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8590: Haiti: President Aristide gives news conference on Caricom summit (fwd)




From: Max Blanchet <maxblanchet@worldnet.att.net>

Haiti: President Aristide gives news conference on Caricom summit, other
issues
BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jul 7, 2001



President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has praised the Haitian Diaspora, having
been inspired by the Haitians he met in the Bahamas where he had gone to
attend the 22nd Caricom Summit of Heads of State and Government as an
observer. Speaking in a news conference at Port-au-Prince International
Airport on 6 July, he said the discussion of Haiti at the summit was "good"
but there were aspects of it which he could not reveal. He stressed that to
join a single Caribbean market "one must start producing" and praised the
Haitian almonds he had had on the plane that brought him back to Haiti.
Aristide also said that both sides should make "sacrifices" in the political
negotiations in Haiti, should listen to one another and not think in terms
of winners and losers. The following is the text of the first part of
Aristide's news conference; monitored in progress; passages within double
oblique strokes in French; broadcast live by Haitian TV on 6 July;
subheadings inserted editorially:

Praise for Haitians who live overseas

//- This richness that involves its capacity to work and to produce. There
are about 50,000 Haitians out of a population of 300,000 Bahamians. That is
a lot. They are there with their pride, their capacity to work. I have come
back with this immense joy, this unspeakable joy of having seen with my own
eyes what the historic force of Haiti, of our Haiti represents and
crystallizes. On the eve of the celebration of our bicentennary, on behalf
of all Haitians who live in Haiti, I take off my hat to all Haitians living
in our Diaspora, in our 10th Department. About 2.5 million Haitians send us
each year 2bn dollars. This is a power that is not only an emotional matter.
This is a power that brings the economic force back to us in the heart of
culture. This is also our hope during the celebration of our bicentennary.//

When people see each other face to face, there is no room for lies [Creole:
de je kontre, manti kaba]. Hearing and seeing are two different things. I
went there, I heard and I saw. There is no lie in that: they are a great
people. The Bahamas, that means much to us who know under what conditions
our brothers and sisters travel, translates what we might not see the same
way if it were a question of other places where it is easier for them to go
by plane. I therefore take off my hat in a special manner to all Haitians
living in the Dominican Republic, to all Haitians who are there and who
represent the very same pride, the same dignity in spite of the human
sufferings that are encountered here, there and in other counties where they
live.

//Certainly, the Caribbean Community [Caricom] summit was the appointment.
But the 22nd meeting of the Caricom heads of state and government could not
eclipse this dazzling success that the Haitians of the Bahamas crystallize
as they showed two days ago. The Caricom summit was also great.// But
Haitians know when they are warming up to have the power spread, they are a
wonder because Haiti and Haitians are on the front pages of the newspapers
even though Caricom is very important.

It is not me, but Haitians abroad who have done that. Where Haitians are, it
is a question of serious things, of good things and great things. //I am
also bringing to you the greetings of the heads of government who were moved
and happy to see the Haitian expression, the demonstration of this cultural
force that our brothers and sisters in the Bahamas represent.//

When there are political difficulties, I ask that you do not mix political
difficulties with this power of hope. We are managing the political
difficulties without letting that dazzle us to such a point that we might
not see where we stand. We stand on human capital. We stand on human riches.
We stand on a capital that will allow us to make a nice celebration of the
bicentennary. We can do that.

//I know that many of you would like to hear me talking about the meeting of
the heads of state. I will talk about it but I could not prevent myself from
rendering justice to the Haitians of the Bahamas who were happy to see the
meeting of the heads of state and government but who did not hesitate to
turn the 22nd summit of the heads of state and government into a dazzling
success, which is the success of Haitians. Thank you.// [Applause]

A single Caribbean market?

[Unidentified journalist] //Mr President, you just attended the 22nd summit
of [Caricom] heads of state and government. We know that the discussions
focused on the formation of a single market for the Caribbean. How can this
market be beneficial to Haiti or is Haiti ready to join this market?//

[Aristide] //Thank you. As I said here upon my return from the Quebec summit
[of the Americas], to join this market one must start producing. If one
joins it with empty hands, it is certain that one will not be able to face
competition. National production must be made dynamic so we can join this
market with the most chances to attract the most profits. I am a simple and
very simple example.// On my way back, the breakfast offered in the plane
was a nice bag of almonds that said: almonds of the country. I ate it with
relish because I realized I was eating something that came from my country
in the plane that was taking me back home.

When I looked at the bag of almonds, given how big it was in my opinion, it
included thousands. I am imagining how many people picked up how many
almonds and then peeled the almonds and broke them almost without really
breaking the nuts because when you are peeling an almond, you must be
careful - the children would be happy to see me peeling almonds with them
because children like that - not to break it. Then, you put it in a bag.
This is an industry, something simple.

Considering the number of Haitians travelling by plane everyday, I am
imagining national production and the quantity of almonds that could be
picked and exported so Haitian compatriots and foreigners can eat them in
planes and elsewhere. So, national production is the key to our joining the
market.

