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SILENCING A PEOPLE
The Destruction of Civil Society in Haiti
A DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
National Coalition for Haitian Refugees
SILENCING A PEOPLE
The Destruction of Civil Society in Haiti
Americas Watch A Division of Human Rights Watch
National Coalition for Haitian Refugees
Human Rights Watch New York Washington Los Angeles London
Copyright February 1993 by Human Rights Watch and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees
All rights reserved. CF)*C Printed in the United States of America. W ^ (o<3
Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 93-77289
ISBN 1-56432-094-4 .
Cover design by Robert Kimzey. i Q O "2
Front cover: Haitian prisoners awaiting freedom in the southern town of Jacmel.
Back cover: Troops parading in front of military headquarters in Port-au-Prince.
Americas Watch, A Division of Human Rights Watch
Americas Watch was established in 1981 to monitor and promote observance of internationally recognized human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean. The chair of Americas Watch is Peter D. Bell; the vice chairs are Stephen L. Kass and Marina Pinto Kaufman. Juan E. Mendez is the executive director; Cynthia Arnson and Anne Manuel are associate directors; David Holiday is the representative in San Salvador; Mary Jane Camejo is research associate; Robin Kirk is the Andean consultant; Patricia Pittman is the representative in Buenos Aires; Vanessa Jimenez, R. Benjamin Penglase and Clifford C. Rohde are associates.
National Coalition for Haitian Refugees
Established in 1982, the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees is composed of forty-seven legal, human rights, civil rights, church, labor and Haitian community organizations working together to protect the rights of Haitian refugees under the U.S. and international law, and to monitor and promote human rights in Haiti. The chair of NCHR is Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua; the vice-chair is Wade Henderson; the secretary-treasurer is Muzaffar Chishti. Jocelyn McCalla is the executive director; Anne Fuller is associate director; Ellen Zeisler is research associate; Ronald Aubourg and David Alan Harris are associates. In addition to periodic reports on human rights in Haiti, NCHR publishes a monthly bulletin on human rights and refugee affairs, which is available upon request from the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, 16 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017, (212) 867-0020, Fax (212) 867-1668.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Human Rights Watch conducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in some sixty countries around the world. It addresses the human rights practices of governments of all political stripes, of all geopolitical alignments, and of all ethnic and religious persuasions. In internal wars it documents violations by both governments and rebel groups. Human Rights Watch defends freedom of thought and expression, due process of law and equal protection of the law; it documents and denounces murders, disappearances, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, exile, censorship and other abuses of internationally recognized human rights.
Human Rights Watch began in 1978 with the founding of Helsinki Watch by a group of publishers, lawyers and other activists and now maintains offices in New York, Washington, D.C. Los Angeles, London, Moscow, Belgrade, Bucharest and Hong Kong. Its divisions are Africa Watch, Americas Watch, Asia Watch, Helsinki Watch, Middle East Watch, the Fund for Free Expression and three specialized projects, the Arms Project, Prison Project and Women's Rights Project. Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly.
The executive committee includes Robert L. Bernstein, chair; Adrian W. DeWind, vice chair; Roland Algrant, Lisa Anderson, Peter D. Bell, Alice Brown, William Carmichael, Dorothy Cullman, Irene Diamond, Jonathan Fanton, Jack Greenberg, Alice H. Henkin, Stepehen L. Kass, Marina Pinto Kaufman, Jeri Laber, Aryeh Neier, Bruce Rabb, Kenneth Roth, Orville Schell, Gary Sick, Malcolm Smith and Robert Wedgeworth.
The staff includes Aryeh Neier, executive director; Kenneth Roth, deputy director; Holly J. Burkhalter, Washington director; Gara LaMarche, associate director; Ellen Lutz, California director; Susan Osnos, press director; Jemera Rone, counsel; Allyson Collins, research associate; Joanna Weschler, Prison Project director; Kenneth Anderson, Arms Project director; and Dorothy Q. Thomas, Women's Rights Project director.
The executive directors of the regional divisions of Human Rights Watch are Abdullahi An-Na'im, Africa Watch; Juan E. Mendez, Americas Watch; Sidney Jones, Asia Watch; Jeri Laber, Helsinki Watch; and Andrew Whitley, Middle East Watch. Gara LaMarche is the executive director of the Fund for Free Expression.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Blossoming of Civil Society in
PEASANT ORGANIZATIONS ............................9
Papaye Peasant Movement.........................19
Other Peasant Organizations .......................23
RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS AND GROUPS .........27
Mennonite Central Committee......................27
Ecumenical Mutual Aid Service .....................29
Little Brothers of the Incarnation....................33
Christian Community Development of Haiti............34
Cooperation and Integrated
Development Society ...........................35
American Friends Services Committee ................35
COMMUNITY AND POPULAR ORGANIZATIONS...........37
People's Movement of Mare Rouge ..................39
Popular Organization for the Defense
of the Interests of Petit Goave .....................41
Popular Committee of Leogane .....................41
Orgnanization for the Change and Relief
Island of La Gonave............................42
Balan Honor and Respect Movement.................43
Organization of Community Groups of the
Sacre Coeur Parish.............................43
Les Cayes People's Unity Movement .................43
Union of Camp Perrin Organizations.................44
Committee to Defend the Interests of
the Southeast .................................44
Organization to Defend the Interests
of Marigot ...................................45
Jacmel Neighborhood Committees...................45
WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS ...........................47
Haitian Women's Solidarity........................47
Women's Movement of Grand Goave.................50
Youth Coordinating Committee.....................51
Pont Sonde Youth Movement.......................52
Moron Youth Association .........................52
Federation of Cultural Committees of Jacmel's West Zone.............................52
TRADE UNIONS .....................................53
Boat Builders Union .............................55
Limbe Union of Progressive Agricultural
National Confederation of Haitian
LITERACY GROUPS ..................................57
The Diocesan Literacy Committee...................57
Movement of National Organizations
for Popular Literacy............................58
movement for Popular Literacy.....................58
STUDENTS AND EDUCATORS..........................61
National Federation of Haitian Students...............61
November 1991 Repression........................63
April 1992 Repression ............................64
June 1992 Repression ............................64
July 2, 1992 Repression...........................66
July 15, 1992 Repression ..........................67
Northwest Students Association .....................70
National Institute for Professional Training............71
High School Students.............................72
Interclass High School
Students's Movement .....................72
Association of Grand Goave Students
in Port-au-Prince ........................73
Elementary School Teachers Sought
High School Teacher Exim Arrested...........74
Teacher and Lawyer Threatened ..............75
Teacher Arrested and Tortured ...............75
Teacher Arrested and Beaten.................76
Spanish Class Harassed ...........................76
French Class Cancelled ...........................77
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.............................79
Priests, Nuns and Religious Workers .................80
Priest, Three Nuns and Fifteen Others
Arrested in Church.......................80
Priest and Seven Religious Workers
Arrested After Letter to Pope ...............81
Bishop Willy Romulus ......................82
Father Phillip Jean-Pierre Arrested.............83
Father marcel Bussels ......................84
Nun Detained and Searched..................84
Father Gilles Danroc and Others ..............85
Father Serge Pardo ........................86
Father Valery Rebecca......................86
Ti Kominote Legliz ..............................86
Los Palis ................................87
Pandiassou and Dos Palais ...................88
Pont Sonde ..............................89
Trou du Nord ............................90
Justice and Peace Commission ......................91
The Emaiste Center..............................92
ARISTIDE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS....................95
Town and City Officials...........................95
Deputy Mayor Frantz Guillite,
Mayor Jackson Bine-Aim6,
Cerca Carvajal ..........................97
Mayor Emanes Jean, Gros Morne..............98
Mayor Carlos Louis, Baptiste.................98
Deputy Mayor Alland Simon,99
Cap Ha'itien ............................99
Annessoir Annelus, Verrettes.................99
Cemoyen Anestil, Mahotiere ................100
Ifrandieu Guerrier and Amony Lordeus,
M6 St. Nicholas ........................101
Other Government Officials.......................101
Municipal Registrar Carl Henri
Richardson, Jean Rabel...................101
Delegate Amantes Caesar,
Senator Guy Bauduy and Mayor Patrick
Robinson, Anse-a-Pitres ..................102
Judges Magdaline Paul and
Chesnel Pierre, Grand Goave ..............103
Communal Police Agents.........................104
Cherenfant Miratel, Trou du Nord............104
Madame Irama, Los Palis...................104
THE PRESS ........................................106
Radio Reporters in Port-au-Prince ..................106
Guy Delva, Voice of America................109
Robinson Joseph, Radio Lumiere.............110
Sony Esteus, Tropic FM....................110
Other Incidents ..........................Ill
Broadcasting in the Provinces......................112
Jean Mario Paul, Grand Goave...............112
Central Plateau ..........................115
REPRESSION OF DISSENTERS.........................119
Possession or Distribution of
Pro-Aristide Leaflets and Publications..............119
Alleged Support for Aristide or the
Lavalas movement ............................122
Much of this report is based on a two-month investigation in Haiti in June and July 1992. During this time, representatives of Americas Watch and the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees traveled extensively throughout the country, visiting eight of the country's nine departments including the island of La Gonave, and compiling what we believe is the most comprehensive picture yet produced of the disastrous state of civil society since the coup. Because much reporting on Haiti has stressed conditions in Port-au-Prince, we focused in particular on conditions in the provinces, where repression has also been severe and systematic.
Most of our information was gathered in some 250 interviews that we conducted ourselves. This report provides the names of these witnesses whenever possible, but a majority asked us not to identify them for fear of retaliation by military authorities. In places in this report we have also relied on excellent reports by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Gona'ives and the Port-au-Prince-based Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations.
Because we generally insisted on eyewitness accounts, this survey does not provide an exhaustive accounting of attacks on Haitian civil society. Still, we believe that the many abuses detailed in this report provide a representative cross-section of the violent repression facing independent associations throughout the country.
Research for this report was conducted by Andrew Levin, a consultant to Americas Watch, and Anne Fuller, associate director of the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees (NCHR), with assistance from Pierre EspeYance, an NCHR associate. The report was written by Kelly McCown, a consultant to Americas Watch; Mary Jane Camejo, research associate for Americas Watch; Fuller and Levin. Helen Katel assisted in translation. The report was edited by Kenneth Roth, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, the parent organization of Americas Watch.
The military forces that overthrew Haiti's first freely elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, have consolidated their rule by ruthlessly suppressing Haiti's once diverse and vibrant civil society the range of civic, popular and professional organizations that had blossomed since the downfall of the Duvalier dictatorship seven years ago. In a country where only nine months before the September 30, 1991 coup 67 percent of the voters cast their lot with Father Aristide, the army has presumed that the majority of the population is hostile to military rule. Seeking to avoid the kind of popular unrest that brought down past military regimes, the army has attempted to deny the Haitian population an organized platform for its discontent by systematically repressing virtually all forms of independent association. The aim is to return Haiti to the atomized and fearful society of the Duvalier-era so that even if international pressure secures the return of President Aristide, he would have difficulty transforming his personal popularity into the organized support needed to exert civilian authority over a violent and recalcitrant army.
Those behind this systematic repression of civil society range from the army commander-in-chief, General Raoul Cedras, who has overseen countless acts of brutality without making any effort to hold murderers and torturers accountable, to the rural section chiefs, who wreak havoc in remote hamlets across the country. The cost has been the vigorous civil society that Haiti needs not only as the foundation for any meaningful democracy but also to begin to confront the country's desperate economic and social problems.
The range of organizations targeted by the army's campaign of repression is exceedingly broad. Since hostility to military dictatorship is widespread among Haitians, the army views virtually any popular association as a potential conduit for organized opposition. As a result, all gatherings not controlled by pro-military forces are suspect. Any sign of public protest or dissent is swiftly and violently repressed. The tools of this repression have been intimidation, arrests, beatings and murder.
"The biggest change," a priest in the rural Northeast told us, "has been in the social organization of society. Things like konbits [collective work groups] and grain storage cooperatives all of which gave people hope are destroyed now. Everyone is back to working and trying to
subsist on his own, and the powerful do what they want to the weak. The solidarity is gone; it's each person for himself." Haitians are encouraged to work hard, send their children to school, accept the new military-backed authorities as "constitutional," and blame their poverty on the OAS-approved trade embargo.
As international efforts to negotiate an end to the crisis in Haiti pick up steam with a new administration in Washington, the restoration of a free and vigorous civil society must be a central goal. It is not enough for the de facto authorities in Port-au-Prince to give formal recognition to Father Aristide as the legitimate President of Haiti. Rather, to reinstate any semblance of democracy, guarantees must also be put in place to ensure that freedom of speech and association will flourish once more.
Several concrete steps can be taken to lay the foundation for a reinvigorated civil society. The army should formally and publicly withdraw the de facto ban on public dissent and independent assembly and association. Haitians from all walks of life must feel free, without fear of arrest or intimidation, to meet with popular organizations, to assemble and demonstrate their grievances publicly, to listen to religious sermons of their choice, and to read newspapers or listen to radio stations that report critically on government actions.
The army must also subject itself to civilian authority and withdraw to the apolitical role that the popularly approved Constitution of 1987 envisions. Those who have been responsible for murder, torture and other gross abuses should, at minimum, be dismissed from the army, and their crimes should be formally acknowledged.
In this respect, we subscribe to the principle of accountability that President Aristide has been seeking to uphold despite pressure from the Bush administration to forget the past. Whether through prosecution or lesser disciplinary sanctions, Haiti desperately needs to purge its army of the soldiers who are responsible for this violent repression, perhaps along the lines used with partial success as part of the peace process in El Salvador. We hope that the Clinton administration, which has yet to take a stand on this issue, recognizes the importance of such accountability to the future of democracy in Haiti.
On the other hand, we disagree with President Aristide's exclusive focus on General Cedras and a small coterie of senior officers, and his apparent willingness to ignore abuses committed by junior members of the army. While it is most important to establish the principle of accountability with respect to senior military officials, this report identifies
by name many local military officials, including section chiefs, who have been responsible for repeated acts of violent abuse, and these crimes should not be forgotten.
The Blossoming of Civil Society in Post-Duvalier Haiti
Until the September 1991 coup, Haiti boasted an abundance of peasant associations, grass-roots development projects, trade unions, student organizations, church groups and independent radio stations. Civil society began its rapid growth with the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986 and reached its zenith under the Aristide government. Jean-Claude Duvalier's flight to France, just a step ahead of country-wide popular protests, created a profound opening for independent associations which Haitians vigorously seized. In part this took the form of an assortment of political parties, which had been banned throughout most of the 29-year Duvalier dictatorship. But many of these political parties were no more than vehicles for the advancement of a single politician and, like the national government, made little effort to address the needs of the majority of Haitians who live outside of Port-au-Prince and other urban areas.
In the countryside, this vacuum was filled by a variety of groups that responded more directly to local needs. Known broadly as "popular organizations," the members of these groups came mostly from the country's vast poor majority. They formed farming cooperatives, literacy programs and rural development projects, often with support from abroad. Churches Catholic and sometimes Protestant nurtured this movement, and lay participation in church activities exploded. Some associations evolved in political directions to address issues of land distribution, corruption and human rights abuse.
In urban areas as well, the realm of organized activity broadened rapidly. Politically active trade unions, professional, student and women's organizations, and thousands of block associations and community groups were born. A vibrant press emerged, primarily in the form of the much-listened-to radio, providing information about other organizational activities and a forum to denounce periodic attacks on this independent movement.
While many international observers of Haiti bemoan its lack of economic development, its civil society was remarkably advanced. In contrast to many other countries emerging from dictatorial rule, where pluralism among political parties was not matched by social and
ideological diversity, political parties in Haiti were among the least developed parts of civil society. Rather, the strength of Haitian civil society lay in its breadth and diversity outside the narrow realm of electoral politics. This development allowed Haitians a considerable voice in local affairs, even as their ability to influence national politics was limited by an unrepentant army intent on preserving the spoils of power.
The diversity and depth of civil society, as opposed to any particular political party, provided the base of support for Jean-Bertrand Aristide's electoral campaign and overwhelming victory in Haiti's first free elections, held on December 16, 1990. Although not all popular groups endorsed Aristide, many if not most backed the charismatic priest, providing his last-minute candidacy with the organizational muscle needed to pull off his electoral landslide. Most independent organizations flourished in the relatively free environment of Aristide's nearly eight-month presidency. Many added members and redoubled their efforts.
It was one of the profound tragedies of the violent military coup of September 1991 that this surge of organized popular activity came to a bloody halt. Indeed, far from a peripheral casualty of the coup, these organizations were as much the target of the army's repression as was the elected Aristide government. Violence unprecedented in Haiti was directed against popular organizations, the independent media, the Ti Legliz or popular church, and anyone else who brought together previously powerless people.
The army's campaign, which continues to this day, has been systematic and ruthless. On the first day of the coup, ten radio stations were destroyed or shut down. By the end of 1992, only two of those stations had resumed broadcasting. Five journalists have been killed or disappeared. Section chiefs outside the capital intimidate, arrest and beat reporters. Few correspondents still work in the countryside and those who dare to continue limit themselves to pro-government or noncontroversial reporting.
Other targets of this violence include pro-Aristide elected officials, rural development and peasant organizations, neighborhood and community associations, trade unions, and literacy, pro-democracy, students' and women's groups. Soldiers and section chiefs have hunted down, arrested, beaten and killed leaders and members of these groups.
All signs of public dissatisfaction with military rule are swiftly repressed, including the mere possession of opposition newspapers or leaflets. Demonstrations by students in support of President Aristide as
well as meetings inside the university have been suppressed by the Haitian army, using tear gas, arrests, beatings and gunfire.
The Catholic Church has come under particularly fierce attack. While the conservative Catholic hierarchy showed barely concealed distaste for the priest-turned-president, many priests, nuns and lay workers including large numbers of those active in the Ti Legliz movement or involved in peasant organizing, community development or monitoring human rights are strong supporters of President Aristide and thus have been targeted for retribution, including harassment, threats and arrests. Some Protestant groups that had become strongly identified with social activism and development also face retaliation.
While de facto prime minister Marc Bazin has attempted to place a benign face on this repression, he has done nothing visible to stop it. As demonstrated by the repeated instances of post-Bazin repression documented in this report, the change in occupants of the National Palace on June 19, 1992 did nothing to alter the persistent crackdown on civil society.
Central to this concerted attack on civil society has been a ban on holding meetings. Particularly in rural areas, the army has used intimidation, threats, arrests and beatings to dissuade people from gathering. In our travels throughout the Haitian countryside, we were told of orders, issued by local army officers within weeks of the coup, barring all meetings. People learned of this prohibition over the radio and often were personally informed by local military commanders.
At times the prohibition has been couched artfully, as in the November 26, 1991 press release issued by the Port-au-Prince police, a division of the army, which required the organizers of any assembly to identify themselves to the police 48 hours in advance of the proposed gathering formal notice that under the violent circumstances of post-coup Haiti few would dare to provide. More often, local military officials articulated the ban in absolute terms. Typical was section chief Joel Jean-Baptiste of Mahotiere, who told members of the Tet Kole peasant movement shortly after the coup: "The question of having meetings is over with. You cannot meet."
