On January 6, Rainbow/PUSH was pleased to commemorate Haitian Independence Day at its National Headquarters in recognition of the birth of the first Black Republic in the western hemisphere, January 1, 1804. Haiti was born after enslaved Africans defeated the vaunted army of Napoleon Bonaparte. Haitian Independence Day at Rainbow/PUSH was organized in conjunction with Emancipation Day which commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. The Proclamation freed most of the enslaved Africans in the U.S.
In addition to celebrating the birth of the first Black Republic and the Emancipation Proclamation, the program featured tributes to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Founder of Rainbow/PUSH for his longstanding support of the Haitian people and an informational forum which provided an overview of the current crippling crisis in Haiti and offered a way forward to achieve sustainable democracy and development.
Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes, President/CEO of Rainbow/PUSH opened the Program by commending the Haitian people for one of the greatest achievements in world history and declared that “African Americans should always stand by and support Haiti.” In the same vein, Congressman Jonathan Jackson said, “America owes a debt to Haiti and our government should support the Haitian people in their struggle for democracy and development.”
Rev. Jackson was visibly moved by the special gifts of gratitude presented by Judge Lionel Jean Baptiste on behalf of the Coalition of Haitian American Organizations of the Chicagoland Area and Jean Phillip Austin, Chairman of the Haitian American Foundation for Democracy. Rev. Jackson listened attentively as a panel of Haitian Leaders offered in-depth analysis of the crisis in Haiti and detailed plans for resolving it. Dr. Ron Daniels, Founder of the Haiti Support Project, who facilitated the forum, framed the discussion by indicating that the crisis is the worst he has observed in the 28 years he has been doing work in Haiti.
Haiti expert and longtime human rights activist Jocelyn McCalla and Leslie Voltaire, former Minister for Haitians Living abroad, who traveled from Haiti to participate in the Forum, described Haiti as bordering on a failed state with Ariel Henry, a U.S.-backed, illegitimate Prime Minister ruling without an elected Assembly or Senate; healthcare and educational systems that have collapsed; and criminal gangs that have gained control of most of the Capital of Port Au Prince and large sections of the country, terrorizing the population with an epidemic of kidnapping, rape, extortion and violence.
When Monique Clesca, a member of the Monitoring Bureau of the Montana Accord Movement spoke, she described Haiti as a nation being ruled by a “transnational criminal enterprise” supported by the Biden administration. She called for the total reengineering of the political system in Haiti to ensure that a popular, people-based democracy can be developed and sustained. Ms. Clesca outlined a comprehensive plan, and Haitian solution for resolving the crisis. She explained that this blueprint, which is called the Montana Accord, was devised through the input of scores of organizations from various sectors of Haitian society.
The Accord envisions an interim government to undertake a comprehensive process, including a national conference, to secure the Haitian people’s input on the systems of governance to be developed. Elections would only be conducted after this process is completed. Ms. Clesca appealed for the solidarity and support of African American leaders and organizations in demanding that the Biden administration follow the “Haitian Solution” developed by the Montana Accord Movement.
In his summation and call to action, Dr. Ron Daniels said: “The Montana Accord Movement plan and process holds the most promising prospect for developing authentic democracy in Haiti. By supporting this blueprint, finally the first Black Republic can finish the unfinished Haitian Revolution.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson stated: “I have a much better understanding of the crisis in Haiti now. I support the Montana Accord’s efforts. We need to free Haiti. There should be a Marshall Plan size allocation for Haiti in the U.S. budget every year. President Biden must make Haiti a priority for U.S foreign policy.” In addition, Rev. Jackson said that President Biden and Secretary Blinken should, “forge a kinder and gentler policy towards Haiti, recognizing its historical significance and addressing the pressing challenges it faces. It’s time to end the thirty years of embargo, fostering a collaborative approach for a brighter future for our neighbors.”
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