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a225: BBC Transcript of Aristide's Independence Day speech (fwd)
Haiti: President Aristide calls for peace in Independence Day speech
BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jan 3, 2002
" We want to live in peace and we must have peace," President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has said. In a speech on 1 January at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince to mark Haiti's Independence Day, Aristide called on people to fight for their country rather than fighting one another, because, he said, the pace of development depended on the speed of peace. He added that the economy, although it had been sluggish in 2001, because of a "crisis nourished in a cynical manner and because of the absence of financial resources", had shown some successes, with inflation held to about 12 per cent, the gourde maintaining its value and investments in infrastructure, education and health. The following is the text of his speech, broadcast live by Haitian TV; passages within double oblique strokes in French; subheadings inserted editorially:
//HE Mr Prime Minister and his wife; Their Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen Ministers of the Government of the Republic of Haiti; Mr President of the National Assembly and Honourable Senator of the Republic; Mr Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies and Honourable Deputy; Mr President of the Court of Cassation; Gentlemen Mayors of Port-au-Prince; Mr President of the Superior Court of Accounts [and Administrative Litigation, CSCCA]; Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the Great Bodies of State; Their Excellencies Mr Apostolic Nuncio and Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps;/Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the Consular Corps; Ladies and Gentlemen Representatives of international organizations; Mr Director of the Haitian National Police; Dear Friends of the 10th Department [Haitians living overseas]; Dear Fellow Citizens of Gonaives and the Department of the Artibonite; Dear Fellow Citizens; Ladies and Gentlemen://
//At the dawn of this new year, the first lady and I have the honour of greeting you and presenting to you our wishes for happiness and peace. A good and happy new year 2002 to all of you!// [Applause] Bravo [three times] [Applause] for the Haitian people as a whole. Bravo for the young people who have just painted by the use of their bodies and their talents Haiti's beautiful picture that all of us want to achieve in peace. [Applause] Bravo for them! [Applause] A special bravo for all Haitians who cooperated in the establishment of peace so that today we could start the new year 2002 in peace. Bravo for them. [Applause] Allow me to ask you on behalf of our ancestors to applaud in advance all Haitians who are going to work in peace during the year 2002. [Applause]
The significance of 1 January 1804
//One hundred and ninety-eight years ago, the founders of the fatherland defeated Napoleon Bonaparte's powerful war machine. On this 1 January, we are commemorating this resounding victory which marked history with an indelible mark. One hundred and ninety-eight years ago, the first Negro republic in the world was born. On the parade ground of Gonaives, the geniuses of the race, Jean-Jacques Dessalines [C-in-C of the Haitian indigenous army that defeated Napoleon's troops] and the heroes of the independence announced to the entire world that freedom had henceforth a new name: Haiti, our Haiti, the Haiti of Haitian men and women.//
//Through the proclamation of our independence, our ancestors caused the most intimate fibres of civilization to vibrate. Just as terrorism does, colonization falls within barbarism. Decolonization, hunting out the darkness of slavery, causes the light of civilized men and women to flash on. What a precious contribution our ancestors brought to universal history and world civilization. The most famous historians acknowledge unanimously that the knell of the pro-slavery system was sounded as early as 1 January 1804.// This truth is known by knowledgeable people, acknowledged by civilized people and admitted by honest people: The world has an unparalleled debt to Haiti. That is why we Haitians can be proud to applaud our ancestors wholeheartedly. [Applause]
//If the knell of the pro-slavery system was sounded as early as 1 January 1804, what was then the fate reserved for the slave traders? Did the slave traders understand that, through the proclamation of our independence, the knell of the slave trade had also been sounded? Of course, the revolution of 1804 pierced through the heart of this huge traffic in which 14 million people were be sold and transported down in the holds for four centuries like livestock, like animals. In fact, if, on the one hand, one of the roads taken by the slave traders through the Sahara existed for more than 1,000 years, the other one, the transatlantic crossing was used for four centuries from 1450 to 1860. What human victims! What a crime against mankind the slave trade was!
