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a457: Pres. Aristide's speech for Opening of Parliament 1-14-02(fwd)

From: MKarshan@aol.com

Speech by the President of the Republic of Haiti
His Excellency Jean-Bertrand Aristide
at the solemn opening of the First Session of the Legislative Year 2002
Legislative Palace, Monday January 14th, 2002.

Your Excellency Prime Minister,
Distinguished Members of Haiti's governement,
Honourable Mr. President of the National Assembly,
Honourable Vice-President,
Honourable Senators and Deputies of the Republic of Haiti,
Mr. President of the Court of Cassation,
Mr. President of the Accounts Superior Court,
Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the "Grands Corps de l'Etat",
Your Excellency, Mr. Apostolic Nuncio,
Distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished members of the Consular Corps,
Dears friends from the International Community and International Organizations,
Dear fellow Haitian citizens,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The First Lady and myself are honoured to welcome you today and, united with you, we salute all seven senators who resigned and with their resignation gave their contribution towards ending the crisis.

May the echo of this patriotic salutation be heard to the heart of their hearts!
And, united with the entire nation, I would like to congratulate each and everyone of you, Honourable Members of Parliament, who accepted as well to lose twq years from your mandate for the happiness of the nation.

As elected Members of Parliament, let's observe a minute's silence in the memory of the Mayor of Saint-Raphaël, Fernand Sévère, who was democratically elected and then killed in the most cowardly way at a moment when our democracy needs dialectic tools and not weapons of death. I would please ask you to stand up...

We can all relate to this killing at the Opening of the First Legislative Session of the year 2002, and every democrat should relate to it. We can all wonder, at the light of Article 151 of our mother-law: Where does Haiti stand in the democratic ebb and flow of the region and of the world?

The First Article of the Constitution that declared Haiti was a free and independent republic was the first to say where Haiti stood then in the democratic ebb and flow that deeply affected the 20th century.

All the Nations, beyond the frontiers of the world, dream of freedom.
Always more freedom.

What are our observations about how nations enjoy their freedom, both at regional and international levels, during the last decade of the 20th century?

In 1993, 32% of the world population lived in free countries.

This percentage went from 20% in 1976 to 32% in 1993 It had been better in 1990, though, where it had reached 39%.

Haiti, the First Republic of the world, has joined in the rising up of that freedom in the year 1990, as it was entering the scene with democratic countries, 187 years after its victory against colonialism slavery.

To what rhythm have we progressed towards democracy, between our first democratic and free elections on December 16th, 1990 and today, this First Legislative Session of the year 2002?

In 1990, as 45% of independent countries lived in democracy, Latin America could proudly state a rate twice as high of 90%.

1990-2002 those are 12 years during which democracy has turned a fire that lights up the light of hope -- Hope for the Haitian people.

And democracy has made itself pluralistic in its dialectical movement within our nation. Vital contradiction, inevitable opposition, what else is new? Democracy is of course the twin sister of independence. In the First Article of our Constitution the two terms are associated and are the two giant guiding lights of our bumpy road.

Wherever democracy and independence rule, respect of every citizen's rights must rule as well.

Wherever democracy and independence rule, every citizen's duties must rule as well.

There are no rights without duties.

That is what our Constitution declares in Article 19:

The State has the imperious obligation to guarantee the right to life, to health, to respect of the people, for every citizen with no distinction, in accordance with the universal declaration of Human Rights.

Rights and duties of every son and daughter of the nation. This nation is deeply affected by a post-electoral crisis and by the depth of the crisis. These are going right through our society's structures.

During the last two centuries, neo-colonialism never brought Haitian masses towards a  better tomorrow.

That is where 200 years of exclusion come from. Exclusion generates crisis. Societal crisis. Identity crisis. Crisis generated by a social mutation. A painful social mutation, just as any human mutation. From there comes distress that generates neurotic states.

And if by magic the negative pole tends to eliminate the positive pole, then you need a whole collective therapy to boost the human image.

Fortunately, our culture is a source of life. May our will of being go deeper and deeper in the roots of life and bring us happiness and stength to live day after day.

The day the fire of hope dies,
It will be dark all night and day.

I will repeat myself!:

The day the fire of hope dies,
It will darken all night and day.
Hope is within ourselves, Haitians.

Stuck between the walls of exclusion, the Haitian people has been peacefully but heroically fighting back, under the heavy weight of endemic unemployment, human misery; under the heavy weight of atavism, prejudice and social pathologies.

So we then have to,

First : bring our social fabric back to life,

Second : revive our independence,

Third : re-stimulate our democracy in order to build a society of rights.

The State of rights can really bloom only in an environment of peace, equity, justice.
Unfortunately, our legal system is sick, very sick. It's being eaten away by corruption and impunity. We can see that too often our system doesn't do justice for the persons who deserve it.

Of course corruption is as old as the world and belongs to no particular race, class frontier, or nation. That is why we need to fight it back with determination. There can't be corrupt ones without corrupters.

The fight against impunity and corruption
Is each and everyone's responsibility!
This way only can we make democracy stronger, with justice. And even better, let's democratize justice and make it available for those who are powerless. Let's modernize it and professionalize it without rest, together with our National Police.

