Haitian politician shot dead, as violent gangs push country to the ‘edge of collapse’
Two months after the assassination of a prominent politician in Haiti, a gang is trying to grab control of the country, sparking fears of a bloodbath and the return of deadly violence
By Edith M. Lederer
11 June 2011
The assassination Saturday night of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Du Bouchet, a prominent politician and businessman, in his home in the commune of Mirebalais on the island nation’s northern coast provoked an outpouring of condemnation in France and elsewhere.
The man responsible for the killing was Jean-Christophe “Charley” Petion, a young police officer with the police’s Criminal Investigation Department—the department responsible for investigating killings and other crimes. There were no arrests, as most of those suspected in the slaying had fled abroad already.
The killing was carried out by the Red Berets criminal group, which was created in 2006 by Petion and other young Haitians to fight for the independence of the country from US- and Haitian-backed Haitian dictator Jean-Claustre “Baby Doc” Duvalier. The group had been previously outlawed in 2002. Today it operates as the only armed group in the country capable of dealing with the authorities when other armed groups refuse to cooperate.
Petion was a member of an ex-military intelligence group, called “Red Berets”—the name comes from the French word for red braid, a sign of allegiance to the president of the republic, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the leader of the anti-nationalist Vodou religion. In the past, Petion had served with the elite special forces. Now he held the rank of sergeant in the force.
Du Bouchet was a member of the Democratic and Social Action party, one of the country’s two major parties. He was a well-known businessman in the port town of Mirebalais, known for his charity work. At the time of his death he was under criminal investigation for embezzlement from a charitable foundation and had been a supporter of a pro