//Dear fellow citizens, while saluting the memory of the victims of both 11 September 1988 and 11 September 2001, we cannot forget these 4 million brothers dead on African soil even before they were transported down in the hold like livestock and these 2 million African brothers and sisters who perished during the transatlantic crossing. Fortunately, the revolutionary strength that rose up out of this 1 January 1804 was going to contribute to putting an end to this infamous trade. Each cup of sweetened coffee was going to contain some drops of black blood. Civilized men could do nothing but fight such atrocities.//
Fighting any form of slavery today
Similarly, today, all civilized people must unite to fight any form of slavery. The more we are united the more we shall manage to break the chains that tie us to poverty, hunger, unemployment, the high cost of living, injustice and impunity. Look at our brothers who are under the [heat of the] sun outside. Look at the peasants who are [working] under a hot sun, who are scraping the soil to make it produce food. Look at the youths who are fighting with life so they can live with hope. I am in solidarity with them and with all those who know that civilization accompanies human rights, that eating is a right and that all Haitians must be able to eat some day. [Applause]
Wanting peace and rejecting violence
Civilized people do not lurk in the bushes to support terrorist coups d'etat. The people have suffered too much. They have said that they do not at all want to go into hiding again. [Applause] We want to live in peace and we must have peace. Do you, brothers and sisters of mine who are here, want to live in peace? Yes or no? [crowd answers: Yes!] Would you like to live in peace? [crowd answers: Yes!] Are you working towards living in peace? [crowd answers: Yes!] You can applaud yourselves because you are civilized. [Applause]
//Certainly, 198 years of peace would have already led us to the Haiti of our dreams, the beautiful and prosperous one, the Pearl of the Antilles. Nevertheless, far from blossoming under the shade of palm tree flowers, our land has often been torn up by economic terrorism and violence. We condemn this violence unreservedly no matter from where it comes, whether it is political or economic violence, whether it is endogenous or imported violence, whether it is physical violence or the psychological violence resulting from political cynicism. Often this political cynicism has exuded the virus of division, the virus of division [repeat as heard], which is aimed at gnawing at our unity as people.
//From 1804 to 1904, 100 years after our independence, Haiti had already been the scene of 117 civil wars. Fratricidal struggles and coups d'etat are anachronistic. The Haitian people will never agree to be excluded without struggling peacefully and heroically against any form of apartheid. We need bridges of dialogue but not walls of exclusion.//
Haiti belongs to Haitians and to all Haitians. So, there must be food for everybody, work for everybody, health for everybody and school for everybody. On 1 January, not only is this what we all together are wanting but we are also working so that there can be food for everybody, housing for everybody, school for everybody and peace for everybody without distinction. May all those who agree that we work with the young people during the year so that we can get to this peace in the minds and peace in the stomachs little by little, help me encourage them with both our hands and sincerely. [Applause]
Crises, ambitions should not shake unity of purpose
Yes, there are crises in our country. However, crises and ambitions should not prompt us to forget that we are brothers and sisters. Sibi servirle gravissima servitus est. [Applause] //To be a slave to oneself is the hardest of slaveries.// Let us fight for our country instead of fighting one another contrary to what we saw between Alexandre Petion and Henri Christophe exactly three years to the day after the proclamation of independence [a reference to the division of the country between Petion and Christophe from 1806 to 1820].
