Photo: Yaya Marin, waving Haitian Flag in front of National Assembly
by Kristen Ku
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. May 18, 2023
Belize witnessed an inspiring show of international solidarity today as activist and chairperson of the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF), Yaya Marin Coleman stood in front of the National Assembly Building in Belmopan, waving the Haitian flag. This act, held on Haitian Flag Day, a date of considerable importance for the Haitian people, was Yaya’s way of acknowledging the shared struggles and triumphs of Caribbean nations, echoing the message of unity and resilience represented in the Haitian flag.
Haitian Flag Day, observed annually on May 18, commemorates the birth of the Haitian flag, a symbol of defiance against French colonial rule and unity among the Haitian people. The flag, born in 1803 under the guidance of revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines and his goddaughter Catherine Flon, marks a pivotal moment in Haiti’s history and serves as a symbol of independence.
In unity with the Haitian Action Committee in the US, Yaya stands in solidarity with their movement of upholding the sovereignty of Haiti.
“UEF, the organization that I chair, United Black Association for Development Educational Foundation, we understand the meaning of solidarity. So, wherever African people are suffering globally and it’s in alignment with UEF’s purpose, then we’re in alignment with them.”
“So today on Haitian Flag Day, in the United States, they’re [Haitian Action Committee] doing a number in organizing. Guyana, they’re organizing as well today, and they have a number of demands; and so in solidarity – is the reason why I made sure I get my first Haitian flag – and I came to the National Assembly Building which represents the government for Belize …”
The list of demands includes: Stop the massacres. Stop using our tax dollars to fund the brutal Haitian police and affiliated death squads. Stop supporting the Ariel Henry dictatorship. Stop attacking and deporting Haitian refugees. Support the Haitian people’s struggle for liberation. End the occupation. Sovereignty and self-determination for Haiti!
In other words, according to Marin, “… it’s for them to leave Haiti alone, for them to be a sovereign state.”
Yaya’s public display of the Haitian flag in front of the National Assembly has potentially sparked a spirited dialogue about the essence of national identity and the bonds between Caribbean nations. It’s a potent reminder that while each Caribbean nation has its unique path to independence, many share similar stories of resilience against colonial powers. Acknowledging these shared histories does not take away individual national identities; rather, it reinforces the mutual respect and unity among these nations. Moreover, Yaya’s gesture has served as a beacon of support for the Haitian community in Belize, which, like many communities worldwide, often struggles with maintaining cultural heritage far from home.
As Belizeans reflect on the implications of Yaya’s flag-waving act, there is hope that it might serve as the beginning of greater mutual understanding and solidarity across the Caribbean.