Published by Verso in 2007, Peter Hallward's Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment analyzes the origins and execution of the two coups, the first in 1991 and the second in 2004, mounted against the progressive Lavalas governments led by Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. "This book began as a response to the striking difference between the international reactions to the two anti-Aristide coups of 1991 and 2004," Hallward writes.
When the Haitian army deposed Aristide in 1991, much of the world was appalled; when members of this same army helped the US and France to oust him in 2004, no-one seemed to care. What had changed? Although twice elected with massive majorities, by 2004 most mainstream international analysts had begun to denounce Aristide as an enemy of democracy. Although political violence declined dramatically during his years in office, by 2004 he was regularly condemned as an enemy of human rights. Although still immensely popular among the poor, he was attacked as aloof and corrupt. Although he was prepared to make far-reaching compromises with his opponents, he was derided as intractable and intolerant of dissent. By 2004, in other words, many international observers concluded that Aristide's own administration had turned into a version of the oppressive dictatorship it had initially sought to abolish ... The effort to weaken, demoralize and then overthrow Lavalas in the first years of the twenty-first century was perhaps the most successful exercise of neo-imperial sabotage since the toppling of Nicaragua's Sandinistas in 1990. In many ways it was much more successful, at least in the short-term, than previous international triumphs in Iraq (2003), Panama (1989), Grenada (1983), Chile (1973), the Congo (1960), Guatemala (1954) or Iran (1953). Not only did the coup of 2004 topple one of the most popular governments in Latin America but it managed to topple it in a manner that wasn't widely criticized or even recognized as a coup at all.
In the excerpt below, the book's final chapter, Hallward examines the response from Haiti's popular classes in the years between the second coup and the first presidential elections that followed, in 2006 — and the repression meted out by the forces of the Haiti's small bourgeoisie, Gérard Latortue's interim government, and the United Nations Stabilization Mission In Haiti (UNSTAMIH).
Kreyon pép la pa gen góm (The people's pencil has no eraser).
With hindsight we can divide the political pacification of Lavalas in the aftermath of the 2004 coup into three rough phases. After the initial all-out assault on Lavalas activists in early March 2004, unchecked repression was allowed to continue for another couple of months in most parts of the country. Soon, however, the combination of mild indignation in the international press and the arrival of new UN troops and resources induced the government to adopt somewhat less abrasive tactics. Public executions gave way to pseudo-legal arrests and a return to more conventional forms of punitive imprisonment. International advisors were brought in to help "professionalize" and re-militarize the [national police] PNH. New police munitions poured into the country. By early summer, most of the hated US Marines had been replaced by more "neutral" UN soldiers, mainly from Brazil, Chile, and Jordan. In July and August there was a relative lull in the violence. As the summer drew to a close, however, it remained painfully obvious that Latortue's mission remained far from accomplished. As far as anyone could tell, support for Lavalas and for Aristide was as strong as ever in the Port-au-Prince slums, most obviously in neighborhoods like Bel Air and Cité Soleil. Widespread public outrage over the February coup showed no sign of abating. A new round of democratic elections could never take place in such inappropriate circumstances.
But by September 2004 Latortue was ready to move to the third phase of his program. The conditions were auspicious. The PNH had been re-trained, re-armed, and reinforced. If needed, thousands of UN troops could provide quite spectacular amounts of additional firepower. The independent media kept up a steady stream of stories to demonize the Lavalas "terrorists" and "bandits" in the slums. Conveniently, the international media had long since lost interest in the story, while remaining sensitive to what was fast becoming the global obsession of the day — the ever-growing need for state-sanctioned security in the face of apparently organized terror
The Assault on Bel Air
The opportunity for a new crackdown came when Lavalas OPs had the audacity to organize a mass demonstration commemorating an especially provocative event — the anniversary of the first coup, on 30 September 2004. More than ten thousand people converged on Bel Air to declare once again their loyalty to Aristide and to Lavalas. Rattled by the size of the crowd, the police responded by shooting at them; between three and ten demonstrators were killed and many others wounded. Furious protesters smashed car windows before police gunfire cleared downtown Port-au-Prince. 1 Organizers of the march insisted that CIMO agents opened fire on the march as it approached the Direction Générale des Impôts. Latortue admitted that "We shot them, some of them fell, others were injured, others ran away," and announced his intention to forbid future Lavalas demonstrations. Gousse pretended that three policemen had also died during the demonstration, a claim that appeared inconsistent with his police chief Léon Charles' explanation, that one policemen had been killed and two others wounded in a quite separate incident earlier in the day (at a wharf in La Saline). 2 Gousse went on to allege that his three dead policemen had been decapitated by Lavalas extremists, as part of what he described as a sinister new "Operation Baghdad." Immediate police reprisals (combined with attacks carried out by Labanye's auxiliaries) killed around a dozen further people, including FL activists Maxo Casséus and Wendy Manigat. altogether, no less than eighty people were killed on 30 September and the first few days of October, including, said the PNH, eleven policemen. 3 On 2 October, as they contributed to a radio debate on the implications of the violence, ex-FL senators Yvon Feuillé, Louis-Gérald Gilles and Rudy Hériveaux were arrested without warrants on suspicion of complicity in the attacks on the police; Gousse denounced them as "barbaric and violent." The day they were arrested, the pro-coup human rights analyst and Latortue-ally Jean-Claude Bajeux described Operation Baghdad as a new "urban guerrilla operation" launched by FL in order to dramatize, on the Iraqi model, "the failure of US policy in Haiti." 4
In the autumn of 2004, when the US occupation of Iraq still commanded a certain amount of trans-imperial support, "Operation Baghdad" was a felicitous phrase. (It also happened to be the title of a regular section devoted to slum violence in Haiti's most widely read newspaper, Le Nouvelliste.) Calls for its suppression received an auto- matically sympathetic hearing in places like Washington, Paris, and Ottawa. Although Gousse's original version of events was quickly abandoned, in early October press reports appeared to confirm the discovery of the decapitated bodies of two plainclothes policemen. Surely there was now only a difference of degree between Lavalas and Al-Qaeda! Lavalas leaders did their best to dismiss Bajeux's accusations as a clumsy and "calculated attempt to manipulate the media and US public opinion against us. It was the police who fired on unarmed demonstrators on September 30th that started the violence. This claim of an 'Operation Baghdad' is being used to justify continuing the slaughter and arbitrary arrests of our members." 5 Activists and analysts sympathetic to Lavalas pointed out that the organization had little to gain by picking a fight with the police, and that for the previous month the G184 and other rightwing groups had been calling for more forceful incursions into pro-Lavalas slums. They pointed out that it was far from clear who might have killed or beheaded the two policemen — the simmering conflict between the police and Ravix's disgruntled ex-soldiers had already begun to boil over. They said there was no evidence that Lavalas was involved in any sort of urban guerrilla operation. They pointed out that the vast majority of the violence was suffered by rather than inflicted by Lavalas partisans. 6 Even the pro-coup human rights group CARLI soon came to the conclusion that Operation Baghdad had never existed outside of the febrile imaginations of Gousse and Bajeux. A CARLI investigation concluded that two officers, Ancelme Milfrane and Jean Janvier, were indeed decapitated — but by former soldiers on 29 September, and not by FL partisans on 30 September. 7
It didn't matter. The useful fiction that was "Operation Baghdad" stuck in the national and international media for as long as it was required. Latortue's government was now part of an embattled vanguard in the global war against terror. In early October, with Haiti's national security on the line and cheered by G184 magnates like Reginald Boulos and Andy Apaid, Latortue ordered massive and repeated multinational incursions into Bel Air and other pro-Lavalas neighborhoods in lower Port-au-Prince.
Why Bel Air? Like the adjoining districts of La Saline and lower Delmas, Bel Air is an impoverished but remarkably resilient community. It has always been an unflinching bastion of support for Aristide and for Lavalas, and it remains so to this day. Unlike the more populous but more isolated Cité Soleil, it is situated on the very edge of downtown Port-au- Prince, adjacent to the city's commercial center and just a kilometre away from the national palace and police headquarters. Its location makes it a natural meeting place and launching pad for street demonstrations. Again unlike Cité Soleil, although Bel Air is very poor its communal structure is relatively stable. Its infrastructure is basic, but not non-existent. Most inhabitants are life-long residents, and most have spent at least some time in school. Many are long-standing members of a ramified network of diverse social and political organisations populaires. One of the dozen or so people I interviewed at random during several trips to Bel Air in April 2006, a man in his mid-thirties called Jean-Marie, seemed to speak for most of his neighbors when he described how he and his friends "are fighting so that our voices be heard, so that we are respected, so that our constitution is respected." In 2000 as in 1990,
we voted for Aristide, and he was kidnapped, it's as simple as that. Did he still deserve our fidelity? That's for us to decide, on our own. And it remains intact. From 1986 to this day, there has been no other leader who defended us as he did, who affirmed our convictions as he did. Look around you, you will see that everyone here feels the same way.
Jean-Marie adamantly refused to accept the February coup as a fait accompli. "It was a crime, pure and simple. We will not allow other people to make our decisions for us." Like most people I met in Bel Air, Jean-Marie expressed a similar fidelity to the local FL representatives Jean-Marie Samedy and Samba Boukman. "All through these years of violence Samba's been here, he's spoken for us, on the radio, in the press, and said what had to be said. We respect him, for his courage. He has carried our convictions. He has done good work." Samba is one of the leaders of an OP based in Bel Air, the Mouvman Rezistans Baz Popile, which works to limit the recourse to violence in Port-au-Prince, to resist the infiltration of the popular movement by armed gangs, to call for a release of the political prisoners, to insist on the return of the political exiles and the restoration of the constitutional government. Neither Samba nor Aristide nor any representative of Aristide, Jean-Marie said, comes to Bel Air to issue unilateral instructions and commands. "No, we are all struggling together, we are all fighting for our own rights; we meet, we discuss things, we decide what we should do, together." As for traditional politicians, as for someone like ex-FL-senator Louis-Gérald Gilles, they count for nothing — "We have never seen him, we have no contact with him." Jean-Marie sees no difference between the FL opportunists and the rest of the elite. "Because we live here the elite treat us as chimères, as pariah; because we live in such poverty, they treat us as illiterate savages. We are dying of hunger, but the police and UN only shoot at us. This is the way it has always been. And we are determined to change it." 8
Bel Air is also a neighborhood that knows how to defend itself. Its comités de vigilance were at the forefront of resistance against the military dictatorships in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and many of the same people led the movement to confront the CD, the G184, and other pro-coup groups. It is this combination of poverty, solidarity and strength that the elite and its backers cannot endure. When the police began their murderous incursions into pro-Lavalas neighborhoods immediately after the February coup, Bel Air fought back. The day after Aristide's over- throw, a police raid on the neighborhood was repulsed and two officers were killed; their bodies were left to burn along with their pick-up truck, on Boulevard Dessalines. 9 As the Marines arrived to reinforce the police, it was Bel Air that attracted their most lethal attention. On 6 March, bemused reporters watched a patrol of around seventy-five Marines as they were challenged and then taunted by Bel Air residents; "after a brief confrontation, they left the neighborhood." 10 Although subsequent Marine attacks may have left some forty residents dead, this was far from enough to terrorize the district into docility.
Latortue's campaign in the autumn picked up where the Marines had left off in the spring. On 6 October 2004, around 150 PNH officers supported by 200 MINUSTAH troops descended upon Bel Air and arrested some seventy-five people (a police spokesperson expressed some surprise that "not a single weapon was found in the possession of the Bel Air residents" 11). Dozens of people were jailed or shot almost every day for the next couple of weeks; on 11 October alone, another 130 people were put in prison. By November, Samba Boukman recalls, several hundred members of the local Mouvman Rezistans had been arrested. All the way through to the spring of 2005, Latortue's government took increasingly violent measures to silence the Mouvman's demands. Day after day and night after night, remembers Samba Boukman, police and other unidentified "security forces" invaded Bel Air, shooting or arresting hundreds of people, often at random. "They did everything they could to frighten us, to prevent us from saying Aristide's name, to prevent us from defending ourselves.'' 12 On several well-documented occasions, the police simply laid pro-FL youths down in the street and shot them in the back of the head — a dozen people were killed this way by a PNH troupe led by René Etienne in Fort National on 25 October, and another five were executed on 27 October, in the Carrefour Péan section of lower Delmas. Griffin's report includes a description and photographs of the latter incident.
