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Against all odds Aristide returns to Haiti

March 19, 2011

Scroll down for Al Jazeera video: ‘Aristide returns to Haiti’

by Ezili Dantò

(March 18, 2011) – Aristide returned to Haiti today. I’ve not seen such genuine happiness on the faces of Haiti’s poor in over seven years.

At the Aristides’ home, thousands of Haitians, who had waited seven long tortured years for the return of their beloved president and his family, waited a little longer to welcome them. – Photo: Jean Ristil Jean Baptiste
Welcome, President Jean Bertrand Aristide and family. Today is a good day for the poorest of the poor in the Western Hemisphere. Their struggle and unimaginable sacrifices and sufferings bore fruit and it makes them smile. We thank the universal good for this moment. Blessed be the endless Haiti revolution against the organized tyranny of the “civilized” and “schooled” peoples.

Today, HLLN remembers the blessed Haiti revolution, Janjak Desalin and the indigenous Haiti army of today and yesterday.

On this day of the return, HLLN remembers the sacrifice of the warriors of Site Soley, Bel Air, Solino, Martissant who took up arms in self-defense against the occupation and coup d’etat. We remember the most hunted Black man in the Western Hemisphere, who, alone, fought the most powerful armies on earth for two long years before he was assassinated by U.N. bullets. We remember the lynching and crucifixion of Dred Wilmè.

Haiti’s former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, his wife, Mildred, behind him, mirrors the crowd’s jubilation on his return home March 18 from seven years in forced exile. The thousands who greeted him ran beside his car to his home, where thousands more were waiting to welcome him. – Photo: Alexandre Meneghini, AP
“On July 6, 2005, … Dred Wilmè in his family were assassinated in cold blood by 1,440 heavily armed U.N./U.S. troops. With their tanks, helicopters and advanced weapons, 440 U.N./U.S. soldiers entered Site Soley in the dead of night – at 3 a.m. – while the community was asleep. One thousand more U.N./U.S. soldiers surrounded Site Soley to make sure no one could leave. Bombs where reported unleashed and dropped on the unarmed civilian community.

“According to The Site Soley Massacre Declassification Project, the U.N. fired over 22,000 rounds of ammunition into this thin-shacked, cardboard-house, poverty-stricken Black community of about 450,000 Haitians, most having been forced off their safer rural lands by U.S./USAID/WB/IMF policies in the ‘80s and ‘90s.”

All human beings have the right to life and to self-defense, including the poor in Haiti.

Today, we remember and pay honor and respect to our fallen and faceless warriors – the beleaguered poor in Site Soley, Solino, Martissant, Bel-Air, Gran Ravine et al. – ravaged by exclusion and color-coded NGO charitable distribution and allotments that slays human dignity, brings perpetual dependency. We recall the 20,000 slaughtered by the imposed Bush Boca Raton regime from 2004 to 2006, slaughtered with the complicity of U.N./U.S. firepower.

We pay tribute to Father Gerard Jean Juste, Lovinsky Pierre Antoine and all those who gave their lives for this day of return of the people’s voice. We pay tribute to the tens of thousands of unknown Haitians, in Haiti and in the Diaspora, who never wavered.

Joyfully, people surround Aristide’s car as he leaves the airport. They ran beside him all the way to his house. – Photo: Jean Ristil Jean Baptiste
We lift up Hazel and Randall Robinson for staying true throughout this long road and always, always supporting justice for the people of Haiti against all the odds. We lift up Minister Louis Farrakhan and Danny Glover who stood with the poor majority in Haiti and advocated for the return of Aristide in Haiti when most of the U.S. Black intelligentsia turned away.

We thank all those folks, from all the races and religions, who signed letters and advocated for this return. We pay tribute to all the small Haiti radio programs abroad and in Haiti who stood for justice, Mary at SF Bay View for standing firm and resolute. We remember the unknown fanm vanyans, Haitian women like Alina Sixto who sacrificed so much for so long without accolades and recognition and who never wavered.

We share this day by lifting up the work and life of our beloved John Maxwell. We pay tribute to the Africans – in Jamaica, in South Africa – who stood in solidarity with the people of Haiti despite threats of repercussions from powerful international forces, those who this week ignored the frantic calls from Barack Obama and the U.N.’s Ban Ki-moon to again delay and destroy the will of the people of Haiti. Thank you.

This historic return belongs to the poor suffering warriors of Haiti and blesses the spirits of those who perished too soon. Indeed it belongs to Haitian men like Father Gerard Jean Juste, to all the women community leaders who were singled out and massacred at the USAID/IOM “Summer for Peace” soccer gathering on Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, 2005, where Haitian youths were lured to their slaughter while attending a soccer game sponsored by USAID. Haiti’s young were brutally chopped up by U.N./U.S.-sanctioned coup d’etat police squads, working with their Lame Ti Manchet thugs and mercenaries.

