Haiti's new rulers face task of restoring order
Port-au-Prince, Haiti — Three armored vehicles and a van stood in front of the two-story cement house in a small, hilly side street of Port-au-Prince where several slightly frayed houses elbowed each other for room. As government security forces hustled the middle-aged man and his family into the van, green clad soldiers kept scores of screaming young Haitian men at an edgy distance with cannisters of tear gas and rifle shots fired in the air. The Army was rescuing a leader of the fallen Duvalier regime's much feared Tontons Macoutes militia from his angry neighbors. For 24 hours they had tried to storm the residence, but instead, by shooting from his windows, the Macoutes killed four of his assailants.
Just down the street, seemingly oblivious to what was going on, a Haitian teenager calmly chipped at a tile plaque with a stone. The words he was trying to rub out read ``Jean-Claude Duvalier, President for Life, Educator of Youth.'' As he worked, the boy said, ``We don't need any Presidents for Life -- the only thing we need is liberty.''
In one form or another, these scenes have been repeated throughout Port-au-Prince since Friday morning, when the capital's residents woke to find that President Duvalier had left for France. Since then, working their way around government soldiers and curfews, angry mobs have intermittently looted houses and shops belonging to the Duvaliers and their supporters, torn down monuments to the regime, and settled old scores with the Tonton Macoutes, who had terrorized the country for almost three decades.
Hundreds of Macoutes have been severely beaten or killed. As Frantz Preville, a young teacher said, ``For 29 years we have been at the school of violence, now we are simply reciting our lessons.''
Controlling violence in the streets is only one of the many problems faced by the newly installed military junta, headed by Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy.
In addition to General Namphy, the junta is composed of Army Cols. William Regala and Max Vales, and civilians Alix Cineas, an engineer who was minister of public works under Duvalier, and Gerard Gourgue head of the Haitian League of Human Rights.
A sixth man, Army Col. Prosper Avril, is an official adviser to the council. The real power behind the national governing council is the Army, in spite of the civilian members. Both Mr. Desroches and Mr. Gourgue are respected symbols of opposition to the Duvalier regime.
The most difficult and pressing problem that the new government must resolve is what to do with the armed Tontons Macoutes.
The Macoutes were founded in the 1950s by Jean-Claude's father, President Franois Duvalier, and are estimated to number at least 20,000 strong. The Macoutes, formally known as Volunteers for National Security, were organized as a grass roots militia and represented the power base of the Duvalier regime.
The Macoutes caught by angry crowds represented only a small proportion of the militia. Some, like the Macoute whose house was attacked, have been picked up and held by the Army or the police. Most have seemingly vanished, hiding away from their homes, slipping off into the provinces where they are not known, or going into the bush. Most of them are armed, however, and could represent a serious destabilizing force.
Disarming them will be difficult. In spite of rivalry between the Army, police, and Macoutes, those forces were, until Friday, colleagues united in loyalty to the Duvalier family, which ruled Haiti since 1957.
The junta, which will have to acomplish this task and pave the way for eventual elections, remains a largely unknown factor. The junta members themselves, along with most people in the newly appointed Cabinet, have little experience in governing a country.
General Namphy, while not identified with Duvalier's excesses and enjoying a certain popularity in Army and popular circles has, according to analysts here, never been known for his leadership qualities. Colonel Regala is Namphy's assistant and has a reputation for efficiency and political moderation. Before joining the Army, Regala studied law.
Colonel Valles headed the presidential guard. According to analysts here, both Valles and Regala can be said to represent the technocratic elements in the Haitian army (to the extent that these elements exist), and are not identified with any particular political faction.
The announcement of the new Cabinet on Friday night disappointed many educated Haitians who believed that some members were too easily identified with the Duvalier regime. However, according to Western diplomats here, since the Army and civilian administration is largely in the hands of Duvalier supporters and the Macoutes are not yet disarmed, it was necessary to include Duvalier's supporters in the Cabinet in order to have a successful transition of government.
One high-ranking source within the new government stated that the sectors of the Army most identified with the Duvaliers insisted on including Duvalier supporters in the government as a guarantee for their own physical safety.
The junta has not yet announced when elections will be held. However, according to the same high-ranking source within the new government, elections will certainly be held within the next six to nine months.