The Miami Herald
Nov. 04, 2003
Protesters call for Aristide to resign

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- (AP) -- Followers of a slain gang leader demonstrated in a seaside shantytown bordering the capital Monday, calling on President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to resign.

Blocking streets with big rocks and shouting ''Down with Aristide!'' about 100 protesters called for justice, accusing Cité Soleil Mayor Fritz Joseph of having sent a rival to kill Wilson Lemaire.

Joseph, who is a member of Aristide's Lavalas Family party, denied the accusations, saying Lemaire killed a rival gang member Wednesday and the rival's followers sought revenge on their own. Lemaire was never charged with killing anyone.

The 23-year-old Lemaire, called ''Colobri'' or ''humming bird'' in English, was killed Saturday evening in Cité Soleil, a deeply impoverished area of 200,000 people. Lemaire was shot nine times, said Bernard Casseus, another Cité Soleil gang leader, in an interview with Radio Vision 2000.

An Aristide stronghold, Cité Soleil is six square miles of landfill that borders the capital Port-au-Prince. It became a city this year.

''Many people are happy,'' Joseph said, accusing Lemaire of shaking down shopkeepers and street merchants. Authorities also said the gang was involved in armed robberies and ransom kidnappings.

Several other Aristide street activist leaders have been killed in unclear circumstances this year. At least 13 people have been killed and 38 wounded in six weeks of protest.

Since the September killing of gang leader Amiot Metayer, his followers have torched government buildings and clashed with police in west-coast Gonaves. Police have retaliated with bloody raids.

Metayer's followers say the government masterminded Metayer's killing to prevent him from revealing compromising information. The government denies this.