Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sham Elections in Haiti

Ballot box and ballots thrown into ravine on election day November 28 ©2010 HIP


Protesters take to the streets of Haiti in response to recent sham elections: We’ll speak to Flashpoints Senior Correspondent, Kevin Pina in studio, and Ansel Herz live in Haiti. Listen to this Flashpoints report that originally aired December 7, 2010.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Wikileaks Haiti Cables: US Embassy, Port au Prince (FULL TEXT)

Rene Preval ©2010 HIP

By now most have heard of the extraordinary US Embassy cables released by Wikileaks over the Internet. Due to frequent attacks on their servers many people have asked HIP to post the US Embassy cables written by then Ambassador Janet A. Sanderson pertaining to Haiti with assessments of Haitian president Rene Garcia Preval.

If your looking for another Haiti connection with Wikileaks: On December 7, MSNBC News quoted Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan who called WikiLeaks' disclosure "dangerous" and said it gives valuable information to the nation's enemies.  

Col. David Lapan was the mouthpiece for the Pentagon in Haiti when US marines were involved in backing the Haitian police in deadly assaults against poor communities following the ouster of Aristide in February 2004. The US marines also conducted deadly raids on the homes of Lavalas sympathizers to execute extrajudicial and arbitrary arrests including folksinger Annette Auguste (So An). Lapan is featured justifying the brutal US military assault on the home of Annette Auguste in the final version of the documentary Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits

Comprehensive assessment of President Preval's decision-making process and leadership style.

US Embassy cable dated March 7, 2007

DE RUEHPU #0408/01 0601750
O 011750Z MAR 07





E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/26/2017 

REF: STATE 5107 

Classified By: Classified by Ambassador Janet A. Sanderson for reasons 
1.4(b) and (d). 

1. (C) Introduction: Reftel asks for a comprehensive 
assessment of President Preval's decision-making process and 
leadership style. As noted in reftel, post has reported on 
many of the specific topics inquired about over the course of 
Preval's re-election campaign and the first year of his 
second term. We welcome the opportunity to reiterate key 
judgments that we believe will become increasingly important 
as the Preval administration approaches completion of its 
first year in office. In sum, we believe Preval's commitment 
to building democratic institutions, promoting political 
stability, and developing the economy corresponds with our 
own interests. However, Preval's weaknesses as an executive, 
his reflexive nationalism, and his disinterest in managing 
bilateral relations in a broad diplomatic sense, will lead to 
periodic frictions as we move forward our bilateral agenda. 
Case in point, we believe that in terms of foreign policy, 
Preval is most interested in gaining increased assistance 
from any available resource. He is likely to be tempted to 
frame his relationship with Venezuela and Chavez-allies in 
the hemisphere in a way that he hopes will create a 
competitive atmosphere as far as who can provide the most to 
Haiti. Additionally, Preval has displayed a tendency to 
fixate on a particular issue at the exclusion of all others 
and then to move on to other issues without leaving much to 
show for his efforts. Since taking office in May 2006, 
Preval has been the education president, the roads president, 
and now the anti-narcotics president. All of these issues 
are worthy of his time and attention, but require a coherent 
approach to policy implementation in addition to rhetoric. 
End Introduction. 

2. (U) The answers below are keyed to the questions in 

Question A 

3. (C) How Does Preval make policy decisions? What sources 
of information does Preval draw from when making decisions 
and how does he process that information, e.g. is he 
receptive new information, does he seek advice or rely on his 
own intuition? Does Preval tend to see policy issues in 
black and white or in shades of grey? 

4. (C) We judge that Preval largely relies on his own 
intuition and experience in formulating policy. We see that 
experiences from his first presidential term are nearly 
always a touchstone on key bilateral issues, even when 
circumstances have significantly changed or the conclusion he 
is drawing is not directly applicable to the issue at hand. 
Preval's recent insistence that the U.S. does not do enough 
to combat narcotics traffic through Haiti is a clear example 
of an attitude carried over from his first term. Likewise, 
Preval's current resistance to making a placating gesture to 
China after the GoH voiced support for Taiwan at the UN is 
based in part on Preval's belief that China behaved 
unreasonably when renewing UN mission mandates during his 
first term. 

