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Dr. Maryse Narcisse, the presidential candidate of Haiti’s Fanmi Lavalas Party, is coming to the Bay Area. She will speak in Oakland at the First Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, at an event that also features the music of Vukani Mawethu, Phavia Kugichagulia and Val Serrant. Fanmi Lavalas was founded by former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was twice elected with huge majorities and twice overthrown by U.S. supported coups. The visit by Dr. Narcisse provides a rare opportunity to hear directly from one of its leaders about the situation on the ground in Haiti.
The voice of Haiti’s popular movement at this critical period in the country’s history has never been clearer. For the past several months, since the discredited legislative and presidential elections of last August and October, mass, vibrant protests for the right to a free and fair vote and against foreign intervention have been a relentless force, in the face of heavily-armed and well-financed adversaries and mounting repression.
Hooded gangs attacked a large demonstration against election fraud today in the Haitian capital. Haitians, determined to thwart what they see as an ongoing “electoral coup d’état,” have been in the streets almost daily in their tens of thousands since the Oct. 25 first round presidential elections. There were huge demonstrations, punctuated by police firing into the crowd, wounding several, on Nov. 18. On Nov. 1, a big election protest in the Bel Air popular district, led by a Rara band, was attacked and two marchers shot dead; later that day a third protester was ambushed and killed on the way home.
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.
Without Haiti’s help, there would not have been any independent country in Latin America. On January 1, 1816, when Simon Bolivar arrived in Haiti, downtrodden and desperate for help to fight the Spanish, the only two republics in the Western Hemisphere were the United States, where slave ownership was in force, and Haiti, which had fought for and earned its independence in what is still the only successful slave rebellion ever in the world.
The bitter taste of the dismal elections in Haiti could not diminish the joy of the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family after seven years of forced exile in South Africa.
The plot to control Haiti has gone from the absurd to the ridiculous. The return of Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier raises serious questions about who in Haiti facilitated his return and what his supporters expect to gain by bringing him back.
There was high unemployment for Haitians, those educated with skills and the unskilled as well, prior to the earthquake. For a government official to tell a BAI representative that withholding food was a way to motivate lazy people looking for a handout to get to work is a gross misread of the problem.
A United Nations army still occupies Haiti six years after the coup. Their unstated mission is to prevent the return to power of Aristide’s Lavalas Party. Fanmi Lavalas has already been banned from the next round of elections, so enter Wyclef Jean. The Miami Herald reported, “Secret polling by foreign powers in search of a new face to lead Haiti’s reconstruction” might favor Jean’s candidacy, as someone with sufficient name recognition who could draw enough votes to overcome another Lavalas electoral boycott.
Haiti's Lavalas movement effectively destroyed the credibility of the April 19 Senate election through a successful boycott campaign called Operation Closed Door. Participation may have been as low as 3 percent nationwide.
A chorus of extraordinarily influential voices is calling for the freedom of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, the epitome of the Haitian genius for political organizing with superhuman courage and integrity, who was disappeared one year ago. Here are several of those voices: Mumia Abu-Jamal, Selma James, Pierre Labossiere, Kevin Pina, Michele Pierre-Antoine and President Bertrand Aristide.