Government Turns to Long-Term
Haiti Officials Plan to Move First
20,000 Refugees to New Camp Outside Capital;
Violence Breaks Out Over Who Has
MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS AND CHRISTOPHER RHOADS
Wall Street Journal,
January 22, 2010
In Jacmel, tensions boiled over into
violence Thursday when a protest over the lack of aid turned into an armed
battle over donated tents.
The march, which began peacefully in
front of the World Food Program office here, turned violent when it continued
through another neighborhood, which had numerous recently donated tents lining
the rubble-strewn streets. Some of the new owners of the tents had placed rental
signs on them.
A number attacked and ripped the tents
with knives as they ran down the streets, according to several eyewitnesses.
Multiple protesters carried weapons, including clubs, rocks and machetes.
"They came here to
destroy what we had," said 30-year-old Benito Sylvain, who works in an auto
parts shop. "So we had to defend our neighborhood."
Mr. Sylvain said he
and several dozen other young men responded by throwing rocks at the attackers
and using sticks, eventually driving them away after about half an hour, he
Andre Paul Jerome, a
36-year-old teacher who took part in the initial demonstration, said he and
others made the march because they are frustrated. He said the demonstration was
peaceful until trouble-makers joined it.
The donated tents
were the first sign of any response in Jacmel to the plight of the survivors,
where many still sit numbly in front of piles of rocks that were once their
homes. The tents created an instant appearance of haves and have-nots, a shift
from the sense of commonly shared suffering of the recent week.
Mr. Jerome said they
were distributed by locals to their friends and connections, not necessarily by
need. "It's about favoritism," he said. "So we are angry."
Betsy McKay, Kevin Noblet and Jose de Cordoba contributed to this article.