Meetings deemed subject to such bans include not only formal gatherings but also activities of peasant cooperatives, prayer meetings and even chance encounters. Enforcement of the ban is often left to Haiti's
notoriously abusive section chiefs a post that was abolished by the Aristide government but reinstated shortly after the coup. Warrantless arrest and short-term detention, almost invariably accompanied by beatings, are used to intimidate and deter would-be activists.
The targeting of civil society continues against a backdrop of an army allowed to pillage with impunity. Soldiers and section chiefs prey on their victims, demanding payment to avoid detention or torture. Haitians in hiding for fear of army oppression are told that they must pay a fee to return to their homes. Soldiers at military checkpoints have been known to shake down virtually anyone who dares to travel the roads. All of this occurs with absolute impunity.
While Washington's capacity to curb attacks on civil society is tremendous, this power was largely unexercised by the Bush administration. Preoccupied with stemming the flow of Haitian boat people, Bush officials sought to convey an image of normalcy rather than suggest through their condemnation of ongoing abuses that political persecution might be motivating large numbers of Haitians to flee. President Clinton, while continuing to repatriate all Haitian boat people summarily, has vowed to address the political crisis at its core. Yet it remains to be seen whether this approach will be limited to achieving nominal recognition of President Aristide's legitimacy or whether it will also address the ongoing repression of Haitian civil society. One important step has been the Haitian army's hesitant acceptance in principle of an international observer mission, following diplomatic initiatives taken by Clinton aides working together with the United Nations. But other forceful steps remain to be taken to protect the freedom of expression and association for all Haitians needed to build a meaningful democracy in Haiti.
o First, serious abuses should be immediately and publicly denounced, without regard to the public-relations effect on U.S. efforts to limit the flow of boat people.
o Second, efforts should be made to ensure that the U.N.-OAS observer mission is sufficiently numerous to permit its members to spread out throughout the Haitian countryside. The observers should have the right to travel unimpeded and unaccompanied to
any facility or location in the country. Like the successful observer mission for the December 1990 elections, the observers should also include uniformed (but unarmed) soldiers to facilitate communication with Haitian troops. To fulfill their deterrent function, these observers should not allow their public denunciations of systematic abuses to be tempered by fear of antagonizing the parties to ongoing political negotiations.
o Third, to establish the rule of law, U.S. support should be lent to efforts to purge the Haitian army of its most abusive elements. While the Bush administration was eager to let bygones be bygones wherever the issue of accountability for past gross abuses arose in this hemisphere, the Clinton administration should recognize that democracy cannot be built on a foundation of impunity for murder and torture. Haiti is an ideal first site to put that principle into practice.
o Finally, in beginning to rebuild Haiti, the Clinton administration should resist the temptation to view the Haitian army as the sole vehicle to stability and development. The lesson of the painful 16 months since the coup is that peace and prosperity can be secured in Haiti only if the violent order of the army is replaced by the firmer foundation of a free and vibrant civil society.
Chapter 1 PEASANT ORGANIZATIONS
Haiti remains one of the most rural societies in the Americas, with perhaps 70 percent of its population living in villages and small towns and relying on farming for sustenance. Haiti's peasant farmers small landowners and sharecroppers pay most of the country's taxes yet receive few government services. Schools, health services, electricity, telephones and roads are scarce or lacking altogether in rural areas. The contrast with Port-au-Prince and the larger provincial cities is evident.
Most of Haiti's organized peasant groups began as local efforts to compensate for this lack of infrastructure through programs of self-reliance. Among the first projects of many groups has been the building of silos, where farmers can store grain until the market offers a better price. Without storage, farmers are forced to sell quickly to middlemen before their grain rots. Often these groups then move on to address other local needs, creating agricultural training programs and small credit unions, and some have adopted broad political agendas.
Since the coup, the members and leaders of these groups, and frequently even their silos and other development projects, have been targeted by the army. Their self-help programs have been deemed threatening to military rule because they provide an avenue for peasants to band together in opposition to the de facto government. The lack of development in rural Haiti has its parallel in the limited means of recourse from this repression. Lacking the civilian institutions to which city-dwellers traditionally have been able to turn to confront military abuse radio stations, courts, humanitarian and human rights organizations the military section chief and his deputies maintain a virtual monopoly of power in the countryside.
The section chief has the rank of a soldier and receives orders from the commander of the local military subdistrict. He may have more than 100 deputies assisting him to control the section. The deputies, in turn, often have their own assistants and informers. He is the central authority in the section, exercising enormous powers, particularly in circumstances like the present where civilian officials are weak, section chiefs become a law unto themselves.
Tet Kole Pou Yon Mouvman Ti Peyizan Ayisyen (Heads Together for a Movement of Haitian Peasants) is a decentralized national peasant movement that is particularly strong in Haiti's northwest. Tet Kole's work includes peasant empowerment, civic training, agricultural and popular education, and promoting cooperative farming. Tet Kole has in past years voiced the discontents of many rural inhabitants and called for fundamental change in Haiti's countryside. In early 1991, the Tet Kole federation published an extensive study of the section chief system that drew upon information from its own members. After Aristide dissolved the institution of military section chiefs, Tet Kole called for the former section chiefs to be barred from joining the new corps of civilian rural police officers.*
A year earlier, the Tet Kole federation in the Northwest had presented the provisional civilian government of Ertha Trouillot with an eleven-page list of demands. The document, "Today's Minimum Demands for the Department of the Northwest," illustrates the kind of changes Tet Kole has sought to bring about. It called for the arrest of five men responsible for the Jean Rabel massacre of July 1987; the dismissal of four justices of the peace and the Jean-Rabel prosecutor, whom Tet Kole charged with extreme partiality; the dismissal of fifteen section chiefs noted for their brutality or corruption; and the disarming of six brutal plainclothes military in the area. Tet Kole asked that birth certificates be provided free of charge as required by law and that fees for land surveys be reduced. They called for free entry of pigs into the country to satisfy demand caused by the eradication of the Haitian swine population in 1983, a cut in the price of land rented from the state, and a ban on leases of more than two acres of state land by large landowners. The federation urged the provisional government to begin construction of health clinics in rural sections and to investigate charlatans who endangered the peasants' health by selling expired, out-of-date medicines; to improve several roads linking villages and towns in the Northwest; and to open offices of the state telephone company, Teleco, in towns throughout the Northwest to lessen the region's isolation. (The departmental capital, Port-de-Paix, had the only Teleco office in the region). "What we have cited here are not truly demands," the Tet Kole federation concluded. "They are natural rights that all citizens should enjoy in all countries where rights are respected. But in Haiti, we small peasants and poor people are so squeezed, are so despised, that even small rights turn into demands that can only be wrested from the hands of our leaders though a big battle."
Since the coup, Tet Kole's activities have been suspended in much of the country and members of Tet Kole have suffered regular harassment, threats, and violence. The organization struggles to continue its work, despite the government's intolerance of open meetings.
During June and July, our delegation attended a national meeting with Tet Kole leaders and met with Tet Kole members in several towns in the departments of the North, Northwest, Northeast and Artibonite. The fourteen Tet Kole delegates representing eight of Haiti's nine departments at the national meeting gathered under the cover of extreme secrecy. The meeting's location was chosen only a few days earlier, after a last-minute evaluation of the security situation. Before the coup, such national meetings were held openly and would gather scores of representatives from around the country.
The regional representatives reported varying levels of surveillance and restrictions on group activities. The delegate from the South, when asked about the group's ability to meet, said that while it used to have meetings of 200-400 people in the southern province, it may now gather in meetings of only about thirty people. Even then, the delegate stressed, the group must ensure that the local section chiefs deputy will be elsewhere and must hold the meeting in the mountains. The delegate from the Northwest commented that in that department, Tet Kole members meet secretly in groups of only about ten people. In the Central Plateau, the delegate said they meet only while working in the fields in a konbit, or cooperative work team.
In the town of Beauchamp in Mahotiere, the seventh section of Port-de-Paix, we interviewed more than twenty members of Tet Kole. In this section, where a majority of the population is estimated to be involved in the peasant movement, government forces have attempted to destroy systematically the organization's structural base and have terrorized individual members. Leaders of the organization have been illegally arrested, tortured, and imprisoned. Their homes have been ransacked and looted. Tet Kole buildings, including schools and grain silos, have been pillaged and left in ruins.
On October 3, 1991, seven armed and uniformed soldiers in a truck arrested Edilbert Aliscar, a Tet Kole trainer (formateur). Aliscar told our delegation that after encircling his house, the soldiers confronted him and demanded the addresses of other members and organizers in the
area. They showed him a list of twenty-five people who they planned to arrest, with Aliscar's name at the top. Tying his hands, the soldiers made him get into the truck and forced him to direct them to the house of a local Tet Kole member named Merzilais. Merzilais was not at home, but the soldiers arrested his brother, Acedes Ceyard, also a member. They beat Aliscar and Ceyard on the head with their nightsticks as they drove to Port-de-Paix. Standing on the two men with their heavy boots, the soldiers said "Oh! We've caught two guinea-fowl!"
At the barracks, a line of soldiers was waiting for them, gauntlet-style. The soldiers beat Aliscar and Ceyard as they passed. Aliscar said, "one hit me with a rifle, another slapped me, and three yanked down hard on my right ear. It bled and my eardrum was pierced. My hearing did not get better for three months."
Aliscar and Ceyard were imprisoned in a cell with eight people responsible for the 1987 Jean Rabel massacre,^ including Nicole Poitvien, the confessed mastermind of the plot. The soldiers told these men that they could do what they wished with Aliscar and Ceyard, suggesting that they beat them or even kill them. However, after the two men showed that they would defend themselves, they were left alone.
The next day Aliscar was taken to the interrogation room where he was questioned by a lieutenant, a major, a captain, and a colonel. The soldiers said, "you Tet Kole types put Aristide in power and now that we have kicked him out of the country, you would fight for his return."
After three days, Aliscar was taken to see the justice of the peace. The military's charges against him included fighting for Aristide, mobilizing people, and creating disorder in the country. Aliscar was given "provisional release," meaning that he could be rearrested at any time.3
On October 25, 1991, five soldiers and several armed civilians returned to Aliscar's house in a military truck. No one was home, since his wife and children had been living elsewhere since his arrest. The
In July 1987, a well-armed group of peasants and Tontons Macoutes loyal to the large local landowners murdered some 300 peasants in the town of Jean Rabel in northwestern Haiti. The victims had been marching to campaign for land reforms.
^ Provisional release means that a person is released from prison without being cleared of any charges of wrongdoing. This form of release is used even when the person was never formally charged with a crime.
soldiers searched and ransacked every room in the house, removed the doors, and stole $280 that Aliscar had saved for his children's education. According to bystanders, the soldiers claimed they were searching for weapons.
Aliscar told us in late July that he remained under military surveillance. "They say if they catch me again it will be the end. That's the word on the street." His movements were extremely limited: he could walk only on side paths, and still traveled only at night because "there are too many spies in the daytime." For our meeting, Aliscar said, he started the four-hour walk from his hiding place at 1:00 a.m.
According to Tet Kole members we interviewed near the town of Beauchamp, section chief Joel Jean-Baptiste and his deputies arrested and beat two Tet Kole members in the seventh section around December 25, 1991. The first attack was on a farmer who was arrested and beaten as he worked in his field in Margot. The second was directed against a 70-year-old Tet Kole member: section chief Jean-Baptiste put rocks in the man's mouth and then clapped his hands together hard on the man's cheeks, knocking out most of his remaining teeth. Then the man was forced to march on foot to Port-de-Paix, where he was held in prison for a month, apparently with the hope that his children, all Tet Kole members, would come to visit him. Finally, in late January, the soldiers released him, saying "we want the young ones, not the old ones." Following his release, the man's health has deteriorated. Late July he was still unable to work.
Tet Kole members told us that a woman who is over sixty years old and whose family was very active in the movement was beaten in the Beauchamp market in December 1991 by deputies of the section chief. The beating yielded a broken arm and injuries to both eyes.4
In February 1992, Elicier Jean, a man of around fifty, died from injuries he received at the hands of a band of section chiefs and deputies. Jean was working in his field in Beauchamp when the group appeared. As Jean tried to run away, he fell into a hole and broke his thigh. He
We had a brief encounter with Jean-Baptiste in the market at Beauchamp. He was dressed in full army fadgues, with boots, helmet, rifle and dark glasses making an imposing and intimidating figure. He asked us exacdy how long we planned to be in the zone and took our names. The market was crawling with his deputies.
later told friends that one of the deputies said, "We'll bury him." Another said, "No, leave him for the dogs to eat." Jean was rescued by townspeople but died eight days later. His children were afraid to go to his funeral because they had been arrested in the past. One son whom we interviewed, fled the cemetery when a deputy tried to arrest him.
At the house of section chief Jean-Baptiste on July 12 and 17, two Tet Kole members were arrested and beaten in the djak position, which involves forcing the victim into a fetal position by putting a wooden stick between the knees and above the hands which are tied together around the legs. The victim is usually beaten with sticks and fists.
During the first two months of 1992, government forces destroyed or pillaged many buildings affiliated with Tet Kole in Beauchamp. Twelve beds, eighteen chairs and five tables were removed from the four community buildings where the organization held its meetings. Soldiers took the door, windows, and benches from the community school built by the peasant movement. A silo in Mahotiere was pillaged. The homes of Tet Kole members were looted after their arrests. Just before our July visit, doors of houses of two other members were taken off their hinges and carried away.
The majority of Tet Kole members in Beauchamp did not stay in their homes, but regularly moved around to evade the military. During our interview, one person highlighted the repression: "Not one man in this room has been able to go into the market from the time of these incidents [December 1991] until now. We can't even walk on the main roads." A 26-year-old man told us that since June 26, the section chief and police had visited his house three times. "I can't go anywhere, even during the day," he said. "My sister is there and my father, who is blind. The section chief never tells them why he wants me."
Under such repressive conditions, it has been difficult for the organization to continue its work in Mahotiere. Tet Kole members told us that in November 1991, section chief Jean-Baptiste told them: "The question of having meetings is over with. You cannot meet."
Tet Kole members in Mahotiere came under even more sustained attack by the military beginning on September 30, 1992, when a unit of soldiers from Port-de-Paix drove into the area, firing their guns into the air. They destroyed some 15 houses, looting everything of value from them, including livestock and money.
Two members of the group who reached Port-au-Prince to denounce the attack said the soldiers came with lists of individuals to arrest, but that all those named escaped. Troops forced their way into the
home of a family named Mzul6, where they beat Mme. M6zul and took her to the Capois Lamort army base in Port-de-Paix. She was later freed.
Some of the soldiers remained in Mahotiere, installing what one Tet Kole member called "a veritable state of siege."
On October 5, 1992, soldiers destroyed six buildings in the area, including one that housed a community school. They stole items of value from the houses and set fire to what remained. Tet Kole members accused section chief Joel Jean-Baptiste of instigating the attack. They said he had accused the peasant group of being "communists" and "agitators." They also implicated a parliamentary deputy from the Northwest, Josue Lafrance, a strong supporter of the military and opponent of negotiations of wanting to exterminate the peasant movement.
In a September 10, 1992, interview with Television Nationale d'Haiti, Lafrance said, "I already have at my command 2,500 men in a group called Equipe de la Diffusion Haitienne and they are ready to move into action." Tet Kole spokespeople said that Lafrance had opened offices in several towns in the department, including Bassin Bleu, Atrel, Anse Rouge and Gros Morne, where he was recruiting and training civilians for unspecified missions. They said Lafrance had held a meeting in June with four section chiefs, including Jean-Baptiste, in which he instructed them on how to eliminate peasant leaders without leaving a trace.
The soldiers told peasants in Mahotiere that the army planned to construct outposts (avant postes) in several towns in the Northwest, including Beauchamp, Grand Fond and Guillette. Currently, these towns are controlled by a section chief and his deputies. An outpost would mean that two to three uniformed soldiers would be permanently stationed in the town.
In Raymond, a settlement in Lacoma, the first section of Jean Rabel, we interviewed six members of Tet Kole who told us about severe repression in the area. They estimated that about 1,000 of the 7,000 residents of Raymond are active in the movement. (There are some 100 Tet Kole groups in Raymond, and between 300 and 500 groups in the section as a whole.) They reported that arrests and mistreatment of members began with the return of the former section chief, Anovil
Saintvil, in October 1991.5 They described the following incidents:
o In October 1991, the Tet Kole grain silo in Raymond was smashed and looted by a truckload of two dozen uniformed soldiers, who said they were looking for weapons.
o A member named Estima was beaten by Saintvil in December 1991. Estima was still in hiding in Port-au-Prince in July 1992.
o On January 1, 1992, a member named "Cho Cho" was beaten badly by the section chief after he returned home from a period in hiding.
o In March, Saintvil and some forty deputies went to Raymond, terrorized the residents, and arrested a woman named Presita Ferjilus.
o A member named Fresnel Jean was arrested in the Lacoma market in July for being a Tet Kole member. He paid $55 for his freedom but instead was transferred to the army base in Port-au-Prince where he was forced to pay another $55.
o In late July, Badile Dominique had to pay the section chief and a deputy a total of around $72 for a death certificate for his daughter Litanise, who had been struck by lightning.
In an area known as Bois de Chene, located in Chabotte, the fourth rural section of Limbe, we met with three members of Tet Kole
An Americas Watch, NCHR delegadon visited Raymond in 1989 and spoke with members of Tet Kole there. We also interviewed Saintvil, who had recendy arrested several members of the peasant group after they had organized a commemoration of the Jean Rabel massacre of 1987. Many of those arrested were beaten and some were forced to pay ransoms to be freed. In the aftermath of the wave of arrests in July 1989, Tet kole had been explicitly barred from holding meetings in the area.
who agreed to be interviewed on the condition that their names not be used. As in many other parts of the country, Tet Kole groups around Limbe were unable to meet openly. Groups in remote areas were able to talk about their organizing activities while they work in the fields, but this was not possible nearer the towns. The difficulties these groups faced in continuing their work was compounded by the fact that many people in the area remained in hiding. Our sources estimated that as of late July, 125 people were in hiding in the fourth section alone.
Tet Kole members in the area faced arrest, imprisonment, and random beatings. In Bois de Ch6ne, we interviewed a woman who is married to a farmer and has thirteen children. Both she and her husband are Tet Kole members. She told us that a messenger had come on a bicycle from Limbe to Bois de Chne on October 10, 1991, and warned them that their names were on a list at the barracks of people to be arrested. The next day, Corporal Sales Adesca and a group of soldiers surrounded the couple's home and fired into the air throughout the day. After hiding for that day at the woman's aunt's house, they were able to leave the area by escaping over the mountains on foot to Pilboreau.
On July 1, the woman returned to Limbe. After her husband also resurfaced on July 17, they received a message from Corporal Adesca that they would have to pay him $110 to stay in Limbe. When we interviewed the woman in late July, she said that she and her husband had not yet gathered all of the money and that the corporal was searching for them. She pulled out a wad of bills to show us that she had been able to gather only about a tenth of the bribe money. $110 represents many months' income for her family. The woman was distraught and nervous about our meeting because she was afraid she would be discovered by the corporal.
