Media Center



February 7, 2014 - Washington, DC

Today’s visit by the President of the Republic of Haiti, His Excellency Michel Joseph Martelly, affords me an opportunity to reaffirm the sincere and wholehearted commitment of the Organization of American States to one of its founding member states.

Let me first thank President Martelly warmly for his visit and recall that we are providing and will continue to lend our full support and will work with his Government to overcome the challenges it faces.

It is in that spirit that, over these past few years, the OAS has stood by Haiti’s side as it seeks to consolidate and forge a more peaceful and prosperous society.

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti four years ago, which caused huge loss of life and unheard-of destruction, the international community and the OAS family of nations responded generously to try and meet Haiti’s needs in those traumatizing and difficult times. Dire though it was, that earthquake was unable to undermine the will of the Haitian people bent on rebuilding their country and making it better than before. It was in that setting that President Martelly took office as the constitutionally elected President of Haiti in May 2011, since when he has never for a moment wavered in devoting every ounce of his energy and leadership to his country’s reconstruction efforts. The progress made is palpable, although the road ahead is still long. Aware of how much that means, I cannot but applaud the efforts of the Government and of Haitian society as a whole as they strive for reconstruction, progress, and development. In particular, I would like to commend the current Administration for all it has done to significantly advance economic growth and to steer Haiti toward the consolidation and strengthening of democracy.

Mr. President, I would also like to underscore the vigorous leadership you have shown beyond the borders of Haiti. Indeed, your term as President of CARICOM last year bore witness to your ability to strengthen historical, economic, social, and cultural ties with the peoples of the Caribbean and to create synergies in favor of the region’s development.

Within the OAS, Haiti currently chairs the Committee on Hemispheric Security and has always made constructive contributions to the debate on the Organization’s strategic vision. Your country will also host the forty-fifth regular session of the OAS General Assembly in June 2015, while in August of this year the ministers of culture of the Hemisphere will meet in Port-au-Prince. The readiness to host those high-level meetings testifies to the Haitian Government’s active commitment to multilateralism.

We are very happy, sir, to know that Haiti is always open for business.

Noteworthy, as part of the efforts to consolidate democratic gains, are Haiti’s achievements in strengthening domestic institutions for the rule of law. If we recognize how important it is for Haiti to guarantee stability, then we should realize that the independence and effectiveness of its national institutions are the corner stone on which that stability depends.

I am therefore happy to applaud your Administration’s determination to go ahead with holding the senatorial, municipal, and local elections that everyone has been waiting for. The recent publication of the Electoral Law, after a long delay, reaffirms that determination, which we are sure will come to fruition this year.

In that regard, allow me to recall that, between 2005 and 2012, the OAS lent assistance to the National Office responsible for registering and issuing I.D.s to more than 5 million people, a form of collaboration we would be happy to continue.

The OAS is also playing an active part in an institution-building program for the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, following the resumption of the Court’s normal functions in July 2012.

Today we would also like to underscore the recent initiative to encourage political dialogue, in which the President of the Republic has shown great personal interest. We strongly encourage the players in this domestic dialogue between the Executive and Legislative branches of government and the political parties, under the guidance of the President and the Haitian Bishops’ Conference, to work in concert to reach an agreement culminating in free, transparent, and inclusive elections in 2014.

Holding fair elections under the best possible circumstances will afford the Government an opportunity to demonstrate its willingness to boost the country’s institutions and promote the essential principles of alternation in power and dialogue, thereby fostering the atmosphere required for the country’s integral social and economic development.

That is why, Mr. President of the Republic, we want to thank you so much for finding the time to visit us here in Washington. Welcome to your Organization of American States! It is an honor to receive you in this Hall of the Americas.
Thank you very much.