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WikiLeaks Haiti: The PetroCaribe Files
WikiLeaks Haiti: The PetroCaribe Files
Dan Coughlin and Kim Ives
June 1, 2011

When René Préval took the oath of Haiti's presidential office in a ceremony at Haiti's National Palace on May 14, 2006, he was anxious to allay fears in Washington that he would not be a reliable partner. "He wants to bury once and for all the suspicion in Haiti that the United States is wary of him," said US Ambassador Janet Sanderson in a March 26, 2006, cable. "He is seeking to enhance his status domestically and internationally with a successful visit to the United States."
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WikiLeaks Haiti: The Nation Partners With Haïti Liberté on Release of Secret Haiti Cables

Leaked documents provide an extraordinary glimpse of US maneuvering in Haiti from before the 2004 coup through the devastating 2010 earthquake.

This was so important that Préval "declined invitations to visit France, Cuba, and Venezuela in order to visit Washington first," Sanderson noted. "Preval has close personal ties to Cuba, having received prostate cancer treatment there, but has stressed to the Embassy that he will manage relations with Cuba and Venezuela solely for the benefit of the Haitian people, and not based on any ideological affinity toward those governments."

Soon, however, it became clear that managing relations with those US adversaries "solely for the benefit to the Haitian people" would be enough to put Préval in Washington's bad gracesespecially when it came to the sensitive matter of oil.

Immediately after his inauguration ceremony, Préval summoned the press to a room in the National Palace, where he inked a deal with Venezuelan Vice President José Vicente Rangel to join Caracas's Caribbean oil alliance, PetroCaribe. Under the terms of the deal, Haiti would buy oil from Venezuela, paying only 60 percent up front with the remainder payable over twenty-five years at 1 percent interest.

As the press conference rolled on, just a mile away from the National Palace, in the bay of Port-au-Prince, sat a tanker from Venezuela carrying 100,000 barrels of PetroCaribe diesel and unleaded fuel.

Préval's dramatic inauguration day oil deal won high marks from many Haitians, who had demonstrated against high oil prices and the lack of electricity. But it ushered in a multiyear geopolitical battle among Caracas, Havana and Washington over how oil would be delivered to Haiti and who would benefit.

The revelations come in a trove of 1,918 cables made available to the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté by the transparency group WikiLeaks. As part of a collaboration with Haïti Liberté, The Nation is publishing English-language articles based on those cables.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on the disclosures in this article.

According to the leaked US Embassy cables, Washington and its allies, including Big Oil majors like ExxonMobil and Chevron, maneuvered aggressively behind the scenes to scuttle the PetroCaribe deal.

For the Haitian government the oil support from Venezuela was key in providing basic needs and services to 10 million Haitians, securing a guaranteed supply of oil at stable prices, and laying the basis for Haitian energy independence from the United States.

Further, Haiti "would save USD 100 million per year from the delayed payments," noted the Embassy in a July 7, 2006, cable. Préval earmarked these funds for hospitals, schools and emergency needs, such as disaster relief. But the US Embassy opposed the deal.

"Post [the Embassy] will continue to pressure Preval against joining PetroCaribe," Ambassador Sanderson wrote in one April 19, 2006, cable. "Ambassador will see Preval's senior advisor Bob Manuel today. In previous meetings, he has acknowledged our concerns and is aware that a deal with Chavez would cause problems with us."

In a cable nine days later, on April 28, Sanderson recognized that Préval was under "increasing pressure to produce immediate and tangible changes in Haiti's desperate situation." She also noted that "Preval has privately expressed some disdain toward Chavez with Emboffs [Embassy officials]…. Nevertheless, the chance to score political points [with the Haitian people] and generate revenue he can control himself proved too good an opportunity to miss."

Sanderson, who had been appointed ambassador to Haiti by President Bush, is now deputy assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration.

To implement the PetroCaribe deal, Haiti had to meet certain terms and reorganize its internal oil market. As a result, it would be almost two years before PetroCaribe oil would begin consistently flowing into Haiti. The key obstacles, though, remained the US Embassy and Big Oil, which controlled oil shipping and distribution networks in Haiti, according to the WikiLeaks cables.

"International oil companies are increasingly concernedboth Texaco and Esso will meet with the Ambassador in the near futurethat they will have to buy their oil from the GOH [Government of Haiti]," wrote Ambassador Sanderson in a May 17, 2006, cable, concluding that "we will continue to raise our concerns about the PetroCaribe deal with the highest levels of government."

Christian Porter, ExxonMobil's country manager, "speaking for both ExxonMobil and Chevron, stressed that they would not be willing" to buy oil from the Haitian government "because they would lose their off-shore margins and because of PetroCaribe's unreliable reputation" for timely deliveries, Sanderson wrote. She concluded that it was a "dubious proposal that neither the U.S. oil companies in Haitiresponsible for about 45 percent of Haiti's petroleum importsnor Venezuela, for that matter, is likely to agree to."

She was wrong about Venezuela but right about the oil companies. An October 13, 2006, cable explains that ExxonMobil and Texaco/Chevron were "shocked" but hadn't "informed the government of their concerns," which Sanderson encouraged the two companies to do.

