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27889: Hermantin(news)Many in S. Florida festive after election (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Many in S. Florida festive after election
By Alva James-Johnson
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
February 17, 2006
Now that Rene Preval is the newly elected president of Haiti, some of his
supporters in South Florida expect the country's exiled former president,
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to return home soon.
"Aristide was born in Haiti and he's Haitian," said Lavarice Gaudin, chairman
of Veye Yo, a Lavalas party watchdog group in Miami. "Why do you think so many
people went out and voted for Preval? We voted for the return of Aristide and
the release of political prisoners ... That shouldn't be a question."
Preval, 63, a former protégé of Aristide, was declared winner of the country's
presidential election Thursday, ending a nine-day electoral crisis. His
administration will replace a U.S.-backed interim government set up after
Aristide, now exiled in South Africa, left office amid a 2004 rebellion.
Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, a former Boca Raton retiree, has been
running the country ever since.
In Palm Beach County, community activist Daniella Henry said, "Everybody's
But Lesly Jacques, owner of Boca Raton's Radio Haiti-Amerique Internationale,
wasn't as jubilant. He was among those who demonstrated on the streets of South
Florida in 2004 when Aristide was ousted.
"I want to wish good luck to the Haitian people," he said. "If this is what
they want, this is what they get. That's the beginning of the end ... There's
nothing good that could come out of Lavalas." He referred to the party
associated with both Aristide and Preval.
Gerard Ferere, a Latortue supporter in Boca Raton, was willing to wait and see.
"We can't assume that because Preval was Aristide's ally, that he's still
Aristide's ally," he said. "He's No. 1 now. When he was Aristide's ally he was
No. 2. We have to give the guy the benefit of the doubt."
Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a Catholic priest recently released from a Haitian
prison for cancer treatment, said Preval's election is a new day for Haiti.
"Democracy has been stabbed so many times in the back, but now we're back again
to the road to democracy," he said. "We wish we could have the wisdom of King
Solomon to govern this country properly and provide the maximum basic human
needs to our people ... and those who are in exile can return home."
Now that Preval is the winner, Jean-Juste said, Aristide could return to the
country as early as April, after repairs to his home.
When asked if Aristide would have an official role in the new government,
Gaudin of Veye Yo said it wouldn't be necessary.
"Aristide is the king now ... He's gone beyond the president," he said.
"Aristide is the people-lover, so he doesn't have to be in a government
position to represent his people."
In Little Haiti, some Preval supporters celebrated his victory Thursday,
honking their horns as they drove past Veye Yo headquarters.
At a West Sunrise Boulevard shopping plaza where many Haitians hang out, konpa
music blasted from speakers set along the curb.
Some greeted each other with, "We showed them today," and one man wanted to
cook a goat, as Haitians do on festive occasions.
In Weston, Lucy Orlando, president of the Haitian American Republican Caucus,
said she poured champagne over her head when she heard the news. Though she
opposed Aristide, she believes Preval will make a good president.
"I said, `Praise God.' Oh, child, I was so happy," she said after hearing he
had won. "I'm sick and tired of people mistreating the poor people in Haiti."
Staff Writer Macollvie Jean-Francois contributed to this report.
Alva James-Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
West Palm Beach: A victory party at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Raymond F. Kravis
Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd.
Miami: A rally at 4 p.m. today at Veye Yo headquarters, 28 NE 54th St., Little
Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel