[Marxism] Thousands of Aristide Supporters Pour Into Streets
davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Fri Mar 5 14:53:51 MST 2004
Thousands of Aristide Supporters Pour Into Streets
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By Ibon Villelabeitia and Jim Loney
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - Thousands of outraged
supporters of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide poured out of
Haiti's slums and into the streets on Friday, marching on the U.S.
Embassy to denounce the "occupation" of their homeland and
demand Aristide's return.
Video by Topic: Haiti
Hurling slurs at U.S. Marines and calling President Bush (news -
web sites) a "terrorist," a crowd estimated at more than 10,000
materialized in the capital, seething with anger at Aristide's flight to
Africa five days ago after a bloody rebellion and U.S. pressure.
"Bush terrorist! Bush terrorist!," chanted the crowd, many of them
waving Haitian flags and wearing T-shirts bearing photos of Aristide,
as they passed a contingent of battle-equipped U.S. Marines
guarding the embassy.
Hundreds held up their hands with five fingers extended, shouting
"Aristide five years," the rallying cry of his supporters who wanted
him to finish his five-year term in office. U.S. troops watched
impassively from the r
The massive protest came as U.S. and French troops joined Haitian police on patrol in the teeming capital. U.S. military vehicles mounted with machine guns and missile launchers rumbled through the streets, sending a mess
age to rebels and Aristide militants to lay down their arms.
Supporters of Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest whose fiery oratory from the pulpit helped galvanize a popular revolt that dislodged the Duvalier family dictatorship in the 1980s, had been relatively quiet this wee
k, shocked by the ouster of Haiti's first freely elected president.
They had stayed largely in Cite Soleil, La Saline and the other slums of Port-au-Prince as the armed rebels who helped push Aristide from office roamed the streets, hunting for "chimeres," the most militant of Aristide's
But as the rebels withdrew from the city following a pledge from their leader, former police chief Guy Philippe, to lay down their arms, Aristide partisans vowed to demonstrate daily for the return of their president.
They blamed Haiti's wealthy elite, Bush and French President Jacques Chirac for what they called the "foreign occupation" of Haiti.
"The bourgeoisie joined with the international community to occupy Haiti and get rid of President Aristide," one demonstrator screamed. "The bourgeoisie never did anything for us, the masses. Now they took away our presid
"If Aristide doesn't come back, life will be hell here."
Five days after Aristide was ousted by a bloody rebellion, a new tripartite council made up of people chosen by the government, Aristide's political foes and foreign nations went to work.
Aristide's Minister of Haitians Living Abroad, Leslie Voltaire, was named by the government. The political opposition Democratic Platform picked Paul Denis, a former senator, and the international community chose Adama Gu
indo, the United Nations (news - web sites) resident coordinator.
The council will select a seven member "Council of Wise Men" within a week to pick a new prime minister and begin the process of establishing a new government.
Haiti's legislature has been largely defunct since early January. Only a few senators have time left in their terms.
Haitian and foreign officials have been struggling with the process of installing interim president Boniface Alexandre, who according to the constitution must be ratified by the legislature. It was still uncertain on Frid
ay when a formal swearing in would be held at the palace.
U.S., French, Chilean and Canadian troops in Haiti numbered about 2,000, according to the commanders of the multinational force approved by the United Nations to restore order after days of looting and shooting following
Aristide's flight into exile in the Central African Republic on Sunday.
More than 100 people died in the armed revolt that began on Feb. 5 when an anti-Aristide gang took over the northwestern city of Gonaives.
Aristide said from his African exile that he was kidnapped. The
U.S. government has denied the allegation but residents of Aristide
strongholds believe it.
In the pro-Aristide Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Bellair, where
glass and debris litters the streets and the stench of sewage hangs
in the air, residents said foreign troops should help protect them
from gunmen that raid the area nightly.
They say rebels have been conducting reprisal raids.
"At 6 p.m. we all have to go and find a hole to hide," said Hubert
Louis, 31, referring to the nightly curfew. "If the foreign troops want
to show they want to support the people, they should protect us
from the soldiers who are chasing us." (Additional reporting by
Joseph Guyler Delva)
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