Lettre de Fritz Mevs au Senateur Youri Latortue

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2014 
REF: A. PAP 1373 
     B. PAP 1027 
Classified By: Ambassador James B. Foley, reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) 
1. (C) Summary: Fritz Mevs, a member of one of Haiti's 
richest families and a well-connected member of the private 
sector elite, told Poloff on May 13 that business leaders are 
exasperated by the lack of security in the vital port and 
industrial zone areas of Port-au-Prince and are allegedly 
arming local police with long-guns and ammunition in an 
effort to ensure security for their businesses and employees. 
Kidnappings and carjackings are frightening Haiti's small but 
critical cadre of mid-level employees who work in the 
industrial park and port, and workers have threatened to 
strike unless the security situation improves, Mevs said. 
(Note: This area is either off-limits or LAV-travel only for 
the embassy.  End Note.)  Mevs said that the recent killing 
of gang leader Labaniere is part of the problem, as he used 
to keep rival gangs out of the area.  Mevs also said private 
sector protests against the IGOH for the lack of security 
were misguided and called for a media campaign to mobilize 
opposition against what he described as the true scourge of 
Haiti: a cabal of drug-traffickers, Haitian elite and IGOH 
insiders conspiring with gangs and corrupt cops to undermine 
peace and democracy in the country. In response to embassy 
and private sector prodding, MINUSTAH is now formulating a 
plan to protect the area.  End summary. 
2. (C) Fritz Mevs is a prominent member of one of Haiti's 
richest families. He leads a group of local investors who own 
and operate in Port-au-Prince the Terminal of Varreux (the 
private terminal that handles 30% of Haiti's imports), the 
petroleum storage of WINECO (which encompasses Haiti's 
largest propane gas storage center) and the SHODECOSA 
Warehouse Complex (where, among other things, 90% of the 
humanitarian cargo donated to Haiti is stored). The Mevs 
family has always enjoyed financial control of important 
Haitian economic assets and has shown an ability to roll with 
(and have influence upon) any government that allows them to 
exploit those assets. 
Port Area Suffering from Insecurity 
3. (C) Mevs told Poloff on May 13 that the security situation 
in and around the port and industrial zone area was 
untenable. The district is surrounded by the gang havens of 
Bel Air, La Saline and Cite Soleil, and kidnappers and 
carjackers target traffic along the vital transport link 
(Route Nationale #1) between the port and the Industrial 
Park. Mevs said the crime threat has already forced several 
businesses to close (including the Embassy's GSO operations), 
while employees of others are threatening to strike unless 
the security situation improves. Among those Mevs cited as 
caught in the midst of the "urban warfare" are: CEMEX, TOTAL, 
DINHASA, TEXACO, MADSEN Import-Export, SOGENER, and others. 
Mevs said absenteeism among employees is at an all-time high 
and the flow of essential commodities (oil, gasoline, cement, 
rice, steel, etc.) transiting through the facility is 
adversely affected. Continued disruption, he said, will soon 
result in shortages, inflation, and potentially a collapse in 
support for the transition government.  (Note:  The Director 
General of the National Port Authority has separately 
confirmed Mevs account of the situation outside of the port. 
While security inside the port is acceptable, just outside of 
the gates criminals operate freely.  Gunfire is common and 
workers fear for their lives going to and from work every 
day.  He said MINUSTAH, while present, does not provide any 
real security for employees going into or out of the port. 
End Note.) 
4. (C) Mevs showed Poloff a pile of letters sent from the 
Terminal authority and several of its members to MINUSTAH 
SRSG Valdes, Prime Minister Latortue, HNP Director General 
Leon Charles, and Minister of Justice Gousse over the last 
two months. The letters describe a lengthy list of incidents 
and vulnerabilities - including pipeline sabotage, criminal 
fires, shots fired at offloading vessels, kidnappings and 
murders - and solicit additional, permanent security, often 
in quite desperate language ("we may not hold on for long"). 
The Terminal's large army of security staff are outgunned by 
the heavy weapons fired by the bandits, the letters say, and 
must stand helplessly at the gate, unable to intervene when 
those entering or exiting are hijacked, robbed, shot and at 
times, killed, outside the jurisdiction of the Terminal 
fences. According to Mevs, although MINUSTAH has on occasion 
parked armored vehicles near the Terminal with some success, 
he said criminals regularly force the tanks to move (by 
burning tires or fecal matter nearby), and as soon as the 
vehicles depart, the rampage continues. 
5. (C) Other embassy contacts confirm Mevs' description of 
the deteriorated security situation in the port area. A 
political advisor to the Mayor of Cite Soleil told PolOff on 
May 17 that MINUSTAH was proving to be a poor substitute for 
Labaniere, the gang leader from the Boston neighborhood of 