At approximately noon on that day, according to multiple witnesses, police vehicles blocked a two-block long section of Rue St. Martin, forcing traffic and pedestrians to stop. They then brought five boys out of the vehicles and forced them to lie face down in the street. The police shot them one at a time in the back of the head. One got up and ran before he was shot, was hit in the back, and died the following day at the General Hospital. The police shouted out that the bodies should be left there. Contrary to Haitian law, no Justice of the Peace came to investigate the scene. 13
In Bel Air as elsewhere, the paramilitaries that continued to work alongside the police paid special attention to the street-kids who are almost invariably Aristide supporters; as their outraged advocate Michael Brewer observes, "There are dump zones where the decomposing bodies of little boys can be found any day of the week." 14 By 17 October the morgue at the nearby General Hospital announced that it had already received 600 new bodies, and no longer had space for additional corpses (although when Griffin spoke to morgue workers the following month, they said that "since 30 September 2004, the PNH rarely even bring people killed by violence to the morgue [but] simply take the bodies of those they kill directly to undisclosed dumping grounds" 15).
In November, the Latortue-appointed assistant mayor of Port-au- Prince, Jean Philippe Sassine, explained the logic behind the government's strategy. "Shoot them and ask questions later," he said. "Right now our country needs security. Unless you clean up the bad people, the gangs, there will be no progress. It will be a massacre, people will die. But let us do it, or it will be worse." 16 In the last weeks before he too would have to go into hiding, ex-army corporal Ravix Rémissainthe was only too happy to offer his troupe of 300 ex-soldiers as unofficial accomplices in such a massacre. As soon as the government gives us the order, he boasted, "We can clear Bel Air and Cité Soleil of bandits in three days." Griffin's investigative team was witness to one of their innumerable joint operations, a typical police/ex-army/UN incursion into Bel Air that took place on 18 November:
The operation began with one or two helicopters hovering over the target neighborhood, while PNH officers gathered in trucks (pickups and SUVs) and on foot just outside. Most officers were dressed in black, with black helmets and face masks; all carried large semi-automatic rifles, or fully automatic assault rifles. Once ready, they made a sudden, high speed entry into Bel Air, with officers dismounting to spread out. Before and during the PNH incursion, MINUSTAH soldiers in APCs rumbled at high speeds down streets crowded with women and children. The peacekeepers were positioned with their heads and shoulders poking out of the tanks, holding automatic rifles in the ready position aimed in all directions. Each APC had one soldier manning a large, fixed gun on top. The APCs blocked off roads surrounding the target neighborhood, preventing entry or exit by journalists, investigators and anyone else who was not a police officer or soldier.
Within seconds of the PNH incursion, gunfire began, and rattled sporadically for hours. When it ended, the forces cleared out. According to some reports, the police left some bodies behind, but transported others away.
The investigators gained entry to Bel Air just after the November 18 operation, in the mid-afternoon under escort from neighborhood leaders. Dead bodies were on the street. ... Neighborhood residents then escorted the investigators to several homes where victims were in their beds suffering from gunshot wounds. Hercules LeFevre, shot through the shoulder, said he was walking to work when a soldier in a MINUSTAH APC shot at him with a high-powered rifle. Another was Inep Henri, age 35, found in his bed at 3:00 p.m., having been shot at 10:00 a.m. by a bullet that entered his left eye, travelled through his brain, and exited the back of his head. ... Inep was semi-conscious when investigators reached him. Like many others, he and his family stated that the police would take him away if he went to the hospital. [He died three days later]. 17
Journalist Guy Delva is as neutral a voice as any in the Haitian media, and in 2004/5 was a regular witness to the results of such police operations. In the autumn of 2004, he explains, the de facto government was absolutely determined "to block anything that might show that Aristide still had a lot of support. That's the reason behind a lot of the police operations in the slums, in Bel Air and Cité Soleil, in which the police went in and killed a lot of people. I've seen those things: you see ten bodies here, five bodies there, bodies lying in piles of garbage . . ." All through January and February 2005 the assault continued. 18 On 25 February for instance, according to Samba Boukman, the PNH killed fourteen youths in the street, in full view of MINUSTAH troops. 19 After the worst was over, Bel Air resident Lyonel Barthelemy took another journalist on a guided tour of the ruins of his neighborhood. "Until last year, a house had stood there, Barthelemy said, but the owner had been involved with Lavalas, and the police burned it down. He took me around the block and showed me the charred remains of another home. The police again, he said. They arrested everyone who had lived there. And he pointed down another street, Rue Montalais, where police had gathered 11 young men, all suspected of ties to Lavalas. The policemen made them lie on the ground side by side, then shot them one by one." 20
According to Oxfam, "between September 2004 and December 2004 at least 700 people in Haiti were killed by intentional arms-related violence [and] four times that number were injured." 21 No-one really knows, though, how many people died in the police assault on Bel Air and other pro-Lavalas neighborhoods like Solino, Martissant, La Saline, Village de Dieu, lower Delmas . . . The most detailed and reliable analysis to date is a September 2006 report by Athena Kolbe and Royce Hutson published in the highly respected medical journal, The Lancet. 22 In keeping with another recent Lancet study, of casualty figures in the Iraq war, Kolbe and Hutson's report isn't based on figures passively collected by government agencies or NGOs, since these pick up only a fraction of the actual amount of violence — as the Lancet's editor Richard Horton points out, "Only when you go out and knock on the doors of families, actively looking for deaths, do you begin to get close to the right number. This method is now tried and tested. It has been the basis for mortality estimates in war zones such as Darfur and the Congo." 23 In the war zone that was Port-au-Prince between 29 February 2004 and December 2005, Kolbe and Hutson extrapolate from thousands of random interviews an estimated 8,000 killings and no less than 35,000 sexual assaults. They attribute around half of the killings to the police or anti-Lavalas paramilitaries, and the other half to criminals; they blame only a tiny share of the political violence on pro-Lavalas partisans. Kolbe's impartiality has been challenged, on account of her previous (and initially undisclosed) involvement with Aristide's Radio Timoun and Foundation for Democracy, and some analysts question the credibility of her report. While 4000 political killings in Port-au-Prince during 2004–06 may be an overestimate, the best available evidence suggests that the coup claimed several thousand victims — roughly the same number, in other words, as the coup that overthrew Chile's Allende in 1973.
All through this period, as a damning 2005 report undertaken by Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights (together with members of the Brazil-based Centro de Justiça Global) demonstrates in detail, the UN stabilization force "effectively provided cover for the police to wage a campaign of terror in Port-au-Prince's slums." 24 Todd Howland directs the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial's Center for Human Rights, and has worked with UN peacekeeping missions in Rwanda and Angola. "It's a totally inappropriate solution for the member-states to tell the United Nations to take sides in Haiti, but that's what they've done," he said in early 2006.
It's simply crazy that the UN was not allowed to do what the UN typically does to bring peace to a country. It needed to bring the parties of the conflict together to discuss how to resolve the underlying conflict. There needed to be a peace process, a peace negotiation. This is the only country in the world where you have a significant UN operation without a peace accord. People can think what they want to about Lavalas. Love them or hate them, it is short-sighted and costly to exclude them from this process. It's not a question of good or bad. Lavalas is the major political force and that's the reality in Haiti. 25
However many people were killed and arrested, it wasn't enough to stop neighborhoods like Bel Air from protesting the coup and demonstrating in favor of Lavalas. On the first anniversary of the coup, 28 February 2005, thousands of Aristide supporters marched up from the slums to the UN headquarters on John Brown avenue. In full view of foreign correspondents and UN staff, Haitian police fired on the demonstration, killed five of its leaders and wounded dozens more — these and related "police killings poisoned an atmosphere," said the exasperated head of MINUSTAH, "that peacekeepers had been working to improve for two months." 26 After a few peaceful weeks in March during which the UN prevented the PNH from supervising demonstrations, further mass rallies in downtown Port-au-Prince, and further PNH killings, followed on 24 March (at least two demonstrators killed), 27 April (at least five demonstrators killed) and 18 May (at least two more dead). 27 As many as thirty people may have been killed in a series of police raids on Bel Air over four days, starting 3 June. 28 By that stage, however, the chief focus of both the PNH and the UN had shifted to somewhere else — Cité Soleil.
The Assault on Cité Soleil
Of all the Port-au-Prince slums, Cité Soleil has an exceptional status. Packed with around 300,000 inhabitants, it is by far the largest single neighborhood in the entire country. Built on low-lying, reclaimed (and regularly flooded) land on the water's edge, a few kilometers north and west of downtown, it's relatively easy to cut it off from the rest of the city. Infrastructure is almost non-existent. As of 2006 there are virtually no public schools and indeed almost no government facilities of any kind, other than a lone hospital. There is no longer any regular police presence. Unlike Bel Air, many residents of Cité Soleil are relatively recent arrivals, refugees from a barren countryside that can no longer support them. They are Haiti's poorest of the poor. Regular jobs are extremely scarce, and nowhere are the immediate pressures of survival so intense. Compared with other poor neighborhoods in the capital, therefore, it is more difficult to separate political commitments in Cité Soleil from brutal economic necessities. Once many hundreds of Cité residents lost their public sector jobs in March 2004, some of them began to starve. Absolute destitution and permanent vulnerability have predictable social consequences, some of which discourage close international attention. 29 Only two foreign human rights workers (Anne Sosin and Judy DaCruz) undertook sustained work in Cité Soleil in the post-coup years, and they are both careful to point out that in the Cité the distinction between political and criminal gangs is often artificial. 30
It was not Cité Soleil's high level of criminality, however, that made it a source of particular concern for the de facto authorities in 2004. In many respects, Cité Soleil provides the elite with a useful way of containing the human damage caused by the way they rule the country — it ordinarily serves as a fairly secure holding pen for the people who have suffered most from the effects of Haiti's class war. By the same token, however, once the mechanics of domination had to shift from straightforward military dictatorship to democratic hegemony, the existence of a place like Cité Soleil became a serious problem. As the Boulos brothers understood very well in the 1990s, no other single district contains so many registered voters — at least 5% of the entire national electorate. No other district can mobilize so many people so quickly. Lavalas leaders in Cité Soleil can (and frequently do) turn out thousands of people for a demonstration at a moment's notice. No other district has such a high public profile: because it's the poorest, largest and most violent of Haiti's popular neighborhoods it's guaranteed a certain amount of regular media coverage, and intrepid international NGOs like Doctors Without Borders go out of their way to retain a prestigious foothold in the Cité.
No other district, more to the point, contains so many militant Aristide supporters. No doubt some of this support is opportunistic. The imperatives of survival rarely encourage an immaculate idealism, and though its practical resources were severely limited, Aristide's government offered unprecedented resources and hope for the Cité. In addition to providing crucial public sector jobs, the Lavalas government built a substantial public park and renovated the main market square. It improved and paved the main road that runs through the center of the Cité, and developed the port that lies at its end. It built scores of new housing units and took over the running of Boulos' Saint Cathérine hospital. In some ways the symbolic gestures counted for more: Aristide was the first president to make regular trips to the Cité, to speak to its inhabitants as equals, to invite its representatives to his house and to the National Palace. Although there are some disaffected ex-Lavalassians in Cité Soleil as there are anywhere else, by and large it remains Lavalas through and through.
As with Bel Air, in 2004 the most immediate problem with Cité Soleil, as far as the government and international community was concerned, was its robust capacity to defend itself. "Around here," observes Bobby Duval, "if you don't mobilize and demand a better life for yourself, you'll just be forgotten and will fall through the cracks." 31 Towards the end of February, while Philippe's rebels encountered little organized resistance in many parts of the country, Lavalas militants (and Selavi alumni) in Cité Soleil like Billy "Prezidan" and his brother Tupac were undaunted. Both their parents were killed by FRAPH. "Guy Philippe can't come here," Billy told the Miami Herald on 24 February. "If Philippe comes, he dies. The police are afraid. But we are not. We have the power. Philippe says he's got 200 [men]. You know how many people are waiting for him here? We've got 2,000. If Cité Soleil says 'no more,' it's over." 32 Once Aristide had been abducted, under the pressure of paramilitary incursions Cité Soleil turned into something of a semi-armed camp. "We are not going to wait for them to come and kill us," Billy told the New York Times on 3 March; "we'll take care of Guy Philippe, you'll see." Another militant, Paul Virel, remembered the legacy of Chamblain and FRAPH from the first coup. "The gift we received from FRAPH was pigs eating the bodies of our brothers and sisters," he said. "Mothers would wake up in the morning to find their sons dead. FRAPH will never come here again. We would rather die stopping them than let them come back." 33 Sure enough, over the next few months hundreds of Cité residents died defending their neighborhood. In the spring of 2004 informal self-defense brigades sprang up throughout the district, and soon both the police and their paramilitary allies from Pétionville were obliged to retreat. Cité Soleil became a no-go area for anyone sympathetic to the coup.
The fact that Cité Soleil was capable of fighting back, the fact that it was one of the few places where the police were generally afraid to go, also meant that it was also one of the few places where Lavalas activists were relatively safe. After they lost their jobs, it became a refuge for scores of OP activists and former public sector employees who were high on the list of the IGH's list of political targets. 34
In March 2004, the new Latortue government had a clear choice. It could have devoted a small fraction of its new international aid to the continuation of a version of Aristide's social and educational programmes. It could have expanded on his efforts to create additional jobs for Cité residents. It could have spent modest sums on water and electricity provision, or garbage disposal. Alternatively, it could fire most of the Cité's public sector workers, abandon the Lavalas literacy project, suspend all social programmes, isolate the local economy, confine thousands of people in permanent unemployment while allowing private sector importers to quadruple the prices of basic foodstuffs — and then send in a combination of turncoat gang-members, death squads, CIMO police, and UN troops to deal with the consequences. The decision to opt for the latter course had already been made, presumably, long before Latortue returned to his country in March. The private-sector troika of Boulos, Baker, and Apaid, together with their associates in various quasi-official security forces, was hard at work softening up parts of Cité Soleil as early as mid-2003, if not before.
As we saw in chapter seven, until the mid-1990s people like the Boulos, Apaid, and Baker families had been free to make liberal use of FAdH troops to "maintain order" in the slums that border the factories they own along the capital's industrial belt. Ever since Aristide abolished FAdH in early 1995, they've had to rely on less formal arrangements. Cité Soleil is not the sort of place that is easily penetrated by external infiltration. The only option, in the end, was to try to buy off some of the local gang leaders. The industrialist Reginald Boulos had attempted to use his wealth and patronage to nourish a base of political support in the Cité for years. 35 Through to the early 2000s, however, anti-FL money didn't go very far in Cité Soleil, and by the summer of 2003 the unpopular Labanye was the only gang leader willing to accept it. Well-placed sources confirm that Apaid promised Labanye and his family visas to the US and paid him tens of thousands of dollars, though since neither party seems to have kept receipts definitive proof will be hard to come by. 36 It's no secret, however, that from mid-summer 2003 Labanye regularly received substantial amounts of money to share out with his followers, and that from then on, Labanye's gang was never troubled by the police or by anti-FL paramilitaries. 37
Apaid's recruitment of Labanye was a significant breakthrough in the elite's assault on the popular movement in Port-au-Prince. All along, the real target of much of the hype about Lavalas "chimères" was the fact of their relative unity and organization under Aristide. Even after Labanye had been bought off by Apaid and Boulos, even after the violence between Labanye and Dred Wilme in October 2003, by the end of the year Aristide was able to unite the groups against their common political enemies. At the massive pro-government rally of 7 February 2004, Labanye and Dred stood shoulder to shoulder with all the other group leaders, and right through to 29 February 2004 Labanye himself — under heavy pressure from members of his own gang — helped to man the defensive barricades at Tabarre. 38 Once Aristide was out of the picture, however, this strategic unity quickly evaporated. In late March 2004 Apaid arranged a meeting in his office with the Cité's main leaders. Labanye, Tupac, Billy, and Amaral all went along, though not Dred, who was never prepared to negotiate with Aristide's enemies. Eléonore Senlis went to the meeting as well, along with French members of the interim occupation force. "It was pointless," she remembers. "It served only to confirm Billy and Amaral's contempt for Apaid, and to make them miss the Aristide days." 39 Apaid himself told Thomas Griffin's investigation team that he asked all of the Cité Soleil gang leaders "to agree to disarm, and only Labanye agreed. Apaid admitted that since Labanye's agreement, he has directed the police to protect Labanye's life, and 'not to arrest him, but to work with him.' Labanye deserves special treatment, he said, 'because he is a witness to the others refusing to disarm.'" 40 Shortly after this meeting an arrest warrant was issued for the "bandit" Dred Wilme, who went into hiding in lower Delmas. 41
It's easy to understand Baker and Apaid's enthusiasm for vigorous law and order. Apaid's main factory employs thousands of workers and stands right on the edge of Cité Soleil. The Baker family owns half a dozen factories in the same area, and five of them suffered fire damage in the two years running up to Charles Baker's decision to stand as the main pro-business candidate in the 2006 presidential elections. While denying the existence of any "class divide in Haiti," Baker told a journalist the day before those elections that "overwhelming force," combined with "order, discipline and work," was the only solution to the country's predicament. 42
Through to March 2005, Labanye's gang (with PNH support) was the elite's preferred vehicle for delivering this solution. So long as Aristide was in power, Labanye's capacity to disrupt the FL's power base in lower Cité Soleil was very limited. But with Aristide gone, the running battles that had been taking place off and on since the previous autumn intensified, and by September 2004 the combination of the mass firings of public sector workers, paramilitary attacks and Labanye's relentless disruption made life in the Cité almost impossible to endure. FL leaders like Amaral Duclona and Lamarre Augustin are adamant that they did everything possible to negotiate with representatives of the new government and the private sector, that they were determined to pursue forms of peaceful resistance and sustain non-violence protests against the coup, and that it was the combination of government aggression along with Labanye's provocation that condemned the Cité to take defensive measures which led in turn to the development of a situation resembling martial law. 43 As Griffin observed towards the end of that year, the lack of any constructive intervention from the de facto government or UN together with the ceaseless "anarchy appears to have made leaders and heroes out of the young men who perpetrate violence best." 44
In Cité Soleil as in Bel Air, a dramatic threshold was crossed on the day of the fateful pro-Aristide demonstration on 30 September 2004. As thousands of people calling for a return of the elected government marched out from lower Cité Soleil to join their comrades downtown, they were intercepted en route by Labanye's gang in Boston; the firefight left group leader Tupac (Winston Jean-Bart) and several other FL militants dead. His younger brother and fellow gang-leader Billy (James Petit Frére) was also badly wounded in the ensuing violence and then arrested while recovering in hospital — it appears that Billy later escaped from prison during the February 2005 jailbreak, only to be shot and was killed by police as he tried to make his way back to Cité Soleil. 45 That left Dred Wilme and Amaral Duclona as the two most prominent leaders of pro-FL armed groups, ranged against the alliance of Labanye, the PNH/UN, and the paramilitaries. On 14 December 2004, a major MINUSTAH incursion into Cité Soleil gave the government a strategic foothold in the area for the first time, killing two or three people in the process. All through the autumn of 2004 and spring of 2005 Labanye and his allies put relentless pressure on the residents of the lower Cité. Many hundreds of houses were destroyed along the main north-south road of Bois Neuf (which residents subsequently renamed Boulevard Dred Wilme), and the entire area remains a wasteland to this day. Every entrance to the Cité was sealed off with massive barricades and heavily armed checkpoints. Schools inside lower Cité Soleil were closed, markets were suspended, the police station was torched, and the hospital was shut down for three full months. The only way in and out was by boat. Supplies of food and water grew desperately short. All through the long months of the siege atrocities were committed on both sides, and the violence had a traumatizing effect on the social and political fabric of the neighborhood.
If the de facto government's aim was to confirm in both the local and the national mind the confusion of Lavalas activists and brutal gangsters then the assault it launched on Cité Soleil in the autumn of 2004 was at least partially successful. An alumnus of Aristide's home for street kids, an employee (until the March 2004 layoffs) of the National Port Authority and a life-long Lavalas loyalist, much of Dred Wilme's world was shaped by systematic political violence. Members of his group were no doubt guilty of many crimes, and it would be naive to present him or his followers as high-minded altruists. 46 If Latortue was unable to squash Lavalas resistance to the coup, he succeeded in criminalizing some of it. It would be quite wrong, however, to try to downplay the insistently political dimension of the struggle for survival that coalesced around Dred, Amaral, and their associate Lamarre Augustin. Eléonore Senlis knew Dred Wilme as well as any outsider, and of all the armed leaders in the Cité she describes him as "the most effectively organized and the most loyal to Aristide. He saw Aristide as the true representative of the people and he remained completely devoted to him, even once it was clear that this loyalty would lead to his death. As a leader he was both charismatic and implacable; his ambition was to rebuild the whole of Cité Soleil in the image of Lafanmi Selavi, and he was prepared to defend this project against its enemies by all available means." 47 As Dred himself explained in an interview on NY radio in April 2005, Haiti's ruling
bourgeoisie have never done anything to benefit the people of Cité Soleil. They want the people to be their slaves. ... We have been living for one year now under this de facto government which is destroying the country. 95% of the people from the masses who were working government jobs have been fired. Children cannot go to school. Students cannot advance in their studies. We are wondering just how far this crisis will be allowed to go. All of this is why we are in the streets, demonstrating and demanding the physical return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti immediately. This is the only issue the people are interested in today. 48
It's people like Dred and Amaral who have always suffered the brunt of political repression in Haiti. While they too have blood on their hands, it would be wrong to underestimate the courage of the Lavalas activists who have defended their families against successive waves of paramilitary attack since the late 1980s. Although opinions and affiliations vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, it would be wrong to downplay the degree to which local residents applaud their leaders as resistance fighters, as the only people able and willing to protect them from the outright predation of their enemies. "I know this is hard for people outside Haiti to understand," confirms Guy Delva, "but in Cité Soleil the people with weapons are not seen as criminals or bandits, but as people who are protecting the population. They see that when MINUSTAH or the Haitian police come they kill people, and the gangs do what they can to defend them. I can confirm that when you speak to them, most people in Cité Soleil say they saw Dred Wilme as a leader, as someone who defended their community, they didn't see him as a bandit." 49 Bobby Duval is hardly an advocate for armed struggle, but like the vast majority of the kids he works with, he acknowledges Dred Wilme as "our Robin Hood," as a contemporary version of the anti-US resistance fighter Charlemagne Péralte. 50 People closer to the sharp end of class struggle in lower Port-au-Prince emphatically agree. Dred was "truly admired by the people of Cité Soleil," insist OP militants Belizaire Printemps and Elias Clovis, who shrug off allegations of brutality in the independent media. "In Haiti, as a rule, when you defend the interests of the people you are treated as a criminal, whether your name is Dessalines, Péralte or Wilme." 51
