International Republican Institute — Democratic
Soon after the Republican Party secured a majority in Congress on 8 November 1994 following the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti by the Clinton administration on 15 October 1994, Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Ben Gilman (R-N.Y.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss (R-Fl) passed a stream of bills ordering U.S. troops out of Haiti, terminating a host of infrastructure-building initiatives and imposing a weapons embargo to the Haitian national police force.
18 October 1996
Haiti agreed to implement a wide array of reforms outlined in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) $1.2 billion Emergency Economic Recovery Plan (EERP) put together by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Organization of American States (OAS). The recovery package, to be funded and executed over a five-year period aimed to create a capital-friendly macroeconomic environment for the manufacturing sector which generates 90% of Haiti’s exports and consisted of 150 assembly companies who employed only 41 000 workers in 1989. It called for reducing tariffs and selling off state-owned enterprises. Notably, there was little in the package for 63% of Haiti’s population whose livelihood depends on the agricultural rural sector that represents 35% of the country’s GDP.
The small amount that did go to the countryside was designated for improving roads and irrigation systems while promoting export crops such as coffee and mangoes. The Haitian government also agreed to abolish tariffs on U.S. imports, which resulted in the dumping of low cost American foodstuffs on the Haitian market thereby undermining the country’s eroding livestock and agricultural production. The disruption of economic life in the already depressed country further deteriorated the living conditions of the poor.1
Created in 1983, the federally funded International Republican Institute (IRI) was chaired by Senator John McCain in 2005 and received about $3 million annually from Congress. It had an annual budget of approximately $20 million granted by the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID and conservative corporate/philanthropic groups.
The organization's board included a number of current or former Republican Party officials, congressional officeholders and members of Republican administrations (see list). Roger Francisco Noriega, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs always refused to elaborate on the organization's neo-conservative work in Haiti.2
The IRI Haiti program was launched by its vice president, Georges Fauriol, a Latin America expert for the conservative Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) since the days when Duvalier ruled Haiti. Also member of the Republican National Committee, he collaborated closely with Otto Juan Reich, a hawkish Iran-Contra figure who served as the Bush administration’s special envoy to the Western Hemisphere until his resignation announced by Dr. Condoleezza Rice (Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs) on 16 June 2004.
IRI had hired the pro-Duvalier Haitian national Stanley Lucas (from a landowning family in the town of Jean Rebel) in 1992 to head its Port-au-Prince operations during the brutal U.S.-friendly regime of General Raoul Cédras which gave the organization unparalleled access to the key anti-Aristide figures. A “party-building” program officially began in 1998 when Lucas spearheaded the training of small groups at local meetings. Among invitees to IRI’s seminars were members of CREDDO, the personal political platform of former Haitian dictator General Prosper Avril who ruled with an iron fist from 1988 to 1990 by arbitrarily torturing his opponents. Avril wrote about the meetings in his 1999 memoir, The Truth about a Singular Lawsuit, describing a truce he signed “under the auspices of IRI” with his former torture victim Evans Paul. Thanks in part to this rapprochement, Paul became the de facto spokesman for the coalition of parties trained in 1999 by Lucas: the Democratic Convergence.
A coalition made up of roughly 200 political groups opposed to the Fanmi Lavalas party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide formed the Democratic Convergence headed by former Port-au-Prince mayor Evans Paul — a previous Aristide supporter and leader of the Convention for Democratic Unity. The Convergence was set up by a USAID program called Democracy Enhancement to “fund those sectors of the Haitian political spectrum where opposition to the Aristide government could be encouraged” and financial support came from the International Republican Institute.
Controlled by the affluent upper-class Haitian elite, this select group represented some 50 interconnected families who manage the country's import/export trade monopoly empires. The entire educated oligarchy which constitutes less than 1% of the population benefits from institutionalized corruption and owns half the national wealth.
