November 22, 2000: Bombing in Haiti

One boy was killed and 14 other people injured in what was the first of a bombing campaign linked to elections in Haiti in November 2000.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – It is one thing to have heated passions over an election: it is quite another to kill over it.

Haiti is known, unfortunately, for many bad things. It has a very high poverty rate. The country is largely an environmental disaster. It suffers disproportionately from hurricanes. It is badly governed. All not great things.

This is not to say that Haitians themselves are bad. I have met many here in Canada, although the primary reason they are here and not back in their homeland is for the aforementioned reasons. I find them warm and great to chat with. The fact that they speak a creole – Haitian French – also appeals to the linguist in me.

The country also has a very high crime rate and many governments warn travelers to exercise special caution when in Haiti. For what it is worth, violent crime appears predominantly gang and/or robbery-related. This is particularly true for the slum areas although more affluent parts are also affected.

One scourge that Haiti does not appear to suffer from, however, is terrorism. There are no indigenous terrorist groups of which I am aware, and Haiti rarely – if ever- features in statements issued by foreign ones. A small glimmer in a rather dark sky.

Michaëlle Jean — Michaëlle Jean
A famous Haitian-Canadian, former Governor-General Michaelle Jean

On this day in 2000

And yet on this day in 2000 there was what could be called a terrorist attack. Seven bombs exploded in and around the capital city, Port-au-Prince, killing a teenage boy and injuring at least 14. The bombs were tied to election violence. Two days later two more bombs exploded in a suburb of Port-au-Prince, killing a 7-year-old girl on her way to school and injuring two other people.

Given that the bombs were meant to disrupt voting they can be seen as political in nature. Political motive are one of the necessary conditions for terrorism. Ergo, even if the perpetrators were not identified, this was terrorism.

Haiti has a long road ahead of it and many challenges left to face. Let us hope more terrorism is not one of them.

Phil Gurski

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