We interviewed several individuals in Port-au-Prince who had fled Ravine Desroches, the seventh section of Limbe, following persecution by section chief Claudin Jean, as well as Tet Kole members who continued to live in the zone. These sources charged Jean with numerous arbitrary arrests and beatings of members of different popular organizations including the organization of Peasants of Limbe (Oganizasyon Peyizan Limbe, OPL), the Ravine Desroches Peasant Committee (Komite Peyizan Ravin Deroch, KPRD) and the Ravine Desroches Peasant Movement (Mouvman Peyizan Ravin Deroch, MPR).
A 39-year-old Tet Kole trainer in Ravine Desroches told us that on July 7, Jean and a group of armed civilians went to his house at about 9:30 p.m. Seeing them from the yard, the man ran to hide. The section chief threatened his mother-in-law and searched the house. Unable to
find him, the group searched another house where he sometimes spent time. On July 9, the man returned home, but four days later he warned that bandits were "coming to get him," and he stopped sleeping at home. He commented:
They [the army] accuse me of having meetings with forty people present where we plan to bring back Aristide and kill people....If the section chief knew I'd talked to you about him, he'd drive me out. The army and the section chief have formed a secret police corps....Whenever two people talk together they say you're having a political meeting to discuss killing people after Aristide returns. They can come at any time to people's nouses and arrest and beat them if they are Aristide supporters.
In an interview with us, Claudin Jean denied making any arbitrary arrests or organizing a paramilitary group. He did say that as part of his regular duties he went on patrol duty for the Limbe army barracks three nights a week. Jean said that he knew that some people had fled the section immediately after the coup because, as he put it, they fear retaliation from people they had damaged during the Aristide administration.
Our delegation met 32-year-old Jasmin Prophete, who organizes for two Tet Kole groups in Roche Plate, the third section of Trou du Nord, in the northeastern province. Since the coup, Prophete said, "the Tet Kole groups can't even work in the fields together in a konbit and talk, because a ti sousou [spy] would tell the section chief and he would arrest us."
Prophete himself narrowly escaped arrest when two uniformed and armed soldiers came to his house in Cabaret with the section chief on December 21, 1991. He was working in the fields when a group member came running to warn him that the soldiers were coming. Prophete was able to hide. When the soldiers arrived at his house, they found it locked and angrily fired their guns into the air. For the next three weeks, Prophete stayed in hiding, spending five days in the woods and the rest in a friend's house. Even though he had returned to his village, Prophete was afraid to sleep at home.
Peasants in Pilboreau, the fourth rural section of the town of Ennery, in the Artibonite, started working with Tet Kole in 1989 to provide their area with schools, health clinics, and food. Three Tet Kole membersSimeon Amuscar, Joel Dorelus and Daniel Dorelustold us that prior to the coup, there were eighteen Tet Kole peasant groups in the section, each with twenty to twenty-five members. The groups met individually two or three times a week to discuss politics and to work on soil conservation and reforestation. One of the members commented: "The only land we had was what each person brought to the group. But if a person had none she or he could still join a group. The person would get a little less of the harvest, but we shared everything."
Since the coup, these groups have been forced underground. In July, they had gathered only secretly and had rarely risked a meeting of more than five people. The only way to hold a larger gathering, they told us, was to meet in the fields far away from any road or town. They had held a few meetings of around twenty members under these conditions.
Simeon Amuscar told us that he and a leader of Tet Kole in the area, Origen Louis, spent significant amounts of time in hiding between November 1991 and June 1992. In late May, Amuscar, Louis and a man named Jean Venae distributed photographs of Aristide and pro-Aristide leaflets in the zone. As a result, section chief Antoine Elis Pierre, nicknamed Safet, arrested Venae but eventually released him. The arrest led Amuscar, Louis and Venae into hiding for some time.
Papaye Peasant Movement
The Papaye Peasant Movement (Movement Paysan de Papaye, MPP) is an important peasant organization that supports agricultural cooperatives and development and reforestation projects. MPP has undertaken numerous development projects in the areas around the departmental capital of Hinche, and has its six-building headquarters and a training center for peasant organizers in nearby Papaye. It has trained hundreds of organizers, teachers and development workers from around the country since it was founded in 1973. Since the coup, MPP has been singled out and systematically repressed by the military: organizers and members of the group have been arrested and forced into hiding, their fields burned, and their MPP-distributed pigs confiscated. Numerous
religious and lay leaders and ordinary citizens told us of hearing Major Charles Josel, (known as "Commander Z"), other officers, and section chiefs vow that "There will be no more MPP!" Commander Z, is perhaps the most notorious provincial military chief in Haiti. Promoted from captain to major several months after the coup, he gave himself the nickname "Z", like the last letter of the alphabet, nothing is needed after him ~ he is the final authority. According to a cleric with years of experience in the Central Plateau, he arrived in Hinche after the coup with the clear, simple and public mission of smashing the MPP. Numerous people told us that both he and the section chiefs who do his bidding in this regard say, "There is no more MPP and TKL [Ti Kominote Legliz, or popular church movement] in the Central Plateau." He is said to have promised a large reward to anyone who turns in Chavannes Jean-Baptiste or other specified MPP leaders.
Although MPP was attempting to become a national organization, and had reconstituted itself as the National Peasant Movement of the Papaye Congress (Mouvman Nasyonal Peyizan Kongre Papay, MPNKP), its strength continued to be in the Central Plateau. A large percentage of the population in the Los Palis parish of Hinche was active in MPP before the coup. An integral part of the social fabric, MPP served many of the functions of local government. A Central Plateau priest told us that MPP had 400 individual peasant groups in the Los Palis parish, each with between fifteen and twenty-five members. The cleric estimated that there were some 8,000 adults active in the organization, out of a parish population of roughly 30,000 residents.
Before the coup, individual MPP groups met weekly and farmed together in cooperative working groups. Organizers coordinated seven or eight groups each and held monthly meetings with them. MPP distributed piglets to peasant groups, built community grain silos in Los Palis and Papaye, built a manioc (cassava) press in Los Palis, and established community water taps in many small settlements in the area.
After the coup, the situation changed radically. For example, in April 1992, a Catholic seminarian held a church retreat for about 25 young people in a peasant's courtyard near Los Palis. The participants prayed, sang, and reflected on the scripture. The next day soldiers went to the peasant's house, and accused him of hosting an MPP meeting. "There are to be no more such meetings!" an officer shouted at him. A priest told us that "people are accused of meeting for playing dominos and cards." He said, "The army uses 'MPP' and 'Lavalas' [Flood the slogan of Aristide's campaign] like Duvalier used to use 'kamoken'
[communist] once they call you that, they can do anything to you."
The parish priest in Los Palis told us that as of early July 1992, at least 54 people from the village still were afraid to sleep at home every night. Seven from the village and thirty in the Los Palis parish as a whole had fled the department.
We interviewed several European volunteers who worked with MPP and who witnessed the post-coup events in Papaye. They reported that the first wave of armed soldiers arrived in town on the morning of October 1, 1991, broke down the doors of several MPP buildings, and left, saying they would be back.
At this point the MPP partisans rushed to remove any valuables from the buildings. But they had no way of transporting their heavy office equipment. The soldiers returned quickly with reinforcements and forced everyone to leave the area. The soldiers looted the buildings, taking the MPP safe, which people told us contained between $11,100 and $55,550. Before they left, the soldiers warned everyone that a curfew was in effect.
That afternoon several MPP leaders and European volunteers photographed the looted buildings and brought the justice of the peace from Hinche to witness the destruction. They met with the provincial military commander in Hinche, who said he would go to Papaye to investigate the incident and would punish the soldiers involved.
The next day at 7:00 a.m. the commander arrived with a few other officers, some soldiers, and the justice of the peace. He gave a speech in which he expressed his surprise about what had happened in Papaye. However, four days later, a group of soldiers from Hinche returned to Papaye. They seized people on the road and forced them to fill in the trenches that local peasants had dug around MPP headquarters to keep military vehicles away. The soldiers were brutal: they forced people who did not have a hoe or other tool to dig with their hands, and beat people randomly.
The soldiers returned on October 8. By this time all of MPP's leaders and organizers had fled the area. Nevertheless, the soldiers tied up anyone they found in the vicinity of the MPP buildings. They demanded to know where MPP leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste and other organizers were hiding and where the "underground arms cache" was located. They interrogated European volunteers and searched their houses. Eventually, they set free all but four of their prisoners, who were taken to the prison in Hinche.
When we visited the MPP headquarters on July 2, the buildings remained much as the army had left them the previous October. Not one door remained on its hinges, nor a piece of furniture in any room. Every building was littered with a three-inch layer of ripped papers, posters, books and files. The repression in the Central Plateau against people affiliated with the MPP remained so severe that no one dared to clean up the mess, much less to resume using the buildings, for fear of being labeled an MPP sympathizer and carted off to jail. In one representative encounter we met with a 43-year-old MPP member who helped found an all-women MPP group in Los Palis three years earlier. Her group of fourteen members had met every Tuesday to raise collectively corn, manioc, bananas and plantains on an MPP-owned plot of land. She told us that to her knowledge not one MPP group in the entire Los Palis area had been able to meet since the coup. One woman in her group was in hiding and had not returned. Others remained in Los Palis, but the MPP member said she was afraid to meet with them, even one at a time to talk about their children. She said: "We are all known MPP members, and the army and section chief have spies everywhere. We would be taken into the barracks in Hinche for engaging in subversive activity just for talking, two together."
Since a week after the coup, the woman and her husband, previously a salaried MPP organizer, had been sought by government forces. The week after the coup, the two were warned that the military would be looking for them. One night, soldiers went to their house, but they were sleeping elsewhere. In January 1992, soldiers entered the Los Palis Catholic church courtyard and demanded that the parish priest reveal the couple's whereabouts. The priest said he did not know where they were. After this incident the woman spent a month and ten days in hiding and her husband spent most of the next ten months in the mountains.
In early May 1992, after an informant revealed her husband's hiding place to the authorities, armed civilians working with the section chief arrested him in the mountains. They took him to the prison in Los Palis for one night, and then forced him to march on foot to Hinche. The reason given for his arrest and imprisonment was that he would not pay the section chief for permission to come out of hiding. Eventually he was released and he went back into hiding deep in the mountains.
Later in May the couple's house was surrounded by four uniformed and heavily armed soldiers demanding to see the woman. Her 14-year-old daughter said she was not home. The soldiers said, "We'll be
back. And if we don't find her we will take you instead!"
After this incident the woman again went into hiding. A soldier who is a friend of her husband said that she could come home because he would ensure that soldiers did not attack her house, but he warned her to stay off the roadadvice which she followed thereafter.
MPP members told us of other incidents of repression against members and organizers. Childerik Placide, an MPP organizer in Los Palis, was sought by the army and armed civilians in late 1991. Commander Z, Placide learned, had placed a bounty of $110-165 on his head. The commander reportedly said that he would go anywhere to arrest Placide. In mid-December 1991, another military commander went to Los Palis looking for Placide. Placide was able to escape, but he and his wife were pursued by army and civilian forces and had to change their hiding place four times. Finally, Placide and his wife left the department, walking three days and nights to a relatively secure location in another province.
On May 2, about a dozen soldiers from the Thomonde barracks descended upon Father Levfique Bien-Aime's house next to the Thomonde church and searched it without a warrant. Father Bien-Aime told us that all of them were in civilian clothes, and most were wearing concealed revolvers. The object of their search was Bien-Aime's cousin and Chavannes Jean-Baptiste's brother, an engineer who had done the plans for a local building. The man had been at Bien-Aim6's house the day before. The soldiers searched the entire house, even under the beds.
Father Bien-Aime told us that over 250 people from his parish were in hiding shortly after the coup. As late as early July, when we visited Thomonde, there were still at least 100 displaced persons in the zone who were unable to live at home.
Other Peasant Organizations
o The Trou du Nord Peasant Organization (Asosyasyon Peyizan Troudind, APTN) was founded in 1988 in the northeastern town of that name. We interviewed 30-year-old Louis Deus Adolphe, a member of APTN who had represented the Roche Plate section on the communal committee. The communal committee had twenty-six members from around the Trou du Nord area and had met about twice a month. Local APTN members had also met in the church in Roche Plate every one to three weeks, sometimes filling the church. Since the coup, Aldolphe said, most of these
meetings had been suspended. "We haven't had one meeting until today here in Roche Plate, and we've only had the smallest secret ones in Trou du Nord. It's impossible. We don't have the freedom to meet."
Aldolphe himself was arrested because of his role in APTN. On December 18, 1991, as he worked in the fields, four menTi Pa Pierre (the section chiefs son), Marshall Geniel, Vilmeus, and Menorsegrabbed his hands, slapped his face, and mockingly asked him when Aristide was coming back. Aldolphe was marched three-and-one-half hours into Trou du Nord. At the barracks, a sergeant repeated the question about Aristide's return. Aldolphe answered, "if you don't know, how would I, a simple peasant?" He was forced to lie on the cement floor while nine uniformed soldiers whipped him on the buttocks with an orange branch. They also beat him on the face, head, and chest with their fists and feet. The next day, the soldiers asked Aldolphe to make a list of the Lavalassiens (supporters of Aristide's Lavalas movement) in his area. He replied that the task would be difficult since "everyone in the country had walked together." Angered by answer, the soldiers beat him again.
Aldolphe described his release:
At 9:00 a.m., when I was ready to die, they put me out on the street. They thought I was going to die, but God resuscitated me. My family was there to fetch me. I couldn't walk, get into a vehicle or go on an animal. They carried me on a stretcher, two people behind and two in front, all the way to my house.
Since then, Aldolphe told us, he suffers from frequent headaches and his legs are weak. As of our July 22 interview, he had not been able to return to work.
The Sunrise Peasant Movement (Mouvman Peyizan Soley Leve, MPSL) has been active in three provinces of Haiti: the Southeast,
the South and Grand Arise. Its activities have been seriously curtailed since the coup. According to MPSL's 29-year-old secretary general, the group's work since the coup has been limited to secretly publishing and distributing pamphlets and pictures of Aristide, and sending messages to clandestine radio stations such as Sez Desanm (December 16). The officer told us that "distributing tracts and photographs is very dangerous work, because such political expression is not allowed now. It can only be done late at night," and even then there are substantial risks. The twelve-member MPSL executive committee was meeting in Port-au-Prince, rather than in the provinces, and peasant groups affiliated with MPSL were able to meet only late at night, secretly and in small groups.
The Federation of Peasant Groups (Federasyon Gwoupman Peyizan) is an organization on the island of La Gonave that works with peasants to improve agricultural methods, raise animals, and educate people about their legal rights. It is affiliated with the National Peasant Movement of the Papaye Congress. The twenty-four organizers of the Federation formed a separate group called the Association of Development Organizers (Asosyasyon Animate Devlopman, ASAD). We interviewed an ASAD organizer who coordinates a zone that has about 600 active federation members divided into forty-six groups. All Federation activity stopped following the coup. In December 1991, ASAD organizers started having small, secret monthly meetings. By March 1992, the leaders started reorganizing Federation members to do their farming in small groups, so that the peasants could meet while working rather than risking a separate gathering.
Lumiere was a peasant group on La Gonave formed by Church World Service around 1987. An organizer for Lumiere, Rosemond Marcisse, told us that the group taught the peasants to work together and to participate in political life. Marcisse said: "I used to work with peasants in Grande Source. We can't do that work anymore, not since the coup."
The Peasant Organization of Limbe (Oganizasyon Peyizan Lenbe, OPL) has members from all of the rural sections of Limbe, in the North, and works to defend the interests of the peasants. Several
members of OPL have been targets of the military. An OPL member and agricultural technician told us that a group of twenty-five armed civilians headed by section chief Claudin Jean came to his house on December 13, 1991. Not finding him at home, the men beat his wife and others in his house with their batons. Later that day, this group went to the house of a teacher and OPL member found him at home, and beat him. The agricultural technician told us that Claudin Jean has about fifty deputies and a secret group of armed civilians who aid his repressive activities.
The Assembly of Peasant Organizations of Limonade (Rassemblement Organizations des Paysans de Limonade, ROPL) is an umbrella organization for popular groups in Limonade and its rural sections in the North. A 28-year-old ROPL leader told us that ROPL was formed in May 1990, but that "with the coup, all organizers had to go into hiding. Organizations just can't breathe here."
The United Peasants of Roche Plate (Ansanm Peyizan Rdch Plat, APRP) was organized in 1990 in the third section of Trou du Nord to organize peasants and to educate them about their legal rights. A community leader we interviewed said, "Since the coup, we can't have meetings. If we did have a meeting, other people, people who tell tales to the army post, would spy on us." Other APRP activists reported that many members of the organization went into hiding after the coup, some escaping to the Dominican Republic or fleeing by boat.
The Cayes Jacmel Reforestation Union (Inyon Pou Rebwazman Kay Jakmel, IPRKJ) received UN funding for its work in the rural area surrounding Cayes Jacmel, in the Southeast. According to IPRKJ coordinator Francoeur Anacassis, the organization had been "terrorized and completely paralyzed since the coup." Through the IPRKJ, ten peasant organizers were paid to assist thirty peasant farmers to plant trees. Anacassis told us that all were still in hiding as of mid-July, some in the Dominican Republic.
RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS AND GROUPS
A large number of foreign nongovernmental organizations sponsor popular efforts to improve agricultural methods, rebuild livestock populations, promote reforestation, dig wells, and develop farming collectives in Haiti. Throughout the country, we spoke to peasants about these efforts which, despite their generally non-political nature, have now been destroyed by government troops and their plainclothes allies. As a result, many foreign technicians have left the country, local organizers remain in hiding, tools and pigs have been stolen, crops have been razed, and fields lie fallow. Some representative examples follow.
Mennonite Central Committee
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has development projects in Desarmes in the Artibonite, and also in Bois Laurence and Ranquitte in the Central Plateau. Staff member Ron Bluntschli, an American, told us in July 1992 that local military authorities had informed MCC organizers that they had to give the army four days' advance notice of any meeting; in addition, a military representative had to be present. While the MCC has tried to comply with the order, this has not exempted the group from further repression.
In Bois Laurence, Bluntschli commented, it had been too dangerous for people working on MCC projects to talk about politics, criticize the military or the section chiefs, or read pro-Aristide or anti-government literature. Bluntschli told us that after the coup, some of the organizers from Desarmes and Bois Laurence had to stay in hiding in Port-au-Prince for four months. A large meeting planned in Bois Laurence in late April or early May 1992 was canceled because the participants were too afraid to conduct a meeting in the presence of the military.
Several MCC workers have been harassed since the coup. In December 1991, all of the MCC staff in Bois Laurence was arrested. On February 7, 1992, a Swiss worker at the MCC project in Desarmes named Pierre Burkhalter was arrested by Corporal "Twenty-one Nations" Eldune.
The corporal and his group, who all wore civilian clothes, punched Burkhalter in the chest and forced him to drive them in his car to the homes of MCC organizer Leures Sidor and the teacher. Neither was home. The next day, February 8, the corporal forced Burkhalter to search again for the teacher. When they did not find him, they detained Burkhalter at the military headquarters in St. Marc.