21 May 2000
The opposition Democratic Convergence party boycotted in protest the legislative and municipal elections which it claimed were rigged (Lavalas party members secured 73 out of 83 seats in the Chambre des Députés and 19 in the Senate), while Aristide who ran unopposed in Haiti’s presidential elections on 26 November 2004 won with 91.5% of the vote from an estimated 61% turnout, or 3 million of Haiti’s electorate.3
The OAS was however highly critical of the process in its report dated 27 November 2004: “Les élections tenues pour choisir un Président et neuf sénateurs se sont déroulées sans que des corrections aient été apportées aux graves lacunes enregistrées lors des élections locales et législatives. La Mission d’observation détachée par l’OÉA avait rapporté que le calcul des résultats proclamés par le Conseil électoral provisoire (CÉP) n’avait été fondé ni sur les dispositions de la Constitution d’Haïti, ni sur la loi électorale.”
Questionable vote counting, repression and massive corruption prompted the Clinton administration to block over $400 million in multilateral loans to Haiti. With conditions deteriorating, Aristide clung to power by allowing the international drug trade to flourish and arming gangs — including children — to intimidate his opponents.
On 8 February 2001, IRI’s senior program officer for Haiti, Stanley Lucas, appeared on Haiti’s Radio Tropicale to suggest three strategies for vanquishing the country’s President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. First, Lucas proposed forcing him to accept early elections and be voted out; second, he could be charged with corruption and arrested; and finally, Lucas raised dealing with Aristide the way the Congolese people had dealt with President Laurent-Désiré Kabila who had been assassinated the month before (shot on 16 January, died two days later) by asking his audience: “You did see what happened to Kabila?” IRI’s communications director, Thayer Scott, characterized Lucas’ remarks as “a comparative analysis of countries that embrace democracy and those that do not.”
When George W. Bush entered the White House on 20 January 2001, he scaled back President Clinton’s policy of direct engagement in Haiti while appointing veteran anti-Aristide ideologues to key State Department positions. Meanwhile, the well-connected Stanley Lucas ingratiated himself with powerful Republicans sympathetic to the concept of regime change in his native country and lobbied for increased funding to the opposition groups he advised and helped train.
8 June 2001
Seven of the nine Haitian senators whose elections were still being disputed by the Democratic Convergence resigned after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide told the General Assembly of the Organization of American States that he would hold new elections for the contested Senate seats within six months. But the Democratic Convergence was not satisfied with the concession and maintained its insistence that he resign so that a non-elected “transition” government be run by them.4
6 August 2001
Roger F. Noriega, the former aide to Senator Jesse Helms of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a senior staff member on the House of Representatives’ Committee on International Relations (1994-1997) and fervent critic of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was appointed U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States.
Urged-on by the U.S., the resumption of aid and credit to Haiti which had been suspended in mid 2001 by the IMF, the World Bank and the European Union was made contingent on Aristide coming to an agreement with the opposition party, the Democratic Convergence.5
A USAID-commissioned Gallup poll indicated that 61.6% of the survey’s participants sympathized or were members of Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party, while only 13% said they supported the Democratic Convergence or any of its associated parties. Sixty per cent of the respondents indicated that the Haitian leader they trusted most was Aristide, though several admitted to trusting no one. Democratic Convergence leader Gérard Gourgue, with only 3.7% was the next most trusted politician.6
Meanwhile, Stanley Lucas began to sabotage U.S. Ambassador Brian Dean Curran, a career diplomat and Clinton holdover appointee who had evidence that the IRI representative was undermining international diplomatic efforts to broker a compromise between President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Democratic Convergence over Haiti’s contested legislative elections.7
19 November 2002
The Haiti Democracy Project (HDP) was formally established. During its official launching held at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., speakers warned that the “crisis” was undermining democracy in Haiti and worsening at an ever increasing pace. “... Luigi Einaudi (OAS Assistant Secretary-General) opened the talks with dire predictions that Haiti was fast approaching a point where diplomatic means would no longer contribute to solve the crisis and those concerned about the country should be gathering for a ‘wake.’ The rapidly deteriorating economic situation, an unwillingness of the main protagonists to advance any negotiating process and increasing demonstrations throughout the country made for a very bleak future.”
U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS, Roger F. Noriega, also spoke at the ceremony and addressed the Haitian elections issue by saying, “We have to get them [The Haitian people] that opportunity as they will not participate in a farce.”
Attending the event were some questionable figures including Stanley Lucas who was now said to be funding the training of anti-Aristide Haitian rebels in the Dominican Republic and the right-wing Miami-based Haitian businessman, Olivier Nadal.
