[Marxism] Imperialist-backed rightist forces tighten; more Marines in Haiti

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Feb 24 07:38:03 MST 2004


Haiti's capital braces for rebel onslaught
Extra U.S. Marines on the ground to defend American embassy 
NBC News and news services
Updated: 8:15 p.m. ET Feb. 23, 2004PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Government
loyalists in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, set flaming barricades
Monday to block the road from rebels threatening to seize the city.
Residents armed themselves, and 50 U.S. Marines arrived on the scene,
charged with protecting the U.S. embassy and its staff. 
 
The United States led a last-ditch effort to find a political solution
before the uprising enveloped the capital. As an opposition coalition
was on the brink of rejecting a U.S.-backed peace plan on the grounds
that it did not call for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to step down,
Secretary of State Colin Powell phoned opposition politicians and asked
them to delay responding formally to the plan for 24 hours. 

Evans Paul, a leading opponent who once was allied with Aristide, said
the coalition agreed the extra time "will perhaps give Mr. Powell a
little more time to consider his position ... and give us the assurances
we need" on Aristide's departure.

Rebel control expands
With rebels hoping to seize the capital by Sunday, Cabinet ministers
were asking friends for places to hide, senior government sources said.
The rebels seized Haiti's second-largest city, Cap-Haitien, with little
resistance Sunday and attacked two police stations outside
Port-au-Prince. 

More than half of Haiti is now beyond the control of the central
government. In Cap-Haitien on Monday, rebels hunted down militants loyal
to Aristide, accusing them of terrorizing the population in the days
before the fall of the northern port city of 500,000.

"I am a brick mason, I didn't do anything wrong," Jean-Bernard Prevalis,
33, pleaded as he was dragged away, head bleeding. 

"We're going to clean the city of all 'chimeres,"' said rebel Dieusauver
Magustin, 26. Chimere, which means ghost, is used to describe hardcore
Aristide militants. 

It was not clear what would happen to those detained. One rebel said
they were saving them from lynching. But another, Claudy Philippe, said
"The people show us the (chimere) houses. If they are there, we execute
them."

Thousands of people in Cap-Haitien demonstrated in favor of the
rebellion Monday, chanting, "Aristide get out!" and "Goodbye, Aristide."


Looting and despair
Residents went on a rampage of reprisals and looting that began after
the insurgents seized the city. Looters stole 800 tons of food from the
U.N. World Food Program warehouse, according to the agency's Andrea
Bagnoli, and people torched the colonial mansion of Mayor Wilmar
Innocent, who supports Aristide. 

Rebel leader Guy Philippe said his men could do nothing to stop the
looting and blamed Aristide's government for leaving most of Haiti's 8
million people hungry and desperate. However, some rebels later fired
shots into the air to scatter looters at Cap-Haitien's seaport; at least
two looters were hit by rebel gunfire and taken to a hospital. 

Philippe said more than 30 residents have volunteered to fight with the
insurgents, who have started to replace officials in Cap-Haitien with
rebel sympathizers. He said in an interview Monday that he hopes to take
Port-au-Prince by Sunday, his 36th birthday. 

Remissainthe Ravix, another rebel leader, told The Associated Press
there was no turning back. 

"We have the weapons and the expertise to take the country," he said.
"Nothing can stop us." 

The rebels cut cellular telephone service in the city, saying they
wanted no communication with Port-au-Prince. 

Aid agencies have warned a humanitarian catastrophe is brewing, with
268,000 people who depended on food aid in northern Haiti being the most
vulnerable. The International Committee of the Red Cross sent medical
supplies and a four-person team. 

Aristide's Premier Yvon Neptune said the international community must
help save Haiti from "terrorists that are sowing violence and death,"
but he did not go so far as to ask for peacekeepers.

  Related story 
 
 





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