National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Haiti

From Academic Kids

The National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Haiti is a rebel group in Haiti that presently controls most of the country. It was briefly known as the "Revolutionary Artibonite Resistance Front", after the country's central Artibonite region, before being renamed on February 19, 2004 to emphasize its national scope.

The group can be considered an alliance between two elements within the rebellion: armed anti-government gangs and former soldiers of the disbanded Haitian army. The most prominent of the gangs is one based in Gona´ves, formerly known as the "Cannibal Army", that had once supported Jean-Bertrand Aristide but later turned against him. It initiated the rebellion with its capture of Gona´ves on February 5, 2004. It has been led by Buteur Metayer since the murder (allegedly on Aristide's orders) of Buteur's brother, Amiot Metayer, in late 2003.

Following the capture of Gona´ves, the rebels quickly moved into several neighboring towns, expelling the police from them. Some of these, such as Saint-Marc, were retaken by the police and pro-Aristide militants within days, however. On February 14, the rebels were reinforced by opponents of the government who had returned from exile in the Dominican Republic: 20 former soldiers, led by Louis-Jodel Chamblain, a former militia leader who headed army death squads in 1987 and a militia known as the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH), which killed and maimed hundreds of people in the early 1990s. By February 17, the rebel forces had captured the central town of Hinche, near the Dominican border. According to reports, this attack was led by Chamblain. The rebels also controlled most of the roads connecting the central Artibonite province with the north and south of the country.

On February 22, the rebels captured the country's second-largest city, Cap-Ha´tien. By February 25, nearly the entire north was in rebel hands, and the rebels were threatening to attack the capital, Port-au-Prince. Aristide left the country under protest on February 29, and the rebels announced that they would welcome foreign peacekeepers in Haiti.

The rebels employed tactics of attacking police stations in the towns they enter, killing known Aristide supporters and burning down their homes. The bodies of fallen policemen were sometimes publicly mutilated.

The rebels never put forward any positive political program beyond the overthrow of Aristide, except for the reconstitution of the disbanded Haitian army. Aristide's government called the rebels "terrorists" and alleged that the country's civilian opposition was allied with them.


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