This return belongs to Esterne Bruner, assassinated Sept. 21, 2006, by members of the coup d’etat enforcers, Lame Ti Manchèt.

Before his death, the courageous Esterne Bruner provided Ezili’s HLLN with the names of the members who committed the Gran Ravine/USAID-soccer-for-peace massacres, the names of the death squad of Lame Ti Manchet. None of these pro-coup d’etat enforcers have been brought to justice in U.N.-occupied Haiti because they helped demobilize the pro-democracy Lavalas movement.

This return that eases the insult of the bicentennial coup d’etat belongs to the hundreds of Haitians, sealed in containers and dumped off the coast of Cap Haitian to drown, as U.S.-supported thugs, still roaming Haiti free behind U.N. protection today, took over the North. It belongs to those forced onto mysterious U.S. ships off the shores of Haiti, held and tortured in secrecy, some for two years, because they voted Lavalas or held positions in the popular government of President Aristide.

Young people who are barely old enough to remember Aristide before he was kidnapped by U.S. Marines seven years ago and forced into exile were as excited as their elders to welcome him home. The sign says, “Titid, the youth love you.” Titid is an affectionate nickname for Aristide. – Photo: Ansel Herz
It belongs to Haitian men like Emmanuel Dred Wilmè who never left his people, never even left his neighborhood. He never attacked anyone; he simply defended his community from attack from the coup d’etat overseers, from U.N. and U.S. guns and sycophants who hired thugs like Labanye to kill innocent civilians simply because they voted for Jean Bertrand Aristide and advocated for their country’s own domestic interests as opposed to the interests of the internationals, their Haiti billionaire oligarchy and poverty pimping USAID-NGO subcontractors.

There will always be more Dred Wilmés, more Father Jean Justes, more Lovinsky Pierre Antoines, more Esterne Bruners in Haiti as long as there is misery and exclusion imposed on Haiti by the powerful nations.

Most of all today, we say honor and respect to the Ezili Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network members, of all the races and nationalities, a 10,000-strong network against the profit-over-people folks, reaching 3 million per post and on our blogs, who stood with the voiceless and disenfranchised in Haiti for these last seven years against all the odds, against all the naysayers.

This historic moment belongs to all of you who stood with the indigenous Haitians at HLLN who work to make a space for Haiti’s authentic voices without officialdom’s approval. It’s a harsh journey.

The return could have been a six-hour trip to Brazil and then just a few hours to Haiti. But it took 18 hours because the “benevolent internationals” interested in our “democracy and stability” wouldn’t allow former President Aristide, the symbol of the poor’s empowerment in Black Haiti, to travel through their territories.

Etched on the older people’s faces is the truth of this woman’s sign, “We suffered greatly, (but) we had faith you would return home.” Thousands of Haitians died during the past seven years at the hands of the U.S. and U.N. forces occupying Haiti, compounded by the over 300,000 who were killed in the earthquake and over 4,600 killed so far in the cholera epidemic. – Photo: Etant Dupain, brikourinouvelgaye.com
It took 18 hours for Aristide to reach Haiti. Going from South Africa to Northern Africa in Senegal took 10 hours, while from Senegal to Haiti took another eight hours. I hear England wouldn’t allow a landing either.

That long, long road is symbolic of the Haitian struggle. That long road Ezili’s HLLN has shared with you and with your support and forbearance. Unlike colonial celebritism with Sean Penn, no one will give us accolades for a mere six months journey in Haiti. Ours is a centuries-long journey. We overstand. The struggle continues.

A new era begins for us here at HLLN. We ask you help us define it. For we know the empire will strike back. We expect it and thus avoid the surprise blow. As usual, we shall take the road less traveled towards healing Haiti’s poor majority with dignity, human rights, self-sufficiency, justice and inclusion. We won’t sell out. Haiti and indigenous Haitians want justice not charity, not Clinton/Farmer U.N./U.S. paternalism. It’s a desperately humiliating, bumpy, wholly disemboweling, wholly healing and fulfilling ride. Against all odds, Ginen poze. Kenbe la – hold on. (See “Don’t be distracted by Aristide in Haiti” by Ezili Dantò and “Avatar Haiti.”)

Pierre Labossiere, Alina Sixto, Lavarice Gaudin, Jafrikayiti, Guy Antoine, Harry Fouche, Fritz Pean, Yves Point Du Jour, Jean Ristil Jean Baptise and too many others to name, congratulations on this day. Only we know what we’ve withstood in helping to overcome not one but two Bush coup d’etats on the poor majority in Haiti.

