Originally: Marx Aristide, Haitian Activist, Killed in D.C. Car Crash

Dynamic Haitian organizer, activist and intellectual Marx Vilaire
Aristide died June 20 at Howard University Hospital from injuries
sustained in a car accident in Northwest Washington, D.C. the evening
before.

News of Aristide’s death sent a wave of shock and sadness through the
Haitian solidarity community in the U.S., already buffeted by the Feb.
29th overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is no relation.

Marx Aristide, 37, had been a co-director of the Hyattsville, MD-based
Quixote Center’s Haiti Reborn office in the early nineties and then
director of the Washington Office on Haiti in the late nineties, during
which time he emerged as an articulate and passionate opponent of
neoliberal development and U.S. political meddling in Haiti.

“Marx epitomized a freedom fighter in the Haitian sense,” said close
friend Serge Hyacinthe, who had worked with Aristide at the Quixote
Center. “He was able to put aside all of his personal ambitions and
desires to push for the Haitian cause and for true participatory
democracy and sustainable economic development.”

Returning from a trip to scout locales for their wedding reception later
this summer, Aristide was driving in his Toyota Camry with his
30-year-old fiancée Geraldine Duval when a speeding SUV ran a red light
and slammed into them on the driver’s side at 6:25 p.m. on Saturday at
the intersection of Florida Avenue and 14th Street. A 14-year-old boy
was driving the stolen vehicle with another 12-year-old boy as a
passenger. They ran from the scene but were collared by neighborhood
witnesses who turned them over to the police. The driver is charged with
reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and second-degree
murder.

At the hospital, Marx Aristide underwent an emergency operation to
remove damaged internal organs before succumbing to his severe injuries
shortly before noon on Sunday. His fiancée was released from the
hospital the same day.

Born in Gonaives on March 26, 1967, Aristide had immigrated to the U.S.
with his family as a teenager. He attended junior high school and high
school in Brooklyn, and then the State University of New York at Stony
Brook in the late eighties, before going on to do graduate work in
economics at Howard University.

He spent two years in Haiti from 1999 to 2001 working with grassroots
organizations to obtain technical assistance and micro loans. “A number
of us talk about going back to Haiti and giving back, but more than just
talk the talk, he actually did it,” said Hyacinthe. “In so many ways,
Marx was a role model of what Haitians can do and need to do if Haiti is
ever going to be free.”

At the time of his death, as always, Aristide was working on multiple
fronts. He had started the Haitian-American Skill Share Foundation
(HASSF) in 2003 to encourage U.S.-based Haitian professionals to return
with their skills to Haiti and, in his words, “reverse the brain drain.”
He was working with the New York-based Haiti Support Project of Ron
Daniels to promote an August cruise celebrating Haiti’s 2004
bicentennial. He was also writing reports on a recent fact-finding
delegation he led to investigate the recent coup in Haiti with the
Washington-based Ecumenical Program in Central America and the Caribbean
(EPICA).

“He did such a good job culturally translating,” said Katie Orenstein, a
writer who used to live and work in Haiti in the 1990s and at whose
Manhattan apartment Aristide would often crash. “He really understood
American culture as much as Haitian culture.”

She said that, while intrepid, Aristide was also prudent. On a recent
delegation, he had to telephone Haiti’s ruthless “rebel” leaders to set
up interviews for some U.S. journalists. “He faked an American accent so
they wouldn’t know he was Haitian and gave them a fake American name,”
Orenstein chuckled.

In recent months, Aristide took part in rallies and conferences against
the Feb. 29th coup d’état in Haiti, just as he worked tirelessly against
the 1991 coup in Haiti. “This is not just about democracy in Venezuela
or Haiti. It’s about democracy in the U.S.,” Aristide said at a March 6,
2004 demonstration in front of the White House, as reported by the
People’s Weekly World.”Everybody realizes the Bush administration is
determined to uproot democracy all around the world.”

Despite his outspoken anti-imperialism, Aristide’s eloquence earned him
occasional appearances on the corporate media’s flagships, such as ABC’s
Night Line. “Marx was a grand and dynamic man who stood for truth,
justice, and integrity,” wrote EPICA in an on-line tribute to him. “His
role in our lives and in the world will be hard to fill.”

He is survived by his parents, a brother and sister, and a 7-year-old
daughter.

The wake for Marx Aristide will be held on Friday, June 25 from 5:00 to
9:00 p.m. at the Andrew Torregrossa & Sons Funeral Home, 2265 Flatbush
Avenue (corner of Avenue U) in Brooklyn. The funeral will be at the same
location the next day from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.
Weather Caused Your Accident…Who Is At-Fault? If you are caught in this situation don’t hesitate to get help.