the assault to convict him of the second perjury count. In that count, he was charged with lying when he denied being in the bathroom during the assault. The jury would also have had to conclude that Mr. Schwarz was in the bathroom to convict him of the civil rights count that charged him with taking part in the assault.

The jurors, who were anonymous, left the courthouse in the company of United States marshals yesterday without commenting to reporters.

Yesterday, Mr. Fischetti immediately cited the verdict as evidence for the defense view of the case. "They were unable to prove that he was in that bathroom assaulting Abner Louima," he said of the prosecutors, "and we're pleased because he was never in that bathroom."

Mr. Fischetti said the prosecutors should not try Mr. Schwarz again because they would not be able to improve on their presentation.

But Mr. Vinegrad, the chief prosecutor, suggested that the United States attorney's office would not retreat, though his reference to the defense's public relations efforts indicated the prosecutors realized they were handicapped by the passage of time. In this trial, Mr. Louima seemed muted, far enough removed from the assault that his testimony lacked the emotional edge it gave jurors in past trials.

But yesterday, one of his lawyers, Barry Scheck, took issue with Mr. Schwarz's contention that he had been cleared of taking part in the assault by saying that Mr. Schwarz had never been acquitted.

Mr. Louima, he said, "is resolved to see this through to the end."

"Justice comes slowly," Mr. Scheck said. "But it will come."

On the other side of the case, as well, there were expressions of resolve.

"We are going to fight to clear his name," Mr. Schwarz's wife, Andra, told reporters outside the court building. "It's not over."

Copyright © 2002 The New York Times Company.

                                                                                                                                                                             Kidnapped journalist found beaten, vows to continue work on Haitian gangs                                                                                                                                                                                              By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, July 17 - A journalist known for his investigations of criminal gangs loyal to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was found tied up, stripped to his underwear and thrown into a mudhole one day after he was kidnapped.

Israel Jacky Cantave, 28, said Wednesday that his abduction — during which he was beaten and warned to stay away from the subject of gangland rivalries — would not deter him from his work.

"The kidnapping was a message to all journalists," Cantave said. "However, I will continue to do my job as before."

On Monday night, Cantave had finished his newscast at Radio Caraibes station and left with his friend Frantz Ambroise.

Near his home in suburban Delmas, another car cut off Cantave's car and four unknown men forced the two men at gunpoint into their car.

Blindfolded, they were driven to an unknown destination, beaten and interrogated, with the kidnappers asking Cantave if he was working for foreign governments or the political opposition.

"The kidnappers accused me of speaking too frankly on sensitive subjects. They said I was working to destroy the country," Cantave said in an interview.

At one point, the kidnappers discussed the pros and cons of killing them, Cantave said. But hearing radio newscasts about the strong public reaction and rapid mobilization of government and police, the abductors decided to release them.

"Their intention was to kill me, but they decided not to when they realized it was making such an uproar," he said.

Bruised and almost naked, Cantave and Ambroise were released about 8 p.m. Tuesday (0100 GMT Wednesday) in eastern Port-au-Prince, where residents found them and contacted police.

The government expressed satisfaction with their release.

"The government has sent a clear signal that it will not tolerate the intimidation of journalists," Information Undersecretary Mario Dupuy said.

Police are holding two people for questioning, he said.

Cantave was recently investigating the often bloody gang rivalries among Aristide partisans in the seaside slums of Cite Soleil and La Saline, which border the capital.

On Monday morning, he received the latest in a series of telephone death threats.

Radio Caraibes has been singled out before by Aristide partisans for political reasons.

On Dec. 17, when an armed commando attacked the National Palace in what Aristide called an attempt to assassinate him, rampaging Aristide partisans burned down opposition headquarters and threatened at least a dozen journalists. Fifteen journalists fled Haiti fearing for their lives, including four members of Radio Caraibes.

The opposition said the palace attack was staged as a pretext to clamp down on dissent. "To be a journalist in Haiti is extremely dangerous. The public uproar saved Cantave and his cousin, but it was a close call," said Guyler Delva, president of the Haitian Association of Journalists.

This year, about 20 incidents of government supporters harassing journalists have been reported. Cantave's was the first case of kidnapping. 

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.                                                                                                                                   

Balaguer's funeral draws hundreds                                                                                                                                                                                                By Andres Cala, Associated Press Writer

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP), July 17 - Hundreds of mourners walked hours under a glaring sun Wednesday to follow the flag-draped coffin of Joaquin Balaguer, the longtime leader whom many consider the father of modern Dominican politics.

Revered by some and reviled by others, Balaguer retained enormous sway even after leaving the presidency in 1996. He died of heart failure Sunday at 95.

"There has never existed in Dominican history a person with so much influence as this exceptional man," President Hipolito Mejia said in his eulogy.

"In this palace where he exercised his power for 22 years, at times with a strong hand and at times with gloves of silk, Joaquin Balaguer has no substitute in Dominican politics," he said.

Mejia's audience included officials from the United States, Haiti, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Outside the palace, hundreds of people waved flags and posters with images of Balaguer, and followed his coffin to the Our Lady of Peace church after Mejia's eulogy. The coffin was covered in flowers atop an open trailer towed by a green Humvee. Mourners in the procession — some elderly and others barefoot — grew angry that the coffin was being towed too quickly and forced the driver to slow down after banging on the vehicle and shouting "Go slower!" At the church, about 50 people pushed through a police barricade to make their way inside.

Mourners threw flowers and a choir sang as the coffin was carried down the aisle. More than 1,000 people attended the Mass, with most crowded outside.

Santo Domingo's Christ the Redeemer Cemetery was the burial site.

Balaguer held the presidency from 1966-1978 and 1986-1996, and was a staunch anti-communist ally of the United States.

The conservative leader largely escaped blame for atrocities committed early in his rule and under his mentor, military dictator Rafael Trujillo, who was assassinated in 1961.

After he assumed power, hundreds of people were kidnapped or disappeared. Later, his human rights record improved.

One of Latin America's last "caudillos," or strongmen, Balaguer presented more the image of kindly country doctor than a stern ruler. He was little more than 5 feet tall, lame and squinted from behind thick-framed glasses.

After winning 1994 elections marred by fraud charges, Balaguer reluctantly stepped down under domestic and U.S. pressure in 1996.

He was the last of a trio of political leaders who vied for power for 40 years, along with Juan Bosch and Jose Francisco Pena Gomez. Pena Gomez died in 1998, and Bosch died last year.

Despite widespread respect for their leadership, none was able to alleviate the poverty that afflicts many of the country's 8 million people.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.                                                                                                                                                            

Cooperative banks go burst, losing life savings for thousands and adding to despair in Haiti                                                                                                                                                                                                By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

JACMEL, Haiti, July 16 - Nicolas Greffin lost his life savings and property to a cooperative banking scheme that has left him and untold thousands across Haiti in despair.

Without notice, government-endorsed cooperative banks are folding, raising questions about the high interest they paid and allegations they were used to launder drug money.

Their demise has brought new desperation and provoked violent protests in a country mired in poverty and a 2-year-old political impasse that has blocked international aid.

"I lost everything, for six days of illusion," Greffin said, with tears in his eyes.

Caught up in a wave of enthusiasm that began last year, the 54-year old veterinarian's assistant sold two small houses and a plot of land, withdrew his savings from the bank and deposited the lot — 222,400 gourdes (dlrs 8,900) — in two of the 10 cooperatives in Jacmel, a seaside tourist town in southern Haiti.

That was May 25. On June 1, many co-ops shut down and the owners vanished with the depositors' savings.

Greffin blames President Jean-Bertrand Aristide because, "He encouraged us to join the cooperative movement and never warned us these banks were not part of it."

Members of legitimate cooperatives, which have existed in Haiti since 1937, pool their resources and invest in farming, fishing, groceries, housing.

As the cooperative banks began operating last year, government advertisements began appearing endorsing the cooperative movement, and officials including Aristide did the same. Though they never tied the movement to the banks, the timing led people to believe their government was endorsing the banks.

Aristide, who some Haitians consider the savior who delivered them from the dictatorship of the Duvalier family, appeared to be endorsing another form of salvation.

"Haiti can only succeed through the cooperative movement," Henriot Petiotte, director of the state National Cooperative Council, said in an interview July 2 on Radio Metropole.

But he also said that "if it's true the president encouraged people to join the cooperative movement," Aristide "referred to traditional cooperatives — not 'new wave' ones."

