Wednesday, May 30, 2012


(Haiti Libre) -

President Michel Martelly, proceeded, Monday, May 28, to the inauguration of the new physiotherapy department at OFATMA Hospital (Office of Insurance Work Accident, Sickness and Maternity) in Cité Militaire, officially launched as the Pink Card, "Konbit Solidarity", a free health insurance card, valid for one year, which will facilitate the access for Haitian families to quality health care.

"It is the appropriate time to recall that in the mandate given to OFATMA in 1967, health insurance in favor of working men and women, for workers of the formal sector was planned, but was ignored for 45 years [...] I'm here to send another signal of hope to the people. We are here this morning to launch the health insurance card, for parents, children, boys and girls. It is not normal for someone who is ill, can not go to the doctor because the treatments are too expensive. It is not normal [...] The health insurance card will be distributed to 400 workers and their families, so about 2,000 people will benefit from it. It will be valid for one year, and recipients will have it for free We are working on this card to understand how much it will cost the State, to be able to put a price on it in the future. We are in the experimental phase [...] we chose to work with people who work in the handling of luggage at the airport [300 people of the 'Red Caps' service], and we will add 100 people from the informal sector; merchants, and various workers with their families. This first group will serve as a pilot group, which means that we will do a test to see how it will work. Once OFATMA has tested the Pink Card, and it works the way we want it to;  we can give this card to a department, then two, three... until we have the card at a national level [...]"

The Health Card holders will benefit from preventive and curative care in dermatology, surgery/trauma, Obstetrics/Gynecology, ENT, ophthalmology, internal medicine and pediatrics at the following hospitals :

Hopital Communauté Haïtienne at Frères;
Hopital OFATMA in Cité Militaire;
Hopital Diquini in Carrefour;
Hopital Fermathe in Kenscoff;
Hopital La Paix on Delmas 33.

"The Health Card, will address a special need for an individual, in health for households, fathers with lower average incomes, and will enable them to meet the health requirements," said Mr. Ronsard St-Cyr, the Minister of Social Affairs, who congratulated the President Martelly for his commitment to the Haitian people.

Over 60,000 consultations are carried out annually at the outpatient clinic of OFATMA, indicated Charles Jean Jacques, the General Manager of this hospital, announcing the presence soon of  OFATMA in Caracol.

"I appreciate that OFATMA works to, not only to fulfill its obligations to those whose it is directly responsible, but that it opens up to the society in general, to help solve serious social problems. I am mindful of its presence in the North and its plans to set up hospitals in other departments of the country. I want to publicly give my support to OFATMA on behalf of the Haitian people," declared the Head of State; adding that, "Gradually, we are moving forward. The objective is to enable all Haitians to find health care when they are sick. Like the free education program where we are working to send all children to school, we are fighting so that every son of Haiti may fully enjoy their right to health, by the end of my term."

President Martelly, reiterated once again that he will never cease to take specific action designed to improve the living conditions of the population.


(Caribbean Journal) - By Ilio Durandis

In Haiti, the future looks so distant, yet it is touchable. It seems so far away, but its scents bring pleasure to the nose. The present is melancholic; the past makes us nostalgic, while the future, for most, is uncertain.

A few years ago, not many of us thought we could lose so many of our compatriots in less time than it is about to take to read this article. In fact, on the day of Haiti’s earthquake, mass casualties, colossal disappearances, inhuman burials, missing body parts and eventually becoming permanently displaced inside one’s own country were the least of our worries.

In a few blinks of an eye, the future left us with an undesirable present. We are stuck in a merry-go-round type of reconstruction process. The donors expect stability and good governance before they can make good on all their pledges, while the country needs the pledges’ money to try to create a stable and good governing society. What gives? All the while, the society is clinging to the faintest of hope as it submerges in the abyss of hopelessness.

Deservingly, most of the reconstruction planning has been around rebuilding the physical infrastructure of the country. Aside of the lives lost, the quake destroyed the vast majority of public edifices, along with countless residential buildings. Politically speaking, it makes sense to focus on the physical infrastructure in the short term, but the long term reconstruction must start on the basis of building a new social infrastructure.

This social infrastructure ought to serve as the strongest foundation ever built, if Haiti is to rise from the dust, sand, and cement left behind from the quake. Haiti’s priority, two years since Destruction-Day, must shift from physical to mental. The leaders of the nation must plunge into repairing the nation’s fragile mental state, if the hope is to build a more just, prosperous and modern nation.

A price tag of over 10 billion dollars to repair what was destroyed physically by the quake. A so-called reconstruction plan that was designed in secrecy and segregation rather than openness, transparency and inclusivity runs the risk of sinking the country deeper into a fragmented state, where the insignificant elite will continue to live an above-average standard life at the expense of the majority living in unfathomable abject poverty, and also possibly create a n unsustainable middle class depending entirely on foreign non-governmental organizations.

This cannot be the type of society that the nation’s forefathers envisioned when they sacrificed their souls, blood and flesh for the freedom of their progeny. There are ways to reverse this curse and build a nation which all citizens can be proud of.

For starters, a social compact between the government and the people must be forged on mutual and agreeable respect of the law. There can’t be any sustainable reconstruction unless the laws are respected and agreed to by the vast majority. Debate or publication of the amended constitution is a cheap way to solve a malignant social deficiency. A constitution that cannot be enforced is unconstitutional. A simplified constitution is needed.

On education, success in the 21st century will not be counted on the numbers of children attending primary or even secondary schools, but rather on the percentage of them graduating from higher institutions of learning and their overall contribution to society.

It is not sustainable to have a society that takes more from social services than it gives back.

In this new social infrastructure, visionaries and thought-leaders are needed to reform and revamp the educational model of the country. To continue to spend money on failures is equivalent to building a city on top of an active volcano. Eventually, one day, an eruption will occur and everything will be lost.

The most important material in building this new social infrastructure would probably have to be job creation. In this case, it is not a matter of creating non-livable, low-skilled opportunities, but rather jobs that can bring transferable skill sets and come with a ladder, where someone working at the very bottom, through hard work and education, can rise up to management or other leadership positions.

This is what we would consider a job that uplifts people. When people are uplifted, their social conditions, without a doubt, will positively change.

A good combination of laws, the right education and inspiring jobs can change Haiti for the better. In the process, the foundation of a strong social infrastructure will be built and ready to support, maintain and innovate any physical infrastructure.

The blueprint for moving away from poverty, instability, corruption and oppression lies in the respect for the rule of law, investment in education, and promotion of an entrepreneurial society. Those things would not require billions for a nation of 10 million people, but it would definitely call for good leadership, great thinkers and undefeated determination to succeed for the common good.

Before the buildings are rebuilt, the people must become the number one priority. Everyone’s role in society must be defined, and no one should impede on someone else’s rights to live comfortably and with dignity. If there’s anything that ought to be learned from the quake, it’s that physical infrastructure can be rebuilt anytime, but replacing human lives and human capital are almost impossible. If lost time can never be recaptured, the loss of lives is irreplaceable.

Only a fool would invest in the context of a reconstruction without a strong emphasis on building a new social infrastructure. As one closes his or her eyes to rest, the future is slowly becoming the past.

The clock is ticking and tocking, and with each passing second, the social capital in Haiti is becoming less and less. In almost every process, the yield rate is usually lower than the starting materials.

The first priority should be building a new social infrastructure for Haiti’s longevity and sustainable prosperity.

Ilio Durandis, a Caribbean Journal contributor, is the founder of Haiti 2015, a social movement for a just and prosperous Haiti. He is a columnist with The Haitian Times.


(Haiti Libre) -

Laurent Lamothe,  Prime Minister and the First Lady, Sophia Martelly, who represented for the event, the President of the Republic, officially launched Sunday, May 27, the Programme "Ti Manman Cheri 'at the Institution Mixte Union des Apôtres, in Cité Soleil, in the presence of members of the Ministerial Cabinet and, among others, representatives of partner countries of Haiti.

This is a first in the country's history. Bel-Air, Fort National, Cité Soleil and Carrefour Feuilles will be the first beneficiaries of this social welfare program designed by the government for families with young children in school and living in extreme poverty.

"This is a revolution in the country... This program is funded from the PetroCaribe funds; 13 million U.S. dollars for the first year," declared Laurent Lamothe, claiming that it is "a historic success for the Haitian families, who have never benefited from such support". According to him, the launch of "Ti Manman Cheri" is a clear signal towards the improvement of living conditions of families living in extreme poverty.

This important program, consists in transferring money every month, on the cellphone of every mother, through the service "Tchocho mobile" of  Digicel, provided that their child is enrolled in a school, and goes there regularly. Mothers with one, two or three children in school, receive respectively 400, 600 or 800 gourdes per month. [Similar programs of conditional cash transfers have been implemented successfully in Brazil, Mexico and the Dominican Republic].

These families will be registered for a period of 6 months, with the possibility of being renewed 10 times (5 years) maximum. Registrations are open in May, and will end in December with the aim of reaching 100,000 beneficiaries. "The program will run throughout the country in the future," announced the Prime Minister, who said  that "we have 200 registrations for the month of May; 200 mothers who will be registered into the program Ti Manman Cheri. In June we will register 2,800, 5,000 in July,  10,000 in August. Then we will pick up speed in September for 25,000 more people, 25,000 in October,  20,000 in November; so that in December we have completed the 100,000 mothers who will be in this program. These  100,000 mothers, will have a positive impact on more than 500,000 people in Haiti..."

Mr. Chrisnor Saint-Fleur, Director of the Institution Mixte Union des Apôtres of Cité Soleil, the first beneficiary school, expressed his satisfaction, and took the opportunity to express his appreciation to the Martelly-Lamothe Administration for this social protection program.

"I applaud this initiative, and congratulate President Martelly for thinking of us", welcomed Ms. Gina Abraham, a beneficiary of 33 years of age,  living in Cité Soleil, and mother of four children. Dozens of mothers and their children attended the ceremony.

The Prime Minister reiterated the determination of the President of the Republic, in the fight against poverty, and urged parents to keep their children in school, promising to work to bring concrete results for the Haitian people.

In addition to the fight against poverty, "the desire of President Martelly is to see that all the children of Haiti go to school and to literate the adults before the end of his mandate," declared Sophia Martelly; recalling some of the accomplishments of the Head of State in the previous year, (ie more than 1 million children have access to free education, the relocation of thousands of displaced persons of 12 January 2010, who occupied several public places of the capital, and the rehabilitation of the Gymnasium Vincent...

The launch of "Ti Manman Cheri", like the programs "Aba grangou", "Banm Limyè, banm lavi", "Katye pa m poze", and "Kay pa m" introduced previously, and soon the pink card of health insurance, demonstrates the willingness and determination of the President of the Republic to work to improve the living conditions of the Haitian people. "Your President, 'Tèt Kale'  is counting on you as you rely on him too," declared the First Lady.


HAITI BEGINS CASH TRANSFER SOCIAL PROGRAM (Sacramento Bee) - AP PORT-AU-PRINCE - The Haitian government has launched a program that uses mobile phones to transfer cash credits to mothers who keep their children in school. The program is called "Ti Manman Cheri," or Creole for "Dear Little Mother." It aims to reach 100,000 families in four of the capital's poorest neighborhoods. Mothers with children enrolled in the first through sixth grades can receive up to $20 a month if they keep the youngsters in school. Venezuela's Petrocaribe fund is providing the $15 million for the program. The fund supplies fuel to Caribbean and Central American countries. Similar conditional cash transfer programs have been employed in Brazil, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced the program Sunday at a school in the sprawling Cite Soleil slum.


(Montreal Gazette) - By Mike Blanchfield, CP

But Thomas Adams, the State Department’s special coordinator for Haiti, told Canadian Press that “realistic” estimate should not be seen as daunting to countries such as Canada that are heavily invested in helping the western hemisphere’s poorest country, still struggling after its devastating 2010 earthquake.

Nor should it deter investors, who are crucial to Haiti’s long-term recovery, Adams added, as long as the country builds credible democratic institutions.

“There is no reason why Haiti can’t become a middle-income country. But because they’re starting so low, it’s going be to be 25 to 30 years even if they have good economic growth,” Adams said in an exclusive interview after two days of meetings in Ottawa with various government officials.

“It’s not a quick fix. These problems in Haiti – their educational system, their health system, cholera, the infrastructure – these aren’t quick fixes,” he added.

“It’s good to be realistic. That’s not to say we’re not making progress each year ... But overall, you’re not going to see a Haiti the way you’d like it for a while.”

Forty years ago, Haiti was slightly ahead of the Dominican Republic economically, said Adams, with 20 large American corporations setting up their Caribbean headquarters there. The two countries share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

Adams sees economic growth for Haiti in textiles, agriculture and tourism.

“Haiti needs private investment. All the donor money, as generous as it is – and I think Canada and a lot of countries have been very generous – isn’t enough to fix Haiti.”

The U.S. and Canada, said Adams, remain in lock-step when it comes to helping Haiti recover from the devastating January 2010 earthquake that left 300,000 dead and displaced 1.5 million. Canada has pledged more than $1 billion to Haiti, making it the second largest aid recipient after Afghanistan.

That co-operation extends to co-ordinated messaging of Haiti’s political leaders, to break the political paralysis of the last year – a crisis that has raised serious questions about the country’s ability to stave off corruption and govern itself effectively.

That crisis appeared to ease earlier this month when President Michel Martelly swore in a new prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, whose predecessor resigned in February after barely four months on the job.

The turmoil rendered Haiti’s government rudderless and left billions of dollars of donor pledges in limbo.

“That’s pretty much over,” said Adams. “There’s a truce between the president and the parliament. It seems they’re willing to work together. The president has confidence in the new prime minister.”

With Lamothe confirmed, parliamentary amendments will pave the way for elections of senators and local officials, as well as paving the way for reforms of the court system, said Adams.

Throughout it all, the Canadian and U.S. governments have continued to “give co-ordinated messages on some sensitive topics.”

The underlying message can be boiled down to this: rein in the corruption and work together politically.

“That’s one of our constant messages,” Adams explained.

“We don’t say, if you’re not going to do X, Y, and Z we’re going to cut off all of your aid. But we do say, and Canada says, and everybody else says, over time businessmen and donors are going to go elsewhere if you’re not seen as making your best efforts to curb corruption to bring in the rule of the law and be democratic.

Diane Ablonczy, Canada’s junior foreign affairs for the Americas, said Haitians are “crying out for leadership” so Canada is urging its leaders to step up and provide it.

“We are really urging the new government as its formed to emphasize and really roll up its sleeves and emphasize the need to deliver results for strong institutions in Haiti.”

Adams also lauded Canada’s former Governor General, Haitian-born Michaëlle Jean, as a key player in that co-ordinated communication effort with Haiti’s leadership.

Jean, now the UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti, travels to Haiti again this week for meetings with political leaders. She’ll also take part in events to highlight programs that help curb malnutrition and poverty.

Earlier this month, Jean laid bare her frustration with the pace of change in her native country during a recent speech in Ottawa to government officials and non-governmental organizations.

“The aid and handout system has become kind of a business model, a scheme used by some to wheel and deal as it generates opportunities for embezzlement and corruption,” Jean said in the text posted on her website.

“It can’t go on like this.”

Adams said that’s the message the U.S., Canada and other allies continue to deliver to Haiti.

“We’re on the same message too. Again, cut the chaos,” he said. “That’s all we’re saying there: come on guys, let’s keep our eye on the ball here.”


(Haiti Libre) -

On Tuesday, May 29, a multilateral summit was held in the office of the Primature, with  delegations of officials from Venezuela, Argentina and Cuba. This meeting is part of the monitoring of commitments signed April 25, 2012 in Port-au-Prince. These delegations, composed of eminent diplomats, and top leaders of each country, wanted to mark by their presence, their attachment to the Haitian people; but especially to renew to the world, their support to the development of Haiti, in the context of post earthquake assistance.

During his intervention, Laurent Lamothe, Prime Minister and Ministers of Foreign Affairs, focused on solidarity, which is the cornerstone of this cooperation between Haiti and countries of Latin America. He sent a deep thanks to these counterparts and to the dignitaries of the various delegations at this working meeting of high importance, for the future of the cooperation of Haiti with its partners.

Moreover, the discussions focused on the following topics:

Agricultural Development

Retrocession to the Haitian Government of an envelope of 69 million U.S. dollars within the program PetroCaribe

Creation of a joint venture for the management of such funds

Construction of 5,000 housing units throughout the 10 departments of the country



Offers of a program of three hundred scholarships to Haitian students and executives

Capacity building of the Haitian public administration

During this summit, 3 agreements have been signed :

1 - Letter of Intent for the construction of the hospital of Corail in Grand Anse, the Hospital bearing the name of Nestor Kishler, for $780,217.98 U.S. dollars;

2 - Social Agreement between the Minister of Poverty and Human Rights, Ms. Roxane Augustus, and the Head of the Delegation of Argentina, Mr. Eduardo Antonio Zuain, Secretary of External Relations;

3 - Agreement with Venezuela, Argentina and Haiti, totaling $15 million for strengthening the Agricultural sectors.

The Ministers of Agriculture: Thomas Jacques; of the Peasants: Ms. Mimose Felix; of Health: Ms. Florence Duperval Guillaume, did not hide their appreciation on behalf of the Haitian people, and promised to visit these friendly countries, to better assimilate their sustainable development programs.

This multilateral summit, also intervenes in a context where the Haitian government is taking every effort to ensure the country's reconstruction, improve the living conditions of the population, and attract foreign direct investment; essential to the creation of wealth and employment, and factors of economic and social development.


(Haiti Libre) -

Tuesday, the Canadian Ambassador Henri-Paul Normandin, stated that the new government inspired confidence, that Canada was ready to support Haiti, but that it was now time to take action.

" [...] We're still here, working with our Haitian friends, with the Haitian government, [...] we have recently seen the appointment of a new Prime Minister, the establishment of a new government; and I think that this will have influences on the momentum of development in Haiti. Canada is still there in the field of health, education, food security, economic growth and also in the field of justice and security. I think you are familiar with our support  with the National Police [...] Security is an essential element for the developing of Haiti. We we are here for all these issues, and certainly also for the elections [...] we already have a dialogue with the government, and we are ready to work toward the holding of elections [...]

[...] The new government inspires us with confidence. There is a policy statement that was presented to the government, which is indeed inspiring. There are many good elements on which we are already working, and on which we are ready to commit ourselves even more closely with the Haitian Government. Obviously, what is always the key in a cooperative relationship, is first and foremost, the work that the Haitian national institutions do. As long as the government takes actions, programs, and provisions that allows the country to move forward; well, we are ready to work...

We must take action. I think it will surprise no one, that there are several policies in place that are relevant. There are several announcements which were made of things to come. For example, the Supreme Council of Judicial Power, it's been several months that we have talked about it; maybe this is precisely the time to take a decision and implement this famous Supreme Council of Judicial Power. The political orientation is good, the statements of intentions are good; now it is in action that the work must be done."


(Haiti Libre) -

Tuesday, President Michel Martelly, and Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe signed five presidential decrees, including the one repealing the Order of September 2, 2010 [Preval Government ], declaring a public utility the downtown of Port-au-Prince.

This signing session was attended by Patrick Rouzier, Adviser to the President, Ms. Gabrielle Hyacinthe, the Mayor of Port-au-Prince, Ms. Josiane Tribié, Representative of Michel Mourra of SOS Centre-ville, the Engineer Jacques Rousseau, Minister of Public Works, and Me. Thierry Mayard Paul, Minister of the Interior and Local Authorities.

The 5 presidential decrees:

- Decree repeals the Decree of 2 September 2010 signed by the Preval Government, which had declared the center of the capital a public utility (the Government declares the Rue du Champ de Mars area reserved for the construction among others, of public buildings)

- Decree concerning the resumption of reconstruction activity in the city center, which should be realized in compliance with standards and defined zoning

- Decree allowing the executive to define the perimeter of the downtown

- Decree making the Champs de Mars, a National Park

- Decree declaring  the waterfront a reserved area

President Martelly declared that the signing of these decrees corrects a miscalculation of the previous government, and opens the commercial center to entrepreneurs, whose construction starts will generate jobs. "Today, the decision is taken, the decree is signed. Let us unite to rebuild the downtown;" stating that the capital will not be rebuilt without the efforts of the private sector, and the contribution of its people. The Head of State invited the Ministry of Public Works to put as a priority the publication of new construction standards for the downtown.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


(Haiti Libre) -

This Wednesday, May 16, at the National Palace, the new Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe gave an inauguration speech. We share with you the essentials.

Excerpts from the inauguration speech of Laurent Lamothe : "

[...] Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to serve my country. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to serve my people. I want to say to the President, my compliments; compliments for all your efforts to remove the Haitian people from poverty, hunger and despair. Today the team makes as ONE. Nothing can separate it. I take this opportunity to thank the members of the legislative body, and the parliamentarians who work long hours; days and nights. I met with them and we discussed the problems of the country, and I thank you for the patriotic gestures that you have made, when you gave me your confidence to lead the Government.

President Martelly, on May 14, 2011 you had promised the citizens a change. This change is not a last minute speech in a political campaign; this message is part of a vision, a commitment towards our country, with the Haitian people [...]

Today we celebrate the first anniversary of your presidency, and we begin a new stage in which the experience gained will enable us to move faster in rebuilding our country. Our fellow citizens can not wait [...] In the statement of General Policy approved by Parliament we indicate a way, a clear unequivocal way, to lead our citizens out from extreme poverty and face the challenges of the country [...] The Government, the President, and the Parliament, with the judiciary, will work together to change all that blocks the development of Haiti. This is my commitment. This way derives from a way agreed to by many of our countrymen and follows a dialogue with the different sectors of society. Dialogue will be an indispensable tool for the rebuilding of Haiti [...]

The challenges of Haiti are those of all sectors of society; without exclusions, and no exceptions. We must all accept our responsibilities and commit ourselves in this way of reconstruction.

Together we will rebuild Haiti [...] I repeat, together we will rebuild Haiti. [...]

The time for change has arrived, a new Haitian dream is possible. I know there is a lot of work, there will be lots of nights where we can not sleep. I accepted this appointment, because I believe, and I have the willingness to serve my country, to work for my country; with you, together as a team, so that we succeed in this mission.

Failure will not be acceptable.

[...] We want the Government's plan, the result of dialogue, as a social pact for access to political stability and cooperation of all, to succeed in the shortest possible time, and ensure political stability in Haiti.

[...] My government and myself, have the historic responsibility to realize these changes. Each minister, and I stress every minister, every Secretary of State, Director General and each employee of the state, must undertake to fulfill their responsibilities. The State will be the catalyst of change, and those who are not able to meet the challenge, must give place, and first, myself.

[...] Thank you Mr. President again for your confidence, and I reiterate my engament to accomplish the mission expressed in the statement of General Policy, which has only one goal; the welfare of the Haitian people.

The time for change has come, we have no time to lose, we have no room for error.

At work, put our hands together, vive Haiti

Thank you"


(Haiti Libre) -

Mr. Mariano Fernández Amunátegui, the Special Representative of Secretary-General of the United Nations in Haiti, congratulates the Chamber of Deputies for its vote of confidence of the general policy statement of the Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, which follows the Senate, last Tuesday, thus completing the parliamentary procedure allowing the installation of the Prime Minister and the Government.

Mr. Fernandez also wishes to acknowledge the efforts and the spirit of dialogue whose the Executive and the Legislative have shown throughout the procedure, and the willingness of the Prime Minister to adopt an approach of unity and inclusion in its dealings.

In the same vein, the Special Representative of Secretary-General joins the voices of Haitians to wish that the new government could rapidly make advance its master plan favorable to the development and progress of the country. Plan that meets the urgent needs and legitimate expectations of the population in the five areas on which is based the general policy statement of the Prime Minister, namely, Economics, Employment, Education, Energy, the Rule of Law and the Environment, which correspond to the five main areas of priority of the President of the Republic. The Minustah welcomes the commitment made in the general policy statement to hold legislative and local elections before the end of the year.

Other challenges await the new Government, including the establishment of a stable and secure climate for economic development, the strengthening of state institutions, whose the National Police of Haiti, the negotiation of a legislative agenda with Parliament to allow the adoption of necessary reforms, the effective establishment of the Supreme Council of the Judicial Power that must ensure the independence of the judiciary, and the organization of free and democratic elections. The Government can count on the support of the Minustah to address them.

More than ever, Haiti now needs an atmosphere of peace and serenity to advance in the path of reconstruction and economic and social development of the country.


(Haiti Libre) -

France welcomes the appointment of a Prime Minister in Haiti, Mr. Laurent Lamothe, who obtained a clear support in both houses of parliament.

"After the vote of budget, this appointment is another signal of national unity which is encouraging.

The formation of a government, enjoying the support of parliamentarians, must enable the authorities to act with determination to improve the fate of the population, coordinate and implement major projects of reconstruction, and implement effective governance for the whole country.

All actors of the Haitian political life must continue their efforts of dialogue and consensus building in the national interest.

France, with its European and international partners, will continue to assist Haiti and to work for the country's development. We want in particular help to consolidate the rule of law and build strong institutions at the service of Haitians."


  (Haiti Libre) -

The Embassy of the United States of America congratulates the men and women who were sworn in yesterday as ministers of the government of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, and we extend our best wishes for their success.

It is encouraging that Parliament and the Presidency worked swiftly together to approve the government’s general policy. This spirit of cooperation, involving all political leaders, as well as members of the business sector and civil society, is needed to move forward on Haiti’s major issues, such as promptly organizing senate and municipal elections and taking the steps necessary to provide for private sector-led growth. The United States looks forward to continuing our partnership with the new government to build the future that Haitians desire.

The United States remains committed to supporting the people and government of Haiti over the long-term, in building a future that is more stable, more prosperous, and more democratic.


(Haiti Libre) -

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, congratulated the new Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe, for his recent appointment and stressed his commitment to the principles and core values of the hemispheric organization.

"I've taken note of your statements on general policy that emphasize the importance of good governance, strengthening democracy, eliminating extreme poverty, respecting human rights and modernizing the state in order to achieve strong institutions," Secretary General Insulza wrote in a letter sent to Prime Minister Lamothe.

"These key elements reflect the principles and values of the Member States of the OAS, of which Haiti is a founding member," added the chief representative of the hemispheric organization.

Secretary General Insulza wrote to the Haitian Prime Minister that the OAS Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Albert Ramdin, will soon visit Haiti "to reiterate the commitment of the OAS" to the Caribbean nation. He also said that the OAS Special Representative in Haiti, Frederic Bolduc, "will offer his full cooperation in the implementation of the Martelly-Lamothe government program."


(Miami Herald) - By Jacqueline Charles

Haiti’s new Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe took office and immediately got to work, declaring ‘we have four years to develop this country.’

