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25770: Re: 25763: Holmstead (News): CONTRA COSTA TIMES (fwd)
From: John Holmstead <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Posted on Thu, Jul. 21, 2005
Activists set to protest U.N. operation in Haiti
By Tom Lochner
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
On July 6, U.N. peacekeepers conducted a large-scale
military operation in Cité Soleil, a poor neighborhood
of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, ostensibly to root
During the operation, "the criminals who tried
desperately to respond by using their weapons were
either killed or injured," Lt. Col. El Ouafi Boulbars,
a military spokesman for the United Nations
Stabilization Mission in Haiti, said in a news
But a group of Bay Area labor and human rights
activists who were in Haiti this month tell a much
different story. They say what happened July 6 was "a
"These people's lives are just as important as yours
or mine," said Richmond's Marilyn Langlois, a member
of the Haiti Action Committee, who was in the
Caribbean nation last year.
Langlois and other members of Haiti Action Committee
and other organizations will gather at 4 p.m. today at
Powell and Market streets in San Francisco to protest
the July 6 action. They will march on the Brazilian
Consulate, since U.N. troops in Haiti are under
Brazilian command. Similar rallies will take place
Thursday in more than a dozen cities in the Americas.
"The U.N. operation appears to have targeted the
community itself," said Seth Donnelly, a Palo Alto
schoolteacher and member of the U.S. Labor/Human
Rights Delegation to Haiti who shot film at Cité
Soleil the day after the disputed event. "The
quote-unquote bandits killed by U.N. troops include
many unarmed civilians, such as a mother and two
children killed in their own home."
They found a population traumatized and in terror,
Donnelly said. Eyewitnesses told them of people shot
in front of their houses, in their bathrooms; of
soldiers lobbing gas grenades into homes; of two
helicopters firing on rooftops.
An official at the U.N. press office in New York
referred inquiries to the Haiti mission, but the
number of the mission's chief of public information,
Toussaint Kongo-Doudou, could "not be completed as
dialed" Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a
recording. Messages left on the number of a
Kongo-Doudou subordinate were not returned. Press
contact numbers listed on the U.N. Haiti mission's Web
site yielded similar "cannot be completed as dialed"
Bob Sullivan, an official in the New York office,
could say only that the July 6 action was "a large
operation" with 40 vehicles and 300 troops -- another
U.N. account said 400 troops. He referred further
inquiries to another number in New York, but that
number, too, answered with a recording that the number
could not be completed as dialed.
The returning activists say the U.N. has a flawed
mandate: to stabilize the existing Haitian regime of
Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, whom a Times editorial
in June called "a U.S.-installed puppet."
"To stabilize an unpopular, dictatorial regime ...
requires the U.N. to engage in repression," said
The Times editorial urged the United States to
pressure the Latortue government to negotiate with
former Prime Minister Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whom the
United States whisked out of the country during a
February 2004 coup, and his Lavalas party. Cité Soleil
is a bastion of Lavalas support.
"The U.N. and the U.S. are intervening on behalf of
the elite," said Berkeley's Dave Welsh, who
represented the San Francisco Labor Council in the
Haiti delegation this month. "The poor majority feel a
war is being waged against them."
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