About 2,000 refugees in Miami's Little Haiti celebrated the fall of Haitian dictator Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier again tonight with another round of revelry.
Police cordoned off six blocks around the Haitian Refugee Center on 54th Street NE, where a band played dance music as the crowd chanted "Duvalier tombe" [has fallen] and "Viva de liberte."
Many in the crowd around the makeshift trailer that served as the band's stage talked joyfully about the possibility of returning to Haiti now that Duvalier had departed. While most of the posters here have cheered Duvalier's downfall, a new sign tonight behind the stage reflected a different sentiment: "No U.S. Intervention in Haiti."
Many of those dancing wore bright T-shirts, and vendors sold red-and-blue buttons and balloons. Red and blue were Haiti's colors before the Duvalier family took control of the island. An enterprising gasoline station operator sold beer to the revelers from his station's service bay.
During Friday's celebrations, which started on the streets here soon after Duvalier's departure became known and continued on into the night, three people were slightly wounded by gunshots, but community leaders said today that the incidents resulted from a private dispute that had nothing to do with the celebration, which drew a crowd of 2,500.
The Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, director of the Haitian Refugee Center, said he hopes the celebrating will end soon. "We'll try to cut it off [after] tonight," he said. "After tomorrow, we have to go back to work again."
By that, Jean-Juste said he meant that it is still necessary for Haitians to work to ensure that a desirable government replaces the regime of Duvalier. "If Duvalier wants to return [now], he could return," the priest said, noting that five of the six members of the ruling coalition served Duvalier.
There was some confusion here today when a solidarity march from Little Haiti into downtown Miami was canceled, but Jean-Juste said that was because the march had been planned some time ago in order to put pressure against the Duvalier government.
After Duvalier left, however, the march was no longer necessary, Jean-Juste said. He added that today's march was canceled by himself and other organizers without any pressure having been brought by police to do so.
Many Haitian exiles in south Florida who had planned to attend the march didn't learn about the cancellation in time, he said.
The population of Little Haiti is thought to be about 30,000, with thousands of Haitian immigrants elsewhere in Florida.
Jean-Juste, acknowledging Duvalier's fall came as "a surprise," said, "Thank God he took off!"
Meanwhile, in New York City, the Associated Press reported, about 15,000 people braved the cold to demonstrate at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza in support of Duvalier's departure.