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May 18, 2005

Is Aristide Going Home?

Posted in: General,World

5,000 Haitian’s want this to be the case so much that they are hitting the streets in Port-au-Prince today. As usual for beleaguered Haiti, the police did nothing to interfere with the protest. The UN peacekeepers were on the scene, but stayed away from the marchers.

From the AP

More than 5,000 supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide marched in Haiti’s capital Wednesday to demand his return from exile, one of the largest demonstrations in recent months.

Aristide speeches blared on loudspeakers, protesters carried Haitian flags plastered with stickers of the former priest and some held framed photographs of him.

Dozens of U.N. peacekeepers in light-armored vehicles and jeeps monitored the march, but there were no signs of Haitian national police.

It was not clear where the protesters were headed. They began the demonstration in the slums of Cite Soleil and Bel Air, converging on Delmas Road, one of the main arteries leading to downtown Port-au-Prince.

The demonstrators chanted “Aristide left and came back, now he’s coming back again,” referring to a military coup that ousted him in 1991 and his subsequent restoration to power in 1994.

“What happened in 1994 could happen now,” said 37-year-old Printemps Belizaire, who is unemployed. “We resisted and Aristide came back. “We had hope with Aristide, but without him we have no hope. There is nothing for us with this government. We can only look forward to death.”

Aristide was ousted again in a three-week armed rebellion in February 2004 and an interim government led by Prime Minister Gerard Latortue was installed in the weeks that followed.

Elections, seen as crucial to strengthening democracy in Haiti, have been scheduled for October and November. Hundreds have been killed in political violence since September, when Aristide supporters stepped up protests to demand his return from exile in South Africa.

On a related note, the leading party in South Africa is calling for the return of Aristide.

The African National Congress rallied on Friday the country’s support for Haiti to embrace “the rule of law and democracy” and the return of political exiles, including deposed former president Jean Bertrand Aristide.

“South Africans are called on to join the people of Haiti and others around the world, in campaigning for the return of stability, the rule of law and democracy to the Caribbean state,” the ANC said in its weekly newsletter ANC Today.

“The constitutional order must be restored, which include the creation of conditions for the return of all exiles, including President Aristide and the organization of free, peaceful and fair democratic elections,” the party said.

Aristide fled a popular revolt in Haiti in late February last year under pressure from the United States and France, first traveling to the Central African Republic and Jamaica, before arriving in Johannesburg.

He has been living in exile in South Africa since with his wife and two daughters and enjoys good relations with President Thabo Mbeki, the only world leader to attend Haiti’s bicentennial independence celebrations early last year.

My question is why Haiti, which is one of the most resource rich countries in the Caribbean can not get rid of all the petty dictators, embrace democracy and freedom, and enjoy the fruits of their country? You have a man, a priest like Aristide, leave Haiti on a private jet, live like royalty in South Africa, wanting to return and resume power. They should get rid of the lot of them.

The people of Haiti deserve better.

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