On Friday, the country kicked off perhaps its biggest carnival yet with the opening of the Caribbean Festival of the Arts, CARIFESTA XII, on its Champ de Mars.A nine-day, $8.6 million fete, the Caribbean cultural showcase opened with a kaleidoscope of colors and a parade of nations featuring stilt walkers from Barbados, drummers from Guyana and costumed riders on horseback from host nation Haiti.“We’re here to celebrate Caribbean culture,” said Irwin Laroque, secretary general of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which founded the event in 1972 and holds it every two years. “Culture is a way of binding us, bringing the Caribbean together.”The only French speaking member of CARICOM, Haiti has been working in recent years to break its isolation and show that it, too, can host large-scale regional events despite myriad political problems and the occasional natural disaster. The country also wants to boost tourism.“This will bring a lot of visibility to the country and allow us to develop better relations with other Caribbean nations and with the people,” Prime Minister Evans Paul told the Miami Herald. “Even though we live in the same region, we don’t know each other. We don’t all speak the same language. Even air connections, to get to one country, we have to pass through Miami.” via | Miami Herald.
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