PETIT GOAVE, Haiti -- To know the dilemma of Gustave Jasmin and Army Capt. John LaDelfa is to know the dilemma of Haiti and the United States after six weeks of U.S. military presence.
Mr. Jasmin, coordinator of a group that supports President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, wants Captain LaDelfa's U.S. Special Forces soldiers to aggressively disarm paramilitaries who supported the departed military regime.
"They still have their guns," said Mr. Jasmin, 25. "They say they are simply waiting for the American soldiers to leave so they will take their revenge." An estimated 3,000 civilians were killed during the regime's three years in power.
But Captain LaDelfa, noting that his men have pursued at least 10 false tips on weapons caches, now insists on specific information.
"We can't just go house to house. Without information, we're just going on a wild goose chase," said Captain LaDelfa, of the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Special Forces Group.
The dilemma has a broader international implication far from the sleepy streets of Petit Goave, a port town on Haiti's southern peninsula: The United Nations peacekeeping force, expected to relieve most U.S. troops by early next year, won't come until Haiti is deemed a "safe and secure" environment. For it to be so declared, the paramilitary types who did much of the Haitian military's dirty work must be disarmed.
But U.S. forces haven't done a no-holds-barred search for weapons because it isn't within the scope of their mission, Adm. Paul David Miller said before stepping down last week as head of the U.S. military's Atlantic Command.
Domestic political considerations enter into the picture. Pressure will be on the Clinton administration to get U.S. troops home soon, although 3,000 will remain until 1996 as part of the 6,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force.
Meanwhile, U.S. forces have been turning up additional weapons caches. Last Friday 1,745 rounds of ammunition were found in a tunnel in Port-au-Prince.
The number of weapons collected, either through seizures or voluntary surrender, exceeds 12,000. But the figure hasn't grown significantly in recent days. And some estimates say there are numerous M-14 and M-16 rifles, M-60 machine guns, and at least 100 recoilless rifles not yet accounted for.
In Petit Goave, Captain LaDelfa and his men say they have accounted for every weapon entered on a government log and issued to the local Haitian army-police garrison. But they have had less luck outside the barracks.
Gustave Jasmin and the other members of his group say that they gave Captain LaDelfa a list of 59 members of FRAPH (Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti) in Petit Goave but that the captain has done nothing with it.
Captain LaDelfa has his own list of local paramilitary types, and it includes 81 "Fraphistes" and 14 "attaches." But they haven't been seen committing crimes, no one has stepped forward to produce evidence against them of a specific crime and they are, said Staff Sgt. Steven Barry, among the community's middle class.
"You tell us who has a gun, where he lives, and we'll go find him," Captain LaDelfa said. When they are apprised of such a person, however, a crowd of angry citizens often gathers outside the house before the Green Berets arrive.
This isn't what Mr. Jasmin and the others want to see. They want the U.S. soldiers to follow up on the list they gave them, and to search the homes of each person on the list.