The spasm of grief for three victims of Haiti's army-sponsored violence was so overwhelming the funeral had to be cut short.
"I cannot continue," Roman Catholic Brother Clauter Charles said, closing his prayer book as friends and relatives of the men killed by army-backed gunmen a week ago wailed loudly and collapsed on the floor of the Cite Soleil slum's Immacule Church.Earlier, many of about 100 mourners collapsed in tears or threw themselves onto the dirt road Tuesday as they walked from the nearby funeral parlor behind two hearses carrying the caskets to the parish.
A bass and percussion band played a dirge for the men, among up to 3,000 killed in political violence since the army overthrew elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991.
"Look what they did to your father!" an unidentified woman cried as she held up a boy about 2 years old and pointed to a casket that held one of the three pro-democracy activists gunned down the night of May 23 by about a dozen gunmen, including soldiers in uniform.
The funeral had been delayed until the government released the bodies to family members. The body of a fourth man killed in the same attack was released and buried late last week.
Hours earlier Tuesday, neighbors and relatives of the four men took apart 15 shanties of wood and corrugated metal before moving out of Cite Soleil, a seaside slum in Port-au-Prince, the capital, for fear the killers would return for them.
Women and children packed the rest of the families' belongings in buckets, boxes and cloth bundles, and walked away silently behind them.
Terrified, the people refused to give their names to foreign journalists.
One woman, about 40 years old, said: "All night long there are men outside our homes, shooting. . . . We do not have money to build a house, so we are moving to the woods."
The families are among hundreds of thousands of Haitians displaced since the army overthrew Aristide in September 1991.
More than 44,000 Haitians trying to get to the United States have been intercepted at sea. Hundreds of thousands more have crossed the border into the neighboring Dominican Republic or sought refuge on other Caribbean islands.
Still others have migrated between city and countryside, hoping to escape the army, blamed by the United Nations for the vast majority of the political killings.
The residents of Cite Soleil have endured terror since the 1991 coup.