Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide gestures to supporters as his wife Mildred and daughter Christine stand behind him at the airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Friday. He was overthrown by the U.S. in Feb. 2004. a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Haitians celebrate Aristide's return
SANO DOMINGO, March 18 -- Hundreds of Haitians on Friday celebrated in the Haitian capital the return of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide, who had been in exile in South Africa since seven years ago.
According to information reaching here, when Aristide arrived in Toussaint Louverture airport, the people went there to welcome him, so the streets of Port-au-Prince were full of cars and people choiring joyful slogans to support him.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah) deployed a large number of security forces in the city in order to avoid violent actions.
Outside the airport, it was set a stage where Aristide gave a speech, where he talked about the grave poverty situation, the drug trafficking, the political instability and the social exclusion in Haiti -- problems which he said have to be solved for the country to recover its peace.
Aristide urged the Haitians to "end with the exile and coups," to be united for reconciliation, and thanked the Cuban government for the medical assistance to Haiti during the cholera epidemic last year.
Aristide arrived in Haiti, accompanied by his wife, his two daughters and U.S. actor Danny Glover.
Aristide was president for few months in 1991 after the downfall of Duvalier. He reclaimed presidency in 1994, and ruled from that year to 1996 and from 2001 to 2004.
He went to exile in South Africa on Feb. 29, 2004 due to a internal armed conflict and the international pressure.
His return came just two days before Sunday's presidential runoff in Haiti.
Women of Haiti welcome Aristide
The Guardian, Saturday 19 March 2011
Among the supporters welcoming President Aristide (Jean-Bertrand Aristide defies US by heading back to Haiti, 18 March) are thousands of women who claim his return to Haiti as a culmination of their determined seven-year struggle.
A statement by "women in tent cities, in sweatshops, market women and small vendors", members of Oganizasyon Fanm Vanyan (Brave Women's Organisation) quickly garnered international support. They protested: "Since 2004, women have been facing increasing hardship, terrible living conditions, verbal abuse, lack of shelter, and then a devastating earthquake and no assistance from the government ... They take away all our rights: to housing, to send our children to school, to work, to vote."
Expressing their hope for change, they describe having had "to manage for many years without Titid [Aristide], without Mildred [his wife and colleague] ... we need them now so that together we can look for solutions."
On 14 March Hillary Clinton's state department tried to stop the Aristides' return: "We encourage the South African government, as a committed partner to Haiti's stability, to urge former President Aristide to delay his return until after the elections." In endorsing George Bush's coup against Aristide, Clinton does a disservice to women and to pro-democracy people everywhere.
Even now we hear of last-minute attempts by the US to delay the plane bringing Aristide from South Africa. No further outside interference with the sovereign rights of the Haitian people, including their right to welcome home their chosen leader, should be allowed.
Andaiye, Red Thread, Guyana
Laura Flynn, Aristide Foundation for Democracy
Danny Glover, Actor and activist
Selma James and Nina López, Global Women's Strike UK
Pierre Labossiere and Robert Roth, Haiti Action Committee
John McDonnell MP
Margaret Prescod, Women of Color/GWS, US
Walter Riley, Attorney, Chair, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
Jerry Acosta, national senior rep, Utility Workers Union of America
Niki Adams, Legal Action for Women, UK
Rev Francis Ackroyd, Minister of Vine United Reformed Church, UK
Pat Albright, Eric Gjertsen, Phoebe Jones, Mary Kalnya and Dean Kendall, GWS Philadelphia
Rev Sir John Alleyne, Church of England
Pat Alviso, US
Dr Therese Ballet-Lynn, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Juliana Barnet, Actively Building Community
Nancy Berlin, California Partnership
Diana Block, California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Lynda Brewer, May Hampton, Sabreen, Shabazz, Atlachinolli and Janet Tezcacoatl, DCFS Give Us Back Our Children
Rev Richard Byrd
Graham Campbell, Scotland
Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt Msc
Sister Joan Faber (RSCJ)
Cinzia Filoni (Italy)
Roberto Flores PhD
Synthia Green, San Francisco
Shauna Gunderson, California
Pam Hall, Sidney Ross-Risden and Monica Showalter, GWS, Los Angeles
Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University, London
Tom Hayden, Director, Peace and JusticeCenter
Dr Gerald Horne, historian and author
Hank Jones, SF8/Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR)
Sara Kershnar, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Jim Lafferty, Executive Director National Lawyers Guild, LA Chapter
Jeff Merrick, air force veteran
Benedict Mchau, Tanzania
Peter and Gail Mott, co-editors, Interconnect
Nell Myhand, Women of Color/GWS, San Francisco
Rev Paul Nicolson, Zacchaeus 2000
Kiilu Nyasha, host of Freedom is a Constant Struggle
Professor HI Pilikian
Virgilio Ponce, France
Willie & Mary Ratcliff, San Francisco BayView National Black Newspaper
Giorgio Riva, Payday men's network
Maggie Ronayne, Lecturer at the National Universityof Ireland, Galway
Rev Canon Nicholas Sagovsky, Church of England
Dale Sorensen, Task Force on the Americas
Ruth Todasco, Every Mother is a Working Mother
Sister Judy Vaughan, CSJ, Alexandria House
Sam Weinstein, Utility Workers Union of America
Tanja Winter, Activist San Diego
Shirley Yee, San Francisco
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, PhD College Lecturer & Human Rights Activist