Dissident artist killed in street

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The Independent Online
PORT-AU-PRINCE - One of Haiti's most prominent artists, Stivenson Magloire, was murdered on Saturday, at the very moment when the rule of the gunmen was meant to be ending in Port-au-Prince, writes Patrick Cockburn.

He was found, beaten to death in the street with his neck broken, although nobody knows exactly why he died. I saw him at my hotel the day before he was killed and knew he was complaining that his house had been attacked. His death was probably the last chapter in a feud he was conducting with the military regime. As the army's reign drew to a close, Haiti's rulers still found time to settle scores.

Magloire's troubles started two years ago, when one of his paintings was stolen by people he believed were connected to the government. He tried to take the perpetrators to court - an unusual action in Haiti, where the judiciary is deeply corrupt and the police are traditionally in league with criminals.

At the end of June the people he had accused struck back. Policemen came to his house and took him to the local barracks. They held him for two days and shaved his head. Four of them beat him for two hours with rubber batons made out of car tyres. He was only released on payment of a heavy bribe.

By the time I saw him a few weeks later he had largely recovered from the beating apart from a limp. He was still worried and, when I first went to his house, a relative said he was out of town. As I was walking away, she ran after me and said Stivenson Magloire was in fact at home and had decided to see me. Magloire was taught to paint by his mother who was a leader of the St Soleil school based at Kemkoff in the mountains just outside Port-au-Prince. His own paintings were magical allegories, with a sophisticated line and often with a political message.