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ARCHIVE DE GRANDS TITRES

Haiti-Liberte

 

Edition Electronique

Vol. 8, No. 11
Du  Sep  24  au  Sep 30. 2014

Electronic Edition

Kòrdinasyon Desalin: Conférence de presse

 

 

The National Palace, a Den of Corruption

by Yves Pierre-Louis

...A string of corruption scandals are erupting at Haiti’s Presidential Palace, directly involving President Michel Martelly and his wife Sophia Saint-Rémy Martelly, and his son, Olivier Martelly. The president is evidently trying to legalize a culture of bribery that takes several forms: nepotism, embezzlement, bribery and offers of all kinds, either involving his family or to get favors from established authorities in return for performing criminal acts.

            Following a legal suit filed by lawyer Newton Saint-Juste against wife Sophia Martelly and son Olivier Martelly, two presidential decrees were published in Le Moniteur, the official government journal.

            The first, dated Jan. 24, 2012, Supplement No. 10, established the National Commission for the Fight against Hunger and Malnutrition (COLFAM) and the program "Aba grangou" (Down with Hunger!). Both projects, directed by Sophia Saint-Rémy Martelly, are valued at hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars and are included in a resolution adopted by the Council of Ministers. The second decree, dated Jun. 15, 2012 in Le Moniteur No. 94, creates the Commission to Support the Coordination of Infrastructures for Sports and the Accompaniment of Haitian Youth (CACISAJH) run by Olivier Martelly. In both cases, these are projects with which the Social Affairs Ministry and the Youth and Sports Ministry respectively should deal.

            A legal brief filed by lawyer Newton Saint-Juste seeks an injunction to immediately stop President Martelly’s decrees because they are "contrary to the Constitution, laws and general principles of law, and constitute attempts to undermine the stability of republican institutions and are a duplication which serves as an excuse to squander the scarce funds in the public treasury belonging to all Haitians," he wrote. The summons was served on President Martelly. Saint-Juste also denounced the nepotism of these acts.

            In addition to this scandal rocking the Martelly family, the special advisor to President Martelly at the National Palace, the former senator from the South East Joseph Lambert, revealed all the shenanigans going on behind-the-scenes in statements over the airwaves of radio stations around the capital. He layed out a bribery scheme between President Martelly and President of the Chamber of Deputies, Levaillant Louis Jeune. According to Lambert, Levaillant, the Vice President of the National Assembly, received $15,000 and an armored car from President Martelly in exchange for appointing, outside the rules and with the connivance of the President of the National Assembly Desras Simon Dieuseul, the legislature’s three representatives to the so-called “Permanent” Electoral Council.

            "Levaillant received $15,000 U.S. dollars and armored vehicle at the National Palace, and he signed for it," Lambert said. "Levaillant came to the national palace to 7 a.m. to get the money. We wanted to give it in [the Haitian currency] gourdes, but he said no, he wants it in [U.S.] dollars. This is not a grant, because there is a form to fill out to get a grant. He took the U.S. $15,000."

            If this is not a grant, then it is corruption, where President Martelly is the briber and Levaillant the bribee. Corruption is a criminal offense which has serious consequence on the economic and social life of the Haitian people. It is "criminal conduct when one solicits, approves or receives offers, promises, gifts or presents for the accomplishment of or obtaining favor for personal gain," according to the Dalloz Law Dictionary.

            In response, Levaillant Louis Jeune confirmed that he received $10,000 from the National Palace, but claimed it was to prepare for the visit of President Martelly to the Artibonite Valley town of Desdunes for its annual patron saint’s festival, saying President Martelly kept $5,000 for his son T. Micky, on the pretext that he and his musical band would play well.

            "Joseph Lambert wants to destroy Parliament," Levaillant said.

            Senator Moïse Jean Charles already denounced this latest corruption scandal, predicting that the presidents of the two houses of Parliament, Simon Desras Dieuseul and Levaillant Louis Jeune, would each receive a large amount of money and an armored car to persuade them to name legislative representatives to the highly contested “Permanent” Electoral Council in defiance of the National Assembly. The National Assembly successfully turned back – for now – the completely illegal maneuver by Martelly, Louis Jeune, and Dieuseul to end-run the Parliament.

