PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — The US Ambassador to Haiti, Pamela Ann White, has called on all those who claim they love Haiti to preach by example by actively working and contributing to its advancement, but not by tainting its image or killing the dream of the Caribbean country’s people.
During a traditional event held each year to commemorate US Independence Day, Ambassador White on Thursday urged all relevant actors to come together to address and fix problems, to stop the political infighting and get behind credible elections, to contribute to Haiti’s political, social and economic development.
White said projecting a positive image of Haiti is not just good for business or for tourism, but it is good, she said, for the soul of a country.
“The very people who say they love Haiti, taint her, bloody her and make her look ragged and unloved,” White said in her speech. “Why?,” she asked. “I hear people say ‘I do it for my country!’. Really??”.
“You throw rocks and fire gunshots and refuse to negotiate for your country!”, exclaimed White, explaining that Haiti needed peace, stability and economic growth.
Ambassador White is known for her genuine and down-to-earth approach, which has earned her the respect and friendship of many ordinary Haitians and civil society and business private sector groups in Haiti, even though some have criticized her straightforward style.
The top US diplomat in Haiti, who commended Haitian government authorities on achievements made in several areas, pointed out many challenges facing the country such as corruption, poverty, violence, but stated that “there is much to be thankful for, much to praise, much to build on” in Haiti.
The local branch of Transparency International, the Heritage Foundation for Haiti, the US government and others have acknowledged that the current administration has done more efforts to fight corruption than any of its predecessors, even though a lot remains to be done on that front.
“I believe in every cell of my body that Haiti’s leaders care about Haiti’s citizens, including the poorest of the poor,” White said, as she addressed several hundred people gathered on the grass of the US Ambassador’s residence in the Haitian capital on Thursday.
“The amount of money targeted for food, health and education for the bottom 25% of the population has skyrocketed under the current (Haitian) administration,” acknowledged White who has a respectful cooperation relationship with the Haitian government and president Michel Martelly.
Infant mortality has decreased by 44% , the percentage of children in school has shot up by almost 50% in Haiti, while extreme poverty has decreased from 31% to 24%, according to Ambassador White, citing a recent UN study.
The Chief of the US diplomatic mission in Haiti stressed the importance of the holding of elections and the right to vote, as the country prepares to organize crucial legislative and local elections before the end of the year.
“You don’t have to be rich to vote, you need an election to vote – you need to be given a chance to vote,” stated White reminding that democracy is the best form of government.
“It is still the best way to ensure that leaders are chosen by voters allowed to make their choice in private (in a voting booth), not by gun toting demagogues leading a mob,” Ambassador white added during the event that she hosted to commemorate the 238th anniversary the US independence.
The Chief of the UN Stabilization Mission to Haiti and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Haiti, Sandra Honoré, Haitian Prime minister Laurent Lamothe, Senate president Dieuseul Simon Desras and the president of the lower chamber, Jacques Stevenson Thimoléon, attended the event.