So much innocent Haitian blood has been spilled since January 1, 2004. But throughout history, Haitian blood has paved the way for African dignity and survival. It's a crushing weight, but one that we and our ancestors have borne as Haitians over the past 200 years.

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We have witnessed a river of blood and senseless killings, detentions and arbitrary arrests. Despite it all,Ý2004 is already Haiti's miracle year: she has united the African Union and CARICOM.

Like founding father Jean-Jacques Dessalines' army, we are rising. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has suddenly cancelled his "triumphant visit" to Haiti because his government suffered a major loss in the French elections. We have to wonder whether the French electorate is sending the French government a message about its military intervention into Haiti.

The French are beginning to realize that the Haitian people's demand for $21.7 billion in restitution hasn't gone away, despite the coup d'Ètat orchestrated by the U.S. and France on February 29, 2004. In fact, the cycle of debt, dependency and foreign domination tearing Haiti apart for 200 years has been highlighted by the intervention. All the world can seeÝhow the constant interference by the Euro/U.S. nations is intended to keep Haiti impoverished.

The blood of the African ancestors is at work. Frantic and desperate pressure by the neocon clique ‚ Roger Noriega, Colin Powell, and Condi Rice ‚ has failed to move CARICOM... for now. Its 15 member nations, along with Venezuela, have refused to recognize the de facto government which Washington set in place in Haiti.

Dessalines' army is rising.

Despite ten years of a constant U.S./Euro destabilization campaign from 1994 to 2004, Haitians still built more schools than ever in Haiti's history. We built hospitals and public parks in the poorest neighborhoods. We put more electricity in more towns than ever before. The government recognized the Vodun culture. It brought the literacy rate down from 85% to 48%. It recognized KreyÚl as one of our official languages, and Haitians wrote more books in KreyÚl than ever before. Haitians from the Diaspora sent to Haiti more than $850 million a year. These are our accomplishments. We may celebrate them. They are the facts hidden behind the headlines. Let's not forget our miracles accomplished despite the past ten years of U.S./Euro destabilization.

n 2004, despite imperialism's coup d'Ètat in Haiti, let us commit to:

1. Celebrate our ancestors' great victory and our rich Vodun-based culture. Despite the lies, Black civilization, beauty, law and justice in Haiti shall rise.

2. Empower the poor and now disenfranchised in Haiti. We shall continue to mobilize human rights monitors to help save the lives of the Haitian poor, who are now in the greatest jeopardy since the last U.S.-backed dictatorship years in Haiti.

3. Mobilize the vote against Bush, Jr. We shall continue to mobilize the Haitian-American vote and to connect it with the grassroots U.S. movement working to reclaim U.S. democracy. We will lift the boot Bush has put on our Haitian dream for democracy, on our people's neck in Haiti and on those "indefinitely detained." This time the Black vote shall count!

4. Support the people of Jamaica for their stand for Haitian democracy. Let us thank the nations of CARICOM and the African Union who recognize that the will of the Haitian majority was not respected by the powerful nations in the world.

5. Call for the $21.8 billion debt owed by France to Haiti not to be forgotten. This restitution, on the contrary, should be expedited.

6. Call for the murderers, ex-army and FRAPH mercenaries to be deported to the U.S. or France where they may join their bosses.

7. Use this opportunity to show the world that democracy in Haiti is not just about President Aristide. The Haitian people, and Haitian women in particular, have a right to life, shelter, security, education, health care, justice, and freedom of association and speech.

Coup d'Ètat or no coup d'Ètat, Haitians have the richest culture in the Western Hemisphere and defeated Napoleon, Britain, Spain and a U.S. embargo back in 1803. We were the first to put liberty into application in the Western Hemisphere. No other. That is part of what it means to be Haitian. That is the Haitian identity that has survived embargoes, 32 U.S./Euro-sponsored coup d'Ètats and slavery before that. We shall overcome this U.S./France orchestrated coup d'Ètat also. No matter how many dollars and euros France, Canada and the U.S. mobilize against us, we will continue our struggle for liberty and rights for the wretched of Haiti and the earth.

Marguerite Laurent was born in Haiti. She is a lawyer, an award winning playwright and performance poet. She heads the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network ‚ a network of lawyers, journalists, artists and people dedicated to protecting the civil and cultural rights of Haitians living at home and abroad. Contact her at Erzilidanto@aol.com.

(c) April 2004, Marguerite Laurent

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