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Report on 15-city protests July 21-Outrage at Cite Soleil massacre of July 6
Protest campaign spreads to 5 countries & 15 cities in coordinated day of action.
Emergency protests were held July 21st in Brazil, France and 13 US and Canadian cities – to express the world’s outrage at the massacre of at least 23 Haitian civilians on July 6th in the popular neighborhood of Cite Soleil, by UN troops under Brazilian command. Demonstrations in Haiti and elsewhere continue this week.
Meanwhile in Haiti, Father Gerard Jean-Juste -- who kicked off the international protest campaign 12 days ago at the Brazilian consulate in Miami -- was beaten and arrested July 21st after speaking out against the coup regime. The pastor of St. Claire’s Church in Port-au-Prince, he has been called the “Martin Luther King of Haiti” for his courageous defense of Haiti’s poor majority. Fr Jean-Juste is now in solitary confinement at the National Penitentiary in the Haitian capital.
Coordinated demonstrations took place July 21st in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa (at Brazilian embassies); in Miami, Montreal, New York, Toronto and San Francisco (at Brazilian consulates general); as well as in Minneapolis, San Jose (California), Boston, and the Canadian cities of Halifax (Nova Scotia), Winnipeg (Manitoba), and Vancouver. Protesters called for UN troops and Haitian police to stop the killings; for all UN soldiers from 20 nations to leave Haiti now; and for the restoration of Haiti’s sovereignty and constitutional rule.
In Brazil a high-level, 15-member delegation, including leading members of Congress and union leaders from the CUT labor federation, rallied in front of Planalto Palace in the capital of Brasilia. They presented a letter to President Lula da Silva, signed by numerous Brazilian labor leaders and well-known personages, calling for withdrawal of all Brazilian troops from Haiti and respect for Haiti’s sovereignty. The letter to Lula was based on a report by the US Labor/Human Rights Delegation to Haiti about the July 6th killings ["Growing Evidence of a Massacre by UN Occupation Forces in Port-au-Prince Neighborhood of Cite Soleil"].
In San Francisco 200 chanting people led by Haitian drums marched down Market Street, then snaked into the Montgomery Street financial district to the Brazilian consulate, chanting “Why is Brazil killing in Haiti?” and “US/UN – Get out of Haiti.” Earlier in the day, members of the Labor/Human Rights Delegation met with the Brazilian consul general for an hour. They presented a letter to President Lula, calling for an end to the UN occupation and killings in Haiti. A similar letter was presented at the Brazilian consulate in Miami, and at their embassy in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, by Haitian community leaders.
The international campaign -- with protests in five countries -- kicked off on July 13th, when Father Gerard Jean-Juste flew from Haiti to Miami to lead a demonstration at the Brazilian consulate -- and meet with consular officials for nearly three hours -- to protest the Cite Soleil massacre by UN troops under Brazilian command.
The campaign picked up steam the following day, on July 14th, when despite heavy repression and continued killings by UN forces, more than 5,000 people demonstrated in Cite Soleil to condemn the UN massacre in their neighborhood on July 6th. They chanted for the return of President Aristide, and demanded prison for the leaders and backers of the coup regime.
Also on July 14th, Father Jean-Juste was ‘denounced’ on a right-wing Haitian radio program in Florida, saying he was returning to Haiti on American Airlines, with the implicit threat that something bad might and should happen to him. The next day Jean-Juste was searched and questioned for 20 minutes by US authorities at the Miami airport. On arrival in Port-au-Prince he was detained by Haitian National Police for two hours. A week later he was attacked and beaten while attending a funeral, re-arrested and sent to the National Penitentiary.
The citizens of Cite Soleil, Father Jean-Juste and the internationally coordinated demonstrations on July 21st are shining a spotlight on the crimes committed by the US/UN occupation on July 6th in Cite Soleil. Clearly the coup regime feels threatened by these revelations, and are retaliating against our courageous brother. Defending Fr. Jean-Juste – and demanding his immediate release -- is an integral part of this campaign.
Organizers emphasized that UN troops, who have been in Haiti since June 2004, are there as a proxy force doing the bidding of the US government -- replacements for the US, French and Canadian troops who assisted in the February 29, 2004 coup d’etat that overthrew the constitutional government of President Aristide.
The movement is spreading. Philadelphia is demonstrating July 28 [west side of City Hall, Noon-2pm and 4-6pm]; New York again July 28 at the Brazilian consulate [1185 Avenue of the Americas (6th Ave), near 47th Street, 3-7 pm], and Paris again on July 30 at the Place de la Republique. Miami demonstrates again July 26 at Haitian consulate (289 SW 13th St, at 11 am) demanding the release of Fr. Jean-Juste.
In Haiti, demonstrations have been announced for July 25 in the Bel Air district of Port-au-Prince, and for July 26 in Cite Soleil, also demanding the release of Father Jean-Juste. These popular neighborhoods have been staunch supporters of President Aristide and opponents of the coup regime.
In Brazil, a coalition is organizing public meetings and rallies in various cities, demanding that Brazil end its military involvement in Haiti. The coalition includes unions and top leaders affiliated with the CUT (Brazil’s largest labor federation), the Unified Black Movement (MNU) and Campanha Haiti (the Brazil Out of Haiti Campaign).