The co-op banks offered up to 15 percent monthly interest on term accounts, compared to commercial banks' 2 to 7 percent annual interest. The commercial banks held deposits totaling about 25 billion gourdes (dlrs 1 billion) while the cooperative banks, economists estimate, gathered 2-3.75 billion gourdes (dlrs 80-150 million).

In December, commercial bank customers began moving savings to cooperatives in alarming numbers.

In January, Sogebank, Haiti's largest bank, returned deposits to a dozen or so cooperatives. An economist who spoke on condition of anonymity said correspondent U.S. banks expressed fears the cooperatives were depositing drug money in Sogebank.

Depositing money with legitimate banks could have "washed" the money for drug dealers.

It is no coincidence, economists and analysts say, that the cooperatives shifted into high gear in mid-2001, shortly after passage of a law requiring banks to notify authorities of deposits exceeding dlrs 10,000. The law didn't apply to the co-ops.

Haitians became fearful. Doubt waxed and confidence waned; the number of new investors shrank. Old investors tried to withdraw money too late. Dozens of co-ops have closed since April, provoking sometimes violent demonstrations.

In Jacmel, more than 5,000 of the 150,000 people had invested in the co-ops. But since one wage earner supports about 10 people in Haiti, some 50,000 people — a third of the population — are directly affected.

Jackson Alexandre, a 29-year old accountant, transferred his savings of 187,650 gourdes (dlrs 7,500) to three co-ops. Now he is penniless and out of work. His boss was forced into bankruptcy because of his own co-op investment.

"What happened to Jacmel was worse than a hurricane," Alexandre said.

Mystery still shrouds their ability to pay such high interest rates.

"Do new deposits pay interest on old deposits?" former Planning Minister Marc Bazin asked, alluding to pyramid schemes that, in countries like Albania, led to disaster as money owed to initial investors exceeded funds deposited by those who followed.

In February, Haiti had about 300 co-op banks, with about 185,000 members. It's unclear how many remain.

In Jacmel, only two are left. One, called Coeurs Unis, or United Hearts, has purchased fleets of taxis and buses, gas stations, schools, and real estate since it opened in October.

In May it bought a 28-room beach hotel outside Jacmel for a reported dlrs 3.4 million. With its 40 employees and low room-occupancy rate, it's doubtful the Mirage Hotel is a money-making proposition.

But it is located on a newly tarred 30-kilometer (18-mile) road nicknamed Cocaine Alley. It lies along beaches where boats from Colombia often drop bundles of drugs.

This month, Coeurs Unis lowered its monthly interest rate from 12 to 5 percent.

Days earlier, Aristide announced that "There is no crisis of the cooperative movement" and pledged "the state will abandon nobody who deposited money in a cooperative and was victimized."

But it's doubtful the cash-strapped government can reimburse victims by October, as it has promised.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. 

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 6:01 p.m., Tuesday, July 16, 2002                                                                                                                                             Investigative journalist missing after receiving death threats in Haiti                                                                                                                                                                                                 By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, July 16 - A journalist known for his investigations into gangland supporters of Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was reported missing Tuesday after receiving a series of threats on his life, a media group official said.

Israel Jacky Cantave, 28, finished his evening newscast at 10 p.m. Monday (0300 GMT Tuesday), telephoned his wife to say he was on the way home and left the Radio Caraibes station with his cousin Frantz Ambroise, said Guyler Delva, president of the Haitian Association of Journalists. Both men have disappeared.

Radio Caraibes reported Tuesday morning that Cantave's car was found near his home in suburban Delmas. His cellular phone was in the car; the door on the driver's side was dented, causing speculation he had been pursued and bumped by another vehicle. Cantave told colleagues Monday morning he had received another in a long series of telephone death threats. "You're going to lose your life over this," the voice said.

Cantave, who has a law degree, was recently investigating the often bloody gang rivalries among Aristide partisans in the seaside slums of Cite Soleil and La Saline, which border the capital.

The government is investigating Cantave's disappearance, said Information Under-Secretary Mario Dupuy.

"We have mobilized the police and judicial system and will do everything we can to get to the bottom of Cantave's disappearance," he said.

Radio Caraibes has been singled out before by Aristide partisans for political reasons.

On Dec. 17, when an armed commando attacked the National Palace in what Aristide called an attempt to assassinate him, rampaging Aristide partisans burned down opposition headquarters and threatened at least a dozen journalists. The opposition said the attack was staged as a pretext to clamp down on dissent.

After the attack, 15 journalists fled Haiti fearing for their lives. They included four members of Radio Caraibes.

"Freedom of the press is under fire in Haiti," Delva said.

This year, about 20 incidents of government supporters harassing journalists have been reported, he said.

No journalists, however, have been kidnapped.

In May, the France-based media freedom group Reporters Without Borders put Aristide on its blacklist of media predators, charging he had blocked the investigation of the April 3, 2000, murder of journalist Jean Dominique.

Dupuy denied that the government was persecuting journalists. 

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                       Posted at 8:51 p.m., Monday, July 15, 2002  

Haitian detainment policy questioned
July 15, 2002

Immigration and Naturalization Service's top commissioner James Ziglar and a group of lawmakers were in South Florida to deal with ongoing questions raised about the detainment policy for Haitian refugees.

The officials met with women who were desperate to leave Haiti and now are desperate to leave jail.

More than 200 Haitians reached Florida last December. The men are still being held at Krome Detention Center. The women moved from Krome because of abuse complaints, but they are still being held in the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.

Their well-being is the immediate concern of visiting officials, but in the long term, many activists and local politicians are calling for scrutiny of a refugee policy some call racist.

In the correctional center, a maximum-security jail, 24 Haitian women waiting for political asylum are begging to be let out.

Ziglar came at Florida Sen. Bill Nelson's request. Nelson is critical of current immigration policy regarding Haitians. He said, "There is a difference in how the Haitian detainees are treated from other nationalities and that's a wrong policy -- that has to stop."

The Immigration and Naturalization Service says the policy to hold all Haitians during the asylum process deters a dangerous mass exodus.

Joe Celestin, mayor of North Miami said, "Where in the world does the United States incarcerate people without being charged with anything since Dec. 2 until now."

Correctional center officials wanted to address concerns about the treatment of detainees and let Channel 10 cameras inside.

The conditions were clean and orderly, but typical of a jail. There is little privacy, and those critical of the detention say no matter the conditions, the mental stress of indefinite incarceration takes its toll.

Marlene Bastien, a Haitian activist said, "You see everyone comes in and everyone goes out but you -- just think about the desperation and hopelessness." Ziglar, the INS commissioner, left without making a comment.

Copyright © 2002 WPLG                                                                                                                                                                      

Tyrant Aristide burns man alive                                                                                                                                                                                               By Yves A. Isidor, executive editor

Cambridge, MA - Less than three weeks after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a wing of the Organization of the American States or OAS, submitted a human rights report extremely critical of the de facto government of tyrant Jean-Bertrand Aristide his bandits burned alive Lionel Delfleur, a Haitian Port Authority employee, today.                                                                                                                                                                                         Delfleur's brutal death came less than two years after totalitarian dictator Aristide publicly ordered his bandits to burn alive even his assumed political opponents, and since then hundreds of Haitians have suffered the same fate.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 5:55 p.m., Monday, July 15, 2002

Hundreds make pilgrimage to mourn longtime leader Joaquin Balaguer                                                                                                                                                                                                By Andres Cala, Associated Press Writer

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, July 15 - Hundreds of elderly people braved a glaring sun and 100-degree heat to line up for hours Monday to pay a final tribute to Joaquin Balaguer, the longtime leader and patriarch of Dominican politics.

Many had driven for hours across the Caribbean country after the 95-year-old former president died in his sleep of heart failure on Sunday.

"I came to say my final goodbye to my father because he was like a preacher to us," said 70-year-old Angel Bolivar, who took a bus to Santo Domingo from Duverge, 245 kilometers (155 miles) west near the border with Haiti.

The queue of mourners extended more than 200 meters (yards) from the modest home where Balaguer's body was displayed on his bed, dressed in a dark suit with a presidential sash.

"Let us in to see our leader!" mourners chanted from the slow-moving line. People struggled with police in the entrance, but were pushed back. At least one woman sustained minor injuries when crowds pushed her into an air conditioner.

Paramedics treated dozens of people Sunday for dehydration and fatigue. Balaguer's body is to remain at his home until a state funeral on Wednesday. He died at Santo Domingo's Abreu Clinic, where he had been treated for a bleeding ulcer since July 4.

