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Haiti : intellectuals and artists engage in a struggle against the status quo

P-au-P., 20 Nov.03 [AlterPresse] --- Haitian intellectuals and artists are getting involved in order to try and stop the political, social and economic decay pervasive in Haiti today. With this in mind, approximately 50 of them have recently founded an organization called "No."

"No" was formally introduced to the media on November 20. The organization includes intellectuals and artists of all categories according to Theodore Beaubrun (aka Lolo) of the famous group Boukman Eksperyans and the world-renown Haitian writer, Lionel Trouillot.

Writers, playwrights, actors, film directors, painters and musicians got together to say no to "the practices of the powers that be aiming at undermining freedom" declared Lionel Trouillot to AlterPresse.

The intellectuals and artists intend to go farther. "We intend to reflect on the causes behind the current situation in Haiti" stated Lionel Trouillot. "As artists it is our duty to help develop trust and hope" the writer added.

Emblematic personalities, such as the writer and painter Franketienne, former minister of culture, sociologist Laenec Hurbon, the playwright Syto Cavé, the actress Magalie Comeau Denis belong to No. The writer Yannick Lahens and the painter Pascale Monnin are members as well.

The group intends to get in touch as soon as possible with international intellectual circles to inform them about the situation in Haiti. According to Lionel Trouillot, steps will be taken to denounce any and all violations of human rights in the country.

The creation of this collective of artists and intellectuals was brought about as a result of the escalation of violence the country has experienced. In recent weeks, many acts of aggression on anti-government demonstrators by the police and groups of government followers were registered throughout the country.

Various national and international sectors have been unanimous in their condemnation of these acts — characterized as "totalitarian" — perpetrated by the government while other opposition sectors have multiplied their calls for President Jean Bertrand Aristide to resign.

"We stand in solidarity with all sectors of society clamoring for change in the status quo", declared Lionel Trouillot.

No is also concerned about the celebration of Haiti’s Bicentennial. No announced that a series of cultural activities will be organized throughout the country in December that will culminate on December 31, 2003, on the eve of the 200th Anniversary of Haiti’s Independence.

The launching of No constitutes the second demarche by Haitian intellectuals and artists in the country in the last two months. Early in October, approximately 50 of them had signed a petition in order to take their distance from official celebratory activities related to Haiti’s Bicentennial.

The list of signatories of this petition, which denounces the government’s effort to enhance its legitimacy through the celebration of the Bicentennial, has since grown to more than 200, according to Lionel Trouillot. [gp apr 20/11/2003 23:00] (Translated from French by Max Blanchet)