When then a combination of Dred's resistance and internal betrayal allowed his gang to triumph over Labanye in March 2005, there was consternation in Pétionville and rejoicing on the streets of lower Cité Soleil. Latortue publicly mourned Labanye's death, and with good reason. With Labanye dead and his gang dispersed, the de facto government would now have to take care of unfinished business itself. From now on, the attacks on FL supporters in Cité Soleil would have to be conducted first by the police or its paramilitary allies, and later by armoured UN columns. As the inter-gang violence subsided the IGH also needed a new pretext to justify its policy of counter-insurgency. Conveniently, in the spring of 2005 Port-au-Prince was traumatized by a mysterious and unprecedented spate of kidnappings. 52 Although they almost never ended in bloodshed, the abrupt rise in abductions contributed to a spiralling fixation with security all over Port-au-Prince (and may have helped discourage a budding alliance of student leaders and FL militants). Places like Pétionville which had hitherto suffered few direct consequences of February 2004 suddenly seemed vulnerable, and kidnapping became an obsessive source of public concern. In June 2005 the PNH arrested at least half a dozen of its own members on suspicion of kidnapping. Although reliable evidence is again hard to come by, well-placed sources have traced a significant fraction of the kidnappings to people with the most obvious interest in justifying new investments in the provision of neo-military forms of security, including members of the former military and associates of Gérard Latortue's security chief, ex- Gang Unit officer Youri Latortue. 53 On 27 May 2005, in his capacity as President of the Haitian chamber of Commerce and Industry, Reginald Boulos met with Latortue's police chief Leon Charles and used the pretext of rising insecurity to back up his demand that the IGH help "the business community to form their own private security firms and arm them with automatic weapons,"; he was candid enough to admit that "if they don't allow us to do this then we'll take our own initiative and do it anyway." On 30 May, Boulos' friend Charles Baker denounced the UN on Radio Métropole for offering nothing more than "protection for the armed bandits," i.e. Lavalas militants. 54
By the spring of 2005 Dred's group had become so powerful that the police could no longer set foot in Cité Soleil. The job of breaking its grip on the Cité fell to the far better equipped UN troops. For most of 2004, MINUSTAH soldiers had managed to resist what their commander General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro condemned in December as the "extreme pressure (from the US, France and Canada) to use violence." 55 As the IGH ran out of options this pressure increased, and in the spring of 2005 MINUSTAH took on a more directly military role. In Cité Soleil, MINUSTAH's Jordanian troops in particular will be long remembered for their readiness, whenever they felt threatened, to open fire on anything that moved. If you visit just about any side-street in the Cité, residents will show you bullet holes in their shacks that they say came from MINUSTAH machine guns. At one point during the MINUSTAH campaign in Cité Soleil, admitted one UN official, UN troops were firing an average of 2,000 rounds of ammunition a day. 56
On 22 June, the UN Security Council agreed to enlarge its invasion force to the extraordinary level of 9,300 men. On June 23 an increasingly frustrated Roger Noriega told the Herald that "as a longtime observer of Haiti, it is abundantly clear to me ... that Aristide and his camp are singularly responsible for most of the violence and for the concerted nature of the violence" in post-coup Haiti. He urged UN troops "to take a more 'proactive role' in going after armed pro-Aristide gangs" and to overcome Aristide's latest attempt to "terrorize the Haitian people and deny them good government." 57 The UN did what it was told. On 6 July 2005, a full-scale military operation mounted by around 400 MINUSTAH troops (combined with the betrayal of one of Dred's confidants) finally succeeded in killing the most wanted man in Haiti, along with four of his closest associates and an uncertain number of Cité residents — perhaps 30 people in all. 58 Guy Delva "saw seven bodies in one house alone, including two babies and one older woman in her 60s," and around twenty of the twenty-seven people who chose to risk public treatment for gunshot wounds at the local MSF clinic were women and children. On the same day, a PNH attack on Bel Air may have left another ten people dead; perhaps twelve more killings followed a couple of days later. 59
The death of Aristide's most militant supporter in Cité Soleil marked a significant advance in the basic strategy of demonize, divide, and rule that has shaped government policy towards the slums of Port-au-Prince ever since February 2004. Dred's elimination, predictably, did not serve to limit but to multiply the number of weapons and armed groups in the poorer parts of Port-au-Prince. By the time the UN launched its next series of military raids in Cité Soleil, in December 2006, the elite's ongoing effort to conflate residual political resistance with criminality pure and simple had born considerable fruit.
In the short term, however, the 6 July offensive proved to be something of a Pyrrhic victory for Latortue's government. Dred's resistance had forced the IGH/UN to have recourse to levels of violence that even the world's most independent media found difficult to disguise. Many thousands of Cité Soleil residents turned out for Dred's funeral, and he quickly became the district's most famous martyr. "We will always keep Dred Wilme alive in our memory," said his successor Amaral, who with the support of hundreds of gang members immediately picked up where his mentor left off. 60 The IGH/UN kept up its campaign of counter-insurgency all through the summer — in the most notorious of several brutal incidents, on 20 August 2005, in the middle of a soccer match attended by around 6,000 people in the Grand Ravine section of the Martissant district in western Port-au-Prince, at least eight people were hacked or shot to death by members of the anti-FL gang Lame Timachete, working in collusion with the PNH. 61 In the autumn of 2005, the Cité Soleil hospital continued to treat scores of gunshot victims every month. 62 Despite months of open warfare, however, MINUSTAH's attempt to bludgeon the Cité into submission was no more successful than those of the police or the paramilitaries before them. Anarchic violence was starting to break out all over the city, and even bourgeois neighborhoods were no longer safe. The situation threatened to get entirely out of control. The guardians of international capital were not pleased. By the end of the summer of 2005, in short, it was becoming more and more difficult to delay the moment that the pro-coup forces had been dreading all along — the election of a constitutional successor to Aristide.
The Elections of February 2006
On the first day of January 2005, Roger Noriega reassured the world that "US efforts to help Haiti are on track": "we are on the right path toward helping Haiti become a more prosperous and truly democratic society." 63 A few months later it was already plainly impossible to keep up this pretense. "The summer of 2005 was absolute hell in every way,'' remembers Father Rick Freshette. "All of the seams were coming apart, and there was no control anywhere." 64 By the end of 2005, some parts of the country had been pushed to the brink of open rebellion. In January 2006, the New York Times described Latortue's Port-au-Prince as "virtually paralyzed by kidnappings, spreading panic among rich and poor alike. Corrupt police officers in uniform have assassinated people on the streets in the light of day. The chaos is so extreme and the interim government so dysfunctional that voting to elect a new one has already been delayed four times." 65
After the July 2005 attacks on Cité Soleil the period in which the use of naked force was both politically acceptable and strategically effective started to draw to a temporary close. Sooner or later, the 2004 coup and its consequences would have to risk validation by popular vote. Preparations for the election of the IGH's replacement began in earnest in the summer of 2005. The registration of presidential candidates was completed by 15 September, and after several delays the election itself finally took place on 7 February 2006. The list of hopefuls included many of the leading players of the post-coup era, including CD leaders Leslie Manigat, Evans Paul, Himmler Rébu and Luc Mésadieu, Dany Toussaint, G184 magnate Charles Baker and FLRN leader Guy Philippe. Aristide was long gone and FL seemed safely broken by the de facto government's repression. Surely this was an election that even the old democratic opposition might be able to win.
What was supposed to happen in February 2006 is clear enough. These elections were supposed to clear up the controversy surrounding 2004 once and for all. With Aristide out of the picture, they were supposed to confirm that his violent and illegal expulsion had actually been a victory for democracy. With the Lavalas grassroots in tatters, they were supposed to give the true friends of pluralism and civil society that democratic mandate they had so long been denied. There should have been a smooth transition from the Latortue government to a similarly-minded administration run by a proper capitalist like Charles Baker, or at least a veteran of the Democratic Convergence like ex-president Professor Leslie Manigat. The need for heightened security would ensure that Aristide's most militant supporters could continue to be barricaded in a few demoralized slums. The Fanmi Lavalas organization was either to be excluded from the process altogether, or at least "integrated" into the system like a more conventional political party.
As it turned out, at least this last expectation was indeed partly (though just temporarily) fulfilled. According to John Joseph Jorel and Paul Christian, when FL leaders met at the Aristide Foundation in August 2005, they decided that it would only participate in the elections if they could run Aristide's close associate Father Gérard Jean-Juste as their new presidential candidate. 66 Jean-Juste had been a prominent figure in the pro-democracy movement both in Haiti and in the Haitian-American communities in the US for decade. A staunch Aristide loyalist and protected like Aristide before him by his status as a popular parish priest (of the Saint Claire church in Petite Place Cazeau, on the edge of Delmas), after the coup he was one of the very few high-profile Lavalassians who could afford to remain in the public eye. On 13 October 2004, a few days into the October assault on Bel Air and Cité Soleil, he was beaten and arrested by a group of masked policemen at his church, in the midst of his regular bi-weekly soup kitchen that feeds hundreds of local children. 67 He spent the next six weeks crammed into a fetid national penitentiary cell with eighteen other men. Undaunted, like his comrades in Bel Air Jean-Juste continued to hold firm to a simple and widely-held set of demands: "Insist that we return to constitutional order in Haiti. Demand freedom for all political prisoners. Respect the human rights of everyone. Pledge to respect the vote of the people. Advocate for the return of President Aristide so he can finish his electoral mandate through February 2006." 68 Jean-Juste stuck to his message after his release from prison on 29 November and by the spring of 2005 it was clear that he represented a significant political threat to the Latortue project. In July Gousse had the good sense to block Jean-Juste's candidacy in advance by having him imprisoned again, on the absurdly implausible charge of complicity in the murder of anti-FL journalist Jacques Roche (at a time when Jean-Juste wasn't in the country). He was only released, on medical grounds, in January 2006. "Everyone was for Jean-Juste" recalls Samba Boukman, "and that's why he was put in prison." 69
Frustrated, the FL leadership then split into two camps. In September a couple of former senators were somehow persuaded to adopt Aristide's old opponent Marc Bazin as their candidate. Two other formerly influential figures in the party decided to present themselves as candidates in their own right, in open defiance of the decision taken by the party as a whole and made public by the organization's national representative, Jonas Petit. 70 The rest of the leadership, including all those who enjoy genuine grassroots support, decided that the party should now boycott the election unless Latortue agreed to free the political prisoners and allow FL exiles to return. At the same time, however, many pro-Lavalas OPs joined progressive peasant groups in pressing Aristide's old protégé René Préval (who relied on but never officially joined FL itself) to make a last-minute candidacy. After leaving office in 2001, Préval had devoted himself to the improvement of his hometown of Marmelade, turning it into something of a model of sustainable development, complete with a solar-powered computer center, electric street lamps, a Cuban-staffed health clinic and a Taiwan-sponsored agricultural cooperative. Mindful of what happened to Neptune and Jean-Juste, Préval kept a remarkably low profile all through the post-coup period, and his decision to stand seems to have caught the whole political establishment by surprise. The pro-coup candidates, convinced that their only serious rival (Fanmi Lavalas) was more or less out of the race, continued to devote most of their energy to competing amongst themselves. In the space of a few short weeks, Préval's supporters cobbled together an ad hoc political coalition made up of a couple of small and regional parties (notably the Parti Louvri Barye, and Efò ak Solidarite pou Konstwi yon Alténativ Nasyonal Popilé/ Koordinasyon Resistans Grandans) which they dubbed Lespwa, or "hope." After discussing the pros and cons of a boycott, the FL baz threw themselves energetically behind Préval's campaign, leaving the pro-Bazin camp hopelessly isolated. 71 This way the FL organization could officially abstain from the election while encouraging its individual members to vote for the twin-brother or marassa d'Aristide. A vote for Préval, explains Gérard Jean-Juste, was "a vote for the continuity of Lavalas" and "an absolute rejection of the February 2004 coup." The decision to back Préval was also a carefully strategic move. "We knew what we were up against and were careful not to play our hand too early. You have to be tactical, use different strategies, multiply your alliances and organizations — otherwise forget it." 72
