Massive demonstrations in Haiti catch UN by surprise
HIP — Challenging recent assertions made by the United Nations that the
Lavalas movement is dead, crowds estimated at well over 100,000 took to
the streets of seven major cities throughout Haiti on February 7 to
demand an end to the UN occupation, freedom for political prisoners and
the return of exiled president Aristide. Lavalas is the political
movement of Haiti's desperately poor majority and the political party
of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was ousted on February 29, 2004
in a coup reportedly backed by the United States, France and Canada.
Although the largest demonstrations took place in the capital of
Port-au-Prince and Haiti's second largest city Cap Haitien, thousands
were reported to have joined similar actions in Port de Paix, Hinche,
La Kay, St. Marc and Miragoane. Smaller actions were also reported in
the towns of Jacmel, Leogane and Gonaives.
UN Special Envoy to Haiti Edmond Mulet had stated one week earlier,
"[Demonstrations demanding the return of president Aristide] became
3,000 and the last ones maybe 75...50 people. So I see that this issue
of former President Aristide is not present anymore in the political
sphere in Haiti anymore, and his movement - familia Lavalas - is very
much divided, weakened." Mulet made his comments during a roundtable
forum sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies
(CSIS) this past January 31 in Washington D.C.
News of the demonstrations in Haiti has been met with a virtual press
blackout by major corporate news organizations. Only the Associated
Press (AP) filed a short dispatch on the protests in Port-au-Prince and
they reported only "hundreds" attended the demonstration. AP photos
appeared on Yahoo News but appeared to have been carefully selected to
minimize the number of participants in Haiti's capital.
FOR FULL ARTICLE WITH PHOTOS: http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_9_7/2_9_7.html
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