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From owner-haiti@lists.webster.edu Thu Jun 12 20:00:14 2003
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2003 18:21:43 -0500 (CDT)
From: Bob Corbett <corbetre@webster.edu>
To: Haiti mailing list <haiti@lists.webster.edu>
Subject: =?X-UNKNOWN?Q?15848=3A__=5BISO-8859-1=5D_=28Arthur=29_IDB_honor?=
Sender: owner-haiti@lists.webster.edu

From: Tttnhm@aol.com

IDB honors Haitian hero Alexandre Pétion

IDB press release, 22 May 2003

A portrait of Alexandre Pétion, a leader of Haiti’s fight for independence and an early advocate of unity of the Americas, will be displayed at the meetings of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, along with the paintings of other Latin American heroes.

The portrait was unveiled on Wednesday by Haitian Finance Minister Faubert Gustave, IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias and the chairman of the Haitian financial group Unibank, Carl Braun, whose institution donated the painting by Haitian artist Pascal Smarth.

The ceremony marked the beginning of celebrations of the bicentennial of Haiti’s independence, which will be commemorated on January 1, 2004. Haiti was the second American nation to become independent from European rule and the world’s first black republic.

Two centuries ago, Pétion, a mulatto, and former slave Jean Jacques Dessalines joined forces to fight against Napoleon’s troops. In less than a year they would win Haiti’s independence. Pétion and Dessalines created the Haitian flag by eliminating the white band of the French tricouleur and using the blue and the red to represent the union of mulattoes and blacks.

In his speech, Iglesias said Pétion’s portrait holds great symbolic significance. As Haiti’s president, Pétion twice gave asylum to Simón Bolívar. The Haitian leader provided the South American revolutionary with weapons, ammunition, food and funds to carry out his campaigns for independence. Pétion, Iglesias added, should be recognized as a founding father of the Panamerican cause.

Gustave pointed out that Pétion’s only request to Bolívar was the abolition of slavery in the South American nations he would eventually liberate. In expressing his country’s appreciation, the Haitian minister added: Starting today, thanks to this initiative…Pétion’s portrait will be next to Simón Bolívar’s in the meeting room of the IDB’s Board of Executive Directors.

The other paintings in the boardroom depict Latin American independence heroes José de San Martín, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, José Cecilio del Valle, José Gervasio Artigas and Bernardo O’Higgins.