The release of secret U.S. Embassy cables has provoked a maelstrom in Haitian politics, threatening the approval of a prime minister-designate, damaging the career of a leading right-wing politician, and throwing Haiti’s tiny and ultra-rich elite into a paroxysm of public mea culpas.
“So it is with humility and simplicity devoid of artifice that I want to offer you my sincerest apologies,” wrote Fritz Mevs, the leader of one Haiti’s richest families, in an open letter to Senator Youri Latortue, one of Haiti’s most powerful right-wing politicians and a key ally of new Haitian President Michel Martelly.
“I recognize in you the qualities of a fervent patriot, a tireless servant of your country's interests. I stand ready to make honorable amends by publicly correcting any damage to your reputation,” he added.
Mevs was walking back charges he made in a May 2005 meeting with former U.S. Ambassador James Foley that Senator Latortue was part of a “cabal” of business and political elites that controlled a network of dirty cops and gangs engaged in narco-trafficking and kidnapping, generating political violence and instability.
Mevs’ apology came the same week that a further batch of State Department cables released by the weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté described Youri Latortue as a “mafia boss,” “drug dealer” and the “the most brazenly corrupt of leading Haitian politicians.”
Latortue denies the allegations and has threatened a lawsuit against Haïti Liberté.
Meanwhile, parliamentary approval for President Michel Martelly’s pick for prime minister, Bernard Gousse, took a major blow with the publication of secret U.S. Embassy reports that he was a “complete failure both on the security and justice fronts” when he served as Justice Minister under the de facto coup government that followed the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.
During his tenure, Gousse presided over repeated police and paramilitary assaults on suspected pro-Aristide neighborhoods and supporters, killing and jailing thousands of people.
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