Haitian thugs threaten slum

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The Independent Online
PORT-AU-PRINCE - Gangs backed by the military and opposed to Haiti's exiled President are taking the sun out of Sun City, a sprawling seaside slum.

Last week 5,000 residents of the slum - a support base for the exiled President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide - lost their homes in an arson attack. The gangs now threaten more attacks unless minibus drivers change their destination signs from Cite Soleil, the French name for the slum, to Cite Simone. That is what Cite Soleil was called before the overthrow, in 1986, of dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier. Simone is Mr Duvalier's mother.

As of yesterday, most of the minibuses were displaying wooden Cite Simone signs. Cite Simone graffiti has gone up on the concrete walls around the slum and some 'Soleil' street signs have been rubbed out. Supporters of the exiled President say the name change must not be underestimated.

'It is one more sign that new Duvalierists are trying to recover the country,' said the Rev Gerard Jean-Juste, who represented Haitian expatriates during Fr Aristide's brief democratic government in 1991. 'They are pushing the people so hard that at a certain point, things are going to explode.'