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Fight to the bitter end

By Pat Chin, Port-au-Prince, in Workers World,
15 June 1995

The National Popular Assembly (APN) held its Third Congress here in the Carrefour neighborhood from May 25-28.

Five hundred delegates attended the gathering just outside Port-au-Prince, many of them at great hardship. The participants--elected representatives from local assemblies around the country--included peasants, workers, students, women, small merchants, the unemployed and others. An international solidarity delegation also attended.

The meeting was dedicated to Charlemagne Peralte, the peasant hero who led the resistance to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Haiti that lasted from 1915 to 1934. Peralte was hunted down and murdered by U.S. Marines in 1918. He was one of many thousands killed by the occupying forces.

The congress discussed privatization, justice, the military occupation and upcoming elections. Let's start again to fight for a free Haiti was the assembly's slogan.


Ben Dupuy, APN founder and director of Haiti Progres newspaper, opened the congress. He traced the history of the Duvalier family dictatorship that took power in 1957 and described how the APN was formed in 1987. The popular group's objective was to organize the workers, peasants, students--everyone who struggled to live.

Dupuy described the APN's support for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide during the 1990 elections. The Haitian leader and his Lavalas movement had won APN's endorsement as the little priest in St. Jean Bosco who told us that capitalism is a mortal sin.

The role of women was addressed by Maude LeBlanc of the Committee Against Repression in Haiti. She described how active the women's organizations were after the 1986 overthrow of Baby Doc Duvalier. But after a coup led by General Raoul Cedras overthrew President Aristide, the women's groups suffered tremendously.

It behooves us organizers to keep in mind and make clear to the rest of society, LeBlanc said, that women have an important role to play in developing the struggle. This kind of education should be encouraged within the organization. This is the role of APN--to bring light to the problems of women.

Other speakers gave testimonials about being victimized by the coup regime and described their resistance to the terror.


After three days of debate, the congress issued its final resolutions in a strongly worded document.

It distanced the APN from the policies of the administration of President Aristide and Prime Minister Smarck Michel. These policies include the Haitian government's support of IMF/World Bank privatization plans and the calls for reconciliation with the Macoutes and other reactionary forces who murdered 5,000 Haitians during the Cedras coup regime.

The return of President Aristide on Oct. 15, 1994, under the banner of the American military occupation and the policy of reconciliation, read one resolution, are betrayals of the demands of the Dec. 16, 1990, election and the three years of the people's resistance and sacrifice.

The U.S.-controlled military occupation was condemned for using the United Nations as a cover to protect the criminals of the September 30 coup, to destroy the country's economy, and to steal all the resources of the country.

Privatization of state industries was strongly condemned. APN has already begun a mobilizing campaign across the nation in the countryside, towns and cities, in popular quarters, churches and markets, to make known to all Haitians who want change the damage which the IMF/World Bank plan will do to the country. This campaign will also be carried out internationally.

Another resolution dealt with justice for the victims of the coup. The policy of reconciliation with the Macoutes who spilled the blood of the people, it said, is a betrayal of the long struggle which the masses have been waging for justice.

With the commitment to fight until the bitter end against reconciliation with the Macoutes, the delegates also established a Popular Commission of Inquiry to bring the coup criminals to justice. The APN also decided to unite with other progressive organizations and principled democrats to block any reconciliation.


The Congress called for a boycott of upcoming elections, laying out an action plan to win support. The elections are scheduled for July 19 and 25. The U.S. government has already invested $13.5 million into making sure candidates win who are friendly to big business. The voting will be monitored by non-Haitian institutions and will be carried out under continuing military occupation and Macoute terror.

A final list of approved candidates was recently issued by the Provisional Electoral Council. It includes Duvalierists and many coup supporters. Under reconciliation, this has been allowed even though Haiti's 1987 constitution bars Duvalierists from holding public office for 10 years.

APN declares that an election which is honest, democratic and secure is impossible under the American military occupation. APN says: disarmament, justice, and an end to the occupation before elections, asserted another resolution.

The international solidarity delegation from the U.S. included Elombe Brath, Patrice Lumumba Coalition; Colette Pean, December 12 Movement; Greg Dunkel, International Action Center/National People's Campaign; Valerie Van Isler, WBAI-Pacifica Radio; Ray LaForest, organizer for the New York Municipal Workers Union; Haitian student Jean-Pierre Michelle; and other. Denis Barret, American Association of Jurists, came from Quebec.

The writer represented Workers World Party.