May 31, 2011
Mayor of Delmas Begins Destruction of Refugee Camps — Beverly Bell, Other Worlds, May 27

Beverly Bell posted on May 27 about the horrifying destruction of three IDP camps in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince last Wednesday — a heartwrenching harbinger of what may be more violent actions to come. Read excerpts below. The action has provoked an outcry from Haitian civil society organizations, US human rights activists and members of Congress.  For the full article see:

Camps Destroyed

On the morning of May 23, two truckloads of police from Delmas, a self-governed district within the metropolitan capital, plus other armed men wearing T-shirts reading “the Delmas mayor’s office in action,” arrived at three camps rimming the intersection of Delmas Road and Airport Road. The security forces and two bulldozers smashed the tents and all the the belongings of an estimated 100 to 200 families, leaving heaps of detritus. Trucks from the mayor’s office hauled away the remains of the survivors’ only possessions.

During the offensive, the Delmas employees arrested three camp residents and beat three community activists who tried to protect the tents, according to eyewitnesses.

On May 25, police turned out at two other IDP camps on Delmas routes 3 and 5 and destroyed tents and belongings there.

Immediately after the destruction, Patrice Florvilus, an attorney with the non-profit group Defenders of the Oppressed, and Reyneld Sanon, an organizer with the right-to-housing coalition Force for Reflection and Action on Housing [FRAKKA] and with the U.S.-based economic justice group Other Worlds, held a press conference on the scene. Delmas police and workers from the district’s garbage collection office came at the two men with shovels, machetes, and knives. Camp residents formed a security cordon and successfully protected Florvilus and Sanon.

Mayoral Offensive to “Clean” Public Spaces

In an interview with the newspaper Le Nouvelliste after the May 23 operation, Mayor Wilson Jeudi of Delmas said, “This is a public place… It can’t remain privatized by a group of people.” In the context of a hyper-concentrated city, much of it still uninhabitable due to rubble from the earthquake, with desperate survivors lodging themselves in virtually any open space, Jeudi offered a new definition of “privatize.” He went on to announce that all public spaces are going to be emptied of residents, leaving them “clean.”

Jeudi called the camps “disorderly” and claimed that many of those in the tents did not actually live there. “They just come to do their commercial activities [thievery and prostitution] and go back to their homes in the evening.”

The mayor said that no compensation would be offered to those ousted from their temporary shelter. “We were all victims of the earthquake,” he added.

Protest over Illegal Evictions Grows

In Washington on May 25, four U.S. representatives expressed alarm at the illegal expulsions. “Facing hostile conditions, including adverse weather, violence, and disease, shelter and work are the priorities for every displaced Haitian and must not be compromised,” said a statement by Representatives Donald M. Payne, Yvette Clark, Fredericka Wilson, and Maxine Waters