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Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 17:53:27 -0700 (PDT)
From: Robert Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 14:30 10/16/96
To: Bob Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.89.9610181702.A5717-0100000@netcom2>

Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit

Tet Krole celebrates ten years

Haiti Info, Vol. 4, no 23, 5 October 1996

(HIB) Oct. 5 - After three months of gatherings in isolated hamlets, meetings in villages and finally, assemblies in eight of Haiti's nine departments, last week the peasant association Tet Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen held its first national congress.

The meeting, which was called Sele Pa Monte (The saddle has not been mounted, meaning the people have not been saddled or brought under control), brought together over 300 delegates for four days of reflection, discussions and celebration, and ended with denunciations of government policies and with a declaration to carry on the struggle that began ten years ago when the movement was founded in the Northwest department of Haiti. [See Haiti Info, v. 2 #22]

Congress in Carrefours

The militant tenor of the congress was clear from the way it opened. The walls of the school auditorium were covered with posters: Women's rights should be respected - Down with all brutality against women, Tet Kole is against all forms of occupation, Peasants will not eat the food of forgetting [meaning, they will not forget past injustices], Down with the American, IMF, World Bank death plan - Long live a responsible state, and Long live popular power under the control of the people.

The opening ceremony honored peasants who have fallen in the struggle: a number of delegates sat around a large map of the country strewn with bits of red cloth, apparently to signify spilled blood. In the middle was a small stove containing a bundle of pine sticks. Everyone in the room each had a stick in his or her hand, too. The bundle was ignited, and then the delegates around the map each took a lit torch and, one by one, lit all of the sticks in the room as the crowd sang and clapped.

Down with death. They kill us with bullets, with machetes, with clubs, but we are still here and we will fight even harder, went one song. Others followed: Let's gather together to talk about our problems. Little planters, little poor people, let's gather together. They burned Jean Rabel [site of a peasant massacre], they burned St. Jean Bosco, they broke down Danti [site of another massacre], let's get together...

Tet Kole, we tell you thank you for ten years of resistance! You were there, you did not perish. Let's stay strong!

Tet Kole Denounces Lavalas, NGOs

After the ceremony, members of the organizing committee spoke to the assembly about the objectives of the congress: to continue examining the topics discussed at the preparatory meetings and to come up with a comprehensive critique of the past ten years, to look at the national and international situation and to see whether Tet Kole's actions have been well-adapted, and to come up with strategies for carrying on Tet Kole's struggle.

In a recent emission on Radio Haiti Inter, members of Tet Kole touched on some of the themes covered at the meetings leading up to the congress. One of the most notable was Tet Kole's analysis of how Haiti ended up under occupation, subject to neoliberal dictates, plagued with endemic impunity and injustice, and with the current insecurity and threats from ex-soldiers and Tonton Macoutes.

It is a political consequence of reconciliation... that is what we are paying for... the deals made with the imperialist forces, said Olry St. Louis, who reminded that the coup d'etat was not against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide only, but against the population, and, in particular, against the organized forces in the country, against the peoples' organizations.

Reconciliation, he continued, is a policy which does not make any sense for the people, which totally has demobilized the people, but, he added wryly: Every time [the government] has problems with the macoutes, they call the people again... That is when they talk a lot about popular organizations. That is when they gather together all of the really organized forces in the country to use them again, just like they did in the elections, in the coup... that is one of the characteristics of the Lavalas power: use the popular masses so that they reach their own political objectives.

For Tet Kole, the objective is not to struggle in order to give self-serving politicians power. More than many other groups, Tet Kole is angry with Lavalas politicians and is very cynical about Aristide's recent criticisms of neoliberalism.

Aristide is someone who always has a double-face, a double-game at every conjuncture. He looks at the moment to see how to act so he can play it to his advantage and make some political capital from it, and I think that is what is happening today. The first person who signed the thing at the beginning was Aristide. He could have refused, because he had a people that was behind him.

On the economy, the congress examined the neoliberal policies that the organization has been denouncing for two years. Ansy Vixama, a member of the executive committee, explained at the opening ceremony:

The prices of everything have gone up... while the prices of peasants' produce go down. Instead of the government standing up to all other nations, it made a choice to follow faithfully the dictates of the imperialist colonists, especially the U.S. imperialists, that are leading the country to the slaughterhouse of a little group of pillagers.

