FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Haitian Police Open Fire on Nonviolent Demostrators

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

One year ago today, the elected government of Haiti, led by President Jean Betrand Aristide, was forced out of office and replaced by unlected people more satisfactory to business interests and the US, France and Canada.

Today there was a large nonviolent March for Democracy called for the neighborhood of Bel-Air (Beautiful Air). I attended with Pere Gerard Jean-Juste and others from St. Clare’s Parish. We started with prayers in the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the center of Bel Air. After prayers we joined the larger crowd outside marching and singing through the streets of the old and quite poor neighborhood. Thousands of people were walking and dancing to the beat of drums, loudly chanting, “Bring Back Titi (Aristide)!!!!” in Creole, French and English.

Fr. Jean-Juste has become one of the main voices for democracy in Haiti since his release from prison several weeks ago after 48 days in jail with no charges. He was interviewed two dozen times by local and international media during the walk with the crowd. It all seemed like a peaceful unorganized mardi gras parade until I noticed the Reuters correspondent was wearing a bullet proof vest. MINUSTAH, the UN security presence was all around. The giant moving party continued down Des Cesar Street. The street was packed from side to side with people carrying signs, umbrellas, and handmade cardboard posters all calling for the return of democracy and Aristide. Neighborhood people joined in or clapped and danced from their front steps.

Suddenly, at the corner of Monsiegneur Guillot Street and Des Cesar, there was a loud boom from very close by. People started screaming and running. Another boom, then another. As people fled, I slipped on a pile of fruit and tried deperately to hide behind a very small tree. As people rushed past and dove into an opening in a concrete wall, the booms continued. I then dove though the wall and hid behind a one foot wide concrete pillar. The booms continued. People were down in the street. I saw a big white official looking truck hurtling down the street as the booms continued. Others saw police in black uniforms, helmets, ski masks, and large guns shooting into the crowd. People around me were huddled under stairs and crying. The group from St. Clare’s pulled me into a corner and we we rolled into a ball until the booms stopped.

Out on the street a man was down and unconscious. Fr. Jean-Juste knelt over him and prayed. Down the street others were carrying injured people on their backs. The crowd screamed that the police were coming back and we ran down an alley into a small home. Children were screaming, adults were crying, everyone was in fear. We waited, dirty and drenched in sweat, until the growing UN presence made it safe to leave.

Early reports document several people shot, including journalists, at least one killed. Others were beaten. Two men showed me where the police wounded them.

As we drove slowly out of the now deserted neighborhood, the faces of the people on the porches who were so happy minutes before, were now somber, many crying.

As we rode back to his parish, Fr. Jean-Juste said: “The Aristide supporters were such a big number, it was very difficult to have a proper estimation of the crowd. The message is clear. Our vote has been counted. It still must be counted. There is no other way for Haiti to go forward but with the return of constitutional order, the release of all political prisoners, and the physical return of President Aristide.”

Though the march for democracy in Haiti was halted by police shooting into the unarmed crowd, the people I talked to said their march for the return of democracy in Haiti will continue.

BILL QUIGLEY is a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He can be reached at quigley@loyno.edu

More articles by:

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
Ron Jacobs
Impeach!
Lawrence Davidson
A Tale of Two Massacres
José Tirado
A World Off Balance
Jonah Raskin
Something Has Gone Very Wrong: An Interview With Ecuadoran Author Gabriela Alemán
J.P. Linstroth
Myths on Race and Invasion of the ‘Caravan Horde’
Dean Baker
Good News, the Stock Market is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth
David Rosen
It’s Time to Decriminalize Sex Work
Dan Glazebrook
US Calls for a Yemen Ceasefire is a Cynical Piece of Political Theatre
Jérôme Duval
Forced Marriage Between Argentina and the IMF Turns into a Fiasco
Jill Richardson
Getting Past Gingrich
Dave Lindorff
Not a Blue Wave, But Perhaps a Foreshock
Martha Rosenberg
Dangerous, Expensive Drugs Aggressively Pushed? You Have These Medical Conflicts of Interest to Thank
Will Solomon
Not Much of a Wave
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Yemeni War Deaths are Five Times Higher Than You’ve Been Led to Believe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail