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a15: Haitians in Miami back Aristide (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Miami Herald Published December 18, 2001

Haitians in Miami back Aristide
Demonstrators fault U.S. policy for attempt

Scores of Miami Haitians who woke up to the news of a coup attempt in 
Port-au-Prince poured into the streets Monday to show their support of 
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide -- and their displeasure with U.S. policy 
toward their country.

Chanting and carrying signs that said ``Aristide is the people's choice -- 
not President Bush,'' they congregated in storefronts along Northeast 54th 
Street near North Miami Avenue.

The demonstration was a peaceful one.

Extra Miami police units that were sent to Little Haiti helped keep traffic 
flowing along the neighborhood's main thoroughfare.

The protesters said they were concerned and angry. Many say they don't like 
Bush or his father, former President George Bush, who was in office in 1991 
when Aristide was overthrown and sent into exile.

They blamed the United States partly for attempts like Monday's to topple 
Aristide and his ruling Lavalas Family Party -- a point of view expressed 
for most of the day on local Haitian radio.

``We are not surprised about what happened because of the awful situation 
the U.S. government has helped create in our country,'' said Jean-Rene 
Foureau, president of the board of directors of the Haitian Refugee Center.

At the root of Foureau's and others' complaints is the ``semi-blockade by 
the U.S.'' against the island country -- which is further squeezing Haiti's 
economy and causing internal strife, he said.

According to the State Department, the Bush administration is freezing 
nearly $150 million in Inter-American Development Bank loans until the 
Haitian government improves its drug interdiction practices, addresses 
election irregularities and makes concessions to the opposition.

``This will weaken Aristide's government and is causing much anger from 
Haitians here and in Haiti,'' Foureau said.

``They are trying to strangle Haiti's economy and are helping to create a 
situation like what just happened,'' said Viter Juste, who says he loves the 
United States but wants it to stop interfering in Haiti.

``Haitians are very angry about this situation with the U.S. loans,'' said 
Marlene Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami.

She was among a group of Haitian community activists who expressed their 
displeasure with U.S.-Haiti policy to Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., at a 
previously scheduled meeting Monday night at the Museum of Contemporary Art 
in North Miami.

``The U.S. has retained those funds meant for Haiti; yet the Haitian people 
are paying taxes on that money while its people are dying of hunger,'' 
Bastien said.

``We told the senator we are very unhappy with this situation.''

 2001 The Miami Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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