Balaguer, who ruled for 22 years, was revered by many and reviled by others. He largely escaped blame for atrocities committed under his mentor, military dictator Rafael Trujillo, and under his own stewardship. "Balaguer is the father of democracy and he didn't do anything bad. Those are all lies they invented because they envied him," said Trinidad Tejada, a 54-year-old mourner who came from Bonao, 85 kilometers (55 miles) away. Many of the 400 people who waited to bid farewell to Balaguer were elderly. "All of us who supported Trujillo followed Balaguer because we like a rigid order," Bolivar said.

Balaguer first came to power in 1961 when Trujillo, who had ruled from 1930, was assassinated. But he was ousted by a leftist army coup and fled to New York City.

Returned to power after a U.S. invasion, Balaguer held the presidency from 1966-1978 and 1986-1996.

After 1990 and 1994 elections marred by fraud accusations, Balaguer reluctantly stepped down to allow a new vote in 1996.

But he retained enormous influence and helped engineer the elections of both his successors.

Hours before Balaguer died, legislators approved constitutional changes allowing presidents to serve two consecutive terms. Balaguer had backed the change.

A final debate on another measure to allow a candidate to win with 45 percent of votes was postponed from Monday to Thursday since the government declared three days of national mourning.

Balaguer opposed that measure and legislators of his party said they would honor his memory by voting against it, which would defeat the motion.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 2:29 a.m., Sunday, July 13, 2002                                                                                                                                                           In tough times, a company finds profits in terror war                                                                                                                                                                                               By Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr, The New York Times

Washington, July 12 - The Halliburton Company, the Dallas oil services company bedeviled lately by an array of accounting and business issues, is benefiting very directly from the United States efforts to combat terrorism.

From building cells for detainees at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba to feeding American troops in Uzbekistan, the Pentagon is increasingly relying on a unit of Halliburton called KBR, sometimes referred to as Kellogg Brown & Root.

Although the unit has been building projects all over the world for the federal government for decades, the attacks of Sept. 11 have led to significant additional business. KBR is the exclusive logistics supplier for both the Navy and the Army, providing services like cooking, construction, power generation and fuel transportation. The contract recently won from the Army is for 10 years and has no lid on costs, the only logistical arrangement by the Army without an estimated cost.

The government business has been well timed for Halliburton, whose stock price has tumbled almost two-thirds in the last year because of concerns about its asbestos liabilities, sagging profits in its energy business and an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into its accounting practices back when Vice President Dick Cheney ran the company. The government contracts, which the company said Mr. Cheney played no role in helping Halliburton win, either while he led the company or after he left, offer the prospect of a long and steady cash flow that impresses financial analysts.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress has appropriated $30 billion in emergency money to support the campaign against terrorism. About half has gone to the Pentagon, much of it to buy weapons, supplies, and services. Although KBR is probably not the largest recipient of all the government contracts related to terror efforts, few companies have longer or deeper ties to the Pentagon. And no company is better positioned to capitalize on this trend.

The value of the contracts to Halliburton is hard to quantify, but the company said government work generated less than 10 percent of its $13 billion in revenue last year.

The government business is "very good, a relatively stable source of cash flow," said Alexandra S. Parker, senior vice president of Moody's Investors Service. "We view it positively."

By hiring an outside company to handle much of its logistics, the Pentagon may wind up spending more taxpayer money than if it did the work itself.

Under the new Army contract, KBR's work in Central Asia, at least for the next year, will cost 10 percent to 20 percent more than if military personnel were used, according to Army contract managers. In Uzbekistan, the Army failed to ascertain, as regulations require, whether its own units, which handled logistics there for the first six months, were available to work when it brought in the contractor, according to Army spokesmen.

The costs for KBR's current work in Central Asia could "dramatically escalate" without proper monitoring, but adequate cost control measures are in place, according to Lt. Col. Clay Cole, who oversees the contract.

The Army contract is a cost-plus arrangement and shrouded in secrecy. The contractor is reimbursed for its allowable costs and gets a bonus based on performance. In the past, KBR has usually received the maximum performance bonus, according to Pentagon officials. Though modest now, the Army contract could produce hundreds of millions of dollars for the company. In the Balkans, for instance, its contract with the Army started at less than $4 million and turned into a multibillion-dollar agreement.

Mr. Cheney played no role, either as vice president or as chief executive at Halliburton, in helping KBR win government contracts, company officials said.

In a written statement, the company said that Mr. Cheney "steadfastly refused" to market KBR's services to the United States government in the five years he served as chief executive. Mr. Cheney concentrated on the company's energy business, company officials said, though he was regularly briefed on the company's Pentagon contracts. Mr. Cheney sold Halliburton stock, worth more than $20 million, before he became vice president. After he took office, he donated his remaining stock options to charity.

Like other military contractors, KBR has numerous former Pentagon officials who know the government contracts system in its management ranks, including a former military aide to Mr. Cheney when he was defense secretary. The senior vice president responsible for KBR's Pentagon contracts is a retired four-star admiral, Joe Lopez, who was Mr. Cheney's military aide at the Pentagon in the early 1990's. Halliburton said Mr. Lopez was hired in 1999 after a suggestion from Mr. Cheney.

"Brown & Root had the upper hand with the Pentagon because they knew the process like the back of their hand," said T. C. McIntosh, a Pentagon criminal investigator who last year examined some of the company's Army contracts in the 1990's. He said he found that a contractor "gets away with what they can get away with."

For example, KBR got the Army to agree to pay about $750,000 for electrical repairs at a base in California that cost only about $125,000, according to Mr. McIntosh, an agent with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

KBR officials did not dispute the electrical cost figures, which were part of an $18 million contract. But they said government investigators tried to suggest wrongdoing when there was not any.

"The company happened to negotiate a couple of projects we made more money on than others," said one company lawyer, who insisted on anonymity. He added, "On some projects the contractor may make a large or small profit, while on others it may lose money, as KBR sometimes did on this contract."

Mr. McIntosh said he and an assistant United States attorney in Sacramento were inclined to indict the company last year after they developed evidence that a few KBR employees had "lied to the government" in pricing proposals for electrical repair work at Fort Ord. Mr. McIntosh said the Sacramento prosecutor said to him, "Let's go for this, it's a winnable criminal case."

A KBR lawyer said that the government's theory "was novel and unfairly tried to criminalize what was only a preliminary proposal."

The United States attorney's office in Sacramento declined to discuss its internal deliberations in the cast. But it dropped the criminal inquiry and reached a civil settlement in February, in part because of weak contract monitoring by the Army, according to Mr. McIntosh and a lawyer involved in the case.

As part of the settlement, KBR paid $2 million but denied any liability.

Last December the Army's Operations Support Command, unaware of the criminal investigation, found KBR's past contracting experiences to be exemplary as it awarded the company the 10-year logistical support contract, according to a command spokeswoman, Gale Smith.

The Army command's lengthy review of bidders did not discover that KBR was the target of a criminal investigation though it was disclosed in Halliburton's annual report submitted with the bid, according to Ms. Smith. She said that if the support command's managers had known of the criminal inquiry, they would have looked further at the matter but not changed the award.

KBR's ability to earn the Pentagon's trust dates back decades. "It's standard operating procedure for the Department of Defense to haul in Brown & Root," said Gordon Adams, who helped oversee the military budget for President Bill Clinton. The company's first military contract was in 1940, to build a Naval air station in Corpus Christi, Tex. In the 1960's, it built bases in Vietnam. By the 1990's, KBR was providing logistical support in Haiti, Somalia and the Balkans.

KBR's military logistics business began to escalate rapidly with its selection for a $3.9 million contract in 1992, Mr. Cheney's last year at the Pentagon. Over the last 10 years, the revenues have totaled $2.5 billion, mostly a result of widening American involvement in the Balkans after 1995.

"We did great things to support the U.S. military overseas we did better than they could support themselves," said Charles J. Fiala, a former operations officer for KBR. "I was in the Department of Defense for 35 years. We knew what the government was like."

Robert E. Ayers, another former KBR executive who still consults for the company, said Mr. Cheney "stayed fairly well informed" on the Balkans contract.

Stan Solloway, a former top Pentagon procurement official who now heads an association of contractors, said the company "understood the military mind-set" and "did a very good job in the Balkans."

But reports in 1997 and 2000 by the General Accounting Office, the audit arm of Congress, found weak contract monitoring by the Army contributed to cost increases in the Balkan contract that benefited KBR.

The audit agency's 1997 report concluded that the Army allowed KBR to fly in plywood from the United States, at a cost of $85.98 a sheet, because it did not have time to procure it in Europe, where sheets cost $14.06.

Mr. Ayers, the former KBR executive, had worked on the Balkans contract. "If the rules weren't stiff and specific," he said, "the contractor could make money off of overspending by the government."

