Back to school! Notes on education and student protest in Haiti

The first stage was a strike among the students of the National University. They held parades through the principal streets of Port-au-Prince, protesting against the educational bureaucracy saddled upon them by President Borneo and his American educational advisors. In order to cut down national expenses, the Government recently made a sweeping reduction in the education budget. So incensed are all sections of the population against the present fascist dictatorship that no sooner had the students walked out of their classes than the native staff in the Customs Department joined in the strike. The clerks attacked the American officials with ink bottles, parts of typewriters and other office accessories, chasing them out of the building. The dock workers also declared a general strike, and within a few hours the entire business life of the city of Port-au-Prince was at a standstill.

George Padmore, The Life and Struggle of Negro Toilers (1931)

In Haiti, students were the first group to rise against the dictatorship of François « Papa Doc » Duvalier.  They first protested against martial law as well as an antidemocratic electoral law that were both imposed in 1949.  They also protested against the fraudulent elections of 1950.  Having been subjected to violent repression by the state, they went on strike in 1960 in order to obtain the liberation of their comrades who had been arrested by the Duvalier Gestapo.

Association des juristes progressistes, “The strike is not a simple boycott: history and perspectives,” Rouge Squad: Tactical Translation Team (March 24, 2012)

Ever since a 1960 strike of students at the University of Haiti, François Duvalier established his control over the various faculties. He issued decree on December 16, 1960, creating the “University of the State” in the place of the University of Haiti, whose fascist character was apparently in the various lines of decree. Among other things, it said “considering the necessity to organize the University on new foundations in order to prevent it from transforming into a bastion where subversive ideas would develop…”

Article 9 was even clearer. It noted that any student wanting to enroll in the university had to get a police paper certifying that he or she did not belong to any communist group or any association under suspicion by the State.

Haiti Grassroots Watch, The non-reconstruction of the State University (February 22, 2012)

An Anti-MINUSTAH demonstration is planned for Friday 09/23/2011. The group is called “Mouvman Kolektif Viktim Kolera” (The Collective Movement of Cholera Victims), which is comprised of various organizations. According to the media, the demonstrators will gather at approximately 9:00 a.m. in the Fort-National area.

The demonstrators are planning to use the following route: Fort-National, Rue. Estime, Ave. Poupelard,  Rue. Borgella, (Carrefour Post Marchand), Ave. John Brown (Lalue), Ave. Martin L. King (Nazon), Ave. Lamartiniere (Bois-Verna), Rue. Magny, Rue Capois, Rue St. Honore, Rue Mgr. Guilloux, end at State University’s (UEH) Ecole Normale Campus (see map attached).

The students are expected to be violent once again near Champ-de-Mars. The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor and pass on any information. All travel to downtown Port-au-Prince should be rescheduled.

“Messages for American Citizens: Anti-MINUSTAH Demonstration,” Embassy of the United States, Port-au-Prince, Haiti (September 23, 2011)

Image: “MINUSTAH Police Officers Detain University Student Protestors: Two Members of the Formed Police Unit of the Nigerian contingent of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) detain a presumed stone-throwing university student protester downtown, 12 June 2009, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Source: UNMULTIMEDIA.ORG

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    Back to school! Notes on education and student protest in Haiti:

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