[News] Lavalas and Haiti's Student Union Unite

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 27 11:59:11 EDT 2009


http://www.counterpunch.org/sprague07272009.html

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.




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