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Haiti’s latest prime minister is a tech-savvy, driven decision-maker who is determined to drag this pen-and-paper society into modernity as he strives to break the cycle of misery.

But Laurent Lamothe, a close friend and former business associate of President Michel Martelly, also is a political novice who officially took over the second toughest job in Haiti on Wednesday as he and his 21-member Cabinet were sworn-in.

“I have the ambition of working and being the prime minister that takes care of the people’s needs,’’ Lamothe, 39, told The Miami Herald. “In Haiti … you have to focus on tomorrow, and make sure tomorrow is better than today.”

And that work begins immediately said Lamothe, announcing a massive street clean-up, road improvements and increased security measures. The makeover will be combined with several new reforms he plans to send parliament, he added.

“We have four years to develop this country,” said Lamothe, who never goes anywhere without his iPad. “We have to get moving.”

The swearing-in marked a new chapter for Lamothe and Martelly, who ended the first year of his five-year presidential term Monday. That same day, Haitian lawmakers completed the final steps to ratify a new government. With parliament and Martelly at loggerheads, many hope this “fresh start” is what post-earthquake Haiti needs to rebuild. Until now, the political bickering has stalled reconstruction and delayed political progress.

“At some point the two branches have to grow up and decide if you want to have an effective government,” said Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia. “Then there has to be some common ground, and so far there is no common ground.”


Lamothe was Martelly’s fourth pick, and the second prime minister to be ratified by parliament in six months. Former Prime Minister Garry Conille resigned after only four months amid friction with Martelly. In the nearly three months leading up to his ratification, Lamothe has reached out across the political divide, courting politicians and members of the formal business community. He preaches inclusion and breaking the political gridlock.

“We don’t have any other choice,” Lamothe said after his regular morning workout with a personal trainer at his home in Turgeau, one of Port-au-Prince’s oldest residential neighborhoods. “It is the same fight. It’s the fight to reduce inequalities, it’s the fight to bring better living conditions to the most vulnerable and it’s a fight to bring the country out of this cycle of misery and instability that has plagued it for so long.”

Long the go-to guy in Martelly’s inner-circle for some foreign diplomats, Lamothe is viewed as a “deliverer” and “determined doer” who offers sage advice to the president even if he doesn’t always follow it, according to insiders.

While acknowledging that he may not be the best qualified politically for the job, the international community says he’s the last chance for Martelly to make progress.

Still, as foreign minister, a post he’s keeping, Lamothe has ruffled diplomatic feathers with his outreach to leftist governments in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.

“We need to find partners that will come and assist us, and we need to re-dynamize the relationship with them,” Lamothe said, noting they inherited Haiti’s relationships.


At home, Lamothe’s rising star has not been well received, which endangers his longevity. Since 1988, Haiti prime ministers have averaged 453 days in office and his anti-contraband position has put him in conflict with some in his own camp. Haiti loses between $400-$500 million annually along its 243-miles porous border with the Dominican Republic, Lamothe said.

“We feel the brewing of a future confrontation. He has to watch out so that within his political family, he doesn’t get eaten, politically speaking,” said Rudy Heriveaux, a former senator and member of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party. “There is already a fight going on.”

Jocelyn McCalla, a New York-based Haiti expert, said if Lamothe “wants to move things forward, he has to build a good team, build cohesion, shake things up and achieve results in a relatively short time while building for the long-term.”

“It’s a steep hill and he can roll down the hill at anytime,” McCalla noted.

Others are hoping that Lamothe’s close relationship with Martelly will help weather any political storms.

“Laurent is probably the best thing that can happen to Haiti at this juncture,” said Stephan Coles, the head of the Coles Group of manufacturers and coordinator of the Economic Forum, an umbrella group of professional associations and chambers of commerce. “The fact that you have a president and prime minister going in the same direction bodes very well.”

Still, Lamothe has his detractors. During the ratification process, opposition lawmakers argued that in a five-year period, he had only spent 106 days in Haiti, rendering him constitutionally unqualified to hold the post. For weeks, allegations of vote buying for and against Lamothe dominated radio airwaves. His team denies buying votes, but says detractors paid money to try to block his confirmation. Those allegation could not be confirmed.

There are also questions about his dealings in Africa as CEO of Global Voice Group, a telecommunications firm with auditing contracts. In Senegal, a short-lived contract spurred protests and a suspension of all Internet traffic for one day. .

Lamothe said Global Voice routinely ran into resistance in trying to carry out its auditing work.

“What happened in Senegal,” he said, “they were not accepting the audits and they launched a very, very wide … smear campaign and fabrication of all sorts.”

“It’s business,” he added, noting that he has resigned from the company. “When you go into foreign countries and you audit, sometimes what you find, people won’t like it.”

Both detractors and supporters say reservations aside, there is a collective sense of goodwill for Lamothe to succeed, for the sake of Haiti.

He has laid out an ambitious program that touts not just political stability, but investments and anti-poverty initiatives. One of two new cabinet posts focuses on the poverty fight; the other on rural sectors. Both are headed by women, who account for 40 percent of the new government.

The anti-poverty strategy, Lamothe said, will be waged on several fronts: free tuition for primary-school age children; monthly conditional $20 cash transfers targeted at 100,000 mothers with two or more children who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods and who have their children vaccinated; and assistance with micro-enterprises.

Though some analysts criticized his government as weak, Lamothe said it will be results-oriented and complaints about ministers will be reviewed. Meanwhile, to spur economic growth, he’s pushing for investments in public buildings, roads and transforming the southeastern seaside town of Jacmel into a tourism Mecca.

“We have sun all year long, white sandy beaches and we need to take advantage of it through investing in tourism and tourism infrastructure,” he said.

Meanwhile, he has recruited advisors from various walks of life. Their résumés read like a who’s who of North America’s most prestigious universities: Harvard, MIT, McGill.

“We are focusing on bringing competency, not only doers, but people with highly qualified degrees to sit down and figure out policies to bring the country forward, to bring economic growth,” said Lamothe, who holds an MBA from St. Thomas University.

“We want to bring a new type of leadership, a leadership where optimism has no borders, a leadership of young, energized dynamic managers to tackle the big issues that the country is facing,” he added. “We have the will. We have the perseverance to do so and the margin for error is little. We are determined to succeed.”



OTTAWA — Haiti has long been synonymous in the minds of many with hardship and tragedy, poverty and corruption, instability and death. The Caribbean nation’s history and recent events, particularly the devastating earthquake of January 2010, have done little to change that perception.

It’s a fact acknowledged by Haiti’s first ambassador to Canada in nearly six years, Frantz Liautaud, who says such views are outdated and have held back his country’s ability to wean itself off foreign aid.

“What we need to do is change our image and make sure people get the right image,” Liautaud said in an exclusive interview with Postmedia News Friday.

And in the Conservative government, where a “re-orientation” is expected to begin funnelling tens of millions of dollars in foreign aid to economic development, Haiti appears to have found a willing partner.

Last year, Haitians elected singer-turned-politician Michel Martelly as president. Martelly wasted no time making his government’s top priority the attraction of foreign investment, with the idea of tackling the country’s 40 per cent unemployment rate.

This has involved promoting the country’s coastline as a tourist destination, as well as the opportunities available in the agricultural sector, natural resources and others. Haiti’s embassies and diplomatic network are seen as instrumental in taking that message to the world.

“The Martelly government was clear from Day 1 that for Haiti to get back into the position it should have in the region and in the world, we have to increase investment in Haiti,” said Liautaud, a former businessman and recent president of the Haitian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

A few Canadian companies, such as engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, have operations in Haiti, but those are mainly related to contracts such as building infrastructure and do not actually result in investment.

Like counterparts around the world, Canadian companies remain worried about Haiti’s security, its lack of trained workers, its vulnerability to natural disasters, and the political instability that has long plagued the nation.

Liautaud acknowledged the concerns but insisted many are overstated — security, for example, has improved significantly in recent years, while the government is working arguably better than many remember. And for those who take a chance, he said, the opportunities are there.

“The first impression is it’s too risky,” Liautaud said. “But obviously the bigger the risk, the bigger the opportunity to get a good return on your investment.”

Reassuring words, however, can only go so far, which is why Haiti is hoping foreign aid donors such as Canada will help encourage companies to take a serious look at the Caribbean nation.

With the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, Haiti has become Canada’s largest recipient of international assistance, receiving more than $100 million a year.

Much of that has been focused on providing emergency food supplies, health care and education for children, and support for the Caribbean nation’s weak government institutions. But Liautaud said he has received indications from Canadian officials more of that aid — much of which currently goes to international development groups like Care, World Vision and the Red Cross — will be tied to economic development.

“From the reading that I have (this) is exactly what the Canadian government is looking into. Making sure that whatever money is invested in Haiti is invested to create sustainable economic development.”

The Conservative government has made a point of prioritizing economic development when it comes to Canadian foreign assistance, seeing it as the best way for developing countries to become self-sufficient.

But the government has faced criticism for using aid to help Canadian mining companies, for example, and there are concerns that the focus on business is coming at the expense of support for fundamentals like food security, health care and education.

