From Mon Nov 25 12:40:01 2002
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 08:29:14 -0600 (CST)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Haiti mailing list <>
Subject: 13786: (Chamberlain) Haiti private sector decries ’climate of terror’ (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <>

Haiti private sector decries ‘climate of terror’

By Michael Deibert, Reuters, 24 November 2002

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Nov 24 (Reuters)—In another blow to embattled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s largest private sector association blamed high authorities on Sunday for allowing a climate of terror to roil the poor nation.

In unison, we raise our voices in indignation, an association of 18 businesses and chambers of commerce from around the Caribbean country said in a statement after a week of protests and shootings. The private sector cannot accept ... orchestrated criminal actions, planned and implemented with the taxes of taxpayers and the equipment of the state.

People acting under the protection of high authorities ... have set up a climate of terror, the statement said.

The business leaders’ message follows a week of large-scale protests against Aristide’s government and tire-burning counter-demonstrations by armed supporters of the president that paralyzed the capital on Friday.

The business group called for the arrests of some government supporters suspected of leading disturbances, including Amiot Metayer, who had briefly been at odds with Aristide over his imprisonment for gang-related activity. Metayer, a fugitive who staged a spectacular jailbreak in August, led a pro-government rally in the provincial city of Gonaives on Friday.

Friday’s demonstrations blocked roads in the capital with flaming barricades, and many businesses and schools were closed. Armed Aristide supporters also fired into the air from the backs of pick-up trucks, witnesses said.

Residents in Port-au-Prince on Sunday stocked up on foodstuffs and supplies because of rumors an equally chaotic pro-government demonstration was planned for Monday.

Discontent with Aristide, who began a second term as president last year but has been mired in a dispute over elections with the main political opposition, has recently flared into a series of large demonstrations.

Last week, thousands of high school students and their supporters rallied in the provincial city of Petit Goave, southwest of the capital. Displaying a bloody school uniform, they protested the shootings a day earlier of seven high school students by police.

Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, has been locked in a dispute with the opposition Democratic Convergence coalition over the results of contested May 2000 elections, which his opponents contend were biased in his party’s favor.

The deadlock has stalled up to $500 million in international aid, adding to the woes of the 8 million inhabitants of the poorest country in the Americas.