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17826: (Hermantin) Sun-Sentinel-Haitian educator on mend, will continue Aristide fight (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Haitian educator on mend, will continue Aristide fight

By Madeline Baró Diaz
Miami Bureau
Posted January 10 2004

MIAMI · The president of Haiti State University, whose beating at the hands
of supporters of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide became a rallying
point for those who want Aristide out of office, came to the United States
for medical treatment Friday. But he said he intends to return to Haiti as
soon as possible to fight for a change in government.

"I think the only thing that should happen is for President Aristide to
leave power," said Pierre Marie Michel Paquiot, who arrived at Miami
International Airport on Friday evening on his way to New Orleans for two to
four months of treatment on his broken legs.

"When I go back to Haiti [my plan] is to fight for the people so the
situation will change, that's what any Haitian should do."

Paquiot has not been able to walk since Dec. 5, when the Aristide supporters
beat his legs, rupturing his femoral quadriceps and tendons. The attack
happened during an anti-government student protest at the school. At least
45 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded during demonstrations
in the past few months aimed at ousting Aristide.

Paquiot, who has both his legs in casts and is in a wheelchair, had gone to
the university that day to try to quell tensions. He ended up in a room with
at least 20 students when some men, who identified themselves as backers of
Aristide, showed up with guns, machetes and other weapons.

"When I got inside it was like a setup, because there were police outside
and there were police all around and there was ... thugs and things like
that," he said. "I was inside a room with some students and they get inside
the room with guns shooting and hitting everybody and asking the students to
shout `Vive Aristide.'"

According to news reports, Paquiot, 55, was hit in the legs with iron bars,
but he said he didn't see who hit him or what they hit him with.

"I just fell down and when I tried to get up ... I just had to stay down,"
he said.

Paquiot said the attack on the university was an attack on the lower classes
who traditionally supported Aristide, since the university is a state school
with many poor students. He also said it showed fear by the government of an
entity that is known for independent thought.

"The university has a big power in Haiti," he said. "We are like a moral
authority. We don't have to say we are for this one or for that one or
against that one, but if something is wrong, whoever is responsible, we have
to say it."

In New Orleans, Paquiot will receive outpatient treatment at Touro Hospital.
The Haitian Resource Development Foundation, which has an office in Weston,
helped arrange for the treatment. The treatment is free, but the
organization is looking for donations to pay for the costs of Paquiot's
stay, medication and other expenses, said Aldy Castor, the foundation's

Madeline Baró Diaz can be reached at mbaro@sun-sentinel.com or 305-810-5007.

Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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