Haiti: Violence Erupts between Students and President's Entourage

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Friday, 17 February 2012 23:08

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) - An unannounced visit by President Michel Martelly at the School of Ethnology at the State University of Haiti degenerated to a violent conflict when students faced off with security agents and "chimeres" of the president.

On Friday afternoon, February 17, in Port-au-Prince the Head of State appeared at an international symposium at the university with what students characterize as a "carnival atmosphere".

The young people did not want to digest this visit and blocked President Martelly and a massive entourage from entering the establishment.

Incidents erupted inside and led to Champ de Mars, the main artery of the capital near the Faculty of Ethnology.

According to one student that spoke on Radio Vision 2000, agents of the presidential guard attacked those who blocked the president and supporters, that some are calling "chimeres" of Martelly, threw stones at the students.

The library of the Faculty of Ethnology and the Ethnology Office were vandalized, the culprits so far unknown.

Thress students, Enoche Benson, Alexis Gelfri and Mario Maxel were taken by police. Two students were injured in the attack and taken to hospital.

Other students threw stones at the motorcade of the Head of State smashing some windows.

First hand accounts to DH have said it was a scene reminiscent of Black Friday, December 5 2003 when supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide penetrated the School of Humanities and mistreated the students. These sources called President Michel Martelly's supporters "chimeres", a term that was used to describe the paid supporters of Aristide that used violence.

President Michel Martelly vs State University Students
Mixed Sounds from Different Broadcasts
02.17.12 | Radio Kiskeya

{mp3}02_17_12_MartellyStudents{/mp3}

Radio Kiskeya reports that President Michel Martelly marched and led down Champ de Mars at least one hundred supporters who chanted "Martelly, the country belongs to you, show your buttocks as you want. Micky is not afraid of anything..."

It was reported that members of the presidential guard and specialized police units shot automatic weapons into the air.

The Haitian Red Cross evacuated victims of the clash to the university hospital.

Journalists observed property damage at the university and at least six vehicles of the president's motorcade had their windshield's shattered.

The protagonists of these incidents have accused each other of wrongdoing. The Government Commissioner in Port-au-Prince, Jean Renel Senatus, arrived afterwards to gather information in order to bring the public proceedings against the guilty.

State from the President

In a press note from the Office of Communications of the President, the public was informed that shortly after 3:00 PM, February 17, 2012, "troublemakers", "refugees" in the enclosure of the Faculty of Ethnology, attacked the motorcade of the President of the Republic who roamed the area of Champs de Mars on foot accompanied by carnival bands.

The presidential security guard quickly took all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the President who was able to return safe and sound to the National Palace.

In the communication, the Presidency warned "manipulators that carry messages of incitement to violence, in violation of applicable laws."

The Presidency called for "calm within the population and encouraged all citizens to unite to work, while respecting the law and democratic principles for progress and stability of our common homeland."