[Journalist Telson Fleurisme] My name is Telson Fleurisme. I work for
Telemax. Mr President, what can Haiti expect from the participation of
Haitian officials in this 22nd Caricom summit? The second part of my
question is that you spoke of //this immense joy.// To be specific, what are
you going to do for the continuity of this //immense joy?// In the next few
days, putting aside the sacrifices that you and FL [Lavalas Family] have
already made to resolve the crisis, do you consider making other sacrifices
together with FL to allow the crisis to be really resolved so the continuity
of this //immense joy// keeps bursting out in the hearts of all Haitians?

Discussing Haiti at Caricom summit

[Aristide] //I said that all heads of state and government met in another
island of the Bahamas, Grand Bahama.// Present there were Caricom
Secretary-General Gaviria [title as heard; Gaviria is secretary-general of
the OAS], the assistant secretary-general, Ambassador [Luigi] Einaudi and,
of course, Ambassador Ramdin of Caricom, and the rest of us, heads of state
and government. This showed that Haiti was there, which allowed the Haiti
issue in which the OAS and Caricom are involved to be on the agenda.

We spent about an hour and a half talking about the Haiti issue but the most
interesting thing, because what Haiti should expect, what profit Haiti can
have so that the (?power) the Haitians represent there does not stop
[sentence as heard]. What was nice is that the Haitian head of state was
there but he had the aroma of the Haitians of the Bahamas on him during the
meeting because everybody was talking with newspapers in their hands about
the wonderful gathering of about 8,000 Haitians who made the Bahamas tremble
with joy and admiration. That could not leave the heads of state and
government and the others indifferent. //

So, it was not only the heads of state and government who met to talk about
Haiti without first talking about the dazzling success I talked about this
morning. In other words, whenever it is like that, there is more respect for
Haiti, there is more admiration for Haiti and there is perhaps more care
when the Haitian issue is being treated because it is not an ordinary
country. No, it is a great country. They have to talk about it //with much
attention and that was the case.

In the afternoon, one of us suggested that only and strictly heads of state
and government without anyone else should keep processing the Haitian issue.
Again, it was good. We talked about it. I shall not be able to disclose
everything we discussed. Besides, this is why we met only as heads of state
and government. We talked about immigration. I shall not go into details. We
talked about the crisis. We talked about what the end of the crisis could
represent.//

It is clear that it is our responsibility as Haitians to get on so that the
crisis can take on another dimension. It is also clear that today nobody can
isolate himself or herself as if he or she were an island that has no
relations with other people. No, in a geopolitical and geoeconomic context,
Haiti occupies an important place. So, that was part of the meeting and I
can tell you that the continuity will go through both them and us. In this
sense, this joy that was observed, this success that was observed will
continue //if everything goes as planned, according to my understanding.//

Making sacrifices to achieve political solution

The last part of the question had to do with sacrifices. You asked what
other sacrifices we can make. One of the biggest sacrifices that have been
made is that seven Haitian senators including six FL ones and an independent
one chose democratically to resign. Once again, I take off my hat to them,
because this gesture cannot be found anywhere at any time. Another big
sacrifice that has been made is that all senators have agreed to reduce
their terms by two years. Another big sacrifice is that all deputies have
agreed to reduce their terms by half, to remain in office for two instead of
four years.

This is a minor sacrifice. This is a major sacrifice. They are not the only
ones who have made the sacrifice. The voters have too, because when a voter
has given you a vote for four years, if the term is reduced by half, the
person who voted for you has to think. So, thousands of people have made
this sacrifice with FL, as I said without mentioning several other major
sacrifices that have already been made.

I think that one of the biggest sacrifices that can be made, I would connect
it to a question by one of the ministers. After he heard of all the
sacrifices made by FL the question he asked was: What sacrifices has the
opposition made? I do not answer. My silence is eloquent. Well, what
sacrifices do I believe would be good for us including the opposition, FL
and the opposition to make?

We should overcome what might make us consider one another as enemies so
that respect is expressed through the tone, that understanding involves
dialogue. Then, we should accept to listen to one another so as not to
impose on others only what we want without hearing the others. That would be
a mutual sacrifice that would indicate to all observers that political
opponents and the government are not two fighting cockerels but rather two
groups of citizens who are comparing their viewpoints and who are trying [to
see] how they can step back together a little bit whenever the nation's
interests are threatened.

I would consider a last kilometre of sacrifice, that is to sit around the
negotiating table before long and then come up with an agreement [acceptable
to all] even though a party might consider that it has given much and even
too much but it would know that it has done it for its country. The other
party should not feel that it is stronger or a conqueror, that it has won a
victory over the other [words indistinct]. Even in the way of speaking, in
the language there would then be means to appreciate what could be
identified on both sides as mutual sacrifice. That is it. //I am going to
take perhaps a last question before leaving.//

Source: Television Nationale d'Haiti, Port-au-Prince, in Creole 1400 gmt 6
Jul 01

/BBC Monitoring/  BBC.