A month before a newly elected Haitian President René Préval was to assume office in 2006, frustrated U.S. officials found themselves in a diplomatic tussle with Haitis interim government over returning criminals to the country.
Nine months earlier, the U.S. had unofficially halted deportations amid concerns that deportees were behind a wave of kidnappings and violence. With presidential elections over, and the security situation somewhat improved, U.S. officials wanted the program resumed.
Instead of finding the supportive ally it had on countless issues since South Floridian Gerard Latortue was plucked from retirement and installed as prime minister, the U.S. found a resisting partner.
It was one of the few times that Latortue, installed after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced from power, attempted to stand up to Haitis most powerful ally, according to confidential cables obtained by WikiLeaks and shared with McClatchy newspapers.
The collective tone of the cables between Port-au-Prince and Washington during the interim governments two-year rule from March 2004 to June 2006, show how deeply the U.S. government was involved in Haitis internal affairs. They also illustrate how Latortue relied on the U.S.s top envoys in Port-au-Prince for counsel and support, even as his government broke promises and commitments, such as on-time presidential and legislative elections, the release of Aristides former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and the rapid resumption of deportations.
These cables show over and over, the U.S. considered Haiti to be its ward and regardless of whomever is in power, either democratically elected or not, they expect that person to do their bidding, said Alex Dupuy, author of The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti and the International Community.
They keep putting people in power but what they dont understand about Haiti is Haitians have their own agenda when it comes to power, added Dupuy, who teaches sociology at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Regardless of what the U.S. wants, there are always internal issues they will have to deal with, different factions vying for power and interfering with the agenda of the U.S. and international community.
Latortue, who lives in Boca Raton, declined a Miami Herald interview request to discuss the cables, or his tenure as prime minister.
The role of the U.S. in Haitis internal affairs has long been a matter of debate among Haiti watchers and Haitians, who questioned their countrys sovereignty after the international communitys role in the recently concluded fraud-plagued, controversial presidential and legislative elections. After the Nov. 28 first round, the U.S. government revoked and eventually returned visas of Préval loyalists as part of its pressure tactics to get the former president to replace his partys candidate, Jude Célestin, from the runoff in favor of singer Michel Martelly.
Martelly eventually won the presidency. But two months in office, hes struggling to install a prime minister. His selection of Bernard Gousse, a lawyer who served as minister of justice and public security in the interim government, has reignited debate about the Latortue government. The cables show that U.S. and U.N. diplomats were frustrated over Gousses poor handling of security, and lack of judicial and police reforms.