As I pen these lines, I have just returned from the Parquet of the Civil Tribunal of Port-au-Prince, where I was summoned by my civic duty and by my indignation as a young Haitian who had paid careful attention to the struggle for Duvalier?s departure. In 1986, I was 10 years old, but it was already clear to me that the Haitian people didn?t have a problem with Baby Doc as a personality; in opposing his power, they were expressing their rejection of dictatorship, and of the negation of fundamental human freedoms. And now look?17 years later, a priest brings himself to reproduce, right in front of us, acts that are inspired by a conception of power that we thought we had definitively left behind with the departure of Duvalier.
Thus it was, to protest against this circumstance, that I went this morning?not as the leader of an organization that is a founding member of the Group of 184, but as a citizen, exercising the right to be outraged at the inadmissible.
So I went down to the Parquet, with Jean-Claude Bajeux? who doesn?t miss one of these events?with the feeling that Lavalas was again going to commit one of those ?errors? that are its special gift. At a cost to itself, to be sure,?but at our expense first and foremost,?as had been the case in Cité Soleil on July 12.
I was quite surprised when I got there, finding myself immersed in an ambience that I hadn?t expected at all. They were many. Citizens of all stations in life, waiting for the arrival?which would prove triumphant?of Andy Apaid; forced to submit himself to one of those perversions of justice that serve no ?ideal? whatsoever (even fascism!), but only the perpetuation of personal power, against all logic.
It was a moment of civic communion. In spite of the danger of which we were all acutely aware, the reiteration of Andy Apaid?s courage in the morning press created something of a miracle. One would have thought that all who were there had been previously immersed in some sort of [protective] magic potion.
So it was that while Andy was responding to the government prosecutor inside (there are those whom this sort of thing still doesn?t bother), outside there was an atmosphere of solidarity. But a solidarity [so thick, so material] that [it] could have been cut with a knife: The threat of totalitarianism made us forget our differences?of gender, of religion, of racial origin, of socioeconomic status?to the displeasure of our Lavalas countrymen.
This morning, when I awoke, I said to myself that, whatever the result the Lavalas regime was going to give to this summons, it would mark a turning point in the struggle for democracy and social progress through national solidarity. But the fruits went well beyond the promise of the blossoms. A shocked citizenry had decided to confront the devil in his lair, [to confront] his justice, his police, his minions, on his turf, in the heart of the city.
Activists took advantage of the two hours or so during which the interrogation took place, to consolidate their ties to each other; it was like a contest to see who embraced the most colleagues. Personally, I had the pleasure of meeting people I hadn?t seen since November 17, [2002,] at the [demonstration known as the] Cri de Vertières. For an hour, a leader from St-Marc told me how he was conducting regular discussions of the New Social Contract around the Artibonite. We took advantage of the time?together with a comrade from Les Cayes?to set up a mechanism that would enable us to better harmonize our efforts in the struggle for democracy and for authentic, irreversible progress.
But most important is the lesson that one must learn from this historic July 24th. Today, in effect, we again experienced?after
Nothing can contain the concerted expression of civic will attached to an ideal of freedom and social progress.
In spite of all the rumors about the possibility of an attack by the chimères, we were there, locked in a profound struggle with power. [And] civic will trumped the subjugation of justice.
[Today,] citizenship sent an unequivocal, non-violent message to power: ?Mardi gras [masked reveler], I?m not afraid of you.? But we [still] hesitate to admit [by completing the old adage]: ?You?re just a person[, after all].