View Point an Omega New column by Prof Penelope Stein
What lurks behind the Clinton emails on the Haitian political scene…
The Clinton emails provide rich layers of useful contextual evidence for all who have followed the evolution of Haitian politics over the past decade. While the general focus of the international press aims at confirming the role Bill Clinton or his wife, might have played in manipulating Haitian affairs, another story, much more pressing for the people of that country, remains muffled. That story, overshadowed by the stakes of ongoing U.S. electoral bickering, is a tale of corruption, laundering and impunity.
Former Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive issued over 300 million dollars of public works contracts under what the Ethics and Anti-Corruption permanent Commission of the Senate of the Republic of Haiti established to have been rigged bids. In many instances, the bids (labeled restricted for they only accepted pre-selected and duly invited candidates to submit offers) had 4 participants. Amongst those contestants, one contestant repeatedly did not show up, while the three others who always participated were later discovered to be corporations belonging to the same shareholder, Dominican Senator Felix Bautista. As it became evident to the Commission that Bautista always bided against himself, it also became apparent that the 4th company (that never showed up for the bidding process) most always simultaneously benefited from tens of millions of dollars of contracts through direct agreements.
Bellerive is however far from the only player tainted by the findings of the report as presented by the Honorable Youri Latortue, still actively serving as president of the Senate Commission. Former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, a well-traveled, pro-business, self-promoting entrepreneur, is alleged to have followed in Bellerive’s footsteps, at least in his loose application of public procurement laws and norms.
When Lamothe fell upon criticism for continuing to deal with the decried firms of Senator Bautista, just as Bellerive had before him, Lamothe insisted the recommendations of the Haitian state’s audit and control agency (Cour Supérieure des Comptes et du Contentieux Administratif) led him to do so. It is useful to add that this audit and control agency is the one that had approved the initial contracts of Jean Max Bellerive with Bautista, thus making it openly bias when asked opining on legality and compliance of such dealings.
It is fair to recall that neither the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission did not enjoy much credibility when, in March 2016, the honorable Youri Latortue, in his capacity as president of said Commission, launched the investigation on the Petrocaribe funds from 2008 to 2016. Public opinion was unconvinced, not only because there is no recent precedent to such an endeavor but also because Latortue who had served as Michel Martelly’s advisor and, by his own admittance, cultivated “excellent rapport” with Jean Max Bellerive and Laurent Lamothe, was expected to be partial.
As the conclusions of the Commission’s work emerged with confirmed wrongdoing across party and ideology lines, those doubts subsided; just as the camaraderie between Bellerive and Lamothe, who proceeded to engage in a mediatic war against Latortue withered.
As of this week however, with the release of copies of Hilary Clinton’s emails where unease about Bellerive and even Martelly is expressed, the Commission has scored bonus points.
Laura Graham, in referring to Jean Max Bellerive’s team writes to Bill Clinton as follows:
“it’s unbelievable what they did and how stupid or arrogant, they were in doing it because when you see it, any idiot can see it’s fraudulent.”
Unaware, as revealed by the Latortue Commission last month, that Bellerive had secured continuity through the newly elected Michel Martelly, and thus Laurent Lamothe, Laura Graham still referring to the Preval-Bellerive administration, adds:
“They thought they would be in power indefinitely and that it would be protected.”
Bellerive and Lamothe will need to adjust their defense strategy to address those new revelations which crushe their stance that the Commission’s report is a mere endeavor to damage their good reputation, non-specifically threatening to take legal action against the Commission and/or its members.
“It appears that if that is the way they chose to react to the damning conclusions of the report, they might have to add the names of Laura Graham, former Prime Minister Garry Conille all the way to William Jefferson Clinton, to the list of people to sue, as it is obvious that all, apparently had an inkling that the public work contracts signed by Bellerive and later followed through by Lamothe weren’t kosher at all” says Parnel Duverger, contributor to OMEGA World News and international consultant in Caribbean economic affairs.