Like every credible analyst of the election, Ronald Saint-Jean points out that "the majority of Haitian people voted for Préval as a way of voting for the return of Aristide. 90% of the people who voted for Préval are partisans of Lavalas." 73 Although Préval has less of a direct link to the FL baz in a place like Bel Air than did Aristide, virtually the entire neighborhood voted for him in February 2006. "For us, Préval is the same as Aristide," explains Samba Boukman. 74 "Almost every FL member chose to support Préval," says SOPUDEP's Real Dol, and "we put all our organization and our strength behind him." 75
Much to the horror of the traditional elite, the Lavalas stratagem worked like a charm. Before Préval's candidacy was announced, remembers Fonkoze's Anne Hastings, "people had become very fatalistic, there was a total disregard of the elections and no sense that they were anything important." In the summer of 2005, ordinary Fonkoze members "spoke openly of how people were prepared to sell their signature for various petitions." Préval's participation transformed the situation completely, and although he was effectively prevented from campaigning by the IGH his candidacy quickly acquired an unstoppable momentum; "on the day of the elections itself it was unbelievable, people were so excited and enthusiastic." 76 True to form, a group of around thirty intellectual veterans of the destabilization campaign recognized the danger (including Cary Hector and Laénnec Hurbon), and issued a desperate call for the old democratic opposition to unite in opposition to Préval. CD luminary Micha Gaillard warned his colleagues that Préval "symbolised a return to the [Lavalassian] past. ... It would be infantile not to oppose him with a single centrist candidate." 77 A group of nine Convergence leaders (Evans Paul, Charles Baker, Luc Mésadieu, Hubert de Ronceray, Leslie Manigat, Serge Gilles etc.) duly formed a "Group of Democratic Agreement," promising that if the election went to a second round they would pool their votes on behalf of the most popular non-Préval candidate. During the last days of the campaign, pro-elite and pro- army candidates Charles Baker and Guy Philippe assured visiting reporters that they "had a vast invisible support that would wipe out Préval's challenge." 78
As grassroots FL activists began to invest their full political power in Préval's campaign, the de facto government and its backers did everything they could to avoid the inevitable outcome. 79 In the first weeks of 2006, Charles Baker and his G184 associates put new pressure on the UN to crack down still more aggressively on Cité Soleil and the other neighborhoods whose mobilization might decide the election. The resistance mounted over the previous year by people like Dred and Amaral had made the MINUSTAH campaign so politically damaging, however, that by January 2006 the great powers were no longer willing to approve the full-on assault that Baker and Boulos demanded. Tensions between MINUSTAH and the PNH had already developed into occasionally open conflict, especially in the wake of the police shootings on 28 February 2005. (During a follow-up demonstration in Bel Air on 4 March, for instance, UN troops directly blocked the police from supervising the event, prompting Gousse to lodge an official complaint. 80) As the UN found itself forced to take on more of a policing role, morale in MINUSTAH began to flag. After the 6 July operations, the MINUSTAH commander General Ribeiro resigned and was replaced by a more hard-nosed Brazilian general, Urano Teixera da Matta Bacellar. On 7 January 2006, however, the day after a tense meeting with Boulos and Apaid, Bacellar was found shot dead in his room at the Hotel Montana — an alleged though incomprehensible "suicide" that stunned everyone who knew him, including his wife. For reasons that remain mysterious, the results of a Brazilian autopsy and investigation were never released. According to a pair of Canadian reporters, "Bacellar reportedly disagreed with plans to invade Cité Soleil upon viewing footage of the collateral damage and deaths following a previous raid into Cité Soleil on 6 July 2005." 81 Although no proof is likely to emerge, as Kim Ives suggests it may be that "Bacellar was killed because like Ribeiro he too was reluctant to act more forcefully against Cité Soleil, Bel Air, and other neighborhoods." 82 A week later, on 16 January, Andy Apaid helped organize a G184 rally in support of Charles Baker's candidacy and renewed UN incursions into the Cité; it was only attended by a few hundred people. Boulos announced plans for another futile private-sector "strike." In his desperation to get MINUSTAH to deal with the Lavalas "bandits" once and for all, Boulos even went on air to announce his willingness to set up a pre-emptive fund on behalf of the innocent victims who might be killed or injured in any renewed assault on the Cité. 83
The green light for a repeat of 6 July that Boulos and Apaid were looking for never came, however, and the Cité Soleil baz were free to organize a series of massive (and non-violent) pro-Préval rallies in the run-up to 7 February. Both in Bel Air and the Cité, an FL commitment to non-violence held strong in the face of repeated provocations. 84 As Patrick Elie insists, it was "precisely the mobilization of people like Samba and Amaral that eventually allowed the February 2006 elections to take place." 85 Once it was clear that the elections would proceed without paramilitary disruption, the spate of kidnappings that had plagued Port-au-Prince for the previous six months came to an almost immediate stop. By the time Cité Soleil's armed groups announced their readiness to accompany Cité voters and to protect them during their long and potentially dangerous walk to the polls, the outcome of the election was as good as settled. 86 Latortue's officials did what they could to limit the damage. Whereas Préval's own government had provided over 10,000 voter registration centers for the last presidential elections, in 2000, Latortue now set up less than 500, in sites carefully chosen to disadvantage pro-Lavalas neighbourhoods. Only 52,000 voting cards were distributed in Cité Soleil, where the total number of people of voting age is probably closer to 150,000 (more to the point, according to the CEP's official records, only 30,000 votes from the Cité were ever counted). 87 In 2000, some 12,000 polling stations were distributed all across the country; in 2006, a much smaller number were concentrated in just 800 voting centers, again situated in such a way as to marginalize undesirable voters. There was no polling station in or even near Cité Soleil, for instance, so many thousands of Cité residents got up well before dawn on 7 February and spent the entire day walking and waiting in huge lines to cast their ballots. Well before they were due to open at 6 a.m., the queues outside some voting centers already stretched for hundreds of yards. The American reporter Ben Ehrenreich describes what happened when, hours later, some of these centers failed to open.
Convinced that they had been robbed of their opportunity to vote, thousands waiting at polls on the outskirts of Cité Soleil took to the streets and marched on the National Palace. It is misleading to call them marches and equate them with our own desultory spectacles of protest: they were eruptions. Haitians ran through the streets, waving torn-off branches in the air. They sang Préval's name, and rained curses on the interim government. They screamed with rage and danced with joy. This was a people roused from slumber, suddenly conscious of its power. The polls eventually did open. Thousands waited for hours to vote in vast, stifling rooms, crammed shoulder to shoulder and belly to back. All day, of the dozens I spoke to, only four people admitted to having voted for anyone other than Préval. 88
The turnout was huge, on a par with 1990 and 2000, around 65%. By 9 February, with a quarter of the votes counted and in keeping with reliable exit polls, it was announced that Préval was leading the field with 62%, comfortably ahead of Manigat with 11%. It would be hard to imagine a more resounding rejection of the 2004 coup, or a more disastrous result for the Franco-American alliance.
What happened next also came as no great surprise. On 11 February, the electoral council abruptly lowered Préval's tally to just 49.6%, and early on the morning of 13 February, it was estimated at a mere 48.7%. This was about 22,000 votes short of the 50% majority a candidate needs in order to win in a single round of voting. The de facto authorities made little effort to conceal their hand. Tens of thousands of valid votes, mainly cast for Préval, turned up in a Port-au-Prince garbage dump, and in Préval strongholds all over the country thousands of ballots were recorded as mysteriously "missing." CEP officials began noting large numbers of null and blank ballots. No less than 91,000 votes (4.3% of the total) were recorded as blank, and another 155,000 (7.4%) deemed invalid. "It's clear that many blank votes were inserted into the ballot," argues Guy Delva, "so as to try to dilute Préval's percentage and thus force a second round." 89 If the election could be pushed to a second-round run-off, perhaps the democratic opposition could regain its IRI-era "unity," reorganize itself around a single candidate and win the day after all. Roger Noriega and his colleagues in Canada and France urged the CEP to defy Préval's "violent mobs" and to confirm his total as just under 50%. 90
In response, tens of thousands of Aristide and Préval supporters overwhelmed Port-au-Prince with well-organized demonstrations. The New York Times noted that "angry protests paralyzed cities across the country." 91 On the afternoon of 13 February, thousands of angry voters streamed up all the way from Cité Soleil to demand publication of the results from the electoral council at its headquarters in the exclusive Montana Hotel; several hundred demonstrators also grabbed the opportunity to take a quick swim in the Montana's pool, before leaving the hotel and its rattled guests undisturbed. Barricades burned all over Port-au-Prince. "If Préval hadn't won," says Father Freshette, "this place would have blown up like a powder-keg." 92 Like other foreign observers, Reed Lindsay was impressed by the power and discipline of the demonstrations: "When Préval said 'lift the roadblocks' then immediately, all over the city, the roadblocks were lifted, just like that." 93
Nothing short of blatant electoral fraud had allowed the CEP to postpone the announcement of Préval's victory. Under severe popular pressure, the council decided to abandon an indefensible position, and on 15 February voted 8 to 1 to divide the number of so-called "blank" ballots proportionately among the candidates. As CEP member Patrick Féquière admitted, "We had to do something: we could have just told Préval he got 48.76 percent, but when he contests the results all of this mess is going to come out — the blank votes, the missing votes," etc. 94 (The CEP's director Jacques Bernard, who resisted the compromise, took the usual route to safety and was welcomed in Miami.) The CEP decision was just enough to nudge Préval's proportion over the requisite 50% mark, giving him a marginal victory in the first round. It was also enough, no doubt, to leave the impression that this was again a "tainted" or "compromised" election, should the need for another corrective round of democracy enhancement arise. 95 As the acting US ambassador Tim Carney candidly put it on 19 February, if in the judgement of the US Préval "doesn't perform, yes it [the electoral settlement] could weaken him" — though "if he does perform, nobody will remember it." 96 Independent observers put Préval's actual share of the vote as somewhere between 62% and 70%. 97
On behalf of the democratic opposition (and true to his old option-zéro form) an outraged Manigat denounced the CEP's decision as a "tragedy" and an "electoral coup d'état," before reminding his fellow citizens that a "dog must not return to its vomit." 98
Elections on their own are hardly an adequate expression of genuine democracy, of course, but occasionally the raw numbers speak for themselves. When the 2006 results were published, the fiction of popular support for the 2004 coup finally dissolved altogether. Even according to the biased official figures, pro-coup candidates were uniformly crushed. Leslie Manigat attracted some of the OPL's liberal-professional constituency and scored 12.4% (to Préval's official 51%); Baker's prominence on the rightwing edge of the business community, coupled with the opportunistic support of the MPP, gained him 8.2%. Most other pro-coup and "social democratic" candidates made hardly any impact at all. The evangelical Luc Mésadieu won 3.3%, the OPL's Paul Denis won 2.6%, and KID's Evans Paul (now fronting the "Alliance Démocratique" coalition) 2.5%. The overtly pro-army candidates did worst of all: Guy Philippe tallied 1.9% and Dany Toussaint just 0.4%, slightly ahead of Himmler Rébu with 0.2%. As for the faked "FL" candidacy of Marc Bazin, it garnered no more than 0.7% of the vote.
After February 2006, no-one could continue to deny the single most obvious feature of Haitian politics after the expulsion of Duvalier: every free presidential election since 1986 — in 1990, 1995, 2000 and now 2006 — has been won, by overwhelming margins, either by Aristide or by the person Aristide chose as his first prime minister and successor. Through all the vagaries of the past twenty years, neither the people nor their priorities have changed. In 2006 Préval was canny enough to gather several small and scattered political groupings into his tactfully "pluralist" Lespwa coalition, but "like everyone else," insists Radio Solidarité's Venel Remarais, "Préval knows perfectly well that it was the Lavalas masses who won him the election." 99
Préval's Second Administration
Préval's re-election was a major victory for ordinary Haitians, in open defiance of the full might of their foreign and domestic enemies. Short of re-electing Aristide himself — an option blocked, as Aristide himself was the first to accept, by the Haitian constitution — there was nothing that the Haitian people could have done to demonstrate more emphatically their rejection of the 2004 coup and all its implications. Rarely have the pretensions of "democracy promotion" been deflated with such determination and panache. Like recent elections in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Venezuela, Préval's victory in 2006 dealt another resounding blow to the neo-conservative agenda in Latin America.