Cite Soleil closest to the industrial zone who was killed on 
March 30, allegedly in a plot directed by rival pro-Lavalas 
gang leader Dread Wilme. The advisor said that Labaniere (who 
reportedly received money from businesses in the district for 
protection) managed to defend the commercial zone in a way 
that periodic MINUSTAH checkpoints have not. He said bandits 
were undaunted by UN vehicles sometimes parked along Route 
Nationale #1 and that MINUSTAH troops (who, he said, rarely 
set foot outside of their vehicles) were unable to identify 
the bandits from amongst the general populace as Labaniere 
had done. 
6. (C) Meanwhile, a MINUSTAH official told PolOff on May 18 
that the Cite Soleil operation begun on March 31 was indeed 
weakening due to Brazilian and Jordanian troop rotations that 
could last 4-8 weeks. Permanent checkpoints along Route 
Nationale and other areas surrounding Cite Soleil have been 
replaced by rotating outposts concentrated primarily north of 
the commercial district, leaving much of the area described 
by Mevs unprotected. Another MINUSTAH commander confirmed on 
May 20 that UN troops were drawing down, to be replaced by a 
joint HNP-CIVPOL strategy that would effectively block a 
critical section of the highway to all vehicular traffic 
Embassy Port-au-Prince's Response 
7. (C) Charge met with UNSRSG Valdes on May 14 to encourage 
him to dramatically increase MINUSTAH's security presence in 
the area.  Valdes seemed genuinely surprised that the 
situation was so acute.  Following the meeting Charge 
encouraged the French ambassador to reiterate our message 
with Valdes.  In response Valdes instructed MINUSTAH military 
and CIVPOL leaders to develop a plan in coordination with the 
private sector, who rejected an initial proposal as 
unworkable.  On May 19 Ambassador Foley wrote to Ambassador 
Valdes to protest three examples of MINUSTAH passivity in 
response to violence against American citizens.  Ambassador 
Foley again underscored the need for a swift, aggressive 
response to criminal elements in a conversation with Valdes 
on May 20.  Valdes thanked the Ambassador for the concrete 
examples described in the Ambassador's letter.  He said that 
he had often heard reports but never had details with which 
he could confront MINUSTAH military and police leaders. 
Valdes promised a more robust response from MINUSTAH. 
Separately, a MINUSTAH military officer reported to the Core 
Group on May 20 that they were preparing to present another 
strategy to business representatives on May 21.  Ambassador 
Foley warned the Core Group that MINUSTAH's stand-down in 
Cite Soleil put the elections at risk, and that the 
insecurity around the industrial zone risked undermining what 
is left of the Haitian economy. 
Private Sector Arming the Police 
8. (C) In response to MINUSTAH's unresponsiveness, Mevs said, 
a group of merchants from the Terminal conducted an 
unofficial survey of the HNP's weapons inventory and 
requirements. The report (on official HNP letterhead 
indicating some form of HNP cooperation in the effort) 
suggests, for example, that the Port-au-Prince station has 
(2) M-14s, (2) T-65s, and (2) M-1s, and needed (6) M-14s, (8) 
T-65s, and (4) Galils. (Note: Embassy has not independently 
confirmed any of the numbers from the report. End note). The 
undated report shows the HNP has the following country-wide 
-- (65) 12-guage rifles 
-- (11) M-14 
-- (15) T-65 
-- (15) M-1 
-- 82 functioning vehicles 
-- 179 radios 
and the following needs: 
-- (200) T-65 
-- (127) galils 
-- (120) M-14 
-- (43) M-1 
-- (73) 12-guage rifles 
-- 160 vehicles 
-- 249 radios 
9. (C) Mevs said some business owners have already begun to 
purchase weapons and ammunition from the street and 
distribute them to local police officials in exchange for 
regular patrols. Mevs claimed, for example, that Reginald 
Boulos, President of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce, had 
already distributed arms to the police and had called on 
others to do so in order to provide cover to his own actions. 
Mevs says that of the roughly 150 business owners in the 
area, probably 30 have already provided some kind of direct 
assistance (including arms, ammunition, or other materiel) to 
the police, and the rest are looking to do so soon. Contacts 
of the Econ Counselor report from time to time of discussions 
among private sector leaders to fund and arm their own 
private sector armies.  The AmCham Board of Directors at one 
point discussed informally giving non-lethal assistance to 
police stations, such as furniture and microwave ovens for 
police stations, but decided against doing so for fear that 
anything given to the police would quickly be stolen. 
10. (C) Mevs defended the idea of the private sector arming 
the police in general, but he lamented the haphazard manner 
in which many of his colleagues seemed to be handing out 
weapons with little control. He said they were "wasting their 
money" by giving arms to police without knowing if they were 
"dirty or clean" and with no measures in place to make sure 
the arms were not simply re-sold. He also complained that 
funneling the arms secretly would only serve to reinforce 
rumors that the elite were creating private armies. Mevs said 
