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Peasant Movement Gives Thumb Down To U.S. Troops, Supports Aristide

March 21, 1995

PAPAYE, Haiti (AP) _ The peasants movement that played a leading role in the election that brought President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power says the United States is trying to sabotage him, even though it restored him to power last fall.

The criticism came Monday at the end of a four-day congress of the National Peasants Movement: Congress of Papaye, the group’s first such meeting in four years.

The movement was a driving force in Haiti’s first democratic elections in 1991, when Aristide was elected. He was deposed by the military later that year.

Some 4,000 people were killed before President Clinton sent troops to Haiti, driving out the military rulers and bringing Aristide back to power.

But now, Aristide supporters say the United States is trying to sabotage the president, and blame a U.S.-brokered plan that includes a coalition government for lack of progress since his return.

``They are blocking the president from doing his work,″ said a congress resolution denouncing the U.S. intervention.

Forgotten was the heroes’ welcome Haitians accorded U.S. troops five months ago when they ended the slaughter and returned a beloved leader.

``We are against U.S. occupation,″ said the resolution. ``They do not act in our favor. They have come to protect the Macoutes, the FRAPH, the attaches and the thieves.″

Many Haitians are bitter that the American troops have not brought the justice Clinton promised; that known killers walk freely, including members of the Tontons Macoutes militia that terrorized the nation under the Duvalier family dictatorship that ended 1986, and its successor under the coup regime, the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, called FRAPH.

``They (U.S. troops) are the fathers of the Macoutes. They do not disarm them. Disorder and security continue,″ the congress said.

Haiti’s justice system is a shambles under which the person with the most money wins the case. Another congress resolution called for the government to replace judges appointed under the military regime.

Aristide disbanded the hated army and paramilitary police. But, under a criticized vetting process, 1,500 of its 7,000 members joined an interim police force. The peasant association called for people it said were known killers in that force to be fired.

Interim policemen were on standby Monday along with four U.S. soldiers and Pakistani police monitors as peasants marched from Papaye village seven miles to Hinche, the principal town in the central plateau.

There were no incidents, though founding leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste said enemies had tried to infiltrate their meeting.

The congress denounced the government of Prime Minister Smarck Michel for plans to sell state-owned companies under an austerity program agreed with the Internional Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The decision was made without consulting the people, they complained.

Jean-Baptiste said upcoming June 4 legislative elections were crucial ``because it will be the last chance the putchists have to hold on to power. There is great potential for violence.″

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