WASHINGTON – Protesters rallied in front of the White House, March 6, chanting “U.S. out of Haiti, Aristide in” and holding placards proclaiming, “End the U.S. coup in Haiti!”
Haitian American Marx Aristide, a leader of the Haiti Support Project, was cheered as he blasted Bush for overthrowing Haiti’s democratically elected president.
“This is not just about democracy in Venezuela or Haiti. It’s about democracy in the U.S.,” said Aristide, who is no relation to the ousted president. “Everybody realizes the Bush administration is determined to uproot democracy all around the world.”
Marx Aristide pointed out that this year is the bicentennial of the revolution led by the slave, Toussaint L’Ouverture, which freed Haiti from French colonial rule. Turning to address the White House behind him, he shouted, “If you think you can do to Haiti what Napoleon couldn’t do, think again! We’re going to send you back to Texas in November!” The crowd cheered.
Mildred Charles, executive director of the 10th Department Organization for Haitian Empowerment, a Washington-based group that represents the Haitian diaspora, demanded a congressional investigation.
“Why is the United States siding with the rebel groups instead of the democratically elected president of Haiti?” she demanded. “Where are these rebels getting their weapons and uniforms? Why did the U.S. pressure the World Bank, the IMF and USAID not to send financial assistance to Haiti in the past 10 years? This is a call to action. We want people to call their congresspeople to demand a full investigation. The United Nations should be more involved. And don’t forget, we have an election here in the U.S. Nov. 2. We want regime change here.”
Jon Samuels, an aide to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), told the crowd the Illinois lawmaker supports an investigation of the removal of Aristide. “U.S. troops went to the doorstep of Aristide’s palace and told him: ‘Thugs are coming and they are going to kill you and we won’t protect you unless you agree to leave.’ If that isn’t a coup, what is it?”
Damu Smith, a leader of Black Voices for Peace, reminded the crowd that Bush stole the 2000 election by “disenfranchising Black voters in Florida, including Haitian American voters,” in what he called an American-style coup d’etat. Now, Bush is attempting a coup in Haiti. “We have a gang of pathological liars in the White House right now. Why hasn’t the U.S. military arrested those paramilitary thugs in Haiti? Because they want them to seize power. We say, U.S. out! Aristide in!”
Shirley Pate, leader of No War on Cuba, held a placard that read, “Bermuda Triangle of U.S. foreign policy: Haiti, Venezuela, and Cuba.” She accused Bush-Cheney of orchestrating a campaign of lies and disinformation to destabilize all three nations in what she called a “perpetual coup.”
Nicole Lee, an organizer for Global Justice, demanded that Congress summon Bush, Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice “to testify under oath on their role in what has happened in Haiti. U.S. Marines stand by protecting U.S. assets while Haitian lives are taken in our names,” she said.
Demonstrations against the coup were also held in Chicago, South Florida, New Orleans, the Bay Area, and New York, among other places.
In a separate development, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry criticized the Bush administration for failing to back the democratically elected Haitian president.
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