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8647: Haiti: President answers questions on political negotiations, agrarian reform (fwd)

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

Haiti: President answers questions on political negotiations, agrarian
BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jul 11, 2001

Text of second and final part of news conference given by President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide at the Port-au-Prince International Airport on 6
July; first part was monitored in progress; passages within double oblique
strokes in French; broadcast live by Haitian TV

[Journalist Fritzon Aureus] My name is Fritzon Aureus. I work for Radio
Haiti Inter. According to the explanations you just gave, it seems that FL
[Lavalas Family] or the executive branch has reached the end of its
sacrifices because it has already made many sacrifices. The fact that the
question was not answered gives the impression that the opposition has not
yet done anything. As you said that the negotiations are going to continue,
in the event that the opposition sticks to the same demands and does not
agree to make other proposals and wants to keep its current proposals, what
are you going to do as head of state? Will you continue to have fruitless
discussions while the country's economy continues its downward spiral and
the people continue to suffer? Do you contemplate a time when you will make
a decision? I should like to know if that will happen.

As you said before you left, are you personally willing in a concrete manner
to take part in the next negotiations?

The second question I would like to ask before the end of the news
conference is the following. Given that you said that national production
should increase so that Haiti can actually take part in Caricom [the
Caribbean Community and Common Market], one of the things that could allow
national production to make progress is the agrarian reform that President
Preval had begun. Given that up to now the government has not yet taken any
positive or concrete step to that end, does your government make the
commitment of continuing agrarian reform in order to allow national
production to actually increase?

[Aristide] Thank you. We shall conclude with this three-point [as heard]
question. As regards the first point, that is, will there be a point where I
will give a ruling? My answer is the following: I want to practise what I
have invited other people to do. I have invited the opposition and FL to
discuss as citizens who respect one another. I too shall practise that. With
the respect I have for the opposition, I suppose that they heard what I said
a moment ago and that they will act reciprocally, that is they will show
mutual respect, the dialogue of citizens.

In this sense, I do not want to imagine that they will not react positively.
Just as I am open and positive to them, I believe that it is time - [pauses;
changes thought] Reciprocity can allow that, even before I give a ruling to
the opposition, FL and I will find the solution in a harmonious manner. That
is my dearest wish. I think that not only the Haitians of the Bahamas have
made or can have a dazzling success in the way they help culture to progress
and in the way they help solidarity to be demonstrated in spite of their
difficulties. We are used to doing that here too. Again, I think it is

What personal participation can I have in the negotiations? I keep saying
that I am the president of all Haitians. So, if it is necessary for me to
meet all Haitians, I shall do it as my duty and with pleasure. During the
last three days of negotiations, I was not there, in order to create a field
of neutrality to make it easier for the two political parties to talk
together and with the mediation of the OAS, to end with a way out of the
crisis. The prime minister took part as head of government alongside all
other citizens such as Mgr Hubert Constant, president of the Haitian
Episcopal Conference [CEH]. He is the head of the CEH. He was there
alongside the diplomatic corps and other religious personalities that were

So, the two political parties, enjoying this environment, talked so that
they could reach a solution. If it is necessary for me to take part
personally to allow us to get there faster and better, I shall do so with
pleasure. So, if I am not there, it is not because I do not wish or do not
want it so. It is because my absence can facilitate neutrality given that
//I am the president of all Haitians.//

I am not looking for what is good for FL and what is bad for the opposition.
I want the good of the opposition. I want the good of FL. We need both FL
and the opposition. When I say the opposition, I think [also] of other
opposition parties that are not part of the Convergence. I am their
president as well. So, all political parties know that they have only one
president who is always ready to meet them when necessary. When he is not
there, they are supposed to create the climate of neutrality. //In this
sense, once the moment arrives, I shall answer yes to move forward with

The third [as heard] part of the question is the agrarian issue. I should
remind you that I returned in 1994. Immediately after that I created the
National Institute for Agrarian Reform, INARA. It was a clear and absolute
willingness as required by the constitution. At that time, I put the
agrarian reform on to institutional tracks. I am very happy to have seen
that, after my departure, President Preval continued the agrarian reform.

I am very happy and proud to carry on with agrarian reform. We have
discussed that several times in the white paper: Invest in People. You will
see what is said about agrarian reform. You will see what is said about
agrarian reform in FL's programme. We have held several meetings with the
prime minister, the agriculture minister and other concerned people such as
Bernard Etheart [INARA director] in order to assess the progress we have
made in agrarian reform while carrying on with it so the continuity can take
us to more national production.

Not a single factory can have good results if the head of that factory and
the people concerned do not meet from time to time and when necessary to
assess how far they have gone and to programme where they want to go. This
is what we are doing with agrarian reform. No authority can govern properly
without foresight, because governing is foresight and to foresee well one
must assess well. That is why we are working in order for the continuity of
the agrarian reform to lead us to a good agrarian reform which will
guarantee a good national production.

I am taking the opportunity to tell all peasants concerned about land reform
and who might be worried about the speed of agrarian reform to cool down,
because the agrarian reform machine will not stop. If it has slowed down a
little bit, it is because it is being fuelled but it has not stopped. If
they see that it tends to stop, this means that it is getting a check-up for
some time so that it can go faster and better.

So, we are moving forward with the land reform so that we can manage to
increase national production. In the meantime, I am telling you once again
that I am looking at you with the eyes of the same heart that the Haitians
of the Bahamas prompted to tremble, because of the great success they have
had in the Bahamas, which is the success of all of us.

Thank you and have a pleasant day. [Applause]

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

/BBC Monitoring/  BBC.