Summary of Events of the Attempted Coup d'Etat, Haiti, December 17, 2001

Haiti Report for January 4, 2002

Prepared by Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center The Haiti Report is a compilation and summary of events as described in Haitian and international media. It does not reflect the opinions of Haiti Reborn. This service is intended to give a better understanding of the situation in Haiti by presenting the reader with reports that provide a variety of perspectives on the situation.

- Summary Of Attempted Coup, 12/17/01
- Suspects in the Coup Attempt
- Statements of Various Groups on Coup Attempt
- Details of Events

Summary of Events of the Attempted Coup d'Etat, December 17, 2001:

On December 17, 2001 approximately thirty armed men attacked the Haitian National Palace. They gained entry by using heavy weaponry, including
grenades, which forced the National Palace security personnel to retreat.  While under cover, Palace security began planning a strategy to launch an
offensive against the heavily armed attackers. The attackers entered the National Palace where they entered several rooms, apparently searching for
files and ammunition. Materials were removed from a security office, and the President's laptop and briefcase were removed from his office. The
briefcase was later retrieved on Palace grounds. The attackers also took a two-way radio from security personnel and delivered their message to more
than one hundred personnel on that frequency. They stated they were on a mission of the former army and that Guy Philippe was the leader of their
mission. They stated that the president was no longer the president.  Security forces worked together to counter-attack the assailants. One
former military, Chavre Milot, was shot as security forces entered the building. After heavy exchange of gunfire, the assailants left the Palace
through the same gate where they had entered. A chase ensued, with Haitian security forces employing both ground and air personnel. Attackers
attempted to reach the President's residence in Tabarre where he and his family were staying but after exchanging more gunfire with security units proceeded towards the border with the Dominican Republic. Thousands of Haitians poured into the street to bodily protect their elected leadership and created roadblocks throughout the city to prevent the escape of the
attackers. The attackers shot at civilians where they met with roadblocks, wounding several and killing one. The chase ended at Morne Cabrit where
attackers abandoned their military uniforms and weapons and fled. In Terre Rouge one suspect was apprehended by civilians and turned over to the
government. Four suspects were killed by residents of Thomazeau a few days later. Residents believed they were involved because of their gunshot
wounds. As of December 19 the police spokesperson stated there were 5 dead from the ranks of the attackers, 2 dead police officers and 1 dead
civilian. In addition, 6 police and 3 civilians were injured. The first response was that of Port-au-Prince residents who flooded the streets in
the early hours of December 17 to protect their government. As the day progressed, some of the protestors left their burning tire barricades and
destroyed homes and offices belonging to members of the Democratic Convergence, an opposition coalition. Among the buildings destroyed was
the office of CRESFED, a research and development organization led by Gerard Pierre-Charles and his wife Suzy Castor. Suspects, including the
four apprehended in Thomazeau and two in Gonaives, were killed by civilian protestors.

Suspects in the Coup Attempt:

Guy Philippe was named by attackers as the leader of their mission. Philippe is a former Haitian military who more recently served as the
police chief in Cap-Haitien. He fled Haiti last year following allegations that he was involved in a coup plot. He entered the Dominican Republic on
December 25 and was apprehended within days by DR forces. The Dominican Republic is seeking a country to send Philippe to, but refuses to hand him
over to Haitian authorities. Jean-Jacques Nau, who also fled Haiti after allegations of involvement in last year's coup plot, is considered to be
among those who planned this coup attempt. He is a former military who most recently acted as the police chief of a stationhouse in Delmas, a
suburb of Port-au-Prince. He is being held under house arrest in Ecuador.  The first participant arrested, a former sergeant in the Haitian Army,
Pierre Richardson said he attended meeting in the DR to plan the attack with Philippe and Nau. He was also involved in the July 28 attack of the
Police Academy and three police stations. Weapons stolen during the July attack were used by the perpetrators of the December 17 coup attempt.
Richardson also implicated former army colonel Guy Francois and Miami based business man Antoine Saati. Both are being held and questioned by
the Haitian police now. (Sources: Public information released through Haitian National Television, PNH Spokesperson, Agence Haitienne de Presse,
Associated Press, the Haiti Press Network, the Haiti Support Group, Reuters and the Government of Haiti)

Statements on Coup Attempt:
President Aristide: "I say to the Haitian people continue to mobilize peacefully, in all of the country, continue to mobilize peacefully,
respect the rights of political parties, respect the rights of journalists, respect the rights of each and every citizen, respect the
rights of all people without distinction." President Aristide denounced the violence that occurred against an opposition office during the day.
Earlier in the day the Minister of Culture and Communications, Guy Paul, spoke to the nation urging the population to remain calm, practice
peaceful resistance and urged all to respect the rights of others. (GOH, 12/17)

