Batay Ouvriye- A Worker’s Flag Day (May 18)

Batay Ouvriye
Port-au-Prince, May 27th, 2010

In the context of the Workers Mobilization Month launched during the camps’ first march on April 28th, 2010, and following up on the various activities developed May First, May 18th was a major date (see our previous document: “The mobilization is launched!”).

In Haiti, May 18th is Flag Day. 1803 was when the revolutionary forces decided to have a flag of their own, of struggle and freedom. A crucial date, to establish once and for all direct confrontation with the already open state of occupation-trusteeship upon us today.

A conscious mobilization of all progressive forces was hoped for, accompanying the people, particularly the workers. However, in various points amongst the most important ones, the situation became more complicated, since the traditional politicians, representing in one manner or the other the ruling classes, invaded the field of mobilization, reducing this to an attack on the “form” Preval is heading. Nothing of the content of the bourgeois imperialist project he is implementing, nothing of class issues…
This was perhaps expected. The particular is that some militants, supposedly progressive, implicated themselves with these said politicians, playing into their populist hands, still very active. In Cap-Haitian, principally, where the mobilization grouped the largest number of people (some three thousand), this was a flagrant case. Nevertheless our presence, and especially, the flyer we distributed yielded a distinct orientation.

May 18th, 2010, Flag Day commemoration! But: what flags? The American one, the French one, the Canadian, Chilean, Brazilian, Argentine, Bolivian, Ecuadorian, Paraguayan ones…? Or those of Jordan, Nepal, Congo, Senegal, China Israel, Sri Lanka…? Or, perhaps, those of Doctors without Borders or the Oxfam team?

May 18th! This spineless government continues to use this date to cover all its indecencies particularly that of the apprentice-dictator devoted to ensuring the continuity of the bourgeois imperialist project and masking the OCCUPATION – TRUSTEESHIP, with the MINUSTAH as unique political and military force.

But, at the same time, all the political leftovers of the so-called “opposition” wish to profit of the date to shout their “Down with Preval!”… But without any criticism of this administration’s concrete political orientation – because it’s the same one they would carry out too. So they protest because they aren’t the one implementing the imperialist plan in vigor. We’ve said it many times already: HISTORY’S TRASHCAN AWAITS THEM ALL EQUALLY! All we await is the popular masses and the workers in particular, organized, to throw them there and that will be all.

Only we the popular masses, we the WORKERS, can pull the country out of the deep hole we are in. May 18th 2010: we must take our responsibilities in hand! Only we can construct the consequent alternative to this situation. In mobilization. In struggle!
May 18th! DOWN WITH THE OCCUPATION-TRUSTEESHIP! DOWN WITH THE PRESENT HEADS who facilitate, organize this occupation-trusteeship! Down with all the past heads who, working similarly, have prepared the field for the present situation. Down with all the puppets preparing to replace those present today!

We repeat it once again, there is no other solution: A GENERAL UPRISING! In all the fields, together, we of the People’s Camp, starting from the workers’ interests.
Follows the mobilization launched. But today, the interests have to be even clearer. Our autonomy as a people, as workers, has to be fundamentally maintained and as transparently as possible, so that, precisely, the mobilization, ours, reaches where it should be in this precise historical moment: the due GENERAL UPRISING. WHICH IS PLANNED AND IN ADVANCING STRUGGLE.

While in Cap-Haitian the mobilization encountered the above-mentioned confusion, in Arcahaie things were much clearer and resounding, although there were less people (600 people managed to meet). Batay Ouvriye militants from the area and Port-au-Prince almost uniquely, accompanied by some our allies amongst the fired public service workers and new working class and worker contacts from the camps. So, the unity was much clearer and the orientation also.

Not so easy was the mobilization itself, since from the outskirts of the city, its entry was radically forbidden to us and when we attempted to separate ourselves, to penetrate through secondary paths, we reached the central plaza where the governmental act was to occur, special police blocked all entries while, at the same time, agents provocateurs now armed played their own role, meeting us with confrontations, this time at a lesser scale, but blocking any significant advancement. So that we weren’t able to deploy as planned, even less reach the plaza and perturb the official agenda as was our objective. Needless to say that the bourgeois press didn’t report anything of our presence. Amongst the people, however, the impact had quite some incidence: during the whole week, the population discussed the flyer we distributed, the humiliation MINUSTAH troops in the country represent, the general imperialist bourgeois domination project and how it affects the rural people, those of Arcahaie region in particular. We seized the occasion to organize, on the following Thursday, the 20th, a public debate in which principally youths of the people participated in a very involved and conscious way: the general failure of the social formation is presently an objective reality for all and the occupation troops’ presence, defending ever more the status quo, represents a healthy accumulation of frustration.

In three more important localities the mobilization also happened.
One was in the North-East. This area is of the greatest importance because it has been, since all times (especially Duvalier father) a target for the North-American governments to establish a military base, at Mole St Nicolas more precisely. There, realizing this major geo-political localization (facing Cuba) we’ve developed an in-depth practice.

Presently there is a major challenge more and of a particular order: a French company is planning to buy State land (which is not allowed, since the 1804 independence) where various springs gush, to recuperate this water and bottle it. The impoverished peasants not having any other source for this liquid are mobilizing to defend that which may be called their lives, facing the French imperialists who, concretely supported by the occupation’s armed forces and assisted by the local responsibles at their service (the mayor is already completely sold out and maneuvering for the “French development project” to be carried out), attempt to advance at all cost.

Our mobilization wasn’t a “march” per se but rather a mobilization in all sites and spaces, a large area of the territory. The struggle will be arduous.
The two other localities are both on the border with the Dominican Republic. The first is in the North, Ouanaminthe, where, in this first free zone of multinational exploitation, the union is encountering major difficulties since the Dominican management, once again supported by the Haitian special police… and the MINUSTAH agents, are doing all forms of interference, trampling all the workers’ rights at the same time as they haven’t the slightest respect for Haitian laws. On may recall the Dominican army that this management (amongst the most reactionary even in the Dominican Republic) had called in to penetrate the Haitian territory to openly repress the workers who were then mobilized. We’ll recall too the suspect vaccinations they forcefully administered, of which no one knows whether they were vaccines or sterilizers…! Now, reinforced by the foreign military presence, this management acts in total impunity against the workers.

Furthermore, the contract signed by this company with the World Bank which lent them the funds stipulated that they had to carry out various public works for the population (schools, roads – at least linking the people to the free trade zone – water fountains, electricity…). Useless to say, again, that none of this occurred.

This explains why the May 18th mobilization branched out largely amidst the population while at once being clearly under the direction, purely democratic, of the nascent working class. Amidst the workers, several participated in the meeting. The debate in the various meetings that took place during all of this day and based on our flyer was to precise the relation between the local situation and the general politics of the country under occupation.

The last place our mobilization occurred in was the Plateau Central, a border region, where a farm workers and construction workers union is being initiated, including workers of both sides of the border, Dominicans and Haitians, united in a single organization of struggle, with the same understanding of the reality oppressing us, against, all, the border itself and, the armed forces “guarding” it.  It is no coincidence, then, that since quite a while now, the MINUSTAH forces occupy it…!
Of various political levels, at times still out of sync, the mobilization against the occupation, with the workers’ interests as center pole and under the direction of the working class continues to follow its course. Hindered and sometimes deviated by opportunists of all sorts, it keeps on building itself, on a political course constantly more clear and radical, spatially always larger – to include finally the whole national territory and also target the island – and always better coordinated. It remains to be closed as a fist.