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The people of Haiti held a two-day general strike on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 9 and 10, as part of ongoing popular mobilizations throughout the country. They also successfully struck the week before on Feb. 2. The Martelly government responded with brutal repression in various communities such as in Montrouis, where massive use of tear gas killed two children and police gunfire wounded a number of community residents.
Haitian President Michel Martelly has managed to inspire popular opposition to his regime almost since his election in May 2011. Martelly, who came to office in a grossly unrepresentative process which excluded Lavalas, the country’s most popular party, has been closely linked with figures around former dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.
Update Sept. 30, 2012: For the past two weeks, massive demonstrations have rocked Haiti, protesting constitutional changes and the corruption of the Martelly government. The democratic and participatory spirit of the 1987 Constitution has been subverted by the illegitimate President Michel Martelly, who announced new amendments, which concentrate executive power and herald the return of death squad Duvalierism to Haiti.
Friday, Sept. 21, saw yet another in a series of large demonstrations across Haiti against what many protestors called “the corruption of the Martelly regime.” Not a single U.S. news outlet filed a story in English on the demonstrations. Most conspicuously absent in their coverage was The Miami Herald.
The real plan for Haiti’s northeastern region – especially the Caracol Bay area – is one that was hatched by Canadian mining corporations, with the U.S. and South Korean sweatshop zone being a side project and distraction. If this mining plan is given a green light while Haiti is under foreign occupation, it will permanently strip the country of much of its mineral, cultural and ecological wealth.
On March 18, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family returned home from a seven-year forced exile in South Africa – an exile brought about by the violent U.S.-orchestrated coup in 2004. Up until the last minute, the U.S. government tried to stop the return, with President Obama going so far as to place a last-minute call to President Zuma of South Africa.
Obama denounced the recent “elections” in Burma as “neither free nor fair.” The Haitian “elections” are also neither free nor fair. The largest party, Fanmi Lavalas, is excluded, as it has been in every election since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in 2004; 1.3 million earthquake victims are displaced; and cholera has already taken 1,600 lives.
Haitians say protests are the inevitable outcome when troops who have occupied Haiti for five years with seeming impunity have introduced a deadly, misery-multiplying disease.
Rea Dol and Dodo were at the airport with a sign with my name when I arrived. We then headed to the building site, where a wall is going up around the perimeter. Rea is the principal of SOPUDEP School in Port au Prince, founded as part of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s National Literacy Project. She’s building a new school to replace the one that was damaged in the earthquake.
On May 18, 1803, 207 years ago, the Congress of Arcahaie adopted the Haitian flag. Gen. Jean-Jacques Dessalines created it by ripping the white from the center of the French flag and uniting the red and the blue. Celebrate Haiti's Flag Day with exciting Haitian dancers and drummers and Wanda's account of her journey there.
In the weeks since the devastating earthquake in Haiti, familiar patterns of interference and neglect by the major powers that dominate the country are firmly entrenched. Notwithstanding heroic efforts of ordinary Haitian people, Haitian government officials and agencies and many international organizations, a grave health risk hovers over the people and the direction of Haiti’s reconstruction remains entirely undetermined.
In Venezuela, solidarity with Haiti is based on humanistic and historical reasons. Haiti played an important role in Venezuela’s battle for independence, and as the world’s first Black republic it served as an inspiration to Venezuelan patriots. Since the earthquake, Venezuela has rushed tons of food, tents and fuel to Haiti and forgiven all debts.