Haitian Police Win Back Three Towns
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (AP) -- Armed loyalists of President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide set up blazing barricades Tuesday, vowing to attack rebels leading
a bloody uprising
that has spread to at least 11 towns and cost 42 lives.
Brandishing pistols, bands of drunken youths manned barricades and threw
rocks at passing cars in the northern port city of Cap-Haitien. They said
they were protecting
the half-million residents of Haiti's second-largest city, a former Aristide stronghold where support has dwindled as poverty increases.
``The opposition doesn't want to deal with Aristide, so we know we are
going to have to fight them,'' said Jesner Jean, 28, pacing along a barricade
of boulders and
Roadblocks have prevented food deliveries to tens of thousands of hungry
Haitians, the U.N. World Food Program warned from Geneva, and fuel tankers
blocked. Some gas stations have run out of fuel.
Police have regained control in three of the 11 towns, but the unrest has taken a heavy toll.
Aristide partisans were searching for rebels but also lashed out at members of the opposition coalition in Cap-Haitien.
Remy Charlot, 44, said Aristide militants gutted his restaurant overnight.
``Because I criticize the government, that's why they burned my restaurant,''
he told The
Associated Press. ``They came inside. They poured gasoline on all my stuff and they burned it.''
After sporadic gunbattles Monday, police regained control of the port
city of St. Marc, 45 miles west of Port-au-Prince, and nearby Grand-Goave.
At least two men were
shot in St. Marc and another was allegedly shot and killed by Aristide supporters, who left the headless body at the roadside.
At Dondon, 12 miles outside Cap-Haitien, police helped by a pro-Aristide
militia managed to fight off rebels Monday and regain control of the town,
officials said. Aristide
supporters then torched houses of nine anti-government activists there, Radio Vision 2000 reported.
The uprising began Thursday in Haiti's fourth-largest city, Gonaives,
presenting a dangerous turning point in Haiti's three-year political crisis.
A similar revolt in 1985 also
started in Gonaives and led to the downfall of the 29-year Duvalier family dictatorship.
Opposition politicians and civilians distanced themselves from the revolt,
denying government contentions they were uniting with the rebels to stage
a coup. ``Our means
are peaceful,'' opposition leader Evans Paul said after a meeting Monday of the Democratic Platform, made up of political groups, civic leaders, clergy and students.
The United States was ``pushing very hard for an end to violence,''
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Tuesday. He said the Bush
urging government leaders and the opposition to accept help from the Caribbean Community.
Last month, Trinidad's leader Patrick Manning said Caribbean nations were ready to send peacekeepers to Haiti, but Aristide's government rebuffed the offer.
``There's been altogether too much violence in Haiti's history,'' Boucher said.
Tolls put together from witnesses, Red Cross officials, rebel leaders and radio reports indicate at least 42 people, including policemen, have been killed in the uprising.
Haiti has suffered more than 30 coups in 200 years, the last in 1991
when Aristide was ousted just months after becoming the Caribbean nation's
first freely elected
leader. President Clinton sent 20,000 U.S. troops in 1994 to restore Aristide, who then abolished the army.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday the U.S. military has ``no plans to do anything'' in Haiti.
With fewer than 5,000 poorly armed police, the government force has
been outgunned and outnumbered. Numerous police stations have been torched
are accused of siding with Aristide supporters in protests that began in mid-September. Dozens have been killed since then in clashes with police and Aristide partisans.
Tension has mounted since Aristide's party won flawed legislative elections
in 2000 and international donors blocked millions of dollars in aid. Misery
has deepened, with
most of the nation's 8 million people unemployed and living on less than $1 a day despite election promises from Aristide, a former priest who had vowed to bring dignity
to the poor.
In Cap-Haitien, Thaniel Toussaint, 24, vowed to fight for Aristide and said, clutching a pistol in his trouser pocket, ``We're not going to be afraid.''