Haiti Grants Former President Aristide a Diplomatic Passport
February 1, 2011 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — Haitian officials said Monday that former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is eligible for a diplomatic passport.
Aristide’s lawyer, Ira Kurzban, said he was notified of the country’s decision last week and that he sent a letter to Haitian authorities on Monday to request that Aristide’s passport be “issued immediately, and that plans for his return commence immediately.”
The issuing of a passport to Aristide by Haiti’s Council of Ministers, under the direction of current President René Préval, is a major reversal for Préval, who had refused Aristide’s request for a passport for years, due in part in to international pressure.
“The Council of Ministers, under the leadership of President Rene Preval, decided that a diplomatic passport be issued to President Aristide, if he asks for it,” Fritz Longchamp, general secretary for the presidency, told Reuters.
There is no definite time frame for Aristide’s return, but there are worries from the United States and others in the international community that his arrival will cause more disruptions in an already edgy political climate after November’s chaotic presidential and legislative elections.
Results from the contested elections are due Wednesday and Préval needs to step down from his post by February 7.
Aristide, a former Catholic priest who first came to power in 1990, was ousted months later in a coup led by Brigadier-General Raoul Cedras. In 1994, he returned to Haiti after the military regime gave up power in the face of a U.S. invasion and served his term until 1996.
He was re-elected in 2000, but once again forced from power early in 2004, after several months of increasing political turmoil. The leftist leader is still thought to have a considerable group of supporters in Haiti.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The Mexican government offered a reward Monday of $1.7 million for information leading to the arrest of three suspects in the kidnapping and murder of 72 migrants in northern Mexico in August 2010.
- Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim plans to invest $8.3 billion dollars this year in 19 countries, with most of the money going to Mexico.
- A study released Monday contends that the 287(g) program is too tough with undocumented aliens charged with no more than misdemeanors or immigration violations.
- The director of a psychiatric hospital in Cuba where 26 patients died from hypothermia last year has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
- The Haitian government says it is ready to issue former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide a passport, opening the way for his possible return.
- The Guatemalan father of a U.S. Marine assigned to duty in Afghanistan was deported after being denied a last-ditch effort to plead his case to stay in this country.
- A garbage disposal company in Houston is fighting the wrongful death judgment of an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador on the grounds he would have been deported.
- Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya says a leaked diplomatic document wrongly implies that he acted on behalf of the U.S. during negotiations on lifting Cuba’s suspension from the Organization of American States.
- The Venezuelan government on Monday launched a new public securities exchange that is to be a venue for selling both government and corporate bonds.
- Venezuela said Monday it has treated 135 people for cholera after they were infected at a wedding in the Dominican Republic, where the disease has spilled over from an epidemic in Haiti.
- Five people were killed and 10 others wounded when an unknown assailant opened fire at a dance hall during Carnival celebrations in the southern Colombian town of Tuquerres, an official of the Nariño provincial government told EFE on Monday.
- Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Monday appointed Esteban Albornoz as Electricity and Renewable Energy minister, replacing Miguel Calahorrano.
- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff signed energy and trade accords with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on Monday.
- Paraguay said that it supports Colombia’s bid to join the Mercosur regional group.
- Scientists say that central Chile still faces a large risk of an earthquake hitting near of last February’s Magnitude 8.8 event.
- A human rights group released photos of a previously unknown indigenous tribe near Brazil’s border with Peru.
Image: Ben Piven @ Flickr.