The contract awarded last December by the Army's Operations Support Command, is "open ended" with "no estimated value," said Ms. Smith, the command's spokeswoman. She said that was mainly "because the various contingencies are beginning to unfold."

KBR won this and most of its other Pentagon contracts in a competition with other contractors, but KBR is the sole source for the many tasks that fall under the umbrella contract.

Pentagon officials said the company had recently taken over a wide range of tasks at Khanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan, from running the dining operation to handling fuel and generating power for the airfield. The company employs Uzbeks, paying them in accordance with "local laws and customs" but operating under United States health and safety guidelines, according to Halliburton's statement.

For the first six months that American troops were at Khanabad, the logistical support was provided by the Army's First Corps Support Command. Mr. Cole, the contract manager for the joint command in Kuwait, said the contract would initially cost 10 to 20 percent more than if the Army had done the work itself. He said that he and his staff recommended using the contractor because "they do a better job of maintaining the infrastructure." In addition, he said, the contractor should provide long-term flexibility, an asset in a war with many unknowns, and cost savings by avoiding Army troop transfers.

Ms. Smith said that the criticisms by the G.A.O. had led the Army to build additional controls into the contract.

At its base in Cuba, the Navy has followed the same pattern as the Army: use the military first and augment it with KBR. The Navy's construction brigade, the Seabees, built the first detention facility for battlefield detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Then the Navy activated a recently awarded $300 million, five-year logistic support contract with KBR to construct more permanent facilities, some 600 units, built mostly by workers from the Philippines and India, at a cost of $23 million.

John Peters, the Navy Facilities Engineering Command spokesman, said the permanent camp was "bigger, more sophisticated than what Seabees do." But the Seabees built the facilities for the troops guarding the detainees, and in the 1990's the Seabees built two tent cities capable of housing 20,000 refugees in Guantánamo Bay.

"Seabees typically can perform the work at about half the cost of contractors, because labor costs are already sunk and paid for," said Daryl Smith, a Seabees spokesman.

Zelma Branch, a KBR spokeswoman, said the company relied on its excellent record rather than personal relationships to win its contracts. But hiring former military officers can help the company understand and anticipate the Pentagon's needs.

"The key to the company's success is good client relations and having somebody who could anticipate what the client's needs are going to be," Mr. Ayers, the former company executive, said.

Copyright © 2002 The New York Times Company.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 4:39 p.m., Thursday, July 11, 2002                                                                                                                                                        Top OAS official leaves Haiti empty-handed after vain attempt to jump start talks to break political impasse                                                                                                                                                                                                By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, July 10 - Abandoning what may be the last OAS attempt to mediate an end to Haiti's 2-year-old political impasse, Assistant Secretary-General Luigi Einaudi left Wednesday, empty-handed.

"The way we have approached the problem has not produced the expected results," Einaudi told reporters as he prepared to fly back to the Organization of American States headquarters in Washington D.C.

"We need a new formula," he said, without spelling out an alternative.

But Einaudi's impatience with opposition politicians filtered into his brief comments, leading some to conclude that the OAS may bypass them in future.

"The curtain has fallen on the sorry farce of OAS-mediated talks," said former President Leslie Manigat, who withdrew from the opposition negotiating team earlier this year.

Now, the OAS probably will use the pretext of an upcoming electoral deadline to go with an elections timetable set by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family party, Manigat suggested.

Einaudi's visit, which began Friday, was his third this year and his 24th since the crisis arose over flawed 2000 legislative elections swept by Aristide's party.

The international community blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in aid that it says will not be released until both sides agree on new elections.

Einaudi said he would ask the OAS Permanent Council for new instructions later this month.

The opposition coalition and Aristide's party broke off talks after a Dec. 17 armed attack on the National Palace. At least 10 people were killed in the attack and subsequent violence instigated by Aristide supporters who torched opposition party offices.

Opposition leaders maintain the coup was staged to give the government a pretext to clamp down on opponents, and they refuse to negotiate until Aristide partisans are disarmed and those who attacked them are brought to justice.

"The ball is in Aristide's court. But he doesn't want to play according to the rules," said opposition politician Jacques Jose Nicolas.

Aristide party spokesman Jonas Petit countered "We are ready to negotiate. But the opposition is holding out because, at bottom, it wants President Aristide to resign and general elections."

Einaudi met with Aristide on Monday and insisted that "The government is assuming its responsibilities."

Aristide has proposed elections for all 83 seats House of Assembly seats and two-thirds of the 27-seat Senate in November. Local elections would be held next year.

Haiti's legislature becomes inoperative in November, and Aristide will have to rule by decree if it is not renewed. 

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.                                                                                                                                         

East Timor to seek 'Least Developed' status                                                                                                                                                                                               By

UNITED NATIONS, July 10 - East Timor, the world's newest nation, is to ask the United Nations to designate it a ''least developed country'' (LDC). This status is conferred upon the poorest countries in the world and provides some preferential trade and aid treatment.

Constanzio Pinto, East Timor's charge d'affaires and ambassador-designate to the United States, said his country is planning to seek LDC status as soon as it formally joins the United Nations. ''The ministry of foreign affairs is working on it,'' he told IPS.

John Miller of the New York-based East Timor Action Network said it would be in the country's interest to become an LDC. ''They will be entitled to certain concessions from the European Union and other donors,'' he said.

Under the European Union (EU) 'Everything But Arms' initiative, all of East Timor's exports, excluding military equipment, would enter the 15 EU member states duty-free. This concession currently applies to all 49 LDCs.

The number of LDCs has increased from 24 in 1971 to 49 last year. Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, the U.N. under-secretary-general for LDCs, said it would be ''appropriate'' for East Timor to file its application after becoming the 190th U.N. member state, probably in September this year.

Of the existing LDCs, 34 are in Africa. The remaining 15 include nine in Asia, five in the Pacific, and one in the Caribbean.

In a study released last month, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) said that East Timor would be among the world's poorest countries in financial and human development terms.

East Timor's human development index - based on life expectancy, educational attainment and income per person - is on a par with three LDCs: Angola, Bangladesh, and Haiti.

According to UNDP figures, East Timor's per capita income is about 478 dollars. The average life expectancy is 57 years. Nearly half the population of about 800,000 survives on less than 55 cents a day. More than half of all adults in the country are illiterate, and more than half the country's infants are underweight.

As an LDC, East Timor will be eligible for several economic benefits, including increased aid, concessionary loans and lower tariffs for its exports.

However, the rising number of LDCs is interpreted by a number of diplomats and officials as a major setback to developing nations whose economies have taken a severe beating from growing debt problems, declining commodity prices, increased tariff barriers, and the debilitating aspects of economic globalization.

Chowdhury said the U.N. system and the international community have focused on LDCs for decades, assembling conferences and adopting programs of action to improve these nations' economic and social prospects.

Despite these good intentions, the situation has not improved, Chowdhury added. A yardstick for success, he argued, would be a decline in the number of LDCs by the time a fourth international summit on their situation and prospects is held, possibly in the next decade.

So far, the only country that has graduated from the ranks of LDCs is Botswana.

The U.N.'s Committee for Development Policy (CDP), which sits in judgment over which countries should be given LDC status, has also identified the Republic of Congo and Ghana as meeting the criteria for addition to the list.

The thresholds for inclusion are: population of less than 75 million; per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of less than 1,000 dollars; Augmented Physical Quality of Life Index (combining health, nutrition and education) of less than 59 (out of a possible total of 100); and an economic vulnerability index (EVI) of less than 36. A country has to meet all these criteria to be designated an LDC. The CDP has identified 16 additional countries that meet some, but not all, of the criteria: Cameroon, China, Cote d'Ivoire, North Korea ( news - web sites), Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

East Timor became an independent country in May. 

Copyright © 2002

                                                                                                                                                                                       Posted at 8:17 p.m., Wednesday, July 10, 2002

U.S. probes suspected illegal visas                                                                                                                                                                                               By Barry Schweid, Associated Press Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON, July 10 (AP) - Federal authorities are widening their search for foreigners suspected of obtaining fraudulent U.S. visas in the Persian Gulf. Three already detained have been tentatively linked to terrorists.

In a little more than two weeks, 31 who obtained the visas in Qatar have been rounded up, including the three suspects. One is a Jordanian resident of Baltimore, Ramsi al-Shannaq, who investigators believe roomed in Alexandria, Va., last summer with two of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

The FBI was tipped off last November that he had obtained a visa for $10,000 in Qatar. He was arrested June 24.

