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28421: (news) Chamberlain: Haitian-born Canadian figure inspires hometown
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Tom Brown
JACMEL, Haiti, May 16 (Reuters) - A Haitian-born filmmaker who fled
political violence as a child returned to her hometown on Tuesday as
Canada's governor general hailed as an inspiration for Haiti's struggling
Canadian Governor-General Michaelle Jean, the first black person to
become the personal representative in Canada of head of state Britain's
Queen Elizabeth, made her third visit to her hometown of Jacmel since her
parents fled the "Papa Doc" Duvalier dictatorship in 1968.
She urged Haitians to throw their support behind newly installed
President Rene Preval to help build a better future for the poorest nation
in the Americas.
"The whole world wants to see Haiti seize this important moment and do
what it takes to lift Haiti out of misery," Jean, 48, told townspeople
packed into the tree-rimmed central square in Jacmel, the place she
considers her hometown.
Onlookers said Jean's success was an example to them. "She's proof
that being Haitian doesn't have to mean being a failure. That inspires us a
lot" said Dorothy Belizaire, a 19-year-old high-school student.
Natalie St. Louis agreed. "She's a model of success that we would like
to follow," she said.
Jean, who fled to Canada's French-speaking Quebec province when she
was still a child and later became a documentary filmmaker, called on
Haitians to join forces.
"The time for tensions and divisions is over," she said, speaking in
Creole, to people in Jacmel.
The city of around 40,000 on the country's southern coast has
relatively clean streets and reliable electricity supplies -- largely due
to Canadian aid -- and contrasts starkly with the squalor and decay
Preval, who was installed on Sunday as Haiti's first democratically
elected leader since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in an
armed revolt more than two years ago, faces daunting challenges.
Eighty percent of Haitians live in abject poverty. Less than 2 percent
of the Caribbean country's forest cover remains. And deep mistrust between
the poor masses and a small wealthy elite has sparked frequent bloodshed
and political instability that has so far undermined efforts to establish
full democracy after decades of dictatorships.
(Additional reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva)
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