Cite Soleil is a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince that is extremely poor and where former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, enjoys his greatest support. Since the beginning of its occupation of Haiti, the UN has regularly demonized the residents of Cite Soleil by claiming they are prone to violence. For five years, this propaganda has been a prelude to repeated UN attacks in the middle of the night consisting of as many as 400 “peacekeepers” firing indiscriminately into people’s homes, killing residents as they slept.
This latest round of propaganda, reported in the following article, is not surprising, but it is disturbing. It could lead to summary arrests of young men, a violent attack as in the past, or an excuse for the UN not to distribute food in the neighborhood. If the latter is the case, the UN’s intention is to provoke the people to the point of rebellion and then use that as an excuse to attack the neighborhood. If you are incredulous about the possibility of a UN attack on poor, starving people remember that the UN serves as a proxy army for the US and has only one responsibility: making sure that the 2004 coup, which had NO popular support, sticks. Cite Soleil is a sea of Aristide supporters who continue to demand for Aristide’s return. A return of Aristide would upset the apple cart for whatever the US is really doing in Haiti now and empower an overwhelmingly poor population angry over five years of UN occupation and abuse.
Before reading the article, please watch this video of a UN attack on Cite Soleil on December 22, 2006.
UN Peacekeepers maintain crowd control at Silvio Cator stadium where food and water is being distributed on Jan. 31, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Kier Gilmour/Canwest News Service
Andrew Mayeda, Canwest News Service Published: Sunday, January 31, 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — United Nations aid workers fanned across the Haitian capital on Sunday to set up permanent distribution sites they hope will smooth the flow of food to the hundreds of thousands living in ramshackle tent camps.
But UN officials say they were unable to deliver food to the city’s notorious Cite Soleil slum due to rising gang violence, while some aid agencies say other steps need to be taken so residents of the city can eventually feed themselves.
The UN World Food Program plans to establish 16 fixed distributions around the capital in the next few days. By midday Sunday, they had set up nine such locations, with no major incidents of violence reported.
In the early days after the disaster, food distributions sometimes devolved into near riots as people jostled in massive lineups. UN officials hope to impose some order by delivering food from the same locations over the next two weeks, a system they hope will calm the crowds and get more aid to the needy.
Haitians are being given food coupons they can redeem for sacks of rice, and food is mostly being distributed to women, who aid workers believe are more likely to share food within their households.
“We were really involved in a very hit-and-run operation in the immediate aftermath of the quake, battling all the logistical odds we were facing in a city that had been completely flattened,” said Marcus Prior, a spokesman for the WFP.
“With the fixed sites, we can get a lot more people through and get the kind of security we need for these distributions to go smoothly.”
The new system appeared to be working well on Sunday morning at Sylvia Cator Stadium, the country’s national soccer stadium. The stadium’s green artificial turf is now nearly invisible beneath a quilt of tarps that the homeless are using for shelter.
Brazilian peacekeepers funnelled residents through a back gate in a parking lot behind the stadium, where troops handed out sacks of rice, bags of food with canned beef and tuna, and bottles of water.
“This is the first time we’ve actually received food,” said Marie Gabriel Panaroty, 26, as her children dined on canned tuna. She and 14 others from three different families have been living under one tent made of sheets and plywood. “It’s been tough, but I think we’ll get by.”
Prior said the WFP plans to distribute enough food over the next two weeks to feed two million people — roughly the number of survivors affected by the quake, which killed at least 150,000.
“This also buys us time to do a lot of assessments both here and outside the quake-affected area, so we can try to understand who really needs assistance,” he said.
It may be some time, however, before aid workers can channel a steady stream of aid into Cite Soleil, the roughest ghetto in the capital. Prior said there has been a “significant increase” in gang violence in recent days.
Residents interviewed by Canwest News Service on Sunday said inmates freed when the city’s main prison was destroyed have been returning to the slum, fuelling gang turf wars within the maze of tin-roofed shacks.
“We haven’t had any trouble here, but in some of the other districts, prisoners have been making trouble,” said Cite Soleil resident Merazel Jean Eddy.
Meanwhile, some aid agencies said more work needs to be done to stimulate the capital’s economy so that residents can begin rebuilding their lives.
“Our survey of local markets shows food is available for purchase. But people lack money,” said Mark Fried, a spokesman for Oxfam International.
“Where the problem is purchasing power, not availability of food, Oxfam prefers handing out cash, either in exchange for doing work needed in the community or as targeted grants.”
The agency is also providing seeds and tools to Haitian farmers to help them with the planting season, which begins in two weeks.
“Over the longer term, increasing food production is an important way to combat hunger, keep prices steady, and support the people of Haiti. So the challenge is to ensure the next harvest does not fail,” Mr. Fried said.