Originally: CONCRETIZING DEMOCRACY: Highlights of recent accomplishments

The Government of Haiti continues to work closely with the OAS with regard to
implementation of OAS Resolution 822 and meets regularly on justice,
disarmament, security, electoral and other issues.  As requested by the Government of
Haiti, the OAS is providing technical assistance, including 26 police
advisors, who are being dispatched throughout the country, including to the Police
Academy to assist in the training of police, professionalization of the police,
advise on security and disarmament and election security planning.


The government created a National Disarmament Committee composed of the
Secretary of State for Public Security, the Police Chief, the Office of the Chief
Prosecutor, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Ministry of Interior, and
works in the consultation of OAS advisers. A public information campaign
sensitizing the public on disarmament is underway, with the objective of changing the
perception and orientation relating to guns. Recent disarmament efforts have
brought an increase in the number of weapons confiscated.  On May 29th the
Secretary of State for Public Security, in the presence of members of the
government and guests, including human rights groups, political parties, local and
foreign press, students, as well as members of the international community
(notably the Dominican Ambassador to Haiti), held a symbolic ceremony at the Father
Jean Marie Vincent Park where they set afire 233 of the illegal weapons seized.


The fiscal year 2002-2003 national budget of more than 15 billion gourdes was
passed by both houses of the Parliament after adjustments were made in the
Senate in light of a recent agreement made between the Government of Haiti and
the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Senate adjusted the budget to better
respond to the needs of other sectors such as education, agriculture and
justice, with the  State University budget being increased by 250 million gourdes.


The Government of Haiti and the International Monetary Fund reached a draft
agreement in May during its 8 day visit to Haiti which provides for a 12 month
relay program (SMP), calls for reduction of the budget deficit by almost half,
with goal of stabilizing exchange rate and increase Central Bank’s exchange
cover. The agreement called for an IMF commitment of a 50 million dollar sector
investment loan to support the national budget.  In the face of Haiti’s
humanitarian crisis caused by the current financial embargo, the Minister of
Finance said, “It is a good thing that the international community has stopped
handling economic matters with political problems in mind.”


In an effort to assist Haiti in normalizing its relationship with the
international financial institutions, CARICOM demonstrated its support to Haiti by
committing to contribute more than a million dollars to assist Haiti in clearing
its arrears owed to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).


Haiti’s Customs Office reported that the 740 million gourdes collected in
April 2003 was a 45.92% increase over those collected in April 2002.  These funds
are critical to Haiti’s treasury, particularly while Haiti is still under a
financial embargo.  Treasury funds are used to fund numerous infrastructure
projects, as well as for providing vital services such as healthcare, education,
and security.


The Electoral Council office, together with the Ministry of Finance,
completed  administrative steps in preparation of seating a new electoral council and
the holding of local and parliamentary elections in 2003 which included
training of electoral workers on proper swift code management, inventory archiving of available materials and preparing of
a budget.


The Government of Haiti continues to reinforce democracy including respecting
the rights of the opposition. As such the Group of 184, whose Caravan of Hope
has been traveling throughout the country to hold anti-government rallies,
has enjoyed the protection of the police in various cities.


To commemorate the anniversary of Haiti’s 1987 Constitution, President
Aristide visited the local headquarters of one of the specialized units of the
police.  Following his speech which called for respect of the Constitution, the
President personally gave each of the police officers a copy of Haiti’s
Constitution.  See photos at:  http://www.palaisnational.info/pnh/album/cimo.htm The
Prime Minister conducted a public education campaign to reinforce knowledge and
respect for Haiti’s Constitution and democracy.


The Ministry of Justice, the Cour d’Cassation and the Chief Prosecutor
participated on a panel at a conference on press, human rights and impunity held by
the Association of Haitian Journalists.


