A year ago…

Haiti was hit in its heart by a large earthquake. In the face of the tragedy of a natural disaster, epidemics, the challenge of reconstruction and the reconstruction of the political body, the risk is that culture will be relegated far away in the order of priorities, facing absolute emergencies. Like all countries that are friends and in solidarity with the Haitian people, France must be more than ever mobilized on this point, as heritage and artistic creation are one of its essential riches.

Frédéric Mitterrand was able to fully appreciate these issues during his visit to Port-au-Prince last July, and the Ministry of Culture and Communication, together with UNESCO in particular, wishes to demonstrate its continued commitment.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the architects of the emergency, supported by the Ministry, went there and have since been on the ground. RFI was the only radio that was still broadcasting on Haitian territory. Since then, the group Radio France, France Télévisions and ARTE have also answered the call with their technical assistance, their donation of hundreds of hours of programs to the Haitian public channel or equipment.

This commitment is also the restoration, at the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, of the Ancestor’s oath, a painting by Toussaint Louverture that occupies a major place in the memory of the nation, granting scholarships to Haitian interns who will be trained in restoration techniques. These are also the seven cultural centers that welcomed in 2010 Haitian artists, from Provence to Brittany, from Franche-Comté to Martinique.

It is also, in the field of books and languages, the project of translation of great French classics in Haitian Creole, carried by the National Book Center, The first volume will be widely distributed at a very reduced price in primary and secondary education institutions of Haiti. Facilitating access to reading is, in this particularly difficult context, giving ourselves the means to strengthen the precious links that exist between our two cultures. The National Audiovisual Institute (INA) and the French Institute also publish a book/CD on the great Haitian literary figures. It is in this same logic that the solidarity plan for Haitian libraries, set up by the National Library of France (BNF), brings expertise, documentary offer and donation of books. This is also the prospect of the Triumph, the country’s only large concert hall, which the Minister pleads with the support of the Director-General of UNESCO and Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou to the Member States of the European Union.

Far from ephemeral support, it is a continuous mobilization that is necessary, so much so for the Haitians of the modernization of their country, its attractiveness and its tourism development, its image and its memory.