A former president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce who was implicated in the massacre at Piatre on 12 March 1990 when a group of peasants were killed by his security detail after they had squatted on unused land that he owned, Nadal had also been identified as a key financier of the 1991 coup d’état that ousted Aristide from office. The information was revealed by prominent banker Antoine Izméry shortly before his murder on 11 September 1993 after which the United States government froze Nadal’s assets for some time in 1994 because of his suspected involvement in the putsch.
The Haiti Democracy Project was funded by the wealthy Haitian Boulos family which owns Pharval Pharmaceuticals, the USAID-sponsored Radio Vision 2000, the Delimart supermarket and Le Matin newspaper (Réginald Boulos). In February 2002, Rodolphe Boulos was under investigation for his possible involvement in the 3 April 2000 assassination of Haitian journalist and Radio Haïti Inter owner Jean Dominique who had been an ardent Pharval critic after the company’s contaminated Afébril and Valodon syrups provoked the deaths of 200 children. The HDP’s board of directors included Rodolphe Boulos, CEO of Pharval Laboratories (indicted on 15 February 2001 in the contamination case); Vicki Carney of CR International; Prof. Henry F. Carey of Georgia State University; Timothy Carney, U.S. ambassador to Haiti (1998-1999); co-founder Clotilde Charlot, former vice-president of the Haitian Association of Voluntary Agencies; Lionel Delatour of the Center for Free Enterprise and Democracy (CLED); Orlando Marville, Chief of the OAS electoral mission to Haiti (May to July 2000); James Morrell, the Haiti Democracy Project’s executive director; Lawrence Pezzullo, U.S. special envoy for Haiti (1993-1994) and Ernest H. Preeg, U.S. ambassador to Haiti (1981-1983).8
25 November 2002
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Otto Reich, whose White House nomination had failed to obtain confirmation by the Senate, was instead appointed to the position of U.S. Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere Initiatives which does not require approval.
The Haiti Democracy Project then assembled a number of Haitian NGOs to create the Coalition of 184 Civic Institutions in December 2002 which was subsidized by USAID, the International Republican Institute and the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce (Thayer Scott acknowledged that “IRI played an advisory role in Group of 184’s formation”). The coalition’s leader was André Apaid Jr., a U.S. citizen of Lebanese descent (born to a Haitian mother) who controls Haiti’s largest sweatshop empire including Alpha Industries, “one of the oldest assembly factories in Haiti.” His manufacturing plants — located in Haiti’s free trade zones — produce textiles and assemble electronic products for several U.S. companies including Sperry/Unisys, IBM, Remington and Honeywell, some of which are used in U.S. Government computers and Defense Department radar equipment.
Group of 184’s power brokers were divided into two camps: its majority constitutional wing which emphasized protests and diplomacy as the path to forcing Aristide out, and a hard-line faction quietly determined to oust Aristide by any means necessary.
The constitutionalists were represented by the Group’s spokesman and most prominent member, André Apaid; the hard-liners were led by Wendel Claude, a politician who was hell-bent on avenging the death of his brother Sylvio, a church minister burned to death by a pro-Aristide mob at Cayes on 29 September 1991 during the military coup.
While the constitutional wing mounted a series of anti-Aristide street protests through late 2003 provoking escalating unrest, Claude and the hard-liners hatched plans to remove the unfrocked priest by force. They selected Guy Philippe (U.S.-trained ex-Haitian police chief with a dubious human rights record) to lead a band of insurgents consisting almost entirely of former Haitian army personnel and death squad soldiers (FRAPH).
9 January 2003
The White House announced the nomination of Roger Noriega to the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (left vacant by Otto Reich), and the appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 29 July 2003 thereby further strengthening the influence of IRI.9
Stanley Lucas, who had long ties to the Haitian military and was the point man in Haiti for the IRI based in the Dominican Republic, met with Guy Philippe three months before a group of some 20 paramilitary soldiers — trained and funded by the U.S. — entered Haiti from the neighboring country on 7 May 2003 and attacked a hydroelectric power plant on the central plateau. Philippe and the official Democratic Convergence representative, Paul Arcelin, had been arrested the previous day by Dominican authorities at the behest of the Haitian government in connection with the paramilitary operations but were quickly released the following day for lack of evidence.
