Pres. Martelly’s Citizenship:Trivialities or Essentials?

For the “Action-Research” Section of our Hurah Blog:
(Human Rights Accompaniment In Haiti,
to non-partisan, non-violent basic human rights action in Haiti)
(Also an archive of previous bulletins and history)


by Tom Luce, Editor

A Letter In Response To Stuart Leiderman
on the controversy raging between the Haitian Parliament and the President
of Haiti

(note: the letter from Mr. Leiderman
that moved me to write my letter is printed below.The letter he was responding to is also printed below his. Stuart’s letter was sent to the “Corbett List” a longlived e-mail exchange list where people publish their opinions, research and practical information regarding Haiti. )

Dear Stuart,

Your disapproval of what is going on between the president and parliament
needs a counterpunch. You seem to be reducing the struggle between the
two branches to, at best, petty on the part of parliament, and at worst,
a serious dereliction of basic care for the most impoverished Haitians–
again on the part of “prevaricating” parliamentarians.

As a watchdog for human rights, I have to point out that the very existence
of the democratic rule we all want for ourselves as well as for Haiti
depends on a real separation of powers. In Haiti — where democracy has
been at best a fledgling attempt, broken more often than not for long
periods, in the favor of undemocratic, oligarchic, violent dictators —
we outsiders should be as critical of those seeking foreign aid as much
as we are of “prevaricating” politicians. Up until now I have
been appreciative of your critiques of money seekers and money wasters,
but today’ missive shocks me.

I personally know the main protagonist for respecting the constitution,
Sen. Moises Jean-Charles. His record, notwithstanding the character assassinations
of him following the coup against Pres. Aristide, is solidly pro the people,
pro the essentials of democray. He has put his life on the line constantly
to uphold the fundamentals of a just society for all. Visions of pie in
the sky by a flashy new executive are not going to seduce him into throwing
away these basic principles. Please give him equal respect for his integrity.

The matter of a constitutional violation (“loose ends?) cannot be
set aside because of the current “ten million (100%+ of Haitians?)”
victims of the quake. The breakdown of democratic rule has to be understood
as a slow, relentless chipping away of the pieces. One doesn’t need an
all out war bombing the hell out of democracy any more. Those ten millions
(can we at least distinguish between the 1% and 99%) were not in great
shape before the quake. My role is not to take partisan sides, but to
look at the policies/practices of politicians and their soundness in struggling
for justice for all.

The contempt, now publicly denounced as vulgar and violent by several
important sectors of Haitian society –the press for one– that Pres.
Martelly has shown for any opposition is frightening especially because
of his claim to power no matter what, power that he has flaunted with
violent flavor. This in a Haiti that has known this kind of creeping control
by the powerful before. Control that, although remembered as the “good
ole days when the sidewalks were clean”, was brutal repression of
democracy. The relationship of this president with past dictators is too
close for comfort. His promotion of an army to do what (?), at what price(?)
for the “ten million” (99%?), is another chilling fact.

The sheer political power game is being played by the executive, except
for Prime Minister Gary Conille. Why not just deal with the facts? Suppose
there is triple citizenship or some obfuscation to the same effect? I
would be willing to believe that, if there were real respect for the parliament,
the parliament would show a statesmanship that would put the “ten
million” (99%?) in first place. This brinkmanship is what tears down
societal structures. President Martelly’s “selection” was contrived
mainly by the US to prevent at all costs any drift toward a majority rule
and its rightful demands for equality. The threat of a President Martelly
is far more than his ignoring the citizenship rule of the Constitution.
His style–which you seem to want to extol just because of his galavanting
around the hemisphere seeking money–includes failed approaches like sweat-shops
(yeah Bill Clinton’s wrong there also). President Martelly in no way represents
the majority of the people.

Pettiness is a charge against a statesman like Senator Jean-Charles unworthy
of people who say they want justice in Haiti, no matter the enticements
of money and foreign largesse. People who are willing to give their lives
rather than sell out for money should be extolled, not swept aside!


Tom Luce

1515 Fairview St.
Berkeley, Ca. 94703

Thursday, Feb. 16
Stuart Leiderman

Dear Readers:

Today’s tiff, per below, is a bit weird after watching the excellent video of OxfamAmerica’s NGO roundtable in Washington, D.C. last week, with the Haitian Prime Minister flanked by members of Parlement –
– all of whom were talkative, amiable and to-the-point of making the most
of foreign human and material resources that have come to Haiti since
the earthquake and subsequent cholera. That some may have come disguised
as Haitian nationals is novel, to say the least.

