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Activists Demonstrated in Solidarity with Haiti at Civic Center

SAN FRANCISCO — On March 1, beginning at 4 pm, around 60 people came together for a spirited demonstration in solidarity with the uprising in Haiti against dictator Jovenal Moise. He stayed in office months past his term (something that ex-US President Donald Trump attempted to do by inciting a riot on January 6, but failed to achieve).

The rally began with a speech from long time Haitian pro-democracy activist Pierre Labossiere. His speech reminded the audience that March 1 is the 17th anniversary of the coup against the democratically-elected Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Labossiere underlined that Aristide wanted to end the poverty caused by  the influence of multinational corporations and many foreign countries and organizations, principally the US, France, the UN, the OAS (Organization of American States), and NGOs like the International Red Cross.

Labossiere stated that the major powers and the previously mentioned countries, multinational corporations, NGOs, the UN and the OAS have made the situation worse since the devastating 2010 earthquake. Millions of US dollars in relief intended for Haitians left homeless and impoverished went missing. Aristide’s kidnapping and forced exile by the US caused Haiti’s descent into penury, exploitation and violent repression. The US would not allow him to return to Haiti because it believed his presence would strengthen the Haitian popular movement and its political party, Fanmi Lavalas. From 2004-2018, a series of corrupt presidents, including a former Aristide ally neoliberal technocrat, Rene Preval (1996-2001, 2006-2011), and pop-singer Michel Martelly (2011-2016). The latest of them, Jovenal Moise, sworn in as Haitian President in 2017, has remained in office past his term. An uprising that began as part of a worldwide protest against neoliberal economic policies in 2018 continues as a general uprising against dictatorship in 2021.

At the demonstration, Labossiere also called for the end of US interference into Haitian affairs, along with the OAS and UN forces. He ended his speech with a call to educate the American people about the struggle of the Haitian people for democracy, free elections and the liberation from poverty and economic exploitation; and instead, a return to the policies of Aristide that lifted people out poverty, promoted literacy, expanded education and healthcare to popular sectors, and established Krèyol as official language.

After Labossiere’s speech, the crowd marched to UN Plaza (near the spot where the UN was founded in 1945), led by a trio of members of Musicians Action Group. When the crowd arrived, they were greeted with a series of speeches of support from allies such as AROC, the Black Alliance for Peace, the Haiti Action Network, black students from the South Bay (i.e., the Black Student Union-Foothill College), Gloria La Riva, and the Arab Resource Center. This event was a spirited gathering of solidarity with the Haitian people, and a reminder that they’re not alone in their struggle.

Photo by Bill Hackwell, Scott Braley, and the Haiti Action Committee

Hugo is a member of the Haiti Action Committee, a history professor at West Valley College, and Vice President of the West Valley-Mission Federation of Teachers/AFT Local 6554.

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