‘Independence, yes! Occupation, no!’

By Pat Chin, Workers World, 10 April 2003

Port-au-Prince, Haiti—Haiti's first major protest against the U.S.-led war on Iraq, linked to the key demand that Washington stop meddling in Haiti's internal affairs, took place here in the capital on March 27.

The fired-up demonstration of more than 3,000 people, organized by the National Popular Party (PPN), occurred one day before the PPN convened its fifth national congress. The protest, joined by other popular organizations, ended with a loud rally in front of the U.S. Embassy where an effigy of President George W. Bush was burned to cheers from the crowd.

Speaker after speaker denounced the Bush administration through a gargantuan sound system facing the compound. George Bush, terrorist, George Bush, oil thief, shouted the protesters in Creole. Independence yes, occupation no.

As in Venezuela and elsewhere, the Bush regime has been brazenly attempting to execute regime change in Haiti by collaborating with the local bourgeoisie to topple President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

This is the second time that Aristide, who was re-elected on Nov. 26, 2000, has been targeted for imperialist destabilization—even though he now moderates his once fiery and outspoken anti-imperialist views.

The PPN, which transformed itself in 1999 from the National Popular Assembly to a political party, supports, though critically, Aristide's government and his Fanmi Lavalas Party.

On March 28, 600 PPN militants gathered for their fifth congress for a second independence at a site that was once the Ranch Croix des Bouquets owned by U.S.-backed dictator Jean-Claude Duva l ier, who was driven from Haiti by the masses. The spread, just outside Port-au-Prince, is now a sports training center for Haitian youths run by Cuban coaches, and a conference center.

The congress was opened by Georges Honorat of the PPN's Political Bureau, who led the assembly in chants of the country is not for sale—Creole style.

Undersecretary General Evariste Wilson summarized the last four years' work and outlined the PPN's perspective for the future.

Secretary General Ben Dupuy denounced the dominant class for the widespread deterioration of the country. He stressed the importance of party work in developing political consciousness and mobilizing all strata, especially the poor masses.

PPN is a national revolutionary and anti-imperialist party based in the popular masses, specifically the peasantry. Its goal is to bring the masses out of the darkness in which the traditional elite has kept them for 200 years, explained Maude LeBlanc of the Political Bureau. PPN, she added, is a party fighting for Haiti's national independence and against the domination and meddling of imperialist powers.

The delegates laid out tasks for the future, including organizing internal elections at all levels and reviving the struggle of the people for our second independence as we approach 2004.

Resolutions were issued denouncing the Macoute-bourgeoisie alliance against the Haitian people and foreign meddling in Haitian affairs.

Resolutions also demanded freedom for the Cuban Five, and expressed solidarity with the people of Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba and Iraq, among other issues.

Foreign delegates included Zhang Boqing, Permanent Representative of the Development and Commercial Bureau of China, and Cuban Ambassador Rolando Gomez.

Cuban Communist Party Central Com mittee Representative Ricardo Garcia read a solidarity message from the Cuban people. He also denounced U.S. aggression against Cuba and the detention of the Cuban Five imprisoned by the U.S. government for working to prevent terrorism against socialist Cuba.

Kim Ives from the Haiti Support Net work and Katherine Kean of Crowing Roos ter Arts were also there, among others.

Johnny Stevens of the International ANSWER coalition described the growing anti-war movement worldwide and in the U.S. and invited Haitian participation in April 12 mobilizations.

This writer, representing Workers World Party, brought solidarity greetings from the U.S., including from the Bedford-Stuyvesant Coalition for Peace, and linked the anti-war movement to Haiti's struggle for self-determination.

Speakers also condemned the capitalist economic system that breeds racism, poverty and war. Some echoed the demands for freedom for the Cuban Five, freedom for Palestine, and an end to repression and cuts in social programs in the U.S.

PPN's strong ties to Cuba were very evident. Not only did the Cuban flag flutter next to the Haitian flag on the podium, but everywhere could be seen portraits of Che Guevara alongside Haitian heroes Jean Jacques Dessalines and Charlemagne Peralte. There were also rainbow peace flags from the Italian anti-war movement, reading Pace.