Haiti: Lavalas holds second demonstration in Cap Ha´tien
August 24, 2005
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Moïse Jean Charles and Tom Luce

Lavalas holds second demonstration in Cap Haïtien

by Tom Luce

Cap Haïtien, Haiti – Lavalas party leader Moïse Jean Charles tried a second time to hold a march in Cap Haïtien on Sunday, August 21 to publicize the party's position on the elections. This time he succeeded well. A first attempt on August 14 was severely hampered by government authorities who restricted the demonstration to the park where the Vertieres battle monument is located. This time a thousand people turned out to march throughout the downtown streets of this port city. Just as Lavalas leaders have announced in Port-Au-Prince, Moïse announced that Lavalas had 5 conditions that had to be fulfilled before the party would participate in any elections:

  1. the interim government and the election commission must resign;
  2. all political prisoners must be freed;
  3. all persecution of people in the poor sections of the country must cease;
  4. all political exiles must be called home including President Jean-Bertrand Aristide;
  5. disarmament must be carried out among every sector of the country, not just in the poor neighborhoods.

If these conditions are met Lavalas would participate in a national reconciliation process with Pres. Aristide as its party chief to proceed to hold fair elections.

Moïse and his demonstration committee were visibly pleased with the second demonstration. They had learned from their sources that an opposition party member had paid a large sum of money to pressure the police to squelch the first march on Aug. 14. This drove them to try again to gain a more free occasion to show the strength of the party in the face of ongoing persecution during the months leading up to the elections which they consider to be fatally flawed and destined to "select" a group of leaders representative only of a minority of Haitians. The marchers were exuberant, dancing and singing political songs calling for a return of democracy in Haiti. Large pictures of Pres. Aristide floated throughout the march. The marches were totally peaceful, no menacing acts, no negative gestures. The U.N. troops and the Haitian police formed a guard at the front and at the rear of the march. In the discussions leading up to the first restricted march on Aug. 14 U.N. officials were reportedly fearful that violent elements, not Lavalas, would disrupt any demonstration. These officials felt that Lavalas was not the problem.

"Unless the Latortue government resigns there can be no credible elections," explains Moïse. "This government has carried out a violent repression of the Lavalas party with the goal of eliminating it as a viable party. The election commission has 9 members, 7 of which are members of the Group of 184 and 2 are non-aligned, no Lavalas members." That is the first condition. "Over 45% of Lavalas leaders have been either imprisoned, driven into hiding, disappeared or killed. How can anyone support an election under these conditions," complains Moïse with the second condition. The third condition is "that the violent treatment of poor people in Port-Au-Prince's poor neighborhoods under the guise of 'pacifying' armed 'pro-Aristide' gangs must stop. Blaming the insecurity problem on these people, killing innocent people in these operations simply is designed to keep them out of the political process, stopping them from organizing according to Moïse. The fourth condition: "isn't it reasonable that so many valuable members of our party including President Jean-Bertrand Aristide should be welcomed back to participate in new elections?" asks Moïse? The final condition has special meaning for Moïse. While he was still Mayor of his home town of 35,000, Milot, he was driven into hiding by armed paramilitary groups who had invaded many of the northern towns of Haiti leading up to the violent coup that ousted Pres. Aristide in February of 2004. Moïse points out that these groups have not been "disarmed". Some even have been taken into the police according to Moïse. Instead the U.N. has conducted violent operations against the armed gangs in Port-Au-Prince with the result of many innocent victims. Moïse also calls for disarmament among the upper classes.

Tom Luce
President HURAH, Inc.
Human Rights Accompaniment In Haiti
900 Advocates In The Northeast of the U.S.
30 Park St.
Barre, Vt. 05641

http://www.hurah.webhop.org

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