RealNews

Violent pro-government gangs still prevalent in Haiti's politics

James swaggers in his crisp blue jeans, a government ID tag flashing against his Hawaiian shirt. Security Team, Mayor, the badge says. ”When the government is in trouble, they come to me,” the 22-year-old boasts. “When the president needs some political backup, we organize demonstrations. . . I take my men and go.” Young and brash, James heads one of dozens of so-called grass-roots organizations in Haiti — groups that started out seeking to bring basic rights to the poor and counted among President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s most loyal supporters. But he’s also a gun-toting gang leader who moves seamlessly between lunch with the mayor of Cite-Soleil and managing turf wars. Groups like his have garnered such a reputation for political violence and terrorizing Aristide’s opponents that they are called chimere — French for a mythical fire-breathing monster, a demon with a lion’s head, goat’s body and serpent’s tail. Full Story

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