Around the time of the Bicentennial of Toussaint L’Ouverture, President
Aristide issued an arête recognizing Vodou as an official religion. The government
will now recognize marriages, baptisms and funerals conducted by Vodouists,
providing they register with the government, as other clergy are required to do.


Through a joint effort with the private sector, the government of Haiti
published a glossy coffee table book entitled Republic d’Haiti Agenda 2003 which is
packed with information on various government ministries and agencies and the
work they are performing, contains historical information honoring this
period of time in which Haiti celebrates many key bicentennial dates, as well as
colorful and informative advertisements by the private sector.


Bicentennial of Flag Day. Tens of thousands of children and adults
participated in this bicentennial event celebrated throughout Haiti.  Simultaneously,
thousands of Haitians and non-Haitians also celebrated this important date,
which leads up to Haiti’s Independence.  Joined by 10,000 celebrants, the
Government of Haiti attended mass in Arcahaie, the birthplace of Catherine Flom and
Haiti’s flag, where the President delivered a speech calling for peace, unity
and equality, once again opening his arms to opposing political parties.  The
President inaugurated the renovated town park and the church, road renovation
that cost more than 142 million gourdes and $2.2 million to enable the town of
Arcahaie to have full electricity. In afternoon ceremonies tens of thousands of
children as well as other guests participated in marching bands, etc. on the
lawn of the National Palace. The various units of Haiti’s National Police
paraded. Prior to Haiti’s Bicentennial Flag Day, President Aristide met with
hundreds of public and private school children and distributed instruments for use
in their marching bands to strengthen their  participation in Flag Day
The country honored the bicentennial of the death of Toussaint L’Ouverture
with seminars, workshops, plays. The President gave a speech at MUPANAH, Haiti’s
National Museum, and then tens of thousands of children and others
participated in activities at the National Palace where a full statute of Toussaint was
unveiled and later transported to Cap Haitian. Danny Glover visited Haiti and
during a meeting with President Aristide spoke at great length on the
importance of Toussaint and the role of Americans in supporting Haiti.


A consortium of local investors were successful after one year of
negotiations with Shell in their bid to purchase Shell’s operations in Haiti.  Shell had
been operating in Haiti since 1932 and has 44 gas stations throughout Haiti.
The new company, proudly named National, is a new member of the petroleum
distribors in Haiti, and their name will soon replace the old Shell logo at the 44
stations.  At National’s inauguration celebration held earlier this week at
The Karibe, President Aristide pointed out that this venture is yet another
sign of confidence in the country. National states that it is commited to aid in
the protection of Haiti’s environment. One of the two financial groups,
funding this venture, was created by Unibank, and they stated they would sell 50% of
the shares to the public, with 10% of that to be sold to Haitians living


On the heels of the construction of The Hilton Hotel near Haiti’s
international airport, which is a joint venture between a local company and foreign
investors, another indicator that Haiti’s business community is thriving was
evidenced by the opening of a third hotel by the family who owns the Kinam Hotel and
The Ritz. Their new hotel, The Karibe, a hotel/conference center is located
in the Juvenat section of Petionville.  Extensive renovations of the site,
which previously housed the Union School, will include a grand ballroom with 750
seating, two restaurants, and additional smaller conference areas.


The Ministry of Commerce revealed that the Ministry had registered 4,836
trade and commercial names as well as 499 commercial and industrial companies
during the 2002/2003 fiscal year, which is a strong indicator of confidence, by
both local and foreign businessman, in the economic future of the country.
30,000 export licenses were issued during fiscal year 2002/2003.  Commerce asked
that artisans register so that they may market their products within the CARICOM
duty free countries in the near future.


Haiti was able to continue to lower gas prices at the pumps, including the
price of kerosene, as the prices declined on the international market and the
gourdes strengthened.


The Ministry of Commerce signed an accord with a foreign firm who will assist
Haiti’s Customs office in the inspection and control of the quality of import
products, particularly medicine and foods, entering the country, assist to
optimize customs’ receipts, modernize the custom’s office, facilitate commercial
exchanges by making custom clearance procedures easier, as well as other
tasks.  This is geared to facilitate trade and implement new World Trade
Organization standards, as well as to provide training to employees and to protect the
Haitian people against inferior or unsafe products.


The Ministry of Commerce reported that in 2002 the Ministry became
computerized, maintains a website with information on existing enterprises for the past
50 years and has 213 agents who inspect food products in supermarkets.


35.5 km of new road was inaugurated between Port-de-Paix and Jean Rabel.
This road is vital to the residents and commerce and was often impassable until


During the celebration of the bicentennial of Toussaint L’Ouverture, the
President announced that the international airport has been renamed in honor of
Toussaint, and would be renovated (new air-conditioned arrival room, upgrading
of baggage area,  new complaint room for lost luggage, new immigration counter,
new customs area, and new VIP room).


Adding to a long list of towns that now have full electricity, the Ministry
of Public Works completed work to provide the town of Arcahaie with full
electricity in time for the bicentennial celebration of Flag Day.  The road and park
were also restored.


On the eve of Haiti’s bicentennial of independence, Haiti’s Central Bank,
Bank d’Republic d’ Haiti (BRH), which is charged with overseeing all banking
institutions, inaugurated its new headquarters, built in accordance with
international standards.


The Prime Minister, together with the Minister of Public Works, inspected
various neighborhoods in Canapé-Vert to identify unsafe construction of houses,
particularly those built on ravines and hillocks, which pose a threat to the
population and thereby merit government intervention to demolish these dangerous


Concerned parties (Dominique’s widow, the defendants and others) in the Jean
Dominique case appealed the recent indictment handed down by the Judge.
Testimony was taken before the Court of Appeals on May 12th and a decision will be
rendered shortly.


The Ministry of Justice, the Cour d’Cassation (Haiti’s highest court),
members of the judiciary, Haiti’s Bar Association and its members, participated in a
seminar together with the OAS Special mission and CARICOM which discussed the
role, function and benefits of Haiti’s participation in the Caribbean Court
of Justice. Haiti recently became a member of CARICOM whose Treaty of
Chaguaramas oversees free trade, free commerce, free circulation, and free service for
its member countries.


During the Prime Minister’s inspection of various tax (DGI) offices, he
ordered the arrests of the Tax Inspector of the Croix-des-Bouquet office and of the
Annex Inspector at the Delmas office for allegedly forcing taxpayers to pay
exorbitant fees for the newly issued license plates.


The tax administration has advised nightclubs that they are not except from
compliance with tax laws and has asked that the nightclubs as well as the
promoters holding shows at these clubs comply with tax regulations.


Authorities acted swiftly to recover a container containing two stolen luxury
cars taken from the Customs parking lot at the port in St. Marc.  The police
had the container under surveillance at the time it was stopped at the Customs
checkpoint.  The merchandise had no authorization or verification.  Currently
a shipping agency is being charged with this crime and a full-scale
investigation is underway to identify how this merchandise entered Haiti.


The Police arrested two foreign pilots who landed their planes in Cap Haitian
for possible drug trafficking and the matter is currently under investigation.


The Acting Chief of Police reported that he was working to better structure
the internal workings of the direction of the police.  The police chief
increased police patrols, particularly in areas “where there are tensions,” despite
the challenges of shortages of materials, personnel and training and overall
resources.  In line with the disarmament campaign, the Police Chief praised the
conduct of the police during two operations in which acting on tips they
raided a home in Delmas 60 and seized a large cache of weapons together with plans
to attack government offices, and in Gonaives arrested a foreigner who was
receiving weapons and combat paraphernalia via boat.


Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs met with the President of the Dominican
Republic to discuss the acts of destablization which are allegedly being
prepared on Dominican soil, and presented him with a letter from President Aristide
in which he asked the Dominican government to take all possible measures,
including better oversight of the border, to prevent their territory from serving
as a rear base for those plotting to overthrow the Haitian government.
President Aristide spoke with President Mejia by telephone on this matter as well.