“There is no sustainable economic development without social peace,” Liautaud acknowledged. “So it’s a balancing act. But what Haitians as a whole need the most is to be put to work.”


(AP) - By Trenton Daniel

PORT-AU-PRINCE — In a country where the news is typically bad, if not catastrophic, many people in Haiti look at the past year under a musician-turned-president with guarded surprise.

Yes, parliament and President Michel Martelly were in a standoff that hobbled government much of the past 12 months. Yes, less than a quarter of the population has a formal job. And yes, cholera and many other problems still haunt the country.

Yet six of the most visible displaced-persons camps that sprang up after the 2010 earthquake have been cleared and several are back to being public plazas; renovations are far along at the international airport; a sprinkling of new hotels and shops have begun to emerge across the capital's otherwise ruined landscape; and in a country where free education is rare, the government, for the first time, has covered school tuition for 1 million children .

It's hardly a Golden Age. But it's not bad either for a leader who had never held political office and was best known for often-raunchy musical performances before he took office a year ago Monday. The achievements have come with a parliament so dominated by the party of the man Martelly defeated in his run for president that lawmakers stonewalled his attempts to appoint a prime minister and Cabinet for three-quarters of the year.

"Things with Martelly are working for the most part," said Yrinen Jean-Baptiste, a 34-year-old mother of two children who voted for the musician and says that, so far, she would be willing do so again. "I hope he can do more."

Asked to grade himself on a 1-10 scale, the president, who isn't known for modesty, grades himself high.

"I would give myself an eight, eight-and-half, a nine, because everything I did I did without a government," Martelly said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Everything I did, I did at a time when I had so many problems, when so many people tried to stop me. Everything I did, I did whether the money was there or not."

Asked to name his accomplishments, the president pointed out the school-tuition program, to be paid for with a tax on incoming international phone calls, as well as the clearing of major camps, largely achieved through rental subsidies, the repair of damaged homes and, most controversially, outright evictions from the flimsy shelters of the overcrowded temporary settlements.

In the interview on Friday, he also noted the construction of a public hospital in Mirebalais, north of the capital, and start of construction of an industrial park near Cap Haitien that will host textile factories and other enterprises, bringing badly needed jobs to the northern part of the country.

"I'm not saying that I'm doing miracles, but I'm surely sending signals that things are being done in another manner now," Martelly said from his office on the grounds of the ruined National Palace. "The state wants to serve. We want to be close to the people."

Still known to many by his stage name "Sweet Micky," Martelly said governing was easier than he had thought and he has no regrets from the first year.

But it's clear there were some major blunders.

Police ignored a law granting legislative immunity by arresting a lawmaker who had escaped from jail. The justice minister took the blame and resigned, but the episode infuriated parliament and lawmakers became bent on thwarting him at every turn, opening an investigation into Martelly's eligibility for office. Instead of dispelling rumors that he was a citizen of another country, which would have barred him from office, he let the allegations fester. It took him several months to put the matter to rest. When he did, he held aloft eight old passports in a performer-like flourish.

"He could have done a lot better if he wanted people to rally around him, gotten consensus and not go his own way as an artist," Sen. Francois Anick Joseph said by telephone. "He caused (a lot of problems) by his way of doing things and his way of doing things is not a democratic way."

Added Joseph: "He wasn't able to look for consensus because he's an artist. The lights must be on him."

Martelly also has struggled to disband a group of military veterans who have tried to hold him to his campaign pledge of restoring the army. They had been training before he took office, but his victory emboldened them and they have paraded throughout the capital and countryside, toting side arms and sporting military uniforms, despite government orders for them to stop. Their paramilitary-like presence has embarrassed not just the government but also the United Nations peacekeeping mission. Martelly also suffered for the lack of a strong political party. Only three members of his party hold seats in the 99-member Chamber of Deputies and none in the 30-member Senate, though he's found allies in both chambers.

His political base remains tiny and he counts a tight-knit circle of longtime friends as his advisers, many of them fellow alumni of an elite Catholic high school and many of them foreign to politics. Even then, infighting has been a hallmark of the administration.

"They are too close and they don't open up," said Claude Beauboeuf, an economist and radio talk show host. "Even those on the inside are crushed sometimes."

Despite the clashes with parliament, anger seldom spilled into the street as it has in past administrations. There have been no major signs of disgust with Martelly aside from a few demonstrations.

Disappointment might seem justified for someone like Jean-Baptiste, the mother of two. She voted for Martelly to get her out of a park-turned-encampment. But her forced removal at the hands of city officials was not what she had in mind.

Martelly condemned evictions, but they happened anyway. Yet Jean-Baptiste still holds out hope for the candidate who promised change. She offered this unsolicited message to the president: "I hope he can bring down the price of tap-taps," the brightly colored pickups that transport people for about 40 cents.

The signature project of the Martelly administration has been the school program that aims to double the number of children in school. His plan to fund it through a tax on incoming international phone calls and wire transfers upset Haitians abroad who use such services. The $22 million collected is on hold with the Central Bank until Parliament approves its release. The government paid for this year's tuition by taking money from other parts of the budget, said Miloody Vincent, director of the education ministry's press bureau.

Vincent acknowledges that the quality of the education may not have improved yet. "The most important thing is to put the kids in school," he said. "We're working later to improve the quality of the education."

There are no independent studies of the program so far, but education specialist Mohamed Fall of UNICEF said he believed at least 70 percent of the targeted children had received their aid.

While ever-inefficient Haitian government has still not completely funded the schools, the aid is a significant sum for many in Haiti, where about half the children didn't go to school before the quake.

Take Dania Nerius, the 38-year-old mother of four children, ages 6 to 17. Her husband lost his right leg in the earthquake, and his job as a mechanic. They nearly had to pull their children from the school. But the tuition program helped her save $360 a year — a lot in a country where most get by on $2 a day — so she can pay rent and invest money in her business as a roadside peddler of minutes for a cellphone company.

"That helped me," Nerius said one afternoon, "because the money would've otherwise come out of my pocket."


(Miami Herald) - By Jacqueline Charles

Michel Martelly remains popular with the poor and with celebs and world leaders, but not everyone is impressed with his first year.
PORT-AU-PRINCE - He was the king of Haitian music, a high-energy charmer who became president of a broken nation by promising sweeping changes in employment, education, energy, environment and the rule of law.

“Haiti is open for business,” Michel Martelly declared as he took the oath of office on the grounds of a collapsed presidential palace, a sprawling tent city behind the iron fence serving as a visible reminder of the devastating January 2010 earthquake.

A year after his May 14 swearing-in, many of the tents are gone and the plaza of independence heroes is slowly beginning to look the way it did pre-quake. But efforts to rebrand Haiti from a charity to investment destination have been eclipsed by self-made internal crises, controversy and corruption scandals. Further threatening stability and security is a rogue force of decommissioned military officers and wannabe soldiers who are pushing for revival of the country’s disbanded army.

“The people had a lot of hope in Martelly,” said Sauveur Pierre Etienne, leader of the opposition Organization of People in Struggle party. “There’s nothing that has changed. It’s continuity.”

Martelly’s year-long tenure has been uneven at best with both critics and supporters agreeing that he will not be fully judged until his five-year term is over. Still, his governing style, political naïveté and circle of influential advisers have put him in conflict with parliamentarians who as late as Friday were blocking a final vote on new Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s government amid disagreements with the palace over the government’s composition.

International observers say if Martelly wants to move beyond slogans and have his many announced initiatives go beyond public relations, the focus in the coming months must be on political stability. Increasingly losing enthusiasm and patience with Haiti’s dysfunctional politics, Haiti’s foreign friends had hoped a new Lamothe-led government would be a turning point to help jumpstart stalled reconstruction, amend the constitution and address judicial reforms needed to create jobs.

For his part, Lamothe, a 39-year-old entrepreneur and close Martelly adviser, told The Miami Herald that Haiti needs to focus on political stability and his government plans to reach out to everyone. He is the fourth pick for the No. 2 job in a year, the second to be ratified in six months.

“This is a massive undertaking with limited means,” he said, listing Martelly’s accomplishments that range from tuition-free education to the relocation of 51,000 people from camps. “We are doing the best that we can under very difficult circumstances.”

‘MY WAY OR...’

As his country’s jet-setting ambassador, Martelly has championed Haiti’s potential on the international stage, impressing former world leaders, movie stars and top fashion models, among others. But he has not been as successful at home.

“Martelly and his team have plunged the country into needless politically linked controversy and gridlock, and reopened polarized strife, in large part because of an orientation toward governance that is tightly inclusive, not widely-embracing of different actors, and takes a ‘my way or the highway’ approach toward differing views,” said Robert Maguire, director of the Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Program at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, D.C.

The approach has only added to Haiti’s challenges.

“Haiti is on the cusp of starting to move economically, but it is still fragile [as a result of] hopeless corruption, incapable self-governance and paramilitaries running around,” said a foreign diplomat, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of his government. “But [Martelly’s] bad boy image keeps him wildly popular.”

Recent private polls show Martelly’s popularity among the poor at around 80 percent, a number that baffles some longtime Haiti watchers.