Sanderson reiterated that despite her "numerous attempts to discuss (and discourage) GOH intentions to move forward with the PetroCaribe agreement, the GOH insists the agreement, implemented in full, will result in a net gain for Haiti."

The US ambassador also detailed how the oil companies were attempting to sabotage the agreement: "Following Preval's September 27 meeting with all four oil companies... the oil industry association (Association des Professionals du PetroleAPP) received an invitation to meet with representatives of the Venezuelan oil company who were in Haiti. All four companies refused to attend. Also, the companies received letters separately requesting information on importation and distribution from the GOH on October 9. So far, no one has responded."

Sanderson concluded one long October 13 cable by explaining how she had stressed "the larger negative message that [the PetroCaribe deal] would send to the international community [i.e., Washington and its allies] at a time when the GOH is trying to increase foreign investment," and lamenting that "President Preval and his inner circle are seduced by [PetroCaribe's] payment plan."

The Oil Companies and US Embassy Dig In

With parliamentary ratification and technical details resolved, by early 2007 Préval thought he finally had everything in place to get PetroCaribe implemented. But the oil companies were not done trying to undermine the deal.

Michael Lecorps, appointed by Préval to head the government's Monetization Office for Aid and Development Programs (formally known as the PL-480 office), which would handle PetroCaribe matters, told the oil companies that they would have to purchase PetroCaribe oil from the Haitian government, but the US companies said no. Quickly, there was a standoff.

Lecorps, "apparently infuriated by Chevron's lack of cooperation with the GoH, stressed that Petrocaribe is no longer negotiable," the chargé d'affaires, Thomas C. Tighe, reported in a January 18, 2007, cable. He also said that "ExxonMobil has made it clear that it will not cooperate with the current GoH proposal either."

"Chevron country manager Patryck Peru Dumesnil confirmed his company's anti-Petrocaribe position and said that ExxonMobil, the only other U.S. oil company operating in Haiti, has told the GoH that it will not import Petrocaribe products," Tighe wrote in the same cable.

The embassy's political officer reported that Chevron "refused to move forward with the discussions because their representatives would rather import their own petroleum products.'"

Tighe continued that the Haitian government was "enraged that an oil company which controls only 30% of Haiti's petroleum products' would have the audacity to try and elude an agreement that would benefit the Haitian population."

The Haitian government stressed that they "would not be held hostage to capitalist attitudes' toward Petrocaribe and that if the GoH could not find a compromise with certain oil companies, the companies may have to leave Haiti," reported Tighe.

Enter Hugo Chávez

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez arrived in Haiti on March 12, 2007, to a spontaneous hero's welcome by tens of thousands of Haitians, who jogged alongside his motorcade from the airport to the National Palace. The Venezuelan president came bearing many gifts.

"Venezuela pledged funds for improvement to provincial Haitian airports and airport runways (also previously announced) and experts on economic planning to help identify development priorities. Other pledges include Cuban commitment to bring medical coverage to all Haitian communes, Cuban and Venezuelan electrical experts to improve energy generation, and a trilateral cooperation bureau in Port-au-Prince," Sanderson wrote.

In subsequent cables, Sanderson sounds increasingly cynical about Préval's arm's-length posture toward Chávez, which she clearly regards as disingenuous.

"To hear President Rene Preval tell it, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' visit to Haiti on March 12 was a logistical nightmare and an annoyance to the GoH," Sanderson says in the "Summary" of that cable.

"Preval told Ambassador the evening of March 13 that Chavez was a difficult guest" and "did not have a GOH invitation but insisted on coming to mark Venezuelan flag day."

Préval apparently tried to put Sanderson's mind at ease.

"Responding to Ambassador's observation that giving Chavez a platform to spout anti-American slogans here was hard to explain given our close relationship and support of Haiti and of Preval's government in particular, Preval stressed that he had worked hard to stop much of Chavez' proposed grandstanding," Sanderson wrote. The ambassador reported that Préval said he is "just an independent petit bourgeoisie' and doesn't go for the grand gestures that Chavez favors. Haiti needs aid from all its friends, Preval added, and he is sure that the US understands his difficult position."

Sanderson concluded, in frustration, "At no time has Preval given any indication that he is interested in associating Haiti with Chavez's broader revolutionary agenda'" but "it is neither in his characternor in his calculationto repudiate Chavez, even as the Venezuelan abuses his hospitality at home."

Préval's "Obliviousness"

Despite Sanderson's scoldings and Préval's reassurances, the Haitian president kept angering Washington. On April 26, 2007, senior presidential adviser Fritz Longchamp told the embassy's political counselor that "Preval will attend the ALBA [Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas] summit in Venzuela [sic] as a special observer' for the express purpose of finalizing a tri-lateral assistance agreement between Haiti, Venezuela, and Cuba, whereby Venezuela will finance the presence of Cuban doctors and other technicians in rural Haiti," according to a cable Sanderson wrote the same day.

Sanderson said the meeting with the embassy was "specifically to raise our displeasure with Preval's Venezuela trip" and that "Longchamp's reaction probably reflects Preval's own obliviousness to the impact and consequences his accommodation of Chavez has on relations with us." Longchamp "betrayed a common trait among Haitian officials in misjudging the relative importance that U.S. policy makers attach to Haiti versus Venezuela and Chavez' regional impact."

