Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Are You Surprised?
Photo by John Carroll
Posted on Wed, Nov. 17, 2010
Violence won't be tolerated, Haitian leader warns protesters
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES AND TRENTON DANIEL
As a tense calm enveloped the streets of Haiti's second-largest city Tuesday after a day of violent protests, Haitian President René Préval warned those behind the demonstrations that his government would not tolerate attempts to destabilize the country.
``Those who are creating the violence, who are looting warehouses, who are destroying other citizen's wealth, you should be reminded that no serious government will tolerate the state of disorder you are creating,'' Préval said in a written statement. ``The food you are pillaging so that you can do your own business belongs to school children, sickpeople in hospitals, the poor.''
Préval said news that Cap-Haitien and Hinche, a town in the Central Plateau, had erupted into violent protests as Haiti was dealing with January's earthquake and a cholera epidemic made his ``heart ache.''
The epidemic has killed at least 1,000 Haitians and left thousands more hospitalized with severe diarrhea and vomiting.
``While cholera is attacking us, it's not the moment for us to be fighting,'' Préval said. ``Cholera is already killing people. But the chaos you are creating will kill more people.''
On Monday, demonstrators in Cap-Haitien burned tires, threw rocks and bottles, and wielded guns at U.N. peacekeepers. They also looted a World Food Program warehouses, and other businesses. They demanded the United Nations leave, blaming the organization for the cholera outbreak.
Presidential candidate Leslie Voltaire was unable to get from his hotel to a waiting helicopter during the protests.
``People are upset with the absence of government and the unsanitary conditions,'' Voltaire said by telephone from Cap-Haitien, once one of Haiti's cleanliest cities and today among its dirtiest. ``The streets are empty, no vehicles can circulate because there are barricades, the roads are blocked and tires are burning.''
Some U.N. and Haitian officials believe the protests were less about cholera and more an organized attempt to mire the county in chaos and violence ahead of the Nov. 28 presidential and legislative elections.
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