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Archive for Tuesday, January 10, 2006

General strike brings commerce to a halt

January 10, 2006

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— Business ground to a halt Monday in a general strike called to protest a wave of kidnappings that has terrified people and cast a shadow over already troubled efforts to restore democracy in Haiti.

The Haitian Chamber of Commerce and Industry called the strike to pressure U.N. peacekeepers to move against gangs - allegedly loyal to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide - who have carried out many of the kidnappings.

But leaders of the peacekeeping force were preoccupied with their own tragedy - the weekend death of their most senior commander, Brazilian Lt. Gen. Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar, in an apparent suicide.

Bacellar was found dead of a gunshot wound Saturday at his hotel. A senior U.N. official has confirmed to The Associated Press that the general shot himself in the head.

The one-day strike left people sitting idly on street corners or waiting hopelessly for a bus, an economic blow in a country where most people are unemployed. Gas stations, supermarkets and banks all closed.

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