Letter to Kofi Annan, from Dumarsais Siméus

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Letter to Kofi Annan, from Dumarsais Siméus

Post by admin » Thu Oct 20, 2005 9:43 am

From: "RepresentAction" <info@representaction.net>
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 9:56 AM
Subject: Letter to Kofi Annan from Dumarsais Siméus

[quote]
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Letter to Kofi Annan,
Secretary-General of The United Nations
from Dumarsais Siméus
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October 19, 2005

Kofi Annan
Secretary-General
United Nations

Secretary-General:

I write to you today to urge the United Nations to help preserve my candidacy for President of Haiti and protect the growth of democracy and fair and open elections here. The future and the freedom of Haiti are at stake.

Prime Minister Gerard Latortue seems determined to destroy our crusade for positive change at any cost. As we speak, I am being arbitrarily threatened with arrest. We expect within
the next few hours he will use his custom-made 'Commission on Nationality' to illegally interfere in these elections despite the unanimous ruling by Haiti's Supreme Court and, once again, try to remove our pro-democracy reform movement from the Presidential ballot. His negative campaign against democracy must be stopped, for the good of eight million Haitians.

Last week, Haiti won a huge victory at the Supreme Court, our country's only constitutional body. It was a victory for positive change, democracy and rule of law in a time of chaos and violence. I want to emphasize that we are here because of - and in compliance with - these great legal minds and rule of law in Haiti. Now the anti-democracy forces, who continually manipulate the law to suit their whims, want to take our fair and open elections away so they can continue profiting from the misery of the Haitian people.

You recently stated that, "the credibility of the elections will depend upon the confidence of candidates and their con
stituencies, that the process is transparent and that a level playing field has been established." I call on the United Nations and the entire international community to unite with us for the future of Haiti. We need your help, your strength and your voice to help us stand tall against these forces that will stop at nothing to derail freedom, democracy, fairness and hope for a better future for all Haitian citizens.

These anti-democracy forces do real harm to Haitians: the mother who can no longer afford milk for her baby, the grandfather who can not find good doctors to keep himself strong, and the children of Cité Soleil and Bel Air who live in desperation unimaginable in the world just outside our shores.

It is clear these status-quo forces are afraid of strong new leadership that has actually created real jobs, built businesses, brought health care and clean water to the people of Haiti, and put food on the table for people around the planet. I vow to uphold the law, to stand up for what is
right and fair and true and good for Haiti and to create a new government that works for the people and one that the world community can respect.

It is up to the Haitian people to decide who is best fit to run this country. We need your help to preserve that right.

Sincerely,

Dumarsais Siméus

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Would-be candidate fights for chance to change Haiti
Dual citizenship puts Simeus run in doubt
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By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan
Boston Globe Staff
October 19, 2005

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Dumarsais Simeus, the son of illiterate Haitian rice farmers, overcame daunting obstacles to study in the United States and rise to run a $2 billion US-based food empire.

Now, Simeus, 66, is back in his impoverished homeland and says he wants to do for Haiti what he has done for several businesses: fix what's broken, create jobs, generate wealth. But he faces odds tha
t may be more intractable than those of any in his rags-to-riches life.

Two months after Simeus declared he was running for Haiti's presidency, his candidacy is in peril. Following a ruling last week by the Haitian Supreme Court that Simeus, a naturalized US citizen, should be on the ballot for upcoming elections, a newly formed commission is expected to counter as early as today that his dual nationality bars him from running.

"I represent major change. I am independent," Simeus, the former president and chief operating officer of TLC Beatrice Foods who later founded his own international food company, said in an interview yesterday. "We need to get rid of the status quo, dirty tricks, and corruption.

"If somebody is a Haitian and has a passport here and a passport there, who cares? This country is broken. Let the people choose who can fix it," he said.