5. (C) On balance, we see that issues where Preval has a 
fixed view, for example relations with China, he is 
remarkably resistant to policy advice. On other issues, 
where Preval is not so engaged either because of lack of 
personal interest or lack of experience, Preval seems readily 
open to new information and flexible in his approach. This 
seems most apparent in issues relating to economic policy. 
Rather than separating Preval's thinking into black and white 
or shades of gray, we believe it is more useful to bear in 
mind that Preval often appears not to fully think through the 
implications or consequences of a particular issue. He 
neglects to carry out the kind of study or put in place the 
administrative structure required to turn an idea into 
workable policy. This was most obvious in his approach to 
negotiations with gang leaders, his focus throughout the 

PORT AU PR 00000408 002 OF 007 

summer of 2006. Due to a lack of results however, he 
abandoned the effort. Preval's entire policy seemed to be 
encapsulated in the formulation, ''disarm or die.'' He 
never appears to have coherently addressed the issue central 
to the negotiations -- the future of the most violent 

Question B 

6. (C) Does Preval seek advice from a wide array of sources 
or only look to certain people, if so, whom and on what 
issues? Does he trust any of his advisers or ministers to 
make key decisions in his stead? How does he deal with 
dissension or criticism from his advisors? What tone does he 
set when he meets with his advisers - e.g., does he encourage 
them to work collegially, competitively, or within the formal 
bureaucratic structure? Has Bob Manuel's influence with 
Preval diminished, and if so, why? Does Manuel continue to 
informally oversee the security portfolio? If not, who does, 
is there another adviser poised to succeed Manuel as Preval's 
''right-hand man.''? 

7. (C) Preval seems open to a wide array of sources -- he 
reportedly reads and pays attention to the media on a wide 
variety of subjects and maintains a broad circle of friends 
-- but appears to limit the number of people from whom he 
actively seeks advice. Some, most notably Robert Manuel, 
have complained that the number is growing smaller and that 
his fiancee, Elizabeth Delatour, is the only advisor with 
whom he has meaningful discussions. Fritz Longchamp, 
Secretary General of the Presidency, appears to have gained 

access and influence to Preval regarding the dispute with 
China. As a former foreign minister, Longchamp may also be 
advising on broader foreign policy issues. Gabriel Verret 
remains Preval's closest advisor on economic issues. Lionel 
Delatour, Elizabeth Delatour's brother-in-law, maintains 
somewhat regular access due to his family ties and his direct 
involvement with the effort to promote HOPE legislation, 
however Delatour himself has complained that Preval often 
ignores his advice. With a few exceptions, Preval appears 
not to trust his advisers or ministers to make key decisions, 
or even to implement key decisions. The most recent account 
of the council of ministers meetings provided by Gabriel 
Verret to the Ambassador describes Preval going through the 
action items of each ministry and demanding status reports. 

8. (C) With the Embassy and USG representatives, ministers as 
a group are deferential and mostly subdued in Preval's 
presence. There is little air of give-and-take or 
willingness among ministers to extemporize. In meetings with 
USG officials Preval has abruptly cut off Prime Minister 
Alexis on two occasions, disagreeing with his views. On 
another occasion he cut off Minister of Public Works Frantz 
Varella, who had offered an observation regarding security, 
telling him that security was not his responsibility. We 
hear of very little, if any, substantive criticism or 
dissension among the cabinet in private. The most visible 
intra-cabinet dissension, so far, has been between the 
judiciary and security officials; most recently, a rift 
between the justice minister and chief prosecutor Claudy 
Gassant. Preval has pointedly refused to intervene. Many 
among Haiti's chattering classes attribute this to a strategy 
on Preval's part to keep members of his government divided 
and weak. We judge rather that his attitude is more in line 
with his overall passivity as an executive. 

9. (C) Having observed the Preval-Manuel relationship over 
the past two years since Manuel's return to Haiti to join the 
Preval campaign, we judge that Manuel's role is most 
accurately described as Best Friend. Manuel remains Preval's 
closest confidante, and Preval still uses him as his personal 
emissary, but the influence of Manuel's own views on any 
given subject appear limited. For example, against Manuel's 
advice and own wishes, Preval involved Manuel in his first 
negotiations with gang leaders in the summer of 2006. With 
Manuel's displeasure with this policy unabated, Preval simply 
cut him out of the process. Manuel appears still to be 
charged with the management of Preval's personal security, 

PORT AU PR 00000408 003 OF 007 

overseeing the Presidential Protection Unit (USPN) in the 
palace, but Preval himself appears to have taken complete 
charge of security policy. Manuel, along with the justice 
minister, is charged with preparing President Preval for the 
upcoming drug trafficking summit in the Dominican Republic on 
March 16, but our contacts with Manuel on narcotics issues so 
far indicate that he does no more than to restate Preval's 
own views, often with more passion. Manuel confided to the 
Ambassador that he is frustrated with Preval's unwillingness 
to listen to him and heed advice and that he wants to leave 
Haiti, preferably as Ambassador to Mexico, but that Preval 
has been non-committal about the timing of his appointment. 
Whatever the state of their relationship on policy issues, 
Preval clearly values Manuel's friendship and may be 
reluctant to let him go. 

Question C 

10. (C) What is the nature of Preval's relationship with 
Director General of the Haitian National Police Mario 
Andresol, Foreign Minister Jean Reynald Clerisme, Secretary 
of State for Public Security Luc Eucher Joseph, Secretary 
General of the Presidency Fritz Longchamp, and economic 
advisor Gabriel Verret. 

11. (C) Preval's relationship with Andresol does not appear 
to extend beyond their formal association as president and 
the chief of police. Preval and Andresol had no personal 
connection to speak of before Preval inherited and then 
re-appointed Andresol director general of the HNP. For his 
part, Andresol has, on several occasions, expressed 
frustration that he has not been able to gain more trust from 
Preval. Likewise, Preval's relationship with Eucher seems 
limited to their formal roles: Eucher is not otherwise a 
close of advisor from whom Preval seeks counsel. Preval and 
Clerisme have a large number of mutual acquaintances from the 
rural/populist movements, however they do not have a close 
personal bond. Preval has reportedly taken personal charge of 
all important foreign policy issues, leaving Clerisme with 
little influence. Longchamp is both a trusted advisor and 
personal friend. With Preval limiting PM Alexis' direction 
of the cabinet, and not having named a chief of staff, the 
importance of Longchamp's position has steadily increased. 
Finally, Gabriel Verret, perhaps even more than either Robert 
Manuel or Longchamp, is the other advisor in the palace who 
can claim to be both a trusted confidante and influential 
policy advisor, as Preval remains open to advice on economic 
matters. In the same way, Elizabeth Delatour, who is also 
formally charged with providing economic advice, might be the 
single most important influence on Preval. 

Question D 

12. (C) What are Alexis and Foreign Minister Clerisme's 
perceptions of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide? 

13. (C) Based on Alexis' long-standing personal association 
with Preval from his previous administration through his 
active role in the most recent presidential campaign, we 
surmise that Alexis' views on Aristide hew closely to 
Preval's own (i.e. that Aristide betrayed the Haitian 
people). If Alexis believes otherwise, he gives no hint of 
disagreement with Preval. We are less familiar with 
Clerisme, but note that Clerisme's political engagement began 
with his involvement as a liberation theology priest working 
in the rural, peasant movement in Haiti's northeast. Most of 
this movement's leaders became disillusioned with Aristide 
during the mid-1990's. Whatever Clerisme's views, as with 
Alexis, to the extent they do not correspond to Preval's, he 
keeps them to himself. 

Question E 

14. (C) Is Preval influenced by ideology, and if so, what are 
the major influences? What motivated him to return to 
politics? What role do Catholicism, voodoo, and 

PORT AU PR 00000408 004 OF 007 

liberation-theology play in his worldview? What is his full 
educational history and experience working in private 

15. (C) Preval seems profoundly uninfluenced and uninterested 
in ideology at this stage in his life. Despite his 
involvement in radical/communist circles as a student in 
Belgium and his entrance into Haitian politics through a 
populist movement deeply influenced by liberation theology, 
Preval's public and private discourse is practically devoid 
of any notions reflecting that background. In the context of 
the developing world, we would most accurately describe him 
as a neo-liberal, particularly in that he has embraced free 
markets and foreign investment. 

