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Duclos Benissoit In Berkeley: Haiti Resistance, 2 Years After The Coup
Saturday February 25, 2006 - 7:00 p.m.
Haiti Action Committee presents a celebration of Black History Month — Haiti Resistance: Two years after the Coup — featuring Duclos Benissoit — President of the Federation of Public Transport Workers of Haiti
Two years after US Marines kidnapped President Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004, a death-squad regime, backed by the guns of 8,000 United Nations troops, continues to terrorize Haiti's poor majority. Since the coup, the situation for Haiti's workers and peasants has grown desperate. Yet the Resistance continues strong.
Duclos Benissoit is president of one of the most influential and militant labor organizations in Haiti, the Federation of Public Transport Workers. This is a union that not only fought successfully for the betterment of the workers. It is also a union that stood strongly for Haitian democracy; insisting that the votes and rights of the poor majority in Haiti must be respected, that their needs be given priority, and that Haiti's right of self-determination must not be trampled on.
That is why Brother Benissoit and his union were targeted by the Coup d'État of February 29, 2004. The Federation had established a bus cooperative — Service Plus — providing quality bus service to the people in Port-au-Prince and and other parts of the country, while alleviating traffic congestion in the capital. They had a fleet of 150 buses, many of them brand-new.
On the night of the coup — when the US Marines kidnapped President Aristide's from his home in Tabarre — thugs associated with the coup entered the Service Plus bus yard and torched and destroyed many of the buses and the union office. Coup elements issued death threats to Brother Benissoit and demolished his home, forcing him into exile.
Brother Benissoit was also targeted because — before the coup — he had publicly denounced those who were trying to destabilize the democratically elected government of President Aristide. Other progressive unions were also attacked as part of the campaign to destroy popular democracy in Haiti.
For example, as the coup was being prepared, when Haiti's business elite called for a general work stoppage as a tactic to undermine the Aristide government, Brother Benissoit went on the radio to denounce "the bosses' strike" and urged bus drivers, truckers and the general public to go to work and go about their business as usual. The business elite's "general strike" was largely ignored by the Haitian public at the time.
Duclos Benissoit, as one of the grassroots leaders of the pro-democracy movement in Haiti and president of a key union federation, has a wealth of knowledge of the recent history and present situation of the workers and people of Haiti.
Come to hear and honor him, as we celebrate the Haitian people's victory in ensuring that their overwhelming vote for President-elect Rene Preval on February 7 is respected.
Also, we will play a message from Miami of Father Gerard Jean-Juste celebrating his release, one year after his stirring words from the pulpit at St. Joseph the Worker Church
Music by Francisco Herrera * Freedom Song Network
featuring Duclos Benissoit
President of the Federation of Public Transport Workers of Haiti
Saturday February 25, 2006 - 7:00 p.m.
St. Joseph the Worker Church
MAP: 1640 Addison Street, Berkeley [one block south of University Ave. near McGee]
also: message from Miami of Father Gerard Jean-Juste celebrating his release
Donation requested $5-10
[no one turned away]
In honor of our beloved Father Bill O'Donnell, always a fighter for democracy in Haiti, who arrived in Haiti two days after the 1991 coup, and came back to declare St. Joseph the Worker Church a sanctuary for Haitian refugees.
For more information (510) 483 7481
Endorsed by Oakland Education Association, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Marin Interfaith Task Force, Labor Committee for Peace & Justice, NICCA, Ecumenical Peace Institute, St. Joseph the Worker Church