It is of course too early to say whether Préval's new administration will be allowed to live up to its political potential. Unlike 1996, in 2006 Préval has the considerable advantage of coming immediately after an experience of catastrophic failure: even the pays amis d'Haïti (the US, France, and Canada) can see that they have little to gain, in the short-term, by driving Préval's administration into the ground. In the summer of 2006, the donors pledged Préval's government a sizeable (though still largely theoretical) $750 million in aid for the next fiscal year, which allowed him to announce significant levels of social investment, to pacify some of the most dangerous elements in the ex-military (by paying out some more of their disputed back-pay) and to mollify a few of the most embittered ex-public sector workers in the slums (by agreeing, in principle, to restore some "competent" workers to their jobs). More importantly, in the spring of 2007 trilateral discussions with Venezuela and Cuba led to a whole raft of concrete commitments, including subsidized oil imports and investments in health care, electricity and other infrastructure projects worth around $250 million. 100 Around the same time, Préval announced an ambitious range of long-term initiatives in education, literacy, road-building, and tourism. In its November 2006 report, the Economist Intelligence Unit remained optimistic that Préval's government will continue to "enjoy strong support from the foreign governments and multilateral agencies engaged in the country, as well as the goodwill, at least for the time being, of the majority of Haitians." 101
But Préval's room to maneuver is again extremely limited. The most obvious drawback of Préval's pluralist and multi-party approach, in 2006 as in 1997–2000, is its vulnerability to factional opposition in the national legislature. Lespwa provided a useful platform for electing a president, but a lack of time and deliberate IGH repression helped to prevent it from gaining a parliamentary majority. 102 Although in the legislative elections of April 2006 anti-coup parties (Lespwa, FL, and PONT) gained a small edge in the Senate, some 55 of 99 seats in the chamber of Deputies were won by a combination of pro-coup and pro-army parties. Pending a more disciplined showing in the next parliamentary elections, Préval will find it difficult to pass even mildly contentious legislation. Making the best of a bad situation, he re-appointed his old prime minister Jacques Edouard Alexis to lead an eclectic cabinet that includes five members of the old democratic opposition, but for most of its first year in office this relatively "broad-based" administration was able to accomplish little of substance. 103
Nevertheless, in spite of Préval's extremely cautious approach, by the end of 2006 both the foreign and domestic enemies of the popular movement were pressing hard for the replacement of Prime Minister Alexis by a still more "moderate" alternative. On a couple of occasions Alexis risked a few words that were critical of US priorities (with respect to rising numbers of criminal deportees and the selective prosecution of its "war on drugs"), and drew predictable diplomatic fire from Washington. Observers like Kim Ives and Patrick Elie interpreted an increase in criminal and political violence in the last months of the year as part of an attempt to destabilize the government by forcing it to clamp down on inner-city neighborhoods dominated by its own most militant supporters.
The survival of the Préval/Alexis government will depend on its ability to balance several sets of contradictory demands.
First of all, although Préval was elected by people desperate for an end to the punitive economic policies they have been obliged to endure for the past thirty years, foreign pressure has obliged him to retain the neo-liberal macro-economic priorities he inherited from the Latortue government, along with many of its appointees (departmental representatives, diplomats, judges, PNH commanders and administrators...). Préval is as dependent as any Haitian president on the renewal of foreign and private sector investment and the goodwill of the IC. Secure in the knowledge that the poor would support him, in their first months in office Préval and Alexis went out of their way to woo the liberal wing of the private sector and the Haitian diaspora, and to avoid giving the great powers a pretext to undermine them. Although it owes its existence to the mobilization of the Lavalas baz, the Préval administration has made it quite clear that the persistence of such mobilization is "not a government priority." Rather than mobilize the poor to press for social change, explains Préval's chief of staff, the government aims to work with all sectors to improve the delivery of social services, increase levels of international investment and to enhance the efficiency and autonomy of the country's political institutions. In the spring of 2007 it became clear that Préval was prepared to contemplate a new round of privatisations, including the sell-off of Haiti's telecommunications company. 104
In Haiti, as in a few other places, the ongoing replacement of meaningful or empowering democracy with its merely formal or minimalist substitute "has been accompanied by increasing disillusionment about democracy" itself. 105 As of early 2007, although most Lavalassians probably still agreed with Moïse Jean-Charles' view that "as things stand Préval is the best of our available options," popular disappointment was palpable. 106 "If you consider what the Préval government has done in the light of why people turned out to vote in February," observed an editor of Haïti Progrès a year after Préval's election, "then we have to conclude that so far the government has done nothing at all." 107 With respect to most of the Lavalas election demands — justice for victims of the coup, release of the political prisoners, return of the exiles, an end to the militarized assault on the popular neighborhoods — Préval's position has been either diplomatic or indecisive, depending on your point of view. As part of the deal that saw him win the presidency in the first round, Préval agreed not to push demands for investigations into either the blatant electoral fraud of February 2006 or the coup of 2004. Starting in the summer of 2006 Préval's administration slowly released many of the higher-profile political prisoners arrested by Gousse and Latortue, including Neptune, Privert and Mayette, though for reasons that are never stated (but easy to guess), Aristide remains in exile to this day. 108
Préval has repeatedly said that there is no constitutional basis for Aristide's exile but he has taken no concrete steps to bring it to an end. Over the course of 2006 the issue became the source of a damaging rift within FL circles between those who continued to press for Aristide's immediate return (notably the people around Jean-Marie Samedy and the Cellule National) and those who preferred to prioritize an initial period of "national reconciliation" under Préval (for instance Moïse Jean-Charles or Samba Boukman). Many prominent figures in Fanmi Lavalas, including Yvon Neptune, interpret Préval's hesitation as damaging and "indefensible." 109 Given the current configuration of forces, however, Préval has little to gain in the short-term by re-asserting a fidelity to Aristide, and it's clear that Bob Manuel and other prominent Préval advisors are keen to avoid the disruption that might accompany the former president's return. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to exaggerate the differences between the two most prominent figures in the Lavalas movement. Guy Delva points out that in most respects, despite "some disagreements on privatization, Préval showed a lot of loyalty to Aristide when he was president in the 1990s, and he is never critical of him in public." 110 In the eyes of most of their supporters, Préval and Aristide clearly remain on the same side of the political divide. Once he was re-elected, Préval made a point of working closely with prominent and unrepentant Aristide loyalists like Moïse Jean-Charles, John Joseph Jorel, and Samba Boukman. As Marcus Garcia notes, it is people like Moïse who "represent the majority of the people, they have proved their courage and their worth in the eyes of people; now they need to find ways in which they can establish themselves as credible politicians." 111 "I am a member of Lavalas," Jorel insisted in 2006, and "the return of Aristide remains a priority. Préval offers us a breathing space, an end to the oppression that we have suffered for the past two years. We will accompany Préval so long as he shares our goals, but I am Lavalas and will remain Lavalas, and we are already working towards a Lavalas victory in 2010." 112 Moïse is more direct. "Lespwa itself is nothing, it's just bla bla bla," just a vehicle for an eclectic group of interests seeking to manipulate Préval's popularity among the poor: "We in Lavalas will ride it only so long as it continues in the right direction." 113
If in late 2006 some of the more militant members of Lavalas came to the conclusion that the government was veering dangerously off-course it was above all as a result of the way it responded to the most damaging legacy of the coup — the persistence of politically manipulated insecurity and violence. As we have seen, once Aristide and his most loyal partisans were out of the way there was little to stop representatives of the private and pro-army sectors from enlisting the services of some of Cité Soleil's armed groups, to complement their employment of ex-soldiers and deported ex-convicts — growing numbers of the latter, Ben Dupuy explains, have "in the space of a couple of years driven Haitian street crime to an entirely new level." 114 The combination of harrowing poverty, economic devastation, and rigid social exclusion guarantees a steady and growing pool of recruits for groups like Lame Ti Machete in Martissant (reportedly linked to Youri Latortue, police chief Mario Andrésol, and the OPL's Paul Denis) or Belony's gang of kidnappers in Cité Soleil (also with reported links to Youri Latortue). A year after the Martissant soccer field massacre in August 2005, Lame Ti Machete struck again on 6 July 2006, killing at least a dozen Grand Ravine residents and burning scores of homes in a gruesome night of collective punishment. The leading representative of the victims of these attacks, Esterne Bruner, was himself assassinated on 21 September 2006. A few days later Lame killed another eight people in three nights of violence in Martissant, and the neighboring pro-FL group Baz Grand Ravine answered violence with violence. On 12 October, unidentified gunmen killed eight people and wounded eighteen more in Bel Air. Incidents of rape and sexual violence, meanwhile – always a useful way of goading members of an oppressed population into retaliation — continued in line with post-coup trends. 115
During the same months the rate of kidnappings rapidly intensified, back up to 2005 levels, until the issue was once again a matter of obsessive public concern. The expansion in new criminal funds fed a corresponding increase in new criminal weapons. 116 Slowly but surely, people like Andy Apaid, Serge Gilles, and Youri Latortue put increasing pressure on Alexis to abandon his tentative efforts to "negotiate with the bandits" and to approach the situation in military rather than socio-economic terms. So far, Gilles complained in December 2006, "There's [been] too much carrot and not enough stick; it's urgent that we retake the upper hand." 117 In August the government had launched a new disarmament programme, aimed more or less exclusively at armed groups in Cité Soleil. Préval warned them that they now had only two choices: "either you surrender your weapons within the DDR or you will die." 118 Two months later Préval and Alexis had begun to yield to US and private sector calls for more direct action. 119 Activists in Cité Soleil responded to the increasingly aggressive UN incursions by holding a new series of pro-Aristide and anti-occupation rallies. The crackdown began in earnest on 22 December 2006, when under heavy international pressure Préval reluctantly gave the nod for a full-scale UN assault on the Cité that missed all of its intended targets but left around twenty innocents dead. 120 Further military assaults continued for another two months. In 2007, major raids involving hundreds of UN troops took place on 25 January, 9 February and 21 February, and eventually succeeded in driving out the armed groups led by Evens, Belony, and Amaral. At least another dozen people were killed and scores of suspected gang-members were detained. Belony and Amaral escaped and went into hiding; Evens was arrested on 13 March in Les Cayes, and Belony was caught on 23 April in Saint-Michel de l'Attalaye. In late March Amaral began making tentative moves towards cooperation with the government's disarmament commission. 121
On their own, the impact of such measures is likely to be ambiguous at best, disastrous at worst. Few Cité residents are likely to miss thugs like Evens or Belony, but given the state of their neighborhood they are entitled to wonder how long it will take before they are replaced. 122 As George Honorat points out, "The idea that you can go into Cité Soleil with high calibre weapons and rid the place of its 'bandits' is a complete fantasy." 123 The determination shared by the elite, the UN, and the rest of a security-obsessed IC to respond to severe socio-economic problems with military "solutions" will only serve to amplify the damage that they cause. "The poverty in places like Cité Soleil," Ben Dupuy explains
is a direct result of the neo-liberal reconfiguration of the Haitian economy that began in the late 1970s — the result of what many Haitians call the "death plan." The US and the Haitian elite believe that they can manage the consequences of this plan by sending foreign troops to police the neighborhoods populated by those that suffer the worst of its effects. They think they can control rising levels of poverty by shooting at the poor. In Haiti as in various other parts of the world they use the UN to put out the fire, without considering who started it. They do everything possible to avoid the obvious conclusion — that this poverty, and the violence that accompanies it, is a direct consequence of the neo-liberal plan itself. The only way to reverse it is to put a stop to the plan and undo its effects. 124
Rather than mobilize the only political force in Haiti that has any chance of engaging with the root causes of the problem — the Lavalas baz — Préval has so far chosen (or been obliged) to collude in the ongoing conflation of political resistance and organized crime. Members of Amaral's group no doubt committed their share of crimes, but like Dred's group before them they also commanded considerable political respect. They rid much of the Cité of kidnappers, defended the population against the predations of the paramilitaries and their allies, and were an integral part of Lavalas resistance to the legacy of the coup. Again like Dred before him, Amaral knows from long experience that "If you are fighting to take the people out of poverty, they will always call you a gang leader." 125 It remains to be seen whether the government will work with people like Amaral to establish more effective forms of community-based development and policing, or whether it will continue to approach many of its poorest citizens as virtual enemies of the state.
