Haiti Marks 209 Years of Independence

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Above: a special mass in Gonaives (Photo: OPM Haiti)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Haiti celebrated 209 years of independence Tuesday.

As part of the celebrations, a sizable government delegation led by Haiti President Michel Martelly visited the city of Gonaives to participate in independence ceremonies.

The proclamation by Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti independent from France on Jan. 1, 1804, making Haiti the first independent nation in Latin America and the Caribbean and the first black republic.

Dessalines made the proclamation in Gonaives.

In a statement, Martelly urged all Haitians to be united on the road of development.

Haiti First Lady Sophia Martelly said that, on the occasion of 209 years of Haiti’s independence, it was an opportunity for all “sons and daughters of Haiti” to renew their commitment to themselves, their community and their country.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is recovering from a blood clot, issued a statement to mark Haiti’s independence.

“As the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti blazed a trail of independence that has inspired others seeking freedom and dignity,” she said. “For more than two centuries Haitians have met and overcome challenges, even in the most difficult circumstances.”

Clinton said the US was “proud to be Haiti’s neighbor and partner today and in the years to come supporting Haiti’s work to ensure that every Haitian is able to live up to his or her god-given potential. May this year, and many to come, bring peace, prosperity and stability.”