Positive trends in Haiti need to be sustained on job creation, OAS says

HAITI – In surveying a series of developments in Haiti, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said Wednesday, March 21 that the ability to maintain the generally positive trend “will depend on the prospects for job creation,” among other factors.

He told the member state ambassadors and the observers at the Permanent Council meeting that the OAS is now more optimistic than ever before, as “some funds have started to flow” to help address the most urgent needs of Haitians.

Insulza noted that the OAS is coordinating a trade and investment forum that will be held in Haiti in early May, to help attract investment in tourism and other economic sectors and to spur greater opportunities for Haitians. The Secretary General also pointed to ongoing issues such as the problem of slow execution of projects in Haiti, the high cost of holding elections and some security concerns.

The strides made by Haiti were detailed against the backdrop of the OAS bi-annual report on the situation in that country, which Secretary General Insulza delivered to the Permanent Council meeting, chaired by St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador Izben Williams, the Council’s Vice Chair.

Among the positive developments highlighted in the report—which covered the last six months of 2006—was the formation and installation of a historic 18-member multi-party cabinet within three weeks of President René Préval taking office last May. The cabinet brought together the Lespwa, Fanmi Lavalas, OPL, Fusion, MIDH and Alyans parties, led by Prime Minister Jacques Édouard Alexis. State modernization and the creation of economic opportunity were given renewed priority, and a Social Appeasement Program was created to fast-track community development.

Secretary General Insulza noted that municipal and local government elections as well as legislative elections were held, completing the electoral cycle begun with the vote that brought President Préval to power earlier in the year.

Another significant development that Insulza noted was Haiti’s reincorporation into the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). “There was also a period of relative calm,” the Secretary General told the Permanent Council. President Préval’s call for dialogue seems to have had some effect, Insulza said, although he noted the concern about rising violence as the year came to a close.

Referring to “ambitions plans for police training in Haiti,” Insulza said that overall, “our efforts in Haiti have borne fruit,” from a security standpoint.

OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin, who has just returned from a two-day mission to Haiti, touched on the upcoming trade and investment forum and other developments, including a range of programs the OAS has supported. These include the civil registry project, under which the OAS has assisted with the production and distribution of identification cards.

Ramdin said in view of upcoming elections, this effort will need to continue as new voters must also be registered.

He reported that in recent days the final results of the local and legislative elections held late last year were announced, an important development with respect to the appointment of members of the Provisional Electoral Council.

Haiti’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, Ambassador Duly Brutus, expressed the government’s appreciation for the report and noted a series of other positive developments his country has experienced. Other member state representatives, meanwhile, expressed their full support for OAS efforts to assist Haiti, while expressing satisfaction with the developments reported.

During the same meeting on Wednesday, March 21, the new Permanent Representative of Suriname, Ambassador Jacques Kross, delivered his maiden address to the Permanent Council, highlighting his government’s priority attention to the Inter-American Democratic Charter as well as hemispheric security issues and the initiative of a hemispheric Social Charter being negotiated among the member states.

Ambassador Kross praised the OAS for its assistance to his country over the years, primarily on projects related to post-conflict resolution, good governance, security, human rights promotion and fellowships.

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