A Speech By Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Delivered on September 30, 2015

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Surrounded by thousands of supporters, including many who had walked miles to be there, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide spoke outside his home on September 30th to mark the 24th anniversary of the bloody coup d’etat in 1991. It was his first public speech since his return from exile in March 2011. Dr. Maryse Narcisse, the Fanmi Lavalas candidate for president, stood side by side with him as he spoke.

President Aristide’s remarks take place in the context of mass demonstrations calling for the annulment of the August 9th elections, which were characterized by intimidation, violence and fraud carried out by the government of President Michel Martelly and his allies.

President Aristide called for an end to the suppression of voting rights in Haiti, and for full support for Dr. Narcisse in the upcoming presidential elections.

We are honored to present his speech, both in Kreyol and in an unofficial English translation by Haiti Action Committee. We would point out to our readers that the English version does not, in any way, do justice to the nuance, humor and beautiful imagery of President Aristide’s speech in Kreyol, the language of Haiti’s people.
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Sisters and Brothers,
You who live here or live abroad, I am happy to greet you in the spirit of One Love. In the shadow of our Ancestors, allow me to give each of you a big fraternal accolade and an embrace for the children and the youth of the country who hold a special place in my heart.

With much respect, I bow in remembrance of all the victims of the September 30, 1991 coup d’etat. Their bodies have fallen but they will remain alive in our spirit. The sweat and blood of our heroes should not be shed in vain.

In memory of all Haitians who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Haiti, let us look at the root of the word Haiti. Hai means no, do not. Tii means obey in the Swahili language. Haiti or Haitii means do not obey.

Long ago, slaves were always saying “Do not obey the colonists.” Today we say “Do not obey people who have no respect for human rights. Haitii! Do not obey the mentally enslaved involved in electoral coup d’etat. Do not obey the mentally enslaved who refuse to accept the vote of the people. Every person is a human being. The vote of each person must be counted. Period.”

My Sisters and My Brothers,
During these three years of silence, I always listened to your voices. When hard times made you feverish, my body ached also. When you thirsted to hear a clear position from me, I felt that too.

Even though since May 19, 2015, Minouche [Mildred Aristide] had already told you the candidate I will choose for the post of President of the Country; even though you have walked the streets with her, arm in arm, to demand the annulment of the electoral coup d’etat of August 9, I feel that you would like to hear me say it in my own voice.

Thank you for the trust that you have in me; this is exactly why I prayed, I thought a lot before reaching this decision. This decision is not steeped in naïveté because even small minds that have not undergone mental decolonization, already see that officials have chosen to conduct a selection, and not an election.

In the hope that this truth will not hurt or offend these officials who are our brothers and sisters too, this is what I continue to observe: Analysis of the electoral coup d’etat of August 9, 2015 shows symptoms of an illness called unilateral spatial neglect. This means that patients with this illness see only one side of reality.
For example, when these patients dress themselves, they dress one side of their body without seeing that the other side has no clothes. When they eat from a plate, they eat only half the food that is there, without realizing that have not eaten the other half of the meal. This illness appears strange but that is the way that it manifests itself because the problem is in a part of the brain called the parietal lobe.

Those responsible for the electoral coup d’etat of August 9, 2015 act the same way as those patients who see only one side of reality. On one side they see the ballots that assault weapons want to impose, but do not see that on the other side is the majority of the Haitian people demanding that their right to vote in free elections be respected. Every person is a human being. So the vote of each and every one must be counted. Period.

Analysis of the electoral coup d’etat of August 9, 2015 shows a second symptom; it shows a symptom exhibited by patients who are anosognosic. This means patients who refuse to accept that they are ill. In this case, the solution is first mobilization. Mobilization, all of us who do not want the country to fall into an unparalleled political tornado and earthquake.

You who for the past 11 years have been walking an arduous rocky road, victims of insecurity, abuse, hunger, unemployment, forced to find a way in a blackout of misery. We who suffer with all Haitians who are the victims of repatriation, citizens coming from the Dominican Republic, let us come together to prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

Professionals in all fields lawyers, engineers, agronomists, nurses, doctors, business people, peasants, officials, teachers who have been struggling in the fog of despair for the past 11 years to make ends meet, let us come together to prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

Young people everywhere in the provinces and cities, in the universities as well as in community organizations and working class neighborhoods, let us mobilize to stop exclusion. We are the majority. Conditions must be good for all of us.

As I told you on May 9, 2013, remember! One jaw by itself cannot chew food. Each one needs the other. Respect to all of you, scholars as well as the illiterate. Illiterate does not mean unintelligent. Rich as well as poor, we need to come to an understanding. After 11 years, we must re-stitch the flag of unity.

Hand in hand with all Haitians who live abroad and thirst to come back home, let us create the conditions for the participation of all people of honesty, people of principle, all people who are not involved in politics but who understand that if we do not safeguard our dignity, we will lose our dignity.

My Sisters, My Brothers,
Our country is gravely ill and to prevent a worsening sad fate, we must mobilize against a coup d’etat until we enter the National Palace, democratically, with Dr. Maryse Narcisse as President of the country.

Voting for Dr. Maryse and all the Fanmi Lavalas candidates, Bò Tab la, number 54, is to take up a huge challenge because there is conspiracy that is entwined with a vast amount of money.

However! Yes, however! By word of mouth one telling the other “Conspiracy entwined with the power of money can be undone with the power of our dignity.”

By word of mouth, one telling the other “It is not money, it is dignity. If we do not safeguard our dignity, we will lose our dignity”.
Thank you.

Dr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide
30 Septanm 2015, Taba