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Our very prolific and interesting column and, below thereafter ours and others' news articles.

Lucky little man, just for now thanks to narco-U.S.$60,000 Haitian totalitarian dictator and chief bandit Aristide rewards anarchy, murders and dehumanizing poverty to save 'criminal syndicate'

Posted at 5:14 p.m, Friday, August 23, 2002  


August 23, 2002


The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS), Eduardo A. Bertoni, is to visit Haiti on August 26 to 28, 2002, in the context of the IACHR visit and at the invitation of the Haitian government. Photos

During his visit, the Special Rapporteur will meet with Haitian government officials, media figures, independent journalists, and civil society organizations, in order to gather information on the state of freedom of expression in that country.

The Office of the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is a permanent office with operational independence and its own budget. It was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights within the scope of the Commission's authority and powers and it operates in accordance with that legal framework. The Office of the Rapporteur arose from the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Americas, which was held in Santiago, Chile, in April 1998.

Eduardo A. Bertoni Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Washington, D.C. August 23, 2002

                                                                                                                                                                                        Cops to keep close watch on festival this weekend

By Laurel J. Sweet Friday, August 23, 2002

The half-million revelers expected to descend on Dorchester and Roxbury for tomorrow's Caribbean Festival will boogie to an intense police beat due to a history of bloodshed that culminated with two murders at last year's event.

For the first time in the international draw's 29-year history, Boston and state police will share dispatchers in order to hasten their response should someone make waves in the sea of partygoers.

``We want to make sure we're all on the same page,'' Boston police spokeswoman Mariellen Burns said yesterday. ``Seconds can sometimes make a difference.''

In addition, state police hope to provide aerial surveillance of the festivities from a helicopter and will flood a wooded area of Franklin Park, where tomorrow's parade climaxes with a carnival, with ``four or five high-powered sets of lights'' to maximize crowd safety, said state police Maj. Kathleen Stefani of Troop H.

Festival vendors will be asked to pack up and clear out of the park area by 8:30 p.m. - and that's provided all goes smoothly.

``We don't want to see a repeat of last year,'' Stefani said. ``A lot of it is up to the community.''

Last August, two local festival-goers, Tyrone Williams, 26, and Terrell Gethers, 23, were shot to death within eight hours of each other at Blue Hill Avenue and Charlotte Street.

Last month, Darryl Green, 25, and Branden Morris, 19, alleged members of Dorchester's Esmond Street Crew, were indicted for Gethers' murder by a federal grand jury investigating gang racketeering in Boston.

Tomorrow's float-filled parade will kick off at 1 p.m. on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The procession is expected to stretch over five hours. Carole St. Germain, wife of veteran event organizer Patrick St. Germain, is hoping for the best. ``A lot of kids will be coming with their parents,'' she said. ``We want it to be safe.'' 

© Copyright by the Boston Herald and Herald Interactive Advertising Systems, Inc.

                                                                                                                                                                                       Posted at 6:50 p.m., Thursday, August 22, 2002

Radical leftist Aristide's de facto mayor severely slaps journalist in Haiti  

By Yves A. Isidor, executive editor

Cambridge, MA, Aug. 22 - Claudy Millord, a Haitian journalist with radio SACA, in the town of Grand-Goave, Haiti, did not have even a few seconds to file a complaint for death threats against that town's de facto mayor on Tuesday, when he and others went to judge Jean Luckner's kangaroo's courtroom, in the nearby city of Petit-Goave, about 35 miles from the capital Port-au-Prince.  

Mr. Millord was repeatedly and severely slapped by de facto mayor Rigaud Xavier inside the courthouse and in the presence of the presiding magistrate.

The so-called mayor thereafter accused the victim, who required medical attention, of bathmouthing him on his radio show and ultimately fired his gun into the air.  

And this morning, several students who were about to take to the streets from the campus of the university (department of education) of Haiti, in Port-au-Prince, were beaten within an inch of their lives after they were taken hostage by tyrant Aristide's bandits, preventing them from even commencing their anti-dictatorship protest, as planned.

But what of the bestial acts committed on the students' persons after? De facto senator and well known drug dealer, Dany Toussaint, appeared Thursday in judge Bernard Sainvil's kangaroo's court, in Port-au-Prince, to be once again deposed - a play - about the early morning of April 3, 2000 brutal murder, which he has long been convicted for, of Haiti's prominent radio journalist and commentator, Jean Leopold Dominique.

Toussaint once again denied having nothing at all to do with Dominique's murder, and "many people in this country", who he did not name, "were doing everything they could to frame me," he said.

Tyrant Aristide, arguably, vows to preserve his dictatorship of the proletariat.  

"We will force the Convergence Democratique," an opposition alliance, "to affix its signature at the bottom of the new Organization of American States' accord for Haiti," said Thursday de facto presidential spokesperson, Jacques Moris, who hopes that the signing of such accord will put an end to the long political crisis that started after tyrant Aristide held a series of largely fraudulent elections.  

As if things were not bad enough in dirt poor Haiti, an innumerable number of people were shot to death Thursday in the Port-au-Prince largest slum of Cite Soleil, and just days after several people were hacked to death in the south of the country, also just a few days after Bahamas repatriated a large number of boat people to Haiti to face uncertain death since rapacious Aristide continues to prove that he is not willing and incapable of addressing even the very basic needs of Haitians. 

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 10:02, p.m., Monday, August 19, 2002                                                                                                                                                   Haitians' growing discontent with Aristide may force U.S. to act

By Nancy San Martin

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- The two times President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti took office since 1991, euphoric supporters filled the streets singing praises for a charismatic priest who was supposed to rescue them from the embrace of misery.

