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News :: Organizing
The international community can not abandon Haiti
13 Feb 2004
The international community can not abandon Haiti
• Speech by Felipe Pérez Roque, Cuban minister of foreign affairs, at the 3rd Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Association of Caribbean States. Panama City, February 12, 2004.
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The international community can not abandon Haiti
• Speech by Felipe Pérez Roque, Cuban minister of foreign affairs, at the 3rd Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Association of Caribbean States. Panama City, February 12, 2004.

Distinguished Ministers and Heads of Delegations:

I have instructions from my Government to speak at this Ministerial Meeting of the Association of Caribbean States, not about Cuba – which, although blockaded and harassed, nevertheless cannot be subjected nor forced to renounce its dreams of justice and liberty – but to speak about the situation in Haiti.

Cuba believes that the international community cannot abandon Haiti. The social situation is getting worse. Added to the old problems derived from colonialism and exploitation are new and urgent difficulties associated with the unjust and exclusive international economic order.

Collaborating with Haiti has become a duty for all of us, its neighbors.

At this moment, Cuba has a 535-member medical brigade in Haiti, 332 of them doctors.

They are distributed in every department of the country, and have 75% of the 8.3 million Haitians under their care. To have an idea of how significant their work is one should be aware that Haiti has less than 2,000 doctors, and almost 90% of them are offering their services in the country’s capital.

Over the last five years, Cuban doctors in Haiti have given nearly five million medical consultations, have attended some 45,000 births, and have performed approximately 59,000 operations.

In the areas covered by the Cuban doctors, the mortality rate for infants under 12 months has dropped from 80 to 28 per 1,000 live births, and that for children under five from 159 to 39 per 1,000 live births. The maternal mortality rate has dropped from 523 to 259 deaths per 100,000 live births.

However, to have an idea of how far there is yet to go, I should remind you that in Cuba, for example, the mortality rate for infants under 12 months is 6.3 per 1,000, for children under five it is eight per 1,000 and the maternal mortality rate is 39 per 100,000.

During those five years, more than 370,000 Haitians – 80% of them children – have been vaccinated.

It is estimated that nearly 86,000 human lives have been saved by the Cuban health workers in Haiti.

In addition, Cuban technicians have repaired 2,169 damaged pieces of medical equipment.

A total of 247 young Haitians are studying at the School of Medicine founded in their country by Cuban professors, while another 372 are studying medicine as scholarship students in Cuba.


In face of the current internal tensions in that sister country, which you are aware of and which have given rise to the departure of a number of foreign residents, on Tuesday, February 10, our government explicitly instructed our embassy in Puerto Príncipe to maintain all the members of the Cuban medical brigade working without interruption at that posts in all areas of the country. In addition, given the obstacles that could arise in the availability of medicines, yesterday February 11, Cuba dispatched 525 special consignments of nearly 80 medicines so that all the Cuban medical volunteers can meet their tasks.

The Cuban medical personnel, who strictly adhere to the principle of non-involvement in Haiti’s internal affairs, are honorably fulfilling their noble mission of attending to the health of the Haitian people.

In addition to this, the Darbonne sugar mill complex was rebuilt with Cuban technical help, and now is working on its fourth sugar harvest with the help of 30 Cuban experts. The complex is generating employment and guarantees electricity during harvest time for the area’s population, previously lacking that service.

Moreover, 20 Cuban professors are acting as advisors to a radio-based literacy program designed by our specialists. To date, 110,000 Haitians have learned how to read and write, and the program will continue to grow. Cuba also donated the educational materials, including manuals in French and Creole.

Cuba is also lending its modest cooperation to Haiti in other areas. Thus, 20 Cuban veterinarians and technicians are contributing to the establishment of a health control program and training Haitian personnel. A further 10 technicians are helping to consolidate the national aquiculture program, for which Cuba has donated 42 million larvae, that have already been released into the country’s reservoirs, and for which specialized personnel has been trained.

Another 11 Cuban agricultural specialists are working in Haiti as part of the Food and Agricultural Organization’s Food Security Program.

Our country is also collaborating in areas such as culture and road construction.

In addition, I can affirm that more than 3,000 young people from the Caribbean are studying in Cuban universities today.

I am not saying all of this in order to boast. I say it with modesty, as evidence of what even a small and blockaded country such as Cuba can do for its sister countries.

The Cuban people feel that they are fulfilling a duty, and moreover are paying a debt of gratitude to the peoples of the Caribbean, who have so firmly maintained their constant friendship and solidarity with Cuba.

Independent of its internal difficulties, we are helping Haiti at this crucial moment in its history, and let us not forget that it was there, 200 years ago, that the struggle for the freedom of our Caribbean and Latin American peoples began.

Thank you very much.

Aristide rivals torch cop shop
06/02/2004 10:29 - (SA)

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Port-Au-Prince - Four people were killed and at least 20 injured on Thursday when armed anti-government militants torched a police station and staged a huge jailbreak in the Haitian town of Gonaives, opponents of the president said.

"Four neighbourhood civilians were killed in the shootout," Buteur Metayer, a leader with the Revolutionary Artibonite Resistance Front (RARF), told reporters.

Another 20 people were shot and injured, he said, but there was no immediate official confirmation.

Metayer's group seized the police station and freed the 100 prisoners believed to have been held in the adjacent jail earlier on Thursday. They then torched the station and spread through the city, later torching the home of Gonaives' mayor.

"Gonaives is free, the stores can open but the schools must remain closed," said Winter Etienne, another RARF leader.

Officers fled

At least 50 police officers were in the station at the time of the attack. Witnesses said they saw police officers emerging from the besieged police station with their hands in the air, while other officers fled.

Metayer's group once allied itself with Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, but quickly turned against the government after Metayer's brother, Amiot Metayer, was found shot and mutilated on September 22.

The surviving brother has since declared himself the provincial police chief in Gonaives and named Etienne mayor.

The RARF had tried to seize the Gonaives police station several times, but had not succeeded before.

Gonaives, a coastal city, has been the focus of sporadic anti-Aristide violence since last September, and about 50 people have been shot dead and 100 wounded.

On Wednesday, the president defiantly rejected calls for his resignation and promised to finish his term.

'One man, one vote'

"I will leave here on February 7, 2006," Aristide said. "People must respect that principle, one man, one vote."

Aristide's opponents say he stole the 2000 election that returned him to power. International observers also said the polls were flawed, leaving the Caribbean nation locked in political crisis.

The former Catholic priest was first elected president in 1990, but eight months after taking office he was overthrown in a bloody military coup.

The United States sent 20 000 troops to Haiti in 1994 to bring Aristide back to power. He stepped down after his first five-year term, and was re-elected in 2000.

Legislative elections were supposed to be held last year, but no electoral body was set up to oversee the polls, leaving the nation without a functioning legislature.

Aristide now rules by decree, but has promised elections within six months.

Edited by Tricia Shannon
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