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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.
Following Haiti’s controversial presidential and legislative elections held on Sunday, Oct. 25, alarm is growing about irregularities in the counting of the votes at voting centers and in the transportation of votes to the tabulation center. There is widespread mistrust of the process. Most international observers of the election and subsequent press reports have focused on the day of the election but not on the counting and tabulation of the votes.
At great personal risk, Haitians demonstrated massively in cities throughout the country on Sept. 30 and Oct. 17, calling for President Michel Martelly to step down. By choosing historically significant dates marking past coups, the Haitian grassroots majority is clearly saying they want an end to 10 years of military occupation. Martelly’s police force brutally broke up some demonstrations with tear gas and beatings.
This Wednesday, May 8, tens of thousands of Haitians gathered at the Palace of Justice in Port-au-Prince to support former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was summoned to court to be questioned about a 13-year-old murder investigation. The people of Haiti stand for justice, but they are against the misuse of the justice system for political persecution.
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.
There are periods in a country’s history when the signs and warnings that that history will soon enter into a dramatically different phase are clear as day. Such is the period today in Haiti, where daily events portend an inauspicious development for the future: The Haitian Army may soon be returning.
On July 15, 2011, to mark the 58th birthday of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a gathering of volunteer medical doctors and nurses provided a free medical clinic in Port-au-Prince. This year was special because of the return of Haiti’s first democratically elected and twice ousted president.
In the face of the U.S. power structure’s continuing attempts to force communities of color to hide in our own hoods, a 19-year-old Afrikan youth, Kenneth Harding, was shot to death Saturday over not having a transfer for a $2 light rail ride. As he lay dying in a pool of his own blood, reaching out for help, raising himself up and crying out in agony, only to be surrounded and circled by police who were armed to the teeth with assault rifles and other tools of war ...
In 2004, I was in Haiti living under the injustice Bernard Gousse inflicted on his own people while serving the Haitian elite and the “international community.” Like many of Gousse’s victims, I was driven into hiding after the arrest of the late Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a prominent Lavalas leader and human rights activist.
"I was at his (President Aristide's) house, we heard a roar of shouts of joy, and then over the walls people started coming in, pouring into the courtyard of the house when they saw the car. People were accompanying the car as many as three miles from the airport to his house," relates Pierre Labossiere of the jubilant welcome that greeted the Aristides on their return to Haiti ending seven long years of exile for them and brutal repression of the people they had to leave behind. Pierre tells the story of the Haitian people and how their never-say-die spirit continues to inspire the world.
“Haiti: Harvest of Hope” is an exceptional must-watch film which documents the brutal regimes of Francois and Jean Claude Duvalier, Papa Doc and Baby Doc, and the rise of Jean Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas movement and the coming of democracy to Haiti.
“If you want to help Haiti, let’s start by telling the truth, OK? The truth is that on April 7, 2003, President Aristide, a democratically elected president on the side of the poor, called together a Restitution Commission which determined that France owed Haiti $21 billion. And within weeks, France and the United States told Aristide it was time for him to go. Step aside, step down, resign or be killed."
In many of the areas there is desperate need for food and relief. AID agencies MUST find a more humane way to reach out to the women and children who are most vulnerable and desperate. Caribbean citizens have offered help yet many have even been denied entry.
On July 23 the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (POCC) kicked off the “You Can Kill a Revolutionary ... But You Can’t Kill the Revolution Tour” in Oakland, California, the birthplace of the Black Panther Party.
The mood was militant, even joyous, as thousands poured out of the Port-au-Prince Cathedral following the funeral of Father Gérard Jean-Juste on June 18. They merged with rara bands which had been circulating in the streets outside the church during the four hours since the service began at 6 a.m. Then about 10 gunshots rang out. People ran and dove for cover. It all lasted about 30 seconds.
Today, June 18, U.N. soldiers gunned down Haitian mourners outside the church, Port au Prince Cathedral in Haiti, the largest church in the country, during the funeral for Father Gerard Jean Juste. But undeterred by U.N. guns, Haitians continue to run towards the darkness, using their bodies, breath and soul to light the world – liberty or death! Famous Haitian artist Zap Zap has been reported arbitrarily detained, arrested and transported to an unknown location.
Four tropical storms in a month killed between 500 and 1,000 Haitians and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Because preparedness under Aristide had been abandoned and the U.N. won't help, damage and suffering are much worse than necessary.
In Haiti, they have a name for hunger. It's called Clorox hunger - meaning something that eats you from the inside. But it's an imposed hunger, an imposed starvation on the people of Haiti. It has a history. Until the 1980s, Haiti was self sufficient in rice production. But with the lowering of tariffs, Haitians got what we call "Miami" rice. Haiti was flooded with cheap rice imports and Haitian peasants couldn't compete.