16. (C) At the same time, Preval's discourse regarding 
Haitian politics remains framed in the context of his past. 
He still refers broadly to ''the people'' and ''the 
bourgeois'' in referring to Haitian society. His leftist 
views reportedly caused a deep rift between himself and his 
family, particularly his father, who although opposed to 
Duvalier held traditional Haitian upper-class views. This is 
as close to an insight as we may venture into his motivation 
to return to politics, which is something of a puzzle. While 
a canny politician and an effective campaigner Preval evinces 
little of the ambition or overt drive typical of most 
politicians. It may be simply that he rightly recognized 
that he was the only leader in Haiti who legitimately 
represented the broad-based popular movement that toppled 
Duvalier and first brought Aristide to power. 

17. (C) Like most Haitians, Preval was raised Catholic with 
an exposure to voodoo practices. He is a non-observant 
Catholic but maintains a cordial and respectful relationship 
with Haiti's Catholic hierarchy. He is particularly close to 
Haiti's Archbishop, who was a life-long friend of his 
parents. Likewise, he maintains a respectful and cordial 
relationship with Voodoo leaders. There are unconfirmed 
reports that Robert Manuel, who is a born-again Christian, 
influences Preval's religious views and that the two 
regularly pray together. However, Preval has been jocular 
and once dismissive of Manuel's praying in conversations with 

18. (C) Preval's educational and professional experiences 
listed in open sources are mostly accurate. He studied 
agronomy at the University of Louvain in Belgium but did not 
receive a degree reportedly because he spent too much time 
participating in political activities. Though he obtained a 
position with the National Institute for Mineral Resources, 
apparently as part of Jean-Claude Duvalier's conciliatory 
gestures to his father's opponents, Embassy sources do not 
believe he actually worked at his job. He went into the 
bakery business with several friends in the mid-1970, 
including Michele Pierre Louis, a renowned patron of Haitian 
arts, and through her met Aristide. Preval's bakery was 
successful, but destroyed by associates of the military after 
the 1991 coup d'etat. Among the many incidents of conflict 
between the right-wing and Aristide supporters, Preval 
apparently holds a special grudge against those who destroyed 
his business. 

Question F 

19. (C) What is Preval's relationship to Geri Benoit? Does 
his sister, Marie-Claude Calvin, play an influential role in 
his administration? Does Elizabeth Delatour yield influence 
over Preval's political decision-making? What is the status 
of their impending nuptials? One of Preval's daughters lives 
with him in Port-au-Prince. Where is the other and what does 
she do? 

20. (C) Though Preval and his second wife, Geri Benoit, 
appeared together at times during the campaign, they have 
apparently lived entirely separate lives since his 
inauguration. Mrs. Calvin and Preval are very close. She 
was among the family members on the payroll at his 
agricultural foundation in Marmalade, which was funded by 

PORT AU PR 00000408 005 OF 007 

Taiwan. Calvin acts as his scheduler, keeps an office in the 
palace, and one ambassador reports that Calvin kept him at 
bay for several days when he had an urgent request to see 
Preval. Calvin and her husband also accompanied Preval on 
his second trip to Cuba for medical attention. Mrs. Calvin 
does not appear to play any role in influencing government 

21. (C) It is difficult to assess Elizabeth Delatour's 
influence on policy. She is extremely private and reserved 
and does not generally engage foreign officials in 
substantive conversation. She politely resisted the 
Ambassador's attempts to establish a more social 
relationship. Numerous people close to Preval complain that 
Preval has neglected both his work and limited the input of 
other advisors in favor of Delatour. During the critical 
juncture over the dispute with China regarding the renewal of 
MINUSTAH's mandate, Delatour appeared to play a central role. 
SRSG Mulet chose Delatour as his contact when he argued that 
the GoH must provide China some kind of written apology: 
Preval ultimately grudgingly signed a letter. Delatour 
called the Ambassador in Washington when she was in the 
Department for consultations asking for an update on the 
Chinese delegation's position in New York. Preval's wedding 
plans remain perhaps the best kept secret in Haiti. We have 
confirmed from multiple reliable sources that they are 
formally engaged, but no further reliable news regarding 
wedding plans has emerged. Factors that might be 
complicating their plans include Preval's health and living 
arrangements for Delatour's 11-year old son. 

22. (C) Preval's older daughter, Dominique, lives with her 
mother in Port-au-Prince and runs a stationery store above 
her mother's book store. She is close to both her parents. 
Preval's younger daughter, Patricia, is currently in Sri 
Lanka studying Asian art. 