At a federal hearing Wednesday in Baltimore, Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Eisenberg said al-Shannaq, 27, was denied visas four times before paying $13,000 for an illegal one.

Eisenberg said he was part of a bribery ring that involved payoffs of more than $13,000 a person.

The two other detained foreigners suspected of links to terrorists were not identified.

The visas were obtained in Qatar between July 2000 and May 2001 for about $10,000 each, U.S. officials said. Another 29 are being sought. One U.S. official told The Associated Press the operation may have extended beyond the Persian gulf emirate.

"We determined specifically that 71 individuals received visas for which the appropriate written records were not found," Philip Reeker, a State Department spokesman, said Wednesday.

"Our aim is to determine whether terrorists used this scheme," another U.S. official said.

Reeker, meanwhile, announced the retirement of Mary Ryan, who heads the consular service and is the most senior U.S. foreign service officer, at the request of Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Ryan, who is an assistant secretary of state, was obliged to submit her resignation at the onset of the Bush administration. But, Reeker said, Powell has asked her to stay on.

She will remain in her post until the fall, participating in such functions as recommending promotions.

The spokesman said Ryan's departure was unrelated to the visas investigation. "This was just that it was time to move on," Reeker said.

The 71 visas were issued to 39 Jordanians, 28 Pakistanis, 3 Bangladeshis and 1 Syrian, officials said. "We don't know exactly how it was accomplished," one of the officials said on condition of anonymity. "There are a lot of safeguards and checks. But we don't have our facts. It is still under investigation."

A Justice Department ( news - web sites) task force seeking illegal immigrants has been assigned to locate all those allegedly involved in the bribery scheme.

Meanwhile, in late June, 131 Pakistani nationals were sent home to Islamabad as part of a roundup of illegal immigrants. Other suspected illegal immigrants were sent back earlier to the Philippines, Cambodia, Haiti, Guyana, Jamaica and El Salvador ( news - web sites).

James W. Ziglar, commissioner of the Immigration & Naturalization Service, praised the "excellent cooperation from the Pakistani government in helping to complete this important mission."

The alleged visa fraud prompted the Diplomatic Security Service to launch Operation Eagle Strike late last year to investigate and to capture people with illegal visas, according to Frederick Jones, a State Department spokesman.

Of the 31 people taken into custody, seven have been released. Five of them are children and two are wives of detained visa holders. 

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.                                                                                                                                           

U.S. holds 31 in alleged visa scheme                                                                                                                                                                                                 By Leslie Miller, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON, July 10 (AP) - Authorities questioned a former U.S. Embassy employee in Qatar about an alleged bribery scheme that may have allowed 71 Asians into the country illegally, including three who may be linked to Sept. 11 hijackers, American officials said Wednesday.

In a little more than two weeks, federal investigators have rounded up 31 people suspected of entering the country with visas illegally obtained at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

In all, 71 visas apparently were issued illegally from July 2000 to May 2001 to 39 Jordanians, 28 Pakistanis, 3 Bangladeshis and 1 Syrian, the officials said.

"We don't know exactly how it was accomplished," one of the officials said. "There are a lot of safeguards and checks. But we don't have our facts. It is still under investigation,"

A second U.S. official said "our aim is to determine whether terrorists used this scheme" to plot attacks on the United States. He said three who entered the United States illegally are suspected of ties to Sept. 11 hijackers.

Only one was identified. He is Ramsi al-Shannaq, who investigators believe lived with two hijackers in Alexandria, Va., last summer.

The FBI was tipped in November that he had obtained a visa for $10,000 in Qatar. He was arrested June 24.

At a federal hearing Wednesday in Baltimore, Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Eisenberg said al-Shannaq, 27, was denied visas four times before paying $13,000 for an illegal one.

Eisenberg said he was part of a bribery ring that involved payoffs of more than $13,000 a person.

A Justice Department task force seeking illegal immigrants has been assigned to locate all the nationals allegedly involved in the bribery scheme.

Meanwhile, in late June, 131 Pakistani nationals were sent home to Islamabad as part of a roundup of illegal immigrants. Other suspected illegal immigrants were sent back earlier to the Philippines, Cambodia, Haiti, Guyana, Jamaica and El Salvador.

James W. Ziglar, commissioner of the Immigration & Naturalization Service, praised the "excellent cooperation from the Pakistani government in helping to complete this important mission."

The alleged visa fraud prompted the Diplomatic Security Service to launch Operation Eagle Strike late last year to investigate and to capture people with illegal visas, according to Frederick Jones, a State Department spokesman.

The investigation found 71 people received visas for which appropriate written records were not found, U.S. officials said. Of those, 31 were taken into custody, of which five children and two wives were released, U.S. officials said. Another 29 suspects are being sought.

All visa issuance posts are being checked, Jones said.

The State Department last week interviewed the former employee, a U.S. citizen who lives in Virginia, the U.S. official said. He and another employee processed visa applications in Qatar from April 2000 to July 2001, the official said.

The other employee lives in Jordan and is also being investigated, the official said. Among those who allegedly bought an illegal visa was Ramsi Al-Shannaq, who investigators believe lived with hijackers Hani Hanjour and Nawaq Al-Hazmi in a Washington suburb the summer before the attacks. On June 24, Al-Shannaq was arrested by FBI and INS agents at a home in Baltimore and charged with obtaining a fake visa in Qatar. There is no evidence Al-Shannaq aided the hijackers, his appointed attorney, Jim Wyda, has said. ABC News reported Tuesday that another man who allegedly bought an illegal visa, Ahmed Ahmad, also lived with Al-Hazmi and Hanjour.

Since the attacks, the government has come under fire for the way it handles visas.

Although all 19 hijackers came to the United States on valid visas, several were in the country illegally on Sept. 11. The INS also mailed notices of visa extensions for two of the hijackers months after the attacks.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.                                                                                                                                                                  

Attorneys: Haitian detaineees on hunger strike at Florida's Krome Center

By The Associated Press

MIAMI, July 10 - A group of Haitian detainees say they have embarked on a hunger strike to protest their treatment at South Florida's Krome Detention Center, their attorneys said.

An Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesman said there was no hunger strike.

The male asylum seekers dictated an unsigned statement Tuesday announcing the strike to attorneys at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center.

The strike began Saturday and the men are drinking only water, said attorney Charu al-Sahli.

"The humiliation we are experiencing is going too far," the men said in the statement, adding that they fled political persecution in Haiti and came to the United States on Dec. 3. "We are not going to eat until we hear something positive from INS."

Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesman Rodney Germain disputed the strike.

"There were a couple of people on Sunday or Monday who refused to eat breakfast," Germain said. "They have access to vending machines, and they are using them. There is no official hunger strike."

More than 200 Haitians seeking asylum are being detained in South Florida under an amended immigration policy. The policy was changed in December by the Bush Administration, which said it wanted to deter other dangerous voyages on overloaded boats.

The new policy calls for the internment of most Haitian immigrants while their appeals for political asylum are heard. Under the old policy, most were released from custody while awaiting asylum hearings.

Their hunger strike statement came while state Sen. Kendrick Meek, a Democrat from Miami, was in Washington to lobby for the release of 30 Haitian women jailed since landing in the Florida Keys in December.

Meek said he also carried with him hopes of persuading federal lawmakers and bureaucrats to change immigration policies, specifically those pertaining to Haitians who seek political asylum.

James Ziglar, the INS commissioner, told Meek he plans to discuss the policy Monday with immigration advocates and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, also a Democrat.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.                                                                                                                                                                            

Posted at 1:15 a.m., Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Singapore's foreign prostitutes not coerced, says lawmaker
By Alexa Olesen, Associated Press Writer
July 8, 2002

Singapore has foreign prostitutes but they work here voluntarily, a lawmaker said Monday, rebutting a recent U.S. government report on global human trafficking critical of the island state.

"We know that there is prostitution — women do come here," Ho Peng Kee, an official with the Ministry of Law and Home Affairs, told Parliament. "But what's important is that the women who come here are not coerced or forced or tricked into prostitution. They come here voluntarily."

Prostitution is legal in Singapore and there are many brothels where Thai, Indonesian, Malay, Indian and Chinese women ply their trade.

Many — but not all — of the women are registered with the government and submit to frequent health checkups.

Ho was responding to a question from a fellow lawmaker about the U.S. Department of State's second annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which was released last month.

In the report, Singapore was listed as a country that has not fully complied with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking but is making significant efforts.

Minimum standards include the protection of victims by not treating them as criminals, stiff sentences for traffickers, and the prevention of trafficking through law enforcement and education.

