Emmanuel "Toto" Constant and American Foreign Policy, Match Made in Hell

François Emmanuel "Toto" Constant, born in 1956, started FRAPH (Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti), a death squad in mid-1993, at the request of U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency officer, Col. Patrick Collins, after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, unable to take office, had been exiled to South Africa. The intent of FRAPH was to gather intelligence to infiltrate and destroy the Aristide pro-democracy movement, terrorizing Aristide loyalists in the process.


In October 1993, Emmanuel assumed a major role in world affairs, when he and his FRAPH goons rioted at the Port-au-Prince port, as the USS Harlan, with a contingent of 200 soldiers and President Aristide aboard, attempted to dock at the pier. The USS Harlan was unable to deliver Aristide back to his country to rule, forestalling U.S. efforts to put Aristide back into power. Or so it seemed.

In actuality, the U.S. never intended for Aristide to rule Haiti. Prior to the riot, Constant claimed he'd spoken with CIA chief, Kambourian, who approved the act of sabotage as part of U.S. foreign policy. According to him, "The whole affair was a bluff," designed to excuse Washington from pursuing Aristide's return to rule. The White House blamed the CIA for besmirching their foreign policy, but in truth, "the biggest secret of all," he said, "is that CIA policy was American policy."

The concern was that the U.S. feared Aristide was too radical, and in order to deter further pro-Aristide uprisings in Haiti, the CIA hired Emmanuel "Toto" Constant as an informer, paying him $500.00 a month, to inform on FRAPH. But he described a different version of the truth, that the CIA had wanted Constant to organize FRAPH, from the inception of their dealings with him.

In December 1993, with the backing of the U.S. government, in an instance of extreme brutality against Aristide supporters, FRAPH stormed the shantytown of Cite Soleil at sunrise. Invading homes, shooting residents, and burning their houses to the ground, the death squad poured gasoline around the perimeter of the town, preparing to set fire to the whole community. Fleeing families, some with young children, were forced at gun point back into their flame-engulfed homes to die. By mid-day, Cite Soleil was a graveyard, littered with the charred bones of the dead.

A few years later, in 1996, Emmanuel "Toto" Constant escaped Haiti, after the U.S. Invasion. Stealthily entering the U.S., he was, however, discovered, arrested, and ordered deported. But the Department of Justice, instead of deporting Constant, offered him a juicy deal, in exchange for keeping his mouth shut, about being an informant on the CIA payroll. Around the same time, Haiti was calling for extradition of Constant, to face murder, torture, and arson charges in Haiti, the U.S. gave Constant a work permit and permission to live in any country he chose, thus complicit in his escape from justice. In so doing, the U.S. violated the United Nations torture convention, which asserted that suspected torturers be extradited to stand trial for their crimes.

Justice has never been fully delivered against Emmanuel "Toto" Constant. Events and circumstances have conspired to avert the punishment he deserves for his crimes against humanity. Although in October 2006, a New York Federal Court found Constant's FRAPH guilty of raping three women and awarded $19 million in damages, I doubt the victims got one penny of it, the award more a symbolic gesture than anything.

Back in court again in July 2008, Constant was convicted by a Brooklyn jury panel of a mortgage fraud scheme, and the Kings County Supreme Court sentenced him to a 12- to 37-year prison term. Judge Abraham Gerges implored the U.S. government not to extradite Constant to Haiti to stand trial, suspecting the Haitian judicial system would not render justice. But the U.S. government, once again, behaved in a contradictory fashion, as Judge Gerges commented that "it is apparent that the federal authorities may deport him shortly."

Why? Does Emmanuel "Toto" Constant have more aces up his sleeve? More secrets to reveal about the relationship between corrupt U.S. officials and their involvement in keeping democracy from taking root in Haiti? It would seem so.

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Read more: crime, Emmanuel Constant, Toto Constant, FRAPH, CIA, gang

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