The Haitians, in other words, were too convinced of their own relevance to grasp that the real concern for the United States was stemming the Chávez tide. Sanderson suggested that the United States "convey our discontent with Preval's actions at the highest possible level when he next visits Washington."

Préval returned from Caracas with "Chavez' promises to provide a combined total of 160 megawatts of electricity" to Haiti, after "parading with Chavez' rogues gallery [sic] of ALBA leaders," Sanderson fumed in a May 4, 2007, cable.

She outlined the essence of the Venezuelan/Cuban aid package: "The Cubans will replace two million light bulbs throughout Port-au-Prince with low-energy bulbs. The initiative will cost USD four million, but save the country 60 megawatts of electricity, which costs the country USD 70 million annually. Venezuela promised to repair the power plant in Carrefour, generating an additional 40 megawatts of electricity. Additionally, Venezuela will by December of this year build new power plants across the country to add 30 megawatts to Port-au-Prince's electrical grid and 15 additional megawatts each for Gonaives and Cap-Haitian, all of which will use heavy Venezuelan fuel oil, a more efficient and less-expensive alternative to diesel."

Meanwhile, as this broader energy package took shape, the tensions over PetroCaribe were still simmering.

On May 4, Sanderson sent a second cable explaining that "the head of Haiti's Petrocaribe office, Michael Lecorps, gave the four oil companies operating in Haiti until July 1 to sign the GoH contract on Petrocaribe," hoping that "the four companies will sign the agreement voluntarily, instead of passing legislation obliging oil companies operating in Haiti to participate in the Petrocaribe agreement."

After talking to ExxonMobil Caribbean sales manager Bill Eisner, the embassy reported that Eisner "was shocked when he realized that Lecorps expected the oil industry to coordinate the Petrocaribe deal on behalf of the GoH" which would "make the oil industry prisoner to two incompetent governments," Haiti and Venezuela, in Sanderson's words.

President Bush took up the issue of Préval's relationship with Chávez during the Haitian president's spring 2007 visit to Washington, after which Sanderson expressed "hope that President Bush's clear message on Venezuela sank in, but only time will tell."

Two weeks after Préval's return, on June 1213, 2007, a transport strike "gripped Haiti's major cities and underscored a mounting crisis over fuel prices, which rose nearly 20 percent in just two weeks," Inter Press Service reported at the time. Many believed that Haiti's joining PetroCaribe "would alleviate high gasoline costs," and word was leaking out that "the two large US oil companies that export to Haiti are said to have stonewalled negotiations" for PetroCaribe's implementation. The July 1 deadline for PetroCaribe compliance was fast approaching.

The standoff over PetroCaribe would continue through the rest of 2007, with Chevron the most resistant to working within the PetroCaribe framework. Haiti needed Chevron to ship the oil from Venezuela.

"It was ridiculous because they had been buying and shipping petroleum products from Venezuela for 25 years," Lecorps, the Haitian official who oversaw PetroCaribe, told the weekly Haitian newspaper Haïti Liberté. "And you know, Chevron is an American company, so maybe there were some politics behind that too, maybe because of Venezuela and Chávez. But they never said anything about that."

Lecorps's suspicions that Chevron had political concerns were warranted.

After returning to Haiti on December 22, 2007, from a PetroCaribe summit, Préval announced that the negotiations with Chevron were nearing a close. "We're going to sign with Chevron and then we're going to start ordering oil," he said at the airport, according to the Associated Press, adding that Venezuelan technicians would visit Haiti to consult on the project.

But, as Sanderson noted in a February 15, 2008, cable, "Chevron management in the U.S. does not want to make a lot of noise' about the agreement because they do not want to appear to support PetroCaribe."

Sanderson explained that the deal was sealed when "Chevron finally obtained its desired terms from the GOH," whereby the state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., or PDVSA, "will sell to the GoH, which will then sell to private oil traders, who finally will sell to the oil companies in Haiti for distribution.... Chevron also agreed to ship the refined petrol on one of its tankers. The GoH expects to receive a PetroCaribe shipment in late February or early March."

And PetroCaribe shipments, covering all of Haiti's fuel needs, did begin on March 8, 2008, marking a victory for Venezuela and Haiti in surmounting the roadblocks thrown up by the US Embassy and Big Oil.

The extraordinary story that the Haiti WikiLeaks cables tell of the US Embassy's campaign against PetroCaribewhich provides such obvious benefits for Haitilays bare the real priorities of "Haiti's most important and reliable bi-lateral partner," as Sanderson calls the United States.

As for Préval and his officials, the cables indicate that, faced with Washington's might, they employed a preferred form of Haitian resistance, dating back to slavery, known as "marronage," where you pretend to go along with something but do the opposite. This dynamic of US pressure and subtle Haitian pushback has persisted under the Obama administration, which has moved to marginalize Préval's INITE political party in favor of new president Michel Martelly and his group of pro-American Haitian business supporters.

Under President Martelly, the fate of PetroCaribe remains unclear. But those who appreciate what the program has done for Haiti see reason to worry. While Préval tried to walk the battle-line between Washington and the ALBA alliance, Martelly had a pre-inauguration meeting not with the foreign minister of Venezuela, but that of Colombia, whose US-oriented neoliberal development plan he has said he will emulate.
Dan Coughlin and Kim Ives
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Peter - important post, thank you.