The election is seen as a critical moment for the country, which has been without an elected leader since President Jean-Bertran
d Aristide was ousted in 2004. Simeus, a political novice who started a foundation six years ago to provide medical care and clean water in his hometown, has become nationally known through radio and television interviews over the last two months. He has presented himself as a homegrown Horatio Alger, a man of the people.

But the electoral process has been marred by delays in registering voters, violence in the capital, infighting among the electoral commission, and disputes over candidates' eligibility. Scheduled for next month, the vote for president as well as more than 1,000 local, municipal, and legislative offices is expected to be delayed until December or January.

Some 22 presidential candidates were scratched from the ballot last month, including Simeus and the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a popular Catholic priest and Aristide ally who has been jailed by the interim government. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized the decision to bar the two men's candidacies, urging the gove
rnment to ensure "open, fair, and inclusive presidential elections."

Last Tuesday, the nation's Supreme Court overturned the exclusion of Simeus, concluding that despite becoming a US citizen in 1970, he never lost his Haitian citizenship.

Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue criticized the court's decision, saying the electoral commission should be the final arbiter.

Yesterday, Simeus railed against the entrenched political powers in Haiti, asserting that Latortue and other powerbrokers are trying to block his candidacy because they are afraid of radical changes he says he would bring to wipe out privileges that favor the elite.

Ordinary Haitians, whether or not they favor him as a candidate, admit that Simeus's life story is an inspiration, not only for 2 million Haitians who live in the United States and send hundreds of millions of dollars home annually, but for the majority of 8 million Haitians here who struggle to afford one meal a day.

The eldest of 12 children
born in a two-room hut to peasants in the western town of Pont-Sonde, Simeus recounts dreaming of sailing for a new life in America. He attended a parochial high school in Port-au-Prince, later earning admission to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. Simeus says he worked his way through school with menial jobs at factories and restaurants, eventually graduating from Howard University and the University of Chicago business school.

Simeus climbed the corporate ladder at companies including Atari Inc. and Rockwell International, eventually rising to the top ranks of Beatrice, a $2 billion multinational corporation. In 1996, he founded a Texas-based food manufacturing company with $160 million in annual sales, whose clients include Burger King, T.G.I. Fridays, and Denny's.

Over the years he has brought 40 relatives to the United States, but insists that his roots and soul remain in Haiti, where his parents live. "I have been coming back always... There is no one in the political elite who s
peaks Creole [the language of Haiti's majority] as well as I do."

"I'm here because my country has suffered too long. I want people who look like me and who look like my wife," his American spouse, Kimberly, who is white," to have the same opportunities... I don't want the privileged class [of any color] to have a monopoly on all the opportunities," he said.

In other countries, expatriates have run for high office. Naturalized American Valdas Adamkus was elected president of Lithuania, though he later renounced his US passport.

In Honduras, President Ricardo Maduro's candidacy was challenged but upheld, after it was revealed he was born in Panama and acquired Honduran nationality at age 36. Former world soccer star George Weah is running for the presidency of Liberia, despite controversy over his adopted French nationality.

Asked what he will do if the electoral commission overturns the Supreme Court's ruling, Simeus replied: "Don't think I'm going to pack my bag and leave..
. I bet you 99 percent of the people in this country don't even know what the term double-nationality means, and they don't care."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
October 18, 2005
SOURCES SAY PRIME MINISTER WILL AGAIN TRY TO BLOCK SIMEUS PRO-DEMOCRACY CANDIDACY TOMORROW
"My brothers and sisters, our freedom and our future are at stake today."
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"My brothers and sisters, our freedom and our future are at stake today."

Sources have told me that tomorrow morning, Prime Minister Gerard Latortue is going to use his personally created "Commission on Nationality" to illegally interfere in these elections despite the unanimous ruling by Haiti's Supreme Court - the country's only constitutional body - to once again try to remove our pro-democracy reform movement from the Presidential ballot.

