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25120: Hermantin(News)Haitians invite others to Flag Day festival (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Haitians invite others to Flag Day festival
By Alva James-Johnson
May 17, 2005
The Haitian flag, a symbol of pride for the sons and daughters of the first
black republic in the Western Hemisphere, will be an object of adoration
Wednesday as the community commemorates its birth.
But this year organizers are going beyond the usual Haitian audience,
inviting expatriates from other Caribbean countries to participate in the
annual celebration at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
"We're creating a bridge with others [from the Caribbean region], saying
that Haitian Flag Day is not just for Haitians but for other communities
celebrating freedom and independence," said Marvin DeJean of Minority
Development and Empowerment Inc., the Haitian social services agency
organizing the event.
The theme, "Rebirth of a Nation: Caribbean Reunification," comes at a time
when diplomatic relations between Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean
community remain strained over the ouster of former Haitian President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.
Leaders of CARICOM, a Caribbean organization, have criticized the removal of
the democratically elected president, and refused to acknowledge the
U.S.-backed interim Haitian government.
But the controversy won't prevent CARICOM consuls general in Miami from
attending a VIP reception at the Broward Flag Day event, said Jamaican
Consul General Ricardo Allicock. "As far as Jamaicans are concerned,
Haitians are part of the Caribbean and we are all sister nations."
Haiti has long been an isolated country in the Caribbean basin, separated
from its mostly English-speaking neighbors by language and culture.
The separation began with the country's 1804 revolution, which broke the
chains of slavery and French colonialism. The United States and Europe
refused to acknowledge the country's independence and isolated it
economically and socially, fearing the slave revolt would spread throughout
The fledgling nation had to fend for itself in a hostile environment, and
has struggled ever since to survive.
Anthony Bryan, professor emeritus at the Caribbean Studies department of the
University of Miami, said there has always been a love-hate relationship
between Haiti and the rest of the region.
He said some revere the country as the first black republic in the Western
Hemisphere, yet despise its authoritarian politics.
But the country has a lot in common with other Caribbean countries when it
comes to culture and colonial history, he said.
Allicock said the country's isolation has less to do with Caribbean nations
having a problem with Haiti, and more to do with many of the islands binding
together around a common language. Haitians, who speak French Creole, have
been excluded at times.
But the Haitian Flag Day event hopes to change all that, DeJean said, with
dance troupes from Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and
Bahamas performing on the same stage as Haitian ones.
"I think both the Haitians living at home and the Haitian diaspora are
slowly realizing we're not living in a vacuum," he said. "Haiti can't afford
to continue to be isolated. We're living in a global setting now."
Alva James-Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
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