Gray Panthers of San Francisco
December 2006 Newsletter
Lavalas (“flash flood” in Creole) is the name of the massive popular movement that swept Aristide to power in Haiti in 1991 on a platform of social reform, and won him reelection by an 80% majority in 2000. Four years later, in 2004, with support from the U.S., France and Canada, a right-wing coup kidnapped Aristide and took control of the country. (U.S. Marines “rescued” Aristide and put him on a plane removing him from Haiti.)
David Welsh of the Haiti Action Committee spoke to us about the enormous hardships the coup has imposed on Haiti’s poor. Emblematic was the massacre in 2005 of 60 innocent civilians by U.N. “peace keepers,” (again supported by the U.S., France, and Canada, and also Brazil.) The massacre was a pre-dawn raid that took place in Cité Soleil, Haiti’s poorest neighborhood and one of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. David showed us a video about the massacre, and another about an assault in Cité Soleil earlier this year where human rights workers were able to film the soldiers actually shooting into innocent people’s houses.
A talented singer/songwriter, Dave graced us with original songs inspired by his journeys to Haiti.
and European hostility to the Haitian liberation movement began with its
revolt against the French colonialists for whom Haiti earned more than
all 13 mainland colonies earned for Britain. The revolution ended slavery
in Haiti in 1804 and established the world’s first black republic.
In 1825, France demanded “reparations” from Haiti to the ex-slave
owners equivalent to today’s 21.7 billion dollars. This took Haiti
100 years to pay, ensuring generations of grinding poverty. (To make the
first payment, Haiti closed all the public schools.) Haitian history is
as much about the enduring and amazing courage of the Haitian people as
it is about an unending state of siege by U.S. and European imperialists.