France condemned promptly, on 12/17, the attack against the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. It regrets that these events were followed by
acts of violence against political leaders and the headquarters of various political groups. It also condemns the attacks on the staff of certain
radio stations. It urges the Haitian authorities to exercise their responsibilities and to ensure the protection of individuals in accordance
with the principles of a law-abiding state. It recalls that it is incumbent on them out of concern for democratic values to take every
measure necessary to guarantee the free expression of political opinions and plurality of the press. It vigorously protests the destruction at the
French Institute in defiance of international conventions whereas the Institute should obviousle have been adequately protected by the Haitian
police. (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, 12/19)

The Haitian government appointed a special prosecutor on 12/27 to investigate the attempted coup and said it would probe violence by its own
supports in the wake of the assault on the National Palace. Justice Minister Gary Lissade appointed Judge Bernard Sainvil to head the
investigation into the palace attack and resulting mob violence. Prosecution coordinator Jose Pierre Louis said, "Those who committed
violence on 12/17 will be brought before the Haitian courts and have to answer for their actions. They will be tried and judged according to the
laws of the republic." (Reuters, 12/27)

Excerpt from Op-Ed of Washington, DC-based Council on Hemispheric
Affairs: "The misery of Haiti, the target of calculated malign neglect from the State Department, could register a telling blow against authentic
U.S. national interests if tens of thousands of Haitians take to the dangerous seas to seek refuge in the United States. Since Washington
automatically repatriated most Haitians intercepted at sea, yet allows 25,000 Cubans to enter this nation annually, the US risks not only
appearing heartless abroad, but racist at home. The Bush administration is impeding the disbursement of $500 million in loans and grants to the
Aristide government until it improves on its drug-interdiction practices and both political parties agree on a formula to address voting
irregularities in last year's Senate elections. While US officials maintain that USAID provides about $75 million in humanitarian aid to
Haitian charities to build local health care and democratic infrastructure, such funds are aimed at specific initiatives and,
ultimately, are insufficient to get the country running again. Further underscoring Washington's neglect, USAID is reducing its donations to the
island by $20 million in 2002, with funding for democracy building, ironically enough, being nearly cut in half. Thus far, Lavalas officials
have sanctioned the resignation of the seven disputed senators, as well as reduced the terms of all senators elected with them by two years. There
will be early elections for the entire body. Nonetheless, Convergence and the international community remain recalcitrant. Convergence, a coalition
of myriad political factions, including those who collaborated with the military during the days of the armed forces' junta, demands that the
contested senators resign and that new elections be scheduled immediately.  As the debate rages over whether this is a ruse to defame the president,
Convergence benefits from tilted press coverage that repeatedly blames Aristide for the 17-month impasse. Recent meetings between the rival
parties failed to ease the political stalemate, causing average Haitians to grow impatient over what seems like intransigence on both sides.
Considering Lavalas' concessions, however, the Convergence appears to many as a bad-faith negotiator intent on fueling local and international
anti-Aristide sentiment by sabotaging his as well as Haiti's prospects.  Essentially, Convergence's negotiating position is non-negotiation. While
Convergence is Washington's and the publicly founded International Republican Institute's faithful legate on the island, it is held in
contempt by most Haitians who cannot understand why the US views Aristide as a rogue radical, rather than a precious asset in whom the majority of
Haitians believe.Without trivializing the importance of democratic elections, Washington should consider: Where else in the world does it
deny sending crucial aid to a famished neighbor in spite of its underdeveloped political system? Haitian are well aware of Washington's
game and are likening its freezing of desperately needed funds to the US embargo impose don Haiti after their 1804 revolution made the island the
world's first black republic. Haiti needs help, not unmerited

The violence and attempted coup that rocked Haiti have dimmed hopes that eight months of political negotiations brokered by the OAS will bear
fruit. Many leaders of the Democratic Convergence doubt the talks will resume. "The coup was staged to eliminate the opposition. We are afraid of
the Lavalas party, afraid that they will go so far as to assassinate us on the negotiating table," said Reynold Georges, a member of one of the minor
Convergence parties. (IPS, 12/21)

PAPDA: The Platform to Advocate for an Alternative Development has expressed its indignation in response to the serious incidents connected
to the failed coup d'etat against President Aristide. In a note protesting against the incidents, the PAPDA condemns what is calls "bands of
fascists" which broke into, looted and set fire to the cultural center, CRESFED, headed by Gerard Pierre-Charles. The PAPDA is also appalled that
the offices of political parties were set on fire, and that certain journalists received death threats. It also condemns the destruction of
the private houses belonging to political leaders such as Pierre-Charles and Victor Benoit. The PAPDA, which also denounced the attack against the
local offices of Insitut Francais d'Haiti, issues a warning cry against what it called the country's slide towards a state of ungovernable chaos.
(AHP, 12/24)

