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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08PORTAUPRINCE210 2008-02-12 17:16:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Port Au Prince
Cable title:  

HAITI PUTS ON CARNIVAL 2008: NO DEATHS, IMPROVED

Tags:   PGOV PREL ASEC ECON HA 
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VZCZCXRO1362
OO RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #0210/01 0431716
ZNR UUUUU ZZH  ZDK ALLSTAS CLR LOGS
O 121716Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7659
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 1794
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 0116
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1599
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2359
RUEHMT/AMCONSUL MONTREAL 0258
RUEHQU/AMCONSUL QUEBEC 1022
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 000210 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR, DRL, S/CRS, INR/IAA)
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PAS AID FOR LAC/CAR
TREASURY FOR MAUREEN WAFER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC ECON HA
SUBJECT: HAITI PUTS ON CARNIVAL 2008: NO DEATHS, IMPROVED
SECURITY, LOTS OF FUN

PORT AU PR 00000210 001.2 OF 002




1. Summary: Improved security, a better organized HNP, and a
greater Diaspora presence marked Haiti's 2008 Carnival
celebrations. With the approval of the EAC, Embassy officers
were permitted to attend Carnival events for the first time
in 5 years. The organizational skill the GOH and private
groups bring to bear on Carnival events is rarely equaled in
the public or private sector. End summary.



2. The 2008 Carnival season in Haiti kicked off late
afternoon February 1 with a parade of local artists, and
continued with large, raucous celebrations the next four days
that lasted far into the early morning hours. The government
chose the environment and "green Haiti" as the theme of this
year's Carnival. In Port au Prince, President Preval opened
the traditional Carnival ball at the National Palace on
Saturday February 2, presenting 39 queens and 21 kings of
Carnival including a number representing the nation's
diaspora communities abroad. The President, a music fan, was
televised dancing to live traditional merengue music. Media
campaigns were mounted in favor of responsible alcohol
consumption and sexual behavior. The Ministry of Women's
Affairs broadcast repeated TV spots warning against indecent
behvior and the demeaning of women during carnival
celebrations. Prime Minister Alexis, speaking to a reporter
at the National Palace at the February 2 ball, urged citizens
to be careful in the conduct of the "relationships" that take
place during Carnival and to use condoms.



3. Crowds downtown on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were
estimated at around 250,000 each evening. Parades of masked
performers wound through downtown Port au Prince in the late
afternoon and early evening. They were followed later by
large floats crammed with revelers, some costumed and many
wearing t-shirts of sponsoring businesses. The central
parade route was lined with stands sponsored by local
businesses, which also sponsored the numerous floats. Many
floats carried premier Haitian Konpa bands - including
T-Vice, Djakout Mizik, RAM, Carimi and Kreyol La -- blaring
out their music at ear-splitting volume, bringing forth
frenzied cheers and wild dancing from tightly-packed throngs
of delighted spectators.



4. The Haitian National Police (HNP) was out in force in the
downtown area, ready to "surge" and intervene at the first
sign of any disturbance. HNP Director General Mario Andresol
outlined to RSO the HNP's plan for Carnival, focusing on
creating multiple HNP static posts poised to react and
intervene at the first sign of disorder. In the event, the
plan was well-executed with no major disruptions. HNP
reported no deaths directly related to the festivities, and a
total of 568 injuries in the Port au Prince Carnival. Overall
there was considerably less violence than at the 2007
Carnival, although traditional Carnival conduct, including
fights and drunkeness, were frequent. EmbOffs in viewing
stands did witness several fights, most of which were
resolved quickly either by HNP or under pressure from the
surrounding crowds. Injuries resulted from use of knives,
bottles and other improvised weapons, but none from firearms.
Nearly two hundred additional injuries were reported in
smaller celebrations in provincial capitals. Embassy
received reports from representatives of organizations
implementing programs in the Port au Prince slum of Cite
Soleil that some gang members from that area engaged in
shake-downs of well off-looking Carnival-goers within site of
central viewing stands. Injuries resulted from use of
knives, bottles and other improvised weapons, but none from
firearms. Nearly two hundred additional injuries were
reported in smaller celebrations in provincial capitals.



5. Embassy EAC determined that the security environment had
improved sufficiently to allow employees to attend this
year's Carnival events within certain limitations. No
incidents involving Embassy officers were reported as they
observed the scene from stands along the route. Embassy
officers, who for security reasons have little street-level
contact with Haitians in the capital, were able to converse
with revelers. Conversations focused on the music and the

PORT AU PR 00000210 002.2 OF 002


common issues of interest to the majority of Haitians: the
lack of jobs and the possibility of going to the U.S. Emboffs
encountered many English-speaking Haitian emigres to the U.S.
who returned for Carnival. (The GOH had intentionally geared
Carnival publicity toward Diaspora communities in New York
and Miami, hoping to attract that lucrative group back to
Haiti for the celebrations. American Airlines reported that
their flights to Haiti for the Carnival period were
overbooked.)



6. Carnival in Haiti is produced a rare public-private
organizational and financial partnership. The national
government allocated 80 million gourdes (USD 2.2 million) for
Carnival, with the lion's share (50 million gourdes - USD 1.4
million) going to celebrations in the capital. However, the
private sector pitched in mightily, reportedly to the tune of
113 million gourdes (USD 3.1 million), mostly for sponsored
floats featuring well-known musical groups. The municipality
of Port au Prince reportedly contributed money for
theme-floats ("chars allegoriques"). The mayor of Jacmel,
motorcycle dealer Edo Zenny, boasted that he contributed USD
30,000 of his own money for Carnival in his city.
SANDERSON