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« Aba Aristid! » is the first stage

PAPDA DEMANDS THE IMMEDIATE RESIGNATION OF JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE

PAPDA IS OPPOSED TO THE INTERVENTION OF ANY MULTINATIONAL POLICE OR MILITARY FORCE ON HAITIAN SOIL UNDER THE PRETEXT OF RE-ESTABLISHING ORDER

I. Aristide must go immediately

The Haitian Platform to Advocate for an Alternative Development (PAPDA) praises the courage and foresight of the Haitian people who are mobilising in greater numbers every day to demand the resignation of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. PAPDA is happy to associate itself with this demand and reiterates its conviction that President Aristide’s departure constitutes an essential element of any real way out of the crisis facing the country today.

PAPDA particularly commends the exemplary courage of the student movement that succeeded in preserving the autonomy of the State University of Haiti in 2002 by forcing the dictatorship to step back, and which, in spite of the heavy price paid by the institution (destruction of facilities, countless number of wounded, a large number of people arrested, the mutilation of the Rector and vice-rector, several deaths), continues its mobilisation in partnership with other sectors of the country to demand the departure of Aristide.

President Aristide must leave immediately because, taking refuge behind a discourse claiming reparation for the abuses inflicted upon the countries of the Southern Hemisphere during the colonial period, he is in fact applying in a servile, self-interested manner the dictates of the IMF, World Bank, IDB, and the US Department of State. The current government has allied itself with certain sectors of the traditional oligarchy thus reinforcing its hold both on whole sectors of the national economy and their secular practice of plunder and depredation. This anti-national, anti-popular policy has worsened the country’s situation, accelerating the destruction of the productive sectors, the dismantling of our institutions and the relinquishing of our national sovereignty. The agreement signed with the IMF in May 2003 by the Aristide/Neptune Government has – by reducing the budget allocated for social programs, giving priority to the servicing of the debt, and deepening the deregulation of the financial sector – created an unbearable situation that has propelled the poor masses into despair, and the middle classes into accelerated penury thanks to a galloping inflation of the price of basic goods.

The IMF programme which has been enforced since the institutional crisis of 1997 has plunged the country into an acute economic recession. We should not forget that at the behest of the IMF, retail prices of petroleum products registered an increase of 130% on average in January 2003, and that the same IMF congratulated the government in a public statement for its suspension of compensation to people whose assets had been stolen in the debacle of speculative establishments called the « 12% per month cooperatives ».

The Aristide/Neptune government has betrayed the central demands of the 86-91 movement by becoming an accomplice to such policies and by refusing to put in place real policies that would aim at transforming the secular reality of exploitation and marginalisation of the Haitian masses. In addition, the Aristide Administration has sunk into immorality, corruption, and the systematic violations of the most elementary rights of Haitian citizens. The institutionalisation of impunity is proof of the continuity in the management of power and the renewal of the traditional state in its more hideous aspects.

A complete list of the abject crimes of this regime would be too long to enumerate, but let us mention a few examples: the arbitrary arrest of union members and workers at the Guacimal plantations; the selling off of fertile land in the Maribahoux Plain to make room for the establishment of textile factories serving the US market, in spite of the protests of organisations in the area; the use of violence to dismantle peasant organisations, even of those such as Kozepèp which were allied to the government; the trade in rice imported from the US for the personal enrichment of a few members of the Lavalas Family hierarchy; the stealing of the savings and assets of significant segments of the population through a network of pseudo-cooperatives followed by a mock programme to compensate a few of the victims with public funds without any attempt to arrest and try the culprits; the channelling of state funds into the private university of the Aristide Foundation to the detriment of the State University of Haiti; the unpunished murders of Viola Robert’s three sons, of the journalists, Jean Dominique and Brignol Lindor, and of so many others; the destruction of the antennas of many radio and television stations on the very day the President made the hypocritical commitment to carry out elections in the country.