Question G 

23. (C) How much importance does Preval place on maintaining 
close bilateral relations with the United States? Are there 
aspects of the relationship he values more than others? Does 
he view it as a mutually beneficial relationship? Does he 
see Haiti as having obligations or responsibilities to the 
U.S.? How does he view the U.S.' previous involvement in 
Haiti? What is Preval's relationship with the Haitian 

24. (C) Preval recognizes that the U.S. is Haiti's most 
important bilateral partner and that Haiti's closest societal 
links internationally are with the U.S. His priority on the 
bilateral agenda is to leverage and extract the most 
assistance for Haiti on his own terms and to tap into the 
wealth and resources of the Haitian-American community in the 
U.S. As the president of a small, poor nation in the shadow 
of the American behemoth, he clearly believes that the U.S. 
has far greater obligations to Haiti than the other way 
around, if, in fact, Haiti has any obligations at all. 
Preval numbers a few close friends in the diaspora of whom we 
know. He established a friendship with Dumarsais Simeus 
during the presidential campaign, and they stay in contact by 
email. For the most part, however, Preval does not seem 
closely connected to or interested in Haitian communities 
abroad. He has indicated on a number of occasions that he 
fears that pro-Aristide extremists exert excessive influence 
in diaspora communities. 

Question H 

25. (C) Are cabinet officials involved in any illicit 
activities? How does Preval handle corruption within his 

26. (C) There has been little indication that cabinet members 
have been involved in illicit activities so far. At the time 
of the cabinet's formation, observers noted that the 
ministers had been mostly free of suspicion over the course 

PORT AU PR 00000408 006 OF 007 

of their careers. Indications regarding Preval's own 
attitude toward corruption are mixed. During his first term, 
Preval either tolerated or was forced to accept gross abuses 
on the part of close associates of Aristide. In either case, 
Preval has exhibited a non-confrontational approach with 
passivity toward difficult issues as the hallmark of his 
political career. Preval maintains a reputation for personal 

Question I 

27. (C) How has Preval handled domestic criticism thus far? 
Does he have a public communications or publicity strategy or 
manager? How does he perform under significant stress? How 
does he respond to confrontation, either personally or 
indirectly, e.g. mass unrest? 

28. (C) Preval has been remarkably impervious and 
unresponsive to domestic criticism thus far, which mostly 
centers on his approach to security and the gang activity 
during the fall of 2006, when kidnapping and crime spiked 
upward. There have been no significant incidents of mass 
unrest since his inauguration on which to judge his reaction. 
Based on his intense involvement in the daily review of 
security policy, we surmise that he pays close attention to 
public opinion, even if remaining uncommunicative himself. 
He has a palace spokesman in name, Assad Volce but hardly 
uses him. Nor does he use the minister for communication, 
who is traditionally the government's chief spokesperson. 
Regarding his public relations strategy, he has said on 
several occasions, that he wants to change the tradition of 
Haiti's presidents being the center of attention who make 
promises that they are unable to deliver. ''I will talk when 
I have some accomplishments to talk about.'' 

Question J 

29. (C) What is the status of Preval's Lespwa coalition? Is 
it a cohesive coalition or is it fractured? Do its members 
regard Preval as their leader? What is Preval's relationship 
to Fanmi Lavalas (FL)? 

30. (C) Preval has removed himself from involvement in Lespwa 
and undertakes little visible role in managing relations with 
the parliament. Lespwa is directionless as a party. Though, 
in the general, Lespwa's drift does not particularly stand 
out in the incohesive atmosphere of Haiti's parliament. 
Senate President Joseph Lambert, has emerged as a leader 
among Lespwa parliamentarians, but devotes more of his energy 
to cultivating his image as parliament's chief, rather than 
simply a party leader. No other Lespwa parliamentarian has 
demonstrated a capacity to take direction of the party. 
Lespwa parliamentarians no longer regard Preval as their 
party leader, but recognizing he remains the country's most 
popular politician and still associated with Lespwa in the 
public's mind, they do not generally criticize him in public 
or in private. Preval has virtually no contact with any of 
the various FL factions. 

Question K 

31. (C) How long are Preval's workdays? How many breaks does 
he take during his workday, what does he do during them and 
how long do they last? Under what circumstances? 

32. (C) Preval appears to be keeping an increasingly busy 
schedule, working longer hours and seeing more visitors. The 
Ambassador has taken phone calls from him as early as 6:30 am 
and has had meetings as late as 6:30 pm. Preval told the 
Ambassador recently that he has for many years taken a full, 
in-pajamas 2-3 hour nap every afternoon, allowing him to 
maintain his energy. 

