The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) takes a yearly journey in August outside the US empire as part of our Black August experience to engage with other organizers and activist of Afrikan descent. This year’s delegation was to Haiti and was one of the most important and urgent journeys we have taken. This impoverished Afrikan nation in the Caribbean is rebuilding once again. Little more than seven months after a devastating earthquake killed over 200,000 Haitians the resiliency of the people is a marvel. Through graffiti writing the people express themselves in various ways about their post-earthquake circumstances and their distrust for their government, their elite, the UN occupation and the non-governmental organizations (ngo’s), most of which have become parasites on the Haitian body. On the walls of the crumbling National Palace statements like “Aba Ministra” down with the U.N occupation, “Aba Preval “down with Preval (the current President), to calls for Aristides return, speak volumes about the daily struggle to survive and a continued heightened political consciousness and concern about fighting for a true peoples democracy.
Over the last 20 years this generation of Haitian people has had to deal not only with the devastating effects of this earthquake, but with the continued battles to establish a popular democracy that represents the interest of the vast majority of the Haitian people. After the fall of the brutal US backed father – son Duvalier regime through the efforts of a mobilized populace. The Haitian masses have had to continue to fight their own Kreyòl, elite, for a time the U.S. propped up military and right wing militias responsible for killing thousands of pro-democracy activist and poor who created the popular organizations that battled to elect Jean Bertrand Aristide twice. After those victories the people have had their hopes dashed in two coup d’état orchestrated by Haitian elite and the US, Canadian, French and Dominican Republic government to depose Aristide and remove him from the country and the banning of the Fanmi Lavalas party from participating in Haiti elections. Lavalas is the political party of the majority of Haitian people and as Haitian human rights lawyer Mario Joseph put it “Lavalas could put up a ham sandwich in an election and win against all other parties and candidates in Haiti and everyone knows it.”
In addition the last twenty years have seen the US lead the way in making the Haitian economy bleed for supporting the wrong candidate. Imposing a Cuban style embargo on important aid and battering through structural adjustments programs via the International Monetary Fund and World Bank that destroyed state controlled aspects of the economy that supplied jobs and revenue for the Haitian government to build schools and provide some resources. What replaced sold off state properties that were then closed down or protected Haitian agricultural industries that were forced to open their markets — US cheap imports (Including in 1982 the eradication of Haitian pigs based on the demand of the US government, to be replaced with US pigs, who are smaller and die quicker because they are not conditioned to Haiti’s terrain.) Tax free cheap labor zones were set up providing “jobs” for needy Haitians leaving them even more in need after receiving a pay check that is too low to feed ones-self on. What was left of a Haitian economy has been replaced by foreign ngo’s that have no accountability to the government or people of Haiti, only to their sponsors and fundraising drives delivered off the back of the poor masses.
Haitians also have to deal with an occupation by United Nation forces, which shoot up places like City Soleil for being aligned with Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas while at the same time the so-called peace force of the U.N. nor the Haitian national Police can seem to find, arrest or take weapons away from former coup leaders who have been allowed to return to Haiti. People like Guy Phillipe, a top coup conspirator and murderer of Haitian people with strong CIA connections. Phillipe freely roams around without any interference from so-called UN peace-keepers giving interviews about his intent to run for president (As compared to Wyclef, he at least lives in Haiti.)
This is enough to wear any people out. However the Haitian people are in a literal life and death struggle for control of resources, aid and keeping the idea of a popular working democracy going. The popular organizations and the Haitian masses are recovering and assisting their people by creating and recreating indigenous community groups to support the people. As part of the delegation trip we visited camps where Haitian people live in the thousands sometimes hundreds of thousands. Many of these places have only been visited once or twice by the UN or other so-called aid groups seven months after the earthquake. Literally billions of dollars have been collected or pledged, but the vast majority of the monies have not reached the Haitian people. Instead the Haitian people have self-organized to provide some protection against violence and rape, sought out resources for the hungry and created makeshift schools for the young. The popular organizations have worked to rebuild schools and colleges, women’s groups, micro-lending organizations, organizations dedicated to freeing Haitian political prisoners and aid sites that provide mental health and other material services and more. The people of Haiti cry out that the government has not been accountable and the Haitian elite of course never was so into this breech steps in indigenous groups as the Institute for Justice and Democracy, the Aristide Foundation, the September 30th and others.
Amongst popular organizations there is a call to allow the people to recover before new elections are held. To delay the upcoming elections to allow for full participation from the Haiti people and Haitian political parties, instead of the cynical US and Haitian elite backed process that is moving forward requiring ids to vote, knowing full well many people lost almost everything after the earthquake including of course ids. These popular organizations with the solidarity of international groups have continued to support accountable aid efforts a just electoral process justice and human rights for the Haitian people, even through this catastrophic process.
The Black August delegation, a representation of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement expresses full support for the demands of the Haitian people. Our delegation was named for a fallen comrade Javad Jahi who as a member of MXGM dedicated himself to solidarity with the Haitian people. Our trip was built off of some of those relationships. As we support financial aid efforts sponsored by the Haiti Action Committee and Haiti Emergency Relief Fund that have direct ties to indigenous Haitian organizations we call for a new solidarity movement that will support the demands of the Haitian popular movements. Towards that end we have helped create the Haiti will Rise Again Coalition to fight against continued US foreign policy that seeks to protect interest of the Haiti elite, at the expense of the wishes of the people to have a true popular democracy.
COALITION POINTS OF UNITY
1. Be in Alliance with the Haiti Action Committee and the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund — http://www.haitisolidarity.net
2. Be a multi-national, multi-racial and multi-tendency alliance composed of various political, social, spiritual, and cultural organizations in the metro-Atlanta region committed to pressuring the US government, multi-lateral institutions (i.e. IMF, WB, WTO, Inter-American Bank, etc.), and trans-national corporations to comply with the principle
demands of the progressive people’s movement in Haiti
3. Engage in organizing, mobilizing, resource generation, and educational activities that realize the demands of the Haitian people’s movement, this would include, but not be limited to, petitioning, lobbying, demonstrating, marching, direct action, and providing material aid
DEMANDS OF THE HAITIAN PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT
1. An immediate end to the United States and United Nations occupation of Haiti
2. The elimination of all IMF, World Bank, Inter-American Bank, US, and G20 debt and the structural adjustment and privatization programs required of these debts
3. The nationalization of all Haiti’s natural resources
4. Reparations and restitution from France and the United States for the forced indemnities, illegal blockades and occupations
5. Freedom for all political prisoners from the 2004 coup and its aftermath
6. Residency and amnesty for Haitian refugees
7. End the ban on the Fanmi Lavalas Party to ensure that there are legitimate “free and fair” elections
8. The immediate return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide