Some of the “cast” of a dramatic evening, gathered around the woman who should be president of Haiti, Dr. Maryse Narcisse, are, from left, musicians and Vukani Muwethu choir members Phavia Kujichagulia, Thomas McKennie, Dr. Narcisse, Anne and Jim McWilliams, and Val Serrant, whose magic drum is in the good hands of Dr. Narcisse. Thomas, Anne and Jim are members of the world-renowned choir. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
Oakland – Five hundred people packed an Oakland church to welcome Dr. Maryse Narcisse, presidential candidate of Fanmi Lavalas, the party of Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The event kicked off a week-long speaking tour of California that took her to Scripps College in Los Angeles County, the UCLA School of Public Health and the National Lawyers Guild annual dinner in San Francisco.
“The U.S., U.N. and other so-called ‘Friends of Haiti’ brought about the electoral coup d’etat,” said Dr. Narcisse. “The election of 2015 was thrown out because of widespread election fraud. Then the re-run in 2016 was stolen again.
“But Nou Pap Obeyi (We will not Obey) – this is a slogan our people believe in, because Haitians, who overthrew French colonialism and slavery in 1804, will never accept foreign domination.”
Two Black women who go far above and beyond the line of duty to make politics work for the people are Dr. Maryse Narcisse, Lavalas candidate for president of Haiti, and Jovanka Beckles, former vice mayor and current city councilwoman in Richmond, Calif., the Bay Area’s most progressive city. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
The Oakland event featured music by the Vukani Mawethu choir and the revolutionary words of drummers Phavia Kujichagulia and Val Serrant. A Black community security service, the Oakland-based Community Ready Corps, provided security. Dr. Narcisse’s California tour was organized by the Haiti Action Committee as a benefit for the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund.
Over the past two years, Haiti’s popular movement has fought a relentless campaign for free and fair elections in support of her candidacy, with tens of thousands in the streets almost daily for many months. They fought to overturn the results of fraudulent elections that gave the presidency to a U.S.-backed right-wing candidate.
A long-time Lavalas militant, as well as a medical doctor, Maryse Narcisse has been in the streets with the people day after day, as they faced police bullets, tear gas, water hoses and clubs. “When you give voice to the demands and grievances of the people,” she said, “you win their hearts.”
Robert Roth of the Haiti Action Committee, which provides indispensable support to Lavalas and Haitian self-determination, former Black Panther and San Francisco 8 member Richard Brown, and former Louisiana state Rep. Theodore (Ted) Marchand talk with Dr. Narcisse. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
She pointed out that “Haiti is an unequal country, where 1 percent of the population own 45 percent of the wealth, and most live in abject poverty, with high unemployment. The economy is at a standstill. The price of food and fuel keeps going up. There is poisoned water, flooding and deforestation. Over 200,000 children cannot go to school, because most primary schools are private.
“There is constant meddling by the U.S. and the United Nations occupation force, creating instability,” Dr. Narcisse continued. “They don’t want us to have our own strong government serving our people. These self-appointed ‘Friends of Haiti’ want to hold onto the power so they can serve international interests. That is why they intervene and steal our elections.”
Standing strong on either side of Dr. Narcisse are Akubundu of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party and Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas, world famous artist who makes art that empowers the people. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
The small right-wing Haitian elite controls the government, she said, and there are signs of a return to the methods of the Duvalier dictatorship, which ruled Haiti from 1957 to 1986. “But in 1986 the people rose up and overthrew Baby Doc Duvalier,” Dr. Narcisse said. “As in those times, today we are re-organizing, holding large mass meetings, educating and mobilizing our people – because the people want to resist and they will never give up.”
Her party takes its name from Lavalas which means “flood” or “cleansing torrent” in the Haitian Kreyol language. And there is a saying in the movement: “Alone we are weak. United we are strong. All together we are Lavalas!”
Dave Welsh, writer, activist and a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council and a retired letter carrier, can be reached at email@example.com. The Haiti Emergency Relief Fund can be reached at www.haitiemergencyrelief.org; please be as generous as you can – ed.