Last week Haiti won a huge victory at the Supreme Court, our country's only constitutional body. It was a vi
ctory for change, democracy and rule of law in a time of chaos and violence. Now this same little group of people who continue to manipulate the law to suit their whims want to take our freedom away so they can continue profiting from the misery of the Haitian people.

I call on all Haitians, and the entire international community to unite together for the future of Haiti! We are calling for your help, your strength and your voice to stand tall against these forces that will stop at nothing to derail freedom, democracy, fairness and hope for a better future for all Haitian citizens. The entire election process and the future of Haiti are at stake.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has stated that, "the credibility of the elections will depend upon the confidence of candidates and their constituencies, that the process is transparent and that a level playing field has been established," and Thierry Fagart, the U.N. chief of human rights in Haiti called the human rights here in Haiti "catastrophic."
r

During this time of violence and uncertainty, we need all people -especially our leaders, to respect the law. Are we going to stand by and watch this "Commission," which was custom-made to destroy our crusade for change, threaten the future of these elections and our rights as Haitians?

It is not me it hurts, it is the mother who can no longer afford milk for her baby, the grandfather who can not find good doctors to keep himself strong, and the children of Cité Soleil and Bel Air who live in poverty and desperation unimaginable in the world just outside our shores. They have been left to play their childhood games on piles of trash and disease, losing the hope to even dream of a better life.

It is clear these status-quo forces are afraid. They fear strong new leadership that has actually created real jobs, built businesses, brought health care and clean water to the people of Haiti, and put food on the table for people around the planet.

I vow to uphold the law, to stand up for w
hat is right and fair and true for the good and to create a new government that works for the people and that the world community can respect. It is up to the Haitian people to decide who is best fit to run this country. We can not afford to let that right slip away."

Dumarsais Siméus
October 18, 2005

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[/quote]

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Fri Oct 21, 2005 11:18 am

[quote]To defend the rights of the diaspora, we need to have it done through legal channels, i.e. following the election of a truly Haitian-led and democratically-established government, let the discussions begin to amend the 1987 Constitution, as needed to make sure Haiti benefits from the resources of all her sons and daughters.[/quote]

How do you think this will happen? When do you think it will happen? Keep dreaming! The forces against you are stronger than the forces you have available to you. Unlees you can do like David did against Goliath, real politik dictates you play the "roseau" or "sugar cane" strategy, when the forces are stronger than yours, lay low and wait for future opportunities. Meanwhile, the Haitian people are suffering of hunger and humiliations unbecoming of human beings. Those who care about them and their suffering should make releiving their suffering their first priority ahead of their
personal interests.

As for those articles, including 135, of that 1987 constitution, they are the concerns of politicians and not those of the average Haitians who are struggling every day to feed their families and to survive without jobs, security, basic healthcare, education and many other necessities of life. They don't care whether they find those life-needed necessities from Aristide, Simeus, Baker, Bazin and all the other 8 million Haitians who want to be president of Haiti or who want to continue being president of Haiti. Just give them food, shelter and a decent life!

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Post by admin » Fri Oct 21, 2005 12:22 pm

Jaf, I more than understand Jean-Marie's concerns, but you do make some valid points here. Simeus is presenting himself as a savior no less than Aristide did in 1990. Messiahnism is not going to do a lick for Haiti. "Aux grands maux, les grands remèdes", do they say, but it does not follow that one should ingest any powerful poison in the name of curing the disease. Haiti's great disease is not its great misery as Jean-Marie obviously believes. It is our fundamental disrespect for the rule of Law and our penchant to let foreigners settle the score for us. We may have been the first to acquire our independence as a people, but we have yet to get rid of the servility state of mind that is rampant in our society, where we do not have the confidence that we can accomplish anything on our own. You could pour billions and billions of dollars into Haiti, that will not solve its underdevelopment until Haitian people find enough common ground to
believe that what is good for one is also good for the other.

