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courage is contagious

Viewing cable 07PORTAUPRINCE408, RESPONSE TO INR/B REQUIREMENTS ON PRESIDENT PREVAL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07PORTAUPRINCE408 2007-03-01 17:05 2010-11-30 16:04 SECRET Embassy Port Au Prince
VZCZCXRO2249
OO RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #0408/01 0601750
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 011750Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5478
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 1434
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1257
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL//OLE/OI//
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 07 PORT AU PRINCE 000408 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR WHA/CAR 
DRL 
S/CRS 
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD 
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR 
INR/IAA (BEN-YEHUDA) 
TREASURY FOR JEFFREY LEVINE 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/26/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL SNAR KCRM HA
SUBJECT: RESPONSE TO INR/B REQUIREMENTS ON PRESIDENT PREVAL 

REF: STATE 5107 

Classified By: Classified by Ambassador Janet A. Sanderson for reasons 
1.4(b) and (d). 

1. (C) Introduction: Reftel asks for a comprehensive 
assessment of President Preval's decision-making process and 
leadership style. As noted in reftel, post has reported on 
many of the specific topics inquired about over the course of 
Preval's re-election campaign and the first year of his 
second term. We welcome the opportunity to reiterate key 
judgments that we believe will become increasingly important 
as the Preval administration approaches completion of its 
first year in office. In sum, we believe Preval's commitment 
to building democratic institutions, promoting political 
stability, and developing the economy corresponds with our 
own interests. However, Preval's weaknesses as an executive, 
his reflexive nationalism, and his disinterest in managing 
bilateral relations in a broad diplomatic sense, will lead to 
periodic frictions as we move forward our bilateral agenda. 
Case in point, we believe that in terms of foreign policy, 
Preval is most interested in gaining increased assistance 
from any available resource. He is likely to be tempted to 
frame his relationship with Venezuela and Chavez-allies in 
the hemisphere in a way that he hopes will create a 
competitive atmosphere as far as who can provide the most to 
Haiti. Additionally, Preval has displayed a tendency to 
fixate on a particular issue at the exclusion of all others 
and then to move on to other issues without leaving much to 
show for his efforts. Since taking office in May 2006, 
Preval has been the education president, the roads president, 
and now the anti-narcotics president. All of these issues 
are worthy of his time and attention, but require a coherent 
approach to policy implementation in addition to rhetoric. 
End Introduction. 

2. (U) The answers below are keyed to the questions in 
reftel: 

Question A 
---------- 

3. (C) How Does Preval make policy decisions? What sources 
of information does Preval draw from when making decisions 
and how does he process that information, e.g. is he 
receptive new information, does he seek advice or rely on his 
own intuition? Does Preval tend to see policy issues in 
black and white or in shades of grey? 

4. (C) We judge that Preval largely relies on his own 
intuition and experience in formulating policy. We see that 
experiences from his first presidential term are nearly 
always a touchstone on key bilateral issues, even when 
circumstances have significantly changed or the conclusion he 
is drawing is not directly applicable to the issue at hand. 
Preval's recent insistence that the U.S. does not do enough 
to combat narcotics traffic through Haiti is a clear example 
of an attitude carried over from his first term. Likewise, 
Preval's current resistance to making a placating gesture to 
China after the GoH voiced support for Taiwan at the UN is 
based in part on Preval's belief that China behaved 
unreasonably when renewing UN mission mandates during his 
first term. 

5. (C) On balance, we see that issues where Preval has a 
fixed view, for example relations with China, he is 
remarkably resistant to policy advice. On other issues, 
where Preval is not so engaged either because of lack of 
personal interest or lack of experience, Preval seems readily 
open to new information and flexible in his approach. This 
seems most apparent in issues relating to economic policy. 
Rather than separating Preval's thinking into black and white 
or shades of gray, we believe it is more useful to bear in 
mind that Preval often appears not to fully think through the 
implications or consequences of a particular issue. He 
neglects to carry out the kind of study or put in place the 
administrative structure required to turn an idea into 
workable policy. This was most obvious in his approach to 
negotiations with gang leaders, his focus throughout the 

PORT AU PR 00000408 002 OF 007 


summer of 2006. Due to a lack of results however, he 
abandoned the effort. Preval's entire policy seemed to be 
encapsulated in the formulation, ''disarm or die.'' He 
never appears to have coherently addressed the issue central 
to the negotiations -- the future of the most violent 
gang-leaders. 

