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16923: This Week in Haiti 21:30 10/08/2003 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
October 8 - 14, 2003
Vol. 21, No. 30
EYEBALL TO EYEBALL WITH PRO-LAVALAS DEMONSTRATORS, THE OPPOSITION
Cap Haïtien, Haiti's second-largest city, has become the
principal arena for duels between pro- and anti-government
demonstrators in recent months.
On Sep. 14, demonstrators of the Opposition Front of the North
(FRON) marched through the city while partisans of the Lavalas
Family party (FL) of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide marched
simultaneously down a parallel street one block away. The actions
ended in a melee when FRON demonstrators attempted to change
their march route to intersect with their pro-government
counterparts. The police attempted to create a buffer but then
had to disperse both demonstrations with tear-gas when protestors
began throwing rocks and bottles at each other and the police.
Five people were wounded in the skirmish.
Residents of Cap, located on Haiti's north coast, were bracing
for a similar confrontation on Oct. 5. The FRON announced a march
for that day along the same route that FL partisans had reserved
days before. The police called in both groups to negotiate a
The talks were not aided by the inflammatory proclamations
beaming from Radio Maxima, one of Cap's most powerful stations.
Owned by a FRON leader, Jean-Robert Lalanne, Maxima hosted
spokespersons from the FRON and other opposition groups who made
open calls for violence, dire predictions of "carnage," and
vulgar insults aimed at elected city leaders.
Nonetheless, the negotiations were successful, and the routes of
the two demonstrations were modified according to the proposals
of Cap police chief Charles Chilli.
Then, unexpectedly, on the evening of Oct. 4, FRON leaders
cancelled the next day's demonstration, saying that the
government's partisans were preparing a "bloodbath."
Despite the announcement, a few dozen opposition demonstrators,
saying they were from FRON, gathered at 10 a.m. in the Carénage
neighborhood. They marched into town, respecting no particular
march route and creating a climate of tension. They repeatedly
taunted and disobeyed the police, who were deployed in great
number, but there were no major incidents.
Meanwhile, more than 2000 government partisans marched loudly but
peacefully to support Aristide, respecting police directives.
In an Oct. 5 press conference at the Brise de mer hotel, Evans
Paul, a leader of the Democratic Convergence opposition front,
applauded the small group of opposition demonstrators who had
defied their leaders' annulment and challenged the police. He
praised their provocational tactics as "hide and seek
Pastor Jackson Noël, a FRON leader, said that the decision to
cancel the opposition's demonstration was due to the police
changing the original route. He also charged pro-FL forces with
planning violence. "We got wind of certain arrangements of the
government which would result in a bloodbath," he said. "Faced
with our responsibility before the nation and the world, we
decided unanimously to postpone this march."
Pro-opposition stations, in particular Radio Kiskeya, broadcast
similar predictions that they would be the targets of violence
prior to the giant Sep. 30 march of the National Popular Assembly
(PPN) in Port-au-Prince (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 21, No. 29,
10/1/2003). PPN leaders called the charges "ridiculous." No
attacks ever took place.
In Cap's Oct. 5 pro-Lavalas march, several elected officials,
such as departmental delegate Myrtho Julien, deputies Nahoum
Marcellus, James Derosin, and Théodore Saintilus, as well as Sen.
Harry Désir, marched with demonstrators to demand an end to the
destabilization campaign against Haiti and to call for elections
before January 2004, when terms run out.
"When the Lavalas demonstrates, it is with order and discipline,"
said Julien. "If the opposition wants power, they must
participate in elections. They must be able to convince the
population that they offer an alternative."
But FRON leaders reject any elections under Aristide which are
not overseen by the Organization of American States (OAS).
At the Oct. 5 press conference, Charles Elusca, another FRON
leader, urged his partisans to organize future marches without
informing the police and called for a two-day general strike on
Oct. 6 and 7 in the North and Northeast departments.
The strike failed. A few schools closed and some large stores
were halfway shuttered, but all other sectors, including
transportation, went about business as usual.
A French Embassy official was spotted at the capital's airport
accompanying a FRON leader from Port-au-Prince to Cap Haïtien on
Oct. 4. Many other representatives of the OAS and the French and
U.S. Embassies were noted in Cap Haïtien on Oct. 5, often
speaking with opposition leaders.
On Oct. 6, funeral services for assassinated popular leader Amiot
"Cubain" Métayer were finally held at the Mormon Church in
The funeral was to have taken place on Oct. 5 but could not be
held due to regular demonstrations and violence which has gripped
the town since his death on Sep. 22 (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 21,
No. 29, 10/1/2003).
Several hundred people attended the service, which was held
Demonstrators threw rocks at police after the service, but the
burial of Cubain's body on the roadside near his home in the
Gonaïves neighborhood of Raboteau proceeded without incident.
On Oct. 1, demonstrators burned down the customs house, the port
authority headquarters, and the local tax office.
The local representative of the executive, Elans Dubois, asserted
that the arson was not committed by Raboteau residents or
Cubain's partisans but by agitators from out of town. But the
chief of staff of the Secretary of State for Public Security,
Léonard Dany Fabien, said that the fires were set by those
agencies' employees, many of whom are Raboteau residents who
found their job through Cubain's influence.
On Oct. 2, heavily-armed police units surrounded and then entered
Raboteau, seeking to reestablish order and to disarm and arrest
those responsible for the fires and other violence. Three people
were killed and several wounded. The police say they were not
responsible for any of the deaths.
BENEFIT AT TAP TAP RESTAURANT FOR A NEW ART SCHOOL
Lovers of Haitian art will gather at Tap Tap Restaurant in Miami
Beach on Oct. 16 to celebrate the opening of an art school in
Jacmel, one of Haiti's most picturesque cities and home to many
The event will serve as a fundraiser for the Sant d'A Jakmel (
Jacmel Art Center), a non-profit organization run by artists for
artists. According to founders Patrick Boucard and Kate Tarratt
Cross, the center will be an alternative art school with its own
gallery and art shop, a support centre for artists, providing
training and marketing. It will also be a cultural space
bringing education, events and entertainment to the community.
"This is going to create a space where aspiring artists can come
to express themselves and acquire more knowledge and experience,"
Boucard said. "This is something that we think is much needed in
Jacmel and Haiti.''
The center is located in a renovated 19th century brick warehouse
that was used to sort and stock coffee before shipping it
overseas. The back of the building faces the beach, with views of
the Jacmel wharf and the ocean. Inside, space has been arranged
to accommodate ten studios for students and ten for visiting
artists. Boucard said he plans to bring art teachers and artists
from all over the world to work with creative Haitians and share
ideas and skills with the emerging artists at the center.
During the fundraiser at Tap Tap, ticket holders will dine to the
sounds of the well known Haitian troubadour, Manno Charlemagne.
Before the sit-down dinner, organizers will hold a sale of
paintings by leading Haitian artists. The funds will go toward
The art exhibition will continue between 4-8 p.m. Oct. 17-19 at
the upstairs gallery at Tap Tap.
For information about ticket sales, contact Tap Tap Restaurant,
819 Fifth Street, Miami Beach, Florida 33139. Tel: (305) 672-
2898. www.taptaprestaurant.com. To find out more about Sant D'A
Jakmel, contact the art center at santdajakmel @hotmail.com.
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