Students at Global Women’s Center salute Haiti Flag Day, Philadelphia, May 18, 2023.

San Francisco

Haitian Flag Day, commemorated all over Haiti and internationally May 18, marks the day in 1803 when the then-enslaved Haitian people made a commitment to create the sovereign nation of Haiti, totally independent of France. The Haitian flag was created on that day in the buildup for the Haitian revolution of 1804, which abolished enslavement in Haiti and defeated French colonialism. This was 59 years before the U.S. Emancipation Proclamation.

More than two centuries later, the people of Haiti continue to fight against imperialist intervention by the U.S. and Canada.

The Haiti Action Committee called for local actions everywhere on Haitian Flag Day, to demand an end to U.S. and Core Group (Canada, most of Western Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) support for the illegitimate government of Ariel Henry and an end to funding for the murderous Haitian police and army. The protests demanded an end to the ongoing nightmare Haitians are forced to endure, as they are shot dead in the streets, burned alive in their homes and their resources are plundered by an unelected U.S.-supported cabal of murderers and thieves.

San Francisco: “Haiti must be free!”

Pierre Labossiere of HAC and Monadel Herzallah of USPCN hold the flags of their countries on flag day, San Francisco, May 18, 2023.

A broad coalition of solidarity activists stood in the shadow of the Simón Bolívar statue in San Francisco’s Civic Center to demand “U.S. Hands Off Haiti — Haiti Must Be Free!”

Organized by the Haiti Action Committee, the protest began with a spirited rally. Robert Roth, HAC activist, spoke about the history of the colonization of Haiti and the strong resistance movement of the Haitian people for freedom and self-determination. Roth called upon the anti-imperialist movement in the U.S. to place Haiti “at the center” of their consciousness and their support for world struggle against occupation.

Pierre Labossiere, a Haitian leader and co-founder of HAC, thanked everyone at the demonstration for continuing to support “the powerful people’s movement of Haiti. This movement doesn’t stop despite the massacres, despite the killings, the imposed starvation on our people and the destruction of the Haitian economy that’s ongoing.” 

Labossiere stated that the violence in Haiti is being perpetrated by “death squads that the corporate media calls gangs” that are funded by the U.S. “These are not gangs; the term gang is being used to fool people abroad,” stated Labossiere. He went on to say that these death squads are “sponsored, equipped, activated and supported by the coup government, the occupational government of Haiti.”

Chanting “Black Lives Matter from Haiti to the Bay,” the anti-imperialist demonstrators marched to United Nations Plaza, a very busy commercial area in downtown San Francisco. Speakers from other supporting organizations such as the San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, Black Alliance for Peace and Workers World Party delivered strong solidarity statements to the Haitian struggle.

Narissa Lee of the SFCHRP talked about the similarities of the struggles of the Filipino and the Haitian peoples against U.S. imperialism. “Those who are in power are stealing the resources of both of these countries,” Lee said. 

Monadel Herzollah of the USPCN expressed the solidarity of the Palestinian people with the Haitian struggle against occupation and for the sovereignty of the Haitian nation.

Today’s protest was only one of many held in the U.S. and around the world, demanding an end to U.S. funding of the massacres and oppression of the Haitian people, as well as an end to the deportation of Haitians living in the U.S. 

At the end of an Anakbayan Community Report Back meeting on the Philippines, participants were asked to hold signs in a group photo in solidarity with the Haitian struggle for liberation. Philadelphia, May 19, 2023.

Joe Piette contributed to this article.

Judy Greenspan

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Judy Greenspan

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