Armed with shovels, rakes, brooms and paintbrushes, they spruced up buildings, walls and facades to welcome their beloved leader with shouts of ''Viv Titid'' or ''Long live Titid,'' an affectionate nickname.

Many of those supporters and their children still sing during demonstrations. But the lyrics have changed. ``For years now we've been in misery . . . It's still the same thing. Down, down, down with Aristide.''

A series of blunders during the past two years have unleashed a powerful wave of anti-government sentiment that threatens to dismantle Aristide's popular base. As the majority of Haitians grow increasingly weary of living in squalor, the president's dwindling political stature could set in motion a chain of events that would force the United States to take action, observers say. The dilemma facing policymakers is to determine the ''way to stability,'' said James Morrell, executive director of the Haiti Democracy Project, a Washington-based think tank. ``Something has really changed in Haiti. The divine mandate is over.''

Among the contributing factors spreading discontent across the Caribbean nation:

• A cooperative pyramid scheme that has affected large segments of the middle class. Traditionally, cooperatives in Haiti pool member resources to invest in farming, fishing and housing with revolving loan accounts generally offering a 4 percent annual rate of return. But cooperatives that arose during the past three years, offering rates of at least 10 percent, are on the brink of collapse amid allegations they were used to launder drug money, costing investors $200 million;

• A fuel shortage that has reduced electrical service to as little as three hours a day. Tapped-out fueling stations recently bumped up the price of fuel on the black market and crippled transportation and deliveries of food and other supplies to outlying areas;

• A stalemate in negotiations for an accord between the government and its opposition, which would help dislodge millions of dollars in international aid. The May 2000 elections, swept by Aristide's Lavalas Family party, were fraught with irregularities and cries of voter fraud. The dispute is over how many seats the opposition should hold in the Haitian parliament;

• Widespread corruption and an ill-equipped police force of less than 3,000 officers for a nation of more than 8 million.

''The prospects simply aren't good,'' said Steve Horblitt, a political scientist and longtime analyst of U.S.-Haiti relations. ``The government of Haiti continues its long history of not being a provider of services but an extractor.

''What happens in Haiti affects the United States,'' said Horblitt, who works for Creative Associates International Inc., a Washington consulting firm. ``This administration needs to have a real clear reexamination of policy. The U.S. can help Haiti, but it can't help without a partner there. We need to be very clear about our interests and our principles and we need to make it clear to that gentleman [Aristide] that we're not playing.''

By the end of the month, parents who are already strapped financially will be faced with the costs of sending their children back to school. And a budget crunch may mean no money to pay teachers.

''Haiti is always like a fire waiting for a spark to set it off,'' said a Western diplomat. ``The next days will be telling to see how much momentum is generating from this anti-Aristide movement.''

''There is a simmering situation,'' said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ``There is more political tension than there has been in awhile.''


Violent episodes have left more than a dozen people dead, forced journalists into hiding or exile and dragged the Organization of American States into the internal turmoil with an investigation into a Dec. 17 attack on the National Palace that contradicted the government's claim of a failed coup attempt.

But the most dramatic event was an Aug. 2 jailbreak in Gonaives that marked the first time in which Haiti's poor -- the core of Aristide's support -- backed calls by two well-known fugitives for Aristide's removal.

Since then, acts of defiance have been reported in several places including L'estere, Port-de-Paix, St. Marc, Petit-Goave and Cap-Haitien. Last week, striking longshoremen in Port-au-Prince built flaming tire barricades on the seaside boulevard, threatening to block the capital port until they are paid a traditional back-to-school bonus.

''The government has stolen our money!'' demonstrators shouted. About 80 percent of Haitian education is in private hands, and school fees have followed the trend in inflation, which has increased almost 90 percent in six years.

''We want the whole international community to understand that Aristide was behind a lot of the bad things that have happened in this country,'' said Edmond Saintil, 28, a leader of one of several political organizations in Raboteau, a shanty town in Gonaives and former Aristide stronghold. ``Is the international community going to help us or are they going to let us die?''


Aristide, whose rise to power began with Haiti's liberation theology movement, was able to galvanize public support by offering a dream of a Haiti with an economy with jobs for all; a security force that would rid the streets of armed thugs; and government programs that would reduce the number of children who go to sleep hungry.

But he has been unable to deliver on any of these promises because of his failure to overcome the unending political intrigue. The unresolved dispute with the opposition damaged Haiti's international standing, obliging foreign governments to withdraw offers of aid that Aristide could have used to re-ignite the economy.

Inside the country, a number of incidents during his tenure have damaged Aristide's reputation, but the public outcry by former supporters wasn't evident until the Gonaives jailbreak in which 159 prisoners escaped.

One of the fugitives, longtime Aristide opponent and convicted murderer Jean Tatoune, has faded into the background and his whereabouts are unknown. Another escapee, Amiot ''Cubain'' Metayer, remains in Gonaives. But he is no longer calling for Aristide's ouster and now has a team of lawyers for a defense that will likely include a request for amnesty on charges of his involvement in the Dec. 17 palace attack.

However, his original call for the replacement of Aristide seemed to strike a chord with many of his countrymen. There appears to be no way for Aristide to regain his popularity quickly.

''I don't agree with violent methods, burning tires and buildings, that is not democratic,'' said Victor Benoit, a leader with an opposition multi-party alliance known as Democratic Convergence. ``But Metayer started something by saying that Aristide needs to leave. These words are significant and strong to most of the opposition parties in the country.''


