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a502: NYTimes.com Article: Haitian Warehouses Ransacked by Crowd(fwd)

From: potteryrn@aol.com

Haitian Warehouses Ransacked by Crowd

January 28, 2002


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 27 (AP) - The riot police fired
bullets and tear gas today at hundreds of low-income
Haitians who ransacked warehouses and demanded rice
imported under a subsidized program called "rice for

Protesters had poured out of Cité Soleil, a sprawling slum
neighborhood, and surrounded hundreds of trucks and
official state vehicles loaded with the rice. Rice is a
staple in Haiti, where hunger is endemic.

The riot police fired shots into the air and tear-gas
canisters into crowds demanding rice. But they were unable
to control the crowd, which ransacked the warehouses.

A nonprofit arm of President Jean- Bertrand Aristide's
Lavalas Party has been importing the rice from Asia and the
United States free of taxes and customs duties. Party
officials say the program is a legitimate way to bring down
living costs, but some lawmakers within the party are
accusing one another of unduly profiting from it.

A high-ranking Senate official confirmed that most Lavalas
Party senators were allowed to take some of the rice to
distribute to poor people in their electoral districts.

A Lavalas Party spokesman, Jones Petit, said the party's
nonprofit cooperative imported 70,000 tons of rice between
May and November, the latest figures he had available, and
distributed it on the open market, reducing the wholesale
price to about $20 from $26 for a 110-pound bag.

Haiti imports 300,000 tons of rice a