The Dessalines Coordination launches itself as a new party

KOD press conference, Feb 3, 2014.jpg

Introduction, by Kim Ives, Haiti Liberte, Feb 12, 2014: In early 2013, several veteran and influential leaders from Haiti’s progressive and popular organizations began meeting as the Dessalines Coordination, or KOD. Alarmed with the void in progressive leadership to counter the right-wing march of President Michel Martelly’s government, they began mapping out a game plan for Haiti’s anti-imperialist popular movement, which historically has been the base of the Lavalas Family party (FL), founded in 1996 by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Additional alarms went off when a new FL leadership containing politicians who supported the 1991 and 2004 coups against Aristide expelled outspoken Senator Moïse Jean-Charles. He has become the champion of the Haitian masses in denouncing the illegal acts, corruption, repression, and lies of the Martelly regime over the past almost three years.

On Sept. 29, 2013, KOD organized a “popular forum” in Port-au-Prince of about 150 delegates from scores of popular organizations from across Haiti to outline how a provisional government could be formed.

On January 24, the Martelly government, in concert with the U.S. Embassy and Catholic Church, launched a self-declared “national dialogue” to negotiate how elections – over two years overdue – can be held. All of the political parties attending the “dialogue” were Martelly allies. Realizing that they needed a party which would at least appear to represent Haiti’s other political pole, the “dialogue” organizers made a special appeal to the Lavalas Family. Three days after the start of the talks, the FL sent a leadership delegation to take part, albeit as “observers.”

KOD, on the other hand, denounced the “national dialogue” as a “charade”, aimed at “giving a second lease on life to a criminal regime which had been completely discredited”.

On Feb. 3, 2014, Oxygène David, a member of the KOD’s steering committee, held a press conference at the International Lawyers Office (BAI) in Port-au-Prince to announce that KOD was launching itself as a political party “not only to take part in elections, but to fight for the interests of the Haitian people with discipline and principles.” He was flanked by other popular organization leaders who are now a part of KOD--Samuel Saint-Jean, Belly J. Ronald and Jean Dieufaite Thomas.

But before any elections can be held, KOD sees two necessary conditions: that the Martelly government step down and that the UN military occupation force, MINUSTAH, be completely withdrawn from Haiti.

Here is the translated text of the Feb. 3, 2014 KOD declaration delivered by Oxygène David:

Brothers and Sisters,

The Dessalines Coordination (KOD) finds itself forced to take an historic step today because Haiti finds itself in an extremely dangerous predicament.

Since 1806, Haiti has had problems. The imperialist countries with their local allies have never let up in their persecution of the Haitian people. For almost three years, Haiti has been ruled by a criminal clique which took power through an electoral coup d’état orchestrated by Washington. These criminals have trampled state institutions to establish a neo-Duvalierist regime founded on corruption, repression, arbitrary power, and subservience to imperialism.

The people are fed up with this clique and began to rise up across Haiti in September, October, and November of last year. The people poured out in multiple massive demonstrations which shook the foundations of the Macouto-bourgeois state (1).

[President Michel] Martelly panicked. The imperialists panicked. They asked the Catholic Church to come to their aid by sponsoring a bogus “national dialogue” to appease the people and buttress the corrupt regime.

A number of unprincipled political parties and politicians took part in this charade, thereby giving a second lease on life to a criminal regime which had been completely discredited. All the parties which are taking part in this fake “national dialogue” are, objectively, allies of the Macouto-bourgeoisie because as the saying goes: “Those who are similar come together.”

For  some time, militants from several popular organizations have been meeting to analyze the political situation. They foresaw this terrible development that has led us into this dangerous crossroads. For months now, we have been observing this convergence of traitors taking shape. We have to prepare ourselves for struggle. We have to establish a true fighting organization through which we can struggle, a true popular party, not only to take part in elections, but to fight for the interests of the Haitian people with discipline and principles.

The Dessalines Coordination (KOD) is a progressive Dessalinien organization for the national liberation of the Haitian people. KOD declares that the Macouto-bourgeois dialogue being held at the El Rancho Hotel will not do anything for the nation. It is simply a new maneuver by the government of President Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, along with several opportunist mercenary political parties beholden to the imperialists in complicity with the Catholic Church, to throw sand in the people’s eyes and sink the masses even deeper into exploitation and poverty.

KOD has come to speak to you, Haitian people--above all, our brothers and sisters who are life-long unemployed; workers who are fighting for a minimum wage of 500 gourdes [$11.35 per day]; peasants who get no fertilizer nor financial assistance from the government, but instead are robbed by officials; our students who are suffering around the country and who can’t find any support; and teachers’ unions which are on strike today. KOD salutes all of you, KOD understands your battles, KOD supports your demands. We have to all stand up together to solve the nation’s problems.

In the bogus national dialogue, we hear the participants say that they are defending Haiti’s interests, the interests of all Haitians. These are lies and demagoguery.

KOD speaks the truth to you, Haitian people! There are different classes in Haiti with different interests. The interests of the bourgeoisie are not the same as those of the workers. The interests of the big landowners (grandon) are not the same as those of the landless peasants.

