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#4739: OLD STORY IN NEW HAITI... (fwd)


Published Sunday, July 30, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
 Assault scars woman's body, wounds her faith in homeland
 Carmel Moise's body aches, and her faith in a new Haiti is crushed.
 To save her life, Moise had to flee her homeland. She hobbled into the
arms of her husband at Miami International Airport recently, a blouse
 draped over the shoulder where the skin had been burned off with a hot
iron by men she believes were police officers. ''She was in shock,''
said Moise's husband, Joe Bley, who stays behind in Northeast Miami-Dade
 while his wife travels back and forth to Haiti for her antique
business. ''I couldn't hug her. I didn't know what was going on.''
 Moise told Bley she was running from the police. Uniformed officers of
the Haitian National Police allegedly broke into her home on
 July 6, looking ''for the drugs and money you stole from my boss,'' one
of the men told her. Maybe they had the wrong house, she suggested. They
screamed at her. They threatened. They tied her hands behind her back,
punched her in the ribs and slapped her. ''I told them this is not
something we do, we're not drug dealers,'' said Moise, who
 still walks with a limp three weeks after her captors repeatedly
slammed a gun against her kneecaps. Moise believes the men were police
officers because she recognized both the invaders and the voice of the
local police chief when they forced her to talk on the phone to their
boss. The U.S. Embassy in Haiti says it has no reason to doubt her


 Pierre Denize, chief of Haiti's police force, was not aware of the
incident involving Moise, but he promised to look into the case. ''If it
was the police, I would be willing to bet it was not police on duty,''
Denize said. Moise's story of cops-gone-bad in the young Haitian police
force is not so unusual. Haiti is miserably poor, and the police there
are under-trained and badly paid. So the lure of cocaine, and the riches
it brings to corrupt officers and everyone involved in the trade, has
been particularly strong over the past two years, as Haiti's poverty has
become more crushing because of international sanctions. Since more than
half the population is unemployed, Colombian traffickers have
 found Haiti a ready outpost for shipping cocaine to the United States,
most of it on freighters docking on the Miami River.


 Stories about home invaders called zenglendos in Creole, some wearing
police uniforms, are part of the discourse in Haitian communities, both
here and at home. A few of those crimes may be related to politics, but
most turn out to be common robberies like the recent murder of Miami
music promoter J.J. Damas, who was killed as he was leaving the
Port-au-Prince airport. Many middle-class Haitian families that have
been victimized are pulling up stakes and moving, mainly to the
 United States. ''Haitians are afraid to go back, and those who go take
a great deal of precautions,'' said Leonie Hermantin, executive director
of the Haitian American Foundation in Miami. ''Those of us who hear
those horror stories are afraid to go back. It doesn't matter what this
woman was doing, who she was involved with -- what happened is an
outrage.'' Pierre Esperance, who represents the human rights
organization National Coalition of Haitian Rights in Haiti, said Moise's
case certainly is not unique. ''Before, people used to feel safe if we
saw police at checkpoints, but now it's the opposite,'' he said. ''They
don't know what's going to happen.'' Denize's Haitian National Police,
substantially funded by U.S. dollars, was created to replace a hated
army dissolved by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide when he
returned in 1994 after three years in exile. Its strength is listed
 at 6,200, the only government security force for a country of eight
million people. Police, virtually nonexistent outside large cities, are
handicapped by a dysfunctional justice system. Because of the political
impasse over recent elections and cutoff in flow of international aid,
the government is in arrears on its payroll, including the police.
 Nearly 100 of Denize's officers have been dismissed from the force for
various infractions, some involving cocaine. ''And not one trial has
been held against a police officer,'' Esperance said.


 Moise is tall and thin and dresses fashionably. The day she met with a
reporter, she was meticulously made up, rouge hiding the bruises on her
face. The incident has left her on edge and angry and has put strains on
her relationship with Bley. She keeps to herself and is known around
Miami's Haitian community mainly for her on-and-off struggles over the
years to publish an English-language magazine targeting a new generation
of Haitians and other blacks of Caribbean descent. She said she wanted
to revive the magazine while in Haiti. What's exceptional about Moise's
story, though, is  her willingness to speak out against the police,     
though from the safety of Miami. In a sense, she's bucking Haitian
tradition, where police have  historically ransacked homes, roughed up
and killed  people who spoke up against abuses during three  decades of
the Duvalier regime. It has become an  instinct for Haitians to keep
quiet.  Moise, 45, may have lost that intuition over the years in the
United States. She moved to Miami  about five years ago from New York
City, where her family settled after emigrating from Haiti. In addition
 to publishing the magazine, she has been buying art objects in Miami to
resell in Haiti, and vice versa. She and Bley, a German American,
married about a year ago.Eventually, she will have to return to Haiti,
Moise said. Meanwhile, she wants to tell her story to anyone who will
listen, including the FBI, ignoring her husband's pleas not to talk too
much, not to name names. She has kept her story consistent, mapped on a
sheet of paper since the incident. Moise said her ordeal began at about
6:30 a.m. July 6, when two men in police uniform wielding machine guns
barged into her bedroom. Moise had seen their faces a few weeks before
that, when officers had stopped at the house asking about two wooden
columns in her front yard. They told her the columns belonged in the
national palace. This time, they told Moise they were there to pick up
'' 'the drugs you stole from my boss and $200,000.' I laughed so hard,
it was so crazy.'' They fired a bullet into her bed, ''to let me know it
was not a joke,'' Moise recalled.


 They slapped her, then slammed a gun against her knees. They told her
to choose the dress she would like to wear because they were
 going to kill her. They blindfolded her and tied her hands and feet.
Then they put the hot iron on her skin.  ''Where's the coke?'' the man
asked. ''Where is the money?''  The short cord barely reached her left
arm. They made her turn around and put it on the other arm. ''I wanted
to pass out to stop the pain,'' said Moise, looking over the treetops
from the living room of a modest penthouse apartment she shares with
Bley in North Miami Beach. ''I thought everyone else in the house was
dead, like something you see in a movie.'' Several weeks later, holes
where steam escapes from the iron are clearly visible
 on her burned arm.  The men wanted her to talk to their boss. Moise
said she recognized the voice at the other end. It was the local chief
of police, she said. She had met him. She believes she was granted her
life only after promising to come to Miami to get money from her
husband. She could not tell anyone her story and she had to
 leave the country in four hours.


 She stayed in Haiti four days and filed two police reports. She spoke
with the station chief, now more than ever sure it was the same voice
she heard on the phone. Moise believes the chief of police tailed her,
up until she got the last seat on the plane that flew her to Miami on
July 11. ''He told me he wanted to keep this a secret because if I
don't, the officers who did this would disappear,'' Moise said. He
allegedly took her copy of the incident report and did not return it.


 There is no record of her complaint at the station, according to her
lawyer. She did tell her story, though, to her lawyer and to the U.S.
Embassy. ''We heard of her account and we have no reason to suspect she
made it up,'' said embassy spokesman Dan Whitman. ''We're concerned and
we're trying to get clarification.'' Meanwhile, Moise has contacted U.S.
Rep. E. Clay Shaw's office. It may be months, if ever, before she gets
back to her homeland. ''After all I've done for Haitians, and they've
done this too me,'' Moise said, her eyes filled with tears. ''I still
can't get over the brutality, how they could do this to another human