Within a day of five people being arrested in the Dominican Republic for
allegedly plotting to overthrow the Haitian government, an act of sabotage and
terrorism carried out by 20 commando assailants who set fire to the control room
of the hydroelectric power plant at Peligre, disabling electricity service for
the population, killing two security guards, shooting two police officers and
holding five medical staff from a nearby hospital in Canje captive for a
couple of hours.  Immediately following the attack, a delegation composed of power
plant officials and police officers visited the plant to conduct an
investigation and access damages, which shut down the plant, and determine necessary
repairs that are anticipated to be very costly. Immediately prior to the attack
there had been a marked improvement in the distribution of electricity due to
36 megawatts provided by Peligre, whose overall capacity is 54 megawatts.  In
order to secure the plant from future attacks and to protect the local
population from continued threats from these commandos who have identified themselves
as former soldiers bent on overthrowing the government, the police
established a new police station under the direction of the Mirabalais police.


The Police arrested half a dozen people for illegal possession of automatic
weapons in Belladere in the Central Plateau and are investigating whether they
were involved in any of the recent acts of terrorism in that region.


More recently in Haiti’s city of independence, Gonaives, three steam rollers
belonging to the National Equipment Center (CNE), the central office who
controls and coordinates use of all heavy equipment used for government public
works, and scheduled to be used for road reconstruction on the section between
Gonaïves and St-Marc, were set on fire causing extensive damage estimated at
$500,000 dollars.  The Minister of Public Works had announced that that stretch of
the National Highway would be done in time for Haiti’s Independence
Bicentennial on January 1, 2004. The police have arrested two security guards for


Responding to acts of terrorism the police have made arrests, seizures and
increased security to protect the population (including a training program
taught by two international experts for special border police), particularly in the
Central Plateau region, and protection of government public works sites.
Deploying the 850 new Police Academy graduates from the 14th promotion throughout
the country has intensified efforts to provide security as well as to combat
the security threat posed by the commandos who have taken up residence in the
Central Plateau region.


The Police immediately sent a high level delegation to Petit Goave to
investigate the murder of five members of one family. The new Inspector General of
the police took part in this delegation to ascertain whether there was police
involvement in this crime but initially determined that no police had been
involved. The Justice of the Peace forwarded the dossiers of the five victims to
the prosecutor’s office for follow-up.


Parliament passed legislation in May that rescinded chapter 9 of Haiti’s
Labor Code that had sanctioned child domestic service (commonly referred to as
restavek).  While the bill expressly bans child domestic service it encourages
Haitian families to continue the tradition of informal adoptions to less
advantaged children and to provide them with education, healthcare, equal to the care
of their own children, as spelled out in Title X of the Constitution.
Parliament also passed legislation prohibiting all forms of trafficking of persons
for the purposes of domestic work, sexual exploitation, prostitution,
pornography, criminal activities, scientific purposes or use of organs, or armed
conflicts. These legislative acts follow a law enacted in October 2001 that bans all
forms of corporal punishment against children, as well as humiliation and


Thirty-three police officers received specialized training for a new brigade
which will work in conjunction with juvenile court and will monitor and
protect children from abuse and violence, will monitor school zones and areas with a
high incidence of violence against children and will intervene to prevent and
control juvenile delinquency.


The First Lady released her book entitled Child Domestic Service in Haiti and
Its Historical Underpinnings during the monthly meeting of the National AIDS
Commission, which she chairs.  The meeting focused on the relationship between
AIDS and children affected by the illness, including those orphaned by AIDS
and in turn forced to live with others.


