Crime causes terror in Haiti



PETIONVILLE, Haiti (AP)—A white pickup truck rumbles up and down a side road after midnight, repeatedly passing by thieves carrying appliances from a neighboring home.

The truck, driven by a uniformed police officer with six plainclothes army auxiliaries in the back, does not stop. Neighbors watch the hourlong theft; no one dares go out.

The ambiguous relationship between the thieves and the army auxiliaries, both armed, reflects the breakdown in law and order in the two years since the military ousted Haiti’s civilian president.

Despite a demand by Haiti’s transition government to disarm the auxiliaries, more and more are being recruited and armed, diplomats and Haitian human rights leaders say. The recruitment comes a month before the scheduled return of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, endangering international efforts for a peaceful resumption of democracy.

The auxiliaries must pay about $10 for an I.D. card with their photo, name and the signature of a local police or army commander. They must find their own means of livelihood, but they get a gun—and are expected to do the army’s bidding.

In the last two months, more than 100 people have been killed around the capital, Port-au-Prince. U.N. authorities and Western diplomats, seeking to play down the instability during the political transition, say only eight of the killings have been proven as ‘‘overtly political.’‘ But through police and army toleration, the effect is the same: terror.

U.N. human rights observers accuse the auxiliaries of committing one of the most blatant political assassinations in years, the daylight slaying of pro-Aristide businessman Antoine Izmery on Sept. 11 during a church Mass against army repression.

The auxiliaries, whose numbers are estimated in the thousands, often work alongside the 7,200 uniformed soldiers and police. Thousands of rural sheriff’s deputies are also part of the security apparatus, as are some of the estimated 30,000 Haitians who had belonged to the repressive Tonton Macoute private militia, officially disbanded after the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986. Analysts say the security network could number as many as 100,000 of Haiti’s 6.5 million people.

The increased recruitment and tension ahead of Aristide’s homecoming has produced dread on all sides. Soldiers as well as Aristide supporters in Port-au-Prince and suburban Petionville are sending their families to the countryside where they might not be recognized by the other side; those in the countryside are shipping their families to the city for the same reason.

The expected arrival within weeks of nearly 1,300 U.N. police trainers and army engineers, including 600 U.S. troops, has only heightened the tension.

Some incidents in the past week have provoked terror:

_Three armed men broke up an all-night vigil in a tiny Protestant church in Petionville, tying up the pastor, stealing small change and raping several women. The men accused the congregants of ‘‘praying for Aristide’s return.’‘

_Gunmen broke up a charismatic Catholic service in nearby Delmas, beating worshipers and accusing them of praying for the return of their elected president.

_One recently recruited auxiliary, a 20-year-old man, showed off his Galil assault rifle to customers at a small grocery store. ‘‘This is going to kill 100 people,’‘ he bragged.

Until the international force arrives, the prime minister of the weak Aristide-backed transition government has conceded the street to the soldiers, who do not heed his commands. Western diplomats stress that the international force will generally be unarmed, not interfere in inter-Haitian affairs and limit themselves to ‘‘advice’‘ to the Haitian soldiers.

A former soldier, speaking on condition of anonymity, questioned how the foreigners could restrain the shadowy auxiliaries.

‘‘Who,’‘ he asked, laughing, ‘‘is going to give advice to them?’‘