The Port Au Prince neighborhood of Lasalin was attacked by government-organized death squads in November 2018, leaving more than 70 people dead or missing, and schools, homes and hospitals in flames, according to a report.
The U.S.-based National Lawyers Guild says the brutal attacks were an act of punishment and terror committed against a center of political opposition to Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse, whose government has been rocked by months of protests over the multi-billion-dollar PetroCaribe corruption scandal.
The PetroCaribe fund allowed Haiti to resell Venezuelan oil and direct the profits into badly needed social programs.
But at least $2 billion from that program have gone missing, spurring massive street protests against the Haitian government starting in mid-2018.
Lasalin — a stronghold of the leftist Lavalas political party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide — was one of the centers of the protest movement.
The attack on Lasalin was, according to the report, “government-orchestrated and supported, with police collaborating with and weaponizing criminal elements.”
The attackers committed horrific acts of violence against Lasalin residents, including mutilation, rape, dismemberment, immolation and the killing or disappearance of dozens of victims, including children and elders.
The Haitian government, a close ally of the United States, has disavowed any connection to the massacres, and has instead blamed it on gang warfare.
But human-rights investigators and also the United Nations say that government officials at least condoned the attacks.
The lawyers’ guild report also faulted both the United States and the United Nations for supporting the contested election of Moïse in 2016, and for providing financial support and training for the militarized national police force said to be involved in the bloodletting.
Sources: National Lawyers Guild (advocacy group), Time Magazine, Miami Herald