U.S. Marines landed Tuesday morning in northern Haiti, expanding their peacekeeping mission to the country's second largest city. Curious civilians who came to the water's edge watched the show.
Angry Haitians threw grapefruit-sized rocks at Haitian police at the docks in Port-au-Prince. Police fired automatic weapons in the air to disperse more than 5,000 people in Cite Soleil, a stronghold of the exiled president.The displays of defiance near the port and at the airport underline the precariousness of the U.S. military presence in Haiti even as its force took control of Cap-Haitien. On Monday, the first troops moved into Port-au-Prince.
U.S. commanders say Haitian police are in charge of keeping control of the streets.
American soldiers were on hand at some of the disturbances, but did not intervene.
In another sign of potential trouble, deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide waited until Tuesday - two days after a deal was struck with Haiti's military rulers to peacefully restore him to power - before making a comment. Even then, he avoided specific mention of the accord.
In a brief statement, he said that during three years since his ouster, "We have traveled with the people of Haiti back toward this democracy - choosing a path that will not add to the 5,000 murders already suffered, a path that will not lead toward greater violence."
He said nothing to refute an aide's statement Monday night that Aristide, elected Dec. 16, 1990, and deposed after seven months in office, has "severe problems" with the no-invasion agreement reached last weekend.
Burt Wides, counsel to Aristide, said the populist priest believes the Oct. 15 deadline for the Haitian military to step down leaves pro-democracy forces in Haiti at their mercy for too long.
"They've got four weeks to bump off as many of the people who might be helpful to the pro-democracy forces as they can in the coming (legislative) elections," Wides said in Washington.
Haitian police cooperated with Tuesday's landing in Cap-Haitien, keeping the crowds out of the Marines' way.
The first 200 of 1,600 Marines bound for Cap-Haitien set off at 7:20 a.m. as 14 armored amphibious vehicles left the USS Nashville and threaded through tiny fishing vessels on the way to the city's port.
At the same time, waves of troop-carrying helicopters, supported by Cobra gunships, left the USS Wasp off the craggy north coast to secure the airfield on the second day of the U.S. operation to restore Haiti's elected government.
The Cap-Haitien air-and-sea operation touched Haitian soil precisely at 8 a.m. There was no resistance, much like Monday when 3,000 U.S. forces took control of the Port-au-Prince airport and harbor.
"The operation appears to be going fairly smoothly so far with cooperation between U.S. Marines and the Haitian people," Lt. Scott Gureck, a Navy spokesman, said Tuesday.
The Marines' objective was to secure the city's port and airport, then move inland to take control of two roads and two bridges. Later in the day, they were expected to move further into town to locations by the Army barracks and several police outposts.
A day after the first wave of American soldiers thundered in, Haitians kept showering Americans with smiles, waves and hugs. But both groups were cautious, with the Americans mindful of the way initially grateful Somalians quickly soured on their presence during the mission to restore peace in Somalia.
"Sure we're popular now, but it will turn from popularity to hatred in a couple of weeks," said Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Ferriero of Harrison, N.J., guarding a U.S. tank truck a seaside shantytown for black-market gas sales.
The first day of the U.S. intervention to promote democracy in the hemisphere's poorest country was a time for the Americans and Haitians to size each other up in the streets of Port-au-Prince.
Haitian army and U.S. troops, who were ready to fight each other only a day before, were soon chatting and discussing cooperation to quell any violence. American cooperation with the Haitian army, noted for its repression, is one of the touchy issues that may spell trouble ahead as Americans work to return Aristide to power and foster democracy.