Port au Prince, Haiti (HIP)- The US-installed regime of Gerard Latortue has begun making compensation payments to Haiti’s former brutal military in an apparent move to reward them for their role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
In a gesture rife with symbolism, the first payments were made to former soldiers who had participated in a takeover of President Aristide’s residence this past December 15. UN forces were said to have convinced the former soldiers to leave without a single shot being fired. Afterwards, the UN trucked them to a local police academy where they were housed in preparation for Tuesday’s ceremony. Thirty-three former soldiers who participated in the takeover of Aristide’s compound received the first in a series of checks that are said by the Latortue regime to total about $5000 per soldier. About 6000 former soldiers are said to be eligible for similar compensation.
The leader of the takeover of Aristide’s residence, Remissainthes Ravix, remains at large despite the announcement of a warrant for his arrest by the current regime following threats he made to kill Latortue and the Chief of Police, Leon Charles. Remissainthes has recently been heard giving in-studio interviews on various radio stations throughout the capital even as the authorities claim he is the subject of a nationwide manhunt.
While human rights groups expressed concern over the vetting process for compensation fearing former soldiers who may have committed crimes might be rewarded, reaction and condemnation from supporters of the exiled president was swift. A member of a Lavalas organization who spoke on condition of anonymity remarked angrily, “First the UN lets them takeover towns in the north allowing them to kill and arrest members of Lavalas. Secondly, they allow the killers to enter the capital and begin a campaign of terror against us with impunity. Finally, the international community rewards their killing by integrating them into the police and now, adding injustice to our misery, they openly pay them off for committing human rights violations against us. Is this what they mean by reconciliation? Is this what they mean when they say they are creating a climate for us to participate in the next elections?”
Amid charges of UN complicity, the so-called rebels who ousted Aristide still control several towns in northern Haiti and refuse to lay down their weapons. Representatives of Aristide’s Lavalas political party have condemned the UN for allowing the former military to conduct murderous raids into the poor neighborhoods of the capital where support for Aristide remains strong. The disbanded army is also accused of killings, rapes and torture under the 1991-1994 military regime of General Raoul Cedras.
Violence in the capital of Port au Prince escalated dramatically since Sept. 30, when the UN refused to intervene as the Haitian police fired on unarmed demonstrators calling for the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide remains in exile in the Republic of South Africa.
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