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Resistance in the Slums of Haiti
October 17, 2004
The Black Commentator
Backed by United Nations so-called peacekeepers, the U.S.-installed Haitian regime continues its siege of poor neighborhoods in the capital, Port au Prince, in an attempt to crush ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas party. The following is the result of a clandestine interview with a woman called Nancy, conducted last Sunday in the slum of Bel Air.
First you should realize that they have been trying to starve the poor in Haiti since President Aristide was kidnapped on February 29th. Do you know how much rice and beans cost now in the market? Families are starving while a few families that import goods are getting rich off the pennies we have to spend on food. They have killed us since then and driven us into hiding. Have you ever tried to feed your family while you are running from the police and you have no job? They have arrested our leaders or driven them into exile. They have cornered us and taken our dignity away so that now we realize we have no where left to go.
Nancy is a member of the Cell of Reflection of Family Lavalas. The interview took place under extremely difficult and dangerous conditions. Nancy's remarks were then edited (by The Black Commentator) to safeguard her and the journalist's anonymity
We see that the situation in the streets, our situation, we who are part of the Cell of Reflection of Family Lavalas, we see that in all the poor neighborhoods there is not a day that goes by that the government does not squeeze us. The repression is much worse. And now the de facto Prime Minister [Gerard Latortue] has said he is going to sign a contract with the former military to kill us one by one. In a secret meeting he had with the Minister of justice, a friend inside heard Latortue estimate that it would be necessary to kill 25,000 people in the capital, in the capital alone to stop the calls for the return of President Aristide. September 30th was the beginning of this initiative where Latortue unleashed his forces that are comprised of new units of SWAT, USP, CIMO and the police where the killers of the former military had already been integrated. It was they who began firing on unarmed demonstrators while the Brazilians and the United Nations stood by to let them kill us.
This was only one part of their strategy that day. On September 30th they had extra squads of former military work hand-in-hand with these militarized forces of the police to enter Bel Air, Cite Soleil, La Saline, Grand Ravine, Delmas 2, Martissant and many other poor neighborhoods to kill a lot of people. On September 30th many people were killed, especially in Bel Air. The former military had already set up operations in Bel Air and Cite Soleil without our knowledge before the demonstration had started. We did not know that they had quietly entered certain houses very early in the morning and held the occupants at gunpoint waiting for the right moment to strike. After the killing started they broke into many more houses shooting and beating people who had stayed at home. They also broke everything they could and stole anything of value while we were running from the bullets of the police. Later in the afternoon the police entered the poor neighborhoods and arrested everyone they could get their hands on. This is how the violence of September 30th began and it became a question of defending our neighborhoods and our community from the violence of Latortue's police and the former military. What do we have to lose by defending ourselves since they are determined to kill us anyway?
In the days that followed we would not allow them to enter our communities and continue the killing. They tried several times on their own and we would not let them enter. So they set up on the outskirts of our neighborhoods and began to arrest everybody in sight. Outside of Bel Air we have seen them force three year-olds and four year-olds to the ground. There are many people here who do not know where they have taken their family members after they arrest them. All of this because Latortue and Bush were afraid of the numbers of people they knew we would mobilize to demand Aristide's return on September 30th. There is no other explanation.
Since then, Latortue has made it clear we do not have the right to live and we are no better than animals that deserve to be slaughtered. We are not counted as human beings in Haitian society because we are poor and uneducated even though we are the majority of the population. With President Aristide this was not the case and for this reason we are determined there will never be peace in Haiti until he returns. Our brothers, our sisters, our fathers, our sons and our cousins are all willing to die before we will accept this misery caused by a government that was put into power by foreigners and that does not accept us as human beings. We will never stop and there can be no peace until President Aristide returns. They can call us bandits and thieves all they want but they know the truth and this is why they are in a process of exterminating us today.
Bush and the United Nations know the truth as well. They know that without the Brazilians they could not have entered Bel Air. They know that without the Jordanians they could never keep us from the National Palace. Without the UN forces this phony government would not last a week. That is why we call them occupation forces and it is criminal for them to prop up this killing machine that is trying to destroy us. It is an insult to see them occupying the streets in front of our National Palace to keep in place a government that was not chosen by the people.
They should be ashamed of themselves and wonder how they would feel if the same thing were done to them in their country. We believe that if the people in their countries knew the truth they would ask them to come home. We pray we will not have to fight them but they are part of the killing machine right now and it is a question of survival for us. We have no choice but to defend ourselves and our communities against their tanks and their guns.
It is clear they will kill many more of us in the weeks to come. The streets of Bel Air and Cite Soleil will turn red from all the blood Latortue intends to spill but we will no longer just stand like zombies and let them kill us. We will continue to demand the return of our elected president and we will defend ourselves against them when they come to kill us. We are not animals, we are not bandits and we did not start this killing. They did.
Take this to the American people and let them know we think that what Bush is doing in Haiti is criminal. He had a choice of supporting our democracy and our votes but he chose to throw them away. He sided with criminals and the rich against us instead of choosing dialogue and reconciliation. We do not blame the American people and it is a lie that we intend to harm them in Haiti. We love our children and we love life as much as they do but we must defend our right to exist in the face of these criminals who are determined to exterminate us.