Haiti commemorated the sixth anniversary of its tragic Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake Tuesday with a low-key wreath-laying ceremony at the barren mountaintop where many of its dead lay buried in mass graves.
President Michel Martelly, donning a white guayabera, and first lady Sophia Martelly arrived shortly after 10 a.m. at Parc Christophe on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, site of an almost completed marble and iron memorial that pays homage to the estimated 300,000-plus dead.
After briefly reviewing a black and brown marble headstone bearing his name and the words, 12 January 2010 We Will Never Forget in Creole, Martelly joined Prime Minister Evans Paul. Each laid a wreath of white roses before a gigantic rock that has come to mark the site. This year, the rock was surrounded by long-stem white roses and white candles, several of which spelled out the date of the tragedy.
There was no podium speech from the president as in years past or foreign dignitaries. But as Martelly made his way out of the park, he told journalists that today was purposely chosen as “A Day of Reflection,” so that Haitians can remember that they had a responsibility in “the dimensions of what happened.”
“We amplified it because we didn’t construct well; we didn’t properly prepare ourselves, we didn’t really secure the people in respect to the construction codes so we could avoid this catastrophe,” he said. “Today, is an opportunity for us to say ‘We’re going to do better; we’re going to do better at all levels, not just in construction but in our attitude.’ ”
For months, Haiti has been embroiled in yet another paralyzing political crisis, this one triggered by its violence and fraud-marred Aug. 9 legislative first round elections and the Oct. 25 legislative runoff and presidential vote. Local observer groups and opposition candidates have alleged “massive fraud” and called for an inquiry into the balloting.
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