[News] Lavalas and Haiti's Student Union Unite
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 27 11:59:11 EDT 2009
July 27, 2009
Haiti Mobilizes for Change
Lavalas and Haiti's Student Union Unite
By JEB SPRAGUE
Thousands of demonstrators marched through
Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince on July 15 to mark
the 56th birthday of former Haitian President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The demonstration, which
was called by and adhered to by two rival
factions of the Lavalas Family party (FL), was
considered a great display of unity by its organizers.
At 9 a.m. the crowds gathered at the gate in
front of Aristide's still gutted home in Tabarre.
It was decorated with flowers and large
photographs of the party's leader, who remains in
exile in South Africa over five years after the
Feb. 29, 2004 coup d'état against him.
The multitude then moved, like a great river, towards the capital.
Lavalas leaders said that the demonstration was a
birthday present for Aristide. "Long live the
return of President Aristide!" read some of the
posters in the march. " Down with the MINUSTAH
[UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti, the military
occupation force]! Release of all political
prisoners! Reinstatement of all fired State
employees! Down with the neo-liberal plan!"
Demonstrators also bitterly denounced President
René Préval for betraying their expectations that
he would help return Aristide to Haiti and fight
neoliberal austerity and privatization. Tens of
thousands of Lavalas partisans voted for Préval
in 2006, helping him win the presidency.
"Our political organization will defeat all those
who are working for its demise," declared Dr.
Maryse Narcisse, one of the members of the FL's
Executive Committee at the close of the
demonstration at the Place of the Constitution on
the Champ de Mars, the capital's central square.
Narcisse also criticized Préval for seeking to
amend Haiti's 1987 Constitution while at the same
time violating its laws. "Lavalas remains true to
its dream of a better Haiti, where all citizens
can have access to education, health, housing,
and employment," she concluded. "Realization of
this dream goes hand in hand with the return of President Aristide to Haiti."
Also participating in the demonstration was the
singer and activist Annette Auguste, known as So
An. She was also named to the FL's Executive
Committee but presently does not sit with its
other three members, Narcisse, Lionel Etienne and
Jacques Mathelier. Her faction of the party has
proposed some reforms which has caused controversy within the party.
"I am a dedicated Lavalassian," So An told Haiti
Liberté. " President Aristide Lavalas is not more
Lavalas than me. President Aristide might turn
his back on me, but I will never turn my back on
him." She declared her full support for
Aristide's return and said that the July 15
demonstration was a living testimony to the FL's
strength, power, and vitality.
"This event is great proof that the Lavalas would
have won the [April 19 and June 21] senatorial
elections boycotted by the national majority,"
she said. " That is why Lavalas was excluded from
those elections. The objectively manifest goal is to destroy the Lavalas."
At the Place of the Constitution, Lavalas
activists like René Civil and Lavarice Gaudin
criticized the government of Préval and his prime
minister Michele Pierre-Louis for pursuing
policies condemned by Haiti's masses. They
demanded the immediate and unconditional return of Aristide to Haiti.
Meanwhile, the Lavalas base organizations which
made July 15 a success have called another major
mobilization for Tuesday, July 28, the 94th
anniversary of the first U.S. Marine occupation of Haiti in 1915.
The popular organizations have planned the
demonstrations with some of Haiti's student
organizers, marking the first time that the
demands of the Lavalas mass movement and those of
the student protests, which have raged at the
State University in recent months, will be united.
The demands for July 28th are: 1) MINUSTAH's
departure; 2) Aristide's return; 3) Apply the
Parliament's vote for a 200 gourde a day [$5.05]
minimum wage; 4) Reform at the State University;
5) Justice for Roudy, the man shot dead by
MINUSTAH soldiers at the Port-au-Prince Cathedral
on June 18; 6) Liberation of all political
prisoners, above all Ronald Dauphin; 7) Down with the neoliberal plan.
Among the groups calling the July 28
demonstration are the Cité Soleil Action
Coalition of the Lavalas Family Base (ABA SATAN),
the Assembly of Organizations for Change (ROC),
the Network of Multiplying National Organs of the
Lavalas Family (RONMFL), the Network of
Organizations of the West Zone (ROZO), the
National Organization for the Equitable
Protection of the Rights of Women and Children
(ONAPROEDEF), Alternative for Haiti's National
Liberation(ALEH), the Force of Principled
Organizations for a National Alternative (FOKAN),
Movement to Bury Repression (MARE), Group of
Popular Initiative, the student group KOMAP/FRAE,
and the International Support Haiti Network (ISHN).
"L'union fait la force" (Unity makes strength)
says the motto on Haiti's flag. Organizers of the
July 28 march hope that the merging of the
Lavalas mass movement with the anti-imperialist
student movement will lift Haiti's struggle for
justice, democracy and sovereignty to a new level.
Jeb Sprague is a graduate student and freelance journalist.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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