Question L 

PORT AU PR 00000408 007 OF 007 

33. (S/NF) What family history of alcohol or substance use 
does Preval have? What alcohol or drugs has he been observed 
using, how much, and under what circumstances? Any related 
problems? Has Preval ever been observed to be high or drunk, 
disoriented, trembling or physically jittery, or had memory 
lapses? How many drinks can Preval consume before he shows 
signs of inebriation? Does Preval take any medications? 

34. (S/NF) Preval's parents both lived well into their 
eighties. His father, in particular, reportedly enjoyed 
robust health. No one in his immediate family has or had a 
reputation for alcohol abuse. Preval drinks whiskey and 
smokes in public, including at Embassy functions, but we have 
not observed him inebriated nor seen him take more than one 
or two drinks. Rumors abound about his deteriorating 
physical condition -- intense physical pain, high dosages of 
medication, however; we have no credible first-hand reports 
to confirm this. In our meetings Preval has always been 
completely lucid and has never appeared to be in any great 
pain. Special intelligence indicates that he began taking 
medication after the most recent round of medical 
examinations in Cuba that indicated a possibility of the 
return of prostate cancer. 

Three Year Assessment of Preval's government 
US Embassy cable dated June 7, 2008

161802Z JUN 09


E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/01/2019

Classified By: Ambassador Janet A. Sanderson, reason 1.4(b) and (d).

Summary and Introduction

1. (C) Haitian President Rene Preval has now completed three
years of his five year presidential mandate. Widely touted as
the "transitional president" poised to lead Haiti into a new
era of democracy and economic prosperity, he has had only
modest success thus far. Haiti's problems are indeed
daunting, and redressing them will take much more than a
five-year term. However, Preval's particular world view, his
personality and often indecisive and uncommunicative
leadership style, coupled with Haiti's deeply divided
political class and the devastating events of 2008, have
conspired to defer, if not derail, forward movement here.

2. (C) That being said, Preval remains Haiti's indispensable
man. Legitimately elected, still moderately popular, and
likely the only politician capable of imposing his will on
Haiti - if so inclined - Preval's role over the next 18
months is critical. Dealing with Preval is a challenge,
occasionally frustrating and sometimes rewarding. He is wary
of change and suspicious of outsiders, even those who seek
his success. Managing Preval will remain challenging during
the remainder of his term yet doing so is key to our success
and that of Haiti. We must continue to find creative ways to
work with him, influence him, and encourage him to recapture
the activism of his first year in office. Until he does,
political change and economic progress, so necessary to
Haiti's future, is likely to be incremental at best.

The Politics of Personality

3. (C) Preval's attitude towards his presidency has been
shaped by both experience and personality. As Aristide's
Prime Minister and successor, he was overshadowed by the more
charismatic ex-priest. At our first meeting, Preval recounted
that he was "the last stop after Tabarre (where Aristide
lived) when visitors came", bitterly reminding me that many
USG visitors barely had time to see him when he was
president. Those slights still rankle. A retiring, complex
personality, the president shares little. His inner circle
has greatly constricted during the past two years, with key
advisors including Bob Manuel, all but dropping out. His
involvement with his fiancee, financial advisor Babette
Delatour has colored many of his other relationships,
according to friends, and caused an estrangement of sorts
with his sister and one of his daughters.

4. (C) Even those close to Preval concede that his
chameleon-like character makes dealing with the president
difficult. One close advisor calls it "the roller coaster
that is Rene Preval." Personally engaging - even seductive -
when he so wishes, Preval can be equally harsh with
colleagues and others. Ministers, close advisors and others
have felt the sting of his tongue, both in public and in
private. Stubbornly holding to ideas long past their shelf
life, he rarely welcomes dissenting opinions. His courting
of Taiwan in 2006, which almost led to the Chinese blocking
renewal of the MINUSTAH mandate in 2006, is a case in point.
Preval is highly disinclined to delegate power or authority
and even the smallest detail comes to his office for
decision, a situation which has caused stress in his
relationships with both his current and former prime
ministers. Planning Minister Bellerive described to me a
recent Cabinet meeting where the Prime Minister and the
Cabinet presented a development plan for the long-suffering
northern tier of the country. Preval ridiculed the idea and
when confronted by a united ministerial front, walked out of
the cabinet meeting and told his advisors to strike the
proposal from the agenda.

