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Old 02-16-2004, 02:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Protest in Haitian Capital


Defying government loyalists, more than 1,000 protesters demonstrated against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Sunday as exiled paramilitary forces joined rebels in a bloody uprising that has killed some 50 people.

Shouting “Down with Aristide!” members of a broad opposition alliance known as the Democratic Platform marched through Port-au-Prince, saying they didn't support violence but shared the same goal as the rebels — ousting the embattled president.

“We're still dealing with pacific, nonviolent means, but let me tell you, we have one goal,” said Gilbert Leger, a lawyer and opposition member. “We do support (rebel) efforts.”

After a peaceful march, demonstrators ended the protest about a quarter of the way through when police told them they would have to change the route because of security concerns.

Militants loyal to Aristide crushed a similar anti-government demonstration on Thursday, stoning opponents and blocking the protest route. The government said between seven and a dozen attackers have been arrested, but a foreign technical adviser to the police said there have been no arrests.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell urged Aristide to “reach out to the opposition, to make sure that thugs are not allowed to break up peaceful demonstrations.”

Haiti has been wracked by violence since Feb. 5, when armed rebels seeking to oust Aristide launched a rebellion in Gonaives, 70 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince and Haiti's fourth-largest city. The rebels have fortified Gonaives with flaming barricades, rusted cars and discarded refrigerators.

Although the rebels are still thought to number less than Haiti's 5,000-member police force, paramilitary leaders and police living in exile in the Dominican Republic have reportedly joined them.

Two Dominican soldiers were killed on the Dominican border at Dajabon on Saturday and their weapons were taken from them. It was unclear who was responsible for the killings, but in recent days a force of 20 men led by exiled paramilitary leader Louis-Jodel Chamblain crossed the border.

Dominican President Hipolito Mejia said Sunday that authorities would arrest any Haitian suspected of taking part in the uprising who tries to enter the Dominican Republic.

Louis-Jodel Chamblain, a former Haitian soldier who headed army death squads in 1987 and a militia known as the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, or FRAPH, which killed and maimed hundreds of people between 1991 and 1994, was seen in Gonaives by several witnesses.

Chamblain fled to the Dominican Republic after U.S. troops were sent to restore Aristide to power and end a bloody dictatorship in 1994.

Also spotted was Guy Philippe, a former police chief who fled to the Dominican Republic after being accused by the Haitian government of trying to organize a coup in 2002.

Witnesses reached by telephone said the men were working with rebels in Gonaives but were massing in Saint-Michel de l'Atalaye, about 28 miles to the east.

Dominican Gen. Fernando Cruz Mendez said Philippe would be arrested if he tried to re-enter the Dominican Republic.

In May, Haiti's foreign minister visited the Dominican Republic requesting that authorities turn over Philippe. Dominican officials had detained him earlier that month but released him after finding no evidence to support claims he was plotting against Haiti's government. No extradition treaty exists between the neighboring countries.

Meanwhile in Jamaica, police detained 10 Haitians, including eight police officers, who arrived Saturday by boat to Jamaica's eastern shore requesting political asylum. Police seized eight guns and some ammunition from the men. Immigration authorities were reviewing their asylum requests.

While there has been no reported rise in the numbers of Haitians leaving for U.S. shores, Aristide's wife — U.S.-born Mildred Trouillot Aristide — reportedly flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. over the weekend. Presidential spokeswoman Michelle Karshan said the first lady left to attend a funeral and would return Monday.

In another twist, the 13-year-old grandson of Mrs. Aristide's aunt, former Social Affairs Minister Mathilde Flambert, was reportedly kidnapped on Friday, friends of the family told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. It was unclear who abducted the boy.

Discontent has grown in this Caribbean country of 8 million people since Aristide's party swept flawed legislative elections in 2000 and international donors froze millions of dollars.

However, Powell said Friday the United States and other nations “will accept no outcome that ... attempts to remove the elected president of Haiti.”

The United States sent 20,000 troops to Haiti in 1994 to end a bloody military dictatorship, restore Aristide and halt an exodus of refugees to Florida.

Washington says it plans no new military intervention.
I'm suprised this hasn't been posted yet, I can't really form an opinion because I've not heard the whole story but I'd love to hear from so informed people about it.,
“It is better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick” - Dave Barry

Last edited by Reese; 02-16-2004 at 02:28 AM..
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Old 02-16-2004, 03:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
I have been following it, and pretty much that country has had major issues since they became their own nation.
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capital, hiatian, protest

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