One measure of the discontent is the continuing wave of migrants desperate to get out of Haiti at any cost. Bahamian authorities have picked up about 2,500 Haitian migrants this year, at least twice as many as all of last year. Fearing more will flee political unrest, the Royal Bahamian Defense Force has stepped up patrols around Inagua, a popular drop-off point.

For many, the dream of improving their lives by staying home has vanished.

''Things have been getting worse day to day,'' said an elderly shopkeeper in Cap-Haitien who declined to give his name. ``Those who don't have work don't eat.''

Nearby, a scrawny teenager who hauls merchandise on a wheelbarrow to earn money to help his family, sat pondering during a short break.

Asked what he was thinking, Michele Jean Pierre replied: ``What's going to happen to my country.'' This report was supplemented by information from The Associated Press.

This news article appeared in The Miami Heral of August 18th, 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Posted at 6:48 p.m., Sunday, August 11, 2002

About 2,500 Haitian Children are smuggled illegally into the Dominican Republic each year

By The Associated Press

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, August 10 –– About 2,500 Haitian children are smuggled illegally into the Dominican Republic each year to work as manual laborers or beggars, a UNICEF report said Saturday.

Traffickers from both countries earn up to $80 for each child they bring into the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispanola with Haiti, according to a report by UNICEF and the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration.

Once in the Dominican Republic, the youngest children are usually forced to beg while the older ones are put to work as farm hands or construction workers, the report said.

The children usually receive food, but rarely are allowed to keep their earnings. Some children are smuggled with their parents' consent, the report said.

The report – researched between November 2001 and February 2002 – found that some Dominican border officials were collecting between $1 to $2.50 per child from smugglers to let them in.

Dominican Attorney General Virgilio Bello Rosa on Saturday said he would order an investigation into the trade and urge Dominican farm owners not employ Haitian minors.

About 600,000 undocumented Haitian migrants live in the this country of 9 million, according to the Dominican Foreign Ministry.

Haitians found without documents are sent back to Haiti, where most of the 8.2 million people live in absolute poverty.

© 2002 The Associated Press

                                                                                                                                             Rejected trash back in Pennsylvania

By The Associated Press

GREENCASTLE, Pa, August 10. –– Sixteen years after its global wanderings began, a load of nearly 2,345 tons of burned garbage has returned home.

The ash originated in Philadelphia and was part of a 15,000-ton cargo that roamed the globe in search of a dump site. On Friday, the 128th and final shipment was deposited in the Mountain View Reclamation landfill and promptly topped off with six inches of dirt.

"It was routine for us," community-relations coordinator Lee Zimmerman said. "We're just kind of happy it's all done."

Most of the original cargo of ash was dumped in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans – a decision that cost two shipping company executives prison terms. The rest of the rejected ash spent a dozen years on a beach in Haiti, and the last two years on a rusty barge in Florida.

"They should've kept it in Philadelphia," said A.J. Carbaugh, 61, who lives 1½ miles from the Mountain View landfill in south-central Pennsylvania.

The ash was orphaned in 1985 because Philadelphia's landfill had no space left. The following year, a city subcontractor sent the burned garbage aboard the Khian Sea to the Bahamas, where the government refused to allow the ship to dock.

For a year, the ship sailed the Caribbean but was turned away by a series of countries – sometimes at gunpoint, according to crew members. Environmental groups had warned the ash might contain toxic materials, though U.S. and state regulators said the ash had minute amounts of toxic metals such as lead.

The New York City Trade Waste Commission eventually brokered a deal to bring the ash from Haiti to Florida; the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection finally agreed to dispose of it.

Traveling the last leg of its long journey by train and truck, the first load returned to Pennsylvania on June 27. ––– On the Net: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection site:

© 2002 The Associated Press

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 4:59 p.m., Friday, August 9, 2002  

                                                                                                                                                                                         Haiti totalitarian dictator Aristide suffers a breakdown; panicked, wife wants to flee Haiti with children for the U.S.

By Yves A. Isidor, executive editor

Cambridge, MA, Aug. 9 - Haiti brutal dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide suffered a mild breakdown days ago, suggesting that it has been a cruel week for the totalitarian dictator and it is not over yet, and especially after turning his back on the same well-known thugs-for-hire, who for years terrorized the Haitian populace, brutally killed an innumerable number of Haitians, and destroyed the country's economy. All, to keep him and junior partners in crime in office so they could continue to enrich themselves while the majority of Haitians endured dehumanizing poverty. Photos.  

On August 2, supporters of Amiot Metayer used a stolen tractor to knock down the walls of a Gonaives' jail, where he was been held weeks after being kidnapped by Aristide's de facto government under pressure from the Organization of the American States, or O.A.S., illegally freeing him and 158 other prisoners.

The escapees, including Jean Tatoune, who was serving a life sentence for his participation in a 1994 massacre in a Gonaives' slum, immediately took over Haiti's fourth largest city, Gonaives, a longtime hotbed of insurrection against existing governments.

Like a son violently turning against his father for non-financial support and others, the escapees and others who believe only without Aristide can Haitians hope of a better future, chanted: "Aristide must go; he has betrayed us and, we will feed him to the fire," while used car tires were been burned, blocking several streets and causing more environmental problems for the Haitians who cannot afford to pay for the cost of a visit at a neighborhood clinic.

Hours later, dictator "Aristide suffered a mild breakdown," fearing that the same Matayer and other thugs-for-hire he long subsidized would further retaliate vengefully against him, putting an end to his de facto government, which most Haitians, including those with a penchant for democracy and human rights, often call: "a criminal syndicate," a government official who spoke to us on the condition that his name did not accompany this story today said.