Former President Clinton visited Haiti to announce that his foundation, which
assists countries hard hit by HIV/AIDS to fine tune their National AIDS plans
with the goal of seeking potential funders, will be helping Haiti in this


Incorporating members of Haiti’s Vodou religion in the fight against the
transmission of HIV/AIDS, the Ministry of Public Health together with UNICEF and
the Aloumanjda Mission, held a two-day training seminar on HIV/AIDS that looked
at myths and beliefs surrounding HIV/AIDS, and ways the Vodou community can
be instrumental in fighting this disease. Vodouists from all regions of the
country participated in this historic workshop.


Haiti’s Red Cross celebrated its 71st anniversary.  Its director reported
that in 2000-2002 they received 1,178 rescue calls, and dispatched their
ambulance 1,168 times.  They transported 1,152 victims, and gave first aid to 1,162
persons.  In 2001-2003 the ambulance section responded to 1,097 calls, 169
persons were trained in First Aid, 156 persons were trained in sea rescue and
disaster management.  In total in 2002, 543 persons were trained, including Police
Academy cadets who graduated in the recent 14th promotion. In 2000-2001 over
8,505 persons donated blood that resulted in 6,744 packets of blood.  The Red
Cross prepared and delivered 8,216 units of blood for transfusions.  The
section for first aid assistance in cases of disaster supervised more than 4,000
families who were victims of the May 2002 flood in the South.  The social-medical
section, with the assistance of the Dutch Red Cross, trained 30 young
educators through HIV/AIDS workshops, 413 others participated in HIV/AIDS workshops.


President Aristide inaugurated the Centre de Sante La Renaissance health
clinic located next to the main Cathedral that the government completely
renovated.  The building had been destroyed in a fire a few years ago. See photos at:


On May 1st, Haiti’s national day of agriculture and labor, President Aristide
inaugurated housing developments in four locations – 457 new housing units,
representing 3,044 rooms.  The developments, ONAVille in Thomazeau, Quartier
2004 on the newly laid Independence Blvd and named for next year’s bicentennial
of independence, Village Renaissance to the Northwest of Cite Soleil, were
created primarily for government workers.  In addition to parks, a swimming pool
and a kiosk, forty stores were built throughout the developments and the
government hopes to construct schools as well. The fourth inauguration was of units
built in La Saline, replacing homes destroyed in a 2001 fire. See photos at:
President inaugurates housing developments (take from press release)


In an effort to strengthen the learning capacity of Haiti’s university
students, a research and internet center of 50 computers has been opened in a
central location for the use of all private and public university students.
Sponsored by the Presidency, this project cost more than 6 million gourdes.  The
center also has a library and conference room.


The Ministry of Education has organized the annual state exams in which
approximately 600,000 students will participate between June 11th and July 4th and
will cost the government approximately 58 million gourdes. Fees to help offset
these costs, as well as discourage those who are totally unprepared to take
the exam from participating, range from 300 to 350 gourdes per student. The
police will increase their coverage at testing sites to assure the safety and
security of both the students and teachers, as well as to secure the tests from
being leaked out.


Taiwan presented the Government of Haiti with a check for $3 million to
reinforce its national literacy program.  This is the first check in a commitment
of a total of $15 million earmarked for literacy. Recently Cuban advisers on
literacy training did an assessment of Haiti’s nationwide literacy campaign and
cited lack of resources as detrimental to the success of the program.


The Minister of Education announced measures to address weaknesses in the
education process that has been reflected in the past by a poor passing rate of
the national exams.  One of the announced changes that will go into effect this
September is that each child will have an educational plan based on the
results of their state exam in their fourth year of primary education.


To commemorate their 30th anniversary, CARICOM is passing around its Torch of
Unity to its member countries.  Haiti, CARICOM’s newest member, received the
torch for a week before passing it on to the Cayman Islands.


Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs received a 17-person delegation headed by
the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Bahamas. Their meetings concluded with a
bilateral accord on several deportation and residency issues with the
objective of reducing illegal migration to the Bahamas.