As someone who visited Haiti in 1994 and saw the hope of many impoverished citizens, I am fearful some of them will be the target of police attacks this week.
Every year, on Sept. 30, the poor and middle-class people in the movement known as “Lavalas” (torrent, wave) take to the streets and protest the overthrow of their democratically elected government on that day in 1991. Last year, thousands of Lavalas supporters held a legal demonstration, and police opened fire on them and continued the attacks on Lavalas leaders for several weeks.
This year Lavalas supporters in the United States are trying to alert U.S. citizens to the Haitian people’s continued efforts for grass-roots democracy and are trying to publicize the repression there. Our U.S. government provided the plane and guards that removed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from Haiti in 2004, even though he had been elected president twice by the Haitian people. The thugs in control in Haiti have imprisoned Father Jean-Juste, an activist for the poor and possible presidential candidate, and many others.
It’s time for the United States to loosen its grip on Haiti, practice what we preach about democracy and let the will of the people rule there.
On behalf of the Holy Family Faith Community, Kansas City