            During a Sep. 5, 2012 radio broadcast in the capital, the Senator of Nippes, Jean William Jeanty said: "Every parliamentarian has his price." Whether you are president, secretary, quaestor, or chairperson, each has their price in Parliament, he said.

            According to the former president of the lower house, Saurel Jacinthe, the legislative and judicial branches are just following the example set by the President of the Republic by asking that the other presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies and the Supreme Court also have armored vehicles.

            Lambert rejected this statement: "The car belongs to the National Palace,” he said. “Levaillant Louis Jeune has 24 hours to return the car, otherwise I will give my resignation, and I nobody will be able to convince me to come back."

            These are just the latest corruption scandals to shake the highest echelons of the state. Recently, the Supreme Court President Anel Alexis Joseph basically appointed himself president of the Higher Council of the Judiciary (Supreme Council) in a brazen and complete violation of the law. Now the two presidents of Parliament have been revealed engaging in all kinds of maneuvers to try to appoint parliamentary representatives to Martelly’s illegal and unilaterally formed “Permanent” Electoral Council. And we’re just seeing the beginning of how Martelly family members are embroiled in a nasty case of corruption under the pretext of carrying out social work with state funds. Corruption has become the hallmark of the Tèt Kale (headlong) government of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.

 

 Haitian activist tours U.S. demanding housing rights for the country’s 400,000 displaced
by Alexis Erkert

(September 11, 2012) Housing activist Reyneld Sanon is beginning a tour to key cities in the United States. The tour will raise awareness about Under Tents, the international campaign for housing rights in Haiti.  The campaign is a joint initiative of Haitian grassroots groups and more than 30 international organizations that are demanding a solution for Haiti’s homeless.

            The January 2010 earthquake killed an estimated 300,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless.  In its wake, survivors spontaneously created more than a thousand temporary encampments throughout Port-au-Prince.  There has been no long-term planning for a solution to the country’s housing crisis, and the Government of Haiti has no comprehensive plan to relocate the majority of people into safe, permanent homes.  Indeed, fewer than 6,000 houses have been constructed since the earthquake. Nearly 400,000 Haitians are still living in displacement camps, where they face high rates of gender-based and other violence, forced evictions, lack of clean water and toilets, and cholera.

            “People simply want a space where they can live like human beings,” said Sanon. 

            Last month, tropical storm Isaac hit Haiti, underscoring the crisis affecting those still living in temporary shelters, which are often not much more than a tarp. Thousands of shelters were destroyed in the storm’s 60 mph winds and heavy rain resulted in the flooding of camps. In all, 24 people were killed. 

            Beverly Bell, coordinator of Other Worlds, said, “It is past time to resolve the crisis of the hundreds of thousands of homeless people who’ve been forgotten. The billion-plus in U.S. government aid to Haiti has not resulted in the completion of one single house in earthquake-impacted area. We in the U.S. need to step up and ask our government to make funds available to resettle those suffering inhumane conditions.”

            As part of the Under Tents campaign, Haitians are calling on their government to quickly designate land for housing and to implement a social housing plan. They also call on the Haitian government and international community to allocate funding to realize this plan. The campaign website is undertentshaiti.com and a petition is open for signatures at www.change.org/undertents.

            Sanon will visit New Orleans (Sept 14 -15), Houston (Sept 16 -17), Washington D.C. (Sept 18-20), New York City (Sept 21-24) and Miami (Sept 25-26).  For more information about public events organized by Amnesty International USA, the Quixote Center, Haiti Liberte, the New Orleans Worker’s Center for Racial Justice, and others, see undertentshaiti.com/schedule or contact Deepa Panchang (deepa.otherworlds@gmail.com).

            Reyneld Sanon is a leader within the current social movement in Haiti for the rights of Haiti’s homeless, or IDPs (internally displaced people). He was a founding member of FRAKKA (Force for Reflection and Action on Housing), a coalition of 40 grassroots groups founded in March 2010, two months after the earthquake; and currently serves as the director of FRAKKA's executive committee. Sanon has been a founding member of a range of civil society groups and has three decades of experience as a community animator, coordinator, and consultant for a range of local and international organizations.

            Sanon is available for interviews while in the U.S. and will be accompanied by Professor Mark Schuller, a Haiti scholar at Northern Illinois University’s Anthropology department.
 
 
Vol. 6, No. 9 • Du 12 au 18 septembre 2012
 

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