“I don’t see how he gets to be popular with no results,” said Kesner Pharel, a leading Port-au-Prince economist “After one year, I am not so sure we are any better off. Leadership-wise, he has made some bad choices.”

Among them, verbally assaulting the press when he doesn’t like the question, and openly attacking an unruly parliament. He once angrily disrupted a meeting between lawmakers and then-Prime Minister Garry Conille and accused them of plotting against him. Two separate parliamentary commissions determined that he was the architect of the arrest of a deputy in October 2011. The affair exacerbated tensions between the executive and legislative branches.

Meanwhile, foreign diplomats criticize both his autocratic style and his flip-flopping. Some worry he wants to be a dictator. Preferring for him to focus on strengthening the police and not on the revival of the Haitian army, they have called on him to show greater political will in disbanding a rogue force, questioning who is financing them, their new SUVs and uniforms. Martelly repeatedly dismisses his critics while casting himself as democratic. In recent days, he has made efforts to dissuade the rogue groups from their activities.


Pharel admits that people are moved by the gregarious former performer who flies around in a black helicopter and has his bald-headed images plastered on billboards throughout the capital. He’s constantly on state-owned television, where he’s shown handing out envelopes of cash and new motorcycles, all courtesy of the president. During carnival, he hopped aboard music trucks and gyrated with fans.

“There was a good carnival,” Pharel said about the annual pre-Lenten festival that Martelly relocated from the capital to the city of Les Cayes to promote decentralization efforts. “But are you changing lives with carnival?”

Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia, said Martelly’s popularity is as much a reflection of his personality as it is of Haitians’ “dire need to have hope.” He frequently travels to distant parts of the country making proposals or inaugurating projects (usually started under his predecessor, Réne Préval) and having every gesture relayed on radio, television and Twitter. He even has his own web-based Martelly TV.

“You have a feeling that things are being built. There is a kind of schizophrenic relationship between reality and what some people in Haiti want to believe that things are changing,” said Fatton. “He resonates with them, he has a very engaging attitude with everyone and that works with the population.”

On Friday, while attending a building inauguration at the country’s social security office in Petionville, Martelly highlighted a new loan program, saying: “The government I want to construct is for everyone.”

After his brief speech, he strolled over to the choir and, drenched in sweat, played the keyboard as he exuberantly joined the singers in a rendition of Haiti Cherie. Moments later, scores of young men and women chased after his black SUV as he hung out the back passenger window waving to the cheering crowd.

Martelly declined an interview request from The Herald for this report. But in a recent interview with Miami Creole-language Radio Mega (1700 AM) host Alex Saint Surin, he ticked off a laundry list of accomplishments. Among them: 51,000 relocated camp dwellers, who have helped Haiti’s camp population drop to a low of 421,000 as of February, according to the International Organization for Migration; 229 free school buses for 41,000 kids; more than one million students enrolled in the administration’s tuition-free school program; and 707 literacy certificates awarded, part of a goal to help one million Haitians annually learn to read and write.

And in a dramatic policy shift from the previous administration, Haiti now offers vaccination against cholera. The virus has killed more than 7,000, and sickened more than a half million, with another 250,000 expected to contract it this year, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

Martelly acknowledged that some Haitians have yet to feel the change. But they should remember, he said, that “you have a president who is a victim” of a broken government bureaucracy that employs 65,000 workers.


Even so, the budget, delayed for months, was only approved last week — eight months behind schedule — as the terms of 10 out of 30 senators prepared to expire with no announced date for elections. Meanwhile, the political uncertainty has cost Haiti millions as the international community holds back foreign aid. He will mark the first year without having met outgoing French President Nicolas Sarkozy or President Barack Obama, two of Haiti’s biggest supporters.

Foreign diplomats say Martelly and his team deserve credit for the education initiative and camp relocations. But the lack of transparency about the education program, and the focus on quantity and not quality of education, raises questions about sustainability and success.

In reality, the diplomats say, Haitians’ living conditions have not improved since Martelly took office. Tents have been replaced by concrete structures with the help of a $500 per person payout, but some former tent dwellers have returned to quake-damaged homes slated for demolition.

In other cases, they are living in shacks on a barren hill outside the capital where the cholera and quake dead are buried.

Georges Pierre is one of them. He has no running water, no electricity or bathroom facilities. None of his six children are in school. Despite all this, he said, “Martelly is doing a good job.” As proof, he notes that the government has not kicked him or any of his neighbors off the land, targeted for seizure through eminent domain by the last administration.

“This is the first time we have a government that cares about the people,” Pierre said. “Martelly is moving with the people, helping them find housing. A lot of children who were not in school are there today because of the free education. I would be happy if he were re-elected for another five years and then he can become president for life.’’

Monday, May 7, 2012


(Maple Ridge News) - By Brad Warner

A few days ago, I was in the mountains overlooking Port-au-Prince with about a dozen people from our church.

We were close to the village of Fermathe.

Our church recently sent two teams to help a local ministry – God's Littlest Angels ( ) – in Haiti.

Twenty-three people went in total, including my oldest son, Caleb It was great to serve together.

The team had a dual role: ministering to more than 90 orphans (babies and toddlers); and helping build a permanent location for their orphanage.

They are, at present, renting three large homes for the ministry. But they have a great piece of land and they are building for the future.

However, the reality is that it will take years to finish their permanent home. And the greater reality is that there is a never-ending stream of Haitian orphans that need a permanent family.

Our connection to the ministry is that one of the families from our church adopted a daughter from this same orphanage a number of years ago. And that family traveled with the team.

Adoption is a great thing for a whole host of reasons. The Bible teaches that "God is a Father to the Fatherless." He is a Father to the orphan.

All of us have a dad. But for some, this is painful to even think about because we may have been abandoned, abused, or neglected by our father. Perhaps we are even an orphan.

Yet of all the words that could have been chosen to reveal God, "Father" is the one that Jesus chose more often than any other. In fact, Jesus even teaches his followers to pray: "Our Father in heaven."

Now let's suppose there was a child who was abandoned, abused, and neglected. Perhaps that child was an orphan. Perhaps he or she was like one of the orphans in Haiti, where I was a few days ago. And one day, a loving father comes to that child, and with a big smile says, "I've chosen to adopt you. I love you. You will inherit all that I have. We have a family that can't wait to meet you. They love you too. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. I will never abandon you. I will love you with a never-ending love."

I think that child would eventually be changed by that father's love. And that's what happens to everyone that's adopted into God's family. Brad Warner is associate pastor at Burnett Fellowship.


(Haiti Libre) -

In a press release, the company "Distributeurs Nationaux S.A." (DINASA) gave an explanation on the spill of Ethyl Mercaptan Saturday at the Thor oil terminal [in Carrefour, south of the capital].

Press release of the DINASA "On Saturday, May 5, 2012, at approximately 10:30 AM, following an accidental spill of a quantity of Ethyl Mercaptan, at the Thor terminal, a strong, unpleasant odor spread around the terminal, from the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) facilities, causing the beginning of a panic in the area.

Technicians on site at the terminal responded quickly and mastered the situation, ... without danger. Indeed, the Liquefied Petroleum Gas "LPG", Propane, Butane or Natural Gas is colorless and odorless. The Ethyl Mercaptan is a fragrant liquid which when added to LPG can immediately detect any leakage of product in storage facilities or equipment using LPG, in order to prevent accidents.

DINASA wishes to inform and reassure the residents surrounding the terminal, that at no time, they had been exposed to any physical or health risk, following the limited spill of Ethyl Mercaptan.

DINASA apologizes to the people of Thor for all inconveniences related to this incident.

The Directorate Les Distributeurs Nationaux S.A. (DINASA)"


(Caribbean 360) -

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Recent reports by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the cholera strain in Haiti is evolving and possibly becoming endemic to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The researchers from the CDC reported May 3, the study the indicates that the bacterium is changing as survivors acquire at least some immunity to the original bug, which apparently was imported from Nepal less than two years ago and killed thousands of people.

Cholera experts also say such a development is expected and has happened in cholera epidemics around the world.

“This suggests that the ongoing epidemic in Haiti might be entering its next phase, since we see these shifts where cholera is endemic,” said Dr. Edward T. Ryan, an infectious disease specialist with Massachusetts General Hospital who was not involved with the study.

The change also means it could be easier for Haitians to fall ill a second time to the new cholera version because they don’t have full immunity to it if they don’t take precautions such as washing their hands or chlorinating water.

In a field study published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, co-authors Joan M. Brunkard and Deborah F. Talkington say researchers at the National Public Health Laboratory found that two isolates of the cholera strain collected on March 12 and 13 in Haiti’s Artibonite region differed from the Ogawa version found in Haiti when the disease was discovered in October 2010.

The CDC, the new study says, later confirmed that the isolates belonged to the Inaba serotype, the other major version of the cholera strain.

There is little or no difference in the severity or duration of the disease caused by the two versions, the report added.

Health officials have been paying especially close attention to cholera infection rates in Haiti as it heads into the rainy season, when conditions are ripe for the spread of the waterborne disease because of a paltry sewage and sanitation system.

