Monday, June 06, 2005

Haiti in chaos

How's that other recent example of Bushist-inspired regime change going down in Haiti? The NY Times takes a peek:

By the accounts of diplomats and political observers, human rights activists and business people, this remains a country poised for implosion, with almost all its institutions ravaged from the inside out by corruption. Ruthless mobs have risen in their place, led by drug traffickers, former military officers, corrupt police officers and street thugs. They have set off a devastating wave of murders, carjackings, armed robberies and rapes.

Kidnappings are the latest scourge.

Like most crimes, kidnappings tend to go unreported. But authorities in the interim government and foreign diplomats estimate that 6 to 12 kidnappings occur in this city [Port-au-Prince] every day. Among them are high-profile cases, like the recent abductions of an Indian businessman and of a Russian contractor to the United Nations. Some authorities said they had received reports of vegetable vendors being kidnapped for $30.

An overwhelming majority of the cases seem aimed at the middle and working classes. Afraid to go to the police, most families negotiate with kidnappers on their own. Mrs. Beaulieu's family negotiated for hours by cellphone with a kidnapper who called himself "commandant."
A report released last week by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group laid the blame for most of Haiti's violence on "spoilers," including drug traffickers, who are well-connected to the political system but have no real allegiances. In a news conference on Friday, Prime Minister GĂ©rard Latortue said many of the leaders of the gangs inciting violence were Haitians who had spent time in American prisons.

"The United States is exporting its crime problems to Haiti," Mr. Latortue said. "Many of the criminals in Haiti learned to be criminals in the United States, and when they are deported here, they bring those skills with them."

Danielle Magloire, a spokeswoman for Haiti's temporary governing group, the so-called Council of the Wise, agreed. "There's no real ideological fighting in Haiti," she said in an interview. "The criminals here are not political activists. They are mercenaries."

Still, other observers said, the violence in Haiti has its roots in politics. Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the United Nations last month that former members of the military, including many led by those who helped oust Mr. Aristide, were responsible for rampant abuses in the provinces, including illegal detentions and extortion.
I'm not sure which is worse: the initial coup that sent the country spiraling further down the rabbit hole, or the lack of attention this issue gets in the media. To its credit, ZNet is one of the few outlets that pays attention to what's going on there. Also check in periodically with and the IJDH.