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Haiti Goes Backward

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo Haiti s Army Turns Back The Clock by Charles Arthur Red Pepper April 02, 2004
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2004
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Haiti's Army Turns Back The Clock
      by Charles Arthur
      Red Pepper
      April 02, 2004

      It didn't take long for the new order in Haiti to reveal
      itself. The day after President Aristide 'left' for exile,
      34 union members at the Ouanaminthe garment assembly factory
      run by the Dominican Grupo M company, were fired. The next
      morning, when the 600-strong workforce decided to strike, a
      group of armed men launched a violent attack. Some unionists
      were handcuffed, many others were beaten up, and the workers
      were forced back inside the factory.

      The aggressors were members of the so-called rebel force,
      fresh from their victory over the government of President
      Jean-Bertrand Aristide. They said they had been called to
      the factory by management, to deal with workers "causing

      As in so many Haitian towns, the Ouanaminthe insurgents had
      taken over from the police. Their leaders say they are
      former members of the Haitian Army, the FAD'H, a force
      demobilised by Aristide in 1995. Some, such as Guy Philippe
      and Gilbert Dragon, were trained by the US in Ecuador and
      flown home to senior positions in the new Haitian police
      force in the mid-1990s.

      When Aristide's predecessor, President Rene Preval,
      discovered them plotting a coup back in October 2000,
      Philippe, Dragon and a handful of other police chiefs, fled
      to the neighbouring Dominican Republic. There they carried
      on plotting, meeting with representatives of Haitian
      opposition parties such as Paul Arcelin and Jean-Baptiste
      Joseph, and with former members of the FAD'H death squad,
      the FRAPH, like Louis Chamblain.

      Throughout 2003, their followers conducted a low level
      insurgency in the remote border region with the Dominican
      Republic that claimed around 30 lives. In February, their
      campaign suddenly caught fire and within weeks, an armed
      insurrection had toppled Aristide. The rebels' leader Guy
      Philippe triumphantly told a press conference in the
      capital, Port-au-Prince: "I am the chief." Asked what he
      meant, he said, "the military chief."

      Although the insurgents' links to the businessmen heading
      the Group of 184 coalition that led the anti-Aristide
      protest movement remain sketchy, it is clear that the armed
      and unarmed elements of the rebellion are moving closer

      When downtown Port-au-Prince was besieged by looters in
      early March, Maurice Lafortune, head of the Chamber of
      Commerce and a leading figure in the Group of 184, called on
      Philippe and his men to restore order. Another G184 leader,
      the sweatshop owner, Charles Henri Baker, could hardly
      contain his admiration for the "liberators", speaking of the
      need for an army to protect businesses from "the mob".
      Political party leaders, including the long-time US
      favourite, Evans Paul, held friendly talks with Philippe and
      other insurgent leaders.

      Amnesty International protested about the apparent political
      influence of convicted murderers such as Chamblain and the
      Goniaves FRAPH chief, Jean Tatoune.

      "The last thing the country needs is for those who committed
      abuses in the past to take up leadership positions," it said.

      As ever though, the US attempted to maintain the existent
      power structure during the transition. Philippe quickly
      announced his men would lay down their arms, after a
      dressing down from senior officers in the US military
      intervention force. Days later, Philippe responded to the
      murder of demonstrators celebrating Aristide's departure,
      with the words: "very soon I will be obliged to order my
      troops to take up arms again."

      Continued violence and instability in Haiti, will increase
      the pressure to re-instate the FAD'H. Foreign governments
      that have committed peace-keeping troops want their forces
      out as soon as possible, and the political parties that
      control the interim government are beholden to the forces
      that enthroned them.

      Behind the scenes, members of the country's tiny elite,
      especially the assembly sector businessmen who bankroll the
      political parties, want the FAD'H back to guarantee the
      established order. It has done so ever since its creation
      during the US occupation of 1915-34.

      Charles Arthur is director of the Haiti Support Group
      solidarity organisation: www.haitisupport.gn.apc.org and
      author of 'Haiti in Focus; a guide to the people, politics
      and culture.'"


      Dan Clore

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      "It's a political statement -- or, rather, an
      *anti*-political statement. The symbol for *anarchy*!"
      -- Batman, explaining the circle-A graffiti, in
      _Detective Comics_ #608
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