I do not want to devalue in any way Jean-Marie's concerns, because I do share them. It's just that a state of despair can easily generate irrational decisions. Whn a doctor confronts a dying patient, even he cannot do any and all things to keep the patient alive. The name of the game is not survival, but HEALTH, LONG TERM HEALTH. We have a duty not to compromise this objective for very short-term gains.

One thing, however, that I want to call to your attention, Jaf, is that when you say "a blond-hair Haitian like Charles Baker", you appear to engage in code words that hurt your anti-racist cause. If Baker is Haitian, then he is Haitian, period. I am not getting into issues of nationality here, because I am no expert on the Baker family. I am simply saying that the use of those "code words" is harmful to the cause of fraternity among ALL Haitians. If we cannot achieve that level of fraternity, then we will be engaged in figh
ting each other ad vitam aeternam.

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Fri Oct 21, 2005 1:03 pm

[quote]So, I suppose because Siméus is a multimillionaire and owner of Siméus Foods, it follows that manna will come to 8 million Haitians on Feb 7, 2006? [/quote]

I don' t know the answer to this question. I don't even know whether a Simeus presidency will provide food and shelter to the suffering haitians. His program is similar to that of the other candidates in the sense that he is not giving any specifics as to how he will get them jobs and how he will pay for them? The first thing I do know is that continuing the instability will not contribute to feeding haitian people. It will make it worse. And this does not mean I support a dictatorship! I don't. I just think we should compromise and support the quickest solution to ending or relieving the suffering of the people, regardless of who is the individual leader who can do that.

The second thing also I do know is that all haitians who can
help acheiving that goal should be given the opportunity to do so, whether it is Aristide, Simeus, Baker, Bazin or others. While I have no idea of the others' records, president Aristide, although well intentioned at the begining, was not able to overcome obstacles put in his way by his enemies to acheive that goal and his other goals. I am less likely to take a chance on him because of that versus taking a chance on some of the other candidates I don't have a record to judge them on. The possible assumption one can make about Simeus, since according to reports he already has a lot of money, he may be very unlikely to be after more money than fame and historic legacy in seeking the presidency.

The third thing I also do know is that we should trust the haitian people to decide who they want to be their president after their first choice, President Aristide, was stolen from them. By invoking this flawed constitution, we are denying them the right to decide who they want and we are playing right in the
hands of those (GNBs) who in the first place violated the constitution by forcingly removing President Aristide from his elected position, even though he was doing a bad job at it in his last two years. It is not enough to have good intentions, you must also be able to govern and implement your agenda.

In response to Guy, the constitution is being used again against the interest of the haitian people by politicians far from that noble principle you are defending. The respect of the constitution is a reflection of a country's will to abide by a set of rules. In Haiti, the constitution has never played that role, and the country does not appear mature enough for it today to play that role. Instead, the constitution has always been a political instrument to stifle competition. I probably can go as far as the Dessalines administration to illustrate that, but I will limit myself to Duvalier using it to be succeeded by Jean Claude, the 1987 framers to eliminate the threat of the competition from the diaspo
ra, the GNB to get rid of Aristide, the foreign powers to take control of Haiti, and so on and so forth.

For the constitution to serve that long term goal we all want it to acheive you will need a paradigm shift in the collective attitude and perception of the haitian people towards their president and politics. That will take a long time of administrations re-instilling respect in the judicial system and the rule of law as you suggest it. Meanwhile, to deny the haitian people the opportunity of trying a different style of leadership than they are accustomed to by invoking the constitution is playing the game of those who in the first place don't care about it.

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Fri Oct 21, 2005 1:38 pm

[quote]The name of the game is not survival, but HEALTH, LONG TERM HEALTH. We have a duty not to compromise this objective for very short-term gains.[/quote]

Guy, meanwhile, the doctor prescribes Tylenol or Advil to alleviate the patient's pain while taking care of the long term health issue. But, Guy, in your analogy, let me note some significant inconsistencies with the situation with Haiti. One day, the patient of the doctor in your analogy will die. As far as I know, there is no certainty that a country will die within let's say a century.

To me, any haitian administration who does not address the haitian problem in terms of short and long-term solutions cannot survive. You need to alleviate the suffering first, not solving them, by providing some short-term relief while taking the time and actions to solve and tackle the major strucural problems of the country in the long run. The reasons are
because the solutions to the haitian problems will take a very long time in the best of circumstances. It will require political capital. To maintain that political capital and ensure its continuation after the administration time expires - remember the constitution has term limits - and the momentum of the changes you must maintain the support of the people to be able to enact your agenda. Haiti has a history of discontinuity between administrations. The challenge of a serious administration is not only to make changes during its term, but also for them to continue after the term of the administration expires. That requires serious balance, and bridges not burnt with the opposition.

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Post by admin » Fri Oct 21, 2005 5:27 pm

Jean-Marie, I have no problem with your latest argumentation. In fact, it sounds like we are saying the same thing. The fact that a country is not going to die like tomorrow (as may be the case with a person) only reinforces my argument that we have to make the right choices, EVEN AT THIS JUNCTURE. If we only look at the misery of the Haitian people and say "oh my God, we must address this in whichever way," we run the risk of prolonging the people's misery, with the best of intentions.

You know, as miserable as the Haitian people are, they are not the most miserable people on Earth. And in spite of the benefit of a quick influx of dollars (through "no minimum" wage jobs, unfair trade policies, high-interest loans accrued through misguided foreign assistance programs that devalorize further our human and country resources, etc) that any candidate who is cozy enough with the U.S. State Department could offer us, we should not, absolut
ely should not prostitute ourselves for the lure of a quick fix. Jean-Marie, you do not seem to realize that I am 100% with you when you advocate the integration of all Haitians, including the external diaspora but also our internal, marginalized diaspora, in the economic revival of the country. But there must be due process. When you ignore the country's laws and traditions, anything you do may and will come back and haunt you later.

I have the same reaction as you do when you encounter poor Haitian kids in the countryside, with distended bellies and reddened hair and other obvious signs of malnutritation, or when you encounter people who have to eat dirt to survive. If I advocate for a constitutional process, it's not because I care less about misery than you do. I simply do not think that it is a question of choosing between Advil and Tylenol for Haiti, whenever you talk of breaching the constitution. I am for double citizenship (double nationality is an oxymoron, as far as I am concerned) a
nd I am FOR REFERENDUM. The fact that the Constitution of Haiti excludes the participation of the people by interdicting the referendum process is an absurdity, which violates the original principles of any populist movement, including the Lavalas movement that promoted the 1987 Constitution. But it's onething for the Americans to rape the Haitian constitution, while proclaiming that it's working, and it's another for Haitians to do exactly the same and then call on the same laws to protect them, when need be. That makes no sense. We need due process or we need a Revolution in our dear country, and I do not mean a revolution with a lower case "r". If we want to engage in a true revolution, then we should toss the 1987 Constitution out the window altogether and be ready to accept all the consequences of that particular choice. But for Haitians to continue to promote a complete disregard of the law, with the idea that this will relieve the misery of their unfortunate brethren right now, "just right now"
, is self-defeating in my view. And likely, that is what we will continue to witness in the next ten years or so.

Henri Kissinger, at the height of his popularity, could not run for the presidency of the U.S. (thank God!) Oh, why oh why, must an American citizen become President of Haiti for the Haitian-American Diaspora to reintegrate itself and reinvigorate the leadership of Haiti? Right now, we have a non-patriotic, unethical, and largely incompetent business sector in Haiti. Why is it that Simeus could not publicly and privately challenge them on business terms, with the power of his dollars, while seconding some honest politicians? If he believes that he is the only one who could do the job (and ripping a country apart, along constitutional lines in the process), then isn't that the same sort of "Messah" complex that Aristide was faulted with, by the very same set of people?

Let's do things right, not tomorrow. Today.

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