by Alvin Blanco, Workers’ Voice, NewYork
Last week Workers Voice took part in two days of protests in New York City against Brazilian Troops in Haiti. In July 26th we participated in a rally against the occupation of Haiti. This rally was an International Workers Solidarity (IWS) and NYC SOLIDAR joint initiative and marked the ninth anniversary of Brazilian occupation, which began in July 1st, 2004. In spite of the small number of protesters, there was a lively participation of members of the Brazilian and Haitian communities in New York. The rally began at the Brazilian Consulate and marched from the streets to the Haiti Consulate located at the 2nd Ave where the protesters showed the public their signs and banners against the Brazilian troops in Haiti, austerity policies and police brutality.
The next day there was a Haiti-Brazil Forum Against Occupation and Repression sponsored by IWS and endorsed by Workers’ Voice, One Struggle NY and The Batay Ouvriye Haiti Solidarity Network. The Forum took place in a community hall in Brooklyn where the mostly Haitians live. More than 50 people -the great majority Haitians and blacks- participated in a combative meeting. The hall was decorated with flags, banners and photographies of dead Haitian combatants. A red flag from the Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado (PSTU – Unified Socialist Workers Party) from Brazil adorned a wall besides card signs denouncing the occupation.
The Forum began with a cultural presentation and a lot of good music, and after that it was the time for a political panel when Diane Muste from Workers’ Voice made a speech against the myth of Brazilian “racial democracy”. According to her, “Brazil is the result of more than a hundred years of supposed unity, social and racial inclusion. Now, this country is led by a president whose past is strongly linked to the social movements. It seems like Brazil was tailored to lead this UN mission of occupation in Haiti. But nine years after the occupation, none of the promises were fulfilled. The alleged ‘cordial and democratic occupation in Haiti is as false as cordial racism and racial democracy in Brazil.”
Muste also contested that the occupation will be an instrument of freedom to Haitian people: “This army in the service of the imperialist ruling classes could never be the agent of liberation and emancipation of the Haitian people. While Brazilian troops remain in Haiti, we can be sure that this is the sign that black people and working class of both countries remain oppressed.”
After her, Kiki Makandal from the Batay Ouvriye Solidarity Network spoke about the class struggle in Haiti and the relevance of remembering that July 28th is the 98th anniversary of the first U.S. Invasion of Haiti. Makandal spoke that “US military interventions and occupations in 1915-34, and by proxy in 1994-2000 and 2004 to the present have still failed to break the will of the Haitian popular masses to rebel and the determination of Haitian workers to fight for their rights.” he also said we must remember the Batay Ouvriye militants that have fallen, especially Carl Henri Fetus (Tòtòf), who was killed in a car accident on Thursday June 6, 2013.
These events had a great importance and were an important step to consolidate joint initiatives between Brazilian and Haitian communities in New York. Also, it was a great opportunity to build a trustful and non-sectarian relationship between Batay Ouvriye Solidarity Network and Workers’ Voice.