Former President Jean Bertrand Aristide is facing indictments from three
different judges in Haiti. Under pressure, Aristide reverted to his
familiar evasive maneuvers and scare tactics to avoid the justice that has
been chasing him since he was forced to resign his Presidency in 2004.
This week he paid three hundred people to protest in the street in an
attempt to block police from arresting him. So far, he has been successful
in buying himself some time while the police develop a strategy to detain
him in a way that does not disrupt the public order.
The charges he faces are serious, disturbing and wide ranging. Judge Sonel
Jean Francois is prosecuting a cooperative Ponzi scheme in which Aristide
and his colleagues in the Lavalas party took to the radio urging poor
Haitians to invest in a “Cooperative Initiative” that would yield
impressive returns. He is being indicted for stealing millions of dollars
received from thousands of poor Haitians. Judge Francois is also going
after his La Fanmi Selavi Foundation, focused on helping the poor children
of Haiti, for alleged heinous abuses against children.
Judge Ivickel Dabresil is prosecuting the case of the assassination of
Haitian journalist Jean Dominique. Judge Dabresil has alreadyindicted
<http://radiokiskeya.com/spip.php?article9968> nine of Aristide’s
associates, including the head the Foundation Aristide for Democracy
Mirlande Liberus, who is hiding in Miami; Ann Auguste (a.k.a. So Ann),
Aristide’s voodoo priest and political advisor; and seven others. During
his two terms in office, Aristide was allegedly behind the murder many of
his political opponents. Among those killed, were three prominent
journalists: Jean Dominique, Brignol Lindor, and Jacques Roche. Many
known political leaders such as Mireille Durocher Bertin, Pasteur Antoine
Leroy, Senator Yvon Toussaint, Bernard Lauture and others suffered a similar
The loss to Haiti’s democratic system, which his Foundation claims to
promote, is profound.
And, Judge Lamarre Belizaire has issued indictments
money laundering and the embezzlement of hundreds of millions dollars from
Haiti’s state coffers. Arrest warrants have been issued for Aristide;
Laura Flyn Morgan, his executive assistant and lobbyist; Yvon Neptune,
former Prime Minister; and five others. On Friday, Neptune was questioned
by the judge, but was allowed to return home afterward. They are being
summoned to answer charges based on the two Haitian state corruption
reports issued by the Haitian General Accounting Office (UCREF) and the
Commission Administrative in 2004. The Commission Administrative report
extensive evidence to support their findings, including copies of the
checks, bank account numbers, and wire transfers, detailing how Aristide
stole $350 million from the Haitian government. Yet that report does not
cover all the stolen funds. He also allegedly stole
<http://www.thekomisarscoop.com/tag/haiti/> from Haiti’s telecom
Teleco, other ministries and state offices. Aristide’s net worth is
estimated at a staggering $800 million
Last Friday, while in the judge’s office, Aristide’s former Prime Minister
seemed to take an indirect shot
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7blACGLf6Q> at his former boss stating
that every citizen has an obligation to respond to judicial summons and no
one is above the law. Neptune has a different strategy from Aristide in
dealing with these charges. Aristide attempted to stop the judicial
proceedings by filing a petition to Haiti’s Supreme Court to recuse the
judge, process that requires no reason under Haitian law. In response, the
judge who is the head of Haiti’s Civil Courts stated that in accordance
with Article 418 of the Haitian Criminal Code, Judge Belizaire can proceed
unless a decision is rendered by the Supreme Court. Further, in accordance
with Article 5 of the Haitian Civil Code, if the former President does not
present himself to the judge, he should be arrested adding that no one is
above the law.
Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas associates have never publicly denied these
accusations. Rather, they have mounted a campaign of political pressure
and threatened violence and instability in an effort to make the charges
just go away. Over the years, every time the Haitian judicial system has
tried to bring Aristide and his associates to justice, he has employed the
exact same tactics to evade justice.