Given the deals struck with major MSM opinion shapers such as the NYT, Der Spiegel and The Guardian, and the splits, allegations and counter allegations made by core members, Wikileaks cannot be considered a totally reliable source.

However, if the leaked cables used as the source for the article are genuine, then they reveal the reailty of US policy towards Haiti.

That US policy is not benign.

It is not altruistic - desiring the best for Haitian people (who have the lowest income per head of any western hemisphere nation).

Rather US policy towards Haiti is driven entirely by the special interests of the military-multinational-intelligence-complex who care primarily about geopolitical marginalization of Venezuela and oil company profiteering at the expense of dirt poor Haitians.

Chavez's offer of cheap oil, cheap electricity and a restructured national grid reducing electricity usage, and a "Cuban commitment to bring medical coverage to all Haitian communes", was of great potential benefit to the people of Haiti. As such, the spectre of "bogeyman" Chavez was used to categorize this as a national security threat to Uncle Sam.

The continued representation of military-multinational-intelligence-complex interests at the heart of the Obama administration is demonstrated as follows:

Quote:Sanderson, who had been appointed ambassador to Haiti by President Bush, is now deputy assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration.
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
Jan, Others, I think this is the real deal. The actual cables are on Wikileaks and I'll get the link and post. The USA acting for their real masters [Big Oil, Big Banks, Big Business, etc.] have always made their policy decisions to keep Haiti's poor and miserable, poor and miserable - still slaves in fact. Nothing is about to change. The interesting Bush Ambassador now high in the DOS is further proof, if any is needed. Obama is a Trojan Horse to bring the beast of Bush in sheep's clothing. Many of the Cables [not all] are here.


WikiLeaks Haiti: The Nation Partners With Haïti Liberté on Release of Secret Haiti Cables

Haïti Liberté, published largely in French and Creole, is working with WikiLeaks to release and analyze the Haiti-related cables, which will be featured in a series of English-language Nation pieces, written by a variety of freelance journalists with extensive experience in Haiti and posted each Wednesday for several weeks.

The cables from US Embassies around the world cover an almost seven-year period, from April 17, 2003ten months before the February 29, 2004, coup d'état that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristideto February 28, 2010, just after the January 12 earthquake that devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding cities. They range from "Secret" and "Confidential" classifications to "Unclassified." Cables of the latter classification are not public, and many are marked "For Official Use Only" or "Sensitive."

The cables that form the basis of the articles in this series are being published in their entirety on the WikiLeaks site. However, in some cases, names will be redacted for safety reasons.

While not revealing any intelligence or military operations, and not comprising a complete set of all Port-au-Prince Embassy communiqués, the cables offer a penetrating look into US strategies and maneuvering in Haiti during the brutal coup years (20042006) and the period after President René Préval's election (20062010). We see Washington's obsession with keeping Aristide out of Haiti and the hemisphere; the microscope it trained on rebellious neighborhoods like Bel Air and Cité Soleil; and its tight supervision of Haiti's police and of the United Nations' 9,000-man military occupation known as the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Embassy officials offer candid assessments of other ambassadors and of Haitian politicians, UN officials, and other public figures. Sometimes their analysis is illuminating; more often, their assessments range from arrogant, pedantic or self-serving to false, tendentious or just plain ridiculous.

What emerges is an extraordinary portrait of Washington's aggressive management of Latin America's first sovereign nationand its bare-knuckled tactics on behalf of US corporate interests there. But the cables also show how Washington's designs are met with fierce resistance from the Haitian people. And they reveal how Haiti is a key arena for North-South struggle and East-West intrigue. Washington squares off against Caracas and Havana, particularly over oil, while Beijing and Taipei engage in fierce diplomatic arm-wrestling that threatens to derail the UN military mission in Haiti.

This release is part of the latest phase of WikiLeaks activity. Originally, WikiLeaks distributed the 251,287 leaked US Embassy cables and the Afghan war logs it obtained last year by providing them to large Western newspapers like the New York Times and the Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel. Since late December, WikiLeaks has selected media outlets in other countrieswell over fifty nowand provided them with the US Embassy cables relevant to their country or region. Where they have been published, these disclosures have almost invariably generated major headlines, but typically they have received scant attention in the United States.

By partnering with Haïti Liberté, and placing the cables in context for a US audience, The Nation hopes to heighten the impact of the Haiti releases in the United States and internationallyand to advance the WikiLeaks mission of transparency in government that we regard as critical to democracy.

The PetroCaribe Files: The fight Big Oil lost in Haiti (for now).

On Background: From WikiLeaks to WikiHaiti: Now that WikiLeaks is collaborating with media organizations across the globe, a huge trove of previously-unpublished State Department cables are coming to light.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
JUAN GONZALEZ: This week, The Nation magazine published the first in a series of reports on more than [1,900] U.S. diplomatic cables on Haiti that were released by WikiLeaks. The series is a partnership with the Haitian weekly newspaper, Haïti Liberté. The cables cover an almost seven-year period, from April 2003, 10 months before the February 2004 coup which ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to February 2010, just after the earthquake that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding cities.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was yesterday awarded the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, an award recognizing factual journalism that exposes establishment propaganda, or "official drivel," as Gellhorn called it. The prize judges said in their citation that WikiLeaks', quote, "goal of justice through transparency is in the oldest and finest tradition of journalism."