he was approaching the Embassy in order to find a way for 
these private sector initiatives to be incorporated into 
established inventory and control systems within the HNP. He 
described his conception of a program in which the private 
sector could purchase guns and ammunition on the open market 
and turn the equipment over to the HNP in exchange for a 
receipt and a guarantee that a certain number of 
appropriately-armed HNP would be assigned to a requested 
area. He said, however, that he did not trust either MINUSTAH 
or the HNP to properly control the issuance of weapons and 
hoped that the U.S. would oversee the program. 
Haiti's "new enemy" 
11. (C) In response to the May 11 protest (supported by some 
private sector leaders such as Charles Baker) to demand that 
the IGOH address the security situation, Mevs said their 
target was wrong. He said protesters should mobilize against 
Haiti's real enemy and the true source of insecurity: a small 
nexus of drug-dealers and political insiders that control a 
network of dirty cops and gangs that not only were 
responsible for committing the kidnappings and murders, but 
were also frustrating the efforts of well-meaning government 
officials and the international community to confront them. 
He asserted, for example, that some incidents were engineered 
specifically to frustrate efforts by the IGOH to secure a 
weapons export license waiver from the Department of State. 
Mevs claimed that Colombian drug-traffickers (and allegedly 
the brother of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez) had allied 
with a small cabal of powerful and connected individuals, 
including Youri Latortue, Gary Lissade, lawyer Andre Pasquet, 
Michel Brunache (Chief of Staff to President Alexandre), Jean 
Mosanto Petit (aka Toto Borlette, owner of the unofficial 
Haitian lottery and large swaths of Port-au-Prince property), 
and Dany Toussaint, to create a criminal enterprise that 
thrives on - and generates - instability.   (Note: We have no 
corroborating information linking Brunache to 
drug-trafficking.  He, along with Latortue, Pasquet, and 
Justice Minister Gousse. all worked in Gary Lissade's law 
12. (C) Mevs suggested that some recent kidnappings 
(including that of Dr. Michel Theard - ref B) were actually 
targeted crimes meant to send a message to the people within 
the IGOH that the network was calling the shots. (Comment: 
This obviously contradicts his claim that IGOH insiders are 
involved.  End Comment.)  Mevs claimed that Dr. Theard had 
been passed between several supposedly independent gangs, 
thereby illustrating how the gangs were actually joined 
together by a "central node." It was against this network, 
Mevs argued, that well-meaning Haitians should direct their 
ire, and he called for a mass popular mobilization against 
this unnamed (but apparently obvious) cabal: the "new common 
enemy following the departure of President Aristide." 
13. (C) Fritz Mevs undoubtedly has a strong personal interest 
in convincing us that the port district is in danger and he 
is no doubt biased against those individuals he names who 
work against his interests. Mevs himself is a core member of 
what might easily be described as a rival network of 
influence competing for control of Haiti against the cast of 
characters he has described. Furthermore, it is impossible to 
imagine that Mevs has managed to protect his interests over 
the years without making some accommodation with potentially 
hostile government principals and the associated gang leaders 
at his doorstep (indeed his silence on Aristide's continuing 
role in the violence is curious). While we cannot confirm 
whether the alleged cabal of political insiders allied with 
South American narco-traffickers is controlling the gangs, we 
have seen indications of alliances between drug dealers, 
criminal gangs and political forces that could threaten to 
make just such a scenario possible via the election of 
narco-funded politicians, unless we are able to severely 
disrupt the flow of drugs into and out of Haiti.  One thing 
is clear: it is vital that our plan to equip the HNP through 
strict controls go forward immediately.  In the meantime, we 
will deliver strong messages to Charles and the IGOH (and our 
private sector contacts) against private delivery of arms to 
the HNP.  End Comment. 


Author: `

2 thoughts on “Lettre de Fritz Mevs au Senateur Youri Latortue

  1. Malerezman, se pa sa selaman, ni ka sa a selaman ki nan dosye neg yo.Genyen lot dosye koni ki pral fe sifa antan e lye.Tout moun sa yo pral pran kod.Yo pral anchennen tout moun ki ki pa kle menmsi yo se chef jodi a.Bagay sa a, menm Bondye pap ka sove pesonn ladanl.Ayiti dwe netwaye pwop, pwop, pwop.

    Bon,si se pa yon gwo netwayaj ki fet nan peyi a, ki moun ki pral envesti ann Ayiti? Bann kriminel dwazimen sa yo k ap fe lalwa s yo, pou ki moun? Anvan tout bagay, nou dwe opere yon netwayaj anpwofonde, si se pa sa, nou met di Ayiti pap fe yon pa nago, yon pa kita sou wout devlopman.

    Pa vre Lambert,Moyiz janchal, jocelerme privert, Aristide e latriye?

  2. J’aimerais avoir un expose plus detaille de la lettre adressee au Senateur.
    Je n’ai pas d’opinion.


Comments are closed.