Aristide began his speech by welcoming those present at the ceremony. Then he  said: “Haitians can make Haiti 2003 times more beautiful. Let us repeat with  me: [in chorus with the audience] Haitians can make Haiti 2003 times more  beautiful.”

 Aristide made historical references and praised Haitian heroes Jean-Jacques  Dessalines and Toussaint Louverture, and said: “Given Haiti is the first  black republic that enjoyed freedom on earth, nothing, nothing, nothing will  ever be able to delete this title of champion. Haiti is a champion. Nobody  can change that. Congratulations to Haiti and to all Haitians. Wave the flags  for Haiti. Big applause for the Haitian people.” [Applause]

 He explained that the ending of slavery in Haiti meant pushing away borders  and barriers so that mankind could enjoy freedom everywhere. He added: “In  fact, as early as 1 January 1804, Haiti, the mother of freedom, showed the  way to the independence of the peoples beyond our borders.” He mentioned  the years which marked the independence of various Latin American countries  and said: “The year 1803 [which marked the creation of the Haitian flag in  Arcahaie on 18 May and the final victory of Haitian troops over Napoleon’s  army before Haiti’s proclamation of independence on 1 January 1804] marked  Haitian history deeply. The year 1803 was the year of 1,000 fights. The year  1803 was the year of great victories.”

 After evoking the revolt of the Haitian slaves and recalling victories by the  Haitian Indigenous Army over the English and the French, he said: “As you  observe, the delivery for Haiti’s independence was a Caesarean section  performed without anaesthetic. Fortunately, if the cockerel’s strength lies  in his spurs, Haiti’s strength lies in Haitians; Haiti’s strength lies in  Haitians [repetitions as heard throughout]. [Applause] It is true that we  cannot get blood from a stone, but Haitians can make Haiti 2003 times more  beautiful. Haitians can make Haiti 2003 times more beautiful. Haitians can  make Haiti 2003 times more beautiful. Repeat with me please. Once again.  Haitians can make Haiti 2003 times more beautiful.”

 “Eating is a sacred right”

 Aristide recalled that there was a great mobilization in 1803 and pointed out  that in 2003 there must be even more mobilization. He then spoke about the  mobilization for the government’s literacy campaign. He called on the people  to demand respect for their rights. “In addition to education, education and  freedom of speech, eating is a sacred right.” He made several comments on the  people’s sacred right to eat while pointing out that “hunger is not sweet and  an empty bag cannot stand. Therefore, the wall of apartheid must fall  peacefully so that everybody can eat every day and several times a day.”  [Applause]

 Furthermore, he said: “Because every person is a person, everybody is  supposed to eat. Eating is a sacred right. Everybody must eat every day.  Therefore, we must shake the apartheid wall peacefully every day until  everyone finds a seat around the table as they should.”

 “Yes to elections, no to coup d’etat”

 Aristide went on to say that Haiti’s 200 years of history must be turned  towards building the rule of law. He advocated the spirit of compromise among  all Haitians and denounced two extreme positions that should be rejected:  “Dictatorship and anarchy. Let us put up democracy to oppose these extreme  positions.”

 He also spoke of the need to form the new Provisional Electoral Council (CEP)  and called on the nine institutions concerned to send their representatives  to the CEP. He added that the Haitian people would like elections to be held.  After proposing a survey to determine whether the Haitian people want  elections, he invited them to raise their hands if they agreed with his  stance in favour of elections. Then he thanked them. He went on to say: “The  people’s voice is God’s voice – The year 2002 is an electoral year. So, yes  to elections, no to coup d’etat; yes to elections, no to coup d’etat; yes to  elections, no to coup d’etat.”

 Aristide then said: “Let us not be afraid of universal suffrage. Do not be  afraid of universal suffrage; do not be afraid of universal suffrage. Are  you afraid of going to elections?” The crowd answered: “No”. He recalled that  a president is elected for five years and got the crowd to repeat with him:  “It is not for 10 but for five years.” (This was repeated five times.) He  announced that there will be security before and after the elections and  congratulated the people, because they are in favour of elections in spite of  their problems.

 He went on to repeat again, twice (as heard): “Yes to elections, no to coup  d’etat. Yes to elections, no to coup d’etat.” He asked if anybody would like  to experience again the situation that prevailed after September 1991 when  they used to go into hiding. After the crowd replied: “No”, he added that  nobody would go into hiding again. He said: “We are a free people and we  shall remain free. Nobody will go into hiding again.” He explained that  everybody would like “to live in total and complete freedom” and went on to  say that when there is a coup d’etat, the people go into hiding. Therefore,  he invited them to take a stand against coups d’etat, against going into  hiding and in favour of elections.

 Unblocking the country

 Then, after reiterating several times: “Haitians can make Haiti 2003 times  more beautiful,” he explained that “too many forces of hypocrisy have  blocked the country”. Then, he invited the audience to say with him and  several times: “Unblock the country. Let us go: Unblock the country. [In  chorus with the audience] Again: Unblock the country. [In chorus with the  audience]. [Let us repeat it] louder: Unblock the country [together with the  audience]. Is the country blocked? [the crowd answered: “Yes”] Would you like  the country to be unblocked? [the crowd answers: “Yes”]. Let us cry aloud:  Unblock the country – Let us repeat aloud and with all our hearts: Unblock  the country.”

 He asked the audience to applaud all those who are working for the  development of the country. He called on the people to “mobilize all forces  of truth to protect the country against lies, disinformation and  denigration”. He invited the audience to stand against the forces that are  telling lies about Haiti. He spoke of the need to raise higher the flag that  represents Haiti’s dignity every day.


 Artistide went on to recall: “A century ago, on 20 March 1903, President  Nord Alexis invited his secretary of state for justice to inaugurate the  Consolidation Legal Proceedings. Today, 100 years later, I invite the  judicial authorities to open, as soon as possible, I say this well, to open  as soon as possible; I am repeating, to open as soon as possible, the way for  the trials [of the murderers] of Jean Dominique, Jean-Claude Louissaint,  Minister Guy Malary, Fathers Jean-Marie Vincent and Jean Pierre-Louis, the  victims of the Saint-Jean Bosco, Jean-Rabel and Piatte massacres, the 5,000  victims of the coups d’etat of 30 September 1991, 17 December [2001] and 28  July 2001 [order of dates as heard].

 “Legal proceedings must be instituted against the authors and parties to  the villainous crimes perpetrated in the years 2001 and 2002 such as the  murders of Brignol Lindor, the Duverger case, the murder of Maxime Seide, the  murders by the armed branch of the opposition of: Judge Christophe Lozama and  of citizens Louis Dorsainvil, Severe Joseph, Leony Laverne and Jean-Harry  Sigue. Let us encourage the judicial authorities with patriotic applause.”

 He added that “the struggle against impunity must continue because social  peace and respect for human rights are intertwined”.

 After asking if people in the audience had ever been victims of crime or had  relatives who have been victims, he said: “Let us cooperate so that there can  be more justice.” Then he offered a patriotic embrace to the police while  expressing the hope that they will continue to establish more security.

 Economic sanctions, measures

 Aristide then asked, rhetorically:, “Is it necessary to recall how unfair  the economic sanctions inflicted on our people are?” He described the  sanctions as “a blatant violation of human rights”. He talked about the  economic sacrifices made by the government in 2002 to keep the social and  economic balance, despite the “disastrous consequences entailed by the  economic sanctions”. He pointed out that the economic sanctions against the  government have created a slowdown in economic activities. He also pointed  out, however, that the government has made efforts to control the budget  deficit and to maintain the stability of the exchange rate until June. He  explained that investments totalling about 1.9bn gourdes, 21 per cent more  than in 2001, had been made. These funds were invested in roads, schools and  health centers, he said.

 He then spoke of measures taken to make the Haitian economy more dynamic in  2003. He announced plans to fight drug trafficking and the continuation of  the government’s policy of putting things right and of struggling against  corruption in order to make good use of the government’s resources. He added  that “administrative measures and the passage of bills aimed at modernizing  the tax on turnover, income tax and the communications tax will allow an  8.5-per-cent increase in tax receipts”. He went on to say: “Monetary  policy will be conducted in a cautious manner in order to allow the monetary  authorities to preserve stability in the exchange rate.”


 Aristide then announced amnesty and commutation of sentences for 78 convicted  people in several geographic departments of the country in accordance with  Articles 136 and 146 of the constitution and the law of 26 July 1906. He then  asked the audience to applaud all those who had contributed to the  alleviation of the sentences of these convicted people, because “the  sufferings of some are also the sufferings of others” and the “problems of  some must always be the problems of all of us and all of us must always unite  to walk hand in hand with all those who are suffering, because we are a great  people…”.


 He went on to announce 14 projects which will be finished in the Artibonite  region by 1 January 2004. He said: “The continuing projects will continue.  When the embargo is lifted we shall have more money for the execution of more  projects here in the Artibonite region and throughout the entire country by  2004.” The projects in the Artibonite region include land reform, the  construction of the road between Saint-Marc and Gonaives, the construction of  Gonaives Airport and the construction of a public high school which will be  called “Lycee du Bicentenaire des Gonaives” and electricity 24 hours a day.

 President Aristide finished his 50-minute speech by saying: “The earth  moves in intergalactic space at 600 km per second, but it revolves around the  sun at 30 km per second. On 1 January, may the planet earth revolve around  the sun of freedom at a proportional speed. All stars are not suns but all  suns are stars. May all our stars of freedom be lit to guide us during this  new year until all of us return here to Gonaives on 1 January 2004 for the  celebration of the bicentenary of our independence! Thank you.” [Applause]