AMY GOODMAN: The Haiti WikiLeaks report released this week exposes how the U.S. tried to interfere with and block an oil agreement between Haiti and Venezuela.

We're joined now by the authors of the report, called "The PetroCaribe Files," veteran Haiti correspondent Dan Coughlin and Haïti Liberté editor Kim Ives. Dan covered Haiti for the Inter Press Service from the United Nations and Port-au-Prince between '92 and '96. He's currently executive director of Manhattan Neighborhood Network.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Begin by talking about how you got these documents, Kim.

KIM IVES: We got in touch with WikiLeaks, a, actually, coalition of journalists, and they essentially said, "We're going to provide to Haïti Liberté these documents, and we have six months to basically treat the 1,918 documents," and comes to about 6,500 pages.

JUAN GONZALEZ: So, this is, in essence, a secret history of what's happened in Haiti now for thebecause, obviously, the U.S. embassy in Haiti has played such a huge role, sometimes a bigger role than the actual government, or most of the time.

KIM IVES: Right, exactly. It's really amazing to see an ambassador pushing around a president, and all his officials telling them what to do, that they don't understand this, they don't understand that, trying to tell them what Haiti's interests are. It's the epitome of arrogance.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you've gotten a bunch of documents, Dan. Talk about the focus ofand you're releasing them over a series of Wednesdays. Talk about this and the heart of this report.

DAN COUGHLIN: Yeah, no, it's so important what Haïti Liberté and WikiLeaks have done, shedding light on what the U.S. does in Haiti. People don't understand about the dominant role that the U.S. plays there. It's the fourth-largest U.S. embassy anywhere in the world. The U.N. mission in Haiti today is the third-largest U.N. mission anywhere in the world. Haiti plays a pivotal role, despite its small size, in world history.

And what these oil documents show, and especially from a U.S. perspective, when we in the United States, in our workplaces, in our homes, in our community groups, were raising money for Haitiwe send money for earthquake victims, we send money for hurricane relief, wesome of us, with our churches, go on missions to Haiti to build, to help build the country. But what we realize, in these cables that Haïti Liberté has released, along with WikiLeaks, is that in fact the main obstacle to development in Haiti today is Washington, is the U.S. embassy, is what they do to undermine development. And in this particular case with the oil deal with Venezuela, it was Chevron and Exxon Mobil working with the U.S. embassy to prevent an oil deal that had dramatic benefits for the Haitian people, $100 million a year for the Haitian government to spend

AMY GOODMAN: For the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, they would save $100 million a year?

DAN COUGHLIN: It's not just the $100 million a year, which is huge for Haiti. It's 10 percent of the Haitian government budget that they used for things like hurricane relief, for schools, for hospitals. The cables themselves admit that. It's not, quote-unquote, "corruption." It's for direct support of the people. But

JUAN GONZALEZ: And this was because Chávez was offering the oil at 40 percent off the world market price?

DAN COUGHLIN: That's right. The deal is, you get a certainyou only have to pay 40 percent of the cost of the oil upfront.

KIM IVES: Sixty percent upfront.

DAN COUGHLIN: Excuse me, 60 percent upfront, and the rest on a 25-year one-percent-a-year deal. So you're essentially saving 40 percent of the cost of the oil. And you're using that for direct support to the people. But also, it's part of a package where you're getting electricity to Haiti. And this is something that even the U.S. embassy recognized. In one cable, they wrote howthat this PetroCaribe deal "is very good for the country," wrote the chargé d'affaires for the U.S. embassy in one of the cables. Port-au-Prince, Gonaives and Cap-Haïtien now have electricity thanks to Venezuela and Cuban technicians. "Haiti receives shipments of PetroCaribe fuel every two weeks." And, "In addition to three power plants already in operation and promises to modernize the airport in Cap Haïtien, Venezuela's oil refinery project," etc. There's tangible benefits to the Haitian people, but Chevron, Mobil, Exxon Mobil, and the U.S. embassy tried to block this.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, one of the cables talked about that the Cubans wanted to replace two million light bulbs throughout Port-au-Prince at a cost of $4 million, but that that would save Haiti, I think, $70 million annually in electricity costs. And yet the U.S. embassy was opposed to it.

DAN COUGHLIN: Yes, they're completely opposed to it, and, it appears, simply on geopolitical grounds. And they tell the Haitians this. What's interesting, the ambassador, Janet Sanderson, who's now deputy assistant secretary of state, is going to

AMY GOODMAN: She was Bush's ambassador.

DAN COUGHLIN: She was Bush's ambassador. Now she's deputy assistant secretary of state. She's going to Préval and the Haitians and telling them, "You all don't understand how important our opposition to Venezuela is. Don't do this deal."


KIM IVES: Yeah, they said that Venezuela and Cuba are"appear to be taking advantage of Haiti's electricity gap." That was another quote from Tighe, and that this is being used for Venezuela and Cuba to expand their influence.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, this is very interesting, because we were just down covering the return of the Honduran exiled president, Zelaya, back to Honduras after almost two years in exile, and very interesting comparisons to covering Aristide when he returned from South Africa to Haiti. But when we got to Tegucigalpa a few days ago, I talked to Zelaya's former minister of culture, Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle, one of those who returned to Haiti with Zelaya. So many people went into exile, afraid for their lives. And I talked to him about the pressure that he described that was exerted on Honduras by the United States.