Question B 
---------- 

6. (C) Does Preval seek advice from a wide array of sources 
or only look to certain people, if so, whom and on what 
issues? Does he trust any of his advisers or ministers to 
make key decisions in his stead? How does he deal with 
dissension or criticism from his advisors? What tone does he 
set when he meets with his advisers - e.g., does he encourage 
them to work collegially, competitively, or within the formal 
bureaucratic structure? Has Bob Manuel's influence with 
Preval diminished, and if so, why? Does Manuel continue to 
informally oversee the security portfolio? If not, who does, 
is there another adviser poised to succeed Manuel as Preval's 
''right-hand man.''? 

7. (C) Preval seems open to a wide array of sources -- he 
reportedly reads and pays attention to the media on a wide 
variety of subjects and maintains a broad circle of friends 
-- but appears to limit the number of people from whom he 
actively seeks advice. Some, most notably Robert Manuel, 
have complained that the number is growing smaller and that 
his fiancee, Elizabeth Delatour, is the only advisor with 
whom he has meaningful discussions. Fritz Longchamp, 
Secretary General of the Presidency, appears to have gained 

SIPDIS 
access and influence to Preval regarding the dispute with 
China. As a former foreign minister, Longchamp may also be 
advising on broader foreign policy issues. Gabriel Verret 
remains Preval's closest advisor on economic issues. Lionel 
Delatour, Elizabeth Delatour's brother-in-law, maintains 
somewhat regular access due to his family ties and his direct 
involvement with the effort to promote HOPE legislation, 
however Delatour himself has complained that Preval often 
ignores his advice. With a few exceptions, Preval appears 
not to trust his advisers or ministers to make key decisions, 
or even to implement key decisions. The most recent account 
of the council of ministers meetings provided by Gabriel 
Verret to the Ambassador describes Preval going through the 
action items of each ministry and demanding status reports. 

8. (C) With the Embassy and USG representatives, ministers as 
a group are deferential and mostly subdued in Preval's 
presence. There is little air of give-and-take or 
willingness among ministers to extemporize. In meetings with 
USG officials Preval has abruptly cut off Prime Minister 
Alexis on two occasions, disagreeing with his views. On 
another occasion he cut off Minister of Public Works Frantz 
Varella, who had offered an observation regarding security, 
telling him that security was not his responsibility. We 
hear of very little, if any, substantive criticism or 
dissension among the cabinet in private. The most visible 
intra-cabinet dissension, so far, has been between the 
judiciary and security officials; most recently, a rift 
between the justice minister and chief prosecutor Claudy 
Gassant. Preval has pointedly refused to intervene. Many 
among Haiti's chattering classes attribute this to a strategy 
on Preval's part to keep members of his government divided 
and weak. We judge rather that his attitude is more in line 
with his overall passivity as an executive. 

9. (C) Having observed the Preval-Manuel relationship over 
the past two years since Manuel's return to Haiti to join the 
Preval campaign, we judge that Manuel's role is most 
accurately described as Best Friend. Manuel remains Preval's 
closest confidante, and Preval still uses him as his personal 
emissary, but the influence of Manuel's own views on any 
given subject appear limited. For example, against Manuel's 
advice and own wishes, Preval involved Manuel in his first 
negotiations with gang leaders in the summer of 2006. With 
Manuel's displeasure with this policy unabated, Preval simply 
cut him out of the process. Manuel appears still to be 
charged with the management of Preval's personal security, 

PORT AU PR 00000408 003 OF 007 


overseeing the Presidential Protection Unit (USPN) in the 
palace, but Preval himself appears to have taken complete 
charge of security policy. Manuel, along with the justice 
minister, is charged with preparing President Preval for the 
upcoming drug trafficking summit in the Dominican Republic on 
March 16, but our contacts with Manuel on narcotics issues so 
far indicate that he does no more than to restate Preval's 
own views, often with more passion. Manuel confided to the 
Ambassador that he is frustrated with Preval's unwillingness 
to listen to him and heed advice and that he wants to leave 
Haiti, preferably as Ambassador to Mexico, but that Preval 
has been non-committal about the timing of his appointment. 
Whatever the state of their relationship on policy issues, 
Preval clearly values Manuel's friendship and may be 
reluctant to let him go. 

Question C 
---------- 

10. (C) What is the nature of Preval's relationship with 
Director General of the Haitian National Police Mario 
Andresol, Foreign Minister Jean Reynald Clerisme, Secretary 
of State for Public Security Luc Eucher Joseph, Secretary 
General of the Presidency Fritz Longchamp, and economic 
advisor Gabriel Verret. 

