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a69: Haiti-Attempted Coup (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>


   PETIT-GOAVE, Dec 19 (AP) -- Marie-Rose Coicou looked at the ruins of her
home -- a mound of cement blocks, burned wooden beams, twisted metal -- and
vowed Wednesday to take her own revenge against the party of President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whose followers, she said, did the damage.
   Her house was among at least 11 destroyed in the tit-for-tat attacks
launched by supporters of Aristide's Lavalas Family party and members of
the opposition.
   The wave of violence spread across Haiti after police retook the
National Palace Monday from armed men who raided the building in what the
government called a coup attempt. At least 11 died in the palace attack and
subsequent violence.
   "Before, I believed I lived in a democracy and that we could all support
whichever party we choose," Coicou said. "Now, I am against Lavalas all the
   This town on Haiti's southern peninsula once was best known for its wood
carvers, fishermen and a tri-colored candy called dous-macosse.
   More recently, however, Petit-Goave has become famous as a symbol of the
political illness that grips Haiti -- the rivalry between Aristide's
Lavalas Family party and the Convergence opposition coalition. The
political feuds have turned violent with militants marching on the homes of
their opponents brandishing machetes and revolvers in a vicious circle of
   While violence had subsided here, the citizens were tense. Many market
stalls stood empty.
   "Today there's an apparent calm, but it can blow up any second," Deputy
Mayor Semereste Boliere said.
   He said tensions began shooting up after Nov. 14 when Convergence
partisans took a machete to a Lavalas Party member, Joseph Zeus Duverge.
Police saved him.
   Duverge's neighbors retaliated Dec. 3 by assassinating 31-year-old
journalist Brignol Lindor, whose supporters charge that police looked the
other way.
   "From that time the situation has deteriorated, the terror has
amplified," Boliere said. "It was always the people of Convergence
attacking, arming themselves with stolen weapons."
   Both sides went on the rampage after hearing on the radio about the
alleged coup attempt Monday in which, officials said, 33 heavily armed men
took over a wing of the National Palace in downtown Port-au-Prince for
seven hours.
   Police, meanwhile, raised the death toll from the alleged coup attempt
to 11 on Wednesday, saying four additional alleged attackers were killed.
   Police spokesman Jean-Dady Simeon said the four newly listed victims of
the violence were palace attackers who escaped only to be wounded by police
at a road block near the Dominican Republic border and then slashed to
death by civilians wielding machetes.
   Government officials have said the palace attackers identified their
leader as the former police chief of northern Cap-Haitien city, Guy
Philippe, who fled to Dominican Republic last year with seven police
officers previously accused of plotting a coup.
   Philippe has denied involvement and fled to Quito, Ecuador.
   Some in the opposition say it appeared the government staged the attack
as a pretext to crack down on dissent.