"We are not what they claim us to be," Ho said.

The United States similarly classified 46 other countries including Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, France, Haiti, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sweden.

"No country, not even the U.S., can be immune to the problems of human trafficking," Ho said.

Singapore has told the United States it disagrees with its classification, Ho said. Singapore will continue to take a "tough stance" on human trafficking and implement "concrete measures" to prevent it such as tighter border controls, he said.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                 Backers of arrested Aristide supporter set fire to customs house in Haiti                                                                                                                                                                                               By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, July 8 - Supporters of a political activist arrested on arson charges set fire to a provincial customs house Monday, following through on threats to torch government buildings, an official said.

The customs house in the northwestern town of Gonaives was partially damaged in the fire, Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert said. The independent broadcaster Radio Metropole said one protester was shot and killed and a second was wounded in a gunfight with police.

The protesters took to the streets to press for the release of pro-government activist Amiot Metayer, who was arrested July 2 in Raboteau, a seaside slum of Gonaives about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Port-au-Prince.

Since then, his supporters have demanded his release, blocking traffic with flaming tire barricades and shooting into the air and at police patrols. Several people have been wounded in the violence.

Though Metayer is known for his support of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, those demonstrating on his behalf are now calling for the president's ouster.

Street activist Edner Pierre, spokesman for the self-styled Cannibal Army, told reporters that grass-roots groups across the Caribbean nation should "make a chain of solidarity to overthrow Aristide."

In an interview with the independent Radio Vision 2000 last week, Metayer protested his innocence, reaffirmed his loyalty to Aristide, and denied any connection with the Cannibal Army.

Metayer was charged with burning down the houses of rivals in Jubilee, another Gonaives slum, on May 12. He is being held in the national penitentiary in Port-au-Prince.

The Organization of American States said in a report about a Dec. 17 attack on the National Palace that Metayer also was identified "as one of those who attacked" the home of opposition politician Luc Mesadieu in Gonaives following the palace assault.

Metayer has not been charged in that attack, in which Mesadieu's assistant Ramy Daran was beaten and burned to death.

Aristide says the four-hour occupation of the palace by some 20 armed men was an attempt to overthrow the government and assassinate him. The opposition claims it was an event staged to clamp down on dissent.

In its report released last week, the OAS disagreed with the government claim that the attack was a coup attempt and accused governing party officials of arming street thugs who took revenge on the opposition.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.  

                                                                                                                                                                                     Posted at 12:10 a.m., Saturday, July 6, 2002

Haiti becomes the most populous and impoverished member of the Caribbean                                                                                                                                                                                               By Bert Wilkenson, Associated Press Writer 

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 5 - Haiti became the 15th member of the Caribbean Community on Friday, more than doubling the economic bloc's population and increasing marketing opportunities for regional manufacturers.

"I have been saying all along that people should understand that Haiti has 8 million people and their buying power would be enormous both now and in the future. We should take advantage of this," Secretary-General Edwin Carrington told The Associated Press this week.

Critics have wondered how much trade can be done with the 8 million Haitians whose income averages dlrs 400 a year, compared to members like the Bahamas and Barbados, which average nearly dlrs 10,000. The community's 14 other member states have a population of 6.5 million.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Percival Patterson pushed through Haiti's application to join the community with its aspirations to a European-style single market at the 1997 summit in Montego Bay.

Patterson reassured other leaders who feared giving club membership to the Caribbean's most politically and economically troubled nation.

Since then, political trouble in Haiti had prevented its parliament from ratifying legal papers.

"We formally approved Haiti today," Kenneth Anthony, prime minister of St. Lucia, said hours before the community's annual three-day summit was to end.

The community's point man on Haiti, St. Lucian Foreign Minister Julian Hunte said Haiti's membership was long overdue but cautioned the country that suffered nearly 200 years of dictatorship has a long way to go since democracy and the rule of law have never been entrenched.

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government would need help dealing with precarious national security and in collecting thousands of illegal weapons in the hands of government and opposition partisans, he said.

"I don't see how we can handle this and the whole question of guns in the country," a pessimistic Hunte said.

He has visited Haiti many times and is due to travel there next week to try to persuade the government and opposition leaders to agree to new elections to replace flawed legislative elections that Aristide's party swept in 2000.

Earlier Friday, 13 presidents and prime ministers at the summit asked the region's development bank to raise dlrs 100 million on the international capital market for a new appeals court to replace Britain's Privy Council.

They said they want the money in a trust so they can use the estimated dlrs 5 million in annual interest payments to run the court.

"The fund frees the court from dependence on annual allocations from the budgets of government," Compton Bourne, president of the Caribbean Development Bank, said after he met with the leaders.

The court was to start operating this year but now leaders say it won't happen until next year.

It would replace Britain's Privy Council, which for decades has been the court of last resort for several former British Caribbean islands.

The political will to establish the court has grown with some Caribbean governments' complaints that the council has sought to cripple their efforts to enforce the death penalty, which is illegal in Britain.

Critics, including Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, fear that a Caribbean court could be influenced by politicians. 

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                       Top OAS official arrives in Haiti to push for end to two-year political stalemate                                                                                                                                                                                                By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, July 5 - OAS Assistant Secretary-General Luigi Einaudi returned to Haiti Friday, hoping to jump start talks to end a two-year political stalemate despite opposition warnings that the time is not right.

"I believe there have been very positive signs during my absence and I have returned with the aim to conclude an agreement," Einaudi said on his arrival. He declined to say what those positive signs were.

The opposition and President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's governing party broke off talks to hold new elections after a Dec. 17 armed attack on the National Palace. At least 10 people were killed in the attack and subsequent violence instigated by government supporters who torched opposition party offices.

Opposition leaders maintain the coup was staged to give the government a pretext to clamp down on dissent.

They have demanded that Aristide partisans be disarmed, imprisoned opposition supporters be released, and their attackers be brought to justice.

"We have advised Mr. Einaudi not to come. The government has done nothing to comply with our demands, and we won't resume talks until Aristide has translated his fine words into actions," said opposition spokesman Paul Denis, a former senator.

Aristide, speaking at a Caribbean summit in Guyana on Thursday, told reporters he expects an agreement with the opposition as soon as next week, but he did not say why he thought that.

On Wednesday, referring to the Dec. 17 incidents, he promised "reparations for the victims and punishment for the guilty."

Aristide's statement came three days after an OAS report discredited his government by saying the attack was not the attempted coup and assassination it claimed it was.

The attack could not have occurred without the "complicity" of the police and officials of the government, and Aristide's party armed supporters who torched opposition party offices and homes, the report said.

Einaudi's visit Friday was his third this year to try to get the two sides together.

The international community blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in aid after Aristide's party swept flawed 2000 elections. The opposition said the elections were rigged, and the aid will not be released until both sides agree on the holding of new elections.

Aristide has proposed holding elections for the entire 83-seat lower house and two-thirds of the 27-seat upper house in November 2002. Local elections would be held at the beginning of 2003.

Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 5:51 p.m., Friday, July 5, 2002                                                                                                                                               Caribbean leaders meet behind closed doors on final day to discuss new court and high crime                                                                                                                                                                                               By Bert Wilkinson, Associated Press Writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 5 - Caribbean leaders met behind closed doors to discuss funding for a new appeals court, high crime, and the decline of West Indies cricket on the final day of their annual Caribbean Community summit Friday.

"It is going to be a very long day for us," Prime Minister Lester Bird of Antigua and Barbuda said Thursday night.

He spoke after leaders from 13 countries agreed to ask the Caribbean Development Bank to lead a global search for soft loans to help faltering economies hard hit by a slowdown in tourist travel since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"It has been tough for us," Bird said.

The search will take technicians from Libya to Japan to western Europe as they look for at least dlrs 250 million to buttress failing economies in the smaller Eastern Caribbean states and in Haiti, the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere, which is to become the community's 15th member later Friday.

Bird said an even bigger sum is needed for larger countries like Guyana, Jamaica and Suriname, which are suffering from soft international prices for rice, sugar, gold, bauxite and bananas, their major exports.

On Friday, leaders were discussing funding for the Caribbean Court of Justice, which is expected to replace the British Privy Council as the court of last resort for several former British Caribbean colonies.

The court, to be based in Trinidad, is expected to start operating by the end of the year.

Leaders also plan to deal with a request from the West Indies Cricket Board for money to administer the game, an institution in the region, following heavy losses from recent tours including the recent Caribbean tours by India and New Zealand.

Guyanese police maintained a heavy presence on the streets of Georgetown to prevent violence like Wednesday's confrontation between police and opposition protesters.

