Haitian Bishops Suggest Keys to Address Country's Future

At the Conclusion of Plenary Assembly

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, OCT. 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Building a society of peace and love in Haiti requires an «assembly of the people» that includes all social classes and professional categories, the nation’s bishops suggest.

The episcopal conference’s position is reflected in the final document of their recent plenary assembly, published under the title «To Journey with the People.»

Haitian citizens «have lost confidence» in themselves because «of the lies, exploitation and corruption» they have endured, the prelates say.

This context «has contributed to create a particular mentality that seeks immediate profit, characterized by individualism, physical and verbal aggressiveness, and marked by fear,» they assert.

The bishops attribute Haiti’s chronic underdevelopment to the «socioeconomic backwardness registered in the country during its whole history,» and to the political instability, intolerance and antagonism of social classes and parties.

This has caused «the interference of foreign political forces, putting the population under the protection of direct military occupation or interventions said to be of mediation and maintenance of the peace,» the bishops point out in their document, quoted by the Missionary Service News Agency.

The Haitian episcopate says that the provisional Electoral Council should organize new elections, planned for 2005, «without being influenced by internal or external pressures.»

Among the proposals addressed to the authorities, the bishops’ conference asks that state accounts be made public, that the central bank be independent of the government, that agricultural production be subsidized, and that effective measures be adopted to fight against the «grave plague» of insecurity.

Returning from a visit to Haiti in June, Archbishop Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council «Cor Unum» which administers the Pope’s charities, told ZENIT that he had seen «greater poverty than in many countries of Africa.»

The Haitian prelates explained in their document: «All this is, perhaps, a consequence of the dictatorships that for decades have pressured this country. François Duvalier (‘Papa Doc’), Jean Claude Duvalier (‘Baby Doc’) and recently Aristide abused the country and robbed the population of its energies.»

Three-quarters of Haiti’s 8.1 million people live in abject poverty. The nation, a former French colony, has endured some 30 coups d’état in two centuries of independence.

On Feb. 29, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile in the Central African Republic after an uprising. Boniface Alexandre has been the provisional president. Gerard Latortue has been interim prime minister since March 12.

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