Vixama also reminded the assembly of what Tet Kole groups around the country have concluded:

For the imperialists to get into every corner of Haiti, they create what they call 'NGOs' [non-governmental organizations]. They sprout like mushrooms... and provide jobs to supposedly reduce the misery of the people. What is the real result? All of the meetings held around the country agreed: 'This pile of NGOs is a pile of people that are profiting, that are making money on the backs of the people.... Some do spy work on the terrain to see what serious organizations are here. Others create their own 'peasant organizations' in hamlets, in communes, all over, to divide the organizations that are struggling for a real alternative.

In 1996 we are in slavery again, Vixama said in closing. We must battle to make a Haiti that is free and independent, where we can develop national production so our dignity is respected.


After four days of work, the delegates gathered in the schoolyard to hear a final declaration, which began with an analysis:

The conjuncture is tied to the application of the neoliberal plan, the speaker began. National production does not exist any more. All the products that enabled the country to earn money are practically finished, like cacao, tobacco... Foreign products are invading the country... Artibonite rice has been erased from the market.

The Preval and Smarth government do not cease talking about the development of national production while they enter head-first into privatization, he continued angrily. After a lot of noise to brainwash people, the Chamber voted the neoliberal project that has all kinds of names: modernization, privatization, structural adjustment, democratization, capitalization, etc... In summary, the trademark of this country's economy is the elimination of national production and acceleration of the dependence of the country on foreign countries, especially on the American imperialists.

The speaker also denounced the insecurity, and said the dossier of disarmament has become a dream and the destruction of the army remains a masquerade. Almost all ex-soldiers kept their arms.

The congress ended with four resolutions:

1. No matter if opportunist, chameleon or traditional enemy of the people is pushing neoliberalism, the same way we fought the imperialist American plan from the beginning, we are continuing. Our position has not changed.

2. We believe the battle against this plan cannot be a thing of only one sector nor one organization. It is a long-term struggle that concerns all people.

3. Regarding the upcoming elections for sectional councils and assemblies, Tet Kole declares... that it will not go into elections as long as the people do not have their own means and strong organizations where they can exercise control over its gains. Tet Kole asked all popular organizations to cease sending chameleons and opportunists to office so they can strip the people clean.

4. On national production, Tet Kole demanded the government end its demagogy and enact a real land reform. In addition, Tet Kole asked for state intervention and assistance in the agricultural domain, and for fixed, subsidized prices for gasoline and basic necessities.

Reflections on the Meeting

On the last day, after the resolutions were read, Vixama was very satisfied. He said Tet Kole did a strong and complete self-criticism, a profound analysis of the conjuncture, and that unanimously, delegates opposed the neoliberal project. The next step, he said, is to organize information campaigns on the effects of neoliberalism, and then to define a battle plan, with a calendar so that there is a uniformity across the country.

Robert Metayer, from the Northwest, said the torch ceremony on the first day inspired him. The flames symbolized those who have fallen for the cause of liberty, for the cause of justice, he said, but noted also that fire is the symbol of life. That flame should be lit in the four corners of the country... We want the death of those people to become life.

This congress and the resolutions are not something that came from above, pointed out Albert Telemaque, a member of the national coordination. It is the members that have come with a report card of the organization, the history of the organization, criticisms and assessments of the different struggles it carried on during its ten years of existence, of what concrete steps it took that were good, what ones that were not good and where to go now.

Vita Telcy, who was elected to the new national coordination, said she hopes in the days that come the movement will become a watchful and combative movement where everyone in it has the capacity to get together to battle for a better life and for change.

The coup d'etat created a lot of confusion and problems in the popular sectors, and today there is a demobilization, Metayer added. But for us, we remember that in 1986 and 1987 we chased after [Leslie] Delatour because he had come to apply the economic plan of his 'papa', of Uncle Sam. During that period more than a few died... but today it is that same Delatour that we find in the Central Bank; the same Delatour who, together with the Lavalas government, is in our face applying that plan!

We need to reflect, discuss, plan, to organize a struggle that is better... a struggle where, once we have reached achievements, we can control them. Many times we note that 'the mule works while the horse saunters'. We are not working so the horse can saunter. We are struggling so that when we reach an objective, we can maintain it.