PORT-AU-PRINCE, October 22 — Jean Filbert Louis was buried here today. He was a teacher who police killed on October 8 while demonstrating with his union (UNNOH) to bring hundreds of thousands of children, abandoned by the education system, back to school.
After a religious service at the Eglise de Dieu de Nazon, the body of comrade Louis was carried by hundreds of his comrades, accompanied by his mother and family, to the very doors of the Ministry of Education where he was shot down two weeks before.
“Here’s the gift you gave us, the body of our comrade,” said a rally leader. “We demanded schools for all our children, and your response was to give us the dead body of our teacher.” The Minister had offered money to pay for the funeral, which was contemptuously refused — “We won’t give you the chance to wash his blood off your hands by paying for a funeral!”
They demanded justice for the Minister’s complicity in this crime, which they know means fighting the rotten “justice” system every step of the way, corrupt as it is. The police and government are protecting and refusing to act against the policewoman who hundreds of people clearly saw shooting a projectile into their comrade’s head. They again demanded schools for the abandoned children, better salaries and working conditions for teachers and financial aid for parents. After the demonstration, it was decided to continue mobilizing every Friday for justice for comrade Louis’ family and union, and for the just demands for which he gave his life.
The coalition of teachers’ and other unions, parents, students and youth has issued a call for international solidarity to help them fight a whole series of violent attacks by police and UN troops. (See box for an on-line petition of support which PLP urges all our readers to circulate internationally). The coalition statement about this latest murder reads in part:
“This heinous act is a clear signal from the team in power to the people and social organizations, showing their evident willingness to sink into dictatorship and to prohibit any form of demonstration to demand better conditions of life and quality education for all the children of Haiti. It is a tangible sign of the type of ‘democracy’ that the powerful intend to build: a democracy where the right to make demands and protest is banned forthwith. Furthermore, this heinous act makes us see the extent to which this team shows no respect for human life in general and teachers’ lives in particular.
“It also expresses the Haitian state’s denial of the right to free quality public education for all. Faced with protesters carrying nothing but placards demanding better education for all children and decent living and working conditions for teachers and students, the government team and the Minister Joel Desrosiers Jean Pierre chose to use weapons…. The Executive Committee of the Coalition launches an impassioned call to all progressive organizations here and elsewhere, to mobilize to obtain justice for the victim and to make an appropriate response, so as to avoid the repetition of such acts.”
PLP salutes these workers for advancing under fire, fighting for schooling for abandoned children and for their own needs. When they take casualties, they immediately schedule more demonstrations to continue the fight, and reach out to workers worldwide for support. Communist solidarity with them shows that Haiti’s workers are not alone despite the bosses’ attempts to isolate them. We support their anti-fascist fight.
But to triumph over state violence, like workers everywhere under intensifying fascism when all the imperialists are edging closer to global war, they need to create an international communist party working together in many countries simultaneously. The PLP in Haiti, with links to the Party in the neighboring Dominican Republic, the Caribbean and Central and South America, as well as the U.S. and Europe, could be a formidable force pushing beyond borders, pushing past the reformist limits of the current battles, to the revolutionary solution to workers’ problems.
Imagine if the fierce class struggle in France had concrete links to the struggle in Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique, through the Party working among labor migrants from Haiti to the rest of the Caribbean and from the Caribbean to France. Such a revolutionary movement will be built through steps like this Haiti solidarity campaign, which has organized protest letters from teachers’ and other unions throughout the Caribbean, France, Canada, Latin America and the U.S.
The Boston Teachers’ Union and the CUNY professors’ union PSC-CUNY have sent such letters and are circulating the petition. UNNOH and the Coalition have publicized these letters from different countries in Haiti’s media. A Haitian teachers’ union leader is speaking at campuses in Boston and New York this week to step up the campaign. He said it’s also his union’s duty to offer solidarity to workers in struggle, such as to teachers being investigated at a Brooklyn high school for bringing students to the October 2 Washington, D.C. demonstration for jobs (see article, p. 3).
But a liberal or union-based mass movement without communist ideas, even if international, will always feed illusions — despite repeated lessons to the contrary — that capitalism can deliver justice, education, housing, water, health, jobs and peace. Ultimately only a global communist movement can create the unbreakable international unity of workers capable of destroying a dying system, even under fascism and world war.
Far from being isolated, these workers and students in Haiti can lead us all along the road through chaos and death to the real change we all seek, which requires a revolution. Our friends and comrades in Haiti are being steeled in battle; let us fight at their side with the red flag we all must carry.
WE DEMAND AN END TO THE VIOLENCE AGAINST TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN HAITI!
We the undersigned are responding to a call for international solidarity sent out by the executive committee of a coalition of education organizations in Haiti after the police killing of a protesting teacher, signed on October 11, 2010 by the coordinators of the coalition: François Mario, CNEH (teachers’ union), Eugène Jean, UPEPH (parents’ organization), and Josué Mérilien, UNNOH (teachers’ union). We stand in solidarity with teachers, students, and parents in Port-au-Prince who are organizing for schooling for Haitian children abandoned by the education system, and for decent living and working conditions for teachers and students. We demand an end to the systematic violence against them:
On October 8, 2010, at a demonstration by teachers and students at the Ministry of Education, a projectile fired from a National Police vehicle killed Jean Filbert Louis, a member of the teachers’ union UNNOH;
On October 4, 2010, the opening day of the school year, a demonstration of teachers and students at the Ministry of Education was tear-gassed by the anti-riot police unit CIMO, backed by troops of the UN force MINUSTAH;
On September 30, 2010, a student leader from GREPS (Group for Reflection on Social Problems), at the School of Ethnology, was wounded near his home by gunmen firing more than ten bullets at him and a friend;
On May 24, 2010, MINUSTAH troops raided the campus of the School of Ethnology, seizing computers and detaining and threatening an activist student from GREPS — three GREPS students were then expelled from that School;
On January 12, 2010, just before the earthquake struck, Professor JnAnil Louis-Juste of the School of Social Sciences (FASCH), an intellectual and political leader at the university and beloved mentor of many activist students, was assassinated by gunmen near the campus.
We strongly protest to the Ministry of Education, the Administration of the State University of Haiti (UEH), the National Police, and MINUSTAH against the police murder of our brother Jean Filbert Louis and all these outrages, clearly a systematic attempt to destroy any organized movement of students and teachers in Haiti who (in the words of the Coalition) “dare to make demands, to denounce, to condemn, and to protest.”
These heinous criminal acts are (in the
Coalition’s words) “a clear signal from the team in power to the people and social organizations, showing their evident willingness to sink into dictatorship and to prohibit any form of demonstration to demand better living conditions and quality education for all the children of Haiti.” In solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Haitian education Coalition, we call also for the satisfaction of their just demands in education — especially schooling for the hundreds of thousands of children abandoned to the streets and camps by the education system.
[NOTE: Signing online automatically sends your signature to Jean Filbert Louis’ union UNNOH. You may also e-mail the signed petition to Edmond Mulet, Director of MINUSTAH, at firstname.lastname@example.org; Jean Vernet Henry, Rector of the State University of Haiti, at email@example.com; and the GREPS students at GREPS01@yahoo.fr.]a