See also Reuters story below.


Thank you for being here. Your presence here will allow us to answer some
questions, like the question of gas for example.

I can make a connection between the South-African experience and the Haitian
experience to open the discussion on the question of gas.

In 1994, in South Africa, a great understanding was reached between the
majority and the minority. The White minority of South Africa and the Black
majority reached an understanding through elections. It’s been 9 years and
the national understanding is still there. We need that same understanding
here, in our country. We had reached an understanding in 1804, which had
allowed us to take our freedom through our independence.

In 2003, on the eve of 2004, we need that same understanding between the
minority and the majority. Between the Opposition and the Government. If we
get to that understanding, there will be an economic release! We have been
making sacrifices for two years to reach that understanding. About Five
Hundred Million US dollars are blocked abroad. Some people encourage the
blockade of that money, which is money we borrowed. An understanding would
help to release the country, to see that money gets into the country so the
State can have more money to work with the people!

Gas concerns everyone. Kerosene concerns almost everybody in the country.
When those prices go up, everyone is concerned and it hurts everyone. If
there was a political understanding that would lead to an economic release,
everyone would be happy. That’s why I believe that this difficult experience
with gasoline in the country is another occasion for deep thinking so that no
one stays with their pride, so that everyone sees that the release of the
country will be a good thing for the entire country. It must not be a
political battle for power. But instead, it must be a democratic battle in
respect of everyone’s opinion, everyone’s position. And everyone must make
the necessary efforts to ask to release the country. The formation of the
Electoral Council, in accordance with Resolution 822, is a step in the right
direction for the release of the country.

Why wouldn’t there be an Electoral Council, since almost all the conditions
are there? That’s where I believe it is essential and very important for all
9 sectors involved in the formation of the Electoral Council to sit together,
to work for the release of the country, which needs to go through that too.

About ourselves, a lot of money was spent last year in order not to make life
harder than it already is. 2.9 billion gourdes were spent to make life a
little easier. That’s significant! In the last months (October, November,
December), the State had a deficit of about 500,000,000 gourdes because of
gasoline. 500,000,000 gourdes in a few months, that’s significant!  If there
had been an Electoral Council before October, it is clear that there could
have been an electoral release together with a political release that would
have led to an economic release. And so, the Government would have been in
the same position as the Opposition, happy about the economic release,
instead of having one who is asking to block the country economically while
the other is asking to release it. I truly believe that when one is
suffering, all of us are suffering. So, we all have the obligation to
continue to dialogue, discuss, to reach a national understanding to have less
economic problems.

The Opposition has a great responsibility regarding gas.

Because it is asking for the blockade of the country so that no money gets
in, while we need money. Not for ourselves, but for everybody, for the
country. The 9 institutions involved in the CEP also have their

We must tell the truth.

If you ask for the blockade of the country, if you are happy when the country
is blocked, if you manage to keep the country blocked, you cannot pretend to
be hurt when economic problems increase in the country.

Take a real step for the release of the country. And together, we will be
happy to see all Haitians benefit from it. If you have questions to clarify
what I just said, I will be happy to answer them.

**a question on the declaration from the President of the Chamber of Commerce
of the South-East about how a gallon of gas is now more important than


As the Head of State, I know how important it is for working people who have
low salaries to have a State working together with the union and employers to
discuss a raise of salaries. That’s what is happening here. Like the Minister
of Social Affairs said, if it was only for the State, since the price of gas
doubled, it would only be natural to double the minimum wage. But we are a
democratic State who doesn’t want to act by itself, without respectfully
listening to what other people have to say, discuss with other people. That’s
exactly what we are doing. There is a dialogue between the State, the union
representing the workers, and the employers to reach an agreement concerning
the minimum wage.

Job creation is essential in a society. In order for the State to create
jobs, there must be an agreement between the State, the employers and people
representing the workers, the union. That’s why partnership is so important
to us. And it goes through respectful and democratic dialogue.

So, I hope that if we reach an agreement soon regarding workers’ salaries, at
the same time, the agreement, going through the end of the crisis will lead
to job creation. Then, the private sector will be in a better social
environment to create jobs. And the country will be in a more peaceful
situation that will bring more foreign investments so that the creation of
jobs can help everyone live in better conditions, in dignity, in an
environment which must be peaceful, one way or the other.

**a question about security**


We were talking about South Africa. Let’s imagine that people in South Africa
would have asked for 100% security before having elections that ended the
Apartheid. I remember when I met President Mandela, just before the elections
in South Africa, as I said earlier. In the elections, it wasn’t only the
Black majority with the White minority. Within the Black majority, there were
differing groups. It was essential to have wisdom, maturity, understanding in
order to prevent the insecurity existing within the Black sector of South
Africa from blocking the elections. I remember this experience very well,
because, in a way, I participated in it. It is the same thing for us here.
There must be security before the elections. During the elections, after the
elections, security is a must, it is essential. But it must not turn a sheet
that covers lies and hypocrisies. We must reach an understanding so we can
share a democratic experience that will bring more security. If you look at
the 9 sectors that are involved in the Electoral Council, it is clear that
Lavalas is not the majority. If Lavalas was the majority, Lavalas would set
up the Council. No, Lavalas is only one of the 9 sectors. It is in minority
and it accepts it. Because, we believe it is a proof of maturity and

…So I really believe that the gas problem, the problem of the high cost of
living, that economic problem that hurts everyone, is another occasion for
everyone to think of the necessity to work together, to set up the Electoral
Council, to start the electoral process, in accordance with Resolution 822,
so there is no winner and no loser. But for everyone to feel that sacrifices
must be made, on top of those that have been made already. But those
sacrifices can’t always be made on the Lavalas side, or on the Government
side. Let’s walk forward together, and that will already be a good step for
psychological security that will strengthen security.