US, French troops engaged in Haiti's deadly shootout

Since Haitian former President Jean Bertrand Aristide has been allegedly forced into exile by US marines, the situation in Latin American poorest country is far from being calm.

Shortly after the Pentagon deployed a new marine garrison in Haiti's capital, Port Au Prince, at least five people were killed in a demonstration to celebrate the ouster of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. A Spanish journalist was shot dead, as French and US troops engaged in a fierce fighting that left dozens wounded.

Observers believe Aristide's supporters opened fire against demonstrators on Sunday, while US marines and French legionnaires returned. A few doctors without enough medication or staff struggled Monday to treat dozens of injured from Sunday's protest, despite the dramatic arrival of a French Air Force helicopter that landed on a major road to deliver emergency supplies to Port-au-Prince's main private hospital.

U.S. Maj. Richard Crusan said three Marines fired in the direction of the attack. "We are unaware that any action was taken to other reports of shooting. We are still reviewing that information," he said.

In a telephone conversation aired Monday on French radio, Aristide called on his followers to peacefully resist the "unacceptable occupation" of Haiti and said he remains the nation's president as he had not resigned. Aristide was replaced by the head of the Supreme Court of Justice, as national constitution rules in case of leaderless.

It now became clear that the situation in Haiti is far from being calm, as peacekeeping mission leaders have suggested. Moreover, since Aristide denounced he was forced into exile by US troopers, foes and supporters of the former president jumped to the streets to either claim for his trial or his return.

According to the Pentagon, the “peacekeeping mission” would engage no less than 5,000 troopers (2,000 out of the total are expected to be US soldiers). Their main task would be to secure a democratic transition in Haiti after Aristide's fall. Haiti has no armed forces since 1994, when Bill Clinton ordered a disembark in the Caribbean island to reinstate Aristide in power.

However, not only bullets kill Haitian people. Latin American's poorest country survives thanks to the international humanitarian aid, as all reforms implemented to develop the nation failed. However, since recurrent crisis disband all kind of efforts, aid is shortening and the 70% of the population living in poverty dramatically sees how its situation deteriorates day after day.

 A small wealthy elite controls country’s economy helped by a group of malcontent career politicians, wealthy businessmen and ambitious power-seekers. They have been closely linked to smuggling for decades, not to say centuries. Since the mighty genocide dynasty of the Duvallier fell and Aristide rose to power in 1990, they have been trying to come back to power. They did it last month grabbing a bandit of well trained para-troopers (former dead-squads, most of them) with links to the CIA. Then the international diplomacy validated the operation and Haiti lost its last attempt to democracy.


Hernan Etchaleco

Photo: CNN

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Author`s name Andrey Mikhailov