HONORING LOUNE VIAUD; Congressional Record Vol. 148, No. 147
(Extensions of Remarks - November 14, 2002)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2035-E2036]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                          HONORING LOUNE VIAUD

                                 ______
                                 

                            HON. BARBARA LEE

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, November 14, 2002

  Mr. LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Ms. Loune Viaud, 
the 2002 recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Humanitarian Award.
  The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 to 
honor creative individuals who are often at great personal risk, 
engaged in strategic and nonviolent

[[Page E2036]]

efforts to overcome serious human rights violations.
  Loune Viaud is well deserving of this award because she has 
demonstrated leadership by expanding the delivery of health and social 
services to indigent Haitians suffering from HIV/AIDS and other 
debilitating diseases. She is a champion of Haiti's poor.
  We all know that Haiti is one of the most impoverished nations in the 
Western Hemisphere. With over 300,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS out 
of its small population of 8 million, Haiti is in a crisis. Haiti is 
also facing a devastating AIDS orphan crisis with more than 163,000 
children whose parents have died from AIDS complications. It is 
appalling that only one in every ten thousand Haitians has access to a 
physician, and tuberculosis remains one of the major causes of adult 
mortality. In fact, cases of tuberculosis and multi-drug resistant 
tuberculosis in Haiti are more than ten times as high as those in other 
Latin American countries.
  I want to praise Loune for rising to the challenge and for her 
significant work in Haiti. Her contributions are critical to the 
welfare of Haiti, as well as the welfare of our global community. Upon 
learning she had been selected as the Robert F. Kennedy award 
recipient, Loune Viaud stated, ``For the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial to 
choose me, a humble foot soldier in the struggle for health and human 
rights, as the recipient of this prestigious award means more than I 
can say. For I am a Haitian, and the majority of Haitian people have 
always stood for equality. From 1791, when we fought against slavery to 
become the world's first independent republic born of a slave revolt, 
until 1990, when we again declared as a people our belief in social and 
economic rights as a human rights platform, the Haitians have struggled 
against long odds. Two hundred years of struggle, much of it in 
isolation even from those who profess a belief in human rights. Thank 
you for reminding us that we are never, in fact, really alone.''
  Loune maintains a clinic situated on the Central Plateau in rural 
Haiti. She offers free health care to the hundreds of thousands of 
people living in the region. Last year alone 56,000 people came to the 
clinic for medical help. In 2002 more than 100,000 people will be 
treated there.
  The clinic, Zanmi Lasante, addresses the overall needs of the 
community surrounding it. It has special clinics for HIV/AIDS and 
tuberculosis, a clinic for women (Proje Sante Fanm), a special center 
for children and an operating theatre. The complex also develops 
educational projects on HIV/AIDS sanitation and human rights.
  Although the clinic is built in an underdeveloped region, Zanmi 
Lasante's treatment program is proof that diseases that are difficult 
to treat can be addressed in rural areas. The clinic, however, does not 
stop there. It's program treats the patients and empowers them to 
understand their rights. In 2001, Viaud was instrumental in developing 
a patient's Bill of Rights with a group of 60 HIV-positive patients. 
The patients view their health care as a basic human right, not 
charity.
  Viaud's work attacks the symptoms of a greater and more persistent 
human rights violation, namely the right to healthcare. Article 19 of 
the Haitian Constitution states that the Government of Haiti is obliged 
to provide basic health care to its citizens. The Government has stated 
that it would develop other health facilities, following Zanmi 
Lasante's model, in other parts of the country if it had the resources. 
I, along with other members of the CBC agree that the Haitian 
government should receive the funding already promised from the IDB 
Bank in 1996 for humanitarian assistance. In every sense, the 
disbursement of these loans can mean the difference between life and 
death.
  I want to assure Loune and her partners in Haiti that their work does 
not go unrecognized. I stand with you in this effort. As African-
Americans and as a members of the Congressional Black Caucas' Haiti 
Task Force, we have recognized the urgency in Haiti. Together, we have 
worked to introduce legislation that would decouple the humanitarian 
crisis in Haiti from the political impasse, which has further impeded 
Haiti's development since the 2000 elections. The resolutions was 
designed ensure that financial assistance from the international 
financial institutions can be disbursed to Haiti. You have my assurance 
that this work will continue. We must make it our mission to advance 
the development of a stronger and more meaningful partnership between 
the United States and Haiti.
  In closing, I want to commend Loune Viaud for her work in Haiti. She 
is helping to build a strong foundation for the future development of 
Haiti. We must recognize the distress Haiti is in however, we must also 
look forward with hope. It is my honor to work with you and I look 
forward to our collective efforts to build a better relationship 
between the United States and Haiti. Loune, you are role model who is 
demonstrating today what can be possible tomorrow and into the future 
if we commit ourselves to a better brighter future for Haiti.

                          ____________________