IRI Election Manipulation in Haiti
[International Republican Institute
/ National Endowment for Democracy]
Dennis Bernsein interviews Jeb
Flashpoints, February 7, 2006
Dennis Bernstein: Joining us is also regarding
the situation in Haiti is Jeb Sprague, an investigative journalist
and graduate student from Long Beach, California. He has a research
blog at www.freehaiti.net where you can see the FOIA documents
requests detailing USAID and the International Republican Institute
activities in Haiti. Jeb thanks for joining us.
Jeb Sprague: Thanks Denis.
Dennis Bernstein: Well its very good
to have you. First of all remind people what the NED is the National
Endowment for Democracy, just incase people have been living under
the planet. and their relationship to the IRI - International
Jeb Sprague: Ok well first of all, tying
in with what Kevin said about this media creation, what we also
see is a political creation. and this has been going on for many
years now. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was founded
in the early 1980's under the influence of Ronald Reagan for "supporting
democracy abroad". So we've had that going on for years.
The NED basically does overtly what the CIA used to do covertly.
It funds civil society groups and organizations that fit within
U.S. strategic interests in various countries. For 2006 the NED
budget is approximately 80 million dollars.. and in Haiti its
$541,000 for 2005 and approximately the same for 2006.
Dennis Bernstein: And its skyrocketing
over the last 5 years. It sort of went from nothing to what it
is now.. So *now* the NED through the IRI is infiltrating, they
have a very special kind of infiltration. We here on flashpoints,
along with Anthony Fenton broke the story on the NED infiltrating
the press, but now they are focusing on infiltrating the left.
Jeb Sprague: Exactly, and where this money
is coming from is USAID.. The united states agency for international
development... and the nice thing about it coming from USAID
is that you cannot FOIA the NED, or IRI, or NDI because these
are all quasi private organizations but USAID is part of the government
so we can get FOIA requests from them. With recent FOIA requests
that I've made we know have the documentation to show that the
IRI is working to facilitate these left groups. I'll just read
"Since 2002, IRI has formulated seminars,
targeted at women and youth from political parties and civil society,
on campaign management, political party structure, fundraising,
polling, political communication, platform development and the
uses of Internet Technology to strengthen political parties .
. .From July 31 to August 1, 2004, leaders of left of center parties,
Ayiti Kapab, KONAKOM, OPL, and PANPRA met to discuss ways to accelerate
a merge and the various techniques needed to advance the goal
at the municipal level. At the end of the session, they put in
place a work plan for the departments and municipalities to implement
the merger of the four parties, now called the Groupe Socialiste."
So basically what we have is the IRI working primarily on the
municipal level in Haiti, not [as much] on the presidential level,
but on the municipal level in Haiti to create these socialist
coalitions, leftist coalitions, to oppose the popular party of
the poor in Haiti, Fanmi Lavalas.
Dennis Bernstein: So you wouldn't say
that they are actually working to support the left and the right.
But what they are working to create a left that is not really
Jeb Sprague: Exactly, well they are also
working with Right parties. Like Anthony Fenton has said in Haiti,"
the left is the right" when we are discussing these parties,
the OPL, FUSION. And then other important research has shown
that Marc Bazin, who heads up the union pour Haiti, which has
been called the "moderate part of Lavalas", has also
been facilitated by the International Republican Institute. And
in multiple mainstream press articles on Haiti they always point
out marc bazin's "moderate Lavalas" group to show that
Lavalas has splintered. So basically that shows that the IRI
has worked to create this perception of a splintered Lavalas movement.
Dennis Bernstein: Well, saying that Marc
Bazin is the moderate Lavalas is like saying President Fox in
Mexico is the moderate Zapatistas. I mean everybody in the streets
in Haiti and in Cite Soleil must have a really good laugh on that.
Because Marc Bazin was obviously the candidate of the World Bank,
the U.S. tried to prop him up back in the day. No body accepted
him but yet this sort of collective amnesia on the part of the
media makes it possible for him to start over.
Jeb Sprague: Yeah, its part of this media
creation, media campaign. And then we also have the presidential
candidate of OPL, Paul Dennis, who also worked with the IRI and
now he's working already before the election has been run he's
already working to discredit the election. In a recent interview
with journalist and Group 184 supporter Nancy Roc he talks about
how, he says he already has doubts about the legitimacy of the
election and sees a confrontation in Haiti. and also we have other
groups that called for the resignation of the elected government
in 2004, we have groups such as Batay Ouvriye and PAPDA. These
are left labor and NGO affiliated groups that are becoming dependent
on US and Canadian government funding, while attacking Lavalas
and Rene Preval's party Lespwa, from the left. So we have this
sort of broad encirclement where these democracy promotion programs
are not only supporting right organizations and right parties
but also "left" parties and "left" organizations.
Dennis Bernstein: And thus infiltrating
in a very deep way. Ok so here's the crucial question.. Help us
understand how USAID, IRI, the NED, whatever initials you want
to put on the state department here, their covert actions have
directly impacted or plan to impact the elections for tomorrow?
Jeb Sprague: Well as far as the elections,
ok, so lets say Rene Preval wins. What if these far right or
"left" parties, facilitated by the IRI, dominate the
Haitian parliament, the municipal elections? So what they can
do then from their is they can force Rene Preval to appoint a
right wing prime minister or a compliant prime minister. So these
planners at the IRI, in Washington DC, they know they can't win
the presidential election in Haiti but they can still influence
the process by propping up all of these smalls factions. Haiti
has dozens of political parties like this and they are being propped
up by these USAID "democratization" programs.
Dennis Bernstein: All right, so in terms
of the documents what do you find the most interesting, the most
damning. Because I certainly want to urge people to check out
Jeb Sprague: Well just the language the
IRI uses is very revealing. And also another FOIA that you will
see on there is a $3 million grant from USAID to UNOPS, which
is the UN's civil program in Haiti. And there is a quote in their
where UNOPS' first goal with this $3 million grant is to "even
the playing field". And what's also interesting is that
reportedly Rene Preval's party is not taking any of this money
from UNOPS, this $3million grant, this money [and support] that
is distributed. So what's happening is that UNOPS is receiving
this money from USAID to complete this election cycle, working
with these groups that took part and supported the coup.
Denis Bernstein: Well "even the playing
field".. another phrase that could be used their "exterminate
the pro-democracy movement Lavalas movement". That's what
they consider "even the playing field", undermining
the movement that they don't happen to like, although it does
represent the will of the Haitian people. Jeb Sprague, we thank
you so much for your great work, again the website www.freehaiti.net
, check out your FOIA requests what you got, and we thank you
for the good investigation.
Jeb Sprague: Thank you so much Dennis.
Dennis Bernstein: You're listening to
Flashpoint radio. You can also go check out www.haitiaction.net