Guy Philippe was interviewed afterwards by the Associated Press and mentioned to the reporter that he would support a coup against Aristide but refused to “say how he makes a living or what he does to spend his time in the Dominican Republic.” Although the rebel leader acknowledged having met with his longtime family friend Lucas in the Dominican Republic, he maintained that meetings held in 2003 were not political: “He [Lucas] was helping organize a democratic opposition. I really don’t know about his job because I never would talk about politics with him.”10
In reality, the ties between the insurgents and the IRI were more formal than Philippe publicly cared to admit as described by his political advisor, Paul Arcelin, who stated in an interview with Sue Montgomery of the Montreal Gazette: “Two years ago (2002), I met Guy Philippe in Santo Domingo and we spent 10 to 15 hours a day together, plotting against Aristide.” Jean-Michel Caroit, chief correspondent in the Dominican Republic for the French daily Le Monde, also said he saw Arcelin at an IRI meeting convened “quite discreetly” at Hotel Santo Domingo in December 2003.11
13 January 2004
The terms of all 83 Haitian legislators expired and the Democratic Convergence refused to allow new elections.12 In a news release issued by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs on 28 January 2004, Denis Coderre, Minister responsible for La Francophonie, announced that he had asked Abdou Diouf, Secretary-General of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), to find a negotiated solution with the Haitian government:
“It is essential that the OIF work with the OAS and CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market) to encourage the Haitian government to guarantee not only the security of the Haitian population, but also democracy and good governance.” The letter also stressed Haiti’s obligation to hold elections in accordance with OAS resolution 822.
Events unfolded rapidly after Buteur Métayer took over the town of Gonaïves on 7 February 2004 and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Bill Graham, issued a statement two days later on 9 February 2004: “Canada strongly condemns the use of violence. We urge calm and full respect for the rule of law.” Guy Philippe crossed the border into Haiti from the Dominican Republic with Louis-Jodel Chamblain and seized Hinche on 16 February, more than 1 000 Plateforme Démocratique protestors demonstrated against the government in Port-au-Prince as opposition member Gilbert Léger (fraudulent attorney) declared: “We do support rebel efforts”, and Washington sent Roger Noriega to Haiti on the 18th in an attempt to mediate a power-sharing arrangement between Aristide and the Group of 184’s André Apaid. That afternoon, Noriega presented the proposal to Aristide which would have allowed him to remain president with diminished powers if elections were organized with political rivals. He agreed to the conditions within two hours.13
Noriega who had supported IRI’s funding of Aristide opponents and their divisive tactics met with Apaid that evening: “Once we explained to Noriega the situation in Haiti, he understood. I cannot say that he pushed us” said the Group of 184's board member and Apaid's brother-in-law, Charles-Henri Baker.14
Apaid rejected the compromise and Guy Philippe captured Cap-Haïtien on 22 February to begin his advance on Port-au-Prince.
Denis Coderre, a delegation representative whose government had continuously supported a flagrantly corrupt Aristide administration because it was unwilling to alienate the electoral votes of Montreal’s 120 000 strong Haitian Diaspora declared: “We clearly don’t want Aristide’s head. We think Aristide must remain in place.” Despite the opposition’s steadfast resistance to the plan, he sought to play down the situation by insisting “we are not at an impasse” — because negotiations would not be held with the so-called “rebels” whom he referred to as “criminals” and “terrorists” while telling Reuters: “Don’t ask the international community to push for Aristide’s resignation. That’s for the Haitian people to decide, not for us.” These statements would soon reveal the ineptness of his statesmanship.15
Canadian diplomacy was again convincingly discredited for all to witness when Aristide was toppled on 29 February 2004 — not by the Haitian people as Denis Coderre had so hypocritically proclaimed — but by a rebel group of 70 mercenaries funded and trained through the IRI over the objections of Ambassador Curran who had demanded that USAID block Stanley Lucas from participating in the Haiti program.16
Senator Chris Dodd, D-Con., ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee for the Western Hemisphere, pressed Roger Noriega for details of Lucas’ involvement during a 10 March 2004 hearing on Haiti:
“The approval of this new grant was conditioned on the IRI [Haiti] director, Stanley Lucas, being barred from participating in this program for a period of time because the U.S. ambassador in Haiti had evidence that he was undermining U.S. efforts to encourage Haitian opposition cooperation with the OAS efforts to broker a compromise. Is that not true as well?” Dodd asked Noriega.
