Opinion and Analysis: International
Interview with Ambassador of Venezuela to Haiti, Mr. Pedro Gonzalez Canino
This interview was conducted on the 200th anniversary of Venezuelan independence and details Venezuela-Haiti cooperation efforts. In recent years Venezuela has consistently provided Haiti with invaluable support and obviously has not forgotten the support that Haiti gave to the country during the struggle for independence against Spanish colonialism.
Ambassador Canino: I apologize for being unable to see you last week. We were busy with the work of cooperation between Venezuela and Haiti.
Lionel Lafortune (Haiti Progrès): Good morning, Mr. Ambassador. Thank you for seeing us. Please tell us about the 200th anniversary of the independence of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. We know that your country is a true friend of Haiti. How do you see the participation of our ancestors in her liberation?
Ambassador Canino: You see, it is the signing of the act of independence. It's not just me as an ambassador but all Venezuelans who see the participation of Haitians in the war of independence of Venezuela in a very positive light. Our liberator Simon Bolivar said, "Haiti is the mother of Venezuelan independence." He also said another time that "Haiti is the father of Venezuelan independence.” First, there was Francisco Miranda, who arrived in Haiti in February 1806 (under the government of Dessalines, Ed). He left Haiti on 12 March 1806. The flag of Venezuela you see here was designed in Jacmel, Haiti. It is Miranda who carried the flag to Venezuela. And ten years later, in 1816, Simon Bolivar would return to Venezuela from Haiti (under the government of Petion, Ed) leading two expeditions. One at the beginning of the year and the other near the end of the year.
Bolivar acknowledged the participation of Haiti in the War of Independence of Venezuela as a historical fact two years later, at the headquarters of the Angostura party. On the day he revealed the Haitian participation in the war of independence in 1818, Bolivar said:
"I thought that the New Granada* was lost, but the island of Haiti greeted us with a tremendous hospitality which helped us to drive away the tyrants. President Alexandre Petion granted us all necessary protection. By Petion’s decree, I was able to put together a group of his valiant patriots. Very few of them survived the war, but the army against which they fought also lost many men. This group of Haitians that faced down ten thousand European tyrants numbered three hundred men.”
This is why we say in Venezuela, “Haitians are no cowards.”
Today, to honor Simon Bolivar, our country is called the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela.
Haiti Progrès: Venezuela helps Haiti a great deal as part of many cooperations. Can you tell us what this help consists of?
Ambassador Canino: The cooperation is vast and deep. Even the Yankees' representative in Haiti, Bill Clinton, acknowledged in several international meetings that the Cuban and Venezuelan cooperation brings much more support to Haiti than all the other donors. No one can hide this truth. It is solidarity that the Venezuelan cooperation brings to the Haitian people. Our government, the Venezuelan people and Commander Chavez offer cooperation to the country.
In the health sector, $40 million are invested, in conjunction with the Cuban cooperation. Cuba has had doctors working for the welfare of the people of Haiti for 13 years. And Venezuela also participates in the work being done, with 20 million given before the earthquake and another 20 million after the earthquake. So we have built with that money 15 diagnostic centers across the country. We have made donations to hospitals and paid doctors. We have also provided housing for them.
We also donate for agriculture. We are involved in rice production in the Artibonite Department and the Central (Central Plateau), with 9.3 million dollars.
We also participate in housing by building homes in the area of the Renaissance in Cité Soleil. I am not speaking of miserable construction. I'm talking about houses for chosen Haitian families where everyone can live humanely and for free.
After the earthquake of January 12, 2010, Venezuela erased a debt of $395 million that Haiti owed her.
In energy, Venezuela installed three power plants in Haiti. One in Cap-Haitien, one in Gonaives, and a third in Port-au-Prince. We arrived at a compromise to provide the country with fourteen thousand barrels of oil under the Petro Caribe agreement recognized by the Haitian Parliament, with extremely favorable conditions to the country.
For the Literacy Project, Venezuela contributed 5 million dollars.
After the earthquake, we donated 9,000 tons of top-quality food.
Finally, as I told you, this is a very deep cooperation. It is not just because we have oil that we engaged in this cooperation. For a century, we have had oil. But there were reactionary governments in Venezuela and Haiti that never really considered the well-being of the Venezuelan and the Haitian people.
We must also say that this cooperation can be explained by the fact that in Venezuela there is a Bolivarian revolutionary anti-imperialist government led by Commander Hugo Chavez who loves the Haitian people and respects them. We have a lot of gratitude toward Haiti and its people.
Haiti Progrès: Do you have a message for the Haitian people?
Ambassador Canino: The message of the Venezuelan government to the Haitian people is clear. This is a message of hope, trust, and faith in the future. Anything is possible with continued work and a spirit of sacrifice, with a historical project that is linked with the glorious past of your country. There is a passage in the Bible that says, “Brothers, motivate those who are discouraged. Help those who are weak.” Thank you.
Haiti Progrès: It is we who must thank you Mr. Ambassador for agreeing to provide all these details to our readers.
Original Source: Haiti Progrès. Translated into English by Dady Chery, Haitian writer, Axis of Logic.
Edited by Venezuelanalysis.com
* New Granada: "The Viceroyalty of New Granada (Spanish: Virreinato de la Nueva Granada) was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739. In addition to these core areas, the territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada included Guyana, and parts of northwestern Brazil, northern Peru, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The territories of the Viceroyalty gained full de facto independence from Spain between 1819 and 1822 after a series of military and political struggles, uniting in a republic now known as Gran Colombia. The congress declared Venezuela's independence on 5 July 1811, establishing the Republic of Venezuela." (Wikipedia)
Simon Bolívar, "The Liberator," led Latin America in defeating the Spanish for the independence of New Granada, but never realized his dream of uniting these countries under one flag.