Press conference by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, after his meeting with
Ambassador David Lee, Head of the OAS Special Mission, and his assistant, Mr.
National Palace, October 3, 2002
OPENING REMARKS BY PRESIDENT ARISTIDE:
As always, we are happy to welcome you in the National Palace. We take the
occasion to tell you how happy we are about our great meeting with Mr. David
Lee and Ambassador Modest.
The OAS Resolution 822 must be implemented. It is our duty to keep working to
get there. When we can talk like we just did, we have reasons to be happy,
because this is not about only one sector, it is about many people working
together to get there.
We also take the occasion to thank once again Haitians and friends of Haitian
people who held hands so we could get to Resolution 822. The OAS mission here
in Haiti is welcome and we really want to walk side by side with our friends
from the OAS mission in Haiti for Haiti’s sake.
Up to now, we are very happy about it. That doesn’t mean that everything is
perfect. It means that a political will is present to move forward, to go
step by step. As you can see, we are presently writing the chapter on
reparations. We are still missing a few pages. We are hoping that the
dialogue started between lawyers from sectors involved and judicial
authorities will lead us to a compromise as soon as possible so we can finish
this chapter and start writing new ones, such as the one about disarmament.
That particular chapter may have more pages in it, because it is a process
that involves many actors, a lot of will and many good strategies. It has
started. Now we need to intensify it and go forward.
I am also aware that the security issue, whether we talk about psychological
security, food security, or just plain security, is a vital issue. We
congratulate all those who held hands to increase security. It is a fact, we
can see it. We encourage all to continue to do everything to increase
security each day.
Before handing over to Mr. David Lee, I would like to underline the aspect of
When you are not armed psychologically, it is like when you are sick and your
body can be attacked by any virus. Then you need to get a vaccination, you
need to take vitamins to strengthen your body. It is the same for the mental
universe. If we are disarmed in the mental universe, we may think that there
is more insecurity than security. I encourage my fellow citizens to see the
glass as half-full instead of seeing it half-empty. The true security we have
is like the half-full glass. Starting from there, we will continue to
increase security, but we are not starting at zero. The security of eight
million men and women is assured with little means by a police force of less
than 5,000 young Haitians. A lot has been done already and we have the
obligation, as psychologists, to look at the positive side without
overlooking what still needs to be done.
When I can stimulate the dialogue with you, I am also looking at the positive
side. In this sense, when I make a move toward my brothers from the
Opposition, when I go toward other sectors than Lavalas, I do so with
pleasure, with all my heart while I wish for reciprocity. Because this will
also bring more psychological security to look at what has already been done
and not only at what still needs to be done. What has already been done are
the sincere steps taken toward others.
So in the same framework of mutual understanding, of capacity to dialogue in
mutual respect to see what we can continue to do together, as it was felt in
my dialogue with Ambassador Lee, who knows if we won’t find a way to favor
the existence of the same climate between Haitians? That is why I encourage
this same dialogue to intensify or increase psychological security needed for
Once again, in the name of the Haitian government, we thank the OAS for
sending Ambassador Lee and Ambassador Modest.
AMBASSADOR DAVID LEE:
Thank you very much Mr. President and thank you for this occasion to speak to
As you said so well, we have discussed the setting up of the OAS resolutions
that concern this beautiful country, which are Resolutions 806 and 822. We
have agreed that we need to go forward with the implementation of these two
resolutions. We need to plan together to adopt very concrete measures to set
them up. There is also a need to recognize that some aspects of timing are
very important, such as the deadline at the beginning of November to form a
Provisionary Electoral Council, this being very important in order to have
elections next year.
We have talked about all the subjects you mentioned: security, reparations
and other current subjects, disarmament. We discussed very openly the
problems that need to be solved, the many pending problems. So I am proud of
this occasion and I wait with great interest for the possibility to implement
a mechanism when we will have the concrete measures we talked about.
Thank you very much.
Mr. President, about the elections, will we keep the same Provisionary
Before November 4, according to Resolution 822, we will have a new Electoral
Council, as it was provided for in the negotiations and in Resolution 822. So
the Electoral Council in place now will not be there to guide us toward free,
honest and democratic elections. It will be a new Electoral Council.
Have you contacted other parties from the opposition?
Yes. And that is why I talked about dialogue earlier. I go toward them, so we
can continue to build bridges of respect, of dialogue since depolarizing the
Haitian society is essential for the future of the country. And in this
sense, we will continue.
About the disarmament campaign launched by the government, some leaders of
the opposition ask for a foreign authority in Haiti to bring a support of
some kind.How do you see that?
When we talk about democracy, we talk about the respect of freedom of speech,
respect of freedom of expression. Then all political parties, all Haitians,
all sectors in society have the right to express their point of view. That is
how I welcome the different points of view expressed regarding this issue. It
is too early for me to say the final word. I prefer to continue to
respectfully listen to see how together we can bring the new Electoral
Council to life.
Actually, how do you see the negotiations after Resolution 822 of the
Organization of American States?
Up to now, it is more positive than negative. And I insist. Allow me to
insist because I know what I am talking about. 200 years in our history where
we have too often seen a minority facing a majority and where invisible hands
stir the bicentennial conflict. At the eve of the celebration of our
Bicentennial, it is time to see the minority and the majority dialogue, meet
to build the new Haiti together.
What do you mean by invisible hands?
Hands that are not visible.
Mr. Lee, do you have a message for the opposition and the civil society to
encourage them to participate in the formation of the Electoral Council?
I think I have already said it. It is very important that all political
actors play their part. According to the draft of the initial agreement, we
are thinking of 9 entities who can choose their representative to form the
CEP. 9 Haitian entities, of course, chosen during the negotiations.
These entities need to take on their responsibilities and choose their
candidates. There are many things to do in the months and weeks to come. And
all actors need to take on their responsibilities. In this case, their
responsibility is to choose their representative for the CEP. It is very
important that their choices are very, very credible so that the CEP is
efficient and recognized by all as the best CEP possible. This way it can
play its role. The role provided for in the Haitian Constitution and also in
the OAS Resolution, which reinforces it by bringing it to play a role for the
So I believe that such a CEP is in the interest of all those who want great
Will you have meetings with the opposition, like the one you had with
We have already met people from the Democratic Convergence and we certainly
have the intention and the desire to meet all other actors.
The last question, maybe?
Can we know who the next members of the CEP are that we are talking about?
It is too early to know that now, but we will know it when the right time
I will end by thanking you once again. And you, members of the press, have a
important role to play too, as you know and as you have demonstrated more
I can only respectfully encourage you to move forward in the direction of
2004 so that through your microphones, through your voices, democracy can
find the seeds of truth, of light, of encouragement. When we are fed by
truth, we are encouraged to fight together in a peaceful way.
The press is an important and essential strength. To move toward 2004, we are
counting on walking side by side with you, but il this sense, we are only
telling you what you already know.
Let’s go together, together, together!