Leures Sidor, 26 and the father of three children, was arrested by section chief Neve Charles on November 12, 1992. He had been showing visitors Haiti-based MCC staffers Ron and Carla Bluntschli (who informed us of the incident) and three Canadians around an MCC project. At about noon, Sidor stepped outside a house where the group had been eating a snack and was confronted by the section chief, who said he had an order to arrest him. Charles wanted to take him in on his bicycle, but the foreign visitors intervened and proposed they go in their vehicle. At the Desarmes army post, soldiers showed Sidor a leaflet denouncing extortion by a local deputy named Saintoine Joseph. Sidor said he had never seen it. A sergeant and a corporal then searched his bag and began to beat him with fist blows to the face and back of the neck, while making him read from the leaflet. They did this seven times at intervals of about ten minutes, Sidor said. The visitors intervened but one of the officers told them, "You haven't seen anything yet. Later, you'll see what will happen."
The soldiers took Sidor from his cell to the post's guardroom. There, in front of the five visitors and other people who had gathered, they tied him with a rope in the djak position and beat him with sticks and fists. They then threw him on the floor, where he remained, still tied, for half an hour, until soldiers undid the ropes and took him to the prison in Verrettes for the night.
The next day, the Verrettes commander interrogated Sidor after hearing the section chiefs version of the arrest. He told the MCC organizer that it had not gone badly for him because the soldiers had not caught him in the act, and warned him not to cause disorder, saying there was already too much disorder in Desarmes, and not to use the project as a cover for political work. The commander sent Sidor to the justice of the peace, who refused to hear the case because the accusing documents were improperly written. Sidor was provisionally released, and went into hiding and sought medical care.
Ecumenical Mutual Aid Service
Before the coup, the area around Thomonde in the Central Plateau was the site of a great deal of experimental work by numerous peasant groups in new agricultural methods, soil conservation, reforestation, and animal husbandry. Much of the resources and expertise for the development work was provided by the mostly French-funded Haitian nongovernmental organization Ecumenical Mutual Aid Service (Service Oecumenique d'Entraide, SOE). Since the coup, most of SOE's projects in the three rural sections around Thomonde has been destroyed, with disastrous economic consequences for the peasants of the area. Although Thomonde is a several hour drive across the Central Plateau's bumpy roads from the Papaye Peasant Movement's headquarters and the peasant groups' organizers were church rather than MPP employees, their projects have often been lumped together with the MPP's by the army and its civilian allies.
Two agricultural technicians told us that SOE's first project in the Thomonde area was an effort begun in 1987 to rebuild the Creole pig population.6 By September 1991, SOE had distributed 350 piglets to peasant groups in the three rural sections of Thomonde.
Soldiers and civilians closely tied to them took advantage of their new power after the coup to steal pigs from peasant groups throughout Thomonde's rural sections. In Cabral, the first section, a soldier named Dieufely Etienne was the worst offender. Although stationed at the Port-au-Prince unit called the Cafeteria, he came home from the capital a few days after the coup firing his gun into the air. He got some friends together and they stole a pig to feast upon. In the following days, Dieufely and his group stole more than 60 pigs in Cabral. This encouraged other military supporters to steal pigs. Before long, most of the pigs distributed by SOE around Thomonde had been killed or stolen and sold in the market in Port-au-Prince. According to a Caritas
In 1983, after African swine fever was detected in Haitian pigs, the entire Creole pig population was slaughtered at the insistence of the United States. The peasant economy was massively disrupted by this sudden loss. Pigs were often the only savings and insurance possessed by peasants, and they provided over 50% of the protein consumed annually. Although the U.S. Agency for International Development provided some Iowa pigs to begin replacing the herd, the foreign pigs were expensive to feed and care for.
organizer in the area, "it became a crime to have one of those pigs. They said they were 'Aristide pigs'". SOE activists told us that they doubted that a stable pig population could be rebuilt in the area: most of the peasant groups that raised the pigs provided by SOE were no longer functioning. Even selling piglets in local markets was difficult because people were afraid of being arrested for possession of an "MPP pig."
SOE's agricultural development work in the rural area around Thomonde included helping peasant groups grow vegetables, distributing a disease-resistant form of sugar cane, renting farm implements and tools to groups at a very low price, and running a veterinary pharmacy and a health clinic. An SOE technician told us in July that all of these activities have been put on hold. The group's remaining foreign workers continued to grow vegetables on Caritas-owned land and to sell the produce at the market, but "there is no chance of working with the peasant groups on something like this now. They can't be said to really exist at this point."
SOE organizers also taught high school students agricultural techniques by working with groups of students to plant corn, bananas, plantains and rice on land owned by the Catholic Church's social development organization Caritas. While SOE suspended these activities for some time after the coup, SOE workers resumed training students in spring 1992. But reports that a senior army officer in Thomonde had begun an investigation of SOE in late June forced the organization to halt over this work in early July.
The worst attack on an SOE project, which the townspeople call the "Marecage Massacre," occurred in a remote area in the mountains of Thomonde's third rural section about a week after the coup. A mob from Bailie Tourrible, where there were few peasant organizations, went to the neighboring settlement of Marecage, the locale of several active popular organizations. (Bailie Tourrible was the home village of the former section chief. Marecage was the home of the rural police agent who under the Aristide government had replaced the section chief.) The mob killed or stole all of the peasant groups' pigs, burned trees and fields, and stole $2,800-4,500 worth of tools. At least thirty buildings were burned, including four SOE tool sheds, one SOE clinic, and the houses of many peasant group members. Two people were killeda man named Louis Aux Ceva and a woman named Maniaand at least five others were seriously wounded.
After the Marecage Massacre, community leaders met with the mayor's office and the local justice of the peace to discuss the incident. Two delegations traveled from Thomonde to Hinche to complain about
the violence and theft.
On October 15, 1991, then regional commander Lieutenant Colonel Coby sent soldiers to the scene. A Haitian agricultural technician for SOE named Lacroix Jean-Noel, a Swiss development worker, a local magistrate, and the justice of the peace drove out to direct the fifteen uniformed and heavily armed soldiers to the remote settlement. When the soldiers arrived in Marecage, instead of investigating the alleged crimes, they turned their guns on this group and the peasants who came to meet them. Gathering a half-dozen children ranging in age from five to eleven years old, the soldiers hit and threatened them, and asked them whether the development workers were "MPP and communist." In terror, the children said "yes." The soldiers also questioned a local peasant woman, but she refused to talk about the technician and the foreign specialist.
Having extracted accusations from the children, the soldiers turned to the Swiss development expert. "OK, you're a foreigner, so you can live," an officer told him. "But you," he said, speaking to the Haitian technician Jean-Noel, "we don't know whether we'll let you live or not." The soldiers asked the magistrate whether he knew how to drive, implying that they would kill Jean-Noel if they could find someone else to drive the jeep. When the magistrate said he did not know how to drive, the soldiers let the group leave.
Shortly after this incident, Jean-Noel and scores of local peasant group members went into hiding. Jean-Noel was able to return to the area in early January 1992, but has had to return undercover periodically because of severe repression in Marecage. Nine months after the massacre, SOE's technicians had not been able to visit the area to assess the extent of the physical and organizational damage done to their development projects.
The authorities have never investigated the crimes at Marecage. Indeed, the leader of the massacre forces, Luckner Nissage, was later rewarded by an appointment as section chief of Thomonde's third section, an area which includes both Marecage and Bailie Tourrible. As of early July 1992, Jean-Noel told us that over thirty Marecage residents remained in hiding, and others were regularly persecuted by section chief Luckner Nissage.
Caritas is a social service and development organization funded by the Haitian Catholic Church. Linked to an international network of other relief organizations, Caritas supports agricultural development and peasant craft cooperatives. Caritas has its strongest presence in rural Haiti. While each of the seven Haitian dioceses has a Caritas organization, the individual groups are fairly autonomous and their political and developmental roles vary widely.
We interviewed the director of Caritas for the Central Plateau, Thomonde parish priest Father Levdque Bien-Aim, who is MPP leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste's first cousin. In the Central Plateau, Caritas organizers work with many peasant groups in the rural area around Thomonde. Father Bien-Aime told us that at the time of the coup there were about 120 active peasant groups in the Thomonde area, each with about fifteen members. Members of each group met frequently. Since the coup, Father Bien-Aime said, "none of them has been able to meet, and some have been subjected to horrible abuses." Eight Caritas organizers used to meet monthly at the church in Thomonde. After the military takeover, all of them went into hiding for three months. Many of them returned to the area in early 1992, but were unable to continue their work or to circulate freely. Those who came into Thomonde to meet with us did so only under the cover of darkness. Father Bien-Aime estimated that over 250 people from his area were in hiding, and unable to live in their homes in the months following the coup. In early July, at least 100 people from the zone were still displaced.
We heard reports that several Caritas organizers had been threatened by soldiers. Around October 8, 1991, the father of a young man involved in a pig theft ring led by Dieufely Etienne, a local soldier based at the Cafeteria barracks in Port-au-Prince, warned that Etienne "was going to kill [the organizer] with the pigs and disappear [him]." As a result the organizer took his family into hiding. Shortly thereafter, unknown forces broke into his house and stole the doors, his stove, and other furnishings. He then sent his wife and children to live with a friend and fled the province. While he was in hiding, friends told him that army officers in Thomonde had announced that he would be allowed to return home if he paid a large fee. The organizer refused to pay the money. He returned to the Thomonde area in November 1991, but fled to Port-au-Prince after he discovered that his name was on a list of people to be arrested. He did not return home until March 4, 1992. When we spoke
with him in early July 1992 he told us that he could go into Thomonde only under the cover of darkness.
A senior organizer for Caritas received death threats from government forces shortly after the coup and was still in hiding when we met him in late July 1992. He told us that on November 20, 1991, eight soldiers in combat uniforms and helmets went to his house. He was in the fields and his wife was at the market when they arrived. The soldiers spoke harshly with the man's children, warning that they would kill him. The organizer fled to Port-au-Prince. On January 6, 1992, he returned secretly to Thomonde to investigate the possibility of resuming a more normal life. The army found out he was back and six soldiers went to his house firing their weapons into the air, but he was not home at the time. He fled again and did not return home until March. When we interviewed him in July 1992, he was still unable to move about or work freely.
Little Brothers of the Incarnation
This group of monks, which was founded 15 years ago to work with the poorest peasants of the Central Plateau, conducts a broad range of development projects. The monks work in the schools, run health, nutrition, and leisure programs (including a small movie screen), and train peasants in soil conservation and irrigation. They organized their own peasant groups and for this reason there has been some tension between them and the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP), the largest peasant group in the department. They also organized their own Ti Kominote Legliz (TKL) groups. Despite their efforts to avoid conflict with the authorities, their TKL and peasant groups faced such harassment from local soldiers and section chiefs that they were unable to function at the time of our visit in early July 1992.
One of the monks, who heads the group's day-to-day operations, told us that like the MPP, his group considers political-consciousness raising to be one of its primary functions. But unlike the MPP, it tries to avoid political involvement outside the community, especially any public criticism of anti-democratic forces. This strategy may account for the fact that the monks and their peasant organizers had been threatened but not physically attacked by the military. According to the monk we interviewed:
The general condition here is one of fear. The Macoute organization is very solid in Hinche. They have the army with them. They can terrorize whomever they want. So there is no security in the region, and people are afraid. The repression is sometimes a little less, but the point is it has been normalized it is now always there.
Five hundred and fifty peasants in the Pandiassou and Dos Palais areas, north of Hinche, belonged to groups organized by the group of monks. Before the coup, each group met weekly. General assemblies were held every month or two. There were also large meetings at Pandiassou attended by as many as 400 peasants. As of early July, the coup had forced these peasant groups to stop all normal activities, including formal meetings, because of interference from the section chief and his deputies. Only informal meetings through work collectives were occasionally possible.
Christian Community Development of Haiti
Developpement Communautaire Chretien d'Ha'iti (DCCH) is a major Catholic development and training center in the southern village of Laborde, just north of Les Cayes. DCCH provided health education and agricultural development assistance to peasants in fifteen parishes throughout the South. We met with Lamphy, a parish priest in Laborde who is one of the directors of DCCH. He told us about the following attacks on the organization after the coup.
On October 2, 1991, the army attacked DCCH's headquarters in Laborde. Soldiers entered the building, threatened the staff, and shot automatic weapons into the air. As a result; many of the organization's leaders went into hiding, and three remained there as of late June 1992: Raymond Delinois, Edras Manace, and Enel Orelien.
On October 23, 1991, the army returned to DCCH's compound, forcing Father Lamphy to go into hiding for two weeks. He came under attack again around May 31, 1992, when his personal quarters were searched and ransacked, forcing him to flee to the bishopric in Les Cayes along with priests from ten other parishes.
Under this persistent military pressure, DCCH has been unable to continue its work with peasant groups in the South. None of DCCH's organizers was able to hold meetings openly with individual groups, and larger training meetings, which had been routine, were out of the
question. A senior DCCH organizer in Camp Perrin told us that "people continue to fear attending any meeting that the authorities could construe as political." DCCH's two health centers continued to function, but have been forced to suspend their health education campaign.
Cooperation and Integrated Development Society
Marie Ange Noel told us about the experience of the Quebecois nongovernmental organization for which she worked. The Societe de Cooperation et Developpement Integre (SOCODEVI) is a development group in the Southeast that worked with a union of twelve cooperatives known as CECOPASE. One of the cooperatives operated a credit union; others operated bulk buying and selling operations. After the coup, the two Canadians in charge of the organization left Haiti. All of the regular weekly meetings of the cooperatives were suspended because of the regional military command's prohibition of such gatherings and because of attacks on leaders such as Noel. Some of the cooperatives were able to continue buying and selling while others had to stop functioning completely.
The French nongovernmental orgamzationlnter-Aide, which funds educational programs in fourteen Catholic schools and programs for potable water and agricultural development, has been working in the Marigot and Cayes Jacmel districts of the Southeast since 1987. Since the coup, the agency has been unable to hold its formerly monthly meetings with the staff of any of the Catholic schools, according to Inter-Aide employees Paul-Antoine Sauvignon and Yves Joseph, despite the nonpartisan nature of its work.
American Friends Services Committee
The American Friends Services Committee (AFSC) began working in the department of Grande Anse in southern Haiti in 1989. AFSC supports training and organization of popular and peasant groups and funds projects of $550-1,100 with an emphasis on women's programs. The group has two representatives in each of three zones: Moron, Dame Marie, and Irois.
According to Riche Andre, program officer for AFSC and a minister with the United Church of Haiti, while the AFSC-backed groups cannot meet openly, they continue to function through a system of person-to-person contacts. Riche told us: "I myself don't go into the zone since the coup....Everyone knows me and so to preserve our people in the area I don't go. If I went there, they would know that our work had begun again and would put on the pressure."
An AFSC representative working in Moron who asked to remain anonymous told us that he spent a month in hiding beginning in early December after he learned that section chief Belamin Calixte was blaming him for pro-Aristide activity in the area. He explained: "Now we keep working through individual contacts. But some activities we used to have just can't be done anymore...."
We met with the AFSC representative from Irois who works with five peasant groups in the Kapafou zone: the Mouvman Peyizan Kapafou, the Oganizasyon Peyizan Kapafou, the Gwoup Devlopman Peyizan Kapafou, the Inyon Peyizan Kapafou, and the women's group Fanm Vanyan. The organizer said: "Since the coup none of [these peasant groups] can function....We do have coordinating groups, a Gwoup Gesyon [Management Group] and a Gwoup Direksyon [Leadership Group], each having a member of each peasant group in it, plus the organizer. These groups continue to meet."
COMMUNITY AND POPULAR ORGANIZATIONS
When Jean-Claude Duvalier fled Haiti in 1986 in response to popular pressure, a process of rebuilding the country began. While the succeeding regimes were marked by repression and political instability, there was a gradual rise in the formation of democratic and popular organizations which addressed economic and social problems. The years 1990 and 1991 saw an acceleration in this process.
Paralleling the growth of peasant organizations in rural areas, a broad range of neighborhood committees and community groups emerged in Haiti's cities following the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship. Many of these groups flourished under the Aristide government. In the immediate post-coup period these groups faced brutal repression and many continue to be banned from their communities.
Konbit Komilfo (As It Should Be Collective) is a political organization formed in 1986 by about forty young people in Grand Goave and its rural sections in southern Haiti. A member of the Democratic Unity Confederation (Konfederasyon Inite Demokratik, KID), which prominently supported Aristide in the 1990 elections, Komilfo has been long despised by the military.* Since the September 1991 coup, Komilfo has been totally immobilized, unable to hold meetings or to engage in any of its traditional activities. Many of its members have been forced into hiding, and several of them, like Joseph Octalouis Desnoyer, have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned for months.
Grand Goave's parish priest, Rene Poirier, characterized Kdmilfo as "the organization of all the young people who really wanted change." Komilfo concentrated on political mobilization, human rights, popular education, and literacy campaigns. Members of Komilfo told us about one of their few accomplishments since the coup: in March 1992, they joined
See Americas Watch, National Coalidon for Hainan Refugees, Caribbean Rights, and International Commission of Jurists, "Reverting to Despotism: Human Rights in Haiti," March 1990, pp. 57-58.
other popular organizations in publishing a clandestine human rights report called "File on Repression and Torture in Grand Goave from 30 September 1991 to 6 March 1992."
The story of Joseph Octalouis Desnoyer, who was an election monitor for the FNCD (Front Nationale pour le Changement et la Democratie, or National Front for Change and Democracy, the coalition slate under which Aristie ran) party during the 1990 elections, represents an extreme example of military repression against a Komilfo member. On the night of October 11, 1991, Desnoyer was arrested by five soldiers in a pickup truck and taken to the barracks in Petit Goave. No reason was given for his warrantless arrest. At the barracks, soldiers made him lie face-down, kicked him and beat him with nightsticks. They accused him of burning the local military headquarters and the courthouse on the night of the coup, looting, being a member of the FNCD party and Lavalas, and being appointed by Aristide to a local job. (After Aristide's victory, Desnoyer had been appointed chief of the local road clean-up crew.) In an interview with our delegation, Desnoyer described what happened next:
The soldiers interrogated me: 'How many people did Father R6ne Poirier give money to burn tires in the streets? How many weapons stolen from the military headquarters did Magistrate Jacques Ciprien have in his hands?' When I denied their accusations and refused to implicate innocent people whom the military considered political enemies, they beat me some more. They also accused me of being a K6milfo member. In all, they made me lie on my stomach three times and gave me over 100 truncheon blows each time. Then they took me to a four-meter-square cell which already had twenty inhabitants. On the way, fifteen to twenty soldiers beat me with guns and truncheons and kicked me. They split my head open.
After two days in his cell, Desnoyer was taken back to the guard room where he had been beaten earlier. Sergeant Frantz Hilaire subjected him to the same accusations and questions, made him lie on the ground, and beat him again until he lost consciousness. A few days later Second Lieutenant Rebert Milord summoned him again and said that even if Desnoyer did not burn the barracks himself, he must have sent others to do it. He was then beaten some 150 times with a truncheon.
This repeated torture was typical of Desnoyer's detention in prison. On October 17, he was forced to sit on a bench below a window. Three soldiers in the window clubbed him on the back while three soldiers in the room beat him on the chest and stomach. On October 20, Sergeant Hilaire took him from his cell to Captain Lino Bruno's office. The same accusations and questions followed.