Under the mother-law, the State has the obligation to see to the respect and the accomplishment of the Constitution, to the stability of the institutions, and make sure the public power is functionning as it should be (Article 136).

In respect for the principle of separation of the three powers established by the Constitution, the state's chief encourages the legal authorities to fight against impunity without rest.

Our prisons are overloaded with people in custody, that last forever in the different prisons all around the country. This is a tragedy that goes against every citizen's conscience.

This is why, in accordance with Article 146 and the power it brings upon us, we have granted pardons, commuted the sentences or granted amnesty for many prisoners We urge the legal authorities to accelerate the procedures so that another 4,000 prisonners rotting in prison can finally know their sentence and pay for their misdeed, if found guilty.

As well, we insist that investigations see an end. Whether it is about journalist killings, like Jean Dominique, Jean-Claude Louissaint, Brignol Lindor, or the investigation related to Mayor Fernand Severe's killing, or about the incidents that happened last July 28th, or December 17th, and finally, about any violation of human rights.

Freedom of association or reunion without weapons, for political, economic, social, cultural means or any peaceful means, is guaranteed (Article 31).

Articule 31.1 states that:

Voting is permitted for all political parties and organizations and they pratice their activities freely. They must respect the principles of national sovereignty and democracy.

>From 1990 to 2002,
We put up many posts
To keep democracy standing up.
They are fragile, that is true.
But it is our responsability
To make it stronger.
No matter how strong the winds are shaking democracy posts,
We stay strong and will never fail!
To protect our democracy's future.
And our responsibilities always become more and more,
As we see how economy is shaking up the whole world.

Economic growth, on a worldwide level, went down from 4.6% in 2000, to 2.8% in 2001. This is an incredible decline that brought many century-old enterprises to a close, and at the same time, mothers and fathers lost their jobs, bringing insecurity and uncertainty into their families.

In developing countries, international trade had gone up 13% in 2000. But it went right down in 2001, as it was only 5%, bringing unemployment, poverty and violence there as well.

Concerning stock market transactions, it is just as bad, as, between March 2000 and March 2001, portfolios lost 10 thousand billion dollars of their value across the world, which is evaluated to be a quarter of their entire value.

Many people can't figure out
How Haitians are holding on in their misery,
Such a rough one too!
It is a misery that makes big guys eat on little guys
And sometimes even walk on little guys.
A misery that shakes everybody in their souls.
Everybody knows that human beings cannot live in such misery
If they stand alone
To fight it, to fight back, even though it cannot go away in just one day.

Fortunately, we are 8,000,000 Haitians in this country! We are a lot! And every time we stand united, we put our efforts together, we become stronger and stronger to fight back that misery with no mercy.

We are united and we stand together with everyone who lives in the mountains, with every peasant who works hard under the burning sun, with every young one who is fighting back discouragement and who feels that hope is melting like butter under the heat, and with every Haitian who lives in the Tenth Department. Those Haitians who live abroad know how to help us keep democracy up and together with them, we become stronger to keep democracy up.

In this view, we are urging you, Honourable Members of Parliament, to vote the bill to repeal all the laws that could have negative effects on Haitians, born in Haiti and who moved away and now have a different nationality. This will allow them to:

1 - be exempted from having to fill formalities for their stay in Haiti;
2 - be exempted from the Judicatum solvi guarantee;
3 - be eligible for government jobs as well as any other jobs;
4 - be able to become part of the Police Corps;
5 - be exempted from the necessary authorization from the Ministry of Justice to obtain some property.

Haitians from the Tenth Department are Haitians just as well as any Haitian still on this land. Just as well as a native Haitian who asked Toussaint Louverture if he could be named judge. Up until now, many people criticize Toussaint Louverture for the time he had asked a native if he could speak Latin.

If  Toussaint Louverture, father of the 1801 Constitution, could see the 1987 Constitution, he would probably ask many Haitians, "Do you know your civic duties?"

Article 52.1 states that:
Civic duty is the whole set of the citizen's obligations in moral, political, social and economical orders towards the State and the Country. These obligations are:

1 - Respect the Constitution and the national emblem;
2 - Respect the laws;
3 - Vote in all elections with no constraint;
4 - Pay his taxes; (I  repeat: 4 - Pay his taxes! And I will repeat again: 4 - Pay his taxes!) ;
5 - Serve as jurors ;
6 - Defend the country in case of a war ;
7 - Get an education and advance;
8 - Respect the environnement ;
9 - Respect scrupulously public monies and goods ;
10 - Respect other people’s property;
11 - Work together to maintain peace (I repeat: Work together to maintain peace.
And I will repeat again: Work together to maintain peace);
12 - Give assistance to those in need or in danger;
13 - Respect the rights and freedom of others.

Dear compatriots,
We have here a whole program for life.

Honourable Members of Parliament,
Yes, we have here a whole program for life.

Dear fellow citizens,
We have here a whole program for life.

>From this new approch will finally emerge this Modern State, assuming fully its new functions of strategic management, of supplier and regulator of essential services. A Democratic State, by definition smooth and flexible, that can adapt to new requirements in the respect of the Constitution's obligations.

Honourable Members of Parliament,
Dear fellow citizens,
198 years ago, our ancesters wrote the word independence with the red color of their blood,
Today, may we write democracy in Blue and Red, our national colors.

Thank you.