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Secretary General leads high-level OAS delegation to Haiti

WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary General José Miguel Insulza travels to Haiti on Thursday, April 24 leading a high-level Organization of American States mission to meet with President René Préval and his cabinet as well as leaders of the Senate and Chambers of Deputies, the business community, political parties and civil society.

The purpose of the visit is to convey to the Haitian people and government the support of the OAS Group of Friends of Haiti—comprised of member states and international organizations—in the wake of recent events triggered by a food shortage in the Caribbean country.

Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations Secretary-General will be represented on the delegation being led by the OAS Secretary General.

Speaking at OAS headquarters at a meeting of the OAS Group of Friends of Haiti, Insulza explained the double blow the country has suffered as a result of international price hikes for oil and food, with wheat prices jumping 100% in some case. “What happened is sad, coming just as Haiti was making significant strides in combating violence, promoting development and strengthening its institutions,” he argued.

The OAS Secretary General said the violence stemming from food shortages did not cause any political instability. “The government has the situation fully under control and has been consulting with the political players to appoint a new Prime Minister,” he reported. Insulza emphasized the need for international organizations and countries to get their aid delivered to the Haitian people as quickly as possible, warning that “solidarity should be expressed quickly. The speedy delivery of food is crucial in helping the government tackle the problem.”

Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, the OAS Assistant Secretary General, chaired the meeting of the Group of Friends of Haiti. Ramdin, who also chairs the OAS Haiti Task Force, reiterated his appeal for countries and organizations among the Friends of Haiti to do as much as they can to help the Caribbean nation. He underscored the need for a structural approach to the Haitian situation to address the urgent, immediate needs but also with a focus on the country’s long-term development.

Assistant Secretary General Ramdin said the aim is to help the Haitian people and government so as to prevent the situation from developing into a broader crisis. He shared the Secretary General’s view that despite the urgency of the situation, there is no political crisis in Haiti, and that despite Prime Minister Jacques-Édouard Alexis’ resignation last week, President René Préval remains in command, is respected and continues to hold consultations on the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

Ambassadors and other representatives of member states and international organizations spoke about the respective latest aid contributed to the people and government of Haiti, in the wake of the emergencies in that member country. Ambassadors from Brazil, Canada, the United States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as well as Chile and Mexico, in particular, provided details of their respective country’s food and other aid delivered to Haiti.

After providing the latest update on the events in his country, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the OAS Ambassador Duly Brutus expressed appreciation for the “moral and material support” from member and observer states as well as international organizations in the Group of Friends of Haiti. He welcomed this important demonstration of international solidarity and support, especially against the backdrop of recent demonstrations.

The OAS Permanent Council Chairman, Barbados Ambassador Michael King, also participated at the Friends of Haiti meeting.

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