Haiti's capital is calm but tension simmers. In provinces, demonstrations andshooting against protestors escalates
Haiti's capital retained surface calm Tuesday as violence continued to mount in the provinces. Reports of large-scale demonstrations and shooting of demonstrators by government forces reached the capital, Port-au-Prince, from Petit-Go^ave and Cap-Ha"itien, Haiti's second largest city. In L'eogane, a 25-minute drive from the capital, there were reports of demonstrations and widespread killing Tuesday.
As of Monday, 300 to 400 people had been killed in political violence in the nation since the false announcement of President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier's departure on Friday, sources with access to accurate government figures say. These casualties include deaths that occured in riots in the capital on Friday. The Haitian government has released no official death toll.
In Petit-Go^ave on Monday, government forces fired on demonstrators killing at least three people. In Cap Ha"itien, on the northern coast, at least one eyewitness reported widespread casualties with members of government security forces allegedly pursuing demonstrators into private homes and killing them there.
The calm in Port-au-Prince remained very tentative yesterday. The downtown shopping area was closed, and long lines of people waited in front of banks to take out their money. Food was reportedly becoming scarce in the supermarkets. Most large business establishments remained closed. Although this was in part because of fear of further violence, it also reflected the desire of most important businessmen and shop owners to maintain a high level of tension and to help force the resignation of the President, say political observers here.
On Monday, President Duvalier, followed by crowds of his supporters, toured the main downtown commercial area, congratulating shop keepers who had decided to open and calling upon others to do so.
Haitian opposition figures say that one of the main strategies in the fight against Duvalier in the capital will be passive resistance. As one Haitian opposition figure said, ``What we are going to see is an increasing paralysis of the country's day-to-day functioning. With all the Army and Tonton Macoutes [government militiamen] concentrated in the capital and ready to open fire on the crowds. People will not begin by large demonstrations. The first steps will be passive resistance.''
Opposition figures say that bank workers and government employees will begin staying home. On Monday, the Banque Nationale Populaire and the government customs office shut down at noon because most of their employees did not come to work.
However, most observers here say that if widespread passive resistance does not mobilize the Army to force Duvalier's resignation then massive violence in the capital city would probably occur.
As one longtime foreign resident said, ``If the Duvaliers don't go soon, the people will cut them into little pieces.''
``Ninety-five percent of the population of Port-au-Prince live in conditions of unimaginable misery and [they] have been building up a sense of frustration and rage for years. If these people take to the streets, nothing can stop them,'' says one Hatitian analyst.
Many political analysts here say that if violence in the capital of more than 1 million became too massive either on the part of demonstrators or on the part of government forces repressing them and the situation threatened to become one of wholesale massacre, this would bring about military intervention either by the United States or by the US acting in concert with other countries in the region.
Most Haitians are placing increasing hope in the Army as the only way to force Duvalier out.
In the meantime, Jean-Claude Duvalier shows no signs of wanting to leave. On Monday, in response to US Secretary of State George Shultz's call for democracy in Haiti, he told reporters that he was staying in the country and that there would be no elections.
However, according to Haitian political analysts, much of the power establishment here, reportedly led by the US Embassy, is quietly negotiating various solutions to fill the political vacuum that will be left by what is seen as Duvalier's inevitable departure. Many observers say that the Haitian masses have been so politicized recently that they would not accept a straight military dictatorship and that the only solution would lie in a military-civilian junta.
Whatever civilian figure appears, the Army will probably play a dominant role. One Army figure often mentioned in this context is the chief of staff, Henri Namphly. He is, analysts say, a fairly popular figure who became an officer some years before Jean-Claude's father, Franois Duvalier. But Mr. Namphly was not associated with any of the excesses committed under either father or son.
However, it is not certain that the move against Duvalier will come at the top Army levels.