Meanwhile the criminalization of these citizens continues apace, both in reality and in the political representation of that reality. Behind the demonization of Lavalas lies the demonization of the poor. In the eyes of many elite politicians, the equation of "poor" and "criminal" has never been easier to make. With Lavalas on the defensive, there is little to prevent a predictable cycle from spiralling out of control: more poverty breeds more despair, more despair means more gangs, more gangs commit more crimes, more crimes earn more money, more money pays for more guns, more guns facilitate more crimes ... Such a development has many uses, for those seeking to justify a restoration of the army on the one hand and to fragment the popular movement on the other.
Three years after Aristide's expulsion, some veterans of the movement find the situation "more discouraging than ever before." 126 The residents of a neighborhood like Bel Air, reports Samba Boukman, are now "constantly intimidated by criminals. People from the private sector provide these criminals with guns, and once they have guns it is difficult to take them away." Nevertheless, he continues, "the majority want peace and food, not guns and violence. The people with weapons are still a small minority, and they live in the midst of the majority. If they are well organized, the majority can prevail. So long as we have a government we can work with then we can turn the situation around." 127
At the time of writing (in March 2007), there was little popular enthusiasm for a government whose hands were so firmly and so obviously tied by international constraints. Préval's ability to implement progressive policies will depend very largely on developments in Washington, Ottawa, and Paris. But Washington's hegemony is not absolute; the fate of Préval's administration will also depend on what happens in Caracas and Havana, and on the strength and organization of the Lavalas base. The very fact that Préval's government still exists is itself proof that the massive operation mounted by the elite and its Franco-American allies to discredit and crush the Lavalas movement has not succeeded. Although in many ways he is likely to remain the prisoner of the elite and the IC, Préval's own fidelity to Lavalas remains strong. Whoever succeeds him will in all likelihood share a similar fidelity. "For the time being I am sure of two things," says PPN activist and broadcaster Prad Jean-Vernet. "Any politician who is openly anti-Lavalas will get nowhere with the bulk of the people, and the next election will be won by someone who has remained loyal to Aristide. The people will not forgive the crimes of February 2004." 128 Despite petty divisions among parts of its leadership, Yvon Neptune remains confident that "Fanmi Lavalas is still in a strong position. The ideas that FL has put forward resonate with a majority of the people, who recognize them as their own. So far we have only made a start, but we haven't failed." 129
After years of intense repression and infiltration the Fanmi Lavalas hierarchy is in disarray, and the organization may not survive in its current official form. The Lavalas baz and their myriad organisations populaires, however, remain the most powerful political force in the country. In some way they may be stronger now than they were three years ago. They have survived unprecedented levels of repression. They are less dependent on a single charismatic leader. They are less contaminated by opportunists. They have fewer illusions about what must be done next.
1. "Street Resistance to Occupation Regime Surges," Haïti Progrés 22: 30 (6 October 2004); "Pro-Aristide March Turns Violent in Haiti," AP, 30 September 2004.
2. "Lavalas Protests, Violence in Port-au-Prince," AHP, 1 October 2004.
3. International Crisis Group, A New Chance for Haiti? (November 2004), 14.
4. Cited in Stevenson Jacobs, "Three Pro-Aristide Politicians Arrested," AP, 3 October 2004.
5. HAC, "'Operation Baghdad' brought to you by AP," 3 October 2004.
6. "National Populist Party Leader [Georges Honorat] Denounces Campaign of Repression," AHP, 6 October 2004; Patrick Elie, "A Coup Made Long in Advance," ZNet, 17 October 2004; Interview with Venel Remarais, Port-au- Prince 18 April 2006; Paul Chéry and Keven Skerrett, "A Situation of Terror: Haitian Union Leader on the 2004 Coup," ZNet, 4 November 2005.
7. Cited in Griffin, Haiti Human Rights Investigation (November 2004), 29.
8. Interview with Jean-Marie, Bel Air 19 April 2006.
9. Kevin Sullivan and Scott Wilson, "Rebel Claims Control Over Haiti's Security," Washington Post, 3 March 2004.
10. Lydia Polgreen and Tim Weiner, "An Interim President for Haiti Is Sworn In," New York Times, 9 March 2004.
11. "Operation in Bel Air," AHP, 6 October 2004.
12. Interview with Samba Boukman, Bel Air, 14 April 2006.
13. Griffin, Haiti Human Rights Investigation (November 2004), 10; cf. Reed Lindsay, "Police Terror Sweeps Across Haiti," Observer, 31 October 2004; Lindsay, "Violent Tide vs. Aristide Supporters," Newsday, 7 November 2004.
14. Michael W. Brewer, "Haitian Death Squads and Child Murders" (Autumn 2004).
15. Griffin, Haiti Human Rights Investigation (November 2004), 43.
16. Reed Lindsay, "Instability Continues to Wrack Haiti," Washington Times, 30 November 2004.
17. Griffin, Haiti Human Rights Investigation (November 2004), 32–4.
18. Interview with Guy Delva, Port-au-Prince, 9 April 2006; Lindsay, "Police Blamed in Haiti Killings," Toronto Star, 15 February 2005.
19. Interview with Samba Boukman, Bel Air, 14 April 2006.
20. Ben Ehrenreich, "Haiti's Hope," LA Weekly, 12 April 2006.
21. Oxfam, The Call for Tough Arms Controls (January 2006), 11.
22. Athena R. Kolbe and Royce A. Hutson, "Human Rights Abuse and Other Criminal Violations in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti: A Random Survey of Households," The Lancet 9538 (2 September 2006).
23. Richard Horton, "This Terrible Misadventure Has Killed One in 40 Iraqis," Guardian, 12 October 2006.
24. Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights and Centro de Justiça Global, Keeping the Peace in Haiti (March 2005), 1; cf. Reed Lindsay, "Abuse after Aristide's Ouster," Newsday, 14 February 2005.
25. Lindsay, "Peace Despite the Peacekeepers in Haiti" (2006), 34.
26. General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, cited in "A Year after Aristide's Fall, Haiti Remains in Grip of Poverty, Fear and Political Paralysis," AP, 1 March 2005.
27. Lamar Litz, "Attacks Against Demonstrations in Haiti: A Compilation of Reports," IJDH, 13 September 2005.
28. "There is No Political Persecution in Haiti," HIP, 12 June 2005. 29. As the director of the neighborhood's only hospital points out, "Many people in Haiti have no idea what things are like in Cité Soleil, they never see it, they are terrified to come here" (Interview with Jacklin Saint-Fleur, Cité Soleil, 15 April 2006).
30. Interview with Anne Sosin, Port-au-Prince, 21 April 2006; Interview with Judy DaCruz, Pétionville, 17 April 2006. As Saint-Fleur points out, however, "You can't ask people to give what they don't have" (Interview with Jacklin Saint-Fleur, Cité Soleil, 15 April 2006).
31. Interview with Bobby Duval, Port-au-Prince, 17 April 2006.
32. Nancy San Martin, "Slum's `Military of Aristide' Set to Take on Rebels," Miami Herald, 25 February 2004. "Aristide doesn't have money to do much, but he does his best," continued Billy. "I want to see Aristide finish his five years. I worked for that. I voted for Aristide. Nobody is going to take that away."
33. Lydia Polgreen, "US Patrols Start in Haiti," New York Times, 4 March 2004.
34. Reed Lindsay, "Violence in Haiti," Marketplace (National Public Radio), 4 January 2006.
35. Back in 1996, Reginald Boulos described Cité Soleil as a political "gold mine: more than 200,000 people living in less than two square miles." But as the New York Times went on to note, "community groups that support the Lavalas movement have long been hostile to Dr. Boulos and his organization [the CDS]. During the three brutal years of military dictatorship that preceded Mr. Aristide's restoration to power in October 1994, they accused him of providing information on his clients to the paramilitary thugs who killed hundreds of people in Cité Soleil as well as of supplying jobs and food to some of the most notorious gunmen. Dr. Boulos admits to trying not to antagonize the military regime and its agents, but said it was `a conscious decision' taken to avoid the shutdown of the hospital and a program that fed 29,000 people" (Larry Rohter, "Quarrel Imperils Health Care in Haiti," New York Times, 26 May 1996).
36. Eléonore Senlis accompanied Labanye when he met with Apaid, Gervais Charles (G184 lawyer and head of the Port-au-Prince Bar Association) and a representative of the CEDH at Apaid's office in early October 2003. In exchange for a written statement cataloguing an alleged array of Lavalas misdeeds Labanye was promised passports for himself and his wife Sonia. As a gesture of goodwill Apaid quickly arranged a flight out for Sonia, on 4 November 2003, but he kept Labanye dangling in Cité Soleil. "To be honest," remembers Senlis, "after he got what he wanted I think Apaid was just quietly waiting for Labanye to be bumped off by a member of his own gang, or another gang. And he knew he wouldn't have to wait too long, since Labanye wasn't a very popular chief" (Letter from Eléonore Senlis, 27 March 2007).
37. The police officers interviewed by Griffin's team said that while the police is actively hunting Dred Wilme, "all officers have been directed not to arrest Thomas `Labanye' Robinson, the Cité Soleil gang leader they know is opposed to the Lavalas movement. According to the officers, the protection order came from Andy Apaid and `the bourgeoisie' " (Griffin, Haiti Human Rights Investigation (November 2004), 37; cf. 3). According to Samba Boukman, during a group interview on Radio Megastar on the afternoon of 7 January 2006, Labanye's former lieutenant Evens Jean reminded Andy Apaid of specific munitions deliveries at specific places and times (Interview with Samba Boukman, Bel Air 14 April 2006).
38. Letter from Eléonore Senlis, 27 March 2007.
40. Interview with Andy Apaid, in Griffin, Haiti Human Rights Investigation (November 2004), 27.
41. Letter from Eléonore Senlis, 27 March 2007.
42. Ben Ehrenreich, "Haiti's Hope," LA Weekly, 12 April 2006.
43. Interview with Amaral Duclona, Cité Soleil, 12 April 2006; Interview with Lamarre Augustin, Cité Soleil, 15 April 2006.
44. Griffin, Haiti Human Rights Investigation (November 2004), 7.
45. Michael Deibert, "On September 30th," Blogspot, 1 October 2006, http://michaeldeibert.blogspot.com/2006/10/on-september±30th.html.
46. Most members of the armed groups in Cité Soleil "aren't revolutionaries," says Anne Sosin, "they're young men who are the product of their environment, the structural violence that exist in places like Cité Soleil and Bel Air, and many are engaged in criminal activity in order to survive. Most of the time there are simply no viable economic alternatives" (Interview with Anne Sosin, Port-au-Prince 11 April 2006; cf. Interview with Judy DaCruz, Pétionville 17 April 2006). Reporter Reed Lindsay also echoes Sosin's comments: in 2004–05, under the constant pressure of paramilitary aggression, "My sense was that in Cité Soleil parts of the Lavalas movement were being silenced. There were a lot of genuine Lavalas supporters, strong Aristide supporters, who couldn't say or do anything" so long as armed leaders were in charge (Interview with Lindsay, Port-au-Prince, 22 April 2006).
47. Letter from Eléonore Senlis, 24 March 2007.
48. Lakou New York, "Interview with Dread Wilme," 4 April 2005, http://www.lakounewyork.com/dreadwilmeentevyou.htm.
49. Interviews with Guy Delva, Port-au-Prince, 9 April 2006 and 25 April 2006.
50. Interview with Bobby Duval, Port-au-Prince, 17 April 2006.
51. Interview with Belizaire Printemps and Elias Clovis, Port-au-Prince 23 April 2006. Kim Ives agrees: "Dred truly was a hero for the people, and he was politically astute, as is his successor Amaral" (Letter from Kim Ives, 14 December 2006).
