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21323: radtimes: 2,000 Rally In Brooklyn To Denounce U.S. Coup In Haiti (fwd)

From: radtimes <resist@best.com>

From: "Action Center" <actioncenter@action-mail.org>
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2004


By Monica Moorehead
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dynamic.  Spirited.  Awe-inspiring.  These words describe a truly historic
rally that took place on April 7 in the Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn
College. A multinational crowd of 2,000, mainly people from Haiti and the
English-speaking Caribbean, packed the hall to hear a program entitled "An
Evening with Friends of Haiti: The Truth Behind the Haiti Coup."

A broad range of speakers and cultural performers ignited the stage for
three-and-a-half hours to express heartfelt anti-imperialist solidarity
with the besieged Caribbean country. Haiti has once again suffered a
horrific atrocity with the U.S.-orchestrated kidnapping of its
democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, on Feb. 29.

This is the second time that Aristide was forcibly removed from office due
to blatant interference by U.S. imperialism. The first time was in 1991
under the George Bush Sr. administration. In 1994, Washington was forced to
return Aristide to Haiti due to the pressure of the Haitian masses. He was
reelected president in 2000. His term was to expire in 2006 according to
the current Haitian Constitution.
The Feb. 29 coup came on the heels of the bicentennial celebration of
Haitian independence in 1804, which followed the successful slave
revolution against France led by the legendary general, Toussaint
L'Overture. April 7 marked the 201st anniversary of L'Overture's death in a
French colonial prison.
Right now, over 1,000 U.S. Marines along with other foreign troops occupy
the island. They are there on behalf of an imperialist-backed alliance of
former leaders of outlawed paramilitary death squads--including the
despised Tonton Macoutes--and the Haitian capitalist class. Together, they
have illegally taken over the reins of government.


The rally was co-chaired by Kim Ives and Karine Jean-Pierre from Haiti
Support Network (HSN), with Pat Chin and Sara Flounders from the
International Action Center (IAC). La Troupe Makandal, a Haitian drum
group, was an integral part of the rally as they drummed with the
enthusiastic applause and cheers that each speaker evoked from the
audience. Behind each speaker or performer on stage were large still photos
of the Haitian masses in struggle.

Ives remarked, "Washington has gone to great lengths to give the present
Haitian coup a constitutional color. But with every passing day, one thing
becomes ever clearer to the world: The government set in place by U.S.
Marines in 2004, just as in 1915, is illegal, illegitimate and foisted on
the Haitian people. Their coup is doomed to fail.

"We are here tonight to seek the truth about the hidden hand and shadowy
forces behind the Feb. 29 coup d'état."

Distinguished African American actor Ossie Davis captivated the audience as
he read an 1893 speech by Frederick Douglass, the former slave and first
U.S. ambassador to Haiti. Douglass's prophetic speech said in part, "My
subject is Haiti, the Black Republic... Her proximity should alone make us
deeply interested in her welfare, her history, her progress and her
possible destiny, yet we turn the cold shoulder. The reason for coolness
between the countries is this: Haiti is Black, and we have not yet forgiven
Haiti for being Black... I regard her as the original pioneer emancipator
of the nineteenth century."

Dr. Luis Barrios, a Dominican priest in New York, explained the Haiti
Commission of Inquiry's findings. The commission, comprised of HSN and IAC
representatives, recently sent a delegation to the Dominican Republic to
help bring world attention to the reactionary role the Dominican government
played in the Feb. 29 coup.
Barrios stated, "Our investigation has proven beyond a doubt that the
territory of the Dominican Republic was used for training and arming the
so-called Haitian rebels, with the knowledge of the national authorities,
and that their attack was launched from Dominican soil... In press
accounts, U.S. military officials have confirmed that 20,000 M-16 rifles
were given by the U.S. to the Dominican military after November 2002."

Teresa Gutierrez, a leader of the New York Committee to Free the Cuban Five
and a Commission of Inquiry delegate, spoke on how the Bush administration
would like to repeat in socialist Cuba and Venezuela what it did in Haiti.
She exposed Bush's so-called war on terrorism by raising the case of the
five Cuban patriots languishing in U.S. federal prisons for daring to
defend Cuba's sovereignty against right-wing Cuban-American terrorists
based in Miami.


Rep. Maxine Waters, who came from California, electrified the audience as
she spoke with great passion about her ongoing contacts with Aristide by
cell phone as he was being kidnapped by U.S. forces and sent to the Central
African Republic. She was part of a delegation that later traveled to CAR
to accompany Aristide to Jamaica, where he and his wife Mildred are now
guests of the government.

