Jacqueline Charles (Miami Herald) gives us a closer look at Haiti’s provisional President Jocelerme Privert (shown above, center right, with his wife Ginette Michaud):
In the days since his unconventional rise to the pinnacle of power, the man who successfully managed President Michel Martelly’s exit and then got parliament to elect him as the nation’s interim head of state, has been busy meeting with opposition and business leaders, political militants and experts on the economy. Those who know Jocelerme Privert say that is his trademark modus operandi.
“There are very few individuals who have as strong a backing from both the formal, forward-looking private sector and the radical elements on the streets,” said Lionel Delatour, a private sector consultant and political analyst.
Since his release from a Haitian prison a decade ago, Privert, 62, has quietly remade his image. He served as an adviser to former President René Préval, became an expert on Haiti’s most important relationship with Venezuela — earning the nickname Mr. Petrocaribe — and became such an indispensable resource on the tax system that a foreign diplomat once referred to him as one of Haiti’s smartest men.
[. . .] “I’ve spent all of my life serving the country, all of my life serving the State and now, I’ve arrived at this historic crossroads.,” Privert told the Miami Herald, explaining why he would take on what some define as “an impossible mission.” “A large sector has put their trust in me because they believe I can offer up a response to the crisis. My colleagues in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies believe that my experience in government, my capacity to communicate with everyone in this society, to gather people, are right for this situation that almost ripped this country apart.”
So far, Privert is proving them right. His outreach has quieted the violent demonstrations that have erupted since the disputed Oct. 25 presidential vote. But with the search still ongoing for a consensus prime minister to lead a government more reflective of the opposition and parliament, questions remain: How long will the peace last? Can the calm and mild-mannered Privert steer the country toward legitimate elections?
[. . .] Privert joined Préval’s kitchen cabinet just days after his release from prison after 26 months. He and then-Prime Minister Yvon Neptune were accused of being involved in a massacre of Aristide opponents in the town of La Scierie, St. Marc in the turbulent days before Aristide’s Feb. 29, 2004 resignation amid a bloody coup.
“Not only did the justice decide on this, but no one today has any reason or justification to associate my name, Jocelerme Privert, with the incident,” he said. [. . .]