11. (C) Preval's relationship with Andresol does not appear 
to extend beyond their formal association as president and 
the chief of police. Preval and Andresol had no personal 
connection to speak of before Preval inherited and then 
re-appointed Andresol director general of the HNP. For his 
part, Andresol has, on several occasions, expressed 
frustration that he has not been able to gain more trust from 
Preval. Likewise, Preval's relationship with Eucher seems 
limited to their formal roles: Eucher is not otherwise a 
close of advisor from whom Preval seeks counsel. Preval and 
Clerisme have a large number of mutual acquaintances from the 
rural/populist movements, however they do not have a close 
personal bond. Preval has reportedly taken personal charge of 
all important foreign policy issues, leaving Clerisme with 
little influence. Longchamp is both a trusted advisor and 
personal friend. With Preval limiting PM Alexis' direction 
of the cabinet, and not having named a chief of staff, the 
importance of Longchamp's position has steadily increased. 
Finally, Gabriel Verret, perhaps even more than either Robert 
Manuel or Longchamp, is the other advisor in the palace who 
can claim to be both a trusted confidante and influential 
policy advisor, as Preval remains open to advice on economic 
matters. In the same way, Elizabeth Delatour, who is also 
formally charged with providing economic advice, might be the 
single most important influence on Preval. 

Question D 
---------- 

12. (C) What are Alexis and Foreign Minister Clerisme's 
perceptions of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide? 

13. (C) Based on Alexis' long-standing personal association 
with Preval from his previous administration through his 
active role in the most recent presidential campaign, we 
surmise that Alexis' views on Aristide hew closely to 
Preval's own (i.e. that Aristide betrayed the Haitian 
people). If Alexis believes otherwise, he gives no hint of 
disagreement with Preval. We are less familiar with 
Clerisme, but note that Clerisme's political engagement began 
with his involvement as a liberation theology priest working 
in the rural, peasant movement in Haiti's northeast. Most of 
this movement's leaders became disillusioned with Aristide 
during the mid-1990's. Whatever Clerisme's views, as with 
Alexis, to the extent they do not correspond to Preval's, he 
keeps them to himself. 

Question E 
---------- 

14. (C) Is Preval influenced by ideology, and if so, what are 
the major influences? What motivated him to return to 
politics? What role do Catholicism, voodoo, and 

PORT AU PR 00000408 004 OF 007 


liberation-theology play in his worldview? What is his full 
educational history and experience working in private 
industry? 

15. (C) Preval seems profoundly uninfluenced and uninterested 
in ideology at this stage in his life. Despite his 
involvement in radical/communist circles as a student in 
Belgium and his entrance into Haitian politics through a 
populist movement deeply influenced by liberation theology, 
Preval's public and private discourse is practically devoid 
of any notions reflecting that background. In the context of 
the developing world, we would most accurately describe him 
as a neo-liberal, particularly in that he has embraced free 
markets and foreign investment. 

16. (C) At the same time, Preval's discourse regarding 
Haitian politics remains framed in the context of his past. 
He still refers broadly to ''the people'' and ''the 
bourgeois'' in referring to Haitian society. His leftist 
views reportedly caused a deep rift between himself and his 
family, particularly his father, who although opposed to 
Duvalier held traditional Haitian upper-class views. This is 
as close to an insight as we may venture into his motivation 
to return to politics, which is something of a puzzle. While 
a canny politician and an effective campaigner Preval evinces 
little of the ambition or overt drive typical of most 
politicians. It may be simply that he rightly recognized 
that he was the only leader in Haiti who legitimately 
represented the broad-based popular movement that toppled 
Duvalier and first brought Aristide to power. 

17. (C) Like most Haitians, Preval was raised Catholic with 
an exposure to voodoo practices. He is a non-observant 
Catholic but maintains a cordial and respectful relationship 
with Haiti's Catholic hierarchy. He is particularly close to 
Haiti's Archbishop, who was a life-long friend of his 
parents. Likewise, he maintains a respectful and cordial 
relationship with Voodoo leaders. There are unconfirmed 
reports that Robert Manuel, who is a born-again Christian, 
influences Preval's religious views and that the two 
regularly pray together. However, Preval has been jocular 
and once dismissive of Manuel's praying in conversations with 
ambassadors. 

