By: Marie Marthe Saint Cyr
Today is International Peace Day. In honor of each of our brothers and sisters in Haiti, I would like to call for peace in Haiti. I know that most of you reading this note may not think that Haiti is at war and that this call for peace is somewhat unnecessary. In reality though, the ever-smiling and resilient people of Haiti have faced many great wars - the war of deliberation from slavery, the fight for sovereignty and now the war to enjoy this hard fought freedom. Day in and day out, the Haitian people are denied basic human rights: the right to food, to shelter, to education – the right to survival.
This struggle to survive is a battle that wages on in the rural countryside, in the tent cities – throughout Haiti. Declaring victory and peace means reclaiming the land their ancestors died for and growing food for their families. Who is the enemy? The enemy is the everpresent flood of imports in the local marketplace that continually undercut small farmers’ ability to sell their goods. The enemy is the lack of interest and accountability from government. The enemy is the lack of support and resources available for the future generations.
Hosting three carnivals a year will not bring peace against the rising cost of living, against the high unemployment rate, against the threat of natural disasters and the complete absence of a plan for a sustainable future. These substantial barriers and challenges can only be met through policies that work to deliver improved watershed management, alternative energy sources, promotion and protection of the environment, access to education and a commitment to strengthening local agriculture. Only then will Haiti begin to realize peace.
If peace is reflected in the unity of a people, the caring for one another’s wellbeing, and protecting the land that harbors their dreams - then let peace reign over our people. If peace achieved by honoring the wisdom acquired over years of experience, then let the hour of peace sound today for all Haitians. If peace enlightens the mind, let our pathway to unity shine.