Spokesman for Aristide’s Lavalas movement condemns violence in Haiti
June 3, 2005
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Spokesman for Aristide’s Lavalas movement condemns violence in Haiti

Haiti Information Project

Port au Prince (HIP) - A spokesman for Aristide's Lavalas movement in Haiti's capital, Mr. Samba Boukman, condemned an attack and firebombing against a popular market in Port au Prince this last Wednesday. At least 10 people are reported to have died in the blaze that was started after unidentified gunman began shooting in the area.

"We condemn this attack against a marketplace of the poor and disassociate ourselves with this violence. We call on our communities to continue to demonstrate non-violently for the return of our constitutional president and the release of all political prisoners in Haiti," Mr. Boukman declared.

Haiti's recent wave of violence and insecurity began after the Haitian police fired on peaceful marches in the capital demanding the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Feb. 28 and April 27. At least 11 unarmed demonstrators were killed in the two attacks forcing U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to echo recent demands of human rights organizations for an official investigation. The U.S.-installed government of Gerard Latortue has dismissed the allegations despite statements made by Brazilian General Heleno Ribera and video footage taken by a local television station confirming the unprovoked attacks.

U.S. Ambassador James. B. Foley and the Haitian business elite have blamed recent violence and an epidemic of kidnappings in the capital on gangs claiming allegiance to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The French honorary consul to the northern city of Cap Haitien, Paul-Henri Mourral, was shot and killed on the outskirts of Port au Prince last Tuesday in an apparent carjacking. The Haitian police have blamed armed "bandits" associated with Aristide for the killing and claim Haiti's violence is due to an "urban guerilla" movement attempting to destabilize the government.

A recent report released by the International Crisis Group (ICG) based in Brussels blamed most of Haiti's violence on "spoilers", namely drug traffickers, absent of any particular political affiliation. The ICG report states, "Groups linked to criminal activities, particularly drugtrafficking and contraband (in Haiti and abroad), are behind much of the current wave of violence. It is plausible that they will attempt to establish (or indeed have already established) ties to political parties, and will offer financing or other kinds of support. While the extreme weakness of the transitional government and state institutions might suit them, they can be expected to follow politics closely so as to be able to adapt to any conceivable post-election scenario and to quickly establish a modus vivendi with the new government, as they have done in the past."

The ICG report also criticized Haiti's current government for not doing more to reign in the police and for stalling investigations into alleged human rights violations committed by the force.

In yesterday's press conference, Mr. Boukman also accused Chief of Police Leon Charles of blocking attempts to organize peaceful demonstrations in the capital. "The Haitian constitution allows us to give them 48 hours notice with a request to demonstrate peacefully. They are not allowing us to deliver the requests. No one, not even Leon Charles private secretary, will accept our requests to demonstrate peacefully. This is a ban on legal and public demonstrations and our rights to freedom of expression under the Haitian constitution," declared Mr. Boukman.

Recent violence in Haiti's capital has also decreased the chances of holding elections scheduled to begin in October of this year. The body overseeing the election process, the Provisional Election Council, announced on May 30 that only 60,000 people have registered out of an eligible 4.5 million potential voters since the process began more then a month ago.

The current crisis in Haiti prompted an editorial in a California newspaper, the Contra Costa Times, to conclude, "Rushing to hold elections in the midst of anarchy is a formula for disaster. The United States must use its leverage to force the Latortue government to negotiate with Aristide and Lavalas. Aristide remains the country's most influential political figure and there will be no solution to the current crisis without his participation."

TheHaiti Information Project(HIP) is a non-profit alternative news service providing coverage and analysis of breaking developments in Haiti.

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