Before the meeting the Democratic Convergence revised and narrowed down its demands in an effort to avoid the appearance of setting unreasonable preconditions.
The first version of the Democratic Convergence?s position paper said that the authors of the December 17, 2001 violence should be arrested. In the latest version on June 12 this was changed to the people who had been positively identified by the victims should be arrested. This was Convergence?s attempt to narrow down and focus its strategy by being specific, not general. OAS assistant secretary-general Luigi Einaudi was said to have approved this change. Aristide at the meeting indicated he was willing to comply.
Micha Gaillard, opening for the Convergence at the meeting, said that the Convergence had narrowed down and specified its position such that the government could carry out all the requested actions within one week.
Rev. Luc Mésadieu of the Mochrena (social Christian) party, launched into a detailed and emotional account of the violence against his party in Gonaïves, where a party bodyguard was burnt alive. Reverend Mésadieu?s home and the homes of party officials were burnt and ransacked, as were other homes, churches, and schools including those of Rev. Sylvio Dieudonné, party vice-president.
Everyone in Gonaïves identified the leader of the arsonists as Amyot Métayer (a.k.a. “Cubain”), a Lavalas leader in Gonaïves. Métayer was received in the palace by Aristide. Métayer bragged that he was the personal representative of Aristide and the police must obey him.
Hubert de Ronceray then recounted the violence in Petit Goave where several houses were burnt down and ransacked. He recalled the murder of Brignol Lindor. These were not just accidents, they were a repressive system put in practice.
Aristide answered that it was not a system. He could not control everything. The justice system was not functioning. This system was beyond his control and was free to do what it wanted. If the responsible parties were not arrested, it was not his fault.
Gérard Pierre-Charles then spoke in support of de Ronceray. It was a system indeed. It was not an organ of insecurity but of terror. This was why he had broken with Lavalas in the mid-1990s, because of its totalitarian plans. The justice system was not independent as Aristide had said. He recalled that Judge Noel of St. Marc had received orders from the palace to arrest Prosper Avril. Although he, Pierre-Charles, had no brief for Avril, the thing was done contrary to justice. It was a mistake to wait passively while the institutions, especially the police, were being destroyed. The new police began with a great deal of hope, now they were only hoodlums. Without a profound reform of the police no elections and no democracy were possible.
Luigi Einaudi spoke of the need to strengthen the institutions and calm down the debate. He did not contest the facts of human-rights violations cited at the meeting.
Einaudi agreed that things could be done on the security front and said he would return in fifteen days. Lavalas had this much time to get things done. Einaudi had objections to the Convergence position. He and Aristide suggested turning the meeting to the election issue. The Convergence insisted on security issues first. It said it had no mandate to discuss elections and that it was a coalition, whose mandate came from its members. When Einaudi and Aristide insisted that election negotiations begin, a Convergence representative objected that Bishop Constant had invited them to the meeting to discuss the security preconditions. Bishop Constant sustained that.
An important novelty at this meeting was the presence of the Caricom representative, Julian Hunte. He spoke little at the meeting, but what he said was substantive. He said that if nothing were done on the security front by July 7, no one could tell what would happen. He recalled Resolution 806.
The tone of the meeting was said to have been cordial. Aristide had no further comments. What was proposed above was neither agreed to nor rejected by Aristide. He previously had commented on the preconditions vs. negotiations issue: it was like the chicken and the egg, which came first?
Comment by Haiti Democracy Project staff: The above summary is meant as the gist of the meeting and not a verbatim account. The positions ascribed to various participants, while broadly accurate, should not be quoted exactly because they cannot be verified.