Haiti Representative to the OAS: “The vast support of the world is a good example of solidarity for us to follow”

WASHINGTON, DC – Ambassador Brutus has been the Permanent representative of Haiti to the Organization of American States (OAS) since 2004.

His role as spokesperson of his country to the hemispheric institution has been essential in determining how to channel and prioritize the support for Haiti and the earthquake that hit the country last January 12th.

Ambassador Brutus

What do you think of the international community’s response to the earthquake in Haiti?

The Haitian population is very grateful to the international community for its genuine response. Due to our recent experiences with several hurricanes that hit Haiti, we knew beforehand that we could count on the international community. The response of the international community has always been quick and effective. However, this time we are pleased with the extraordinary mobilization deployed by the entire world in favor of Haiti. Without this overwhelming response, our country would not be able to face such enormous challenges.

What does Haiti expect from the hemispheric community?

The hemisphere has already shown a great deal of support to Haiti. Particularly, the institutions that are part of the Inter-American system, that are represented in Haiti through the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Organization of American States (OAS) that have played a lead role next to other international institutions and countries which came to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake. As you know, all Haitian State Institutions have collapsed. We believe the presence of the institutions from the Inter-American system has been very helpful in allowing the Haitian government to stand up and coordinate the overwhelming support we are receiving.

What role can the OAS play in Haiti’s future?

Bearing in mind the positive role played by the OAS after February 2004 for the stabilization of Haiti, we would like to see the OAS continue its role of supporting and strengthening Haitian institutions. For example, we need to continue with the system of civil registry that has proved to be important to guarantee citizens’ participation.

Likewise, we hope the OAS will be there to help the Haitian government and Haitian people face the political and social challenges that we will be facing and in which international community can provide great support. As we have plenty of confidence in the role of coordination played by the OAS within the Inter-American system, we would appreciate seeing the OAS stand beside Haiti for the reconstruction of the country in the fields of tourism and trade.

The Haitian catastrophe has generated overwhelming support from many countries around the world; everyday, assistance is arriving to the country and more is expected ahead. How does the Haitian government plan to organize and prioritize the aid?

After a moment of hesitation and panic due to the destruction of all Ministries, the Parliament, the Justice and National palaces, the government today is showing better leadership in coordinating the international support. The first steps were to save thousands of people stocked under the rubbles. Second, with the support of the Haitian population and the international community, more than one hundred thousand people who lost their lives were buried. Today they continue to set up places to take care of wounded people. President Preval as well as Prime Minister Bellerive have attended the conferences in Santo Domingo and in Montreal to express what the country will need in its reconstruction process.

Some analysts have suggested that positive change can come out of such a tragedy. Do you agree?

In Haiti, we are at the same time a modest and optimistic people. All international media have praised the resilience of Haitian people as a good example for the world. I believe we are already a bounded people. However, the overwhelming support of the entire world will be a good example of solidarity for all of us to follow. Also, I am certain that the consequences of this earthquake will make us aware of the necessity to respect construction codes. Finally, in spite of our usual way of criticizing other countries historically linked to Haiti, this situation will probably invite us to seek with humility our own responsibility regarding the situation of poverty in which the population of Haiti has been living in for the past two centuries.

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