The series of confrontations between armed gangs and blue helmets continued in Cite Soleil over the weekend. It has already left several injured. This armed movement is aimed at driving the U.N. members away from this big shantytown. The following is a report by Charles Hubert Zamor:
There is more fear than peace in Cite Soleil these days. In other words, the men of this area have taken up weapons again to defend their territory against the members of MINUSTAH (U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti), who represent their biggest enemies, according to them. Cite Soleil, where an apparent calm reigned after the election of Rene Garcia Preval as president of Haiti, has turned once again into a shooting range. (automatic weapons fire heard in background) Numerous people are victims every day as a result of the assaults by members of the U.N. forces, according to these ghetto men. Jean Rodney, who has a gunshot wound, and Williams, also known as Ti Blan, spokesman for the National Movement To Save Haiti (Mouvman Nasyonal pou Sove Ayiti), describe the interventions of the MINUSTAH soldiers as unacceptable. They justify this new general outcry:
Rodney: MINUSTAH soldiers shot at me while I did not do anything against them. I was lucky to be struck by a bullet in the arm. We did nothing against these MINUSTAH members. No violence is being perpetrated. Kidnappings are no longer perpetrated in Cite Soleil. I would understand if these men came to do these things when there were kidnappings. But there is nothing wrong and all the men are quiet.
Zamor: What is your biggest problem with the MINUSTAH soldiers given that you always have small problems? You say that they used to attack you here. What is the problem exactly?
Williams: MINUSTAH’s principle is that given that they believe?I am talking about the Brazilians as they know that they are the heads of MINUSTAH in the country?they believe that they can establish a sort of slavery on us. This is not at all possible because we are Haitians. We do not have an interest, after we took our independence in 1804, to continue to let foreigners make violence against us. We say: alone we are weak and united we are strong. We will continue to fight peacefully. No matter how things are, we will have to go to the streets in the next few days in order to demand the departure of MINUSTAH. They want us to go back to slavery. But we will not go back to slavery. As long as MINUSTAH is here, we are telling you as a journalist that there will be no development in the poor neighborhoods. A television set may be brought here on the occasion of the Soccer World Cup. Then a MINUSTAH vehicle comes and wants to verify what is happening or they would like to take the television set and break it.
Zamor: In the meantime, every 10 metres, a strong mobilization can be observed in Cite Soleil where several dozen heavily armed youths gather in order to define retaliation strategies against the attacks of the U.N. troops against whom they have proved to be very hostile. (Groups of people complaining and chanting: “Down with MINUSTAH.”)
Unidentified speaker: We have reached a point where we say down with MINUSTAH. It has been a long time since weapons were not used in the area.
Zamor: If you had to ask President Preval for something, what would it be?
Unidentified speaker: We would ask him to send the MINUSTAH members back to their country. We do not want to negotiate with them. Down with them!
Zamor: These days, contrary to the period that followed the elections of February 7, the worry of the deprived masses is markedly observed in the country’s biggest shantytown because of this upsurge of tension. The demands of these protesters are clear and precise: Chase the MINUSTAH soldiers away from Cite Soleil. To do what?