52. Ginger Thompson, "A New Scourge Afflicts Haiti: Kidnappings," New York Times, 6 June 2005.
53. Cf. Amy Goodman and Anthony Fenton, "US Democracy Promotion and Haiti," Democracy Now!, 23 January 2006.
54. "There is No Political Persecution in Haiti," HIP, 12 June 2005.
55. Cited in Reeves, "How Bush Brings Freedom to the World," CounterPunch, January 29, 2005.
56. Cited in Reed Lindsay, "UN's Feared Blue Helmets Blamed for Haiti Attacks," Sydney Morning Herald, 4 February 2006.
57. Pablo Bachelet and Roger Noriega, "Aristide Accused of Fostering Violence," Miami Herald, 24 June 2005.
58. Yves Engler, "Haiti After the Coup," Z Magazine October 2005; cf. International Tribunal on Haïti, Preliminary Report of the Commission of Inquiry October 6 To 11, 2005, 5–8.
59. Naomi Klein, "6/7: The Massacre of the Poor that the World Ignored," Guardian, 18 July 2005; Engler, "Haiti After the Coup" (October 2005).
60. "Kevin Pina Interviews the Most-Wanted Man in Haiti: Amaral Duclona," HIP, 1 February 2006.
61. "U.N. to Investigate Haiti Slum Lynchings," Reuters, 25 August 2005; Concannon, "Throwing Gasoline on Haiti's Fires," Peaceworks, October 2005; Letter from Anne Sosin, 30 December 2006.
62. Interview with Jacklin Saint-Fleur, Cité Soleil, 15 April 2006.
63. "US Efforts to Help Haiti Are On Track, Says Noriega," US Embassy to Brazil, January 2005.
64. Interview with Father Rick Freshette, Port-au-Prince, 18 April 2006.
65. Walt Bogdanich and Jenny Nordberg, "Democracy Undone," New York Times, 29 January 2006.
66. Interviews with John Joseph Jorel, Port-au-Prince 15 April 2006 and Paul Christian, Port-au-Prince, 14 April 2006.
67. "Disturbing the Peace," Boston Haitian Reporter, November 2004.
68. Bill Quigley, "Message from a Jailed Priest in Haiti," Common Dreams, 18 October 2004.
69. Interview with Samba Boukman, Bel Air, 14 April 2006.
70. Incredibly, notes Jonas Petit, Latortue's CEP immediately accepted Marc Bazin and Louis-Gérald Gilles as FL nominations in the absence of any authorization from FL itself. "The whole thing was a ruse to try to disarm and to divide the organization" (Interview with Jonas Petit, Miami, 8 April 2006).
71. Like many FL activists, Cité Soleil's John Joseph Jorel was initially hesitant about Préval's candidacy. In early September we still "truly believed that Jean-Juste would be able to run, and Préval assured us that in that case he would not stand against him." But once it was clear that the only actual choice was Préval or Bazin, Jorel and his associates threw their considerable influence behind Aristide's former protégé, helping to organize major pro-Préval demonstrations in Cité Soleil and lower Port- au-Prince on 23 October and 3 November (Interview with John Joseph Jorel, Port-au-Prince, 15 April 2006).
72. Interview with Gérard Jean-Juste, Miami, 7 April 2006.
73. Interview with Ronald Saint-Jean, Port-au-Prince, 11 April 2006.
74. Interview with Samba Boukman, Bel Air, 14 April 2006. Reporter Ben Ehrenreich was given access to the voting lists from a Bel Air polling station, which indicated that Préval had won around 92% of the local vote (Ehrenreich, "Haiti's Hope," LA Weekly, 12 April 2006).
75. Interview with Rea Dol, Port-au-Prince, 18 April 2006.
76. Interview with Anne Hastings, Port-au-Prince, 24 April 2006.
77. Cited in Caroit, "Les anciens opposants craignent un retour au passé," Le Monde, 22 November 2005.
78. Duncan Campbell, "A Country at Boiling Point," Guardian, 21 February 2006.
79. See in particular Concannon, "Haiti's Elections: Seeing the Forest and the Trees," CounterPunch, 3 December 2005, http://www.counterpunch.com/concan- non12032005.html; Concannon, "Haiti's Elections: Right Result, For The Wrong Reason," IJDH, 17 February 2006.
80. "Haitian Minister Accuses UN Troops of Violating Mandate," Business Day, 9 March 2005.
81. Leslie Bagg and Aaron Lakoff, "Haiti's Elites Pressure the UN," Haiti Action News, 18 January 2006.
82. Letter from Kim Ives, 14 December 2006.
83. Interview with Venel Remarais, Port-au-Prince, 18 April 2006.
84. Interview with Samba Boukman, Bel Air, 14 April 2006.
85. Interview with Patrick Elie, Port-au-Prince, 19 April 2006; cf. Bellegarde-Smith, Breached Citadel, 203.
86. "Kevin Pina Interviews Amaral Duclona," HIP, 1 February 2006; cf. Tim Collie, "Haitian Gang Leaders Rally Hundreds of Marchers in Capital to Demand Voting Sites," South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 2 February 2006.
87. Interview with Paul Christian, Port-au-Prince, 19 April 2006. 88. Ben Ehrenreich, "Haiti's Hope," LA Weekly, 12 April 2006.
89. Interview with Guy Delva, Port-au-Prince, 25 April 2006.
90. Roger Noriega, "Rays of Hope for Haiti's Future," Miami Herald, 16 February 2006.
91. Ginger Thompson, "Préval's Silence Obscures Bid to Reunite Haiti," New York Times, 20 February 2006.
92. Interview with Father Rick Freshette, Port-au-Prince, 18 April 2006.
93. Interview with Reed Lindsay, Port-au-Prince, 12 April 2006; cf. Letta Tayler, "An Uncertain Course in Haiti," South Florida Sun Sentinel, 21 February 2006.
94. Cited in Richard Dufour and Keith Jones, "Washington Reluctantly Concedes Préval Is Haiti's President-Elect," WSWS, 21 February 2006.
95. Cf. Stevenson Jacobs, "Opponents Could Use Disputed Election Result to weaken Préval," AP, 18 February 2006.
96. Stevenson Jacobs, "American: Haiti Leader Must Perform," AP, 19 February 2006.
97. Interview with Paul Christian, Port-au-Prince, 19 April 2006; Interview with Timothy Pershing, Pétionville, 17 April 2006.
98. Letta Tayler, "An Uncertain Course in Haiti," South Florida Sun Sentinel, 21 February 2006.
99. Interview with Venel Remarais, Port-au-Prince, 18 April 2006; cf. Interview with Alinx Albert Obas [Radyo Etensel], Cap-Haïtien, 14 January 2007.
100. Guy Delva, "Venezuelan Leader Cheered by Crowds in Haiti," Reuters, 12 March 2007; "Cuba/Venezuela: De vrais amis," Haïti Progrés, 25: 2 (21 March 2007).
101. EIU, Country Report: Haiti, November 2006, 3; cf. Jacqueline Charles, "As Haiti Stabilizes, Progress Still Slow," Miami Herald, 16 February 2007.
102. Cf. Concannon, "Naje Pou Soti," IJDH, 7 March 2006.
103. Cf. "Un Cabinet ministériel pour tous?" Haïti Progrès, 23: 11 (7 June 2006).
104. Interview with Fritz Longchamp (Préval's chief of staff), Port-au-Prince, 3 January 2007.
105. Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival, 137.
106. Interview with Moïse Jean-Charles, Cap-Haïtien, 12 January 2007.
107. Interview with Maude Leblanc, Port-au-Prince, 4 January 2007.
108. US interim ambassador Tim Carney was prepared to accept Préval's "contested" election in February 2006 so long as he demonstrated his willingness to cooperate with the US by "reaching out to the opposition, by beginning to move forward with no Aristide in sight." Another western ambassador told the New York Times that "We made very clear to Mr. Préval that we see Aristide as a figure of the past, with no place in Haiti's future" (Ginger Thompson, "Préval's Silence Obscures Bid to Reunite Haiti," New York Times 20 February 2006; "Haiti's Chance," Washington Post 19 February 2006). Prominent figures in the Haitian business community were more direct. "If Préval does try to bring Aristide back," warned Lionel Delatour, "he will not finish his presidency" (Carol Williams, "Aristide's Former Ally May Be Turning Away," Los Angeles Times, 20 February 2006).
109. "For me, when Préval says that no Haitian citizen needs a visa in order to come back to his country, this is a cop-out. Aristide is the former president of this country. His house has been ransacked. This is a scandal: it should be immediately restored. The Aristide Foundation for Democracy is a legitimate institution, and so are Radio Timoun, Tele Timoun, the university at Tabarre; their closure is indefensible. This too is a simple matter of democratic principle. Rather than dodge the issue, Préval should instead begin taking the steps that will allow Aristide to return. He should take steps that will ensure his security, and the security of the people and the ventures he's involved with" (Interview with Yvon Neptune, Port-au-Prince, 5 January 2007).
110. Interview with Guy Delva, Port-au-Prince, 9 April 2006.
111. Interview with Marcus Garcia, Port-au-Prince, 20 April 2006.
112. Interview with John Joseph Jorel, Port-au-Prince, 15 April 2006.
113. Interview with Jean-Charles Moïse, Port-au-Prince, 11 April 2006.
114. By the end of 2006, the US was shipping around 100 convicts to Haiti every month. "These are young Haitian-Americans who grew up in the US, usually in poor black neighborhoods, and who were "educated," so to speak, in the American underworld. The US cannot cope with its own catastrophic levels of criminality; its prisons are already stretched to the breaking point. So now they export these casualties of their own social system back to Haiti, a country that doesn't have anything like the police or judicial resources needed to handle them. Most of these people arrive in the country with nothing, with no skills or family ties. What can they do to survive? Of course they do what they know: they turn to drugs and kidnapping, they join armed groups" (Interview with Ben Dupuy, 16 February 2007; cf. "Haiti: Justice Reform and the Security Crisis," ICG, 31 January 2007, 7).
115. Guy Delva, "Haiti Kidnap Wave Accompanied by Epidemic of Rape," Reuters, 9 March 2007.
116. At the time of Aristide's expulsion, estimates Cité Soleil hospital director Jacklin Saint-Fleur, "There were only one or two Galils in the hands of local armed groups; by the end of 2006 there were more than fifty" (Interview with Jacklin Saint-Fleur, Port-au-Prince, 9 January 2007).
117. Cited in Jean-Michel Caroit, "Le chaos régne en Haïti," Le Monde, 27 December 2006; Manuel Roig-Franzia, "In Haiti, Abductions Hold Nation Hostage," Washington Post, 21 February 2007.
118. Préval, "Disarm or Die," Radio Kiskeya 10 August 2006; Guy Delva, "Haiti Tells Gangs to Disarm or Face Death," Reuters, 10 August 2006.
119. "Désarmement: les gangs hésitent á rendre les armes, exigent des garanties," AHP, 21 September 2006; Ives, "The Clashes in Cité Soleil: The UN Fails Haiti, Again," CounterPunch, 24 November 2006.
120. Interview with Guy Delva, Port-au-Prince, 9 January 2007.
121. Marc Lacey, "U.N. Troops Fight Haiti Gangs One Street at a Time," New York Times, 10 February 2007; Jacqueline Charles, "In Haitian Slum, Gangs Retreat but Misery Persists," Miami Herald, 19 February 2007.
122. Guy Delva, "Haiti Slum Residents Enjoy New Peace, Want More," Reuters, 18 April 2007.
123. Interview with Georges Honorat, Port-au-Prince, 4 January 2007.
124. Interview with Ben Dupuy, 16 February 2007.
125. Cited in Tim Collie, "Haitian Gang Leaders Rally Hundreds of Marchers in Capital to Demand Voting Sites," South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 2 February 2006.
126. Interview with Rea Dol, Port-au-Prince, 15 January 2007.
127. Interview with Samba Boukman, Port-au-Prince, 4 January 2007.
128. Interview with Prad Jean-Vernet, Cap-Haïtien, 12 January 2007.
129. Interview with Yvon Neptune, Port-au-Prince, 5 January 2007.[book-strip index="1" style="display"]