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Concern over Haiti - Par : Kristy Ramnarine, Trinidad Express

lundi 20 avril 2009 par William Toussaint

Leaders : A regional shame

Kristy Ramnarine, kramnarine@trinidad express.com

Monday, April 20th 2009

The present situation in Haiti is not one which Hemispheric leaders
should be proud of, Prime Minister Patrick Manning said yesterday
during the Fifth Summit of the Americas closing press conference at
the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.

"It is not our concern how this situation came about or how it did not
come about," Manning said.

"The fact of the matter is that it exists and none of us could feel
comfortable, however rich or however poor we might be, that a Haiti is
in existence in our own backyard and therefore we resolved to do
something about it."

Spiking global food and fuel prices triggered days of deadly riots in
Haiti last April. Four storms also battered the country in less than a
month last summer, killing nearly 800 people and causing $1 billion in
damage.

The country now faces a $125 million budget shortfall, rising
double-digit inflation and a slowdown in remittances.

Manning revealed yesterday that the development of a fund to assist
the impoverished country has been proposed by world leaders.

"There was a proposal that was advanced that sought to address the
development of Haiti in some way, but we agreed that time did not
allow us to complete those deliberations. Those deliberations would be
taken up at the Organisation of American States (OAS) meeting in
Honduras on June 1," he added.

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves later
supported Manning’s statement.

"You should be embarrassed to have a Haiti in the region. Not just the
leaders," Gonsalves told the Express.

"But it seems as though we are getting somewhere. I mean David Rudder
had established that proposition a long time ago,’"Haiti I’m Sorry’.
But we have to go beyond sorrow to address these things concretely and
I think we are getting somewhere. Again, it is the start of a
process."

Also addressing the issue, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza
said last week’s donor conference held in Washington DC gives a reason
for more optimism on Haiti. He gave two reasons during a press
conference at the National Secretariat yesterday : "One, there is a
plan. The Haitian government has a very clear project for development.
Now you know exactly what you have to support.

"And second, I think the donors were also very much willing to put up
resources at this moment in time. That was very important. Here in
this conference we spoke with President (Rene) Preval and there were
some things that were said at the conference, at the donors’ meeting,
that were very interesting of trying to focus all international aid on
the issue of infrastructure, roads for Haiti."

Insulza added, "We are in a good moment, what we need to do is
actually co-ordinate the review of policies. I think things are really
going to begin to happen for Haiti."








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