18. (C) Preval's educational and professional experiences 
listed in open sources are mostly accurate. He studied 
agronomy at the University of Louvain in Belgium but did not 
receive a degree reportedly because he spent too much time 
participating in political activities. Though he obtained a 
position with the National Institute for Mineral Resources, 
apparently as part of Jean-Claude Duvalier's conciliatory 
gestures to his father's opponents, Embassy sources do not 
believe he actually worked at his job. He went into the 
bakery business with several friends in the mid-1970, 
including Michele Pierre Louis, a renowned patron of Haitian 
arts, and through her met Aristide. Preval's bakery was 
successful, but destroyed by associates of the military after 
the 1991 coup d'etat. Among the many incidents of conflict 
between the right-wing and Aristide supporters, Preval 
apparently holds a special grudge against those who destroyed 
his business. 

Question F 
---------- 

19. (C) What is Preval's relationship to Geri Benoit? Does 
his sister, Marie-Claude Calvin, play an influential role in 
his administration? Does Elizabeth Delatour yield influence 
over Preval's political decision-making? What is the status 
of their impending nuptials? One of Preval's daughters lives 
with him in Port-au-Prince. Where is the other and what does 
she do? 

20. (C) Though Preval and his second wife, Geri Benoit, 
appeared together at times during the campaign, they have 
apparently lived entirely separate lives since his 
inauguration. Mrs. Calvin and Preval are very close. She 
was among the family members on the payroll at his 
agricultural foundation in Marmalade, which was funded by 

PORT AU PR 00000408 005 OF 007 


Taiwan. Calvin acts as his scheduler, keeps an office in the 
palace, and one ambassador reports that Calvin kept him at 
bay for several days when he had an urgent request to see 
Preval. Calvin and her husband also accompanied Preval on 
his second trip to Cuba for medical attention. Mrs. Calvin 
does not appear to play any role in influencing government 
policy. 

21. (C) It is difficult to assess Elizabeth Delatour's 
influence on policy. She is extremely private and reserved 
and does not generally engage foreign officials in 
substantive conversation. She politely resisted the 
Ambassador's attempts to establish a more social 
relationship. Numerous people close to Preval complain that 
Preval has neglected both his work and limited the input of 
other advisors in favor of Delatour. During the critical 
juncture over the dispute with China regarding the renewal of 
MINUSTAH's mandate, Delatour appeared to play a central role. 
SRSG Mulet chose Delatour as his contact when he argued that 
the GoH must provide China some kind of written apology: 
Preval ultimately grudgingly signed a letter. Delatour 
called the Ambassador in Washington when she was in the 
Department for consultations asking for an update on the 
Chinese delegation's position in New York. Preval's wedding 
plans remain perhaps the best kept secret in Haiti. We have 
confirmed from multiple reliable sources that they are 
formally engaged, but no further reliable news regarding 
wedding plans has emerged. Factors that might be 
complicating their plans include Preval's health and living 
arrangements for Delatour's 11-year old son. 

22. (C) Preval's older daughter, Dominique, lives with her 
mother in Port-au-Prince and runs a stationery store above 
her mother's book store. She is close to both her parents. 
Preval's younger daughter, Patricia, is currently in Sri 
Lanka studying Asian art. 

Question G 
---------- 

23. (C) How much importance does Preval place on maintaining 
close bilateral relations with the United States? Are there 
aspects of the relationship he values more than others? Does 
he view it as a mutually beneficial relationship? Does he 
see Haiti as having obligations or responsibilities to the 
U.S.? How does he view the U.S.' previous involvement in 
Haiti? What is Preval's relationship with the Haitian 
Diaspora? 

24. (C) Preval recognizes that the U.S. is Haiti's most 
important bilateral partner and that Haiti's closest societal 
links internationally are with the U.S. His priority on the 
bilateral agenda is to leverage and extract the most 
assistance for Haiti on his own terms and to tap into the 
wealth and resources of the Haitian-American community in the 
U.S. As the president of a small, poor nation in the shadow 
of the American behemoth, he clearly believes that the U.S. 
has far greater obligations to Haiti than the other way 
around, if, in fact, Haiti has any obligations at all. 
Preval numbers a few close friends in the diaspora of whom we 
know. He established a friendship with Dumarsais Simeus 
during the presidential campaign, and they stay in contact by 
email. For the most part, however, Preval does not seem 
closely connected to or interested in Haitian communities 
abroad. He has indicated on a number of occasions that he 
fears that pro-Aristide extremists exert excessive influence 
in diaspora communities. 

Question H 
---------- 

25. (C) Are cabinet officials involved in any illicit 
activities? How does Preval handle corruption within his 
administration? 

26. (C) There has been little indication that cabinet members 
have been involved in illicit activities so far. At the time 
of the cabinet's formation, observers noted that the 
ministers had been mostly free of suspicion over the course 

PORT AU PR 00000408 006 OF 007 


of their careers. Indications regarding Preval's own 
attitude toward corruption are mixed. During his first term, 
Preval either tolerated or was forced to accept gross abuses 
on the part of close associates of Aristide. In either case, 
Preval has exhibited a non-confrontational approach with 
passivity toward difficult issues as the hallmark of his 
political career. Preval maintains a reputation for personal 
honesty. 

Question I 
---------- 

27. (C) How has Preval handled domestic criticism thus far? 
Does he have a public communications or publicity strategy or 
manager? How does he perform under significant stress? How 
does he respond to confrontation, either personally or 
indirectly, e.g. mass unrest? 

28. (C) Preval has been remarkably impervious and 
unresponsive to domestic criticism thus far, which mostly 
centers on his approach to security and the gang activity 
during the fall of 2006, when kidnapping and crime spiked 
upward. There have been no significant incidents of mass 
unrest since his inauguration on which to judge his reaction. 
Based on his intense involvement in the daily review of 
security policy, we surmise that he pays close attention to 
public opinion, even if remaining uncommunicative himself. 
He has a palace spokesman in name, Assad Volce but hardly 
uses him. Nor does he use the minister for communication, 
who is traditionally the government's chief spokesperson. 
Regarding his public relations strategy, he has said on 
several occasions, that he wants to change the tradition of 
Haiti's presidents being the center of attention who make 
promises that they are unable to deliver. ''I will talk when 
I have some accomplishments to talk about.'' 

Question J 
---------- 

29. (C) What is the status of Preval's Lespwa coalition? Is 
it a cohesive coalition or is it fractured? Do its members 
regard Preval as their leader? What is Preval's relationship 
to Fanmi Lavalas (FL)? 

30. (C) Preval has removed himself from involvement in Lespwa 
and undertakes little visible role in managing relations with 
the parliament. Lespwa is directionless as a party. Though, 
in the general, Lespwa's drift does not particularly stand 
out in the incohesive atmosphere of Haiti's parliament. 
Senate President Joseph Lambert, has emerged as a leader 
among Lespwa parliamentarians, but devotes more of his energy 
to cultivating his image as parliament's chief, rather than 
simply a party leader. No other Lespwa parliamentarian has 
demonstrated a capacity to take direction of the party. 
Lespwa parliamentarians no longer regard Preval as their 
party leader, but recognizing he remains the country's most 
popular politician and still associated with Lespwa in the 
public's mind, they do not generally criticize him in public 
or in private. Preval has virtually no contact with any of 
the various FL factions. 

Question K 
---------- 

31. (C) How long are Preval's workdays? How many breaks does 
he take during his workday, what does he do during them and 
how long do they last? Under what circumstances? 

32. (C) Preval appears to be keeping an increasingly busy 
schedule, working longer hours and seeing more visitors. The 
Ambassador has taken phone calls from him as early as 6:30 am 
and has had meetings as late as 6:30 pm. Preval told the 
Ambassador recently that he has for many years taken a full, 
in-pajamas 2-3 hour nap every afternoon, allowing him to 
maintain his energy. 

Question L 
---------- 


PORT AU PR 00000408 007 OF 007 


33. (S/NF) What family history of alcohol or substance use 
does Preval have? What alcohol or drugs has he been observed 
using, how much, and under what circumstances? Any related 
problems? Has Preval ever been observed to be high or drunk, 
disoriented, trembling or physically jittery, or had memory 
lapses? How many drinks can Preval consume before he shows 
signs of inebriation? Does Preval take any medications? 

34. (S/NF) Preval's parents both lived well into their 
eighties. His father, in particular, reportedly enjoyed 
robust health. No one in his immediate family has or had a 
reputation for alcohol abuse. Preval drinks whiskey and 
smokes in public, including at Embassy functions, but we have 
not observed him inebriated nor seen him take more than one 
or two drinks. Rumors abound about his deteriorating 
physical condition -- intense physical pain, high dosages of 
medication, however; we have no credible first-hand reports 
to confirm this. In our meetings Preval has always been 
completely lucid and has never appeared to be in any great 
pain. Special intelligence indicates that he began taking 
medication after the most recent round of medical 
examinations in Cuba that indicated a possibility of the 
return of prostate cancer. 
TIGHE