Haitian lawyer to meet with Aristide, refugees today
Observer Reporter
Saturday, April 17, 2004
Marguerite Laurent, chairperson of the Haitians Lawyers Leadership Network, speaking with reporters in Kingston, yesterday.
(Photo: Garfield Robinson)

MARGUERITE Laurent, chairperson of the Haitians Lawyers Leadership Network is scheduled to meet today with ousted Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide as well as a group of Haitian refugees in Portland.

Laurent yesterday declined to comment on the planned discussions with Aristide, but said that in the meeting with the refugees she will make them aware that there is a "process for political asylum here".

"We heard that to date, no one has applied (for asylum)," she told journalists at a press briefing at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston yesterday. "We are going to try and get them representation."

Laurent, along with Alina Sixto of Ajoupa - a Haitian charitable organisation, said the trip to Jamaica is a "mission of appreciation"" to personally thank the Jamaican Government and its people for assisting the Haitians.

She said thank you letters were already delivered to the Office of the Prime Minister, the secretary-general of the Caribbean Community and the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

"We thank Jamaica for standing firm in the face of enormous pressure and intimidation, in not recognising the un-elected government that replaced the constitutional president and government of Haiti through the bloody coup d'etat of February 29, 2004," said the letter, which was released to the media.

Meanwhile, she vowed that her group will continue the fight for the reinstatement of the Aristide government and said they will also push for the pay over of the US$21 billion restitution allegedly owed to the Haitians by the French.

"[We are going to] to see that the rule of law is applied which include seeing Aristide finish his mandate," she said yesterday.

Aristide's departure, she said, was a coup d'etat and has landed the almost nine million Haitians back into dictatorship.

"There's a lot of evidence that this was no rag tag coup," she noted. "[It] was orchestrated by the same people that orchestrated the [first one]."

Meanwhile, a teary-eyed Sixto lamented that "Haitian oppression is real", noting that even 200 years after they broke themselves free from the shackles of slavery, they continue to pay dearly with their lives for the bravery of their ancestors.

"As black people we struggle, we are paying a big price with our blood because our sisters decided to break out of slavery," she sobbed. "They want to destroy our colour, but we're standing. we will let no one put us back in slavery."

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