Chimeres / Popular Organisations (Haiti)

Country: Haiti
Details of Formation: The pro-Aristide group consisted of many armed gangs that are thought to have evolved from the partisan groups known as "popular organisations" that President Aristide established. The date when Aristide entered office on 7 February 2001 is used as the group’s date of formation. They became pro-government at this point, although organised groups of supporters presumably existed before that.
Details of Termination: The group was no longer pro-government when President Aristide fled Haiti in a 2004 coup.
Purpose: The group was pro-Aristide (and his Lavalas party) and mainly used as an instrument against the political opposition, e.g. by helping the police to suppress demonstrations or intimidating the population. It was used to mobilise participants for progovernment protests. According to one news source, members were also involved in drug trade.
Organisation: The group is subordinated to the President and is also reported to be closely linked to the police.
Weapons and Training: According to a report, weapons were provided by the president, but other than this there is no information available.
Size: --
Reason for Membership: --
Treatment of Civilians: Targeting political opposition in particular, the group killed anti-government activists, suppressed demonstrations and burnt down buildings associated with the opposition. The government did not prevent this behaviour. In addition, the group used violence in its own protests for the government.
Other Information: Members of the numerous gangs were known as chimeres (fire breathing monster of Haitian mythology). Identified groups of Chimeres/Popular Organisations include: The Cannibal Army, based in Gonaives and headed by Amiot Matayer. After Metayer's assasination in 2003 the Cannibal Army turned against Aristide and Lavalas. Sleepers in the Wood, based in Petit-Goave. Clean Sweep (Bale Wouze), based in St Marc. The Red Army (Popular Organisation for the Liberation of Haiti), based in Habitation Le Clerc. Militants of La Plaine. Solution, based in Cite Soleil.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.