Media Center



October 19, 2012 - Washington, DC

It is with profound pleasure that I greet you today, on behalf of the Organization of American States, in this House of the Americas. I would like to commend the excellent work accomplished in preparation for the Global Haitian Diaspora Congress of 2012. It is a privilege for the OAS to host this Forum for a second time and I would like to pay tribute to Ambassador Albert Ramdin for the support he has given. The last time we met was in the aftermath of the January 2010 devastating earthquake. Since then, Haiti has undoubtedly made great strides in overcoming one of its darkest hours in its recent history.

I have no doubt that the 2012 Diaspora Congress will be forthcoming in addressing numerous issues of the upmost importance for the continued engagement of Haitians living abroad, as well as for Haiti itself, in addressing the conceptual vision of its nation building.

The numerous discussions, round tables and forums that await us and the conclusions reached at them will enable us to discern the real challenges confronting Haiti. It is a question of showing how those challenges do not just concern certain party programs, but rather constitute nothing less than an entire societal project. We must not attempt to circumscribe the problem by linking it only to a short-term event. Rather we need to frame it in a context of reconstruction and economic development. Naturally, that reconstruction project must be conceived as paving the way to a modern, democratic, and prosperous Haiti, rooted in solidarity.

Through this Congress, Haiti, a country that has historically always been at the forefront of political progress, offers us a lesson in the effective exercise of representative democracy. The Haitian diaspora, gathered on this occasion at the OAS, has become an indispensable tool for strengthening collective participation in the different levels of political life, thereby undoubtedly contributing to the consolidation of democracy.

This Congress proposes, furthermore, that the Haitian State be resolute and creative in its efforts to consolidate democracy and that it strive to anticipate and preempt the causes of problems that strike at the heart of the democratic system, good governance, and the further development of the country.

As Article 6 of our Democratic Charter proclaims loudly and clearly: “It is the right and responsibility of all citizens to participate in decisions relating to their own development. This is also a necessary condition for the full and effective exercise of democracy.

As the major responsibility for the recovery of Haiti lies with its people, I, therefore, embrace the continuing Haitian Diaspora Mobilization for the Reconstruction and Economic Development of their country. Only joint efforts, such as these, can bring tangible results. This leadership—of both the Government and people of Haiti—is the surest sigh that Haiti is not only able to play, but is essentially already playing a commanding role in its recovery process.

Haitians cannot live forever in transition, where a series of short-term actions are taken constantly to meet pressing needs. We have a strong and willing government under the leadership of President Martelly and Prime Minister Lamothe, a functioning parliament, and political and institutional stability, all of which are assisting in the country’s long-term recovery and development. Haiti stands today at a crossroads: a period which is one of the most propitious, in many years, or even decades maybe, for all actors to come together in long-lasting efforts to support Haiti.

Few are now unaware of the efforts we have undertaken to achieve a basis for greater institutionalization of state and capacity building processes. Since 2005, the OAS has actively participated, hand in hand with the Haitian State, in the registration of nearly 5 million of its citizens—the majority of its adult population—which has enabled many, for the very first time, to hold a national identification card made with the latest biometric technology. To have been able to undertake such a challenging project–one of the most important large-scale projects the OAS has carried out in recent years—is, for us, a source of great pride and satisfaction.

The ID card not only allowed the population to receive remittances, for instance; it also became something much larger: a change of paradigm, so to speak. It has enabled the Haitian people to become full citizens by right: not only are they able to identify themselves and be accounted for, but they are also able to vote and to deal with their own State and private entities in a more democratic manner.

In that context, last week, and with a view to contributing to the reconstruction efforts, the OAS, together with the Haitian Foreign Ministry and Haiti’s Center for Investment Facilitation (CFI), launched a new training course on business diplomacy in Port-au-Prince. It aims to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Haitian public and private sectors in the area of investment and international trade and to foster inter-institutional cooperation on business diplomacy.

In unity lies strength (L’Union fait la force) reads the coat of arms of the Republic of Haiti, and I strongly believe that we are putting those words into action here today.

Now it is a matter of uniting the good will of the men and women of this Nation, of civil society, of the diaspora, of the intelligentsia, of all the actors in Haitian society in order to trigger true synergy among them and direct it toward the implementation of an overall plan to rebuild and rehabilitate Haiti as a Nation. Only by rallying the life blood of the Nation and stabilizing our democracy, as a sine qua non for re-launching the economy and social progress, will our project come to fruition.

Now is the time, therefore, to join forces to ensure that the democratic project, with its message of liberty, pluralism, modernity, and social progress, is perceived as the only project capable of conveying to the Haitian people the determination to respond to its longing for justice, equality, social justice, and economic development, all of which form an intrinsic part of democracy.

Democracy is the true cornerstone of the project to re-found Haiti.

Thank you.