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The twelfth edition of the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA XII) opened on Friday night with exciting performances, speeches and fireworks. The event began with a parade of all the countries represented, dressed in their traditional national dress and arriving in the Haitian traditional mode of transportation, tap-taps.

It was a scene of pure excitement, vibrant colours and smiles all around. The Haitians were very gracious and the refrain “welcome to Haiti!” was a common feature of the night’s proceedings.

The ceremony was attended by president of Haiti Michel Martelly; secretary general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Irwin LaRocque; minister of culture, Haiti, Dithny Joan Raton; minister of culture, sport and youth, Barbados, Stephen Lashley; as well as other dignitaries and members of the diplomatic corps.

In his remarks at the ceremony, LaRocque said it was a historic moment for Haiti and for the Community. He said he was very pleased to see that the CARICOM family has responded to the call and have come to celebrate with Haiti as it hosts CARIFESTA for the first time.

The secretary general also used the opportunity to congratulate and thank the Haitian president as well as the government and people of Haiti, for their willingness and commitment to support regional integration, as demonstrated through the hosting of CARIFESTA XII.

“Thanks to the warm hospitality, generosity and hard work of our Haitian brothers and sisters, the CARICOM family is here to display over the next ten days, the immense creativity and phenomenal artistic skills and talents, of which we are justly proud, and for which we are world renowned,” he said.

LaRocque reiterated the CARICOM heads of government, ministers of culture and the artistic community’s commitment to the implementation of a new and improved CARIFESTA. He said everyone should do their best to ensure that each edition of the festival is in line with the region’s mission and brings us closer to the goal of presenting a “world-renowned mega festival of Caribbean cultural and artistic excellence that brings economic benefits, unites the region and excites all peoples”.

The Haitian president, in warm and heartfelt remarks, said he was very pleased to see CARIFESTA XII happening in Haiti. He also used the opportunity to thank the CARICOM secretary general and the people of CARICOM for helping to make it happen. Martelly also extended gratitude to everyone involved in the planning and execution of the event.

The event continued with performances from various Haitian artistes, who wowed the audience with powerful voices and extraordinary talent but which were curtailed by rain.

CARIFESTA XII continued Saturday with the opening of the exhibition “Shared Memories” at the Haitian National Museum (Mupanah) and the opening of the Grand Market in Champ de Mars.

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