In Memory of Konpè Fouyapòt

Revolutionary Worker #915, July 13, 1997

On May 5, Evens Gabriel died in Miami of a chronic illness at age 37. A revolutionary and a journalist in the Haitian community, he was known as Konpè Fouyapòt ("comrade investigator"). His death is a sad loss for the people.

From his youth, Fouyapòt enthusiastically threw himself into the struggle to liberate Haiti. The energy of popular struggle poured through his veins and lit up his face even when he was weighed down by personal difficulty or illness. It's hard now to imagine him as lifeless.

Evens grew up in Haiti under the Duvalier dictatorship, when any resistance could lead to prison, torture and death. Like thousands of youth, he was drawn to the rebel scene around the singer Manno Charlemagne--one of the few voices of protest that wasn't stomped out. He hooked up with groups organizing armed resistance (known as "Kamoken"). But in 1983 someone betrayed them--many of Evens' comrades were executed and he barely escaped to the United States.

In the U.S., Evens continued to fight for the liberation of Haiti. In 1987 he became co-host of Radyo Komoken in Miami. It became one of the most popular Haitian radio shows, largely because of his radical analysis and partisanship to the mass struggle. He boldly declared that Haiti's problems came from imperialism and could only be solved by armed revolution.

In the mid-1980s Evens connected with the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) and became a strong supporter. He saw this movement as the most serious about making revolution, grappled with what it would take to initiate a people's war in Haiti and worked to assist this process. He read statements from Haitian Maoists on the radio, translated RCP statements into Creole and read them, and circulated RIM and RCP literature among revolutionary youth.

While focused on the struggle in Haiti, Fouyapòt also strongly supported the people's war in Peru. When the leader of the people's war in Peru, Chairman Gonzalo (Abimael Guzman) was captured by the government, the RIM initiated the International Emergency Committee to Defend the Life of Abimael Guzman. Fouyapòt went to the IEC's founding conference in Germany and phoned in reports to his Miami audience. Organizers asked him to take responsibility to involve the Haitian people in this battle and soon after he returned to the U.S., the walls in Miami's Little Haiti were decorated with red graffiti defending Chairman Gonzalo and supporting the people's war as the road to liberation in Peru and Haiti.

That's the kind of journalist Fouyapòt was--in the thick of things, on the side of the people, and from that perspective, delivering news and analysis that cut right to the heart of things. In 1990 a reactionary store owner beat a Haitian man, who was then arrested by the police. Fouyapòt played a key role in organizing hundreds of people to protest. When there was a mass upsurge in Haiti a few months later, Fouyapòt said, "While the masses were making history once again in Haiti, the Haitian exiles who are living in America decided to bring their participation to the struggle." Fouyapòt also joined a group of 40 people who seized the Haitian Consulate and then exposed files which revealed it as a nest of spying and intrigue for the reactionary Haitian government.

While Fouyapòt's spirits rode the crest of the mass movement, he was also affected by its weaknesses. In 1990 Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a priest who had played a strong role in the Haitian struggle, ran for president. The dangerous illusion of a peaceful road to radical change swept up millions, including Fouyapòt. Aristide won in a landslide and Fouyapòt accepted a job in the new government and returned to Haiti.

Aristide implemented a few reforms, while preaching a "marriage between the army and the people." This gave the reactionaries time and political cover to regroup and carry out a bloody coup in 1991. Afterwards, Aristide called for the masses not to resist, to wait for the U.S. imperialists to rescue them and this line had much influence among the people. To his credit Fouyapòt did not take this position and when the coup came down he was in the slums in Port-au-Prince with masses who resisted. Once again, he was forced to flee to the U.S. where he played a strong role opposing Aristide's alliance with the U.S. and the U.S. invasion of Haiti.

Fouyapòt criticized himself saying, "We made big mistakes...we promoted that we had the power when we didn't. Then when the coup came it was a big shock." He also said he had deepened his "determination to do what is necessary to liberate the people." But in the wake of these grave setbacks in the Haitian struggle, Fouyapòt made further serious errors, including schemes that involved cooperation with the police. Whatever his intentions, this had the effect of blurring the line of distinction between the people and the enemy.

The Haitian masses were aware of Fouyapòt's weaknesses and distressed by them. But with his death the people looked at his life in balance. On talk shows, in living rooms and at his funeral, people recounted the many ways in which he had been fused with the mass struggle. And the people assessed that a revolutionary heart had now been stilled.

In the same spirit, revolutionary Maoists mourn Fouyapòt's death and grieve that he didn't live to see the unfolding of people's war in Haiti. This loss urges us on to the work of forging Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organization in this country and on a world scale, so that soaring spirits like Fouyapòt can sing their song with the armed people in the war to create a new world.

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