COLLEAGUE CHRONICLES CORRUPTION OF YOURI LATORTUE:Running Drug and Gang Activities in Gonaives


MORE TO COME ON SENATOR LATORTUE DRUG DEALINGS FILES 3 INDICTMENTS THAT WERE SOMEHOW PUT TO SLEEP ARE BEING REVIVED

COLLEAGUE CHRONICLES CORRUPTION OF YOURI LATORTUE
2006 November 20, 18:20 (Monday)
06PORTAUPRINCE2230_a
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL

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PORT AU PR 00002230 001.2 OF 002 Classified By: Ambassador Janet A. Sanderson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d ). 1. (C) Summary: Senator Youri Latortue may well be the most brazenly corrupt of leading Haitian politicians, according to a colleague.
The departmental delegate from Latortue’s Artibonite province recently shared with poloffs his concerns regarding Latortue’s illegal or otherwise unsavory activities in the port city of Gonaives and other areas the Artibonite. Latortue’s family connections play a part in his ability to manipulate the region, as do his close associations with armed gangs and drug traffickers.
End Summary. 2. (C) On November 9, Poloffs met with Marc-Elie St. Hilien (protect), Departmental Delegate of the Artibonite. St. Hilien has been in this presidentially-appointed position for approximately one year, serving as representative of the President in the Artibonite.
The IGoH appointed St. Hilien and he is unsure whether or not the Preval administration intends to replace him. The First Senator from the Artibonite is Youri Latortue, of the Artibonite in Action party. St. Hilien was able to provide insight into the senator’s activities in the region, particularly in the city of Gonaives. ——————– Latortue Family Ties ——————–
3. (SBU) The Latortue family is crawling all over Haitian politics. Youri is a first cousin once-removed of former IGoH Prime Minister Gerard Latortue. Youri’s sister is the former mayor of Gonaives, and the former delegate to the region was a cousin of his as well. The administration filled Haiti’s local and municipal offices by presidential appointment during the IGoH. Senator Latortue had influence over these appointments through his relation with IGoH Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, and managed to place members of his party in most positions around the Artibonite. The senator used these people to consolidate his power and influence in the region until the new delegate to the Artibonite appointed new local and regional officials who were not in the back pocket of Senator Latortue. ——————————————— ——– Senator Running Drug and Gang Activities in Gonaives? ——————————————— ——– 4. (C) St. Hilien likened Senator Latortue’s authority in the port city of Gonaives to that of a mafia boss. He claimed that the somewhat lethargic port and the drug and other contraband trafficking taking place there are completely under the Senator’s command. The port in Gonaives is largely controlled by the Cannibal Army gang, which faces persistent competition from two other gangs, Des Cahos and Jubile Blan. Senator Latortue exerts influence over all three groups and is thus able to maintain sway over dealings in the port. Senator Latortue’s other businesses in Gonaives include a nightclub and movie theater, both of questionable legitimacy. Additionally, other sources such as SRSG Mulet have accused Latortue of being a “drug dealer” (ref A), and an oft-disruptive popular organization in St. Marc named “Bale Wouze” recently accused the senator of distributing weapons in an effort to destabilize the government. (Note: St. Hilien phoned the Embassy on November 16 to reinforce the Bale Wouze accusations, and also to report another incident in which Senator Latortue and friends were stealing telephone poles and utility boxes from Port-au-Prince for use in Gonaives. End Note.) 5. (C) After the large-scale flooding in the Artibonite in September, the central government allocated emergency food supplies to be distributed to the flood victims. St. Hilien reported that Senator Latortue intercepted the supplies and stashed them temporarily somewhere in Gonaives, and then took the supplies to the victims and acted as if he was personally responsible for the handouts. PORT AU PR 00002230 002.2 OF 002 6. (C) St. Hilien recounted a story demonstrating Prime Minister Jacques Eduard-Alexis’ distrust of Senator Latortue and his Artibonite in Action party. When a group of Artibonite in Action members sat behind the Prime Minister at a recent event to celebrate the anniversary of the city of Gonaives, he asked for them to be moved so they weren’t so close to him. During the same event, Senator Latortue paid protestors to demonstrate and cause disruption to the ceremonies, according to St. Hilien. Senator Latortue often exploits local gangs for his own purposes in this way. 7. (C) Comment: Latortue’s activities are a cause for concern given his presidential ambitions for 2011. Prime Minister Alexis has gone as far as to ask for the USG to “arrest him”, as has Preval’s advisor Bob Manuel. Post will provide septel a fuller profile of Latortue’s background and policy implications for the USG. End Comment. SANDERSON


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