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Haiti Unrest Affects Polynice

February 24, 2004|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

DALLAS — Olden Polynice, the Clippers' Haitian-born reserve center, has noted with more than passing interest the rebel uprising that has driven government forces from about half his homeland over the last two weeks.

Polynice, who has spent most of the season on the injured list, was brought to the United States when he was 7 and he still has relatives in the Caribbean nation, including his 68-year-old father and a brother.

He supported President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former priest who took power as Haiti's first freely elected leader in 1990 but has lost support since legislative elections in 2000 that the opposition said were flawed. Opponents allege that Aristide has allowed corruption fueled by drug trafficking. As of Sunday, about 70 people had been killed since the rebel uprising erupted Feb. 5.

"It's a shame," Polynice said. "I remember back about 10, 11 years ago, trying to get Aristide back in office [after he'd been ousted by a military coup and exiled]. I was very involved in it; I did the hunger strike and everything. Now, to see how his government has turned out, it really saddens me. The whole purpose of putting him back in office and the whole democratic process was just that, for democracy, and to be able to [have him] leave if voted out.

"And that's not what is happening right now, so I can see where the frustration is coming from among everybody else, including the rebels."

He said that his father and mother, who lives in Los Angeles, speak to each other frequently, "and as long as I know they're talking, then we're all right." But he hasn't spoken directly to his father in several months, he said.

"I hope he's out of harm's way, but I know how he is," Polynice said. "He's a lot like me; he's a very militant type. So, I'm hoping and praying that he's OK."



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Update -- The Mavericks are 24-4 in the American Airlines Center, tied with the Sacramento Kings for the league's best home record, but the Clippers won there Dec. 20, never leading by fewer than four points in the second half of a 115-105 victory. Since then, the Clippers are 0-7 on the road against Western Conference opponents.

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