Waters focused much of her remarks on the complicit roles that Secretary of
State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice played.
She stated, "Aristide was elected by the people. Rice was not elected by
anybody." She ended her rousing remarks with, "I salute Haiti! I salute
Aristide! I salute Lavalas! I support real democracy!"

Ben Dupuy, secretary-general of the National Popular Party (PPN) in Haiti,
told the audience, "U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell calls
investigations into the latest Haitian coup, even that called for by
CARICOM, a waste of time. This shows how much they fear the truth getting
out. To add insult to injury, the U.S. is promoting diversionary
investigations into Aristide's alleged drug trafficking, human rights
abuses and corruption.
"Meanwhile, to carry out their coup, Washington is collaborating with
death-squad leaders and soldiers universally recognized as corrupt,
drug-dealing human-rights abusers." He called Aristide's ouster a

Sara Flounders and People's Video Network coordinator Johnnie Stevens
traveled to the CAR along with Ives in March to break the media blockade.
They demanded to see and interview Aristide.
Flounders told the cheering crowd, "CARICOM, representing the 15 Caribbean
nations... and the 53-nation African Union have demanded an inquiry into
the coup. What a courageous stand! All the U.S. plans for Haiti are
unraveling because people are so outraged at this criminal act.

"Just as we see in Iraq today, there is growing resistance to U.S. plans.
Brutal occupation is being met with a level of resistance never thought
possible," Flounders said. "The U.S. tanks rolling into Port-au-Prince,
Haiti, are no different than the U.S. tanks rolling into Fallujah, Iraq."


Stevens talked about the neo-colonial conditions that still exist in the
Central African Republic, where Aristide was held under U.S. orders: "There
is one flight a week to Central African Republic on Air France. French
newspapers are the only print media available. The population of 3.6
million lives on land that contains a wealth of diamonds--making up 54
percent of the CAR's exports. Yet their average life expectancy is 42
years, with infant mortality close to 100 per every 1,000 live births.
Nearly half the people cannot read or write.

"Who is profiting from the diamond mines?" Stevens asked. "While most
people survive by growing their own crops, the country is paying high
interest on an $881 million foreign debt, mainly to French- and
U.S.-controlled banks. ... The conclusion to this story is that reparations
must be paid."

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who founded the first Haiti
Commission of Inquiry in 1991, declared, "If you don't stand up for
Haitians, for their rights and their freedom, you don't see the urgent need
of the world."

Omar Sierra, representing the Bolivarian Circles in Venezuela, recalled the
important support national liberation leader Simon Bolivar received from
the Haitian people in the 19th century. He said it is crucial for all Latin
American peoples to come to Haiti's aid today.

Other speakers included Alina Sixto, Family Lavalas New York/Tri-State
Area; Rep. Major Owens of Brooklyn; Mario Dupuy, Aristide's state secretary
of communication; Don Rojas, Amy Goodman and Bernard White, WBAI-Pacifica
Radio; Ray LaForest, Haitian labor organizer, District Council 1707; Brian
Concannon, human-rights attorney; Brooklyn College student Starr Bernard;
Serge Lilavois, Support Committee for PPN; Los Angeles anti-police
brutality activist Michael Zinzun; Dominican activist Marc Torres; and
Haitian performers Marguerite Laurent and Phantoms.
New York City Councilmember Jose Serrano and Baltimore City Councilmember
Kwame Abayomi sent solidarity messages.
Acclaimed filmmaker Katherine Kean presented a video she made of Aristide
speaking in CAR and an audio message from death-row political prisoner and
journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The rally was sponsored by the Coalition to Resist the Feb. 29 Coup in
Haiti. This coalition includes Ajoupa, Haiti Action Committee,
International Action Center, International ANSWER, Komite Beton, Lavalas
Family, Leve Kanpe, OBNH, Patisan Jezikri and PPN Support Committee.

Pat Chin, co-editor of the book "Haiti: A Slave Revolution," told Workers
World: "The response to this rally shows that all the confusion that once
divided the movement is being swept away. As we get the information out
there, more people are beginning to understand that Aristide was ousted
because even though he made numerous concessions to the International
Monetary Fund's 'death plan' for Haiti, he still didn't go far enough to
please Washington.
"His ouster is not about alleged human-rights violations or
corruption--things that the U.S. is known for worldwide. It's not just
Aristide, but the popular movement he symbolizes, that's in imperialism's

Monica Moorehead is the national coordinator of Millions for Mumia of the
International Action Center.

Check out the new IAC book, Haiti, A Slave Revolution. Understand 200 years
of U.S. hostility to the first successful slave revolution in history.
250 pg. anthology, $19.95
Available at : www.leftbooks.com
Chapters available on line at www.iacenter.org/haiti