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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08PORTAUPRINCE1016 2008-07-16 16:58:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Port Au Prince
Cable title:  

ARISTIDE SUPPOTERS MARCH JULY 15

Tags:   HA KDEM PGOV PREL 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L PORT AU PRINCE 001016 

SIPDIS

STTE FOR WHA/CAR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2018
TGS: HA, KDEM, PGOV, PREL
SUBJECT: ARISTIDE SUPPOTERS MARCH JULY 15

Classified By: Ambassador Jaet A. Sanderson. Reason: E.O. 12958 1.4
(b), (d.



1. (SBU) Several thousand supporters offormer President Jean
Bertrand Aristide took to the streets of Port-au-Prince on
July 15 to celebrate the absent Fanmi Lavalas (FL) leader's
fifty-fifth birthday. MINUSTAH estimated the size of the
crowd as a maximum of 5,000. The supporters, made up
primarily of FL grassroots partisans, also included Aristide
sympathizers not affiliated with the FL organization. The
mostly peaceful march began at Aristide's former residence in
Tabarre (northeast of Port-au-Prince, close to the Embassy)
and culminated in front of the National Palace. MINUSTAH and
Haitian National Police (HNP) forces used tear gas to
disperse a small group of marchers who attempted to breach
barricades blocking the street in front of the National
Palace.



2. (SBU) Leading the marchers were FL grassroots leaders Rene
Civil, Paul Raymond and Annette Auguste (SoAnne); FL
Executive Committee members Maryse Narcisse, Jacques
Mathelier and Lionnel Etienne; South Department FL Senatorial
hopeful Francky Exeus; and former FL parliamentarian Milien
Romage. Supporters carried photographs of FL leader Jean
Betrand Aristide, and passed out fliers berating President
Preval's Prime Minister-designate Michele Pierre Louis.
Marchers demanded the government allow Aristide's return to
Haiti, denounced high unemployment rates and the high cost of
living, and voiced dissatisfaction with the Preval
administration and Parliament. FL leaders at the march
called on Haiti, the international community and the world to
take note of the continued show of support for Aristide and
the need for his return.



3. (SBU) Comment: Marching to celebrate Aristide's birthday
has been the FL custom since soon after his February 2004
departure from Haiti. This was the largest FL demonstration
since the analogous gathering in July 2006. Continuing poor
economic conditions, the memory of the recent food riots, and
the lack of a legitimate government helped attract more
demonstrators this year and gave their march more credibility
than the simple demand for Aristide's return would have.
Nevertheless, the turnout was about one percent of the
300,000 FL had predicted.



4. (C) Comment continued: FL elected officials stayed away
from the demonstration, and refused to voice support (or
opposition) to it. In private, they lamented what they see
as the manipulation of the party's grassroots, opining that
neither the birthday of Aristide nor his return to Haiti had
any role to play in the daily business and democratic
development of the FL organization. However, for their own
political survival, FL elected officials feel they cannot
oppose grassroots leaders who are, or claim to be, empowered
by Aristide himself.
SANDERSON