RODOLFO PASTOR FASQUELLE: I was repeatedly approached by American military officers and diplomatic personnel who were trying to discover if I was unsure of myself or unrestful with what we were doing in government and what our plans were for the future. And repeatedly, the theme that came up was that our association with Chávez and Venezuela was or seemed such a threat and such a profoundly disgusting relationship to them, which I never understood why they would think that I would manifest myself against President Chávez. I may not like his personal style sometimes, but I respect him very much as a national leader of his own country. And I was very convincedI am today, as wellthat the kind of aid President Chávez was giving our government, through Petrocaribe and through ALBA, was absolutely necessary at the time. But they were convinced that for ideological reasons I would manifest myself in sympathy with their alarm.

AMY GOODMAN: And if you had, what was your feeling they would have done?

RODOLFO PASTOR FASQUELLE: Well, maybe if I was a more sophisticated politician, I should have invented sympathy for their intentions and found out. I was not. I was always very clear and very definitive what we're doing is what is convenient to our national interest, it is something that is absolutely necessary under the circumstances. If you don't want Petrocaribe to give us 40 percent credit on our oil bill, give us the credit, and we'll consider substituting their aid for your aid, no? Which never came out.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle, the former minister of culture under Zelaya, who went into exile and taught at Harvard and now has returned back to Honduras.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, of course, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and Honduras is the second-poorest country the Western hemisphere.

KIM IVES: Second, right, yeah.


KIM IVES: Well, you know, what's interesting, because in the longer version of the piece which appears in Haïti Liberté, a longer version than The Nation piece, we looked at the original proposal from Venezuela, was actually made to the government of Gérard Latortue, which the U.S. installed, the puppet government after the coup of 2004. And that government, they made clear in the cables, was very good in observing the rules and saying, "Oh, no, we're not going to take oil from Venezuela. We're going to go to Mexico." And in fact, Fox in Mexico had devised a plan called the Plan de Puebla, or something, to basically counterexplicitly they state this in the cablescounter the Petrocaribe deal. So, you know, this is a very interesting way they're trying to make up a really counter-initiative to Venezuela's counter-initiative.

AMY GOODMAN: What was also interesting about what Fasquelle said is he said, you know, "If the U.S.if oil companies offered us this deal, we would go with them. But we're getting a deal. We're saying, 'Offer us an equivalent deal.'" Dan?

DAN COUGHLIN: Yeah, what's remarkable, again, is that we have Venezuela and Cuba helping Haiti out. The Haitians say, "This is nothing ideological. We just want electricity and development for our country." And sure enough, what happens, in a matter of years, Port-au-Prince, the main cities, most of the country, electricity production skyrockets. People now can read their books at night. Hospitals have power. Schools, factories, homes have electrical power that they didn't used to have under 50 years of U.S. development aid. All of a sudden, in two or three years, Venezuela and Cuban technicians come in, patch a few power stations together, three of them, bring in the oil supply, a steady oil supply that benefits Haiti, and sure enough, there's electrical power. So, it's an extraordinary transformation that happened.

KIM IVES: The hypocrisy is incredible, because we see how important energy is to the well-being of any country. Just after Sy Hersh's interview, we see what they're doing in the Middle East. Haiti can't search for oil itself.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Kim, one thing I noticed that the cables that you've reported on so far show, they don't paint a very good portrait of Préval, in fact, that Préval was constantly telling the U.S. embassy that "I really don't like Chávez. You know, I really didn't invite him."

KIM IVES: Yeah, right.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But the embassy officials are saying he appears too weak to be able to stand up to his own people on issues like reaching a deal with Venezuela.

KIM IVES: Well, really, what Préval was using was an age-old Haitian tactic, which is called marronage, which is where you say one thing but you do another. And he was really playing the U.S.or what he thought he was playing; they ended up playing himbecause he was dealing with both sides. And as they say in Haiti, you had two candles for two things. And the U.S. couldn't accept that. They said, "You just have the candle for Washington, Ottawa, Paris." And so, in that case, that's really why they've gone over to the Martelly camp, you know, who is a completely U.S.-centric guy who's, I think, maybe going to go after some of the Cuban and Venezuelan projects.

AMY GOODMAN: Let's talk about Michel Martelly for a minute, the new president of Haiti. We were down there all together, Dan and Kim, for this election. When Martelly came into power, within a few weeks, at least three camps, housing approximately a thousand Haitians displaced from the earthquake, were destroyed by police in the Delmas suburb of Port-au-Prince. And he has said he will restore the army. The significance of this?

KIM IVES: Yeah, I think he's going to go after the people. He said in an interview that these people had homes, in fact, that they were using the camps to party. I think that's what he was saying to an Al Jazeera crew. I mean, his cynicism on that front is incredible. And here's a guy who was the principal cheerleader for the 1991 and the 2004 coups. I mean, he's made no bones about it that he's a representative and friend of the army.

