THIS WEEK IN HAITI November 3 - 9, 2004 Vol. 22, No. 34
November 12, 2004
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THIS WEEK IN HAITI November 3 - 9, 2004 Vol. 22, No. 34

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, fax) 718-434-5551 or e-mail at Also visit our website at .

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* THIS WEEK IN HAITI November 3 - 9, 2004 Vol. 22, No. 34


Men dressed as police carried out two massacres of 17 people last week in and around the rebellious Bel-air slum of Port-au-Prince, sowing terror throughout the capital.

On the afternoon of Oct. 26, masked men dressed in the black uniforms of Haitian riot police executed 13 people from the Rue Estimé quarter of Fort National near Bel-air. Some of the victims were killed in the slum while others were driven to and executed at Titanyen, a desolate dumping ground just north of the capital. Three of the victims were young women.

According to witnesses, the killers pulled up in four vehicles with Police plates in front of the house on Rue Estimé. They were accompanied by an ambulance.

"There were more than a dozen people in there talking when the police burst in," the owner of the house where the incident happened told the Haiti Press Network. "The men dressed in black burst in and opened fire... Those young people often met here. But they had no weapons. If they had some or were suspected of being implicated in dishonest acts, I would not have tolerated them in my house."

According to people in the area, nothing was happening in this neighborhood that day to justify police action. "The people killed were doing nothing in particular; they were smoking maybe," one area resident told Radio Kiskeya. "They were maybe the members of a group of chimPres [the epithet for armed Lavalas partisans], I don't know, but it is sure that they were not armed and were not creating any disorder. How could they when they were inside a house? And, even if they were causing trouble, they could have arrested them as troublemakers but not executed all those people."

One of the young people arrested and taken to Titanyen managed to escape."We were more than a dozen together when they arrived in Fort National, and they executed several of us," the escapee told Radio Ginen the next day. "I was lucky enough to find myself among those that they took to Titanyen. When we arrived there, they ordered us to lie on the ground. That's when I took off running to escape certain death."

Police authorities deny any knowledge of or involvement in the massacre. The departmental director of the Haitian National Police (PNH), Renan Etienne, insisted that he ordered no deployment to the Fort National neighborhood on the day of the massacre.

In a press conference two days later, police spokeswoman Jessie Cameau Coicou said she learned of the massacre from a radio report. "I contacted the police units carrying out operations that day, but there was no reported incident in Fort National, and there was not any police action in this neighborhood," she said. The police would cooperate with any Justice Ministry investigation into the massacre, she said. But a week later, at press time, no investigation has been opened.

De facto Prime Minister Gérard Latortue also shucked off any police responsibility for the massacre. "I can assure you categorically of that for a fact," he told The Associated Press. "We have nothing to do with that."

He went on to blame partisans of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide for the killings. "These black uniforms, you can buy them anywhere," he said, adding that it was "part of the orchestrated campaign by people close to Aristide" to destabilize his government.

On Oct. 28, four other youths were found executed on Rue Péan in the Bel-air neighborhood. Two of the victims had their hand tied. One of the victims was shirtless, suggesting that he had been abducted from or near his home.

"Six police cars came up here with about 15 officers," one of the witnesses told a New York Times reporter. "They took the men out of the cars, put them on the ground and shot them in the head."

The Times reported that Coicou also "categorically" denied police involvement in the shooting, blaming instead "renegade police units" or "death squads posing as police officers."

Some observers have speculated that the masked men may be former Haitian soldiers posing as policemen. The former soldiers have been demanding back pay and reinstitution of the army dissolved by Aristide in 1995, as well as a greater role in putting down the growing rebellion in the Haitian capital.

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