5. (C) Uncomfortable in formal settings such as summits and
international conferences, Preval seeks personal
"relationships of trust" with his interlocutors. Often
unable to articulate exactly what he wants - except in the
broadest of terms - Preval tends to view issues in black and
white. Nonetheless, he expects a positive - and prompt
response. That is particularly true of his dealings with the
international community. He remains skeptical about the
international community's commitment to his government's
goals, for instance telling me that he is suspicious of how
the Collier report will be used. He measures success with the
international community - and the U.S.- in terms of positive
response to his priorities, rather than according to some
broader international benchmarks of success.

6. (C) Nevertheless, Preval's stubborn and cautious nature
has sometimes borne fruit. In his first year in office, he
was widely praised for reaching out to Haitians of all
political stripes and for attempting to bridge Haiti's
massive political divides. He has shrewdly coopted major
political rivals into his personal cabinet over the past two
years and has, through patient diplomacy managed to get
fractious parliamentary groupings to sit around the table
working on issues ranging from the budget to privatization to
the current minimum wage crisis. He believes strongly that
without his intercession, the international community would
have ignored the impact of the 2008 hurricanes on Haiti, and
that his early efforts at negotiation and discussion with the
gangs of Cite Soleil (which he often reminds me that I
criticized at the time) set the stage for the successful
MINUSTAH operation to clear the area.

A Narrowing Circle?

7. (C) Preval's seeming isolation in the palace during the
past year is striking. Close friends report that they have
little contact - and even less influence - with him. A
businessman who was key to Preval's election said the last
time that he talked to Preval, the president brushed him off.
Shunning newspapers and radio, he has a friend in New York do
a daily press summary for him; otherwise he freely admits
that he neither reads nor listens to the news, either local
or international. He uses one or two cell phones but rarely
shares the numbers with his colleagues. He uses his email to
communicate with family and close friends, but prefers to
talk on the telephone. He seldom leaves the palace except to
travel to his residence each evening and to the retreat he
has bought for his fiancee in the mountains above Port au

The Health Issue

8. (C) Preval's occasionally erratic behavior over the past
year has again sparked widespread rumors that he is suffering
from the effects of his past prostate cancer or that he has
resumed drinking. There is no indication that he is taking
medicine that affects his judgment or temperament, but he has
ignored suggestions from his inner circle, including that of
Delatour, that he do complete medical check-up in the U.S. He
has not been to Cuba for follow-up tests in more than a year.
Preval has increased his alcoholic consumption and often
attends a Petionville night club with friends, but during our
social interaction I have never seen him drink to excess.
Nonetheless, reports of heavy drinking are circulating

An Agenda deferred: Elections, Constitutional Reform, and
--------------------------------------------- ---------------

9. (C) Preval has said that his agenda for his remaining
years in office focuses on three interconnected issues:
elections, constitutional reform, and drugs. He came late to
the election issue, originally suggesting that the partial
Senatorial elections be combined with the lower house polls
scheduled for fall. He backed down in the face of
international pressure, but also as he came to realize that
he would have little success - or support - if he moved on
constitutional reform without a fully functioning senate.
Given the delays in moving this election forward, he no
longer believes that he will see an overhaul of the
constitution. He now expects to focus on two critical
constitutional issues, dual nationality and government
decentralization. He has angrily denied charges that he
manipulated the electoral process through the CEP and its
decision to exclude Lavalas to undermine an already weak

10. (C) Preval's focus on comprehensive constitutional reform
over the past year raised concerns about his ulterior
motives. Many in Haiti's political class drew the conclusion
that Preval was seeking a third term. The President's
refusal to explicitly reject that possibility created
confusion and uncertainty, but I view this development as
highly unlikely. Nonetheless, concerns about Preval's
intentions, coupled with deteriorating relations with
parliament, and his cavalier treatment of major political
parties has undermined consensus on constitutional reform and
he seems now resigned to more limited changes.

11. (C) Preval's fixation on drug trafficking reflects both a
growing frustration with the inflow of drugs into the
country's political process and irritation that his
government is unable to address something that could indeed
pose a personal threat to his future after the presidency.
Shunning all GOH responsibility for the problem, he looks to
hand it over to us. He has yet to believe that we take his
concerns seriously, and that has colored much of his dealings
with us beyond the counternarcotics agenda.