Demonstrations in 15 cities on July 21 condemning UN massacre in Cite Soleil
Boston – Demonstration at the Haitian Consulate including members of the Haitian community and members of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union.
Brasilia – Rally in the Brazilian capital in front of the Planalto Palace. A 15-member delegation, including leading members of Congress and the CUT labor federation, presented a letter to President Lula Da Silva, calling for withdrawal of all Brazilian troops from Haiti and respect for Haiti’s sovereignty. Public meetings and rallies in various Brazilian cities are to follow.
Halifax, Nova Scotia – Picketing at the US Consulate on Purdy’s Wharf, to protest the US role in the 2004 coup, and in the killings of thousands of supporters of the majority Lavalas movement since the coup. They carried a coffin marked “Haiti Democracy”, and seized the occasion of a nearby Jazz Festival to pass out hundreds of flyers about the July 6 UN massacre in Cite Soleil.
Miami – Demonstration at the Brazilian Consulate. Lavarice Gaudin and other Haitian community leaders met with consular officials and presented an “open letter” to Brazil’s President Lula da Silva calling for withdrawal of all UN troops from Haiti and restoration of the constitutional government.
Minneapolis/St.Paul – March to the Federal Building, to protest the US role in destabilizing the Aristide government and now in supporting the murderous coup regime and its UN allies. They walked over to the Star-Tribune, to protest newspaper coverage of Haiti.
Montreal - Haitian community members and supporters turned out at Dorchester Square, then marched to the Brazilian consulate in a busy downtown area, chanting “Brazil out of Haiti”, “Canada out of Haiti” and ”Heleno Ribeiro Assassin,” a reference to the Brazilian commander of UN forces in Haiti. A delegation met with an attache from the consulate to press their demands.
New York – Picketing at the Brazilian Consulate. This followed a demonstration of 300 at United Nations headquarters the previous Saturday to protest the July 6th massacre.
Ottawa/Gatineau – Demonstrators rallied at the Brazilian embassy chanting “Canada, Brazil – Out of Haiti”. Haitian community leader Jean Saint-Vil read out a letter addressed to Brazil’s President Lula da Silva, condemning the massacre and demanding that Brazil immediately take steps to withdraw their troops from Haiti and facilitate the return of the constitutionally-elected government.
All those present decided to co-sign the letter, and a delegation presented it to a charge d’affaires at the embassy, before engaging the diplomat in a 75-minute serious discussion about the situation in Haiti, illustrated with a power-point presentation by the delegation.
Paris – Demonstrators from the Haitian community and supporters passed out leaflets, with the headline: “Brazil and the UN are slaughtering the Haitian people.” Grisly, full-color photos of massacre victims bore the captions: “A mother and her two children, their only crime was to be sleeping in their home the night of July 6, 2005” and “A bakery employee, his only crime was to be leaving his house to go to work.” The leaflet said: “Brazil: What is the price to be paid for a place among the imperialist powers? Unit of measure: one human head. How do you explain yourselves, Brazil, when the UN troops under your command have assassinated, in the middle of the night on July 6th at 4 a.m., more than 60 Haitian citizens in the popular neighborhood of Cite Soleil?...Has the president of Brazil decided to betray his origins in order to win a place as spectator among the G8? Why have Brazil and the UN declared war on the Haitian people who only cry out for peace?” The leaflet demanded immediate withdrawal of UN troops from Haiti, that those implicated in the massacre be brought to justice, and the return of the constitutional order and President Aristide.
San Francisco – A crowd of 200 marched down Market Street, then up Montgomery Street to demonstrate at the Brazilian Consulate. [See above for details.]
San Jose, California – Demonstrators picketed the French consulate twice, at noon and again in late afternoon, to protest France’s role in the coup d’etat that ousted President Aristide, and its continuing support of the coup regime.
Toronto – Protesters gathered at the Brazilian consulate, near the busy Bay and Bloor intersection. They held a banner that read “Restore Democracy – Reparations for Haiti”. When an agent from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) identified himself and started asking questions of each of the demonstrators, organizers used this as an opportunity to draw attention to the role of the RCMP in training the hated Haitian National Police. Two representatives of the protesters then met with the Brazilian consul to present their demands.
Vancouver – Demonstrators rallied outside the Card Armed Forces Recruiting Center, protesting Canadian military assistance to the coup regime in Haiti, then walked to a Canadian government building to condemn Canada’s role in the coup and its aftermath.
Washington, D.C. – Protesters at the Brazilian embassy held the Haitian flag and signs that read:
“Brazil: Is the Security Council seat worth the blood of Haitians?” and “Brazil-led troops bring terror to Haiti”. Nine police officers and Secret Service agents showed up to ask questions. Organizers issued a statement that the protest was “in response to the massacre on July 6th of Haitians living in Cite Soleil. We hold Brazil responsible for this massacre, as it is currently in charge of the MINUSTAH forces who led the murderous raid. We ask for the return of the democratically elected government to Haiti.”
Winnipeg, Manitoba – Demonstrators gathered at the Winnipeg offices of SNC-Lavalin, identified as “one of the biggest Canadian corporate profiteers from the occupation of Haiti.” They were interviewed by the local French-language CBC radio. They entered the SNC office and presented their concerns about the situation in Haiti, and called on SNC to stop all operations in Haiti “as long as a brutal US-imposed government is in place.”