Rice Wars, Artibonite: Interview with Prefect and Public Prosecutor in Gonaïves, 2 Dec. 1986

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Download: Conflit Estère/ Artibonite Interview, Préfet, Commissaire

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Interview with the prefect of the Gonaïves Arrondissement in the Artibonite, about the ongoing conflict between people from the city of Gonaïves and the smaller town of L’Estère. For the past three months, US rice arriving at the port in Gonaïves has been underselling rice grown in the Artibonite. People from L’Estère, frustrated, unable to sell their rice and facing unemployment, have been blocking trucks from Gonaïves carrying US rice and jettisoning it. Rice growers in L’Estère claim that the US rice is contraband. In response, people from Gonaïves have blocked trucks carrying rice grown in L’Estère to the north of Haiti. The situation grows increasingly violent when militant groups from Gonaïves go to L’Estère, ransacking and burning homes and businesses; one man is killed. There are violent reprisals against peasants from the Artibonite living in Gonaïves; their homes are ransacked and several women are raped. The journalist asks whether the prefect had warning that people from Gonaïves were going to commit these acts of violence. The prefect continues to claim that he is but one man and cannot control the masses, because “now we have democracy.”

Interview with the Gonaïves public prosecutor about why the arrest order against the Gonaïves aggressors has been retracted. On December 2, there was an order for the arrest of several men (including Jean Tatoune), for looting, armed robbery, rape, arson, and murder, which was then withdrawn when the prosecutor received anonymous threats against his personal safety. He requested but did not receive reinforcements. He claims to be awaiting new orders.

Additional background on the Artibonite Rice Wars.

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