Haiti: UN troops invade campus, protests continue

Edmond Mulet, acting head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), a 9,000-member international military force, issued an apology on May 25 for an incursion by a group of Brazilian soldiers the day before into the Faculty of Ethnology at the State University of Haiti (UEH) in downtown Port-au-Prince. The soldiers arrested a student, Frantz Mathieu Junior, claiming he threw stones at them; they released him later the same day. Students responded to the invasion by burning tires and throwing rocks.

Mulet denied that the troops used tear gas and live ammunition, contrary to reports from UEH students and CNN crews. Homeless earthquake survivors in nearby encampments said they had to flee because of the tear gas, and they reported that at least one baby required medical attention.

The UEH incident came as a broad range of groups continued to protest against the government of President René Préval. Hundreds of people marched on the National Palace in central Port-au-Prince on May 25. Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters when they attempted to approach the building. A number of infants and some adults lost consciousness as the tear gas spread to the Champ de Mars, a huge park across the street where there are eight encampments of Port-au-Prince residents left homeless by the quake. Hundreds of people—thousands, according to one report—joined another protest on May 27; police again used tear gas to disperse the protesters as they approached the National Palace.

On May 28 at least four people were reportedly wounded when MINUSTAH forces fired on a demonstration protesting lack of power in the Cité Lescot neighborhood of the northern city of Cap-Haïtien. (Inter Press Service, May 25; Agence Haïtienne de Presse, Haiti, May 25, May 27, May 28; Radio Métropole, Haiti, May 25, May 26, May 27; AlterPresse, Haiti, May 26; Radio Kiskeya, Haiti, May 28)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 30.

See our last post on Haiti.