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There are specific dates in history that carry with them lasting significance. January the first 1804 will remain indelibly etched in the annals of mankind.

It was a day that bred hope and brought pride to black people everywhere at a time when these were vital to the realization of human dignity everywhere. The success of the Haitian revolution in establishing the first republic led by people of African origin in the Americas, reverberated throughout the Caribbean region, the hemisphere and indeed the world. It would take another 30 years before the pernicious practice of slavery started to be dismantled but the achievement of freedom in Haiti launched a process of emancipation, which proved irreversible. It ignited the sparks of the subsequent triumphs of the Great Liberator Simon Bolivar. Today, 200 years later, we all celebrate with Haitians as free men and women.

As Haiti celebrates the bi-centennial of its birth as a nation, we of the Caribbean Community convey our warmest greetings to our newest Member State, who this year also accedes to the Single Market and Economy. It is our hope that in the cradle of Caribbean nationhood that our brothers and sisters in Haiti will have the courage and vision to join hands from Cap Haitien to Jeremie, from Port-de-Paix to Jacmel, to lift their country towards the heights of its former glory as La Perle des Antilles. We of the Caribbean Community are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in pursuit of that goal.

For much of your history, Haiti has faced much more than others, the despair of tyranny and terror. And yet, the yearning for true democracy runs deep among the people – hence the persistent struggle. We in the Caribbean Community seek to embrace you into our tried and trusted tradition of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law. These are precious values, which we must nurture because other forms of governance lead to consequences that are counter productive for the economic and social development of our people.

Our goal in the Caribbean Community is to establish a viable and sustainable society in which all our citizens enjoy a decent standard of living and fundamental freedoms. This we are convinced can only be achieved through political stability and good governance and it is to this tradition that we have invited Haiti – all of Haiti.

Haiti was born out of struggle and has been forced throughout its existence to fight against great odds with few friends. The widespread antagonism and isolation encountered from 1804 coupled with many decades of internal brutality and repression have exacted a heavy toll. Haiti cannot afford to prolong that page of its history.

It is our prayer that the 200th anniversary celebrations will not be overshadowed by instability, whether political, economic or social, in Haiti. It is our fervent hope and expectation that all parties in Haiti will recognize the virtue of a democratic settlement of their differences. It is the only route to end political instability and thereby find a lasting resolution, which respects the future well-being and prosperity of the people of Haiti.

We in the Caribbean Community stand ready to play our part in helping the people of Haiti to achieve that goal. We are willing to work with all interests in Haiti to promote dialogue in a search for an equitable solution to the current political dilemma. We expect that the New Year will provide us with an early opportunity to undertake such an initiative. For it is our paramount concern that the people of Haiti will once again be a shining beacon of light as we face the daunting challenges of this new century.

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