DAN COUGHLIN: And what is interesting in the cables, in 2006, when President Préval was elected, who was part of the Lavalas movement, the popular and democratic movement that overthrew military dictatorships, the Duvalier dictatorship in the '80s, tried to institute a kind of popular and nationalist democratic government over the last 20 years, Préval becomes inaugurated. His first meeting is with the vice president of Venezuela, and in the national palace, the big white national palace in Port-au-Prince. A mile away is a tanker in the port carrying 100,000 gallons of fuel, diesel and unleaded gas from Venezuela.

The new president of Haiti, Michel Martelly, five years later, first meeting is with the Colombian

KIM IVES: Foreign minister.

DAN COUGHLIN:foreign minister.


DAN COUGHLIN: And his plan is the Colombian plan. Sharp contrast, the different poles of Latin AmericaBogotá, Mexico City, you know, versus Havana, Brasilia, Caracas. This is the struggle that was happening and that these cables that WikiLeaks and Haïti Liberté, which published, makes so clear.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what's coming in these Wednesdays to come. You have all the documents now.

KIM IVES: Well, we have a piece next week on the blocks about sweatshops, looking at really how the U.S. was fighting the $5-a-day minimum wage, which was being clamored for by the population, and said, "No, no, it should be $3 a day." They saw that as way excessive. We have stuff on the militarization of the earthquake response, because, as we saw, Amy, when we went down, they were bringing guns, not gauze. We have incredible portraits of a lot of the MREs, morally repugnant elite. And

DAN COUGHLIN: And what you see in the cables, already released up at WikiLeaks' site or going to Haïti Liberté's website or even, is extreme micromanagement of Haiti by the embassy. It's baffling how interested they are in micro details of anything happening in the country, or as we've already seen in cables released of President Aristide coming back, there was plans to try to stop his plane ride from South Africa.

KIM IVES: Intercept him.

DAN COUGHLIN: Intercept it in West Africa or in Europe to prevent him from coming back.

KIM IVES: You were lucky, Amy, you didn't get caught in that. And they also had Cité Soleil under a microscope. I mean, going down to the individuals, they had the whole Lavalas movement under a microscope, looking at these people. So

JUAN GONZALEZ: And in the last few seconds we have, any sense that since President Aristide has returned, that the people's movement is beginning to reorganize itself?

KIM IVES: Yes, it is. It's in very difficult straits, though, because they have the other team in power. And so, I thinkyou know, some people have said, "Why hasn't he spoken out more and been more" but he's, you know, being very prudent, I think.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to leave it there. Kim Ives and Dan Coughlin have put out these pieces in Haïti Liberté and The Nation, and we will link to them at
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
AMY GOODMAN: A new exposé on Haiti reveals how the United States led a vast international campaign to prevent former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from returning to Haiti while he was exiled in South Africa. It's part of a series of reports that draw from almost 2,000 U.S. diplomatic cables on Haiti released by WikiLeaks. The series is a partnership between The Nation magazine and the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté. The cables cover an almost seven-year period, from April 2003 to February 2010, just after the earthquake that devastated Haiti.

The cables show high-level U.S. and U.N. officials coordinated a politically motivated prosecution of Aristide to prevent him from, quote, "gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti." They reveal how U.S. officials and their diplomatic counterparts from France, Canada, the U.N. and the Vatican tried to vilify and ostracize the popular Haitian political leader, president, voted in twice. These officials allegedly poured tens of millions of dollars into unsuccessful efforts to paint Aristide as a drug trafficker, a human rights violator, a heretical practitioner of voodoo.

Another recent exposé based on the cables details how Haiti's unelected de facto authorities worked alongside foreign officials to integrate at least 400 ex-army paramilitaries into the country's police force throughout 2004 and '05. According to the report, hundreds of police considered loyal to Aristide's deposed government were purged. Some were jailed. A few were killed. The WikiLeaks cables reveal just how closely Washington and the U.N. oversaw the formation of Haiti's new police force and signed off on the integration of paramilitaries who had previously targeted Haiti's working classes and democratically elected governments.

We're joined now by one of the authors of the report, Haïti Liberté editor Kim Ives. His latest article for is called, "WikiLeaks Haiti: The Aristide Files"

Kim Ives, welcome to Democracy Now! What were you most shocked by? I mean, you have been covering Haiti now for decades. What was most revealed to you in these State Department diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks?

KIM IVES: I could say it's the detail, the micromanaging that Washington employs in dealing with this. They really go and psychoanalyze, go in and sit down. And this is on a worldwide scale. A lot of these documents in, for instance, the Aristide piece, we were drawingmyself and Ansel Herz, who did it, and I should say Dan Coughlin played a major role in putting together The Nation versionwe found that they were doing this across the planet. You had the Dominican Republic, France, the Vatican. They were all looking at how to block Aristide, keep him out.

AMY GOODMAN: Give us specific examples that you found in the documents.

KIM IVES: Well, the Vatican, for instance. Here, they said they had no regrets about Aristide being removed. They said, "The priest had to go." When he was out, and there was, after the earthquake, talk of bringing him back, they said, "This would be a disaster. It would be destabilizing." It was very interesting, too, how they were seeing it as similar to Cuba. And they said, "Cuba is a much harder problem, because that's a system there. In the case of Haiti, it's just Aristide. It's an individual. We can get him out easily." So, they're openly talking among themselves on this worldwide basis about how to block this guy.

AMY GOODMAN: What was revealed about the U.S.'s role?