When I refused to admit any guilt, the captain ordered a soldier to give me the kalot marasa, a form of torture in which they simultaneously clap their hands as hard as possible on your two ears. They did it about forty times. At the end I was bleeding, from both ears. Then the captain had them tie my hands together, push my knees up and put a stick between my arms and legs in a forced fetal position called the djak. They beat me over 200 times with truncheons. Commandant Israel Pierre Fils, known as Ti Rach [Little Hatchet] appeared. He took a soldier's nightstick and said, 'That's not how you beat him!' He hit me directly on the knees and ankles many times. Then they untied me and returned me to my cell.
Desnoyer remained in prison for over six months. On October 22, a trial began and Desnoyer was convicted of the crimes of which he had been accused. On April 2, lawyer Camille LeBlanc filed an appeal in his case, and he was transferred to the national penitentiary in Port-au-Prince. Finally, on April 29, Desnoyer's conviction was overturned by the appeals court and he was released. After his release, Desnoyer immediately went into hiding. He applied for political asylum at the U.S. Consulate and was granted refugee status the last week of July.
Military harassment of K6milfo members continued. On June 29, three section chiefs from Petit Goave arrested Komilfo member Aldrine Duvivier. Duvivier and her grandmother were detained at the town's military post for three hours, and both were beaten.
People's Movement of Mare Rouge
The People's Movement of Mare Rouge (Mouvman Neg Marouj, MONEM) started organizing in the Mare Rouge section of M61e St. Nicolas in northwestern Haiti, in 1984. The group was formally founded in 1988. Previlus Justin, the president of MONEM who also is the
founder of Radio Bwakayiman, told us in July 1992 that the organization had 65 groups with fifteen to twenty members each before the coup. Twice a year, MONEM convened large meetings of up to 1,500 people, he explained.
Before the coup things were pretty good. People were organizing and doing development work, projects like rebuilding the road to Anse Rouge. This began in March 1991. MONEM was constructing a new building. People were making demands, such as calling for section chiefs to be abolished and illegal taxes to end. People could have meetings at any time, in any place.
On July 26, 1991, people held a march to call for changes from the government. They said that they had paid 50 million gourdes2 in taxes since 1935 and had never gotten anything for it. Nearly 3,000 people marched to demand something for their money from the government.
Right after the coup, there was a lot of pressure on MONEM. Soldiers and supporters of the large landowners threatened to destroy the community radio station, Radio Bwakayiman, a community silo, and MONEM's three buildings. "Since the coup," another MONEM member told us, "we cannot meet in groups, but we continue our work through individual contacts. The section chief and his chouket lawouzes [deputies, literally 'shakers of the dew'] keep an eye on us."
On November 10, 1991, soldiers from M61e St. Nicolas came into the town. They began searching for the leaders of groups Justin and others. The soldiers occupied the town for a week, sleeping in the old section chiefs house. Around ten people left town then for political reasons. Five soldiers showed up at Justin's house on November 10, intending to arrest him. Justin glimpsed the soldiers and hid. He and his wife and infant son immediately fled to a town in the Artibonite, where
All monetary figures are given as U.S. dollars, calculated at nine gourdes to the dollar, the average exchange rate during the time of our reporting. The gourde is officially pegged at five to the U.S. dollar and in common parlance in Haiti a dollar means five gourdes a source of some confusion.
they spent about two months, before returning.
In March 1992, MONEM organized a training session for market women. On March 29, as Justin was walking home from the session, a jeep with six armed soldiers and a civilian driver stopped him on the road. The driver of the jeep was Jean-Michel Richardson, a former deputy under the government of Leslie Manigat and a reputed participant in the Jean Rabel massacre. The soldiers grabbed Justin by the collar and gave him three hard blows to the head with their open hands. Richardson accused him of being an Aristide partisan. When Justin replied, "I don't do Aristide work," three of the soldiers slapped him, splitting his lower lip. They ripped his shirt, putting one gun in his ear and one under his chin.
Corporal "Rache Pwel" (Rips Out Hair) Fils-Aime then approached and asked the soldiers whether Justin had distributed pro-Aristide tracts. A soldier said, "He's done worse than that!" Rache Pwel then punched Justin in the chest. Justin told us about what happened when the soldiers searched his briefcase:
I had one paper with notes about a radio program on Haitian history and one soldier was sure this was very important. I had a paper about the tax on a piece of land I had bought to build a silo for MONEM. "Oh, you're buying land where you can plot to bring back Aristide," said one. The soldiers were arguing about what to do with me. It was getting dark. I backed up slowly and slipped into a house. I escaped out the back. I heard later that a spy had told them that I was the director of the radio station and that they had said, "if we'd known who he was we'd have done more to him."
Popular Organization for the Defense of the Interests of Petit Goave
In Petit Goave, in southern Haiti, the Popular Organization for the Defense of the Interests of Petit Goave (Organisation Populaire pour la Defense des Interes de Petit Godve,
OPODIP) was formed after the 1990 presidential campaign by the Lavalas of Petit-Goave (Coordination Lavalas de Petit Godve, COLP) and other organizations. According to the assistant general coordinator, OPODIP's entire leadership, including its ten executive committee members and six other active members, had to go into hiding after the
coup, in part because they had investigated and denounced human rights abuses by army officers and by section chiefs who were suddenly back in power. The assistant general coordinator, who is from Les Palmes, hid for some time in the rectory and in Croix Hilaire, about six kilometers from town.
Popular of Leogane
The Popular of Leogane (Komite Popile Leogann, KOPOLEO) is one of the most important popular organizations in Leogane, a town about twenty miles southwest of Port-au-Prince. A local priest told us that KOPOLEO's work involves uniting, educating, and empowering peasants. Since the coup, however, the group has had no public meetings or activities. The cleric stressed that the only place people can safely meet in Leogane is at the Catholic church, and even there, plainclothes soldiers come to mass regularly to conduct surveillance. The subdistrict commander, Pierre Mesadieu, known as Rache Bab, or Pulls Out Beards, told a delegation of local leaders that he would tolerate "no public demonstrations of any kind" in the area.
Organization for the Change and Relief of the Island of La Gonave
The Organization Pour le Changement et le Relevement de Vile de La Gondve (OCRIC) was founded in April 1990. Marcelin Zacharie Junior, a public school teacher and the secretary of information for the organization, told us in June 1992 that OCRIC has been shut down since the coup. An example of OCRIC's work was supervising student examinations in June 1991 so that students could advance to the next level when a dispute between the government and teachers at the state school in the village of Pointe-a-Raquettes would otherwise have led to the cancellation of the exams. Zacharie Junior commented on the post-coup paralysis of the organization:
After the coup we couldn't function at all because we were all known. We haven't been able to have a press conference or write or publish anything at all. The press has been shut down here so there's no one to take and spread our news anyway.
Balan Honor and Respect Movement
The Mouvement Honneur et Respect Balan (MOREB) is a group of peasants, merchants, and fisherpeople founded in January 1991 in the Morne Rouge section of Plaine du Nord, near Cap Hai'tien in the North. MOREB is affiliated with the National Alliance of Popular Organizations (Association Nationale des Organizations Populaires, ANOP) and involves approximately 80 percent of the people in the locality of Balan. Residents of Balan told us that MOREB unites many smaller local groups, including Tet Kole Elev Lekol, Association Pecheurs, Association Paysans, Association Ti Professionels, and several Comites de Quartiers. The parish priest in Balan, Father Marcel Bussels, is involved in MOREB. On June 2, 1992, Father Bussels was arrested and imprisoned. Soldiers searched and ransacked his rectory, and seized documents pertaining to his work with MOREB.
Organization of Community Groups of the Sacre Coeur Parish
The Organization of Community Groups of the Sacre Coeur Parish (Oganizasyon Gwoupman Kominote Pawas Sakreke, OGKPS) includes groups of small merchants, youths, farmers, and Ti Legliz members. OGKPS is one of many popular organizations in the northern city of Cap Ha'itien that have been victimized by the massive repression in the poor neighborhoods of the city. OGKPS was formally founded in Cap Hai'tien in 1990, although some of its member groups existed as early as 1977. Community organizers Renaud Etienne and Joseph Belizaire told us that many members of the organization have been beaten and arrested. On or about February 7, 1992, they said, soldiers arrested Evno Presime and beat him badly after organizers held a small demonstration in the Labori quarter of Cap Hai'tien. One of his teeth was broken in the beating. Uniformed soldiers with machine guns arrested five others, including Evno's brother, Bernard Presime. They were taken to the barracks and spent three days in prison.
Les Cayes People's Unity Movement
The Les Cayes People's Unity Movement (Mouvman Inite Pep Okay, MUPAK) was founded in 1986 to provide a pro-democracy political voice in the post-Duvalier era and to organize the poor of Les Cayes and the surrounding countryside in southern Haiti. MUPAK is affiliated with the National Association of Popular Organizations. According to Frantz
Guillite, one of MUPAK's founders, the organization "supported Aristide from a critical distance."
As of July 1992, MUPAK had not been able to hold meetings or function openly since the September coup. All of MUPAK's leaders either went into hiding locally or moved to other parts of the country in an attempt to continue their political work in areas where they were not known. Frantz Guillite, who became the deputy mayor of Les Cayes in the 1990 elections, was arrested on May 14, 1992 and again following a wave of arrests in Camp Perrin on May 29. "Open expressions of political belief will not be tolerated at this time," he explained.
Union of Camp Perrin Organizations
The Union of Camp Perrin Organizations (Rasanbleman Oganizasyon Kanperin, ROK) was formed by several groups in the town of Camp Perrin in southern Haiti that had supported Aristide's presidential campaign. An organizer for the Christian Community Development of Haiti told us in July 1992 that ROK has been forced underground since the September coup: "Any idea of holding public or large meetings was destroyed by the wave of repression following the attack on the Camp Perrin military post on May 29, when most of these arrested were Lavalas or Catholic Church activists."
to Defend the Interests of the Southeast
The to Defend the Interests of the Southeast (Komite Defans Entere Sudes, KODES) was formed in Jacmel, in southeastern Haiti, in 1989. Si nee the coup, KODES has not been able to have public meetings or to continue its work openly. Its secretary described the group's work as organizing the public to prevent and expose false arrests, torture, imprisonment and extortion.
On September 30, 1991, the secretary of KODES and eight other members of popular organizations in Jacmel (including KODES, Lavalas, and the Association of Jacmel Patriots (Asosysyon Patwiyot Jakmel, APAJAK) identified themselves and their organizations on Radio Jacmel Inter and conducted a spontaneous call-in program on the emergency situation. They urged the audience to stand up for their rights, prompting a large street demonstration of people shouting "Down with the coup! Long live Aristide!" The military responded immediately, arresting known members of popular organizations and beating anyone on the streets. The KODES
secretary estimated that thirty to forty people were killed on that day from gunshots and beatings. Soldiers also surrounded the radio station, but the participants in the call-in show were able to escape.
Organization to Defend the Interests of Marigot
The Organization to Defend the Interests of Marigot (Oganizasyon Defans Entere Marigo, ODEM) was founded in southeastern Haiti in April 1991. ODEM brought together numerous smaller groups that had formed during the Aristide period, including a group working on neighborhood road improvement and a group running a local credit union.
The secretary of ODEM told us in July 1992 that the group had become a sizeable coalition when the coup occurred, but that since the coup "ODEM has not been able to function at all. There have been no [public] meetings. The right to meet [publicly] has simply disappeared. We only meet with a very few people each of whom absolutely trusts the others." The local military has told area leaders that meetings are forbidden, and it has backed up this prohibition with arrests and beatings of numerous area residents accused of political organizing.
Jacmel Neighborhood s
Neighborhood committees have been active in Jacmel in southeastern Haiti since at least the mid-1980s. Their activities include neighborhood cleanups, cultural activities, literacy programs, and a reforestation campaign. Romana Tranquille, who was the FNCD's unsuccessful candidate for deputy in Jacmel in the 1990 election and its representative in the Southeast, has worked with over 100 neighborhood committees in greater Jacmel, each with twenty to thirty members. Tranquille told us in July 1992 that since the coup, these committees had not been able to meet and that many of the most active community leaders remained in hiding.
Chapter 4 WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS
Most groups advocating equal rights or social justice for women have been stifled since the September coup. Viewed with suspicion by the military because they challenge the status quo and are part of the democratic movement that has grown up since 1986, they also have suffered from the general ban on popular meetings. We learned of many local women's groups that have all but ceased to function since the coup.
Haitian Women's Solidarity
Haitan Women's Solidarity (Solidarite Femmes Haitiennes, SOFA) is a national women's organization which is strongest in the departments of the Artibonite, Central Plateau, Southeast and West. SOFA's main focus is opposing violence against women through education and training. The group has a representational structure that allows members to have a voice at the local, communal, departmental and national levels. SOFA also has three branches made up of peasant, professional and neighborhood groups.
In July 1992, we interviewed Marie-Ange Noel, one of SOFA's national representatives for the Southeast department, and an organizer for a group called Fanm Deside (Determined Women) in Jacmel. Noel told us that since the coup, SOFA's activity had come to a virtual standstill. In many rural areas where repression was severe, the local groups had not been able to meet at all. In others, small meetings were possible. Many of SOFA's members, including Noel herself, remained in hiding.
Noel told us about her arrest and beating on May 22 1992 in Jacmel. She had been on her way to the inauguration ceremony for a neighborhood water faucet which a community group that she had organized had campaigned to have installed. Peaceful demonstrations were taking place at Lycee Pinchinat and College Suisse, high schools on Avenue Bananquilla, where students were chanting political slogans like "Down with the army" and "Long live Aristide." The army had surrounded the schools, and soldiers were threatening, arresting and beating people on the street.
As Noel passed the high schools with Jacqueline Alexis, another activist, soldiers summoned and accused them of giving pictures of
Aristide to the students. One soldier told Noel to sit in a mud puddle. When she refused, another soldier hit her on the buttocks with a truncheon. Noel grasped the truncheon. The soldier then grabbed her by the collar and clubbed her in the abdomen. She fell to her knees, and the soldier kicked her in the stomach. This time she toppled backwards to the ground. A plainclothes officer who was Noel's friend stopped the beating.
Noel and Alexis were then arrested and taken to Jacmel prison. They were put into a bare 10-by-12 foot cell with three other women prisoners. Captain Larochel then called for Noel and told her that he would "make her stop being fresh." He made her stand facing the wall and sent two soldiers to find a whip. When they came back empty-handed, the captain sent her back to her cell. Within an hour, Commander Jeune then had her brought before him. Pulling out a file, he read aloud about Noel's work with cooperatives and women's groups, including specifics on the rural zones and urban neighborhoods in which she worked. He accused her of organizing the student demonstrations that day and "Aristide meetings" in general. Noel denied the charges and the captain accused her of lying.
Commander Jeune then ordered a soldier to whip Noel. The man said, "I don't beat women." The commander, angered, told him to leave and said that any others who agreed with him could leave as well. No other soldier left the room. Noel described what happened next:
There were five male prisoners in the commander's office with me. The commander decided to have them beaten first with a nightstick while someone was fetching a whip to use on me. He made me watch while each of the men were given fifty blows. While this was going on, a sergeant who is a friend of mine came in and [seeing me] said, "Oh, that's my buddy." I was not beaten further after that.
That evening, Noel was released "provisionally" until the next morning. Her release appeared to have been due to pressure from community leaders. When Commander Jeune summoned her the next morning, he warned her not to organize any meetings, to report all incidents of unauthorized meetings, and to provide information on the activities of popular organizations in the area.
After she was released, a plainclothes military attache followed her everywhere she went. Her friend in the barracks told her that the
commander planned to rearrest her, and that next time he would not be "so lenient." Noel left Jacmel for Port-au-Prince that same day. On June 1, Noel returned to Jacmel to collect some belongings and was immediately followed. That night soldiers went to her house looking for her, but she had already left the city. As of July, Noel remained in hiding in Port-au-Prince.
Noel is not the only SOFA member to have been victimized. In early April, four organizers in the Artibonite town of Desarmes Sulfise, Jesumene, Mme. Legrand and Mme. Yvon were arrested for doing SOFA work, according- to Framboise Boirsiquot, a member of SOFA's national coordinating committee. At least one of the four remained in hiding as of mid-July, after attempts by Corporal "Twenty-one Nations" Eldune and a group of civilian thugs to rearrest her.
Three Port-au-Prince-based SOFA organizers have also been arrested, although not apparently in connection with their SOFA work. In April 1992, soldiers arrested Madeleine Val after she picked up a leaflet with a picture of Aristide on it. They took her to the Investigations and Anti-Gang Service of the police, held her for four hours and beat her. She was arrested again on June 2 during a protest against the killing of Georges Izmery, the brother of an outspoken Aristide supporter, who was shot on May 28. She was beaten in the police vehicle and then released. In early June, two women named Coletta and Rica were arrested. They were shopping on the street in Port-au-Prince when soldiers rounded up a group of people, arrested them and beat them up in the soldiers' truck.
Fanm Deside (Determined Women) was founded in Jacmel, in southeastern Haiti with support from a Canadian nun named Rachel Vinet. The organization had four groups of ten to fifteen women each working in collective boutiques. They sold necessities such as oil and soap, provided literacy instruction, and discussed issues of politics and gender equality.
Fanm Deside organizer Marie-Ange Noel said in July 1992 that although the organization had not been able to hold public meetings or large gatherings since the September coup, the members were able to meet in small groups. The organization had been able to continue some of its economic activities, and Noel told us that one literacy instructor was still living in Jacmel.
Women's Movement of Grand Goave
The Women's Movement of Grand Goave (Mouvement des Femmes de Grand Godve, MOFAG) was founded in April 1988 by young members of other popular organizations, including Magdalene and Soeurrette Paul, whose brother is journalist Jean Mario Paul. The group provided literacy instruction and sought to develop an equal role for women in Haitian society. Although the group once had members in all seven rural sections of Grand Goave, it had not through July 1992 been able to hold a single public meeting since the coup and its leaders had gone into hiding. Magdalene Paul had been forced to flee the country.
Chapter 5 YOUTH GROUPS
Young people have been among the primary targets of the military since the coup. Not uncommonly, they have come under suspicion simply because they are young. A typical case is the November 12, 1991 experience of Carrefour-Feuille, Port-au-Prince, where after a symbolic funeral mass for the victims of the coup at the St. Gerard Church, troops began to round-up. Knocking at doors throughout the densely populated neighborhood, soldiers pulled out all the young men they discovered, ignoring women and older men. They beat and arrested scores of youths, eyewitnesses told us.
Young people enthusiastically joined in the 1990 electoral campaign and supported Aristide in probably greater proportions than the 67 percent he garnered in the election. Most of the poll workers as well as the observers sent by political parties to watch the voting were young.
Youths across the country were sought by the military and forced to go into hiding after the coup and many activists with youth groups remained effectively barred from their home towns more than a year after Aristide's overthrow.
The Youth Coordinating (Comite de Coordination des Jeunes) is a parish-wide youth group founded in 1986, which is made up of smaller local youth groups throughout the Verrettes area in the Artibonite. A Catholic school teacher and a leader of the said in July 1992 regarding these groups: "After the coup, we kept having meetings, although there was a lot of infiltration. But since early December 1991, none of these groups has been able to meet. Each time we tried to meet, the military would show up in front of us." This teacher supervised four other youth groups in the village of Ale which had been founded in the mid-1980's: Ale Youth Movement (Mouvman Jen Ale, MJA), Ray of Hope Group (Gwoup Rayon Espwa), Star (Etwal), and Sun Group (Gwoup Soley). Members of these groups used to gather to discuss topical issues. They also received vocational training, worked on civic projects, promoted group farming, and worked on a credit union (caisse populaire). MJA, the
oldest of these groups, had a field to farm communally and had its own pigs.
Pont Sonde Youth Movement
The Pont Sonde Youth Movement (Mouvement des Jeunes de Pont Sonde, MJPS) is a 300-member youth group founded in 1988 in Pont Sonde, in the Artibonite. Members of MJPS, who asked that their names not be used, met with us in July 1992 to discuss their work. MJPS was meeting secretly at members' houses in groups of about fifteen. A member said, referring to local soldiers, "as soon as any group meets, they figure it's political and stop you from meeting." At their meetings, MJPS members told us that they share news, and distribute the underground newsletter Kawoutchou (Tire) and reports by the Catholic Church-affiliated human rights group Commission Justice et Paix.
Moron Youth Association
The Moron Youth Association (Asosyasyon Jen Moron, AJM) is a youth group in the town of Moron, in the department of Grande Anse, which works with the American Friends Service (AFSC). A founding member of AJM who is an organizer for AFSC told us in July 1992 that the group used to have about eighty members from different social groups and would work on local problems. He said: "AJM has never had meetings since the coup....All the people are now in hiding."
Federation of Cultural s of Jacmel's West Zone
FEKOLWAZ, the Federation of Cultural s of Jacmel's West Zone (Federasyonn Komite Lwazi Zon Wes Jakmel), is a youth group founded in May 1990. FEKOLWAZ united smaller groups of young people throughout the rural area of La Vallee, northwest of Jacmel, in southeastern Haiti. It promoted traditional forms of peasant culture and organized concerts, dances, and other social events for young people. The secretary general of the Sunrise Peasant Movement and the secretary of the to Defend the Interests of the Southeast told us in July 1992 that since the coup, even this group, which is interested primarily in cultural and social events, had been unable to meet or to schedule events in the Jacmel area.
Chapter 6 TRADE UNIONS
Haiti's labor unions, never strong, have been weakened considerably since the coup. With the 1986 ouster of dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, trade union organizers were able to operate openly. Although unions played an important role in moving Haiti toward democracy, they were racked by divisions and in-fighting. From 1985 to 1991, the number of labor federations increased from two to seven.3 Union membership fell with the decreasing factory employment and instability of the post-1986 years.
Without solid laws protecting the right to organize, and in the context of unemployment so high that replacement workers are found on every street corner, hundreds of union organizers lost jobs. Trade unions came to have large numbers of unemployed workers as members.
The Aristide government condemned army intervention in labor disputes, and opened negotiations on raising the minimum wage. But the reform efforts were cut short. After the coup and the resulting embargo, industrial employment plummeted still further.
In Port-au-Prince in July 1992, we met with a senior official for the national trade union Autonomous Federation of Haitian Workers (Central Autonome des Travailleurs Haitiens, CATH), one of several labor federations that had attempted to organize workers on a national scale in post-Duvalier Haiti. The official told us that most of the local unions organized by CATH were not functioning, partly because many factories had closed under pressure from the OAS-backed embargo. He estimated that only about 10 percent of 70,000 factory workers were still employed in the capital. "If there is no work," he asked us, "how can there be a union?" At the government-owned national cement company, Ciment d'Ha'iti, Director Madame Chandeler fired all of the union's members and scores of other workers. "Many of the factory workers have returned to
Steve Coupeau, "Labor Relations in Haiti Under the Aristide Government," May 1992, p. 14 (unpublished paper).
their homes in the provinces to live off the land with their families until the factories reopen, so it's hard to communicate with them," the CATH official explained.
Another barrier to union activity, according to the CATH official, is that while his colleagues in CATH's central office were able to meet individually with leaders of affiliated unions, the members of the local unions were unable to have meetings themselves.
For example, one of CATH's strongest unions was at the national electric company, Electricite d'Haiti (EDH). After the coup, armed soldiers were stationed throughout the facility and union leaders were told they would be shot. Most active union members fled. According to the CATH official, some active union members remained at EDH as of late July, but there was "absolutely no way for them to have a public meeting, demonstration, or strike." At the time, fifteen leaders of the union remained in hiding. Under the Aristide government, CATH also unionized all the luggage carriers at the airport. Many of these union members went into hiding following the coup and fled the country. After the airport reopened, they were replaced by other workers.
In March 1992, the CATH official reported, the army arrested four men in front of the CATH office and accused them of organizing a meeting. They were released the same day.
CATH had planned to hold a national general strike in April 1992. The strike backfired when neither Radio Metropole nor Radio Soleil the only functioning nongovernmental stations would announce it. Nor could the union hold meetings or demonstrations to promote the strike. The CATH official said, "there is no way we could have a demonstration because they would come after us with arms and kill the participants."
The Haitian Workers Federation (Centrale des Travailleurs Haitiens, CTH) is a national trade union federation with a significant peasant component. While it has been able to continue most of its work in the post-coup period, it has encountered great difficulty holding seminars and meetings outside of Port-au-Prince. In October 1992, a regional training seminar for 30-35 people scheduled to be held in Thiotte in southeast Haiti had to be canceled when the local commander said he would not allow any meetings to take place in his zone. This occurred despite the union having obtained a written authorization from the Minister of Social
Affairs of the Bazin government.
The union's branch office in Les Cayes in southern Haiti has been unable to resume its activities since the coup. Les Cayes Mayor Frantz Guillite told us that the leader of CTH in Les Cayes, Adler Eveillard, was arrested and beaten until his arm fractured.
Boat Builders Union
We interviewed Smith Metelus, the president of the local union at the Mostro International inflatable boat factory, near Cap Hai'tien. The union started at the factory in 1990, and later became affiliated with the National Association of Popular Organizations (Association Nationale des Organizations Populaires, ANOP). The workers formed two unions that worked together: one for supervisors, of which Metelus was the president, and one for the production workers, of whom seventy-one out of eighty decided to join. The union tried to force the factory owner to abide by labor laws. Two successful strikes were organized in August 1990 and April 1991 over a dispute about vacation scheduling.
After the coup, the factory closed, and it had not reopened as of our July 20 interview. Metelus told us that the instructor's union still met, and had attempted to organize workers at other plants, but they were having a hard time because "when a boss hears union talk in his factory he just fires everyone. Under Aristide they were afraid to do that because we could go on the radio and denounce their actions."
Limbe Union of Progressive Agricultural Technicians
A small group in northern Haiti, the Limbe Union of Progressive Agricultural Technicians (Union des Techniciens Agricole Progressiste de Limbe, ITAPL) was formed in May 1991. Although the organization's work is apolitical, it had not been able to meet since September 1991. A member of ITAPL commented in July 1992: "No groups can meet here...You're not allowed to display a group identity, to go out in the work as a group." On December 13, 1991, a group of twenty-five men headed by section chief Claudin Jean came to this individual's house to beat him up. Not finding him at home, the men clubbed his wife and others in his house with batons.
This same ITAPL member told us that in May 1992, the coup government's delegate for Limbe, Maurice Degue, found him and six other members of ITAPL working together in the yellow hats that group
members wore. Degue asked who they were, and the ITAPL members told him that they were recently graduated agricultural technicians helping upgrade local farmers' agricultural practices. Degue said, "you don't have the right to wear the same hats without getting permission from the army post."
The next day, Corporal Sales Adesca told the group that they could not meet, and that they should talk to someone at the barracks about the situation. The group met with First Sergeant Josue Bien at the barracks, who told them that they could work together if they did not wear hats to identify themselves as an organization.
National Confederation of Haitian Teachers
Both the Port-au-Prince office and local affiliates of the National Confederation of Haitian Teachers (Confederation Nationale des Enseignants d'Haiti, CNEH) were unable to function since the coup. On the island of La Gonave, the CNEH-affiliated Teachers' Association of La Gonave (Association des Enseigneurs de la Gondve) had not had a meeting since the coup. The deputy general secretary of the group, Wendell Henry, explained in July 1992:
We are paralyzed because the national organization with which we are affiliated with has been smashed. We cannot function as an organization. We have not been specifically threatened but the general political atmosphere itself has been too menacing for us to consider meeting.
The Les Cayes affiliate, the Teachers' Association of Les Cayes (Association des Enseignants des Cayes, AEC), was similarly situated. AEC member Frantz Guillite, who is a high school teacher and the deputy mayor of Les Cayes, was arrested and beaten on May 14, and again on May 30, 1992.
Chapter 7 LITERACY GROUPS
One of the Aristide government's first projects was a national literacy campaign aimed at the estimated 65 percent of the population who cannot read or write. Sidestepping a reluctant legislature, Aristide made small grants to organizations working on literacy. Literacy campaigns have long been controversial in Haiti because the military and its conservative allies view with suspicion efforts that strengthen or empower traditionally poor and powerless sectors of the population. Literacy programs are almost always conducted in Creole, which all Haitians speak, rather than in French, which has been the historical language of instruction for school children. In 1987, the disappearance of literacy worker Chariot Jacquelin while in army custody became a rallying point for opposition to military rule. Leaders of literacy organizations have been arrested, put in prison, and tortured since the military coup in September 1991.
The Diocesan Literacy
The Diocesan Literacy supervised literacy programs in each Catholic parish in the Southern department in the pre-Aristide period. A member of the explained that when Aristide assumed the presidency, the organization planned to participate in the national literacy program being established by the new government. However, since the coup, he said, "all literacy work has been suspended. All leaders of the literacy movement like myself are facing arrest and harassment. It has become impossible for literacy groups to meet or continue their work."
On February 6, 1992, Lieutenant Pyram and four soldiers carrying automatic weapons searched this individual's house, looking even under the rugs. They found nothing and made no arrests. After the incident, he left his house and began sleeping in a different place each night.
On May 30, he was arrested and detained. Army officers interrogated him on June 2. They accused him of writing a pro-Aristide leaflet that they had found during a house search in Port Salut. They also accused him of stirring up disorder in Les Cayes. When he denied their accusations, the officers had soldiers beat him on the ears, back, arm and
side. He was released on June 8.
Movement of National Organizations for Popular Literacy
In Jacmel, in the Southeast department, a group called the Movement of National Organizations for Popular Literacy (Mouvman Oganizasyon Nasyonal Alfabetizasyon Popile, MONAP) had been teaching literacy and civic and political participation since 1990. Jean Claude Mondesir, a vice-coordinator for MONAP, told us that he was arrested during a wave of repression in Jacmel in late November 1991. On the night of November 27, the military threw a grenade into the Jacmel high school Lycee Pinchinat, igniting a fire which burned down the high school. Soldiers then went house to house arresting activists.
Mondesir was arrested early the next morning as he walked by the barracks. Soldiers took him into the barracks, and tortured him by a method called the kalot marasa, in which the hands are clapped together hard on the victim's ears. A friend of his whomZ he described as a Macoute was able to obtain Mondesir's release that afternoon. Mondesir said in July 1992: "Many of MONAP's activists are still in hiding out of fear of such abuses. The group has not been able to have meetings since the coup."
Movement for Popular Literacy
The Movement for Popular Literacy (Mouvman Alfabetizasyon Popile, MAP) began organizing literacy programs in the late 1980s in the area surrounding Cap Hai'tien, on the northern coast of Haiti. According to a MAP member, after Aristide became president, organizations working on adult literacy in the North received government grants of $3000 to fund their projects. MAP divided the funds with four other literacy organizations. Trainers from MAP held meetings in the nineteen communal districts in the department. They explained that literacy was important for people who want to find employment and participate in society. On September 8, 1991, MAP organized a celebration of World Literacy Day in Cap Hai'tien.
The MAP member told us that after the coup, all of the organization's leaders went into hiding, and many left the city altogether. His own story illustrates why literacy work has come to a halt in Haiti. On October 23, 1991, soldiers broke into his house, arrested two of his friends who were there, beat them and imprisoned them for a week. He
was able to escape, and fled to the mountain town of Ranquitte. In early March 1992, he returned to Cap Hai'tien. Army officers came to his house on March 29 and arrested him. He was accused of being an Aristide partisan, disliking army Lieutenant General Raoul Ceclras, and organizing a demonstration. Thrown in jail for two weeks, he described his ordeal: "On the sixteenth day they gathered all the soldiers and made me stand so all of them would recognize me. Lieutenant Frantz of the Criminal Research Service (Recherches Criminelles) said they should kill me when they next found me because I wanted to get rid of Cedras."
The soldiers then attempted to convict him of organizing the demonstration, using against him a magazine article on the political situation in Haiti which allegedly was found in his house. Bob Lecorps, a Duvalierist with a history of violence and drug dealing who was summarily released from prison after the coup, was present at his court session. At the hearing, Lecorps said: "Let him go. I will meet him with my weapons." When the MAP member was freed on April 13, he fled to Port-au-Prince. He reported in July 1992 that like himself, "all of the other leaders of MAP remain in hiding."
Chapter 8 STUDENTS AND EDUCATORS
University students have played an important role in Haitian politics for decades. Since the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier, Haitian students have reorganized themselves to push for educational reforms. Invariably, as past military governments have failed to address issues of social reform, students have immersed themselves in the political struggle.
The same pattern recurred after the military coup of September 1991. Students and teachers have been victims of military repression in disproportionate numbers. In the early months after the coup, many were threatened and pressured by soldiers who were trying to force schools to reopen in order to create a sense of normality. Parents and school administrators also suffered. Public high school students in some areas have organized and opposed the military-backed regimes's imposition of new directors and new regulations. Adult education, particularly outside Port-au-Prince, has also suffered from the general prohibition on meetings.
University students have been among the most outspoken defenders of Haiti's ousted democratic government. They have organized several protests against the coup, which have been repressed with varying degrees of brutality. In late 1992, as the Bazin government moved to control the university by appointing a new chancellor and several new deans, students protested the encroachment on the university's traditional autonomy.
National Federation of Haitian Students
The National Federation of Haitian Students (Federation Nationale des Etudiants Haitiens, FENEH), composed primarily of university students, has been behind most student political activism since the coup. Founded in 1986, the group has been actively working on educational and national political issues since then. Following the coup, the student movement emerged as a significant player on the national political stage. Regional student organizations also worked alongside FENEH on student welfare issues. Its role seems counter to class stereotypes since university students comprise an elite group of only some 4,000 youths, almost entirely from
the middle and upper classes.
FENEH brings together students from all the major private and public colleges. It is composed of sixteen student associations, each representing one public or private university faculty. According to one of the group's leaders, FENEH seeks greater student and teacher input in managing academic faculties, which are traditionally run by government-appointed administrators, increased funding for the university system, and greater freedom of speech.
FENEH's first two congresses, or national meetingsone under General Henri Namphy and one under General Prosper Avrilhad been marked by fear that the army would crush the meetings. Their third congress, under President Aristide, was their first truly free plenary meeting, when students felt uninhibited to attend and to speak freely.
Under Aristide, some of FENEH's goals suddenly advanced toward realization. A law that would have ensured the state university greater autonomy from the government was before parliament. Students hoped to win a more prominent role for students and teachers in the day-to-day running of their schools.
October 7, 1991 was the date that the national university was supposed to open, but FENEH opposed beginning the academic year because there was no security for students in the post-coup chaos. FENEH took the position that only the return of Aristide could guarantee the students' safety.
Thereafter, soldiers threatened, beat, shot and arrested those who participated in student demonstrations. Many students told us that infiltration by pro-government spies has made uncensored discussion and large meetings difficult or impossible at most schools. Students at the teachers' college, Ecole Normale Superieure (ENS) told us that student members of a group called Confrerie, which they described as Duvalierist and pro-Macoute, rip down FENEH posters and distribute unsigned tracts listing student leaders who should be "eliminated." Captain Jackson Joanis told two students arrested after a July 15, 1992 demonstration at the Medical School: "You are behind the times. You won't get what you're looking for. I have spies in all the faculties who pose as students."
According to FENEH members, several FENEH leaders have been harassed by the army because of their involvement in the organization:
o Yves Estinvil, a former FENEH board member, had to go into hiding in late October 1991 after soldiers went to his home. He
remained in hiding until December of that year. After becoming a private high school teacher, Estinvil was still unable to resume a normal life of sleeping and living at his home as of July 1992.
o Denize Mesadieux, another former FENEH board member, had to go into hiding shortly after the coup when armed soldiers searched his home.
o Jean-Felix Benoit, a current FENEH board member, was followed and attacked by soldiers. He fled to the Mexican embassy in late October 1991 and later left for Mexico.
November 1991 Repression
On November 12, 1991, FENEH held an assembly for all students inside the Science Faculty compound. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the ongoing repression against students and professors, the general political situation in the country, and how and when to begin the academic year, which had been postponed because of the coup. At 10:00 a.m., three truckloads of soldiers in blue uniforms and plainclothes arrived. With automatic weapons in hand, they surrounded the science compound and threw rocks inside at the students. The soldiers entered the faculty grounds and ordered the students to lie on the ground. They beat many of the students and humiliated them. They threatened to rape the women.
The soldiers then rounded up the 100-150 students present. They threw the students into trucks and took them to prison at the Anti-Gang Service headquarters, where some of the students were beaten again. All of the male students' heads were shaven. The soldiers accused the students of being drug dealers and creating public disorder.
Madame Yvelie Honorat, the wife of then prime minister Jean-Jacques Honorat and head of the Haitian Center for Human Rights (Centre Haitien des Droits et des LibertSs Publiques, CHADEL), visited the students in jail. She told them she would help them get out if they would say that they had not been beaten or otherwise mistreated. The students refused to do as she had asked.
After two or three days in detention, the authorities began releasing students in small groups. Some of the students were held as long as two weeks.
April 1992 Repression
On April 3 and 10, FENEH organized noise-making protests, or bat teneb, at all university faculties. In the weeks that followed, students banged pots and pans in spontaneous bat teneb protests at individual faculties. Each time students protested the de facto regime, armed soldiers encircled the school and beat students who tried to leave.
On April 3, fifteen heavily armed soldiers, some in uniform and some in plainclothes, arrived in pickup trucks at the ENS shortly after the students began a noise-making protest. While the soldiers did not enter the compound, the lieutenant in charge asked all those present to leave. As all of the students and most of the professors left together, soldiers beat people on the edges of the crowd, clapping their hands together on some people's ears and hitting others with nightsticks.
On April 10, soldiers held students hostage in the Science Faculty from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. following a bat teneb. When the students decided to try to leave together, the soldiers beat those on the edges of the crowd with nightsticks.
ENS students had a spontaneous bat teneb demonstration on April 29, at which they yelled slogans such as "Down with Cedras" and "Bring back Aristide." Soldiers came again and sealed in the students. According to FENEH leaders, the soldiers arrested one first-year student who had not participated in the demonstration. Putting a gun to the youth's head, they drove him to the Anti-Gang Service headquarters. They demanded to know who was behind the demonstration and who was on "the committee." They showed him a series of photographs of students and asked him to pick out the leaders. He was released the same day.