First, to halt investigations and judicial proceedings, he intimidates and
threatens various ministers of justice, attorneys general, judges,
journalists <http://www.radiokiskeya.com/spip.php?article9563> and their
families. Six months ago, when Judge Dabrezil summoned Aristide for
questioning in relation to the killing of journalist Jean Dominique, he
judge. Last week, Judge Belizaire faced similar threats. But, neither
judge is backing down. According to sources close to Judge Belizaire, when
he started to pursue the corruption charges, Aristide thugs drove by the
judge’s house firing automatic weapons in the air in an effort to
intimidate him. Later, his wife and children were also threatened. For
safety, he has had to relocate his family to the U.S. while prosecuting the
The second tactic used by the Aristide network is to leverage U.S.
influence in Haiti to evade justice. He does this in many ways. A
favorite tactic is to assert that he can blackmail the Clintons and some of
their alleged involvement
Haiti’s telecommunications scandal
<http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB121720095066688387> in the 1990s,
and for their alleged failure to account
and effectively deploy the earthquake reconstruction funds which exceeded
$8 billion. In addition, he threatens instability on the ground through
the use of violence. And covertly, he encourages the flow of boat people
to Florida. From his 1992 – 1994 experiences in Washington, Aristide
understands the U.S. system well and knows that these are the main pressure
U.S. policy in Haiti. And, for the most part, he gets results as pressure
from Washington on the Haitian government to resolve the situation almost
always follows these threats. There are some accounts that Washington
threatens to cut off aid or visas if the Haitian Government does not
restore the peace. The subtext is that the courts should be pressured to
drop the charges.
To apply pressure on the U.S., Aristide employs a well-funded team of
lobbyists with strong ties to the U.S. State Department and engages members
of the influential Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), mainly U.S.
Representative Maxine Waters
His main lobbyists are Ira Kurzban, a Miami-based lawyer who has made
millions <http://www.haitipolicy.org/Lobbying7.htm> working for Aristide;
Ron Daniel, a former member of the CBC; and Robert Maguire, an American
professor and Lavalas ideologue.
Maguire is a far-left ideological professor who has used a variety of
platforms and universities <http://vimeo.com/96626796> to promote and
defend his partisan pro-Lavalas agenda and drive U.S. policy toward Haiti.
He is also very influential with the U.S. military’s Southern Command.
Maguire has opposed Hillary Clinton’s Haiti strategy during her tenure as
Secretary. He has, in fact, coordinated efforts to scare the State
Department into supporting Aristide’s agenda while Aristide deploys
hundreds of violent operatives to agitate on the streets threatening
instability. Current efforts are underway to finance an exodus
boat people to Miami – as Aristide did in 1994 and 2004 – which will also
be used to pressure the State Department.
The final tactic is to ensure that no qualified members of the Haitian
Diaspora who are opposed to the Aristide agenda make it into any sort of
leadership position in country. They gin up stories of imminent political
instability and assassinate the characters of leading Diaspora figures, and
then leverage the State Department to weigh in with the Haitian Government
against these appointments. Fearing any loss of commitment from the U.S.,
the Haitian Government usually bows to the pressure.
But it seems to be a new day in Haiti. The old tactics are largely failing
– with the exception of the U.S. scare campaign. In Haiti, the judges are
resisting pressure and any influences – foreign and domestic – that
interfere with the rule of law. Despite a well-orchestrated campaign of
threats and intimidation targeted at these judges, they have managed to
hold the relevant hearings and obtain the indictments
The Haitian people are also refusing to give in to the violence. More than
97% reject violence and believe that both Mr. Aristide and Duvalier should
face justice. So the battleground is in the U.S., which remains sensitive
to threats of political violence in Haiti that could lead to instability.
It is therefore up to the Haitian people – as it always is – to ensure that
their will is carried out and that the dictators who have created a legacy
of poverty in Haiti — that they live with day after day — answer for what
they have done.
Si vous voulez vous faire des ennemis, essayer de changer les choses.