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Haiti: Mobilisation against militarism

Originally by Djems Olivier, 20 March 2006
AlterPresse -

Translated from French by Charles Arthur

P-au-P., 20 March 06 [AlterPresse] --- The international weekend of mobilisation against war had echoes in
Port-au-Prince, where a meeting was convened on 18 March by the Haitian
Platform for Alternative Development (PAPDA), in order to ask for the
departure of the UN troops deployed in Haiti.

At the Faculty of Human Sciences (FASCH), dozens of Haitians reflected
on and discussed various topics, such as the militarisation of Haiti,
the US war in Iraq, the class struggle, security, peace, and rebuilding
the nation.

This organized activity was a prelude to the Anti-Militarism Day on 19
March and was realised as part of a global initiative for peace
involving leftist activists, trade unionists, peasant leaders,
residents of popular districts of Port-au-Prince, and dozens of
students from the FASCH.

"It is a day to denounce the exactions made by the soldiers of the UN
Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), to denounce war and the
foreign domination of the countries of the South", specified Josué
Vaval of the PAPDA.

Ansy Vixamar of the organisation, Tet Kole Ti Peyizan (Union of small
farmers), stressed that the US occupation of 1915-1934 "which still
continues to this day", cost the lives of some two thousand Haitian
peasants. "They massacred two thousand peasants at Marchaterre (South)
in 1919 and assassinated an unknown number people in the prison in
Cap-Haïtien (North) between 1922 and 1929", stated the peasant leader.

Vixamar invited Haitians to make a common front in order to defend the
country’s sovereignty, and to create the means to make it possible for
Haitian families to provide for the needs of their children.

"The time has come to force the foreign soldiers to withdraw, leaving
us to take care of building universities for the benefit of all Haiti’s
children", he declared.

All through the day, a rara band from Martissant (southern suburb of
Port-au-Prince) ensured a musical accompaniment, signing along to the
rhythms: "The MINUSTAH must leave, it must leave immediately".

The president-elect of Haiti, René Préval, has called for the MINUSTAH
troops to remain in Haiti. The country "needs the presence of the
MINUSTAH", comprised of 7,300 soldiers and approximately 1,700 police
officers from several countries, declared Préval at the time of his
visit to Argentina on 13 March.

Préval did however request that "a new orientation" be given to the
mandate of the MINUSTAH, without pronouncing on the the length of this

During the 18 March gathering, Marc-Arthur Fils-Aimé of the Karl
Levêque Cultural Institute (ICKL) for his part stressed the harmful
consequences of the US occupation of 1915 on Haitian institutions.
"They destroyed agricultural farming, forcing peasants to take refuge
in Dominican Republic and in Cuba. They disbanded our army, the
indigenous army, in order to give us a subjugated army. They plundered
our economy, and gave birth to an unscrupulous ruling class," concluded

The reconstruction of the Amy, dissolved in fact by former president
Jean-Bertrand Aristide on his return of exile after the military coup
d’etat of 1991-1994, is now the focus of a media debate, since Préval
recently announced his intention to draft an amendment to the
Constitution to abolish the army for good.

Préval believes that is unrealistic to reconstruct the Army, and
instead envisages the creation of a gendarmerie. On the other hand, a
governmental commission (appointed by Prime Minister Latortue) has
recommended the creation of a new army.

Several other personalities participated in the 18 March gathering at
the FASCH. One noted the presence of professor Yves Dorestal, head of
the Faculty of Ethnology, the trade unionist Didier Dominique from
Batay Ouvriye (Workers’ Fight), and Joseph Georges, director of the
Social Communication and Training NGO (SAKS).

Commenting on the contribution of the popular culture to the fight for
the liberation of Haiti, Georges declared that there is no people
without culture. "Haiti’s strength today, resides in its culture. Vodou
makes it possible to speak about Haiti everywhere in the world - we
must cling to our cultural values", he said.

The day was punctuated by recorded music, patriotic songs, poetic
texts, and projections of documentary films. [do gp ca apr 20/03/2006 10:30]