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#54: Longshoremen Block Port in Haiti (fwd)
Monday June 28 10:34 PM ET
Longshoremen Block Port in Haiti
By MICHAEL NORTON Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Longshoremen angry over plans to privatize
Haiti's ports authority blocked a port entrance with cargo containers
Monday and erected a burning tire barricade on a busy seaside boulevard.
Protesters demanded that the authority's director, Julio Julien, resign.
They accused him of mismanaging the agency but provided few details.
President Rene Preval's government hopes to sell control of the agency
in the fall. Many workers fear they will lose their jobs.The barricades
caused traffic jams in Port-au-Prince, the capital. No arrests were
immediately reported.The protest was the latest in a six-week series of
street demonstrations against government agencies and police that have
forced many businesses in the impoverished country to close.Some
officials charge that former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who
opposes Haiti's privatization program, is behind the protests. Aristide
supporters, they say, are trying to destabilize the country and prevent
local and legislative elections scheduled for the fall.Also on the
privatization list are the government's airport agency, several banks
and electric, water and telephone utilities. Longshoremen said Monday
they hoped to encourage telephone workers to go on strike.
Also Monday, former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali met
with Preval to discuss international efforts to help Haiti hold
elections.Most political parties say they will only participate in
legislative and district council elections in November and December if
their security is ensured and the neutrality of the police and judicial
system is guaranteed.Haiti has been in crisis since former Premier Rosny
Smarth resigned in 1997, charging that legislative elections were fixed
to favor Aristide candidates.In a bid to end the impasse, Preval shut
down Parliament in January and appointed a new premier and provisional
electoral council by decree.