Police fired on a group that broke away from a march involving thousands and forced open a gate to enter the yard of the president's office in a protest timed to coincide with the start of the summit.

Two people were killed and at least 12 were treated for gunshot wounds, hospital officials said. Protesters burned at least three cars and set fires that gutted two buildings. On Thursday, however, no violence was reported.

Guyana's 800,000 people are divided almost evenly between those of African and East Indian descent. The opposition is supported mainly by black Guyanese, many of whom argue they face discrimination under the government of President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is of Indian descent.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                              Caribbean leaders return to business                                                                                                                                                                                                By Bert Wilkinson, Associated Press Writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 5 (AP) - Caribbean summit leaders worked on securing aid for their struggling economies Thursday, avoiding discussion of an outburst of political violence a day earlier that left two dead and at least 12 wounded.

Reeling from increasing global competition and declines in tourism, the regional officials set up a task force as part of a major effort to help raise more than $250 million in loans for the region's eastern islands, plus more aid for other nations, said Prime Minister Lester Bird of Antigua and Barbuda.

"The idea is to put together a process which would allow us to go internationally and also to central banks to raise capital," Bird said during a break in the summit.

Also Thursday, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said he expects an agreement with his political opposition as soon as next week to end a long-running stalemate and clear the way for a resumption of aid to his impoverished nation.

The international community has blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Haiti due to a dispute over 2000 elections, in which Aristide's party swept most races.

"We need the opposition," Aristide said Thursday. "They are our brothers. We will keep talking with them. That is the only way to pave the way forward for a better Haiti."

Police, meanwhile, kept a heavy presence on the streets of the South American country's capital to prevent further outbreaks of violence such as the confrontation between police and opposition protesters on Wednesday.

The violence began during opposition protests timed to coincide with the summit. Police fired on a group of demonstrators who broke away from a march involving thousands and forced open a metal gate to enter the yard of the president's office.

A man and a woman died. At least 12 others were treated for gunshot wounds, hospital officials said Thursday, raising the number of wounded from six.

After the shooting, protesters overturned and burned at least three cars and two buildings. The violence had died out by Thursday morning, police said.

Barricades were erected to block the area around the hotel where the summit was being held in the former British colony's capital of Georgetown.

President Bharrat Jagdeo was not in his office when protesters stormed into the yard Wednesday, and it was unclear if the protesters were armed. But the president's office issued a statement calling the act an attempt to assassinate the president and overthrow the government. The opposition denied the accusation.

Guyana's 800,000 people are divided almost evenly between those of African and East Indian descent, and political allegiances follow ethnic lines.

The opposition People's National Congress is supported mainly by black Guyanese, many of whom argue they face discrimination under the government of Jagdeo, who is of Indian descent.

Protesters in Wednesday's march said they were upset about unemployment and police killings of blacks. Sixteen demonstrators were arrested.

Internal political tensions in Guyana had not been on the summit's agenda, though the Caribbean Community previously brokered a peace agreement between the government and opposition.

During the meeting, leaders were to examine a report on an upsurge in violent crime in Guyana and several other countries.

Haiti is expected to be approved as the group's 15th member during the three-day summit in the South American country. Organization of American States Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria urged Haiti's government and opposition to settle a political dispute over new elections that is holding up hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

The summit comes at a crucial time for the Caribbean region, as it negotiates opening markets in preparation for the planned Free Trade Area of the Americas. Last week, Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific countries meeting in the Dominican Republic urged European countries to offer more aid while moving toward free-trade agreements with poorer nations.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                               Aristide: Agreement near on aid                                                                                                                                                                                                 By Bert Wilkinson, Associated Press Writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP), July 5 - Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said he expects an agreement with the political opposition as soon as next week to end a long-running stalemate and clear the way for a resumption of aid to the impoverished nation. Photos

Aristide spoke to reporters Thursday night as leaders at the Caribbean summit worked on securing aid for their struggling economies and avoided discussion of an outburst of political violence a day earlier that left two dead and at least 12 wounded.

The Haitian president criticized international donors for suspending hundreds of millions of dollars in aid over an electoral dispute with the opposition, calling the blocked aid an "economic embargo."

"We need the opposition," Aristide said. "They are our brothers. We will keep talking with them. That is the only way to pave the way forward for a better Haiti."

The political stalemate stems from disputed local and legislative elections in 2000. Aristide's party won a vast majority of seats, but the opposition said the vote was rigged. The Organization of American States ruled elections for seven Senate seats should have gone to a second round.

Haiti is expected to be approved as the Caribbean Community's 15th member during the three-day summit in the South American country of Guyana. The meeting ends Friday.

Police maintained a heavy presence Thursday on the streets of Georgetown to prevent violence like the confrontation between police and opposition protesters on Wednesday. Police fired on a group that broke away from a march involving thousands and forced open a gate to enter the yard of the president's office.

Two died and at least 12 were treated for gunshot wounds, hospital officials said. Protesters burned at least three cars and set fires that gutted two buildings. On Thursday, however, no violence was reported.

Guyana's 800,000 people are divided almost evenly between those of African and East Indian descent, and political allegiances follow racial lines. The opposition is supported mainly by black Guyanese, many of whom argue they face discrimination under the government of President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is of Indian descent.

After the violence, police erected barricades Thursday to block off the hotel where the summit was being held in the former British colony.

With Caribbean economies struggling amid global competition and declines in tourism, leaders set up a task force to help raise more than $250 million in loans for the eastern islands, plus more aid for other nations, said Prime Minister Lester Bird of Antigua and Barbuda.

"The idea is to put together a process which would allow us to go internationally and also to central banks to raise capital," Bird said.

Economies in the region have been hurt by declining tourist arrivals since the Sept. 11 attacks, reduced banana production due to drought in the Eastern Caribbean islands, and low international prices for bauxite, sugar and gold.

Many nations are reluctant to approach the International Monetary Fund ( news - web sites) due to tough loan conditions, Bird said.

Dwight Venner, governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, said many nations plan to approach the European Union ( news - web sites) and other countries including Libya, Japan and Kuwait for low-interest loans.

"We have traditional donors and we have non-traditional donors, and in this open world it is a part of your sovereignty to approach who you want to," he said.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 1:59 a.m., Thursday, July 4, 2002                                                                                                                                                  Violence, violence, two killed, six wounded in protest at start of Caribbean summit in Guyana                                                                                                                                                                                                  By Bert Wilkinson, Associated Press Writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 3 - Police shot and killed two and wounded six in political violence that overshadowed the opening of a Caribbean summit in Guyana and spurred a duel of accusations between the government and opposition.

The violence broke out six hours before the summit opened Wednesday evening in the South American country. Police shot at opposition demonstrators who broke into the yard of the presidential office during a protest timed to coincide with the summit.

President Bharrat Jagdeo wasn't in the building, and it was unclear if the protesters were armed. But the president's office issued a statement calling the protesters' act an attempt to assassinate the president and overthrow the government. The opposition denied the accusation.

"How can we attempt to assassinate or kill the president when we knew he wasn't there?" said legislator Vincent Alexander of the opposition People's National Congress. "The state of things in this country is itself a stimulus for people to rise up against the government."

Alexander accused police of being "irresponsible" in assaulting protesters.

Police said a group of opposition protesters broke away from a march involving thousands and forced open a metal gate to enter the presidential office compound.

Members of the presidential police guard shot at the intruders with semiautomatic rifles, authorities said.

One man and one woman died of their wounds, hospital officials said. Six other protesters were being treated for gunshot wounds. Sixteen demonstrators were arrested.

After the shooting, protesters overturned and torched at least three cars and set ablaze two commercial buildings, gutting them. Pedestrians took off, leaving deserted streets in the capital of Georgetown.

The violence drew attention away from the three-day Caribbean Community summit, during which leaders are to discuss topics from free trade to crime and approve Haiti as the group's 15th member.

Community Secretary-General Edwin Carrington didn't refer to the violence in his opening address, instead urging Caribbean leaders toward economic integration.

"We must now move to the finish line on the single market and economy," Carrington said.

Internal political tensions in Guyana had not been on the agenda, though the community previously brokered a peace agreement between the government and opposition.

Guyana's 800,000 people are divided almost evenly between those of African and East Indian descent, and political allegiances follow ethnic lines.

The opposition People's National Congress is supported mainly by black Guyanese, many of whom argue they face discrimination under the government of Jagdeo, who is of Indian descent.

Thousands turned out for the opposition march, organized by the opposition People's Solidarity Movement, saying they are upset about unemployment and police killings of blacks.

