Former Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson says the Haitian tragedy reveals the hypocrisy of those who tout democratic values and yet stifle it according to their own narrow self interests.”
Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the four-day State of the Black World conference at the Baltimore Convention centre in Baltimore Maryland on Wednesday, Patterson said the Haitian experience was a tragic paradox which this 5th World Conference dare not ignore.
He said Haiti was “the first Black Nation in this hemisphere which won its independence on the battlefield and simultaneously declared the abolition of slavery, is now the poorest and least developed in the Americas!! How come?
Patterson explained that while the bold and revolutionary martyrs paid with their lives, “for centuries thereafter, France with the strong endorsement of the United States and their European counterparts, extorted from the impoverished Haitian Treasury, billions to compensate for the crushing defeat of Napoleon’s army and the deprivation of enslaved labour for France.”
Patterson told the over three hundred delegates from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, Canada and the United States, that “there followed the neo-colonial exploitation, the repeated foreign interventions, and the overthrow of democratic regimes.
The former prime minister observed that the Haitian tragedy, that “became more acute and obdurate in a Caricom member state with each passing day, reveals the hypocrisy of those who tout democratic values and yet stifle it according to their own narrow self interests.”
Patterson pointed out that “democracy will remain an unfinished project, and development an elusive aspiration in the Hemisphere so long as violence and chaos remain pervasive in Haiti.”
“Civil order must be restored with an electoral process to choose Haitian leadership that derives its legitimacy from the people themselves and which is responsive to the needs and interests of a nation – which lit the flame for those who believe in freedom and liberty of the human spirit everywhere,” Patterson concluded.
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