On 1 January 1807, Gen Petion made for Arcahaie at 0200 with 3,000 soldiers and more than 300 horses. He was going to fight Christophe who had already left the north at the head of 10,000 soldiers to fight Gen Petion. Both were fighting for power. Today, these kinds of struggles for power will not lead us anywhere. //These confrontations and traditions of violence must be eradicated for the happiness of the nation.//
Today, 1 January, I am saying that power no longer resides with the bayonet but instead with the people's ballots. [Applause] //Let us not be afraid of universal suffrage. Let us not be afraid of universal suffrage.// [repeat as heard] [Applause] When we lose elections, we do not lose everything. The solution is not through protests, using weapons, or spoiling the people's food. We must get on. [Applause]
For 198 years, we have got on in order to survive. Today, it is time: we must unite to help Haiti live again. While embracing the political parties patriotically and fraternally, the country's president is telling them that during the year 2002, hand in hand, in dialogue, in mutual respect we shall work so as to bring Haiti back to life. [Applause]
Economy: "Crisis nourished in a cynical manner"
//This rebirth necessarily implies the existence of a lasting climate of peace guaranteeing political stability and economic growth. The year 2001 was characterized by a slowness of economic activities, mainly because of this crisis nourished in a cynical manner and because of the absence of financial resources. However, in spite of both internal and external constraints, the efforts that have been made allowed inflation to be restricted to about 12 per cent on a year-on-year basis [French: glissement annuel] and an increasing devaluation of our national currency to be avoided.//
//The rationalization of public expenditure allowed us to manage to set up projects assessed at 803m gourdes in the field of infrastructure, 259m gourdes in the educational sector, and 73m gourdes in the field of health. These results were achieved in spite of the stagnation of fiscal performance and the loss of receipts of about 900m gourdes in taxes [French: droits d'assises] on oil products.//
//In this year 2002, we have opted for economic policy measures corresponding at the same time to Haiti's specifications and to the new data of the international juncture. The principles of rigour and prudence in the management of the instruments of monetary and fiscal policy practised last year will be reinforced. So, we hope to reach a growth target of the gross national income of about 2 per cent in real terms, fiscal pressure of about 8.5 per cent, a range of 10 to 12 per cent for the inflation rate and a restoration of confidence of economic agents in the national currency.//
//Concerning budget allocations, 1.789bn gourdes will be devoted to infrastructure and 493m gourdes to health. The educational sector will enjoy a credit totalling 684.7m gourdes including more than 161m gourdes for the universal schooling programme and 108m gourdes for the start of the literacy programme and 69m gourdes for the school canteens. Hunger is hard. Hunger in stomachs is not good. Every time a child goes to school without eating, I am hungry and all civilized people feel hunger in their stomachs. Therefore, peace is essential so that we can work so that literacy accompanies economic activities that should fight hunger gradually.// [Applause]
//The economic literacy programme will have to strengthen the cooperative movements and allow several thousand farmers, fishermen, artisans and other workers specializing in small trades to develop their activities through our micro-credit programme. Assigning 60 per cent of the budget to operations and 40 per cent to investment projects clearly expresses our willingness to prioritize growth through strengthening human capital and setting up infrastructure. The monetary policy outlined by the Central Bank will have to continue to guarantee price stability somewhat prudently, to maintain the balance in the banking system and to favour the creation of a favourable climate for private enterprise.//
//As shown in our economic and social programme, our priorities focus on these five main points:
//1. Infrastructure and communication;
//2. National production;
//3. Education and literacy;
//4. Health; [and]
//5. Justice and public security.//
As for security, security, security [repeated as heard] we know how essential it is to have peace, just as peace is essential to progress. Let us encourage the entire police force and all the people who unite to fight insecurity. I am inviting you, the young people who are seated on the grass, to stand up and show the policemen that the entire people stand up with them to fight insecurity relentlessly everywhere day and night so that the country can enjoy full and complete security. [Applause]
Haitian people, do you need security? [crowd answers: Yes!] Haitian people, can you give yourselves security? [crowd answers: No!] Haitian people, can we establish security together everywhere in the country? [crowd answers: Yes!] I am proud to see that people are not afraid of walking at night on the Champ de Mars, on Peace Square. Bravo for all brave men and women. [Applause] I am proud to see that the people do not run away from zenglendos [criminals] but instead make zenglendos run away from them, because it is zenglendos who should run away but not God's children. [Applause]
Private investment; modernizing airports
//As regards private investment, private investment that also needs security, I make it a point to congratulate the groups, including Comme Il Faut, [word indistinct] Tobacco and Hilton for setting up an investment of more than 40m US dollars for the construction of a 200-room hotel. This project will generate several thousand permanent direct and indirect jobs in the construction phase and definitely represents a sample of entrepreneurship with multiplying effects that we need to promote.//
// The modernization of the international airports of Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien and that of the structures of the aerodromes of the provincial cities will begin in the next few months. These works, assessed at 2.5bn gourdes represent an important step in setting up the basic infrastructure programme essential to our country's development.//
"We need everyone's help to organize peace"
//Dear fellow citizens, if we enjoy a social climate of peace, we shall certainly be able to speed up the economic growth process.// We need peace and we need everyone's help to organize peace. The speed of development goes with the speed of peace. They are like the two wheels on a bicycle. I am certain that the young people will understand me very quickly. You, young people who are listening to me now, is it not true that you would like changes to occur in Haiti today? Yes or no? [crowd answers: Yes!] Would you like to see changes in Haiti quickly? [crowd answers: Yes!] Are you working so Haiti can change? [crowd answers: Yes!] so it can change quickly and more quickly. You are not alone; you do not have to be discouraged. You may hold on to your hope, because there are elder brothers and sisters of yours who stand with you, young people, to make these changes happen more quickly.
