If Obama can do it then why can't Haiti's Preval?
February 9, 2010
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One of the tens of thousands of families living in makeshift homeless camps that have sprung up throughout Port au Prince since the quake

If Obama can do it then why can't Haiti's Preval?

by Kevin Pina

The heroic and courageous people of Cite Soleil once again take the lead by holding a press conference on Sunday, February 7, 2010 in front of the monument of the Haitian constitution.
This graffiti in Port au Prince reads: "Down with the occupation" referring to the presence of 20,000 US Marines in Haiti.
US Marines patrol area close to Cite Soleil resident's press conference

Port au Prince, Haiti - HIP — Haiti’s monument to the constitution is a tall black shiny obelisk that sits on Rue Capois down the street from the Le Plaza Hotel where most of the upscale journalists including CNN stay while in Haiti. Jean-Bertrand Aristide inaugurated the monument in 2002 during a very different time in Haitian history. It would have been unthinkable to have nearly 20,000 US Marines in the country authorized to shoot to kill even during a national crisis such as this. One frail and elderly woman forced to live among hundreds of thousands of people in makeshift camps that have sprung up throughout the capital since the January 12 earthquake explained, “If Titid [Aristide] were here it would be different. They wouldn’t need all those soldiers. He would come down here with us…to be with us and we’d have food and water. He would work with us with his own hands to clean this mess up.”

February 7 is an auspicious date in Haiti history. It was on that day in 1991 that Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was sworn into office. He became the country’s first and thus far last head of state to realize the dreams of the poor majority to have one of their own in the seat of power. Aristide’s February 7 inauguration has been celebrated ever since even at the cost of lives as during the time of the Latortue regime following the second coup against his government in 2004. Haiti’s president was ultimately forced to accept refuge in the Republic of South Africa at the invitation of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki and he continues to live there today.

So it was no accident that in the midst of the mounting human toll and suffering resulting from the quake that the people of Cite Soleil held a press conference on Sunday, February 7, 2010 in front of the monument of the Haitian constitution. While denouncing the corruption surrounding the distribution of aid their central message was to ask that Jean-Bertrand Aristide be allowed to return from exile in South Africa to participate in the reconstruction of Haiti. They asked a very simple but poignant question, if Obama could reach across party lines to invite Clinton and Bush to work for Haiti during this crisis, then why can't Preval do the same by inviting Aristide to return? It’s a question that’s certain to continue to circulate and resonate in these massive makeshift camps of the hundreds of thousands of homeless masses especially as Haiti’s rainy season approaches and the fear of mounting disease continues to grow.

©2010 Haiti Information Project

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