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From: Jean-Claude CASIMIR <jccasimir@hotmail.com>
>Behind the Anti-Lavalas Protests in Cité Soleil
>Anne Fuller, Special to the Haitian Times., 2003-11-22
>Anne Fuller recently left the OAS Special Mission to Strengthen Democracy
>in Haiti, where she was a human rights specialist.  She is the author of
>numerous reports on human rights in Haiti since 1988.
>There was unusual news in early November from Cité Soleil, heretofore a
>fortress of support for Lavalas: demonstrations against President Aristide.
>As in Gonaïves, bands of once unconditional Aristide defenders turned
>almost overnight into ferocious opponents.  For Cité Soleil, the decisive
>moment was the October 31 assassination of the gang leader known as
>However this situation may evolve-the possibilities certainly include
>further killings as well as new political switches-it is worth trying to
>understand how Cité Soleil got to this point and what that says about Haiti
>Kolobri, or Rodson Lemaire, only 23 years old, was perhaps the most feared
>gang leader in the Cité.  He was chief lieutenant and enforcer for
>"Labanyè" (Thomas Robenson) who heads the once dominant baz from the Boston
>section. Together they had killed and robbed a not insignificant number of
>other Cité
>Soleil residents.
>Labanyè and Kolobri, as they are universally known, were the kings of Cité
>Soleil for less than three years- receiving invitations to the national
>palace and special treatment from long-time departmental police director
>Hermione Leonard.  Their careers were a mixture of lurid crimes and
>political operations and neither got rich; it seems almost poignant that
>Kolobri's family and cronies must collect funds in order to bury him.
>The gangs of Cité Soleil have been on-and-off allies of the police and the
>national palace since at least 1996.   The relationship goes far beyond
>informer & cop, as is common in many places; fundamentally it is a
>political relationship.  The gangs carry out their criminal activities with
>impunity as long as they help the police and political leaders.
>Kolobri and his fellows often took their place among the Brigades Speciales
>or BS forces that have been denounced by human rights groups, during
>sensitive political operations.  The most extraordinary and confirmable
>such incident occurred in October of last year.  Under pressure from the
>international community to comply with OAS resolutions, the police force
>undertook a number of highly publicized disarmament operations, including
>one in Cité Soleil.  On the afternoon of October 17, director Hermione
>Leonard informed the gang leaders of her plans and then, helpfully,
>collected their weapons and stashed them safely outside the Cité.  That
>night, she provided Labanyè, Kolobri and four others with police uniforms
>and masks or cagoules.  The gang members took places alongside police, not
>all of whom knew what was going on, as they entered the Cité for an
>imaginary disarmament operation.  Mme. Leonard returned the stashed weapons
>the next day.
>Kolobri and Labanyè also led the group that at the behest of another local
>police chief ambushed opposition activist Carline Simone in March 2003 when
>she went to a meeting near Cité Soleil.  She and her husband then spent
>several days in illegal detention, before being freed following
>international protests.
>And the two were key actors in the preparation of Cité Soleil's response to
>the Group of 184's Caravan of Hope visit July 12.  The then chief of
>presidential security, Oriel Jean passed the word to Labanyè and Kolobri to
>prepare burning tires, rocks and a propaganda campaign.  Johnny Occilius, a
>smart and savvy young popular organization leader with a no-show patronage
>job at the Cité Soleil city hall, was party to the plans, but unbeknownst
>to the others, was getting ready to tell all.
>A few weeks earlier his government handlers had asked Occilius to help them
>finger Kolobri, Labanyè and their high-ranking patron, Hermione Leonard,
>for elimination as political liabilities.  Already disillusioned with the
>cynicism of his political missions, Occilius drew a line at involvement in
>murder and made his well-known decision to leave the country.  His
>revelations rocked the political class certainly, but they shook Kolobri,
>Labanyè and Hermione Leonard, too.  The first public sign of this came
>September 8, when the motorcade of President Aristide was stoned inside
>Cité Soleil.  After that, the Boston gang leaders began seeking ways out of
>The new great Lavalas loyalist in Cité Soleil is Emmanuel "Dread" Wilmé,
>who has been the arch rival of Labanyè and Kolobri since he lost a bloody
>two-week confrontation in August and September of 2002.  At least 20 people
>died there, including three children and an old woman who burned to death
>in some of the score of houses set afire.  Labanyè, Kolobri, and their late
>cohort Maxon Moreau (known as "Kolonel Gay" or "Ti Frè") forced Dread Wilmé
>and many others to abandon their homes in the Cité.  Wilmé and his allies
>skirmished several times trying to get back in.  On October 12, 2002, they
>killed 12 people in Boston-controlled areas, but Boston retaliated and
>executed an equal number in Bois Neuf, and held onto control.  Dread Wilmé
>is only 22 and spent part of his early life in President Aristide's Lafanmi
>Selavi shelter for street kids.
>Labanyè's erstwhile ally Maxon Moreau was not long for the world.  More of
>an outright criminal than a political operative, which was likely his
>undoing, Ti Frè was 24 when his one-time partners, with police back-up,
>shot him to death on November 7, 2002.  His two brothers were executed the
>same day; altogether they left eight young children.
>Now, a year later it was Kolobri's turn.  Labanyè told reporters this week
>that his comrade had been ambushed by police. He charged that interior
>minister Jocelerme Privert and Jean-Claude Jean-Baptiste, the former police
>director who is an intimate of the president, were out to kill him.  It is
>a bitter betrayal he says, by President Aristide for whom he has given
>It is a very nasty picture.   A long-time Port-au-Prince human rights
>monitor describes seeing three generations of Cité Soleil
>political/criminal thugs rise and perish since 1994. Their life expectancy
>is very short; yet young men whose world is the streets of Cité Soleil and
>whose ambitions do not rise beyond it, continue to be recruited, used and
>then destroyed by cynical political leaders.
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