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Peace-keepers bare their racism

From Haiti Progres,
Vol. 13, no. 1, 29 March to 4 April 1995

Some press reports this week noted that continued insecurity, the high cost of living, massive unemployment, and the total lack of justice are fueling the growing disenchantment with the US occupation of Haiti. Above all, the collaboration between occupation forces and the military-macoute sector is leading to bitter resentment, and, in some cases, open demonstrations toward the occupation army. In Cap Haitien earlier this month, a demonstration of some one thousand people demanded the ouster of Prime Minister Smarck Michel and chanted slogans against the US presence and the neo-liberal program. An Argentine international police monitor was roughed up by the crowd in the Mar. 20 demonstration.

But intoxicated by power, US forces are revealing their contempt for the Haitian people with racist diatribes. In Les Cayes earlier this month, local Haitian officials were subjected to verbal and physical abuse by US Special Forces. US Col. Clyde Meeks, the commander of the US Special Forces in the region, invited four officials to a social meeting with him on Mar. 8.

But when the officials showed up, they were locked in a room and one Special Forces soldier started to abuse them. He greatly insulted us, saying all Haitians were thieves, dogs, pederasts and that we did not have the right to speak, said Jean Eddy Carmant, an official with Electricity of Haiti (EDH). When Meeks came into the room, he demanded to know why EDH did not supply electricity. When Carmant tried to respond, Meeks said, Shut up! You have no right to speak! Then two soldiers carried Carmant into another room where they forced him to the ground, hitting and shoving him. After more abuse, the US soldiers threw Carmant, saying Dog, get outside! A couple of days later, a US delegation formally apologized to three of the men. Carmant went into hiding. Ironically, the Haitian government also sent the Minister of Defense, Gen. Wilthan Lherisson, to apologize for the US deeds. To top it off, Lherisson was accompanied by a notoriously repressive Haitian army officer who, during the coup, had made Lavalas militants eat the posters they were caught disbursing.

Similar incidents of US harassment have occurred in Les Cayes. The EDH director in a nearby town also faced abuse from US troops when he tried to defend employees that they accused of robbery. I think they are worse than the Haitian army which is logical since they are the ones who trained the army in the first place, he said.

Davis Nemour, the regional director of the Ministry of Information, also reports harassment by US troops. When a local radio station reported the names of several local residents accused of human rights abuses, US troops showed up at the station after complaints from the accused. When they found Nemour, they became aggressive and reportedly said, Oh, you're the one who does not want to collaborate. You're under arrest. He was roughed up and eventually released. The US troops also turned off the radio station's generator for some time.