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Profile: Democratic Convergence
Democratic Convergence was a participant or observer in the following events:
Political groups opposed to the party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide form the Democratic Convergence, a coalition made up of roughly 200 groups, which is headed by former Port-au-Prince mayor Evans Paul, a previous Aristide supporter and leader of the Convention for Democratic Unity. [Boston Globe, 2/14/2004; Turck, 2/24/2004] The Convergence is a product of the USAID program, “Democracy Enhancement,” the purpose of which is to “fund those sectors of the Haitian political spectrum where opposition to the Aristide government could be encouraged.” Financial support for the Convergence comes from the International Republican Institute (IRI), which is associated with the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy. The IRI receives about $3 million annually from Congress, as well as millions more from private Haitian and US interests. The organization’s board includes a number of “current or former Republican Party officials, Republican officeholders, or members of Republican administrations.” The IRI’s activities in Haiti are not completely understood and Roger Noriega, the US permanent representative to the Organization of American States, has always refused to elaborate on the organization’s work in Haiti. [Z Magazine, 7/1994; Boston Globe, 2/14/2004; Turck, 2/24/2004; Interhemispheric Resource Center, 2/27/2004; CounterPunch, 3/1/2004]
Jean-Bertrand Aristide runs unopposed in Haiti’s presidential elections and wins with 91.5 percent of the vote. The opposition Democratic Convergence party does not participate in the elections in protest of the May 21, 2000 congressional and municipal elections (see May 21, 2000) which its members claim were rigged. The election turnout is disputed. Though some news agencies report a low turnout of between 5 percent and 10 percent, Aristide’s party, as well as five US-based NGOs—Global Exchange, the Quixote Center, Witness for Peace, and Pax Christi—estimate the figure at 61 percent, or 3 million of Haiti’s voters. [BBC, 7/7/2000; CBS News, 11/29/2000; Associated Press, 12/7/2000; Global Exchange, 2001; Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003; Turck, 2/24/2004; CounterPunch, 3/1/2004; Z Magazine, 5/5/2004] These figures are also supported by USAID-commissioned Gallup polls taken both before and after the elections, but which are suppressed by the US. [Z Magazine, 5/5/2004]
Clinton holdover US Ambassador to Haiti Brian Dean Curran complains that Stanley Lucas of the Republican-dominated International Republican Institute (IRI) is “undermining” international efforts to help Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Democratic Convergence come to a compromise over Haiti’s contested 2000 congressional elections (see May 21, 2000). [Newsday, 3/16/2004]
Seven of the eight Haitian senators, whose elections are still being disputed by the Democratic Convergence (see May 21, 2000), resign after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide tells the General Assembly of the Organization of American States that he will hold new elections for the contested Senate seats within six months. But the Democratic Convergence is not satisfied with the concession and maintains its insistence that he resign and that it be put in charge of a non-elected “transition” government. [BBC, 6/8/2001; Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003; Turck, 2/24/2004]
The US convinces several European countries to suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in credit and aid and provide the IMF, World Bank, and European Union with “vague instructions” to deny other lines of credit to the impoverished Caribbean country of Haiti. The resumption of aid and credit is made contingent on Haitian President Aristide coming to an agreement with the opposition party, the Democratic Convergence, which is controlled and financed by Haitian and US right-wing interests. [Singleton, 5/16/2003 ; Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003; Taipei Times, 3/1/2004; CounterPunch, 3/1/2004; Observer, 3/2/2004]
A group of at least 20 paramilitary soldiers—trained and funded by the US (see (2001-2004))
—cross into Haiti from the neighboring Dominican Republic and attack a hydroelectric power plant on Haiti’s central plateau. Shortly after the attack, Dominican authorities, at the behest of the Haitian government, arrest five men, including Guy Philippe, in connection with the paramilitary operation. But they are quickly released by the Dominicans who say there is no evidence of their involvement in the attack. Philippe is interviewed by the Associated Press afterwards and asked what he is doing in the Dominican. Philippe, who mentions to the reporter that he would support a coup against Aristide, refuses to “say how he makes a living or what he does to spend his time in the Dominican Republic.” Less than one year later, Philippe will participate in the overthrow of the Aristide government. [Black Commentator, 5/15/2003] On the same day the five men are detained, Haitian authorities raid the Port-au-Prince residence of mayoral candidate Judith Roy of the Democratic Convergence opposition. The Haitians claim to find “assault weapons, ammunitions, and plans to attack the National Palace and Aristide’s suburban residence.” The Haitian government contends that Roy is close to Philippe. [Black Commentator, 5/15/2003]
Dominican police arrest five Haitians, including Arcelin Paul, the official Democratic Convergence representative in the Dominican Republic, who they believe are plotting the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government. Also at this time, there is a US build-up along the Dominican border, where “900 US soldiers patrol jointly with the Dominican army, whom they have armed with 20,000 M16s.” Ben Dupuy, general secretary of the left-wing party PPN, tells the left-wing Haiti Progres, “There is no doubt these guys are true terrorists working with the CIA under Dominican protection.” Documentary filmmaker Kevin Pina, who has been covering Haiti for over a decade, calls this the “US funding of the Haitian ‘Contras.’” A September 2003 article in the magazine, Dollars and Sense, will comment: “Whatever we call them, there is an organized and well-funded armed group with ties to the Convergence, based in the Dominican Republic, which aims to overthrow the Aristide government. The Bush administration’s support for the Convergence and its refusal to denounce this violence, as well as the US military presence along the border, through which the ‘Manman’ army easily travels, clearly implicates the United States in this aim.” [Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003]
The terms of all Haitian legislators elected in 2000 expire. The Democratic Convergence refuses to allow new congressional elections, so Haiti at this time no longer has a legislature. [Turck, 2/24/2004]
In Washington, there is an anti-Aristide demonstration sponsored by the Haiti Democracy Project. Several hundred protesters, including many Haitian Americans and recent exiles, attend the event. Many of the demonstrators arrive in buses from New York and Boston. [Miami Herald, 1/30/2004]
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