Further lessons from 1804
Our ancestors were not late. On 1 January 1804, they proved to us that they managed to produce independence. But they did not arrive late. They arrived early. That is why today, on Independence Day, we are going to rub our brains with the brains of our ancestors so their spirits can strengthen us, so their lights can guide us, so we can make these changes happen more quickly in the country.
//After the birth of the state of Haiti in 1804, it was necessary for one century to go by before the proliferation of states throughout the work could be seen. In 1900, there were only about 40 states of which a little more than a third resulted from the decolonization of Latin America. Then, seven years later, there were more than 180. They emerged late but not too late. The main thing, actually, is not to get there either soon or late but to just get there.//
Our ancestors made 1804. As for us, we must make 2004. As for us we must make 2004 [repetition as heard] [Applause] Your reaction through applause shows me that you agree with this truth. Let us proclaim it together with me: Our ancestors made 1804. Together! Our ancestors made 1804. As for us, we must make 2004. As for us, we must make 2004 [repeat as heard]. Once again, our ancestors made 1804. As for us, we must make 2004. They taught us lessons. They gave us examples. We just have to follow in their footsteps.
On 16 May 1798, Toussaint Louverture, the precursor of our independence, had a Te Deum celebrated. At the end of the celebration, he declared: Like our Lord Jesus Christ, I have forgiven you. Today, guided by this spirit of forgiveness, at the end of this Te Deum of 1 January, in compliance with the laws of the Republic, we also grant mercy [stammers] mercy. Full and complete mercy to Marlene Dorgat, Belleus Dorval, Jackson Fleury, Vanise Pierre, Fanfan Simon, Sergo Mesidor, Emmanuel Petion, Robert Saintil, Renald Horace, Peter Louis Lafleur, [and] Fresnel Jean-Pierre. All those people are in jail. I have pardoned them so they can be freed. [Applause]
Still in compliance with the laws of the Republic, the following persons will enjoy a commutation of punishment: Mrs Orleus Louis Jean, Dalvanord Charles, Menette Pierre, Daniel Pierre, Lelie Pierre, Eddy Blanchard, Fanfan Blanchard, Fignole Guilloux, Mercilo Devitier, Ducarmel Legrand, Delorme Vieux, Herman Elisma, Celestene Philippe, Elvaris Philome, Guerrier Menard, Louis Menard, Ilavois Louis, Rock Harold and Saint-Luc Fleurisme. All those people have been sentenced to prison either for life or for many years. However, I have reduced the number of years they should stay in jail by presidential order. [Applause]
Still in compliance with the laws of the Republic, the following persons have been granted amnesty: Enide Deroli, William Lessage, Leclerc Clervil, Saures Louis, Jacques Etienne, Jeff Robert Durand and Servilus Francois Renan. They have all been granted amnesty.
Let us establish democracy together
//Dear fellow citizens, Haitian people, let us, messengers of peace, join hands to establish democracy, which implies ideological pluralism and political alternation. Let us join hands to build up a state that is imperiously obliged under Article 19 of the constitution to guarantee the right to life, to health, human respect; a state where all citizens without distinction express freely their opinions and where all journalists can exercise freely their profession within the framework of the law. Finally may all of us be happy to build a socially just, economically free, and politically independent Haiti.//
//Thank you and happy new year.// [Applause]
Source: Television Nationale d'Haiti, Port-au-Prince, in Creole 1825 gmt 1 Jan 02
/BBC Monitoring/ © BBC.
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