Huge weapons shipment seized in St. Marc

2016 09 08 Haitian police seize arms shipment in St Marc.jpg

Haitian authorities seized an illegal shipment of weapons, ammunition, and military equipment in St. Marc on Sep. 8.

By Yves Pierre-Louis, Haiti Liberté, Sept. 14, 2016

On Thu., Sep. 8, at the port of St. Marc, 85 kilometers northwest of Port-au-Prince, a customs search of an off-loaded truck from Miami uncovered a large quantity of weapons, ammunition, and other military equipment.

The investigating judge reported seizing 159 12-gauge shotguns (nine of them double-barreled), five M4 carbines, a Glock pistol, and about 30,000 rounds of 9mm, 5.56mm, 38 caliber, and 12 gauge ammunition. Haitian authorities also impounded 15 pairs of handcuffs, 10 pairs of boots, 12 uniforms (blue pants, black shirts), five bullet-proof vests, and many ammo clips.

Haitian Secretary of State for Public Security Himmler Rébu quickly went to the scene, vowing to trace the shipment’s source, would-be recipients, and accomplices, both in Haiti and abroad. However, Mr. Rébu, a former Haitian Army colonel, is an outspoken Duvalierist and a political ally of former President Michel Martelly. The neo-Duvalierist pro-Martelly sector is the most opposed to the current government and is likely behind the arms shipment.

Furthermore, the St. Marc port’s new director, Anel Camille, installed on Aug. 18, 2016, is the right-arm of the Artibonite’s questionably elected Senator, Carl Murat Cantave, a sworn enemy of interim President Jocelerme Privert. Cantave ran under the banner of KID, the party of Martelly’s de facto prime minister, Evans Paul.

The shipment arriving just one month before rerun elections on Oct. 9 is seen as no coincidence by Haitian authorities. Right-wing Martelly allies, like former paramilitary commander now turned Senate candidate Guy Philippe, have repeatedly threatened violence.

"The situation is extremely serious and worrying,” said Pierre Espérance, executive secretary of the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH). “The actors in the criminal justice system must take action to prevent unrest in the country."

Mr. Rébu has announced measures to ensure a smooth election on Oct. 9, including prohibiting firearms. However, he said and did nothing after a questionably elected senator barged into a Port-au-Prince police station on Sep. 9 to forcibly recover weapons seized by the police. Police sources say that a police unit arrested the driver of a vehicle (with an expired official license plate) which carried large-caliber weapons, including an M4 carbine and an unlicensed Glock 9mm pistol.

On Nov. 29, 1987, neo-Duvalierist forces carried out a bloody massacre of would-be voters, particularly at Ruelle Vaillant. The Haitian people vividly remember this tragedy and must mobilize to prevent it from ever happening again