WASHINGTON – At a briefing session that took place Tuesday, May 19 at the U.S. Congress, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, and eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives discussed critical issues, exchanged experiences and views on the challenges facing Haiti, and reviewed efforts and programs undertaken by the OAS and by PADF (Pan American Development Foundation) in that country.
In his remarks, the OAS Secretary General stressed the need to work together, in a coordinated manner and in line with the National Development Plan, which was designed by the Haitian government and which sets the country’s priorities for the future.
He also explained some of the most important outcomes of the Haiti Donors Conference that took place in Washington D.C. last April, and the commitments adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the region who met in Trinidad and Tobago last month, with regards to Haiti. In this sense, OAS Secretary General explained that “the leaders made a special statement on Haiti which called on the OAS members to join forces, and asked us to prepare a report on what has been done, and to formulate some proposals to continue supporting the efforts of the international community.”
Referring to the OAS work in Haiti, Insulza explained that “the project of civil registration has been crucial for Haitian citizens. This initiative that started in 2006, is a very ambitious project, which aims at achieving full proof of identity for every citizen. Although there are still some challenges regarding birth certificates and civil registration of the young population; today, we have almost completed registration of 80% of the adult population,” he reported.
Insulza also briefed meeting participants on other projects PADF is currently working on in the areas of trafficking of human people, economic development, human rights protection, border development, disaster relief, and natural resource management. He highlighted the work that this OAS-affiliate institution has been doing since its foundation working with the government and the international community to reach the most needy people.
Insulza also praised the recent appointment of President Bill Clinton as Special Envoy of the United Nations to Haiti. “President Clinton represents, more than anyone else, a certain trend that stresses development. This new trend explores alternatives to make Haiti viable, addressing the real problems of that country.” He also affirmed that the U.N. Secretary General’s decision “points to the direction in which the government of Haiti wants to go.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, one of the sponsors of the event, joined the Secretary General’s appreciation of the recent announcement, she affirmed that “President Clinton has had a deep and longstanding relationship with Haiti, and this decision is one of the best news we have heard, it terms of the ability to bring the desperately needed resources, focus and attention the country is needing.”
Representatives Eliot Engel, Gregory Meeks, Carolyn Kilpatrick, Mel Watt, Sheila Jackson-Lee, John Conyers, and Don Payne also joined the dialogue. They reiterated their commitment to Haiti-related initiatives such as the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian immigrants in the U.S., increase foreign assistance, debt relief, and the ‘Next Steps Haiti Act of 2009’ (HR.417).
Ambassador of Haiti to the United States, Raymond Joseph; and PADF’s Goodwill Ambassador for Haiti’s Children and film actor, Jimmy Jean-Louis, who were present at the session, concurred in their appreciation of the international community’s effort to help and guide the country and provide a better future for its citizens.