Sometimes the fierce guilt of surviving, the endless stretch ahead, the soul and psychic wounds wrought on by the shame and humiliation of powerlessness and lack of material resources to do more are too heavy a load. It’s too ugly and desperate to articulate the bullying and blows metered out by the most educated, most wealthy and most powerful on the most defenseless and non-violent people on earth.

Their collective suffering and deaths shall not be in vain. Justice will prevail, beauty will win, eventually – if not in our lifetime, then in the next. We are the Haitians, the indigenous Haitians. From generation to generation, from the womb to the tomb, our lives are about struggle.

Today, for a moment, we’ll smile* because in this shining and eternal moment that must see us through what will come at us next, we anti-Duvalierist Haitians managed to survive whole with dignity and to witness that against all odds, we beat back the elite’s rabid rage.

Ayibobo! The Haitian resistance against the Western bicentennial re-colonization of Haiti lives on.

*Francisco Herrera sings ‘Look at Haiti’

Aristide’s triumphant return to a celebrity welcome

At HLLN we make a point to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP and Miami Herald with this Aljazeera video. These mainstream papers especially, with the help of Amy Wilenz and Michael Deibert, have, these last seven years, harped on the lack of popularity of Jean Bertrand Aristide and how he was a criminal. The damage and carnage caused to Haitians by these folks is immeasurable. We circle out of this bunch Jonathan Katz, whose AP articles did not parrot the State Department/USAID propaganda as “news.” Al Jazeera, since it came on the scene after the earthquake with its Haiti correspondent, Sebastian Walker, has led the way for Haiti’s real voice to be heard.

Five to ten thousand supporters wait to greet Aristide outside his house. – Photo: Ansel Herz
HLLN is most grateful to Walker, Katz and France 24 for being the first foreign news outlets to videotape the U.N. soldiers who brought cholera to Haiti. They were the first whose work forced powerful forces to acknowledge and believe the accusations made by the people of Mirebalais and who went there to film the Nepalese base oozing its cholera-stained feces into Haiti’s waterways.

This Al Jazeera video also tells a story you won’t read in the mainstream. It shows the reason why President Aristide is beloved by the poor majority in Haiti. He’s not AFRAID of his own people. He knows who they are, their hearts of hearts.

They would not scale the walls of the National Palace or of any of the current presidential candidates’ residences to hear them speak. No. Only for Aristide. The day of the return, 5,000 to 10,000 Haitians scaled the walls of Aristide’s residence, while tens of thousands more gathered around outside, yearning to see and hear him speak to them and for them to the world as he did at the airport.

When Aristide did not come out, they eventually quietly left. This is the reality the U.S., U.N., France, Canada, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama did not want you to see: the discipline and peacefulness of the people of Haiti when they are not being attacked and forced to defend themselves by the coup d’etat enforcers and their U.N./U.S. tanks and guns.

We post this video of the return for the mainstream media mentioned herein, for the New York Times especially, which wrote during the bicentennial that Aristide could command only a “small crowd.” Explain, New York Times, how seven years later this scene could happen?

It’s very telling how little mainstream media coverage and attention there is to Aristide’s return and the huge celebrity welcome he received from the people of Haiti. In contrast to the almost complete news blackout about Aristide’s force and power in Haiti, the bloody dictator, Baby Doc Duvalier, got much coverage and massive print and spin, misleading readers to think Haiti’s poor majority want bygones to be bygones because they’re “too young and don’t remember Duvalier’s atrocities”!

It’s also telling to know that the presidents of the U.S. and France and the secretary general of the U.N. made phone calls to South Africa in an attempt to block Aristide’s return to Haiti, despite the welcome you see and that they knew he would receive. In contrast, France allowed bloody dictator, Baby Doc Duvalier, to return to Haiti without any problems. Obama and Ban Ki-moon made no phone calls to stop it. In fact, the U.N. provided security for the brutal Duvalier from the airport to his luxurious Haiti hotel.

You will see in the video, the U.N. soldiers are nowhere visible on the trip home from the airport with Haiti’s first democratically elected president! These powerful but brutally warmongering forces are only exposing their own indefensibility as representatives of civilized peoples of the world. The world’s eyes are wide open.

Ezili Danto, award winning playwright, performance poet, dancer, actor and activist attorney born in Port au Prince, Haiti, founded and chairs the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN), supporting and working cooperatively with Haitian freedom fighters and grassroots organizations promoting the civil, human and cultural rights of Haitians at home and abroad. Visit her at www.ezilidanto.com, www.margueritelaurent.com or www.open.salon.com/blog/ezili_danto.

 

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