In view of and in spite of this debasing drift, in recent years the country has witnessed a slow but remarkable re-awakening of citizens’ consciousness. The social movement, which demands quite correctly the resignation of the president of the republic, has initiated a new cycle of political mobilisation. The space for mobilisation had been practically eliminated or reduced by the cataclysm of the September 1991 coup d’état and the instrumentalisation and corruption deployed by the Lavalas regime from 1994 until today to transform popular organisations into agents of propaganda for the head of state and vehicles for the transmission of his will. The democratic movement is thus re-emerging from its ashes and re-occupying anew the political arena from which it had been brutally removed by the weapons of the Haitian Army, the FRAPH, and the mercenaries known as chimè. The violence of the repression exercised on the population by the Lavalas local elected officials, (who rapidly transformed themselves into the armed tools of the system of domination to destroy any space in which protest and free speech are exercised), by the Haitian National Police, and by the mercenaries in the pay of the regime, will not stop this mobilisation that is expanding into the provincial cities, as well as ever- increasing segments of the population.

Yet again, we are engaged in a quest to regain our dignity through a new historic unity against dictatorship, foreign domination, the dictates of the IMF, the dictatorship of financial markets, capitalist globalisation, and any policy aiming at destroying our country: a historic unity for food sovereignty, for satisfying the basic needs of the whole population on the basis of the real participation of the marginalised urban and rural sectors. It is particularly significant that the construction of this movement is in full bloom at the time of the Bicentennial, which reminds us of the saga successfully carried out against slavery and to recognise the universal nature of the rights of men and women.

PAPDA asks all organisations and social forces to associate themselves actively with this struggle, which is the only road leading to the reconquest of our national dignity.

(…)

III.- PAPDA is against any delaying tactics and opposes any military intervention in Haiti.

PAPDA must warn against any delaying tactics, which, under the guise of negotiations, aim at maintaining Jean-Bertrand Aristide, or another equally servile regime, in power. PAPDA is categorically against a new occupation of our country – especially in this highly symbolic year of the Bicentennial of our independence – by military or police forces as suggested by CARICOM. The intervention of US Marines under the fig-leaf of UN/OAS approval in 1994 failed to resolve our security problems. These problems became more acute after the departure of UN troops. The security issues can only be resolved by Haitian institutions in a climate of consultation. The Haitian National Police has demonstrated that its has sufficient capacity to maintain order, so long as it is not instructed by orders emanating from the executive branch to join forces with trouble-makers. To be sure it must be reformed. Let us pronounce a resounding ‘NO’ to any new military intervention. Our territory must not be soiled in this year 2004. This intervention will only exacerbate our problems, and is likely to be used as a new force of repression against the population and those who fight for freedom.

No to delaying tactics!

No to another humiliation of our country!

1. Aristide must go immediately.

2. The alternative to the current regime must involve a break with the existing political system. In this regard, we must take full advantage of the symbolism of our Bicentennial for the re-foundation of our nation and reorientation of our approach to development. No to the catechism of neo-liberalism and to the logic of dependency linked to structural adjustment.

3. No to another military intervention that is incompatible with the construction of a genuine national project!!

Signed by:

Marc Arthur Fils-Aimé

Camille Chalmers Yves

André Wainright

(translated from French by Webber Emile for the Haiti Support Group)

A third section comprising a solidarity message from PAPDA to the Haitian people from the World Social Forum in Bombay has been left out for reasons of information overload.

The Platform to Advocate for Alternative Development is composed of the following Haitian civil society organisations: Institut Culturel Karl Lévêque (ICKL), Institut de Technologie et d’Animation (ITECA), Association Nationale des Agro-professionnels Haitiens (ANDAH), Fonds Haïtien de Développement Economique et Social (FOHNADES), Mouvman Inite Ti Peyizan Latibonit (MITPA), Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (SOFA), Centre de Recherche et d’Action pour le Développement (CRAD), Inter-OPD (Mécanisme de promotion de Développement), Collectif Haïtien pour la Protection de l’Environnement et un Développement Alternatif (COHPEDA).