Haiti marked the 214th anniversary of its political independence, acknowledging that after so many years “we are still unable to feed our people, educate our children, provide health care to our compatriots, and rebuild the infrastructure necessary for the economic development of our country”.
The celebrations come amidst growing tensions in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country where citizens still await the official results of the November 20, 2016 presidential and legislative elections.
Last weekend, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) released partial final results and the posting of decisions of Office of the National Electoral Litigation (BCEN) concerning disputes of candidates for the legislative elections.
But that did not prevent violent incidents in several communes including in Marigot, south east of here, where the town hall was burned and destroyed.
“Unidentified individuals set fire to the building…There is nothing left,” said the mayor, René Danneau, adding also that a discotheque was also burnt down and two other houses damaged by fire.
Vandals also attacked the house of the deputy mayor who has since promised to cooperate fully with the police and the judiciary in the investigation even though he was unable to identify those involved in the incident.
In his address to mark the independence anniversary on Sunday, Interim President Jocelerme Privert said Haiti has a historic place in the shared struggle for independence in the Western Hemisphere.
“In spite of the accidents of our history which brought us humiliations, the date of 1st January carries for us a particular density of emotions and feelings, through the asperities of the path travelled.
“January 1st finds us each year to this pilgrimage to the heart of the spirit in the authentic time of Gonaives the pole of all the patriotic convergences where the ancestors for obvious reasons have chosen to lay the foundation stone of the national edifice.”
But he acknowledged that for 213 years “our country has faced a series of challenges and conflicts which should no longer frighten the descendants of 1804.
“We are still unable to feed our people, educate our children, and provide health care to our compatriots and to rebuild the infrastructure necessary for the economic development of our country.
“The night would be long and the day too short for a complete declination of our needs, we have already tried a wide range of forms of government and yet we have tumbled over the decades of the status of Pearl of the Antilles to the shameful label of the poorest country of the Americas.”
Privert, who came into office after President Michel Martelly left in February without an elected successor, said that he does not intend to give lessons to anyone, on how “we are all responsible, we are obliged to agree, to do our mea culpa so that we move forward.
“We are all Haitian; we must accept with humility that every Haitian has his contribution to bring for the search for the solution. We must create a better tomorrow for all our children”.
Privert said when he left prison he “realised that the best way for this country to move forward is to learn how to forgive, to sit with one another.
“Today I ask the Haitian people to sit together. Let us analyse, agree on what is good for the country, because 2017 is the year when the country has to take a leadership,” he said, adding “for the crisis to end, for the instability to end, we have to be tolerant, we have to have the ability to listen to the other, to sit together, we can have different positions, but we can find good solutions for the country”.
He acknowledged that it would be a difficult task “to forgive but we must remember that without forgiveness there would not have been the Archaie Congress leading to the proclamation of independence.
“Today we are in a delicate situation, the Fathers of the Nation looks at us, they reproach us, they rebuke us because today, after 213 years of independence we have foreign soldiers on our territory, because the conflicts have reached us and we cannot sit together to manage them.”
Privert urged Haitians to make an effort “to put ourselves together to finish once and for all with the presence of foreign soldiers on our territory.
“On the eve of handing over power to an elected president my concerns about the future of the country are big but I know that coming out of the tunnel of poverty and instability is within the reach of citizens who cultivate in the highest degree the love of the common and immortal homeland,” President Privert added.
Meanwhile, the United States and Venezuela sent congratulatory messages to Haiti with Washington noting that nearly one million people in the United States are of Haitian ancestry.
“Our shared pride in that heritage resulted this year in the designation of Little Haiti as an official neighbourhood of Miami, Florida. The vibrancy of Little Haiti is a symbol of the community’s advocacy for historic preservation and a testament to its incorporation into the fabric of US culture and society.
“As Haiti rebuilds from the impact of Hurricane Matthew in the country’s southwest, the United States reaffirms its unwavering friendship for the people of Haiti. We view 2017 as an opportunity to continue to work together in support of the full renewal of Haiti’s democratic institutions and the seating of a new president elected by the Haitian people,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said.
President Nicolas Maduro said that it was in Haiti that Liberator Simon Bolivar found support and support in the most difficult times for the emancipation of the ‘Patria Grande’.
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates to the people of Haiti their determination to build a more integrated, fair and supportive Caribbean by strengthening PetroCaribe and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America and the Peoples Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) and continue on the road together for the victory and independence of our America.”
SOURCE: Jamaica Observer