So far, there has been evidence of a small jump in the number of reported cases, but nothing compared to the threefold spike seen at the same time a year ago.

Still, the Pan American Health Organization warns that between 200,000 and 250,000 people could contract the disease this year, many of them during the rainy and the hurricane season that peaks in late summer and early autumn.

Haiti currently has the highest number of cholera cases in the world. Health officials say the disease has sickened more than 534,000 people, or five percent of the population, and killed 7,000 others since United Nations’ peacekeepers from Nepal, according to scientific studies, were blamed for introducing the disease to the Caribbean nation in October 2010. But the infection rate is believed to be much higher because not all cases are reported.

In an effort to stem the spread of the disease, the Boston-based Partners in Health and its partner, the Gheskio Center, have launched a campaign to vaccinate 100,000 Haitians, or 1 percent of the national population, in a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince and in a rural area north of the capital.

“The good news is that the cholera vaccine that has been piloted in Haiti provides protection to both versions of the organism,” Ryan said.

The Connecticut-based health group AmeriCares announced this week that it is delivering more than 100,000 liters of intravenous solutions to cholera patients in Haiti. The group says the shipment contains enough IV fluids to treat at least 17,000 people.


(FOX) - AP

PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haitian police and U.N. peacekeepers have begun cracking down on bands of armed men lobbying for the country to restore its armed forces, a U.N. spokesman said Monday.

Lt. Cmdr. Jim Hoeft said U.N. troops and national police officers set up checkpoints Sunday in Haiti's capital and others parts of the country and detained two armed men in downtown Port-au-Prince wearing military fatigues. They were then taken to a police station.

The effort aims to discourage an illegal group of armed men from parading around Port-au-Prince in military uniforms as if they were on patrol. The lightly armed men have been seen directing traffic and even sweeping streets.

"These checkpoints were set up because there's a stability issue with a proclaimed armed force that hasn't been officially created by the government of Haiti," Hoeft said by telephone.

Despite repeated orders from the government of Haitian President Michel Martelly, the men haven't stopped carrying their weapons or cleared out of several former military bases they took over three months ago.

Led by a group of veterans, they hope Martelly will honor his campaign proposal to restore the armed forces, which were abolished in 1995 because of their abusive past. They also want to lead an interim force until Martelly formally establishes the military.

Foreign diplomats have opposed restoration of the military, saying money should go toward the understaffed police force and rebuilding following the 2010 earthquake.

The armed men have become an embarrassment to the Haitian government and the United Nations. Their military-like presence summons uncomfortable memories of private militias that worked on behalf of earlier administrations.

Yves Jeudy, a former sergeant and one of the leaders of the armed group at a base outside Haiti's capital, confirmed that police and the U.N. troops detained two of the men but didn't have any other details.


(Regina Leader Post) - By Tonaya Marr

Two years after an earthquake devastated their country, five Haitian students are getting the chance to make a change - beginning with their education.

The students will be given the chance to learn away from home, at Ecole Secondaire College Mathieu in Gravelbourg.

Part of a program called "Project Haiti," the students will be moving to Gravelbourg for the opportunity to finish high school. Project Haiti is a partnership between College Mathieu and Western Canada Relief for Haiti.

The project is meant to create some of the future leaders of Haiti through high school education.

The students will be taking an alternative curriculum that focuses heavily on leadership skills, along with typical high school courses.

After graduation, organizers hope the students will either return to Haiti to help rebuild the devastated nation, or pursue further education.

"My personal dream is that those kids will realize that they can go back and educate their brothers and sisters," said Frankie LeClare, superintendent of education for the Conseil des Ecoles Fransaskoises. "So they can contribute in terms of education, health in the country or infrastructure."

The organizations sent a group to La Petite Savanne, a community adopted by Western Canada Relief for Haiti, in March. The group met with 20 students nominated by community leaders and elders to take part in the program. From this group, five students between the ages of 16 and 18 were chosen to live and study in Gravelbourg, while earning their high school diplomas,

"We had to go (by) their age, their level of maturity - those were the first two criteria," said LeClare. Students were also evaluated on their verbal and oral French skills, and the likelihood that they would be able to remain in Canada for the duration of study.

"You have to remember that these individuals have nothing," said Roland Lafrance, chairperson of Western Canada Relief for Haiti. "All they have is the ability, we feel, because we had a team go down and assess them. They have the ability, according to our team, to be successful."

Gravelbourg and College Mathieu were natural choices for the project, as the high school is French-speaking and has dormitories available for the foreign students.

"I personally think it's wonderful," said Nicolas Couture, a Grade 12 student at College Mathieu.

"It's a great way to advertise our school and to participate in the reconstruction of Haiti."

It will cost $26,500 per year to keep each student at the school. However, volunteers believe getting the students into the country will be easier than it sounds.

Both organizations are seeking donations from individuals, organizations and companies.

The five students will require air transport, clothing, insurance and lodging, as well as other expenses, during their time in Canada.

Already, the project has raised around $8,000 for their cause.

Being able to introduce the students to the school, community and Canadian weather in September would be ideal, but in order to make that happen, funding would need to be secured soon.

LeClare plans to see the program continue and evolve over the next five years, hopefully resulting in partnerships with post-secondary institutions.

"It's a long-term goal for us, but really and truly, when you think about it in terms of Haiti, it's a short-term goal."


(Haiti Libre) -

The Wesleyan Business and Computer Science School [founded in 1996], recognized as one of the best vocational schools in the city of Petit-Goâve, reopened its doors this Saturday, May 5, 2012, during, an official ceremony; in the presence of personalities from civil society and the banking sector.

This school which has already trained some excellent professionals coming from Léogâne, Miragoâne, Grand-Goâve, Papette, Vialet, and Dufort, returns after two years .... thanks to the determination of Ms. Marie Yvanne Bonne-Annee, the wife of Pastor Nathaniel Bonne-Annee, Director of the Wesleyan school.

Equipped with well furnished rooms and equipped with the latest generation computers, latest application software and an experienced teaching staff, the Wesleyan Business and Computer Science School is unique, and aims to train executives in accounting and computer science.

Speaking in his capacity as master of ceremonies, Reverend Pastor Volsaint Francisque declared "[...] As an educational institution, the idea of ​​being strong must be a constant worry for those responsible. The pursuit of excellence must be one of the fundamental values ​​that the Christian as well as a Christian institution must cultivate," asking God to extend the boundaries of the school's financial resources to enable it to acquire more qualified human resources to help managers to achieve their objective: .... excellence... "God willing, may the boundaries of the school's performance extend throughout the department; that the school be considered as the best computer education institution in the region."

Pastor Nathaniel Bonne-Annee, has for his part, emphasized his message on the importance and usefulness of the computer "[...] Some daily activities require the use of a computer: Internet, GPS, internet cafe, home-banking, e-commerce, music, etc... But also, in the management of a company, a hospital for both financial resources, and for human resources... Our society has, and will increasingly need qualified computer scientists... The computer is part of our daily lives."


(Haiti Libre) -

Saturday, during a gala event in San Diego [California], winners of the 2012 World Beer Cup have been announced. "Prestige", the lager beer of Haiti, produced in Port-au-Prince by Brasserie Nationale d'Haiti (Brana), won the "Gold" in the category of beers "American-Style Cream or Ale" among 23 beers competing in this category. The beer "Old Style" of Pabst Brewing Co. brewery won silver, and the "Milwaukee's Best" of the brewery, Miller Brewing Co., won bronze.

This year, the competition boasted the strongest field of entrants on record, with 799 breweries from 54 countries and 45 U.S. states entering 3,921 beers in 95 beer style categories; a 17.7 percent increase over 2010. The entries were eligible for gold, silver and bronze awards in their respective categories. Judges presented a total of 284 awards.

The 2012 judging panel was the largest and most international in the history of the World Beer Cup. Judges from 27 countries conducted blind tasting evaluations of the beers to determine the winners. Drawn from the ranks of professional brewers and brewing industry experts, these 211 judges came mostly from international breweries, with some 67% from outside the U.S.

Learn more about Prestige beer:
In 1976, just over two years after the creation of Brana, its founder, Michael Madsen, launched a light beer on the Haitian market. In 2000, it won the gold medal at the World Beer Cup in the category Lager American-Style. In 2005, the Prestige beer had begun to be exported to the United States. Prestige remains the first, and so far the only Haitian beer, and owns 98% of the local market share.


(Haiti Libre) -

Back from the World Cultural Economic Forum (WCEF) which brought together leaders from cities around the world, in New Orleans, Louisiana from 2 to 4 May 2012, Mr. Thierry Mayard-Paul, the Interior Minister has signed during the event an MOU with the Payson Center for International Development of Tulane University through which a partnership in the areas of higher education, legal system reform, and affordable housing were agreed upon. These areas will be explored within Katye Pam Poze (KPP), the community-based decentralization program spearheaded by the Ministry of the Interior that includes a wide range of activities. Tulane is looking to introduce online learning within the education module of KPP. KPP looks to provide basic services to all of the communities throughout Haiti, and Tulane will provide technical expertise in the area of waste water.

