Media Center

Press Release


  November 30, 2006

MADRID, Spain—The Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, said today that supporting the process of rebuilding democracy in Haiti is “a long-term effort.” The election of a democratic government in is not an end in itself, he said, “but rather serves as further encouragement for us to honor our commitment to Haiti.”

Insulza’s remarks came as he addressed the International Conference for the Social and Economic Development of Haiti, for which representatives of international organizations and donor countries are gathered in Madrid, at the invitation of Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Secretary General said this framework for cooperation calls for political and social stability to foster sustained economic growth, “because Haiti must be allowed to embark on a productive course of steady progress whereby external aid eventually is seen as a complementary rather than vital form of support.”

Warning, however, that the objective is yet a long way off, Insulza renewed the call for the international community not to abandon its commitments to help the people and government of Haiti.

He identified security issues as major obstacles to socioeconomic development in Haiti, referring to the growing numbers of armed gangs, drug trafficking, kidnapping and assassinations, and suggested that it must be understood that “in the current social climate now gripping the country—high unemployment and poverty rates as well as an inadequate police presence—the lack of security will remain a problem for the authorities.”

One way to redress this situation, he said, is to put in place the government’s Social Reconciliation Plan, an initiative which “points in the right direction and should be implemented without delay,” as an auxiliary to longer-term efforts to improve the country’s infrastructure and productivity.

Insulza called for a more active role by the private sector, saying while he understands the business community’s concerns over security, “if this attitude were to turn into outright disincentive and antagonism, that too would hinder full implementation of the kind of development policies we hope to get underway.” He said the necessary funds must be urgently committed to launch the Social Reconciliation Plan, to help lift Haitians out of their present situation.

Insulza explained the need for state institutions to take urgent action and to better coordinate efforts, because without strong public institutions, and without a properly functioning state, the political process could be affected and international assistance would be ineffectual.

The Secretary General also touched on the work the OAS has done in Haiti, noting its important role in the process that culminated in last February’s election of President René Préval. Insulza noted that regional elections will be held next Sunday, which will “complete the installation of full democracy in Haiti.” Some 3.5 million Haitian voters were registered, with the OAS providing technical assistance to the Provisional Electoral Council, Insulza said. He noted as well that the OAS has had an ongoing presence in Haiti, managing major projects related to trade, tourism, water resource management, reforestation, natural disaster mitigation, public security, port security, agro-tourism, border development and combating human trafficking, among other areas.

Secretary General Insulza today was received, in separate meetings, by the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, and Defense Minister José Antonio Alonso. Both meetings touched on the ongoing process of democratic elections in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as developments in other regions of the world.

Reference: E-261/06