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Democratic National Convention
Event: “The Haitians are coming”
Boston, Massachusetts - 7/27/04
Address by Guy S. Antoine
Windows on Haiti – Haiti Forever
I would like to thank the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network for its leading role in organizing this event and for the opportunity to speak to you today of matters that I hold dear in heart and mind.
I feel proud to recognize the members of CARICOM and the Congressional Black Caucus for their courageous stance in support of Haitian democracy and particularly the right of Haitians to be governed by a leader of their own choosing, without fear of coups abetted and financed by the government of the United States of America.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am a Haitian-American. This should make me an American, period. I do not reside in the state of Florida, but that too should not matter. I do not have a criminal record nor do I think that my name will match that of a criminal in any other state. That too, in a healthy democracy, should not matter. So why do I remain fearful that the Republican Party will be reaching into its bag of dirty tricks to invalidate my vote as they have done to people of my background, first in Florida in November 2000, then more recently on February 29, 2004 when George W. Bush proclaimed, and I quote: “The Haitian Constitution is working” …right after it managed to undo the government that the people of Haiti had elected for themselves by hundreds of thousands of votes, and not just by a few hundred dubious ones.
Today, I feel energized by your presence and by the exceptional show of courage by members of the Black Caucus that was so poignantly captured by Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11. We, Haitians, can stand up and say: “Mr. President, the Haitian Constitution is broken, but we will fix it again and put it out of reach of your cold prying fingers.” We, Americans, can stand up and say: “Mr. President, the US Constitution has been abused, but we will fix it again and we will put you out to pasture where you belong, along with Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, Roger Noriega, and your partner of convenience Jacques Chirac, who kissed and made up with you just in time perhaps to secure some old investments in Iraq and in the vain hope that Haitians would never again remind France of its obligation to pay back to Haiti the money that France extorted from it at gun point.”
Ladies and gentlemen, to individuals and to nations, birthdays are important milestones that should be celebrated. It certainly was so in 1976 when the United States celebrated the 200th anniversary of its proclamation of freedom for white people in 13 colonies of the British Empire. It certainly is so for this Haitian-American who could not have thought of a better birthday present than to be standing in front of you today, asking you to continue your steadfast support for the Haitian people, who have been denied the opportunity of celebrating in style the 200th anniversary of the Greatest Revolution the World has ever known.
When the John Kerry/John Edwards administration is sworn in January 2005, we should insist that it relegates to the trash bin of history the ignominious “dry foot / wet foot / Haitian foot” immigration policy recently amended by Attorney General John Ashcroft to validate the indefinite detention of even minors, when they could otherwise be released in the custody of family members. And let us ask the departing administration that it immediately release 17 and 18 year old brothers, Daniel and David Joseph. The rationale of Mr. Ashcroft's executive memorandum in this matter is simply wrong and bigoted. Haitians do not constitute a threat to the security of the United States. Recent events amply demonstrate that it is quite the reverse.
Thank you so much and as we say in Haitian Creole:
Kenbe fèm (Keep steady in the struggle)
For more on the David and Daniel Joseph story, see Haitians Trapped by 'War on Terrorism'
Thanks again Guy for this statement. You are so brave and I continue to applaud your efforts and your courage in front of so much opposition. I feel your concerns too about the vote both in the US and in Ayiti. I have to remain optimistic that hope is around the corner.