The City of New Orleans welcomed the idea of partnering with the Ministry of the Interior and the Government of Haiti, by providing technical expertise and support in different fields that allow the building back better of Haiti. New Orleans will provide its assistance to various Katye Pam Poze’s programs. Katye Pam Poze is Haiti’s community based decentralization initiative. The City of New Orleans committed to facilitating other investment opportunities identified by the Ministry of the Interior and the Government of Haiti.

Mr. Thierry Mayard Paul met during the WCEF, Jessica Stevenson, Director of Marketing at the World Trade Center in New Orleans and discussed the more effective methods in order to establish an economic partnership in the areas of energy, agriculture and marine. The State of Louisiana and the Southern Region of the Gulf have many companies that have the ability and expertise to help Haiti in these areas. During this meeting, both parties agreed to establish relationships of investment and trade between the two regions.


(Haiti Libre) -

On Friday evening, two representatives of the Executive Board of INITE, met at the National Palace, with President Martelly and the Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe. During this cordial meeting, of a little less than an hour, initiated by the Government, and despite the insistence of the Chief of State and of the Prime Minister, the representatives of INITE declined the offer made to them to participate in the new team in an inclusive government, due to differing views on the political level.

"We explained to them that our Party had a political orientation different from that of the current team, and that INITE will not nominate representatives to the government. It stands out from any position. We want to serve the country without participating in the government," indicated Dieudonne Saincy, a member invited from the Executive Board; stating that the decision was taken unanimously. He insisted that if a member of INITE, was appointed to the Government, it would be a personal initiative, to which INITE stands out officially.

According to our information, senators of INITE have met over the weekend with Laurent Lamothe, about the formation of a new government. Rumors suggest that some senators who are leaving could integrate into the new government. 5 senators of INITE are reaching the end of their term. They are: Nenel Cassy, Kely Bastien, Anacacis Jean Hector, Yvon Buissereth and Joseph Lambert.


(Haiti Libre) -

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has confirmed, he will make his presentation of General Policy Tuesday in the Senate. He gives us some information about his General Policy and a few innovations for his future government "We are working hard, we sleep very little, we have a team of several experts and professionals working on a General Policy, which will focused among the population, which will meet the main points of the country's problems, and will come up with concrete solutions [...] The General Policy will be focused on the theme of the fight against extreme poverty [...] All government programs, will focus on this fight. This is a very important thing for me.

There are many people and sectors that will find themselves in the General Policy of Laurent Lamothe; however it is only a general policy. Therefore it will be focused on major issues and major challenges to address. I don't want go into too much detail, because you know this is a presentation I'm going to do first on Tuesday before the Senate, and then to the Chamber of Deputies. I want them to have the priority to hear what there is in this General Policy.

I can tell you that this general theme, will not remain only within the General Policy. I also have a team working on an action plan...., because we will talk about the means that we will implement to address these challenges. However, the General Policy will be accompanied by an action plan with timing, a whole list of projects that must begin and all persons who must intervene in this beginning [...]

...we are working on different parts of the Cabinet. We are evaluating the different ministries, to see which ministry works more than another, which minister is the most powerful [...] The most important is that first, we have a government of openness where everyone is involved, and secondly a government who has above all, the people in his heart [...]

One of the changes that we will see also is that in our spirit of transparency, we will put for example, a part of the Council of Ministers live on tv, and it will be decentralized. All the councils will not be done in Port-au-Prince, but also in the provinces. During these Council of Ministers, elected officials and notables of the area can express themselves [...] We have for the next 5 months, about 14 billion gourdes [± $335 million] in the investment budget, and of course we will focus it, as we are already doing, on the promises already made [...] We will not put things into studies or in prospects. We will put concrete things, things that will land on which we agreed, where we can give a timetable for implementation [...]"

Sunday, May 6, 2012



(Huffington Post) - By Auren Kaplan

The story of changing the world often starts this way. An ordinary man, with an extraordinary idea and the gumption to make it real, makes waves of change that ripple through the sea of humanity. It proves no different in the case of Harvey Lacey. Harvey is, first of all, a change maker. He is one of those rarest of individuals that not only believes in his ability to improve the lives of the less fortunate, he then takes massive action to bring his extraordinary vision to the world.

Harvey's idea is devastatingly simple. So simple that, if you weren't paying attention, it might pass you by. But in its simplicity lies its brilliance, for when brought to scale it can provide jobs, clean our oceans, and build sustainable housing for the poor that is truly built to last.

The idea is called Ubuntu-Blox -- named this way because the term Ubuntu refers to our innate interconnectedness, speaking to our common dignity and community. And yes, I mentioned Blox -- because what Harvey created is a process to make building blocks, not out of cement, but rather out of recycled styrofoam and plastic bags. With these plastic blocks, reinforced with metal wire, homes can be constructed -- and for every home constructed, one 40 foot shipping container worth of trash is removed from our oceans.

On its face, the idea sounds wonderful: get trash out of the oceans, and use it to make building blocks for homes that can then be built in the poorest of communities, whether in Port au Prince, Haiti or the slums of Mumbai. But first Harvey had to prove to the world his vision could be real.

So Harvey approached the Memnosyne Foundation, a Texas-based charity, walking into the office with a block in hand. He had dreams of building homes in Haiti with his Ubuntu Blox, homes that could withstand earthquakes or hurricane winds. But he didn't have the money to test it out.

Memnosyne funded Harvey with an initial $10,000 to build the first house and then put it to the test of whether it could withstand the harshest forces of nature. After taking the 400 square foot house off the truck, it was placed on a shake table that simulated a 7.0 Richter scale earthquake. The house shook as the shake table rumbled, and then -- miraculously -- the earthquake simulation stopped, and the house remained completely intact. This Ubuntu Blox home survived the force of an earthquake the size of the ground-shaking terror that struck Haiti in 2010.

More tests were to come. Next engineers subjected this house built of recycled trash bricks to 90 mile per hour winds -- and again, with disbelief, people looked on as the house easily withstood Category I hurricane winds.

Harvey hugged the people around him, and they hugged him back. And then Harvey got ready for his biggest challenge yet -- to construct such a house in the earthquake ravaged countryside of Haiti.

In Haiti, Harvey partnered with Haiti Communitere, an organization dedicated to providing three separate but critical areas of disaster recovery -- response, relief and renewal. Communitere served as a crucial middle man between Harvey's great idea and its implementation, funding the first building of the blocks and importantly, training local women how to make these blocks themselves. Sam Bloch, the founder of Haiti Communitere, sees Ubuntu Blox as an enormous economic opportunity: work to build the blocks at an economically competitive level with regular mortar bricks, so that Ubuntu Blox can be unleashed on the marketplace and compete pound for pound with their more traditional, and far less stable, counterparts. Sam noted that this is "such a simple technology", and that any viable building technique can go viral very quickly. Communitere's role is additionally in technology transfer. I asked him what would happen if a larger organization wanted to take the reins of this project with massive potential. His response: "If Oxfam wants it, they'll get it." The offer is open.

Harvey partnered with the right people on the ground, and immediately set out to train local women on how to build the blocks. With the promise of two full meals each day, the local women set out towards the Ubuntu Blox project and began to undergo training on how to build the blocks. The work was physically difficult. But the women, if anything, were prideful and determined. In Harvey's words, "they would not give up, they were all believers." One woman had a prosthesis for a leg and yet when it seemed that she would be unable to exert the necessary energy to build the bricks, she dug deeper and continued to build. The reason was simple: "so that they don't have to stand in water when it rains."

Harvey's message to both the women and to the folks at Communitere was simple: "you can't screw it up". Mr. Inventor, as they called him, continually empowered the women with the idea that they were capable of building something larger than themselves. His hope was for the community to build itself up, with each member improving his or her life. "The fire of my forge that melts steel, starts with a spark," Harvey said. That spark was indeed Harvey with his Ubuntu Blox.

Harvey is now back in Texas, now come back to affluence, as he put it. He told me how the women made him cry, and that if anything impressed him the most from his time in Haiti, it was the strength and character of the women. In his words: "If you want to change the world, you empower women. If you look at good societies, you see empowered women. If you look at bad societies, you see oppressed women."

There is a possibility of an Ubuntu Blox factory opening up in Haiti where women will be able to work full-time, earning a living wage, and building houses that take trash from our oceans and compact them into homes sturdier than cement. Harvey's model house was just featured for the second straight year at Southern Methodist University's Engineering & Humanity Week, where students evaluate engineering opportunities to fight extreme poverty. And Harvey is aiming for a trip back to Haiti in mid-May or June, to ensure the success of the first house and the project's continued efforts on the ground.

This project has been inspirational to many, and after reading this article you may want to contribute to the cause. There are two chief ways to do this. One is to donate to Haiti Communitere,  which is currently headlining the efforts on the ground. The second is to donate to the Memnosyne Foundation,   and specify that you want the funds to go to the Ubuntu Blox project. Both ways will get the money into the hands of those who are bringing this project to bear. To follow this project's growth, I recommend joining the Ubuntu Blox Facebook group where you can see the project's extraordinary progress. And don't forget to follow Harvey on Twitter: .

Follow Auren Kaplan on Twitter: