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25136: Hermantin(News)Parties, protests mark Haiti flag (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Posted on Wed, May. 18, 2005
HAITIAN FLAG DAY
Parties, protests mark Haiti flag
Haitians celebrate the birth of their nation today with Haitian flag day
events, including a reception at the White House.
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
In the nation's capital today, Haitian-American leaders will celebrate the
202nd birthday of the Haitian flag -- two equal-size blue and red horizontal
bands symbolizing Haiti's struggle for freedom -- at a reception hosted by
the White House.
In North Miami, city officials and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dorrin
Rolle will celebrate with a free festival featuring the best in fried
Haitian cuisine and Haitian music at a four-hour block party.
In Fort Lauderdale, Caribbean Americans will join their Haitian neighbors in
an evening designed to celebrate the history of Haiti and the rest of the
And in Haiti and New York, protesting Haitians will demand the return of
ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
For some, today will be a day of reflection about a country plagued with
violence following the ouster of Aristide in February 2004. For others, it
will be a day to showcase pride despite Haiti's uncertain future.
''There's very little to celebrate actually,'' said Jocelyn McCalla, head of
the National Coalition for Haitian Rights in New York. ``In retrospect,
although Haitians laud the unity achieved on that fateful day in 1803, they
have failed to put its lessons to good use for the last two centuries.''
Officially adopted on May 18, 1803, even before Haiti declared itself
independent from France on Jan. 1, 1804, the Haitian flag has been through
many colors and configurations. Its meaning, however, has never changed.
The first flag -- two vertical blue and red bands -- was created by
revolutionary leaders Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Alexandre Pétion, using
the French flag as a model. The blue symbolized Haiti's blacks and mulattoes
and the red, their blood.
Today will be a day of protest for Aristide allies, who are planning
demonstrations, sit-ins and pickets in Haiti, New York and elsewhere as part
of an international day of solidarity to ``free Haiti.''
But regardless of the significance today takes on, one thing remains clear:
Haitian Americans are one of the fastest growing groups in South Florida.
Haitians can no longer afford to live in a vacuum and should build bridges
with their Caribbean neighbors, said Marvin Dejean, vice president of
business development for Fort Lauderdale-based Minority Development and
''We need to come to the realization that our Caribbean neighbors are living
here and we need to come together,'' Dejean said.
''`Haitian Flag Day is not just a celebration for Haitians, but for all
nations who celebrate their freedom,'' he said.