After knowledging tearfully to his American wife, Mildred Trouillot-Aristide, behind closed doors, with a few aides present, that he was on the verge of loosing the office of the presidency, which he occupied, and illegally so, on February 7, 2001, and that they all could ultimately be killed, and brutally so, Mrs. Aristide became visibly saddened and started crying, too.

"I am going back home to the U.S.; I am taking my kids with me, and today; you stay behind to deal with your people; I never resembled them anyway and, now or in the days to come I certainly want nothing to do with them; I am an American," Mrs. Aristide-Trouillot told dictator Aristide and thereafter rhetorically asked him if he understood, to not obtain an anticipated response.

A turning point of sorts forced dictator Aristide to immediately seek the intervention of an unnamed high Roman Catholic Church official and longtime father-figure like to successfully urge her to reconsider her decision.  

"This is not to suggest that "Aristide may not soon be without a wife since Gonaives is most likely to continue to present a threat to her husband's government," the government official said and, who again pleaded with us for anonymity, fearing for his life and job.  

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 7:49 p.m., Thursday, August 8, 2002

Haitian police break up residents' street protest
By Nancy San Martin

L'ESTERE, Haiti, August 7 -- Civil unrest spread Wednesday to this small city just south of Gonaives, which has been rocked by turmoil since a jailbreak last week in which 159 prisoners escaped. Photos.

About two dozen members of the National Police arrived by helicopter in the predawn hours when protesters blocked the roadway and complained about a variety of problems, including lack of potable water, electricity, telephone lines and medical care. It was the first time since Friday that police were deployed to quell tensions outside Gonaives, Haiti's fourth-largest city.

''The population has no problem, the police are the problem,'' said resident Charles Anosten, 44.

As government representatives met with about 20 protest leaders, officers armed with shotguns, M-16s and handguns patrolled the street. Negotiations continued all day, and police ultimately arrested five men who refused to hand over keys to semi rigs, flatbed trucks and other vehicles blocking the roadway.

Residents said they grew tired of unfulfilled promises by the government to address their needs. ''We have no water, no communication, no hospital,'' Anosten said. ``The school is open but there are no teachers. We have nothing.''

Martely, an 11-year-old spectator, said: ``There are a lot of starving kids held.


Most of the protesters blocking the road were young men who said their complaints had nothing to do with recent occurrences in Gonaives, where leaders have called for a national uprising and the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. But most mentioned Amiot ''Cubain'' Metayer, an escaped prisoner who is regarded as a political activist.

''If Cubain was here, this would not have happened,'' said one of the protesters, referring to the complaints. Authorities acknowledged that the complaints in L'estere were valid, but they were skeptical of assertions that the protest was not related to activities in Gonaives.''That's what they say,'' said Jocelerme Privert, with the Ministry of Interior, who said he met with leaders for more than three hours. ``But they have small needs here. It is a small group. We answered some of their needs.

''For example, they want 35 more [telephone] lines. The telephone director was here and he was going to install those lines next week with or without the demonstration,'' Privert said. ``The most important thing is to resolve the problems with dialogue, not violence."


In Gonaives, burned rubble, car parts and other debris from previous days of protests still littered street corners Wednesday.

But the city of 200,000 was relatively calm. The protests began Friday after a tractor was used to break down a prison wall. At least two of the fugitives, who remain at large, immediately began rallying the residents.

Demonstrations peaked on Monday when thousands pelted rocks at police, who were forced to retreat. On Tuesday, police officers drove in unmarked cars as militants once loyal to Aristide called for more demonstrations, saying the government has done nothing to alleviate hunger and poverty.

Haiti, with a population of eight million and the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, has been stalled in a political stalemate for two years. The dilemma, arising from disputed elections in May 2000, pits Aristide and the ruling Lavalas Family Party against the majority of opposition groups. The dispute has led to the suspension of millions of dollars in international aid.

The latest round of violence has differed from earlier protests against Aristide, because leaders include former Aristide allies who are now calling for his removal.

Metayer, for example, is a former Aristide ally who was jailed on July 2, a day after the release of an Organization of American States report stating that earlier violence was connected to the breakdown of law and order in Haiti.

He heads a group known as the Cannibal Army, whose members assert they were behind the prison break. The OAS report blamed Metayer for attacks on opposition homes in Gonaives on Dec. 17.

He was arrested on charges of burning down houses of a rival group. Another protest leader and prison escapee is Jean Tatoune, also known as Jean Pierre. He is a former leader of FRAPH, a Haitian militia implicated in the murders of about 3,000 Aristide supporters after a military junta took power in 1991.                                                                                                                                                                                        Copyright 2002 The Miami Herald

                                                                                                                                                                                          Posted at 5:55 p.m., Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Thousands protest in Haiti call for Aristide's ouster, government downplay violent clash

By Newsday

Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Thousands of protesters in Gonaives, Haiti's fourth-largest city, hurled stones and forced riot police to retreat yesterday, as militant leaders called for a nationwide uprising to oust Haiti's president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Relevant photos.

"Aristide has to go," Jean Tatoune, a longtime opponent of the priest-turned-president, said from Gonaives, about 60 miles north of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Tatoune was one of 159 prisoners who escaped when supporters crashed a stolen tractor through a prison wall on Friday, the same day that gunmen burned down city hall and the courthouse.

Armed protesters blocked roads leading to Gonaives with flaming tire barricades, witnesses said, and the demonstrators yesterday vastly outnumbered about two dozen riot police who used tear gas in an effort to contain the crowd. No injuries were reported in the clash.

Some in the crowd yelled "Down with Aristide," who first became president over a decade ago amid a wave of popular discontent with the leaders of this Caribbean nation of about 8 million people. "We are fighting to save the country," political activist Amiot Metayer, another prison escapee, said on Radio Metropole. "All nine districts of Haiti must unite to oust Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Liberty or death!"

A spokesman for Aristide's party played down the threat posed by the protesters in Gonaives, which has a population of 200,000. "It is a small group of armed men that the police should deal with. One should not dramatize the situation," said the spokesman, Jonas Petit. Prison system director Clifford Larose said three people who got away in Friday's jailbreak were captured over the weekend, but the rest remained free.

Tatoune, 44, was an important figure in the popular uprising that forced dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier into exile in 1986. A longtime Aristide opponent, he had been serving a life sentence for involvement in the 1994 killings of at least 15 Aristide supporters in Gonaives.

Metayer was an Aristide ally until he was jailed July 2 on charges of burning down houses of a rival group. He insists he is innocent. Metayer and his heavily armed supporters want a new interim government, fresh elections and higher wages for police and other workers. Government officials rejected the demands.

Aristide was elected in 1990 as a symbol of hope to many Haitians after decades of Duvalier family rule and the military dictatorships that followed. He was overthrown by another strongman in 1991, and fled the country, returning only after the United States intervened to help restore him to power. He served out what remained of his first term, then gave way to an ally who served a single term as president. Aristide was then elected to a second term in 2000. 

Copyright 2002 Newsday

Press Statement
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokeman
Washington, D.C.
August 5, 2002

Haiti: Violence in Gonaives

The United States is deeply concerned by violence in the Haitian city of Gonaives. In recent days, armed street gangs and members of local political groups known as "popular organizations" have blocked roads and assaulted government facilities and vehicles. On August 2, an armed mob attacked a Haitian National Police detention facility and aided in the escape of Amiot "Cubain" Metayer, a notorious criminal and gang leader. The prison break also resulted in the escape of dozens of other criminals, including former soldiers convicted for the 1994 massacre of civilians in nearby Raboteau.

The violent actions of "popular organizations" and street gangs are deplorable. We call upon the Government of Haiti to take all necessary steps to restore order and the rule of law in the city of Gonaives. In order to protect the people of Haiti and prevent further lawlessness, Haitian authorities should pursue and re-arrest all prison escapees, including "Cubain" Metayer, who is charged for perpetrating serious acts of violence in Gonaives. A recent Organization of American States report also cited Metayer as responsible for leading a deadly assault in 2001 on members of the political opposition.

                                                                                                                                                  Human rights and rule of law must be upheld, Amnesty International says in an Aug. 7, 2002 press release


AI Index: AMR 36/011/2002 (Public) News Service No: 138 7 August 2002 Haiti: Human rights and rule of law must be upheldThe political violence and instability which have followed the prison escape of political activist Amio Métayer are seriously undermining the rule of law and may jeopardise human rights in the Haitian town of Gonaïves, Amnesty International said today.

On Saturday 3 August, Amio Métayer escaped from prison along with an estimated 150 other inmates. During the wave of violence that surrounded the escape, one person was killed, and many buildings were burned or destroyed. Gonaïves has witnessed an alarming lack of control since the violence erupted on Friday.

"Armed gangs supporting political activists or locally elected officials have been allowed to consolidate their presence and now constitute a serious challenge to the rule of law in the country," Amnesty International warned, stressing that in the past such armed gangs have clearly been responsible for human rights abuses.

"In the face of this critical situation, it is the duty of the Haitian authorities to protect the lives and physical integrity of all citizens, restore public order and the rule of law, and make every effort to protect the institutions of the state, including the justice system," the organization said.

Amnesty International also urges the Haitian authorities to take immediate action to bring to justice those responsible both for orchestrating and carrying out the recent acts of violence in Gonaïves, to take all measures necessary and possible to ensure that security can be restored to the city -- in full respect of international standards regulating the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials -- and to ensure that the judicial system can function effectively.

Background According to reports, the recent wave of violence in Gonaïves has been orchestrated and carried out by armed supporters loyal to Amio Métayer -- an armed group that calls itself the "Cannibal Army". On Friday 1 August , members of popular organizations began protesting and demanding Amio Métayer's release. They then reportedly set up burning barricades and attacked the mayor's offices, set fire to a lorry belonging to the municipality, and took over the Court of Appeal's office where they burnt many documents. On Saturday 2 August heavily-armed gunmen drove a tractor through the wall of the prison in Gonaïves, freeing approximately 150 prisoners. Further to this, the town courthouse and city hall were set on fire. The local press reported that on Monday, thousands of protesters, some armed, hurled stones at outnumbered Haitian police -- who were forced to retreat -- setting up barricades of burning tyres, and shouting slogans calling for the arrest of President Aristide. Many local residents are said to have left the area.

Local reports claim that whilst police have been present throughout the violence, they have been outnumbered on several occasions, and have not approached the stronghold that Métayer has reportedly set up for himself and his gang in the slum area of Raboteau, in Gonaïves.

Métayer, a former supporter of the leading Fanmi Lavalas party, is claiming that he has been betrayed by President Aristide, and is calling for Aristide to be arrested, his administration to be replaced by an interim government and for new elections to be held. Amio Métayer was arrested on 2 July 2002 in connection with alleged acts of violence committed in the wake of last December's attack by unidentified gunmen on the National Palace. His arrest followed the publication of a report on the 17 December attack and its aftermath by an investigative team of the Organization of American States. The report had urged that all those implicated in the violence of 17 December be prosecuted without delay. Métayer had originally been held in Port-au-Prince but was transferred back to Gonaïves following several violent demonstrations by his supporters.

