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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05PORTAUPRINCE1542
2005-06-03 14:15:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Port Au Prince
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR ANDREW YOUNG PUSHES RECONCILIATION IN HAITI

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  PREL  SCUL  HA 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PORT AU PRINCE 001542 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL SCUL HA
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ANDREW YOUNG PUSHES RECONCILIATION IN HAITI

Ref: PAP 1039

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PORT AU PRINCE 001542

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL SCUL HA
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ANDREW YOUNG PUSHES RECONCILIATION IN HAITI

Ref: PAP 1039


1. (U) Summary: Former Ambassador Andrew Young visited
Haiti May 18-20, delivering a welcome message of optimism
about Haiti's future and encouraging Haitians to put mercy
and reconciliation above the search for justice. In
meetings with a cross-section of Haitian leaders, he shared
his experiences in building bridges in the U.S. and in
conflict-ridden societies. Young emphasized the importance
of improving the lot of Haiti's poor majority. Young also
visited former Prime Minister Neptune in jail and urged him
to cooperate in resolving his case. Even though Young's
message of mercy and reconciliation before justice was
challenged by some of his interlocutors, his visit was
welcomed by all sectors of society and may give a needed
boost to the so-far anemic process of National Dialogue.
End summary.


2. (U) Young's visit was put together as a joint effort by
the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and the Embassy's
Public Diplomacy section. AMCHAM President Phlippe Armande
invited Young to visit in the wake of Young's participation
in AMCHAM's post-flood humanitarian efforts in Gonaives last
year. Young is well-known in Haiti for his 1977
intervention, as U.S. Ambassador to the UN, that led to the
release of several political prisoners under "Baby Doc."
This background, plus his experience as a close collaborator
of Martin Luther King in the U.S. civil rights movement and
his work helping to resolve numerous conflicts throughout
the world, made him a compelling and respected figure to
address Haiti's current problems. In the course of his
three days in Haiti, he met with the interim President and
Prime Minister, business leaders, the recently-established
Preparatory Commission for National Dialogue, civil society
and political party leaders, and the Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP). He gave a widely-covered speech at an AMCHAM-
organized dinner, was the guest of honor at a reception at
the Ambassador's residence, visited several relief projects
in Gonaives, and visited a children's soccer clinic just
outside Cite Soleil run by Bobby Duval, one of the prisoners

who was released after Young's 1977 intervention.


3. (U) Young's message, was straightforward. Haiti's
continuing problems, rooted in economic and social
inequities, cannot be solved if Haitians do not truly come
together, forgive, and agree to address them cooperatively
and non-violently. The challenge in Haiti, is to bring the
benefits of democracy and free enterprise to all people,
especially the poor. The most effective way to move forward
is not to search for justice and punish those who have done
wrong in the past, but to forgive and move on. He also
emphasized anti-corruption, suggesting to political and
business leaders that they stop tolerating those who steal
and stop doing it themselves. To the business community,
Young devoted considerable time establishing a case for
reaching out to the poor. Using examples of his work as
Mayor of Atlanta, Young conveyed ways to enrich the poor and
that the results help both to move society forward and to
generate even more wealth for the rich. Throughout his
visit, Young stressed repeatedly his optimism that the
transition in Haiti would succeed, pointing out that
elections and reconciliation had occurred in many countries
with far worse security situations and far worse violence.


4. (U) The most provocative element of this message was his
insistence that, as he told a group of civil society
leaders, "reconciliation is a quicker path to peace than
justice." He suggested that Haitians would have to keep
going back years and years to find complete "justice." He
cited examples ranging from Rwanda to Algeria to Nigeria to
South Africa to illustrate his point that progress in post-
conflict societies was made only when all sides in the
conflict gave up pursuing punishment for those who had
committed wrongs, forgave their former enemies, and focused
on working together for the future. Young said he would
have "wasted Dr. King's legacy" if he had focused on finding
King's killers rather than trying to accomplish King's
goals. Trials and proceedings against people for previous
wrongdoings only dragged out the process in a negative way.
Asked specifically by a businessman what he thought Haiti's
"first step" should be to move forward, Young did not
hesitate: "A blanket amnesty and forgiveness."


