The return of President Aristide to his home in Haiti
March 20, 2011
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photos ©2011 Randall White

The return of President Aristide to his home in Haiti

Click this link to see the 108 images
in the web photo gallery
Aristide and family arrive in Haiti
Black Caucus appreciation
Haitians take note of all international solidarity
On the roof
Lavalas celebrants occupy every available perch.

by Randall White - Port au Prince, Haiti — Friday morning, the much anticipated event of the Return of Aristide to his home in Haiti tied up the traffic around the Toussaint Loverature International Airport and the roads leading to his home in Tabarre — on the eastern end of the airport. All day the radio stations were playing segments of his magnum opus address to the rowdy and undisciplined international press that crushed the entourage on the tarmac as soon as President Aristide and his family disembarked the jet. Dr. Maryse Narcisse attempted to keep the schedule on track, but the foreign press just wanted to stick to paparazzi decorum and mob the proceedings as if Michael Jackson had returned from the sky.

The segment of the speech that seems to have taken hold and could be heard from passing cars through the last few days was dealing with The Exclusion of the majority.

The, not nearly as anticipated, national election tomorrow — Sunday, March 20, 2011 — will be ignored by most Haitians as it is viewed as unconstitutional, illegal and unfair.

La Gavage — the forcefeeding — by the United States began on February 6, 2009 when US Secretary of State met with President Réne Préval, the next day Fanmi Lavalas (the largest political organization in the country) was banned from the Parliamentary elections held that year. The Exclusion continued to the Presidential elections. Tomorrow will see a runoff between two Neo-Duvalierists who would otherwise be unable to garner more that 5% of the vote in a regular election.

For the People of Haiti, The Retou was long overdue. Many have suffered through years of brutal international oppression, where their calls for his immediate return were often met with bullets supplied by the US Empire. It's understandable that the poor neighborhoods would turn out in force. But the motivation of the foreign press' feeding frenzy at a secured airport and besieging a gentle family returning from a long exile is hard to understand. Especially when over the last ten years their inured attention was well practiced and honed to desensitize their audience away from the personal concern that has them searching the news for meaning within the human condition.

Except for a few journalist team efforts, like Aljazeera — which, nevertheless sticks to the mainstream narrative — the resulting content was simply "the same old stuff." Of course the journeymen agents were there dutifully documenting their thoughtful observations for comprehensive repots that will never see the light of day. Somewhere along the line their journalistic optimism has been deflected to another purpose. At least, the agents showed up in business casual attire.

Click this link to see the 108 images in the web photo gallery

Hopefully, we can obtain the text of the entire speech for the readers.

Any hope of getting to the Aristide residence disappeared in the parking lot where thousands of Lavalas supporters poured into the entrance. At the airport, tens of thousands of Aristide supporters overran the arrival area and parking lots for about 20 minutes. After being informed that Aristide had left and was on his way to his residence the swelling crowds soon reversed course, in unified motion out of the airport and onto the road leading to Aristide's house.

"Bon Retou" banners were strung across the road all during the previous week and manifestaysion stretched out along the road as far as the eye could see in both directions. When arriving at the house, there seemed to be almost as many leaving — because of the crush — as were arriving.

The foreign press also followed the massive demonstration from the airport out to his residence. Even though the UN claimed that protecting Aristide was not part of their mandate, it appeared that questionable crowd control tactics were planned by the international "peacekeepers."

Many supporters were already packed into the streets surrounding the residence when the larger manifestasyon arrived. At some point the CIMO units decided that crowd control was not part of their mandate either and they simply let the celebrants scale every available wall to reach their objective.

It was one of the rare moments when the international press tried to keep their "balance" as, they too, unceremoniously clambered over the walls pretending to cover a story that they have been ignoring for over seven years.

As we stood outside the locked and guarded main entrance, it was bemusing to see the Reuters stringer, being shoved by her derriere, up the high walls leaving muddy footprint smears up the white plaster. Our group was able to be let in through one of the less publicized entrances. The outer gardens were occupied by hundreds of supporters as the CIMO dune buggy squad stood by, resigned to letting the fracas sort itself out. Through the inner gates it appeared that most of the international press had besieged Aristide and was climbing all over the vehicle that he arrived in with about eight members of the press standing on the roof.

Other members of the Haitian press took to a couple of other nearby perches. Aristide supporters took to the roof of the residence and overloaded all of the balcony levels. Around the grounds were some signs that some members of the Lavalas leadership were overly optimistic about having a more dignified reception and the tables with tablecloths and stacks of formal dinnerware went mostly ignored by the milling crowds. What were they thinking?

Leaving the celebratory mob scene Mario Exilhomme and I picked up and ice cream outside the inner walls on our way out the main gate. The ice cream is more refreshing and sweeter at Aristide's home. Bon Retou.

Click this link to see the 108 images in the web photo gallery

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