Amnesty International's press office in London, UK: +44 20 7413 5566 Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. 

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 12:56 a.m., Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Port-au-Prince Journal
In Katherine Dunham's Eden, Invaders From Hell
By David Gonzalez, The New York Times

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, August 5 - The grounds are choked with garbage and reek of waste. The springs are covered with gray scum. The villas where topless socialites and decadent rakes lounged by poolside have been turned into bricked-up fortresses. The old resort is dead.

But all around there is life. Too much life, it turns out.

The land, a cool forest of dangling vines and towering trees that offer up medicinal bark and sweet fruits, is occupied by an armed gang and hundreds of squatters, who have overrun and ravaged what was once a rare oasis. Katherine Dunham, the American anthropologist and dancer who now lives in New York but has long loved Haiti and its culture, has owned this 45-acre haven in the middle of Port-au-Prince for more than 60 years.

Even now, she dreams of bestowing her garden on the Haitian people, and has succeeded in having it recognized as the only botanical garden in a country where poverty has pressed on the land, stripping it of countless trees that have been sold in marketplaces as charcoal chunks.

A garden may seem insignificant given Haiti's endless social and environmental problems. But Ms. Dunham's struggle to preserve this patch of hope and traditional culture amid a landscape of misery is a reflection of how politics and poverty thwart the best intentions.

"The city and the island need a kind of recognition of their significance," said Ms. Dunham, who is 94, in a telephone interview from the United States. "I look at the garden as one of the things that could help."

Her love affair with the garden grew from her romance with the country, which she first visited in the 1930's to do research on sacred dance. The property had once been home to Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister, and Charles Leclerc, whom Napoleon had sent to Haiti in an ill-fated attempt to quell the slave revolt that ultimately led to the nation's independence in 1804.

Over the years it had been a place where the African-tinged rituals known as voodoo played out under the trees. In the 1970's, Ms. Dunham leased the forest to a French hotelier, who turned it into Habitation Leclerc, a playground for the rich that included 35 villas. Ms. Dunham and her husband moved to a smaller property they had across the road.

The turmoil of the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1985 claimed the hotel, which closed and was ransacked by employees. But Ms. Dunham then envisioned the forest as a botanical garden, and she succeeded in gaining international recognition for the estate as such by 1995. She last visited in 1996, she said.

The following year, two British botanists doing research on the grounds were attacked and robbed by members of a gang that calls itself the Red Army. It went on to occupy the property and terrorize the adjoining neighborhood of Martissant.

Cameron Brohman, a Canadian who has been helping Ms. Dunham preserve the forest, said the gang soon began using it as a hide-out from the police. They charged the squatters for the right to live in the old villas.

Mr. Brohman has tried for more than two years to dislodge the gang, and was successful in obtaining a court order of eviction last year. Now he faces a quandary: the police say they will do nothing until the property is a functioning botanical garden, while prospective donors and research groups won't go near the place until the police secure it.

"A botanical garden is being held hostage by a criminal gang," he said. "The police do nothing to stop the threat to what could be an important center for developing policies to stop the environmental crisis."

To Ms. Dunham's supporters, the Haitian government's inaction seems particularly irresponsible. They recall that she went on a 47-day hunger strike 10 years ago to protest the United States' policy of repatriating Haitian boat people.

For now, Mr. Brohman pays members of the riot police to patrol the area and respond to his calls when he learns someone may be planning to cut down a tree. "I pay them to put some fear into them and let them know we got bigger guns," he said. The leader of the Red Army, in turn, sent a message to Mr. Brohman saying his group was protecting the forest and should be paid back wages for their work. "What have they protected?" said Mr. Brohman as he walked through the forest one recent morning, past a young man who demanded a dollar from him.

The old stables are a graffiti-covered shell. An aviary nestled in a plaza is now a chicken coop covered with palm fronds. The old casino and disco is dark, but people still venture to it to fill buckets with spring water.

Like Ms. Dunham, Mr. Brohman and his colleagues cling stubbornly to their vision for the garden. To them, the forest has personality and power, not just to heal the body with its natural medicines, but also to salve the soul with its spirit. The mapou trees that emerge above natural springs are a divine sign of providence, they said.

"They are the house of the spirits," said Maxo Rimpel, a security officer for Ms. Dunham, as he led a group of visitors through the trees, which he said fed and healed his ancestors. "If you destroy the house of the spirits, then you perish."

Another visitor, Janine Pierre, who lives nearby, said she had come to the forest after awakening from a dream.

"Last night I dreamed the springs were clean," she said. "I dreamed I had cleaned the source. So that means I must clean it. This is a sacred yard.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

Growing envrinment problems threaten the very basis of haitian society / Giant steps

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 2:01 p.m., Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Haiti protesters take over city

By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

GONAIVES, Haiti (AP), August 6 - Calling for an uprising against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, thousands of protesters, some armed, hurled stones at outnumbered Haitian police and blocked streets with flaming tires. - See relevant photos.

"We're going to feed Aristide to the fire!" people once loyal to the former slum priest yelled Monday night, standing near a smoldering barricade in the western port of Gonaives, Haiti's fourth-largest city.

Demonstrators spoke bitterly against the president, accusing him of orchestrating an attack in December that ultimately left 10 people dead, saying he staged the apparent coup himself as an excuse to silence the opposition.

"He betrayed us," said Jean Simeon, a former supporter who was among the protesters Monday.

"Aristide sent messengers at midnight December 16th to order us to defend him against the coup d'etat," said Simeon, a 54-year-old carpenter. "We were told to crush the opposition."