In late May, FENEH held a meeting at ENS to discuss how to prevent hostile students from infiltrating the organization. Government-operated Radio Nationale reported the meeting and criticized the decisions taken, singling out a student named Edgard. The next day soldiers went after Edgard at his house but did not find him.
June 1992 Repression
At around 10:45 a.m. on June 19, as Marc Bazin was being installed as de facto prime minister a few blocks away, students at ENS decided to hold a demonstration. Two ENS students told us that after blocking the entrance to the school, about 250 students banged pots and pans, sang songs, gave political speeches, and chanted against Bazin, the
U.S. government, the Vatican (which alone in the diplomatic community recognized the coup government), the Catholic hierarchy, the bourgeoisie and the army.
By 11:00 a.m., at least.twenty blue-uniformed troops and forty men in plainclothes had surrounded the ENS compound to stage what would become an eighteen-hour drama. They took up positions and aimed their weapons into the school grounds, menacing the students. The soldiers beat several people on the street, including at least one woman, and sent scores of others fleeing. They threatened and turned away professors who tried to enter the faculty.
About 250 students and four professors (one of whom was a member of the school's administration) remained trapped in the compound. At one point the four professors went to negotiate with the officer commanding the troops at the gate. The commanding officer told them that none of the students would be allowed to leave because "they were creating disorder." He said that "since the students said Bazin fell in shit, I have to send in fire trucks to clean up the shit." His soldiers would not kill the students or teachers, he said, but would beat them. The professors returned to the group of students and told them that, for the moment, there was no hope of negotiating a nonviolent end to the siege.
At approximately 1:30 p.m., a school guard tried to enter the compound. The soldiers beat him with their gun butts, kicked him repeatedly, and seized his keys to the locked gates of the school. The standoff continued through the afternoon. At about 4:00 p.m., the students decided to try to leave. They retreated to the courtyard after soldiers waiting outside the gates said they would beat the students if they came outside. Around 9:00 p.m., the army sent reinforcements and distributed nightsticks to the troops. At 9:30 p.m., the soldiers attacked the school with rocks and concrete slabs that they had brought to the site by truck. Rocks rained down on the school from the roofs of surrounding buildings for about thirty minutes. The students fled into the auditorium and hid under desks and chairs and against the shoulder-height walls.
At about 11:00 p.m. a diplomatic vehicle drove up. Its occupant spoke with the officer in charge and the school administrator. The officer in charge then invited the students to leave the compound. Seeing the number of soldiers that were waiting outside the gate, the students refused to leave. While some of the soldiers started to leave at this point, they did not pull out entirely. Vehicles the students considered suspicious continued to drive by every few minutes.
At about midnight Captain Jackson Joanis, the commander of the Investigations and Anti-Gang unit of the police, appeared on the scene. He returned the keys the soldiers had taken from the guard and said "if something bad happened here, don't say it was the police." The students were too afraid to leave during the night. It was not until the next morning at 6:30 a.m. that they dared to leave the campus.
When we toured the ENS building on July 8, glass and debris were still strewn about in many of the facility's rooms. Some of the rocks and concrete slabs were left where they fell as a memorial to what had happened. One of the slabs that had smashed through a classroom door measured eight inches long, five inches wide, and almost two inches thick.
July 2, 1992 Repression
On July 2, FENEH held an assembly for all interested students at the medical faculty of the State University in Port-au-Prince. According to a FENEH leader, about 400-500 students from the public and private faculties attended. The meeting began at about 10:00 a.m. with a demonstration inside the compound. Shouting slogans such as "No to Bazin," "No to privatization of the University," "Yes to democracy," and "Yes to university autonomy," the students draped banners bearing political slogans around the premises.
Armed, uniformed soldiers surrounded the school within minutes. Later other uniformed and plainclothes soldiers arrived. Some of the plainclothesmen carried nightsticks covered with protruding nails. They chased away people in the street near the entrance of the medical faculty, as well as students trying to enter. They ripped down and confiscated a banner with anti-Bazin and anti-imperialist slogans which students had hung near the school's entrance gate.
At about 10:30 a.m. soldiers asked the students inside for a key to the locked gate. The students refused to provide one. The soldiers parked several pickup trucks immediately in front of the gate to prevent anyone from leaving.
The students inside were frightened by the appearance of the troops but decided to continue their meeting since they could not safely escape. They discussed the political situation in the country and their inability to meet without being attacked by the army. They decided to convene again on July 15 to release a statement on the university and the nation.
After their discussion, the students went out into the courtyard and attempted to leave, but the soldiers prevented them. At about 2:00 p.m., the soldiers found a school guard, forced him to give them his keys, backed up the trucks, and partly opened the gate. About a half-hour later, the students began leaving by ones and twos through the gate and in larger numbers through the connected university hospital. The siege had lasted over four hours.
July 15, 1992 Repression
On July 15, FENEH had its last major meeting of the school year, and once again the army refused to let the students demonstrate peacefully. After the attack on their publicized July 2 meeting, FENEH members decided not to publicize their plans for the July 15 demonstration. According to FENEH members, only those present at the July 2 meeting and other trusted organization members knew about the plans for July 15.
Between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. on July 15, students assembled in the medical faculty courtyard, made placards, and put bandannas over their faces to conceal their identities. They sang and chanted slogans such as "People power" and "Aristide or death!" FENEH leaders distributed leaflets, banners and spray paint cans for writing graffiti. Members of popular organizations that the students had contacted were waiting outside the faculty gates with pictures of President Aristide.
At 10:35 a.m., with only one or two plainclothes military attaches in sight, the students marched into the street. This was the first time FENEH had attempted a university-wide street demonstration since the September 1991 coup. There were about 200 students in the crowd as they marched to the Solomon market. As they passed, market vendors cried out "Long live Aristide!" and asked for pictures of the deposed president that were being distributed by leaders of various neighborhood committees. After about five minutes in the market, the marchers went on to Place Karl Brouard, where they paused briefly to sing and chant.
As the last marchers left to walk back to the medical school, soldiers arrived in the Solomon market, where they randomly beat and arrested many people. We learned of two porters who work in a stall in the market who were beaten and jailed at the Cafeteria police station. They were released several days later. We received unconfirmed reports that more than thirty other non-students were arrested in the market.
At the same time, the rest of the protestersnow about 500 strongretraced their steps and arrived in front of the medical school gate. According to students we interviewed, a wave of euphoria swept the crowd as they thought they had succeeded in expressing their political opinions in the street without military interference. Students spoke to the crowd through a megaphone. They were preparing to go out on another brief march when soldiers started to arrive.
First came the plainclothesmen, carrying clubs. Truckloads of heavily armed soldiers in blue uniforms were close behind. The students and others who had joined the demonstration scattered in every direction as the plainclothes officers beat anyone within reach. Uniformed soldiers started firing into the air. According to students present, Anti-Gang Commander Captain Jackson Joanis, who was wearing a uniform covered by a windbreaker that read "POLICE," supervised the operation.
As the soldiers chased students into the courtyard and into the medical school building itself, several students were shot and many were beaten, according to eyewitnesses we interviewed. Kesner Blaise, ah ENS student, was shot in the shoulder blade and hit many times with nightsticks. He sustained a number of blows to the head from which he had not fully recovered by the end of July. After he was shot and beaten, soldiers searched for him in the medical school and the adjoining university hospital, asking for him by name. A doctor hid Blaise in a closet until the soldiers left the hospital.
At the end of July, FENEH leaders were still trying to confirm two reported deaths from gunshot wounds. One was a young man from Cap Hai'tien named Wilfred who is said to have been returned home and soon after died of his wounds. The other was a male student from the Port-au-Prince area who was shot in the stomach.
Many students were hit with nightsticks and clubs. At least thirteen received serious beatings which left scars and required medical treatment, including agronomy student Valery Laguerre and medical student Renel Desir. According to the Justice and Peace Commission, students Roosevelt Millard, Ronald Leon, Claude Lucien, Desir Rosette, and Canez Prevault also were beaten.
A 23-year-old ENS student ran through several rooms in her attempt to flee from the attacking soldiers. Twelve students ran into an S-shaped room deep within the medical school. There was one door at each end of the S. Two soldiers came and knocked on the front door. As the students fled out the other door, the soldiers banged the front one open and fired into the room at waist level. The students were saved
from injury only by the shape of the room.
Soldiers caught four students and made them stand and face a wall in the courtyard as they trained their rifles on them. Other students nearby screamed and the soldiers refrained from harming the four.
Students we interviewed saw about twenty people being arrested in and around the medical school and university hospital. Most were non-students whom they could not identify. At least two students were arrested. They told us of being taken to the office of Anti-Gang commander Joanis for an interrogation. While the two students were in Joanis's office, soldiers walked in with spray paint cans, FENEH leaflets, pictures of Aristide and a banner from the demonstration saying "Students Rise Up to Resist the Coup Plotters." They said these items constituted evidence against the two young men, although nothing linked them to the materials. After five hours in a cell, the two university students were sent to see Joanis a second time. The commander said they had been arrested for "subversive activities," and he listed many countries in which communist regimes had recently fallen and asked why Aristide and the students were still communists. Speaking loudly, he lectured them:
Aristide can't come back to Haiti. The streets are in my hands. No one can go out in the street without my permission. You are behind the times. You won't get what you're looking for. I have spies in all the faculties who pose as students.
He concluded by admonishing them, "Don't engage in politics and demonstrations stick to your lessons!" and released them.
On July 16, the day after the incident, the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations sent two lawyers to investigate the incident at the Medical School. The lawyers gathered some students and went to the justice of the peace for the southern section of Port-au-Prince on Rue d'Ennery to request that he conduct an investigation and write an official report (constat). The judge demanded $150 for the job, even though the faculty was only a short distance from the courthouse. (The law sets the fee for this service at $20.) The students gathered $100 and offered it to the judge, which he accepted.
The judge then went to the faculty and interviewed students who had participated in the rally and other eyewitnesses. Despite the unanimous testimony of victims and other witnesses, and despite pressure
from the two lawyers, the judge refused to write down that it was soldiers in blue uniforms from the Investigations and Anti-Gang Service who had entered the school's courtyard. When we interviewed the lawyers on July 27, they told us that some students and bystanders arrested in the Solomon market were still being held in the Investigations and Anti-Gang Service. "We can't do anything to get them out," they said. "If we tried, if we told Anti-Gang leaders we don't believe their claims that they arrested no one they would arrest us and beat us."
Northwest Students Association
The Northwest Students Association (Association des Etudiants du Nord Ouest, AENO) is a regional student organization that was founded after the failed elections of November 1987 to address the problems faced by students from northwestern Haiti who attend the national university in Port-au-Prince as well as those in school in their home province. In Port-au-Prince, AENO's fifty members work on student welfare issues such as room and board and social activities. In the Northwest, AENO targets social problems: the organization set up education projects in Port-de-Paix high schools to advise students about their college options and to help them prepare for university entrance exams. AENO also launched a health education campaign in the high schools, teaching students about cholera, AIDS, and other preventable diseases.
AENO flourished under President Aristide's government. We interviewed a 26-year-old founding member of AENO in late June 1992. AENO's success during the Aristide period, the student said, was a function of the political and social changes taking place in Haiti: the country was becoming less authoritarian and the government was making a real effort to meet the needs of the people. Students felt that they could make a difference.
Since the coup, he explained, the organization had been unable to continue its activities because of the army's repeated attacks on student groups. Three AENO members were among those imprisoned on November 12, 1991, after soldiers broke up a student assembly at the Science Faculty. Three or four members of AENO from Port-de-Paix were unable to return to the city because they feared arrest. As a result, AENO has been forced to suspend its public service programs in the Port-de-Paix high schools. Many members from rural areas, especially the rural sections of Jean Rabel, could not go home because they feared that the local section chiefs would immediately arrest them as student
The only time the students have attempted to meet was in late May 1992, when AENO held an emergency gathering to discuss the wave of student arrests in Port-au-Prince. The founding member of AENO said he was be too scared to hold a meeting at his house because it would draw attention to him and possibly spark reprisals from the military.
National Institute for Professional Training
In 1988, students at the Pilot School for Vocational Training (Centre Pilote de Formation Professionnelle) in Port-au-Prince organized a student group affiliated with the state-run National Institute for Professional Training (Institut National de Formation Professionnelle, INFP). Berthony Jean Francois, 26, enrolled in the school in 1989 and quickly became an INFP delegate. He and the other delegates in the school met weekly among themselves and monthly with leaders from other schools. In late 1991, Jean Francois said, INFP organized demonstrations against the de facto government in Port-au-Prince.
Jean Francois came home to La Gonave immediately after the coup and went into hiding with his entire family. On March 16, 1992, he returned to his school in Port-au-Prince. The entire staff running the school had been replaced, including the headmaster, the discipline leader, and his teacher. When he met with the new director, the man questioned him about his participation in organizations and in the 1991 INFP demonstrations.
I could say neither yes nor no because by this time it was clear where he was going. I told him this. He said 'Gen yon jou pou chase, yon jou pou jibye (There's a day for the hunter and a day for the prey). He was saying, 'you radical students had your day in the sun; now is our time, we who are willing to collaborate with the regime.' He told me to go, and expelled me from school.
At the time of this meeting, Jean Francois was a third-year student about to get his diploma. He returned to La Gonave and then tried unsuccessfully to flee to the United States to continue his education.
High School Students
High school students participate in a national organization called Students' Concerns (Zafe Elev Lekdl, ZEL). Like FENEH, ZEL includes students from both public and private schools and focuses on national issues. ZEL is complemented by a number of regional high school student organizations that plan social events and work on regional social issues. In spring of 1992, high school students in Port-au-Prince and in the provinces held demonstrations against the de facto government on the grounds of their schools. While protests by university students had been part of the political scene for decades, this activism by younger students had been less prominent.
In late April and early May 1992, students at the public high school Lycee Philippe Guerrier, in the southern town of Les Cayes, staged peaceful anti-military demonstrations. As the students shouted slogans such as "Down with Cedras" and "Long Live Aristide," soldiers encircled the schools and held the students hostage for several hours, according to a teacher at the College Numa, Paul Yves Joseph.
On May 14, students held a pro-Aristide demonstration on the grounds of the College Mixte de Sion, a private high school in Les Cayes. Soldiers with automatic weapons surrounded the school compound and blocked off the street. A math teacher at the school named Frantz Guillite drove by during the standoff. Soldiers forced their way into his car and ordered him to drive to the police station, where he was arrested and detained.
On May 22, students at high schools Lycee Pinchinat and College Suisse, in the southeastern town of Jacmel, held peaceful demonstrations inside their school courtyards, chanting political slogans such as "Down with the army" and "Long live Aristide." Troops surrounded the schools and held the students hostage for several hours. Soldiers threatened, arrested and beat passersby, including activist Marie-Ange Noel.
Interclass High School Student's Movement
We interviewed 18-year-old Nicodeme Clermont, of the northern village of Moustique, near Plaine du Nord. Clermont was a student at the public high school Lycee National Philippe Guerrier, and a member of the Moustique Youth Association (Association Jeunes de Moustique, AJM) and the Interclass High School Student's Movement (Mouvement Interclass des Eleves de Lycee, MIEL). The AJM and MIEL still manage to meet secretly
but with difficulty since the director of his school under Aristide, Joseph Jasmin, was replaced by Lorime Dieudonne, who she described as a Macoute. Jasmin has not been able to return to Cap Hai'tien since the coup.
Clermont was studying by the road on the morning of February 8, 1992, when Corporal Maculay Francois, the top officer in Plaine du Nord, passed by.
He hit me with his stick on my arms and head. He cut my. head. As a student, I was in different organizations and he recognized me. The section chief of Morne Rouge, Lebo, was with him and told him to arrest me. But Lebo was the one who let me go eventually, because he is close with my grandparents. I went back and laid down in my house and then later I went to see the doctor. Still today, I have headaches because of that beating. My arms are in pain, too.
Association of Grand Goave Students in Port-au-Prince
We interviewed Soeurrette Paul, a student at College Gerard Douger, a private high school in Port-au-Prince. Paul is a member of the Association of Grand Goave Students in Port-au-Prince (Asosyasyon Elev Grangwav nan Potoprens, AEGP). After the military coup, Paul and other members of AEGP were threatened with arrest and forced to leave their schools. The majority of AEGP members have missed a year of school because of the post-coup violence, Paul said, and the organization has been largely immobilized. AEGP joined another student organization, the Grand Goave Students' Organization (Oganizasyon Elev Grangwav, OEG), and other popular organizations in publishing a clandestine report on human rights violations called the "File on Repression and Torture in Grand Goave from 30 September 1991 to 6 March 1992."
Many teachers were targeted by the military during the spring of 1992, a period in which numerous student protests against the de facto government were taking place. We heard several first-hand reports of primary and high school teachers being arrested and detained by government troops. In many of the cases, the teachers were accused of
distributing pro-Aristide leaflets. One of the founding members of AENO told us that he knew five professors from Port-de-Paix who were unable to return to the city because they feared arrest. Clearly, some teachers are active in the struggle for democracy. Others however, appear to be singled out by the military because they are presumed to incite student radicalism. Quite possibly, the army hopes to deter student organizing and chill student speech by mistreating these authority figures.
Elementary School Teacher Sought by Army
We interviewed a Catholic elementary school teacher in the village of Ale, in the Artibonite. He told us that church workers and teachers in Ale started having problems with the army in December 1991.
On December 8, a group of soldiers led by Corporal "Twenty-one Nations" Eldume came to his house looking for him. They also sought Leures Sidor, an organizer with a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) development group, and Presnel Prophete, the local communal police agent under Aristide. All three were able to escape, but soldiers occupied the area for five hours.
The teacher told us that he had to leave Ale again on February 8, 1992, after the corporal and others arrested MCC worker Pierre Burkhalter and forced him to drive the soldiers to the home of the teacher and Leures Sidor. The teacher said:
Luckily, we weren't there. They actually passed me in the road, but Pierre pretended he didn't know or notice me and he sped by so I wouldn't call out to him by mistake....I spent a week in hiding that time, outside. I hate being in hiding and I came back. The only protection I have is that they just don't know me, so it's very hard for them to take me by surprise.
High School Teacher Exime Arrested
Sulfrid Jeune Exime is a high school teacher in the town of Gros Morne, in the Artibonite. According to the Justice and Peace Commission, Exime was arrested on April 25, 1992 for allegedly distributing leaflets in the streets of Gros Morne. He was imprisoned for twelve days, part of the time in Gonai'ves. He was released after a hearing before a judge.
Teacher and Lawyer Threatened
Paul Yves Joseph, a lawyer and educator, was targeted at the time of demonstrations at high schools in Les Cayes in late April and early May 1992, although students at Joseph's own school did not demonstrate. Joseph founded the private high school College Edgard Nere Numa, and was appointed by the Aristide government to be the director of education for the South.
Joseph told us that on May 5, two uniformed soldiers arrived at his house armed with machine guns, revolvers, grenades and nightsticks. They approached the gate and spoke with Joseph, who told them that they could enter only if they left their weapons outside and that they could arrest him only if they had a valid warrant. Before leaving, the soldiers pointed their machine guns at him and at the house and threatened to shoot him.
Joseph and his family finally were forced to flee Les Cayes on May 30, when soldiers ransacked his home, including the office he uses for his law practice, while he was out. He later returned, but according to the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Joseph was arrested on September 8 by three soldiers as he argued a case at the City Tribunal in Les Cayes. He was questioned about acts of supposed "terrorism" in the area and later released.
