End U.S.-backed bloodshed in Haiti!

Haiti is in deep crisis, with so-called rebels overrunning the country’s second-largest city, Cap-Haitien, and threatening to attack the capital, Port-au-Prince, in a bid to violently overthrow the democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The three-week-old rebellion is led by right-wing, criminal elements associated with the bloody regime of the notorious “Papa Doc” Duvalier and the fascist-like military government of the early 1990s that wantonly killed 5,000 Haitians in a reign of terror. Several prominent leaders of the rebellion have longstanding ties to the CIA.

The paramilitary gangs rampaging across the northern half of Haiti have been executing Aristide’s supporters and burning government buildings. If they succeed in invading the capital, a terrible bloodbath will certainly ensue.

The rebels have plenty of arms, most originating from the United States. The weapons come from remnants of the disbanded U.S.-backed army of the early ’90s and, reportedly, from the Dominican Republic, a large recipient of U.S. military aid. Aristide has only a 3,500-member, poorly equipped police force.

The terrorist-like “contras” have formed an unholy alliance with opposition elements in the capital dominated by the wealthy elite, including sweatshop owners. They, too, want Aristide ousted so they can more freely exploit the Haitian people and serve their U.S. corporate masters.

Having spurned all offers to negotiate a political solution (unlike Aristide, who has welcomed negotiations), this unholy alliance is now poised to bring down Aristide in a coup.

Though Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the U.S. is not seeking “regime change,” that is precisely what is under way. For years the U.S. government has imposed a financial blockade on Haiti, starving it of needed funds. At the same time, both the U.S. and France have been funneling money to opposition political groups and radio stations.

Military intervention is not the answer to the crisis. The U.S. should stop its destabilization campaign, release much-needed humanitarian funds and loans to Haiti, and stop aiding the terrorists and the opposition. No coup in Haiti! No U.S. intervention!

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No discrimination in the Constitution

Taking his State of the Union threats one step further, George W. Bush this week encouraged Congress and the states to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. This divisive step would promote perpetual bias and inequality.

Bush’s Feb. 24 speech has already drawn ire from both Republicans and Democrats. While some oppose the idea because they are reluctant to engage in a struggle over amending the Constitution, more oppose it on the basis that this measure is open bigotry and a form of “gay-bashing.”

They rightly feel that an amendment banning gay marriage would be a codification of discrimination. Historically, constitutional amendments have expanded the rights of citizens. The rights that most people hold dear – the freedom of speech, religion, the right to vote, the end of slavery – have been the result of struggles to amend the Constitution to guarantee equality. The idea of using this document to forever keep a section of the population as second-class citizens is appalling.

Bush’s action may very well blow up in his face, with voters recognizing it as an election-year maneuver to appeal to the most conservative sections of the voting public. Nevertheless, the people’s movements must unite to ensure that this move is stopped.

Marriage laws and civil unions are currently issues decided by states. Bush’s attempt to mold the Constitution into an instrument to enshrine discrimination should be used as a call to action to guarantee his removal from office in November and a resounding defeat to the forces of reaction and bigotry.