Aristide has claimed the Dec. 17 attack was aimed at overthrowing his government and assassinating him. But a report by the Organization of American States concluded that there was no coup.

The report, released in July after a three-month investigation, did not go so far as to back opposition claims that the attack was staged by the government to clamp down on dissent. But it charged that government officials and Aristide's party armed militants who plundered and burned the offices and homes of opposition leaders in a spate of attacks that followed.

Haiti's government and opposition are embroiled in a two-year dispute over flawed legislative elections in 2000. The stalemate is holding up hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid for the impoverished Caribbean nation of 8 million people.

In a sign of growing lawlessness, police in Gonaives have been unable to quell violence that began Friday when armed supporters of a formerly pro-Aristide street gang crashed a stolen tractor into a prison, freeing 159 inmates.

About two dozen riot police fired tear gas in a futile battle against thousands of stone-throwing demonstrators Monday, but were forced to retreat, said reporter Jean-Claude Noel of independent Radio Vision 2000. No injuries were reported.

"Today the people have taken possession of Gonaives," said protest leader Jean Tatoune, who was among the prisoners who escaped Friday. "Aristide has to go."

Tatoune, 44, was an important figure in the popular uprising that forced dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier into exile in 1986. A longtime Aristide opponent, Tatoune had been serving a life sentence for involvement in the 1994 killings of at least 15 Aristide supporters in Gonaives.

After the prison break, the gunmen set fire to the city hall and courthouse, demolishing both buildings. Only three escaped convicts were captured.

"We are fighting to save the country," said Amiot Metayer, an escaped inmate who was arrested for allegedly burning down opposition homes Dec. 17. The jail break was orchestrated by Metayar's supporters, a gang that calls itself the Cannibal Army. He made his remarks on Radio Metropole.

Metayar's gang wants Aristide's administration to be replaced by an interim government, new elections and higher wages for police and other state workers. Government officials reject the demands.

Aristide's party played down the threat in Gonaives.

"It is a small group of armed men that the police should deal with. One should not dramatize," party spokesman Jonas Petit said.

The army in neighboring Dominican Republic, which shares an island with Haiti, has reinforced security along the border to keep out escaped prisoners.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press 

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 2:49 p.m., Monday, August 5, 2002

Police in Haiti fire tear gas as armed protesters take over streets, call for national uprising

By The Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, August 5 -- Thousands of protesters in Gonaives city hurled stones and thrust back riot police who fired tear gas in vain Monday as militant community leaders, some once loyal to Jean-Bertrand Aristide, called for a nationwide uprising to oust Haiti's president.

''Today the people have taken possession of Gonaives,'' protest leader Jean Tatoune said by telephone from the west-coast city 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Port-au-Prince, the capital. ``Aristide has to go.''

He was one of 159 prisoners who escaped Friday when armed supporters crashed a stolen tractor through Gonaives prison wall.

The gunmen set fire to city hall and the courthouse that day, leaving only charred ruins.

On Monday, the thousands of demonstrators vastly outnumbered about two dozen riot police who fired tear gas but were forced to retreat, said reporter Jean-Claude Noel of independent Radio Vision 2000.

Protesters threw stones, he said, and yelled ``Down with Aristide!''

Some demonstrators stole a police car, Noel said. But no one was reported injured, even as shots rang out sporadically from both sides.

''We are fighting to save the country,'' political activist Amiot Metayer, another prison escapee, said on Radio Metropole. ``All nine districts of Haiti must unite to oust Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Liberty or death!''

Aristide's party, meanwhile, played down the threat posed by the protesters in Gonaives, Haiti's fourth largest city with 200,000 people.

''It is a small group of armed men that the police should deal with. One should not dramatize the situation,'' said party spokesman Jonas Petit.

Tatoune, 44, was an important figure in the popular uprising that forced dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier into exile in 1986. A longtime Aristide opponent, he had been serving a life sentence for involvement in the 1994 killings of at least 15 Aristide supporters in Gonaives.

On Monday, he said the insurrectionists had contact with activists in other parts of the Caribbean nation of 8 million people.

Meanwhile, armed protesters blocked roads leading to Gonaives with flaming tire barricades, witnesses said.

Prison system director Clifford Larose said three people who got away in Friday's jailbreak were captured over the weekend, but the rest remained free.

The apparent inability of police to restore order is another sign of growing lawlessness taking a grip in Haiti, which has been bedeviled by dictatorships and power struggles since it's independence from France in 1804.

Metayer was an Aristide ally until he was jailed July 2 on charges of burning down houses of a rival group. He insists he is innocent. Metayer and his heavily armed supporters want a new interim government, fresh elections and higher wages for police and other workers. Government officials rejected the demands.

''Poverty breeds delinquents who exploit the poor population,'' Prime Minister Yvon Neptune said. ``We are on the side of the poor, not the delinquents.''

                                                                                                                                                                                         Haiti chief must quit, escapee says

By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

GONAIVES, Haiti (AP), August 4 - Families walked to church Sunday as calm settled on the streets of this Haitian port city, two days after gunmen drove a tractor through a prison wall and unleashed 159 inmates, including a local political activist.

None of the escaped convicts was reported captured, and no police were on the streets Sunday.

Many people blamed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government for the chaos.

"We don't like disorder, but Aristide is to blame. I'm sorry I voted for him. He's given street thugs a free hand," Smith Auguste, a 21-year-old unemployed man, said Saturday.

Many residents in the dusty streets of Gonaives, a west-coast city of 200,000 people, complained they have no electricity, few jobs and little hope.