I remember last spring when the President was trying to satisfy Parlement
with a Cabinet combining some his favorites along with others favored
by competing political parties. I thought it was up to Parlement to accept
or reject nominees based on criteria that included demonstrated nationality
if and where dictated by the Constitution. If passports-as-proof are so
important now, were they also asked for at the time of those nomination
hearings and, if not, why?

It is indeed a political luxury to have so many loose ends like these
to fall back on while ten million are still in the throes of post-disaster
syndrome, while one out of ten are sleeping on the ground or nearly so,
while other thousands are defecating their brains out, and while untold
others are chipping away on bits of boat wood, preparing to permanently
evacuate the island.

While it may be easier to govern a country less than ten million, I’d
say it is immoral to prevaricate so that others die from waiting.

Passports notwithstanding, the main criteria for governing is whether
you are for the people, and can prove it.

Thank you,

Stuart Leiderman

Haiti: Is It the End for Prime Minister Conille?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012 21:05

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti ( – Is Garry Conille in his last days as Prime Minister? The question was asked by a columnist at the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste this Wednesday. An interrogation comes while the PM is in an open conflict with President Martelly and his own government on the dual-citizenship issue.

The president told the ministers not to comply with the senate investigation while the PM asked them to do so to avoid a political crisis.

Is Garry Conille in his last days as prime minister? One has to ask.

Since Monday, many scenarios are considered: resignation or dismissal by the parliament, and even the runaway, in the Haitian way.

Some have already begun predicting a round of contenders to find a replacement or a government that will manage daily affairs for months without a prime minister.

The PM was opposed to his ministers on the dual citizenship issue. They all signed on Monday a resolution not to comply with the senate investigation. The prime minister refused to endorse the resolution with his signature. He even asked them to comply and to submit their documents and appear before the Senate Commission as requested.

When asked earlier this year, several senators had expressed concern that the nation is on the verge of a crisis. They did not specify the nature of the crisis or that it would occur so quickly.

In January, already simmering under the hot ashes of Parliament, this case verification of the nationality of members of the government and president took foot.

Taken as a joke launched by Senator Jean-Charles Moise (Nord/Inite), this case has gathered moss on its way to becoming a rock in the big courtyard of the government. A monumental thorn it became.

As the week progressed, more ironically was President Martelly on the issue, who said that everything was fine. We thought it was a little crisis going towards its conclusion, wrote Frantz Duval of Le Nouvelliste.

Then came the altercation, seasoned with big words – that one could not mention in this forum – at the Prime Minister’s residence between the president and parliamentarians.

The seriousness of the issue of nationality got public on Sunday during the Carnival in Jacmel, when Senator Jean-Baptiste Bien-Aime (Nord-Est/Inite) questioned the president on the issue.

Following the parade, a resolution the was taken by the Cabinet of Ministers Monday and made public Tuesday by the president who came to put a breaking point to the questions.

But in fact this only led us to another chapter.

In response, the Senate, through Senator Joseph Lambert (Sud-Est/Inite), threatened to take action against recalcitrant ministers, while some government members – nine secretaries of state – have already filed their parts before the investigating commission that he chaired and further, received a public agreement to comply from the prime minister prior.

Already lawyers throughout the nation are sharpening their arguments. Those close to the presidency are inflexible saying no one should have to submit documents, unless before a competent tribunal, dismissing the powers of the legislature.

Other lawyers laugh on radio saying there is no court in the land but the parliament, that can try members of the government.

Former Minister of Justice, Camille Leblanc, believes that the government creates conditions to judge members of government even President Martelly, by the High Court of Justice that is the Senate. “The president is accountable to Parliament for judgment if he commits a crime against the Constitution. An alien who pretends to be a Haitian commits a crime. The natural judge of the President of the Republic is the Parliament. This is the same for the ministers. The Senate and Chamber of Deputies may decide to refer any minister,” said the former minister and lawyer.

“The government does not have to show proof of Ministers to Parliament. President, Prime Minister, their teams would have ensured that all the ministers and secretaries of state are in compliance with the Constitution and laws of the Republic,” said an observer, anonymous that would consider himself neutral.

“Maybe the president seeks dismissal of the government,” says Attorney Carlos Hercules, President of the Port-au-Prince Bar.

Garry Conille is the only one who wants to voluntarily submit his documents to Parliament. Will he have time to do so?


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