According to IRI’s Thayer Scott, Lucas was barred for only four months by USAID.17
Gérard Latortue was named interim Prime Minister on 9 march 2004 and widespread violence erupted across Port-au-Prince by well-armed Lavalas supporters and rival opposition militias, while former paramilitary leaders (such as Jean-Baptiste Joseph in Hinche) and other vigilantes retained effective control of the Haitian countryside.18
11 April 2004
A National Lawyers Guild human rights delegation visited the offices of two Haitian “human rights” organizations, Comité des Avocats pour le Respect des Libertés Individuelles (CARLI) and National Committee for Haitian Rights (NCHR). During the inquiry, the members uncovered strong evidence suggesting that they were working with the opposition.
Several factors caused suspicion in the case of CARLI which published lists of alleged human rights violators and dispersed them to the public, the police, other government agencies, USAID and the U.S. Embassy:
The well-funded NCHR claimed to represent victims of human rights abuses regardless of their political affiliation, but the organization demonstrated an obvious bias in favor of the opposition:
IRI Board of Directors (2005)
John McCain Chairman
Peter T. Madigan Vice - Chairman
J. William Middendorf, II Secretary - Treasurer
Gahl Hodges Burt
U.S. Representative David Dreier
Lawrence S. Eagleburger
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
Alison B. Fortier
Mayor James A. Garner
U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel
Cheryl F. Halpern
William J. Hybl
Robert M. Kimmitt
Dr. Jeane J. Kirkpatrick
U.S. Representative Jim Kolbe
Janet G. Mullins Grissom
Alec L. Poitevint, II
Joseph R. Schmuckler
1 International Monetary Fund, 10-18-1996; International Report, 04-03-1995; Shamsie, 2002; Dollars and Sense, 09-2003; CounterPunch, 03-01-2004.
2 Boston Globe, 02-14-2004; Interhemispheric Resource Center, 02-27-2004; Resource Center of the Americas, 02-24-2004; CounterPunch, 03-01-2004.
3 CBS News, 11-29-2000; Global Exchange, 2001; Associated Press, 12-07-2000; Dollars and Sense, 09-2003; Resource Center of the Americas, 02-24-2004; BBC, 07-07-2000; CounterPunch, 03-01-2004; Zmag, 05-05-2004.
4 BBC, 06-08-2001; Dollars and Sense, 09-2003; Resource Center of the Americas, 02-24-2004.
5 TransAfrica Forum, 05-16-2003; Taipei Times, 03-01-2004; Dollars and Sense, 09-2003; CounterPunch, 03-01-2004; Observer, 03-07-2004.
6 Zmag, 05-05-2004.
7 Newsday, 03-16-2004.
8 Haïti-Progrès, 07-21-1999; Haiti Weekly News, 02-28-2002; Haiti Democracy Project, 03-26-2004 & 11-20-2004; Knight Ridder, 03-11-2004; Kevin Pina, The Black Commentator, 01-04-2004; National Coalition for Haitian Rights, 04-24-2004.
9 U.S. Department of State, 01-09-2003 & 07-31-2003; The White House, 01-09-2003; Knight Ridder, 01-09-2003.
10 The Black Commentator, 05-15-2003; Global Policy Forum, 07-16-2004.
11 Montreal Gazette, 03-09-2004; Global Policy Forum, 07-16-2004.
12 Resource Center of the Americas, 02-24-2004.
13 Michael Norton, Associated Press, 02-16-2004.
14 Global Policy Forum, 07-16-2004.
15 CTV News, 02-20-2004; Reuters, 02-22-2004; AFP, 02-22-2004; Montreal Gazette, 03-09-2004, 11-14-2004 & 01-15-2006.
16 François Hauter, Le Figaro, 03-16-2004.
17 Global Policy Forum, 07-16-2004.
18 The Miami Herald, 04-29-2005.