Escaped activist Amiot Metayer accused Aristide of wrongly putting him behind bars and demanded the resignation of the president, a former ally.

About 100 supporters of Metayer led a reporter to the activist in his shantytown stronghold on Saturday, chanting: "Down with Aristide!"

"The future of Haiti is a Haiti without Aristide," Metayer told The Associated Press in a tin-walled room. "Aristide should resign." Thirty of his militants from the self-styled Cannibal Army stood guard, some carrying pistols and submachine guns.

The latest violence and apparent inability of police to react is another indication of the growing chaos enveloping the hemisphere's poorest nation, mired in a two-year political impasse over fraudulent elections that has blocked international aid.

Police fled the city after the jailbreak, then returned Saturday in small numbers. But none dared approach Metayer's stronghold in the Gonaives shantytown of Raboteau.

Only charred ruins remain where people set fire to the courthouse and city hall on Friday, after the jailbreak.

Metayer turned against Aristide after he was jailed July 2 on charges of burning down houses of a rival gang. The activist says he is innocent.

"I suffered for the cause of democracy, and Aristide ordered my arrest," said Metayer, dressed in black with a red bandanna around his neck.

According to an Organization of American States report, Metayer participated in past attacks on Aristide opponents, including an assault on the home of politician Luc Mesadieu on Dec. 17. After an armed attack on the country's National Palace that day, Aristide supporters attacked opposition offices and homes.

Mesadieu's assistant, Ramy Daran, was doused with gasoline and burned to death. Mesadieu said he saw Metayer give orders to kill Daran.

The 38-year-old activist denied it, saying although he saw Daran die, "I came too late to save him. I never hurt anybody in my life."

At least 10 people died in the Dec. 17 violence, which Aristide claims was a coup attempt. The opposition claims it was staged as a pretext to clamp down on dissent.

Police fruitlessly searched cars and buses for escaped prisoners on the southbound highway from Gonaives to Port-au-Prince, about 60 miles away.

The gunmen used a stolen tractor to ram the prison wall, freeing 159 of the 221 inmates, said Clifford Larose, director of Haiti's prison system. One prisoner was shot and killed by the attackers.

Metayer's supporters had been demanding his release for week. In a handwritten list of demands, they urged the creation of an interim government, new elections by November 2003 and raising wages of police and other workers. Metayer also said he wants safe passage to Orlando, Fla., where his mother and two daughters are staying.

Government officials didn't immediately respond to the demands.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press

                                                                                                                                                                                     Posted at 12:18 a.m., Sunday, August 4, 2002

Gunmen break into Haiti prison

By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP), July 3 - Gangs were wreaking havoc in the Haiti's second largest city Saturday after gunmen broke through the wall of a prison, freeing a former presidential supporter and a host of criminals, in another sign of the chaos surounding a disintegrating Haiti.

Police fled the city after Friday's jailbreak, leaving more than 150 freed criminals to roam the streets throughout the afternoon and night. The courthouse and city hall were set on fire, officials said.

The government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said police were preparing to regain control of Gonaives, about 62 miles northwest of the Port-au-Prince.

"For the moment, the situation is uncontrollable," Jacques Maurice, an Aristide spokesman, said. "We are reinforcing the police to re-establish order, but we want to avoid hurting the civilian population."

As automatic gunfire rang out, people ran to lock themselves in their homes and shopkeepers barred their doors, independent Radio Galaxie reported.

It was another indication of the growing chaos that is enveloping the hemisphere's poorest nation, mired in a two-year political impasse over fraudulent elections that has blocked international aid.

"Disorder has taken possession of the country," said human rights advocate Jean-Claude Bajeux, a former culture minister under Aristide.

The gunmen used a stolen tractor to ram their way through the prison wall, said Clifford Larose, director of Haiti's prison system. One prisoner was shot and killed inside the jail, he said. It was unclear who killed him.

Larose said 159 of the 221 inmates got away.

According to Maurice, the aim of the attack was to free Amiot Metayer, later seen parading through the town with his supporters, who call themselves the Cannibal Army, a militant communal group.

Metayer had long been a supporter of Aristide — and according to the Organization of American States participated in past attacks on Aristide opponents. But Metayer has turned against the president after he was jailed July 2 on charges of burning down houses of a rival gang.

In an open letter to Aristide this week, Metayer bitterly reproached the president, alleging he had him arrested. "This isn't why I fought so hard," wrote Metayer, who has proclaimed his innocence.

His supporters have been demanding his release, blocking traffic with flaming tire barricades and setting fire to the Customs House in Gonaives on July 8.

According to an OAS report, Metayer participated in an attack on the residence of opposition politician Luc Mesadieu in Gonaives on Dec. 17, 2001 — a day when Aristide supporters all over Haiti attacked opposition offices and homes.

Mesadieu's assistant, Ramy Daran, was doused with gasoline and burned to death. Mesadieu said he saw Metayer giving the order to kill Daran.

At least 10 people died in that day's violence, which Aristide claims was sparked by an attempt to overthrow the government and assassinate him. But the OAS agrees with opposition claims the Dec. 17 coup was staged. The opposition says it was a pretext to clamp down on dissidents.

Ironically, among the prisoners who broke free Friday were former soldiers convicted in the 1994 killings of suspected pro-Aristide civilians in Gonaives' seaside shantytown of Raboteau. The soldiers who committed the killings said they were hunting for Metayer.

Escaped convicts included former army Capt. Cenafis Castera and street activist Jean Tatoune, who were serving life sentences. At least 15 civilians were slain in Raboteau, after a military coup ousted Aristide. He was restored by an American invasion months later.

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press, the scholarly journal of democracy and human rights
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