Further destabilization in Haiti
sherrynstan at igc.org
Thu Feb 20 20:18:23 MST 2003
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
February 19 - 25, 2003
Vol. 20, No. 49
POLICEMAN KILLED IN ROADSIDE AMBUSH
Guerrillas loyal to former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and
operating on Haiti's Central Plateau near the Dominican border
ambushed the vehicle of two policemen near the town of Belladère
on Feb. 16, killing one of them.
Patrick Samedi, a specially trained officer of Haiti's SWAT team,
was shot to death when he and another policeman from the elite
Company for Intervention to Maintain Order (CIMO) were returning
to the Belladère police station at around 8 p.m.. Elite police
forces are deployed at the rural post which was previously
attacked by a band of former soldiers in July 2001 (see Haïti
Progrès, Vol. 19, No. 20, 8/1/2001). Belladère abuts the area of
Pernal, a stronghold of the Duvalierist guerillas.
The attack on the police vehicle appears to have been a carefully
planned ambush. The CIMO officer returned fire and escaped into
the woods, through which he managed to return to the Belladère
station on foot.
"According to our investigations, the people who carried out this
action are the same group of armed bandits operating in the
Pernal area as part of the Motherless Army [Lame San Manman]"
said police spokesman Jeannot François. He went on to charge the
Motherless Army with numerous attacks, including the murder of
Judge Christophe Lozama last November in Belladère and the jail
break of two of his alleged murderers last December in
Lascahobas, in which four policemen were killed (see Haïti
Progrès, Vol. 20, No. 40, 12/18/2003). François also said the
Motherless Army carried out "acts of destabilization" last week
in Petit Goâve in which a pro-government activist was killed and
another seriously burned (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 20, No. 48,
2/12/2003) as well as the fatal shooting Feb. 6 on the airport
road in Port-au-Prince of Irandal Pierre-Louis, a member of
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's security detail.
"There is a plot underway to assassinate the president," asserted
Ronald Pierre-Louis, Irandal's brother, after the victim's Feb.
14 funeral at the National Cathedral attended by Prime Minister
Yvon Neptune and Justice Minister Calixte Delatour. "The forces
of darkness are killing off people one by one; Belladère, Petit
Goâve, and today was Irandal's turn... As we speak, there is
another Presidential security agent in the hospital with 5
bullets in his chest."
Last week Haitian police units arrested six former soldiers near
Belladère and charged them with armed attacks against the
government and other crimes (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 20, No. 48,
The very night of the latest attack, the police dispatched a
second elite police unit to the Belladère/Pernal area. "We are
now going to concentrate a maximum of forces and means to finish
with this problem once and for all," François said.
Departing for a CARICOM conference in Trinidad on Jan. 15,
Aristide commented on the Duvalierist guerilla offensive in
strong terms, calling it "the armed branch of the opposition
which has already spilled blood in various corners of the
Last week, Paul Denis, a spokesman for the Washington-backed
Democratic Convergence opposition front denied reports that his
coalition was linked to the Motherless Army, although he did not
condemn the deadly attacks.
OAS MISSION TO HAITI CANCELLED BY SNOW
A high-level delegation from the Organization of American States
(OAS) was to have visited Haiti on Jan. 17 but was cancelled due
to the snowstorms which struck the U.S. East Coast and
Washington, D.C. It is expected to be rescheduled soon.
The purpose of the visit is to "communicate the international
community's firm conviction that all sides in Haiti should honor
their obligations under Resolution 822 so as to end the climate
of violence and insecurity," said delegation leaders, OAS
assistant secretary general Luigi Einaudi and CARICOM's Julian
Hunte, the St. Lucian Minister of External Affairs. "This visit
is not designed to start new negotiations."
Res. 822, passed last September, calls on the Haitian government
and the Washington-backed Democratic Convergence opposition front
to make a series of concessions that would lead to the holding of
new municipal and legislative elections later this year (see
Haïti Progrès, Vol. 20, No. 26, 9/11/2002). The Haitian
government has carried out most of its concessions, including the
payment of reparations to opposition leaders for mob reprisals
after the attempted assassination of President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide on Dec. 17, 2001, while the Convergence has fulfilled
Among the other heavy-weight arm-twisters in the delegation will
be Canadian Secretary of State for Latin America Denis Paradis,
Bahamian Foreign Minister Frederick Mitchell, and U.S.
representative for "Continental Initiatives" Otto Reich.
Representatives of the European Union and international lending
institutions will be on hand as observers.
Convergence politicians are rubbing their hands in expectation
that Washington will turn the screws ever tighter on the
government run by Aristide's Lavalas Family party (FL). "The
arrival of the international delegation will be an important
moment of truth for everyone," said Convergence politician Micha
Gaillard. "The Democratic Convergence will tell the international
delegation about all the miseries that the Lavalas [government]
has forced the population to endure. The Convergence will insist
on the non-execution of the points of Resolution 822 concerning
the creation of a democratic environment for the holding of true
elections. In the end, the Convergence will reiterate its
position, and that of millions of Haitians who want good
elections, that Mr. Aristide's departure from power is
While Gaillard will present an intransigent line, Rosny Desroches
of the Civil Society Initiative, a Convergence-affiliated
bourgeois pressure group, plans to ask for Washington's support
with only slightly more nuance. «I hope that [the delegation]
will apply enough pressure to convince the government to create
the conditions that will allow the launching of the electoral
process,» he said.
One can expect U.S. representatives, especially the arch-
reactionary Otto Reich, to put heavy pressure on Haiti. But the
Aristide government appears to have the sympathy, if not the
support, of most CARICOM nations and of important OAS member
states such as Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador. These latter
nations, with progressive governments, face or will face much of
the same pressure and sabotage from Washington that Haiti is
experiencing. Their populist leaders would not like the OAS to
establish an interventionist precedents.
Recent diplomatic rebellions in NATO and the UN Security Council
against Washington's pushiness for war in Iraq may also embolden
Meanwhile, opposition partisans, under the cover of some so-
called unions, held a demonstration in the capital on Feb. 17.
About thirty people, mostly the organizers themselves, marched
through Port-au-Prince chanting slogans against Aristide under
the vigilant eye of as many policemen.
At the Feb. 15 CARICOM Summit in Trinidad, President John
Bertrand Aristide called on Haitians to look to themselves, not
foreign delegations, to break the country's political deadlock.
"It is not CARICOM or the OAS that will resolve our problems," he
said. "It is us, Haitians, that must compromise with each other
to settle our differences with their accompaniment."
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