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9955: This Week in Haiti 19:39 12/12/01 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
December 12 - 18, 2001
Vol. 19, No. 39
VIOLENCE FLARES IN PETIT GOÂVE
The town of Petit Goâve, 55 kilometers west of Port-au-Prince, is
famous for the resistance of its townspeople to the dictatorships
of Jean-Claude Duvalier and General Prosper Avril. However, it is
also the stronghold of neo-Duvalierist politician Hubert de
Ronceray, who is part of the tiny Washington-backed opposition
front called the Democratic Convergence (CD).
This dual heritage is perhaps what today makes this town such a
flash-point for violent confrontations between pro-CD
demonstrators and those backing the Lavalas Family party (FL) of
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The most recent clash was on Dec. 3 when anti-Lavalas
demonstrators tried to shut the town down, including the schools.
They were met by pro-Lavalas demonstrators on National Route #2.
The confrontation between the two groups was so intense that the
police had to retreat under a hail of stones from the
belligerents. The pro-CD mob hacked and maimed Joseph Céus
Duvergé, an FL partisan, with machetes. He is now hospitalized in
Journalist Brignol Lindor of local radio station Echo 2000 had
the misfortune of being with a friend that day in Acul, Duvergé's
neighborhood. Incensed by rumors of Duvergé's death and thinking
-- rightly or wrongly -- that Lindor was a CD partisan, a crowd
composed of Duvergé's relatives and FL partisans set upon the
journalist with vengeful wrath, hacking him to death with
The government deployed the heavily-armed police Company for
Intervention and the Maintenance of Order (CIMO) in an attempt to
restore calm. The CIMO would take down barricades, but crowds
would throw them back up. Gunshots rang out throughout the night.
On Dec. 5, tear gas became so thick in the town that Mme. Lucane
Dorléans, 76, died from the fumes. Many residents fled the town.
On Dec. 4, Guyler C. Delva, secretary general of the Association
of Haitian Journalists (AJH), led a fact-finding delegation to
the town. They reported that members of the popular organization
"Dòmi nan bwa" (Sleep in the woods), allegedly FL-aligned, had a
hand in the Lindor reprisal-killing. The government has issued
arrest warrants for "Dòmi nan bwa" members and those identified
as taking part in the attack on Duvergé as well.
A pro-CD mob attacked Delva and his delegation during their
visit. They had to take refuge in the toilet of the mayor's home
from flying rocks and bottles.
Reeling under a deluge of official outrage from national and
international journalist groups, Aristide issued a statement
calling for peace and expressing solidarity with all journalists.
But the CD, trying to capitalize on Lindor's killing, stepped up
its rhetoric calling for Aristide's overthrow. "The Democratic
Convergence says enough is enough," said Gérard Pierre-Charles, a
CD leader. "The population must rise up and say no to Mister
Aristide. Those guilty of these frightful crimes must be
punished. We must close the faucet of blood. We must finish with
this regime of crime, corruption, and impunity."
Anti-Aristide perennial Rony Mondestin was even more categoric.
"There will not be any justice for Brignol as long as Jean-
Bertrand Aristide is in Haiti and not in prison," he said.
Information Minister Guy Paul ventured that Lindor "was not
killed for being a journalist, but for being a member of the
Democratic Convergence," a remark which raised a ruckus among
journalists, particularly those sympathetic to the opposition.
The brother of the victim, Moreno Lindor, denied that the
journalist belonged to the CD.
Meanwhile, FL Deputy Jean Candio complained that "there are so-
called journalists who are active members of the opposition and
who are deeply implicated in the destabilization movement which
is occuring in several places. When the organizers of these
disorders end up in confrontation with either the police or with
some other groups, they suddenly raise their press flag." Candio
and other deputies singled out the National Association of
Haitian Media (ANMH) as being very partisan in favor of the CD.
On Dec. 11, several hundred people attended a funeral for Lindor
in Petit Goâve. The ceremony was all but sponsored by the CD, so
both inside and outside the church there were shouts of "Down
While the assassination of Lindor is indeed a heinous crime, it
must be asked why there has been an almost complete press black-
out on the brutal attack against Joseph Céus Duvergé, who may or
may not survive. Clearly it is because the Lindor killing is
being exploited cynically by the CD in its continuing rivalry for
power with the FL. The CD used Lindor's funeral to build "their
political capital," noted the reporter for Radio Quisqueya (which
is hardly pro-FL), and an occasion "to raise all their issues, to
have every message they have get out through his death."
Unfortunately, the FL is now reaping the consequences of
betraying its political principles in reaching for power. Hobbled
by compromise, infiltration, and corruption, the party is rapidly
losing the people's confidence and, in desperation, is looking to
strike any deal it can with Washington. Whether Washington will
accept Aristide's surrender, or urge on its dogs in the CD, will
become clear in the weeks ahead.
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