Haitian president fails to restore order
Associated Press ^ | 4-9-08 | JONATHAN M. KATZ
Posted on Wednesday,
April 09, 2008 9:34:36 PM by kingattax
our readers that these riots and upheaval have been caused by the Bio-Fuels
Famine. Months ago it was reported that in Haiti that the people were unable
to afford basic food and so locals were making clay pancakes or tortillas mixed
with cooking oil and salt and selling them on the street. Despite televised
footage of this practice and the announcement that this measure could not last
long, the level of food aid did not come to Haiti as like a lot of other impoverished
countries Haiti hold no significance strategically, the country has no economic
significance, and has no mineral significance, so that the country is viewed in
some measure as a black hole for foreign aide and food aide. Now a week ago there were riots, and looting of UN food
stores, and Supermarkets, these riots are driven by artificially high food
prices driven by Bio-fuels. Who can
watch day by day their hungry children waste away, day by day and cry
themselves to sleep in hunger, who can watch the sick and weak among them dying
day by day as their food is halved and quartered to feed others. Here is a
country with a US propped up president, which the US is not feeding and caring
for that nation’s people but has let them starve for the last six or more
months. Will Haiti be the first country among
other nations friendly to the US and the west to fall among dozens this coming summer
and fall and winter and spring as food supplies dwindle and dwindle in the
panic of more wealthy governments to stock pile food stuffs. Do not think for a
moment that the poor of Haiti
are not aware of the coming shortages and are seeking to exert some control
over scarce food supplies for their own households.
- A desperate appeal from the president Wednesday failed to restore order to Haiti's
shattered capital, and bands of looters sacked stores, warehouses and
Gunfire rang out from the wealthy suburbs in the hills to the
starving slums below as 9,000 U.N.
peacekeepers were unable to halt a frenzy of looting and violence that has grown out
of protests over rising food prices.
Thousands of people were in the streets of Port-au-Prince following
President Rene Preval's speech, many looting stores
and terrorizing drivers and shopkeepers with rocks. Thousands more took part
other in protests across the country.
An uneasy calm settled in by late Wednesday, with
stores remaining closed but protesters mostly dispersed and many roadblocks
Many of the
protesters are demanding the resignation of the U.S.-backed president, and on Tuesday U.N. peacekeepers had to fire rubber
bullets and tear gas to drive away a mob that tried to storm his palace.
Preval delivered his first public comments Wednesday, nearly a
week into the protests. With his job on the line, Haiti's president
promised to press importers to lower food prices and appealed to the rioters to
"The solution is not to go around destroying
stores," he said. "I'm giving you orders to stop."
But gunfire rang out around the palace after the
speech, as peacekeepers tried to drive away people looting surrounding stores.
The streets of Port-au-Prince — an impoverished
capital of more than 2 million — remained
in the control of bands of young men carrying sticks and rocks, who set up
roadblocks of burning tires and stopped passing cars. Businesses were closed
and most people locked themselves indoors, as mobs looted stores, warehouses
and government offices.
Black smoke billowed over the city as protesters
set tires ablaze. Sustained gunfire was heard throughout Petionville,
where many diplomats and foreigners live, and in Martissant,
a lawless slum west of downtown. On the road to the airport, groups of
protesters surrounded makeshift barricades and threw rocks at passing cars.
Looters could be seen sacking a supermarket and
several gas-station mini-marts. Radio stations reported looters also sacked a government rice
warehouse outside Port-au-Prince
and the office of Petionville's mayor.
Protests were reported Wednesday throughout Haiti.
northern city of Cap-Haitien, bandits tried to steal
food from the warehouse of the U.N. World Food Program, peacekeepers' spokeswoman Sophie Boutaud
de la Combe said. Protesters also burned tires in Ouanaminthe, on the border with the Dominican Republic, and hundreds marched
peacefully in the western port
of St. Marc.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been watching Haiti for signs of a migrant exodus, but routine
patrols have not intercepted any migrant vessels since the unrest began in the
Caribbean nation, said Petty Officer Jennifer Johnson, a spokeswoman in Miami. In 1994, the U.S. sent 20,000 troops to Haiti in part
to halt an influx of tens of thousands of boat people.
"The Coast Guard is continuing to monitor the
situation in Haiti
very closely," Johnson said.
particularly affected by food prices, which have risen 40 percent on average
globally since mid-2007. With 80 percent of its population struggling to
survive on less than US$2 (euro1.27) a day, the rising prices pose a real
threat to its fragile democracy.
Preval acknowledged the threat in his address, saying Haiti's predicament
comes partly from its dependence on imported rice that has weakened national production. He pledged to
provide Haitian farmers with more government loans.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
pledged Wednesday that his organization "will continue to support the
Haitian authorities to bring emergency relief assistance to the Haitian people
and to maintain public order," spokeswoman Marie Okabe said. He also
called on donors to provide emergency aid.
U.N. police spokesman Fred Blaise
said several people have been injured by bullets and rocks in the capital,
including a Haitian police officer. Five people have been killed in the
southern city of Les Cayes, where protesters tried to
burn down the U.N. compound last week.
Many protesters want the United Nations to pull
its peacekeepers from Haiti
because of resentment over foreign presence. Even poor Haitians who praise U.N.
victories over gangs have criticized the mission for not providing jobs or
doing development work — objectives that are not part of the peacekeepers'
also been directed at the United States,
which sent troops to Haiti
in 2004 during the rebellion that ousted President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Many of Aristide's followers believe their leader was
kidnapped by foreign powers. On Tuesday, protesters threw rocks at the Canadian
Embassy and at U.S. Embassy buildings.
The U.S. Embassy suspended operations Wednesday
and advised Americans in Port-au-Prince
and Les Cayes to remain indoors. Tim Aston, a U.S.
Agency for International Development contractor in Port-au-Prince, said he and colleagues hadn't
left their hotel in two days.
"You can hear gunfire and stuff like
that," he said. "The helicopter is flying around and you see black
smoke from the window."
Haiti's tourism industry all but ground to a
halt more than a decade ago amid political violence. Cruise ships still dock in the heavily guarded peninsula of Labadee in northern Haiti, and
operations were unaffected Wednesday, according to Royal Caribbean official
Preval's speech had been widely anticipated, and his response to
the violence could determine the future of his government.
Sen. Joseph Lambert, a member of Preval's party, said nobody should expect the president to
"solve everything with a magic wand," adding that the protesters
should listen to Preval's appeal for calm.
not," he said, "if there is an attempt at a coup d'etat
to remove the president, things will get worse."