Miami, FL — On Saturday, February 20 over 100 members of the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace, and Reparations (BIBC) and supporting organizations traveled to Miami, FL from various locations, including Philadelphia, PA, Nassau, Bahamas and St. Petersburg, FL to participate in the National March and Rally to Defend Haiti.
The march and rally served as a rallying point for the African world to respond to the situation in Haiti, not just with aid but also with action.
The coalition made the strategic decision to hold the rally at Athalie Range Park on the border of the Little Haiti section, which is shared with the area known as Liberty City. The demands of the march included:
Reparations to Haiti from France and the U.S.
The removal of all U.S. troops from Haiti
Unrestricted entry into the U.S. for our people from Haiti
Restoration of democracy in Haiti
Several speakers representing various organizations in the Haitian community and the BIBC spoke at the rally, all of who expressed their unity with the demands of the mobilization.
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Chairman Omali Yeshitela (top), Marlene Bastien (bottom) and others gave powerful presentations at the rally.
Speakers at the rally included Marlene Bastien, president of Haitian Women of Miami (FANM) and current candidate for U.S. congress, Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African Socialist International (ASI), Serge Veyeyo of Veye Yo, Schiller Sans-Jules of Haitian Cultural Society, Malik Shabazz of The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA) Miami and Kwame Afoh of the Pan-Afrikan Nationalists of South Florida.
Following the rally, a militant march went to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Center, a symbol of the reactionary immigration policies, to protest.
Earthquake and colonial domination equal deadly combination in Haiti
BIBC made the decision to hold the Miami mobilization during the National Black is Back Conference on January 23-24.
The decision was made with the understanding that Africans of the U.S. and Haiti are one people with a common heritage.
The only way to solve the problem in Haiti is not “charity” but for African people to unite and organize our own solution.
Moreover, it is necessary that the real basis of the death and carnage that followed the January earthquake in Haiti be exposed as that of imperial white power – as opposed to some type of “natural disaster.”
The ASI, a member organization of the BIBC, released a statement, explaining,
“Haiti has never been forgiven for waging the first successful African-led workers revolution in the western hemisphere in 1804. After militarily defeating the French, one of the strongest armies in Europe, and succeeding at making a revolution that influenced many other liberation movements on slave plantations and colonially dominated territories throughout the Americas, Haiti has been a target of western imperialism. The first assault came in 1825 when France (with the support of Europe and the U.S.) stole 150 million Francs from Haiti on claims that they were “owed” this money for no longer being able to make money from the island as plantation owners. Since the 1800s Haiti has suffered a series of military and economic attacks, particularly from the US. From 1915 to 1934, the U.S. occupied Haiti and dismantled its revolutionary constitutional system that prohibited land being purchased by foreigners. Most recently, the U.S. and France co-sponsored a coup and kidnapped the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide just because he wanted to raise the minimum wage! If Hurricane Katrina taught us nothing else, it’s that imperialism hates black people! May we never forget that in 2005 there was immediate evacuation of the wealthy white business owners in New Orleans, while the African working class was massacred in droves for “looting” and left to die of starvation in the superdome as dead bodies piled up in the streets. Just as now, employees of parasitic NGO’s are being taken out of Haiti while Africans are left to fend for themselves in the earthquake aftermath.”
Our Division is our weakness…
When Black Is Back Coalition (BIBC) organizers came into Miami to begin building for the mobilization, it was clear that we were right on time. The BIBC outreach team flooded the streets with thousands of leaflets announcing the mobilization.
Most of the outreach was done in the Little Haiti and Liberty City sections of Miami. This is the area of Miami with the highest concentration of Haitians.
It is also the area in which the artificial identities that divide along the lines of “Haitian vs. Black” are most glaring.
It is not uncommon to go to Liberty City and be told, “Oh, all the black people live over here and once you cross 7th Ave into Little Haiti, that’s where all the Haitians live.”
Meanwhile, the police, poverty and powerless terrorize both sides of 7th Ave, just as they do on both sides of the border of Panama and Columbia or Sierra Leone and Guinea-Conakry. In fact we are victims of police, poverty and powerless all over the world.
