[ After helping orchestrate and support a coup against Aristide, the democratically elected leader of Haiti, U.S. officials have the audacity to complain that Haitian supporters of their former leader have still not accepted the U.S. interference in their country’s political process! Also notice how the Reuters piece below lets stand Boucher’s deceiving, propagandistic characterization of Aristide as using “street gangs to spread violence and political repression.” The article implies that the murders are committed by supporters of Aristide, but fails to mention the fatal attacks against hundreds of Aristide supporters after the U.S. coerced Aristide out of the country — deaths not prominently reported in the U.S. press or State Department. –BL ]
US says Aristide backers seek to destabilize Haiti
WASHINGTON – The United States accused supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Tuesday of systematically using violence to destabilize Haiti’s government and disrupt international efforts to help storm-devastated areas of the country.
“Over the past two weeks, pro-Aristide thugs have murdered policemen, looted businesses and public installations, and terrorized civilians. On Oct. 11, pro-Aristide gunman killed three people in random attacks; there are reports that one parent was killed while walking his child to school,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
This is part of “a systematic campaign to destabilize the interim government and disrupt the efforts of the international community to assist the Haitian people,” he said.
Aristide, who was accused by his opponents of corruption and despotism but still regarded by many of Haiti’s poor as their champion, fled on Feb. 29 in the face of an armed revolt and U.S. and French pressure to quit. He is now living in exile in South Africa.
In June, a Brazilian-led U.N. peacekeeping force took over the task of stabilizing Haiti from a U.N.-sanctioned multinational interim force led by U.S. Marines. The number of U.N. troops and police should grow to about 7,300 in November.
Boucher said the recent violence recalls “the worst days of Mr. Aristide’s rule, which was characterized by the criminal use of street gangs to spread violence and political repression.”
Even worse, he said, the attacks come as Haiti still suffers from the aftermath of catastrophic flooding. Tropical Storm Jeanne swept north of Haiti last month and triggered massive flooding and mudslides that killed more than 3,000 people.
Boucher urged leaders of pro-Aristide forces to stop the violence and participate peacefully in the electoral process.
The interim government led by President Boniface Alexandre and Prime Minister Gerard Latortue “represents the best hope for progress in Haiti,” he added.
Since the end of September, about 50 people have been killed, including 40 in Port-au-Prince slums that are strongholds of support for Aristide. Five of the dead were police.
Police said a number of the victims were killed by police after street clashes and protests, but the majority — about 30 — were killed in gun battles between rival gangs in Cite Soleil, Haiti’s largest slum.
Two peacekeepers have also been injured.