Latortue praises gang leaders, gunmen (AP)

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Latortue praises gang leaders, gunmen (AP)

Post by admin » Sun Mar 21, 2004 11:36 am


Latortue praises gang leaders, gunmen
Sunday, March 21, 2004

GONAIVES, Haiti (AP) - Sharing a platform with rebel leaders, Haiti's interim leader yesterday praised the gunmen who began the uprising that chased Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power and even paid tribute to an assassinated gangster.

About 3,000 people cheered and clapped for Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, who held his first rally in his hometown of Gonaives, where Haiti's independence was declared 200 years ago and starting point for its recent rebellion.

"I ask you for a moment of silence for all the people who fell fighting against the dictatorship, and especially for Amiot Metayer," Latortue said as the crowd went wild. Metayer was the leader of the Cannibal Army street gang, and his death sparked the rebellion.

Rebel leaders who still run Haiti's fourth-largest city sat
on a platform alongside Latortue, Organisation of American States representative David Lee, recently installed interim Cabinet ministers Bernard Gousse and retired General Herard Abraham, and new Haitian police chief Leon Charles.

Rebel leader Winter Etienne, self-declared mayor of Gonaives, welcomed Latortue and told the crowd his fighters would surrender their weapons when a police presence is restored to the city, which had about 250,000 people before the uprising erupted February 5.

Latortue paid tribute to Metayer and only those victims fighting to oust Aristide, Haiti's first freely elected leader. Dozens of the 300 people who died were police defending Aristide's government.

Metayer's Cannibal Army gang ran the docks at Gonaives and was said to control drug-trafficking through the port. Gang members also say they were armed by Aristide to terrorise his opponents.

Aristide had Metayer arrested last year after months of pressure from the OAS, which demanded he be tried for
allegedly burning homes of opponents. Gang members rammed a tractor into the prison to free him in September, and Metayer's bullet-riddled and mutilated body was found days later.

"They took out his eyes. They took out his heart," Latortue said.
Metayer's brother, Butteur, assumed leadership of the gang; he claimed Aristide ordered his brother's killing to keep him from publicising damaging information about him.

With his death prompting the uprising that brought about Aristide's downfall, Metayer has become a hero in the town. Many feared him. Others saw him as a Robin Hood who lavished gifts on slum-dwelling Aristide supporters.

Thousands of them have fled the city since the February 5 gunbattle in which Metayer's men killed several police officers and torched government buildings.

Lee said Latortue's visit symbolised "a return of authority". But Charles acknowledged the city would continue to be run by rebels until a police presence is re-established.

About 150 F
rench Legionnaires rolled into Gonaives on Friday. Yesterday, they remained behind the walls of the State University, where they set up camp. Rebels swapped their looted police gear for civilian clothes when the French arrived, and stopped strutting around town with assault rifles.

Another 200 French troops went to Cap-Haitien, the rebel-held northern port of 500,000 that is Haiti's second largest city.
The French mission is to allow relief organisations to deliver food and medicines disrupted by the rebellion.

In Port-au-Prince, police said yesterday they arrested Amanus Mayette, a former Aristide legislator and alleged leader of the "Clean Sweep" gang that is accused of killing dozens of people last month in St Marc, a port town between Gonaives and the capital.

American missionary Terry Snow said attackers forced victims - including women and children - into houses before setting them ablaze.

Aristide party members have asked why no one has arrested two convicted assassins a
mong rebel leaders.

On Saturday, as the visitors were enjoying a buffet lunch, Butteur Metayer arrived in a looted police all-terrain vehicle and laid down a dozen rusty weapons wrapped in a Haitian flag - two machine guns but mainly World War II-era M-1 assault rifles and shotguns.

"We are not handing them over because we are scared. But we were fighting against Aristide and not against the Republic of Haiti," Metayer said. Later, he told The Associated Press the rebellion could return. "Our plan is to keep working with the government, (but) if the government cannot work with us, we will overthrow it," he said.

Latortue acknowledged the weapons handover was "just a symbolic gesture". "Obviously we have weapons spread throughout the country, and many people still believe they can't give (up) all of their weapons," he told the AP. "But the symbolism of what happened today is very important."

Lee, asked how he felt about the praise for Amiot Metayer, said, "We're trying to encoura
ge reconciliation. "Of course we don't agree that violence should be rewarded, but I think what we see here today is an effort put forth by the citizens of Gonaives to turn over a new leaf."

At the rally earlier, Latortue promised his government would ensure clean drinking water in Gonaives, provide medical equipment and build at least 100 homes and a four-lane highway to replace the potholed two lanes that are Haiti's main south-north highway.

People shouted they also needed working telephones and electricity. Latortue urged patience: "I cannot give you everything at once and I will not lie to you."

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Haiti: What of the Rule of Law?

Post by admin » Mon Mar 22, 2004 11:23 am



From: Jocelyn McCalla, jmccalla@jmcstrategies.com

Statement of Jocelyn McCalla
Executive Director, a.i.
National Coalition for Haitian Rights

New York, March 21, 2004 -- If Haiti is to rid itself of its destructive cycle of lawlessness and political upheavals, its leaders must resolutely break with the past to rapidly establish and promote respect for human rights and the rule of law. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the transitional government's priority.

Interim Prime Minister Gérard Latortue visited Gonaives on March 20 to hail as freedom fighters the "cannibals," a group of thugs who took up arms against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in order to settle scores with him.

They blamed Mr. Aristide - whom they once supported -- for the murder of their leader, Amiot Métayer. They have been in control of the city of Gonaives since la
st December when they drove away the police and other governmental authorities.

Mr. Latortue was accompanied on this visit by Justice Minister Bernard Gousse and OAS Representative David Lee. But for all the hoopla that greeted this occasion, Mr. Latortue came away only with a hastily crafted wooden key to the city of Gonaives. At the very least he succeeded in fanning the flames of lawlessness. The thugs refused to give up control of the municipality and to disarm. And they threatened to overthrow the interim government should they decide that things were not to their liking. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the Prime Minister was Jean Tatoune, a notorious lawbreaker with a nearly twenty-year long history of human rights crimes under his belt. Tatoune should have been in jail instead.

Prime Minister Latortue may have aimed for precious time, but he has sent the wrong signals to Haitians seeking durable peace and justice, closing perhaps quickly the window of support that Haiti enjoys among pe
ople of good will in domestic and international spheres.

We strongly condemn the unholy alliance which the interim government has struck with the Gonaives rebels. We note that such unholy alliances, in place since 1994 when President Aristide returned from exile, have weakened rather than strengthened law enforcement and governmental authority. We note with alarm the apparent acquiescence of international community representatives to a wrong-headed strategy that among other things increases the risks to international peacekeepers.

We call on the transitional Haitian government to reverse course and state forthrightly that criminality and warlordism have no place in Haitian society, and to take the steps necessary to re-establish state authority.

This includes an aggressive disarmament campaign with the active support of international peacekeepers and police forces. We call on Haiti's international allies to also disassociate themselves with thugs and to redouble efforts at peacebuilding
by committing more troops and accelerating their deployment to the country.

Most importantly, a judicial system that treats every Haitian equally regardless of social, economic or political status is long overdue. Let its advent not be postponed any further.

### END ###


For Further Information, Contact:

Mr. Jocelyn McCalla
Executive Director
National Coalition for Haitian Rights
275 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001
W: (212) 337-0005; F: (212) 741-8749; C: (862) 452-7196

Email: jmccalla@nchr.org ; www.nchr.org


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Re: NCHR Statement dated March 21, 2004

Post by admin » Mon Mar 22, 2004 6:16 pm

From Marguerite Laurent, JD:

Mr. Jocelyn McCalla:

Re: NCHR Statement dated March 21, 2004 - Haiti: What of the Rule of Law?

Finally Mr. McCalla you take a stand for the rule of law in Haiti in your statement dated, March 21, 2004 and attached below. A bit late now, isn't it, for those dead because your organization also supported a violent coup d'etat in Haiti for years now. And seemed to absolutely refuse to say anything negative about the mostly Duvalierist opposition looking to grab power through force via foreign support and to bring back the bloody Haitian army. Can't tell you how hard it's been to watch NCHR plummet to such depths when it used to be at the forefront of the democracy movement back in early1990s when you and I conversed. I have, over the years, become extremely concerned that U.S.A.I.D and other beltway funding altered NCHR's orig
inal course.

