[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
28176: Hermantin(News)Less poverty, more hope (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Posted on Wed, Mar. 29, 2006
Less poverty, more hope
BY RENE GARCIA PREVAL
Ten years ago, when I became the 55th president of Haiti through democratic
elections, little did I realize that 196 years of strife, foreign interventions
and poor governance would be so difficult to overcome. Yet even against the
odds, our government worked to redress two centuries of inequality. We tried to
tackle, with extremely limited means, some of the most daunting problems that
have afflicted our country. We built schools, roads and irrigation systems. We
initiated a much needed agrarian reform. We confronted the evil of corruption
and addressed the dire shortcomings of an ailing judicial system.
Today, I believe, we could have done better.
So when a delegation of peasants urged me in the summer of 2005 to become a
candidate for the upcoming elections, my immediate reaction was to decline. But
the insistence of my neighbors, whose determination deserved respect, gradually
weakened my resistance. I also had become increasingly involved in local
projects and aware that successful local programs had to be extended to other
distressed localities in Haiti via structured national policies.
Thus, on Feb. 7, nearly two million Haitians braved doomsday scenarios and
organizational lapses to send a message to the world: We, too, want to live in
peace and dignity and build a better life. They queued in the hot Caribbean sun
for hours to demonstrate to the world that violence is not, as it had been too
often written and uttered, a ``Haitian trait.''
Now I have become the 57th president of my troubled nation. Here is a thumbnail
sketch of our predicament:
• An astonishing 50 percent of our population lives under poverty line.
• The infant mortality rate is 61 per thousand.
• The unemployment rate affects more than one fifth of our labor force.
• After years of willful neglect, our infrastructures are quasi nonexistent.
The challenges are great. I know that we are a resilient and proud people
nurtured by a glorious past, but we have failed to take advantage of many
opportunities to turn the tide. Now, we must reconcile and reunite to avoid
getting deeper into this abyss in which we find ourselves.
The first thing that the government that emerges from parliamentary elections
and I must do is to reach out to all our compatriots across the political and
class divides that have paralyzed our country for two centuries. To that end, I
have already begun consultations with many leaders of other political parties
as well as those from society at large. Their positive response has, thus far,
encouraged me to continue that dialogue and work on a positive agenda:
• Develop an environment to attract investments from local entrepreneurs, from
Haitian living abroad and from international investors. That environment
constitutes a prerequisite for job creation in the private sector. Providing
security and building our basic infrastructures are key to that end.
• Create a truly independent justice system and a national police force that
serves community interests.
• Restore our environment while affording farmers means to feed our children.
We cannot accomplish much of our goals alone.
While the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti has performed admirably, we
believe its composition should be modified so as to focus more on the training
and strengthening of our police force and on reinforcing our institutions. We
hope that the international community will continue to help us lay the
groundwork for a better Haiti.
We are further encouraged by recent reports suggesting that the Hemispheric
Opportunity Through Partnership Encouragement Act, an offspring of an earlier
version called Haitian Economic Recovery Opportunity Act, is being once again
seriously considered. Introduced by Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, the bill will
allow up to 3.5 percent of total U.S. imports to arrive from Haiti duty free, a
quite needed boost to Haiti's failing economy.
This will not be a panacea. But it is estimated that the passing of this bill
could generate around 80,000 jobs. Jobs need to be created here. And we must do
it fast to bring a lasting solution to the endemic violence that has plagued
some of our cities.
We also strongly believe that the rich human resources of the Haitian diaspora
can be an invaluable asset in rebuilding Haiti. We are appealing to the many
Haitians living abroad and working in technology, the environment, health and
education to provide our ailing country the resources it needs to recover and
A brighter future
We are aware that all the assistance in the world cannot make up for poor
governance. And, as the state has grown to be the country's largest employer,
corruption and lack of efficiency have permeated all levels of government. This
Though ravaged, Haiti is not the wretched land as so often described in the
media. It is a land of hope for more than eight million people. I cannot
achieve miracles, nor have I been promising any. But I feel I have the
responsibility to the Haitian people to open doorways on a brighter future:
less poverty, less inequality, more wealth, more hope.
This is why I ran again for president.
René Garcia Préval is president-elect of Haiti.