On October 16, 1993, Alerte Belance was abducted from her home and taken to Titanyen, a small seaside village used by Haiti’s rulers as a mass grave for political opponents. There she received machete chops to her face, neck and extremities. Despite her grave injuries, Belance was able to save herself by dragging her mutilated body onto the street and asking for help.
Belance’s survival was extraordinary, but not all were so lucky.
On January 18, 1994, Wilner Elie, a member of the Papaye Peasant Movement, was knifed to death by a group of masked men in his own home. His twelve children were handcuffed by the assailants and forced to watch helplessly as their father was brutally murdered.
Elie and Belance’s tragic stories were not anomalies. Not long ago in Port-au-Prince, decapitated bodies littered the streets, warnings to would-be dissidents. Violent men sexually abused young women seemingly for sport. People were ambushed in their homes and shot to death for attempting to escape. Thousands of Haitians fled in shoddy boats through treacherous waters to the United States, only to be sent back despite outcries from human rights groups. via | The Nation