5. (SBU) This message, against the backdrop of numerous
legal cases underway against former Lavalas government
officials and widespread unhappiness with the dysfunctional
justice system here, did not sit well with some. KID leader
(and Presidential candidate) Evans Paul said that
"forgiveness should go hand-in-hand with the truth;...the
page should be read first before it is turned." Yannick
Lahens, G-184 activist, told Young that Haiti had suffered
so long from impunity and the lack of justice that
reconciliation could not come until those were addressed.
"Forgiveness is important, yes," she said, "but first you
have to know who you are forgiving, and why." She noted
that even in Rwanda and South Africa, there had been some
trials and processes. Lahens' point was echoed by other
participants from the anti-Aristide movement. Young did not
back down, insisting that "extreme mercy" was a better
answer than the pursuit of justice in individual cases.


6. (U) Others found Young's message more compelling. Prime
Minister Latortue publicly agreed with Young, welcoming his
message of "tolerance and acceptance of other people" and
acknowledging that justice in Haiti was often colored with
vengeance. Lucwansch Duvalsaint, the head of an association
of former Lavalas mayors (an association that appears to
fall in the "moderate" Lavalas camp), argued that justice in
Haiti had always been "victors' justice" and that the IGOH's
pursuit of legal charges against former Lavalas government
officials would not be any diffferent.

National Dialogue moving slowly forward
--------------

7. (SBU) Ambassador Young's visit threw a needed spotlight
on the still-embryonic formal National Dialogue process
launched in April by President Alexandre (reftel). Members
of the National Dialogue Preparatory Commission, although
not yet formally announced, met twice with Young, including
once in a lunch hosted by President Alexandre. Catholic
Bishop Francois Gaillot, whom the Commission members elected
as their chairman, told Young that the Commission had a
clearly defined mandate to help publicize the National
Dialogue and help the government establish the technical
secretariat and Steering Committee to actually run the

SIPDIS
National Dialogue. He pointed to the Commission's diversity
as a strength, noting that it included representatives of
all religious sectors (including voodoo), all political
sectors (from Guy Philippe's FRN party to Lavalas), and
several civil society sectors. Asked what progress had been
made, however, Gaillot and other members could only point to
the several "productive" meetings they have held as the
Commission. Presidential counselor Jean-Claude Paulvin told
PolCounselor on the margins that the official decree naming
the Preparatory Commission would be issued within the next
few days, launching the 60-day period within which the
Commission would have to complete its work. (Note: The
decree was published in a ceremony at the Palace May 31.
End note)

Visit to Neptune
--------------

8. (SBU) Young, accompanied by the Ambassador and SRSG
Valdes, visited former Prime Minister Neptune for
approximately 20 minutes in his jail cell. Young urged
Neptune to cooperate with government and MINUSTAH efforts to
resolve his case. Neptune ultimately agreed to talk to the
investigating judge. At his departure press conference,
Young described Neptune as a "man of very strong spirit."
(NOTE: Neptune was transported by MINUSTAH helicopter to St.
Marc for a hearing on May 25, then returned to his prison
annex in Port-au-Prince. Neptune cooperated with the judge,
answering questions for almost four hours.)

Follow Up
--------------


9. Ambassador Foley used his next public appearance, a
youth sports awards ceremony, to reinforce Ambassador
Young's message of mercy and reconciliation. The Office of
Public Diplomacy is preparing highlighted transcripts in
Creole, French and English, for targeted dissemination. An
American expert on the civil rights Movement will hold a
session for journalists, political parties and civil
society, to dissect Ambassador Young's speeches in Haiti,
explaining how these principles brought about the lasting
success of Martin Luther King and his followers.

Comment
--------------

10. (SBU) Ambassador Young's message on the importance of
reconciliation was the right message at the right time; it
needs to be heard in this land where "justice" is rarely
just and where the victors rarely reach out to the defeated.
But as the reactions from many highlight, the prospects for
setting aside the many cries for punishment and retribution
- often couched as demands for an end to judicial impunity -
- and moving forward based on forgiveness are not great.
That will only happen, in our view, if the international
community makes this a central focus of its engagement here
for a sustained period of time.


10. (SBU) Young's visit also highlighted the lack of any
real movement so far in the National Dialogue process
launched with fanfare nearly two months ago (and talked
about for many months previous to that). As we noted in
April, the government has taken a very cumbersome,
bureaucratic approach to the project which does not inspire
great confidence that any real dialogue will happen in the
months before the elections. Other efforts, e.g. a series
of political party meetings being organized by MINUSTAH
(reftel) and the Norwegian-funded discussions about an
electoral code of conduct, are proving more fruitful in the
short term. Now that the National Dialogue Preparatory
Commission has been formally established with a 60-day
mandate to prepare the next phase, we hope that the focus
Young has brought to the central issue of reconciliation
will give the process a needed boost.

Foley