"There will be no peace in Guyana if blacks are not given a fair share of the cake," protest leader Phillip Bynoe said.

The owner of the destroyed buildings, Hardat Persaud, said protesters were seen setting fire to stores.

On Wednesday night, soldiers and police patrolled the streets, which were nearly empty.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                               Caribbean summit focuses on crime, free trade; Haiti expected to become full member                                                                                                                                                                                                  By Bert Wilkinson, Associated Press Writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 2 - Small-island economies battered by globalization and populations battered by an upsurge in violent crime top the agenda of 15 leaders at a summit that promises to be Haiti's first as a full member of the Caribbean Community.

Heads of government from throughout the region are attending the summit, which starts Wednesday in Georgetown, Guyana.

Haiti, whose parliament ratified a treaty to join the regional bloc in May, should be approved as a full member, Secretary-General Edwin Carrington said.

Haiti's population of 8.2 million makes it the most populous member of the regional organization, more than doubling its current population of 6.5 million. Most of the 29-year-old community's current members are former British colonies.

"It has been a long hard road for us," Haitian Foreign Minister Phillipe Antonio said Tuesday after his government turned in the final legal documents needed to become the community's 15th member.

After initial fears about Haiti's debilitating poverty - it is one of the poorest countries in the world and the most impoverished in the Western Hemisphere — its membership application was accepted in 1997. But continuing political instability slowed progress to full membership in the Caribbean Community, called Caricom.

Leaders from the Bahamas, on the edge of the Atlantic, to Belize and Suriname, in South America like Guyana, are expected at the summit, which ends Friday.

Leaders plan to examine a report on the reasons for increasing violent crime in several member states, including Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and St. Lucia.

"All of the countries of Caricom have a particular concern regarding the upsurge in violent crimes in the region" Prime Minister Perry Christie of the Bahamas said Tuesday before boarding a plane to Guyana.

The summit also will discuss plans for a Caribbean Court of Justice to replace Britain's Privy Council and end its role as the highest court of appeal for many former British colonies in the region. Many governments complain the council has sought to cripple their efforts to enforce the death penalty, which is illegal in Britain, and that its members of British aristocrats have no relevance to judicial issues on tropical islands thousands of miles (kilometers) away. The summit also comes as the region negotiates opening markets in preparation for an integrated regional economy and the planned Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Last week, former European colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific met in the Dominican Republic to urge European countries to offer more aid while moving toward free-trade agreements with poorer nations.

Declining tourist arrivals since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, as well as reduced banana production due to drought in the Eastern Caribbean islands, has hurt many economies.

Caribbean islands already are hurting from a successful U.S. challenge at the World Trade Organization to the European Union's preferential prices for their bananas; the loss of tens of thousands of garment industry jobs to Mexico after it joined the North American Free Trade Association; and attacks on its offshore banking industry and no-tax or low-tax regimes, which developing countries say encourage money-laundering and deprive them of billions of dollars in tax revenue.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 4:36 p.m., Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Haitians want Aristide out and cuffed for 'grand thievery'; OAS calls Aristide a pathological liar

By Yves A. Isidor, executive editor                                                                                                                                                                                            When thousands of Haitians, the people who lost their life savings after they were told by tyrant Jean-Bertrand Aristide to invest with co-operative banks only to days later learned that those in charge of the long questionable relevant financial institutions vanished without leaving traces, took to the street of Lalue Monday, in the capital Port-au-Prince, demanding that the brutal dictator reimbursed them their hard earned savings, the only surprise was many of the protesters carried with them well made and expensive handcuffs, which they said they would not hesitate to use on Aristide were they able to find him for grand thievery.                                                                                                                                                                                               The protesters, who called for tyrant Aristide's removal from the office of the presidency, which he has since February 7, 2001 occupied, after he was elected in a largely fraudulent election, burned used automobile tires and dumped carcasses of old automobiles in front of the Lalue's Co-operative Entrepreneuriat, the headquarters of all co-operative banks in the country, blocking traffic for hours.                                                                                                                                                                                                It was less than two hours after the protesters, who also used gigantic stones in an effort to paralyze public transportation at Lalue, that the Organization of the American States dropped the bombshell.                                                                                                                                                                                              "There was no coup d'etat on Dec.17, 2001, rather the attacks then on the national palace were the results of a complete breakdown of law and order, for example, in Haiti," the OAS report of the commission of inquiry into the events of Dec.17 said.                                                                                                                                                                                     

The OAS commission of inquiry's findings would be painful for totalitarian dictator Aristide who was said to have staged the coup so he could thereafter eviscerate the democratic opposition only if  he were not an "incorrigible man," many Haitians in Haiti as well as those in the multitude of diasporas Monday said.                                                                                                                                                                                            Report Of The Commission Of Inquiry Into The Events Of December 17, 2001, in Haiti

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Posted at 11:29 p.m., Monday, July 1, 2002

As G-8 summit concludes, Japan finds itself in dissenting role                                                                                                                                                                                                By Eric Talmadge, Associated Press Writer

CALGARY, Alberta, June 27 - Though rarely one to make waves at the annual summits of the world's leading industrialized countries, Japan was something of an outsider at this week's meeting in the Canadian Rockies resort of Kananaskis.

Japan voiced concerns over virtually all of the major issues that were discussed during the two-day Group of Eight meeting.

Delegation officials had reservations about giving Russia full membership. An official in Tokyo called Yasser Arafat  - a legitimate leader of the Palestinians, despite U.S. President George W. Bush's suggestion he be replaced. And, while supporting the idea of helping Africa, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi stressed that now is not a good time for Tokyo to be boosting its aid budget.

Koizumi came into the summit with a strong show of support for Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien's call for an action plan to help Africa out of the cycle of poverty. Days before leaving Japan, Koizumi pledged 250 billion yen (dlrs 2 billion) over the next five years in education assistance to Africa.

But Japan soon found itself in a dissenting role. The African countries were hoping for a commitment that 50 percent of future aid increases would be devoted to their region, but the United States and Japan — already the largest sole donor to Africa — objected to specific targets.

The final action plan announced before the summit concluded Thursday suggested 50 percent or more, but it also stressed the importance of self-help and assuring aid is used effectively, a point Japan had repeatedly raised. Koizumi has been less than enthusiastic about suggestions that G-8 members provide more aid to Africa because Japan's own economy is sagging, making it difficult for Tokyo to increase official development assistance.

The tighter fiscal reality in Japan has, in fact, forced cuts in its overall ODA budget, and last year Japan was replaced by the United States as the world's largest donor.

"Just giving aid isn't enough," Koizumi said in his closing news conference Thursday. "It is important to see that the aid is used effectively."

Japan's delicate relations with the United States and Russia also put it on the spot in Kananaskis.

On the flight to Canada, Koizumi expressed his support for Bush's active leadership on the Palestinian problem, and stressed Tokyo's longstanding position that maintaining good relations with the United States — its largest trading partner and military ally — is of utmost importance.

But Koizumi did not outright support the idea that Arafat should be replaced. A Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters in Tokyo, meanwhile, that Arafat was legally elected in 1996 and "Japan still believes he is a legitimate leader."

Japanese officials weren't completely happy with the G-8 decision to allow Russia to host its summit in 2006, either. Japan believes Russia needs to take measures to guard against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"We believe the primary responsibility is with Russia," Koizumi said of the non-proliferation issue. "But because this is a matter that will benefit the whole world, we are willing to contribute, despite our difficult fiscal situation."

Because of a territory dispute, Japan and Russia have yet to sign a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities and Tokyo continues to look upon Moscow's role in the G-8 with caution.

Japan was not entirely unhappy with the summit, however. Koizumi did manage to succeed in his main objective here — garnering a show of support for his economic reform policies, which, though facing staunch opposition at home, were applauded by the other G-8 leaders.

Koizumi will also have more time than expected to discuss his positions with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Schroeder will be riding Koizumi's official plane to Tokyo on Friday, and will join Koizumi as a state guest at Germany's World Cup final against Brazil. The final will be played Sunday in Yokohama.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press.                                                                                                                                                                                  *'s notes: The need for the G-7 nations, plus Russia, to help address the economic and political problems around the world grows ever more pressing. Because of so we published this Associated Press news articlicle, rich in information, though it was first published on Thursday. We hope its contents will prove beneficial to you (readers), especially those of you who are interested in international economics and politics, those of you who   agree in principle that dangerous materials in Russia and elsewhere need to be better secured as rogue nations are deliberately helping terrorists to acquire some of the former Soviet Union's nuclear weapons., the scholarly journal of democracy and human rights
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