Press Release

March 14, 2005

Fanmi Lavalas will not participate in the March 17-18 Symposium entitled: “The Future of Democracy and Development in Haiti”

Fanmi Lavalas is respectfully declining the invitation to participate in the symposium entitled “The Future of Democracy and Development in Haiti”. No member of Fanmi Lavalas is authorized to speak on behalf of Fanmi Lavalas at this symposium.

Fanmi Lavalas is glad for the interest in Haiti by the organizers of the symposium, and is encouraged by the interest of Congressman Conyers in particular. In the interest of Haiti including concern for all the Haitian people facing the ongoing deterioration of human rights in their country, Fanmi Lavalas is available and eager to participate in formal, true and pluralistic dialogue with all sectors of the Haitian population. However in order not to undermine the efforts already initiated by the international community (African Union, UN, CARICOM, OAS and others) for a formal process of dialogue, and to keep the process under the leadership of the international community, they cannot participate in the symposium.

Fanmi Lavalas is encouraged by and welcome the efforts of members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other Congressional members who continue to play a central role in the return of democracy to Haiti, efforts led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters with the support of Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Cynthia McKinney and others. Congresswoman Maxine Waters recently participated in an emergency delegation to Haiti where she witnessed first-hand the present conditions of political prisoners at the National Penitentiary.

On the first anniversary of the coup in Haiti, highlighting what she describes as “total chaos,” Congresswoman Waters said: “Human rights violations are commonplace throughout Haiti. Amnesty International has expressed serious concerns about arbitrary arrests, ill treatment in detention centers, and summary executions attributed to members of the Haitian national Police. Several members of President Aristide’s government and prominent supporters of Lavalas have been detained illegally. As of February 18, there were over 700 political prisoners in Haiti’s jails. Most of these prisoners have been held illegally for months without formal charges.” Congresswoman Lee has also drafted a letter signed by other members of Congress protesting the present conditions in Haiti.

Actor and activist Danny Glover in a recent statement said: “Last year, I refused to travel to Haiti as part of the ’Cruising into History’ project organized by Ron Daniels, and others, because the illegal interim President was using the fact that myself and other African Americans were coming to Haiti to claim that we endorsed or in some way supported his illegitimate regime. Upon discovering that fact, I sadly pulled out of a project that I had formerly supported. It is time for all of us of good conscience to take a position. We whose positions give us voice and/or authority in society have a greater obligation than most. What is happening in Haiti is unbearable, first of all for the poor in Haiti, and also not only for those of us who are African in ancestry, but for those of us who know that if they come for Haitians in the morning, they’ll come for the rest of us at night.”

Fanmi Lavalas appreciates the efforts of members of Congress, Danny Glover and the many others too numerous to mention here, including some who maybe participating in the March 17-18 symposium, who have stood against the coup and who stand for justice including the return of democracy to our country. Fanmi Lavalas is concerned about the well-being of the entire Haitian population; and is concerned to be accountable to the vast majority of Haitians who are now under siege because of their support for President Aristide and the democratic process. Despite 10,000 being killed in Haiti, and hundreds in prison since February 29, 2004, the supporters of President Aristide have shown tremendous courage and continue to come out to protest and demand the return of democracy to Haiti. Fanmi Lavalas believes that any dialogue must lead to:

1- Cessation of political persecution directed towards its members and supporters;

2- Liberation of all political prisoners;

3-End of illegal arrests and summary executions (Over 10,000 Fanmi Lavalas supporters killed and more than 1,000 jailed since February 2004);

4- Effective disarmament of groups and/or individuals illegally armed;

5- Restoration of the constitutional order in Haiti by the physical return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide; and

6- Organization of free, honest and democratic general elections in Haiti

Fanmi Lavalas remains convinced that these steps and only these will pave the way to political stability, assure good governance and promote productive economic investments in order to achieve sustainable economic and social development in Haiti.