The Miami Herald
Sun, Feb. 22, 2004

Gathering at Bayfront Park supports Haitians


  A small but spirited gathering of people from nations throughout the Americas rallied in support of the Haitian community Saturday at Miami's Bayfront Park.

  About 100 people attended the afternoon event, waving flags, dancing to Caribbean vibes and shouting for the removal of Cuba's Fidel Castro, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The American Foundation for Liberty and Democracy sponsored the event.

  One popular sign showed pictures of Castro, Chávez, Aristide and Saddam Hussein with a cross over his face. Above the sign it read: ``Axis of Evil.''

  ''We're hoping to send a message to the international community that America cannot tolerate dictators in its own backyard,'' said Samir Mourra, a Haitian-American
  businessman and Aristide opponent. ``Aristide has created this by arming the thugs.''

  Mourra wasn't swayed Saturday, even after hearing of a U.S.-brokered peace proposal allegedly agreed to by Aristide that would form a new government with some of his opponents occupying political positions.

  Among the positions that would be filled by a member of the opposition: prime minister.

  Aristide would remain in power through the end of his term in 2006.

  ''This is a joke,'' Mourra said. ``To me, it will not change anything. Historically in Haiti, the prime minister is always a puppet.''

  Another Aristide opponent, Francois Guillame Jr., said putting opposition leaders in a political position below Aristide would dilute whatever power they have now.

  ''It's going to be very hard for them to accept that,'' Guillame said. ``We want a provisional government to secure the country, then we can talk about elections.''

  Aristide opponent and political activist Lucy Orlando was even more succinct: ``President Bush must open his eyes because the people who do not want Aristide will not vote for him. Aristide must step down, we'll have a provisional government and elections in two years.''