On behalf of President Obama and the people of United States, I join with the people of the Republic of Haiti to honor the 207th anniversary of your independence this January 1.
When Haiti cast off the bonds of slavery and declared its freedom from France in 1804, it made history, setting a precedent for independence in Latin America and creating the first post-colonial black-led nation in the world. Today, we see the courage of that struggle – from the leadership of Jean Jacques Dessalines and Toussaint L’Ouverture to the strength and unity of the Haitian people – reflected in Haiti’s response to the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. In the wake of a disaster that took the lives of more than 200,000 people, Haitians and volunteers from more than 140 nations came together overnight to pull survivors from the rubble and administer critical care and assistance. I witnessed this testament to our common humanity first hand in the days immediately following the earthquake, and I have seen it grow throughout the year as countries around the world continue to help Haiti recover and rebuild.
Despite all Haiti has endured, Haitians have shown an unflagging strength, will, and passion to forge ahead and build a more prosperous nation. The people and Government of the United States stand firmly with the people of Haiti, and we are committed to helping ensure that your voice determines the way forward for your nation and government. We will continue deepening the partnership and friendship between our nations to achieve a brighter future for all our people.
I wish all Haitians a happy Independence Day and New Year. I look forward to working with you to make 2011 a year filled with peace and progress.