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#1988: more details on the french tourists (fwd)


I was in Jacmel this past weekend, staying in Cyvadier, a few houses away 
from the hotel where the French tourists were staying.  Everybody in Jacmel 
was talking about the murders so I'm passing on what I heard from people. I 
am not a journalist and was not doing research on the murders so this is just 
one version of the story and some of the details may be incorrect or 
elaborations by the local population. The most thorough and first hand 
account I heard came from a Haitian man who several times had done various 
kinds of work for the family: bringing them lobster, putting them in touch 
with peasants who had land to sell and so on. According to him he had an 
appointment with the family the morning of the murders and was waiting 
downstairs for them from 7:30 until 10:00 when the mother finally came down 
looking for help. He went to the police, who already had news of several 
unidentified bodies. This man was then asked to come with the police to 
identify the bodies. The story he and others told me was macabre, to say the 
least. Simidor was on the mark in assuming there were former military and 
police involved. Even if the killers had not been found (which they have 
been, all except one) the brutality of the murders indicates professional 
killers. Each of the bodies was found distorted and maimed in a different 
location. The victims were individually beaten to death with rocks, the young 
girl's throat was slashed with a coca cola bottle.

Three people were killed: a Haitian man who was an artist, friend and driver 
for the family while they were in Jacmel, his close friend and this friends 
daughter, an eighteen year old girl. The Haitian man had been living in 
France on and off for about ten years and lived for part of the time with the 
French family. It seems the family already had strong connections to 
Guadeloupe, where they have a home and business. The family came to Jacmel 
with their long time friend, immediately liked Jacmel and decided to invest 
there. They were involved in purchasing land, which people told me were to be 
used for several projects, including a hotel, a freezer for fish and lobster 
and some kind of manufacturing plant. I was also told they had been involved 
in a project to provide motors for the boats of a group of fishermen. Their 
Haitian friend was helping them to buy land, making connections for them etc. 
and mentioned his friend's plans to a cousin.  The cousin is former FAHD and 
had a zenglando 'baz' that included a former HNP expelled from the force for 
cocaine dealing. I don't know anything about the four others involved.  The 
first person killed was the friend of the family. It is generally assumed 
that the cousin and his gang were looking for a large sum of money, that the 
friend refused or could not divulge its whereabouts and was then killed to 
prevent him from identifying the attackers. The cousin and one other, I 
believe the former HNP, took the car and went to the Cyvadier hotel at about 
4:30 in the morning. The cousin told the family that their driver/friend had 
been hurt in an accident and was at the hospital. The father decided to leave 
with the cousin, over protests of his wife. They killed the father. Still not 
finding the money they returned to the hotel. This part of the story is very 
fuzzy; I'm not sure what story they told daughter and mother at this point 
but the daughter decided to leave with them. The mother still refused. At 
this point it was full daylight and many eyewitnesses saw the car with the 
girl in it. The car is said to have pulled over at which point she bought 
cokes for herself, the cousin and his friend. The vendor didn't have change 
so the girl said they would come back for it when they dropped off the 
bottles. One of the coke bottles was eventually found lying near the girl, 
broken in two. They used it to slash the girl's throat. The man who 
identified the bodies said that girl was half naked and it is generally said 
that she was raped before being killed (I don't know if this has been 
confirmed by the police). 

It is hard to describe the trauma these events have caused in Jacmel. The man 
telling me this story said that he passed out when he saw the girl, went home 
and  didn't eat for four days. When I was in Jacmel it was impossible not to 
hear talk and speculation about the murders. I remember someone on the list 
saying that during the coup, FRAPH would often take someone from one 
quartier, kill them in another and dump the body someplace else so that the 
terror could be spread as widely as possible. There is something like this in 
this case, though it is hard to say if this was intentional or an accidental 
result of the killer's savagery and stupidity.  If the people were murdered 
to hide the identity of the killers, why did they wander around Jacmel with 
the girl in the car, even stopping for cokes? After killing two people and 
dumping the bodies, why would they then take the time to rape the girl? 

The story generally makes very little sense to me, but I would make two 
comments about aspects of it that are clear: One is that these crimes were 
not committed by 'the Haitian people' in general but by a group of very sick 
thugs, at least two of whom had been schooled in institutional violence. The 
people of Jacmel are totally sickened by the murders. Secondly, whether they 
are organized with some kind of political program in mind or not (I find this 
kind of doubtful) they do have political effects. Very often after recounting 
the details of the story the person would then say to me; "such a thing could 
not have happened under X" (Francois, Baby Doc whoever), so that in the minds 
of many people the failure of democracy and lavalas generally is underlined 
by these crimes. Terror spread by disorganized thugs and gangs seem to make 
people long nostalgically for state sponsored terror...