[R-G] Pro-Aristide gang threatens political killings
mstainsby at resist.ca
Tue Oct 5 15:58:56 MDT 2004
Pro-Aristide gang threatens political killings
Port-au-Prince Machete-wielding supporters of ousted president
Jean-Bertrand Aristide are turning their wrath on Haiti's demoralized
police force, beheading some of their victims in a campaign imitative of
the insurgency in Iraq.
Seven of at least 18 people killed in the turmoil in Port-au-Prince have
been police officers, judicial police chief Michael Lucius said Monday. He
said an eighth officer remains in hospital with a gunshot wound to the
Three of the slain policemen were decapitated after being shot during
clashes with pro-Aristide demonstrators last week.
Interim Prime Minister Gérard Latortue, who is leading a U.S.-backed
transitional government installed after Mr. Aristide's ouster in February,
has said the police killings were part of an offensive by pro-Aristide
gangs dubbed Operation Baghdad.
Deadly clashes continued Monday between street gangs in Cité Soleil, a
Port-au-Prince shantytown teeming with Aristide supporters where police
shot and killed two gang leaders last week.
I don't know how many or who was killed, but people were killed, Cité
Soleil Mayor Corneille Jean-Jorel said by telephone from the seaside slum.
The violence in Port-au-Prince, in southern Haiti, has coincided with the
chaotic aftermath of tropical storm Jeanne in the northwest.
As rescuers recovered more bodies from the devastating floods and
mudslides around Gonaïves, the official toll rose Monday to 1,870, with
another 884 people reported missing and most presumed dead.
The Norwegian Red Cross is sending a 100-bed field hospital and an expert
team to Gonaïves on Tuesday to help storm victims. The team also planned
to rebuild as quickly as possible a 179-bed field hospital that was set up
earlier this year but was severely damaged by Jeanne.
People are desperate. They are searching for missing family members in
the mud, and badly needed food and water, Halvor Fossum Lauritzsen of the
Norwegian Red Cross said Tuesday.
About 150 Aristide supporters used torched cars and rocks to block roads
into the downtown Port-Au-Prince slum of Bel Air on Monday, accusing
police of night-time raids. Police fired in the air in an effort to
disperse the mob as UN peacekeepers guarded the nearby National Palace.
We'll be in the streets until death or Aristide comes back, said Milo
Fenelon, 24. We won't stop. If they come in here, we're going to cut off
their heads. It's going to be just like Baghdad.
Some of the demonstrators carried machetes and rocks. At least two had
guns a rifle and a homemade shotgun. Some wore masks, others covered
their faces with T-shirts. A burning tire lit in the middle of a road sent
acrid smoke into the air.
The interim Prime Minister told reporters Sunday night that Haiti is
seeing a climate of terror resembling months leading up to Mr.
Now in exile in South Africa, Mr. Aristide has accused U.S. agents of
ousting him from the presidency on Feb. 29 amid a bloody rebellion a
charge that the U.S. government denies.
Dozens of police officers were killed by rebels including gangsters and
former soldiers from Haiti's disbanded army who torched police stations.
Hundreds of officers fled their posts, and some fled the country.
Mr. Latortue's government undertook a massive recruiting and UN-backed
training drive to rebuild the police force, but Aristide supporters
consider the new officers sellouts. Still there are only about 3,000
officers in the country of eight million.
Mr. Jean-Jorel indicated that the force remains weak and demoralized,
complaining that there were only about 20 officers stationed in Cité
Soleil, whose population he put at 600,000 people. If the police in the
area had the means, I think we could solve this problem, he said.
Mr. Aristide, who became Haiti's first freely elected president in 1990,
was chased from power by the army in 1991 and restored by U.S. troops in
1994. He then stepped down under U.S. pressure and a term limit but was
re-elected in 2000.
The violence in Port-au-Prince erupted Thursday as his Lavalas Family
party commemorated the 1991 coup with demands to end the occupation by
foreign troops referring to the U.S. Marines who arrived the day Mr.
Aristide fled and the UN peacekeepers who took over in June.
On Saturday, police arrested Haiti's Senate president and two other
politicians on suspicion of orchestrating the violence.
The politicians deny the charges. Pro-Aristide groups call the arrests
political persecution and said police and gangsters opened fire on
Aristide supporters during last week's demonstrations, killing several
people. At least one teenager was killed by police.
Some Haitians have criticized Brazilian-led UN peacekeepers for not doing
more to prevent violence. But UN officials say they are doing the best
they can with about 750 troops from the 3,000-member force deployed to the
flood-ravaged northwest. The force is less than half the 8,000 initially
promised by the United Nations.
In the contradiction lies the hope.
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