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Return-Path: <owner-imap@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 21:33:46 -0600 (CST)
From: "Workers World" <ww@wwpublish.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: New Haitian Party Formed
Article: 59317
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.18940.19990401181636@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Grassroots groups form new party

By Pat Chin, Workers World, 8 April 1999

Five hundred delegates from around Haiti met here March 26-28 at the Fourth Congress of the National Popular Assembly (APN). They included peasants, workers, students, the unemployed, women and large numbers of youths. The delegates had gathered to discuss the future direction of APN, a mass organization.

The main question before the congress was whether APN should become a political party and, if so, whether it should participate in upcoming elections. Other issues included revising the by-laws to reflect the current conditions in Haiti, the makeup of the Central Committee, agrarian reform and a name for the new organization.

The Fourth Congress of the APN opens under a new political situation which compels the organization to reorient itself so that it can carry on the struggle of the people as it should be, explained an APN document.

To advance the causes of the masses, it continued, APN has to enter into the state apparatus by transforming itself not into a traditional political party, but into a party of the people, which will continue to tie its fate to that of the masses and struggle for popular power, which is the only condition to have a real change in the country.

APN spokesperson Ben Dupuy reviewed the history of the traditional electoral process in Haiti, which has been controlled by the big landowners and the merchant bourgeoisie in their own class interests and in alliance with U.S. imperialism.

APN will not become an electoralist party, he said. We see elections as one of the means of struggle, not an end in themselves. Elections will not resolve all our problems. We're talking about fundamental changes in Haiti, which is on its knees right now.

Dupuy outlined many of the problems facing the county-- poverty, illiteracy, deforestation--and the failure of the Preval administration to address them. We're not going to nourish opportunists, he asserted.

After much vigorous debate, the conferees voted overwhelmingly to change APN into a political party, keeping its original name. It was defined as being an anti- imperialist, revolutionary and nationalist party. APN will also run candidates in the next elections, but only in those local contests that will choose representatives to the Territorial Assemblies--the bodies that decide who will sit on the Provisional Electoral Council.

APN was formed in March 1987 from a congress of popular organizations attended by more than 900 delegates from different oppressed sectors of the population. The congress took place in the poor neighborhood of La Saline, located in Port-au-Prince, the capital. That was one year after U.S.- backed Jean-Claude Duvalier was forced to flee Haiti because of mass uprisings against his hated regime.

The goal of that first congress was to prevent the Haitian bourgeoisie from covertly continuing the Duvalier legacy of poverty, hunger, illiteracy and repression by the army, police and death-squad Macoutes needed to maintain power.

Since then, APN has focused on political education, consciousness-raising and mobilizations, but feels that current conditions call for moving the struggle ahead to forming a political party.

A solidarity delegation from the U.S. attended the Fourth Congress. It included New York trade unionist Ray LaForest of AFSCME; Frantz Carmant, APN organizer for Florida; Pat Chin of Workers World Party; Greg Dunkel and Kadoori Al- Kaysi of the International Action Center; Elie LeBlanc, progressive journalist; Kim Ives, Haiti Support Network; and Key Martin, Peoples Video Network.

Also present were two representatives from the People's Republic of China mission in Haiti.

Dunkel of the IAC raised the case of revolutionary Black journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Mumia was so eloquent, he gave such voice to the voiceless, that the Philadelphia cops decided to have him legally executed after a rigged trial, explained Dunkel. He asked the gathering, which had shown great interest in Mumia's case, to consider holding a solidarity demonstration in Port-au-Prince on April 24, the day scheduled for worldwide demonstrations demanding justice for Mumia.