The Miami Herald
Sun, Feb. 15, 2004
Notorious figures return from exile to aid gangs

A former police chief accused of fomenting a coup and a man convicted of murdering an Aristide supporter appear to be backing the uprising.


GONAIVES, Haiti - Two of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's worst nightmares are back.

Guy Philippe and Louis Jodel Chamblain, notorious members of the military junta that toppled Aristide in 1991 and the paramilitary FRAPH group that terrorized his supporters, appeared at a news conference here Friday with the leader of a nearly 2-week-old revolt against the president.

The Haitian armed forces toppled Aristide seven months into his first term, in 1991, but the former Catholic priest was returned to power after a U.S. invasion in 1994. He was reelected in 2001.

Aristide disbanded the military in 1995, apparently fearing more coups. But a few small groups of armed ex-soldiers were reported roaming the countryside last year, charging ''tolls'' from passing vehicles and farmers.

Now Philippe, a former soldier and once police chief of Cap Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city, appears to have thrown his lot in with Butteur Métayer, leader of the anti-Aristide gunmen who have control of Gonaives, a port city on Haiti's western coast.

''If we have Philippe, we will have more power,'' Métayer told reporters at the news conference Friday, flanked by Philippe and Chamblain. ``Soon we will take . . . Port-au-Prince.''

Philippe and six other police officials were first accused by the Aristide government of trying to ''destabilize'' the country in October 2000. He denied the allegation and fled to the Dominican Republic.

He and four other Haitians were detained later in the Dominican Republic on allegations that they organized a coup attempt and attack on Aristide's National Palace in December 2001. A least 12 people died in the attack. He reportedly was released last May and was presumed to be living in the Dominican Republic.

He once said in a radio interview that it was ``a duty for every citizen to plot against [Aristide], . . . who is killing the country.''

Chamblain is another notorious Aristide foe.

In 1993, while Aristide was in exile, Chamblain was deputy to Emmanuel ''Toto'' Constant, leader of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, or FRAPH, a paramilitary group that attacked critics of the regime.

In 1995, Chamblain was among seven men closely linked to the military government who were convicted in absentia of the murder of prominent Aristide supporter Antoine Izméry and sentenced to life at hard labor.

Chamblain also had been reported to be living in the Dominican Republic.

Cradling an automatic weapon in his lap, Chamblain didn't speak during the news conference. But he joined in the group's closing chants of "Liberty or Death!''