The government yesterday published its report on the events which occurred in Haiti on 17 December 2001 [when an alleged attempted coup d’etat, involving an attack on the National Palace, was followed by a crackdown by the police on opposition groups, which provoked violent clashes and damage to opposition premises]. We have with us our colleague, Leontes Dorzilme, who is going to give us more information:
[Dorzilme] Good afternoon, Regine. Good afternoon to all listeners. Indeed, as previously announced, the executive branch, specifically the Justice Ministry, published its report yesterday evening on the various steps taken by the government within the framework of implementing all of the recommendations made by the independent OAS [Organization of American States] commission which investigated the 17 December events.
In this sense [pauses] in order to give context to the situation which occurred when the attack was perpetrated against the National Palace, the report does not mention the word coup d’etat at all. However, it says that an attack was perpetrated against the National Palace on the night of 16-17 December 2001. The perpetrators of this attack spoke Spanish and Creole. They entered the National Palace aboard three vehicles without number plates. The vehicles were pickup trucks with extended cabs, including one which had a big M-50 submachine gun mounted on it, according to the Justice Ministry report. The Justice Ministry therefore denies the previous information, according to which the people were taken to the National Palace in one pickup.
The people had weapons in their hands. They entered the National Palace and fired many shots in all directions. They ransacked everywhere they went into the National Palace, particularly the office of the president of the republic. We are still reading what is written in this report.
Furthermore, while giving details on the situation at the National Palace, the report explains that when those people saw that the crowd was growing larger and that the members of that crowd were expressing their anger, the occupants of the National Palace managed to vacate the premises. However, according to the Justice Ministry, they fired their weapons in order to force their way out but the ministry does not say from where they exited.
With regard to the subsequent acts of violence, the Justice Ministry does not clearly say who is responsible for the acts of violence which were perpetrated. The Justice Ministry says only that, after the departure of the people who entered the National Palace, several scenes of violence were recorded in the streets of the capital and in the provincial cities. In the cities, as well as in the countryside, a number of private residences were ransacked. The premises of political parties and residences of opposition political leaders were also ransacked. Threats were made against radio stations. However, the Justice Ministry does not specify who made those threats.
Concerning the Petit-Goave area, a number of journalists complained that they were mistreated. In Petit-Goave itself, the Justice Ministry says, opposition demonstrators attacked and burnt properties which belonged to members of the ruling party.
The events took on a particular dimension in Gonaives because of the death of a person who was close to an opposition political party, according to what the Justice Ministry says in this report.