Only Aristide has the mandate to lead Haiti's recovery
Please circulate this letter from Selma James, co-ordinator of the Global Women’s Strike and colleague and widow of CLR James, author of The Back Jacobins, the famous history of the Haitian revolution.
Guardian Monday 18 January 2010
It took a catastrophe to put Haiti back on the political map. Yet its contribution to world civilization is considerable. Having extended the 1789 French revolution to Haiti, Black Jacobins ended slavery, leading the way for abolition in the Americas. Western governments never forgave this impertinence, imposing crippling debt, occupations and dictatorships.
But Haitians never lost awareness that they could overcome and, if necessary, overthrow. In 1986, a mass movement kicked out the murderous Duvaliers whom the west had backed for decades, and in 1990 elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a liberation theologist determined to move the population "from destitution to poverty with dignity". He prioritized food security, health and education, encouraged agricultural co-operatives, and raised the minimum wage. Within months a US-backed coup overthrew him. Elected again in 2000 with over 90% of the vote, he was again removed in 2004, not by "a bloody rebellion" (Haiti's exiled former president vows to return, 15 January) but by bloody US marines.
Haitians continue to call for Aristide's return. Will the only person with a mandate to govern be kept from leading their recovery and reconstruction?
Co-ordinator of Global Women's Strike
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