Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Hti: The fall of Aristide, from the inside

Because Aristide recognized he has no popular base, he decided to make a series of gangs his power base. They had all sorts of names: Create Order from Disorder, What Happens Will Happen, Red Army, Sleep in Wood, Clean Sweep, Cannibal Army etc.

Aristide armed all these gangs. He also had a series of other groups called chime which worked in the Ministry of the Interior, the Customs, TELECO(the telephone company) and in all the mayors offices. The role of the gangs and the chime, both of which were heavily armed, was to "sow the peace of the cemetary" throughout the country.

The gangs had authority under the judicial system to occupy all public administration; they had authority under the police, who were working directly for Aristide. In many places, Aristide put chime over the heads of those training the police. He created a real mess in the police. It can be said that Aristide destroyed the police and turned this force into a political militia in his service.

In Gonaives, Cannibal Army was led by a powerful chief named Amiot Metayer. That army destroyed all activities of the political organizations, all activities of civil society. Independent journalists could not work in Gonaives; Cannibal destroyed the independent radio stations. Cannibal Army created terror in the Artibonite.

OAS Resolution 822 called for the arrest of several chiefs of these gangs, including Amiot Metayer. A delegation from the international community which came in March 2003 insisted on the arrest of Metayer. Aristede was obliged to go through the charade of arresting Metayer and imprisoning him in Port au Prince.

His followers insisted that he be moved to the prison in Gonaives. They moved him to Gonaives where his followers liberated him after destroying one side of the prison with a bulldozer. It was during this prison break that Jean Tatoune, imprisoned for life for his role in the massacre at Raboto during the coup d'etat, was freed.

After that, the government made a simulation of justice against Metayer until they decided to kill him. A good friend of his who worked in the National Palace came to find him at home. After that they found his body on the road to San Mark.

This infuriated Cannibal Army because Metayer was a very popular chief. They decided to truly turn against Aristide; they had made an appearance of turning against Aristide after the liberation of Metayer from prison. (Metayer himself had reconciled with Aristide.)
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