Representatives of three Haitian women's organizations have issued a press release to denounce those who they say are trying to destroy the
dream of democracy. The 12/19 press release, issued by Myriam Merlet of Enfofanm, Yolette Jeanty of Kay Famn and Eveline Larrieux of SOFA, lists
the violent attacks on opposition parties' offices and the threats against journalists following the attack on the Presidential Palace early on
12/17. The press release continued, "The Lavalas government has declared there was an attempted coup d'etat on the night of 16/17 December and that
in order to protect the government 'the population' reacted. Which population? Since when has the Haitian population been armed? How many
members of the population are able to drive around in cars and trucks at the very moment of this insecurity? When the population makes demands,
civil society organizations are with them. We, the members of the women's organizations that have signed below, cannot explain the pillage and
destruction of premises belonging to the opposition, of individual residences, of a social research center, or the threats against the press,
culminating in some stations ceasing their news broadcasts. (translated from French by Charles Arthur, Haiti Support Group)

OAS: Secretary General of the OAS Cesar Gaviria strongly condemned violence in Haiti, and called on Haitians to avoid mutual aggressions. The OAS chief reiterated the importance of respect to law and reiterated the support of the OAS for the democratic process. He also underscored that the people and government in Haiti must reach a political solution to stabilize the nation and facilitate, with pacific means, social and economic development. (Xinhua, 12/17) The Organization of American States (OAS) is considering enforcing the Inter-American Democratic Charter in light of recent events in Haiti. The Charter allows member states to use threats of possible political, financial and trade sanctions against any fellow member whose actions appear to jeopardize democracy in the area. At a meeting of the Friends of Haiti group, some OAS members seriously discussed invoking the charter as a way to pressure the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into better controlling the rage of his supporters. The immediate hope, they said, was that such action could prevent further deterioration of constitutional rule in the small island nation. Beyond that, they argued, invoking the charter would remind other governments in the region, particularly Venezuela's, the deep political polarization can lead to serious threats to democracy. An action could come as soon as mid-January, when the OAS Permanent Council meets.

Amnesty International: AI expressed concern about the armed attack on the Naitonal Palace in Port-au-Prince. The organization also condemned a series of reprisal attacks by government supports on opposition parties and journalists. "The Haitian National Police, the judiciary and all other authorities must act on the President's message by fully investigating all acts of violence, in the National Palace and elsewhere, and by making every effort to bring those responsible to justice," the organization added. (AI Press Release, 12/18)

Details of Events: Antoine Saati, 47, a Miami resident, was being held for questioning in connection with the December 17 attack on the Palace. "Antoine has nothing to do with the coup d'etat," Gina Saati said. She said her brother was likely imprisoned because he is involved in litigation with people linked to the government. (AP, 12/26) Saati was detained during an apparent dispute over a copyright. Authorities would note give further information on what role they think he played in the coup attempt. The president and founder of One World, a Miami-based import/export business, Saati has been in a Port-au-Prince hospital under police guard since 12/23. His sister said he was beaten by police and went on a hunger strike. (MH, 12/27)

Guy Philippe, the former Cap-Haitien police chief accused of plotting the failed coup was deported from Ecuador to the Dominican Republic. He was detained in the DR on 12/28. DR President Hipolito Mejia told a press conference that he had been detained but would not say where or when the Haitian was found. Philippe was now under house arrest in an undisclosed location. The Dominican Foreign Ministry has said it is searching for a country that will accept Philippe, but will not hand him over to Haiti. (Reuters, 12/27 and AP, 12/28)

Gerard Pierre-Charles, an opposition party leader and part of the Democratic Convergence was visiting Miami when a mob attacked his home and destroyed his research center in Port-au-Prince. Suzy Castor, his wife and well known Haitian historian, called to tell her husband he had no home to return to. What thugs could not cart away, they destroyed. What was most devastating was the loss of their research center, the Investigative Center for Economic and Social Development (CRESFED), founded in 1986. The place was ransacked and thousands of books and documents were torched. In another area of the city, a mob also attacked the couple's home. Pierre-Charles was attending a political leaders conference sponsored by the OAS when the attacks occurred. (Sun Sentinel, 12/29)

At least 11 Haitian journalists rattled by revenge attacks or threats after the apparent coup attempt hid in foreign embassies or prepared to flee the country. Reporters for independent Radio Vision 2000, Radio Caraibes, Radio Galaxy and Radio Signal FM, as well as the administrative secretary for the Association of Haitian Journalists, Robert Philome, were preparing to flee Haiti after receiving threats, according to colleagues who did not want to be identified. "Several of these individuals had people pointing guns at them on the day of the coup. They were stopped, cornered and forced to yell 'Long Live Aristide'," said Guy Delva, president of the Association of Haitian Journalists. "It has become a situation of intolerance against the press." (Reuters, 12/23)

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