KIM IVES: Well, the U.S. is, again, ringleader. This is really theyou can see, especially, for instance, in this week, Jeb Sprague did a piece on the paramilitaries that you mentioned. Here you see the U.S. really passing the commands down the chain to the prime minister, to the different ministers in the de facto government, telling them how they're going to integrate it. They have to "hew to our redlines," that was one of the quotes from James Foley, the ambassador at the time.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. ambassador to Haiti.

KIM IVES: Yeah, mm-hmm. They have to "hew to our redlines" in putting together the police force, integrating these coup-making ex-soldiers into the police force. I mean, here are people who carried out a coup, and you're putting them in charge of the state.

AMY GOODMAN: In March, Democracy Now! covered ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide when he returned to Haiti from South Africa. He was exiled for seven-and-a-half years. When he landed in Port-au-Prince, he was greeted by thousands of supporters. He addressed the crowd in a number of languages. When he spoke English, he said, "Exclusion is the problem, inclusion is the solution," not directly referencing his party, Fanmi Lavalas, which was excluded from the election. But when he addressed the Haitians in Creole, in their language, he was much more explicit.

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: [translated] You are right. If we don't salvage our dignity, our dignity will be gone. Yes, you are right, because the problem is exclusion, and the solution is inclusion. The exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas is the exclusion of the majority. The exclusion of the majority means that you are cutting off exactly the branch that we are all sitting on. The problem is exclusion. The solution is inclusion of all Haitians, without discrimination, because everybody is a person.

AMY GOODMAN: This was President Aristide when he returned in March to Haiti after seven-and-a-half years, talking about the exclusion of the largest party in Haiti, of Fanmi Lavalas, from the elections.

KIM IVES: Mm-hmm, yes. We see them excluded. We seeessentially, Janet Sanderson came, in a 2008 cable, and she said

AMY GOODMAN: And Janet Sanderson's title?

KIM IVES: Janet Sanderson is thewas the ambassador of Haiti at the time. And she was pointing to the importance of keeping the occupation there, to keep Haiti locked down. She said, "The MINUSTAH is key to the core interests of the U.S."


KIM IVES: The MINUSTAH is the U.N. mission to stabilize Haiti. This is what the now 13,000 troops that are deployed in Haiti, the only occupied nation in Latin America, which was the first independent nation of Latin Americayou see they say this U.N. occupation is key to the core interests of the U.S. in Haiti, and that we have to keep it. It's a wayif we removed itand this is coming up. That's why Haitians were out demonstrating this past week out in front of the U.N. If we removed it, it could make Haiti vulnerable to the anti-market forces that are on the ground in Haiti.

AMY GOODMAN: August 2nd, 2006, top U.S. and U.N. officials, "Aristide movement must be stopped." Explain whose title is that?

KIM IVES: That's James Foley at the time. He was Sanderson's predecessor. And

AMY GOODMAN: U.S. ambassador to Haiti.

KIM IVES: Yeah, and he was talking with Edmond Mulet, who was a Guatemalan diplomat who headed the MINUSTAH at the time. And in fact, Mulet was saying to them, "We have to prosecute Aristide to keep him from getting traction with the people. We have to go after him." And in fact, Haïti Liberté has learned that there is in fact a U.S. team working to try to put together some kind of prosecution against Aristide. They've been trying to pin something on him for yearsdrugs, corruption, human rights. They can't do it. As his lawyer said, "They've come up with nothing, because there is nothing."

AMY GOODMAN: U.S. Ambassador Hertell, November 16, 2006, "Aristide had led a violent gang involved in narcotics trafficking and had squandered any credibility he formerly may have had."

KIM IVES: This was an extraordinary scene, where Fernández, the president of the Dominican Republic next door, had suggested at a meeting, a hemispheric meeting, that Aristide be brought into the process. He was admonishedadmonishedby an ambassador, admonishing a president, in a pull-aside at the thing, where Hertell came with those words to Fernández, who said, "I haven't heard anything about that."

AMY GOODMAN: March 5th, 2004, U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican James Nicholson wrote a cable reporting that the Holy See's Deputy Foreign Minister had "no regret at Aristide's departure, noting [that] the former priest had been an active proponent of voodoo."

KIM IVES: Of voodoo, yes. Well, we have to remember, the Vatican has a huge grudge against Aristide. He was one of their star priests. That's how he rose to prominence as a Salesian priest, St. John Bosco in Port-au-Prince in the 1980s. He was talking about liberation theology, putting the hierarchy on the spot.

AMY GOODMAN: And very quicklywe have 10 secondsCanadian diplomats, this is, "Even before these recent rumors, she said, Canada had a clear position in opposition to the return of Aristide." Two Canadian diplomatic officials met with U.S. embassy personnel, saying, "We are on the same sheet" with regards to Aristide.

KIM IVES: Canada played a support role to the U.S., just as France did trying to block Aristide's return through third countries, blocking commercial lines so he couldn't get back. So they all played it. And we can see it. You can read it in Haïti

AMY GOODMAN: But he's back.

KIM IVES: He is back. He got back on March 18th.

AMY GOODMAN: Kim Ives, we're going to link to your report at Haïti Liberté and at Kim Ives, editor of Haïti Liberté.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass

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