KOD is not bluffing. We are defending a single class, the majority class, the working class, that is peasants and workers, the class of people whom, since 1806, have been politically excluded in our society, who have never received anything from all the wealth of our country.

That does not mean that KOD is only made up of people who come from that class. KOD welcomes anyone who stands with the people, whether they come from the bourgeoisie, petit bourgeoisie, or the big landowning class. Where you are born is not important. What is important is where you stand politically, whose interests you defend.

The parties meeting with Martelly and Lamothe won’t do anything to improve your life. On the contrary, they don’t want Martelly and Lamothe to leave, so they can continue to feed on the scraps dropped from the table of the U.S., French, and Canadian embassies and the United Nations, so they can continue to find strength to fight against the people.

These are a bunch of parties looking for a piece of the pie, who have made a Macouto-bourgeois deal at the expense of the people in order to block the people in their struggle for change in the country. These groups are defiling Haiti by acting on behalf of the three imperialist thieves – the U.S., France and Canada – who never want the country to advance.

The KOD has two key demands:

1) Martelly and Lamothe must go so that the people can establish a suitable provisional government. In the popular forum we organized on Sep. 29, 2013, the proposition was made for a council of state with 13 members to be drawn from all social strata of the country.

2) MINUSTAH [the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti] must go. We cannot have free, honest, sovereign elections, as in 1990, if Washington is there putting in and taking out candidates, as they wish, doing as they like. The colonists should not be deciding the political future of the country.

There are some groups which criticize Martelly, but they don’t condemn MINUSTAH, they don’t fight against the military occupation. There are others who condemn MINUSTAH but they are not against Martelly; sometimes they even defend the regime and call for it to complete its term.

KOD is not inconsistent like that! KOD stands firm in its demands. That is what makes us different from other so-called opponents of Martelly and Lamothe. We don’t mix with the Macoutes, bourgeois, or imperialists. In this sense, we present to you the people’s political party: the Dessalines Coordination. KOD is the political party of the Haitian people!

KOD is a political tool which is based on the ideals of Father Dessalines [Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s post-independence leader and first president, assassinated in 1806], who wanted the nation’s poor to eat, drink, and sleep well, for the nation’s wealth to be shared by all, for there to be agrarian reform, for the speculators to stop stealing from the peasants, and above all for foreigners not to control what happens in the country.

A small group of traitors assassinated Father Dessalines in order to stop his political, economic, and social program which aimed at improving the lot of all Haitians. And they continue each day to kill Emperor Dessalines when they keep a military and civilian occupation in the country to weaken the Haitian people either with repression or with disease. We, Dessalines’ children, who have Dessalines’ blood in our veins, we cannot forget the battle Dessalines waged against the French occupation to get us out of slavery.

Look at how today, since 2004, when we celebrated our bicentennial, the colonists have returned to recolonize us in complicity with some political parties and the bourgeoisie.

The political parties dialoguing at El Rancho are a bunch of traitors plotting at the expense of the people. They want to get rid of us the same way they assassinated Dessalines and Charlemagne Péralte (2). That is why they never demand reparations for the victims of cholera.

Dessalines said: “Cut heads, burn houses.” We say: “Use KOD to tie them up.” (3) The only solution: “Use KOD to tie them up.”

Use KOD to tie up the thieves in the state apparatus. Use KOD to tie up Martelly and Lamothe. Use KOD to tie up the drug dealers who are in power. Use KOD to defend ourselves, to tie up the Duvalierist Macoutes who have raised their ugly head again in the country.

Walk everywhere with your KOD to tie up the assassins, the sellers of the nation, the thieves who have taken over the country.

The Dessalines Coordination is a Dessalinien political party for Haiti’s liberation which counts on you to carry forward the struggle. Our problems have not yet been solved because we are not acting in concert. All principled popular organizations which are anti-Macoute, anti-Martelly, anti-imperialist, don’t walk without your KOD. Let’s put our heads and hands together so that we walk together to rebuild our country!

The Dessalines Coordination is counting on you! Our watchwords:
Use KOD to tie up Martelly and Lamothe!
Use KOD to tie up the Macoutes!
Use KOD to tie up MINUSTAH!
Use KOD to tie up the imperialists!
Never march without your KOD
For a truly new Haiti!

1) Macouto-bourgeois is a reference to a merger between Haiti’s traditional bourgeoisie with the ultra-reactionary big landowning class (grandons) whose armed expression was the Tonton Macoutes, the paramilitary force created by dictator François “Papa Doc” Duvalier (1957-1971). While Duvalier’s Macoutes repressed sectors of the Haitian bourgeoisie in the 1960s, during the regime of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier (1971-1986), the big landowning sector economically and politically merged with the bourgeoisie, creating what progressive analysts often refer to as the “Macouto-bourgeoisie.”
2) Charlemagne Péralte was the leader of the Cacos, the Haitian guerilla force which fought against the U.S. Marine occupation of Haiti (1915-1934). Péralte, 33, was assassinated on Nov. 1, 1919 by a U.S. Marine who infiltrated behind Caco lines.
3) The Kreyòl word kòd means rope. Using KOD as kòd (rope) is a play on words.