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26568: Hermantin (news) toussaint ad campaign turns motorists' heads (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Posted on Sat, Nov. 12, 2005
HAITI | PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Toussaint ad campaign turns motorists' heads
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
He is a former Haitian senator and suspected killer who is banned from the
United States. But that isn't stopping Dany Toussaint from seeking the Haitian
presidency -- or making an appearance in South Florida.
Not to be outdone by the slew of Haitian presidential candidates who have been
appearing at campaign fundraisers and political rallies here, Toussaint has
decided to make his presidential pitch in a big way:
A life-size billboard bearing his image popped up this week on southbound
Interstate 95 near the Northwest 69th Street exit.
Decorated in the blue, red and white colors of Haiti's flag, the sign reads:
Dany Toussaint Haiti's Next President! Ensuring Security, Health, Tourism,
Education & Agriculture.
Toussaint's grand entrance onto the political scene in South Florida has kept
the airwaves of the Haitian community radio stations crackling.
'We haven't mentioned his name in weeks. Ever since the billboard, people have
been calling, `Did you see it? Did you see it?' '' said Ed Lozama, host of a
Creole-language morning radio talk show on Planet 17 (1700 AM). 'This is a
grand way for him to say `I am here,' too.''
Jocelyn McCalla, head of the New York-based National Coalition for Haitian
Rights, couldn't stop laughing after hearing about the billboard, joking that
at least Toussaint ``is spending good money here.''
The billboard, he said, not only demonstrates that perhaps Toussaint has a bit
more money to spend than his competitors, but ``it also highlights the
importance of the Haitian expatriate community, particularly in the United
Though Haitian Americans are not allowed to vote in Haiti's upcoming
presidentialelections, which have been postponed from Nov. 20 to sometime next
month, they can influence their family and friends back in Haiti.
Still, the mere fact that Toussaint is a presidential candidate points to an
even larger issue with Haiti's already problematic elections, McCalla said.
A former Aristide ally who once headed the U.S.-trained interim National Police
force trained in the 1990s, Toussaint quickly became a nefarious character,
accused of drug trafficking by U.S. officials.
And in Haiti, he has been linked to several political assassinations including
that of Haiti's most prominent journalist, Jean Dominique. He has never been
charged, and the Dominique case remains unsolved.
Still, the implication put him on a U.S. State Department list of Haitians
''credibly alleged'' to have committed ''extra-judicial and political murders''
in Haiti, barring himfrom entering the United States.
He also was described by two members of U.S. Congress intelligence committee as
``credibly linked by a number of U.S. government agencies to narcotics
trafficking in Haiti.''
''Dany Toussaint is just a symptom of a big problem that exists in Haiti,''
McCalla said. ``You don't have the institutions that can raise a flag when
folks like Toussaint or the others like him seek the presidency. Toussaint is
not the only person who has been involved in corruption, illicit practices or
even in perpetrating or commissioning murders.''
Toussaint did not return calls for comment, but in the past has vehemently
denied any involvement in drugs or assassination plots.
Lavarice Gaudin, a leading member of the pro-Aristide group Veye Yo, who also
hosts a South Florida Creole-language radio program, said he also has been
fielding calls about the Toussaint billboard. He too finds Toussaint's
''Under the Aristide administration the [U.S.] State Department asked Aristide
for Dany Toussaint's head as a drug dealer. So as soon as they kidnap Aristide
. . . Dany no longer becomes a drug dealer? Now they accept Dany as a president
for candidate in Haiti,'' he said.
''I don't understand the morality of the U.S. government,'' he said.
The State Department has not taken any public stance on the Haitian
Toussaint is among 35 candidates Haitian electoral authorities on Friday
approved in a revised presidential candidate list.
The list did not include Miami Lakes resident Samir Mourra, or Texas
millionaire Dumarsais Siméus. Both were excluded because they hold U.S.
Haiti's constitution bars anyone from running for president if they have dual
nationality and have not lived in the country for the past five years.
© 2005 Herald.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.