Over 100 people attended an emergency picket outside the offices of U.S. Senator Norm Coleman in St. Paul on Thursday, March 4 to protest U.S. military intervention in Haiti.
The protest was called with just a few days notice after U.S. troops landed in Haiti and President Aristide was forced to leave the country.
The protest was met with the spectacle of at least 18 St. Paul police vehicles lined up around the building that houses Coleman's offices and at least 50 police officers standing around outside in inside the building.
A statement issued by organizers says, "The U.S. intervention in Haiti is not about bringing peace and democracy. This latest U.S. intervention is the continuation of long-standing U.S. hostility against the people of Haiti. The U.S. has armed, financed and given support to the opposition to the Aristide government. U.S. corporations use Haiti as the sweatshop of the Caribbean. This intervention protects those U.S. corporate interests. The presence of U.S. troops in Haiti will also be used to enforce the discriminatory immigration policy of the Bush/Ashcroft administration."
The event was organized around the call of "Say No to U.S. Intervention in Haiti- U.S. Troops Out! Fair Treatment for Haitian Refugees! Tell the truth about U.S. involvement in the removal of the Aristide government! Haiti Needs Reparations - Not Occupation!"
The event was endorsed by: Anti-War Committee, Arise Bookstore and Resource Center, Communist Party, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Haitian Community
Center of Minnesota, Haiti Justice Committee, Mayday Books, Minnesota Cuba Committee, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, Women Against Military Madness.
The following is the text of an article on the protest published in the Minnesota Daily on Friday March 5, 2004
Group protests Haiti intervention
U students and professors gathered near University Avenue and Highway 280.
By Amy Horst
A group of protesters gathered near University Avenue Southeast and Highway 280 on Thursday evening to oppose what they said is U.S. intervention in the Feb. 5 overthrow of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Ruben Joanem, a University French professor who is from Haiti, said there is no way the rebels could have overthrown Aristide. In the past, he said, they did not have the resources for a coup.
"It was not a popular uprising," Joanem said. "It happened through an outside infusion of money and weapons."
The new rebel government is causing havoc in Haiti, University biochemistry senior Especianise Loresca said.
"If you are a supporter of Aristide, you get killed; you get tortured by the rebels," Loresca said.
Loresca's parents and seven siblings are in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, where U.S. Marines recently entered to secure the U.S. Embassy. Loresca said when she spoke to her family four days ago, they were in good health but frightened.
She said they are particularly worried because a senator who lives a block away from her family was robbed and abducted from his home a few days ago.
Protest organizers estimated that approximately 100 to 200 people were at the protest, but Senior Cmdr. Gregory Pye of the St. Paul Police Department estimated attendance at 30 to 35 people. The protest was peaceful, he said.