Yesterday was Jean Bertrand Aristide’s birthday, and thousands of Lavalas supporters marched from the gates of his former residence in Tabarre to the collapsed National Palace in Haiti’s capital. Along the 10 mile route thousands more joined the march as it passed the Aristide Foundation, turned west along the north-side of the airport past the strong and supporting neighborhoods of Sarthe and Cite Soleil. Finally, the march headed downtown through the Aristide stronghold of Bel-Air, past the earthquake devastation of the National Cathedral, and back down the hill to join the masses camped out in front of the National Palace. The crowd was estimated to be 7-8 thousand before it arrived at the Palace.
Every year since the USA kidnapped their democratically-elected president, supporters have not ceased calling for his unconditional return from exile in South Africa. In other major cities throughout the country there were smaller, but just as lively mobilizations led by the Fanmi Lavalas political organization, which believes that his presence in Haiti would aid in boosting the morale of the county and energizing the population towards rebuilding.
Last year the Préval government blocked Fanmi Lavalas — the largest political organization and supported by an overwhelming majority of the population — from the elections to select members of the Parliament. The day after President René Préval met with US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, his hand-picked election council barred Fanmi Lavalas from the elections.
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