Haitian Student Killed During Protest


By MICHAEL NORTON, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Police fired warning shots and tear gas to break up a confrontation between Haitian protesters and their foes in front of the U.S. Consulate on Wednesday. One student was killed, apparently when he was struck by a tear-gas grenade.

The student protesters were demanding that President Jean-Bertrand Aristide step down. They were met by Aristide partisans who pelted them with rocks. 

One student was shot and killed near the consulate, apparently by a gun-fired tear gas grenade that hit him in the back and caused internal bleeding, said Dr. Eric Cantave, who removed the canister from the student’s back.

Dozens of students and parents crowded into the capital’s main Canape Vert Hospital, sobbing and shouting anti-government slogans.

Haiti has been in turmoil since Aristide’s Lavalas Family party swept 2000 legislative elections that observers said were flawed. In the past four months, at least 50 people have been killed.

The students want the United States to help them in calling for Aristide’s resignation. U.S. troops restored Aristide to power in 1994 after a coup.

“The United States is an important factor in the crisis. It has to assume its responsibility,” University of Haiti student leader Herve Saintilus said.

Officials temporarily shut down the U.S. Consulate because of the unrest, said Judith Trunzo, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy, which remained open and is about one mile from the consulate.

The protest was held outside the Consulate in defiance of a police order that limited demonstrations to a seaside square.

There was no immediate police comment about Wednesday’s shooting.

Caribbean leaders have been trying to solve the country’s three-year political impasse, meeting in the Bahamas last week with Haitian opposition members and with Aristide on Sunday.

Aristide will meet with regional leaders on Friday in Jamaica.

The opposition says it will not hold talks with the government or participate in new elections unless Aristide resigns. Aristide has said he plans to serve out his term, which ends in 2006.

“Aristide is pitting the police against the people,” opposition politician Evans Paul said.

Police broke up three student demonstrations last week with tear gas, saying they weren’t complying with a 1987 decree requiring protesters to submit plans two days before and to give names of participants.