Added to these ideological assaults that promote division in the African nation, is the violent coercion of the white power State.
In the final analysis, it is the violence and terror imposed on our people that make it so difficult to organize without fear of life, limb or livelihood.
The Haitian community is just one sector of the international African community that is consistently in the crosshairs of U.S. imperialism.
However, imperialists’ political persecution of Haiti is unique. As the ASI stated in its position paper on the current situation in Haiti, “Haiti has never been forgiven for waging the first successful African-led workers revolution in the western hemisphere in 1804…”
The U.S. government, in particular, has a political vendetta against Haiti, which comes in the form of the military occupation, theft of massive amounts of resources, imposition of neocolonial governments that terrorize the people and anti-democratic immigration policies that contain the people on that island of misery.
Such policies include the “wet foot dry foot” policy, which allows for any Cuban national the right to free entry onto U.S. soil with political “amnesty,” while at the same time, the U.S. coast guard patrols the shores of Miami Beach in search of Africans from Haiti who are struggling to get to U.S. soil in pursuit of the stolen African resources that now exist in the U.S. economy in the form of jobs, housing and healthcare.
Those Africans who are able to get to the U.S. are constantly hunted. On any given day, mass sweeps are conducted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) throughout Haitian communities in places like Brooklyn and Little Haiti, Miami.
During these sweeps, Africans are rounded up like cattle and thrown into concentration camps before being sent back Haiti.
The fact is that the U.S. government maintains constant pressure on the people of Haiti and it can do so as long as Haiti is isolated.
Unity is our strength!
The only solution for Haitians is an all African organizational solution, which calls upon the resources and resistance of Africans from throughout the world to come to Haiti’s defense.
This was the basis for the creation of the BIBC and the National March and Rally in Defense of Haiti. Most importantly, this is the basis of the call made by the African Socialist International: If they Touch One, They Touch All!”
It was truly an inspiration to see the African community stand up in righteous resistance against the imperialist attacks made on our people in Haiti.
For the first time in more than 200 years, Haiti is being held up as a model as the most heroic sector of our African nation, which had the courage and intelligence to fight and kill for our freedom there.
The BIBC made it possible for Africans who want to help defend Haiti to do so in a meaningful way.
The coalition and march itself transformed the efforts of the individual into the effort of an entire movement.
In fact, we witnessed how the coalition and march has already begun to transform the African communities of Little Haiti and Liberty City.
During the pre-mobilization organizing process, International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) President Chimurenga Waller led the on-the-ground BIBC committee like an ambassador on a mission to unite countries.
The work involved not just outreach but countless meetings and phone calls to involve as many forces from the community in the mobilization as possible.
In this process, many new and invaluable relationships were established and old ones reinforced.
At the march itself, Africans came out of their houses and restaurants to show their unity – raising black power fists and joining in on such chants as “One Africa One Nation!” and “No More U.S. troops – Pay Us Back Our Stolen Loot!”
Cars slowed down honking their horns in support as we marched militantly down 7th Ave toward the immigration office.
Forward the Revolutionary National Democratic Program for Haiti
With the National March and Rally to Defend Haiti behind us, the BIBC and several of its member organizations, including InPDUM are now working to put the revolutionary national democratic demands of the mobilization into practice.
Under the leadership of Malik Allah, a comrade who played an instrumental role in the pre-mobilization organizing efforts, InPDUM is currently building a branch in Miami and the BIBC is working to expand itself in Miami with the recruitment of several African organizations in the city.
Most importantly, BIBC leadership has its eyes set on Haiti itself, where the conditions are rotten ripe for a mass revolutionary struggle.
All that is needed is the political leadership, organizational resources and program that the BIBC has the capacity to provide.
This is a call for Africans in Haiti and worldwide to unite with the demands of the National March and Rally to Defend Haiti and to build the BIBC.
Only such demands and organization will give the African masses the ability to expose and defeat the imperialist agents and frauds who pose as charity workers and neocolonial officials who stand between the people and real black power.
No Compromise! No Surrender!
U.S. Out of Port Au Prince! Black is Back for Independence!