But, the struggle for a Haitian domestic economy, Haitian rule of law, sovereignty and democracy is indeed a long one and as NCHR is now finally taking a stand, perhaps you would also make a statement against the chasing down, killing and jailing of former elected officials, simple Haitian voters, anti-coup d'etat supporters and supporters of the legitimate President of Haiti. If so, read the article I wrote yesterday in reaction to the same article you reacted to with your "Haiti: What of the rule of law? statement. Haitian blood is pouring senselessly and no cavalry is coming but us, Mr. McCalla. So, let me know if now that you are back at the helm of NCHR, if its mission statement will be implemented no matter the Haitians' party affiliation. If so, we may collaborate together and provide you with a list of human rights violations and offenses our office have received which your office down in Haiti seems to be oblivious about.

Marguerite Laurent, JD
Haitian Lawyers Leader
ship
http://margueritelaurent.com


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Post by admin » Wed Mar 24, 2004 1:50 pm

From: K. M. Ives <kives@toast.net>

[quote]McCalla's statement is one of the most absurd things I've read in a long time. He says:

"We strongly condemn the unholy alliance which the interim government has struck with the Gonaives rebels. We note that such unholy alliances, in place since 1994 when President Aristide returned from exile, have weakened rather than strengthened law enforcement and governmental authority. We note with alarm the apparent acquiescence of international community representatives to a wrong-headed strategy that among other things increases the risks to international peacekeepers."

Who is he KIDDING? The UNHOLY ALLIANCE is exactly what the U.S. ("international peacekeepers") concocted to drive Aristide from power! It's OPEN CONNIVANCE not "apparent acquiescence" of the U.S. and its allies.

McCalla continues:

"We call on the transitional H
aitian government to reverse course and state forthrightly that criminality and warlordism have no place in Haitian society, and to take the steps necessary to re-establish state authority. This includes an aggressive disarmament campaign with the active support of international peacekeepers and police forces. We call on Haiti's international allies to also disassociate themselves with thugs and to redouble efforts at peacebuilding by committing more troops and accelerating their deployment to the country."

Reverse course? Disassociate themselves? Oppose criminality and warlordism? It's precisely through criminality and warlordism that the current de facto government came into power, for Chrissakes! Re-establish state authority? Good luck after they've pumped tons of guns and thousands of dollars into the slums to whip up the most desperate strata against the government. Let's see them put that genie back in the bottle. Finally McCalla calls for a BIGGER OCCUPATION of Haiti, rather than for Haiti'
s self-determination. And this in the bicentennial of Haiti's independence.

The call I heard the large Haitian contingent at the massive March 20 march in NYC was "US and France, Out of Haiti!" That seems more appropriate. I think the "international community" has done quite enough.

Kim Ives[/quote]

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Post by admin » Wed Mar 24, 2004 9:21 pm

From: Amywile@aol.com

[quote]So sad to see friends of Haiti calling on the international community for aid and succor, especially when an occupation is ALREADY under way. The assumption that the US government as presently constituted could possibly be in any way a good friend to the Haitian people is, to me, preposterous. Of course, there are some well-meaning people among the international communities and even among the Friends of Haiti.

But it does seem wrong-minded to call on those who out-and-out supported the Guy Phillipe/Jodel Chamblain/Jean Tatoune coup d'etat in Haiti to "redouble" their efforts at "peacebuilding." The fraternizing of the newly installed prime minister with the Cannibal Army only serves to underline the essential contradiction in such thinking. Just because Guy Philippe smiles and does what the US wants him to doesn't make him peace-loving, at least, not the kin
d of peace-loving we all wish for for Haiti.

I believe we can safely say that the US will be satisfied with a particular kind of peace in Haiti, but that this may be a peace that can ONLY be achieved at the end of the barrel of a gun.

Terrible to have French (and American) troops walking around the streets of Haiti during this particular bicentennial year.

Amy Wilentz[/quote]


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