Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Haiti votes, Martissant bleeds

On Sunday, Haiti’s local elections came to pass, and, despite the ongoing march of violence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, things seem to have remained relatively peacefully in the rest of the country. Haitian Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis, though, said he was surprised by the "feeble" participation of the public in the ballot, the last of Haiti's electoral year. One person was slain in an apparently electoral-related killing in the northern town of Limonade and there were also reports of political gangs brawling in the Artibonite town of Marchand-Dessalines and the southern hamlet of Mapou.

In an act that will likely have graver implications, however, on election day André Jean-Noël, an officer of the Police Nationale d’Haïti (PNH), was shot in the head and killed on Avenue Bolosse in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Martissant, where I interviewed survivors of bloody gang warfare this past July, and where an appalling cycle of tit-for-tat murder continues to this day.

Following Noël’s killing, gunmen, evidently working at the behest of a local gang called Base Pilate and, some reports spectulate, taking retaliation for the murder, shot dead at least four people in the same area. With the war between gangs in the Grand Ravine, Ti Bois and Descartes areas of Martissant continuing, the merciless campaign for power in the neighborhood between the Ti Bois-based Lame Ti Manchèt, the Base Pilate and several other gangs in the vicinity shows no sign of letting up, in a story that is shaping up to be one of the great tragedies of René Préval’s second administration and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) . As if to complete the tableau of percolating anarchy and insecurity, over 30 prisoners succeeded in escaping from the capital’s Pénitencier nationale on Monday afternoon.

My one question to those voted into office in February’s presidential and legislative elections and those voted into office this past Sunday: Will anyone hear the cries of the victims of Martissant?

No comments: