Violence continues to escalate in Haiti, with the world paying very little note. In a grim irony, the latest massacre—carried out with the complicity of police forces—took place at a football match organized to promote peace. UN “peacekeeping” forces are also implicated in recent attacks on civilians. Amidst the bloodshed, peasants rallied last week, protesting that a “neoliberal” economic model is being imposed that will further entrench the majority in poverty. Meanwhile, Santo Domingo is stepping up forced deportations of Haitians back across the border to its strife-torn neighbor, even as reports emerge of violent attacks on Haitians in the Dominican Republic. From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 28:
Haiti: Massacre at “Peace” Game
Hooded Haitian police agents and individuals with machetes killed as many as 30 people Aug. 20-21 in the Grand-Ravine section of the Martissant neighborhood on the southern edge of Port-au-Prince. The first attack occurred at an Aug. 20 soccer game, part of a “tournament for peace” funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the interim Haitian government. “Everybody gathered to watch the game,” Roland Roy, a Martissant community leader, told the Reuters wire service. “Suddenly the police surrounded the area and ordered everyone to lie on the ground. Then a group of people, armed with machetes, who came with the police, started identifying people one by one, saying here is a bandit, here is another one. They cut them with machetes and killed a number of them.” Roy said some victims were shot by police agents.
The second police operation in Grand-Ravine, on Aug. 21, also involved armed civilians. Resident Lionel Mondestin, a local leader in the Republican Unity Movement (MUR), said at least 20 people were killed in the two operations, which he said included the participation of soldiers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
On Aug. 24, Haitian National Police (PNH) spokesperson Gessy Cameau Coicou told a press conference that the police still didn’t have enough information on the incident; she said a total of six bodies with machete wounds had been taken from Grand-Ravine to the morgue at the State University of Haiti (UEH) Hospital. Lt. Col. Philippe Espie, head of the MINUSTAH police unit, announced the same day that an inquiry had been opened into the reported police support for lynchings. MINUSTAH has opened a number of inquiries into alleged police misconduct over the past year, including killings at the National Penitentiary in December; so far, it has not published the results from any of the investigations. (Haiti Support Group News Briefs, Aug. 26 from Reuters; HSG letter to Philip Alston, Aug. 26; AHP, Aug. 22, 24; Haiti Progres, NY, Aug. 24)
Haiti: Peasants protest neo-liberalism
Several hundred Haitian peasants marched in the town of Petite Riviere de l’Artibonite, in the rice-producing northern plain, on Aug. 22 to protest the impact of the government’s neoliberal economic policies on rural production. “I’m demonstrating against the Miami rice which floods our markets, against the neoliberal plan of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), against Haiti joining the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA),” said a delegate from a peasant organization from the Bas-Artibonite region.
The march was part of a gathering of peasant representatives from around the country sponsored by the Movement of Demands of the Artibonite Peasants (MOREPLA), the Network of Trade and Agricultural Production Cooperative Associations of the Bas-Artibonite (RACPABA) and the National Platform of Haitian Peasant Organizations (PLANOPA). The gathering agreed on a plan including agrarian reform, improved irrigation and protection of the environment through reforestation; they also called on national forces to make a common front around opposition to neoliberalism and the occupation of Haiti by foreign troops. (AlterPresse, Aug. 24)
Dominican Republic: 700 more Haitians deported
Unidentified Dominican immigration officials told local media on Aug. 24 that they arrested some 700 undocumented Haitians on Aug. 24 and Aug. 25 in the northern municipalities of Janico, San Jose de las Matas, la Canela and el Rubio. They said the immigrants would be deported to Haiti in the coming hours. (El Caribe, DR, Aug. 25 via Alterpresse) A wave of mass deportations of suspected undocumented immigrants began on Aug. 4, along with attacks by civilians on suspected Haitians; Haitian and Dominican human rights groups said in a joint declaration on Aug. 22 that 2,000 Haitians had been expelled in the past month. (Agence Haitienne de Presse, Aug. 23)
On Aug. 25, Dominican officials turned over the bodies of Haitian nationals Gilbert Dominique, Willy Pierre and Paul Marc (whose name is also given as Cinius Paul) to Haitian civil groups in a ceremony on the border at Malpaso. The three young workers had been bound and set on fire on Aug. 16 in Haina, near Santo Domingo (see our last report, where their names were misspelled, following reports in the Dominican press). Paul Marc died in a Dominican hospital burn unit on Aug. 23; the other two had died earlier in the same hospital. A fourth Haitian, Berlius Pierre, was wounded with a machete but managed to escape before the attackers could set him on fire. He said the attackers had asked for money and then assaulted the Haitians when they didn’t get it; according to Pierre, one was wearing a Dominican police uniform and carried a revolver.
At the ceremony, Sonia Pierre, a Dominican of Haitian descent who heads the Haitian-Dominican Women’s Movement (MUDHA), said that 24 Haitians had died in the Dominican Republic in suspicious circumstances in the last two months. (AlterPresse, Aug. 26; El Nacional, DR, Aug. 25 via AlterPresse; AHP, Aug. 24)
See our last post on Haiti.