International Endowment for Democracy
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Nicaragua

U. S. Support for Right Wing Coalitions in Nicaragua and Haiti. In a recent interview with Haiti Briefing, Ben Dupuy, a spokesperson for the National Popular Assembly, 'drew attention to... techniques pioneered in Nicaragua and now being used in Haiti. After pointing to the similarities between the US- organised Contra in Nicaragua, and the FRAPH in Haiti, and the use of both to create a debilitating sense of insecurity, Dupuy compared the US-led process of building opposition party coalitions in both countries: "In Nicaragua it took the form of uniting the extreme right and former Somocistas in a coalition of reactionary forces that won the election in 1990. I think they are trying to implement the same strategy in Haiti by creating a kind of platform of different organisations that include the party of the Duvalierist, Roger Lafontant, who staged an unsuccessful coup against Aristide in January 1991. It (the coalition) will put forward candidates in forthcoming elections, but I think they will have trouble finding a presidential candidate like Chamorro." The Nicaraguan National Opposition Union (UNO) that defeated the Sandinistas was designed and sponsored to the tune of $30 million by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a foreign aid programme founded by President Ronald Reagan and funded by the US government to "promote democracy abroad." Source: Haiti Support Group, "Old Tricks, New Dog: US "Democracy Enhancement", in "This Week in Haiti", Wed, December 22-29, 1998 * Vol. 16, No. 40 (the English section of HAITI PROGRES newsweekly.) For information on other news in French and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax) 718-434-5551 or email at haiticom@blythe.org.

The International Republican Institute (IRI), a NED subsidiary, has been active in so-called 'democracy enhancement' since 1995.

  • The IRI has offices in 15 countries including Albania, Angola, Nicaragua, Russia, Serbia and South Africa. Its web-site boasts that in Nicaragua in 1996 it helped to register 300,000 new voters who "provided a convincing margin of victory" for the right wing Liberal Alliance and its presidential candidate. It no doubt hopes to repeat this 'success' in Haiti where it vows to continue "reinforcing dialogue among the parties, increasing their level of cooperation and collaboration", and, in case Haitians object to this interference, will also continue "progressively diminishing its direct presence and making its direct interventions increasingly more discreet."

Source: Haiti Support Group, "Old Tricks, New Dog: US "Democracy Enhancement", in "This Week in Haiti", Wed, December 22-29, 1998 * Vol. 16, No. 40 (the English section of HAITI PROGRES newsweekly.) For information on other news in French and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax) 718-434-5551 or email at haiti-progres@prodigy.net.

Haiti

The National Endowment for Democracy, in conjunction with the Agency for International Development, gave $189,000 to several civil groups including

  • The Haitian Center for the Defense of Rights and Freedom, headed by Jean-Jacques Honorat -- who became the prime minister in the coup government.

  • In the years prior to the coup, the NED also gave more than $500,000 to the Haitian Institute for Research and Development, allied with the U.S. favorite Marc GBazin, former World Bank executive.

  • Another recipient of NED largesse was Radio Soleil, run by the Catholic Church in a manner calculated not to displease the dictatorship of the day. "During the 1991 coup--according to the Rev. Hugo Triest, a former station director-- the station refused to air a message from Aristide....
  • Source: William Blum, Haiti 1986-1994: Who Will Rid Me of this Turbulent Priest?" excerpted from the book, Killing Hope: U. S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.

The International Republican Institute (IRI), a NED subsidiary, has been active in so-called 'democracy enhancement' since 1995.

  • This April, after months of organising meetings and conferences, its efforts bore fruit when 26 small right wing, Duvalierist, and what have been described as "ex-Lavalas opportunist" political parties formed the Haitian Conference of Political Parties (CHPP).

  • Dupuy characterised the activities of the IRI as an attempt to "peddle a 'democracy' that is not a real popular consultation but an exercise in propaganda and advertising in which they transform the electoral process into one between those who have money and those who don't." The IRI is just one of a number of organisations that will receive money from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) which is engaged in a ten-year programme entitled 'More Genuinely Inclusive Democratic Government.' In its submission to the US Congress for funding for Haiti for the financial year 1999, USAID requested some $170 million, of which $38 million will be allocated to 'Democracy'.