A not-always-helpful world view

12. (C) Although Preval's presidency started off well, with
the new president reaching out across the political spectrum
in an effort to create a new political culture in the
country, those efforts have now essentially stalled. The
President, whether by inclination or design, has not fully
developed a vision of Haiti's future. By turns determined or
distracted, Preval is often reluctant to use the levers of
power given to him by the office of the presidency. In one
telling instance, he held off going public in the April riots
until the presidency appeared to hang in the balance.
Skeptical of friends from abroad, and cynical about his own
political class's ability to effect change, Preval believes
that it is best only to speak out after the deals are done.
Pressing him to be more expansive and communicative has been,
in my experience, counterproductive. At the same time, he is
reluctant to let anyone else pick up the slack, and as a
result, the political vacuum in Haiti is often filled by
those who do not necessarily have the nation's best interests
at heart.
13. (C) There are those who argue that the April, 2008 riots
so badly shook Preval's world view that he has become
reluctant to act. We believe this is too simplistic an
explanation. Preval was indeed unprepared for the riots in
the street, but he used them to press some key objectives,
including the removal of then-Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard
Alexis. More to the point, I believe that the President's own
style and outlook, his often unilateral decision-making
style, his propensity to micromanage, and his essentially
cynical (and often justified) view of the Haitian political
process were, I believe, reinforced by what he saw in April,
and he is looking for ways to ensure he is not caught
unawares again.

14. (C) Preval's old friends suggest that in many ways he
remains the radical student who broke with his conservative
father and spent his university days in the political
maelstrom of 1960s Europe. While this may overstate the
case, Preval remains essentially a nationalist politician in
the Haitian sense of the word - suspicious of outsiders
intentions and convinced that no one understands Haiti like
he does. He often takes actions, such as publicly dismissing
the results of the Washington Donors Conference or stalling
elections, which could be construed as working at cross
purposes with the U.S. Preval clearly believes that he can
walk a fine line without losing U.S. or international
community support. Here, however, he runs a risk. Although he
briefly lived in the U.S., Preval does not truly understand
Americans or the Washington policy environment - and he often
ignores advisors who do.

The After-Life

15. (C) Close friends speculate that many of Preval's actions
during the past year - his rapprochement with Alexis and the
Neptune faction of Lavalas, his obsession with constitutional
reform, his anger over drug trafficker Guy Philippe, even his
reactions to the April riots - stem from his very real fear
that politics will prohibit him from returning to private
life in Haiti after his presidency. Thus, they argue, his
overriding goal is to orchestrate the 2011 presidential
transition in such a way as to ensure that whoever is elected
will allow him to go home unimpeded. Based on our
conversations, this is indeed a matter that looms large for
Preval. He has said to me on various occasions that he is
worried about his life after the presidency, that he would
not survive in exile. His concerns seem real, given Haiti's
history, albeit somewhat overblown at this point in time.

What It Means for Us

16. (C) Preval and I entered on duty in our respective
positions at pretty much the same time and we have enjoyed an
interesting, if not always harmonious, relationship during
the past three and a half years. During that period, I have
found him somewhat isolated, less open to ideas and advice,
and more reluctant to use the tools of his office to advance
his agenda than in his first year in office. Some say that
he is reverting to the do-nothing persona of his first term
as president. Like much about Preval, the reality is somewhat
more complicated. What is clear to me, however, is that
Preval has yet to truly provide the strong, consistent
leadership that Haiti's current circumstances demand. In
other places, we could find ways to circumvent or overcome
these weaknesses. Not so in Haiti. Given Haiti's strong
tradition of presidential rule, the blurred constitutional
lines of authority, and his own reluctance to delegate
authority, I believe that Preval - and only Preval - will
continue to set the rhythm and scope of change in Haiti. And
while we may argue with him about pace and priorities, we
will have to adapt to his rhythm. Dealing with Preval has
never been easy. Yet he remains Haiti's indispensable man and
he must succeed in passing this country to a new leadership
in 2011. We therefore must continue to find creative,
consistent ways to reinforce and maintain our engagement - at
all levels of the USG - with Preval and to press him to move
forward the important agenda of change that remains as yet
unrealized here.



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