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Peaceful Demonstration in Cap Haitien a Success despite Ongoing Repression

On December 16, 2004 over 10,000 people flooded the streets of Cap Haitien chanting and dancing for over four hours as they risked their lives to peacefully commemorate Jean Bertrand Aristide's 1990 electoral victory in Haiti's first democratic elections. Organizers stated that their two primary demands of the demonstrators were the return of the constitutional government of Haiti and the release of all political prisoners.

Current reports estimate that there are approximately 700 political prisoners in Haiti's overcrowded prisons, none of whom have been convicted of a crime and many who have never come before a judge. Many powerful Lavalas organizers and leaders, including Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and popular singer Annette Auguste "So Anne", have been imprisoned making it difficult for the country's most popular political party to continue to organize or to carry out many of the community education and development projects that were an integral part of the Lavalas platform.

While heavily armed Chilean UN forces and the Haitian National Police were highly visible throughout the march, there was no violence reported.

Only two international journalists were present at the event and coverage is so far confined to the internet and the San Francisco Bayview newspaper. The only radio station to report on the demonstration in Port au Prince said that several hundred people attended the demonstration, a figure easily disputed with this video footage.

Beloved Mayor Continues to Serve his Community from Hiding
Jean Charles Moise grew up in Milot, a rural town on the outskirts of Cap Haitien. He was elected mayor in 1995 at the age of 27 by an overwhelming 85% of the vote and was re-elected for a second term in 2000. He served as mayor until he was thrown out of office following the coup on February 29, 2004.

During his tenure as mayor Moise redistributed state landholdings to many landless peasants in the area, earning him great respect among the poor and powerful enemies among the elite who had previously controlled the land. Under the Duvalier dictatorships much of the land in near Milot was owned by the state and leased to absentee landlords. These landlords would then re-lease the land to peasants at exorbitant rates up to 10 times those of the state. There is an area just below the palace of San Souci in Milot that is named Moise in honor of the man who helped the many families that now inhabit that hillside to reclaim the land that rightfully belonged to them, as dictated by Article 74 of the Haitian Constitution.

The community of Milot has changed significantly under the Lavalas government of the past decade.

previous reports to portland indymedia re. Haiti by Zoe Moskovitz and Sasha Kramer: [ The Politics of Injustice in Haiti: The Cases of Auguste and Chamblain (2004.09.01) | Hard hit Municipalities:The Attempt to Destroy Lavalas and the Consolidation of the Coup (2004.08.21) | The Dismantling of Popular Education Under the new U.S-backed Regime in Haiti (2004.08.21) | Reportback form Haiti: Resistance and Repression Six Months After the Coup (2004.08.21) ]

More info: [ HaitiAction.net ]

Thousands march in Cap Haitien calling for the return of their elected president
Thousands march in Cap Haitien calling for the return of their elected president