BY JOE MOZINGO
Knight Ridder Newspapers
MIAMI – (KRT) – Haitian authorities at the Port-au-Prince airport refused to let Miami attorney Ira Kurzban enter the country Monday because of his close ties to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Kurzban flew to Haiti with a contingent of Aristide supporters that included U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters D-Cal., to visit two top officials of Aristide’s government who are on a hunger strike in the national penitentiary.
When the plane landed in Port-au-Prince, Douglas Griffiths, the U.S. Embassy charge d’affairs in Haiti, told him that Haitian authorities might arrest him if he tried to enter the country, Kurzban said.
Kurzban, who is Aristide’s longtime attorney and a relentless critic of the current government, did not take the risk and flew back to Miami.
“The reason for me not entering the country is because there is an illegitimate government that is anti-Democratic and does not like that I speak on behalf of democracy,” he told The Herald.
Haitian officials could not be reached to explain on what basis Kurzban would have been be arrested.
Accompanied by embassy security agents, Waters continued her brief tour, visiting former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert, who are protesting their incarceration with a hunger strike launched 15 days ago.
Neptune, 58, is “very thin,” doesn’t “speak much above a whisper” and became fatigued to the point of having to lie down after their meeting, Waters told reporters before returning to the United States, according to wire reports.
U.N. envoy Juan Gabriel Valdes told The Associated Press he visited Neptune twice last week and he appeared in relatively good health.
Neptune and Privert are among dozens of ex-officials jailed without charge since Aristide fled Haiti last year during an uprising. Both deny accusations of ordering the killings of Aristide opponents in the provincial town of St. Marc during the rebellion.