Teacher Arrested and Tortured
A teacher at a private high school in Les Cayes, Ecole Normale Privee, and the director of the Regional Teaching Center (Centre de Pedagogie Regionale), told us about his arrest in February 1992. He supervised literacy work in each Catholic parish in the South for the Diocesan Literacy Committee, and was a coordinator for the Lavalas movement.
On February 6, one uniformed soldier and three in plainclothes searched his house under the direction of Lieutenant Pyram. The soldiers, who were armed with automatic weapons, were accompanied by a justice of the peace. The teacher had been warned that they were coming after him. He had made sure his house contained no pictures of Aristide, or other "damaging" documents such as political leaflets. The soldiers found nothing and did not arrest him. After this incident he fled into hiding, sleeping in a different place each night, and only rarely at home.
The teacher was arrested on May 30 and held in army custody until June 8. On June 2, army officers interrogated him and had soldiers torture him. He said that the officers accused him of writing a leaflet that they had found in Port Salut and of creating disorder in Les Cayes. After the teacher denied the charges, he was beaten on the ears, back, one arm and side.
Teacher Arrested and Beaten
Edzer Felix, a primary school teacher in Cayes Jacmel, in the Southeast, was arrested and beaten the evening of July 17, 1992, following the celebration of the town's festival for its patron saint, Mont Carmel. That evening, leaflets bearing Aristide's picture were distributed. Felix was accused of distributing the leaflets, and was arrested in the street. He was released the next morning. In early June, Felix had gone into hiding in Port-au-Prince after he was accused of distributing leaflets. He had returned to Cayes Jacmel right before the festival, in part because of de facto prime minister Marc Bazin's assurances that he would end human rights abuses in the country.
Spanish Class Harassed
In March 1992, a Spanish class being taught by Sister Hersilia Carrascal in the Ale church, near Verrettes in the Artibonite, was interrupted several times by armed men. At the first class meeting on March 15 the chief of the third section came to the church dressed in civilian clothes with two armed deputies. Sister Hersilia asked the three men to enter, but they said, "no, we're just watching."
At the next meeting of the class on March 18, two soldiers in uniform and two in plainclothes appeared and asked "What are you doing? Is this a Lavalas meeting?" According to a student who was present, the soldiers said they came to the class "because people from Desarmes are coming to Ale to create disorder."
The class was canceled after a last session on March 22, when the section chief sent a message to Sister Hersilia saying, "If you want to meet, you will have to do it in front of the barracks."
French Class Cancelled
Two eyewitnesses told us of an incident that occurred in the Artibonite around the beginning of January 1992. During a period when regular schools were closed, Father Max Dominique was teaching a French class for secondary school students at the Centre Formation Communautaire Paul VI in Pont Sondd.
At 9:00 a.m., about twenty uniformed soldiers from the barracks, including Corporal "Twenty-one Nations" Eldume and Sergeant Reynand, arrived in a pickup truck and a four-door Toyota jeep. The soldiers were armed with revolvers, automatic weapons, grenades and tear gas. The soldiers disrupted the class, saying, "We heard this was a political meeting to talk about Aristide." They confronted Father Dominique and told him, "you're doing politics here, and pro-Aristide stuff."
After Father Dominique talked to the soldiers for a while, they left the school. But many parents of the eighty students were thereafter afraid to send their children to the class. It stopped meeting two weeks later.
Chapter 9 THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Priests and lay church activists have suffered unprecedented persecution since the coup. Haiti is 70-80 percent Catholic and the church is one of the strongest institutions in the country; it has commanded respect, sometimes grudging, from a long succession of regimes in Port-au-Prince. The Catholic Church is widely credited with providing crucial institutional support and moral leadership in the struggle against the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier in the early and mid-1980s. Much of the Haitian church enthusiastically adopted the "preferential option for the poor" and began community organizing and grass-roots development projects alongside its traditional evangelical and pastoral work.
Under previous Haitian regimes, the church occasionally came under attack; foreign priests were expelled from the country under the Duvaliers; in 1987 and 1988, armed gunmen tried to assassinate Father Aristide; mass-goers were massacred at his Church of St. Jean Bosco in September 1988; and there have been other incidents. But in no other period have large numbers of priests, Haitian and foreign-born, been arrested; never before have churches and rectories been illegally searched by armed soldiers; and never before have gunmen opened fire around and upon churches with impunity.
The Haitian church's response to the continuing attacks has been muted. When priests have been arrested, their bishops have appealed directly to the provincial military commanders involved, usually obtaining their release swiftly, but have not made public protests. The Bishops' Conference has criticized the OAS-sponsored trade embargo of Haiti more directly than it has the harassment and violence of its members.
Attacks on churches, priests and lay activists have continued steadily since the coup. The victims are usually church workers who assist popular organizations, work with the church's Justice and Peace Commission, support the Ti Legliz, or favor the return of President Aristide.
In a recent incident, a priest's refusal to offer blessings to the army led to an attack. Not long after midnight on November 19, 1992, the rectory of the Catholic church in Aquin, near Les Cayes in the south, was the target of heavy gunfire. At least 35 bullets struck the building, some of them shattering windows in the parish priest's bedroom. Local
church people believed the attack was linked to the refusal of Father Michel Briand, a Frenchman, to offer a Te Deum mass (implying the church's blessing) on November 18, Armed Forces Day in Haiti.
Priests, Nuns and Religious Workers
The list of clerics arrested or otherwise harassed is long and continues to grow. A September 1992 report by the Karl Leveque Center (Sant Kal Levek), a member of the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations, provides preliminary statistics on persecution of religious workers in the country since the September 1991 coup.* The document lists over seventy-five religious workers who have been victims of military repression including intimidation, threats, beatings and arrests. Of the forty-two priests included in the list, eight were arrested, three were beaten, ten were forced to abandon their parishes due to threats, fourteen were pressured or threatened by armed soldiers during mass, and six had their churches searched. Of the twenty-one lay organizers listed as victims of military abuse, thirteen were arrested.
We learned first hand about several religious workers who were harassed and arrested:
Priest, three nuns and fifteen others arrested in church
On November 16, 1991, the section chief of Banane, near the border town of Anse-a-Pitre, in southern Haiti, arrested a priest, three nuns and some 15 lay persons during a mass in the village church. Yelling insults, he accused them of fomenting revolution.
According to Sister Hersilia Carrascal, a Colombian nun and member of the Religiosas Dominicas de la Presentation who lives and works in the Ale section of Verettes, she, two other nuns and Father Julio Acosta, from the Dominican Republic had come to celebrate a mass in Banane.
The bells rang three times for the mass. At 12 noon we went in. There were not many people there because it was a market day. In the middle of the mass the chief came in furiously. There were two other police, one at
See Appendix A.
each door, wearing uniforms and carrying rifles. He marched out onto the floor of the church, stopped the mass and ordered us all to go to the center of the church. The chief told the Father to take off his robe and ornamental sashes. He put everyone in a line and told us to walk in line to the caserne [military outpost].
The four clerics and some 35 local people were marched to the military post. The chef tpok three local activists off to another room and "hit them hard with his hand on their heads until blood began to flow." Most of the locals were let go, followed by the nuns. "They yelled insults at us, said we came to heat up the people's heads, to make revolution," Sister Hersilia recounted. The chief accused the priest of working with Radio Enriquillo, which he said was insulting General Cedras and the army.
I asked him what he accused us of and why he had arrested us. 'You never asked us anything, you never conducted an investigation,' I said. He said, 'You came here to incite the people to revolution. We spent seven months in silence [during Aristide's government] but we were preparing this coup, and now we have the power and we won't let it go.
The priest was freed that evening, after intervention by the Dominican army commander in Pedernales and a Dominican bishop. The three organizers were let go the following day, after receiving very bad beatings.
Priest and Seven Religious Workers Arrested After Letter to Pope
Father Andre Launay, a french priest of the Monfortain order, working in Gros Morne in the Artibonite, told us about his arrest on July 10, 1992. The trouble started when the section chief in Pendu, Benjamin Prophete, found out that an open letter signed by hundreds of Haitians, including some residents of Gros Morne, was being sent to Pope John Paul II. The letter criticized the Vatican's recognition of the post-coup government. Section chief Prophete pressured the leader of the Catholic church in Pendu, layman Francois Amylcar, to send him a copy of the
letter on July 7. Then he asked Amylcar to meet with him to explain the letter. When Amylcar informed the parish clergy about what had happened, Father Launay and a young Haitian priest nammed Dessier Predelus decided to meet with Prophete in Amylcar's place. On July 10, they went to the army post. Commander Ludovic Toussaint arrested Father Launay, who had signed the letter, but let go Father Dessier, who had not. He then decided to transfer Launay to the army base in Gonai'ves, the departmental capital. He himself and another soldier accompanied the priest on the hour-long bus trip. An officer there swore copiously at him and then marched Launay, still under arrest, to the bishopric where he was questionned by the provincial commander, Colonel Bellony Groshomme, and eventually authorized to return to his parish. Six others active in the Catholic church in the Pendu section were arrested by section chief Prophete or his deputies for having signed the letter: Hubert Jeannot, 64, leader of the catholic chapel ofBerard which is part of Pendu, and a member of the Justice and Peace Commission; Benajamin Jean, 46, leader of adult catechism at the Berard chapel; Mme. Inotes Simeon, 44, a member of the Catholic church; Leonie Vernet, 23, and Marie Virtha Charleston, 24, both leaders of the Catholic youth group Enfant de Lumiere, and Francois Mondesir, a member of the Justice and Peace Commission.
Bishop Willy Romelus
Willy Romelus, the Bishop of Jremie and the president of the Catholic church's human rights group Justice and Peace Commission, has been the victim of military harassment and threats on several occasions.
o On September 20, as Bishop Romulus returned to Jeremie from Port-au-Prince, his vehicle and baggage were meticulously searched for more than thirty minutes at the police headquarters by soldiers who threatened him.
o On September 23, as Bishop Romelus left for an ordination in Irois, his vehicle was stopped in Anse d'Hainault in front of the army post. A sergeant searched his vehicle and baggage, saying "Orders from our superiors, all vehicles must be searched."
o On September 24, at 1:00 a.m., soldiers banged on the door of the rectory. One of them shouted, "We're here for the Bishop!
Give us the Bishop of Shit." (Nou bezwen Monsenye! Bannou Monsenye kaka a!). The curate of the parish, Father Joel Calas, opened the door and found four soldiers in plainclothes armed with .22 caliber pistols and a uniformed sergeant with an Ml6. At one point, the five drew their weapons and seemed that they would fire. Finally, they left the parish after a corporal intervened.
o On September ,20 and 23, soldiers stopped his vehicle and searched its interior and Bishop Romelus's baggage.
o On September 24, five armed soldiers went to the rectory at 1:00 a.m. and demanded to see the bishop.
Father Phillip Jean-Pierre Arrested
One of those mentioned in the Karl Lcveque Center's report is Father Phillip Jean-Pierre, the parish vicar in Leogane, south of Port-au-Prince. We learned from a second priest in Leogane, who asked to remain anonymous, that soldiers arrested Father Jean-Pierre on May 21, tied his hands behind his back, threw him into a truck, and drove him to the local prison. The priest was put in a three-by-four-meter cell with thirty other people, most of whom had been arrested for trying to flee the country by boat.
When the district commander from Petit Goave arrived, he had Father Jean-Pierre transferred to a tiny cell. The next day he was taken to court in Petit Goave. The soldiers accused the priest of "inciting the people to violence" and "delivering subversive sermons." They presented some leaflets and pictures of Aristide as proof of their allegations. The priest's lawyer was able to secure the soldiers' admission that none of this evidence actually was found in Father Jean-Pierre's possession. After the court session, Father Jean-Pierre was "provisionally released," meaning that he was freed but not cleared of any charges against him.
The priest who told us this story emphasized that "the church is the only place where people can meet in Leogane. But even the church is not immune from attack." He recounted an incident in which soldiers entered the church yard during a meeting of parish leaders from satellite chapels. When he went out and told them it was only a church meeting, the soldiers agreed to leave. It is common for soldiers to come to mass in plainclothes to conduct surveillance. Such activity, he believes, may have
led to Father Jean-Pierre's arrest. Father Marcel Bussels
On June 2, a Belgian parish priest in the town of Balan, in Morne Rouge, the first section of Plaine du Nord, was arrested. At least nine uniformed and heavily armed soldiers from the northern city of Cap Hai'tien attacked Father Marcel Bussels's quarters, smashing a mimeograph machine, two typewriters, two radios and a tape recorder. The soldiers broke a door off an armoire in the sacristy, searched every room in the building and took documents pertaining to Bussel's involvement in the Balan Movement of Honor and Respect (Mouvement Honneur et Respect Balan, MOREB), an organization comprising peasants, merchants and fishers in the Morne Rouge section. They confiscated documents, newspapers, and the clandestine newsletter Kawoutchou. The soldiers also searched the house of several nuns who work with Father Bussels and destroyed two of their typewriters. Father Bussels was imprisoned in Cap Hai'tien and freed only on June 5 after the intervention of Bishop Gayot.
Cornelia Konrad, a German volunteer who works with Father Bussels and the nuns, witnessed the incident. She told us that the group that arrested the priest included a colonel, soldiers in khaki uniforms, and two men in civilian clothes. Konrad told us that it was not the first time that Father Bussels had been a target of the Haitian military. She showed us a chair with a bullet hole through the back from a November 1991 attempt to assassinate the priest.
Nun Detained and Searched
A nun who heads the Catholic sewing school near Hinche in the Central Plateau told us about her encounters with the army. Her school, which is inside the parish church compound, had not opened in October 1991 because of the post-coup violence. Three different times in November 1991, a corporal came into the school courtyard in uniform and threatened the staff. Once he banged a desk with his fist and screamed at one of the nuns: "I'm mad at Aristide and I'm mad at you! You don't want the country to advance! Open the schools already!" The schools did not start functioning until January 1992.
On June 22, 1992, the nun was returning to the Central Plateau from Port-au-Prince on public transportation. During a search at the
military outpost at Hinche, the soldiers found in her bag a copy of the church's magazine, Bon Nouvel, with a tiny photo of Aristide. They flew into a rage and ordered her to go to army headquarters in Hinche, where she was reprimanded by commander Josel Charles and told "not to bring magazines like this" into the area anymore.
Father Gilles Danroc and Others
The Pastoral Council of the La Chapelle parish in the Artibonite had called for a meeting of church leaders in the area. Father Gilles Danroc, a French priest who is the coordinator for the Justice and Peace Commission in the Artibonite, advised the La Chapelle magistrate of the meeting and the mass that was to follow the next day.
On June 6, 1992, the meeting began with introductions and a morning prayer. At about 10:00 a.m., two armed soldiers, Corporal Claude and Fanfan, burst into the room, proclaimed the meeting "prohibited," and arrested all fifteen people present, including Father Danroc. They imprisoned the whole group at the La Chapelle army post.
That afternoon, eight of the prisoners including Father Danroc were transferred to the barracks at Verrettes. On arrival, the four women (Guerda Exinor, Janise Laroche, Marie-Guirlaine Mondesir and Georgette Redasse-Dantes) were put into the women's cell, and the four men (Father Danroc, Luckner Simeus, Mathuren Elusma and Sixto Dantes) into the men's cell.
Around midnight, commander Pierre-Noel Brisse had the four men brought before him and heard their version of what they had been doing in the church. The commander announced that the prisoners would be transferred to the St. Marc prison, and Father Danroc was handcuffed. They arrived at St. Marc around 6:00 a.m. In the guard room, soldiers harassed the prisoners, calling them "communists" and "Lavalas," and denigrating the church. Anti-foreigner insults also followed toward Father Danroc.
At 10:00 a.m., the major called the prisoners into his office. Though accusing Father Danroc of organizing illegal meetings, he announced that he would free the foreigner. But Father Danroc refused to leave without the other detainees. Soldiers told the priest that the others would be beaten if he stayed, so he left the barracks, after informing the soldiers that one of the women, Georgette Redasse-Dantes, was pregnant.
After Father Danroc's departure, the seven other prisoners including the pregnant woman were forced to lean against the wall on their toes, supported only by their fingers. They were violently beaten with batons on the buttocks and back. They were also beaten on the soles of the feet. The prisoners were released during the afternoon of June 7.
Father Serge Pardo
According to the secretary and the officer of international relations for the Comite d'Action DSmocratique Contre la Repression (CADCREP), a human rights organization in the Southeast department, Father Serge Pardo was attacked numerous times in the weeks after the coup by soldiers at the Marigot barracks. A band of thugs attacked the priest's Marigot home several times, showering the rectory with stones. Faced with these threats, the priest had to leave Haiti for over a month. He returned to Marigot in July 1992, but continued to be subjected to verbal threats and taunts by military supporters.
Father Valery Rebecca
Father Valery Rebecca, the parish priest in Lomon in the Belle Riviere section of Mirago&ne, in the Grande Anse department, was arrested without a warrant on August 24, 1992 by three armed civilians and a soldier. The priest was brought to the barracks in Miragoane, and eventually released, after the intervention of the Bishop of Cayes, Monsignor Alix Verrier.
Ti Kominote Legliz
Ti Kominote Legliz (TKL) groups form the base of the Ti Legliz, or popular church movement. They hold bible and prayer meetings which are led by laypersons, and encourage broad democratic participation in church activities. Although some members of the Haitian Catholic Church's leadership have encouraged Ti Legliz groups, the TKL in general exists outside the traditional hierarchical structure of the church. The TKL movement was closely identified with Aristide both before and after his election as president.
In the Los Palis district of Hinche, TKL organizing began in 1982. By 1991, there were roughly forty TKL groups associated with the parish, each with an average of twenty members. Members met weekly, and the group leaders met monthly. Every year, the parish sent eight to ten TKL activists to a four-week training session at the diocesan training center, the Emai'ste Center. Typically, TKL group meetings included a discussion of the week's events, a Bible reading, and a talk about how the lesson could be applied to improve the participants' lives and limit their suffering.
Church leaders in Los Palis told us in July 1992, that none of the TKL groups had been able to meet since the coup because of specific statements by the notorious provincial officer Charles Josel (alias Commander Z), that "there will be no more TKL in the Central Plateau", and because of arrests and beatings of TKL leaders. A TKL organizer whose group used to meet each week after church under a big tree confirmed that neither her group nor any other she knew had been able to get together since the coup.
TKL groups in Thomonde in central Haiti emerged in 1984, and by the November 1987 elections numbered 94. After those elections were canceled amid armed assaults by military and paramilitary gangs, TKL leaders were accused of having supported Gerard Gourgue for president, and the military junta ruthlessly repressed them. Activists started organizing again in 1990, during the Trouillot presidency. They had rebuilt to the point of having thirty groups, each with thirty to sixty members, by the time of the September 1991 coup.
The resulting repression completely destroyed TKL's organization in Thomonde. Father Bien-Aime told us in July 1992 that none of the TKL groups had been able to meet. He estimated that over 250 people from the Thomonde parish went into hiding after the coup. When we visited the area in July 1992, at least 100 people were still "displaced," meaning that they were unable to live at home.