Prosper Avril, An Appeal to History: The Truth About a Singular Lawsuit
É In the year 1998, in my capacity as leader of the Reformist Coalition for the Development of Haiti in Democracy and Order ( CREDDO), a political party I founded in 1995 after my return to the country, I was invited to sign a resolution with some other political leaders gathered by the International Republican Institute (IRI), a US Agency promoting political pluralism in Haiti. The goal of this meeting was to find a resolution to the lasting Haitian crisis.
Before signing the document, it became necessary to create an atmosphere of accord between myself and two other political leaders who were involved in this lawsuit, M. Serge Gilles and M. Evans Paul, respectively the leaders of PANPRA and of KID, two Haitian political organizations which were also part of the IRI workshop.
Fully aware of the difficulty of the situation, I took the initiative to pave the way for reconciliation. Otherwise, there would have been no possibility of having this document signed by all the political formations attending. Thus, with the staff of the Haitian office of IRI mediating, I sent a personal letter to the people involved to express my regret to them about what had happened eight years before. I sincerely thought it was time to heal the wounds existing among Haitian brothers who needed to work together for the welfare of the Haitian people. This is the letter I signed on April 21, 1998:
During the last months, members of the Reformist Coalition for the Development of Democracy and Order in Haiti (CREDDO) have taken part in various meetings during which they have had cordial exchanges with colleagues of other political parties about the future of Haitian institutions and the contribution that political groups must bring to put an end to the present crisis which so disturbs our country.
In accord with this approach which has led to a closer relation between Haitian political actors, it is important for me, as the leader of CREDDO, to come to terms with you about the deplorable incident of which you were victims under my government, an incident which occurred [p.292] following the events of November 2, 1989 and January 19, 1990.
The government of which I was then the Head had assumed, and I still assume personally as the captain in command at the time, the moral responsibility for this regrettable incident, even if, as was pointed out at that time, there was no order given by myself for you to be mistreated. I call upon the experience that you have gained since then in the management of the affairs of the Haitian state to understand that accidents of this type are possible, and that the vigilance of those at the helm can sometimes fail.
Today, once more, in order to promote dialogue between the political parties and hopefully to settle this dispute definitively, I make a point of saying to you, this time formally, that I regret your arrests and their harmful consequences, all the more so as my government had set up a profitable dialogue at that time with the political parties. The success of a national Forum and the creation of the Permanent Electoral Council specifically attest to the value of this dialogue.
In the final analysis, we were both victims of this event: my government and myself in our reputation and our failure to bring about a successful democratic transition; your colleagues and yourself in you physical and moral integrity. I hope that we will be able to fight together to [p. 293] prevent other governments or citizens from being victims of such brutalities.
Our country is currently experiencing a moment of great distress. Our political parties must collaborate today, in spite of their differences, and reinforce what they have in common, to keep open the window of political opportunity which has emerged during recent months, an opening without which the country will remain in its dead end.
I appreciate the true value of this occasion offered to me to renew with my profound consideration and to promote a sincere and honest reciprocal collaboration in our shared Fatherland.
A copy of this letter was given to the International Republican Institute, a witness to the initiative. As soon as the document reached its destination, both political leaders understood the situation and voted for reconciliation and peace. On Friday, May 8, 1998, a document entitled "Declaration of Principles of the Haitian Political Parties" was signed by all the political parties united under the auspices of the IRI in a "Haitian Conference of Political Parties" (CHPP), including side by side the political formations headed by MM. Serge Gilles, Evans Paul and Prosper Avril.
(1) Evans Paul
Evans Paul is an expert in crowd manipulation. He was always to be found at the head of street demonstrations of popular groups in Port-au-Prince, burning tires and building barricades.
(4) Serge Gilles
M. Serge Gilles is the leader of a respectable political party. He was arrested during a search at his house in the context of the emergency measures taken. An unlicenced [sic] firearm was found in his home, which was not a serious offense. When I learned from M. Marc Bazin, a political leader, that M. Gilles was at the Police Headquarters, I immediately called the Chief-of-Police, Colonel Martial Romelus, and instructed him to set free without delay. Colonel Romilus even granted him a provisional license for his weapon. Moreover, I talked with M. Gilles by phone while he was at the office of the Chief-of-Police and apologized to him on behalf of the government. É.