  • Other recipients of the 'Democracy' funding include the International Criminal Investigations Training and Assistance Programme, an institution founded by the FBI in 1986, and run by the US Justice and State departments, which is training the new Haitian police force; the US law firm, Checci and Company, which is running the judicial reform programme; and the America's Development Foundation (ADF), which since the late 1980s in Haiti has channelled funds from USAID and NED to right wing trade unions, conservative media outfits, and apologists for the 1991-4 coup regime, and now concentrates on "strengthening democratic values and processes" among civil society organisations, and 'helping' newly elected councillors and mayors.

  • Working alongside the IRI and ADF in the task of 'grooming' Haiti's nascent democracy, and also receiving USAID funding, is another organisation, Associates in Rural Development, known in Haiti as Asosye. The particular focus for Asosye is the system for decentralised local democracy based on municipal and rural councils and assemblies. This system was created by the 1987 Constitution in an attempt to provide a counter-weight to the excessive control exerted by the central government in the capital, but elections for these positions have yet to be run in full.

  • Asosye is well-placed to bring its influence to bear over these potentially important local offices as it is no less than a reincarnation under a different name of the widely-discredited, 'democracy enhancement' project, known as PIRED. During the early 1990s, and particularly during the three year coup period, PIRED pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into popular organisations, labour unions, peasant groups, foundations, and human rights groups. PIRED also promoted the US refugee asylum processing programme, through which at least 60,000 grassroots militants were interviewed extensively about their activities, enabling the US government to create a detailed database of the democratic movement which many speculate has been used for more than immigration matters. A spokesperson for a platform of Haitian NGOs and popular organisations said he believed Asosye will use this information to buy off local grassroots leaders across the country.

  • The importance of the local councils and assemblies is linked not only to their potential to control political and economic developments independently of the central government, but also because, according to the Constitution, they are empowered to choose the members of the Electoral Council that is tasked with organising electoral contests at all levels. For Dupuy, the Electoral Council is the key to the looming struggle for political power at the national level between, on one side, the new anti-neoliberal party of former President Aristide, and on the other, the OPL, the party currently in a majority in the Parliament, and the new right wing coalition, the CHPP. "The OPL and the coalition realise that if they do not control the electoral machinery then they are out of business."

  • Former Prime Minister under President Aristide, Claudette Werleigh, told Haiti Briefing that she saw the presence of the US-funded agencies in the countryside as part of a medium to long term strategy. "I would not be surprised if there are people who are asking them for their help. They say they offer a service and when people don't have the basic infrastructure or money I can understand that people don't even see the dangers that you or I do." Some Haitians do however see the danger. The leader of the Anti- neoliberal bloc of MPs, Jasmin Joseph, said "IRI encourages impunity. It is an agent of US imperialism." Independent MP, Alix Fils-Aime called for the IRI to be ejected from the country, and referring to its role in creating the CHPP, said, "You cannot have democracy with anti-democrats."

  • In July supporters of Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas broke up a conference organised by the IRI in the town of St. Marc. (See IRI's write-up of the event.) In September popular organisations invited to an IRI meeting in the city of Aux Cayes walked out when they were asked to fill out questionnaires detailing their political activities and affiliations. They denounced the "dubious methods of the IRI" and demanded its expulsion from the country.

  • Source: Haiti Support Group, "Old Tricks, New Dog: US "Democracy Enhancement", in "This Week in Haiti", Wed, December 22-29, 1998 * Vol. 16, No. 40 (the English section of HAITI PROGRES newsweekly.) For information on other news in French and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax) 718-434-5551 or email at haiti-progres@prodigy.net.

The NED web site states it is a private, nonprofit, grant-making organization created in 1983 to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts. The Johns Hopkins University Press publishes the quarterly Journal of Democracy for the NED. Founded in 1990, the Journal has quickly become one of the most widely read and cited publications on the problems of and prospects for democracy around the world. A Smith (R-NJ) amendment to increase funding for the NED under the Fiscal 1996 Foreign Operations Appropriations was adopted by voice vote on July 26, 1995. The NED operates the Democracy Resource Center, which loans its materials to other libraries and research centers that are either members of the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), or can submit an ALA Interlibrary Loan form. The NED also publishes Democracy News, which is an electronic mailing list for sharing news, announcements, and information among democracy activists, scholars, and others working to promote democracy around the world.


  
 
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